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Old Jan 14, 2009, 2:46 PM   #1
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I will try to be succint. I have read these forums for hours, read Steve's reviews, gone to camera stores, surfed camera stores on the internet, read reviews in magazines and other internet sites. I am asking for advice and help here because I really think the members offer sincere help and I enjoy their enthusiasm. Here goes:
  • I am approaching 60 and have been using an SLR since I was in my mid-20's. I have understanding of DOF, shutter speed, aperature settings, etc. However my old favoriate camera and lens was Minolta 201 and it still works. I have taken a lot of B W photos of family, portraits, landscapes, mostly for my own and family's enjoyment but have made bigger prints 8 X 10, 11 X 14 and larger of some shots. I have taken a few courses and have a small library of helpful books. I enjoy Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, Dothea Lange, Anne Geddes, Alfred Steiglitz. Call me an enthusiastic amateur who loves photography and appreciates the beauty and truth that photos can provide.[/*]
  • I have had several digicams, most recently FUJIFILM 30d. It is a little camera, fits in my pocket, can take short movies, family pics, etc. However, when travelling (Ireland, Poland, South Carolina coast, for example), it is limited for zoom, and even does not work when there is a lot of moisture.[/*]
  • I want to take pictures (grandkids, kids, older people, younger people, mountains, birds, a leaf, a flower, interesting angles, kids sports, family mostly in low light and incandescent light). Mostly, though, I just want to take pictures (I have a good camcorder now but still care mostly for photos). I sometimes take my camera and just walk or drive around and start shooting pictures (and this is mostly just for me).[/*]
  • I have photoshop elements and also use Picassa but not photoshop deluxe.[/*]
  • I want to spend a total of(about) $1100 (lens, camera, flashe, etc.) but could go down or up from that depending upon suggestions. I figure that I will be keeping at least the lenses, if not the camera, a very long time.
[/*]
I am sorry for the length of the question, but I would really appreciate your suggestions. I realize I will have to make an investment in lens over time and that the lens can be more important than the camera itself. Thank all of you in advance for your thoughtfulness and consideration. So, what dSLR might make sense and paired with what lens and flash, etc.????
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 3:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
I want to take pictures:
  • Quote:
    (grandkids, kids, older people, younger people,
    [/*]
  • Quote:
    mountains,
    [/*]
  • Quote:
    birds, a leaf, a flower,
    [/*]
  • Quote:
    interesting angles,
    [/*]
  • Quote:
    kids sports,
    [/*]
  • Quote:
    family mostly in low light and incandescent light
[/*]
OK. Taking pictures of mountains and other general landscape shots - just need a wide angle lens and every DSLR on the market has one available so no edge.

Leafs and flowers - now you're approaching macro work. Any DSLR will work but depending on how much macro work you want to do will drive the lens needed. Any telephoto lens will let you take flower/leaf type photos because you can crop down to get an image. I say telephoto because that way you can get the background blur without the close-focusing a true macro lens provides. The more this type of work dominates your hobby the more you want to gravitate towards 1:2 and 1:1 macro lenses. But for leaves and flowers if you're not seriously into it any telephoto will do.

Angles - that's all on you - again a wide angle is often beneficial here. Ultra-wides can be especially nice because you get the distortion.

Family in low and incandscent light - my recommendation here is that in any system you want an external flash. Wide aperture lenses are nice for available light portraits but if you want more flexibility then get the external flash first. That allows you to shoot multiple subjects, moving subjects and subjects where there isn't enough available light for even fast lenses.

So, so far we're sitting at a DSLR with external flash, wide angle lens with possible additions of medium telephoto for flower/leaf and extreme wide for interesting angles.

Childrens sports. Here's where things can get REALLY expensive. What sports - be specific here including what level - midget football with 8 year olds is very different than varsity HS football under the lights vs. indoor volleyball/basketball. Also be specific as to the level of quality you're after. Just want snapshots? Or want newspaper quality sports photos or want Sports Illustrated quality. THe more difficultt the sport (i.e. lower the light levels) and the higher the quality you're after the more you have to spend on equipment - both body and lens(es) to get it. Depending on your answers here this is one category you may not get great results on given your budget. But it will allow us to make honest recommendations.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 4:21 PM   #3
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Wow. Thank you for the quick reply. I appreciate it and the comments about the types of shots I would be taking.

I will clarify sports shots I would like to take: These would be mostly for family and they would include (the majority of the time, 80%) kids outdoor soccer, outdoor baseball, indoor basketball. However, if possible, I would like to take some shots of college football (I sit in the front row right next to the field) and college basketball (I sit 40-50 rows back from the court). I have not tried the college shots before, except for pictures of family in the stands with the field as a backdrop. The sports shots would be less frequent than other shots.

