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Old Jun 9, 2007, 7:27 PM   #1
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I have been to many Digicam sites (here first, always) and the more I read, the more confused I get. I don't know how to choose what I need or want. I see Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Kodak, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and even Pentax! Different sites give different reviews and none seems to get the over all nod.

I take pictures of scenery, wildlife, plant life, and people. Occasionally, I shoot sports events. I like quick and easy shots, not long set-ups. I like long focal length and wide angle both. I like fast shutter speed and the ability for long exposures, too. I like Macro shots now and then (spider in a web, for example).

I do NOT need movies with a still camera. If I want movies, I'll get a video camera. I don't need sound. I DO need quality images that I can bring into Photoshop and crop or rotate or otherwise set up for quality prints up to 13x19 (maybe larger in the future). I'm really an old 35mm SLR guy who wants to move into the new century. I am a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, but that makes me good with the software - not more than a wannabe with Digital Camera knowledge.

My film camera (Yashika) is 37 years old and has SCREW mount lenses; but it works great. I just don't want to mess with film any more. And if I get a DSLR, I can't use those lenses anyway.

I have some concerns about a DSLR because swapping lenses seems to bring more contamination problems than a film SLR. But I do want "through the lens" viewing. So maybe DSLR is what I need?

I have rafted through the Grand Canyon 3 times (7 days of whitewater and sand and sun). Each time, I had to have my SLR cleaned from the contamination that came with lens swapping in the middle of a river or in 110 degree dry Arizona sun and sand. The mirrors held up very well, but I don't know how DLSR senors would do.

I have looked at the Canon Digital Rebel XTi but the XT gets better reviews than the XTi. I looked at the Nikon D80 which gets good reviews most places, but everyone has caveats (like "soft" images). I sort of liked the new Canon S5 SI, but it doesn't have RAW. There are just too many choices and prices from $300 to $3000. (I would probably do best under $1000, but if I have to go above that to get what I need, I'll look.)

The "intangibles" like memory cards (more memory and common cards is better), battery type and life (common and long-lasting is better than proprietary), hot shoe (a plus), RAW capabilities (please), megapixel size (as appropriate with sensor capabilities), stabilization, etc. are all important.

I would appreciate sage advice from anyone here who has any to give. I'm all "ears." Thanks.

PS: some of the pics I have taken with just a Canon S45 Powershot (4 MP) camera are here: http://www.grandmemories.com/ForSale.htm

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Old Jun 10, 2007, 12:11 AM   #2
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Well, I'm hardly one with "sage advice" to dispense, but from what I understand, most DSLRs have adjustable sharpness settings within the camera, and also "soft" images often resolve nicely with a bit of USM in Photoshop.

It seems to me that based on your experience, skills, and knowledge that an economical (a very relative term, to be sure) DSLR may be the best camera for you. From what I have seen and read, all the entry-level DSLRs do a good job, and much of the decision is based on which lens system you would like to buy into.

In addition to the usual entry-level suspects - Nikon D40, Canon Rebel XTi, Pentax K100D - a new choice is coming up: the Olympus E-510. It is a 10mp DSLR with IS, dust-reduction, live-view, etc., and also will be available in a package that contains 2 lenses for a total focal range (in 35mm equivalent) of 28mm to 300mm, for under $900. That's a lotta dough, but sounds like an excellent value.

If you really want to stay away from a DSLR, the Fuji S6000fd is the most versatile "superzoom" camera on the market, and a good value at $300. IMO, of course.

My best advice would be to wait and see what the real heavy-hitters on this forum have to say...:idea:
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 7:33 AM   #3
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It seems to me that, with your years of experience with your Yashica,you'd be capable of picking up any dSLR and doing well. But it also seems to me that, after prehaps you first or second rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and having to get your camera cleaned as a result, someone should have told that you needed to get a second body if you didn't want to change lenses in a hostile environment.

If you'll be doing any more whitewater rafting, I think two good solutions might be either a good image stabilized super zoom digicam (a dSLR with a non-interchangeable lens) or two dSLRs, same brand and model so you can share lenses in relatively clean environments, and not have to change lenses in not-so-clean environments. I don't know how practical the 2 dSLR solution would be. You'd be carrying around two big, heavy (relatively speaking) dSLRs, instead of one lighter, more compact super zoom. To limit the impact, you could go with an Olympus dSLR. Olympus makes the lightest, most compact dSLR bodies, and their 4/3 lens system means their lenses are also lighter andmore compact. And their new E-510 has image stabilization.

I think that, before you proceed any further, you should narrow down your options to one of these two solutions, if you think you'll be using your new camera(s) in environments where dust and debris can get to the image sensor.
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 7:53 AM   #4
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Father John-

I have thought a lot about your requirements, your experience (very creditable indeeed), and your requirements to achieve the biggest bang for the buck.

The primary advantages that a consumer level DSLR camera can offer you are two fold. The ability to use high ISO settings without much visible noise (or in the case of an ultrazoom, no smearing put in there by in-camera processing) and ultra wide angle landscapes. Your album does not contain many photos in these two categories.

