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Old Jun 24, 2010, 12:03 AM   #1
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Default Beginners dilemma, first DSLR

Greetings Everyone,

I know there have been plenty of threads relating to this problem, and my apologies for bringing it up again, but as you would know, choosing a camera system is a very difficult decision for beginners, so I just could not stop myself from asking for help.

Photography is my leisure hobby. Most often I shoot indoors, my subjects are my family, I donít like to shoot with flash as it gives unnatural lights. So clean image at high ISO is essential. My max budget is 500GBP, I would be very much happy if I could get it under 400GBP. As for camera brand Iím biased towards Canon and Sony (currently I have a HX1 and love the steady-shoot technology). My current choices are:

1. Canon Rebel XS/EOS 1000D with kit lens and 50mm F1.8 prime lens
2. Canon Rebel XS/EOS 1000D body ONLY and 50mm F1.4 USM prime lens
3. Sony A230 with kit lens with Sony 50mm F1.4 prime lens
4. Canon Rebel T1i/EOS 500D.

I know the XS produce clean image but I donít have the money to get the F1.4 USM lens. So is the aperture of F1.4 worth considering the Sony?

And how much difference there is between the Sony and Canon at ISO1600.

I know the Sony canít produce clean image like canon at high ISO, but due to the cameras low cost, Iím considering to buy the F1.4 to compensate for ISO. And if F1.4 can really really help indoors, Iíll consider buying XS body only to make space for F1.4 USM lens.

I would also like to know the AF speed and accuracy between the Sony and XS.

OR should I just go with the T1i and forget about the lenses. The HD video capability seems appealing, but I feel that I would always be able to upgrade to better body later.

Any suggestions would be honestly very much appreciated. Finally, I would like to thank Sarah Joyce and many others who helped me buy the Sony HX1 last year.

Thanking You,
Fhame Rashid
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 12:55 AM   #2
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If you could consider the XSi, even with the kit lens for a beginning, you would have much better image quality. The Sony A-230 uses a CCD imager, and I would avoid it if possible. The Canon XS is a marginal and soon to be replaced DSLR camera.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 6:39 AM   #3
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Since you specifically mentioned stabilization, I'll point out that the only one of your choices that is stabilized is the Sony.

For what you want to do, you need large apertures, high ISOs, and stabilization. I'd also like to mention that a 50mm lens is a medium telephoto on an APS-C dSLR, and so you may have some trouble composing shots with it while indoors where you don't have much room to 'zoom-with-your-feet'.

I think the best solution is either the Sony A450 or the Pentax K-x, because of their sensor shift image stabilization in the camera bodies, paired with either the Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Sigma 18-50/2.8, because of their large apertures and zoom range.

I realize that either solution will exceed your budget, but nothing else will do nearly as well.
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 7:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhame Rashid View Post
1. Canon Rebel XS/EOS 1000D with kit lens and 50mm F1.8 prime lens
2. Canon Rebel XS/EOS 1000D body ONLY and 50mm F1.4 USM prime lens
3. Sony A230 with kit lens with Sony 50mm F1.4 prime lens
4. Canon Rebel T1i/EOS 500D.
Just to add to your confusion, I think the Canon 450D and possibly the
Pentax K-x should also be on your list.

Quote:
I know the XS produce clean image but I donít have the money to get the F1.4 USM lens. So is the aperture of F1.4 worth considering the Sony?
There isn't a huge difference between f/ 1.4/1.7/1.8. The Canon with the
50mm f/1.8 is a good low light performer. Obviously the f/1.4 would be
better, but I don't know if it is worth paying three times more for it. The
Canon 'nifty fifty' is a cheap and nasty bit of plastic, but they are
optically excellent.

Quote:
And how much difference there is between the Sony and Canon at ISO1600.
That's a question for Sarah. I think she has the T1i and the Sony.

Quote:
OR should I just go with the T1i and forget about the lenses. The HD video capability seems appealing, but I feel that I would always be able to upgrade to better body later.
HD video is always nice to have, but I wouldn't place too much value
on it unless you have a specific need for video. Shooting video with
a DSLR and built-in mic is not always a satisfying experience.

Quote:
Any suggestions would be honestly very much appreciated.
The Canon has a lot to offer:
Good low light / high ISO performance.
Fast autofocus
Best selection of new and used lenses.

