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Old Dec 16, 2006, 2:44 AM   #1
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Hello everyone!

I currently have a Canon S1-IS and am frustrated beyond belief. It's slow, low res, and doesn't capture what I need.

I attend (and compete) in a lot of outdoor sporting events, where 90% of my shots are taken from 25-100 yds away. At my last event, a friend of mine lent me her Nikon D70s, with a 200mm lens on it (I dunno if that's the right number or not, she called it for "medium to long distances"?). - I was hooked.

In one, two-hour event, I blew off nearly 700 pictures. I was amazed at how well even the "crappy" ones turned out compared to my PHD Canon (PHD = Press Here Dummy!).

So, this has me looking to finally take the leap into buying a dSLR and actually learning how to use a dSLR properly, but leaves me wondering if I should just buy a D70s and call it a day.

My big concern is that if one buys a digi-cam, it's kind of a one-off thing, and if you need more you sell it and buy a new one. I am aware of the fact that buying an SLR is more like buying a "system", when one looks at the lenses, flashes, and all the many things one can spend all of their spare cash on.

So, is the Nikon "system" the way to go? I have read many, many, many reviews on the D70s and all are rather glowing, but was wondering if anyone thinks that it would be worth it to buy a D80? Should I save the extra money it would cost to buy a D80 and buy a longer lens for a D70s instead? Should I be looking at the Canons instead? If so, which model?

What are the typical caveats of buying a Nikon system vs Canon or Pentax?

I know this post may seem vague. Any insight is *greatly* appreciated as stepping up to the world of SLR is a very daunting one... not to mention thoroughly confusing.

TIA!

Edit:

I forgot to add, that since I take sporting event pics, I need a camera with a very good burst rate.


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Old Dec 16, 2006, 5:00 AM   #2
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A very good question and probably not as vague as you thing. Personally I would stick with the Nikon or Canon brands as these are the two big players in the world of sports photography. By doing this you know that you will always be able to get better quality lenses as you progress and you also have the options from people like Sigma which will also give great results at lower price than those from Nikon and Canon.

The main question that is going to help make a decision is how much money you have to spend on the setup. I shoot probably 90% sports and the rest as portrait, landscape etc etc and recently changed from Konica Minolta 5D dSLR to a Canon 30D so have had to go through the same decision process as you are looking at. Also what sort of sport do you shoot?

The 2 cameras to look at are the Nikon D200 or the Canon 30D as they give you 5 fps (frames per second) as well as very fast AF which will be helpful. The burst rates are good on both as well, far more than you should ever need (I shoot probably 3-5 shots in a burt unless something spectacular is happening). I would then couple this to a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and a 1.4x tele converter to give you a very good lens and reasonable range.

If you are coming down the price range on cameras I would then go for the Canon D80 as the next best and after that would not like to make a call between D70 and either the Canon XT (350D) or XTI (400D).

Hope that gives you a good start into this but feel free to ask more questions.

Mark
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 8:33 AM   #3
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Itreally comes down to price. If your budget is higher, then get a more expensive camera with a higher fps rate and bigger buffer. If you have to juggle things financially, I would definitely get a less expensive camera and a better lens - the lens will last much longer than the camera body will. And an average lens will give you an average picture no matter how expensive and wonderful the camera is. However, all of the dSLRs take good pictures (they all have different bells and whistles) and a good lens on a budget camera will take a better than average picture. I have one top quality lens and the pictures it takes with a lowly Pentax DS are awesome!
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 10:41 AM   #4
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In the reasonable price range for sports I think there are only two really good options.

Canon 30D & Nikon D200.

Most people would agree the D200 is a better camera in most respects... except possibly for sports, where some commentators (even Nikon fans) think the 30D has better high-ISO performance, better AF, and a bigger range of lenses that are as good as the Nikons and cheaper.

Most sports shooters use Canon for these reasons.

Having said all that, any of the modern DSLRs will give you much better results than the P&S, as you have discovered. The D80 is a very nice camera. And you can still get a new Canon 20D for a good price if you look around.
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 10:58 AM   #5
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I would recommend either a Canon Rebel XT, XTi, or a D30, depending on your budget.

