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Old Feb 23, 2008, 8:58 AM   #1
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Hi,

I am planning to buy a DSLR and kit on a budget of 1200dollars. I take the odd photo for a local theatre, generally full body shots of cast and the odd in-rehearsal shot. I am also into general travel photography. I am bamboozled by choice and do not really know what system to go for. I am tempted by in-body image stabilisation on the one hand but am worried that the marques offering this do not offer the same comprehensive range of lenses, etc. Every photography magazine I open is dominated by canon and nikon. I am interested in a relatively portable model and am not averse to wide-ranging zooms. Some of my shots will be for A3 posters and I therefore am somewhat interested in the pixel count and image quality. I have been thinking about the K10d and a tamron 17-50 2.8f but am told the white balance is a problem indoors. Otherwise its the evolt 510, canon 400d or a nikon (not sure whether d40x or d80). I have too much choice and am so bogged down in scientific minutiae that I will never end up buying anthing. Furthermoreif I go for a nikon or canon and get a cheapie f/1.8 lens, which have good optics, is this f stop giving too shallow depth of field togetmany keepers. Will it only have the front of people's faces, for example, in focus?

I am keen on the d80 and one consideration is the 18-200 VR with the 50 mm f/1.8
Help!!! My budget should include flash, etc., if deemed appropriate. I am sure you knowledgeable folks are plagued by people asking such questions but anyway ...


Brad



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Old Feb 23, 2008, 10:03 AM   #2
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bradaun wrote:
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I am planning to buy a DSLR and kit on a budget of 1200dollars.

[snip]

I am keen on the d80 and one consideration is the 18-200 VR with the 50 mm f/1.8

Help!!! My budget should include flash, etc., if deemed appropriate.
Let's talk about this budget part again.

Checking a reputable vendor ( http://www.bhphotovideo.com ), the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens is selling for $679, and the Nikon D80 body is selling for $781.

That's not even factoring in a flash or 50mm f/1.8. So, you're going to be running into around an $1800 purchase going that route by the time it's all said and done after a good dedicated flash and bright prime is added in.

I'd go for a brighter lens compared to the 18-200mm anyway for that kind of use anyway though.

If you're seeing this kit for much less than you find it at reputable vendors, you're probably dealing with a scam artist selling gray market gear that Nikon will refuse to service, with high pressure sales tactics to buy what would normally be included (like the battery, charger, etc.), with high unauthorized shipping and insurance charges and more. If you don't buy the outrageously priced extras, your order may go to backorder status (after your card has been charged of course). ;-)

I'd ask about the vendor you're considering here, and make sure to check their customer reviews at http://www.resellerratings.com (they're better at keeping out more fake reviews than most ratings sites, since some vendors will try to pad their own ratings with glowing reviews).

So, help us to understand the budget first (is it $1200 and you're seeing the gear you mentioned priced that low somewhere), or did you intend to stretch the budget for the best solution.

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Old Feb 23, 2008, 3:47 PM   #3
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First you say you're concerned about buying a brand that doesn't have a large selection of lenses (certainly a subject worthy of concern), but your first choice for lenses is one that's available for any camera body! I own the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and like it a lot, but I don't think it will work well for your primary application. You weren't explicit about how you want to take your theatrical photos, but I presume you'll want to take them from the perspective of the audience. 17-50 is too short a focal length for that because in order to get full body shots, you'll have to be close, and your perspective will be looking up to the stage, causing the subjects to be distorted. To get a better perspective, you'll need to be further back in the theater, so you'll need a longer lens.

Unfortunately, theaters aren't very well lit, and with a longer lens you won't be able to use flash (depending on the size of the theater), so you'll need a fast lens too. f/4.0 might be OK, but you really should get f/2.8 or better.

And even with a fast lens, you'll still have longer shutter speeds than you should hold by hand, so you should really consider some kind of Image Stabilization (IS).

I think you should spend some time shopping for lenses first, and then buy the camera body that will fit the lenses you want.

Sigma has a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for $799 and a 50-150mm f/2.8 lens for$749, bothwith mounts for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony. Tamron has a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for $699 with a mount for Canon, and mounts for Nikon, Pentax and Sony coming soon. Of course, these lenses aren't stabilized, so only Pentax and Sony have stabilized bodies for these lenses.

I think that narrows down your choices, and they don't include Canon or Nikon, unless you want to spend more than $1200.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 12:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for that folks. My perspective would be from that of the audience in the theatre so I will look into the longer zoom elemnent. On the d80, I have a friend who can sell me a second hand one quite cheaply.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 12:10 PM   #5
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My worry about the Sigma and Tamron is the lack of IS. I would expect to be handholding and I have no experience of using lenses of such lengths. Perhaps my fears of camera shake are excessive.
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Old Feb 24, 2008, 1:26 PM   #6
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bradaun wrote:
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Thanks for that folks. My perspective would be from that of the audience in the theatre so I will look into the longer zoom element. On the d80, I have a friend who can sell me a second hand one quite cheaply.
Will it be fast enough? Will it have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or at least f/4.0?

