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Old Mar 9, 2008, 11:41 PM   #1
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After using digital point and shoots I long for the versatility of my old Minolta XE-7 (the pre-Maxxum) film camera with both 28mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.4 lenses, seldom using my 75-300mm zoom. I'm looking for a dSLR, entry-level or next step up. I shoot for personal use travel photos, including landscapes, hand-held existing light in museums, and "hurry up get the monkey in the tree before he moves." I don't blow up my photos but would crop if necessary and foresee displaying them on my HDTV rather than printing.



I know I need 28mm FOV for landscapes, good hand-held low light performance for museums and no shutter-lag, including focus time,and maybe some zoom for the monkeys. Manual focus is OK and may be better if the camera's startup and time between shots is reduced because the lens is pre-focused. And what about the importance of dust reduction as I tended to change my XE-7s lenses outside often? My budget is about $1100. And of course light weight and infinite battery life would be nice, LOL. Which camera and kit or body & lenses separately?
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 5:57 AM   #2
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Unfortunately, your trusty old manual focus lenses aren't going to do you much good. They can't be used with any of today's autofocus, autoexposure dSLRs, except with adapters that don't support autofocus and only barely support autoexposure.

To stay within your budget, your choice is limited to dSLRs with image sensors that are smaller than the 35mm flim exposures you're used to. In their dSLRs, Olympus uses an image sensor that is 1/2 that size, Canon's image sensors are 5/8 the size, and Nikon, Pentax and Sony use image sensors that are 2/3 the size of 35mm film exposures. So gettingan equivalent angle of view from your lenses depends of the camera body you select.

Landscapes usually require wide angle lenses, so something equivalent to your old 28mm lens would be good. That would be 14mm on the Olympus, 17 on the Canon, and 18 on the rest. Fortunately the kit lenses that come with each of those cameras cover that angle of view.

Handheld existing light in museums is a little bit tougher. To do that (without flash) requires a large maximum aperture, and here's where the kit lenses fall short. A good choice for this would be something with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or better. Better would, of course, be better, butf/2.8 wouldbe OK since things in museums don't move much so you get away with longer shutter speeds, especially if you had image stabilization of some kind. Otherwise, you should get a lens that is f/2.0 or better, but there are no zoom lenses that go that wide, so we're talking about primes. Canon ans Nikon have a good selection of 50mm fast primes, but 50mm might be long for indoors. Sigma has a 30mm f/1.4 (~$400) and a 28mm f/1.8 (~$270) that would work well, and they'll fit any of the brands except Olympus. There are 35mm f/2.0 lenses from Canon, Nikon and Pentax that would also work well.

If you would consider image stabilization, you could get away with an f/2.8 lens like the Tamron 17-50/2.8 (~$440)or the Sigma 18-50/2.8 (~$420), which could do your landscape shots as well. You wouldn't need the kit lens, but most of the dSLRs within your budget aren't available without the kit lens.

There are two types of image stabilization:
  • Optical Image Stabilization uses sensors in the lens to position an optical element which directs the light path to a consistant location on the image sensor, so as the camera shakes, the image remains stationary relative to the image sensor.Canon and Nikon use this form of image stabilization. [/*]
  • Sensor Shift Image Stabilization uses sensors in the body to position the image sensor, so as the camera shakes, the image remains stationary relative to the image sensor.All Pentax andSony, and some Olympus dSLRs, use this form of image stabilization.[/*]
Sensor shift image stabilization would support the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and Sigma 18-50/2.8 lenses I lentioned.

The long zoom you mentioned is a standard choice andmany good examples are available for about $200.

