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Old Feb 7, 2008, 10:34 PM   #1
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hello everyone,

I currently own a nikon d50 plus the kit 18-55 and a tamron 70-300.

I was taking a look at some sample pictures from a leica M8, and I have to say... I'm ashamed of my stuff now. of course, there's no comparison. I put image quality miles above any other feature... and I've been thinking about upgrading for some time. but since I don't have six zillion dollars to spend, I'll probably stay in the consumer level dslr range. suppose I have around 1500 dollars to spend on a kit, maybe slightly more if it's really worth it... what would you suggest? I had a look at the sony a100 and the zeiss 16-80. but the slrgear review on it puts it right next to the sigma 17-70, so I guess that's not such a great pick for the money.

any suggestions?

thanks!
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 10:54 PM   #2
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Just my opinion, but rather than looking at upgrading your camera, what about investing money in upgrading your lenses? I own two cameras, a 6 mp and a 10 mp and find that better lenses make a big difference with image quality. A top quality lens on the 6 mp camera will take a better picture than a mediocre lens on the 10 mp one. Unless there's some specific weakness that you find with the d50, like you shoot sports and want more fps, or a specific feature you really want, your money would be better spent upgrading your glass.
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 11:06 PM   #3
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hello, mtngal,

thanks for the reply.

that's certainly one option... I don't think it's important to go much beyond 6mp, specially considering I don't usually do large prints. more megapixels might be one way of achieving image quality, but that's pointless if the lens don't match it... and I don't think my 18-55 makes the best out of 6mp. the thing is... the options for a basic all around zoom seem, just out of the top of my head, the nikkor 18-70 and the sigma 17-70... I'm not sure they're the best I can get for my price range. maybe they are...? or maybe I'd be better off if I started using primes...
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 11:15 PM   #4
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kezs wrote:
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I was taking a look at some sample pictures from a leica M8, and I have to say... I'm ashamed of my stuff now. of course, there's no comparison.
I'm not so sure I buy that ("no comparison"), unless you need very large image sizes, in which case, the extra pixels could be handy.

Chances are, the difference in image quality you see in the samples you looked at from the M8, as compared to the photos you're taking, has nothing to do with the camera body.

Any camera can take good or bad photos. Here are around 12,000 sample images from the M8. But, keep in mind that it's an expensive camera, so the buyers of this type of camera are probably going to be at a higher skill level than buyers of many other models. They are more likely to have better glass than you're using, too (and if they're using bright primes, they'll be able to shallower depth of field with better bokeh compared to your glass). Get a brighter prime if you want shallower depth of field for portraits. ;-)

You'll find good and bad photos in the albums (and as in any public album, many of the photos have been post processed using image editors).

http://www.pbase.com/cameras/leitz/m8

I'd figure out what you like about the photos, and what you don't like about the ones you're getting and try to figure out what the difference is, before rushing out and spending money on a new camera that may not do any better than what you're using in the conditions you're using it in, unless you can identify limitations you're running into with your existing gear.

It could be lighting (conditions make a big difference), post processing or camera settings (contrast, saturation, etc.), lens quality/type/focal length/aperture settings used (depending on exactly what was being shot), or something else entirely.

You'd probably be better off spending the money on better glass instead if you don't need a faster camera or plan on printing at very large sizes (but, only if you need different lenses for what you like to shoot, in the conditions you want to shoot in).

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any suggestions?
Don't assume a new camera is going to take better photos, just because you saw some nice looking samples somewhere. ;-) Figure out "why" the photos look better to you first, and determine what you'd need to get the same look (which may be something as simple as buying a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens for under $100).

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Old Feb 7, 2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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hey JimC, thanks for the reply.

you're right. you're definitely gonna see much better pictures with same-level gear depending on who's using it. I'm even imagining that if we compare pictures from a d70, they're gonna look much better than the ones from a d40 using the same lens... and so forth. but if you take a steady, unprocessed (as much as it gets) shot using f/8 and 35mm on a d50/18-55 set at 100% zoom, it's not exactly eye candy (though I admit you could never tell that on a fit to screen zoom). now, a shot using f/3.5 and iso 400, vignetting, corner softness and distortion are serious issues. you can play with it a little on dxo, but correcting distorion on a picture that already has serious corner softness makes it pretty much unuseable anyway. anyway, that's a little bit beside the point. lens quality and/or resolution is an issue for me because I often crop and do some sort of correction, so some extra information to be able to play with would be quite nice. a leica m8 with high grade lens certainly offers that... so I'm trying to figure out what's beside what I have and what I can't have

