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Old Aug 15, 2007, 10:28 PM   #1
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Hello guys,

While I know there isn't one single camera that suits all types of shooters there must be some key features that most experienced photographers (hobbyist or "pro") would want if they were buying their next DSLR (or in my case my first). What are some of them?

For exmaple, just off the top of my head I would want...clean pictures at high ISO, 3-5 fps (5 is better that's why I'm looking at more the 30D/D200 vs the D80), durable camera body, accurate color palette, good ergonomics/menu design...etc.

I shoot in multicultural festivals, music concerts, sporting events, family fatherings, architecture, people, landscapes...you name it. But, I'd say I take most of my pictures on my travels. Or that is when I take the most concentration of photos at one time.

I'm considierng the replacements for the Canon 30D and Nikon D200 (maybe D80). Currently I have a Sony DSC-H1. A decent P&S with some DSLR functionality. But it is essentially a P&S camera so it has it's share of limitations. Which is why I'll be in the market for my first DSLR. And am here asking for ideas.

Thanks.

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Old Aug 16, 2007, 12:14 AM   #2
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Hi Dark - Ok, I do not have all the answers to your questions. I woud suggest rolling back on the last few pages of this "what camera should I buy" as there are a number of extremely informative postings on which models have the best burst fps, for your specific use and what cameras have less noise at the high iso speeds. A lot of good information has been written over the last few weeks - a lot of reading - yes, but I also think a lot of answers to your questions stated in varying positions.

That being said, I do have suggestions for your other questions....

good ergonomics/menu design - This is different for different people. For this answer you need to go pickup different makes / models of cameras. Large hands or small hands, large bodies with mass and weight or smaller or ???? You need to look through the view finders to see what works for you. Glasses - large nose, its really a personal choice. The menu design is also somewhat of a personal taste. You need to see what appeals to you. The same thing with the number and location of the knobs, wheels, buttons and their inter-relationship along with the various displays in the viewfinder, on the top and the use of the back display. What works for my 5 foot wife does not usualy work for me at 6'3" - She constantly tells me to not touch the seat settings on her car - but she wants me to fill it with gas. So go down to a good camera store that has at least the makes you are interested in and hopefully a few more. Take a SD or CF card with you so as to bring home the images to look at the colors. Handle all the systems, figuring out what you like and what you dont. What works for you and what does not. A camera that you hate will not get used. Also - the best camera that you hate will usually not produce the images you are expecting.

This will also force you to consider just how much you really want to spend, and start to allocate your spending between the body and various lens. Also to start to conside the "system" of body and lenses, where really its the lenses that point to the make as opposed to ONLY a body decision.

The higher speed fps would lead you to the Canon and Nikon models - others can advise in this area better.

Accurate color pallete - I would recommend you shoot in RAW format or Raw + JPG. In RAW you have better capabilities to adjust the colors and the rest. Each camera make / model handles colors ever so slightly differently for different reasons. Also, each of the cameras have body adjustments/settings for in camera JPG processing that will make a material difference in what you see and like if your shooting JPG format. This also touches on the question of the white balance setting. All the camera models handle this, but it changes across the various lighting conditions and sources (sun vs light bulb types, etc.).

durable camera body - the most durable are the professional models which are $$$$, just how durable is in the eye of the user. 1000 images a week is a different use model than 100 a month. Wear and tear is different. Are you going to be out in the elements a lot - dust and rain - would entail a sealed body/lens set. If your not then why spend a significent larger sum of money just to have something that will probably not serve you. Also the more durable the camera the larger and heaver it will be. If your looking for something not HUGE and weighs a ton, then you may have to give up some durability that may not be essential. I have a Pentax K100 and its is really built very well - but if run over by a M1A1 tank - it will be broken.

high iso speeds equate to low light levels - you are only going to want to shoot high iso speeds in situations where you can not use a flash. You can also use faster lens - with lower f stops - but they are also $$$$. You can also use longer exposure times - but in a concert - that usually does not work.

You did not say anything about image stablization. You can either not consider it or if you want to have it, then there are 2 types body stablization or lens stablization, and this depends on make. Pentax, Sony and Oly have body (wich stablizes any lens you attach to the body), Canon and Nikon have lens stablization with is more expensive. It works better in low light situations and with non tripod telephoto shots. Something to consider.

