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Old Jan 10, 2011, 11:43 AM   #1
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Default Older entry-level DSLR or new-ish "bridge" type camera?

I have an old (ancient by today's standards) Panasonic FZ-7, which I love, but it's time to move on. I'd made up my mind to get an FZ-35, and can get an open-box one at a really good price through a reputable dealer. My budget is VERY limited (like, $300 max). Just started re-thinking my decision and am wondering if I should look at an older, used entry-level DLSR. Some models I'm looking at: Canon Rebel EOS 350D, Olympus E-500, Pentax 110D, Sony Alpha A-300. I can get a Canon EOS 300D with kit lens for around $200, but it seems the technology was much improved with successive models.

I was a 35 mm film camera (own a Minolta XG-7 and also used some other models way back when) user of intermediate skill level before the dawn of digital. Have chosen the ultra-zooms because of their slr-like feel; don't generally use the max end of the zoom, but I don't want a small compact P & S. No pocket-sized ones.

I'd like to go with a unit with a kit lens for right now, because it seems less expensive than buying a body and separate lens. I can add lenses as budget allows later. Most kit lenses for the cameras above seem to be the 18 - 55 mm or so, but I see some E-500s come with a 14 - 45 mm. Most critical needs are:

Good performance in low lighting (so a decent maximum aperture size on the lens would be good....)

Excellent image quality, in particular accurate color reproduction and good detail

Excellent close-up/macro shots; one thing I LOVE about my FZ-7 is that I can get fantastically clean macro shots. But in the lighting conditions in which I shoot, the longer shots are sometimes flat and/or soft, and require more software touchup than I'd like to take the time to do. I have middling-quality studio lighting, but get pretty decent results with it, so I'm OK with what I have. Limited space, so can't really invest in bigger/better light kits.

Don't need a lot of megapixels, as I don't usually print.

I'm not afraid of using a DSLR--I just want the very best picture quality I can get within my budget range. And I'm not afraid to buy used. Both my FZ-7 and the OLY-C2100 I had before that were purchased used; had 'em both for years and was extremely happy with both of them.

Many, many thanks for any input you can give me.
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 11:46 AM   #2
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the oldish dslr will still out preform any bridge in image quality. You will have higher image quality and better iso performance.

High end bridge are nice like the g12, p7000. The come closer to dslr iq then megazoom bridges. But megazoom are convent and easy to use.
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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I was thinking that the older dslr would be better.... My DH also has an FZ-7, and it's perfect for the kids' sporting activities, landscapes, etc. And I'm thinking I can use that if I get a dslr and don't right off have a lens that will suit a particular application. The ultra-zoom cameras are such great all-round units that I was sort of hating to give up that versatility--but, then again, I don't really NEED all that versatility, either! And if I can still use his on occasion, I guess I'm not really giving it up, am I?

Thanks for your input! Oh, would you say that even the very, very old Canon 300D would give me what I'm looking for?
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 7:29 PM   #4
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amc-

I shoot both super zooms and DSLR cameras. The super zooms have dramatically improved over the years. Currently both the Panasonic FZ35 and FZ40 are selling for less than $300.00.

However the DSLR cameras have also made major technology advances as well. In my opinion, the Canon 300D would be going to far back in time. The main areas in which DSLR cameras and super zoom vary is that the DSLR cameras have a greater ability at numerically high ISO settings that the super zooms do not have. Super zooms will top out at ISO 800, while the more current DSLR cameras can easily surpass that setting.

The choice really depends on your style of shooting and your intended usage of numerically higher ISO settings. The attached photo was taken with a FZ40 for example.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 7:55 PM   #5
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If your absolute limit is $300, I would tend to encourage you to go for a new superzoom. I like Sarah's choice, the FZ40. At low ISO settings, its picture quality is pretty good.

If you are going to opt for a DSLR with kit lens, I strongly recommend that you wait a little longer, save a little more money and then spend $400 or even $500 on something like a Sony A230, A290, a Pentax K-x, or a Canon Xs. Check out the lowest online prices from a reputable dealer (check www.resellerratings.com to weed out the fraudsters).

If you want to for a used Canon DSLR, I would not go further back than a Canon XTI (aka EOS 400D). There are number of those on Ebay for $300 or less.
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 9:12 PM   #6
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Great input here; thank you all so much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by robbo View Post
If you want to for a used Canon DSLR, I would not go further back than a Canon XTI (aka EOS 400D). There are number of those on Ebay for $300 or less.
Robbo, I've literally just been trolling eBay for an EOS 400D--that was one that had escaped my notice, but I started checking it out today.

Sarah, yes, I felt that the 300D would be too much of a regression, but figured I'd ask. Thanks for your help! I thought the FZ-40 was selling higher than $300, but I'll check it out.

I had hoped to wait a bit longer and have perhaps a bit deeper pockets, but have a slight problem with my FZ-7, and don't want to put any time or $$ into fixing it at this point. If I were keeping it, sure, but can't see investing more into it with a decision already made to get another.
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 11:05 PM   #7
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What do y'all think about a Canon EOS Rebel XSi--a bit newer, isn't it, than the XTi? Tough to score one for less than $300, but not impossible, I don't think....
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Old Jan 10, 2011, 11:12 PM   #8
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The xsi is very clean at it's top iso of 1600. At that iso range it matchs up with then newer t1i and t2i at 1600iso. It also shears the same AF as the T1i and T2i. So it is still have pretty modern features. It will do a better job then the xti. I would go with the 450D/XSi over the 300d without a second thought. The image quality of that 12mp sensor is excellent from 100-1600iso.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 9:56 AM   #9
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S/T-

In my latest research, the Canon XSi is selling for more than the OP's $300.00 budget. I agree that the XSi remains a very good and viable camera.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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I did not bring up the XSi, just answering the OP question about it. I is about 100 over the opening budget. But it is a better camera the the XTi.
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