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sasaboss Dec 11, 2008 3:50 PM

Hi. Just another clueless guy when it comes to photography needs help choosing a camera. Many thanks in advance for all advice you can kindly offer.

BTW i am from Norway. I am looking at 3 dslr cameras all kits and all are around the same price range. Nikon D40 seems to be a consensus cant miss solid beginners camera and thats one of those i am looking at. For just a little bit more money i could get a Sony a200. And finally what just caught my eye is a Olympus E410. I know thats a little bit older model but its on sale at about the same price as the D40 and appears to be the smallest of 3, which i like. All 3 come as kits with a basic lens i suppose.

The problem is that all 3 cameras got really solid reviews on this site and its hard for a person like me to compare and conclude which would suit me better. I recently started a businness and a website so i need a solid camera to take lots of pictures, mostly outdoors, but also some normal casual family photos. I am in no means picky and whats most important to me is that it is simple and easy to use. I am actually 100% sure any of those will make me very happy but it is quite a bit of money so i would just like to get some opinions from somebody with more experience. Or is there some other model maybe outside of those 3 that would be a good choice for a total beginner like me?

mtclimber Dec 11, 2008 5:25 PM

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I have owned and used all three of the cameras that you have on your list. And for what it might be worth (I am a digital camera instructor) let me share with you my thoughts.

Nikon D-40: Yes, it is a solid, easy camera to transition to from a digicam. I found that both I, and 4 of my students grew out of the Nikon D-40 within a year.There is no cmera based VR in the Nikon line. If you want IS/VR you must purchase it in the Nikon or third party lenses.

Sony A-200: This is a camera that is very well priced, but most professional reviewers have found the .jpeg format images to be a bit soft. That can be easily solved, but it requires shooting in RAW format. The Sony A-200 does have in body IS.

Olympus E-410: I found this camera at an unheard, low price a year ago, so I bought it. In all honesty the camera has a very limited dynamic range and no IS. If I were to return to a current Olympus camera, the more fully featured E-520 would be my choice.

The Nikon D-40 is the best camera on your list. However, a used D-50 might be a better choice, as it has the same mp count, but it also has the standard Nikon focusing system that the D-40 and the D-40X do not have.

If price is the pivotal issue, I would begin with a Nikon D-50 body, and then invest in the lenses that you need. You can always buy a better body, but now you already have the needed lenses. I have attached a D-50 photo to give you some reference.

So, that's just one opinion, butI approached it from the point of view based on what I would do if I were in your position.

Sarah Joyce

sasaboss Dec 11, 2008 6:06 PM

Wow. That is some great advice. Many thanks. To be perfectly honest, some of those things you said dont mean much to me at the moment, but i hope to pick up on it as i go.
I actually came across a used D50 a couple days ago but i didnt bother to check it out since it seemed just like an older, bigger version of D40. I will have to check back and see if its still available.
Which camera would you say is the most user friendly? So that my wife can also pick it up and use with no prob. Also would there be any special preference if the pics would be of say, running dogs/dogs in motion?

Thanks again, its great to get a specific opinion from somebody that knows exactly what they are talking about. Oh, and that picture looks stunning btw.


TCav Dec 11, 2008 6:36 PM

You didn't mention what type(s) of photography you're interested in, and it does make a difference. It seems you narrowed your selection based entirely on price, and that might make sense in thenear term, but when you buy a dSLR you are buying into a system, and if that system doesn't suit you well, then the money you spent on the camera was wasted.

All the dSLRs you mentioned are fine cameras, but each has it's advantages and disadvantages.

The Nikon D40has a 6 megapixel image sensor, while the others have 10 megapixel image sensors. This means photos from the other cameras will contain more detail and can be printed at larger sizes without pixelation. The D40 also has a poor autofocus system for sports/action/wildlife photography. And while it is a Nikon, and Nikon does have a large selection of fine lenses, the D40 doesn't have an internal autofocus motor, so most Nikon lenses won't autofocus on it, and very few used and third party lenses will. Also, as mtclimber mentioned, Nikon dLSRs don't have image stabilization in the camera body, and most Nikon lenses aren't stabilized, and very few used and third party lenses are.

