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Old Sep 2, 2010, 2:25 PM   #1
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Default Nikon D5000 vs Sony a500?

Hi everyone,
I'm new to DSLRs (don't own one yet)...but do any A500/550 users have experience with the Nikon D5000 and vice versa? I have credit at a camera store that expires on 9/3, that has limited options, and these are my top picks. I plan to purchase a fast prime for whichever camera I choose (the affordable ones for me are a 50mm 1.8 for the Sony, and a 35mm 1.8 (I think) for the Nikon).

I like the A500 for it's in-body IS (I intend to take quite a few hand-held, flashless shots in less than ideal lighting conditions, and I want to avoid ISO noise and camera blur as much as possible). I don't really care too much about shooting video, so that is not a deal breaker

However, I've read that the D5000 outperforms the a500 in ISO performance. With the D5000, at a high enough ISO, I may be able to get a fast enough shutter speed to couteract blur -- but how will the resuls from both cameras, in the same lighting, measure up to one another when their advantages are used properly? I just can't determine which will be a better advantage for me-- IS in body (for fast primes), or high ISO.

I just want to know if anyone can shed any words of wisdom on this delimna I have. I plan to take shots of people in dim bars/outside at night (some posed, some candid), indoor photos, and typical outdoor vacation pics.

Thanks!
Jen
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 2:44 PM   #2
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According to DXOMark, the Nikon D5000 has a little less noise than the Sony A500, but not by much, and the A500 has a higher maximum ISO.

I'd go with the Sony A500. It has more large aperture lenses that can autofocus than the Nikon D5000 has, and everything that you can do with the Nikon, you can do with the Sony. The Nikon doesn't have any substantial advantages except video, and the Sony has sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body.

Also, since it seems that money is an issue, the Sony A500 can use all those Minolta autofocus lenses that are available on the used market, some of which are quite good and can be had for a song. And they'll all autofocus and be stabilized on the A500 body. There are a lot of Nikon lenses on the used market as well, but since the D5000 doesn't have it's own autofocus motor, those lenses won't autofocus on the D5000. And, of course, they won't be stabilized.
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 2:45 PM   #3
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Jen,
Tough call. One thing you should realize is that only a subset of short prime lenses will autofocus on the nikon. The lenses must have a built-in focus motor. So the nikon 50mm 1.8 for instance will not AF. Some fine lenses will - but they're more expensive. That's a challenge for nikon users now while nikon slowly replaces their older primes with af-s versions (usually accompanied by a raising of the price ).

Now - you should also realize going in that there are other factors at play:
1) for non-posed shots you're going to have more issues with motion blur from the person not staying still than you will with blur because the camera moved. So if lighting conditions are bad enough you're shooting at 1/15 shutter speeds you're likely going to have a poor shot regardless.

2) DOF will be an issue - IF you want multiple people in focus you can't do that with wide apertures in tight quarters. So you're going to have to adjust your expectations that if you take a shot of two people there's a high likelihood only one of them will be in good focus.

Those two issues will be of far greater import than anti shake preventing camera shake. Camera shake would be number 3 in the importance category. If you're OK with 1 & 2 above then you need to look at lens availability in nikon and see if you can afford one of the lenses that is AF-S or sigma HSM (dont know if tamron/tokina have any short primes with motors or not).
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 2:50 PM   #4
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Jen,
Tough call. One thing you should realize is that only a subset of short prime lenses will autofocus on the nikon. The lenses must have a built-in focus motor. So the nikon 50mm 1.8 for instance will not AF. Some fine lenses will - but they're more expensive. That's a challenge for nikon users now while nikon slowly replaces their older primes with af-s versions (usually accompanied by a raising of the price ).

Now - you should also realize going in that there are other factors at play:
1) for non-posed shots you're going to have more issues with motion blur from the person not staying still than you will with blur because the camera moved. So if lighting conditions are bad enough you're shooting at 1/15 shutter speeds you're likely going to have a poor shot regardless.

2) DOF will be an issue - IF you want multiple people in focus you can't do that with wide apertures in tight quarters. So you're going to have to adjust your expectations that if you take a shot of two people there's a high likelihood only one of them will be in good focus.

