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Old Feb 25, 2011, 5:55 AM   #1
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Default Entry-Level dSLR

Hey guys...

I'm looking for a general purpose camera, but as a newbie to SLR, I don't know wich of these to choose: Sony α290/390, Canon T1i or Nikon D5000 ?

I'm leaning towards Sony myself (also cheaper), but I would really appreciate a more experienced user's advice !

I'd like to mention that I'm not really used to using the optical viewfinder, even though I know it offers better focusing...also, is wearing glasses an impediment while using the OV ?

Thank you !
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 6:03 AM   #2
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If you like Live View versus an Optical Viewfinder, then Sony is a better bet, as it's the only dSLR brand that offers faster Phase Detect Autofocus in Live View mode (the Sony models with Live View focus just as fast in Live View mode as they do using the Optical Viewfinder, thanks to a separate Live View sensor in the Viewfinder housing). Autofocus using Live View with other dSLR brands will be quite slow in comparison (best used for stationary subjects).

But, you don't get that feature wiith the A290. You'll need to stick with one of the A3xx or 5xx series models with a tilting LCD if you want Live View.

In the Sony lineup, I'd suggest moving up to one of the A5xx series models (A500, A550, A560, A580), as they do better at higher ISO speeds compared to the A2xx and 3xx series cameras.

In the current lineup, you'll want to look at the A560 and A580 (which also add HD Movie Recording, which is something you don't get with the now discontinued A500 and A550).
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 6:42 AM   #3
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What do you want to shoot?
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 9:29 AM   #4
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I photograph everything > from close-ups to landscapes and sometimes portraits...and since it's a dSLR, I'm not going to worry about low-light capability !



Also, thank you JimC for the advice !
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Last edited by Marawder; Feb 25, 2011 at 9:31 AM.
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 9:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marawder View Post
...and since it's a dSLR, I'm not going to worry about low-light capability !
There can be a big difference in how well a given dSLR model does at higher ISO speeds (and higher ISO speeds allow faster shutter speeds for the same lighting and aperture).

The Sony A290/A390 models (which use a Sony 14MP CCD Sensor) will have the lowest image quality in low light compared to the other cameras you're considering (Canon T1i, Nikon D5000), with more noise and/or loss of detail from noise reduction as ISO speeds are increased. Those Sony models (A290, A390) also "max out" with a highest available ISO speed of ISO 3200 (and if you use one set that high, expect a lot of noise).

There is a reason those models are less expensive. ;-)

So, if usability in low light is a big consideration, I'd look at the A5xx models instead in the Sony lineup. They will do much better at higher ISO speeds compared to the A290 and A390 you're looking at, with higher available ISO speed settings, as well as giving you more features.
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 10:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marawder View Post
I photograph everything > from close-ups to landscapes and sometimes portraits...
And, of course it's worth mentioning - quality is quite often controlled more by the lens used than the camera body. There are exceptions. But realize that if you want to shoot everything you have to decide - is quality more important or convenience? If you want convenience and are going to limit your lens to superzoom type lenses then that will be the weakest link in the chain - any camera body on the market will be limited by that choice so you'll get equal results out of any of them. So, sweating the camera body choice only matters if you're going to sweat the lens selection choice as well. Any dslr on the market with kit lens will do just as well, or just as poorly as any other.
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Regarding the live view vs. optical viewfinder...I also recently became a dslr owner for the first time. I was convinced that I would mainly use live view as opposed to the viewfinder. I was wrong about that. I NEVER use the live view. It focuses much slower, and it just feels sort of awkward. Maybe other cameras have a better live view function than mine (I have the pentax k-x), but to me, live view is one of those things that I thought would be important, but it really isn't. That's been my experience anyway. Maybe others feel differently. Good luck with your search!
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Old Feb 26, 2011, 3:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
So, if usability in low light is a big consideration, I'd look at the A5xx models instead in the Sony lineup. They will do much better at higher ISO speeds compared to the A290 and A390 you're looking at, with higher available ISO speed settings, as well as giving you more features.
Thanks for the tips boss !

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
And, of course it's worth mentioning - quality is quite often controlled more by the lens used than the camera body.
I was aware of that...but the lens I'd like are too expensive and I don't want to invest that much in equipment !
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Minolta AF 35-70mm f/4
Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD
Tamron SP AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di USD XLD

Last edited by Marawder; Feb 26, 2011 at 3:15 AM.
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Old Feb 26, 2011, 10:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acscoggins View Post
...I NEVER use the live view. It focuses much slower, and it just feels sort of awkward. Maybe other cameras have a better live view function than mine (I have the pentax k-x), but to me, live view is one of those things that I thought would be important, but it really isn't.
If you want fast autofocus using Live View with a dSLR, you'll want a Sony.

That's because their design makes use of a separate live view sensor in the viewfinder housing (when using live view, this sensor sees the same image that would have been projected to the optical viewfinder), allowing the use of their dedicated AF sensor assembly for fast Phase Detect Autofocus while in Live View mode. IOW, they can focus just as fast in Live View mode as they do when using the optical viewfinder.

Other dSLR brands with Live View are going to use much slower contrast detect Autofocus via the image seen by the main imaging sensor, or will need to flip the mirror back in front of the main sensor (blocking the live view feed while Autofocusing) to use their dedicated Phase Detect AF sensors.

Here's an image showing the design of Sony's Live View System from our A350 review. Basically, when you switch to Live View mode, it's tilting a mirror to send the same TTL image you normally see in the optical viewfinder to a separate live view sensor in the viewfinder housing. That let's it use the same AF sensor assembly you use in non-Live View mode, taking advantage of faster phase detection autofocus, like you'd normally have with an SLR/dSLR camera using their Optical Viewfinder.


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