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Old Jul 19, 2007, 12:57 AM   #1
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Any comments/experiences on this transition ? I'd been using a Canon AT-1 (manual), mostly tri-x 400 b/w film, for a long long time, then fell out of the "picture-taking"mode for a long time. Now, I'm trying to get back into it, but the world has changed...

The Canon 30D sounded nice on paper, but when I finally got my hands on it, it was too huge. Now, I'm looking at the Nikon D80. I hear that the D80 might be closer to what I'm used to than the less expensive models (Nikon D40x, Canon Rebels).

Any suggestions or comments ? All of the added computerized features are a bit intimidating.

thanks, atom
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Old Jul 19, 2007, 2:02 AM   #2
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Any comments/experiences on this transition ? I'd been using a Canon AT-1 (manual), mostly tri-x 400 b/w film, for a long long time, then fell out of the "picture-taking"mode for a long time. Now, I'm trying to get back into it, but the world has changed...

Atom, Tell me about it! Your situation sounds about like mine, except my last slr was an AE-1, which I just sold to a college girl along with a 50 1.4 and a 70-210 f4 zoom, dedicated flash, etc. for a third what I originally paid for it. I bought a D50 a year ago and I have been thrilled ever since. I find that I use my camera a lot more than with film, because all other things being equal, its "free". Another great thing about dgital is the instant gratification you get when you can review your shot and re-take it if necessary. I shot film for about thirty four years, and since going digital, I haven't looked back.. Robert
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Old Jul 19, 2007, 2:11 AM   #3
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A relatively pain free way to get back into it would befirst to learn the digital ropes on one of the new breedof remarkably inexpensivesmall superzoom cameras.

You could learn whole digital 'workflow', with the camera helping you with all itsvarious modes, find out exactly what you want, and then be better placed to judge just whatyou need in an enormously more expensive & heavy dSLR, which will, of course, give you much better image quality.

In May I bought a Kodak Z712is superzoom, and I'm delighted with it. For the first time I have something that's close to the quality & facilities I got from all my Olympus OM10 kit, but remarkably cheaply, in a single very small, easy to handle package. It's got a long zoom lens of quite reasonable quality, and remarkably, image stabilisation, a breakthrough at such a price.The electronic viewfinder is in my view superior for practical purposes to the excellent optical viewfinder on the OM-10.

I used to use a Rollei 35 and then an Olympus XA compact to complement the OM-10, for times when the bulk was inconvenient. I've had 3 digicams before, and extensively used several others.Two of the digicams were similar in size to the new superzoom, and the last one combines their quality with thepocketability of the compact 35mm cameras.However, the short zoom range is a restriction on all of them. The LCD screens plus tiny optical viewfinders are a poor substitute for a 'proper' viewfinder.

At last, with the Z712, I feel I've got back to near where I was with the OM-10, 3 lenses, and lots of other bits, at a tenth of the cost of a dSLR and lenses and an even smaller fraction of the weight & volume. Only you can decide whether you need the higher quality from the dSLR, but you'd be better placed in digital photography if you knew what digital facilities & handling you'd need in your ideal dSLR.

Good luck! Alan T

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Old Jul 19, 2007, 2:11 PM   #4
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I've been helping my son purchase his first "real" camera, and we've mulled over the Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus. I, like you, come from the manual SLR school, so I'm having a tough time applying my "manual knowledge" to the digital camera. I've used digital point-and-shoots, but these don't count. My son finally bought the Olympus E-510 and loves it, but he himself is just getting into photography so his experience is limited to that camera. For me, the learning curve is not the digital image formats, as I have handled those for years through Photoshop. It simply is a matter of learning how all the digital "auto" functions apply.
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Old Jul 19, 2007, 4:13 PM   #5
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I personally don't feel there is any advantage in going P&S first.

I did that and kept my film SLR but it was only when I got the DSLR that I paid any real attention.

The camera has to feel right in your hands. I actually found my 20D a little small (though quite heavy) and my 5D feels just the right size.

This is a good place to start...


