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Old Sep 3, 2007, 4:08 PM   #1
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I am buying my first digital SLR. I used to use 35mm SLR a lot but got tired of developing. I currently have an old Sony CyberShot that was just a vacation cam so we could have some memories.

Now, I want to to do some hobby photography, and my wife is interested in doing some as well. Mine interests are mostly architecture and nature; hers are people pictures. I don't think I want to go below 10mp in case I want to make a poster.

I have narrowed my choices down to these (with what I was told their strengths were):

1. Canon Rebel XTi (Better image quality)
2. Nikon D40x (better construction; better ergonomic; menu functions)

3. Sony A100 is a long shot. )I have been told that while my Minolta Maxxum lenses would work on it (a big plus), this is Sony's first entry into the DSLR field and it might be better to stay away).

These can be gotten with different lens packages (most places seem to have both with at least with the 18-55, and there is a Nikon package that also has an 55-200).

These are in the 550-750 range which is where I am looking to be.

Any suggestions or input?

Thanks
larry


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Old Sep 3, 2007, 5:09 PM   #2
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lrogier wrote:
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3. Sony A100 is a long shot. )I have been told that while my Minolta Maxxum lenses would work on it (a big plus), this is Sony's first entry into the DSLR field and it might be better to stay away).
What lenses do you have?

Even though the DSLR-A100 is Sony's first entry into the DSLR market, they are the largest manufacturer of the sensors used in Digital Cameras. For example, that D40x you're looking at uses a Sony sensor.

The DSLR-A100 was based mostly on the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D. So, it's not entirely new technology (for all practical purposes, it's a Maxxum 5D with an upgraded sensor and a few additional features). Despite having only one DSLR, that was only available for about half of the year, Sony still managed to capture 6.2% of the worldwide DSLR market with it in 2006, too. ;-)

This model's achilles heel is it's higher ISO speed performance. Nikon has much better noise reduction algorithms, even though both the D40x and the Sony DSLR-A100 use a Sony 10MP Sensor. Sony elected to use less aggressive noise reduction for more retained detail, and it's also more sensitive than it's set ISO speed. So, the differences are not as great as meets the eye.

The Nikon was geared more towards users migrating from a point and shoot model, with image processing that boosts midtones, sharpens more than most other manufacturers, etc. Some people like a more processed look to their images. Some people don't. Neither way is right or wrong. It's what you prefer.

With this Sony, you also have the ability to use any of the Minolta Autofocus Lenses (a.k.a., Maxxum, Dynax, Alpha, Minolta A Mount) in the market (and Minolta manufactured some 16 Million Autofocus lenses, not counting third party lenses from Sigma, Tokina, Tamron and others).

The D40x will only use lenses with built in focus motors (Nikon's AF-S or Sigma's HSM lenses) if you want Autofocus. For that reason, I personally wouldn't buy a D40 or D40x. I'd go with another Nikon body instead (or a different camera brand), as the types of lenses I'd want to use would cost me too much (brighter f/2.8 zooms, brighter primes, etc.). No third party lenses from Tokina or Tamron will even Autofocus with this body.

Sony is also the second largest manufacturer of Digital Cameras, period, right behind Canon. Nikon is much further down on the totem pole in overall Digital Camera sales (they were in a distant 6th place behind Canon, Sony, Kodak, Olympus and Samsung in 2006, even though Canon and Nikon currently dominate the DSLR market.

Sony has very deep pockets, and has already announced their intention to capture 25% of the DSLR market.

We also know that they are working on an advanced amateur model and a pro model (i.e., what they refer to as their flagship model), and they've already announced that one of these two cameras will be available this year. Look for some announcements on their plans for new bodies and lenses soon.

Again, what Maxxum lenses do you have? What do you plan on shooting (subjects, conditions)? If better higher ISO performance is a big consideration, I'd lean towards the Canon between your two choices. But, if you want to use your existing lenses with a camera that offers more features compared to the D40x, I'd take a close look at the Sony. It offers a lot of "bang for the buck" in this market segment.

