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Old Jun 13, 2010, 11:47 AM   #31
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Based on the slrgear reviews referenced by TCav I'd say both the Tamron and the Sigma are a good choice, so the wide end of my lenses seems to be covered well. Right?

What about the tele lenses I listed?

And finally, do you think I created reasonable combinations?

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old Jun 13, 2010, 12:18 PM   #32
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My suggestion would be to find a store with demo units and try out the cameras you're interested in and see what you think before jumping to any conclusions about any of them, especially since very few members have probably used all of them. ;-)

I think you'll find that image quality differences are not that great for most things, since you can usually "tune" the camera settings to taste via in camera adjustments for things like the default tone curve (a.k.a., picture style or whatever a manufacturer wants to call it), saturation, sharpening, contrast, etc.

If you want to see how Image Quality compares using the default settings, try the comparometer feature here:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM

That way, you're seeing controlled conditions testing, and they try to use the same Sigma 70mm macro lens for their tests now. Look at images that you'll take more often. For example, they have a manequin photo that has cameras set to incandescent lighting to simulate typical indoor existing light people photos (you'll see IN in the filenames). Or, they have an outdoor poster, indoor scenes of varioius types with color charts, etc. Most are using simulated daylight lighting.

But, keep in mind that if you're looking at 100% image sizes on a screen, that's a lot larger than you'll probably ever print at. So, see how the images look at the sizes you're more likely to use. You're also lookinig at controlled lighting conditions, versus what you may have in harsher lighting conditions with a greater range of bright to dark.

Also, unless you print the images, you really can't tell what they'll look like in print from what you see on a screen. So, you may even want to download a few of them and have them printed at the sizes you'll use more often.

Make sure you're comfortable with the camera you choose. The D90 probably has the best viewfinder and control layout between the cameras you're looking at and also gives you a body based AF assist lamp. It's using a Sony 12MP CMOS Sensor (as does the Pentax K-X, Sony A500, Nikon D300s, D5000, and a number of other models).

The A550 has the best live view system (by far, as it's the only one that's really usable for moving subjects), and some neat features like Auto HDR that lets you take more than one photo and combine them in camera for better Dynamic Range, and it even compensates for minor differences in framing to reduce the need for a tripod (it can align two photos in camera). It's also the fastest camera of the bunch and can take an unlimited number of JPEG images at approx. 4.8fps with a fast card in it. The Pentax isn't bad. But it's going to slow down faster with long bursts, and has a smaller buffer size. The D90 is very good at 4.5fps for up to 100 shots, and has a larger buffer size compared to the K-x. The Canon is the slowest of the bunch (and will slow down to less than 3fps with high ISO NR enabled at higher ISO speeds from tests I've seen, as that adds processing time). But, it doesn't sound like you'd care about things like burst mode performance anyway.

As for the viewfinders, try them. I wear glasses and don't even pay much attention to them unless I see a problem. For example, I didn't notice any issues with the A550 when I used one for a while. It does have a thicker rubber eyecup compared to many cameras, makng it appear to be recessed more. But, it's removable if you really wanted to get closer to it (the rubber eye cup slides straight up to come off).

I used to do that from time to time with my Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D with an older pair of glasses I used to wear, probably because they were setup so they were further from my eyes, and the KM 5D has the same viewfinder size as the A550. But, I didn't feel any need to do that when using the A550 wth my newer eyeglasses frames (and it's rubber eyecup can help to keep light from entering in through the the viewfinder, which improves metering accuracy). You have to move up to a more advanced model if you want a viewfinder that's much better (like the A700 in the Sony lineup, Canon 7D in the Canon lineup, etc.).

Try them to see how they work for you. The D90 probably has the best Viewfinder between the models you're looking at. Ditto for it's control layout (the D5000 would be in the same market niche as most of the cameras you're looking at, with the D90 being a step up with dual control wheels, better viewfinder, etc.). The D90 is really a slight step up from the any of others you're lookng at as far as it's body and control layout.

But, they're all going to be pretty close in usability, depending on how you decide to use one. Again, try them and see what you think.

