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Old Sep 13, 2007, 7:42 PM   #1
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Quick Summary: based on the primary pictures and primary needs/wants below, what DSLR + lens(es) would you purchase if you had $1,000 to spend?

More Details: I think its time I jump into the DSLR world of photography. I'd like to budget about $1000 on a camera and lens(es) that will set me up the best for the pictures I'll be taking, my needs/wants, etc. I used a Canon S3 IS for about a month, and while the zoom and video features were amazing, the image quality I'm looking for just wasn't there. Now I'm borrowing a Nikon D40x with 17-55mm and 70-200mm lenses and am impressed with the IQ. Around the house for pictures of my pets, I use the 70-200mm the most. For friends/parties, however, I switch to the 17-55mm. It would be great to have a lens that covers both, as long as I'm not sacrificing a ton in quality/speed. I can purchase this D40x kit with 2 lenses at my budget, but was wondering if there's a better combo of camera/lenses that I should go for instead (perhaps a D40 to save money and then some higher quality VR/IS lenses...?). I'm open to any brand, but have mainly been looking at the Canon XT/XTi and Nikon D40/D40x. The XT has a small LCD, though, so I think I've ruled that one out...

Any and all help is appreciated! Thank you!

Primary pictures: Pets inside my house, Friends/parties inside my house, Cars outdoors in daylight, Cars moving/on a racetrack in daylight

Primary needs/wants: Image quality, image quality, image quality (hence my reason for a DSLR instead of an S5 IS), High quality (lots of pixels per inch) LCD, $1000 budget starts the best path for me, Other things based on the pictures I'll be taking (perhaps some of my secondary needs/wants)

Secondary pictures: Nature/scenery/wildlife in daylight (and in cold weather when I go snowboarding), Sporting events (pro baseball games mainly), Cars outdoors at night, Cars indoors at a car show, Cityscapes/other shots outdoors at night

Secondary needs/wants: Quality built-in flash, Variety of compatible, best bang for your buck priced lenses, Ease of use/controls, Zoom when reviewing pictures on the LCD
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 8:15 PM   #2
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snowairg-

Well, it appears that you might have set your sights on the consumer level DSLR cameras with 10mp. Would that be a correct statement? If that is so, what about the Nikon D-80, the Sony A-100, the Pentax K-10 and the Olympus E-510? are they in the running, or is the selection limited to Canon and Nikon?

If the selection is limited to Nikon and Canon, the Canon XTi/400D should come first, ahead of the Nikon D-40X. However, if you want the biggest bang for the buck, you should be looking at the Sony A-100 (now at an all time low price) and the Olympus E-510 two lens offering. The Pentax rebate program which runs through 09/30 might include the Pentax K-10, have you checked?

There are still some excellent used Minolta lenses available at places like KEH and e-bay that could maximize the lens that you could purchase. Tell us a bit more about the kind of photography that you want to do, as the lenses that you will need will play into your photography choices. So some more details please.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 8:43 PM   #3
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For high IQ, 10MP or more.

For <$1000:

Nikon D40X, Canon XTi, Sony A100, Olympus E-410 & E-510, Pentax K10D.

For '... inside my house', fast standard zoom lens. I think the kit lenses will be too dim (unless you're up for a lot of flash), so Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 for Canon, Sony or Pentax ($329), or Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 for Sony ($359), Canon ($369) or Pentax ($379). To stay under $1000, that rules out Nikon and Olympus.

If you don't mind using the flash (batteries drain faster, long shot-to-shot times, flash), then the kit lenses will do ok.

Canon and Nikon have the largest selection of lenses and accessories, of their own and from third parties. Pentax has a large selection of fast prime wide angle to medium telephoto lenses. Sony's and Olympus' selections aren't as large, but they have some really good lenses, but it's expensive. Sony isbetter supported by third parties andthe used market thanPentax or Olympus.Olympus makes the smallest and lightest cameras and lenses. Sony, Pentax and Olympus put anti-shake in the body, so you only have to pay for it once, while Nikon and Canon put it in the lens.

Food for thought.

Edit: mtclimber and I usually come from different directions, but we usually end up in the same place.
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 9:03 PM   #4
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I'm a bit perplexed. The d40x is a great little camera. The question is about the lenses. More to the point, the 70-200. If you can stay under budget and that's the f2.8 lens I think it is, more power to you. The lens is worth more than that by itself. If not, what lens is it? You sent me running for the B&H catalog and I still don't see a lesser lens in that focal range.

The problem with the XTi is finding suitable lenses for use with that camera body. Canon does make some good glass, but finding something decent without breaking the budget will be difficult. I think John G may have some word of advise as to which lenses you should consider. Personally I would go with the D40x over the XTi.

Pentax will give the most bang for the buck, especially if you enjoy prime lenses. In camera stabilization is also a plus.

