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Old Jan 15, 2010, 5:39 PM   #21
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TCav has a point (Nikon with a 35mm f/1.8 AF-S lens on it). Even though the body is a bit higher, and noise may be a bit higher, you would have a fast lens option in a reasonably priced prime. Then, go with a used non-dedicated flash (Sunpak 333 Auto, Sunpak 383 Super, Sunpak 433D), setting the ISO speed and aperture the same for the camera and flash using manual exposure.
But, looking at current prices, that's going to put you over budget if you want a wider lens for group photos with a flash (for example, a kit lens with the D5000 body).
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:05 PM   #22
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If you are seated or standing in the audience behind the stage. The 50mm and 85mm would be more effective then a 35mm if you want to isolate on one performer, not the whole group.
Absolutely, but they won't autofocus on the D5000.

There is no good solution within the OP's budget, but I think the D5000 + 35/1.8 is the best option, and anything better (i.e.: T1i + 50/1.8, 35/2.0 or 85/1.8, D90 + 50/1.8, 35/1.8 or 85/1.8, K-x + 50/1.4 or 70/2.4) will cost a lot more.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:12 PM   #23
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If the OP can use a flash, then anything with the kit lens will work. It may take a while for the OP to get proficient with it, but it will work. Absent flash, fast primes and high ISOs are all there is. Piecing a system together that's in budget is the tough part.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:14 PM   #24
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The kit on the pentax will work, it may be the 90% solution. But it will work. I shot my brothers k-x this weekend for him during one of their lindy dance out. It worked out fine with the Metz 48. I used the 55-300mm and had my 85mm on my t1i. I stay mainly between 50-90 with the kit lens.

Also like littlejohn said, if the kit does not work out the way he wants, then he can move up to a fast prime. The pentax 50mm f1.4 is about 330 if you haggle a bit. So if he gets the k-x with the 200mm lens kit and the 50mm prime that will bring him to 1000 bucks, if he wants a prime right away. But I would rather see how the kit lens works for him first.

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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:16 PM   #25
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Absolutely, but they won't autofocus on the D5000.

There is no good solution within the OP's budget, but I think the D5000 + 35/1.8 is the best option, and anything better (i.e.: T1i + 50/1.8, 35/2.0 or 85/1.8, D90 + 50/1.8, 35/1.8 or 85/1.8, K-x + 50/1.4 or 70/2.4) will cost a lot more.
And here I was thinking that I had a pretty decent budget.

What are your collective thoughts about the kit lenses with these cameras? How would they, out of the box stack up against the Fuji given that the S200EXR was my original frame of reference? Are the kit lenses viable if I add an external flash? Then put myself on an upgrade path to buy a better lens or lenses at a later time?
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:19 PM   #26
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Out the box the K-x is better for your club shooting with it's ability at 12800iso. And yes the kit lenses on the K-x will be viable with a good external flash.

K-x 2 lens kit 18-55 and 55-200mm and metz 48 will be about 850 dollars, 920 with the longer zoom.

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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:34 PM   #27
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My advise... Forget the Fuji. It's not really a viable solution if you can't use a flash. It's got a much smaller sensor (meaning higher noise levels and/or loss of detail from noise reduction as ISO speeds are increased), with no bright lens options available, and questionable AF performance. You're going to want a dSLR model in low light for better results.

You could use a non-dedicated flash with one of the other dSLR models you're looking at if a dedicated flash puts you over budget. Basically, you'd want one that is capable of measuring reflected lighting during the exposure, then terminating the flash when it sees enough reflected light for the aperture and ISO speed you have set (you'd use manual exposure and set the camera and flash to match for those settings, picking a shutter speed that allows the amount of ambient light you want to contribute). On the used market, you should be able to pick up something like a Sunpak 383 Super for under $100. They used to be under $100 brand new not to long ago. But, Sunpak quit making them (probably because there's not as much demand for non-dedicated flash models anymore, as new users want a fully automated solution). So, you'd have to hit the used market to find one now. You can still find something like a Vivitar 285HV in a non-dedicated new flash. But, that model doesn't have swivel (it's tilt only). It's still a good flash though.

There may be some dedicated flash options that would work and keep you within budget, too. For example, I've seen some cheaper flashes from Vivitar like their new DF-383 at around $129 if you don't need a lot of features. But, user reports are a bit mixed, depending on the camera brand they're used on (and build quality may not be the greatest).

Whether or not the camera you choose can actually focus in lower light with something like a kit lens is one question though. A brighter prime is a better bet in dimmer bar lighting if they do not have any stage lighting to work with.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:03 PM   #28
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I'm sure learning a lot, about prime lenses for one thing, so I want to thank everyone.

I suppose this was part of the intimidation of moving from a point and shoot to a DSLR, sort of like moving from prepackaged meals to cooking from scratch, a new vocabulary.

It's just something I've never had to think about before.

If I were looking at out of the box, of the three is is a toss up between the Pentax and the Nikon? It sounds like this particular Canon would not be suitable.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:09 PM   #29
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The canon T1i, not the XSi would be a better fit. The T1i with just lenses is at your budget, and factor in the flash it will put it 200 over your budget.

But with your requirements the pentax fits budget best and is a very good camera.

The Nikon D5000 will be hinder by lens availability, the D90 would be better. But it is allot more. The body alone would blow your budget.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:21 PM   #30
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I'd look at the T1i in the Canon lineup. The Canon model you're looking at is limited to ISO 1600.

Another option would be the new Sony A500. It's using a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor (as do the Nikon D5000 and Pentax T1i). The Pentax seems to be squeezing a bit more detail at higher ISO speeds out of one of those sensors. But, on the downside, the Pentax is more likely to clip highlights due to the way it's response curve appears to be setup, given a properly exposed mid gray. IOW, you may lose detail in brighter areas with the Pentax before you would with the other models. I suspect they did that on purpose to allow for lower noise levels, trading off some highlight range for it (although it's shadow range is a bit better than most, you really don't want the shadows as much shooting at higher ISO speeds, as you're better off letting them clip to black earlier to hide the noise in the shadows). There are pros and cons to the Pentax approach. The Pentax is also going to lag behind the other brands in the Autofocus area. Again, pros and cons. For it's price point, it would be hard to beat at higher ISO speeds from a noise perspective though.

IOW, there is no perfect camera. :-)
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