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Old Sep 21, 2006, 12:28 PM   #1
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I know this question has been asked many times in this forum but I am just so confused. Although I have a point and shoot type digital(Olympus CAMEDIA C-700 Ultra Zoom), I have sworn and stood by my 35mm faithfully. However, I have recently come to realize that it's time to get with the times and invest in a newer digital camera. Not knowing whether I got the shot or not with my 35mm has become a great annoyance. Because I like to shoot with my 35mm I am thinking along the lines of a DSLR. I take mainly family pictures-holidays, my boys playing sports(indoors and out), vacations, etc. I have always liked to get up close and fill the frame with the subject, so I use my 300mm zoom lense a lot. I am not a techno junkie so alot of what I read pertaining to digital cameras is a foreign langage. I'm not sure what is meant by "noise" or white balance. I just know I want to be able to get up close and personal, take action shots, have quick start time and minimal delay. I am looking to get the best bang for my buck. I can't afford to spend a couple grand but I don't want too cheap either. I say around $1K or less. Can anyone give me suggestions on what to get? DSLR? Ultra Zoom? I am just so confused.-Thanks!
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Old Sep 21, 2006, 4:45 PM   #2
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Well, as you can imagine, your choices are wide and varied. I bought a Pentax *ist DL as my first dSLR earlier this summer. Kept it for 6 weeks and then sold it to buy the Pentax K100D, mainly because I wanted the in-camera shake reduction. I (obviously) think the K100D is the best bang for the buck, but there are others out there that also give good results. The Nikon D50 is pretty cheap now and gives excellent shots. Canon also has their Digital Rebel in the same price range. Pentax is the only one in this price range that has anti-shake, though the others have features that Pentax doesn't have (I'm sure other users will chime in).

I don't have experience with the other brands, but IMHO all the entry-level dSLRs give excellent results, and the prices are probably as low as they've ever been for them. One other plus for Pentax is the ability to use basically every Pentax lens made over the past 40 years. I don't think Canon or Nikon maintains that extensive of a compatibility with their used lenses, though their new lens offerings are probably more extensive. The old Pentax lenses are nice, and some can be had for low prices. That makes the hobby a little more affordable. For example, I went to the Houston Camera Show and bought the following lenses for a total of $130:

Pentax SMC-A 70-210 f/4 zoom

Pentax SMC-A 80-200 zoom

Asahi (Pentax) Takumar 135mm f/2.5

Sears Multicoated 135mm f/2.8

Vivitar 28mm f/2.8

The 70-210 zoom, and the Takumar 135 are excellent lenses, and to purchase equivalent new would be several hundred for each. Now, there were a lot of Nikon and Canon lenses there as well, but I don't know how compatible they are with the current dSLRs. I just know that the Pentax mounts are cheap.

Okay, enough Pentax proselytizing. Just read the forums, read the reviews (here and other places) and then pick one and go with it. You'll have fun!

Russ


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Old Sep 21, 2006, 5:45 PM   #3
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Think of "noise" as grain from using a faster film. If you use 400 ISO film, you can only enlarge the picture just so much without getting grain (have you ever tried that?). In digital cameras it has to do with how sensitive the individual sensor is, combined with how the camera's software "processes" the information from the sensor. Lots of noise will make a picture unusable. Some noise is unavoidable, and as you set higher ISO values on the camera (making the sensors more sensitive to light so you can use faster shutter speeds in lower light) the worse it gets. Just my opinion, but all of the dSLRs are very good when it comes to noise compared to the ultrazooms. Which one you find "acceptable" will be a personal matter (what bothers me might be fine to you).

Think of white balance the same way you think of using different types of film. Have you ever used daylight film indoors without a flash? The color is all wrong. What's worse is using tungsten film outdoors - you really get weird colors! White balance is the same thing - it's just the camera adjusting for the lighting conditions (outdoors, shade, indoors with florescent lights or normal lamps, etc.). If you don't like what the camera makes of the lighting, all of the dSLRs and many of the ultrazoomshavethe ability to"look" at a white piece of paper and set thewhite balance from that (custom white balance).

