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Old Dec 2, 2008, 3:24 PM   #1
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Hi, I have been doing a lot of reading and well everything sounds good. My wife wants a DSLR and I'm a gadget guy so it sounds good to me. We are beginners and have no experience and will be shooting primarily portaints and sporting event's (young son's) for the most part.

I don't need anything overly fancy obviously but at the same time I want to have the most options available to me down the road if it comes to that. So Canon and Nikon seems to be the best choices as far as lenses and accesories.

The new Canon XS seems to be a good choice for the money but if it's "big brother" is only a $100 bucks more are there enough enhancements to make it worth while?

Basically I would like to spend $500-600 to get me started with a good starter lens and go from there. What is the best bang for the buck that doesnt lock me in to older technology?

Just as an FYI I would not hesitate to buy from Ebay if they are trustworthy especially with the Live.com cashbackpromotion going on.



Thanks!
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 5:09 PM   #2
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seth-

You might want to take a look at the Pentax K-200D. It has received excellent reviews, and it is well worth a good look. Steve has a review on it.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 5:41 PM   #3
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I agree with mtclimber that the Pentax K200D is a fine camera, but I will add that the Canon XSi has the best autofocus system for sports/action/wildlife, of any dSLR within your budget. While the Pentax (and the Sonys, btw) benefit from sensor shift image stabilization, making a lot of older lenses more useful and attractive, for shooting your young son's sporting events, there's nothing better than the XSi, technically.

The reason I added that caveat is because the single most important factor in determining if a camera will serve your purposes is whether or not you are comfortable using it, and capable of using it effectively. So, a big part of your decision should be how the camera feels.

So, to narrow down your choices prior to going into a store and trying them out:
  • Canon XSi: 12MP, 'Live View', stabilized 18-55mm lens, best autofocus system - ~$650. [/*]
  • Canon XS: 10MP, 'Live View', stabilized 18-55mm lens - <$500. [/*]
  • Pentax K200D: 10MP, stabilized body, 18-55mm lens - ~$600. [/*]
  • Sony A200: 10MP, stabilized body, 18-70mm lens - ~$500. [/*]
  • Sony A300: 10MP, 'Live View', stabilized body, 18-70mm lens - ~$550.[/*]
Neither Nikon nor Olympus have anything I would recommend in your price range for shooting sports.
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 5:53 PM   #4
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Is it better to have a "stabalized body" vs. a "stabalized lens"? The reason I ask is I was looking at the Canon XS or XSI (which is approx $150 difference) and well the "IS" lenses are quitea bit more.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Anyway I keep going back and forth between the XS or XSI the buck-fifty difference can go a long way towards a telephoto type zoom lens....not sure if I would notice the differences between the 2 to be honest as far as picture quality goes.

Have not really looked at the Sony's but did read that the Sony "live view" feature is much better especially in the A350
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 6:01 PM   #5
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Seth-

The only problem with the Canon XS or XSi is the reviews all cite the jpeg image as being very soft. The only way to get around that is to shoot all your images in RAW. I am a Canon 20D and XT owner, but I went for the Pentax K-200D due to its excellent reviews and I have been very pleased with the K200D.

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Old Dec 2, 2008, 6:19 PM   #6
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SethC wrote:
Quote:
Is it better to have a "stabalized body" vs. a "stabalized lens"? The reason I ask is I was looking at the Canon XS or XSI (which is approx $150 difference) and well the "IS" lenses are quitea bit more.
First, neither Canon has a stabilized body; Canon uses optical image stabilization in its lenses. The $150 difference between the XS and XSi has nothing to do with stabilization.

As to the difference between sensor shift image stabilization ("stabilized body") used by Pentax and Sony vs. optical image stabilization ("stabilized lens"), there isn't much as far as performance goes. The difference is that 20+ year old Pentax and Minolta lenses will be stabilized, but only about half of Canon's own lenses and few third party lenses are stabilized. But if you can find the lenses you need within that small group, then there's no difference at all.

SethC wrote:
Quote:
Anyway I keep going back and forth between the XS or XSI the buck-fifty difference can go a long way towards a telephoto type zoom lens....not sure if I would notice the differences between the 2 to be honest as far as picture quality goes.
The primary differences are the 12MP image sensor in the XSi vs. the 10MP image sensor in the XS, and the improved autofocus system for sports shooting in the XSi. You won't notice that until you miss a few shots because the XS couldn't focus on the action when you needed it to.