Thank you again. OK. So far, the recommendation is "a dSLR withexternal flash, wide angle lens with possible additions of medium telephoto for flower/leaf and extreme wide for interesting angles." And perhaps a fast prime lens so I don't need a flash indoors all the time? I think I may have to up my money outlay, but it should be worth it.

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Old Jan 14, 2009, 5:00 PM   #4
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Here's a Rebel XSi kit with two lenses, a 18-55 wide angle and a 55-250 (both image stabilized).

The kit goes for just under $800 (free shipping):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Si_a_k_a_.html

At $800, you'd still have money left over to buy another prime lens or a flash.

Depending on the sport, you might need a specialized lens to handle it. For instance, indoor basketball or volleyball you could get by with a Canon 85mm F/1.8 prime.

The 55-250mm lens would probably work "okay" with daytime football as long as your willing to crop the photo to get the highlights. Realistically a really good lens for night-time close up football action is $1,000 plus.

No need to go ape with a flash. Any flash with a swivel head is good. It's more about the photographer's ability to use the flash than the flash itself. Having said that, nothing wrong with a $400 flash
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 2:20 AM   #5
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I think there is a better deals for you at the price point you are looking at:

Pentax K20D + 18-55 kit ($875)
Sigma 30mm f1.4 ($400)

At a later date a telephoto lens for sports work. Telephoto zooms cover all price ranges from the "cheap and cheerful" to the "I'll need a second mortgage" I would suggest you get used to the camera first and what it can do then decide on how much you want to spend on a big lens. Pentax themselves do lowish-end 55-300 for $300 which might be a decent starting point.

I agree that you may want to add an external flash at some point, but once again I would start off with the built-in flash and a fast lens like the 30mm f1.4, dial in a bit of negative FEC and see what results you are getting. Flash is the same as telephoto, you can spend nothing and just use the pop-up, get some nice results from a hotshoe bounce or spend thousands of dollars on pro gear. And using flash is an art form in itself, well worth the effort but not necessarily for the faint-of-heart.

And one other camera to throw into the mix - do some research on the Panasonic G1 with its twin lens kit. It's probably one of those love-it-or-hate-it cameras. I see one in my future as an alternative to my bigger SLR gear.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 7:06 AM   #6
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Thank you for the suggestions. I must say that I have mostly held Canon (XSi, 40d) and Nikon (d40, d60, d80, d90) and not any Pentax or Olympus, so I will have to go to stores this weekend to see how the Pentax feels. I will also read more carefully some of the Pentax review. I remember reading something about "hot pixels"for Pentax (or was this for the Canon d50?).

I like the idea about starting out with a camera and just a few lenses and then learning how to use them instead of starting out geting a whole bundle. My concern is that, once I make this decision, I know I am making a commitment to the brand for further upgrades, accessories, and, especially, additional lens. So I want to take this seriously but it is fun trying to look at all the options and make a decision.

The suggestions for the Canon XSi and Pentax K20d are in my price range.

Again, thanks for the responses and thought-provoking comments.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 7:52 AM   #7
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If you want to get a better feel of the Pentax k20D, why not drop by the Pentax forums and ask the users there.

www Dot Pentaxforums Dot com
(please replace Dot by . and there is no space between x and f)

Good luck!
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 8:30 AM   #8
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Adn, btw, as for"What camera if old lens not a consideration?", old lenses are not a consideration. I still have my SRT-202, and expended money, time, and effort, trying to use my old lenses. With the abundance of used Minolta Maxxum lenses, it was all a waste. Minolta manual focus lenses don't mount on Sony dSLRs and most ofthe adapters ony provide a mechanical connection, not a logical one.
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 4:33 PM   #9
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My sports shots will really be rather minimal compared to other photos but, when I do take a few, I would like them to be good.

Thank you for the suggestion of B and H Photo and the decent price of the Canon XSi. I will admit that I like the feel of the heavier Canon40d but I am not sure I can afford it if I want to get some good lens. Theprice of the XSi is better so I will do more research on that related to image quality (vs. the image quality of the 40d).

I will also say that I like the way the Nikon d90 feels and the ergonomics feel more natural. Again, with even a decent lens (18-200 VR), the cost is $1500-1600.

I am doing more research on the Pentax k20D and, on the advice of this forum, have been reviewing comments in the pentaxforums.com area. I need to feel this camera and also understand more about hot pixels related to image quality.

Thanks to all who have responded. I feel better about not worrying about using my old Minolta lens and still plan to take some pics on the SRT 201 but this will be more for whimsy.
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