I would be inclined to go for the 500D with kit lens. The f/1.8
lens is about £80, but you won't need it until the autumn because
of all the nice sunny weather we are having lately. The 450D would
be a good second choice. The 550D is a bit outside your budget,
but it is a better HD video camera if that is important to you.
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 7:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
I'd also like to mention that a 50mm lens is a medium telephoto on an APS-C dSLR, and so you may have some trouble composing shots with it while indoors where you don't have much room to 'zoom-with-your-feet'.
TCav makes a good point. A 50mm prime is a useful addition to
a camera which comes with a standard kit zoom lens. It would be quite a
restriction if the 50mm was your only lens, unless you like walking
backwards.
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 8:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhame Rashid View Post
...
4. Canon Rebel T1i/EOS 500D.
...

OR should I just go with the T1i and forget about the lenses. The HD video capability seems appealing, but I feel that I would always be able to upgrade to better body later.
Ummm... I'm not sure I understand that option. You can't take photos or record video without a lens. ;-)

What's your budget including body, lenses, and accessories?

From what I can see of UK prices, a 500D body only would run you around £529, or you could get a 500D with a kit lens for around £599 (or around £569.00 after a mail in rebate that's available until June 30). Here's one example:

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/...6113/show.html

If you don't care about video, you could pick up a Sony A450 body for around £429; or get the A450 with a kit lens for around £479. Here's an example:

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/...7036/show.html

You really don't want to go with the entry level models if higher ISO speeds are real important. The Canon models below the T1i (500D) are limited to ISO 1600, so I'd go with a T1i (EOS-500D in Europe) at a minimum if you want higher ISO speeds; and even though the entry level Sony models like the A230 have an ISO 3200 setting, you really don't want to use it unless you have to.

In the Sony lineup, you want to look at the A450, A500, and A550 (not the entry level models) if higher ISO speed performance is important. These have better sensors in them for higher ISO speed use.

If you want to see how image quality at higher ISO speeds compares, try this comparometer (and if you look at the mannequin photos with IN in their file names, those are using Incandescent White Balance settings so you can get a better idea of how typical indoor lighting would work). You'll also see some high ISO speed images with variety of subjects including color charts. Make sure to compare shadow areas (where noise will be higher, as you'll have lots of shadow areas in typical indoor lighting). Note that the A450 has the same sensor and image processing as the A550 (but, the A450 isn't sold in the U.S. and you usually want find images from it on U.S. review sites). So, look at the A550 images to see what to expect from the A450 when comparing cameras.

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

As for primes, Sony offers a 50mm f/1.8 DT AF lens that works on them at a lower price point compared to the 50mm f/1.4 (and in the UK, they have a £20 mail in rebate on it through June 30). Or, you could get a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 AF lens for it (you should be able to pick one up on Ebay for under £100) as they can use any Minolta Autofocus Lens (a.k.a., Minolta A, Dynax, Maxxum, Alpha mount lens).

But, as already mentioned by others, you may find that a 50mm lens is a bit long indoors, unless you're just taking head and shoulders type shots of some of the family members (as you may not be able to back up far enough to get groups of people in a shot in closer quarters indoors with a 50mm lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor).

Keep in mind that you'll have a narrower angle of view for a given focal length lens on a dSLR model with an APS-C size sensor, as compared to the same focal length lens on a 35mm camera. Multiply by 1.5x to see how they compare on a model with a Sony APS-C size sensor. For example, a 50mm lens on a model with a Sony APS-C size sensor would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera (50mm x 1.5 = 75mm).

For Canon models with an APS-C size sensor, use 1.6x to see how they compare (a 50mm lens would give you the same angle of view you'd have using an 80mm lens on a 35mm camera).

So, for group photos indoors, a wider lens is often needed to fit what you want into the frame (as you can only back up so far).

You'll also run into Depth of Field problems trying to shoot at wider apertures. Keep in mind that you'll have a *much* shallower depth of field for a given subject framing and aperture using a dSLR than you're accustomed to with your existing Sony camera. The larger the sensor or film size, the shallower the depth of field for a given aperture and subject framing, and the dSLR models you're looking at have much larger sensors compared to your HX1.

If you invest in a good external flash that you can bounce from a ceiling, you'll get much more even and diffused lighting over a larger area, without the harshness of a direct flash; and that would also give you more flexibility for subject framing, aperture settings to get more depth of field, etc. That would also let you use lower ISO speeds. For example, look at the Canon 430EX II for Canon models or the Sony HVL-F42AM for Sony models; or consider the Metz 48 AF-1 instead.

You can also find less expensive flashes. But, available features and exposure accuracy will vary a lot. So, make sure to ask about any flash you consider to make sure it will work OK on the camera you choose (as many won't). ;-)
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 11:29 AM   #7
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JimC, Corkpix, TCav and Sarah Joyce, thanks very much for your feedback.