Olympus E510 may be worth consideration. Great kit lenses, in body image stabilization, and a fresh redesign. They make great zoom lenses, but limited choice of primes. The 2 lens kit will reach about the same as the Nikon you were using.

I've had almost nothing to do with Sony, but minolta made a decent camera before sony took over. The one thing I remember is the shutter release was loud. This camera also has in body stabilization.


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Old Sep 13, 2007, 11:34 PM   #5
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Some more thoughts to consider:

The various dSLRs have similar quality when you put similar quality lenses on them. There are features that are unique to each one, and those may or may not be important to you. For instance, some type if image stabilization is very important to me, but I tend to try to push the envelope when it comes to slower shutter speeds. Your list of subjects is interesting - it seems split between low-light subjects and sports (I include your racetrack subjects here). It sounds like you have a real need for a fast lens - both for your indoor shots and for your racetrack shots, and probably won't be as interested in stabilization.

I know you've expressed a desire to go with the 10 mp cameras. However, I might suggest that you also look at the 6 mp cameras. I happen to shoot Pentax and have both the K10 (10 mp)and K100 (6 mp). I find that the 6 mp sensor has less noise than the 10 mp sensor at ISO 1600, and it has the option for 3200 ISO, something the K10's 10 mp sensor doesn't have(though I don't like it). I use both cameras interchangeablymuch of the time (I keep two different types of lenses on each body) and don't find that the image quality of the K100 suffers at all from "just" having 6 mp. At the moment I'm suffering from tennis elbow and have to cut down on weight/use of one arm. Of course, my favorite 3 lenses are all fairly heavy (a 300mm f4 telephoto, a fast 2.8 zoom and a solidly built Vivitar Series One 105mm macro). My choices are to continue using the heavier K10 and limit my lenses to much lighter, slower and not very good lenses, or to use the lighter K100 with my favorites. It took me about 1 second to remove the K10 from my camera bag.

Another thingto consider - you mentioned cold weather and snowboarding. The Pentax K10 is weather sealed and they've come out with a new line of weather sealed lenses to go alongwith it. The lenses have just come out so they are expensive (like around $800-900), but the one I have is a really nice lens.

The most important thing to do when you are trying to make up your mind is to go handle each of the cameras and see how they feel in your hands. Is one too small or too large? Is one too heavy? Can you easily reach the main controls? The best camera in the world can't take good pictures if it is sitting on a shelf because you find it a struggle to use it.
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 12:17 AM   #6
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mtclimber wrote:
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Well, it appears that you might have set your sights on the consumer level DSLR cameras with 10mp. Would that be a correct statement? If that is so, what about the Nikon D-80, the Sony A-100, the Pentax K-10 and the Olympus E-510? are they in the running, or is the selection limited to Canon and Nikon?
I'm open to any brand. Also, it does not have to be 10mp. For example, if the image quality of the D40 with 6mp is as good as or better than the D40x with 10 mp, then the D40 is fine by me. I'm not printing enlargements or anything. Also, you asked for more info about the type of photography I want to do... My first post lists my primary and secondary pictures FYI.
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 12:28 AM   #7
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fldspringer wrote:
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I'm a bit perplexed. The d40x is a great little camera. The question is about the lenses. More to the point, the 70-200. If you can stay under budget and that's the f2.8 lens I think it is, more power to you. The lens is worth more than that by itself. If not, what lens is it? You sent me running for the B&H catalog and I still don't see a lesser lens in that focal range.
Yes, I've enjoyed borrowing the D40x thus far. Sorry, I was mistaken on the 70-200mm lens, it's actually only the 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX lens...
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 12:32 AM   #8
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Thank you all for every one of your comments thus far. I appreciate your time. It seems like I can pretty much flip a coin for whatever camera body to purchase. It's a matter of finding some fast lenses to go along with it...
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 7:15 AM   #9
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snowairg wrote:
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It seems like I can pretty much flip a coin for whatever camera body to purchase. It's a matter of finding some fast lenses to go along with it...
Absolutely. The camera body is only half the camera, and may turn out to be a minor expense. You need to go shopping for lenses, and then buy a body that they'll fit. This is very different from shopping for a P&S or superzoom.

Since you know what you want to shoot (to summarize, indoor, sports,nature, landscapes/cityscapes), you need a fast standard zoom and a fast telephoto zoom. You should check out the lens reviews at popphoto.com, photodo.com, slrgear.com and photozone.de (and I'm sure there are others).

I am a big fan of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (See http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses...-ii-page6.html), but it's $450 and only available for Nikon, Canon and Sony, and doesn't autofocus on Nikon's D40 or D40x. But asside from my preference for this lens, I wanted to show you how shopping for lenses can narrow down your selection of cameras.
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 7:34 AM   #10
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snowairg wrote:
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Sorry, I was mistaken on the 70-200mm lens, it's actually only the 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX lens...
The 55-200 is not a fast lens. Are you happy with the shots you took with that lens? Do you think you'd need a faster lens than that? ... a longer lens than that?
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