Note that I am biased, as I shoot with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D right now. With it, I use a Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8; 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, 35-70mm f/4 Macro, 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6; Tamron 35-105mm f/2.8, Tamron 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5 and Vivitar 70-210mm f/2.8-4. All Autofocus, and all of them would also work on a Sony DSLR.

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Old Sep 3, 2007, 6:23 PM   #3
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Thanks Jim,

My Minolta is the Maxxum 7000. I just dug it out and realized I have 3 pictures left on a 24 picture roll from something. I have to take three pictures to figure what the roll is of.

The lens I have are

1. Minolta Maxxum AF 50mm 1:1.7 (22)
2. Minolta Maxxum AF 28-85 1:3.5 (22)-4.5
3. Minolta Maxxum AF 70-210 1:4 (32)

These are the old long ones. The 70-210 is 7 inches long. The 28-55 is 4 inches long. (Didn't they drastically shorten these in later years? I don't know how old these lenses are. As I recall, I got the camera in the early 90s and it was probably made in teh mid 80s if I recall correctly).

Will these lenses work on this Sony being that old?

Thanks again.
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 6:37 PM   #4
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All of those are excellent lenses. Your 70-210mm f/4 is a sought after lens (thanks to it's constant f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range and excellent color/contrast).

It's affectionaly known as the "beercan" by KM and Sony DSLR owners, and even at current prices, it's a real bargain as lenses go with it's quality.

Most consumer grade lenses with a similar focal range are down to around f/5.6 on their long end (and f/4 is exactly twice as bright at f/5.6, allowing shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and ISO speed).

Your 28-85mm is also brighter than most consumer grade lenses with a similar focal range. As for the 50mm f/1.7, Nikon doesn't even make a bright 50mm lens like that if you want Autofocus with a camera like the D40x (sorry, their 50mm f/1.8 AF lens won't autofocus on that camera body).

Your lenses would all work just fine on a Sony DSLR model.

One thing you would need to keep in mind is that your lenses will appear to be approximatley 50% longer on a DSLR like the ones you're considering. That's because the APS-C sensor used is smaller than 35mm film. So, you'll have a narrower angle of view (more apparent magnification) for any given focal length lens.

So, your 70-210mm lens would give you the same angle of view (apparent magnfication) as a 105-315mm lens on a 35mm camera. That;s great if you want a longer lens. But, it can be a problem if you need a wider lens. That 28-85mm lens you have is a very good one. But, it would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 42-105mm lens on a 35mm camera (just multiply the focal lengths by 1.5 to see what lens you'd need on a 35mm camera for the same angle of view).

That's one reason most of the "kit" lenses start out at around 17 or 18mm (because they will appear to be longer lenses when used on a DSLR with an APS-C size sensor. So, keep that in mind when camera shopping. If you use a camera in close quarters often, you may want to consider getting a wider lens to go with one.

What kind of subjects do you usually take photos of and in what conditions?


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Old Sep 3, 2007, 6:52 PM   #5
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JimC-

Makes a good point about the Sony A-100. All of those old Minolta lenses will work just fine with the A-100. I am still shooting with my KM 5D (almost exactly like the A-100 except for the imager) and happily using old Minolta lenses.

Those lenses that you already have could give you an excellent start and save you some money as well.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 7:03 PM   #6
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lrogier wrote:
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My Minolta is the Maxxum 7000. I just dug it out and realized I have 3 pictures left on a 24 picture roll from something. I have to take three pictures to figure what the roll is of.
I've got two of them (Minolta 7000). I bought them just to get the lenses included in camera packages for use with my Maxxum 5D. Amazingly, they both work just fine, even though these bodies are now over 20 years old. I've shot multiple rolls of film through both bodies since I acquired them. They may not have the latest and greatest technology as film bodies go, and newer cameras have faster Autofocus and more. But, they still take good photos with decent lenses in front of them (as yours are). lol

That's another benefit of going with a DSLR that uses the same lenses. If you're shooting in conditions where lens changes can be difficult, you can use a film body as a backup to your digital body (and I've done that on more than one occasion), sharing lenses between them.



