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Old Jan 14, 2007, 3:29 PM   #1
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I am thinking about moving up to a dslr soon and I have a few questions. I will have no more than $1000 to spend on the camera, memory card and lense so I know I will ot get pro quality equipment. I want a decent kit lense and a zoom for longer shots and will want to add a macro since I do lots of insect pics. I am considering the E 500 Olympus, the Canon xt or xti, theNikon D 50. and the Pentax K 100. I take lots of sunset pics, bug pics, family shots,and national monuments pics. What camera and lense combinations will work with my financial limitations. Thanks, C. W.
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Old Jan 14, 2007, 5:04 PM   #2
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If I were a new DSLR user like you, I would skip the Nikon D50 for the newerNikon D40 with 18-55 Nikkor, $599 here:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

Plus the Nikkor 55-200 zoom, at $169 here:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

That totals $800, leaving you $200 to spend on, maybe something like a 2 gig card and SB 600 flash, putting you just a few dollars over $1,000 or you can skip the flash for now, but you will eventually want one.

My second choice, if I were a new DSLR user would be the Olympus E-500 two lens outfit for $679 here:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

That leaves you plenty of money for an FL-36 flash unit and a good sized CF card, all for well under $1,000. I am currently an Olympus user, so the E-500 would be my first choice of the list you are looking at, but I already have a full set of Zuiko lenses that are much better than the kit lenses that any of the makers offers.

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Old Jan 17, 2007, 9:36 AM   #3
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I certainly do agree with Greg-

The Nikon D-40 represents a great beginning DSLR camera, PROVIDING that you can live with the lens limitations, and best of all it is well within your budget.

MT/Sarah
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Old Jan 17, 2007, 11:47 AM   #4
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mtclimber wrote:
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The Nikon D-40 represents a great beginning DSLR camera, PROVIDING that you can live with the lens limitations, and best of all it is well within your budget.
Definitely look into the lens limitations on the D40. That may become an issue for you down the road as you try to build your system. I'm no Nikon expert, but any system that limits you to a subset of lenses gets a minus in my book. That's one of the reasons I like Pentax. I can use any Pentax lens ever made on my dSLR.

If you were going Nikon, I'd go with the D50 over the D40 just for wider compatibility.

Russ
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Old Jan 17, 2007, 11:56 AM   #5
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I'm with Russ on the D50 over D40 front. I think saving a few bucks up front and imposing a huge limitation on yourself down the line is penny-wise pound foolish.

Beyond that, I think any SYSTEM will meet your needs. But you may want to check with other macro photogs that do insects - I'm betting you'll want a 1:1 macro lens for that and that isn't cheap. So you may have to make a sacrifice on this aspect of your photography. With other macro work (like flowers for instance) you don't necessarily need 1:1 but with insects being so small I think it's definitely more of a requirement. Just a suspicion though - macro isn't my thing.
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Old Jan 17, 2007, 12:15 PM   #6
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Be sure to checkout Cameta on eBay for D40 and D50 packages. Just be sure to get a new one if you don't want refurbished.

Here's the D40



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Old Jan 17, 2007, 2:55 PM   #7
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I would definitely look into the Pentax. If you don't mind using older manual focus lenses, you can get quite an assortment of lenses for very little money.
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Old Jan 17, 2007, 5:20 PM   #8
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I would lean towards Nikon or Pentax.

I like the Olypus cameras, nice ergonomics and great features for this price range. And the kit lenses are very good for what they are. So that two lens kit is among the best values for an entry level DSLR covering that range. The problem is there really aren't yet enough good affordable lenses available after that to really take advantage of the potential strengths of the system.

One of the weaknesses of the smaller sensor in the Olympus is that there is more noise at higher ISO, so it's not as good in low light. I think if there were good fast prime lenses at a reasonable price, this would be less of an issue than it is.

Likewise, the strength of this system design should be at the telephoto end, but there are insufficient offerrings there to take advantage of this potential strength. The Sigma 150mm f2.8 Macro, for example, when finally available (due this month), will deliver a 300mm EFL at f2.8 on this mount for only about $600, something difficult to accomplish near that price on a larger sensor. But there isn't enough of a selection of affordable telephoto lenses for this to be any advantage overall right now compared to other sytems. And, for lense such as this which are not yet released, it remains to be seen in practice how much apparent sharpness will suffer from the additional crop.

That said, if you have a strong interest in macro work, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Olympus E-330, as it's live view, on a tilt screen, with magnification ability, is supposed to be particulalry usefull for the precise manual focusing desired in macro photography. And Olympus and Sigma combined do at least hae some decent macro lenses available (OL 35mm f3.5 $200, OL 50mm f2.0 $380, Sigma 24mm f1.8 $340, Sigma 105mm 2.8 $390).

I see better system value with Pentax, though. Here, not only is the camera very attractively priced, for what it delivers, but there is a very nice selection of affordable new lenses. If you start with the kit lens, for example, you might then add the 50-200mm for about $220, the 50mm f1.4 as a low light/portrait lens for about $220, and the 100mm f3.5 macro for about $200 (it's a 1:2 macro). And many third party offerings are available (including any of those Sigmas) as well, and a broad selection of older used lenses that are useable.

Nikon also has an extensive selection of good lenses, especially primes, including a number of good values. While they will work with the D40 as maunual lenses, though, most of your best lens options won't autofocus on the D40. In the end you might want to focus manually for your macro work anyway, but I would still want to have autofocus available. And I would also prefer the controls on the D50.

The Nikon kit lenses are also generally good for the price. For additional lenses, there are a couple of reasonbly priced primes, the 50mm 1.8 for only about $100, and the 35mm f2.0 for about $300. But for macro work on a budget you also might want to look at some of the Sigma macro lenses, such as their 24mm f1.8, 50mm f2.8, 70mm f2.8 and 105mm f2.8.

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Old Jan 18, 2007, 1:27 AM   #9
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Ken's got a lot of good info there. As a beginner Pentax user myself, I can attest to the value of the system. You can do a lot with a limited budget on a Pentax, but that may also mean an extra investment of time shopping for good deals, learning more about the lenses, and shooting with a variety of lenses that don't all operate the same way.

You mentioned an interest in macro, so I'm posting an example of a photo I took today. Including tax and shipping costs, I used a Pentax 50mm f/1.4 screw mount lens I got off Ebay for about $24, hooked up with a Roxsen screw mount to K-mount adapter I got off Ebay for $16 (I recommend this adapter for a good deal that works well), connected to a Vivitar 2x macro teleconverter I found at an antique store for about $22. That ends up becoming a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. I don't know what that adds up to as far as macro magnification, but here's how close-up I can shoot with itt:






This was shot at ISO 800, either f/8 or f/11, on a K100d. I could have gotten it a bit sharper if I used a tripod.
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Old Jan 18, 2007, 10:40 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I am still researching these cameras and have added the new Sony and Canon XTI to my list even though I might have to wait to buy more lense. It might be just as well since I know there will be a learning curve to deal with. C W
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