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Old Dec 31, 2007, 5:50 PM   #1
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I've spent the last few weeks reading all the excellent advice provided by members of this forum -- thank you all for providing me with a baseline as I make the leap into the D-SLR world.

I spent the afternoon at B&H in New York with the idea that I would decide once and for all between the Canon Digital Rebel XTI and the Nikon D40x (and possibly the Olympus E510). Trouble is, I didn't like any of them -- they felt too plasticky and gadgety to me. But I found myself really liking the Nikon D80 and the Canon 30D. They both felt more substantial, quicker and more capable to me, as well as more ergonomically satisfying. (Of course, they're a couple of hundred dollars more than the three cameras I initially had my eye on, but oh well!)

I want to invest in a camera I can grow with - ostensibly because we have a baby on the way - but also to shoot available light portraits (of the kid) as well as general photography -- landscapes, cityscapes, etc.

Does anyone have any guidance as I decide between the D80 and the 30D? Is one better suited to certain things than the other? And is there any reason I shouldn't consider either camera, or consider something I haven't mentioned in this post? Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Dec 31, 2007, 8:37 PM   #2
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Both cameras will do the kind of photography you listed well. Both have a good selection of fast and wide angle lenses for low light and city scapes, etc. You should consider the ergonomics and the menu system of both cameras. Take a test drive and see which one suits your style better.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 3:47 AM   #3
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I agree with dr_spock. They are both fine cameras, are well supported by their manufacturers and by third parties, but you should try them out first. If you aren't comfortable with the placement of the controls or the menu options, you could miss once-in-a-lifetime shots as you fumble around with the camera.

Asside from the ergonomics, I have no doubt that you will be very pleased with either.

The only thing I would point out to you is that both the D80 and the 30D do not have any kind of image stabilization in the camera body, and rely on optical image stabilization in some of the availablelenses. Since you've already considered, then rejected the Olympus E-510, I will suggest that you consider the offerings by Pentax and Sony. While neither brand has the selection of lenses and accessories available for the Canon or Nikon, every lens available for them is stabilized by virtue of the fact that they both include sensor shift image stabilization in the camera bodies. You might want to consider the feature of image stabilization as you evaluate your choices.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 2:44 PM   #4
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I also looked at the Canon 30D and the Nikon D80, but also the Pentax K10D. I bought the Pentax K10D about a month ago. I'm very happy with it and I've been spending quite a bit of time just learning about the camera and the plethora of settings.

I eventually chose the K10D over the D80 and the 30D, because of the shake reduction in the body and the dust removal system. Also the weather seals. The fact that it won three prestigious awards also impressed me.

All the cameras are impressive, I have a buddy with the Canon 30 D and that's quite a camera.

I think it would be worth your while to take a look at the K10D and compare it's features and try it out...although in the end I don't think you can go wrong with any of these cameras.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 3:16 PM   #5
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Thanks for all your replies.

I'll need to go back to B&H this weekend to get a feel for the Pentax K10D, but from everything I've read, it sounds like it's packed with features and priced very competitively. How is it in low light versus the D80 and the 30D?

So far, it's the D80 that felt best in my hands. The controls felt natural, the AF felt fast, and I really felt like I was ready to get "the shot" with that rig. The bar is certainly high for the K10D.

