Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 20, 2007, 5:57 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 54
Default

I'm trying to get my first DSLR. I already have a P&S (FZ8) which I like very much but I realized that I do a lot of portraits, low-light (indoor) photography of my kids and outside it's very difficult to focus fast enough to get them (especially when they run towards me). So with that in mind I narrowed down my choices to the following models:
- Pentax K10D or eventually the 100D
- Sony Alpha
- Olympus E-510
I ruled out the Canon and Nikon because they seem to be crippled versions of their higher-end models and also because they don't have in-camera stabilization (coming from the Panasonic, I found the IS very useful).
I went to a store and the Sony is the one that handled better in my hands.
But I realize (reading a lot of information of this forum and others) that there is much more to a DSLR than just a good body. The lenses are almost as important: their price and their availability. That's why I'm talking about "TCO" or Total Cost of Ownership. I'm starting from scratch so I can go with any system. Right now Olympus seems to be the stronger "outsider" because Pentax seems to be on the decline and the Sony may not catch on.
So, what's your thoughts about this and with my requirement in mind, what could be the best camera for me? Thank you.
Delius is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Aug 20, 2007, 7:40 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

Delius-

The Sony A-100 cameras do well below ISO 400, just like the Olymppus E-300 cameras. Above that level the begin to show visible noise. If you own any older Minolta lenses you need only purchase the camera body at $(US) 590 to $(US) 620.

However, if you have your heart set on a wide angle lens and want to go for the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm lens, it is a great lens with a rather large price.

The low price winners are the Pentax cameras such as the K-100D or the K-10.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 8:50 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

The three (or four) dSLRs you've mentioned are all quite good, have comparable features (for the most part), and are comparably priced.

So let's forget about the cameras for now and look at the available lenses that would suit your purposes.

The first thing to note is that the kit lenses will all be pretty useless for you. They are about the right focal length, but are way too dim for indoor/low-light photography. I'd suggest a lens with a maximum aperture of at least f/2.8, with a focal length between 20mm and 50mm (15mm and 40mm for the Olympus, because of its smaller image sensor.)

Olympus has a nice, fast lens in the Zuiko14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, which B&H has for $430. The Olympus could also use the Sigma 24mm f/1.8 (B&H: $340), 30mm f/1.4 (B&H: $430) and 18-50mm f/2.8 (B&H: $420.)

Pentax has, by far, the best selection of fast lenses from wide angle to moderate telephoto. Some of the more suitable lenses from Pentaxfor your purposes might be the 50mm f/1.4 (B&H: $175), 43mm f/1.9 (B&H: $470), 35mm f/2.0 (B&H: $300) and 31mm f/1.8 (B&H: $870.) Also available are the Sigma 28mm f/1.8 (B&H :$270), the 24-60mm f/2.8 (B&H: $400), the 24mm f/1.8 (B&H: $340), the 28-70 f/2.8 (B&H: $330), 30mm f/1.4 (B&H: $430), 20-40mm f/2.8 (B&H: $430), 18-50mm f/2.8 (B&H: $420) and 24-70 f/2.8 (B&H: $430.)

Sony has some really great fastlenses, but it's selection isn't as broad as Pentax, and Sony's lenses can be quite expensive. From Sony, there are the 28mm f/2.8 (B&H: $230), 20mm f/2.8 (B&H: $610), 50mm f/1.4 (B&H: $310), and 35mm f/1.4 (B&H: $1,350). Also available are the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 (B&H: $430), 20-40mm f/2.8 (B&H: $430), 28mm f/1.8 (B&H: $270), 20mm f/1.8 (B&H: $410), 24-60mm f/2.8 (B&H: $400), 28-70mm f/2.8 (B&H: $330), 24mm f/1.8 (B&H: $340),18-50mm f/2.8 (B&H: $420), the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (B&H: $380), and 17-50mm f/2.8 (B&H: $450).

(All prices subject to change andmy questionabletyping ability.)

The options for the Olympus are limited, but quite good. Pentax has a good selection of fast fixed focal length lenses, but for appropriate zooms, the choice is limited to the Sigma 18-50, 20-40, 24-60, 24-70, and 28-70 all of which are quite good. The Sony also has a good selection of fixed focal length lenses, and for zooms, the five from Sigma are joined by two from Tamron: the 28-75 and the 17-50. The Tamron 28-75 can hold its own with the Sigma choices, but I think the 17-50 is a standout in this group. It was awarded the American Photo Editor's Choice award for 2006 (see http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses...-ii-page6.html.) Unfortunately, it is not available for Pentax or Olympus.

Any of these lenses would suit you well. It's up to you to pick one (at least) and the body to go with it (or them). You've done your shopping for cameras; now it's time to shop for lenses. But I think the Sony Alpha/Tamron 17-50 will be hard to beat for what you want to do.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 8:58 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
The Sony A-100 cameras do well below ISO 400 ... Above that level they begin to show visible noise.
This has appeared a number of times in these forums, and I would like to take issue with the generalization.

To my knowledge, the Sony Alpha and the PentaxK10D use the same image sensor. As I understand it, Sony has chosen to get superior sharpness out of it, at the expense of some noise at higher ISO settings (1600 and above.) Pentax, on the other had, has chosen to avoid noise at higher ISOsettingsthrough in-camera post-processing, at the expense of sharpness at all ISO settings. I beleive that both situations are correctable via user settings, however.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 9:35 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 54
Default

Thank you very for your very detailed answer. I see that the lenses are as important as the body itself.

