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Old Jul 28, 2008, 3:47 PM   #1
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hello everyone.

back in the film slr days, things were simpler. you'd more or less prefer one brand for a few personal reasons and you'd often marry it for life and forget about it. switching films was easy, so a part of your image quality could be defined on a day-by-day basis.

now things are trickier and new technology involves more variables than before. so I mean for this post to be more about a discussion on what's relevant and what's not on what you're paying on today's dslr market than about helping me out on making a decision (though this is still the main motivation of my post :lol.

so, my current stuff consists of: nikon d50, nikkor 28-80 (n65 kit), nikkor 18-55 (d50 kit), tamron 70-300, sb-27 speedlite. when I bought that, a couple of years ago, I had in mind that I'd some time soon upgrade, whenever there was a camera out there with enough resolution & features to keep me satisfied for a long time. now, with affordable 10-14mpx cameras with IS, anti-dust and so forth out there, I think it's time to take the leap.

IS and image quality are my main concerns for upgrading. which means my body price/lens price ratio will probably go from around 5 to maybe 1 or less. resolution comes in handy as well as far as image quality is concerned, as I often do some cropping and/or geometry correction that benefit from it. I'm an all around weekend/vacation shooter, but if I need to take pictures at the nephew's birthday party, I'll certainly borrow my sister's compact p&s rather than taking my stuff with me. so size/weight isn't a major issue, though no one wants to carry a brick around all summer long.

as far as lenses is concerned, I'm looking for image quality as far as you can describe it. largest apperture/fixed apperture/non-rotating front aren't a major issues, so that might save me a few bucks. image quality is. macro would be nice, and I'd be looking for a range from around 24mm to around 450mm in 2 lenses (or 3, if necessary). and a speedlite unit with remote capability (like my sb-27 + ec-13, is that it? remote unit) would be nice, but that's certainly not a deal breaker.

I'd be willing to spend something between 1000 and 1500 usd.

these are the options I've been looking into:

- alpha a350 + 16-105: I like the range and quality marks from slrgear.com. I'd throw in a nice tele and I'm set. 14mp looks great, though I know that's just a few pixels wider than a 10 or 12 mp. live view/swivelling screen are also a minor plus.
- olympos e520 + 12-60: I like the idea of the four thirds system, though I do regret the one downside of noisier images/narrower dynamic range. they seem to have better quality lenses for the same buck. I'd add to that a nice tele as well. my bro has a e510 and he likes it.
- nikon d60 + 16-85 vr: lens IS vs. sensor IS, but the final price tag seems about the same as above for this system. I'd add to that a VR tele too.

I hadn't looked into canon so far because of their worse-than-average kit lenses and plastic build (judging from reviews), but at the range I'm looking into now, I know they're right up there with the rest of them... so that's a possibility.

anyway, any kind of input would be greatly appreciated, as usual, even if it's not directly relevant to my choice. in other words, feel free to make it generic, if that's going to make the discussion useful for others.

thanks for your time.


edit: I'm selling my nikon stuff for a decent price anyway - the 70-300 is too soft beyond 200, and the 18-55 isn't as good or wide as I'm hoping for; and the sb-27 doesn't ttl with a dslr; so the extra advantages of sticking to nikon are little to none
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Old Jul 28, 2008, 4:05 PM   #2
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Kezs-

There will indeed be a cost to change from Nikon to Olympus or Sony. Having "Live View" may indeed play into your decision.

The Sony A-350 is an excellent choice, if you desire a "Live View" option. The dynamic range restrictions have made me shy away from the Olympus DSLR cameras in the lat few years. Yes, I still shoot ocassionally with my Oly E-300 and enjoy it a lot, as Olympus has great lenses, but personally I am staying away from their latest offerings.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:11 PM   #3
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The lenses you picked are all very good, but they're not the kit lenses, which makes me wonder why you'd exclude Canon because of the kit lens.

But that aside, the choices you've made cross a lot of boundaries, so I'll start with some basic discussion. Plus, I believe you invited it.

Canon has the best selection of lenses, both OEM and third party, including the best selection of high quality lenses. Canon is followed closely by Nikon in that regard. Next are Pentax and Sony, and while Sony has a better selection of telephoto lenses, Pentax has a better selection of shorter focal length lenses. Pentax lenses are good, but Sony has some lenses that could be described a 'Best in Class', and they cost like it too. Olympus has some fine lenses, but their selection is sparse and they're expensive.

Since you didn't mention the type(s) of photography you pursue, I can't point you toward one brand or another based on available lenses for what you want to do. That should be a consideration when selecting a dSLR, and you haven't given us anything to go on.

Image stabilization is a popular feature, which will allow you to take shots handheld that you would not have been able to take without it. Image stabilization is most useful when using long lenses, but can come in handy under most circumstances. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of their lenses ('IS' for Canon, 'VR' for Nikon.) This works well for them because these stabilized lenses can also be used on their film SLRs, but it makes those lenses bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Pentax, Sony and most Olympus dSLRs use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body. This means that any lens will be stabilized, including older Pentax and Sony (Minolta) lenses. (Olympus uses all new 'digital only' lenses on their dSLRs, so older Olympus lenses can't work with the newer Olympus dSLRs.)

Canon has the best autofocus system available, as evidenced by the majority of sports shooters that use Canon. Nikon has a good autofocus system in it's dSLRs too, except for the D40, D40x and the D60 you chose to consider. In addition to only having 3 autofocus points (compared to 9, 11 or more in other dLSRs) these models also are Nikon's only models that don't have an internal autofocus motor. That means these models can autofocus many Nikon and third party lenses made for Nikon's other dLSR models, including some of their best. (This limits the selection of lenses for these three models to less than the number of lenses available for Pentax and Sony dSLRs, btw.)

All the dSLRs have good speedlites available, but Sony has an interesting feature you might want to investigate. Sony can use the built-in flash as a remote trigger for one or more speedlites that are mounted elsewhere, even handheld. Two different speedlites can be mounted remotely, programmed to perform differently,and remotely triggered by the built-in flash on the dSLR body. It is the most advanced flash system available. No wires. No extra accessories. Everything you need is built into the speedlite and the camera body. Canon and Nikon have very capable speedlite systems as well, but nobody has the capabilities and flexibility of the Sony system.

Edit: To correct misinformation about the Sony A700 not supporting the wireless flash system. Thank you, ecap.
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:36 PM   #4
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sorry to but in but no built in flash on A700? please explain.
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:42 PM   #5
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I apologize for complicating the thread somewhat. However, I ordered and today received the Sony A-300. Naturally, I did a shootout between my various DSLR cameras.

The Sony A-300 was clearly at a big disadvantage when compared to the Olympus E-420. Here are the samples:

Sarah Joyce

The Sony A-300 sample
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:46 PM   #6
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Oops.
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:48 PM   #7
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Here is the Olympus E-420 photo sample. Perhaps I am making a rash move, however, as of now, my decision is to return the Sony A-300.
Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 8:54 PM   #8
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And finally just to give you another view with a common digicam, here is a photo sample from the Sony H-5.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 9:08 PM   #9
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Now here is a photo sample from the Nikon P-80 ultra zoom. Once again, you will find that the ultra zoom photo sample compares favorably with the Sony A-300. If we were to pit these two camera against each other in much lower light, with increased and higher ISO settings, the results may indeed be somewhat different.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 29, 2008, 9:12 PM   #10
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The result of these various photo samples might truly be why a DSLR? As a teacher of digital cameras I must own both. However, the ultra zooms, just in my opinion, are beginning to edge up on the consumer level DSLR cameras. What do you think??

Sarah Joyce

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