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Old Jun 16, 2008, 4:15 PM   #1
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OK - been researching and visiting camera shops (kind of disappointed with the lack of help at local shops) - I am looking to get my first dSLR (had 35mm but haven't used anything but point and shoot lately). Primarily interested in sports, majority outdoor (baseball, softball, soccer, football) with most of these being daylight (although some under the lights) not as much indoor but it is a thought.

I was pretty sure I had it down to the XSi and D80 - then read that more MP (XSi) might not be the best thing as the sensor is the same size and the issues that cause. So I looked at the XTi and D60 and found out the D60 has lens limitations (sorta - motor on lens I guess I should say) so then the D80 against the XSi . . .

So I think I have overthought it WAY too much and need help (please). I don't see the difference between the models clearly enough (don't understand it really) - the XSi is $900, XTi is $650 the D60 is $650 but the D80 is $1000 (all with kit 18-55 lens and all prices are ball parkish).

The main purpose of the camera is going to be for larger wall type action pics (I have the printing/cutting equipment) but would use it for all the photo ops I have personally as well (3 kids etc).

Any advice on a camera I haven't looked at or any clarifications/advice will be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old Jun 16, 2008, 4:37 PM   #2
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First. for sports/action, the autofocus system on the Nikon D60 (and the D40 & D40X) is too slow. So there's another reason to exclude them.

Second, if you won't be cranking up the ISO setting, then the issues surrounding the more MP inthe XSi won't affect you. And for what you want to do, you would definately benefit from the more MPs.

Third, do you still have lenses from your 35mm SLR? Many older film SLR lenses will work on newer dSLRs, and that may save you some money.
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Old Jun 16, 2008, 5:43 PM   #3
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It's a 30 year old AE1 and I do have some lenses but wouldn't factor that in too heavily - only one Canon lens and the others are cheap off brands.

Didn't realize the autofocus was an issue at all - thanks for pointing that out.
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Old Jun 16, 2008, 6:45 PM   #4
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For the sports under the lights at night, you're going to need a zoom capable of maintaining f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, even with higher ISO Speeds. Otherwise, you're going to get a lot of blur from subject movement.

So, you'll want to include a minimum of an extra $800 above the cost of the camera body kit you get for a lens you can use if those shots are important to you (and then, only if you can get close enough to shoot from the sidelines). A popular choice on the budget end is the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM (around $800). Some of our members that shoot a lot of sports use a longer Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 instead (which is a better bet for filling the frame more with your desired subjects from more vantage points). Sigma's 120-300mm f/2.8 is currently running $2699 at http://www.bhphotovideo.com (it's not a cheap lens).

For the daytime games, you've got some budget 70-300mm choices that can work if you're on a tight budget (although most of the budget zooms are a bit softer on the 300mm end, you could use one in a pinch if budget won't permit a mid grade zoom). You've got a lot more choices for the day games, depending on budget.

But, for night games under the lights, you're going to need something much brighter to get fast enough shutter speeds to reduce motion blur to an acceptable level (which means larger, heavier and more expensive). At a minimum, you're probably going to want something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for that purpose.

What's your total budget for camera and lenses to get started? An 18-55mm type kit lens is not going to work for the sports (those won't be suitable for the day or night games, since they're just not long enough for that purpose).

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Old Jun 16, 2008, 8:30 PM   #5
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Jim's advice is good. The XSi is a decent choice for a beginner sports camera. A lot of bang for the buck in that department. But, lenses are very critical to sports shooting. I will also add that the larger the print size the more you want high quality results. That makes using the 'budget' 70-300mm lenses difficult. Perfectly fine for 4x6 shots. But if you're talking 11x14 style shots you'll want better quality glass.

Unless you're willing to shell out the $2600 for the 120-300 2.8, I would strongly suggest spending your money on something like the sigma 100-300 f4. Fantastically sharp lens with decent reach - something you'll need for football, soccer and baseball. You won't be able to use it at night, but you'll find the 70-200 2.8 a bit short certainly for soccer (400mm is better) and baseball on a full size diamond. It can be OK for softball if you're shooting on the field. Stay away from the budget lenses though. The least expensive lens I would recommend is the Canon 70-300 ($560 ). It's a good quality lens and reasonably sharp. The problem is that it only has a 5.6 aperture. Useless for poor light. And even in good light it will be tough to get the subject isolation you want in good action shots. But the sigma 100-300 f4 is $1000 so a big step up in price.
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Old Jun 16, 2008, 8:41 PM   #6
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I completely understand that I will need an additional lens (or lenses) however that is the next confusing step as I am not sure what is comparable to IS or VR etc in non Canon or non Nikon lenses - seems there are good prices on some lenses which I would guess do not offer the features and are of lessser quality - especially when compared to $2700.

I am most concerned now about the body and hope to get out for $1000 (or less) for it (hopefullly with kit lens of decent quality) but the body decision is what has me most confused right now.

I would hope to get a decent enough lens selection after the body for another $1000 to get started with the daylight outdoor stuff. I don't hold any delusions about being a top tier sports photographer - I understand it takes way more than equipment alone - I don't want to make an $800 dollar mistake when for a bit more (or less) I can get acamera better suited to my needs.
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 8:03 AM   #7
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If you buy a dSLR body first, without considering what lenses you'll need to do what you want, you may be painting yourself into a corner. Canon and Nikon dSLRs (excluding the D40, D40X & D60))have the best selection of lenses, which will serve most purposes, but if you're going to consider other brands, their limited lens selection might limit your ability to shoot the subjects you're interested in.

