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Old Jul 8, 2008, 12:59 PM   #1
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Here is my deal, and thank you in advance for anybody who offers advice.

I've been using the Canon Rebel Xt (350D) in my college photo class, and I have enough money to purchase one of the above cameras.

My use of a DSLR:
Nature shots landscape and macro shots.
Night City shots. I love these! The lit road type pictures.
Possible sport activity, but nothing more than the average middle school game situation.
POSSIBLE large prints, im not sure but, mostly smaller prints. Id like a nice landscape print someday.

Okay, so I am looking for a camera that will help me define my style. I am not interested in live preview modes, and I am inclined to start modifying the settings manually, so im not worried about auto focus or auto modes on the camera.

I've left out the D80, the A300+A350 and the XSI because I simply cannot afford them nor Have i seen any features that make huge difference, for my taste anyway.

So there it is, I am more focused on the image quality at all settings including the ISO, noise handling and lighting conditions.

So which do you recommend? 400D Nikon or D40 or D60 or the Sony A200.

I personally dislike the body of the canon 350D so I probably wont get the canon unless its really worth it. I also need the best bang for my buck, since I wont have money for additional lenses for a while. Which is why I was considering the d40 and the a200 because they offer multiple lenses with their packages. Though the lower MP on the D40 makes for noisy larger prints I've heard. I am basically all for the a200, but I just am not sure if it truly rivals the JPEG quality of the Nikon systems.

Please offer any advice, as I will truly take it into consideration when I make my purchase.

Also, SD/SDHC vs CF? All ive heard is that CF are more durable.

I also forgot to mention, that I am really into graphics design, so a lot of my shots will be used on the computer and on the web. I dont think that is a problem with any Modern DSLR camera though. Especially not at lower resolutions like 72.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 4:27 PM   #2
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From your comments, I don't see any reason to stop using your XT except that you don't like the body. Since all the cameras you're looking at are incremental improvements to the camera you've already got, perhaps your first criterion should be how each of the cameras feels to you.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 6:04 PM   #3
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I agree with TCAV. All the bodies will be quite capable of meeting your goals. Go to a store and try each out and see which one feels best in your hands.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 7:07 PM   #4
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Well, I guess I should have stated that I am merely using a school camera, and Im looking into buying my own, heh heh.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 8:40 PM   #5
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OK.

All four cameras will work wellforgeneral purpose photography. There are some good reasons for going with one over another, one of which, as you already know, is how the camera feels to you.

Beyond that, the cameras have some significant differences that may affect your decision.

The Canon 400D has a very good autofocus system, appropriate for sports and action photography. The Canon would also benefit from the largest selection of OEM and third party lenses and accessories.

The Sony A200 has a good autofocus system, and while it isn't as well supported with new products, it does have the largest selection of used lenses. And while some of Sony's lenses are the best of their kind, they can be very expensive.

The Nikon D60 and D40 have the poorest autofocus system, and because theydon't have the internal autofocus motors that their big brothers have, they havethe slimmest selection of lenses in your group. And while the D40 does have the lowest resolution image sensor, that has the effect of producing the least noise, not the most, but for large prints you are more likely to see pixelation.

Another significant difference is that the Sony has sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, while Canon and Nikon rely on optical image stabilization in some of their lenses. This makes the stabilized lenses bigger, heavier and more expensive. Image stabilization is beneficial in a variety of situations, including low light ("Night City shots")and long lens ("sport activity") shots.

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Old Jul 8, 2008, 10:31 PM   #6
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So it looks like for what I want, its the canon vs the sony. I frequent this online retailer and I can get a sony and 2 lenses for the same price as the canon and one lense. I am looking for the widest range of offered features:

Nice prints at high resolutions, larger prints, less noise for cropping
but also able to take good quality photos at different lighting settings.

It sounds like the canon is my best bet, but the sony with those lenses is hard to pass up.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 10:39 PM   #7
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Since you are starting from scratch and you don't like the Canon body, skip it - you don't seem to be particularly concerned with the areas where it shines (sports). As it sounds like you've discovered, it's not fun to use a camera that doesn't fit your hands.

Which leaves the Sony and the two Nikons. As a disclaimer, I don't have any of these cameras - I shoot Pentax. I chose it because I preferred the feel of it over the Canon and because it worked out the cheapest for me. I started using it with lovely, old, manual lenses I bought in 1980 (and can be bought nowon the used market for well under $100).

I've read that the Sony, the D60 and the Pentax K200 (and the older K10, which I used to own)all use the same Sony 10 mp sensor. The D40 is the last camera that uses the Sony 6 mp sensor that was used in the Pentax cameras up to the K100 (which I still own, by the way). In my opinion, the 6 mp sensor in the D40 isbetter when it comes to high ISO. My K100 would consistently produce less noise at ISO 1600 than the K10 (with the 10 mp sensor) did. When you print posters it isn't noise that you would see more of with the 6 mp file - it might be less smooth but it won't have more noise. I don't actually know because the largest I've ever printed is 8x11 and at that size I saw no difference between the 6 and 10 mp cameras. As you can tell, I really like the 6 mp sensor and think it would be fine for you, especially since much of what you are going to be doing is on the computer/web.

The best thing to do is look at some of the comparison, sample pictures posted in Steve's reviews to see the differences between the D60 and the A200. I didn't see all that much difference between the two at ISO 1600. The A200 offers ISO 3200, which the Nikon does not. The sample picture taken at 3200 with the noise reduction selected had a lot of smearing - apparently you can turn it off and the noise levels didn't look too awful - Neat Image or Noise Ninja would do better than what the camera did. If you are going to want to use higher ISO, a lot, then the Sony might be more useful for you.

And finally, the Sony offers in-camera stabilization. The Nikon puts stabilization in it's lenses (as does Canon), so you would have to buy their more expensive lenses to get what every lens would have with the Sony. Pentax has in-camera stabilization too, and I love it - spent lunch taking sharp pictures hand-held using shutter speeds of 1/15 with a 77mm lens (something I can't do without SR).

Anyway, that's some of my thoughts.

P.S. Forgot to add - I don't think the media is very important. I'm still using one of the SD cards that came with my first dSLR camera several years ago, along with a card that I bought for my GPS a year before that!

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Old Jul 8, 2008, 11:37 PM   #8
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So, since I have basically no lenses, and macro shots can be achieved with a standard lens, is the sony my best bet, provided the feel of the body appeals?

The canon XT just felt so cheap to me, and the XTI is older compared to its competitors. I also dont like the IS in the lenses, though.

Also, are Auto Focus features particularly important if I am trying to get better with manual?
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 4:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Also, are Auto Focus features particularly important if I am trying to get better with manual?
Try to track a moving subject and keep it in focus without AF, and you'll understand how important Auto focus is. It's not impossible, but is certainly more difficult.
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Old Jul 9, 2008, 7:39 AM   #10
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and when AF(both speed and precision) so critical - A200 beat all of them.
lack LiveView(present in A350)not so great disadvantages for many(except me, maybe

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