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Old Jul 15, 2008, 5:29 PM   #1
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The short story :
I'm looking for a respectable camera a step up from normal digital cameras.
That's why I'm looking into DSLR's. Now I'm planning on buying one in a week or two.

What's important to me ?

- I want a single inexpensive lens (lens kits will do)
- I want to be able to shoot night shots with relatively low noise
- Rechargeable battery pack is a plus
- Good VR/image stabilization (hate blurry shots)
- Reasonable autofocus (is 3 point really enough, or is 11 point in this case much much better ?)
- Decent Built quality
- Camera speed
- Price :-)

What isn't important to me ?

- Pixels, 8MP and up should be fine ?
- Live view (It only slows the camera down)


What am I going to be shooting ?

Landscapes (mostly), Night shots, People (this is also important cause I really like to capture character), action shots (like a falling water drop or a seagull flying low above the seawater, etc)

[line]

Budget = 600 €

Currently I have my eye on these kits :


- Sony DSLR-A200 + DT 18-70mm F:3.5-5.6 Kit = € 459

- Nikon D60 + AF-S VR DX 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 Kit = € 519
(FREE 4GB SD card + Cleaning Set) + (FREE 8GB SD card)

- Pentax K-200D + DA 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 AL II = € 549
(FREE 4GB SD card + Cleaning Set)

- Canon 400D Body = € 509
(suggestions for a reasonable priced decent lens ?)

( I'm also okay with a seperate body and lens, as long as it doesn't surpass the 600 € limit:-) ) I just can't really decide between the Pentax K-200D and the Nikon D60...


EDITS :
CHANGED A300 TO A200
ADDED CANON 400D
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Old Jul 15, 2008, 8:05 PM   #2
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I've been using Pentax dSLR cameras for a few years now and have been very happy with them. From what I understand, the D60 and K200 use the same sensor, so picture quality will be similar, especially if you shoot raw. Nikon and Pentax go about processing the pictures a bit differently and some will the look of one over the other, but both will give you excellent pictures.

The Pentax offers in-camera stabilization, so you only buy it once. You say that you only want the kit lens now, but the fun of having a dSLR is adding lenses later on, as your interests in different subjects change. If you go with the Nikon and continue to want stabilization, you'd need to buy their more expensive VR lenses.

The Pentax will work with any Pentax lens ever made (though screw mount lenses require an adaptor). The lenses will operate with whatever function they were made with - if you buy an older auto focus/auto exposure lens, it will work that way with the K200. Nikon, on the other hand, removed the focusing motor in the camera body, so older auto focus lenses without motors would have to be manually focused. While that might be completely unimportant at the moment, that can change later on. So if you decide later on to add to your lens collection, the Pentax would allow for cheaper options.

Having additional focus points partly depends on the photographer and what they are shooting. If you are used to using the center point for focusing and then reframing the shot to take it (for off-center subjects) then 3 focus points are 2 more than you need. On the other hand, if you don't like re-framing, are consistently shooting something that occurs in an area other than where those three points are, you'd find having 11 points very important. I'm glad to have them, but could easily work around only having the three points on the D60 (and I know that others will say otherwise).

One of the biggest assets (to me, not to everyone) that the Pentax K200 offers over the D60 is the weather sealing. It's not waterproof, but the weather sealing has come in very useful when I've been out photographing in the snow. When I was using a non-sealed lens, I just kept the camera pointed down under my jacket and didn't worry about the camera back getting snowed on - had no trouble.

Have you handled the cameras? They are different sizes and have controls in different places. You might prefer the feel of one over the other and that's really important. There's nothing worse than trying to use a camera where the controls are too far away or your hand feels cramped. Make sure you handle both cameras and see if one feels better than the other.
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Old Jul 15, 2008, 9:31 PM   #3
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The Sony A300 is an A200 with 'Live View'. Since 'Live View' isn't important to you, you could save some money by going with the A200 instead.

The autofocus system in the Nikon D60 isn't up to action shots. Neither are the D40 or the D40X. and the D80 is probably more than your budget permits.

While the Canon 450D is over your budget, the 400D shouldn't be. It's 10MP vs. the 12MP in the 450D, and it doesn't have the 'Live View' that the 450D does. The 450D also comes with a stabilized kit lens. The Sony A300 (and A200) and the Pentax K200D have sensor shift image stabilization. The Canon 400D isn't available with the stabilized kit lens, but it is available with the body only, and the stabilized kit lens is available seperately, and that combination might be within your budget and therefore be an even match for the Sony and Pentax offerings.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 4:10 AM   #4
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@ mtngal

The problem is that here in Belgium we don't have huge stores like best buy, so they don't always have every camera in stock. I could give it a try though, but i'd have to go to a more specialized photography store if I want to be able to give them a test run...

+ The top display, does it have some kind of light button so you can see the info displayed on it in the dark ? Cuz otherwise such extra info display setup would be kind of worthless. Also, does the K200D perform in low light and night shots ? (compared to Canon's 450D)

@ TCav

could you tell me exacty what lens that would be ?
(Canon EF-S 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 IS ?) = 169 €
For that amount of money i could get a 450D (689 € - while the 400D Body + that lens = 678 €)

---------

It seems that 450D is still top of the line (in it's class), but it's also plus minus 150 € more expensive then all others mentioned here. While I said that I only have 600 € to spend, I really have a budget of 1500 €, I'm only willing to pay more than 600 € if it's really worth it. So another question : Is the 450D really worth it ? (compared to the Pentax K200D) (+140 €)

I'm actually slowly phazing the D60 out of my choice list, I really liked the ease of use with the graphical mode and user friendly menus, but it's obvious disadvantages seem to be a dealbreaker here... I was also looking into an Olympus E-520, but the high noise killed it for me...
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 9:41 AM   #5
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Zerreth wrote:
Quote:
@ TCav

could you tell me exacty what lens that would be ?
(Canon EF-S 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 IS ?) = 169 €
For that amount of money i could get a 450D (689 € - while the 400D Body + that lens = 678 €)
Yes, the IS lens is the kit lens for the 450D, and it's available seperately. I'm not familar with your prices, but I had thought that you could have gotten the 400D with the IS kit lens and still be within your budget, but I guess not.

