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Old Aug 29, 2008, 12:12 AM   #1
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Looking to buy my first DSLR.

After a lot of research I have narrowed it down to...

Pentax K200D
Canon XTi
Canon XSi

I will mainly be shooting wildlife (white-tailed deer). By the nature of my subject a good portion of the shooting will take place during times of low(er) light. I will also be doing a lot of the shooting from a distance, therefore I will be getting a ~300mm lens.

I am leaning towards the Pentax... shake reduction, sealed body...

The live view on the XSi does not really do anything for me.


I guess my main question is...

Will noise levels be acceptable on the Pentax in low light?
For reference most of my deer photography would occur between sunrise and 1-2 hours thereafter, and 1-2 hours before sunset until (obviously) sunset.
I also don't anticipate printing anything larger than 8x10 on a regular basis.

Thanks for any input, Stephen
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 1:34 AM   #2
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I have a K200d. I like it. It's built like a tank, has sensor based image stabilization, and can work with lots and lots of old lenses. However, from what I have read, the XSi is slightly better in low light.

I am wondering why you are not considering the Sony A200. Same sensor as the Pentax. Cheaper. ISO 3200 setting available.
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 7:12 AM   #3
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Unfortunately, the Pentax doesn't have a great selection of lenses for what you want to do. You'll need a large aperture lens for low light, and while there will soon be 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses from both Sigma and Tamron, they aren't real sharp and they aren't as long as you say you'd like.

Canon also has a better autofocus system for low light, which will make your job easier.

And while Sony has lenses for what you want to do, they are very expensive.
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 7:40 AM   #4
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TCav wrote:
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Unfortunately, the Pentax doesn't have a great selection of lenses for what you want to do. You'll need a large aperture lens for low light, and while there will soon be 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses from both Sigma and Tamron, they aren't real sharp and they aren't as long as you say you'd like.
Based on one review I saw, the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 optical performance can match or exceed the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM. I wouldn't call that "not real sharp". ;-)

The major downside to it was slower AF speed (because it's in lens focus motor in Nikon and Canon mounts isn't as fast as Canon's ring USM or Nikon's AF-S). But, on a Pentax or Sony body, the camera body's focus motor will be used instead. We'll have to wait for it to start shipping in these mounts to better judge it's AF performance on these bodies.

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Old Aug 29, 2008, 7:59 AM   #5
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JimC wrote:
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TCav wrote:
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Unfortunately, the Pentax doesn't have a great selection of lenses for what you want to do. You'll need a large aperture lens for low light, and while there will soon be 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses from both Sigma and Tamron, they aren't real sharp and they aren't as long as you say you'd like.
Based on one review I saw, the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 optical performance can match or exceed the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM.
That would be tough, but I look forward to being wrong!
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 8:27 AM   #6
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JimC wrote:
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But, on a Pentax or Sony body, the camera body's focus motor will be used instead. We'll have to wait for it to start shipping in these mounts to better judge it's AF performance on these bodies.

Jim - I agree with your assessment. The Tamron by several accounts is indeed very sharp. What I would point out though is that at least the Pentax focus system is not in the same league as Sony or Canon. So, I would still take the overall Canon solution over the Pentax solution with Tamron lens.

So, if the question were simply - will the Tamron lens work better on Pentax than it does on Canon, it would be an interesting discussion.

Now, Sony has a better focus system. So I think it will be more interesting to see how a Sony with Tamron would compete with Canon. That might be a very viable lower cost solution than the more expensive Canon solution.

The challenge is: how well a given solution performs in continuous focus and focus tracking. That's something you don't see in standard reviews at all. You get a lot of "well I shot this car or my dog" threads but typically from people that have no reference point - they've never shot action before and never used other cameras / lenses. So no frame of reference.

So really the best you can hope for is an experienced sports shooter will provide a review and some galleries (preferably from multiple sports) to judge by. I doubt you'll get an experienced review from a wildliffe shooter as 70-200 is just too short for wildlife.

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Old Aug 29, 2008, 8:44 AM   #7
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Yep.. For Deer photography, he's probably going to want a longer lens. I really wouldn't expect AF speed to be a big issue though (as long as the camera's AF sensors are up to locking focus in lower light) since I suspect they'll be relatively stationary when taking photos of them.

I was just disagreeing with the statement about the Tamron being "not real sharp".

I'm keeping an eye on that Tamron, since it appears to be a real bargain for optical performance. Frankly, one of my slower focusing lenses is an old Tamron SP 35-105mm f/2.8; and I've been pleasantly surprised at it's AF speed on my A700, even using it indoors (for example, I took some photos with it at a kid's basketball game earlier in the year at ISO 3200 with my A700; and I wasn't able to get away with that using my slower focusing Maxxum 5D). Of course, my 100mm f/2 had a higher "hit rate". lol The body improvements in my A700 (as compared to my older Maxxum 5D) makes a big difference in lens usability.

So, I expect this new Tamron is probably going to be as good or better for AF speed. Of course, that's only speculation, and we'll have to wait and see how it works in this area after it starts shipping in Sony mount.


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Old Aug 29, 2008, 10:58 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies so far.

As for why I did not consider the Sony... reviews that I have found show them to have more high iso noise problems than a lot of other entry level DSLRs....and then there is the whole expensive lens thing that was mentioned.

Another thing I should have mentioned...

I, like so many others am on a budget...so top quality glass isn't an issue at present.
Basically, I am looking for an image stabilized ~300mm rig.

Pentax has the in body stabilization.....
Canon....well I would have to spend $550 for ~300mm IS

I need the IS, because many of my shots will be taken without the aid of a tripod (I know, LIMITATION!) I will however have a camera "rest" to work with 90% of the time.

Thanks again for your insight!

Stephen
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 11:07 AM   #9
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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.
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Old Aug 29, 2008, 11:12 AM   #10
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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.
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