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Old Mar 5, 2007, 12:26 AM   #21
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Thanks Ken,

I'm at the point where I am seriously considering pushing the boat out and going for the D200. Do you think that I am making a mistake and should lower my sights? Do I purchase the D50 and re-assess after a couple of years?
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 12:21 PM   #22
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"I'm at the point where I am seriously considering pushing the boat out and going for the D200. Do you think that I am making a mistake and should lower my sights? Do I purchase the D50 and re-assess after a couple of years?"

Well it might depend on what you want from it. So far all I've seen is shooting interiors of homes. Maybe you need to go into more detail there. Is there a wide range of other types of photography you want to do in addition to that? At a professional level? For what purpose? Large prints? Small Prints? For viewing only on a PC monitor? How many photos might you take in a week?

As far as the Nikon lineup, while I would normally might suggest starting with an entry level model if you are uncertain, the D50 seems a bit overpriced to me at this point for a two year old model which has either been discontinued or is about to be. The D200 is a higher end model that's also getting a bit long in the tooth, having also been introduced in 2005 (about 6 months after the D50). The D80 was only introduced 6 months ago, and while at a lower price point than the D200, it inherited most of the same features.

The two have the same sensor, the same image processing system, it appears the same autofocus system, and most of the same features, including support for advanced wireless lighting. The controls on the D80 are top notch, as is image quality.

Do you need the weather proofing of the D200 (shouldn't be too much of a concern indoors :-) )?
Do you need a 5 fps burst rate rather than 3fps (really only important for shooting fast action sequences)?
Will you be shooting more than 200 shots a day on a daily basis, or 1000 shots a week? (I'm not sure of the specs, but the D200 likely has a longer shutter life and would better withstand a very heavy professional load.)

Depending on your purpose, you might also find that even if you want to go all out, your money might be better spent somewhere other than the camera. Such as on lenses or lighting.

The absolute best wide angle lens available for digital photography in my opinion is the Olympus Zuiko Digital 7-14mm f4.0 from their "top pro" range (covering a 14mm-28mm equivalent). But that's a $1500 lens. I didn't think you were looking at quite that price range. They also have a very good 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 , for about $600. But the 22mm-44mm equivalent there isn't *that* much better than the 24mm you would get from the Pentax standard zoom I s****ted, as you seemed to be leaning towards Pentax. So I wasn't going to bring Olympus into this. But, since John is obviously baiting me to do so(), I'll mention that I disagree that the 2x crop factor is necessarily a problem, except as far as using older lenses that were designed for the larger 35mm film format. But for all of these systems, your best options for super wide angle optics will be lenses designed for digital. And, depending on your purpose, if you really want pro results, you might even decide that what you really want is that $1500 lens.

On the other hand this is assuming you want very accurate distortion free optics. I've mostly been assuming this to some degree, but I don't really know that. I haven't mentioned fisheye lenses for that reason. But, I suppose there might be some people who enjoy shooting interiors with fisheye lenses! I recently came across an old thread where someone was complainging about that Zuiko 7-14 lens, from around when it first came out. He was dissapointed that he wasn't geting the fisheye effect he expected from such a wide lens. He didn't understand that he had paid all that money for that lens precisely because they had gone to the trouble of eliminating distortion.

On to lighting. You might find, depending on your purpose, that what's most important isn't really the best possible lens or camera, but really having control of the lighting when you shoot. A popular setup for that purpose for serious photography might be something like this, a $1500+ setup of strobes, stands, umbrellas, and a portable power pack for serious on location shooting:

http://www.alienbees.com/intergalactic.html

There are certainly often less expensive ways of effectively lighting a scene, just as there are less expensive lenses and cameras that will produce good results. But how good is good enough depends on what you want to accomplish.

So can you be more specific about what you are trying to do? If you are uncertain of your needs, your best bet may be an entry level camera lens and flash. With more experience it would become more where you could benefit from upgrading. Rather then possibly buying the best top of the line equipment, and finding that it wasn't what you really needed.

The requirements for real estate photography, for example, can be very different from photography for professional architecture.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 12:53 PM   #23
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kenbalbari wrote:
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The absolute best wide angle lens available for digital photography in my opinion is the Olympus Zuiko Digital 7-14mm f4.0 from their "top pro" range (covering a 14mm-28mm equivalent). But that's a $1500 lens. I didn't think you were looking at quite that price range. They also have a very good 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 , for about $600. But the 22mm-44mm equivalent there isn't *that* much better than the 24mm you would get from the Pentax standard zoom I s****ted, as you seemed to be leaning towards Pentax.
Here we go again :G

First let me say I agree with everything else Ken said except for the olympus thing. Your only choices in Oly are the $1500 lens or a $600 lens that only has 22mm equiv range.

