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Old Sep 6, 2008, 2:56 PM   #11
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nev81 wrote:
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2) An A300 would suit me better than a A350:

- Based on what you say and what is mentioned in the links, the A350 captures poorer images than A300 because is it shipped with a poorer lens (to keep the cost down). I also read that I can buy the A350 body alone. So could I still get the A350 body and buy a good lens instead of the one they provide by default? (I saw that both of them almost cost the same).
The basic lens is the same for the A300 and the A350. The point is that the A350 is better than the lens, while the A300 isn't.

And, yes, you can get the A350 body andthe $700 Zeiss 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5.

nev81 wrote:
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3) A 55-200 mm lens should be enough. 70-300 mm lens is not needed:

- I can see why you would recommend that. I guess the 70-300 mm would be more expensive, bulkier and may be even more difficult to take steady pictures. If these are the only reasons why you are recommending the 55-200, I would rather get the 70-300 mm lens (provided they are not more than 200 bucks of the 55-200 lens). Would the quality of images taken depreciate if I get a larger lens?
The 55-200 is pretty good throughout its range, whereas the 75-300 is pretty soft and has a lot of chromatic aberration past 200mm.

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And thanks a lot for explaining about the "X" factor. I understand the theory much better now but still a little hazy. For example, assume I am on the shore taking a picture of a ship. If I zoom fully to 12x on my S3 IS, I know how much of the ship would occupy my image. If I want the ship to occupy the same space on my image, what size of lens should I get for the A350 (assuming me and the ship are at the same positions)? I hope you understand what I am trying to convey. I apologize for using amateur, layman terms.
The Canon S3 IS has a maximum focal length of 72mm, which, because of its smaller image sensor, is equivalent to432mm on a 35mm film camera, which would be equivalent to 288mm on a Sony, Pentax or Nikon dSLR, 270mm on a Canon or 216mm on an Olympus.
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 3:40 PM   #12
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1) So although A300 and A350 use the same lens, A300 would capture better pictures just because A350 is a better camera. I am too amateur to understand that but I shall take your word for that. So I guess you are suggesting me to get a A300. $700 for a lens might be too much I would like to spend right now.

2) Thanks for the advice on getting a 55-200mm lens. I shall get a bigger lens later, if I ever feel the need.

3) So based on your calculations, a 200mm lens on the Sony should be approximately 8.3x on the S3 IS. I guess that should suffice for now.

So you have any suggestions on types of lens I should get? I guess I should get one 18-55 mm and one 55-200mm. Should I be looking for any specific feature? Any suggestions on the brand and lens model? I don't want to spend a lot on lens but if its worth spending $200 bucks more for a specific brand, I shall go for it.

Any good stores where I can the camera and lens? Some store which is cheap and fairly reliable.

Thanks,
Nev
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 4:01 PM   #13
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What's your total budget?

If you're trying to keep it relatively tight to start out with, you can get a Sony A300 kit including the 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 and 55-200mm f/4-5.6 lenses for $699.99 now, including shipping from a vendor like buydig.com (a reputable vendor):

http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=SNDSLRA300X

That's about what the A350 body only would cost you. ;-)

So, from my perspective, that's giving you a lot more "bang for the buck".

On the other hand, the 18-70mm is not a super high quality lens (you can't expect a pro grade lens since they're virtually giving it away in this kit).

Another option would be something like the A300 kit with the 18-70mm, and then get a longer lens to go with it for more focal range later (either used or new). Or, an A350 body only for about $100 more if you prefer the higher resolution model. I'm probably being a bit harsh on it. But, I just don't see most users needing a 14MP camera. 10MP is plenty of resolution for most purposes and the A300 is a lower priced camera model.

If you want something closer to convenience of your S3 IS, another option would be to get an "all in one' lens solution like a Sony or Tamron 18-250mm (which would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 27-375mm lens on a 35mm camera). Figure around $500 for a lens like that. So, you'd have around $1100 in an A300 package with one (or $100 more for the A350). The A300 doesn't come body only, so you'd have a spare 18-70mm with it (although it's not worth much).

These types of lenses (Tamron or Sony 18-250mm) have some drawbacks (for example, you'll usually get higher quality using more than one lens to cover the same focal range). But, they're very convenient so that you're not carrying more than one lens with you and don't have a need to swap lenses. Center sharpness is actually pretty good with it (although it's got a bit higher distortion and corner softness than some lenses, you may not even care about that. It's all subjective, and any lens choice is going to be a compromise in one area or another.

IOW, you tend to start "splitting hairs" for most commonly used purposes when comparing these models, unless you plan on buying higher quality lenses, as you may not even notice much difference at most viewing/print sizes, whereas reviewers are looking at images at 100% viewing size on screen (much larger than you'd normally view or print an image).

