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Old Jan 1, 2008, 4:29 PM   #1
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Hi, I'm looking for advice on purchasing my first digital camera.

I'm used to taking pics with old (50s era) Nikons and Leicasand a Canon AE10 of my dad's (sadly, I didn't get a chance at them when he passed and they were all sold, along with most of the lenses), although I have some really old Spiratone /Nikkor lenses -- all of these left over from my dad's stuff, and I've played around with my daughter's little Fuji point and click. However, that's the limit of my knowledge with cameras, especially digitals. I'm wanting to learn how to use them though, and would like to get into it more (looking into becoming a serious hobbyist -- I like to create artwork based off of my photos too). Trouble is, I don't know a lot about DSLRs (or digicams even) and all the little "bells and whistles" of the digitals daunt me a bit and I'm clumsy with them so far.

So, here's what I'm looking for: a nice, user friendlydigital SLR with great performance for a more budget price that I can learn on and possibly upgrade as I get better (I've thought about non DLRs, but I find myself leaning away from those, but would always reconsider). It would be great if I could use those old lenses too, but I'm guessing that would be out of the question as they are VERY, VERY old (and a really incomplete set that I'd have to piece together to see if they'd even be worth it to try using on anything anymore). As far as photographic preferences I'd love to be able toget better at nature/wildlife shots, macro, and portraitwork -- I'd like to be able to take some decent shots of my kids at horse shows too. I know I'm asking a lot of a camera, but I'm also willing to settlefor best overall value/performance too --hey, I've gotten some really nice little shots with that FujiFinePix; it's the image not the equipment that calls the shot good or bad sometimes!



I've looked at the Canon Dig Rebel xTi, the Nikon D40x, the Olympus E-510 primarily -- but have also considered the comparable Pentax and Sony. Which would give me the best value and the best unit to grow with in the directions I want to go?



Thanks in advance for all suggestions/help!


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Old Jan 1, 2008, 10:14 PM   #2
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It seems that your ambitions will require mostly telephoto lenses.

Canon and Nikon have the best selection of lenses and accessories, but they both use optical image stabilization, with makes the stabilized lenses bigger, heavier and more expensive.Also, the Nikon D40 and D40x don't have an internal autofocus motor, and so can only autofocus lenses that have their own motors. That works out to be about 1/3 the selection for other Nikon dLSRs.

Olympus, Pentax and Sony havesmaller choices of lenses and accessories, but they use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, so any lensyou use will be stabilized.Pentax has the smallest selection of telephoto lenses.

So I think it comes down to these:
  • Canon Rebel XT (8MP)(No IS)(~$400 for body only) [/*]
  • Canon Rebel XTi (10MP)(No IS)(~$500 for body only) [/*]
  • Canon 30D (8MP)(No IS)(~$800 for body only) [/*]
  • Nikon D80 (10MP)(No IS)(~$800) [/*]
  • Olympus E-410 (10MP)(No IS)(~$400 for body only) [/*]
  • Olympus E-510 (10MP)(IS)(~$500) for body only [/*]
  • Pentax K100D Super (6MP)(IS)(~$375 after rebate for body only) [/*]
  • Pentax K10D (10MP)(IS)(~$600 after rebate for body only) [/*]
  • Sony A100 (10MP)(IS)(~$600 for body only)[/*]
I think that any of these would serve you well, in that they have many features that will serve to help you hit the ground running, yet have enough headroom to not constrict your ambitions for quite a while.

I would strongly suggest that, given the types of photography you say you want to do, you consider image stabilization, and how you want to include it.
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Old Jan 1, 2008, 10:55 PM   #3
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Just a word of caution about those "old Spiratone /Nikkor lenses" you have.

If they are really old pre-Ai lenses they will damage a new camera if you try to use them. Unless they have been Ai modified.

If they are Ai lenses than they will fit on newer Nikon's but will not allow metering except on the more expensive cameras. And you will have too manually focuses, which I have discovered is a little more difficult to do on modern cameras than it is on the old MF cameras.

Personally I wouldn't even conceder those lenses when choosing a camera. But if you do wind up with a Nikon, then it might be worth finding out if you can use them.
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Old Jan 2, 2008, 4:10 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for the advice!

I rather figured the old lenses wouldn't work -- but it never hurts to ask.

I'm thinking very seriously about the Olympus E-510 with the two kit lens -- it seems to be a very nice camera and setup for the money, offering a decent amount of flexibility to start out with, and I can branch out into using other lens when I've gotten a handle with it. Any suggestions on appropriate lenses compatible with this system that would be good for me to look into purchasing down the road?

