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Old Dec 1, 2008, 10:48 AM   #1
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santa is getting me a dslr this year but I have to pick it out, HELP!
basically looking at sony a200 or 300, canon xs or maybe one of the nikons.
Looking for versatility...something that will take good action pictures such as my kids waterskiing or sledding, or during their play performances as well as documenting the yearly adults only christmas party!! How important is the live view that some entry levels have?
Am I asking too much, or will any entry level camera do a decent job at this? I actually get some great shots with my point and shoot, but need (want) the zoom capability and once upon a time, a long, long time ago I enjoyed using a SLR given its options and the need to do more than 'point and shoot'
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 11:13 AM   #2
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The Canon XSi has the best autofocus system for sports/action/wildlife in an entry level camera, and it has 'Live View' and a 12MP image sensor. The kit lens is very good, but too dim for indoor available light shooting. For outdoor sports, there are a number of good telephoto zoom lenses you can use, but for "their play performances", you'll need a long fast lens, which will cost around $1,000.

In dim light, the 'Live View' can ease composing your shot, but for most other uses it can actually be a detriment. For instance, the Sony A300 and A350 actually have smaller optical viewfinders in order to accomodate the 'Live View' components.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 11:35 AM   #3
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thanks for the info
the live view is not important to me, I just didn't know if it should be. Any suggestions that fit my needs for cameras without it? I have read so many reviews and posts that I am now officially confused!
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 1:24 PM   #4
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Sony's version of "live view" is supposed to be the best.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 1:29 PM   #5
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Actually, the Canon XSi is probably the best entry level dSLR for what you want to do, and the fact that it comes with 'Live View' in no way a detriment.

The only substantial issue with entry level dLSRs is image stabilization, which reduces (if not eliminates) motion blure due to camera shake. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of their lenses, which makes them bigger, heavier and more expensive. Pentax, Sony and most Olympus dSLRs use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, which means that any lens, including third party and 20 year old used lenses will be stabilized.

So the Sony A200 and A300 you mentioned would have the benefit of providing a stabilized image regardless of the lens used, but their autofocus systems don't perform as well as the one in the Canon XSi. The Canon also has better high ISO performance (higher sensitivity to light without as much image noise) than the others.

Your needs are quite varied, which makes selecting the proper camera difficult, and this is especially important because your needs will require a substantial investment , more in lenses than in the camera. So if you happen to make the wrong choice, you've got to replace not just the camera but also the lenses.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 1:31 PM   #6
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AndyfromVA wrote:
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Sony's version of "live view" is supposed to be the best.
Yes, but it also adversely affects the optical viewfinder more than the 'Live View' systems used by other manufacturers.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 1:35 PM   #7
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I have two dSLR cameras - one of them has live view (I shoot Pentax and have the K100 and K20). My personal opinion is that live view would be mainly useful indoors when the camera is mounted on a tripod. I've used my live view once when I was off-roading and wasn't able to get out of my car - I rested my camera on the side mirror and found I couldn't see the LCD all that well in the sunlight, only enough to get the framing more or less what I wanted. I hoped that the camera would get the exposure and focus right because I couldn't see enough to make a judgement. Also, while it's not difficult to hold a tiny camera at arm's length, try holding a can of beans (ora rock that weighs close to 2 lbs)out at the same spot, while trying to fiddle with something on the far end of the can (simulating a zoom lens) and fiddling with other controls, like a shutter, and see if you'd use live view all that much. From what you said your interests are, you wouldn't use it much, either, so you might want to ignore whether your selection has it or not.

Just my opinion, but I think any of the entry dSLR cameras will do well for you. More important would be how they all feel in your hands - some people (me included) don't like the grip on the Canon, while other's prefer it. I wouldn't buy a Sony with live view because I find the viewfinder way too small (their excellent live view comes at the price of a smaller viewfinder. Since I would use the viewfinder mostly, I'd consider the A200 over the other Sony cameras). While the Canon is reputed to have the best AF system for sports, the differences are small for most people. For someone like me who shoots mostly landscape and macro, it doesn't matter at all.

All of the entry dSLR cameras are very capable of taking outstanding pictures, so ergonomics becomes really important. Remember that the best camera in the world can't take that priceless picture if it is in your closet because you hate carrying it.
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Old Dec 3, 2008, 4:09 PM   #8
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thanks for the info, I'll have to get out and try them out. I really could do without the live view and it sounds like it can get in the way sometimes. It certainly seems that everyone has their favorites, hopefully I will find mine!
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Old Dec 3, 2008, 6:22 PM   #9
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mb98-

I happen to agree with you, regarding live view. I find that I rarely, if ever, use it. And I am a very happy Pentax K200 user. I admire your determination to check out everything on the market. Be sure to also handle the cameras too. They will feel a bit differently in hand.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 6, 2008, 3:14 AM   #10
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Many salesmen told me that Sony's Live View is the fastest when compared to other brands.
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