You'll be taking photos at a long focal length in a dimly lit theater (relatively speaking). You're going to need a fast telephoto or telephoto-zoom lens.

bradaun wrote:
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My worry about the Sigma and Tamron is the lack of IS. I would expect to be handholding and I have no experience of using lenses of such lengths. Perhaps my fears of camera shake are excessive.
I wouldn't say so.

You'll be taking photos in a dimly lit theater. I think the subjects will be too far away to use flash effectively. You can only get proper exposures by increasing the ISO setting (risking noise), by using faster lenses (expensive), or by using slower shutter speeds (risking motion blur from camera shake, and even from subject movement!) The best way to go is with fast lenses and image stabilization, you might be able to get away with a fast prime instead of a zoom, maybe a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 ($400), but it won't be stabilized.

You want to use a telephoto lens in a big,dimly lit room. This is not a great environment for photography.
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Old Feb 25, 2008, 10:08 AM   #7
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An alternative that might suit your specialized needs better migth be a camera with sensor shift image stabilization, and a fast telephoto prime. Something like the Pentax K10D camera body($650) and a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 ($400). And for another $70, you can get the kit lens for general purpose photography. And you'll still be under budget.

Another option might be the the Sony A200 with the kit lens ($700) and the same Sigma 105mm f/2.8 ($400). Again, you'd be under budget.

For the kind of photography you want to do, I think you need a fast telephoto lens and image stabilization. It's cheaper to do that with image stabilization in the body, and that leaves out Canon and Nikon.
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Old Feb 28, 2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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As JimC & TCav noted, do not restrict you choice to Canikon. Unless you are planning on spending a whole bunch of money on lenses, you will find everything you are likely to actually buy for pretty much any dSLR. Not every lens you want, just every one you are likely to buy.

The Canon Telephoto EF 600mm f/4.0L IS Image Stabilizer USM Autofocus Lens looks nice,
[align=center]
[/align]but are you really likely to send B&H $7,200US to get it?

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Old Feb 28, 2008, 12:38 PM   #9
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I quit using Nikon gear on a recent trip to New Hampshire, because I found the Nikon D200 and associated lenses to heavy. I sold all my Nikon gear and move to an Olympus E510 because it is small and has built-in image stabilization. The kit with two lenses proved to be perfect for my needs with one exception. I needed a longer lens for humming birds, but Oly solved that problem with a low cost lens that reaches to 600mm (35 mm standard.) In between my Nikon 200 and Oly 510, I tried a Sony, the first one out with image stabilization. At the time I tried the Sony, lenses were too scarce for my needs.

In summation, I prefer the Oly because I can make it work in most cases with two lenses that are easy to carry around. The image stabilization is a must for me at age 76 and not too steady.

If I could stretch my budget I'd buy the E3 because of it's articulated LCD, quality of build, and its sophisticated flash system, which is, as I understand it, fully competetive with what Nikon offers. I'd get the most powerful Oly flash if I was going to be shooting inside a theatre.

My only complaint with Oly is that their high end lenses cost too much. I figure that's because the 4/3 system hasn't generated as great a following as those lenses for Nikon, Canon and others. That will change. I'm sure when Tokina and Tamron get on the band wagon. Sigma is already aboard. I recently bought a nifty Sigma 70-200 lens that gives me the 400mm reach I need for birding. It has become my second walk around lens. I keep my longest lens in a separate case, just in case I get to some good birding terrain.

Hope this helps. Good hunting.
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Old Mar 1, 2008, 1:21 AM   #10
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Just a couple of items that Jim and Tcav didn't address. I am assuming that you would be shooting in RAW format (and you could still adjust the white balance to a degree in JPG), but you can set the white balance on the Pentax K10 before shooting very easily, or if you forget, adjust it in post processing.

For your primary application, the only solution is to approach it from the lens first (as has been recommended by all the experts), then after selecting the lens or lenses, then select from the bodies that the lenses support. There is no way you can provide sufficient light in a theater to shoot with slow lenses, and if you did - you would destroy the stage lighting that you are trying to capture to some extent.

Ask your friend if you could borrow his camera and lens to expirement with in the theater first, so you will have some idea as to what focal lengths will work best for you. Or if you perfer a zoom, then what zoom range. The prime lenses will be faster and brighter, while the zoom will help you compose and frame the shots better. Its all a set of trade offs - nothing will be perfect for all situations.

In Body Image Stablization is really the only way for you to go (with any kind of budget), and that would limit your body selection to some degree- however, they are all fine makes and you really can not go wrong. Pentax just came out with their K20D ($1200 for the body), but that has pushed down the price of the K10D body, thus you can find a K10 body for a very good price now.

Sigma and Tamron lens work on Pentax bodies just fine.

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