Architecture and landscapes are at the wide end (usually) i.e., wide angle lenses 10 30mm Festivals and concerts might be a standard or short telephoto opportunity (unless your in the front row or in the stage wings) - so your probably looking at a number of lenses. Sporting events usually indicate fast fps in bursts, if your on the sidelines - up in the stands becomes a long telephoto shoot. How many lenses do you really want to buy. Which returns you to the "system" concept - which make provides you with the selection of lens you may need or want - both focal lenght and speed (and maybe stablization). Also, there are third party vendors with some really great lens. Also another question for lenses is prime or zoom?

... confused yet???? - that was not my intent. However some reading and thinking, coupled with jotting down what you think you want to do and how you want to do it. A few trips to the camera store to handle things and take some pictures and things should start to clear up in terms of how YOU feel you need to proceed.
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Old Aug 16, 2007, 12:44 AM   #3
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Well, as for ergonomics...I have medium size hands. Have held the Canon XT/XTi/30D. Nikon D2X (not considering that! But was at a camera show in 2005). Basically by "ergonomics" I just mean being able to reach the most often used controls with one hand. Without having to fumble around, take my eye off the viewfinder....to access a function.

I've already narrowed my choices down to either the replacement for the Canon 30D or Nikon D200 (maybe the D80).

Both seem to be well designed. But with the edge going to the D200 in that it does have dedicated ISO/WV/QUAL buttons on the top left side dial. With indications visible in the viewfinder. Also it has a rubber grip. Helps in holding the camera over a long period of time.

The 30D...has the settings selector dial before the shutter button. Just something to get used to. Whereas the D200 has it in front of and below the shutter release button. More natural I think.

Durability? I like to travel. Will be heading to places like India, Egypt, Tunisa, and other parts of Africa. Fairly dusty at times. Shooting in the rain? Doubtful. So some degree of weather seal would be nice.

Again, I think the D200 has the 30D beat. I don't think they 30D has any real "wearther sealing".

Being that I'm not a working photographer (obviously) and just a hobbyist I don't think I need the durability of a DSLR that can do 250,000 cycles like the Canon EOS 1DM2N.

But as for cleaner pictures at high ISO....that nods goes to the 30D. As does a more accurate and unhyped color pallette. Or so my eyes tell me based on the many pics I've seen taken with both cameras.

Both do 5 fps. Canon has better battery life. Is "made in Japan".

Any how, if you guys could list 5 key features you'd look for in your next camera (or a DSLR period) please post.

Thanks.

Btw...I'm thinking of the replacements for the 30D and D200. Which should appear later this month I heard. Rumor. If not then later this year or early next. No rush. Already have a camera to shoot with when I have time. A Sony DSC-H1. A P&S with some DSLR functionality.
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Old Aug 16, 2007, 6:41 AM   #4
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DarkDTSHD wrote:
Quote:
Any how, if you guys could list 5 key features you'd look for in your next camera (or a DSLR period) please post.
My next camera must have:
1) Direct controls for AF mode, AF points selection, exposure mode, bracketing, drive mode, WB, EV compensation.
2) Shutter speed, aperture, ISO and EV compensation in viewfinder and top LCD panell permanently.
3) Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO must be accessible directly by turning front and back control wheels (effectively ASv, TSv and TAv modes).
4) Effective dust prevension system (currently just Olympus have one)
5) in-camera image stabilisation.

For me 5fps have no importance at all.
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Old Aug 16, 2007, 11:06 AM   #5
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Edvinas wrote:
Quote:
DarkDTSHD wrote:
Quote:
Any how, if you guys could list 5 key features you'd look for in your next camera (or a DSLR period) please post.
My next camera must have:
1) Direct controls for AF mode, AF points selection, exposure mode, bracketing, drive mode, WB, EV compensation.
2) Shutter speed, aperture, ISO and EV compensation in viewfinder and top LCD panell permanently.
3) Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO must be accessible directly by turning front and back control wheels (effectively ASv, TSv and TAv modes).
4) Effective dust prevension system (currently just Olympus have one)
5) in-camera image stabilisation.

