Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 15, 2008, 2:09 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6
Default

Hi

I've been looking at getting a DSLR and have been doing a little research. I hope you don't mind if my first post is a barrage of questions, but I'm suffering from information overload after researching this on the web.

I'm in the UK and my budget is around £400.00. From what I've seen; the Sony a200 looks good value. (Have looked at and ruled out the Nickon D40 on ergonomics (uncomfortable for me to use) and I can't find a Canon that offers the same value for money, especially as they do image stabilisation via their lenses.)

The Sony is within my budget and I like the potential to use older, second hand lenses from the Minolta range.

I'll mostly be using it for macro photography (watches) and landscapes.

I've had a film SLR in the past (Yashica FX3, replaced with an MP 1 0 8 ) but haven't used it in years and have exclusively used a digital compact for the last few years (Fuji F610).

I have a few questions, before I take the plunge with a DSLR, and I'm hoping you can help.

Firstly, can the standard Sony a200 with the 18-70mm kit lens, produce images that stand up to a 35mm film SLR with an equivalent lens?

If not, are the limitations in the camera technology, or in the kit lens? (Will better lenses produce film-like results from that body?)

Given that I'll be taking a reasonable number of macro shots, do I need a dedicated macro lens, or would extension tubes, or a close up filter perform just as well with the kit lens?

If I got a macro lens, could it serve a second function as a 'normal' lens? (I've never had a macro.)

I'll be adding to the kit with used lenses rather than new, so can anyone recommend some 'good buy' telephoto, wide angle (not fish eye) and macro lenses to narrow down my searches?

Finally, does the twin-lens kit (with the 55-200mm lens) represent good value for money, given the requirements above?

Sorry for the barrage of questions!

BTW, Steve's site is one of the best I've come across in my research. The 'standard format' of reviews, and the standard range of photos from each camera, to compare results is spot-on. (And it's why I'm posting the questions here.) Well done!
Who. Me? is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jul 15, 2008, 8:00 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,052
Default

I had a lovely reply all typed up and then the site was full! Perhaps I can be briefer this time.

It partly depends on what you are thinking about when it comes to macro - are you talking about flowers or insects/parts of flowers?

Kit lenses are usually very useful for general use and are reasonable by themselves (a good buy because the quality isgood and they are so cheap). They would be fine for close-ups of flowers and landscapes (I still use mine, though I could have upgraded it). They aren't the sharpest lenses in the world and so I'm not sure they would be that good with a dioper filter/lens in front of it. I think I'd start by trying extension tubes first, but remember you lose light when you use them, which means slower shutter speeds. Also, with either dioper filters/lenses or extension tubes, you have to remove them to be able to focus to infinity again.

Macro lenses can be used as regular lenses and are usually very sharp. My opinion is that they would produce better shots than thekit lens with the extension tubes, but it really depends on what one finds "acceptable".Because of a macro len's focus range is so big, they have a longer way to go from 1:1 to infinity focus. Macro zooms are not usually capable of 1:1 (where a 1 cm object takes up 1 cm on the sensor - they usually have a ratio of 1:4 or something like that (depends on the lens). I would think that you'd probably want a prime that's capable of 1:1 for your watches, especially if you are taking pictures of watch parts.

I happen to use Pentax (I have a K100 and a K20, recently sold my K10), partly because I can use lenses I bought in 1980, so I can't really answer your Sony specific questions.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 15, 2008, 9:43 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,544
Default

The Sony A200 has an APS-C size image sensor, which is about 2/3 the size of a 35mm film exposure. This means that a 50mm lens on a Sony A200 has about the same angle of view as a 75mm lens on a 35mm flim SLR. That effect is referred to as the 'Crop Factor'. Different dSLRs have different crop factors. Sony's current dSLRs have a 1.5X crop factor, like most Nikons and all Pentax'.

You need to apply this crop factor to place your 35mm film SLR experience in perspective. The 18-70mm kit lens is the equivalent ofa 27-105mm lens on a 35mm film SLR. That is quite a useful range for general purpose photography, but only you can say whether the 27mm focal length is wide enough for the types of landscape shots you like to take. Perhaps you could take a look at the EXIF data (thefile header that contains info about the camera, lens and exposure, among other things) to see how you've been taking landscape shots in the past.

The Sony kit lens is up to producing image quality on par with 35mm film SLRs. Of course, better lenses will produce better images, as will higher resolution image sensors, but the Sony kit lens should serve you well.

As for image stabilization and macrophotography, Sony (and Pentax and most Olympus) dSLRs have sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, while Nikon and Canon use optical image stabilization in some lenses. Optical image stabilization systems project a stabilized image out the back of the lens, whether the lens is attached directly to the camera body or through a teleconverter or extension tubes. For sensor shift image stabilization, the lens must tell the camera what focal length it is so the camera knows how much to shift the sensor. Some teleconverters don't correct this information, and no extension tubes correct this information, so if you use extension tubes without a tripod, the camera won't know to apply an appropriate amount of correction for camera shake.

