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Old Aug 12, 2007, 11:38 PM   #1
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Hello,

I want a DSLR to capture my 5 month old daughters milestones. We already have a decent point and shoot (panasonic DMC-FX07), but want something better for special events.

I have tried to limit myself the around the $1000 mark but would go slightly over if needed. The Panasonic DMC-L1K is on sale at Best buy right now for $1000 and it retails for $1500.

I've narrowed my search to the Olympus E-510, the Nikon D40, and the Panasonic DMC-L1K, but would entertain any other suggestions. Each has it's own pluses and minuses.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Brent
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 2:02 AM   #2
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The attractive thing about the panasonic is that wonderful Leica kit lens.

The E510 is a better camera though IMO.

The Nikon is fine.

At that price for the Panasonic I would get it. The lens itself is worth almost that much, and you can always upgrade the body in a few years to a new Olympus body. Note that the Olympus and Panasonic both share the 4/3 standard so lenses are interchangeable between them.


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Old Aug 13, 2007, 7:14 AM   #3
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davidsbr1 wrote:
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I want a DSLR to capture my 5 month old daughters milestones. We already have a decent point and shoot (panasonic DMC-FX07), but want something better for special events.

I have tried to limit myself the around the $1000 mark but would go slightly over if needed. The Panasonic DMC-L1K is on sale at Best buy right now for $1000 and it retails for $1500.

I've narrowed my search to the Olympus E-510, the Nikon D40, and the Panasonic DMC-L1K, but would entertain any other suggestions. Each has it's own pluses and minuses.
Tough call.

The Panasonic has the best lens, by far, with optical image stabilization, but the sensor is only 7.5MP. The Olympus E-510 has a 10MP image sensor, 'sensor shift' image stabilization, but the kit lens isn't as good. The Nikon D40 is only 6MP, doesn't have image stabilization in the kit lens, and the kit lens isn't as good as the Panasonic's either.

The Panasonic has another advantage, though. The kind of photography I think you'll be doing (indoor/low light) requires a faster lens than the Olympus and Nikon kits provide, but that the Panasonic's 14-50 f/2.8-3.5 is well suited for.

You could get the Olympus E-510 body and the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 lens, which is better than the kit lens, and more on par with the Panasonic's kit lens. That will be more expensive, but it will buy you a 10MP camera instead of a 7.5MP camera. While, on the face of it, the difference isn't much, but if you might be doing any cropping or other post processing, starting with a 10MP image gives you more to work with than if you were starting with a 7.5MP image.

The Nikon D40 is a fine camera, but is outclassed by the other cameras you've mentioned. It only has a 6MP image sensor, and is bigger and heavier than the others. Perhaps a more fair comparison would be with the D40x instead, and still be within your budget. It's still bigger and heavier, but it has the 10MP image sensor. It's lens, while very good for a kit lens, isn't up to the Panasonic's kit lens or the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 lens. An equivalent lens for the Nikon might be the 17-55mm f/2.8, but it's $1,200. Another choice might be the Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8or the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses (both very good), at about $400.

Though the selection of lenses for the D40/D40x is less than other Nikon dSLRs, it's still better thanthe 4/3 mount used by the Panasonic and Olympus dSLRs.

Tough call.

The Panasonic is (slightly) cheaper. The Olympus E-510 with the 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 lens has the 10MP sensor. The D40x (or D40)with a Sigma lens is compareable in most respects, but is bigger and heavier.

Have you tried any of them? That would be the deciding factor for me. How the camera feels to you is the most important factor when selecting a camera. If you can't comfortably hold the camera or quickly locate the controls, you'll be less likely to use thecamera to itsfull potential.
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 11:36 AM   #4
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I appreciate the advice. I have handled the panasonic L1k and it feels well made with a good amount of heft. The nikon may be a little more comfortable though. I am leaning toward the Olympus right now, given it comes with two lenses. I did read that Canon is coming out with the 40D in a month or so. That is in another price range however.

Do you think the Panasonics 14-50mm lens (28-100mm equivilent) is enough zoom for most tasks?

Thanks for the insight.

Brent
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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davidsbr1 wrote:
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I am leaning toward the Olympus right now, given it comes with two lenses.
Actually, the two lenses that come with the E-510 won't suit you as well as the one lensthat comes with the Panasonic.

For a small child, you won't have much use for a telephoto lens, and the normal lens is too dim for an indoor/low light environment. The same is true for kit lenses for whatever other camera you might be considering, EXCEPT for the Panasonic. Its 14-50mm f2.8-3.5 Leica lens is brighter than any other current kit lens, and its focal length will be appropriate for your subject until he or she starts playing outdoor sports like soccer, baseball or football.

That's why I mentioned the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5. Its range, aperture, and qualityare comparable to the Leica lens on the Panasonic, and the E-510 has features that might make it more desirable for you.
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 1:58 PM   #6
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OK,

Some good advice here. As the father of a 1 year old, let me throw out some additional points to think about.

First, in my experience the most useful piece of equipment to have is a good external flash. There are just way too many important pictures that can't be gotten without a good flash. By my definition, good means external, bouncable. Internal flashes are poorly built - even on DSLRs.

Second, I find that shallow DOF shots of my son and nieces/nephews are some of my favorites. Since a number of these shots are taken indoors where you can't back up - that means fast primes (1.8 or 2.0 aperture). This also means the Nikon D40 or D40x is a poor choice because they won't autofocus with any of the prime lenses. On my Canon camera I have found the 85mm 1.8 was very nice and still is for head shots - but your child is becoming too big for full body shots with an 85mm lens indoors. So 50mm on a 1.5 or 1.6 would be better (or around 35-40mm in the 4/3 systems).

Here is a link to another thread where I posted some sample pictures illustrating these points:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...=87&page=1

For what it's worth, I also find that f2.8-3.5 is too slow for many indoor shots without resorting to higher ISOs (1600 or above) - and that is where the 4/3 system still has issues. I'm not saying any of the 4/3 cameras you're considering aren't good - they absolutely are. All I'm saying is if you're going to be taking shots indoors you should plan on a flash or fast prime (which goes for any system really).
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 4:04 PM   #7
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I would echo JohnG's advice that the external bounced flash will be the most important factor for low light situations whatever DSLR camera and kit lens that you choose. With this combination, you will get good pictures more easily than with a 1.8 prime alone. I find that manual focusing is not an issue, but handling narrow depth of field requires more skill, and for example, at a christening you will find it very difficult to get more than one subject in focus. By the way, the D40 and D40X will autofocus with the Sigma 30mm 1.4, but this lens is more expensive than the manual focus Nikkor 50mm 1.8.
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 6:31 PM   #8
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I also agree about the necessity of a really good external flash. Keep in mind thatgood Flash Techniquesare a slowly developing skill and they takes practice. But you will be very pleased with the results when you master flash. So take the time to learn the skill. It will pay you with huge dividends and really excellent photos..

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 7:44 PM   #9
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JohnG, 1eyedeer, and mtclimber, you're all absolutely correct. I don't like flash and have never used it, so I forget to consider possible applications for it.

davidsbr1, I apologize for not mentioning it. It may serve you well, though I'd still go for a fast lens and plenty of ambient light.
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Old Aug 13, 2007, 7:50 PM   #10
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Well...I broke down and bought the panasonic L1. Best Buy honored a 12% off coupon so the final price was $880. The Leica lens itself sells for more than that. I figure I can use the savings for an external flash. My plan is to upgrade the body in a few years and will already have a solid lens. I'm not going to open it though for 2 weeks just in case I have a revelation and decide to go another route.

Thanks for all your advice.

Brent
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