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Old Dec 14, 2008, 11:26 PM   #1
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I have been doing online research for a while now and I still can't figure out which one is better to go with. I have been doing extensive research on the Nikon D90, Canon Rebel XSi, Sony Alpha A-300, and the Olympus E-520. I am open to other suggestions as well. I am new to the whole digital SLR thing. I have an older SLR so all of this new technology is hard to decipher. I am pretty much a beginner who hasused point and shoots for most of my shots, but I want to upgrade to better quality photos. I also need to consider the cost of lenses as well. I know lenses for Nikons are more expensive and lenses on the Sony are less expensive all due to the image stabilization being in the camera on the Sony and in the lens for the Nikons and Canons. I just need a great camera to grow with and take shots of vacations and family gatherings. I also don't want to break the bank. I think the D90 is the absolute ceiling here so getting a better lens on that camera is probably out of the question. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
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Old Dec 14, 2008, 11:39 PM   #2
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From what I've read, the Nikon D90 is the best of the cameras on your list, followed by the Canon XSi.

The D90 not only has great picture quality and speed but can also take videos, unlike the others on your list.
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 12:09 AM   #3
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My reservation with the D90 is that it leaves me very little money to get a better lens or an additional lens. Another question I have is about the lens quality for Canon and Sony. Are they any good?
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 5:41 AM   #4
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All manufacturers have good lenses, great lenses and poor lenses. Also, toss the idea that Nikon and Canon lenses are more expensive because of lens based IS out the window. Quality Sony lenses cost just as much or more than their Nikon / Canon counterparts.

In actuality if vacations and family gatherings are your sole purpose I think the Oly makes a lot of sense. It's a smaller kit than the others. And the two areas where it doesn't compete as well (high ISO and dynamic range) won't be a factor. But it's smaller size will be of great benefit. The other benefit is Olys consumer grade lenses are better than the competition. So you can get a lot of bang for the buck.

But go to a store and try all of them - you may find you like the ergonomics of one camera over the others. But rest assured ALL of the DSLRs you're considering are more than capable of doing what you want to do. I would advise though for family gatherings you will want to invest in an external flash.
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 8:03 AM   #5
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I notice that a significant concern of your is the cost of a total system, not just the cost of the dSLR, and that's good. Many poeple forget that when they buy a dSLR, they're just getting started, so it doesn't make sense to nearly break the bank on the purchase of the camera and kit lens.

And on the subject of lenses, of the cameras you mentioned, the Canon has the best kit lens. The kit lens for the Nikon D90 is good, and is longer than the others,but it has significant distortion and vignetting. The Sony kit lens is also longer that the typical kit lens, but it's not as good as the others.

Canon and Nikon have the largest selection of OEM and third party lenses, but Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of their lenses, so that narrows the selection down significantly. Pentax and Sony don't have as large a selection of new OEM and third partylenses as Canon and Nikon, but since they use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, any lens mounted on the cameras body will be stabilized, including 20+ year old lenses on the used market. (For limited budgets, the used market can be a significant source of lenses and accessories for Pentax and Sony owners.) But, unfortunately, the selection of long lenses for Pentax is limited, as is the selection of fast primes for Sony, and while some of Sony's lenses are top quality, the prices are quite high. Nikon's entry level dSLRs (D40/D40X/D60) don't have internal autofocus motors which greatly reduces the selection of lenses for them. Olympus has the smallest selection of lenses for dSLRs, and while many of them are quite good, they are also quite expensive. And while Olympus also uses sensor shift image stabilization, when they started making dSLRs, they abandoned the mount they had been using on their film cameras, so none of the older Olympus lenses are compatible with the Olympus dSLRs.

I also notice that all the dSLRs you're looking at have 'Live View'. While 'Live View' may be useful on small, light P&S digicams, it is less important on bigger, heavier dSLRs, especially when they have large, heavy lenses attached. If you drop the 'Live View' feature, the selection of dSLRs broadens somewhat. Sony's A200 is basically an A300 without 'Live View', but it only saves you $50. But the Pentax K200D and K2000 become good choices. The K2000 is noteable since it is one of the smallest, lightest dSLRs available, and it comes with an external flash.
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 11:00 AM   #6
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Thanks for the great information. It now looks like I should consider some additional cameras as well. This is a very confusing process as so many cameras are so close to each other.

So now I guess the ultimate question is: If you could choose one camera, from my list and the additional suggestions,to give me everything I would need to take great pictures of vacations, family gatherings, natureand occasional sporting events which one would it be?

Thanks again for all the help!!
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 11:07 AM   #7
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See, now you've changed things. Now you've added "nature" and "occasional sporting events". What do you mean by that? Nature could mean landscape shots - it could mean butterflies or flowers it could mean deer in your back yard it could mean hummingbirds it could mean birds in flight. What you want to take photos of will determine what lenses would be required.

Sports as well could mean a LOT. Be specific as to what sports, what level of play etc. I.E. shots when you go to a major league baseball game or shots of a HS baseball game or tee-ball? Or basketball Or swimming or whatever. Sports shooting in particular can require some very pricey gear to do well.

The reality is NO single camera with one or two lenses will allow you to shoot everything well. And especially if you now throw in wildlife shots and sports shots - those are very equipment intensive things.


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Old Dec 15, 2008, 11:27 AM   #8
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Standard nature shots I guess. If I go on vacation to Colorado I would want to take pictures of mountains and animals. If I go on vacation to Maine I would want to take pictures of whales. Sometimes we go tothe botanical gardens and take pictures of flowers. My oldTamron 28-200 lens took pretty good pictures of all these things. Sports would mainly be kids playing. I don't think I could bring myself to take $1,000 worth of equipment to a pro game where someone could spill beer on it or step on it.

I definitely don't need professional equipment, but I still want the picturesto be clear/sharp and colorful.
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 11:57 AM   #9
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makins-

You have received some excellent advice on your questions. Of the cameras listed, the Olympus E-520, with in camera image stabilization, if purchased as a two lens kit (the E-510 camera body, along with the Olympus 14-42mm and 40-150mm lens) will give you the biggest bang for the buck for a well regarded and entire DSLR system that will cover everything from wide angle (28mm in 35mm terms) out to 300mm, in 35 mm terms, which gives you almost 11X optical zoom in those two lenses.

To that you would only have to gradually add an external flash and you would have a DSLR system for a reasonable investment. However, in the interests of reducing your cash investment have you considered an ultra zoom or bridge camera like the Panasonic FZ-28. It will give you somewhat lesser photo quality but it would also give you a much smaller investment and a much smaller kit weight and size-wise.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 15, 2008, 12:35 PM   #10
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In my continuing search I just found a deal at Wolf Camera where you can get the Canon Rebel XSi with the EF-S 18-55mm IS lens and the 55-250mm IS AF lens for $900. It looks like I would get the wide angle abilities and the telephoto abilities. I know the camera has gotten good reviews, but not sure about the lenses. Would this be a good way to start out my dSLR life?
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