I liked the Nikon, but the lack of IS in the camera itself, plus thelens limitations, seems like it wouldn't be best for what I need from a camera right now.


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Old Jan 2, 2008, 4:29 PM   #5
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jlmarron wrote:
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It would be great if I could use those old lenses too, but I'm guessing that would be out of the question as they are VERY, VERY old (and a really incomplete set that I'd have to piece together to see if they'd even be worth it to try using on anything anymore).
Nikkor, huh?

The least expensive current Nikon body that would give you metering with older non-CPU manual focus lenses is the D200.

The meter wouldn't work with most entry level Nikon bodies (i.e., D40, D50, D70, D70, D80).

So, on entry level bodies, you'd be shooting "blind", and would have to estimate your settings for shutter speed and aperture, or use a separate light meter.

In addition, you should not try to mount non-AI (Auto Indexing) Lenses any of the entry level DSLR models other that the D40 or D40X, or you'll risk damaging the camera and/or lens. You can have non-AI lenses converted to AI, though.

The least expensive current Nikon model that will meter with non-CPU lenses is the D200.

So, you'd be shooting blind with the entry level models (for example, the D40, D40x D50, D70, D70s, D80 will not meter with a non-CPU lens). With those models, you'd have to estimate exposure or use a separate meter.

You can see more information on lens compatiblity here:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm

If you don't mind manual focus, you could use them on a Canon model OK with an adapter if you don't want to go with one of the more expensive Nikon models, and you'd still have metering (even with the entry level Canon DSLR models like the XT).

Here's an example of an inexpensive adapter ($27.95) to let them work on a Canon DSLR body (and you'd have metering, too).

http://www.fotodiox.com/shop/product...roducts_id=718

Just set the Aperture Ring to the desired Aperture on the lens and the meter is live in the camera if you shoot in manual exposure or aperture priority modes. The camera won't know the aperture you set with it (but doesn't matter for metering since it just needs to find the correct shutter speed for proper exposure for the amount of light it's seeing)

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Old Jan 2, 2008, 5:37 PM   #6
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Ok, so, I might be able to use those old lenses on a Canon DSLR with an adapter ( and I've got a pretty nice light meter someplace in all the old stuff left of my dad's -- it's old, but it was a really good one in it's day -- we're talking some really old equipment after all, I'm no spring chicken:lol?

Now, wouldn't that just be the nuts?! And it would also change my decision more than likely -- there are some pretty cool color filters in that pack of old lenses; they're a lot of fun to tinker with...and it's been over 15 years since I last got to mess with them.

Ok, thanks for the heads up and the link -- I'll go and pull those out of storage and see what exactly I've got there and if I can use any of it. Maybe it would be something to look into insofar as a "move up" dslr at a later date? (one thing about whatever camera I purchase now, I've got plenty of kids who are obsessive -compulsive snapshot takers as it is -- they might like to have whatever entry level dslr I get if/when I might decide to upgrade later).




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Old Jan 2, 2008, 7:11 PM   #7
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jlmarron wrote:
Quote:
I'm thinking very seriously about the Olympus E-510 with the two kit lens -- it seems to be a very nice camera and setup for the money, offering a decent amount of flexibility to start out with, and I can branch out into using other lens when I've gotten a handle with it. Any suggestions on appropriate lenses compatible with this system that would be good for me to look into purchasing down the road?
The E-510 two lens kit includes the 14-42/3.5-5.6 and the 40-150/4.0-5.6. They are both reasonably good lenses as kit lenses go.

For nature/wildlife and your kids at horse shows, the 40-150 might do, but you may want something longer and faster. There's the Olympus 50-200/2.8-3.5 for ~$850, or the 70-300/4.0-5.6 for ~$400. The 50-200 is expensive, but the 70-300 and the 40-150do not have a large enough aperture to allow fast shutter speeds at horse shows, etc.

For macro, you can go with the 35/3.5 for ~$200, or the 50/2.0 for ~$425, which might do double duty as your portrait lens. Otherwise, there's the Sigma 30/1.4 for ~$430.

As you can see, if you can get by with the two lens kit, the Olympus is a good deal, but if you need anything extra, the choices are limited and expensive.
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Old Jan 2, 2008, 9:49 PM   #8
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Any suggestions on what might serve me better? Different camera choice perhaps? I liked the Olympus, but I haven't committed to it yet -- and I don't want to make a hasty choice.

