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Old Mar 5, 2008, 2:29 PM   #1
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I'm new to posting on these forums, but have been a fan of Steve's Digicams for a long time.

I currently have a Sony DSC F717, and am wanting to upgrade to a DSLR.

Most of my photography is nature, animal, and sunset photos. However, I do hope to start doing some portraits also. Once I get a dslr, I will be submitting some photos to magazines. I realize that my lens selection will be just as important as my camera selection. However, I would really appreciate your advice and opinions on the cameras.

My dream camera was always the Canon 30D. However, I have been advised that the 30D really isn't much different than the 20D. I have also been told that if I were planning to get a Canon, I really should go for the 40D.

I have also had Pentax highly recommended to me, along with the Nikon D40X.

Due to finances, I want this dslr to serve my needs for several years, because I will not have the finances to upgrade again any time soon. Obviously, with the differences in cost, it would be easier for me to afford one of the other choices over a 40D. However, I don't know if I will actually need the 40D's extras for what I do - Yet, I don't want to purchase something 'lesser' and then wish that I could upgrade.

I'd appreciate any opinions or advice you may have for me, and please ask me any questions so that I can give you more information if needed. Thank you for your time.
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Old Mar 5, 2008, 2:53 PM   #2
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What's your budget for the camera body and lenses (which can often exceed the price of the camera body for better optical quality), and what do you mean by nature and animal (distant wildlife and smaller subjects like birds may require a longer focal length lens)?

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Old Mar 5, 2008, 3:16 PM   #3
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Due to budget contraints, I will probably need to get the body and possibly one basic lens and then save up to get more lenses.

I don't really have a decided budget amount, but 800-1000 for the body and lens would definitely be the limit right now. Of course, I would be saving money constantly to add to my lens collection.

Yes, when I say 'nature' - zoom is a necessity. That is why I chose the F717 when I got my first camera. I take many wildlife and bird photos.

Thank you so much for responding to my post, and please forgive me for being ignorant about which information to include in the initial post.
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Old Mar 5, 2008, 3:45 PM   #4
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Your DSC-F717 is a very nice camera. It is limited to a 35mm equivalent focal range of around 38-190mm. But, it's a very bright lens and it's very sharp, and this camera has a good sensor with excellent image processing algorithms.

With the entry level Nikon, Pentax or Sony models (and the 6MP and 10MP models from these manufacturers all use a Sony APS-C size sensor), lenses will appear to be about 1.5x longer than they would on a 35mm camera model for an equivalent field of view. The sensors Canon makes for their entry level DSLR models are slightly smaller, and would appear to be around 1.6x longer.

For example, a 100mm lens on a DSLR with an APS-C size Sony Sensor in an entry level model from Nikon, Pentax or Sony would have around the same angle of view (apparent magnfication) that a 150mm lens would on a 35mm camera. A 100mm lens on an entry level Canon body will have about the same angle of view that a 160mm lens would on a 35mm camera. You'll have a narrower angle of view for any given focal length as your sensor size gets smaller.

So, a 200mm lens on an entry level DSLR model would be like using a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera (200 x 1.5 = 300). That's one reason the kit lenses on most DSLR models start out at around 18mm (because it's going to have the same angle of view as a lens that's 50% longer on an entry level Pentax, Nikon or Sony model; or 60% longer on an entry level Canon model.

So, just about any of the two lens kits going to at least 200mm from Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony would have more "reach" compared to your Sony DSC-F717. The longer you go, the more improvement you're likely to see with smaller subjects like birds, if you go with better quality lenses.

Within an $800-1000 budget, and no need for fast action in low light, I'd probably look at the DSLR bodies in our Best Cameras List for starters.

I'd also look at the reviews of the entry level Canon DSLR bodies like the XT and XTi.

My money would be on the new 10MP Sony DSLR-A200 with your budget. I'd probably go with the basic kit (body + 18-70mm AF lens) at $699 and get a used Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Macro Autofocus lens to go with it from the used department at http://www.keh.com (they're around $300 now in Excellent Condition with Hood and Caps). It's likely going to be a bit better lens than Sony offers with their 75-300mm lens in a kit with this camera. Make sure to get the APO version (not the non APO versions of the Minolta 100-300mm AF lens if you go that route). There is a reason for the price difference.

But, I'm biased since I'm shooting with a Sony DSLR-A700 now, and I'm very impressed with the changes Sony made in areas like Dynamic Range and Autofocus speed/accuracy with this newer model.

Any of the entry level DSLR models should work fine in good light.

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Old Mar 5, 2008, 3:48 PM   #5
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The Sony F717 has a zoom lens with a focal lengthof 9.7-48.5mm,equivalent to 38-190mm on a 35mm film camera. That would be about 25-127mm on an APS-C dSLR. (On your budget, indeed ontwice your budget,all the dSLRs you could get have an APS-C size image sensor.) That range could be accomplished with a single lens, but before you commit to a lens, you should confirm that is what you really want. Can you check through some of your favorite shots to see what focal lengths you used, and determine whether you'd be happier with a different range of focal lengths in a lens, or lenses, for your dSLR?
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Old Mar 5, 2008, 3:59 PM   #6
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Thank you for your help! I sincerely appreciate your help.

I really like my F717, but am ready to upgrade to a DSLR. The reason I did not consider a Sony DSLR is because I was told that the lens selection would not compare to that of a Canon or Nikon.

However, now that I think about it, I guess that wouldn't matter, as long as you had high-quality and good lenses available to serve your purposes.

Thanks again.
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Old Mar 5, 2008, 4:25 PM   #7
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Misty Dawn wrote:
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The reason I did not consider a Sony DSLR is because I was told that the lens selection would not compare to that of a Canon or Nikon.
That's true to some extent (hence my suggestion of a used lens for the longer end). However, Sony DSLR models will use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made. So, you're not limited to the choices Sony currently has in it's new lens lineup. You've also got a wide variety of third party lenses in Sony/Minolta mount from manufacturers like Tamron and Sigma to choose from.

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Old Mar 5, 2008, 7:15 PM   #8
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I bought my Pentax istDS a few years ago and am pretty happy about it. The main reason I bout Pentax was because it is compatible to all old Pentax lenses, since I had a Pentax film SRL and a couple of lenses.

For example this image wastaken recentlyusing my Pentax istDS with aSigma Zoom 100-300:


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