Now, let's take another system like Canon - you may choose the Canon 10-22mm (16mm equiv wide angle) for $680, Sigma 10-20 (16mm equiv) for $470, Tamron 11-18 (17.6mm equiv) for $500, Tokina 12-24mm for $500 (19mm equiv). All of which are going to give you a better field of view than the Oly 11-22 you're only sub $1000 lens choice. Of course we're not counting fisheye lenses. In the Nikon system all the 3rd party lenses above are offered and Nikon has a 12-24 lens (18mm equiv).

So if you really want something under 20mm your only choice in the Oly camp is a $1500 lens. And while I'm sure it's an outstanding lens it kind of stinks you're forced to shell out $1500 if you want less than 20mm equiv - 3 times the amount you have to spend on a lens in any of the other 3 major systems. Yes I'd say that puts oly at a distinct disadvantage to the other systems.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 11:42 PM   #24
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Hi Ken, thanks again for taking such a keen interest in my questions.

For the most part the camera would be used for taking internal and external photographs ofresidential homes. Both my wife and I are full time real estate professionals working in a very competitive market. Our photographs are mainly used to create brochures both in printed form and for the internet. The opportunity to "set the scene" with elaborate lighting systems e.t.c. is impossible, although I would certainly consider a good quality external flash unit. Hence my requirement for a camera & lens that performs well in non perfect lighting conditions.

Although my initial requirements are based on the real estate situation, both my wife and I would like to own a quality camera & lens/lensesthat would enable us to broaden our horizons and learn more about photography. We have no professional aspirations in that direction, just a desire to achieve the best that we can and enjoy our photography.

I share your reservations regarding the D50, I am frightened that if it doesn't produce results vastly superior to our C4000 we will have wasted our money and our enthusiasm will be dented. I had strongly considered the D80, until I read the following review http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d80.htmthe author put me off the camera, especially with his comments regarding the light meter. So while I agree with your opinions regarding the D200I was beginning to think that it might be the way to go, even though it is more than I wanted to spend on the bare camera body. I would be interested to hear if you agree with Ken Rockwell's comments.

When I was younger I was influenced by "more gadgets for least bucks" so if I could have purchased a 25mp point & shoot for $100 then that was the camera formeWith all of those mega pixels it must be good.......:idea:.

As I entered my 40's I realized that quality and quantity are two totally different things (at least that's what I tell my wife). Now that I am in the position to spend a little more on certain things I look for quality and reliability, but I do shop carefully.

What am I trying to say? The real estate situation is of prime importance, but I also want to purchase equipment that will enable us to learn and enjoy photography in many different scenarios. I understand that I need to raise my original budget to obtain the results that I hope for, and I don't want to be upgrading evey year to buy the latest photographic sensation. Hence the request for quality and reliability. SoI think I need to concentrate on a quality body, a quality wide angle lens, a quality multi purpose zoom and a quality flash unit............all for under 50 bucks:?.Ok, without the need for a second mortgage.

I hope that I have explained my needs a little better now. Thanks again for spending so much time trying to educate a Digital Dummy.
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Old Mar 6, 2007, 10:21 PM   #25
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Paul,

If your real estate photos are appearing on the web and in brochures, more megapixels won't make much difference. Even a at a 1200x900 resolution a computer monitor is only displaying about 1 MP. And a fine art quality 8x10 print at 300 pixels per inch would require about 7.2 MP. It's unlikley most people would even notice the difference at that size with 6MP, which would print at about 275 PPI (this is different from DPI for printers-they use multiple dots per pixel). Since your brochure photos would be smaller than that, and likley not quite that level of print quality, you really have no need for more sensor resolution. Se the "megapixel myth" thread on this page.

But how about performance? Well, you also don't really need things like the fastset possible autofocus, or alot of autofocus points. Your subject isn't going anywhere. Even for metering reliability, the difference in these cameras is still small. For what you are doing, even if you don't get a shot exactly right the first time, you could quickly see that on the monitor, and if you have to reshoot, the shot will still be there. The walls won't have moved in the meantime.

So where will you see the biggest difference in your results?

One big difference with the DSLR from the point and shoot might be in the ability to use that wide angle of a lens. But your biggest bang for your buck in results might come from what you put into postprocessing.

I wonder what kind of postprocessing you are doing now? Are you using photoshop or something similar to adjust brightness, tone curve, and sharpness?

If not, you might try and work on some of that with your current camera; you will probably need some of those skills to get the most out of a DSLR anyway.

Still, for the most part, the only people who I've seen complain that results from a DSLR weren't better than they were getting from a point and shoot weren't putting enough effort into getting the most out of their new tool. I think the difference will be noticeable enough from any point and shoot for your purposes in moving to an entry level camera. But I doubt you will see meaningful image quality differences in going from entry level to a higher end model.

