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Old Sep 25, 2007, 9:49 PM   #1
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Greetings. First a bit of background - have been using cameras for +20 years, worked in a B&W darkroom [miss that! ], have been using digital cameras [Kodak EasyShare DX6490 and a Fujifilm S700] for past ~4.5 years, and vast majority of shots are nature-based. Also, I do have passion for B&W photos, Ansel Adams styles.

Am quite interested in one of the following:
Nikon D80 or ???
Pentax K10
Canon Rebel XTi or ???

Reason why the ??? is wonder if there might be a better/other option for my style, and desired price point? I'm budgeting [for now, and realize that such is quite elastic ] ~$1400-1800 for the system.

I have held the Nikon D80 and the Pentax K10 in my hands recently, and hate to admit, that am dissapointed in that the Pentax just didn't feel right to me - and I did go into the store w/ the preconceived notion that that was the camera I wanted; based upon the reviews/posts that have read, including its supposedly superiour weather resistant sealing. However, the Nikon felt quite good... esp. w/ the Nikkor 18-200 lens - very nice.

Have heard in the past that Nikon and Canon are "better" for different applications - one more suited for portraits, the other for nature; any truth in such, or just biased opinions?

Lastly, is there a better time of the year to buy such, like right before or after Christmas or the major photo/electronics show(s)? Will any of these models be upgraded soon [yea, and if ya knew that ya'd pick the winning lottery tix too... ]?

Thanks very much in advance for any/all help/advice/tips...


PS: and excuse the following, as I realize that it may not sound quite "professional" - but, I do like having the option to have the 'live' image on the screen when shooting. Such comes in handy at times, at least for me, when for example am in certain situations where you just can't hold the camera to the eye.
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 10:19 PM   #2
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Any of the cameras you are considering will work very well with your outdoor/wildlife/sunrises/landscapes.

If the Pentax feels wrong, don't buy it - ergonomics are very important. Make sure you handle the Canon before you buy it because it feels quite a bit different than the Nikon or Pentax.

The bad news is that none of these cameras offer live preview on the LCD screen. If that's a big thing for you, then you should check out the Oly cameras, such as the E-510 (which sounds like a very nice camera). As an FYI - I shoot Pentax and have both the K100 and the K10.
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Old Sep 26, 2007, 7:41 AM   #3
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They are all fine cameras, and if the Nikon feels good to you, then I think that's the one you should get.

Wildlife requires long telephoto lenses, while sunrises and landscapes require wide angle lenses. Both Canon and Nikon have excellent selections of lenses in those categories, and while Pentax also has a great selection of wide angle to medium telephoto, Pentax doesn't have any long lenses for it, and choices from third parties are few.

Canon and Nikon have image stabilization in some lenses, which makes them bigger, heavier, and more expensive. The Pentax, the Olympus E-510 (that mtngal mentioned because it has the EVF), and Sony, all have image stabilization in the camera body. Image stabilization helps correct for image blur due to camera shake. At wider focal lengths, it doesn't do much, but at longer focal lengths (i.e.: wildlife) it can help a lot.

Also, Olympus makes the smallest and lightest dSLRs and, for equivalent angles of view, the smallest and lightest lenses too. If you'll be carrying your camera around a lot, this might be a consideration.

I still think that, if you like the D80, you should get it, but I think there are a number of good reasons for you to look at the Olympus E-510.
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Old Sep 26, 2007, 8:13 PM   #4
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Interesting... thank you both much. Would not have noticed/looked at this Oly Evolt E-510 if not for the recommendation. Will definately check it out this coming weekend when can get to the camera shop. Price via 'net is more attractive, ~$700; and has from the ~7 sites I've looked at tonight quite the very good reviews. Only con I see so far, and it is a minor issue, is that it doesn't take sD cards - which are what I have... At least tho' it will take the xD cards, besides of course the large Compact Flash [hmmmm,,, talk about misnomer ]. Will also check out the Canon in my hand this weekend too.

Couple silly questions:
1. Just curious, but is the live camera screen a real negative, or is it just a perception, that it is 'beneath' a professional to have such on their camera?
2. Will, in your judgement/opinion, the Oly take just as quality photos, suitable for display as the Nikon D80, for example?

Again, thanks very much!
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Old Sep 26, 2007, 8:26 PM   #5
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ShadowCaver wrote:
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1. Just curious, but is the live camera screen a real negative, or is it just a perception, that it is 'beneath' a professional to have such on their camera?
2. Will, in your judgement/opinion, the Oly take just as quality photos, suitable for display as the Nikon D80, for example?
1. It's not that an electronic viewfinder is 'beneath' a professional. It's that, on a single lens reflex camera, the optical viewfinder is looking through the lens, so there's a mirror blocking the image sensor. In order for an electronic viewfinder to provide a live view, the mirror must be flipped up out of the way.

Therein liesa problem with providing a live view on a dSLR. dSLRs do their autofocusing through the optical viewfinder, so in order for a dSLR (including the E-510) to autofocus, the mirror must be down, blocking the image sensor. So a dSLR can't autofocus and provide a live view at the same time. This is true, not only of the E-510, but also of the other dSLRs that can provide a live view. (Don't get excited. The others cost several thousand dollars.)

2. Both the D80 and the E-510 are 10MP cameras, and both produce high qualityimages. Is one better than the other? Probably, but probably notthat I'd notice.
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Old Sep 26, 2007, 9:29 PM   #6
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TCav - thanks for the additional words. Have read on a couple reviews that the sensor on the Oly is smaller, which I suppose can be a positive [larger DoF], but also a negative. Any comments regarding this? For my type of uses, would this play any kind of role?