The Sony A200 has image stabilization in the camera body. Image stabilization reduces, if not eliminates motion blur due to camera shake. While the selection of Sony lenses isn't great, it's better than the selection of lenses for the other two you're looking at. And the used market has many lenses made for the Minolta Maxxum cameras, and they will all work with the Sony A200. If you have a limited budget for a camera and lenses, this is something you should consider.

The Olympus E-410 is the smallest, lightest dSLR, and for equivalent angles of view, has the smallest, lightest lenses as well. But it has no image stabilization of any kind, and the selection of new and used lenses is the smallest of the three cameras you're looking at.

As far as mtclimber's suggestion of buying a used Nikon D50, buying a used dSLR is risky. You don't know what kind of treatment or use it has had, and there are lots of moving parts in dSLRs that have a finite life expectancy. If you do decide to go with a used camera, make sure you get a warranty, not just a guarantee. If you've had it for a month or so, purchased lenses and accessories for it, and it fails, the seller should fix it, not just refund your money.

mtclimber Dec 11, 2008 6:39 PM

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The pivotal issue in the Nikon line of DSLR cameras is that they made the D-40 and D-40x models without an in camera body focusing motor, as all standard Nikon cameras have always used. So that leaves the D-40 and D-40X cameras as the only Nikon DSLR camera that have to use lenses that have the focusing motor built into the lens. There are around 40 lenses now available to fit the D-40 and D-40X cameras.

In contrast, the Nikon D-50 uses an in camera focusing motor and therefrore can use a much wider selection of lens, numerically speaking. The D-50 last produced in 2005 was built like a tank and is heralded, in Nikon circles, as a high ISO champ. of the lower priced Nikon DSLR cameras.

The Nikon D-50 does not have an Auto ISO setting, so you cannot set it up to be totally automatic operating camera. However, if you just set the ISO to 200 or 400 (remember this camera does not produce much image noise), your wife could easily shoot away all day long with no problems.

The Nikon D-40 is reputed to be the most user friendly Nikon DSLRcamera, as it was purposefully designed to provide as easy transition platform for the folks coming from typical point & shoot digicams.

If the used Nikon D-50 that you saw, is still available, you can by using EXIF software such as Opanda determine how many shutter actuations it has had made in its lifetime. I would think that if you are purchasing from a dealer, he could get that information for you, and offer you a 3 month or 6 month warranty as well.

I still use my D-50 all the time and it is one of the most capable and durable of the Nikon low cost DSLR cameras ever produced. It would certainly be worth your consideration. Please don't get me wrong, the D-40 is a good camera, but most folks grow out of it rather quickly. I lend out our D-40 to our kids all the time, and the love it dearly.

You know what will work best for you, Sasha. I can only make suggestions for you. Why I went slightly negative on the D-40 is that I would feel badly if it only worked for you for a year, and then you had to purchase another body. I have attached a Nikon D-40 photo for you this time.

In contrast, the Nikon D-50 has been a really family workhorse, and it is so good that it will always have a place in our home.

I will check back frequently, to see if I can offer any more information. As you can see with over 7,700 posts that I have personally made on Steve's Forum, I am here a lot.

Sarah Joyce

peripatetic Dec 12, 2008 3:37 AM

If you are interested in small and light with high image quality you should also have a look at the new Panasonic G1.

It's a true technological marvel. A limited lens range at the moment, but more lenses are coming soon.

I would definitely choose it in preference to the 3 cameras you are looking at.

sasaboss Dec 12, 2008 4:49 AM

OK. Morning in Norway! I will go around the stores today and look at the cameras.

Thanks for the replies, its a great help.


The G1 looks like a great camera but as i checked it out, its price tag in Norway is exactly double to that of the other three. As i dont see myself as an advanced user by any means, i would like to not spend more then necessary. It is easy to get carried away looking at stuff and suddenly increase your spending limit cause it seems worth it, but i got to stay realistic and that means that a beginners camera is more than good enough for me. Thanks alot for the recommendation though.


