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Old Nov 30, 2007, 8:54 AM   #1
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I am currently looking to purchase a new camera for Christmas and have been spending over a month researching my options. I currently have a budget of no more then $1,200 for the entire package (camera, lens, memory, case, x bat)

My search has taken me to two different options:

1. Canon XTI with Tamron 17-50 lens ($950)

2. Nikon D80 with both a Nikkor18-55 & 55-200 VR Adorama ($1,025)

I also considered the new Tamron 18-250mm (butno IS/VR made me think twice) or the Canon 28-135mm.

If I overlooked a great lens let me know.

When comparing body to body, the information I have found points to the D80 being the better option but once my budget and lens is considered is that still the case?

I will shoot 50% indoors and 50% outdoors just basic family shots. I don't like using a tripod to shoot. Since I won't plan to upgrade the lens for some time, this decision has to last me some time and serve as an all around lens for my situation.

Given these configurations which would be a better decision?(Unless there is one better you may suggest)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


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Old Nov 30, 2007, 10:58 AM   #2
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ironmicd wrote:
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I will shoot 50% indoors and 50% outdoors just basic family shots. I don't like using a tripod to shoot. Since I won't plan to upgrade the lens for some time, this decision has to last me some time and serve as an all around lens for my situation.

Well if 50% of your shots are indoor family type shots I think you should factor an external flash into the mix. Built in flashes on all DSLRs are still pretty poor. You're still going to have a lot of red-eye and harsh shadows. Bright prime lenses are useful for portrait style shots with available light but there are too many shots they just can't get. A 2.8 lens is just not going to be bright enough to get you many shots AND at 2.8 the DOF is going to be too shallow for a number of shots. If the mix is really 50% indoors then an external flash is going to be a critical part of getting quality shots. Much more so than 2.8 apertures will be.

As a sports shooter I LIVE at wide apertures - I do a lot of low light sport shooting and thus take a lot of shots at 2.8, 2.0 and 1.8. I also take a lot of family shots - no way is a 2.8 lens going to do the job.

So, for your stated purposes I suggest re-working your choices to fit in an external flash purchase. As to what lens you get - you'll want a wide angle for indoor shots. The 28-135 is a great lens but 28mm can be a bit tight on a 1.6 crop body - so you're going to want a 17 or 18mm type lens. The question then becomes - what focal length do you need for your outdoor stuff. Even though it's just family use, I would find 50mm WAY short if this is intended to be your 'final lens purchase'. That's a risk with putting all your money into the initial purchase (e.g. the Canon option). If 50mm isn't enough reach you're out of money.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 11:57 AM   #3
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I've got the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and love it. It is better and brighter than the kit lenses, and I've had good luck using it indoors. See my post First shots with Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 on my KM5D .

It may be bright enough that you could get by with the built-in flash, if the subject isn't too far away. Since I don't use flash at all, I haven't tried it that way, though.

It is a little shorter than the kit lenses, but not by much.

And it's available for the Nikon as well as the Canon.

BTW, you haven't mentioned a purpose that would require a telephoto. Do you have something in mind that would require the 55-200 VR you mentioned.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 1:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I will definately add a flash to my list. As for the zoom, it was part of the Adarama package offer where both lens are included. The only drawback to the Tamron is no IS/VR.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 1:11 PM   #5
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ironmicd wrote:
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... The only drawback to the Tamron is no IS/VR.
I am a big fan of IS, but I believe that most people will agree when I say thatIS is mostly only useful on longer and/or dimmer lenses. The 17-50 is short enough and bright enough that not having optical image stabilization isn't a problem.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 1:23 PM   #6
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TCav wrote:
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ironmicd wrote:
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... The only drawback to the Tamron is no IS/VR.
I am a big fan of IS, but I believe that most people will agree when I say thatIS is mostly only useful on longer and/or dimmer lenses. The 17-50 is short enough and bright enough that not having optical image stabilization isn't a problem.
Agreed. All else being equal, IS is nice but it is VASTLY overrated in real life. Seriously, how many 1/15 exposures are you really going to take? Often less than you think. More often than not, people misuse the technology. They think it's a replacement for a brighter lens or a tripod or a flash and it's NOT. So they end up with motion blur or still with camera shake (because they tried to handhold at too slow of a shutter speed). It's only useful if you're taking photos in conditions that require it AND conditions that can still get decent results with slow shutter speeds.

IS has become the new "MP". People coming into DSLRs are being fed the same line of misinformation that IS is necessary just like more MP was necessary. And the truth is the same in both cases. More MP is beneficial to certain types of photography and has very little impact on other types. Same with IS. It's beneficial to a certain type of photography but has no impact on others. Same thing with high ISO. Who cares if a camera has bad ISO 1600 performance if you never shoot above 200?

If everything else was equal about two solutions, obviously you want the one WITH IS. But there is NEVER a case where everything else is equal. So, you have to decide which features are necessary for YOUR TYPE of photography. Then you get the solution with those features.

I have several IS lenses so it's not about bashing something I don't have - but I think it fits squarly in the High ISO, megapixel camp of a feature that is over rated with regards to how important it is to most shooters.

Just my opinion.
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Old Dec 1, 2007, 8:29 AM   #7
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Ok, afte reading these posts and even more research, I am rethinking my decision.

What about the D80 (body only) adding the Standard 50mm f/1.8 lens (for portraits and inside shots) and then the Nikon 70-300 VR F4.0-5.6 for outside when a zoom is needed. Does this sound like a better configuration?
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Old Dec 1, 2007, 9:06 AM   #8
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The 50mm f/1.8 is a very good lens, but it's long for a lot of indoor use.

A 50mm on a Nikon dSLR (1.5 Crop Factor) is like a 75mm lens on a 35mm film camera, or an 80mm lenson a Canon dSLR (1.6 Crop Factor). It's fine for portraits, but for small groups you might need to be in the next room. And large groups and interiors are out of the the question.

Thefollowing is a shot of the interior of a new house some friends had built on waterfront propertyinVirginia's Northern Neck. It was shot on an overcast morning, using my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 at 17mm. The exposure was 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 400.
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Old Dec 1, 2007, 10:49 AM   #9
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Thanks TCav. I started to think I might need to update the post to see if I needed a lens in between the 50mm and the 70-300. I first started looking at the Tamron when I was looking at the XTI and now it seems it's back again! The question is if I get the tamron do I still need/should buy the 50mm too? Is the 70-300 better then the 18-200 (or would he tamron overlap range) or the 80-200? I am trying to make my decsion ASAP so I can have everything ordered in time for the holidays. Thanks again for any feedback....
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Old Dec 1, 2007, 12:13 PM   #10
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The Tamron 17-50/2.8 is an excellent replacement for a kit lens, but the 50/1.8 gives you an extra 1-1/3 f-stop for lower light conditions and more flexibility with the depth of field. There are some good reasons to get the 50/1.8 in addition to the Tamron (I have the Tamron and a 50/1.7, and use them both, but for different purposes.)It's relatively inexpensive, but only you can decide if it's right for you.

The 17-50 is great for interiors, landscapes/cityscapes, low-light, etc.,but for portrature and the like,you might want to go with the 50/1.8.

Stay away from the 18-200. I've got it with a Konica-Minolta badge. It's dim and prone to distortion (geometric at the wide end, chromatic at the long end.)

And, btw, you might be able to save some money by getting a lens or two off the used market. KEH.com has the best selection, by far. And there's always eBay, if you're adventurous.

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