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Old Oct 13, 2006, 5:23 AM   #1
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I have decided to just go ahead and make the leap into the SLR market. I have never owned an SLR before, though I have used my fathers old film SLR, and a friends Olympus DSLR and know its time. However I can't seem to figure out which way to go. I think I have narrowed it down to two. The D80 and the 350. I know the XTI is out now, but I don't see a major advantage to it over the XT. And with the difference in cost I would rather grab a more expensive lens over two megapixels. The D70 is a little to few megapixels though, since I do tend to blow my pictures up a lot to at least 8x10 if not a bit bigger. So I guess what I really wanna know is, what are the advantages and disadvantages to each, and what you guys think is a better camera. I compared some of the D80 photos to the XT and the XT's almost seem a bit nicer. Of course that could be the lens too.

I plan to do a lot of outdoor shooting mainly, but I also love taking macro shots. And I want to do some sports/action photography. But then I want to be able to bring it inside and take pictures of the family.

Any insights at all would really be appreciated. My budget is around 1200. And the D80 pushes right against it, but I can justify it since I wont have to go out and buy new memory cards, have a bunch of SD ones from my FZ30.

Thanks.


Quick Edit to add: If I do go with the XT I can swing the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. I admit it is quite tempting over the kit lens of the D80. So any ideas about a starter lens for either the XT or D80 would be appreciated.
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Old Oct 13, 2006, 7:45 AM   #2
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Actually if you're going to do some action shooting the XTi has a big boost over the XT - the 9-point focus system from the 30d. The bigger LCD screen and anti-dust are some other nice improvements.

What remains to be seen on both the XTi and D80 is how the new sensors handle noise levels. In the past, an increase in megapixels has often meant cramming more MP on the same size sensor (which is what is happening here I believe) - that has resulted in more noise at ISO 800 and above. Nikon struggled with this in their D70 and D200 cameras - both having worse high ISO noise performance than the less megapixel D50. This has been an advantage for Canon in the past couple years in that their 20d/30d (the competitor cameras to the D80's predecessor the D70) controlled noise much better. So, it will be interesting to see how both companies did incontrolling noise in these 10mp cameras.

in at least one review from Phil Askey at DPReview, these two cameras were compared head to head. Image quality and resolution were about equal in both but according to the test images posted and the reviewer's conclusions, the Canon still held the edge in high ISO noise performance and ISO 800 and 1600 although in the reviewer's words "Nikon is closing the gap".

If you don't see yourself needing high ISO often then it's a moot point and I wouldn't give it another thought. It's also early for both cameras so there aren't a lot of comprehensive reviews out yet. But let's assume for the sake of argument they both live up to their respective hype. Each one will easilly be able to handle your requirements. It's going to be a matter of personal preference to a large degree.

According to the spec sheets, the D80 is about 4 ounces heavier - most likely sturdier build (Canon really does make a cheap fealing entry level DSLR IMO).

Most specs are the same but there are some important advantages in the Nikon camera:
  • ISO 3200 capability (via boost mode) vs ISO 1600 in Canon (although remember Nikon still has worse ISO 1600 performance than the Canon so it is questionable how usable the 3200 will be)[/*]
  • Exposure compensation at +/- 5 vs. +/- 2 for Canon[/*]
  • Spot metering[/*]
  • Auto ISO[/*]
  • Wireless flash integration[/*]
  • slightly brighter flash (guide 13 vs. 12)[/*]
  • arguably brighter viewfinder
[/*]
I think the price difference between the two cameras is around $100-200

One note though - the MP difference of both cameras over predecessors is negligible - the difference between 10 and 8mp is not boing to be noticable in 8x10 prints.

But I strongly suggest you handle both cameras before making a decision - how they feel and how they operate are very important considerations. Can't stress this enough!

But based on your requirements either camera has the features to meet your needs.



Good luck!
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Old Oct 13, 2006, 2:17 PM   #3
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Thanks, JohnG. Some things I didnt think about for the XTI. And the Nikon. So what I guess I am asking is, on my budget, is it worth it to get a slightly older model and a better lens, or splurge on the more newer/expensive model and deal with a kit/less expensive lens.

And do you have an recommendations fora good walk around lens for either camera that wont give me sticker shock .

Jamie
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Old Oct 13, 2006, 2:51 PM   #4
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As for recommendations:

The more I think about it, you're going to be a bit restricted at first - what is going to cause you problems is the "macro" and "sports shooting". The problem isn't in the camera (any of the DSLRs in question will do very well for macro and will do well for the occasional sports shooter in decent lighting.

The problem is going to be lenses. I don't think you're going to be able to get lenses to meet your walk-around, macro and sports needs right off the bat. So, you'll likely have to sacrrifice a bit in the macro and sports department.

