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Old Oct 12, 2009, 4:55 PM   #1
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Default Exploring Entry Level and Above DSLR Cameras

Folks-

With Christmas just around the corner and Nikon and Canon suddenly dropping the prices of their entry level DSLR cameras in anticipation of the economic prediction that this year's Christmas market might be substantially smaller in size than any previous year.

So this is a good time for members of this Forum who have been looking at a move upward move in image quality that a DSLR can really provide.

Our intent will be to look at the performance and image quality of all the major entry level DSLR cameras in the market place today.

So, jump on board, and we get this thread underway.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 5:33 PM   #2
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Default The Sony A-200 - A Price Leader

In the price sweepstakes the Sony A-200 is still available on auction websites like e-bay. Two weeks ago I paid $360 for a brand new A-200 camera still in the box with a full 1 year guarantee and the Sony 18-70mm kit lens.

The A-200 is capable of pretty good to very good image quality depending on the lighting and is one of the few entry level DSLR that offers an ISO 3200 setting.

Sony cut some corners on the A-200 and A-230 (the model that replaced the A-200) by using a super large CCD imager rather than a real CMOS imager just as Nikon did with the D-40 DSLR camera.

So, if you can live with some compromises, the Sony A-200 could be your entry level price leader. Naturally, the obvious question is: what does the image quality look like?

So, I attached a fill flash photo of my husband taken right in our living room. It was taken at ISO 400, using the new Sony 55-200mm lens which has received great reviews and costs less than $160.00. Take a look and tell us what you think.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 5:40 PM   #3
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Since different brands and different product lines have different strengths and weaknesses, it's important for a new dSLR buyer to enumerate the types of photography they want to do, narrow down their selection based on that, and then choose from the available options. People often had preconceived notions about what they wanted to buy, and now that they have it, they come here seeking help to do something that the dSLR they bought can't do.

As an example, the Nikon D40, D60, D3000 and D5000 don't have a built-in autofocus motor. If someone wants to do Macrophotography, Nikon only has two macro lenses that can AF on them, and they cost $530 and $900; none of Sigma's or Tokina's Macro lenses will autofocus on them, and Tamron's only choice is the new 60mm f/2 which costs $570.

If you compare the cost of a macro lens that's suitable for these entry level Nikon dSLRs against the cost of a less expensive lenses and a more expensive camera body that had a built-in motor, they might have saved money by buying the more expensive camera.

I point this out becasue a popular cry here is to shop for ergonomics first, and for general purpose photography that's ok. But many people make the move from P&S to dSLR because they have something they want to do better than their P&S is capable of, and if they pick a dSLR that feels good but can't do what they want either, they've just wasted a lot of time, effort and money.
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 5:54 PM   #4
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Which entry level slr's have built in autofocus motors ?
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:01 PM   #5
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TCav-

I appreciate your post. You, yourself have recently been through the DSLR selection process and decided on the Nikon D-90, so your comments are very much appreciated.

You have touched on a very important issue. The potential DSLR buyer had to do a comprehensive evaluation of the DSLR cameras out there. Yes, you have to adress the ergonomics, but also photographic performance as well. In short, the camera may feel great in hand, but an equally important issue is will that camera perform well, gving you the image quality anf photo performance you have every right to expect.

Not all entry level cameras are going to do that. So that is an area we hope to address in this thread. Understanding your needs rather thoroughly is essential. Then you have make those needs very clear to any person offering you a DSLR camera at the entry level price and above.

Clearly the very first step is to honestly and thoroughly examine the type of photos that you are now taking and those that you want to take in the future. It will take some searching to find the DSLR camera that most closely meets your needs. You have to check all the boxes on your "most desired features" list. You also have to expect to make some compromises, as the perfect camera has still not been perfected.

Thanks for posting. Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:04 PM   #6
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anthony_b-

The Sony D-40, D-40X, D-60, D-3000, and D-5000 cameras rely on focusing motors that are a part of the lens.

Thus, Canon, Sony, and Pentax DSLR cameras have built-in focus motors in the camera body.

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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:06 PM   #7
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Here is the promised ISO 3200 photo taken with the Sony A-230 camera.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthony_b View Post
Which entry level slr's have built in autofocus motors ?
That's complicated to answer, and I don't think the answer will give you the information you want.

The situation is that until recently, all Nikon SLRs and dSLRs had built--in motors, and lenses manufacturers (Nikon included) could either use that motor to autofocus or add a motor to the lens (for faster and/or quieter AF, for instance.) When Nikon introduced the entry level D40, they dropped the built-in motor (presumeably to keep the cost down) so only lenses with their own motors could AF on it. Since then, Nikon has released other entry level dSLRs that also lack a built-in motor, so the selection of lenses (especially speciallized lenses) for those cameras is narrower than for other Nikon dSLRs.

The Nikon dSLRs that don't have built-in AF motors are the D40, D40X, D60, D3000 and D5000.

No other camera manufacturer has segmented its product line in such a way. That is, for instance, no Canon dSLR has a built-in motor, but all lenses built for use with Canon dSLRs have their own motor.
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:14 PM   #9
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Another DSLR cameras that is also listed as a low price leader, is the Olympus E-510 camera. www.newegg.com had a promotion on this past Friday (October 9th) on a re-certified Olympus E-510 camera with the Zukio 14-42 and 70-300mm lenses for just $389.00. By Friday at 5:00pm that had sold every unit they had in stock.

What can the E-510 do? Well, here is a photo I took this afternoon of my every patient husband at the same time that I took the A-200 photo that I posted first in this thread. I think it looks pretty good. Tell me what you think?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:24 PM   #10
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Another widely and positively reviewed entry level DSLR is the Canon XS camera.

Here is a sample photo taken with the canon XS camera equipped with the new Canon 55-250mm lens (around $250.00) that has also received great reviews.

Again another very good photo. We will be interested to hear you evaluation of this photo.

Sarah Joyce
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