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Old Nov 15, 2008, 3:46 PM   #1
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Hi I'm a newbie here and this is my first post. I found this forum by chance and read some of the posts and loved the general spirit of humour in the posts.

I work for a horrid multi-national energy company here in the UK and want to finally escape and do something i love. I've already developed my skills developing websites and also do alot of PC/Mac hardware work. I've always had a passion for photography despite knowing very little, some things have never changed, and wanted to combine these skills.

When i was 12, a neighbor gave me a mini Olympus SLR camera, all i can remember was he was given it at an optics convention in Japan. God knows what the specific model was but i wore this thing out (actually think i couldn't get the non-standard film for it after a few years), it was so small it fit into the palm of my hand.

I currently use a Sony DSC-H7 bridge camera and hate it, despite this I plan on booking myself onto a professional photography course. Thing is they recommend getting a dslr for the course.

I went to the local photography store here in Burton which is over 80 years old, fancied the look of the new Sony/NIkons and the guy really pushed me to the Olympus range. He felt for learning the craft either the D420 or the 520 would be the best bet. He really didn't like the current crop of Nikon or Canon's which i was thinking would be my best best. He went on about the Olympus having a technological lead because the other bodies were still based of designs derivative of film units. He also warned me about the UK magazines being very Nikon/Canon centric purely because of their advertising spend, often he said they get better scores than they deserve.

He also recommended the Sony's though refused to call them Sony, saying they're Konica Minolta with Tamron lenses rebadged.

Now i'm completely bamboozled. What do i go for? Wish i knew more about the whole photography thing. Ultimately i want to learn the craft, develop a hobby and have some fun. I want to ideally be able to make a career out of it moving forward.

Cheers Matt
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 4:48 PM   #2
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This should be interesting. ;-)

Sony purchased Konica Minolta's camera related assets a while back. So, all Sony dSLR models use the same Minolta Autofocus Lens mount, which lets you use any Minolta Autofocus (a.k.a., Alpha, Maxxum, Dynax mount) lens ever made on them.

Yes, some of the lenses appear to share optical designs with Tamron lenses (for example, the 28-75mm, 18-200mm and 18-250mm). That's not necessarily a bad thing. All of the manufacturers have good, and not so good lenses. You can't go by the manufacturer alone when looking at glass.

There are usually some small differences with the designs, different ergonomics, different lens coatings, and even faster Autofocus in at least one case (for example, the Sony 18-250mm is geared for faster Autofocus compared to the Tamron 18-250mm).

But, a number of the lenses were Minolta designs including the 28mm f/2.8, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, 135mm f/2.8 STF, 300mm f/2.8 70-200mm f/2.8 and more. Some of the lenses are brand new designs (70-300mm f.4-5.6G SSM, 70-400mm f/4-5.6G SSM, and more. Some the lenses are based on Carl Zeiss optics (for example, the 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/1.8 ).

You can also use any Minolta Autofocus lens on a Sony dSLR (and Minolta manufactured some 16 Million Autofocus lenses, not even counting third party lenses in this lens mount made by Tamron, Sigma, Tokina and others). So, you've got lots of Autofocus lenses in the used market that will work with them, too. Here's an incomplete list:

Fixed Focal Length Lenses in Minolta A mount

Macro Lenses in Minolta A Mount

Zoom Lenses in Minolta A mount

Olympus didn't have any suitable Autofocus lenses when they decided to get into the dSLR market (as they didn't jump on the Autofocus bandwagon with their 35mm SLR cameras like all the other major camera manufacturers did, and Olympus made a decision to design an entirely new system). The Olympus dSLR models use a slightly smaller sensor compared to models made by the other manufacturers, which in theory should allow them to be smaller and lighter cameras. That allowed them to design lenses that in some cases are better suited to the new 4/3 system bodies. That doesn't mean that the other manufacturers don't have very good lenses that can work on both 35mm cameras and dSLR models. You have good and not so good lenses from any of them. Don't go by manufacturer. Take each lens on a case by case basis.

Sometimes, because most (but not all) dSLR models from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Sony use an APS-C size sensor (which is smaller than 35mm film), you're using the "sweet spot" of the lenses designed for 35mm models (since the entire image circle is not used and the corners are typically softer on a lens). You'll also see "designed for digital" lenses from the other major manufacturers, too (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.), that will only work on a dSLR model. That allows them to be smaller and lighter).

One downside with Olympus is that you don't have the vast array of Autofocus lens choices you have with manufacturers like Canon, Nikon and Sony in the used market (although you can use many manual focus lenses from film cameras on an Olympus dSLR body via adapters). There are a number of other differences with the 4/3 system bodies that may or may not be important to you.