The Canon has the best Video Mode (which sounds like what the A550 user was interested in *if* it had better live view), and it's a solid performer with very good Image Quality and a very good AF system. It's hard to beat as an all around good camera, unless you need fast AF with Live View (then, the Sony is the only good choice).

The Pentax has great "bang for the buck". But, it's got a few quirks that I wouldn't like (as in not allowing you to see focus points selected in the viewfinder). Shooting JPEG, it's got less Dynamic Range in the highlights compared to the others (although it's shadow range is good), with a relatively steep tone curve. I've also seen a user with both a Sony A550 and Pentax K-x comment that they prefer the Sony (faster speed of operation, image playback, metering accuracy, it's DRO features, etc.).

Between the cameras you're looking at, the Sony A550 has the best Dynamic Range shooting JPEG (with much better range in the highlights, given properly exposed mid tones). At most ISO speeds, it's about 1/2 stop better total DR compared to the K-x; with a full stop better highlight range given a properly exposed mid gray (meaning you'd be far less likely to have issues with blown highlights using the Sony).

It's also better than the other models you're looking at if you're shooting JPEG. At base ISO, the A550 can capture 9.4 stops of Dynamic Range shooting JPEG from tests I've seen, with a highlight range of 4.2 stops above mid gray (a full stop better than the Pentax K-x, and almost a stop better than the Canon); and it can maintain 4 stops or better highlight range throughout all ISO speed settings. If capturing a greater range of bright to dark is important without blowing highlights (losing detail in brighter areas), and you don't want to mess around shooting raw or post processing, the Sony is very hard to beat. The D90 isn't bad either (it's highlight range is better than the Pentax or Canon models you're looking at when shooting JPEG, although it's shadow range is not quite as good). I'd prefer better highlight range.

But, you could probably tune any of them to some extent to get a little better DR (for example, Canon has a "highlight tone priority setting" to help out, and Pentax has a similar setting, although it slows down image processing some).

The Pentax probably has about 1/3 stop better performance at higher ISO speeds compared to the others. But, that's really neglible in real world conditions, especially after resizing the output from the others to the same viewing/print size. You'd be more likely to see differences because of other factors (WB and metering accuracy, etc.).

The Canon probably has the most lens choices, followed by the Nikon. But, you've got lots of choices for any of them, especially if you consider third party manufacturers.

From an image quality perspective, we're really "nit picking" with the differences between them for use in most conditions (and you can tune a lot of settings with them if you don't like the defaults). Again, I'd try them out in a store and see what you think from an ergonomics perspective, etc.; and decide if live view, video or other features that one model does better than another is an important factor to you. I would not rule out any of them until you have a chance to try them in a store (including the D90, as it's image quality is just fine for most anything you'd want to shoot). Just because it's not as new (as far as when it was launched), doesn't mean it can't take great photos, and it sounds like you were ruling it out mostly for that reason). ;-)
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Old Jun 13, 2010, 12:21 PM   #33
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I'd put the Canon 70-300 IS USM ahead of the Canon 55-250 IS, which I'd put ahead of the Pentax 55-300 DA.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (Tested)
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS

,,, versus ...

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS (Tested)
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

... versus ...

Pentax SMC-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED
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Old Jun 13, 2010, 12:28 PM   #34
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... but, of course, I'd put the Sony 70-300 'G' ahead of all of them.

Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 SSM G
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Old Jun 13, 2010, 1:30 PM   #35
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Are you consider getting the addition lenses right away? If not I would give the kit lenses a try to see if they fit your needs first. But the tamron as sig are good big aperture short zooms.

I agree that the canon ef 70-300mm is a good second tier lens at 550 dollar as I do own the lens. But from personal experience with shooting the ef-s 55-250mm and the pentax 55-300mm with the K-x that it is very close optical, and the 55-300mm is a fast focusing lens.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SlrBeginner View Post
Based on the slrgear reviews referenced by TCav I'd say both the Tamron and the Sigma are a good choice, so the wide end of my lenses seems to be covered well. Right?

What about the tele lenses I listed?

And finally, do you think I created reasonable combinations?

