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Old Aug 6, 2008, 4:19 PM   #1
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You can search through my other threads, but in essence I am trying to decide between a Superzoom and a dSLR. I am an old school film SLR user so understand basics of photography...not an expert but understand how things work.

I am at the stage of life where I enjoy taking pictures but it is mainly documenting family, trips, and events.....in other words set the camera on AUTO and go.

For that reason I really wanted to like a SZ. But today I started to try some out (Sony H50, Olympus 570, Nikon P80). They just all felt slow. Maybe it was the electronic viewfinder that goes blank when you take the picture so it seems slow. But both AF and the actual shot seemed slow.

I also tried a Sony A300 and Canon XSi and they were fast and simple (and in some ways I guess closer to the SLR I am used to (I use a Nikon N80 with Tamron 28-200 zoom).

Of all the cameras I tried, I liked the size of the XSi over the Sony which seems bigger (and the XSi does not use Memory Stick).

So here is where I am at:

Canon XSi. Felt comfortable and responsive. New model so latest and greatest tech. Recent price reduction. I don't really need Live View but I guess it does not matter.

Sony A200 / A300. I liked the proximity focus start. Camera felt larger. Price for A200 with 2 lenses is very good.

I had ruled out Nikon D60 as I believe Canon is better bank for buck, but camera dealer suggested I consider a D80 and use my existing Tamron lens (albeit it becomes 42-350).

So now my questions. Some of which folks can answer and some of which are just perceptions.

1) Are Superzooms going to be that much of a disappointment for me, or is it just that I am used to an SLR. I realize no one can really answer this but I am interested in other perspectives.

2) IQ and Speed of Canon XSi and Sony a200. Which has better AF?. Better IQ?. Do either have focus tracking once the subject is locked on?

3) A new suggestion is a Nikon D80. I realize this is a few years old and there may be a new model forthcoming, but I would appreciate comments compared to the above. The most enticing reason to get this is I would still have a long zoom and it has in body IS. The other question I have is whether it has focus tracking. Keep in mind that as much as I appreciate a dSLR, it will stay on Auto much of the time and I am thinking that the D80 isn't really meant for that kind of situation. Whereas the a200 and XSi are great cameras but also meant for ease of use.

Any comments or additional thoughts appreciated.
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 4:44 PM   #2
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1) The superzooms will be a major disappointment if you are used to an SLR.

2) IQ similar. AF better with Canon, yes it has tracking in AI Servo mode. Not sure if Sony has tracking.

3) D80 nice but old now. XSi better. D80 (and all other Nikons too) does NOT have in-body stabilization.

If you like the way the XSi felt then get it. Fantastic little camera. Surprisingly robust too, my friend's daughter knocked theirs off the table onto a cement floor, a drop of 3ft or so. Dented and scuffed a bit, and they had to recharge the battery, but it works fine, cosmetic damage only. (I don't suggest you try this at home though.)
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 4:56 PM   #3
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First, if superzoom digicams don't feel right, forget them.

Second, Sony dSLRs can use CF Cards as well as Memory Sticks.

Third, the A200 is 10MP while the XSi is 12MP. But the A350 is 14MP!

Fourth, I don't think your Tamron 28-200 is a good enough reason to stick with Nikon. Nikon has some virtues of its own, but your Tamron 28-200 doesn't have the coatings that are appropriate for digital SLRs. Used, itgoes for about $100; that's not much of an incentive.

Fifth, you haven't said anything about image stabilization. Image stabilization compensates for motion blur due to camera shake, and is primarily useful with long lenses. The Sony uses sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, which means that any lens, including 20 year old Minolta lenses, will be stabilized. Canon uses optical image stabilization in some of it's lenses. There aren't many to choose from, and they are bigger, heavier and more expensive.
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 5:18 PM   #4
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Your complaint about the Superzooms are not going to go away. Some say youcan get use to the "slowness" but I say slow today is slow tomorrow.



Personally I am trying to find a shirt pocket sized camera as a carry around camera and I can not find one that I am totally happy with because of the speed issues. The superzooms are not much faster than the pocket cameras.



I say stick with the dSLR.

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Old Aug 6, 2008, 5:58 PM   #5
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I think the fastest of the superzooms is the FZ-18. I have the Olympus SP-560 and it's faster than its predecessor, the 550, but it is like a tortoise compared with DSLR's. The FZ-18's biggest problem is it's not great at ISO's above 400.