For one thing, because they have a smaller sensor compared to models from Nikon, Canon, Sony and Pentax, you have more depth of field for a given subject framing and aperture (because the smaller the sensor or film size, the narrower your angle of view for a given focal length, meaning that you'd need to shoot from further away for a given focal length for the same subject framing, increasing depth of field).

That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your perspective, as many photographers want more control of depth of field to help prevent distracting backgrounds when desired by using a wider aperture so that the background is not as sharp. That's one reason many users upgrade from a point and shoot type camera to a dSLR with a larger sensor (so they'll be able to blur the background more easily). That's more difficult with Olympus compared to the other major brands (because you'd need to use a wider aperture for a given subject framing), although you'd still have far more control than you would with a non-dSLR camera model.

There are tradeoffs with any design, and many users may prefer a smaller and lighter system like Olympus is producing (although a given solution is not always smaller and lighter, since we're seeing some relatively small designs from other dSLR manufacturers, too (even though they have larger sensors in comparison)..

Right this minute, Canon and Nikon have the most dSLR market share by far (with Sony slowly moving up from behind in third place, apparently looking to grab around 12% or so this year, which is double what they did last year). Sony managed to grab 3rd place in worldwide dSLR market share their first year in this niche with only one camera body, and retained that position last year. Now, they've released a number of new model (A200, A300, A350, A700, A900) and are looking to expand that market share. Note that in the non-DSLR market niche, the top two will likely remain Canon and Sony.

Olympus will probably manage to hold on to close to 6 percent market share this year in the dSLR niche, remaining in 4th place behind Canon, Nikon and Sony. We'll have to wait and see how the numbers look when they're released next year.

Note that I shoot with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D (and the first Sony dSLR, the A100, was mostly based on this KM model), as well as a newer Sony A700. So, I'm probably a bit biased in that direction. Most of my lenses are Minolta Autofocus lenses, although I also own a few Tamron lenses.

What I'd do is read the reviews here for models you consider, paying close attention to the review conclusion sections (the last page before the sample images in each model's review). That's where you'll find more information on how some of them stack up for performance (AF speed, cycle time between photos, number of photos in a burst, image quality indoors and outdoors, and more).

Any of them are capable of taking great photos. Your skill as photographer is likely going to be the most important factor.

You may also want to give members more information on the types of subjects you're more interested in shooting, along with an idea of your budget for both camera body and lenses. That way, you can get more feedback on pros and cons to some of those choices.

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Old Nov 15, 2008, 4:59 PM   #3
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There are several things to consider when selecting a dSLR. An important one is how the camera feels to you. If you can't comfortably hold the camera, if you can't find the controls and commands when you need them, then the camera won't work well for you.

Another important consideration is the selection of lenses and accessories. When you buy a dSLR, you're not just buying a camera, you're buying the first part of a system. And if the system you buy into doesn't have the lenses and accessories you'll need to do the type of photography you want, then you've wasted your time and money. Canon has the largest selection of OEM and third party lenses and accessories, followed closely by Nikon (except for the entry level Nikon D40/D40X/D60.) After them are Sony and Pentax, then the entry level Nikons, and lastly Olympus.

The technological lead that the sales clerk was referring to was image stabilization. Canon and Nikon put image stabilization in their lenses because they still make 35mm film cameras. That lets their film cameras use stabilized lenses. Olympus, Pentax and Sony don't make film cameras, so they can put image stabilization in the camera body, which lets any lens be stabilized. It's interesting that the sales clerk would talk about Olympus' technological lead, and then recommend the E-420, which doesn't include the leadingtechnology.

Of the brands with image stabilization in the body, Pentax and Sony can use lenses that were made more than 20 years ago for their film cameras, but when Olympus switched to digital, they abandoned all their old lenses and started afresh. While the current Olympus lenses are nice, the choice is small, and can be expensive, and there are no used lenses available like there are for the other manufacturers, and those lenses wil lbe stabilized on Pentax and Sony dSLRs.

I think the sales clerk you talked to has an unconventional view of the currnet market, and was pushing you in a direction that might not be appropriate for you.

So, in order for us to figure out what dSLRs might be best for you, we should get an idea of what type(s) of photography you want to do.
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 5:39 PM   #4
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I don't care for the Olympus E420. I don't like the grip, the fact that it doesn't have optical image stabilization and the fact that it's almost as noisy as a point and shoot in low light. I think the E520 is a much better camera and well worth the extra money.

The less-expensive DSLR's that I've been interested in are the Olympus E520, the Sony A200 (or A300 with "live view"), the Canon XS (EOS 1000) and the Pentax K200D. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 5:42 PM   #5
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Thank you guys for the responses. I did get the feeling that the sales guy was a bit of an odd-bod. He briefly showed me the Lumix cameras which he recommended before then changing his mind completely and telling me they were designed for the ladies niche market. I was surprised he would be so anti Nikon/Canon especially given the amount of stock he had of theirs.

