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Old Nov 20, 2008, 5:20 PM   #1
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I've been trying to read all I can about these two cameras and it seems the more I read, the more confused I get as to which one I should buy.

Just a little about my camera knowledge (or lack thereof) ...I'm definitely not a pro photographer. Most of the terminology and explanations on how cameras work (ie: ISO's) is very confusing to me. I was thinking that you need a higher ISO for moving objects...not sure if that's right. LOL I don't know anything about lenses either.

I am upgrading from a Kodak DX6440 (okay...you can laugh now). I enjoy taking pictures of my family, dog and my flowers. I also like taking pictures of sunsets and landscapes. My boys are involved in sports (football, baseball and basketball) so I also take pictures at those events, as well as christmas programs and such at school. I takes pics indoors and outdoors, in good light and low light.

I know that no one camera will work best for all these situations but since I can only afford one, I would like recommendations on which one would be the best considering what I would be using it for. I'm hoping to increase my knowledge about photography so I also want something that I can stay with as I learn more.

I've read about focusing problems with the XSi (which is the one I was leaning towards) and wondering if this is a real issue I should be concerned about.

I have an old Nikon Nikkormat camera (I've only used a couple of times) that came with a Nikon Nikkor-S Auto 1:1.4 f=50mm lens, an Albinar ADG 80-200mm 1:3.9 macro zoom 55mm lens and a Auto Vivitar telephoto 135mm 1:2.8lens with another very small lens screwed to it that says Astron Skylight 55mm. It also came with a Vivitar 52mm No. 85 amber colored lens. I was wondering if these lenses are compatable with either camera I mentioned above. I'm assuming they wouldn't work with the Nikon since from what I read, only the new lenses will work. It's not a big deal to me to be able to use them since I only paid $50 for the whole set but it would be nice so I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask.

I was also wondering where you recommend buying from. I was looking at Amazon since it seems to have a good price but with the economy, maybe some of you experts happen to know of some great deals some where else. I live in a small town with only 2 or 3 photography shops here. There are no major places like Circuit City or Best Buy to go test the "feel" of the camera or take pictures with it. Walmart has the Canon but not the Nikon so I can't compare there either. Is Walmart a bad place to buy from?

Sorry to make this so long but I though that information might help you give a recommendation.

Thanks

awalker (mom of 3 boys and one furry girl)
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Old Nov 20, 2008, 6:06 PM   #2
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In general, unless you are dead set on getting into Nikon, the Canon xsi is a better camera than the D60. Especially since you're considering sports work. While Nikon currently rules the prosumer sports market, the Canon XSi is a much better entry level sports camera. In addition, for basketball work and potentially school plays you'll eventually need to get 'fast' prime lenses. In this case 'fast' means wide aperture - f1.8 / f2.0. The lower the F number the more light gets in.

There are some XSi focus issues but as best as I can tell it is WAY, WAY overblown.

Having said all that, you should understand some things about sports photography before you make a decision. Sports photography is a lot of fun and very rewarding but it is VERY difficult. It is absolutely NOT a point-and-shoot type of thing. There are 3 components necessary to get good results:

1. Right equipment. The xsi body is a good start - but the kit lens will not do for any sports work. That really goes for any DSLR on the market - a kit lens won't cut it. I'll talk lenses a bit later

2. Skill and practice. Sports shooting requires a lot of technical photographic knowledge. It's OK that you don't have it right now. But you have to be willing to learn. You'r not going to get many good shots in the 'sports' mode of the camera. So you'll have to learn to shoot in other modes, learn about exposure, white balance, advanced focusing techniques, etc. Without this knowledge you could use the best camera/lens on the market and get very poor sports photos. It isn't rocket science by any stretch - but it isn't point-and-shoot either.

3. Access. Shooting pee-wee football and tee-ball is pretty easy because there are no fences or stands. As the kids get older though access to the playing field gets more restricted. For instance if you have a son playing Varsity football under the lights you're not going to be able to sit in the stands and take good photos. You're not really going to be able to stand outside the fence and take good photos. You need to be on the sidelines. So, whether or not you can get good photos for the sports you mentioned depends in large part on how close you can get to the action. Again even with the best equipment and the right knowledge if you can't get close enough you'll still get poor shots.

