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Old Apr 18, 2010, 9:12 AM   #1
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Default I'm a moron... it really is about the lenses, isn't it?

In my recent camera searching, I recently had an epiphany (or, more correctly, a bunch of stuff I've been reading finally sunk in): if I'm looking to significantly upgrade my pictures from my P&S superzoom, I need to go body-only, and stop looking at "kit" glass.

Yes, SLR bodies focus a ton faster at a given focal length than P&S cameras, but if you slap a 5.6 kit zoom on there, the faster lens on the P&S will start giving it a run for it's money. (My old FZ5 was f3.3 stretched out all the way... it's a fast focuser for a P&S, unless the light was truly awful.)

Until this morning, I've been looking at all the whiz-bang body features, and also combining the body price with the twin-lens kit price to figure out how much I'm spending. Oops.

Now, with my "inspiration", this changes the equation considerably, and introduces a new set of pros/cons, along with new body selections:

Olympus:
In-body stabilization becomes a big plus, since the quality IS lens selection on Canon/Nikon is expensive and/or skimpy.
The Oly faster zooms are by all accounts pretty darn good, and lighter than their 35mm-mount equivalents with smaller crop factors.
Lens selection in general is a bit limited, and not getting that much better. (Will they ever release another 4/3 lens, or has all the lens dev money gone into m4/3?)
That perfectly fine $450 e620 body sure does start to look tempting...

Sony:
Again, in-body stabilization is a big bonus.
Minolta-mount lens selection going back years; also opens up the used market a little more. (Not that many used 4/3 lenses out there... some but not a lot.)

Canon:
Huge lens lens selection, used, 3rd-party, the works.
Lack of in-body stabilization a big minus, since the in-lens selection is skimpy in lenses I could actually pay for.

Nikon:
An even bigger lens selection going back to the '70's.
But if I want to take advantage of that selection and not MF, I've gotta get a D90, which drives up the price. (Hey, I could actually use my couple of old AF Nikon lenses! Some Ritz-brand 24mm squeaky piece-o-junk, a 70-300 4-5.6 Ritz-brand, a 50mm Nikkor, and a cheap flash for which I'm missing the wide-angle diffuser.)
Again, no in-body IS, and an even smaller selection of IS lenses than Canon.

So, Steve's denizens... with this in mind, (and, unfortunately, the fact I'm still a bit price-constrained) what would you suggest as an "upgraded" selection of starter lenses that can cover a reasonable focal length range? I'm still looking at the same bodies as before (e620, D5000, T1i) and added the a500 to the list.

I'm not taking pictures of basketball games in a poorly-lit gym here, so bazillion dollar zoom bazookas aren't needed, but being able to do some available light photography where the subject isn't stock-still would be nice. I'm looking to upgrade the IQ over the kit zooms more than take pics in horrendous light.

I don't have a set price limit, but certainly $1k or under would win me points with the wife...

SirWired

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Old Apr 18, 2010, 10:33 AM   #2
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I would add Pentax to the list with in body IS and a great selection of older glass.

You are right about MF on Nikon and honestly you wouldn't want to be trying MF without a split focus screen that dSLRs don't have. I can't remember who it is, but one of the members recently got a 50mm f1.8 with their Nikon, fully aware it wouldn't AF but just found it horrible to MF so is getting something else.

Sony with a Minolta 50mm f1.7 would do a good job, or Canon with 50mm f1.8. Having IS is nice for sure but a lot of times you are still affected when using slow shutter speeds by the subject moving.

I'm not an expert on what Pentax has in its lineup so someone else can probably chip in.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 10:35 AM   #3
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Actually you are over thinking the IS. Majority of the canon fast primes do not have IS. And when you are shooting at say 1.8-2.8 you will have a fast enough shutter that IS is not needed out doors and indoors depending on the lighting. Also if you go with true Marco, you will not want IS as you will be shooting on a tripod.

Canon has the most lens selection. And has options in both very entry level to mid to pro. And if you get the crop body, all the lenses will work on them.

I shoot canon, pentax and oly now. And the IS is not as big advantage as you may think. If you are in low light that is when it really helps toward the long end of a big zoom.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 12:10 PM   #4
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sirwired-

You mention feeling a "price pinch." It would really assist us if you revealed your budget. Otherwise, using due caution, we will only suggest kit lenses.

On the Pentax Kx that will be the Pentax DAL 18-55mm and the Pentax DAL 50-200mm or Pentax DAL 55-300mm lenses.

On the Olympus E-620 that will be the Olympus 14-42mm and the Olympus 40-150mm lenses.

On the Nikon D-5000 that will be the Nikon 18-55mmVR and Nikon 55-200mmVR lenses.

On the Sony A-230 or A-330 that will be the Sony 18-55mm lens and the Sony 55-200mm lenses.

Knowing your budget we can then venture beyond those rather standard lens selections.

