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Old Aug 12, 2007, 12:56 PM   #1
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Just like many of the other posters, I've been doing my research and can't decide on my final purchase. I've narrowed the field down to Nikon vs. Canon. I'd also like to mention that I don't currently own an SLR, so I haven't yet begun a collection of lens. I'm leaning towards a Nikon. I was seriously considering the D40X, but the limits of AF lenses is a consideration, so perhaps I should consider the D80? But then there's the weight of the camera. Will I take the sllightly heavier (and more expensive) D80 everywhere? I'm looking for a DSLR that is versatile enough to take everywhere, day at the beach, hiking, international vacations...So I'd like the body to be something that I'll use and add various lens to for many, many years to come. I'd also like the camera body to be versatile for both landscape and action photography. So I welcome your first hand preferences/opinions! Thanks!
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Old Aug 12, 2007, 1:15 PM   #2
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All the current DSLRs are fine creative tools capable of excellent results when properly handled. Emphasis on the properly handled! Plan to carefully study the camera by giving more than a glance at the owner's manual. Read books, attend courses, join photo clubs but most of all shoot lots of photos and examine them critically to expand your knowledge and skills. Overall no one DSLR is better at any one type of photography than any other.

I would suggest visiting a good camera store and handling the cameras with the lenses that interest you. Bring some memory cards and shoot a bit to see how they handle then review what you shot at home on your computer. Pick the one that feels the best in your hand and to your eye.

You are buying into a system as you will want more lenses and other accessories so make sure the system you choose supports what you want now and in the years to come. Changing systems is expensive! Both Nikon and Canon have extensive systems as well as having the most third party equipment support.

Remember that DSLRs don't process the images as much as other digicams and will require some post processing to get the best out of them. You will eventually need decent photo editing software and acquire skills in using it.

Digital cameras should be considered as disposable however! While the body may keep working and producing great images you will be tempted to replace it with a more current model because of increased functionality. The good news is that your lenses and other accessories should still work with the new body.

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Old Aug 13, 2007, 7:52 AM   #3
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SnapHappy24 wrote:
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I'm looking for a DSLR that is versatile enough to take everywhere, day at the beach, hiking, international vacations...So I'd like the body to be something that I'll use and add various lens to for many, many years to come. I'd also like the camera body to be versatile for both landscape and action photography.
Well, unfortunately everything is a trade-off. And, the camera body itself is only part of the equation. The lens is an important part, as are accesories depending on the level of quality you wish to achieve. For instance, ask a serious landscape photographer whether a tripod is necessary and they'll tell you it's a critical piece of equipment. Absolutely essential. But that comes at a cost - lugging around a tripod. So keep that in mind

Sticking with landscape photography - two fairly common requirements of landscape work are a good, wide-angle or super-wide angle lens and good dynamic range. I believe any of the cameras you'll be considering will be on par with one another with regards to dynamic range. As for the lens - again, it depends on what level of quality you want to achieve. Most wide angle lenses will have some quality issues the wider you zoom out - distortion, etc. The better quality lenses do a better job of controlling these problems.

You mention action photos (my personal specialty). What types of photos? Be specific - if sports, specify which sports and at what level (i.e. taking photos from the stands of an NBA game is different than photos of your 11 year old's YMCA team ). There are definitely camera features that make an impact in action shooting. But, there are also lens requirements too. What those requirements are depends on what action you wish to photograph. So, you'll have to provide more info about what you plan to shoot before I can give you an idea what gear you might want to use.

As for hiking / beach etc, the gear you need depends entirely on the shots you want to take. If say, you fancy taking both landscape shots as well as shooting birds I would tell you that you won't have much success with just a single lens. But, if you just want to take shots of your family at the beach and some landscape shots then it's really no problem to have just one light lens. But, the types of shots are important to what gear you need. Let's say you like to take shots of streams/waterfalls on your hikes. Now a tripod becomes very important to success (slow shutter speeds). Anti shake can help but it's a very poor substitute for a good tripod. Or let's say you liike to take photos of the wildlife - that means telephoto lenses. Usually at least 300mm. If you're under canopy you might also need external flash or tripod / monopod and/or a lens with a wide aperture.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to say you need to spend $5000 to get started. That's not it at all. I just mean to say that a DSLR isn't a magic tool. You don't buy one with a single lens and be able to take any type of photo you want. Can you get fabulous shots with a DSLR and kit lens? Sure you can. In a limited set of conditions. For other conditions/types of shots you may not be able to capture them very well at first. Down the road you can pick up the necessary lenses/accessories to get those types of shots. Unfortunately, there have been people I've talked to that were misled into thinking if they bought a DSLR they could do anything. So they spend $1000 and they still can't do the type of photography they wanted to do. There are others that buy a DSLR and kit lens and are quite happy for several years because the types of photography they are interested in aren't very demanding.