Zerreth wrote:
Quote:
It seems that 450D is still top of the line (in it's class), but it's also plus minus 150 € more expensive then all others mentioned here. While I said that I only have 600 € to spend, I really have a budget of 1500 €, I'm only willing to pay more than 600 € if it's really worth it. So another question : Is the 450D really worth it ? (compared to the Pentax K200D) (+140 €)
Two major differences between the 450D and the400D is the slightly greaterresolution (12MP vs. 10MP)and the 'Live View'.

Zerreth wrote:
Quote:
What isn't important to me ?

- Pixels, 8MP and up should be fine ?
- Live view (It only slows the camera down)
Since resolution and 'Live View' aren't important to you, I don't think it's worth it for you.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 7:14 PM   #6
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An interesting question about the top display - I had to look in the K200's owner manual (you can download it from Pentax's website) and check. I couldn't find anything about a light on the top display (while I found the information in the K20's manual).The critical information is also available in the viewfinder, which is what I've always used at night.

While I don't have the K200, I used to own a K10 (which has the same sensor). I didn't find the noise a problem (but I also would use a noise reduction program when needed), but you might feel otherwise - best thing to do is look at the sample photos for both camerason Steve's site.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 9:27 PM   #7
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Zerreth wrote:
Quote:
...
- I want a single inexpensive lens (lens kits will do)
- I want to be able to shoot night shots with relatively low noise
...
Those are somewhat contratictory: The kit lens is almost always good value, but it is never fast so not real good for low light. You also should realize that low light for photography is a good reading light (about f/2, ISO400, 1/10sec) so the only time you would need to have the displays on your camera back lit is if you plan to us flash. Even with a fast lens and high ISO.

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Old Jul 17, 2008, 5:34 AM   #8
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I'm gonna go with the Pentax K200D.

Compared to Nikon D60 :

Pros :

- Better autofocus system ( 11-point vs D60 3-point)
- Much better build quality with weather sealing
- In-Camera image stabilistation = cheaper and more lenses

Cons:

- At ISO-1600 the images have more noise
(But the images are a lot sharper, so it seems as if the D60 is just applying noise reduction in the camera, therefore the images come out a little blurier than the K200D, This can also be considered as a pros for the K200D, And to me photoshop is more qualified for noise reduction than an in-camera one. + I'd rather have a little noise than a blurry picture... )
D60 : http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_.../DSC_0006s.JPG
K200D : http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_...s/IMGP0473.JPG

- K200D seems to underexpose a lot of pictures, again, nothing photoshop can't fix, personally I find that some pictures actually look better than it's D60 counterpart...
- 2.8 FPS for about only 4 frames...
- User Interface is less orginized
- No Tilt sensor
- K200D only goes up to ISO-1600
(D60 Features a ISO Setting called 'High', which is basically ISO-3200)


+ It's at about the same price as a Nikon D60...

In the end its the picture that comes out that counts, so I'm going to disregard D60's appealing menus, and go for the better quality K200D.

Thanks for the help guys, when I actually buy the camera in two weeks, i'll post a little review and maybe a youtube vid.

FINAL DECISION :

Quote:
Pentax K-200D + DA 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 AL II
(+ Free Cleaning set and 4 GB SDHC card )

€ 549

Advice on a good SLR camera bag that will fit the K200D+ lens, an extra lens and some little things like an SD card or 2 and batteries ?

Just a quick question : What are the main differences between DA 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 AL lens and the
DA 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 AL II lens ?
-> OK, see info below


/EDIT

Quote:
Pentax in a press release announced that they have updated the standard smc PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II and has improved the resolution to match higher resolution sensors. The new lens now offers ideal zoom focal range (focal length equivalent to 27mm to 82.5mm in the 35mm format) for a wide range of shooting applications and will ship as a kit lens with PENTAX K200D in March 2008
/DPREVIEW DA 18-55mm F:3.5-5.6 AL

Quote:
UPDATE: During the final preparation of this review, Pentax announced an new 'mark II' version of this lens to coincide with the launch of the K20D, and presumably tweaked to take better advantage of the 14Mp sensor. We hope to get our hands on the new lens, to see exactly what improvements Pentax have managed to make.
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 11:23 AM   #9
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What I've seen from people's posts,with the 10 mp sensor the two lenses are very similar. I think you'd notice the difference with the K20 (though haven't actually tested it out yet). I still use the original kit lens with my K100 and had no complaints with it on the K10 (same sensor as the K200). If the older version is cheaper, it would be a better buy. If no price break, go for the newer one.

As far as a camera bag - there are all different types. I have a Tamrac shoulder bag that I like for when I'm going light. As I've added lenses and other accessories it got too heavy, so now my main bag is a Lowepro Slingshot. It's a cross-shoulder bag so it's more comfortable with greater weights and it allows you to swing it around for easy access. If I were to add any more weight I'd have to go to a backpack type pack - that's the best way to carry weight but the worst for access. I hate having to stop and remove the pack to get something out so it's not an option for my current situation. For the camera, two lenses and accessories, a top loading shoulder bag would probably be most convenient.

There are a number of other possible options - I think read about someone who modified a diaper bag (addes foam inserts)since it wouldn't scream "camera bag".
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