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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:00 PM   #1
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Hi all,

TCav and others have been a huge help so far so how about some real world experience to get away from the brochures, then I'll stop bothering you all.

1) Does the 9 point AF (XTi/XSi) make a significant real world difference from the 3 point AF (E-510)?

2) Are either Tamron or Sigma good/ so-so /horrible substitutes for the brand name lenses? These may allow me to expand lenses a bit earlier than saving for either Canon or (my god -- the prices) Zuiko.

3) Im used to shooting 400mm eq at f3.5. The best >300 mm I can afford right now is 4-5.6. Do the sensor size and ISO advantages of a DSLR allow for sharper shots than the superzoom even with the apertire loss? If not, I may not have any reason to bother with a DSLR at all.

4) Am I wrong to essentially equate Canon and Nikon? All things being equal, I have discarded Nikon to stay with Canon since I know the buttons and have a 430EX Flash.

5) Is it me or are the Olympus 4/3 lenses generally more expensive than the EF or EF-S lenses once you get past the kit?

Hope these questions are specific enough that they allow real world answers. Thanks in advance.
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:19 PM   #2
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JohnGaltNY wrote:
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1) Does the 9 point AF (XTi/XSi) make a significant real world difference from the 3 point AF (E-510)?
IMO, yes. It should be a much better autofocus system for tracking moving subjects, with faster AF in virtually any lighting, and it won't struggle as much in low light as an Olympus model would (they will have problems focusing in light as low as models from Nikon, Canon or Sony can).

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2) Are either Tamron or Sigma good/ so-so /horrible substitutes for the brand name lenses? These may allow me to expand lenses a bit earlier than saving for either Canon or (my god -- the prices) Zuiko.
You have to take each lens on a case by case basis. All of the camera and lens manufacturers have very good lenses, and not so good lenses (an understatement in some cases).

Tamron's SP series lenses are their better grade, and Sigma's EX series lenses are their better grade. But, you'd still need to make sure the lenses are suitable for the conditions you plan on using one in, at the quality you need for the focal lengths and apertures you'd be using.

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3) Im used to shooting 400mm eq at f3.5. The best >300 mm I can afford right now is 4-5.6. Do the sensor size and ISO advantages of a DSLR allow for sharper shots than the superzoom even with the apertire loss? If not, I may not have any reason to bother with a DSLR at all.
Image quality is very subjective, and it would depend on the exact subjects, lenses, ISO speed used, conditons and more. A sharper looking image is not necessarily a better image either. Sometimes, cameras have too much sharpening (by enhancing contrast at edges for the appearance of a sharper image, with loss of real detail using that approach).

You also have differences in Dynamic Range (the ability to capture a greater range of bright to dark) between camera models. For example, the Olympus E-410 and E-510 models have unusually poor dynamic range for DSLR models, if you look at highlight detail retained with proper exposure of midtones, based on tests I've seen. They are not as sensitive to light as competitors either from what I can see (their ISO 1600 setting is closer to ISO 1250 in real sensitivty from a test I've seen from a reputable reviewer) Smaller sensors have advantages and disadvantages.

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4) Am I wrong to essentially equate Canon and Nikon? All things being equal, I have discarded Nikon to stay with Canon since I know the buttons and have a 430EX Flash.
Well... The entry level Nikon models are well liked. But, from my perspective, Nikon cut the "wrong corners" with their entry level models. For example, they removed the body based AF motor (so, you'll lose the ability to Autofocus with popular primes like the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 105mm f/2 and more). You'll also lose the ability to Autofocus with the vast majority of used Autofocus lenses in Nikon mount (from Nikon, Tamron, Tokina, Sigma and others), because most of these lesnes won't have focus motors built in (and neither do the entry level Nikon camera bodies).

But, of course, they are selling more lenses that way (since removing the focus motor caught competitors off guard and forced new D40 owners to stick with Nikkor AF-S lenses or Sigma HSM lenses until competitors could revamp their Nikon AF mount lens lineup to include focus motors for the D40 and D40x (and now D60). So, buyers could not choose less expensive alternatives from Tamron, Tokina and others when these models were first introduced if they wanted autofocus.

Nikon also "dumbed down" the Autofocus sensor assembly in their entry level DSLR models (scaling back to 3 focus points).

In contrast, Canon improved the AF system in the XTi, using the same AF sensor assembly as used in the Canon EOS-30D, for improved Autofocus performance.

Sony also took a different approach. In contrast to Nikon (which removed the AF motor in their entry level models), Sony beefed up the AF motor in their new models (A200, A300, A350, A700), with a system that's 1.7 times as fast as the previous Sony DSLR-A100, with better AF tracking algorithms.

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5) Is it me or are the Olympus 4/3 lenses generally more expensive than the EF or EF-S lenses once you get past the kit?
You have to take each lens on a case by case basis.

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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:36 PM   #3
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Incredibly fast, incredible thorough and 10+ useful answer. I'm getting really spoiled on this site.

Thanks Jim.

JG
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:47 PM   #4
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Just keep in mind that any opinion you see in a forum is probably biased in some way, including mine (and I currently shoot with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D and Sony DSLR-A700).

People tend to value different features in a camera model more, depending on what they like to shoot more often, taking things like size, weight, ergonomics and more into consideration.

You'll have to decide what's more important to you in a camera.

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Old Mar 12, 2008, 5:43 PM   #5
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I would agree 100% with Jim's post. There is more to AF than number of points although number of points can also matter. It's the QUALITY of the af that also matters. Canon and Nikon and now Sony have a significantly higher quality AF system than Oly. Most evidenced in low light or with action.

