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Old Jul 14, 2012, 8:19 AM   #1
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Default Ak! Wife's surprise for a trip, but need an answer soon!

Hey everyone!
So I'm an on-again, off-again photographer. A brief summary: I started with an original digital rebel in 2003 (with the 70-200 L I got cheap off of eBay), which I traded for an Oly E-PL1 4 years ago, for size and convenience purposes. I've been somewhat happy with the PEN, but have had back luck shooting outdoors with only the LCD.

The wife and I are heading to China in about two weeks (a couple of days in Beijing and then a week hiking the great wall). Last night, she told me that my anniversary present is a new camera. Not only will this be a camera for our trip, it'll be a camera for the future (which means taking pictures of kids, when we have them in a couple years).

Thinking that I still had the digital rebel, she was going to get me the 3ti, with the kit lens. The purchase didn't go through, so instead she just told me that I could pick something out.

Her budget was about $750, and I could sell my PEN and probably add $200 to the pot.

It's been so long since I've been involved in the camera world, I'm just not sure. I want to get the best bang for my buck, and I know that a lot of it will be how it feels in my hands, but I need quick recs. (My wife wants to buy today to ensure that we have it for the trip.)

I don't think I want touchscreen. I think 18MP seems more than enough. But of course I want the best couple of general purpose lenses that will work for my trip and will give me a strong base for the future.

I'm looking at the T3i, the Nikon d5100. Is it worth looking at Pentax? I'm kind of averse to Sony cameras (I think it's just their use of stupid memory sticks).
I saw Shoturtle's rec, to someone else in a similar position, of the T3i with the 18-135 IS. I thought maybe I'd add a 50mm f/1.8, too. I'm a little worried that going to China without at least a little longer lens will be disappointing.

So are there any more recs? Affordable lens combos that will work for me? Is it worth looking at older bodies, like the T2i or older Nikons?

Thanks for reading my rambling post, and thanks in advance for recs!

Kyle K.

EDIT-
B&H has the T2i w/ 18-135 for $799 (within my price range, esp. since I can also add the 50mm f/1.8) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...i_Digital.html

While the T3i with the 18-135 is $949 (not really in my price range since we still have to buy accessories, etc.)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...i_Digital.html

While the d5100 with 18-55 and 55-200 is just $796
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...LR_Camera.html
I have no experience with Nikon kit lenses. Are they any good?

Last edited by perdendosi; Jul 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM.
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 9:37 AM   #2
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For a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I'd get the best outfit I could shoehorn onto a credit card.

Sony makes the 16MP image sensor that's in Sony's A37 ($600) and A57 ($720) as well as Nikon's D7000 ($1,097 body only) and D5100 ($647) and Pentax' K-5 ($1,029) and K-30 ($897). This sensor is the best in its class. Sony also makes the 24MP sensor that's in Sony's A77 ($1,400 body only) and A65 ($920) as well as Nikon's D3200 ($697). This sensor is also the best in its class. (BTW, while Sony cameras do use Sony Memory Sticks, they also use SD Cards.) These sensors are also used in Sony NEX camera bodies, but the NEX lenses are not as good as comparable lenses on dSLR cameras, so I'd skip them despite their smaller size and lower weight.

To minimize the bulk of what I'd be carrying around while hiking, I'd limit my kit to the 18-55 kit lens and a stabilized "APS-C only" telephoto zoom lens. Nikon's 55-200 VR has more vignetting than Sigma's 50-200 OS (which shouldn't be much of a problem when shooting outdoors), but the Nikon is sharper and has less CA than the Sigma.

Sony and Pentax have image stabilization in the body so you don't need it in the lens. The OEM 55-200 lenses are made by Tamron, and so are all about equal optically.

A distinguishing feature you may want to consider is that the Pentax K-5 is Weather Resistant.

Another distinguishing feature is Sony's Sweep Panorama. You hold the shutter button down and pan from left to right, the camera takes several photos and stiches them all together for a single panoramic image, all in the camera.
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Last edited by TCav; Jul 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM.
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 12:07 PM   #3
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Wow TCav, that's good info.

I know my wife hadn't been thinking about Sony or Pentax, and I know so little about them. Good to know about the sensors.

As much as I agree with you re: the price, I think I'm going to have to be limited to $1K, all in, with as many accessories as I can get in there.

Do you think there will be long-term lens support for Sony? Are there nice, relatively inexpensive prime lenses for it (like the 50mm f/1.8 II for Canon)?

It seems like the consensus is that the D5100 has a slightly better sensor, but the features in the 3Ti (in particular the digital zoom) make it better for movies.