So, please provide some additional comments on the types of beach shots, hiking shots and action shots you plan on taking and we can give you a better idea of what gear is required. That way you can make some better decisions about various trade-offs in cost, weight and capability and thus make the right decision for the future as well as the present.
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 3:54 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for the feedback.

I'm really leaning towards the Nikon D40x, with the kit lens of 18-55mm, and another lens of 55-200mm. What I'm trying to achieve is to purchase a mid range DSLR that I'll take on vacations, grab for a day at the beach, and take with me to a professional baseball and/or basketball game. You know, get that practice and experience under my belt, by always grabbing the camera to take with me everywhere. And then later on as I progress with this hobby, I can add additional lens, etc. but I can still utilize equipment pieces from this initial purchase. In the future,I'd love to experiment with some fun lens such as a fish-eye, and a long range zoom lens for an African Safari.

I want to avoid purchasing something that I'm afraid to lug around and use. Or it's not versatile.

I'm an amateur. This is just a creative outlet for me. A hobby that helps me forget about the corporate jungle that I work in! I'm not ready to say that I only want to focus on photographing landscape or only photographing nature or sports. Right now, I want to experiment with taking photos of everything!!! Then later perhaps selecting one category that specifically appeals to me....
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 5:19 PM   #5
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OK, some things to be aware of:

D40x is an entry level camera not a mid-range. The D80 is Nikon's mid-range DSLR. The D40 and D40x are their entry level models.

Be advised taking photos at basketball games is not easy. First off you would need something like a 70-200 2.8 lens (about $1200 for Nikon's or $830 for Sigma's in a nikon mount) PLUS have very good seats PLUS be allowed to take the camera/lens inside. Some stadiums/arenas do not allow DSLRs some don't allow larger lenses. Consumer grade 200mm lenses will have an aperture of 5.6 which won't get you fast enough shutter speeds to stop action - in other words you'll have motion blur in your photos. Just want you to know what you're up against there before you spend your hard earned money.

In major league baseball parks, they seem to be the most camera friendly. But, you need a LOT of reach to get usable shots. 200mm is actually very short. If you're taking action shots, 200mm is only really good for distances of 25-30 yards. So if you're not right by the field, 200mm won't get you very many usable shots. Taking wide-angle atmosphere shots is no problem. But if you intend to take action shots of the players - you need to be thinking 400mm lenses.

I would also suggest that for action photography the reduced number of focus points on the D40 / D40x will be an issue.


I understand size is an important issue. But you should be aware the D40 / D40x is a stripped down DSLR. You should hand-hold the D80 or Canon 400D to see if they are an acceptable size/weight. You also are limited to I believe 1 fast prime lens that will auto-focus on the D40 (fast being 2.0, 1.8, 1.4). That may not be an issue now but as you said you want to grow in the future so you should understand the D40x handicaps you a bit.

Of course the D40x is still a very good camera - the lack of focus motor and lack of focus points are the two major drawbacks to it (hey they had to save money somewhere in order to reduce the price). If you can live with those limitations then you should be OK.

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Old Aug 14, 2007, 2:59 AM   #6
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as already stated, i'd consider the canon 400D (rebel XTi) or the 350D (rebel XT). or why not a pentax K10D? it's got image stabilization, dust reduction and you can use every pentax lens ever made as long as you don't mind manual focus. or if you're used to digicams, olympus has a couple DSLRs that have a live view LDC that might come in handy.
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Old Aug 14, 2007, 1:39 PM   #7
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pcake wrote:
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or why not a pentax K10D? ... you can use every pentax lens ever made as long as you don't mind manual focus.
Err, no you can't. You can use the ones you can buy on eBay or in a store (new and used) and that's not always as cheap or easy as it sounds.
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