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Old Sep 3, 2007, 7:51 PM   #7
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This is great information. I think you all are changing my mind. Having the lenses that will already work will save a lot of money starting up.

My main interests in photography are architecture. I love pictures of buildings and city scapes and want to try taking some of my own, perhaps even to blow up to poster size for my office at home and work. There are a lot of a early 19th century buildings around here with some very ornate detail, both inside and out.

I also like nature and landscape. I love Ansel Adams and would like to try that style as well. My wife wants to try her hand again at people pictures.

Most of it would be outdoor stuff with some indoor, in all kinds of lighting conditions (full light to trying some night shots lit by street light). I want to experiment with shadow and shapes created by light. I like close up and macro shots. (I heard the Canon was very good in low light; what about this Sony?).

We would also use it for normal family things (though I would hang on to the Sony Cybershot as a pocket camera).

I heard that the Sony has a proprietary hot shoe. Is that true?
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 8:03 PM   #8
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Actually one thing that JimC and mtclimber didn't mention is the Sony also comes with in body anti-shake!
-> So all your old lenses now are upgrade to have this image stabilizer feature (for free)

lrogier wrote:
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I heard that the Sony has a proprietary hot shoe. Is that true?
The Sony re-uses the Minolta flash shoe which is mecahnically different than the normal ISO socket; However all dSLR now use a propriety method to control their flash so even though they may fit one another - They don't really work that well at all once attached for example a Nikon flash won't work on Canon for example...

The other thing is the Minolta mount are low level signal so it's impractical for you to mount another type flash not designed for it on the camera!
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 8:12 PM   #9
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So, which one do you think you'll get? :lol:

They're all fine cameras, but with the lenses you've already got, you'll start with a more capable system with the the Sony than with either of the others.

The lenses you have will suit all the subjects you mentioned that you and your wife are interested in, except that you don't have anything that would really qualify as wide angle. The 28-85 was wide on the Maxxum 7000, but on the Sony it will have an angle of view like that of a 42-102mm lens on the 7000. The kit lens for the Sony is one of the better kit lenses available for any dSLR, but as with all kit lenses, it's not very good for indoor/low-light shots. You might consider the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. It would be great for your architecture, landscapesand cityscapes, as well as the people photos your wife wants to do (along with the 50mm f/1.7 you already have.) (BTW, the Tamron will fit any of the three dSLRs you first mentioned, but it won't autofocus on the Nikon D40X, so it would suit you whichever camera you end up with.)
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Old Sep 3, 2007, 8:14 PM   #10
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The Canon is better at higher ISO speeds (lower noise levels as you increase ISO Speed). Noise is similar to the grainy look you can get with higher speed film.

Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for proper exposure for the same aperture setting (and your lenses are brighter than most consumer grade lenses with larger available apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers).

But, for night shots, you'd normally want to keep ISO speed set to a lower value anyway and use a tripod. With the Sony , you'd also have stabilization built into the camera body, and it works with any lens you use (including all of your existing lenses). So, I'd take that into consideration if you're shooting mostly stationary subjects in lower light, since you may be able to use lower ISO speeds with one.

Higher ISO speeds come in handy if you're trying to freeze moving subjects in less than optimum lighting without a flash. The Canon would have an advantage in that area (lower visible noise as ISO speeds are increased), provided you were using equivalent lenses on it (and lenses are a very important part of getting good photos).

Yes, the Sony and Konica Minolta models do have a a proprietary flash shoe. But, if you want a flash that is aware of the camera settings being used, regardless of the shoe, you'd still need a flash designed for a specific camera model (and that also applies to Canon and Nikon models)

You can get an adapter to convert the shoe on a KM or Sony DSLR model to an ISO standard shoe if desired though. http://www.gadgetinfinity.com sells one for $15.95

If you don't mind usng Manual Exposure and setting the Aperture and ISO speed on the camera to match the selected Auto Range on a strobe, you can even use an old Auto Thryistor type flash via an FS-1100 or equivalent adapter (which is designed to give you an ISO standard hotshoe like the adapter http://www.gadgetinfinity.com sells).

