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Old Jul 31, 2008, 11:44 AM   #1
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Ok, so I've decided to take the plunge and upgrade from my Panasonic Lumix FZ-15 to a DSLR. (mostly because my gf told me she was taking it and I better find myself a new camera).

Here is what I like to do: I like Macro photography of plants, bugs, and flowers. I also would like to get into some bird photography.

At the moment because of budget, I'll stick to a all around and good macro camera. I've read through the forms enough to know that Mtngal would recommend a Pentax, because every post she does. But the camera's I'm currently looking at are the Sony a200 and the Canon XSi. From what I've read in all of the posts the Canon would be the best for fast shots, ie when I go to take bird pics, this would probably capture them the best? I like the a200 because of the price point and I can get a camera and a dual lens kit for $700-$800. I also know from posts that I can get good used lens for the Sony. But I haven't read any posts specifically on Macro and also what I would need.

So if you could, please give suggestions of what I would need lens wise and equipment to do nice macro photography. Any suggestions on other cameras would be good also. At the moment I'm leaning toward the Canon because from Steve's review it sounds like it has a better sensor and also has a quicker auto focus, which would come in handy when I can afford a nice telephoto lens for bird pictures. The canon is also 12 MP as opposed to the Sony's 10 MP so I could crop more. Oh, also what is the difference with the CF as opposed to the SD?? I already have SD cards for my panasonic.. Sandisk ULTRA II's, why do camera's still use CF?? Is CF going the wayside ?? is SD better?

Thank you in advance for you answers.

Eric
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 12:23 PM   #2
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One of the reasons I went with the Olympus was because, for the price and kit lens, it was the best deal I could get, and my thing was precisely macro and nature.

Four thirds cameras have a smaller sensor, and as such you have more depth of field for the same aperture. Also, it means that its focal length multiplier is 2, so with a 150mm lens you reach the equivalent of 300mm on a full frame camera.

What this means is that you can get better depth of field for macro, and you don't have to spend that much money on a telephoto lens.

For the price (I paid US$ 450 for a e-510, and the 2 kit lens), that is what I picked (oh, and it also has in body IS).

The main drawbacks to the olympus are: slower focusing speed, more noise, fewer lens options (though they are generally very good).

I heard that Olympus has created a kit with the e520, the 14-42mm and the 70-300mm lens... I haven't seen it available yet, but it should be right within your budget.


But, more than specs and technical details, you should really go to a store and handle the different cameras yourself. Much of nature and macro photography involves doing quick adjustments, often in awkward positions. Even the greatest camera in the world won't produce great pics if it doesnt feel right in your hand and you cant adjust quickly.
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 12:54 PM   #3
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It seems to me that, aside from general purpose photography, your interest is macrophotography. Perhaps you could take a look at the Close-upsforum to see what tohers are using to get the results you might like.

There are a number of ways to go macro:
  • Close-up Lenses (or Filters) - These are lenses that attach to the filter ring on the end of the lens, decreasing the minimum focusing distance, and can be used in combination to get really close. But adding optical elements to a lens usually inclreases the optical flaws in the lens and introduces some of their own. If you go this route, get good ones.[/*]
  • Extension Tubes - These are spacers that you cinnect between the lens and the body. Since they don't contain any optics of their own, the results are better than for close-up lenses. The image sensor receives less light, though, so exposure times can get long, requiring a tripod, or at least image stabilization.[/*]
  • Macro Lenses - These are lenses that are, in all other respects, conventional lenses, except that they can focus very closely and also have autofocus motors that are a little slower than normal, to aid in precise focusing.
[/*]
These options appear in increasing order of cost, btw.

And CF isn't going anywhere. In addition to digital cameras, CF cards are widely used in many other types of devices. High end cameras adopted the CF card because there was a popular hard disk drive that fit on a CF card that provided more capacity than flash memory could provide at the time, and it stuck. And if you end up getting a camera with a CF card, you can use an adapter for your SD cards.

You haven't mentioned it, but one of the capabilities that dSLRs have is continuous, or 'burst' shooting modes, where you can just hold down the shutter button, and the camera will continue taking photos at 3 per second (in the price range we're talking about). That probably isn't much use for flowers, but might be handy for insects, and SanDisk Ultra II cards don't perform very well in that situation. You might wnat to reconsider bringing them forward.
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 2:40 PM   #4
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nunyabeez wrote:
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Ok, so I've decided to take the plunge and upgrade from my Panasonic Lumix FZ-15 to a DSLR. (mostly because my gf told me she was taking it and I better find myself a new camera).
Most gfs want engagement rings. [suB]:-)[/suB]
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 2:40 PM   #5
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nunyabeez wrote:
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Ok, so I've decided to take the plunge and upgrade from my Panasonic Lumix FZ-15 to a DSLR. (mostly because my gf told me she was taking it and I better find myself a new camera).
... and maybe an new gf. [suB]:-)[/suB]
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 3:39 PM   #6
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As to the new GF, no. It was a perfect excuse for me to buy a new toy.. lol. I know the HD CF cards you are talking about, and that was a LONG time ago.. at least 7 yrs. I think IBM was the first with those out. I'm an IT guy and worked in a computer store while in College.

My Lumix has burst and I've used it before to try to catch a road runner running and managed to do a half way decent job. I do like the burst mode capability and would probably be looking at the next in line for the SD cards, the Ultra III w/ the 20 mb/s.

I bought my Lumix on recommendations from this site and also my SD card, course that was several years ago. I also have a very nice Manfrotto tripod that I use when I can. Attached is a pic my GF took with my current camera.

