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Old Jul 9, 2008, 9:19 AM   #11
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Ah, macro! I agree with you, AF is more of a liability than an asset for macro. Much easier to use manual focus and lean in and out.

Kit lenses are usually not bad at close-ups, but they can't do true macro (true 1:1 where a 1 cm object will take up 1 cm on the sensor). For that you'd need to add extension tubes or dioper lenses to get true macro, or a dedicated macro lens. Plus, the various kit lenses aren't the sharpest lenses in the world (they are pretty good for most things, but macro really needs the sharpest lenses possible). It's also an area where you might be able to save money by going with Pentax (I know, you aren't considering them at all) - Pentax can use any Pentax lens ever made, maintaining whatever capability the lens ever had. So you could pick up a cheap manual 50mm 1.7 lens, which is a very sharp lens but manual, get a set of cheap manual extension tubes (they don't have contacts for passing electronic information to the camera) and foraround $100, you would have a reasonable macro set-up. Or do what I ended up doing - buying an older Vivitar Series One macro lens (it was an outstanding lens and cost me$250 - the price of older Pentax lenses has gone up significantly in the last two years) that's manual focus/auto exposure.

The Sony could use the Zeiss 100mm macro lens, which is supposed to be outstanding (they make it in manual focus for the Pentax, but I can't afford it as it is over $1,000). There are a number of nice macro choices made by Tamron and Sigma that you could use on either the Sony or the Nikon.

If it were me, I'd probably have the Nikon D40 (less expensive, very nice high ISO results) and the Sony A200 (more mp) as my top two choices. Macro is one of the areas where I find more mp useful - I do a lot of cropping. Hopefully JimC might offer you some suggestions for older KM lenses that would work on the Sony and perhaps be cheaper/better than buying new.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 9:34 AM   #12
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Sony's 100mm f/2.8 Macro is not a Zeiss design. This is a rebranded Minolta 100mm f/2.8 Macro Autofocus lens (which is a superb lens by all accounts). These are easily found in the used market.

The Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro and Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro lenses are also popular choices (as are the other focal lengths available like the 50mm f/2.8 Macro).

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Old Jul 9, 2008, 9:43 AM   #13
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While autofocusing Macro shots can be challenging, since the focusing screens in dSLRs don't have the tools for manual focusing that manual focus film SLRs used to have, precise manual focusingcan be a challenge as well.

The tools you'll use for macro will vary depending on what you'll be shooting. Do you want to shoot flowers or insects? Do you want to shoot watches or watch parts? The diopter lenses will do 'close-ups' but are not much good for 'macro'. Extension tubes aremore 'macro', but depend a great deal on the quality of the lens in an area where the lens wasn't intended to be used. Macro lenses are better for macro work. They work well with autofocus systemsand, if needed, can focus to infinity too, but cost a lot more than close-up lenses or extension tubes.

Edit: to remove the info made redundant by JimC's prior post while I was editting mine.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 9:45 AM   #14
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mneal22 wrote:
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Also, are Auto Focus features particularly important if I am trying to get better with manual?
There's manual focus and manual exposure. I presume that what you're talking about is that you wnat to get better with manual exposure, and autofocus doesn't affect that one way or the other.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 11:18 AM   #15
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As far as manual focusing with a dSLR - like everything else in photography, it requires practice. And some cameras have better viewfinders for this than others. I found the Pentax viewfinders are fine for me - enough so that I haven't bothered buying a Katz-Eye or similar third party splitfocusing screen. They have their advantages and disadvantages and I just don't have all that much trouble manually focusing with the screen that came with the camera. Two of my favorite lenses are manual focus (the Viv macro and a 300mm Pentax lens) and I use them all the time. My first macro lens was AF and after a couple of frustrating days trying to use AF, I switched to manual focus and wouldn't go back for anything. However, not everyone has the patience for it (or for macro, for that matter).