One of the first things I would want to know is which 35mm camera you have. Most of the camera manufacturers offer some backward compatibility with 35mm lenses. I have a Pentax, so only have first hand knowledge with them (answer - any Pentax K mount will work, and older screw mount lenses work with an adaptor - meaning that anything Pentax ever made within the last 30 or so yearswill work). I've been told that Canon changed their mount atsome point, so lenses with the older mount won't work. A friend of mine has a bunch of old Nikon lenses, and he tried them on a Nikon digital camerabut they wouldn't work,so there are some limitations too, but I don't know how much. If you have a nice collection of lenses that you can use on a digital camera, it would go a very long way toward saving you money - that's the first thing I'd research!

Allof the budget dSLRs take nice pictures and would work well for you. Go to a camera store and play with them all - they are all in your price range.

If you have to start over, I'd probably start looking at the Pentax K100D and Sony Alpha (if your budget can stretch that far, its more expensive) because they have anti-shake built into the body. That's nice to have if you use a 300mm lens hand heldall the time. Otherwise you'd have to buy more expensive IS lenses if you go with Canon or Nikon. For some people that's not important, but it sounds like a feature you'd definitely want.
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Old Sep 21, 2006, 7:44 PM   #4
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As mentioned, if you have current lenses from 35mm SLR, that might go along way towards deciding which model, as all of the entry level models are close.

Canon and Nikon have been the leaders for some time, and there is a better selection of lenses available there, particularly as you start to move up into higher end systems.

Pentax, Olympus, and Sony (Minolta) are the other strong contenders.

Sony actually makes the sensors for Nikon, and having taken over Minolta no has an interestting offering using the same sensor as the Nikon models, and based on previous Minolta offereings using Minolta's lens mount. Like Pentax, and unlike Nikon & Canon, they offer in camera stabilization, which seems to be more cost effective than stabilizing each lens. Canon and Nikon have a nice selection of lenses, but ones with stabilization get expensive.

Pentax might be the best entry level value right now, as there is a pretty fair selectiion of new lenses available, in addition to useable older lenses being available used at low prices. They also have in camera stabilization available in the K100D. The drawback might be less lens selection in the mid to high end.

Olympus has a fairly intriguing newish system they introduced, but the catch is there aren't many lenses available yet. But they offer cameras with alot of features for the price, and it looks as though lenses may be a good value as well, due to the design of the system. Most of what is availlable so far seems to be good quality.


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Old Sep 22, 2006, 7:38 AM   #5
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Thanks to those of you that replied to my question. The 35mm that I have is a Minolta Maxxum 5. I had the opportunity over the summer(that's how long I've been contemplating this) to get the Minolta 7d from Walmart.com as I heard I would be able to use the lenses that I had. However, I contemplated a little too long and they are now sold out. Being back to the drawing board the 2 cameras that I have been considering are the Nikon D50 and the Pentax100D. I just didn't know if there was much of a difference between the two or if there was possibly even a better camera out there in my price range. I figured this would be the place to ask and find out. Again, thanks to those that responded.
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Old Sep 22, 2006, 10:01 AM   #6
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cmorris1015 wrote:
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Being back to the drawing board the 2 cameras that I have been considering are the Nikon D50 and the Pentax100D. I just didn't know if there was much of a difference between the two or if there was possibly even a better camera out there in my price range.
Those are both great cameras. You may also wish to consider the new Canon 400D (or XTi) - it will be in the same class as these 2. Each have their pros and cons.

One other note to think about: moving upward. One of the nice things about Nikon and Canon is they offer several models and a nice progression from entry level models to the pro models (Nikon from D50 to now D80 to D200 to D2x; Canon from 400D to 30D to possibly 5d then on to 1d series cameras). While many manufacturers have great entry level models they haven't spent the R&D yet on the mid range that Nikon and Canon have. Just another thing to potentially consider as a benefit to going with the big 2.

