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Old Jul 30, 2010, 9:42 PM   #1
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Default DSLR - T2/1i vs D90/5000

I'm planning on buying my first DSLR within the next few weeks. After reading a few dozen sources, I have yet to decide which camera to choose.

I'll primarily use the camera for photographing my aquariums (low light action photography, I suppose) and landscapes, including HDR. Low light performance is important.

Because I'm also planning to get an external flash, a camera with built in wireless flash control would be nice. The D90 is the only camera of the 4 that has this feature, correct? If I do purchase a camera without built in wireless flash control, what is the cheapest way to control it? I wouldn't mind using a cord, it doesn't need to be wireless. I've also seen cheap 3rd party controllers, do these provide the same features as a canon/nikon controller (ST-E2 or SU-800)? I know that both brands have a high end master flash, but it's out of my price range, plus I don't need a flash mounted on the camera for what I'll be taking pictures of.

My budget is pretty limited. I've got a summer job but when highschool starts up again my income is relatively little. Therefore, I'm trying to decide if the extra expense of the T2i/D90 is worth sacrificing a nicer lens. The improved image quality would be nice, but I've seen plenty of incredible pictures taken with cheaper cameras. Would it be better to buy the cheaper model and upgrade the lens? The 18-55 mm kit lens seems very cheap compared to the quality of the D90 or T2i; how is the quality of the 18-135 mm (canon) and the 18-105mm (nikon) kit lenses in comparison?

Video is appealing, and I expect I will use it a lot, but even 720p with manual focus only would be much better than what my current P&S can do.

Thanks in advance. I hope you can help me stop agonizing over the decision so I can finish my summer school work.
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 12:33 AM   #2
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You can get a flash with a built in wireless ability and that will take care of the issue when using multi flash or single flash if you get one that can be a master and a slave.

If you are on a tight budget, I would pass on the t2i and d90. Get a better lens with the money saves. It will pay off more then the more expensive body. And go with the T1i, which has pretty much the same ability of the of the T2i, minus the extra bells and whistle for hd video with external stereo mic. On the photo side, the have the same AF system, both are able to shoot upto 12800iso.

HDR, they all can do a 3 frame EV bracket, so you will be able to stack them with your hdr program.

The kit lens 18-55mm IS on the canon is a good starting lens. The 18-135 IS is not bad, but I would go with a 2 lens kit over the 18-135. It will give you better image quality and 135mm is a little to short allot of times.

But if you are looking to shoot in low light, you may want to consider some fast primes. I shoot allot in extremely low light, and f3.5 is just not bright enough. You will want to to look for lenses with f1.8 or better. Both canon and nikon and a decent low end prime the canon ef 50mm 1.8 about 95 dollar. The nikon AF 50 1.8 lens is about 110 dollars, but will only auto focus on the d90 not the d5000. For the D5000 you are looking at about 200 of the AF-s 35mm 1.8, or 450 dollars for the AF-s 50 1.4. The AF-s 50 is a better lens then the AF 50 1.8. Like the canon EF 50 1.4 that sells for 330 is better the the EF 50 1.8.

t2i does 1080 and 720, the t1i does it 2 but for some reason they set it to shoot at 20fps instead of 24fps in 1080. The d90 and d5000 only shots in 720.
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Last edited by shoturtle; Jul 31, 2010 at 2:52 AM.
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 7:23 AM   #3
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You can get a flash with a built in wireless ability and that will take care of the issue when using multi flash or single flash if you get one that can be a master and a slave.
What I plan to use the external flash for is photography of my aquariums. Using a flash on the camera tends to produce glare, and the resulting image has much different color (light from the side vs the top). If, for example, I bought the 580 EX II for the canon, could I use it wirelessly without an on camera controller? It wouldn't make sense for my usage to buy two flashes, the master that mounts on the camera and a cheaper slave to use externally because I don't need an on camera flash; it would be a $500 controller.

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But if you are looking to shoot in low light, you may want to consider some fast primes. I shoot allot in extremely low light, and f3.5 is just not bright enough. You will want to to look for lenses with f1.8 or better. Both canon and nikon and a decent low end prime the canon ef 50mm 1.8 about 95 dollar. The nikon AF 50 1.8 lens is about 110 dollars, but will only auto focus on the d90 not the d5000. For the D5000 you are looking at about 200 of the AF-s 35mm 1.8, or 450 dollars for the AF-s 50 1.4. The AF-s 50 is a better lens then the AF 50 1.8. Like the canon EF 50 1.4 that sells for 330 is better the the EF 50 1.8.
I hadn't read about these before, thanks for the tip. The canon equivalents all autofocus, right? How much of a difference in depth of field is there between f1.4 and 1.8? Is the image quality considerably different, or is the wider aperture the primary reason for the 3x higher price?
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 8:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
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... If, for example, I bought the 580 EX II for the canon, could I use it wirelessly without an on camera controller? ...
the answer is no. You will still need another slave flash. 580 will be your on-camera controller and an additional light source if you need it.
In your shoes I would go for a 430ex with a TTL off-camera cord, there is a selection of 3rd party cords up to 10 meters in length. I use a YongNuo 3 meter long OC-E3b cord and it works nicely. Another option to consider is 3rd party flashes like Metz, Sigma, YongNuo, Nissin etc, which are good, but considerably cheaper than Canon flashes. For my needs my Metz 58-AF1 is just as good as 580ex at about $100 less and it works nicely as a controller for my 430ex.
With aquariums, when you are in control of lighting you can easily use a flash in manual mode off camera, either with a cheap PC sync lead and a PC to hot-shoe sync adapter, or with a pair of cheap ebay radio triggers.

with f/1.4 vs f/1.8 - you pay more for faster aperture, faster and more precise autofocus and better build quality. although optically f/1.8 is very good, AF hunts a lot in low light and the all plastic build drives me nuts, but I still keep it . And yes, all Canon and modern 3rd party lenses with EF and EF-S mount will autofocus on all Canon DSLRs.

Last edited by algold; Jul 31, 2010 at 8:28 AM.
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 8:37 AM   #5
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although having a flash is nice, you don't always need it shooting aquariums. the pics below were taken with 40D with Sigma 30/1.4 @ ISO1600, f/4 handheld:









this one was taken with a G11 P&S cam (another option to consider) @ ISO1600:
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 11:44 AM   #6
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It's definitely possible to take good pictures without the flash.

I took these with a borrowed D80, no flash.





Using the overhead flash will create a nice black background though, and allows you to use a much faster shutter speed and wider aperture without increasing the ISO too much.

Last edited by FSM; Jul 31, 2010 at 11:51 AM.
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 1:08 PM   #7
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If I buy the body only, what would be the next step up in quality from the 18-55mm?
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 2:54 PM   #8
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depends on your budget:
Tamron/Sigma 17/18-50mm f/2.8
Canon 15-85 IS
Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 4:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
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If I buy the body only, what would be the next step up in quality from the 18-55mm?
The Canon 18-55 kit lens is remarkably good. The lenses that algold listed are better, but they cost a lot more.
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Old Aug 1, 2010, 3:54 AM   #10
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algold answer the question for me. I am not a big flash photography person. The few time I tried aquarium shots, I had better results without the flash then with.

But the lenses algold listed are very good lenses. F2.8 is pretty good for moderate low light shooting with higher iso.
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