My photography improved more in12 monthswhen I got a DSLR than it had in 15 years of film. For4 main reasons:

1. Little time lag between the shot and the picture. I could see the pictures that I tooklater the same day. (The LCD is useful only for checking exposure IMO).

2. EXIF information like ISO, shutter speed, aperture is written into every picture.

3. A "darkroom" was immediately available on my computer.

4. No penalty for taking lots of pictures. If I had been using 35mm film I would have spent about 10 times the cost of my camera and lenses in film alone over the 3 years I have been shooting digital. More isn't necessarily better, but when there is no cost you are not afraid of experimenting.

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Old Jul 19, 2007, 10:24 PM   #6
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I agree with peripatetic. If what you want is an SLR, then you should get a DSLR and not a point-&-shoot. The p&s might help you get acclimated to the digital environment, but there's a pretty big gap between the p&s cameras and the DSLRs. You'll soon want to upgrade to a DSLR and you'll be lucky if you can get half your money back for the p&s.

The hardest part is choosing the right system. If you go for the Nikon D80, you want to be sure that the lens selection looks like it will suit your needs, and be pretty certain that your next camera will also be a Nikon. If you have the budget for the D80 and an extra lens or two, then I think that's a good choice. It's a high quality camera and Nikon lenses tend to be very good for the money.

As for getting used to automatic features, usually it's the manual features that people find intimidating. However, if manual is what you're more comfortable with, all DSLRs that I know of offer all the manual features that you're used to, and you could certainly start off using those and work your way into the newer features. Keep in mind though that the vast majority of your photography will probably make use of only a few different features of the camera. If you can just learn how to use the ISO settings, the Program, Aperture Priority and Manual modes, and exposure compensation, you should be in a very solid position to be able to take photos of any situation and have a good foundation to grow from.
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Old Jul 20, 2007, 7:10 PM   #7
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thanks for imparting with your experiences... i did try an advanced p/s (kodak p880) for a bit, but it just did not "feel right". i'm hoping that an actual slr will fill whatever that void was... (i'm pretty sure you folks know what i mean).

here's another question: how are your experiences with buyiing on-line... i just get a weird feeling when i can't go back to a store to yell at someone if there's something wrong... but the $$$ differences can be so huge, but it's not like you're buying a t-shirt or a lamp... it's a sensitive piece of equipment. maybe the body at a local and the lens on-line ??? but that sound too much trouble than its worth. are my worries an overkill ?
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Old Jul 20, 2007, 8:08 PM   #8
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For what it's worth I buy 90% of my gear on line. The days are long gone where a camera can be repaired on-site. Everything has to go back to the manufacturer anyway.

The key though is to go with a reputable on-line retailer.

you can check a potential company out at www.resellerratings.com

I can say however the following companies are highly thought of:
B&H Photo video (actually a brick and mortar store that takes up an entire city block in NY) - good prices and great customer service

Buydig.com - great prices and respectable


There are, of course others. B&H gets the majority of my business if the price is within 10%.
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Old Jul 20, 2007, 9:33 PM   #9
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I use b&h for all my digital camera needs (iI have gotten 4 camera from them since 2000)except for all of my memory cards because hands down newegg.com have the best prices on memory cards. I recently was able to get a 4GB 100x pqi compact flash card for under $40 from them.

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Old Jul 21, 2007, 2:19 AM   #10
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I have bought online, but if you have to return it's much less convenient than being able to walk into a store.

Here's the trick. Print off the price that you can get it online, preferably from 2 or 3 reputable stores (not the crooks).

Then walk into the store you'd like to buy it from and ask if they can get close to those prices. They usually can, even if they have to cut 20% off the sticker price. And if they can't, sometimes they can discount other things that you want instead like memory cards, etc.

I have bought all my recent camera gear this way and saved a lot. It also works for TVs, DVD players, fridges, etc.

Sometimes the store will match the online price exactly, other times they will come pretty close. If they manage to get close then the benefits of being able to take it back to a real place far outweigh the extracost IMO.
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