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Old Aug 29, 2008, 12:17 PM   #11
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To be clear by the way - that $500 canon lens (presumably 70-30 IS USM) is going to have difficulties with your task. Not saying your task is impossible or you need to spend thousands of dollars but be advised - those who DO make a hobby do end up spending thousands on the lens(es) precisely for that reason - you need a LOT of focal length, great sharpness, great focus ability and for a lot more money wide apertures (at least f4).
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 12:28 PM   #12
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By the way, if I am wrong about the high noise level issues with the Sony, by all means set me straight. I like everything else about the camera and would love to add another camera choice.
Most of the differences you see between current dSLR models is the sophistication of their noise reduction algorithms. I'd probably give a slight edge to Nikon and Canon in that area with an equivalent sensor resolution. Sony's NR tends to be a tad more aggressive if you have Noise Reduction turned on. There are pros and cons to that approach. But, you're really not talking about a lot of difference between them. BTW, the K200D you're looking at is using a Sony 10MP sensor (as do the Nikon D80, D60 and D40x models).

Here are some full size images of the same subjects in the same lighting at imaging-resource.com, all taken with the aperture set to f/8. Keep in mind that these are far larger on screen than you're likely to print at.

Rebel XSi at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 3200
(note that ISO 3200 is not available on the Rebel XTi or XSi).

Pentax K200D at ISO 1600

It doesn't look like Dave tested the K200D at ISO 3200.

If I were choosing between the Pentax K200D and Sony A200, I'd go Sony. The Sony has a faster and more sensitive Autofocus System, as well as faster write speed to memory cards (you can shoot at 3fps per second until a fast memory card is full at it's highest jpeg quality). It also has the ability to use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made. With Pentax, your choices in used Autofocus lenses are far more limited. On the plus side, you have the ability to use many Pentax manual focus lenses that are easily available on the used market if you want that.

Between the Canon XSi and Sony A200, I'd still go Sony, since the Canon doesn't have an available ISO 3200 setting if you need it. You don't want to use it unless you have to. But, sometimes, a bit more noise is better than motion blur. ;-)

But, I'm probably biased, since I shoot with a Sony A700 now. The Canon is a very good camera.

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Old Aug 29, 2008, 12:53 PM   #13
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JohnG wrote:
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whatnoise wrote:
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Pentax has the in body stabilization.....
Canon....well I would have to spend $550 for ~300mm IS


Stephen,

You are shooting wildlife at low light levels. I want to be clear on this point - don't expect a $200 lens to do well IN ANY SYSTEM. You're balking at spending $500 for a wildlife lens - and camera system asside, you need to prepare yourself for disappointment. In good lighting conditions the consumer lenses can do a decent job - not great, but decent. You're talking low light levels. So, the consumer lenses are really going to show their problems.

Now, if you go Pentax, you're also going to exacerbate focus difficulties the Pentax . So, if you're going to go Pentax for IS I would strongly suggest getting a lens with manual focus override so you can manually focus when needed.

But you need to get your expectations correct - while you may have a budget that doesn't mean there is a soluton that will produce great results within that budget. So you may have to accept very mediocre results until you can afford better. That's the problem with choosing challenging hobbies like wildlife photography.
I am by no means expecting miracles... I just want the best results available at my price point. I am not expecting an entry level DSLR to deliver National Geographic quality shots.

For reference I will be moving up from a Panasonic FZ5 that I have had for several years. I have gotten a few acceptable (to me) shots with it. I want more acceptable shots, at a higher frequency. I just want something that will give me a very noticeable PQ improvement over the Panny....which these cameras should do easily.

Basically, I won't "cheap out", and then complain that the set up isn't delivering astonishing photos at every click.

Thanks again

Stephen
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 12:59 PM   #14
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JimC wrote:
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By the way, if I am wrong about the high noise level issues with the Sony, by all means set me straight. I like everything else about the camera and would love to add another camera choice.
Most of the differences you see between current dSLR models is the sophistication of their noise reduction algorithms. I'd probably give a slight edge to Nikon and Canon in that area with an equivalent sensor resolution. Sony's NR tends to be a tad more aggressive if you have Noise Reduction turned on. There are pros and cons to that approach. But, you're really not talking about a lot of difference between them. BTW, the K200D you're looking at is using a Sony 10MP sensor (as do the Nikon D80, D60 and D40x models).

Here are some full size images of the same subjects in the same lighting at imaging-resource.com, all taken with the aperture set to f/8. Keep in mind that these are far larger on screen than you're likely to print at.

Rebel XSi at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 3200
(note that ISO 3200 is not available on the Rebel XTi or XSi).

Pentax K200D at ISO 1600

It doesn't look like Dave tested the K200D at ISO 3200.

If I were choosing between the Pentax K200D and Sony A200, I'd go Sony. The Sony has a faster and more sensitive Autofocus System, as well as faster write speed to memory cards (you can shoot at 3fps per second until a fast memory card is full at it's highest jpeg quality). It also has the ability to use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made. With Pentax, your choices in used Autofocus lenses are far more limited. On the plus side, you have the ability to use many Pentax manual focus lenses that are easily available on the used market if you want that.

Between the Canon XSi and Sony A200, I'd still go Sony, since the Canon doesn't have an available ISO 3200 setting if you need it. You don't want to use it unless you have to. But, sometimes, a bit more noise is better than motion blur. ;-)

But, I'm probably biased, since I shoot with a Sony A700 now. The Canon is a very good camera.
Thanks, that helps....biased or not
Also it seems that by shooting in raw I can avoid some of the "slop" in the noise reduction on the Sony.

