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Old Apr 25, 2008, 8:29 PM   #1
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Hi all:

I'm now actively on the hunt for a dslr. I've done tons of research, read countless reviews and I played with all these cameras. I've rejected other cameras for various reasons so this is really the final 3.

I'm looking for a camera that I will take on my travels. 90%+ of my shooting will be done outdoors and, very likely, in very bright conditions. I'm more of a landscape/architecture photgrapher type but will also be zooming in on wildlife or detail. Here are my choices:

1. oly e-510 with 2 lens kit. I love the fact that it's image stabilized and it feels nice, intuitive and very light. However, this camera scares me because it doesn't seem to be that popular (is there a reason?) and also because the reviews are very mixed (especially with respect to how the camera handles bright conditions, over-sharpening and many recommend not using the noise filter). However, I would have all the lenses I need in the short term(maybe get a wider lens later).

2. canon xti: I would buy the body only and then I'm kind of stumped on the lens - help?!I've thought aboutan24-105 butI would likely want a wider lens also and this game thenbecomes much more expensive than the oly e510. This camera gets excellent reviews across the board and has tons of features that I can learn from/with.

3. nikon. At first Ithought more about the D40x but the more reviews I read, the more I realizethe D40 would do the trick.I love the way this camera feels the most out of all the ones I tried.It comes with the 18-55 lens and, because the kitis so cheap, I could buy the nikon 50-200 AF lens straight away, giving me a great combo. However, as I"grow" as a photographer, I'm scaredthe lack offeatures on this camera will annoy me (especially lack of AEB and 3pt focus and also fact that you have to pay more for RAW software)

Any thoughts about any one of these cameras(either for or against?) keeping in mind my intended use for it?

My heart saysNikon, mymind sayscanon and my wallet screamse-510 :?

Thank you for anydirection and guidanceyou can provide!
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Old Apr 25, 2008, 9:32 PM   #2
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TravelChild-

Be warned, I am going to challenge your perception that you need a DSLR camera. I too am a traveler. I travel 10 to 11 moths out of every 12 months. I am a Professional Digital Camera Instructor, who teaches digital camera, both DSLR's and digicams, on cruise ships around the world. I own 5 different DSLR cameras, but when I leave tomorrow (04/26) I will not be taking a DSLR camera with me!

I recently (January through March 2008 ) traveled with a Nikon D-40X and a SB-800 external flash on a world cruise, and I resolved that the kit was just too heavy. And that, although I had done it for years, I was not going to do it again. So when I leave tomorrow, I will be taking a Panasonic TZ-5 with me!

Yes, I hear that quick intake of air from you, TravelChild! But I have tested it out already and I will be fine with my decision. I also conjureup thatit migh also be very intelligent for you to re-consider your decision. We have only a short time for this dialogue, as I leave tomorrow (04/26), but I will ask you to seriously consider these Panasonic TZ-5 images, and to tell me what you think.

Sarah Joyce









These three photos were taken handheld at ISO 800.








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Old Apr 25, 2008, 10:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for your insight mtclimber! I have made up my mind though about the dslr. Basically, I learned photography with a film slr way back in the day, I loved the control I had over the camera and the different ways I was able to play around with my shots. Also, when I say that I need it to travel, I'm not one to take quick shots on the go. I do the stand for 4 hours with a tripod in front of a church taking 100 photos! (in case you're wondering, I mostly travel alone :-)).

Anyway, my first digital camera was a canon s1 is because I thought it was the best of both worlds and, while I took some great pictures with it, some of the auto settings (not to mention the speed, grrr) annoyed me to noend. That camera broke and I got a free s5 as a replacement, tried it out last week and, while I admit it is a nice camera, the flaws with the s1 weren't completely gone so it sealed the deal for me in terms of getting a dslr. On top of that, I alreadyhave a small digital point and shoot canon for my "less ambitious" travel/family/general photos.
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Old Apr 25, 2008, 10:33 PM   #4
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Well TravelChild, I gave it my best shot!

I have a very good friend who defines DSLR cameras as a , "continuing investment." When you consider accessories and additional lenses.