If anything, for what you are talking about, I think I'd be more tempted by that $1500 lens than the $1300 body. But even there, I believe the DXO software I mentioned earlier doesn't support that lens or system. So with the proper software, I think you might still nonetheless get better results with one of the less expensive 10-20mm options mentioned, the Sigma or Canon, which are supported by the DXO software in most of the Nikon or Canon bodies.

Still, if your concern is that you prefer the ergonomics of the D200, I suppose that might be reason enough for you to consider it. Ergonomics is a very individual thing as is what one might be willing to pay. The D200 though is quite a bit heavier as well. Perhaps you would find carrying that extra weight worht it for your professionsl needs. But would it really double as a family camera on the side, or be more likely to stay home?

A couple of choice quotes from the Ken Rockwell link you provided:

"I find I always grab my D40 when I want a small camera, and my D200 when I want serious. Today my D80 mostly collects dust. If I only could have one of these three, the D80 probably would be the best compromise."

Were you looking to buy one camera, or do you plan to own three like Mr. Rockwell (who probably actually owns a half dozen or more)?

"Sorry - as I've been telling you all since the 1990s, digital changes every week. Digital equipment is a consumable. You buy it for it's immediate utility, and toss it (resell it) when something better comes out, which might be two months or two years. If you want a lasting hardware investment, buy good lenses or stick with film cameras."

Sort of the point I was making as well. If you're not shooting a pro workload of 1000+ shots a week, the entry level models are likely to last you as long as the higher end ones. And whatever you buy today in a body might be available for half as much in a year. A good lens at least, if you decide to move to something else, often holds it's value over time (especially if you initially buy used in good condition).

As for your point:
"Now that I am in the position to spend a little more on certain things I look for quality and reliability, but I do shop carefully."

I think that's wise, and likely especially applies in the real estate industry. If there's even a bit of quality difference in your advertising photos, if it's enough to lead to one or two new clients or sales that might pay for even an expensive lens or camera. But I'm not convinced you see that kind of a difference right now in your photos with more expensive gear.

As for postprocessing, I recognize that time is money as well, but with some practice it really should only take a few minutes per image you actually use. And most any small differences in metering between cameras would be among things easily corrected as well. Were you planning on postprocessing? Were you planning on shooting in RAW?

If you would prefer to shoot in jpeg, you may get better results with the more consumer oriented models anyway. For example, the results for the D40 would actually be better out of camera than either the D80 or D50. On the Canon side, the XTi would produce nice out of camera jpegs.

So for your needs, I think I would likely be inclined towards one of the entry level models from Canon or Nikon, either the Sigma or Canon 10-20mm lens, and the DXO software (or something else that will correct for distortion at such a wide angle).

But you should really get yourself a CF card and an SD card and go test out some of these models at a local shop--preferably with the lens you want. That will give you a good idea of the results to expect, as well as build quality, and ergonomics-- which can be a very individual thing. You will likely get more use out of a camera you feel more comfortable with.


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Old Mar 7, 2007, 4:16 PM   #26
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paulinfl wrote:
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Thanks to The Hun and fldspringer I spent a couple of hours researching all of the companies offering the D200 for less than a grand.

Yep...you are correct. All bait and switch scammers selling cheap imported gray products.

I've bought 100's of products over the internet to date and have had 100% satisfaction. I guess I almost got carried away this time....thankfully only almost.

Thanks guys. I will stick to the companies listed on this site and lower my sights to a less expensive D model.

Oh well.....Back to learning about DSLR's
I don't know what it is about cameras, but there are a lot of shysters out there trying to take your money when buying a camera. A lot of them are in Brooklyn/NY area, though there are also some of the best (B&H for one) in that area.

Like you, I've bought tons of stuff on the web for the last 9-10 years, and it wasn't until I started looking for camera gear that I really had to be careful. It pays to read the forums and see what people say here and on other sites.

From my experience, I've had good luck with the following:

B&H, Beach Camera, Buydig (same a Beach for some reason), H1Photo, Adorama and then the usual electronics sites (Buy.com, Amazon, etc). I pretty much just stay in those circles for camera gear, and I don't always shop on price alone (which is different from my computer purchases).

Good luck!

Russ



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Old Mar 7, 2007, 10:26 PM   #27
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Thanks Russ,

Thanks for the info, I'll certainly check out the sites you suggest. Since I received the information from this thread I nowcheck out the company on http://www.resellerratings.com/some of the postingsmake interesting reading. I truly believe that most people & sites are genuine. It's the bad guys that screw things up for everyone else.

What is irritating is if you do a google search for say a Nikon D200, the bad guys always come out on top. Maybe if enough people lobbied Google e.t.c. they would ban these site that lie.........Who am I kidding, they pay big bucks to get to the top. Do Google care? I think not.