I think an older camera body will be fine, but I really still suggest you handle all the cameras you're considering before you buy. You may find something like the larger LCD screens a huge bonus. But, either the 350d or the D70s or even D50 will meet your needs.

From a lens standpoint - that's a big can of worms. Lots of different opinions on that. I can say, I own and use the 28-135 as my primary walk-around lens for my Canon 20d. It's a great lens. It's not wide enough for true landscape work (for that I use a 17-40). So, if you THINK you'll be doing more landscape shots or a lot of group shots indoor, a lens like the 17-85 might be a better walk-around. But, while the 28-135 gets bashed by some of the newer pixel peepers, ask any old film user that still uses one and they'll tell you it's still a great lens - even on a 1.6 crop body. The 28-135 even has a psuedo-macro mode - it's not truly 1:1 so if you are serious about your macro (I am not) you'll eventually want a true macro lens. But the 28-135 is not going to help you with sports - it's too short for outdoor sports and too 'slow' for indoor sports. But, sports is a whole different matter - you're unlikely to find a good walk-around lens that also doubles as a sports lens.

For the Nikon cameras, I just don't know. I know the 18-200VR is quite the rage in the Nikon community, but it's pricey - definitely outside of your budget. But, you're getting a very good range and a surprisingly good quality lens (not as good as buying separate lenses for the same focal range but hey, everything is a trade-off).

I would check in the Nikon lens forum (and even the Canon lens forum for Canon suggestions) for specific suggestions.

When I look online it appears the XT is going for around $615 for the body only (at buydig.com), the 400 for around $760 body only ((butterfly.com) and the D80 for around $970 (preorder)body only at butterfly.com.

Buydig.com also offers the 28-135 for about $400. So you could get it and the 350 for $1015.

But check with the Nikon lens forum for recommendations for walk-around lenses there. I'm sure there are some good options but you'll probably still have to sacrifice macro and sports with any choice until you can afford a 2nd and 3rd lens.
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Old Oct 14, 2006, 1:37 AM   #5
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Actually the new Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 that is available as a kit lens with the D80 looks like it might be a nice enough walk around lens for about $400. This review was posted very recently:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/993/cat/13

Judging from the review and tests, it appears to be comparable to the Canon 28-135 in sharpness overall (and maybe even a bit better), but for the same price the Canon is clearly better as far as distortion and vignetting, and comes stabilized to boot. So the Canon lens does look more attractive, if you don't really need to start that wide.

Still, for covering an effective focal length of 27-202mm, that doesn't look a bad choice for the Nikon.


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Old Oct 14, 2006, 12:02 PM   #6
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Quote:

What remains to be seen on both the XTi and D80 is how the new sensors handle noise levels. In the past, an increase in megapixels has often meant cramming more MP on the same size sensor (which is what is happening here I believe) - that has resulted in more noise at ISO 800 and above. Nikon struggled with this in their D70 and D200 cameras - both having worse high ISO noise performance than the less megapixel D50. This has been an advantage for Canon in the past couple years in that their 20d/30d (the competitor cameras to the D80's predecessor the D70) controlled noise much better. So, it will be interesting to see how both companies did incontrolling noise in these 10mp cameras.

in at least one review from Phil Askey at DPReview, these two cameras were compared head to head. Image quality and resolution were about equal in both but according to the test images posted and the reviewer's conclusions, the Canon still held the edge in high ISO noise performance and ISO 800 and 1600 although in the reviewer's words "Nikon is closing the gap".
Red reply>>>

Before I start a whole discussion and presentation process again, did you actually meant the Nikon D80 and D200 cameras OR the Nikon D70s camera & D200 cameras in your context? Because, the high ISO performance of the Nikon D70s is as good as that of the Nikon D50 based on my research, if not better. (Do you want samples?)

Aqua reply>>>

It is true that the EOS 20D and the EOS 30D dSLR (Which both have the same high ISO performance based on my research) have less noise in their ISO 1600 images (2 secs exposures) than the Nikon D70s' shots at ISO 1600 as well. (2 secs exposures)

However, the Canon (above models) images at that setting (above) produces images that looksofter than the Nikon D70s' images at the same settings (above). [The images looks as if they were softened by N.R.] The Nikon D70s' images on the other hand, is looking more crisp and detailed to me. (Both are as well defined though) [The Canon'shigh ISO performanceare good]

Yellow reply>>>

What camera models were discussed?




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Old Oct 14, 2006, 3:45 PM   #7
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Sorry Ben, do some asking around of people who have actually used one of these cameras. Ask the Nikon folks - I think you'll find pretty solid agreement for the statements I made about noise levels.

And, as to the 20d/30d images being soft. I'll gladly put my high ISO 20d images up against the images you've taken with any of the mentioned cameras.
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Old Oct 14, 2006, 3:55 PM   #8
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Sorry Ben, do some asking around of people who have actually used one of these cameras. Ask the Nikon folks - I think you'll find pretty solid agreement for the statements I made about noise levels.

