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Old Mar 16, 2008, 6:24 PM   #1
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Please forgive me if I'm long-winded in this posting but consider this my personal introduction to these forums.

I'm 50 years old and have been involved with photography, on and off, for about 35 years. Back in the 1970's, I was equipped with a Minolta SRT-200 and several very nice Rokkor-X lenses, a Yashicamat medium-format camera and my very own darkroom. Alas, a career in broadcasting had me moving around the country every few years and maintaining a darkroom proved highly impractical.

I have remained a fairly active photo hobbyist (but not a professional) over the years, even if I traded my extensive gear inventory for a Canon film SLR that offered me the slothful option of automatic settings when I wasn't in the mood for total manual control. And I was lucky to always have a decent photo processor to whom I could always hand over my exposed rolls.

Enter digital photography, which meant that I could have my very own darkroom on my PC or Mac. I cautiously bought my first digital camera about five years ago (a pretty nice little 4mp Casio Exilim EX-Z4). Since then, I have traded the Casio for a 7mp Canon SD1000 for snapshots and added a 6mp Canon S3 IS for special occasions and important vacations. Despite the limitations of the S3's smaller sensor and the compromises of a lens with such a long zoom, I must say I have very little to complain about in terms of real-world results.

About a year ago, when I bought the S3 specifically for a trip to Paris and Rome, a buddy of mine bought a Canon 5D and offered to sell me his virtually unused XTi (with 18-55mm kit lens) for $500. While I thought the S3 would still be better for the kind of trip I was taking (in terms of size, weight and convenience), I jumped at the opportunity to land an XTi for such a price. But the camera has languished in my closet for a year. However, this summer I'll finally be in a position to engage in the kind of photography for which an SLR is suited. Subjects will range from sports to nature (including the Grand Canyon).

Now here's where the decision part comes in (finally, you say): It's fairly widely known that the kit lens with the XTi is fair at best (at least on the XTi versus the XT). But now Canon has come out with the upgraded Rebel XSi, an improved EF-S 18-55mm kit lens that features image stabilization and improved optics, and a matching EF-S 55-250mm telephoto lens.

I have also discovered that I can trade in my XTi and get well over $400 for it - an attractive proposition given my original $500 purchase price (the camera is in like-new condition).

Now, I can purchase those two new Canon EF-S lenses for my XTi for about $500 (for the pair). Or I can trade in my XTi and put the $400-$500 toward the new XSi (which comes with the new 18-55mm IS lens) and also buy the matching 55-250mm IS lens - for a total outlay of about $250 more than buying the new lenses separately for my existing DSLR.

Or... I can trade in my XTi and go in a totally different direction. Like a leftover Pentax K10D for about $700 (or an even less expensive near-twin Samsung GX10). The kit lens for the Pentax, while admittedly not the best in the world, is metal and glass, well-built and, features optics that are still better than my current plastic-barreled XTi lens. No doubt I would want to add a least two or three better lenses later.

Or... how about an Olympus E-510 (which is offered with two very highly regarded kit lenses for about $650). The value proposition offered by Olympus these days really has me intrigued. Even the new E-420 with that 25mm (50mm equivalent) f/2.8 pancake lens has gotten my attention ($700 together). Yes, I know - no image stabilization on the 420. While I acknowledge the usefulness of IS, I'm still trying to determine just how important it is to me on a regular basis. I mean, if your lens is fast enough...

Which brings me to another point: It seems the kit lenses offered by all the cameras makers these days are fairly slow. Generally f/3.5-5.6. No wonder they're offering camera bodies and lenses with IS.

Keep in mind that while all three of my current digital cameras are Canons, I have no real investment in Canon lenses right now. Going with L glass simply isn't in the cards - it's just not in my budget. Nor is a full-frame 5D. And I'm not sure a 30D or 40D is worth the extra money over an XSi.

Anyway, that's my story. Any input or suggestions are more than welcome. Thanks for indulging me.
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 6:47 PM   #2
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The new XSi using shipping yet. So, it may be a while before we start getting more feedback on how it compares to the XTi, other that what we can see "on paper".

As you've probaby already noticed, the new lenses are available separately, too. But, that doesn't mean they're the best choices for you, since it sounds like you really haven't explored where you have limitations with your existing setup yet for what I can see from this comment:

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But the camera has languished in my closet for a year. However, this summer I'll finally be in a position to engage in the kind of photography for which an SLR is suited. Subjects will range from sports to nature (including the Grand Canyon).
The new 18-55mm IS lens tests quite well, if it's bright enough for what you want to shoot, has the focal range from wide to long you want, etc. But, you may find that a different lens is more convenient (or you may need something brighter, etc.). I'd try to get some more time in using your existing kit so you'll be able to make a better informed decision.

Also, what kind of sports? That will make a big difference in what lenses would work well for it. For example, you may find the longer kit lens isn't long enough, or you may find it's not bright enough for what you want to shoot if you're not in optimum lighting. There are a lot variables, depending on what type of sports, and the conditions you're shooting in.

When shooting sports, you also need to take things like AF speed into consideration (and the Canon models are likely to be faster than some of the other cameras you're considering like the Olympus E-510 and Pentax K10D models you mentioned.

P.S.

Early reviews of both of the new Canon lenses (18-55mm IS, 55-250mm IS) look pretty good, if you think those lenses would be suitable for what you want to shoot, and chances are, Canon's new XSi model will be a hit. But, it may be a while longer before we start seeing feedback since it's not shipping yet.

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Old Mar 16, 2008, 8:19 PM   #3
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And welcome to the Forums.......
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 10:56 PM   #4
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"When shooting sports, you also need to take things like AF speed into consideration and the Canon models are likely to be faster than some of the other cameras you're considering like the Olympus E-510 and Pentax K10D models you mentioned."

This is a very good point - and one of the reasons Canon and Nikon tend to get a lot of business from professionals. I'll have to keep it in mind. As for sports... it'll be auto racing, football and hockey (the latter two next fall and winter, of course).

You're also correct to point out that I haven't spent a lot of time using the XTi. The reason I'm considering making a change now because the trade-in value of the XTi is still pretty high - giving me the option of getting an XSi without spending too much.

Whatever I do, I have to keep my spending on additional lenses under control. For that reason, the relatively inexpensive new Canon EF-S lenses are attractive. Sure, I'd like faster lenses but speed costs money and these lenses have IS to help compensate for their so-so speed. Adding a decent (and relatively quick) prime lens shouldn't cost too much however.

The Pentax and Olympus are attractive because they're both built like tanks and because their IS is in the body - which keeps the cost of lenses down. But your point about AF is so valid that could make all difference. That and Canon's excellent color rendering.

Thanks so much for you comments so far. Any and all are welcome and appreciated.
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Old Mar 17, 2008, 2:54 AM   #5
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The new Canon 18-55 IS looks to be just about the best price/performance lens available with the possible exception of the equivalent Nikon.

Scroll down to the verdict:

http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/Cano...review?start=2

And check out the blur graphs at:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1114/cat/11

Upgrading to the XSi? Well, Canon has never (thus far) brought out a camera with worse performance than the model it replaces. So if you can get a good trade-in price then go for it.

My only reservation would be the 55-200, but if you can get it all as part of a kit for a good price then I'd say go for it.
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