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Old Sep 28, 2008, 3:17 PM   #1
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hello everyone.

let me start by saying that I've been a faithful reader of this forum for a couple of years now (I even subscribe to it, rss or what's it called), but, because I've never really had anything to contribute with for current discussions, I hadn't yet taken the time to register.

I did register today to start off by asking for some advice. while I've used slrs, bridges and dslrs, I've just now decided to take the plunge into owning a dslr myself, since I've been shooting more and more and I like how instantaneous and comfortable a dslr feels. I'm an all-around weekend shooter, advanced amateur, I guess, and don't own any equipment worth using or mentioning for the plunge, so I'm starting fresh anyway.

I don't plan to buy a new body or new lenses every few years. my idea is to get a really good all-around lens, which will be used about 70% of the time (landscape, portrait, monuments, travel, and so forth). preferably with a range of around 24mm (I like wide angle) to around 100mm on 35mm-equivalent terms. macro capability would be nice but definitely not a deal breaker. stabilization, sensor- or lens-based, would be nice. I'd also invest some money on a super-wide zoom (something beginning at 16 or 18mm in 35 mm-eq.) for specific occasions, like architecture or a candid portrait. then, a few more bucks on a tele, cause it's just more fun to shoot ducks this way than any other. not necessairly an expensive and bright lens, but nothing cheap or useless at longer focal lenghts either. something that would take me up to around 450mm or so (again in 35mm-equivalent terms). stabilization would be a must in this case.

other than that, I have no particular expectations, meaning any particular advantages to an option is a plus (low noise at high iso, fast/tracking af, dynamic range, etc - they're all equally important; only size/weight aren't an issue). the one thing that I do prize above anything else is image quality. I like them crisp and sharp, and being able to do some cropping often comes in handy.

also worth noting: I'm willing to spend around us$ 2000, or slightly over that, if it's worth it. I'm going to the US soon and I plan to get the whole kit as everything is so much cheaper there than in europe. and, because with 10mp+ I'm probably set for life (yeah right, that's what my friend said when he bought a nikon fm), backwards compatibility, future availability, market value and etc aren't an issue.

I've been reading a few reviews lately, but, so far, have no particular likes or dislikes. any pointing in any direction would be greatly appreciated.

cheers,

freddie l.
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Old Sep 28, 2008, 5:16 PM   #2
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What cameras are you already familiar with?

Do you think you'd prefer one you alreadty have some experience with?
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Old Sep 28, 2008, 5:34 PM   #3
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Is that a 1,2 or 3 lens budget? Makes quite a difference obviously.

I think your pricepoint puts in a slightly difficult position. You'll be wanting more than entry level, but don't have enough to go semi-pro.

I think the Nikon D90 + 18-105 VR kit ($1300) + 70-300 VR lens ($500) will fit the bill nicely.

Leaves you a bit extra to choose a dedicated macro or ultra wide down the road.

Check out the review on the new 18-105 VR - looks good:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1221/cat/13

I don't see anything else that I'd put in the same class at the moment.

If you had a bit less to spend I'd suggest the Canon XSi or a bit more and I'd suggest the Canon 50D or Sony A700. Nikon and Canon tend to interleave their models and you hit the D90 sweet spot.
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Old Sep 28, 2008, 7:28 PM   #4
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freddie L. wrote:
Quote:
I don't plan to buy a new body or new lenses every few years. my idea is to get a really good all-around lens, which will be used about 70% of the time (landscape, portrait, monuments, travel, and so forth). preferably with a range of around 24mm (I like wide angle) to around 100mm on 35mm-equivalent terms. macro capability would be nice but definitely not a deal breaker.
That's going to limit your choices (a lens with that much focal range starting out with the same angle of view you'd have with a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera).

On an entry level dSLR model using a Sony APS-C size sensor (most Nikon, Pentax and Sony dSLR models), you need to multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.5x to see how the angle of view compares. It's 1.6x on a Canon model with an APS-C size sensor.