Which does bring up a question - can you change the focusing screen on the Sony A200, or the D40/60? I know you can on more expensive Nikons but don't know about the entry level ones, or about Sony.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 11:29 AM   #16
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You can get third party focus screens for the Sony dSLR models, and the Nikon D40/D40x/D60 (and others). Here's one manufacturer that offers them:

http://haodascreen.com/othercameras.aspx


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Old Jul 9, 2008, 1:10 PM   #17
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Well the Pentax sounds like an option as well. Im not really dead set on a brand, I just want the cleanest shots possible, but I think that depends on my exposure more so then the camera.

As for the macro shots, probably more types of stuff you'd find at an aquarium, nature, and random thigns, not so much insects.

Are the lenses for the Sony going to be horrendously expensive, I am a college student, and I need something that will last me without upgrading for a while.
The 18-70 and the 75-300mm lenses that the sony comes with should last me a while i think.

Also, with the 75-300mm, what sort of lense is it for that range? is it a telephoto? Im not 100% savvy with all the terminology, especially of lenses.

But it seems that the canon and the nikon units will create problems with lenses in terms of image stabilization, so Im not sure those are my best bets at all.

Edit: Lens question.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 1:50 PM   #18
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mneal22 wrote:
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As for the macro shots, probably more types of stuff you'd find at an aquarium, nature, and random thigns, not so much insects.
The kit lenses for most dSLR models should work just fine for most closeups. Most are rated at around 1:4 magnification, which means you can fill the frame with a subject approximately 4 times the size of the camera's sensor.

A 1:1 Macro lens (like the ones I mentioned in my last post) can fill the frame with a subject the same size as the camera's film or sensor size.

Unless you're shooting very tiny subjects like insects, you probably don't need a dedicated 1:1 Macro lens.

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Are the lenses for the Sony going to be horrendously expensive, I am a college student, and I need something that will last me without upgrading for a while.
The 18-70 and the 75-300mm lenses that the sony comes with should last me a while i think.p.
Some lens types can be. But, you can use any Minolta Autofocus Lens ever made on a Sony dSLR model, and most of the time, you'll find more Minolta Autofocus lenses at vendors of used gear than you will Autofocus lenses for other camera brands. Here are my favorite vendors of used gear (in order of preference):

http://www.keh.com
Check under the Minolta Autofocus, 35mm section and you'll see categories for fixed focal length (Minolta AF primes), Zooms (Minolta AF zooms), as well as separate categories for third party zooms and primes.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com

http://www.adorama.com

Also, keep in mind that third party vendors like Tamron and Sigma make lenses that will work on a Sony dSLR (just like they make lenses that work on Canon, Nikon, Pentax and other lens mounts).

Quote:
Also, with the 75-300mm, what sort of lense is it for that range? is it a telephoto? Im not 100% savvy with all the terminology, especially of lenses.
The longer the focal length (the mm range you see), the narrower the angle of view (more apparent magnfication). So, a lens like the 75-300mm is better for distant subjects. Here's a focal length tool you may find useful. You can select digital or film (lenses will appear to be about 50% longer on a dSLR like the A200, compared to the same focal length lens on a 35mm camera).

http://www.tamron.com/lenses/learnin...comparison.php

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But it seems that the canon and the nikon units will create problems with lenses in terms of image stabilization, so Im not sure those are my best bets at all.
Nikon has a pretty good selection of lenses with stablization built in now. So, I wouldn't let that part bother you too much. Personally, I like it that *all* lenses I use are stablized on a Sony dSLR body. But, I'm probably a bit biased towards Sony since I shoot with a Sony A700 now.

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Old Jul 9, 2008, 2:06 PM   #19
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Thanks JimC, that helps a lot in regards to the lenses.

I think I am almost 100% for the Sony, since the pentax uses AA batteries, and I really hate batteries. I also think that sony is the best buy for my budget.

Thanks everyone, and if you have more comments, they will undoubtedly help my decision even more.

Mark
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Old Jul 10, 2008, 2:04 AM   #20
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So I ended up purchasing the Sony A200 today from someone off of craigslist, and its still in pretty good condition. I really like it so far, and I can't wait for the weekend to have some free time for shooting, I am happy that I found this forum googling yesterday and I look forward to learning from anyone as best as I can.

Thanks for your advice everyone,

Mark
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