Those two issues will be of far greater import than anti shake preventing camera shake. Camera shake would be number 3 in the importance category. If you're OK with 1 & 2 above then you need to look at lens availability in nikon and see if you can afford one of the lenses that is AF-S or sigma HSM (dont know if tamron/tokina have any short primes with motors or not).
Those arw two good points. In your opinion (and anyone else, feel free to chime in) -- If I am shooting people who are moving, and I want a decent DOF (aka, I would need a faster shutter speed/possibly smaller apperture), would the Nikon outperform the Sony due to it's higher ISO capabilities? In these types of situations, it seems that camera shake wouldn't be as much of an issue due to the fast shutter speed.

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Old Sep 2, 2010, 3:09 PM   #5
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... would the Nikon outperform the Sony due to it's higher ISO capabilities? ...
All other things being equal, only very slightly. Plus, the Sony can go up to ISO 12800, while the Nikon can only go up to ISO 6400.
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 3:25 PM   #6
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Just one thing, higher iso are not bad up 6400iso. But things really get noise at 12800iso without allot of have Noise Reduction in PP editing. So you will be chipping out allot of details.

I would only use 12800iso in a very tight pinch. Though these are not the cameras you are considering. This comparison will give you a good idea what the noise levels are when you climb into the higher iso. The pentax would be a pretty close comparison as it uses the same sensor as the nikon and sony you are looking at. Only with some pentax tweaks.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ge...canon-t1i.html
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 3:49 PM   #7
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... Minolta autofocus lenses that are available on the used market, some of which are quite good and can be had for a song...
I'm in Toronto. Where could I get a 25 or 35mm Minolta lens for that proverbial song. Manual focus is fine as long as it has a distance scale. I take some pictures outside in the evening and could use a bigger aperture.
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 3:49 PM   #8
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The reality is - if you want the DOF you have to use flash. Which is often undesireable in thos situations so you have to accept shallower DOF. And sometimes light is low enought that you still need flash - even with wide apertures. That's the thing - you have to decide what you're most willing to sacrifice - you're not going to get perfect shots with low light and multiple moving subjects. You either have shallow DOF and potential motion blur and high ISO noise OR you use flash and have to worry about it ruining the mood (and if you really want quality - using an external flash).
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 4:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by frank-in-toronto View Post
I'm in Toronto. Where could I get a 25 or 35mm Minolta lens for that proverbial song. Manual focus is fine as long as it has a distance scale. I take some pictures outside in the evening and could use a bigger aperture.
Minolta Maxxum AF 35-70mm 1:3.5-4.5 Lens for Sony Alpha $32.99
MINOLTA AF 35-70mm ZOOM LENS also fits SONY ALPHA $39.99
Minolta AF Maxxum 28-85mm Lens for Sony Alpha ♦205 $59.99
MINOLTA 35-105 AF F3.5-4.5 LENS CLEAN $70.00
Minolta AF Maxxum 35-105mm Lens for Sony Alpha ♦206 $79.99
Minolta Maxxum AF 35-70/4 Compact Zoom-NICE! for Sony $97.90
Minolta Maxxum/Sony AF 35-70/4 Compact Zoom lens $136.40
Minolta AF 35-70/4-Beautif​ul compact Zoom-Sony $136.40
MINOLTA AF 28mm f/2.8 Exc+ $128.00
Minolta Maxxum AF /Sony 28-85/3.5-4.5 Perfect Zoom lens $163.90
Minolta 24mm f2.8 Maxxum AF for Sony and Minolta $229.95
MINOLTA 24mm F2.8 RS WIDE ANGLE LENS MAXXUM SONY ALPHA $229.95

And those are just the eBay Buy-It-Now listings, which tend to be high.
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Old Sep 2, 2010, 4:28 PM   #10
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You've received some good advice on how to take the photos you want, but not much that makes your decision any easier. There isn't much that distinguishes the Nikon D5000 from the Sony A500, except that the Nikon can record video, and the Sony can go a full stop higher in ISO. You may or may not find the Sony's image stabilization of any use, but if you've got it, it might help; if you don't have it, it can't.
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