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Old Jun 26, 2009, 7:17 PM   #1
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Default Beginning DSLR Camera

I currently use a Canon S2IS, and I think the photo quality is going downhill. So, I was thinking about getting a beginning DSLR as my next camera, because I enjoy taking pictures. I love taking photos of landscape, close-ups, and kids/pets. I was thinking of getting a Nikon D60. Any other good recommendations? And what lenses should I start out with?
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Old Jun 27, 2009, 7:22 AM   #2
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There are no bad entry level dSLRs, though some a re better than others for certain things. For landscapes and kids/pets, any camera with its kit lens should do fine.

The decision comes down to what you mean by "close-ups." For macrophotography (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrophotography ), Nikon has some very good lens choices, both from Nikon and third parties. But the only stabilized macro lens for Nikon is the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, which sells for $900. If that's more than you wanted to spend on a single purpose lens, there are less expensive alternatives for Nikon dSLRs, but they're not stabilized, so you'll have to use a tripod. And many macro lenses for Nikon dSLRs won't autofocus on the D60.

On the other hand, Pentax, Sony, and some Olympus dSLRs have image stabilization in the camera body, so any lens is stabilized.

Like Nikon, Canon uses optical image stabilization in some of its lenses, but unlike Nikon, Canon doesn't have any stabilized macro lenses.

If you think macrophotography is more "close-up" than you were interested in, you might be able to get by with any of the kit lenses, but the new Sony 18-55 kit lens has a slight advantage in that area.
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Old Jun 27, 2009, 8:28 AM   #3
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But the only stabilized macro lens for Nikon is the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, which sells for $900.
Note that VR (Vibration Reduction) doesn't work well at closer focus distances (as you'd need a dedicated macro lens for). See Thom Hogan's review of this Nikkor for some discussion about trying to use VR for Macros with it:

http://www.bythom.com/105AFSlens.htm
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 2:54 PM   #4
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Well, as far as macro is concerned, I occasionally enjoy taking close-ups of flowers. So I don't know how much camera I need for that. So given that information, are you suggesting the Sony over the Nikon?
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 3:11 PM   #5
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For most photos of flowers, a Kit lens (typical 18-55mm) will be fine, unless you want to get *real close" and fill the frame with a very small subject, as in this hand held photo from a Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D that was taken at a very slow shutter speed of 1/10 second with a Minolta 50mm f/3.5 Macro lens from roughly 7 inches away.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/cr...low-tulip.html

The area focused on is sharp, thanks in part to the built in stabilization system in this camera model that Sony has refined in it's dSLR lineup since buying Konica Minolta's digital camera related assets, Of course, the photographer's skill was the most important part.

Most kit lenses have the ability to "fill the frame" with a subject that's roughly 4 times as large as the sensor size (and entry level dSLR models use an APS-C size sensor that is smaller than 35mm film). So, for typical closeups of flowers, the kit lenses will work fine.

As for other cameras you may want to look at in addition to the Nikon D60, I'd check out the Sony dSLR models like the Sony A200, A230, A300, and A330, which all use a Sony 10MP CCD Sensor, as does the Nikon D60 (only with the Sony models, you get a more advanced 9 point Autofocus System, combined with the ability to use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made while enjoying the benefits of an in body stabilization system).
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 3:21 PM   #6
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I just wanted to add - your requirements are pretty simple. The right lens or flash or tripod for the job will have more to do with success than the body. And all systems can meet your needs. So, while Jim likes to advance the cause of Sony, the Pentax, Oly and Canon systems will meet your needs just as easily. As for macro - I suggest you contact mtngal to see her opinion on how IS competes with a tripod in the world of macro. Go to the store, handle the cameras and select the one that feels best. BUT, save some $$ for a flash (you'll want one for the kids and pets) and additional lens to add on after you find out where the kit lens falls short for your specific shooting needs.