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Old Apr 18, 2010, 12:32 PM   #5
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well you could go for a faster zoom lens for a starter. like the sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0 with image stabilization on canon and nikon. or its sister lens the 17-70 2.8-4.5 without image stabilization on the pentax or sony body. the stabilized version is around 450USD for canon and nikon, and the nonstabilized (stabilized by the body though) is around 370USD for pentax and sony.

this gives you a few options for around a grand

Pentax KX (520USD) plus the sigma 17-70 (370USD)
Sony A500 (650USD) plus the sigma 17-70 (370USD) - 20USD over budget
Canon T1i (670USD) plus the sigma 17-70 os (450) - 120 over, but may be worth it for cheaper lenses in the future.
could go down to the canon xsi (~500), but you lose out on iso 3200.

Nikon D5000 (630USD) plus the sigma 17-70 os (450) - 80 over, again may be worth it as canon and nikon lenses are generally cheaper (depending on your future plans)
could go down to the d3000 (550) as well, and may be a decent choice, its not a bad entry-level kit.


These Sigma's are faster than the respective kit lenses, as well as being optically better as well, and offer decent magnification for macro work. They give you a good range of focal lengths, and would be a great start as you learn more, then you can add fast primes (ala 50 1.8s) and telephotos.

What would I choose? the KX is probably the best value when you are just talking this starter kit. However, don't discount the advantage of canon and nikon's lens selection, depending on your furture purposes. The sony offers a better inbody stabilization when comparing the 2 stabilized bodies, but the high iso performance of the kx is better, so choosing between those 2 is difficult.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 12:36 PM   #6
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Sir wired, welcome to the world of the semi-confused! I would never go as far as even suggesting something for you, because we all have our own wants/needs in a camera system. I can only relate what is working for me. I do primarily people and animal(my dog) pictures, so my lens needs are maybe different from someone else. I have always thought for the "normal" shooter, the body becomes less important than the lens mounted on it. Currently I shoot with a Sony A300, coming from a Nikon D50, and the Sony SSS is a lifesaver for me, because every lens I use is stabilized. I currently have two "pro-sumer" level lenses. The Sal50/f1.4(which I chose over the f1.8 version based on the metal lens mount and build quality), and the Minolta AF 70-210/f4 "beercan". These two lenses cover just about all my portrait/low light photography, and with the SSS, they are both stabilized. I also have the Tamron 70-300 macro which, for the price, is fantastic for 1:2 macros. For general shooting outdoors I have the Tamron AF 28-300 which is a surprising lens.

If sports shooting is your thing, then lens price goes up, especially for night shoots under lights. I won't even go there, because I have almost no experience in it.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 1:31 PM   #7
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If you want to shoot indoors with available light, you'll need a large aperture lens. I'd been pleased with the results I got with a Tamron 17-50/2.8 lens, though the Sigma 18-50/2.8 is also very good. The unstabilized versions of these lenses are far better than the stabilized versions, and stabilization is good for what you want to do, so going with a body that is stabilized will get you what you want.

Whenever someone has special requirements for a camera, the best strategy is to find a lens that can do it, and get a body that it will work with. The Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Sigma 18-50/2.8 on a Pentax K-x or Sony A500 or A550 will do what you want, though they may stretch your budget a little.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 5:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
You mention feeling a "price pinch." It would really assist us if you revealed your budget. Otherwise, using due caution, we will only suggest kit lenses.
You missed the guide in the first post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirwired View Post
I don't have a set price limit, but certainly $1k or under would win me points with the wife...
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 5:31 PM   #9
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My budget (exclusive of a flash, extra battery, case, etc.) is around $1100-ish. I know about the ubiquitous 4-5.6-ish twin kit lenses for each system, and everything I read about all of them keeps saying: "for a kit lens, it's okay." (That said, the Olympus seem to be the best among that undistinguished group. While I don't want to be toting around a $10,000 glass brick, the next step up in IQ and lower-light (if not "low-light") ability is what I'm shooting for.

The reason I'm so focused on IS is that I rarely tote a tripod around, and most (if not all) of my subjects don't move quickly. The IS gets me 2-3 "free" stops of additional aperture. (ignoring, for the purposes of that sentence, the other implications of focal length besides exposure, of which I'm at least somewhat aware)

I don't generally do sports, and I certainly don't plan on trying them out at night, so the superfast telephoto-bazookas are not even remotely on my radar screen.

Hope this helps...

SirWired
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 6:27 PM   #10
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Thanks, SirWired for your reply-

I happen to agree with you that the quality of the Olympus kit lenses is a step above some of the other kit lenses offered. In addition, Olympus offers a number of other even higher quality lenses that are well worth your consideration such as the Olympus 9-18mm and the 50-200mm lenses.

As a long time Olympus DSLR user I can tell you that the Olympus system is very effective.

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