Interesting to see that K10D/A100 share the same sensors. I think the K10D will not be for me. It's maybe too advanced with no scene modes (not that I use them very frequently on my current camera, but they can be handy in some cases). Also I read somewhere that the K10D is slow to focus in low-light.

I don't know if the noise with the A100 will be that much of a problem for me. I'm seeing already a lot of it with my FZ8 and it doesn't bother me that much contrary to what a lot of people say about the Panasonic. Usually I can get sharp shots at ISO 400/800 f3.3 on the FZ8 (with of course much noise) so I guess I could do much better than that with a DSLR and a good fast lens. The Tamron 17-50 f2.8 seems impressive but it costs more than a compact camera! (OK I have to get used to these DSLR costs). How ISO1600 on the Sony would compare to ISO200 on the FZ8?

I see that the Pentax has the largest selection of lens but I worry a bit about the future of this company, only 2 DSLR and a lof of not-so-great compacts. Of course there is always Samsung to continue the line, but what if I get stuck with no upgrade path for the body? The K100D is very cheap and good but it's only 6mp (OK I know mp isn't everything).

And last, I would like to limit my budget to 1000$ if possible.
Delius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 10:03 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,056
Default

I happen to have both the Pentax K10 and K100.

The K100 is better at ISO 1600 and offers an ISO 3200, which I don't like but is there if the difference is not getting the picture at all. It handles nicely and I use it all the time, often keeping the kit lens or a macro lens on the K100 and a longer telephoto lens on the K10. The only time I really miss having the extra mp of the K10 is when I'm shooting wildlife with a lens that's a bit too short and cropping a big portion of the picture out, otherwise I find the image quality very similar. I wouldn't have any trouble recommending it.

In addition to the lenses mentioned above, Pentax has recently released a 16-50 2.8 zoom but it's very expensive at the moment (it's only been out for a couple of weeks, give it a while for the price to drop). It will work on theK100 as a regular lens, but has a new in-lens quiet focusing system that the current K100 doesn't support. If you think you might be interested in something like that, wait until the K100 Super is released because it will support the SDM focusing system.

As far as Pentax being "on the decline" - no one can predict the future. However, I've noticed for the first time they've been running ads in various photo magazines, introduced a new line of top quality lenses, have two very popular digital cameras which has caused the price of older, used lenses to go through the roof (used to be a big selling point, but no longer!), and Zeiss has announced that they are going to be releasing several of their lenses in Pentax mount. Somehow that doesn't sound like a company/system in decline to me.

Having said all that, though, if the Sony feels better in your hands, that's the camera you should get. You could have the best camera in the world but if you don't like using it, you'll leave it at home. And a great camera can't take priceless pictures if it is on a shelf in your closet, can it? The Sony takes good pictures, you can deal with noise through software and you have some excellent lenses to choose from. Why not?
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 10:33 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 54
Default

Thanks mtngal. Can you tell me about your experience concerning focusing in low-light with the Pentax? I don't mind that much the speed if the final result is accurate focusing (something I had issues with with my pre-FZ cameras).

ISO 3200 is useful. I use it sometimes on the FZ8 (yes it has one and of course the quality is awful but better to get a shot than nothing at all sometimes...)

The K100D is VERY appealing due to its price. But here in Canada, it's not as interesting. Costco has the K110 but it doesn't have the ASR. The cheapest K100D with Kit Lens is 579$ cdn. If someone has an idea where to get an US-like price here in Canada I would like to hear about it.

The Sony had the better grip that's true, but judging the overall ergonomics is impossible without shooting with the cameras for at least a week or two. Not an available option for me so I have to take a chance.
Delius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 20, 2007, 10:39 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

Delius-

Without a doubt, the K-100D represents the very best value in consumer level DSLR cameras.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 2007, 7:32 AM   #9
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon here. Of the lenses you mentioned I also agree the K100D offers the best performance for what you want to do.

Of the cameras listed it will have the best performance at ISO 1600, has probably the largest lens offerings if you can get them (all 3 manufacturers often have very low levels fo stock at camera stores - so youmay have to shop around a bit online to find lenses you want).

My only caution is this - and it applies to any of the three: the low light shots of kids indoors. As someone who does this type of thing as well - your biggest advantage will be from using an external bounced flash. 2.8 zooms often aren't good enough in many houses to get good clean shots of kids - especially if they're moving. The fast primes are great for available light portrait shots but for everyday indoor shots even 2.0 lenses often won't cut it. Especially at night. So, if shooting your kids indoors is important I would factor in the cost of a GOOD (and yes quality matters) external flash.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 21, 2007, 7:56 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

I happen to agree with JohnG-

Indoors for really good photos with any camera, particularly of young rapidly moving children, good light is essential. The most dependable way to get that light is a good external flash.

Be creative and become proficient with both bounce and fill flash. I believe that you will like your photos better. Existing light is fine, but it is harsh, in the same way that on camera flash is harsh. Family shots and shots of children don't look really great in harsh light.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 3:16 AM.