We talked the 420 in his defense and didn't like the feel of it without the side grip. He then passed me the 520 and talked about the Olympus's general tech lead.

What i want is a camera which will support me whilst i learn the ropes at college. I want to be able to get a good 2-3 years use out of it and be able to expand where and when i need to. I don't want to pull it out (pardon the phrase) and get laughed at. I also want to be able to use the menu system, something that the current Sony i have is a nightmare to navigate.

I guess to grow with me as my interest/competency level increases.

My initial interest shot wise are around the beautiful countryside near me and also in taking high quality shots of my young sons.

Burton is a very historic town and is the home of brewing here in the UK. There are lots of old buildings which date back some 3-4 hundred years and i'd like to be able to capture a lot of that along with some of the local steam railways. So nearly all of the immediate work i'd want to do is outside.

I'd put my budget at around $700.00 or £460.I'm not a brand snob and would rate feel and usability to be as important as brand. To be able to buy second hand lenses as i grow would also a nice thing for me. So i'm open to recommendations.

Out of interest did anyone know what the mini Olympus i had was called? Would love to google it.
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 6:08 PM   #6
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With your budget, I'd probably look at the newer Canon XS (EOS-1000D) and XSi (EOS-450D), as well as the Sony A200. If you can find a deal on a Nikon D80, that would also be another way to go (and since the D90 was recently released, you may find a good deal on one). The Nikon D60 is a well liked model. But, it doesn't have as many lens choices as you'll have with most other Nikon models if you want Autofocus (because the entry level D40, D40x and D60 models don't have built in focus motors, requiring lenses that do if you want Autofocus). So, I'd keep that in mind if you want more flexibility for finding used lenses that can Autofocus with it. In Olympus bodies, I'd probably look at the E-520 (keeping in mind that you won't have much in the way of used AF lenses available, other than newer 4/3's designs if that's important).

I'd see what feels more comfortable to you in a store, and check out the ergonomics, control layout (as some models do require digging in the menus more for things, and some models have more external buttons to change frequently used settings). The newer Sony dSLR models have what they call a "Quick Nav" menu system that works quite well for anything you don't have dedicated controls for (again, I'm using a Sony A700 right now, so I'm probably a bit biased that way, since I'm more familiar with them). For the types of images you're describing, you could probably get great results with most of the entry level models (so, much of it boils down to your preferences in a camera, and each user tends to like and dislike different things about a camera).

Pentax also has some models that you may want to look at (for example, the K200D). With Pentax, you'll have less in the way of Autofocus lens choices in the used market (although manual focus lenses tend to be easy to find). Their market share is quite small (and appears to be diminishing versus increasing from all outward indications). So, I'd keep that in mind, as it's hard to tell what direction they'll go in since being purchased by Hoya.

As for your old Olympus, I'd probably look through this page for starters. You can click on a given camera line under the date ranges you'll find on the left hand side of the page to see photos of cameras matching a given choice:

http://www.olympus-global.com/en/cor...amera/35mm.cfm

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Old Nov 15, 2008, 6:23 PM   #7
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mattedwardsuk wrote:
Quote:
Out of interest did anyone know what the mini Olympus i had was called? Would love to google it.
Olympus made a "Pen" series of 35mm half-frame cameras, that could get 72 exposures on a 36 exposure roll of film. Does that ring a bell?
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 6:26 PM   #8
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Hi there. Thanks again for the fantastic suggestions. I spoke with my father earlier and he believes the little camera was infact a Pentax 110. My mother was tidying my old room and found the small bag that came with it.

It was a great little thing! About the size of a box of cooking matches.


http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1021/...89c7d3.jpg?v=0

So could someone give me say a top 5 to go an investigate in a store?
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 6:33 PM   #9
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Here's a page with more info on your Auto 110 (with some links to more sites about it at the bottom):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentax_Auto_110

As for models you may want to consider, check my last post (and other members may have some suggestions, too).


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Old Nov 15, 2008, 7:46 PM   #10
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Thanks to everyone.

I've done some more investigation and think I'll go for an EOS 450D with a lens pack 18-55mm.

I've found one on Ebay which is a UK model and sealed in the box currently at £350/$519 so i'll keep an eye on it.

From alot of the reviews i've found this sounds like the ideal camera to manage the step from my Sony, giving me enough control back over various functions.

I'll let you know how i get on. Does anyone have any first hand knowledge of this model and could anyone let me know anything i should be looking out for/recommend i get?
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