Thanks for the great summary of the cameras. I guess the type of photography i will do most would be "sports" kind. I breed and train dogs so i need to take lots of pictures of them, and you know they are always hopping around. Also some nature and traveling pictures plus some normal everyday inside/outside pics. If i got it right, it would seem Sony would be a good choice for me because of the image stabilizer and the built in autofocus.


Thanks again for info and samples. It seems like a tough decision although i am sure it will be fine with whatever i get. That used D50 is sold it would seem, but it wouldnt matter anyway cause i forgot that i have to buy a new camera since i am buying on the company and need a receipt. Nikon was my early favorite but now i am kind of split between Nikon and Sony. I will go and check them out some more today.

Another camera i just spotted is a Canon 1000D or rebel xs what its called in the US. Its a little bit more money but they have a package deal of it with a case and memory. Any toughts on that?


TCav Dec 12, 2008 6:11 AM

sasaboss wrote:

... that means that a beginners camera is more than good enough for me. ...
So, how did you decide to exclude some very fine superzoom P&S digicams from consideration? You haven't mentioned what kind of experience you've had with other cameras. I'm sure mtclimber can point out some digicams that are within your budget and will give you more capability and flexibility that an inexpensive dSLR withjust thekit lens.

When you buy a dSLR, you're not done. The lens that comes with it is of limited range, but that's ok, because it's removeable, and you can replace it with a lens that's longer, or that's wider, or that's faster, so you can do whatever you want. But that flexibility can cost a lot more than the dSLR alone.

sasaboss wrote:

...I guess the type of photography i will do most would be "sports" kind. ...
Then the speed and accuracy of the autofocus system should be a primary concern. Among the three you mention, the Sony A200 would be the best choice, IMHO.

sasaboss wrote:

... If i got it right, it would seem Sony would be a good choice for me because of the image stabilizer and the built in autofocus. ...

sasaboss wrote:

... Another camera i just spotted is a Canon 1000D or rebel xs what its called in the US. Its a little bit more money but they have a package deal of it with a case and memory. ...
The Canon 1000D is also a good choice. It doesn't have the sensor shift image stabilization that the Sony has, but Canon uses optical image stabilization in some of its lenses, including the 18-55mm kit lens. The selection of lenses for the 1000D is better than for any other dSLR you're considering, though stabilized lenses are bigger, heavier and more expensive, and stabilized third party lenses are rare.

It also has 'Live View', which allows you to compose a photo using the LCD display instead of the optical viewfinder. It's more of a gadget than a tool, IMHO, but it's there if you need it.

But you should really scrutinize the stuff that comes in package deals. Most of the time, package deals contain the camera, but with some shortcuts and some junk. One thing that happens is that they may substitiute the regular kit lens with an inferior lens. And often, many of the accessories are generic junk that you will want to (or have to) replace soon anyway.

mtclimber Dec 12, 2008 10:47 AM


As TCav mentioned, I would be very wary of a DSLR kit arrangement. Personally, I avoid them. If the primary use is sports, the Canon 1000D and the Sony A-200 seem to be your choices. Another DSLR camera that has not been mentioned yet is the Pentax K2000. The K2000 comes with multi point focusing, 10mp and even an external flash. So the K2000 might be worth considering as well.

Sarah Joyce

sasaboss Dec 12, 2008 10:47 AM

I see what you're saying about the digicams. I didnt exclude anything, its just that since i'm clueless about this stuff i assumed a cheap dslr is a good way to go considering its around the same price or even cheaper than some of those super zoom digicams. But now that you turned my head in that direction i started looking at those ultra zoom digicams and i must say, it seems like that could really be a better way to go for me. I havent decided on anything yet but i found these models in the local stores: Panasonic Lumix FZ28, Olympus SP 565UZ, Sony DSC H7, Panasonic DMC-TZ5, Canon SX10-IS, Nikon Coolpix P80. Now i know that i am jumping in a whole other philosophy here, but if you could give me any advice on some of those models, that would be wonderful. They are all priced more or less the same as those dslr kits.


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