You have already expressed an adversion to changing lenses under less than ideal circumstances. Why not consider an ultrazoom. That would eliminate the trial of lens changes, cover the type of photos that you seem to be taking, and minimize your expense. Ultrazooms like the Fuji S-6000fd, the Canon S-3, and a Sony S-2 can be purchased for around $(US) 300.00 or less. Thus saving you money in the long term.

If you want to go to a lesser expense (around $(US)200.00) take a look at the Fuji S-700 (in the USA) and overseas it is called the S-5700. It is very small, has 10X optical zoom, and some manual controls. There is no full professional review out yet that I know, but the pictures do look promising.

The compromise on photo quality, in view of the photos that you are now taking, when compared to what a consumer level DSLR might do for you, is minimal. Please understand that is just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

Sarah

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Old Jun 10, 2007, 11:57 AM   #5
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Thank you everyone for the replies!

I have continued to review cameras and a salient point was made elsewhere: if I buy a dSLR, I can change the body as technology improives and keep the lenses. This makes more sense than tossing the entire camera should I decide to upgrade in the future.

I have two Canon printers and have owned two Canon cameras - I like Canon very much but I also respect Nikon highly. These two are at the top of my list right now.

My wife also wants to take pictures and she told me she does not have an aversion to lens swapping. I also was told on the NAPP site that the contamination problem is overblown; it is real, but not a big deal unless I raft through the Grand Canyon again (and I won't).

I am retired now and my wife will be in a few weeks. Our pictures now will now mostly come from road trips and cruises and the like. Given her feelings and the NAPP advice, swapping lenses might not be the issue I first feared. We are both still the short side of 60, so have many years of photography ahead. By investing in lenses and starting with an entry-level dSLR body, we can build slowly for the future.

Sarah's comments about high ISO and ultra-wide shots being better with a dSLR really made an impression on my and probably pushed me over to the dSLR side. That said, I will have to save a few more dollars and be willing to go to the $1,000 - $2,000 range (including one or two lenses).

I'll keep checking; I am not in a rush and will be careful choosing. I appreciate the input of everyone; decisions are best when data-driven.

Thanks!
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 1:59 PM   #6
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Well Father John-

You say you are data driven. Well here is a photo that looks just as good as one taken withmy Canon XT. It was taken with a Canon S-2IS which was Consumer Reports top choice in their July 2007 issue.

It was taken indoors, handheld,without flash at F 3.5, 1/30th, ISO 200, cloudy WB. IMO opinion, it is difficult to argue with that quality for less than $(US) 300.00.

A sage once shared with me a great statement: "A DSLR camera is a continuing investment program. A good digicam is a singular investment."

So this is my contribution to a data driven discussion. And I an NOT anti consumer DSLR cameras, I own many of them.

Sarah
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 2:30 PM   #7
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Thanks, Sarah. That is a great picture.

I still don't know if I keep doing $300 "singular" investments every 3-5 years or if I invest in lenses and just replace bodies every 3-5 years...

I have owned one film camera in the last 37 years, but have several lenses, numerous filters, and other things. I have had 3 digital cameras ($300 - $500 range each) in the last 10 years. So to say a digital camera like the S2 IS is a "singular" purchase is probably a bit of an over statement. Then again, my first digital was 2 MP, then 3 MP, and now I have 4 MP (S45 Powershot). None of them, however, take filters. None can exchange lenses and so are limited to what they came with.

But it is VERY hard to argue with the price of the S2 or S3. (The S5 is a bit pricey for what you get at $500, though - especially when I can find the S3 at $269.99). And those cameras DO take filters and a hood, etc.

I appreciate the food for thought. If I can keep getting cameras in the range of $300 (1/4 the cost of a dSLR), then I can afford to replace them every 5 years more easily than "building" a dSLR system.

I'm glad I have time. :G
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 2:46 PM   #8
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mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
"A DSLR camera is a continuing investment program ..."
... so long as it wasn't made by Kodak.
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 3:07 PM   #9
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Father John-

We sometimes overlook what it a wise investment, and choose in its place, the "newest and the best." I know that I have fallen prey prey to that kind of thinking. Looking at that sample photo, you can see why Consumer Reports picked the Canon S-2IS as their top digicam choice.

And yes, a full set of filter, sunshades and auxillary lens are available for both the Canon S-2IS and the Canon S-3IS. But then we have to be wise in purchasing accessories as well. I added that sample photo, because the S-2IS really matches your photo style. Here is an outdoor photo sample with the Canon S-2IS. Notice the resolution and detail in the seagull's feathers. That kind of detail isevery bitas good as my Canon XTi or my Nikon D-50.

Just some thoughts.

Sarah
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Old Jun 10, 2007, 3:35 PM   #10
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Thanks again, Sarah.

I see virtually no difference in price between the S2 and the S3, but the S3 seems to be a bit of an upgrade over the S2. Do you see any reason to choose one over the other? (S3 is 6 MP, S2 is 5 MP.)

I definitely like some of the S5 upgrades (larger and moveable view screen, hot soe, etc.), but the extra $200 is too steep for now.
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