For example, a 100mm lens on camera with a Sony APS-C size sensor would give you the same angle of view as a 150mm lens on a 35mm camera (100mm x 1.5x = 150mm). Most of the kit lenses will start out at around 18mm, which means that you'll have the same angle of view you'd have with a 27mm lens on a 35mm camera (not as wide as you want). You'd need a lens starting out at 16mm if you want the same angle of view you'd have using a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera.

In the Sony lineup, the best choice for a lens meeting the desired focal range would be the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* DT 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 AF lens. This lens would give you the same angle of view using a 24-120mm lens on a 35mm camera. It sells for around $699.

Sony also makes a 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DT AF Lens. It's quality isn't quite as good as the Zeiss, but it's got more focal range from wide to long, giving you the same angle of view you'd have using a 24-157mm lens on a 35mm camera. It's around $579 now.

On the longer end, the Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G SSM lens would be one to consider instead of the budget zoom choices from Sony and Tamron. It's currently running around $799 now. So, it's not cheap. I'd probably look for a used Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO AF lens if on a tighter budget.

On the wider end, you could get a Sony 11-18mm (around $649) or Tamron 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 AF lens for a little less when budget permits later.

The problem is that you'd run over budget with a model like the Sony A700, the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 and one other lens. Sony does have some less expensive models in the lineup, too (A200, A300, A350). I'd lean towards the A700. But, I shoot with one so I'm probably a bit biased in that direction.

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Old Sep 28, 2008, 7:46 PM   #5
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Nikon has a 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens now that would also fit the bill for the primary lens on a model like the Nikon D90 or D300, giving you roughly the same angle of view you'd have using a 24-127mm lens on a 35mm camera.

I think the closest thing Canon is going to have is their 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS lens. On a Canon model with an APS-C size sensor like the EOS-40D or 50D, multiply by 1.6x to see how they'd compare. So, with this 17-85mm lens, you'd have the same angle of view you'd have using a 27-136mm lens on a 35mm camera (not as wide as the choices I mentioned for Sony and Nikon models. Tokina makes a 16-50mm f/2.8 lens for Nikon and Canon models (but, that's not as long as you wanted to go)..

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Old Sep 28, 2008, 8:30 PM   #6
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hello everyone, and thanks for the replies.

TCav: I've used a few dslrs - most major brands, with sony being an exception -, but I honestly developed no preference to one in particular. I could perfectly well get used to any of them, and I certainly wouldn't mind getting one I've never handled.

peripatetic: that would be a 3 lens budget. ultimately, a total range of around 16 or 18mm to around 450mm (35mm eq.) would make me completely happy lens-wise. the d90 seems like a pretty interesting choice. a wide angle would probably throw the total budget to around 2300, but I think that's something to think about.

jimC: the 24mm eq. for the "all around" would be nice for when I'm carrying only one lens, but I could settle for it starting at 27mm, considering a super-wide angle is in my plans. the longer end isn't set in stone either, so a 16-50 is still an option, specially considering it does cover the wider part of a trip day.

again, thanks everyone. I'm going to take a closer look at the models suggested so far and I'll let you know how I feel about them as soon as I do. in the meantime, any other suggestions and considerations are more than welcome.

cheers,

freddie l.
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Old Sep 28, 2008, 11:30 PM   #7
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Another thought would be the Pentax K20, the kit lens (18-55 - make sure you get the version II, it's supposed to be a better lens, though I'm still using the older version), the DA55-300 and the Sigma 10-20. That gets you really wide angle (but not fish-eye) with the Sigma, the new DA55-300 seems to be pretty nice - the comparison shots I've seen taken with it have been consistently better than the Tamron 70-300 (or choose the Tamron, which has more of a macro capability and is cheaper). I just looked at B&H's website and you can get allwith $2,000. If you chose the Pentax 55-300 you would not have macro capability, but that's something you could always get later on (I bought my Vivitar Series One macro lens for $250 on ebay).

The K20 would give you 14 mp and weather sealing, which I've been very grateful for when shooting in the snow.
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Old Sep 29, 2008, 8:18 AM   #8
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There are a number of lenses that will do your "really good all-around lens", but, by all accounts,the best is the Carl Zeiss 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 for the Sony Alpha line of dSLRs. It has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-120mm, and is sharp as a tack.
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Old Sep 30, 2008, 12:40 AM   #9
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freddie,

welcome to the forum.