For me 5fps have no importance at all.
DarkDTSHD,

I'll warn you about this question now. "Necessary" featers is an extremely subjective topic. You will get completely different answers depending on:

Experience and skill level of photographer

Type of photography they do

shooting style

Ergonomic preferences

For instance, I just bought a new camera - here is my list of the 5 (ok 6) critical components the camera had that made me choose it over another:
  1. Same camera system - since I have lots of $$$$ invested in lenses[/*]
  2. 45 focus points / 19 cross-type[/*]
  3. Advanced focus system with separate processor to control focusing[/*]
  4. 10 fps[/*]
  5. Highly Usable ISO 3200, with usable ISO 6400[/*]
  6. Build quality / shutter life (300,000)
[/*]
For my purposes, in body IS and anti-dust are too far down the list to even notice.

You'll notice my list is COMPLETELY different than Edvinas. In fact if you polled a wedding photographer or portrait photographer that bought the same camera you'd get a different list of critical features from THE SAME CAMERA.

There is nothing wrong with Edvinas' list. His needs are just different than mine are. Here's my advice to you. Find individuals who shoot what you want to shoot - AND SHOOT AT LEAST THE LEVEL YOU WANT TO SHOOT AT and ask them for their opinions. I can't stress this last point enough. Let's say you were interested in sports (my interest) - but you think my photos aren't that great. Why on earth would you follow my advice? Photography isn't theoretical it's a practiced art/science. Now, by the same token - keep your wits about you. Be sure when someone tells you you should have a certain feature or buy a specific product they can explain WHY it's important to what you want to do. For instance, I would push high frame rates as a feature to anyone shooting action but not to people who are doing landscapes. And keep in mind those of us with experience have a bad habit of extrapolating way too much (myself included). So if you want to shoot macro, I don't care if a poster has been photographing for 40 years - if they don't shoot macro then take any advice regarding macro shooting with a grain of salt. The guy that's been shooting macro primarly for 2 years probably knows more what they're talking about.

So, for your stated needs:

Quote:
I shoot in multicultural festivals, music concerts, sporting events, family fatherings, architecture, people, landscapes...you name it. But, I'd say I take most of my pictures on my travels. Or that iswhen I take the most concentration of photos at one time.
it sounds like your a generalist (i.e. you don't do one specific type of photography). So, for YOUR needs I would think the following might be important features:
  • size/weight - when traveling you might not want a big / heavy camera and lens. So if this is a significant part of your usage, you might be willing to trade other features to have a more compact travel kit. For example, while a superzoom lens will not get the same quality results as a 3 lens solution would, it's a lot easier to travel with. So a lens like an 18-200 might be a very attractive lens for travel.[/*]
  • Architecture / landscape - you probably want a good wide-angle lens with good performance at the wide end (architecture shots really look bad with poor performing wide angle lenses). Also, both styles of photography can benefit with a tripod[/*]
  • music concerts - good high ISO performance, low light focusing capability (remember not all cameras can focus to the same light levels as mentioned in your other thread), anti-shake could be a big bonus here and fast prime lenses (2.0, 1.8 or 1.4 aperture lenses)[/*]
  • People / family gatherings: A good external flash. If you do a lot of it, then eventually adding a flash bracket [/*]
  • sports - of all your posted uses this is the one with the most demanding equipment requirements. Servo focus ability, focus points (number of, quality of), high ISO performance, frame rate are all camera requirements. Wide aperture, fast focusing (Canon USM, Sigma HSM, forget what Nikon's is called) lenses all contribute to success. Also, aperture requirements and focal length requirements vary by the sport - so you're not going to use the same lens to shoot HS soccer that you use to shoot grade school basketball. Because of the expense involved in getting the gear more suited to the task I would advise you to evaluate how important sports shooting is to you. All your other areas can be achieved (at least to an introductory/intermediate level) by a variety of cameras and systems and sub $1000 lenses.
    [/*]
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Old Aug 16, 2007, 2:14 PM   #6
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Thanks JohnG.

Yes, of course what is "necessary" for one photographer might be useless for another. Or lower on their list. I think that is a given. But, that being said, I still think there should be common needs.

Or, there might be just one feature or ability out of their list, that you would find useful. Something that you overlooked. No matter their background or requirements.

That's why I started this thread.

And also learn what features/abilities others found useless even. Features/abilities I shouldn't be concerned about. Or place too much importance on (e.g. AF Assit).

Any how that's my 2 cents...

Later JohnG.
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