TCav, the Image Stabilization in the Pentax body is nice to have, but how helpful is it when you're not shooting with a telephoto? In other words, I understand the argument of only having to pay for stabilization once when it's in the camera body as opposed to the lenses. But would I be just as well paying more for VR on a Nikon telephoto (I probably won't need more than one for the kinds of shooting I'll be doing) and having access to the deep support and lens range that Nikon offers?
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 4:34 PM   #6
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How useful anti-shake is at shorter focal lengths (or even at longer lengths) is a constantly debated subject. It depends on what you shoot and how good your technique is.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"But let's stick with short focal lengths (85mm and shorter) since that's what you asked about. The general rule of thumb states that you should have at least 1/85 to hand-hold an 85mm lens. I have no problems hand-holding at 1/30. Some people are not so steady though so anti-shake is of more benefit to them. Also, you have to take into account whether the subject is moving. If the subject is moving - even sligthly then shutter speeds like 1/30 aren't generally going to produce great results.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"If everything else was completely equal of course you would want anti shake. But when choosing a camera and a system it isn't always a matter of everything else being completely equal. As the father of a 17 month old baby I can say that for the first few months it was possible to take a lot of still images but after that there was simply too much movement for slow shutter speeds without flash. I mean there are only so many photos you can take of a sleeping baby. The reality for me was that external flash was the most useful tool. Some people will tell you high ISO and brightprimes areall you need - and believe me they're great to have but if you want a shot after the sun sets unless you've got a lot of light present,neither those options NOR anti-shake are going to get the shots. All3 have their placeand all can be beneficial.And, just to give you some background, I'm an avid sports shooter - so I'm a HUGE proponent of available light photography. But as a parent, there are just way too many moments you won't be able to capture if you're relying on available light.I also have IS lenses, high ISO performance, fast primes and external flash and of the three, IS to me as a parent has been the least beneficial of the three. But others experience is likely different.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"All the camera rigs being thrown around are going to do a good job and how a camera feels is extremely important. If the Nikon feels the best to you, Ican't think of a realistic reason why another camerais going to meet your stated needs any better. You'll have a tremendous selection of lenses and one of the best flash systems availableas well.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 5:29 PM   #7
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I have recently invested in a D80 and find it an excellent camera. For me the image stabilisation issue was not a factor, the feel of the camera was. As has been said before, it is no good buying a camera that doesn't feel good just for some other feature and then not wanting to use it.

Road test the candidates before making your choice.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 7:49 PM   #8
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CourtInNYC wrote:
Quote:
TCav, the Image Stabilization in the Pentax body is nice to have, but how helpful is it when you're not shooting with a telephoto? In other words, I understand the argument of only having to pay for stabilization once when it's in the camera body as opposed to the lenses. But would I be just as well paying more for VR on a Nikon telephoto (I probably won't need more than one for the kinds of shooting I'll be doing) and having access to the deep support and lens range that Nikon offers?
I agree with JohnG about image stabilization, but I guess he's steadier than I am. I am a big proponent of IS, but since you won't be using long focal lengths very often, I'm tempering my enthusiasm. I will say that, 'all things being equal', VR lenses are bigger, heavier, and more expensive than non-VR counterparts. So it's more than just payingfor it once in the body vs. paying for it in each lens.

And if you are considering the Nikkor 18-200 VR, I will temper my disdain for superzooms, and simply say that, while it is a stellar example of what is possible with optical image stabilization, it's not a very good lens in most other respects.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 8:42 PM   #9
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No, I don't see the value in superzooms either. Better to carry 2 lenses that peform decently than one that is mediocre.

While we're on the subject, if I go with the D80 I know I'll want the 50mm 1.4, some sort of general walking around lens like Nikon's 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G DX (or even the 18-55mm kit lens) and eventually something like the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED-IF AF-S VR.

Thoughts?
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 9:16 PM   #10
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CourtInNYC wrote:
Quote:
No, I don't see the value in superzooms either. Better to carry 2 lenses that peform decently than one that is mediocre.

While we're on the subject, if I go with the D80 I know I'll want the 50mm 1.4, some sort of general walking around lens like Nikon's 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G DX (or even the 18-55mm kit lens) and eventually something like the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED-IF AF-S VR.

Thoughts?
That sounds like a good setup. However, I'd go for the the 50 f1.8 over the 1.4. It's about 1/2 the price, and a better performer. The f1.4 is not quite as sharp, and DOF is razor thin at f1.4. It's also quite soft wide open. I'd put the extra money you'd save into an SB600 flash, which is a great flash at a great price.
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