I've been considering switching systems from my current nikon d50 + kit lens (18-55) + tamron 70-300, and my priorities and budget seem somewhat close to yours. so I'm gonna lay out the options I've been considering along with what I consider to be the pros and cons of each one. prices are from b&h because they have most if not all of the equipment listed, but you can save a few bucks looking around.

- olympus e520 (550)
- olympus 12-60mm 2.8-4 (800)
- olympus 70-300mm 4-5.6 (325)
- olympus 9-18mm (600) (available in a few weeks)
total: us$ 2275
total range in 35mm eq.: 18-600

pros: very good "main" lens (cameralabs.com claims it's the best "general-purpose" lens they've ever tested), brighter than the competition, 24-120mm range; the 70-300 has been getting some pretty good reviews; longer end is 600mm eq.; 4:3 aspect ratio means you get an extra band of image above and below your typical 3:2 image (wider diagonal compared to other systems at a given 35mm eq. focal range); small, light body (worth mentioning though not really important for ya).
cons: built-in flash from the e520 will cast a shadow at wider angles with the 12-60; dynamic range is narrower than the competition (much improved on the e3, but that costs more than twice the e520); only 3 af points; below-average af tracking.

- nikon d90 (1000)
- nikkor 16-85 3.5-5.6 vr (560)
- nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 vr (470)
- sigma 10-20 4-5.6 (570)
total: us$ 2600
total range in 35mm eq.: 15-450

pros: good main lens according to slrgear.com, nice range (24-127); 3-inch 920kp lcd, which is bigger and with much higher resolution than any of the competition; optical shake reduction, except for the wide-angle (not really important imo); wider end is 15mm; 12mp sensor with an excellent review from dcresource.com; 1280x720 movie mode; relatively decent quality at 6400 iso.
cons: higher price tag (like I said, you should be able to find all of those for less). a tamron 11-18 could save you 105 bucks (465, total: 2495)

- sony a350 (700)
- zeiss 16-80 3.5-4.5 (700)
- konica-minolta 100-300 4.5-5.6 (used - 300?)
- sigma 10-20 4-5.6 (570)
total: us$ 2270?
total range in 35mm eq.: 15-450

pros: good main lens (some, like TCav said, say best in class; slrgear.com's test doesn't make you very excited about it though) with 24-120 range; 14mp, enabling slightly bigger prints and cropping; best live-view system in class; swivelling lcd.
cons: noise at high iso (noisier than the e520, judging from cameralabs.com samples); apart from an used KM 100-300, I couldn't find the ideal tele zoom (most of those available are too bad or too expensive).

- pentax k20d (1000)
- sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5 macro (400)
- pentax 55-300 4-5.8 (350)
- sigma 10-20 4-5.6 (570)
total: us$ 2320
total range in 35mm eq.: 15-450

pros: macro capability; excellent 14mp sensor according to dpreview.com; weather-sealed body; decent 6400 iso; nice dynamic range optimization and low noise.
cons: main lens slightly worse and less wide (25.5mm) than the others; somewhat expensive (picking a k200D instead will save you around 400 at the cost of 4mp and some features).

that's what I have for now; they're in no particular order. I'm personally leaving canon out (for me) because you can't go wider than 27mm with an "all-around" lens. this isn't meant to be a comprehensive review; these are merely my personal notes on them. anyone should feel free to comment, modify or add alternatives.
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Old Sep 30, 2008, 2:36 AM   #10
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Nothing in the same class as the Nikon.

I would eliminate the Sony from the equation because the A350 has poor noise and a horrible viewfinder and it's live view (if you find that important) is no longer better than the Nikon. Sony do make a nice camera in the A700 but with good lenses its way out of your price range.

Eliminate Olympus for the same reason. The camera is not in the same class as the D90.

Eliminate Pentax because the lens selection is poor.

So that leaves the Nikon D90. Don't overlook the benefits of getting it with the new kit lens that is currently exclusive to the D90 : 18-105 VR. It's better than any they have released previously, and kit lenses are always good value if the quality is good enough.


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