While as you might expect, a camera such as the amazing Panasonic TZ-5 is, "a controlled and regulated investment."

Good luck to you!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 25, 2008, 10:55 PM   #5
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First, the easiest answer - why isn't oly as popular? Marketing and availability. Canon & Nikon are very aggresive at marketing and they have a very big presence at market. That combination leads to more people using their products. Doesn't mean they're necessarily better - but that's why more people have them.

Landscape / architecture - You're going to want a wide angle lens - preferably 26-27mm equivelent at the wide end. The 24-105 will be 38mm equiv. IMO not wide enough. The 24-105 is my walk around lens for my mkIII and it's a fantastic lens. But for architecture and landscape it's not even wide enough on 1.3 crop sensor. So I would advise going wider - regardless what system you end up with.

Wildlife - exact opposite. If you really want to shoot wildlife you'll want at least 450mm equivelent. So for Canon or Nikon you'd want 300mm.

Herein lies the downside of DSLRs. You've got two completely opposite needs not served well by a single lens. There are some 18-200 superzoom type lenses but 200mm is short for wildlife and I think you'll be unhappy with the quality on the wide end for your architecture shots. The distortion will be much more noticable on those shots than on the landscape shots.

While I like the Nikon system I think you are right about the D40 - I think you'll be disappointed in the long run with it's feature set. Given you're more experienced I think you'd need to step up to the D80 to get the long term benefit.

For the canon, instead of the 24-105 you might be better suited with a 2 lens solution: 18-55 2.8 ef-s (as long as you dont intend to step up to a 5d or 1d type camera) or 17-40 for the landscape & architecture and the 70-300 IS USM for wildlife.

The oly 2 lens kit is fantastic value. But I would look into what the distortion is like for the shorter lens - again the affect on your architecture shots could force you to buy a more expensive lens. I would continue to look into the other issues as well.

Sorry I can't give you a difinitive answer as to which to buy.
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Old Apr 25, 2008, 11:20 PM   #6
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From what you wrote, I would think that the D40 would work quite well (as a disclaimer, I shoot Pentax so don't own any of the cameras on your list). The biggest "hit" against the camera is that it doesn't have a motor inside the camera body to focus the lenses - it requires lenses that have a focus motor in them. Not all lenses are made this way, so you are somewhat limited in your selection.The lenses tend to be a bit heavier and can be more expensive, but it includes some of Nikon's best lenses. And it doesn't mean that you can't use the other lenses - just that they won't auto focus. That will be a major problem for some people, but for others it wouldn't be a big deal.

Just my opinion, but the 3 focus points aren't a big issue (it would be more so if I were shooting sports and using a tripod all the time). My film SLR was a manual focus camera with a split screen, so I'm quite used to using the center point for focus and then re-composing. Others might find that very limiting, but I don't. There are other features that I like that would I'd miss more (there are several that I'd find annoying but the main one I would miss is the in-camera anti-shake). As far as the software for raw - I use Lightroom mostly so it doesn't matter which camera I use (it supports all of them).

The advantage you would have with the Oly is that it has a smaller sensor, so it would appear like you have a longer lens for wildlife. Also, it has anti-shake built into the body, which means you don't have to buy more expensive VR lenses, like you would with either Nikon or Canon. That might or might not be important to you (it is to me but not everyone would need it). The funny thing is that I've seen a number of really outstanding shots posted in this forum taken by people using this camera, but I wasn't all that impressed with some of the sample pictures posted in some of the reviews. If you get serious about this camera, you might want to look closely at what people are posting here and what they have to say about how they process the pictures. I think the camera is very capable, and is sometimes not given enough credit by reviewers.

The Canon is a wonderful camera, though I found the grip a bit cramped for my hand. It really surprised me because I have small hands and had expected it to feel better to me. I think it would annoy me after a while (plus, I wasn't too crazy about the viewfinder but couldn't figure out why it bothered me. It wasn't like it seemed dim or anything - could have just been a bad day when I was looking at it or something and you might find it perfectly acceptable).