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I think I am almost set to get a A350. How come none of you mentioned about Nikon? Is it because you think I wouldn't use those features given my experience? Or is it because Nikon has too much hype and Sony is almost as good?
Well.. most of the entry level Nikon models are using Sony sensors anyway (for example, the D40 uses a Sony 6MP sensor, with the D40x and D60 using Sony 10MP sensors. The Sony models tend to be a bit more full featured for the same price. For example, a more advanced 9 point Autofocus system, the ability to shoot raw + jpeg fine if desired (whereas the entry level Nikons only have a jpeg basic option if you want to shoot raw at the same time), the ability to wirelessly control a compatible external Sony flash via the built in flash and more.

The Sony models are also compatible with any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made, and they're all stabilized, thanks to the in body stabilization system. With the entry level NIkon models, you're limited to lenses with built in focus motors if you want Autofocus (although choices are improving for them all the time, you'd rule out being able to use a number of Nikon Autofocus lenses if you want Autofocus with them). On the other hand, some users prefer Nikon's image processing and some of the available Nikkor lenses. It's all subjective.

Note that I'm probably a bit biased though (since I shoot with a Sony A700 right now). ;-)

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I did not like the features of the Nikons but Nikon D90 seems tempting with its live view and movie recording. I don't think I would get it just because of its sheer price but do you have any thoughts?
The new Nikon D90 is using a Sony 12MP sensor (as does the Sony A700). It's a little higher end model compared to the cameras you're looking at now. Make sure to try out live view in a store with any model you consider, as the Sony models are *much* better than any other current cameras in this area right now. Note that the D90 may be a little better compared to the other models with Live View like the D300, as I haven't spent any time with a D90 yet. But, I wouldn't count on a lot of improvement in that area. Live View on most dSLR models (other than the Sony A300 and A350) tends to leave a lot to be desired.

Sony doesn't have a model out with live view using it's 12MP sensor (yet, anyway). The movie recording is an interesting feature with the D90. But, keep in mind that you don't have any Autofocus when recording movie clips with this new Nikon. From a noise perspective, it's Sony 12MP sensor is a little better than the sensors in the cameras you're looking at now though, and Nikon did a real good job with image processing and noise reduction in it's D300 using this sensor, so I expect the same thing will be true with the new D90.

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Old Sep 6, 2008, 4:14 PM   #14
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It looks like you were editing your last post while I was typing (and had already quoted what you had in it to begin with).

I was probably a bit harsh on the A350. I just don't see most users being able to take advantage of a 14MP sensor, especially since they'd be spending more money to get it. It's probably unfair to say you'd get worse images with it at a given viewing/print size. I just don't see getting better images with it at most viewing/print sizes, unless you plan on buying better lenses later, and 10MP is plenty of resolution for most users. If you look at controlled conditions tests for things like Signal to Noise ratio, the A300 tests a little better at higher ISO speeds. But, there's not a lot of difference between them (probably about 1/3 stop), and if you downsize the A350's photos to the same size, you'd probably be hard pressed to see any difference. If you do plan on getting better lenses, then I'd leave that option on the table, depending on budget.

As for vendors, you're not going to see much (if any) difference in the price of Sony Alpha dSLR models at reputable vendors. When you start seeing much lower prices than you find at sonystyle.com, you're probably dealing with a scam artist. I'd look for deals that offer things like free shipping, instead.

http://www.buydig.com is a reputable vendor with free shipping on many items like the Sony dSLR models (but, they don't have a selection of lenses and accessories as large as some of the other stores).

Another vendor that's hard to go wrong with is http://www.bhphotovideo.com

For used gear (lenses and more), check out http://www.keh.com as well as the used department at http://www.bhphotovideo.com

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Old Sep 6, 2008, 4:17 PM   #15
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nev81 wrote:
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1) So although A300 and A350 use the same lens, A300 would capture better pictures just because A350 is a better camera.
The Sony 18-70 lens is sharper than the 10MP image sensor can pick up, so the camera is the limiting factor. Not so with the 14MP image sensor in the A350. So the lens is the limiting factor.

nev81 wrote:
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3) So based on your calculations, a 200mm lens on the Sony should be approximately 8.3x on the S3 IS. I guess that should suffice for now.

So you have any suggestions on types of lens I should get? I guess I should get one 18-55 mm and one 55-200mm. Should I be looking for any specific feature? Any suggestions on the brand and lens model? I don't want to spend a lot on lens but if its worth spending $200 bucks more for a specific brand, I shall go for it.
Based on the info you've given so far, I don't have a feel for which way you're going, so I wouldn't recommend anything. I've provided some info about what's available and why you might pick one over another, but the decision is yours. You don't seem to have any requirements that would suggest that you would be better served by one brand over another.