I am proceding with caution.

Paul.
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Old Mar 8, 2007, 12:13 AM   #28
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Dear Ken,

First of all, thankyou so much for the time that you have spent trying to educate me over the past few days. In answer to one of your last questions, yes I do use Photoshop. Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with my C4000 photographs. Besides, my trusted C4000 must know it's days are numbered. It has taken to shutting down at random and overwriting pictures previously taken.

Having spent the past few weeks reading about cameras, cameras and even more cameras,I have arrived at a decision.......I think.

Unless you convince me to the contrary in the next 24-48 hours I have decided to go for the Nikon D80. I have read countlessreviews and opinions to the point where I have digital overload. Perhapsthe most helpful site for reviewshas been http://www.dpreview.com/

I admit to being a naive potential DSLR user, but these are the reasons for my choice. Please feel free to convinceme otherwise.

Nikon D40... Nice but does not have "in camera" auto focus, thus reducing the choice of lens.

Nikon D50...Nice but dated.

Nikon D200...Very nice, but too expensive for my pocketand probably too much camera for my needs.

Pentax K100D...Good price but lacking behind the D80 in features and quality. The inbuilt stabilization appears to be attractive, but is not perfect and is no replacement for correct shutter speed and a tripod.

I have also learned that camera choice is also heavily based on individual preferences and experiences. A happyCanon user will rarely touch a Nikon. I have spoken to happy Olympus users, yet the reviews seem to place themwell behind Nikon & Pentax. I have a friend who loves his fisheye lens....I hate the effect it has on his 360 shots. It all boils down to personal choice.

So, unless you can convince me that I am a total fool, it will be the D80.

Now, as for the lenses....................more studying required. Watch this space.

Thanks................Paul.
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Old Mar 8, 2007, 2:28 AM   #29
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Paul,

It sounds like you've made a good choice.

Canon and Nikon are obviously #1 and #2 in market share here for good reasons. And for your purposes, the D80 sounds like a sound choice. From most of what I've seen, it seems to be generally considered the best body under $1000, with only a couple of minor quibbles. One of those quibbles is that some consider out of camera jpegs a bit soft--which shouldn't be a problem if you are comfortable with even a small amount of postprocessing (a touch of unsharp mask might be in order for important shots, if shooting in jpeg).

And I have no idea if you will find a need for additional software for something like distortion correction, but such products (and many other kind of acessories and add ons) do tend to support primarily Canon and Nikon. You also seem to have a better selection there right now for the ultra-wide angle lens you will likely desire.

And Nikon also has some of the best options for external flash, should you decide to go that route in the future (though I suspect the on camera flash might do for starters for your needs).

Now, good luck in your lens hunt. There were several good recomendations in this thread for the wide angle, most of them fairly close in quality. For the single general purpose zoom lens you suggested you might want for other uses, the Nikon 18-135mm seems like a nice fit. The Nikon 50mm f1.8 might be a useful addition for only about $110 as well.

Good luck, and I hope you'll share a pic or two when it's all done!

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Old Mar 8, 2007, 2:57 AM   #30
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paulinfl wrote:
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Nikon D40... Nice but does not have "in camera" auto focus, thus reducing the choice of lens.

Nikon D50...Nice but dated.

Nikon D200...Very nice, but too expensive for my pocketand probably too much camera for my needs.

Pentax K100D...Good price but lacking behind the D80 in features and quality. The inbuilt stabilization appears to be attractive, but is not perfect and is no replacement for correct shutter speed and a tripod.

I have also learned that camera choice is also heavily based on individual preferences and experiences. A happyCanon user will rarely touch a Nikon. I have spoken to happy Olympus users, yet the reviews seem to place themwell behind Nikon & Pentax. I have a friend who loves his fisheye lens....I hate the effect it has on his 360 shots. It all boils down to personal choice.

So, unless you can convince me that I am a total fool, it will be the D80.

Now, as for the lenses....................more studying required. Watch this space.

Thanks................Paul.
To discount the D50 just because its 'dated' would be a foolish option imo. That camera is great and it will take vastly superior pics to your current camera, make no doubt about that. Also the flash seems very strong to me which would suit your indoor pics.

As for prices, I visited my local camera shop here in chester and they were selling a D50 with 18-55 kit (a lens that would do you proud for your purposes) for £250. Plus many online places are selling it for around £300 mark. Great value if you ask me!

Also the D40 would be a great choice as the newer version of 18-55 kit lens is a very nice lens. I have compared shots from the D50 and D40 and the D40 wins hands down. Yes having no in camera focus motor is a bind, but you did say that you only needed the camera for interiors and you have little need to be an amateur photographer.

Personally I think a D80 is overkill for your needs, but thats my op.

Whichever camera you get, make sure you post some images here at SD, thanks!
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