I think a Pentax K10D (10MP image sensor, sensor shift image stabilization) (~$650) with a Tamron 17-50/2.8 (~$440) (~$1,090 total) would be an excellent choice for your budget (if you can hold off on the telephoto zoom.) You could also go with the Olympus 2 lens kit (E-510, 14-42/3.5-5.6, 40-150/4-5.6) (~650) but that wouldn't do your museum shots. Sigma has a 24/1.8 (~$330) and a 30/1.4 ($400) to fill in there. You couldeven get the E-510 body (~$490), the Sigma 18-50/2.8 (~390), and the Olympus 40-150/4-5.6 (~$200) and still be under budget, but the 18-50 might not be wide enough.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 4:10 PM   #3
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Since you don't mind manual focus, you might want to look closely at the Pentax line - their dSLR cameras can use any of the K-mount lenses. For your museum photos you could probably find a nice used SMCM 50mm 1.7 lens for around $50 or so. It would be manual focus, but I still use mine that I bought in 1980.Then buy the K10 with kit lens(while you can still find it - it has been discontinued so stores are selling off their stock to make room for the new, much more expensive K20). I still often use my kit lens for landscape and general use - it's one of the better kit lenses, and definitely worth more than the little they charge for it. That would leave you some money to pick up a telephoto lens like the DA 50-200 (sometimes sold as a second kit lens). You would gain speed with the 50mm 1.7, lose the flexibility of the fasterf2.8 zoom, but also be able to afford the tele, too.

A little off-topic - I noticed that you are from Bakersfield - are there any good camera stores in Bakersfield, especially ones that might carry used equipment (like Pentax)? I'm always interested in good, older lenses and have often wondered if there was any place worth visiting some time when I'm on that side of the hill shopping.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 4:34 PM   #4
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mtngal wrote:
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... For your museum photos you could probably find a nice used SMCM 50mm 1.7 lens for around $50 or so. ...
I was thinking that a 50mm lens might be a little too long to useinside a museum on an APS-C dSLR. That would be like a 75mm lens on a Nikon, Pentax orSony, 80mm on a Canon, and 100mm on an Olympus. Depending what you're shooting, you might have to be in the next room.

But if it will work, jump on it.
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 10:33 PM   #5
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My suggestion was mostly offered as apossible low-costalternative to yours - I've used my 50mm occasionally in museums and have had reasonable success. It does depend on what you are trying to capture though, and there are a number of better alternatives, though they would be more expensive. It does depend on which is more important - the low-light museum pictures or the longer telephoto lens. Your suggestion would be better if the low light capability is more important and the tele can wait, mine for getting the telephoto lens sooner, rather than later.

Or, skip the kit lens and get one of the f2.8 zoom lenses TCav mentioned, then look around for a used manual telephoto lens (lots out there, all different price ranges, some good, some not so good).
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Old Mar 14, 2008, 11:22 PM   #6
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Wow, what a lot of good information!

Based upon both yours and mtngal's recommendations I ordered a Pentax K10D with the kit lens. I'm sure I'll add more later but the kit lens added only $75 so this will give me something to get started with while I check out the image stabilization. I especially want to check out the claims about being able to get a couple of stops extra exposure over non-stabilized lenses. If very successful, it might have a bearing on how fast of a new prime lens I might need to get those indoor flashless shots.

I never would have considered the Pentax if not for your recommendation but after researching it and reading many pro and user reviews, it looked like a great choice. AND I found out my co-worker has two identical Pentax film SLR w/lenses he will let me try.

Thank you for your help and I'll let you know how the new camera works out for me.
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Old Mar 25, 2008, 9:23 PM   #7
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Went to my niece's wedding 3 days after getting my K10D (and without reading the manual much beyond How Do I Turn It On) and what a great improvement using this camera was over my Casio Exlim pointand shoot!

Almost no shutter lag, the image stabilization worked well with available light and the kit lens, and it works so much like my XE-7. Now I just have to study the manual and find out how to use all the great things this camera can do. And most of the 100 plus pics I took look good.

Can't wait to explore photography again. Thanks to you both!
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Old Mar 25, 2008, 9:47 PM   #8
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Don't hesitate to ask questions on the Pentax portion of this board. We're a friendly lot and are happy to answer questions (especially since we've probably asked them in the past). Have fun also checking out your friend's film lenses on a digital body - it's been lots of fun playing with my old ones.
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Old Mar 26, 2008, 6:02 AM   #9
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I'm glad to hear of your success. I know you'll be pleased with the K10D. When you get a chance, show us what you've been up to.
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