You'd give up HSS (High Speed Sync) and wireless with most of them (features available on the newer Sony or KM flash systems). But, not everyone cares about that kind of thing.

I spent a total of $48 for a flash system to use with my Maxxum 5D (and that included two flashes).

* $16 for an FS-1100 equivalent third party adapter from a Hong Kong based vendor to give me an ISO standard hotshoe. You can get the same adapter here:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...275&page=1

* a Sunpak 222 Auto with tilt and two aperture ranges for a smaller flash unit (GN of about 72 feet at ISO 100) for $7.00 from KEH.com (and they even threw in a nice, coiled PC Sync Cord with it).

* a Sunpak 333 Auto with tilt, swivel and zoom head with multiple auto aperture ranges, as well as better manual settings (full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16).

GN runs from 86 feet to 120 feet at ISO 100, depending on the zoom head setting. I got this one for $25 (like new in box in 10 condition from the used department at B&H).

Total Flash System Investment: $48

These are Auto flashes (in the sense that the flash is capable of throttling it's own ouput, based on how much reflected light it sees for the aperture range selected).

So, it's not as tough as it sounds (more of a set and forget in most indoor environments, letting the strobe control the exposure).

My Sunpak 333 Auto has 3 auto ranges. These ranges have different distances from short to long they can be used at. For example, one of the ranges probably runs around 3 to 22 feet at f/5.6 and ISO 200.

So, I just pick a range and set the camera to the same aperture and ISO speed shown for it on the strobe, and let the flash control it's own output within the range selected.

Shutter speed makes no difference for the amount of light the camera is seeing from the flash. That's because the flash burst is very short (my Sunpak 333 Auto will use a flash length of between 1/1200 second and 1/20000 second).

The only reason to vary shutter speed with a flash exposure is either to allow more or less ambient light in, or to make sure shutter speeds are fast enough to prevent motion blur if there is a lot of ambient light contributing.

That's why many cameras simply set the camera to a fixed shutter speed of around 1/60 second when you use the built in flash. It's a compromise setting. The flash burst length is then varied to control the actual exposure.

If you set your shutter speed to around 1/100 second, that will be fine for the majority of indoor conditions where you'd need a flash if you are using something like ISO 200 and f/5.6. If you're like me, you wouldn't be changing apertures a lot indoors anyway.

In a newer non-dedicated Auto Sunpak, the 383 Super has roughly the same specs as my 333 Auto (but, then you'll pay a lot more as they tend to go for around $70 new).

Note that the hotshoe adapter I use does *not* have voltage protection built in. I'd make sure to measure the trigger voltage for any strobe you want to use via one.

I've got some older Vivitars that I would not try to mount on my KM 5D for fear of frying it without using a Wein Safe Sync to isolate it. See this page for details on trigger voltage. That's why I went with the used Sunpaks (most of these have much lower trigger voltages).

http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

I know of some people that use the newer Vivitar 285HV via an FS-1100. But, some of the older ones had high trigger voltages..

There are a number of other choices around now, too. But, be very careful. Most dedicated flashes designed for the Minolta Maxxum flash shoe were designed for film cameras. Most of these are not compatible with KM or Sony dSLR models and will only fire at full power if you try to use one.

If you want a dedicated flash (one that is aware of your camera settings so that you don't need to use manual exposure), newer Sony flashes are available for that purpose, and you can also use some of the newer Konica Minolta models like the 2500 (D), 3600 HS (D) and 5600 HS (D) on the DSLR-A100. Sunpak and Sigma also make flashes that have the same foot. But, make sure to ask about any flash you consider, as some work better than others on a DSLR body.

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