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Old Jul 26, 2008, 9:29 PM   #1
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i am an intro to slr cameras and pretty much have narrowed it down to two choices both the same price (which is quite low because of my budget).i am a very intro user. my first choice is the nikon d40 and the other is the sony a200. i will not really be printing... so, will the lesser megapixel in the nikon matter?? i will mainly be shooting in dim light situations (iv been told more mega-pixels will help reduce grain in this aspect). will the greater megapixel in the sony make the sony better than the nikon. also i will not plan to buy new lenses so availability of accessories should not be taken into consideration. which is better?????? (and for what reasons)
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Old Jul 27, 2008, 12:03 AM   #2
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Daniel-

I own both theSony A-100and the D-40. If you are going to depend on the .jpeg format 100%, I would go with the Nikon D-40. If you are willing to use RAW, at least ocassionally, then the Sony A-200 is the logical choice (particularly with high ISO existing light shots).

You must also at the same time consider the lenses available for both cameras. Keep in mind that the A-100/A-200 can use all those inexpensive K-M legacy lenses.

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Old Jul 27, 2008, 2:56 AM   #3
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considering that the nikon has only 6.2 megapixels while the sony has 10. will it be a benefit considering i take many pictures in dim situations (grain is a major problem). im not sure what to believe because ive been told 6 is fine because i wont be printing. BUT ive also been told that 10 will be better to deal with grain in dim light situations.
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Old Jul 27, 2008, 6:10 AM   #4
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What you're referring to is 'noise', not 'grain'.

The term 'Grain' isa carry-over from the days of film, where actual particles of various silver compounds on the film react to light.These particles were visible upon close inspection (on some filmsmore than others) and appearedas grains in theimage. Film that contained larger grains were more sensitive to light and so had a higher ISO speed, but the grains weremore visible.

What happensin digital image sensors is known as 'Noise', which is what happens to dim or dark portion of aimage where the image sensor's inherent signal-to-noise ratio throws in the occasional errant pixel, or where a single photon receptor might react more than it should. This noise occurs more often when the pixel density is increased and when the ISO setting is increased (increasing the sensitivity of the image sensor.)

The D40 has a good reputation for images with low noise, partly because a 6MP APS-C image sensor has a lower pixel density than a 10MP APS-C image sensor.

There are other differences between the Nikon D40 and the Sony A200, however. First, the autofocus system in the D40 is among the slowest available in a dSLR, especially in low-light conditions. Second, the D40 doesn't have a built-in autofocus motor, so many lenses from Nikon and from third parties, that will work on other Nikon dSLRs, won't autofocus on the D40 (or the D40X or D60). That list includes some large aperture lenses that would be appropriate for low-light photography.

So a Sony A200 with a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lens (~$100), shooting at ISO 800 would be much more capable of low-light photography than a Nikon D40 with the kit lens at it's maximum aperture of f/5.6 at 50mm, shooting at ISO 1600! In this situation, the Sony would be much better suited for low-light photography than the Nikon. Plus you'd have the higher resolution image sensor with the Sony.

Yes, if you won't ever print, the additional resolution might not ever be useful. But if you ever want to crop your images, or apply other types of post processing to them, the additional resolution would make that job a lot easier.

When you look at dSLRs, you are looking at the initial foundation of a photographic system. Clearly, you have some requirements for a camera that are not exactly 'mainstream', so the choice of a system is more important than the choice of a camera. And since your budget is limited, the choice of that initial foundation is more critical than it might otherwise be.
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Old Jul 27, 2008, 7:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
i will mainly be shooting in dim light situations
If you can't use a flash, and your subjects are not stationary (i.e., you're trying to shoot people indoors in dim lighting), you're not going to be able to get many usable photos with the kit lenses.

They're just not bright enough for that purpose (i.e., you'd get lots of motion blur from subject movement because your shutter speeds wouldn't be fast enough). You'll need a brighter lens and/or an external flash for non-stationary subjects in low light.

I'd be more specific about the lighting and subject types you're interested in for better responses.


