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Old Jan 5, 2009, 6:05 PM   #1
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I am going to Alaska next May for two weeks and would like a good DSLR to supplement my Canon Powershot S5 IS. I want a DSLR so I can swap lenses (long telephoto for wildlife and wide angle for scenery) and so I can have remote shutter release for those long telephoto shots (to reduce shake issues).

I don't need - in fact I would rather NOT have - video. I shot stills and I would never use any video functions. I know this seems to be the latest fad, but I am old (and old fashioned) and just want a camera, not a video cam.

I have had trouble searching for my specific desires and there seem to be so many choices out there... I want a good body and at least two good lenses (long range and wide angle). Zoom is great as long as it isn't extreme (like 18-300 or something) and extremes don't do as well across the whole spectrum.

I'm not sure of my price range except to say no way would the Mrs. let me drop $5K.

I will want to try to sell my photos, too, as I have sold several already like the one attached (Yosemite, October 2008. ).

Many thanks for the help!
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Old Jan 5, 2009, 6:13 PM   #2
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There are only 2 DSLR cameras at the moment that have video:

Nikon D90 and Canon 5D2.

Should be easy to avoid if you feel so strongly about it. :-)
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Old Jan 5, 2009, 6:18 PM   #3
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Well, to my knowledge there are only 2 dslrs on the market with video - Canon 5dmkII and Nikon D90. So, still plenty of options out there without video.

There are certainly a lot of options out there. A lot depends on how serious you want to get regarding the wildlife shooting. That's whereyou can spend a LOT of coin - it's also where lenses tend to get rather heavy. Definitely a consideration when traveling. How serious you are about it also drives whether or not you need a system with better high ISO performance (dawn and dusk being prime times for wildlife activity) and if you plan on getting into action wildlife - birds in flight being the most common - where focus performance is more important than static animals.

In reality, are you planning on shooting wildlife at a time OTHER than the Alaska trip? It just doesn't make sense to me to invest say $1600 in a lens for wildlife shooting if this is the only time you'll realistically use it. Same thing with the focus performance / high ISO. Plenty of options that might be "good enough" without being "best in class" - especially if it saves you $2000.

The wide angle is less of an issue - all systems out there offer a decent wide angle lens and they're all going to be sharp enough with good enough color.

So, after Alaska, what will you use the camera for?
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Old Jan 5, 2009, 6:26 PM   #4
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I hope to get more aggressive with my photography sales. Wildlife has always been an interest, but I never had the right tools. I end with shots like the one attached - cute and all, but not exactly a moose grazing in a Maine pond.

I am retired now and hope to do more traveling across the US. Some of my shots can be found here: www.grandmemories.us/gallery.htm

Alaska is going to cost us a good nickel and my wife won't let me go overboard, but I can always upgrade a lens later. I won't try for the extreme telephoto because I know they are heavy and expensive. But a moderately long one (500mm??) and a doubler might get me something I can later crop in Photoshop. Can't do that with my S5 IS.

Thanks for the reply. My specific answer to the wildlife is that it will be a supplementary desire to my nature and landscape shots.
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Old Jan 5, 2009, 6:40 PM   #5
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peripatetic wrote:
Quote:
There are only 2 DSLR cameras at the moment that have video:

Nikon D90 and Canon 5D2.

Should be easy to avoid if you feel so strongly about it. :-)
??

My S5 IS has video. Now, I know there are only 2 HD video cameras out right now, but many have short video as an option. Even the point and click ones can shoot 30 second clips. Unless I am just nuts here (entirely possible). :?
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 11:03 AM   #6
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I have been reading many, many reviews of the Canon 50D and a lot of people say it isn't much better, if better at all, than the 40D. The 40D is about $300 less ($750 compared to $1050).

The biggest advantage of the 40D beside price is the DR seems to be better. For nature shots, DR is important as shadow/light contrast is much more of an issue there than in a studio. I don't know how much of a difference there really is; I am hardly an expert in such things.

The reviewers say that the 50D has more MP and requires better lenses - L series highly recommended - to avoid softness issues and, with cheap lenses, noise at higher ISOs. The 50D also has a much better LCD display.