One of the benefits of the Nikon you are considering over Sony, Pentax or Oly is availability of lenses/flashes. Walk into any store that sells photography equipment and you'll find Nikon lenses and flashes. How many Sony, Pentax or Oly lenses are stocked will vary widely.
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 4:16 PM   #7
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So, while Jim likes to advance the cause of Sony, the Pentax, Oly and Canon systems will meet your needs just as easily
I'm probably a bit biased towards Sony because I shoot with a Sony A700. But, I also plug them because I think the Sony models are better values. ;-)

You'll have to decide for yourself. Here's one article on the subject. Make sure to read the last page (conclusion):

http://www.anandtech.com/digitalcame...oc.aspx?i=3434

As for lenses, the Nikon D60 camera body doesn't have a focus motor built in. Nikon stripped the body based focus motor out of their new entry level models like the D40, D40x, D60 and D5000. So, you're limited to using lenses that have focus motors built in if you want Autofocus. As a result, you can't take advantage of many inexpensive AF lenses in NIkon F Mount that don't have AF motors built in (especially on the used market), unless you want to try manual focus. You also don't get the benefits of stabilization with lenses used on a model like the D60, unless you buy VR lenses.

On the other hand, the Sony dSLR models can use any Minolta Autofocus lens ever made (including the vast majority of third party AF lenses in this mount from Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, Vivitar and others), while enjoying the benefits of both Autofocus, and an in body stabilization system. Unlike the entry level Canon dSLR models, the Sony dSLR models also have an available ISO 3200 setting.

As for lenses, you can get an inexpensive Minolta 50mm f/1.7 on the used market that will Autofocus on a Sony dSLR model, while still enjoying the benefits of stablization. There are many available zoom lenses that enjoy the same benefits. In addition, Sony recently released an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8 AF lens that will AF on Sony dSLR models. See what it costs you to get Autofocus with a similar bright prime in Nikon mount on an entry level model like the D60. ;-) Sony also offers a number of "best in class" lenses that work fine on any Sony dSLR model.

As for flashes, if you look at available models, you'll see that Sony recently released an inexpensive flash (HVL-F20AM) that you can also bounce for more diffused lighting. This is a really good idea for many entry level dSLR buyers, giving them better light than they'd get with camera's built in flash at a great price. Sony also offers more advanced flash models like the HVL-F42AM and HVL-F58AM with more advanced features (wireless, High Speed Sync, etc.).

Nikon is a relatively small company compared to Sony (which is probably one reason that most Nikon dSLR models like the D60 use Sony sensors). So, Sony has a lot more clout with larger retailers due to their broad product line (IOW, it wouldn't surprise me to see many retailers starting to stock more Sony dSLR related products compared to Nikon products).

Although Sony is the "new kid on the block" in the dSLR lineup, they managed to move quickly into 3rd place behind Canon and Nikon in the dSLR market niche after buying Konica Minolta's camera related assets. Since then, Sony more than doubled their dSLR market share in 2008 compared to 2007 (moving to a much stronger third place behind Canon and Nikon). Sony was already ahead of Nikon in the non dSLR digital camera niche.

Sony shipped more dSLR cameras in 2008 than Olympus, Pentax and all other camera manufacturers besides Nikon and Canon *combined*. IOW, I'd keep a close eye on them as they continue to move forward. I'm confident that they're not going to stop now either, as I'd expect continued updates to their dSLR body and lens products as time passes.
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 4:56 PM   #8
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Saying that Sony is in third place really doesn't tell the whole story. In a market segment dominated by Canon and Nikon, Sony is just first among the 'Also Ran's. Sony's best sales figures still have Nikon outselling it two to one.
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 5:01 PM   #9
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For now, as it's a young market. ;-)
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Old Jun 29, 2009, 5:13 PM   #10
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I've also been surprised at how well Sony models have been received by users of multiple camera brands. For example, I just read a post from a Sony A350 user yesterday that had decided to "jump ship" to a Nikon D90 a while back. After using a D90 for a while, this user sold the Nikon D90 and bought *another* Sony A350 (mostly because this user thought the Nikon's metering was "all over the place" compared to the Sony), even though the D90 should be a better camera in many conditions (thanks to the better Sony 12MP CMOS sensor used in the Nikon D90).

You can't always go by test results in controlled conditions when comparing cameras. You also need to take things like metering reliability and consistency into consideration. ;-)
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