But at entry level - everyone has a great entry level DSLR - you can't go wrong.

You can get a DSLR with kit lens for between $600 and $800. The problem is going to be the sports shooting. You're not going to accomplish that - especially the indoor sports with a kit lens. I'm going to assume since you said boys that the sports in question are either basketball or wrestling: In either case, the least expensive lens option is probably a 50mm 1.8 lens (around $70-80 for most systems). The Canon and Nikon 85mm 1.8 lenses are a nice step up but they cost around $400.

Lens recommendations for outdoor sports will depend on the sport. The best budget lens out there is probably the Sigma 70-300. It's not ideal - it doesn't have their HSM focus so it's a little slow and has an aperture of 5.6 which means you won't be able to use it for any night games under lights but it's only $200. Next step up is the Canon or Nikon version at $600 (you'd have to see what's available for Pentax)- faster focusing but still only f5.6 so again no night games. There are other options but they're out of your price range. I think given the budget one of the 70-300 lenses is probably your only bet.
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Old Sep 22, 2006, 11:15 AM   #7
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Quote:

Think of "noise" as grain from using a faster film. If you use 400 ISO film, you can only enlarge the picture just so much without getting grain (have you ever tried that?). In digital cameras it has to do with how sensitive the individual sensor is, combined with how the camera's software "processes" the information from the sensor. Lots of noise will make a picture unusable. Some noise is unavoidable, and as you set higher ISO values on the camera (making the sensors more sensitive to light so you can use faster shutter speeds in lower light) the worse it gets. Just my opinion, but all of the dSLRs are very good when it comes to noise compared to the ultrazooms. Which one you find "acceptable" will be a personal matter (what bothers me might be fine to you).

Some insides to ISO performance;

Actually, if you talk in terms of high ISO performance or rather "high ISO quality" (for the understanding), it is not about how sensitive the image sensor is; it is how well is can perform (quality) at higher ISO. So lets say if we have a bad qualityimage sensor (In ISO terms)that goes up to ISO 3200, and a good quality image sensor that goes up to ISO 400 only (I am talking in extreme termshere), the image sensor with the higher or better ISO performance goes to the second model. (The first model only have a higher sensitivity only, which doesn't make it better in quality) [So, don't evaluate high ISO performance by the higherISO number, butevaluate itby the image sensor's quality]

Regarding the software part of things; it will not help much if the image sensor isnot good inquality for the start. Take the Panasonic digital cameras as an example, they have such great lens quality and good processors, yet their image quality is in my opinion "Poor" whenreaching the higher ISO levels. The software & processoris doubtlessly good when it comes to processing the images, but from what I can see; the image sensor quality is already so inferiorat the higher ISO levels that the good processor/software combination cannot help much. As a result, the images have plenty of visible detail lost. (And that is a not a good thing in my understanding about high ISO performance)

This post made by me before could be of interest to the above subject;

Quote:

Basically, the more pixels you put into a given area, the worse the S/N (Signal to noise ratio becomes), more pixels also generates more noise and heat (heat can create electronic noise), sensitivity to light will also drop, you lose higher ISO performance (that is why the native ISO level of the new SONY 10 MP CCD is from ISO 100 - ISO 1600 instead of the 200 - 3200); noticed the drop in sensitivity. Dynamic range (D.R.)will also belesser with the smaller pixels.

One of the mainarea(s) that separates the dSLRs/R1likecamera from the usual compact digicams & mega-zooms is the muchlarger photo-sites/photon-detectors in the image sensors of the dSLRs/R1, that is why we have superior I.Q. on the dSLRs & R1 fix lens pro. The greatest factor to consider a dSLR IMO, is for the high ISO performance. (That alone is the valid reason to go for one in my understanding)

Nowas I look at the pixels/photo-sites getting smaller on the dSLRs, I am also observing the effectsof thesmaller pixels/photo- detectors/photo-sites at work. (I have noticed quite a number of factors that I will only mention if there is interest) [Because I will definitely upload examples]

For easier understanding, read more about"Full Frame" image sensors and why are they so superior. F.F. sensors have great D.R., S/N ratio, very low noise levels, and great sensitivities to light. All this is down to the large photo-detectors (pixels) of the F.F. image sensors. The best the APS-C size image sensors can do now is to keep lower pixel counts IMO to maintain the larger photo-detectors.