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Old Jul 27, 2008, 11:28 AM   #6
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Daniel-

You have had some excellent advice from TCav and JimC here. However, I think it would be more effective if we could see/visualize much more precisely how dim your dim really is??

At the end of the day, we have to keep in mind that cameras, not matter what brand they are really begin to struggle and show defects when the light is les than a 60w light globe and flash is not used. As JimC pointed out, any action just further complicates any problems, as the shutter speed is so low.

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Old Jul 27, 2008, 12:57 PM   #7
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when i low light dim dont mean that low.. more specifically im referring to dim light at car shows. to be perfectly honest im still a little confused on which camera is better for me. ive been told both are better than the other. considering i dont plan to buy other lenses and simply use the kit, in the end what camera would u suggest???

also... jst to clarify, if im shooting stationary objects in dim/low light (and grain has been a problem for me) will lowering the ISO and increasing exposure fix this problem almost entirely.
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Old Jul 27, 2008, 1:45 PM   #8
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If you lower the ISO speed too much, your shutter speeds may become slow enough to cause blur from camera shake if you're not using a tripod or flash. The Sony has stabilization built into the camera body that can help to a point. With the Nikon, you can find stabilized lenses. But, even with stabilization, if your shutter speeds get too slow, you're going to get blurry photos without a tripod or flash.

Personally, I'd go for the Sony between those two choices. But, I'm probably a bit biased since I shoot with a Sony A700. ;-)

Comparing the Nikon D40 with the Sony A200, the Sony has an in body stabilization system that works with any lens, the ability to use the camera's built in flash for wireless control of external flash models (the Nikon requires a commander unit or another flash to wirelessly control Nikon external flash models), more image quality choices (for example, the Sony can shoot jpeg fine + raw at the same time, and the Nikon is limited to jpeg basic if you want raw at the same time), and the Sony has more advanced autofocus system.

If you're taking photos of stationary subjects in dim lighting (which is what it sounds like you want to do at car shows), and you don't plan on buying a stabilized lens for the Nikon), then you could use slower shutter speeds without a tripod or flash with the Sony (thanks to it's body based stablization system to reduce blur from camera shake). But, again, if shutter speeds get too slow, you're going to need a tripod or flash, even with a stabilized solution.

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Old Jul 27, 2008, 2:17 PM   #9
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The kit lens, either kit lens, is not appropriate for what you want to do, and you willgetsome unexpected reflections from your flash when shooting autos.

Kit lenses start off with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at their shortest focal length (widest angle of view), but the maximum aperture closes down to f/5.6 when the focal length gets longer and the viewing angle approaches something more normal.

If you shoot autos with a wide angle, you'll get an odd perspective, so you'll want to back up some and lengthen the focal length, but that closes the aperture, so you'll have to lengthen the shutter speed or increase the ISO setting. Lengthening the shutter speed increases the chance of motion blur due to camera shake and subject movement (maybe not the auto, but certainly passers-by), and increasing the ISO setting increases the chance of noise.

There are solutions for that problem:
  • Flash - Flash introduces additional light into the photo, but highly polished automobiles are going to reflect the flash. Some of it will be reflected back at you, so you'll have unexpected highlights in odd locations within the photo, and some will be reflected in unexpected directions, lighting things other than the auto. [/*]
  • Tripod - This eliminates the problem of motion blur due to camera shake, but you'll still get motion blur due to passers-by walking into and out of the frame. [/*]
  • Image stabilization - Serves much the same purpose as the tripod (for your application), but suffers from the same pitfalls. [/*]
  • Large Aperture Lens - Lets you use a faster shutter speed and/or a lower ISO setting, without any of the potential problems that you might encounter doing anything else.[/*]
And, as I said, the large aperture lenses for the Nikon D40 don't autofocus.
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Old Jul 27, 2008, 7:03 PM   #10
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so most of u think the sony is my best choice considering what the camera will be used for (stationary objects in dim light)... is that right (im just thinkin twice because every camera store ive called has said the nikon is MUCH better )?????/
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