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VanCote Nov 17, 2006 11:12 PM

Dear Camera Owners,

I've just returned from 9 weeks on safari in Zimbabwe, Africa. My new Panasonic FZ10 fell far short of what I've done with my previous Canon film camera. The eyepiece is too tiny to use. photos with high contrast elements (very light and very dark) are all washed out, the shutter release is too slow to capture the action, and the colors are not vivid.

I want to change back to Canon. Is there a digital Canon that performs as well as a film SLR, or do I need to go back to film? If there is a Canon digital that can do the job which one do you recommend?

Thanks tons for your kind assistance,


peripatetic Nov 18, 2006 10:45 AM

Can they do the job? Well you don't say which job.

In many respects any of the Canon DSLRs are as good or better than film. In other respects they are not as good.

I'll take a chance on luring the lunatic out of his hidey-hole.

Roughly speaking the 400D, 30D and 1DMkIIN have image quality that is broadly on par with 35mm film, and better in low light.

The Canon 5D and 1DsMkII are better than 35mm film under most conditions and are being used extensively by people who used to use medium format film.

Of course there is a great deal of variability between user-expertise using both film and digital. Most comparisons are done by the very best exponents of each system. However it's fairly clear that an expert in either system would easily outperform an "ordinary" user of the other.

You don't say what kind of photography you are particularly interested in, but I personally have found the 20D is giving me far better results than I ever got from 35mm film. I haven't put a single roll through my old film Canon since I got the DSLR.

I personally don't like the cheap, small and light feeling of the entry-level DSLRs (from all the manufacturers). So my recommendation is the 30D as a very competent all rounder and a good starting point, and if you can afford to spend more then go either for the 5D as a great landscape and portrait system or the 1DMkIIN for sport, wildlife or photojournalism. The 1DsMkII is the king of the hill.

If you're not too desperate to stay with Canon, they Nikon have two lovely cameras in the D80 and D200, and the new Pentax K10D looks very nice. All the others have respectable entries too, but nothing that would tempt me away from Canon.

If you're not in a terrible rush then PMA at the beginning of March next year is very likely to see some fantastic new cameras from Canon. After a lead they held for some time the other manufacturers have caught and even exceeded Canon in some areas, but if the rumours, and past performance, are any guide then Canon are due some amazing new cameras early next year which should push them back into top spot for a little while.

VanCote Nov 18, 2006 1:30 PM

Dear Peripatetic,

Thanks so much for your wonderful reply to my inquiry. You've given me more than I could have hoped for.

The type of photography I'm interested in is African wildlife as I've been to 20 African countriesto tent-camp, track big game on foot with a private guide, and photograph.

I'm looking for a camera that performs as well as my old Canon film camera: wonderful optical viewfinder, a great dynamic range for high contrast, an instantaneous auto-focus and shutter release, and vivid colors.

I've printed out your previous reply and am anxious to hear anything further you care to offer.

Thanks tons,


peripatetic Nov 18, 2006 4:59 PM

That makes things easier.

If you can afford it then the 1DMkIIN is the camera for you. It is a pro level camera, the MP count is "only" 8.2 but it is simply a superb camera.

If that's too expensive then the 30D would serve you very well instead.

You will also need some good lenses to go with it. There are a wide range of good choices available.

If you have an idea of budget it would be easier to recommend something. If you post in the Canon DSLR forum you will get some good advice.

VanCote Nov 18, 2006 5:50 PM

Dear Peripatetic,

You're the greatest! I've narrowed down the camera body to either your 30D or 400D(Rebel XTi) and for a zoom lense either the Telephoto EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM Autofocus, or EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS Autofocus. I'm leaning toward the 30D and IS Autofocus. I've studied the specs on the Canon Website and I'll go toa store to see first hand before I buy, but you've helped me enormously. Not knowing much about digital cameras when I first bought I just accepted the recommendation of a store owner and ended up with the wrong camera for me the first time around.