Lenses you'll need:

There is no one size fits all sports lens. Sad, but true. The lens you need will depend on the specifics of the sport.

First basketball: you'll have to use a prime lens. A 2.8 aperture lens won't cut it. If you have floor access, you can get by for a while using the 50mm 1.8 ($70) if right under the basket. The 85mm 1.8 ($370) is a definite improvement but you still need to be shooting from the baseline. Shooting from the stands you need 100mm 2.0 ($370) or 135mm 2.0 ($1000).

Baseball: Will depend on the level. Teeball you can get by with a 70-200mm zoom. By pony league you'll want 300mm. By HS you'll need 300-400mm (300 if you can shoot from on the field, at least 400 if you have to shoot from off the field).

Football: again - depends on how close you can get. Additionally if you need to take photos at night games you'll need a 2.8 lens. The least expensive option there is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 ($800).

Depending on your baseball/football needs (i.e. what level of play and day or night) I can recommend specific lenses.


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Old Nov 20, 2008, 11:07 PM   #3
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There is no problem with Walmart as the their prices are as good or better than most other vendors.

Watch for the scamers. They are everywhere. In fact if their price is better than Walmart , Best Buy or Circuit City I would hesitate as most big (and honest) vendors tend to be priced similarly.

To avoid scams you should visit:

http://donwiss.com/pictures/BrooklynStores/

Don has photographed and cross referenced stores across NYC. Very interesting. Some "highly" recommended vendors leave a lot to desire in the appearance of their operation. The multiple locations and mutliple names is easy to confirm using our good friend Google

Another source of information:

http://sheddingsomelight.com/buy-cam...ras-index.html




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Old Nov 29, 2008, 10:52 PM   #4
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JohnG....Thanks for your reply. It really helps. I guess the other question I've come up with after reading your reply is....Since I won't know how to use the camera to the best of it's ability for a while (while I'm still learning), if I use it as a point and shoot sometimes, even though the pictures won't be the best, will they still be better than what I'm getting with my Kodak? (obviously, keeping in mind that I don't have any kind of trained eye) Or would I be better off upgrading to a better point and shoot camera untill I learn to use the Canon?

In other words, does a point and shoot produce better pictures than a DSLR that's used as a point and shoot?

Thank you again for your reply. It really helps to have somewhere to come and ask questions when you feel so lost and overwhelmed with options.

Anissa
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Old Nov 29, 2008, 10:59 PM   #5
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Stevie....Thanks for the answer about Walmart. I've read that some companies make products specifically for places like Walmart and use cheaper components etc. in order for them to be able to sell them at a lower price. I'd rather pay a little more and get a better camera if that's the case.

I'll definitely check out the web sites you recommended. Thanks!

Anissa
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 7:39 AM   #6
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Anissa,

I was referring to sports photography specifically in my comments about point-and-shoot. A DSLR can do better at sports in sports mode than any digicam will (assuming you have a proper lens for the sport in question) but it won't produce great results. The more challenging the condition the worse the results will be. For example, outdoors slightly overcast (i.e. not bright sun but still plenty of light) the DSLR in sports mode will probably do very well if the action is close enough for whatever lens you're using. But throw in variables like bright sun, variable lighting, darker conditions or indoor sports and it won't do well. But in those conditions a digicam will do poorly as well. All I'm suggesting though is you're not going to reach the potential of the DSLR system until you learn how to shoot sports. Some people have an unrealistic expectation that a DSLR is magic - it will do everything their digicam could not.