As to your second point - absolutely the high ISO performance of a DSLR will overcome the aperture advantage a point and shoot offers. ISO 1600 from the xti will be like ISO 400 from a point and shoot. So you'll be a good 1/3 stop ahead of the game (5.6 at 1600 vs. 3.5 at 400). And that's just exposure.

As to your last point, about 4/3 lenses being more expensive - that depends. Their entry level lenses are better than canon's - but when you move up to quality lenses the 4/3s cost more - but the difficult aspect is you have much less choices across the board. The benefit to the Oly system, IMO is you get more bang for the buck at the low end. By the upper end they have no advantage IMO (i.e nothing to compete with Canon 1 series or Nikon Dx series. Lens wise they compete well in quality given the limited selection. So, the best hit for them is people who can be happy with lower end bodies and with the lens selection offered. So they're a great solution for people that buy a DSLR and kit lens and never anything else. You really get a good bang for the buck in a low cost / low weight solution.
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 6:33 PM   #6
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Jim & John,

Thank you both again. This is exactly the type of real life experience advice I need to fine tune my thought process.

So far I've eliminated Nikon (equal to Cannon), the 40D (bigger and heavier than I want right now), the Olly 410/420 (too small - opposite of the 40D).

Still considering (1) the XTi body + the 18-55IS + the 55-250IS or (2)the XSi kit (I already have the 430EX and a ton of SD cards) + the 55-250 IS or (3) the Sony A-300 and (4) the E-510 twin lens kit. So the advice I've goten on here has been huge in helping me narrow and research some more.

Anybody else?
JG


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Old Mar 13, 2008, 12:07 PM   #7
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"One More Set of Specifics, Then I'll Go Away Quietly"

Yeah. Right. [suB]:-)[/suB]
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 2:03 PM   #8
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HMMMMMM TCav.Does that mean you don't believe I'll go away or that I'll be noisy when I do???:?

See, now all you did was cause another question.

JG
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Old Mar 14, 2008, 5:53 AM   #9
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JohnG wrote:
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... By the upper end they have no advantage IMO (i.e nothing to compete with Canon 1 series or Nikon Dx series. Lens wise they compete well in quality given the limited selection. So, the best hit for them is people who can be happy with lower end bodies and with the lens selection offered. So they're a great solution for people that buy a DSLR and kit lens and never anything else. You really get a good bang for the buck in a low cost / low weight solution
I have to disagree... and I have a lot of lenses at the the longer end...
Although I don't have an Oly yet - I'm very tempted to get one shortly and here's why:

1. The 4/3 system has a significant advantage in weight as a 2x crop camera. It considerably lower the weight of telephto lenses, so even though their lens show the same focal lenght, it actually has an effective doubling effect. Their 300 f/2.8 for example is effectively a 600 f/2.8 when mounted on an Oly body (and should cost the same as a 600mm Canon or Nikon) - The difference is Canon and Nikon do not have an f/2.8 in this range and even their 600 f/4 will require a tripod not so with an Oly... If anyone do any air travel with a longer telephoto (like I do) at all they'll appreciate right away the advantage of an Oly:
http://www.popphoto.com/cameras/4984...ympus-e-3.html

2. While I agree the more AF points the merrier, but if your shooting style tend to be using only the center AF point then all other AF sensor, be it 3, 9, or even 45/51 AF points, tend to be moot since you're turning them off. This is a real-world experience:
http://www.popphoto.com/cameras/4554...e-us-open.html

3. High-ISO is another hot topic: If all my images were captured at ISO-400 or lower why do I care about ISO-1600? Let other photographers get into Canon or Nikon then
(since I'm already in and looking outward... :lol::-):G)
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Old Mar 14, 2008, 6:20 AM   #10
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NHL - take a look at dpreview's comments on the E-3 - Olys top of the line camera. How's the low light focus compare?

What, it isn't as good? Does the review say anything about all points vs. 1? No.

Find me a pro shooter - sports or wildlife that's using Oly as their main body. You yourself dont even own one. You chose to buy nikon rather than oly. If 4/3 was so great all the pro shooters would be using it.

But lets talk about other aspects of a pro body - viewfinder size and brightness. Customization. Not only can I choose my focus points I can choose how they behave - quite a bit of customization actually. Let's say I want to rent a lens for the weekend - I can go and rent a 400mm 2.8. Why? Becaue camera stores actually carry the gear. Think that's not an advantage?

As to center focus point vs. all:

1. It's nice to be able to choose one of 19 focus points that are ALL as good as the center point. For styles other than wildlife it's nice to have proper composition in-camera. I understand for wildlife that's not practical but there are plenty of other styles where it is.

2. Again, whether it's all or 1, the quality of the focus algorithms and precision make a difference - especially in a pro level camera. Whether you're shooing weddings, runway, photojournalism, sports or wildlife you want to trust your camera is capable of capturing the shot.

So again, help point me to the major newspaper, sports magazine, major wedding photographer or the like that has chosen Oly over Canon, Nikon or Fuji.

My guide to professional level cameras is what professionals are using - not what reviews are saying.

If the gear is good enough the pros will use it.


Oh, and yes I see other manufacturers are embracing smaller sensors in pro level bodies. Oh no wait, Nikon actually moved to a LARGER sensor? Just like Canon has? You mean professionals actually prefer a larger sensor over a smaller one? Wow. Who would have guessed that
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