Hmm....Sony..........

Thanks,

Stephen
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 1:11 PM   #15
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Keep what John said in mind about lens quality.

I see you're using a Panasonic with a lens that's relatively bright.

A "budget" 300mm zoom is going to have a widest available aperture of f/5.6 on it's long end. The lens on your Panasonic is almost 3 times as bright on it's long end.

So, if you needed ISO 400 to get acceptable shutter speeds with your Panasonic in low light conditions, you'd have to shoot at ISO 800 or ISO 1600 to get acceptable shutter speeds with most zooms that are likely to be in your price range.

Also, most of the budget zooms that reach out to 300mm tend to be a tad softer on their long end (which means you may need to stop down the aperture more for better sharpness, slowing down your shutter speed even more).

There's no easy way to do it on a limited budget for the type of shooting you want to do. Any choice is going to be a compromise in one area or another.


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Old Aug 29, 2008, 1:22 PM   #16
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Also keep in mind that test shots at a higher ISO speed in well lit conditions with relatively even lighting, isn't the same as shots where you have more graduations in light levels leading into deeper shadows.

That's why you see higher noise levels in the shadow areas of those samples. So, just because you think the higher ISO speeds look OK in the samples, doesn't mean you want to use them if you don't have to in real world conditions. ;-)

Of course, viewing/print sizes also comes into the equation (don't judge the quality by what a photo looks like at 100% viewing size on screen).

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Old Aug 29, 2008, 1:58 PM   #17
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For deer in low light, you need a long fast lens, and Pentax is at a disadvantage there. There's the Sigma 100-300mm f/4.0 for $1,100. While it is a very good lens, and might be great for what you want to do, it's available for any camera body, so it's not a reason to choose one camera over another. But the version for Canon and Nikon have the HSM AF motor for $100 more, and that might be worth it.
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 2:14 PM   #18
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JimC wrote:
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Keep what John said in mind about lens quality.

I see you're using a Panasonic with a lens that's relatively bright.

A "budget" 300mm zoom is going to have a widest available aperture of f/5.6 on it's long end. The lens on your Panasonic is almost 3 times as bright on it's long end.

So, if you needed ISO 400 to get acceptable shutter speeds with your Panasonic in low light conditions, you'd have to shoot at ISO 800 or ISO 1600 to get acceptable shutter speeds with most zooms that are likely to be in your price range.

Also, most of the budget zooms that reach out to 300mm tend to be a tad softer on their long end (which means you may need to stop down the aperture more for better sharpness, slowing down your shutter speed even more).

There's no easy way to do it on a limited budget for the type of shooting you want to do. Any choice is going to be a compromise in one area or another.

Boy, just when I was getting all excited.....now you have me second guessing myself.

Ok time for an impromtu "fictional" real world comparison...

Cameras.... Sony A200 w/ budget ~300mm lens Panasonic FZ28

It is 1 hour before sunset
Both cameras at the same focal length
aperture wide open (relative to capabilities)

which camera takes the better pic?

I am assuming the Sony, however what you stated has me not so sure of my logic. :?

My logic being based around the following principle...
Quoted from The Tech Corner of Steve's Digicams

"Nearly any dSLR will beat a compact camera as far as overall image quality is concerned. dSLR cameras have much larger image sensors which allow them to capture photos with less noise and more dynamic range. A typical dSLR can shoot in darker conditions using ISO 400 and produce photos at higher quality (with less noise) than a typical compact shooting the same scene. In fact, most dSLR's have less noise at ISO 400 or even ISO 800 than a compact camera shooting at ISO 100! That's the price you pay for using a small camera with a small lens and a small sensor."

Oh woe is me......
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 2:21 PM   #19
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whatnoise wrote:
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Ok time for an impromtu "fictional" real world comparison...

Cameras.... Sony A200 w/ budget ~300mm lens Panasonic FZ28

It is 1 hour before sunset
Both cameras at the same focal length
aperture wide open (relative to capabilities)

which camera takes the better pic?
Assuming a still, non moving subject the Sony probably will. But the real question is: how much better? That's a tough one. It will be somewhat better but perhaps not leaps and bounds better.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Let me also throw this out. One MAJOR problem people have when they try to do wildlife shooting is they tend to overcrop their images. Especially at higher ISOs you can't do that. Which is why people find 300mm a bit short for wildlife shooting. So keep that in mind. But assuming you're good enough to get close enough for the 300mm to work the DSLR will outperform your current kit but in the low light conditions you may be disappointed by how little the gap is given the lens on your current digicam.
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 2:44 PM   #20
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JohnG wrote:
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"Let me also throw this out. One MAJOR problem people have when they try to do wildlife shooting is they tend to overcrop their images. Especially at higher ISOs you can't do that. Which is why people find 300mm a bit short for wildlife shooting. So keep that in mind. But assuming you're good enough to get close enough for the 300mm to work the DSLR will outperform your current kit but in the low light conditions you may be disappointed by how little the gap is given the lens on your current digicam.
That's another area of concern...cropping....

My thought process would lead me to believe the DSLR would lend itself to higher quality crops, because the image will have lower noise levels.

And I definitely have no problem with getting close to my subject. I am actually first and foremost a hunter, so the ability to get close has been overcome. In fact just a few weeks ago I had 2 fawns at 10-15 ft, but my camera was several thousand feet away....in the truck

I may also be putting too much emphasis on low light as well. I will have many opportunities to shoot in good light also.


Maybe I won't pull all of my hair out now.

I think I'll go to the local electronics store and handle a few cameras to help me in the process.

Thanks again

Stephen


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