I have a Pentax K2000d, too. Just got it. On Saturday, took a boat cruise on a lake. Nearby were hydroplane races. Overhead, the Blue Angel aerobatics team was zooming back and forth. Movement was extremely fast. I got some good shots with the K200d. I never could have focused fast enough with the SP-560 except for distant shots.
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 6:45 PM   #6
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Upsidedown-

I always seem to be the person on the minority side of the issue. But I am willing to give it a good try. I am a professional digital camera instructor. Therefore, I both teach and use DSLR cameras and digicams.

At age 73 I have become tired of carrying a huge camera kit with multiple lenses and the necessary external flashes and the like. So personally when, I am out and about at home, I carry a good ultra-zoom camera. When I am working, teaching digital cameras on cruise ships, I may take a DSLR, an all purpose lens, and external flash with me as I did on the 2008 World Cruise. I just returned from 3 months "on the road" where I carried a super-zoom, and external flash and was equally as happy.

A lot of what you really have to think about is what kind of photos you are taking. I like, use, and can get a lot out of a good external flash, be it with an ultra zoom like the Canon S-5 or a DSLR camera.

But at least for me, it comes down to what you want to carry, in terms of weight, what kind of photos you are taking, and I point to the fact that you mention, in your opening post, that you are at a point in life where you want convenience, such as shooting on auto and the like. Therefore, I would say that you should own up to (a) the kind of photos that you might like to take. (b) How much weight you want in your camera kit. And finally, (c) if you need a camera with fast action and superior handling (which would dictate more a DSLR rather than an ultra zoom. And most important of all (d) what is a very realistic budget for this new equipment.

At my age dragging along less equipment is better. Therefore, I am one of the posters on this forum who is happy to use all in one lenses on DSLR cameras, and matching that lens with a very effective external flash. However, in all fairness, you can achieve virtually the same photos with an ultra zoom if you are willing to accept the ISO limitations of a CCD versus the greater flexibility of an APS-C imager.

So IMHO, this discussion goes well beyond just how a camera feels in hand, the kit weight, the convenience, and what you want to shoot also comes into play big time with equal importance. So, if I have no other request, it is that all issues that play into this camera decision should be on the table and open to discussion.

How we make our judgements also plays into this decision. Ultra-zooms just like DSLR cameras have also become a great deal more able in the last few years. As proof, take a look at the attached photo. It was taken without flash, therefore existing light, under flourescent lighting in a doctor's office with a $(US) 260.00 Kodak Z-1012. Some times LESS is better. However, my intent is not to sway you, toward ultra-zooms, but to get you the really right camera for you.

So, please give us some examples of the kind of photos you like to take, and then we will go from there.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 6:50 PM   #7
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Upsidedown-

Here is another ultra-zoom photo taken with a Sony H-3. Is this something along the lines of the photos that you want to take?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 6:52 PM   #8
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Upsidedown-

Here is another ultra-zoom photo taken without flash, hand held, at ISO 800 with a Panasonic TZ-5. Is this anything at all like the photos that you want to take?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 6, 2008, 6:56 PM   #9
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Upsidedown-

It is posted photos that make the REAL difference. I can supply just about any photo that you might need, but the point that I am attempting to make is that ultra-zooms are no slouches at all. Tke a look at this one!??

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Old Aug 6, 2008, 7:48 PM   #10
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All good points by everyone. I have spent about 4 hours in two different stores today and my reaction is as follows:

Olympus SP-570UZ. Tried in to different stores. Way too slow. Did not like the fake mechanical zoom. I am sure it takes good pictures but did not feel right for me. Dim viewfinder.

Sony H50 - Better than Olympus. Much better electronic viewfinder. Seems a little faster than Olympus.

Nikon P80. Nothing Special.

Canon S5-IS. The last camera I tried of the SZ's. Seems faster than any of the others. May be an option. Still not as fast as dSLR.

dSLRs:

Canon XSi. Tried in too different stores and I really want a reason not to buy this, but I can't find one (besides price).

Nikon D60. Seems good, but Canon felt better in my hands. Reviews suggest XSi is slightly better camera.

Sony a200. I really want to like this but just feels "too thick". Camera store guy really likes this and incredible value (2 lens kit at $599).

Nikon D80. Too big and given the point on my existing Nikon lens, no real reason for met to get this.

So I am holding myself back from getting an XSi, and hoping I will love the Panasonic FZ18 which I haven't tried yet.

I will use this thread to track my decision, and hopefully come to a decision in a few weeks.

As to mtclimber and the types of photos I like to take, very varied from snapshots of my kids to scenery. I will say that all your photos are quite exquisite.

Thanks for the input
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