And, as to the 20d/30d images being soft. I'll gladly put my high ISO 20d images up against the images you've taken with any of the mentioned cameras.
If you were talking about noise levels only, then it is true that the Canon EOS 20/30D are the cleanest in my comparison with the Nikon D70s and D200.

I didn't say that the ISO performance of the EOS 20Dwas worse than the Nikon D70s'.

No need to challenge my photographic skills (I'm not interested to challenge). One day I'll be a professional anyway. (And I'll still not challenge anyone)



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Old Oct 14, 2006, 6:58 PM   #9
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It looks like dpreview has their review of the XTi posted today.

First, from the review of the D80:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond80/page29.asp
To be fair the D80 does not perform as well as the EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) at ISO 800 or 1600 but the differences are much less than they ever used to be, Nikon is closing the gap.

The last issue is price, or value for money. In my opinion, its customization, performance, build quality, comfort and design are worth the price difference between it and the competition. Having said that Nikon may struggle 'in stores' to fight Canon's (aggressively priced) EOS 400D ($200 is quite a big difference).
And, from the review of the XTi:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos400d/page29.asp
The EOS 400D (Rebel XTi) turned out to be everything we expected it to be; a progressive upgrade to the already hugely successful EOS 350D (Rebel XT). Image quality was just as good, with plenty of detail, low noise and sophisticated noise reduction at higher sensitivities an well balanced, and thanks to PictureStyles predictable, color and tone. It also has a significantly improved user interface, dust reduction system, 9 point auto-focus, larger LCD monitor and combined status display / setting change system. All this in a camera which is just as small and light as the camera it replaces.
With all that in mind it's a pity we could so easily have predicted the 400D; with the commercial success of the 350D in their minds Canon clearly didn't want to take any risks with the 'winning formula'. This, however, is perhaps the EOS 400D's achilles heel; that it was so predictable. So predictable in fact that Nikon clearly saw it coming and went one better with the D80; they also managed to close the image quality gap to a degree where the differences are as good as irrelevant.
And:
Where does the EOS 400D come up short? For me, the camera isn't as comfortable to use as the Nikon or Sony. This may sound petty but I do feel that Canon's tiny grip is a mistake of form over function. Nor does it have the D80's large and bright pentaprism viewfinder, nor can it match the 'eye on the scene' feel you get from the short viewfinder black-out time. The D80 also gives you the surprisingly useful configurable automatic ISO, spot metering, a wider range of customization, wireless flash control, advanced battery information and in-camera retouching.
In short, the D80 noise level is an improvement over previous Nikon models, and still isn't quite as good as the latest Canon, though the difference is small. Phil prefers the D80, mainly due to the grip, viewfinder, spot metering and more in camera settings. He also questions whether most will find those differences worth the price.

I'll add that I checked prices today at Beach camera, and it looks like the XTi is only about $125 more than the XT, so I think that might be worth it for the higher resolution and better autofocus alone.

Also, I suspect that it's possible that per-pixel sharpness or noise on the D50 might still be as good or even slightly better. But , in the real world, what matters isn't per pixel measures, but the overall detail and noise in the image actually captured. It shouldn't be a surprise that these 10MP models are capturing noticeably more detail than the older 6MP models (as with the D70 in the review). Or if visable image noise is a bit less.

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Old Oct 14, 2006, 10:46 PM   #10
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Wow, thanks for all the replys. I am gonna go to bestbuy tomorrow and try to feel up the D80 and the XTi. I do admit, I am leaning a little heavier towards the XTi because of the price difference. There are some great things to the new Nikon, and I really appreciate that it uses SD cards, which is one less expense for me, but with the Canon XTi and the USM IS 22-135 lens it will cost about the same as the Nikon with the kit lens. So I guess it comes down to, is the Nikon with kit lens better then the Canon with higher quality lens. I know I will eventually be buying some more lenses later on, but this is gonna blow my budget for at least 6 months if not a year, so I really wanna be able to enjoy it and get good shots with what I have. And the fact the that Canon lens has IS is a big selling point. Coming off my last two cameras(KM D6 and FZ30) that both have it, I am a little worried about not having some kind of IS functionality. Actually though I have been eyeing up the Sigma 17-55 mm 2.8 lens for a wider angle, brigher lens. And I have read great things about the canon 55mm 1.8 prime.

Ack, if I am not careful, my 1200 dollar budget which I upped to 1500, is gonna wind up costing me closer to 2. *sighs* And that still doesnt cover a 70-300 mm that I will want to pick up at some point :angry: I guess I am just worried about being happy with what I get since I know I wont be able to afford anything else for awhile.

Oh, well, will update with my impressions of them tomorrow. I am really hoping I fall in love with the XTi and not the D80.

Jamie
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