You can never find any logicalfaults with the old Nikon 2 MP dSLR (I.Q. wise) with the same sizeCCD sensor as today's APS-C dSLRs. But is seems that lately, we are finding problems with the current crop of 10 MP dSLRs [in terms of high ISO performance]. (Againwith the similar dimension CCDsince the 2 MP one)

Sensor size A: 6.3 million pixels CCD [23.5 x 15.7 mm]

Sensor size B: 10.8 million pixels CCD [23.5 x 15.7 mm](!)

Sensor size C: 2.7 million pixels CCD [23.7 x 15.5 mm (Nikon DX)] (SONY CCD)



Keep in mind that an image sensor can have higher ISO numbers than anotherbut also have lower ISO performance. Beware ofcertain image sensors that applies "ISO boost" (A bad thing in my book) [As bad asthe digital zoom feature]



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Old Sep 22, 2006, 11:32 AM   #8
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Regarding the software part of things; it will not help much if the image sensor is not good in quality for the start. Take the Panasonic digital cameras as an example, they have such great lens quality and good processors, yet their image quality is in my opinion "Poor" when reaching the higher ISO levels
But the Panasonic point and shoots may have the best image quality out there at low ISOs. They wouldn't be able to do that without a good sensor either. It's the sensor that is capturing all of that detail. Also, the weakest point of the Sony Alpha is probably noise at ISO 1600. But it appears to be the same Sony sensor as the Nikon D80, which performs well there.

So it's a combination of sensor and processing, and not always easy to say which is from which. And, some companies may be good at some things but not at others. I think the sensor plays a large part, as cameras with the same sensor normally give very similar performance. But some sensors are better at some things than others.


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Old Sep 22, 2006, 11:33 AM   #9
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cmorris1015 wrote:
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Thanks to those of you that replied to my question. The 35mm that I have is a Minolta Maxxum 5. I had the opportunity over the summer(that's how long I've been contemplating this) to get the Minolta 7d from Walmart.com as I heard I would be able to use the lenses that I had. However, I contemplated a little too long and they are now sold out. Being back to the drawing board the 2 cameras that I have been considering are the Nikon D50 and the Pentax100D. I just didn't know if there was much of a difference between the two or if there was possibly even a better camera out there in my price range. I figured this would be the place to ask and find out. Again, thanks to those that responded.
I assume you are aware that your lenses will work with the Sony Alpha.If you have a lot of lenses you might consider it.You could of course sell your lenses on EBay and start over.Minolta lenses arecommanding a premium depending on the ones you have.


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Old Sep 22, 2006, 11:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
But the Panasonic point and shoots may have the best image quality out there at low ISOs. They wouldn't be able to do that without a good sensor either. It's the sensor that is capturing all of that detail. Also, the weakest point of the Sony Alpha is probably noise at ISO 1600. But it appears to be the same Sony sensor as the Nikon D80, which performs well there.
True, the panasonic models can be great at low ISOs, but it was the higher ISO part Iam talking about. In fact, most [if not all] the digital cameras today does well at lower ISOs. (So I was talking about the quality in ISO terms)

BTW, the superior quality lens system of the Panasonic modelsmight bemore responsible for the I.Q. (AFAIK)

The images captured at ISO 1600 (2 seconds)by the Nikon D80 have a dark secret inthemthat the Sony Alpha A100 doesn't have.

Quote:
So it's a combination of sensor and processing, and not always easy to say which is from which. And, some companies may be good at some things but not at others. I think the sensor plays a large part, as cameras with the same sensor normally give very similar performance. But some sensors are better at some things than others.
I agree that the image sensor will play the bigger part than the softwareand processor. (I think my earlier post said it all)


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