Best wishes,


peripatetic Nov 19, 2006 9:36 AM

Go for the 30D, you won't regret it.

Also when it comes to lenses, keep in mind that the 70-200 f2.8 is one of the very best lenses Canon makes. But it's "only" 200mm long at the max. Which gives an effective focal length of 320mm which is not really that long for wildlife, but it depends very much on how close you can get and how big the animals are. You could add a TC but of course you will lose some quality.

If you need the reach then you might be better off considering the 100-400 L IS. 400*1.6= 640 which is pretty darned useful.

Sigma also make a fantastic 100-300 f4 which even with a 1.4x TC is sharper than the Canon 100-400. (And cheaper).

And of course there is the Sigma 120-300 f2.8, which is very good even with a 2x TC. But is a bit more expensive.

Check your images and see whether you can live with 200mm (320 effective) as your longest focal length, if you can, then that would be the best choice by far. If not I would consider going for the 100-400L IS.

Oh yes, and of course you should get the 18-55 kit lens with the camera. It doesn't cost much, is actually not nearly as bad as internet pundits make out, and will allow you to use your camera for snaps and the odd landscape shot instead of just telephoto work.

VanCote Nov 19, 2006 4:07 PM

Dear Peripatetic,

Great information and thanks so much for helping me think through available options.

I used a Vivitar auto focus 70-210 for 15 years and loved it, and as I track BIG game like lion and black rhino on foot, my shots are well under 50 yards, usually 30 yards, sometimes 10 when they charge.

I'll certainly get the 18-55 as you suggest for wide angle work. I agree it is a must.

Best wishes,


JimC Nov 19, 2006 4:42 PM

VanCote wrote:

I used a Vivitar auto focus 70-210 for 15 years and loved it, and as I track BIG game like lion and black rhino on foot, my shots are well under 50 yards, usually 30 yards, sometimes 10 when they charge.
Vivitar 70-210mm Autofocus Lens, huh?

I recently bought a Vivitar 70-210mm f/2.8-4 AF lens in Minolta mount. This lens tends to get bad user reviews. But, I think it's one heck of a bargain. I got mine for $79.95 (new in the box with hood and caps). lol

We were just discussing it in a thread in the Konica Minolta/Sony forum here:;forum_id=84

It's not going to compare in quality with the lenses that peripatetic mentioned. But, I can't complain for what I paid for it. It's sharper than expected at wide open apertures, and a brighter lens with it's focal range would cost me 10 times as much (or even more going with a Sony/Minolta lens with this range)..

I haven't used mine in daylight much yet. But, it worked fine when shooting a concert not long ago. When time permits, I'll try to take some photos outside with it, so that I can see how well it performs as far as flare, chromatic aberrations, etc., go.

VanCote Nov 19, 2006 5:26 PM

Dear JimC,

I gave my Vivitar 70-210 away as a gift and I miss it alot. Enjoy.

Best wishes,


VanCote Nov 20, 2006 6:21 PM

Dear Peripatetic,

I just wanted to let you know I went into a shop today and tried out the Canon 30D and loved it. It's so comfortable to hold, the viewfinder is super, and the speed of shooting is amazing. Thanks to your help (and other kind helpers)I'm now well able to make thebest purchase decision for me.

Thanks and best wishes,


rfortson Nov 21, 2006 1:44 PM

Just to confuse you a little more, you may want to look at the new Pentax K10D as it's a weather-sealed body and has in-camera image stabilization. It may save you some coin and seems to be a nice camera.

I don't know the Canon line (other than that they're fine cameras). Since you're out in the wilderness with your camera, I'd suggest a weather-sealed body and lens. I know Canon has them as well, but I don't know which Canons have it.

Good luck, and happy hunting!


peripatetic Nov 22, 2006 5:03 PM


Good luck with your purchase and be sure to post some pictures when you get the camera.

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