For this reason, you might want to stick to close-up lenses or macro lenses, and save the extension tubes for when you can use a tripod.

Macro lenses can serve as conventional lenses too, but they generally have more precise focusing mechanisms instead of fast focusing mechanisms.

Also, the Sony 55-200 second kit lens is only available as part of a kit with the A300 and A350, not the A200. The A200 two lens kit includes the 75-300 instead. Either two lens kit is a good deal, but the second lens in either kit isn't very good. Getting a two lens kit may put you in the position of trying to make do with the lens you already have, instead of saving your money and buying a better lens later on.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 2008, 12:25 AM   #4
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

The A200 looks like a very good deal at the moment in the UK.

Qualilty v film is an endless debate, but my view is that compared to your Yashika (I also used to own one) and high-street processing you have the potential for significantly better quality from the A200. You have to do some things slightly differently but it's much easier to get great prints from digital. With BW it's slightly more even, but in colour a DSLR is a much easier route to great results.

(I still use a film camera for about 50% of my pictures, so I'm not anti-film. I happen to like rangefinder cameras and can't afford an M8, otherwise I'd be using digital there too.)

Yes you can use a macro lens for general photography, in fact Macro lenses usually have superb quality. However they are geared differently, so usually are slower to focus. Also you need to take into account the crop factor as TCav says. So on 35mm it was possible to use a 50mm Macro as a normal AND macro lens. Unfortunately with digital you can't.

However you could get quite a lot of mileage out of the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro, which works out to a 75mm equivalent; so pretty good for people shots, not so good for landscapes.

peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 2008, 2:48 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6
Default

Thank you all for your help, those are all useful pointers.

I think I may go with the single lens kit and look at adding a dedicated macro straight away.

Focusing speeds aren't that important to me (my old SLRs were manual focus, and I doubt I'll be taking many shots that need rapid focussing, at least not with that lens).

Thank you all again.

Andy




Who. Me? is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 2008, 5:20 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,052
Default

TCav wrote:
Quote:
For sensor shift image stabilization, the lens must tell the camera what focal length it is so the camera knows how much to shift the sensor. Some teleconverters don't correct this information, and no extension tubes correct this information, so if you use extension tubes without a tripod, the camera won't know to apply an appropriate amount of correction for camera shake.
Aninteresting point - since Pentax can use manual lenses, there's a way the photographer can input the focal length when the lens doesn't transmit that data. It comes in very handy for extension tubesso it didn't occur to me that Sony didn't offer something similar.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2008, 10:14 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,544
Default

The issue with the focal length and sensor shift image stabilization is that the camera presumes that the lens is a certain distance away from the sensor, so providing the focal length tells the camera how much to shift the sensor for how much shake it senses.

I believe that, for the purpose of stabilization, Sony dSLRs presume a 50mmm lens is attachedwhen the lens doesn't report that information.

But even if you do provide the focal length of the lens to the camera, inserting an extension tube or two will still not provide the camera with sufficient info for the correct amount of stabilization.

The camera knowns how to compensate for camera shake when a 50mm lens is attached, but not when a 50mmm lens is attached through an extension tube. The amount of compensation depends on the angle of view, not the focal length. In most cases, the focal length determines the angle of view, but when you put an extension tube in between the camera and the lens, the angle of view changes, and therefore the amount of compensation needs to be adjusted too.But the camera doesn't know there's an extension tube there, and so doesn't knowthe angle of view has changed. Andthe angle of view will change different amounts on different lenses, so there isn't a single factor you can use for determining the amount of compensation necessary.That goes for anydSLRwith sensor shift image stabilization, not just Sony.

That is one of the advantages of optical image stabilization; astabilized image is projected out the rear of the lens, and extension tubes and teleconverters don't change that. Sensor shift image stabilization requires the camera to know the focal length of the lens so it can determine the angle of view and the amount of compensation required. Extension tubes and some teleconverters alter the angle of view without telling the camera about it.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2008, 10:39 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
mtngal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Frazier Park, CA
Posts: 16,052
Default

That's my point about the Pentax over the Sony - the Pentax has a way for you to input focal length for a manual focus lens (or any lens that doesn't tell the camera what it's focal length is). You can compensate for the extension tube or TC.
mtngal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2008, 12:06 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,544
Default

mtngal wrote:
Quote:
That's my point about the Pentax over the Sony - the Pentax has a way for you to input focal length for a manual focus lens (or any lens that doesn't tell the camera what it's focal length is). You can compensate for the extension tube or TC.
There is no standard compensation for extension tubes like there is for teleconverters. The amount that they change the angle of view is different for each lens, and there's no way to know how much compensation you need to enter, unless you measure it yourself ahead of time.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2008, 1:40 PM   #10
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6
Default

How does the lens tell the body its focal length?

Will the body be able to obtain that information for older lenses?
Who. Me? is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:11 AM.