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Old Jun 12, 2010, 2:01 PM   #1
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Default K-x or T2i, D90, A550?

Hi,

I decided that I need to upgrade from my old Sony DSC-V1 compact camera. I am looking for improvements on

- overall image quality, particularly in difficult scenarios (e.g. low light)
- speed, reaction time, particularly in difficult scenarios (e.g. low light)
- more zoom range (ca. 28-300 mm or more)
- some additional "nice to have" capabilities, e.g. HDR, HDMI,...
(do not care about video)

I am not such an enthusiast, so convenience and cost are important, too. If I am to carry a big heavy camera (well, compared to the V1) and a set of lenses then I want a clear benefit.
However, having a technical background I enjoy the quality and the performance of a good device. I will be more happy spending a higher amount on a great camera than spending half the amount on an average camera that will annoy me sometimes with one shortcoming or another.

I started looking for a bridge camera, e.g. Panasonic FZ-38, but I found that I will not gain much compared to the V1, except for a bigger zoom range. And even this is ambivalent, since the picture quality degrades at both ends.

I discovered the Sony NEX-5 and thought this one was made for me, but I learnt from several reviews that the lenses included are not satisfying, and that the handling is not always convenient.
Next I considered the Olymp E-PL1, then the Panasonic G2. I was close to buying this one when I discovered two things:
One, the G2 with two lenses is not cheaper and not much smaller than a good DSLR.
Two, a good DSLR still makes better pictures and offers more than the G2.

So I had a look at DSLRs. Currently I have four models on my list and cannot get to a decision:

Pentax K-x
relatively small price, seems to bring everything that is really needed, "most bang for the money"

Canon T2i / 550D
brand new model, gets a lot of praise, top quality and performance

Nikon D90
older model, gets a lot of praise, top quality and performance

Sony A550
recent model, gets some praise, top quality and performance, best live-view performance


I found some image comparison of D90 and T2i. When pixel-peeping I like the D90 more because the images looked more neutral and accurate and had less artifacts. When looking on the whole image, the T2i looked more "punchy", the D90 was somewhat flat in comparison.

Since I am wearing glasses I never got to like a view finder, but always preferred the screen, so the live view performance is very relevant to me. This seems to be a strong point for the A550, but I am not certain about its picture quality and other capabilities.

I found this forum to be a place with open-minded and objective discussions, so I am really looking forward to your comments. Sorry for the long-winded story-telling, but I thought it might help you to provide good advice.

Since the camera alone does not work I would like you to consider the lenses as well. I think it might be a good compromise to split my desired range and to have one lense e.g. 18-50mm (ie. 35mm-equivalent 27-75mm) preferrably with f2.8, and a second lense e.g. ca. 50-200mm or 50-300mm (ie. eq. ca. 75-450mm) preferrably starting with f3.5.
Some camera kits bring one or both, but I have no idea of the quality.
I would appreciate any advice on this topic as well!

Thanks in advance,
Matthias
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 2:11 PM   #2
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Default K-x or T2i, D90, A550? (additions)

...a long text and still incomplete:

What do I photograph?

Most pictures are taken on vacations, so it's landscapes, animals, architecture and people (mostly my family).

What is the budget?

Weeellll.... I would like to be done with 500$, but if I see the benefit I am ready to pay up to 2000$.
(for the complete equipment, ie. camera, lenses, bag, memory card)

Again, thanks in advance,
Matthias
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 3:08 PM   #3
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Matthias-

Welcome to the Forum. We're pleased that you dropped by.

All three of the DSLR cameras you have chosen are top notch DSLR cameras. However, it terms of really good LiveView, Sony has the real advantage. Sony has developed the best implementation of LiveView. So, I would suggest that you focus more on Sony, based on your stated preferences.

The A-550 is a physically large DSLR camera. It is a real performer and it has some very unique features. Study the Sony Alpha line and you might be able to reduce your initial investment and camera size somewhat with a camera like the A-330.