I look forward to others' thoughts.
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 2:34 PM   #4
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Right now, Sony's image sensors are better than Canon's. Since you're not tied to a system already, you can select a system based on the best compromise of all the compnents, and right now, Sony's sensors are the best place to start.

Sony has excellent lenses from Carl Zeiss (Sony is the only dSLR with available Zeiss autofocus lenses.) plus its own 'G' lenses. It has some very nice, inexpensive primes like it's 50/1.8, 35/1.8 and 85/2.8. Plus Sony cameras can use any of the Minolta autofocus lenses made since the mid '80s that are widely available on the used market, and they're all stabilized on a Sony body.

BTW, Sony also has the digital zoom for either stills or video.
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 PM   #5
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The T2i with an 18-135 attached is a nice little combo- and as you say- room in the budget to add accessories.
The IQ differences/advantages in most low to mid range DSLR's is very small- and only really noticeable (if at all when shooting RAW) at the extreme end of exposure parameters- such as very low light/high iso shooting.
Then there's the VAST back catalogue of Canon lenses/accessories to consider- both new and second-hand... all pretty much compatible with the T2i.

As TCav alludes to- you're not tied to any one system yet so consider all...
Another thing to consider is Sony and Pentax's built in stabilisers... making adding lenses at a later date potentially less expensive....
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 4:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIMON40 View Post
Another thing to consider is Sony and Pentax's built in stabilisers... making adding lenses at a later date potentially less expensive....
Especially since all the lenses that have been made for the past few decades and are currently on the used market are all stabilized on modern bodies. Canon and Nikon can't say that.
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Old Jul 14, 2012, 9:25 PM   #7
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A few thoughts I will add........ the K-5 is a good camera.... the 16MP sensor TCav speaks off is very very very good. I have had zero dust problems so far with my K-5 but had many issues with Sony A300 and A350 bodies when I had those for a year. I have heard the newer Sony's handle dust way better. The K-5 has a very good dust removal system and the occasional use of a rocket blower is all I need.

For the K-5 and (Sony Bodies) the Sigma 18-250mm is a good all in one lens and I have been getting lots of use from it on my K-5. Sure its not super fast or f/2.8 but for an in one lens I am finding it works good (think photojournalist covering breaking news) You can even find these lenses used from keh or bhphotovideo.

You'll need a good camera bag for carrying all your gear to China and aroiund China. I wouldn't even think about checking in your camera gear, I'd make sure I could carry it all on the plane with me. I currently use a Rosewill Camera-laptop backpack and it is the perfect size to store under the seat on an airplane and very well padded for long treks in the airport........... That allows to also take a small rolling suitcase on the airplane with me as well.

Don't forget to pack a plug-voltage adapter so you can charge your batteries in China and make sure you have plenty of battery power and memory cards with you. I'd seriously look at getting a 32GB card for the camera (or 2x 16GB) and at least 1 spare battery. I see that your on a tight budget so you may want to look at Transcend memory cards as opposed to Sandisc or Lexar. I own 4 Transcend SDHC memory cards (all class 10, 2x 16GB and 2x 32GB) and haven't had an issue with these cards or the 3 CFs cards I used to owned made by them.

dave
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Old Jul 17, 2012, 5:48 PM   #8
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Thanks, all.
I decided on a D5100, in a particular package offered by B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...LR_Camera.html

I couldn't get my hands on a Pentax on the Saturday I was out and about. (I didn't want to go to a camera store, because my wife wanted to buy it herself, online, and I didn't want to waste the employees' time and then go and buy online). I had fun with the Sony at Best Buy, but wasn't that convinced. Plus, the wife really has a thing for Canon or Nikon-- brand history, general lens quality and availability, etc. Actually she said it would have to be Canon or Nikon if she were to contribute.

Well, the D5100 package seemed to be just right. I liked how it feels in my hands, the viewfinder seemed brighter than the Canon (don't know if this is true or not) the AF seemed okay, and I generally liked the menus. When I found I could assign ISO to the "FN" button, I was sold. I don't know about the quality of the long lens, but at least I get something decent, with the necessary accessories for the trip.

Since I had a few extra $$ to spend, I also bought a third-party battery grip and third-party batteries. I'll pick up a couple of Class 10 memory cards for sure... when I went to Africa with my Oly E-PL1, I filled up both and had to delete some pics toward the end of the trip.

Now, if I could just get someone to buy the Oly. I listed it locally first, but it's now on eBay (if anyone's interested...)
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=221074277085
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Old Jul 17, 2012, 6:20 PM   #9
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Excellent choice. I'm certain you'll be pleased with it.
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Old Jul 18, 2012, 2:21 AM   #10
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have a great trip and enjoy your camera one thing i would suggest is getting a black rapid strap it will make it easier to carry the camera around
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