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beachgirl Nov 14, 2007 10:47 AM

Hi, I have a 2 year old and we live by the beach - that is going to be the bulk of my main picture taking. I am between the nikon d40x and the canon xti. The nikon as I have heard the kit lens - 18-135 is good but the canon as I have heard great things about the 50mm prime lens - the cheap one under $100.

Driving myself NUTS trying to decide which one to go with.

Please help out a busy mom make a decision on this ASAP.

Thanks a lot

JimC Nov 14, 2007 11:06 AM

If you go Nikon, keep in mind that all lenses you use on their entry level D40 or D40x models must have a built in focus motor if you want Autofocus. For now, that means your choices are limited to Nikon AF-S (Silent Wave Focus) or Sigma HSM (Hypersonic Focus Motor) lenses.

There are a lot of lenses like that now. But, there are still some gaps in the lineup if you want Autofocus. For example, a lens like a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 on a D40 or D40x would require manual focus (they don't offer this lens with AF-S yet). With a Nikon solution if you need something that bright for close quarters indoor use, I'd look at the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lens (but, it's selling for around $400 right now from the online discounters).

IOW, consider your lens needs carefully. A D40x solution may end up costing you more money (due to increased lens costs) compared to a more expensive Nikon body (D80, etc.) if you need certain lens types and want Autofocus. ;-)

beachgirl Nov 14, 2007 11:09 AM

Thanks for the reply. How difficult is it to autofocus? Is it worth going with canon just so I can use this lens?

JimC Nov 14, 2007 11:13 AM

Do you mean how difficult is it to manual focus?

Personally, I wouldn't want to need to use manual focus with most entry level camera models, because their viewfinders are really not designed for that purpose the way the viewfinders in older manual focus cameras were (they tended to have nice split prism type focus screens that made it easier).

But, many users are fine with Manual Focus, and you do get a focus confirmation in the viewfinder with a D40 or D40x when you achieve accurate focus by turning a focus ring on the lens.

You may also find that you're better off going with an external flash and bouncing it for more even lighting, versus trying to use existing light with a two year old shooting with a brighter prime lens like a 50mm f/1.8. You would also have lower noise levels that way (versus needing to increase ISO speed to keep shutter speeds fast enough without a flash) It's all a matter of preference from my perspective.

But, for outdoor shots in daylight, you really don't need a brighter lens like a 50mm f/1.8 anyway, and you may appreciate the greater flexibility you get in framing with a zoom instead.

beachgirl Nov 14, 2007 11:34 AM

Oops..I meant manual focus. Thanks for the info on the 50mm and outdoor shots.

If I go with the xti will I be limiting myself by getting the kit with the 18-55 or should I just get the body and get a longer zoom..if so any recommendations?


JimC Nov 14, 2007 11:48 AM

For someone that's just starting out, unless they have specific requirements, I'd suggest getting one of the "kit" lenses with a body.

They really don't add a lot to the cost of a camera kit and are designed to give you a lot of "bang for the buck". That way, you'd have the opportunity to use it for a while and get a better idea of the lens types you may or may not need, for the type of shooting you may want to do. You may find that it suits your style fine, especially for snapshots of family members. It all depends on the individual.

Sometimes, I see brand new camera owners spend a lot of money on lenses that may end up sitting on a shelf because they're too heavy, not bright enough, or don't have the focal lengths needed for the types of shots someone becomes interested in later.

Any choice tends to be a compromise (size, weight, focal range, optical quality, focus speed, brightness, etc.), and if you haven't used this type of camera before, a kit lens gives you the opportunity to figure out if you may (or may not) need something longer, brighter, etc., without a lot of up front money to get started.

beachgirl Nov 14, 2007 12:23 PM

Thanks do you want to help out a procrastinator mom with no time and advise me to go with the canon or the nikon:-)

JimC Nov 14, 2007 12:38 PM

I'm probably the wrong person to ask. ;-)

I'm currently shooting with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D (discontinued now) and a recenty purchased Sony DSLR-A700.

If I had to pick between those two models (D40x, Rebel XTi), I'd probably go with the Canon so that I could use inexpensive bright primes and have Autofocus. There are some gaps in the current Nikon lens lineup that would make me avoid a D40 or D40x for the type of shooting I'd want to do with one. The requirement to use a lens with a built in focus motor also rules out many third party zooms with a D40 or D40x. Other Nikon models don't have that problem (just the D40 and D40x).

But, to be frank, I wouldn't pick either one (for the type of shooting I do, not necessarily for the type of shooting someone else would use a camera for).

I'd want ISO 3200 and the ability to use a bright prime with Autofocus and those models don't have that ability (the primes I'd want to use on the Nikon are not available with built in focus motors yet, and the Canon won't do ISO 3200, unless you deliberately underexpose and brighten later).

I also like the in body stabilization with my current camera models. It comes in handy in very dim light when you may not want to lug a monopod or tripod along and can't use a flash.

For many users, either one of those models would work just fine though, and the Nikon is a well liked camera, despite the lens restrictions (not all users need the types of lenses I'd want to shoot with).

Any camera choice tends to be a compromise in one area or another and all of the entry level DSLR models are capable of taking great photos in most conditions you'd use a camera in. When you start getting into more extreme conditions, then the camera/lens choice can become more critical for a higher percentage of keepers.

JohnG Nov 14, 2007 2:07 PM

Jim's advice is spot on. One important thing though - if you can, go to a store and handle both cameras. You may find you like the feel of one over the other. Ergonomics is a very important aspect and also varies by individual. It won't take much time and it may just push you one way or the other.

In the end - there are many happy users of BOTH cameras as well as happy users of entry level models from the other systems as well.

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