Also, the camera uses the Four-Thirds format - any thoughts [pros/cons] concering the quality, availabilty of lenses, etc.?

From what I can tell, the Oly lenses have a quite good reputation too - yes?

Lastly [for now ], would the S/N of this particular camera be of what type of level?
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Old Sep 26, 2007, 11:04 PM   #7
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The Oly's smaller sensor seems to have more noise at higher ISOs than the other cameras. For your wildlife/sunrises/landscapes you'll mostly have good light where you can use lower ISO levels. The anti-shake will help somewhat in lower light, allowing you to keep the ISO down some (but it isn't the end-all. Even withPentax's SRI still can't take a steady picture at 1/10 sec with a 100mm lens). I think the noise issue wouldn't be as important for you as it would befor someone who's shooting sports in dimly lit gyms.

There are fewer lenses made for the Oly system than for Nikon, Canon or Pentax, but it seems likewhat's available wouldcover most normal needs. The smaller sensor means that you get more of a crop factor - makes it seem like you have a longer telephoto lens than you actually have. You might find that a big plus with wildlife pictures. I never really looked at the Olys for myself, but judging from pictures I've seen posted here, the lenses available look very good.
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Old Sep 27, 2007, 1:56 AM   #8
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And don't forget that Leica make some lenses for the 4/3 system too.

As far a zoom lenses are concerned those available in 4/3 are excellent. There are quite severe restrictions on primes though compared to the bigger systems. Just points once again to the fact that this is not a low-light system.

But there is a strong school of thought that says that low-light (or indeed backlit) photography demands flash not high ISO. I have considerable sympathy with this view for both people and wildlife photography.

For wildlife Sigma make the 50-500 EX lens in 4/3 mount which gives an equivalent of a 100-1000mm lens at a very reasonable price and gives image stabilisation in the body.

For landscape work you don't need high ISO, a tripod is much better.

So the only genre that I would be somewhat hesitant about is portrait/documentary/street where I tend to favour fast primes and no flash. I also have a strong liking for shallow DOF in portrait work where the Oly is weak because of the smaller sensor (indicating shorter focal lengths) and the lack of wide aperture lenses.

For your interests as you have described them I think the E510 must be a very strong contender. And do take a look at the Leica and Sigma lenses available for the 4/3 mount before making a decision.
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Old Sep 27, 2007, 4:40 AM   #9
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ShadowCaver wrote:
Quote:
Have read on a couple reviews that the sensor on the Oly is smaller, which I suppose can be a positive [larger DoF], but also a negative. Any comments regarding this? For my type of uses, would this play any kind of role?
If there isa singlefactor that affects noise, it's pixel density. That is, the more pixels they squeeze into a small area, the more likely a pixel will be influenced by the operation of another pixel. So the smaller image sensor in the Olympus is likely to create more noise than the image sensors in other dSLRs, but it's far less likely to create noise than any of the P&S digicams which have a very high pixel density.

But as mtngal has stated, there are ways around the problem of noise, and it may not even affect you for the type of photos you want.

There is another difference between the image sensor on the Olympus and the image sensors on other dSLRs, though it is inconsequential, comparitively speaking. The image sensor in the Olympus has an aspect ratio of 4:3 instead of 3:2 like other dSLRs. The decision to use the 3:2 aspect ratio in film cameras dates back almost a century when Oskar Barnack made the first practial 35mm film camera for Leica. He had no particular reason for using a 24x36mm exposure size; he just did it, and because he was the first, everyone else just followed.

People have been arguing for years that the 3:2 format was not a good idea, but nobody ever really did anything about it until Olympus developed the 4:3 system.

ShadowCaver wrote:
Quote:
Also, the camera uses the Four-Thirds format - any thoughts [pros/cons] concering the quality, availabilty of lenses, etc.?

From what I can tell, the Oly lenses have a quite good reputation too - yes?
Olympus has worked hard to provide a broad selection of lenses for the Four Thirds mount, and while they have further to go to compare with the selection of Canon and Nikon, they have done well. And, in addition to Olympus' own lenses, Four Thirds lenses are also available from Sigma and Panasonic/Leica.

And while Olympus lenses are not considered to be as good as the best from Canon, Nikon, Zeiss and Leica, the consensus is that they are quite good. But in absolute terms, I couldn't tell you, and because, unlike with film cameras which all produce an image exactly the same way, digicams all process the imageto a certain extent (even with RAW images) before you see them, you can't really compare one lens with another objectively, andI don't think there are a lot of people that can.

ShadowCaver wrote:
Quote:
Lastly [for now ], would the S/N of this particular camera be of what type of level?
The Signal to Noise Ratio of a digicam is dependant to a great extent on the pixel density I mentioned earlier.
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Old Sep 30, 2007, 12:25 PM   #10
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Again, thanks for the feedback... However, I am continuing to research and contemplate other options - in talking with a local photographer that ran into yesterday, for example, he stated that he used to be a Nikon user for many many years, but recently [~3 years ago] switched to Canon, and absolutely loves them for their quality, speed, etc. Couple that w/ the reviews at this forum and other places, and I am now starting to think about Canon 30D or even the 40D. Yes, a bit more taken from my funds, but,,, am thinking [yes, a dangerous endevour] that the extra bang for the buck, and also potentially greater longevity of such a camera - in terms of it not being 'replaced' by an upgraded model as fast as the XTi, for example.

So, with all that said, and what I am after in performance and goals, any additional thoughts and/or reommendations? Forgot to mention that macro is another great interest that I have. Unfortunately, the local camera shop doesn't have the Oly E-510 in stock to get a feel of it yet.
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