I'm guessing primes might be a good way to go. that seems to be the only way to get around distortion, at least, at my budget...
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 11:57 PM   #6
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mtngal wrote:
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Just my opinion, but rather than looking at upgrading your camera, what about investing money in upgrading your lenses? I own two cameras, a 6 mp and a 10 mp and find that better lenses make a big difference with image quality. A top quality lens on the 6 mp camera will take a better picture than a mediocre lens on the 10 mp one. Unless there's some specific weakness that you find with the d50, like you shoot sports and want more fps, or a specific feature you really want, your money would be better spent upgrading your glass.
She got that right! You can spend more on one lens than a whole camera/lens combo. The right glass will make your camera, not the other way around...
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Old Feb 8, 2008, 4:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
you're right. you're definitely gonna see much better pictures with same-level gear depending on who's using it. I'm even imagining that if we compare pictures from a d70, they're gonna look much better than the ones from a d40 using the same lens
Wrong. The D50 and D70 will yield similiar image quality. The biggest difference between the two is features set. Under some circumstances, the D50 can yield better images, and almost always has better images straight from camera. (I have owned both). Although I don't use the D40, from what I've heard, it's IQ is better than the D50 and D70, and is comparable to what the D80 can yield, aside from the small difference in resolution. Don't assume that more money automatically means better IQ. Often as you go up the ladder, the differences are more in feature set, build quality, and speed, than IQ. Sure processing gets incrementally better, but only marginally so.

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and so forth. but if you take a steady, unprocessed (as much as it gets) shot using f/8 and 35mm on a d50/18-55 set at 100% zoom, it's not exactly eye candy
Viewing images at 100% does reveal issues, but come on, nobody prints at that level. Most issues you see at 100% are related to focus and noise. If the image is focused correctly and exposure is right, 100% viewing shows very little. 100% viewing is like printing a 2ft by 3ft image and looking at it with a magnifying glass. At normal prints sizes, most differences in IQ are very subtle.

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lens quality and/or resolution is an issue for me because I often crop and do some sort of correction, so some extra information to be able to play with would be quite nice.
Better lenses will yield better quality, but won't give you extra info to be able to play with. Only more resolution (megapixels) will do this.

All in all, your D50 should be giving you great images. If its not, its likely more related to your skill level than the camera. There are folks making money with their D50 (I have). I don't think moving up to the D80 (in your price range), the D200 or D300 ( abit above if you're getting better lenses too) will get you significantly better IQ. You'll get more control, and a deeper feature set that may make getting the job done easier. But if you're taking lousy images with the D50, moving up or switching brands won't help you.


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Old Feb 8, 2008, 6:29 AM   #8
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Yep, I gotta jump on the bandwagon here. Better lenses will have a greater impact on image quality. As will your own skill behind the camera.

If you believe your camera gear is at fault I suggest leaving the consumer grade glass behind.

You haven't mentioned what types of photos you take. Perhaps sharing that info will yield some suggestions for top notch glass.
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Old Feb 8, 2008, 8:08 AM   #9
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rjseeney wrote:
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Wrong. The D50 and D70 will yield similiar image quality. The biggest difference between the two is features set. Under some circumstances, the D50 can yield better images, and almost always has better images straight from camera. (I have owned both). Although I don't use the D40, from what I've heard, it's IQ is better than the D50 and D70, and is comparable to what the D80 can yield, aside from the small difference in resolution. Don't assume that more money automatically means better IQ. Often as you go up the ladder, the differences are more in feature set, build quality, and speed, than IQ. Sure processing gets incrementally better, but only marginally so.
that's my point exactly. I'm not sure I expressed myself right, but what I meant was that I'm sure that if you look pictures taken with a d70 up, they'll look better because they were used mostly by advanced amateurs and pros when it was released, whereas the d40 started out as an entry level camera. that's supporting the point jimC made that maybe one of the reasons the samples I've seen from the leica M8 are so good is that it's mostly used by really advanced photographers, since it's quite unlikely that an entry-level amateur will own a M8.

and I'm sorry, but there's been some confusion about what I'm aiming for as well. I'm not taking crappy pictures or anything like that.

please don't take it the wrong way; I agree with most of what you guys said, and I'm quite thankful for your input, but I feel I must point out, for the sake of not going beside the point, is that I'm well aware of the impact resolution and lens quality have on the final image. let's say that I'm a bit picky about IQ just the same... well, of course I am, I wanna upgrade from a really good consumer level set, right? I'm just wondering what's right above it, price - and quality-wise.

and to johnG:

I'm sort of an all around shooter... but I don't mind if my set can't do miracles handheld in low light. I expect great quality if I'm looking for it, and that's why I'm thinking primes might be the way to go. that way I'd keep my 18-55 (maybe upgrade to a sigma 17-70) at all times, and use a good wide or mid angle prime depending on the occasion. I might get a 50 1.8... and I wish they had a cheaper DX 14mm or thereabouts (maybe some other non nikkor brand does?). I'm an architect so that would be good. and a super wide angle zoom wouldn't really deliver IQ anyway. I don't use teles very much, but maybe a 200mm prime or something like that could be nice as well...
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Old Feb 8, 2008, 8:25 AM   #10
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I have read a lot in these forums about people complaining about image quality of one camera vs another. A lot of the facts have shown that better glass or lenses make a really big difference and also its the person behind the camera and how they use the controls at hand. A newbie may not get the ssame results with a camera as a pro would.

I would suggest you find out what you don;t like about your photos and see if you can play around with the controls such as shutter speed, appature, exposure compensation etc and seeif changing any of the settings leads you to what you believe are better images. I do not own a D-SLR (I have a Fuji S-9100) and playing around with the controls and options has helped me produce better images.

Hope my 2cents helps

dave
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