Now, for general snapshots a DSLR has auto mode just like a digicam. With standard lenses you might notice a SLIGHT improvement over quality of shots from a quality digicam. With pro-grade lenses you'll definitely notice an improvement. The major benefits (besides ability to use different lenses) are going to be:
  • faster startup[/*]
  • faster focusing[/*]
  • less time between shutter press and picture taking[/*]
  • brighter viewfinder[/*]
  • better high iso performance - so you can use it in lower light conditons[/*]
  • shallower depth-of-field (DOF) - so you can get a blurred background when you want it.[/*]
  • better battery performance
[/*]
At the basic level those are the major benefits. There are others (like improved dynamic range) but it's unlikely you'll notice them for general purpose.

Now, there are4 areas where some people struggle moving to a DSLR from a digicam:
  • Increase in size/weight[/*]
  • how focus works - you really need to be sure the focus point(s) are on your subject - in this manner it is absolutely NOT a point and shoot. And if you're using all available focus points you need to make sure when you half-press the shutter the camera selected the focus point(s) over your subject and not something else.[/*]
  • decrease in DOF. Because the sensors are bigger and the physical length of lenses are longer in DSLRs you have a shallower DOF than you do with a digicam. This means the area in front of and behind your subject will go out of focus in the picture much more rapidly than you're used to. Some people have a tough time adjusting to that. It also highlights when focus is missed much more readily than when focus is missed in a digicam.
[/*]
So, bottom line, if you PLAN to learn - really learn - then no reason you can't learn using a DSLR - it has auto mode too. But if you're really not interested in learning - especially the sports shooting - or if you don't have access or don't want to buy the lenses necessary for the various sports then a DSLR may be a waste of money and given the perceived drawbacks I mentioned above you may be less likely to use it at all.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 1:09 PM   #7
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Hi John. Thanks again for your informative reply. I think I've decided to go with the Canon XSi. Our local college offers a photography class that I'd like to take so I'll have to see when it's offered again. I also have a couple of books I picked up at the thrift store some time ago....One is "The Photographer's handbook" (second edition) by John Hedgecoe and a Kodak book called "Take Better Pictures". Don't know how good these are (I know their old) but they will at least get me started and hopefully help me learn something useful for now.

I'll have to start saving up for different lenses so I can work on those sports shots. As a stay home mom, we have to be pretty thrifty around here. LOL

Take care,

Anissa


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Old Dec 1, 2008, 12:09 AM   #8
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awalker wrote:
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Stevie....Thanks for the answer about Walmart. I've read that some companies make products specifically for places like Walmart and use cheaper components etc. in order for them to be able to sell them at a lower price. I'd rather pay a little more and get a better camera if that's the case.

I'll definitely check out the web sites you recommended. Thanks!

Anissa
Yes, no, maybe.

When WallyWorld or any other vendor does a special buy the product is often with a special model number. At that point all bets are off as to what might be short changed in the product.

You will find Printers, TV and a whole host of other products with a special item number. One goal is so the vendor (let's say Office Depot) can advertise the lowest price on #1234567.A2 while another vendor (let's say WallyWorld) can advertise the lowest price on #1234567.B3.

There might be a difference in tthe products, then again there may not be a difference. Usually it is color, trim, the size of the starter printer cartridges, extra cost remote control. Sometimes it is last years technology..... except technology improvements also make sharp decreses in the cost of the components which means the last years technology is less common these days.

One common difference in Cameraswould be the "kit". The Wally kit might include an official Wally Camera Bag while the other Office Depot Kit might add a bag for $10.00. They mightchange out the memory cards, add a widget, or offer the camera in gold trim rather than silver trim.

Beyond "kits" there is not enough volume in the dSLR world for Caniksonto make 19 different versions of their primary camera models. Besides, if they did make 19 different versions of the same camera, their profitability would suffer.

(Besides, it is a lot harder to dump the odd ball camera or kit than a mainstream camera or kit. Wally ain't stupid, they only want products on their shelves for the fewest possible days)

On Black Friday I was out checking for a specific something for somebodyand while I was out I visited the various B&M vendors in my town. Surprise, surprise, the offerings were just about identical in content and price.... with the exception of some expanded"kit" offerings.... add a Tripod for only $, buy the second lens for $$ etc.
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