For instance, Pentax' selection of telephoto lenses is limited, as is Sony's selection of fast primes.

I think the first thing anyone should do that is shopping for a dLSR, is shop for lenses. When they've narrowed down their camera selection based on that, then selecting a camera based on features and ergonomics should come into play.
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 9:32 AM   #8
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I agree - thats why I think I had it narrowed to Canon and Nikon - I just threw the ?? in case there are options I flat missed as I am brand new to dSLR.

Sony now has a $100 mail in offer for those that have tried the camera "on site" - a friend of mine used one at a soccer tournament (alpha 350) and loved it - looks like it would be $800 with a Sony 18-70 lens - and it has stabilzation in the camera body so (to my thinking) it would save on the IS/VR lenses that cost much more than "regular" lenses - and would minolta lenses work on this camera? Might open up more in the used market maybe?

So - I guess the question is narrowed to the differences (or recomendations) between the Canon XSi and XTi, Sony 350 or the Nikon D80. It appears the D80 is more expensive not just the body but lenses as well and to my untrained view seems to compare to the XTi in many respects so that makes it even more expensive (comparatively) but there are pluses and probably many I don't realize having never used any of them outside the camera store. The Sony has 14+mp and seems solid comparatively but until my friend used one I wasn't really considering it so again not sure.

I thank everyone for the help so far.
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Old Jun 17, 2008, 10:07 AM   #9
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I'd avoid the Sony A350 for sports use if you plan on using one in lower light (for example, the night games under the lights you expressed an interest in). That's because the noise levels are a bit higher from this model as ISO speeds are increased because of it's higher resolution 14 Megapixel sensor. The reason you'll have a bit higher noise levels is because the photosites for each pixel are smaller (they have to be in order to fit more of them into the same size sensor). Keep in mind you've got millions of them stuffed into an APS-C size sensor. As a result of the smaller surface area for each pixel, more amplication is required for equivalent sensitivity to light (and that amplification can add noise).

The 10 Megapixel A300 (with live view) or the A200 (no live view but a larger viewfinder) would make better choices. They'll have a cleaner image at ISO 1600 compared to the A350, with better images at ISO 3200 if you need to use it (sometimes a bit more noise is preferrable to blurry photos, so ISO 3200 is a nice to have feature).

The 10MP Sony models like the A200 and A300 also have faster burst rates using continuous mode compared to the 14MP A350. In addition, the smaller photosites in the 14MP sensor used in the A350 place more demands on the lens quality needed to get the most out of it. For your intended use, I'd stick to the 10MP A200 or A300 instead.

Thanks to a recent price drop, you can actually get the Sony A200 in a kit with both an 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 and a 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 for only $699.99 right now. Here's one example:

Sony DSLR-A200 two lens kit at B&H

That lens is going to be typical of most budget zooms reaching out to 300mm (a bit softer on it's long end). The 75-300mm lens tests well compared to similar budget lenses, and it doesn't add a lot to the cost of the camera kit. Here's one review of it:

http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses...5-56-zoom.html

Or, if you want a little higher quality lens for daytime use without breaking the bank, I'd get the base A200 kit (body + 18-70mm lens), which is only $499.99 right now after the last price drop.

Sony DSLR-A200 with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for $499.99 at B&H

Then, get a used Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO AF lens for around $300 from reputable vendors like http://www.keh.com (just make sure you get an APO version). This lens has a very good reputation for being sharp throughout the zoom range with virtually no CA. Here's an example:

Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Macro lens in EX condition w/ hood and caps for $299

With that solution (Sony A200 kit with 18-70mm lens at $499.99, used Minolta 100-300mm APO lens for around $300), you'd only be spending roughly $800 to get started for daytime use. You'd have a good continuous mode feature (> 3fps until a fast memory card is full with no limit on number of frames), as well as ISO 3200 if you need it for low light use (missing on the entry level Canon models like the XTi and XSi).

In an even higher quality lens, the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 that JohnG mentioned would be a great choice for daytime sports, and you could also use a 1.4x Teleconverter with it if you needed a longer lens (but, that Sigma would run you around $1000 new).

For the night games, your choices are more limited right now in Sony mount. Sony's 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is a bit pricey (around $1700 right now). But, Sigma is releasing their latest II version of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro in Sony mount. It's not shipping here yet. But, some vendors are taking preorders for it now. Here's an example:

http://www.adorama.com/SG70200H2MAX....&item_no=5

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Old Jun 17, 2008, 11:51 AM   #10
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ok - so the Sony 200 and 300 are on par with the Xsi and Xti? And the D80 is in theory slightly above these?

It would seem then to save a bit on the body (following this thread) to invest in better lenses would be the best route to go?

Then - if it is between the sony 200 and 300 the only difference is live view? How well does the body stabilization work compared to lens stabilazation for the Nikon or Canon? And I guess the big question - why are the Sony camera's so much less (not that I am opposed to that by any means ;-) )?

Thanks for the advice and links on the Sony!
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