I am debating getting the 40D and putting a better lens on it... I could keep my costs under $2,000 (and maybe under $1600) that way.

Any thoughts?
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 11:39 AM   #7
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You mentioned focal length of approx 500mm and wanting better glass and the 40D was your probable choice...And also staying around or under 2K...
Take a look at the Canon 100-400mm L Zoom...I got it about 6 months ago and for my bird and nature shots it's the bomb...I have been using it on my 20D and with the 1.6 crop factor the 400 actually becomes around 640mm...It is IS as well and that is a huge plus...The shots are amazing and being 100-400mm gives you a zoom that you might need in tight places without stretching the limits on zoom...As you mentioned about the 18-300mm...Now that is stretching it...hahaha...O yea, this lens is a bit heavy, but all L lenses are...Here are a couple of shots taken with the lens at the 400mm end...I know your question was about what camera, but I thought I would suggest a lens since you did mention that to...BTW, I think your best choice is the 40D...
About 70yds away...


About 30yds away...



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Old Jan 6, 2009, 12:04 PM   #8
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Those are awesome, John! Thanks! That is EXACTLY what I want to do.

On another point, I was told the Canons have a "99err" problems sometimes. The two guys who mentioned this said the Nikon D300 is a better choice than the Canon 40D. At twice the price, it better be. None of the reviews I read on either the 40D or 50D mentioned the 99err.

The issue is also where I will go "forever." Once you choose a brand and buy the lenses for it, all upgrades better be in that brand unless a lottery pick comes in...

This is a real struggle for me as I know whatever I buy better last me 10 years or at least a LONG time. I compromised down to a Canon Powershot S5 IS about 15 months ago and my wife thinks it should be good enough. But it doesn't shoot RAW, no remote shutter release, a fixed lens, and 8 MP; I want better for the only trip I'll ever make to Alaska. And then I'll have it for future visits to places like Yellowstone and Yosemite and so on.

Not to be a sob story but I have to find a point where the camera/lens and the cost don't impact my marriage of 35 years. And the "worst" part of all this is that I need a new PC before I can even upgrade to CS4 - my current PC is 7 years old and has just a single processor (2.4), 2 GB RAM, and a 120 GB HD. It bogs down even now with all the things I try to do; putting RAW images on it and trying to actually work might kill it. So how can I justify $5K for a PC and another $5K (or even $2K) for a camera on a fixed retirement income in this economy?

I'm just stuck. A wannabe pro photographer with "volkswagen" equipment.

The Powerball is over $100 million right now...
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 12:17 PM   #9
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Well, in regards to your PC and software plight - $5k is a huge hunk of change. No need to spend that kind of money if photo editing is the most intensive thing you'll do. The key to photo editing is memory and fast hard drive. Video card doesn't matter much and neither does CPU for that matter (within reason). I'm happily editing my photos on a 5 year old PC or a $1200 laptop. If you were doing video then things get tougher - but you said you're not.

Also, what software do you have now for editing? Are you really going to use the feature set of CS4 vs. less expensive software? In other words, what feature do you see yourself using in CS4 that isn't available in Elements or in Canon's software? And if you plan on shooting RAW, Lighroom or other software may be a much better fit than CS4 at a lower price.

Computers / software and Camera gear share a lot of similarities. The SMART user makes buying decisions based upon need not based upon prestige. It doesn't make sense to pay for things you aren't going to use if there are other options on the table.

I think John's recommendation of 40d with kit lens 100-400 is a great recommendation by the way. The 50d is a better camera and the extra megapixels will help with wildlife shooting allowing more croping for smaller animals but a 40d with L lens will give you better results than 50d with consumer lens.
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 12:30 PM   #10
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Just to pick up on the er99, I've never had one and I shoot with a Canon 30D, 5D and 1DmkIII. I think that it is someone who is convinced that Nikon is better than Canon wants to bring up a problem.

Having said that, if money was no object (well not as much) I would go D300 but there is not a lens from Nikon to come up to the 100-400 Canon. (There is a lovely 200-400mm f4 but you will be selling body parts to get one!!).

I know an option that is liked by NHL is the D300 and one of the Sigma lenses. I will get him to chip in.
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