But to help with the $150 difference, Canon has a $100 rebate on the XSi if you also buy their 55-250mm IS lens, which is a very good lens for its class, it's stabilized, and usually goes for $240. That puts the total purchase price at just under $800 which is slightly over your budget, but it is a way to mitigate the $150 price difference between the XS and the XSi.

SethC wrote:
Quote:
Have not really looked at the Sony's but did read that the Sony "live view" feature is much better especially in the A350
Sony's implimentation of 'Live View' is innovative and works well, and the articulating LCD display is also handy (and isthe same on the A300 as it is on the A350), but it also reduces the useability of the optical viewfinder, unfortunately.
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 6:28 PM   #7
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As you've noticed, the VR lenses offered by Canon and Nikon are significantly more expensive. I've seen people argue which system (in-lens vs. in-camera)is better, but as a practical matter, both work. Not everyone will find anti-shake all that useful - someone shooting outdoors in good light with lenses shorter than 200mm, or indoors on a tripod probably won't care one way or another. It won't be useful if you are shooting sports, wheremotion blur is a bigger concern so you'd likelybe using fast enough shutter speeds to avoid camera shake. I'm one of those who ends up finding themselves shooting in places where I need it (I'm not as steady as I once was). Having the anti-shake in-camera is significantly cheaper, so I would give the edge to Sony and Pentax (and Oly). Others wouldn't.

I shoot Pentax and have one camera with Live View and one without. I think I've used the live view twice, and the first time found it not very useful. The LCD is hard to see in the sunlight, and I'm not going to be holding 2 pounds of camera/lens at arm's length for very long. Sony's live view is better than either Canon or Pentax (they use a separate sensor) but they've had to make the viewfinder much smaller. Since I spend the vast majority of my time looking through the viewfinder, and found the A350 way too small - it would drive me nuts.

I agree that the feel of the camera will make a huge difference. Can you easily reach all the controls? Can you comfortably carry the camera (think about carrying it's weight all day - the Nikon D200/300 is just too heavy a camera for me, my limit is the Pentax K20)? Can you comfortably hold the camera - some people find the grip on the Canon uncomfortably cramped, while others prefer it. You really can't go wrong with any of them as far as image quality, so go to a camera store and handle them all before deciding.
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 7:23 PM   #8
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Well Seth-

You have received some excellent advice. What else can be do to help you?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 7:52 PM   #9
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Seth,

I just wantedto add a couple points to the very good advice here.

1. You'll have to keep your sports shooting expectations in check until you can buy a 2nd lens. Unless you buy a 2nd lens the standard kit lens (in a 1 lens setup) will not be long enough for outdoor sports and won't be 'fast' enough for indoor sports. Doesn't matter which system. But you should understand this BEFORE you spend your money. What lens or lenses you will need down the road depend upon what sports you want to shoot.

2.

Quote:
The only problem with the Canon XS or XSi is the reviews all cite the jpeg image as being very soft. The only way to get around that is to shoot all your images in RAW.
Actually that's not true. All it means is the default sharpening applied by canon is less. The overall sharpness is still in the image file. You have 2 choices other than to shoot raw - you can bump up the default sharpness in camera or you can apply sharpening in post processing (which you would have to do in RAW anyways).

3. Without a doubt I think the xsi is worth the extra money IF you're shooting sports. You're going to find the focus system of the XS is too limiting in the long run - just as you would with any other entry level camera from Sony, Pentax, Nikon or Oly. As TCAV mentioned the XSi has a great focus system. You have to step up to the Nikon D90 or the Sony A700 to beat it. I'm not sure Pentax or Oly have a camera that beats it at focus tracking.

For non sports work your thoughts would make perfect sense - save on the body and spend on the lens. But for the minimum difference in body cost the XSi is worth it for your sports work.
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Old Dec 2, 2008, 8:48 PM   #10
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JohnG-

As you know I am indeed a big Canon DSLR fan. However, just read the reviews closely. Post processing sharpening was down played as it measurably increased the background and chroma noise. Increasing the sharpening in the camera was again adjudged to be not the best choice. The only best choice was to shoot RAW.

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