Do you have a suggestion TCav on one of the camera's? or would you suggest another brand to look at? I don't want to go so cheap that I limit myself for the future, but I don't want to spend over a grand out of the box either. Thanks
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 4:39 PM   #7
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One more thing I've noticed is the Canon has a 48 bit color depth while the Sony has only a 36 bit color depth, I'm assuming this has to do with the depth of colors and how well the color will show up when printed?

The one thing I DO like about the Sony is that the IS is in the camera body and not in the lens. While I try to use a tripod when I can, I can't always have one there and the IS is a very nice feature. The options hurt my head.
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 7:08 PM   #8
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nunyabeez wrote:
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One more thing I've noticed is the Canon has a 48 bit color depth while the Sony has only a 36 bit color depth, I'm assuming this has to do with the depth of colors and how well the color will show up when printed?
Canon's greater color depth is only useful if you are shooting RAW, and each and every element in the chain, from the camera to the printer, can fully support the higher color depth.

If you shot JPEG, your images will be stored using either sRGB (24 bit color) or AdobeRGB (36 bit color.)Some of the most advanced ICC color profiles are from Adobe and,wouldn't you know it, they only support 36 bit color.

So the advantage of 48 bit color has, for the most part, yet to be realized. I shoot a lot of equestian stuff, so I shoot a lot of continuous, 3 frame per second, shots. I refuse to process all those RAW files. I'll stick with JPEG, thank you.
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 7:46 PM   #9
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nunyabeez wrote:
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Do you have a suggestion TCav on one of the camera's? or would you suggest another brand to look at? I don't want to go so cheap that I limit myself for the future, but I don't want to spend over a grand out of the box either.
You haven't really said anything that would suggest one brand or model over another. Macro (Nikon calls it 'Micro') lenses are expensive, so most people go with the third party macro lenses which have proven quite good at the task. Sigma has a 50mm F2.8 EX DG, a 70mm F2.8 EX DG, a 105mm F2.8 EX DG, a 150mm F2.8 EX DG, and a 180mm F3.5 EX DG, and Tamron has a 90mm F/2.8 and a 180mm F/3.5, all of which are quite good and are available for most mounts.

I use a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D dSLR and quite like the sensor shift image stabilization, but when using extension tubes, it doesn't work as well as optical image stabilization. A large aperture, stabilized, standard zoomlens, Like the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS or24-70mm f/2.8L IS, mounted on an extension tube, might do a better jobthan a large aperture, standard zoomlens, like the Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8, or even the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8, mounted on an extention tube to a Pentax or Sony dSLR, but they might very well cost a lot more too. (Whew!) (BTW, Nikon doesn't have any large aperture, stabilized, standard zoomlenses.)

I would go for a large aperture standard zoom lens for the macro work, and therefore, forego the kit lens. Canon, Nikon and Pentax dSLRs are all available 'body only' but the least expensive Sony dSLR that is available 'body only' is the A350 at $700. Surprisingly, however, Adorama seems to still have some of the discontinued A100 dSLRs available 'body only'. You might consider that route.
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Old Jul 31, 2008, 11:50 PM   #10
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Just my opinion about macro lenses- if you use it to shoot macro, "fast" doesn't mean anything. I should dig out a picture I once took of an agave leaf at macro distances at 2.5 (the largest aperture my Viv Series One105mm macro lens is capable of). The depth of field is about 1mm - barely covers one point of the serrated edge of the leaf. It's a lousy picture, but interesting from a technical point of view. When I'm shooting much of anything at macro distances I'll use f11 or smaller. If you have a 50mm lens, you would have a greater DOF, but would need to be closer, too. That's no problem if you are shooting coins, but not so good if you are shooting bees.

The point about the Oly having greater DOF due to the smaller sensor is a case of true, sort-of. Focal length is focal length no matter what, and DOF is set by focal length. The reason smaller sensor cameras such as p&s ones have greater DOF is because they use much smaller focal lengths to get the same field of view, not because a smaller sensor has some extra ability to increase DOF. So if you have a 105mm lens on an Oly, it will have the same DOF as a 105 lens on a Canon or on a 35mm film camera (focal length is focal length). However, the field of view will be quite different. That's where the multiplication factor of 2 comes in - that 105mm lens will give you the same field of view on anOlyas a 210mm lens on a film camera, but will still give you the DOF of the 105mm. It's a fine point and most people not shooting macro wouldn't find that distinction important, but it's something to understand if you are shooting macro. It might mean a difference in which lens you buy.

Another interesting thought about the differences in camera capabilities due to the sensors having different sizes - the differences cause a difference in the field of view, not in the magnification. That means a lens that will focus 1:1 will continue to focus 1:1 no matter what camera it is mounted on. 1:1 means that a subject that is 1 cm long will take up 1 cm on the sensor, no matter which camera it is on. The difference is in the size of the sensor, so your subject would take up the same space on the sensor, but the larger sensor would show more of it (or more around it) - the subject is still casting the same size image on the sensor.

Another thought about the Oly - it does seem to have more noise than some of the other dSLR cameras. If you are going to shoot macro with one, you'd probably want to buy a good tripod to use with it, so you can use slower shutter speeds and keep the ISO speeds down (good advice for any macro shooter, and a case of "do as I say and not as I do" - I still don't own a tripod).

Also, I find auto focus can be a real liability, especially if you are hand-holding. Even when I had an AF macro lens I used manual focus and eventually sold the AF in favor of a manual focus lens (the Viv is auto-exposure/manual focus). My AF lens didn't have a focus limiter and it would turn for what seemed like forever to focus.

One more macro thought -macro photographyis one area where I find extra mp very useful. It allows you to "enlarge" your picture more (i.e., crop more). While either the Sony or the Canon would work well for macro (where the lens in many ways plays a bigger role than the camera) I think the Canon's 12 mp would give it a slight edge.

Good luck with your choice!
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