The ergonomics are hugely important - there's nothing worse than walking around all day with a camera that's too heavy (a concern for me, I'm not very big). And if you feel like the grip is too small, are you going to be gripping it too hard, thinking you might drop it because it doesn't fit into your hand naturally? Can you see things clearly in the viewfinder - you'll be spending a lot of time looking through it. Are the controls easy for you to reach? Nothing worse than to get everything lined up and then realize you need to change some setting and it's not handy.

Good luck with your choice (I'd go with my heart, otherwise I'd always regret it).
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Old Apr 26, 2008, 7:07 AM   #7
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I'd like tosupplement the excellent comments made by others.

The Olympus is smaller and lighter than the others, and because of it's smaller image sensor, for equivalent angles of view, it's lenses are smaller and lighter as well. It also has sensor shift image stabilization that the others don't, though it would only be useful to you at longer focal lengths.

As to popularity, when each of the other SLR manufacturers migrated to digital, they kept their lens mounts, so their existing stable of lenses would work with their new cameras. Olympus started from scratch when they switched to digital, using a new lens mount, so none of its existing lenses would work with its new cameras. People that owned film SLRs from other companies had a migration path to digital, but people that owned Olympus film cameras had to start over. And some of them started over with other brands. Also, Olympus doesn't enjoy the distribution channels that other brands have, so they aren't often widely available.

Another factor with Olympus is that the lenses in their two lens kit are good, but the other Olympus lenses are expensive.And sincethe 14-42mm is barely wide enough for landscape/architecture, and the 40-150mmis barely long enough for wildlife, you may quickly become dissatisfied with the kit lenses.

Because it doesn't have an internal autofocus motor like its more expensive siblings, the Nikon D40 (and the D40X and D60) have a limited selection of lenses. To be sure, the selection is greater than for the Olympus, but not nearly as large as for the Canon. It also lacks the image stabilization that the Olympus has, plus the autofocus speed is not up to the others. While that doesn't make much difference for landscape/architecture, it does make a difference for wildlife.

In addition, the primary difference between the D40 and the D40X/D60 is the 6MP image sensor versus the 10MP image sensor in the others. The larger image sensor does create more noise in it's images than the smaller one, but only at high ISO settings. Since you say that 90% of your shooting will be in bright light, I don't think you need to worry about the reports of noise at high ISO. And if you find that you didn't have a long enough lens for a particular wildlife shot, you can make up for it by cropping, and a 10MP sensor gives you a lot more to work with than a 6 MP sensor. Also, some of Nikon's zoom lenses are notorious for sucking in air while zooming, adding to the problem of dust on the sensor, so I would find the D60, with itsdust reduction feature, a more attractive choice.

So, just from the process of elimination, I'd say that the Canon is your best choice. That is not to say it isn't a fine camera. It's just that, for what you what to do, I think the other choices won'twork very well.

But an important factor in your decision should be how the camera feels to you. Is it comfortable to hold and carry? Can you find the controls and commands when you need them? If not, you'll miss some once-in-a-lifetime shots.

In this price range,any choice you make will be a compromise, but technically, I think the Canon would be less of a compromise than the others.
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Old Apr 26, 2008, 9:46 AM   #8
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There is one site that raves about the D40. He is a photographer from the west coast and he can't say enought about the model. He also speaks highly about a matching 10x (or so) lens.

Here is his site;
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d40.htm

And the lens, but one of the above posters mentioned these types of lenses have drawbacks;
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/18200.htm
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Old Apr 26, 2008, 10:06 AM   #9
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videobruce wrote:
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And the lens, but one of the above posters mentioned these types of lenses have drawbacks;
I will add my name to the list of people that point out the drawbacks of superzoom lenses. They are soft throughout their range, and especially so at their extremes, prone to geometric distortion and vignettingat the wide end, and are dim. The best of its kind is the Tamron 18-250mm, but it won't autofocus on the D40/D40X/D60.
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Old Apr 26, 2008, 11:19 AM   #10
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I just don't like the idea of buying more than one lens, carring around the extra lens and changing it out. Not to mention the dust issue. I would trade off some loss of quality which I would expect for the conveinance of a single lens, depending on just how much a difference it would be.

Yes, I do understand that is how it is done with any 'professional' photographer, but that isn't me.
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