I understand the 50mm will give me very limited field of view, but Iíll be okay with it but thanks for letting me know in depth about the crop factor in non-full frame body. I would consider buying a flash down the road, but not now, as it will put a lot of stress in my budget.

I did consider about the Pentax. I know they offer great technology at very reasonable price esp the Kx, but for some strange reason, I donít feel like buying itÖ

Stabilization is an added bonus but it is not something I would be sold for, to me clean and quality image is important.

I compared picture from the imaging-resource, from what I saw up to ISO1600 all the pictures were almost similar when zoomed out, but when zoomed in I think XSi had the edge.

If F1.8 can compensate for ISO, and if F1.8 and 1.4 is almost same, I would stick with F1.8. My refreshed considerations are:

1. Canon Rebel XSi/450D with kit lens and 50mm F1.8 prime lens
2. Canon Rebel T1i/500D
3. Sony A500 with kit lens

If Canonís AF considerably faster and more accurate then Sonyís, Iíll go with canon. HD video recording is not so much important for me. Oh and my total budget including accessories are 500GBP an that includes buying a Sandisk Extreme Class 10 SDHC 4GB card.

I very much await your replies.

Thanking You,
Fhame Rashid
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 11:48 AM   #8
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TCav mentioned the Sony A-450, which I had not thought of initially. no, it does not have video, but it surely does offer a lot of features for the price.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 12:24 PM   #9
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An aperture of f/1.8 is 2/3 EV slower than f/1.4. Using an f/1.8 lens means you'll need to shoot at ISO 2500 instead of the ISO 1600 you could use with an f/1.4 lens, or at 1/30 second instead of 1/50 second. In the grand scheme of things, 2/3 EV isn't a lot, especially when cameras like the T1i and A450 can can get good results at ISO 3200, while the XSi and A230 are limited to ISO 1600.
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Old Jun 24, 2010, 4:15 PM   #10
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500GBP, huh?

It does look like the Sony A500 is a better bet from a price perspective in the U.K. for a camera capable of ISO 3200, if you take the £80 mail in rebate on the A500 kit into consideration (good on purchases made through June 30), as the A500 body with the 18-55mm kit lens is £516.99 with free shipping if you buy it from http://www.amazon.co.uk right now, which would bring it down to a final cost of £436.99 after you got the £80 cash back from Sony.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-DSLRA50...dp/B002M78KW4/

I've attached the rebate form to this post.

If you added a Sony 50mm f/1.8 DT AF lens to it, that would run you £131.58 delivered right now from what I can see of current prices (and the same rebate form for the A500 also gives you £20 back on this lens).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-lis...&condition=new

So, you'd be looking at an initial cost of around £649 (around 535GBP) before a memory card and before getting money back from the current rebates.

Frankly, if it were me, I'd go with a Transcend Class 10 SDHC card instead. There's not a lot of difference in performance. But, you'd save a lot of money compared to a Sandisk 30MB/Second card.

Search for Transcend Class 10 SDHC Cards:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...sdhc&x=10&y=20

Card Speed tests of SDHC cards:
http://www.hjreggel.net/cardspeed/sp...cards-sdc.html

Note that there is less than 3MB/Second difference in write speed using the fastest card reader they had (you'll see tests using several different readers for each card) for a 16GB Class 10 Sandisk SDHC Card compared a 16GB Class 10 Transcend SDHC card (yet the Sandisk card costs a *lot* more). You'll get a lot more "bang for the buck" (or should I say "bang for the pound" - ) with a Transcend.

So, from what I can see of current prices, a kit including the Sony A500, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, Sony 50mm f/1.8 DT lens, and Transcend Class 10 8GB SDHC card would put you at around £665 delivered (or around 549GBP, which is about 10% over your desired max budget).

But, after the rebates (£80 for the A500 kit, and £20 for the 50mm f/1.8), that would put you under budget (see the attached .pdf rebate form).

Out of the models we're discussing, that's the least expensive option (after rebates) that would give you a kit lens (18-55mm) to use as a walk around lens, as well as a brighter 50mm f/1.8 prime, in a camera that would be more usable at ISO 3200 (as the entry level Sony models won't do as well at ISO speeds that high compared to the A450, A500 or A550 models).

If you don't consider rebates to try and keep your initial cost as low as possible without without waiting on checks after submitting mail in rebate forums, then the Sony A450 kit + a Sony 50mm f/1.8 is your lowest price option between the models we're discussing that are more capable of getting usable images at ISO speeds higher than ISO 1600 when needed (unless you buy a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 Autofocus lens on Ebay, which would be another option to keep cost down).
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