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Old Jun 12, 2010, 3:14 PM   #4
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ohhhh - all pretty good cameras really - doubt you will notice much difference between them except possibly the d90 isn't as new so isn't quite as good as the others for low light performance but nicer ergonomics than the others

if your max budget was a little higher then you could have gone full frame camera which you would notice a benefit from over these cameras but probably not enough to justify the difference unless you were a pro photographer or a very serious enthusiest

in terms of lenses you've probably got the most choice of glass from canon then nikon then pentax and then sony - but again to see any real difference in the lens line up your generally talking very expensive lenses

dont think you'll find many cameras come with a constant aperture 2.8 kit lens so you probably looking at body only then buying lenses seperately - $500 aint gonna get you that f2.8 lens and a camera body but it would be a good investment as good lenses will make more difference to image quality than the specific camera body

if you can go to a local camera shop and try them all out see which one you click with
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 3:16 PM   #5
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yeah but i have heard (no first hand experiance) that the cost of that good liveview is a poor optical viewfinder and frankly liveview isn't overly useful except in limited circumstances
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 3:44 PM   #6
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The A500 and A550 have the same viewfinder size that you get with models like the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D; Sony A100, A200 and Sony A230 (entry level models without Live View).

The A3xx models do have smaller than usual viewfinders. They're only slightly larger than you'd get with the entry level Olympus dSLR models.

But, Sony made the viewfinders larger in the newer A5xx series so that they're the same size as their entry level models wthout Live View (although still not as large as more advanced camera models, as to be expected).
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 4:10 PM   #7
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Canon and nikon will give you the best lens upgrade path. As low light shooting will require big aperture lenses.

Canon will give you the hands down best HD as it is the only on the canon shoot at 1080p. I personally like the pop with canon color. I am not a pixel peeper. The canon can do pertty much every that you can shoot, and yes it has receive some top praise as it was name tipa 2010 best advance. Excellent AF system, good for action shots and low light shooting.

Pentax k-x is the best bang for the bucks. But it is packed with performance, there is no performance shortage in this bang for the buck package. I can almost match it with a equivalent big aperture lens to my current canon line up with the pentax. So though it has couple of less entry level lens, it good with the mid grade lenses. This camera has gotten some Top Praise also as TIPA 2010 best entry. The AF system is excellent also. They improve it to be almost as good as canon.

Nikon D90 is an excellent camera, top praise as 2009 best advance from tipa. It is a solid performer and gives you access to all the nikon lenses. As it is a bit older it will not shoot at 12800iso if you are in a very low light situration in a pinch. But I do not recommend shooting at 12800iso with any of the aps-c format. Very good AF system up there with canon. I would not consider the lower grade nikon if you need the AF to perform well in low light.

The Sony A500 and A550 are decent camera, good iso performance. But not as good in action like the other cameras's mention. They do have the best liveview on the market. Like the pentax, any lenses you put on the sonys will have IS as they use inbody IS system vs lens base system of canon and nikon. But sony's lens progression is not as good. There are holes in the upgrade path in that department.
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 6:03 PM   #8
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If I may, since all these cameras will produce very good images, you may find thinking about your requirements or wants will help you decide. i have the a550 but if i didn't care about live view and 16:9, i'd get the canon t2i for sure. i wouldn't mind having some kind of hd video built in so i wouldn't need to use my p&s for that. i wear glasses too and the viewfinder on the a550 is a bit too recessed. try it. see if you can see well enough. can you see the shutter speed and other info on the bottom line? try nikon...

those lenses you're dreaming about don't match up with the beginning bid of $500 so you'll need to examine your budget and plan the upgrade path.
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 7:24 PM   #9
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Good large aperture standard zoom lenses are expensive, and unless you're willing to blow your budget on a single lens, they won't be stabilized either. The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is a very good lens, and, while it's not stabilized all by itself, it is on a Pentax K-X or Sony A500 and A550. Tamron makes a stabilized version of that lens, but it's not as good. Sony's got a better selection of telephoto zooms, including some very good Minolta lenses available for reasonable prices on the used market, so I think a Sony would be your best bet.
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Old Jun 12, 2010, 7:30 PM   #10
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no they do not have a good selection of telephotos, only 1 the 70-300, the rest are megazooms. Not as good as a short tele and a long tele. And the 70-300 is 700 vs 550 for a canon 70-300mm with IS.
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