If I was going to lean towards anything it would be capturing still compositions than action shots, so I'm willing to sacrifice on that end. (I would probably just make due with the Olymp. kit lenses and plunk the money into the macro first, as that's where my personal interests lie, but if I could afford to get bothby going with a different brand camera, or if I would do better just buying the Oly body and the lens seperate, then I'd be seriously looking into it ). I know I'm going to get some requests for action shots at the shows (from family and friends), so while I don't want to spend a lot going in that direction I figure I might as well be somewhat prepared for it.

Also wanted to ask -- which brand has the best user's guide, tech support? I'm sure I'll be needing that. As I stated in the original OP -- while manual controls and the like don't scare me at all, the bells and whistles on the digital menus get me rather flustered. I'd like to have a camera that leans to using a lot of manual control and stays pretty user friendly with the digital stuff!



Sorry for all of the questions -- just trying to make a really educated choice. This(photography andartwork)is something I've really decided to finally do for myself (maybe even as a sideline occupation, or paying hobby) after almost 20 years of being away from it, so I'm not wanting to dabble and then forget about it.
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Old Jan 2, 2008, 11:34 PM   #9
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My first post here lists dSLRs that I think would give you a good start with lots of room to grow.

My recommendation is that more megapixels is better (specifically, for cropping and enlargements), and since nothing you've mentioned would suggest the use of high ISO settings, I don't think any of the dSLRs in my list would give you any problems with noise.

As I understand it, your ambitions are, in order:
  1. Nature/Wildlife [/*]
  2. Macro [/*]
  3. Portrait [/*]
  4. Sports/Action
[/*]
These require medium to long telephoto, and use of telephoto lenses will benefit from image stabilization (IS). Canon has a great selection of good quality, less expensive lenses, but does not have IS in the camera body.

The Canon XT and XTi are both quite good, and the XTi has a 10MP image sensor (instead of 8MP in the XT), and a better autofocus system, but that would only really help with Sprots/Action. The difference in price isn't very much, but for you, neither is the differrence in capabilities. For Canon, I'd recomment the XTi, but the XT would be good too. The 30D is also quite good, but I think it might take you longer to get comfortable with it than the other Canons.

The Pentax K100D is certainly the price leader in this list, and it has IS in the body, but only a 6MP image sensor.

The Pentax K10D and the Sony A100 both have 10MP image sensors and IS in the body, but cost more than the Canons, and don't have the selction of lenses they have.

The lensesforthe Canons could be the Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 APO DG (~$200) for Nature/Wildlife, the Canon50/1.8 (~$70) for portraiture, and the Canon 50/2.5 (~$240) for macro work. That's ~$510 total.

The lenses for the Pentaxs could be the Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 APO DG (~$220 this time) for Nature/Wildlife, the Pentax 50/1.4 (~$200) for portraiture, and the Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro (~$270) for macro work. That's ~$690 total.

The lenses for the Sony could be the Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 APO DG (~$210 this time) for Nature/Wildlife, the Sony 50/1.4 (~$325), and the Sigma 50/2.8 EX DG Macro (~$270) for macro work. That's ~$805 total.

To be as fair as possible, since I've included the 50/1.4 for Pentax and Sony, I should do the same for Canon and use their 50/1.4 (~$290) to get a total of ~$730.

A 1 for 1 comparison with Olympus lenses is difficult because the same lenses are not available for the E-510 as for the others, buta close match would be the 70-300/4.0-5.6 (~$400) for Nature/Wildlife, and the 50/2.0 (~$425) for portraiture and macro. That's ~$825 total.

So, figure out if you want IS in the body, and match up the prices for the bodies in the list in my first post with the list of lenses above, and you get a package that may suit your needs well.

And I invite comments and criticisms for others.
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Old Jan 3, 2008, 8:25 PM   #10
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TCav has given you some excellent advice and laid out the choices very well. The only thing I add to his comments is that Pentax is supposed to be announcing two new cameras January 24th. All the details aren't available, but the k200d, the replacment for the K100d, is reported to be going to 10 MP.

I know more about Pentax than any other since that's the one I have, but all are capable of producing excellent pictures. I am extremely impressed with the image stabilization in the Pentax (They call it Shake Reduction). It has allowed me to shoot as low as 1/5 of a second without blur.

Tech support is a very valid concern. I would encourage you to become active in the forums on this site, regardless of what model you choose. Each maker has its own forum, and you'll find avid devotees of each model there. You will often get more info just reading these forums than you'll ever find in manufacturer's publication. You'll also find most people in the forums are happy to help newcomers with the problems we all have faced adjusting to a new system.


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