Generally, you look at which brand of camera has the types of lenses that will satisfy your requirements, and then pick acamera that those lenses will connect to. You don't have any special requirements, so it really comes down to your preferences. Which feels best to you? Do you want image stabilization? Optical (lens) or sensor shift (body)? Do you want 'Live View'?

nev81 wrote:
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Any good stores where I can the camera and lens? Some store which is cheap and fairly reliable.
Go to a good local camera store. Handle the cameras you're considering. Try them out. Take some photos. See how you like them. If you can't comfortable hold a camera, if you can't find the controls and commands when you need them, your're going to miss some shots.
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 4:34 PM   #16
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TCav has a good point. Try them out in a store to get a better idea of how they compare.

Unless someone has any special requirements (for example, sports, existing light shooting without a flash or similar), what I generally suggest if someone isn't sure what they need, is to stick with the low cost kits to start out with.

That way, they can get a better feel for where they're running into any limitations, without spending a lot of money up front. Then, they can make better informed decisions on what may work best for them later (brighter, longer, higher quality, etc.). Any choice is going to be a compromise in one area or another (taking things like size/weight, cost and convenience into consideration, too).

You don't want to buy expensive lenses, just to find out you don't want to lug them around because they're too heavy, or not the right focal range, or not bright enough, etc. ;-)


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Old Sep 6, 2008, 8:19 PM   #17
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Hi Jim and TCav,

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I had gone to CircuitCity this evening and checked out the Sony A350, A300, Nikon D80 and Canon EOS. I think all of them were good to handle. Of course, I was a little biased for Sony, so I thought the tilting LCD was great. I liked the live view too. Image quality was something I cannot check at a store, so I have no comments on that. The guy at the store seemed to lean towards the Canon though. There was a package deal at $949 for Sony A350 + 18-55 mm lens + 70-300 mm lens. The Sony A300 was $599 for the body + 18-55 mm lens. Buydig for $699 (A300 + 18-70mm lens + 55-200mm lens) is a much better deal. I think I like the camera; so if you say YES, I will go ahead and order it today. Don't worry, I won't hold you liable if the camera isn't good

Thanks again to both you guys. You have been very helpful with your professional advices. Its so hard for people like to me to choose cameras based on sheer specifications. It was things like "best bang for the buck", etc which I was looking for and I think I got them in this forum.

I also need some help with the accesories I would need. So is the $699 deal a very good deal? Have you seen anything better? Do you think it is worth waiting for a better deal? (I'm too eager to order it today )

Thanks,
Nev
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 8:46 PM   #18
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I'm beginning to think someone forgot to update the price after a promotion was finished or something, since I see that kit is $799 elsewhere now. But, it's $699 at buydig.com right this minute (and it's very unusual to see one vendor lower than another on Sony Alpha products right now, unless they're not a reputable vendor, and buydig.com is a reputable vendor).

http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=SNDSLRA300X

That's a pretty good deal on that kit. They have specials from time to time at http://www.sonystyle.com and the retailers generally follow the same prices on Sony dSLR models. So, it may be less later. You never know about these things. Supply and Demand.

At that buydig.com price, you're only spending $100 more for the two lens kit compared to the kit with the 18-70mm going that route. That Sony 55-200mm lens normally sells for around $229 by itself at most vendors (which is why the kit price with the A300 including it is $799 at most vendors right now, versus $599 for the A300 with the 18-70mm alone).

I doubt you're going to do any better on a similar kit. If I didn't like the lenses for any reason, I'd just sell 'em on Ebay, or just keep them as spares and buy something else later. You don't have to buy everything at once. ;-)

You'll have to decide for yourself if that's the way you want to go. Any of the camera models from a major manufacturer is capable of taking great photos in most conditions. Your skill using the camera is the most important part in getting good photos.


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Old Sep 6, 2008, 9:12 PM   #19
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That deal looks good to me too. Jump on it before they change their mind.

I don't generally endorse the practice of going into a store to try out the equipment and then buying on line, but since it was Circuit City, I'm ok with it.
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Old Sep 6, 2008, 9:30 PM   #20
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Circuit City has that same kit on their web site (for $799.99, just like all of the other vendors right now, unless you're looking at prices from scammers):

Sony DSLR-A300X kit at Circuitcity.com for $799.99

Sony frowns upon dealers selling at lower than suggested list prices on their Alpha models. So, I doubt that buydig.com price is going to stay that way for long, unless sonystyle.com lowers their price on that kit, too.



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