If your shooting sports, as little shutter lag as possible is the goal, and the Canons are superb. My 20D (replaced by the 30D) has such little shutter lag, I get shots at the last second that I really have no right to get! And good high ISO performance to boot!

A nice lens to consider is the Canon 70-200 F4 L lens, which is fairly light for it's size, and works very well outdoors.

The 70-200 F4 lens is not all that expensive either (around $550 new, less money used at B&H Photo Video).

I don't work for B&H Photo Video, but you will save money if you buy online.

I buy all my gear at B&H, as their prices are very competitive and their integrity as an online retailer is unquestioned, in my mind.

-- Terry
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 11:48 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies everyone. My budget is around the $1000-1500 CDN range (yep, I'm a Canuck).

I have some more information which should be helpful.


Both my father and grandfather are former shutterbugs. They both have Pentax SLRs from the 60's, with VAST assortments of lens.

Since I am outside in bad weather much of the time, I noticed the Pentax K10D is completely weather sealed and image-stabilized.

From what I have read, the Nikon plus their 18-200 VR (an image-stabilized lens) is an excellent combo, and the Nikons have a vast array of lenses available, but are limited. I have read that the Canons are even more limited.

The big upside to the Pentax, from my understanding is that you can use ALL of their lenses.

I am going over to my folks' place this weekend and ask my Dad if I can have his stuff (he hasnt used it in over 20 years), and I will make note of his lenses (models) and report back.

Any love for the K10D here?

I also like the fact it will take unlimited JPGs in continuous mode.

Mark1616 I compete in, and take pictures of Schutzhund. If you don't know what that is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schutzhund
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 12:03 PM   #7
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Well, all those lenses are nice, but if they aren't particularily fast or the right focal length, then they are not much use.

I've never really had an issue with weather sealing.

I just shield my camera away from the ice and snow, usually by having a lovely assistant hold an umbrella for me!
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 12:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
From what I have read, the Nikon plus their 18-200 VR (an image-stabilized lens) is an excellent combo, and the Nikons have a vast array of lenses available, but are limited. I have read that the Canons are even more limited.
I'm afraid I have no idea what that means.

For sports shooting IS/VR is basically useless whether you have it in the body or in the lens; equally useless.
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 5:19 PM   #9
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I'm with Peripatetic and not sure what you are meaning by "limited".

I have not had a chance to play with the Pentax so can only talk from what I have read etc. Firstly to say that I don't think the unlimited burst is going to be of any interest to anyone (I could be wrong) as with my 30D it will clear the buffer in about 5 seconds and I have yet to fill up the buffer even though I shoot a lot of sports. If you are continually filling the buffer/taking 1000's of shots I would look consider how long your shutter mechanism is going to last as we are talking about something mechanical. I do agree that if you are working in nasty conditions the weather protection is going to be helpful but don't forget that it is useless unless you are also purchasing weatherproof lenses or get a cover. I have Kata covers for both lenses and the body and they are fine.

Looking at lenses from Pentax there is nothing that I can see that is a quality lens for sports and at the moment it does not look like Sigma have anything apart from the 100-300mm f4 which is their sharpest lens but at f4 is not as bright as I would like to see. This is one of the main reasons that I opted for Canon (although Nikon was also on the cards while in the decision process).

Mark
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Old Dec 16, 2006, 6:27 PM   #10
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You want the camera for shooting sports at a distance. This is really demanding on gear. What you want is the best LENS you can afford.
High burst rate and fast autofocus are great for sport, but both are useless if you can't get the shutter speed you need or get close enough to the action because your lens isn't long enough or fast enough.
Great sports lenses cost a fotune, but given your budget I would look at the Sigma 100-300f4 (long enough but f2.8 would be better) or the Sigma 70-200f2.8 (fast enough but might be a bit short). Having budgeted for one of them, then see what camera you can afford.
If you can spend more then look at a lens like the 120-300f2.8 which is the best all-round sports lens without getting into the astronomical prices of the canon 'big whites' (or nikon equivalents).
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