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Old Jan 27, 2009, 10:50 AM   #1
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Hi Everyone!

I hope you'll be able to help me! I am completely new to the world of SLR photography and I have enrolled on a course beginning in April to teach me the basics. I need to purchase a camera before the course begins but before I know what I'm doing!!.....kind of a chicken and the egg situation!!

I would like a good 'all-rounder' that I won't grow out of too quickly and I am particularly interested in low-light photography, sunsets etc.

I am considering the following:

Canon 450d, Nikon d60, Sony alpha (anything from 200-350) and I have read good reviews for all of them. I cannot quite seem to find which one is better in low-light though.

I am unsure whether it would be better to buy one of the more expensive cameras or on of the cheaper ones (sony alpha) and a good lense to go with it?

I'm sorry if that sounds silly/ isn't specific enough but as I said I'm new to this and there's alot to take in! Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 3:28 PM   #2
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All of the cameras you listed, plus the Pentax dSLR cameras, will do what you want. If you are buying for a class, just buy the camera and the kit lens, wait for anything else. I wouldn't buy an expensive camera at first - for low light I'd buy a basic camera then add a good, fast lens later, when you can afford it. And if you only buy the basic kit, then find that the camera doesn't suit you, you don't have much money tied up in the system and can switch platforms easier.

The Nikon D60, Pentax KM (K2000) and K200,and Sony 200 and 300 (I think the 300 is the same)all use the same sensor. Each manufacturer handles noise reduction for high ISO differently, so take a look at sample pictures to see which look you like. In general, Nikon uses more noise reduction at the expense of some detail (my opinion) but you might prefer that look over something that's got the detail but is grainier.

The Sony 300 has live view, but also has the smallest viewfinder of any of the ones you are looking at. You'll be using the viewfinder mostly, so make sure you can live with it (it's significant to me, but others don't mind it as much). I'd probably give the edge to the 200 because of it.

Since you have an interest in low light, I'd probably not put the Nikon D60 that high on the list - while Nikonhas a fast 50mm lens that can auto focus with the D60, most of their older, cheaper fast lenses can't auto focus - do you want that limitation? On the other hand, Nikon's flash system is more advanced than anyone else's so if you aren't doing available light photography it might be much higher on your list.

TheCanon is probably marginally better than the others when it comes to low light, but it's a small difference. I think I'd probably rank them in order as 450d, Sony A200 at the same level as Pentax KM and K200, then A300 and D60 behind them (each has different limitations). All of them have different ergonomics so a big part of your research should include handling all of the cameras. If one doesn't feel right then you won't have fun using it, and at this level, there's not all that much between the cameras.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 3:43 PM   #3
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I wouldn't be overly concerned about one camera vs another high iso performance for sunsets. For two reasons: 1) you don't have a tremendous amount of detail to worry about. I think it's much more of an issue when you talk about photos of people in low light where there is a lot of detail and detail that can be destroyed by noise. 2) Regardless of camera, if you like taking photos of sunrise or sunset, a tripod is your best friend - no need to be shooting sunsets at ISO 1600.

I agree - any entry level dslr will fit your needs. Go to a store and handle them and see if the ergonomics of one fits you better than another. And then when you buy just buy the kit lens - ignore packages that tack on poor quality lenses/cases/ etc. to jack up the price.

Sadly, some misinformed people seem to believe high ISO and anti-shake are a replacement for a tripod. They're not. They are very nice tools to have. But so is a tripod.

I'm not saying to buy a tripod right off the bat - just saying that after you learn about photography and you're wanting to take more serious sunrise/sunset photos a tripod will bea much more useful tool than good ISO 3200 performance. Others opinions may differ.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 3:44 PM   #4
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I agree with mtngal, and want to reiterate that your decision should be based, to a significant extent on how the camera feels to you.

I am also an available light photographer, and would like to mention the importance of stabilization. When you use a slower shutter speed, you need to hold the camera especially steady in order to prevent motion blur due to camera shake. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of their lenses, while Pentax and Sony use sensor shift image stabilization in their camera bodies. While Canon and Nikon have a nice selection of large aperture lenses, they aren't stabilized, so their usefulness in available light is limited. Pentax has a better selection of large aperture lenses than Sony, and since the stabilization is in the body, they will all be stabilized. (Keep in mind, however, that large aperture lenses are not cheap.)
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 3:47 PM   #5
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sorry - just re-read the OP's post. Let me ask what you mean by low light photography. For some reason I assumed that only applied to the sunset work. So clarify what types of low light photography you're interested in.
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Old Jan 27, 2009, 5:10 PM   #6
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:-)Thank you everyone for your advice, it's made things much clearer for me!

Just to clarify you were correct to assume I meant mainly sunsets as this is the kind of 'low-light' I meant ('available light' is a new term to me also...told you I was a total novice)! I hope that I'll widen my scope a little more than sunsets when I learn more but I suppose that's all part of the process!

If, as you say, all of the cameras mentined would be sufficient enough for me as a beginner then I think I will take your advice and visit my local camera shop to play around with some and get a feel them first.



Many thanks again guys, your advice has been invaluable! :-)
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