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old Jun 14, 2010, 7:36 AM   #36
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The Sony 70-300 indeed looks great, but the price tag is accordingly. As so often, you get what you pay for, it seems...

Yes, I plan to buy the whole bundle in one go, otherwise I do not satisfy my requirements, because having more zoom range and a longer tele is one important motivation for this purchase.
The Pentax 18-55 kit lense is cheap; the difference is something like 40 EUR compared to the body only, so it would not hurt to take the lense as well.

I was happy to have narrowed down the options somewhat, but Jim's extensive comment made me reconsider the Sony...

I am new to SLR so I do not have experience of what I would like in a camera's user interface - I have to get used to it, and I will. Hence, before going to a shop I wanted to understand what camera models make sense for me from a technical and economical point of view.
But that's what I will do next, trying to find a shop that allows me to get to know the cameras.

By the way, Shoturtle mentioned a one-click image processing. This sounds like a marketing promise :-) but the pictures look good, which software are you using?

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old Jun 14, 2010, 8:12 AM   #37
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One of the things you need to watch out for when doing too much processing in the cmaera is that the 3 inch LCD display doesn't give you much of an idea what the image will look like once you print it out, or even display it on a computer or TV. I suggest that you use the camera to take the photos, and if you need to do any further processing, do it on your computer, and not in the camera. "Undo" is something that you can do with a computer, but not with a camera.
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Old Jun 14, 2010, 10:24 AM   #38
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Pretty much all the editing program out there has an auto enhance feature. Just pick the photo and click auto enhance. I is on aperture, lightrooom, pecasa, and gimp.

The sony 70-300G is a good lens, but the question ask is will you notice the difference between a 500 dollar canon or nikon or pentax or verison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlrBeginner View Post
The Sony 70-300 indeed looks great, but the price tag is accordingly. As so often, you get what you pay for, it seems...

Yes, I plan to buy the whole bundle in one go, otherwise I do not satisfy my requirements, because having more zoom range and a longer tele is one important motivation for this purchase.
The Pentax 18-55 kit lense is cheap; the difference is something like 40 EUR compared to the body only, so it would not hurt to take the lense as well.

I was happy to have narrowed down the options somewhat, but Jim's extensive comment made me reconsider the Sony...

I am new to SLR so I do not have experience of what I would like in a camera's user interface - I have to get used to it, and I will. Hence, before going to a shop I wanted to understand what camera models make sense for me from a technical and economical point of view.
But that's what I will do next, trying to find a shop that allows me to get to know the cameras.

By the way, Shoturtle mentioned a one-click image processing. This sounds like a marketing promise :-) but the pictures look good, which software are you using?

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 3:03 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
One of the things you need to watch out for when doing too much processing in the cmaera is that the 3 inch LCD display doesn't give you much of an idea what the image will look like once you print it out, or even display it on a computer or TV. I suggest that you use the camera to take the photos, and if you need to do any further processing, do it on your computer, and not in the camera. "Undo" is something that you can do with a computer, but not with a camera.

I completely agree. In addition, I do not like doing "serious" work with small buttons and screens - for the same reason I do not use the SMS feature of my cell phone, I rather write an email or just call...

Yesterday I went to a shop. I wanted to avoid this but now it's getting emotional ;-)
I did not like the K-x, which was becoming my favourite, actually. I very much liked the Canon 550D and the Sony (which was only a A450). I liked the Canaon slightly more, but was impressed by the live view of the Sony - and the A550's is supposed to be even better.

So now it's a choice between 550D and A550, so I will define some potential packages with camera and lenses alsofor the Sony as I did above for Canon and Pentax. Then I will decide, finally.
Any suggestions for good lenses are welcome!

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old Jun 15, 2010, 3:51 AM   #40
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the canon 550d will give yout the most room to grow (if you plan on advancing in your photography) cant go wrong with canikon really and since you liked the camera in the shop its the obvious choice

live view...ask yourelf how often you'll actually use it - its not really a major part of dslr life and only really used when taking pics at odd angles that you cant get your eye to the viewfinder - if you really want to use live view then perhaps you should consider the sony but th a550 is apparently a restrictive camera

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony...550/page27.asp

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos550d/page29.asp
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