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Old Jul 8, 2013, 11:34 PM   #1
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Default Upgrade to DSLR, maybe?

First the background information. My wife and I have been considering upgrading one of our cameras. We take quite a few wildlife photos besides the normal family stuff. We've talked about a DSLR but have never owned one. We would want something that we wouldn't need to update for quite some time. Our current cameras are: Canon S3 is & a Pentax Optima WG-1. We would be replacing the Canon.

I suppose the other option is to buy a super zoom like the Canon SX50.

We are currently spending the summer in Yellowstone and will be here until the end of October. I'm hoping to make a decision in the next two weeks. My wife also does a lot of Kayaking and that's why we have the Pentax, it has been in the water more than once.

From what I've read if we go DSLR the lenses are more important than the camera body. We are not particular to brand so would consider any brand.

I don't have a specific budget. We are new to this and we want something we won't need to upgrade for quite awhile. Yet like most people I want to spend as little as I can for something very good. We aren't pros but want nice photos.

Thats a start looking forward to comments and suggestions.
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 5:33 AM   #2
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The major difference between dSLRs and P&S cameras is the Phase Detect autofocus system which is faster and more accurate for moving subjects, and that is bigger and more complex than the Contrast Detection AF system that is used by P&S cameras.

Naturally, a dSLR and associated lenses will be bigger and heavier than the P&S cameras you've been accustomed to, in addition to being more expensive.

Generally speaking, a 70-300 zoom lens is adequate for most wildlife shooting with an APS-C size image sensor, and Canon, Nikon and Sony all have excellent lenses in that range. But for birding and other small creatures, you might want something longer, and that's where things get more complicated and expensive.

I suggest you browse through the Wildlife Photos section here, find the kinds of photos you'd like to take, and see what kinds of equipment others have successfully used, especially with regard to lenses and their focal lengths.
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 5:36 AM   #3
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You're right in that a DSLR is only as effective as the lens attached to it... and if wildlife is something you shoot regularly,you'll need a telephoto lens to go with it.
A typical APS-C sensor DSLR with a 300mm lens attached will give you a similar zoom range that's on your S3is- though of course you'd have to swap the lens on a DSLR to get wide again- unlike the S3is (that said,the S3is wasn't particularly wide at a 35mm equivalent...!)

If you like your S3is (I had 2 of them...!) I'm sure you'd love the SX50... with better noise control and FAR more zoom and a much wider lens(24mm)- plus much more- it might be all you need...

A DSLR will potentially yield better IQ- but much is down to the user and as already mentioned, the lens attached.
If you don't mind the extra cost (lenses etc) and the extra size/weight of the kit...and are not just an "auto" mode shooter- worth considering...
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 9:02 AM   #4
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Thanks for feedback.

We are learning more and aren't just auto mode shooters anymore. I reviewed wildlife photos and while some great photos we aren't birders. We'll take one just not out main focus. Usually animals aren't moving or are going slow.

So if need 300mm lens would assume to start would want some other lens. When I look at kits it seems like I see 25-55 or smaller number to 105 or 135. I realize that other lens may be nice but again just starting out if go DSLR.
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 9:42 AM   #5
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Most DSLR's come with a kit lens of 18-55mm. Some come with an 18-135mm lens. Occasionally, you get an 18-250, but that's rare.
I think the cheapest new (not used) DSLR's cost between $400 and $500. Among them are the Nikon D3100. An inexpensive 70-300mm lens for them costs between $150 and $200. If you are going to shoot wildlife in Yellowstone, I don't think the 18-55mm lens will be enough for you unless you are shooting buffalo approaching your car.
I recommend the superzooms: the Canon SX50hs and the Panasonic FZ200. They focus pretty fast, though not as fast as a DSLR and they will give you the range you need. The former goes from 24 to 1200mm and the latter goes from 25 to 600mm. Also consider the Fuji HS50exr which goes from 24-1000mm. The SX50hs costs around $400, the FZ200 between $430 and $599, and the HS50exr for less than $500. I have the FZ200 and really like it for it F/2.8 max aperture for the entire zoom range.
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 9:52 AM   #6
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I really want to second the idea of the superzooms for the occasional wildlife shooter. You can never have enough focal length when it comes to wildlife. And while a DSLR is going to be a lot better for birds in flight or other moving wildlife, the advantage of all that zoom on a superzoom is HUGE. I do suggest getting something with a hot shoe for external flash attachment. Using an external flash that you can bounce off the ceiling for parties and such is a HUGE benefit. Built-in flashes on any camera (DSLRs included) are really pretty useless except in emergencies.
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Old Jul 9, 2013, 11:20 PM   #7
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Thanks again for the feedback. I'm going to a larger town in a couple days so will look at the superzooms and maybe a DSLR.
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Old Jul 10, 2013, 8:32 AM   #8
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Look into the Pentax system. Their "entry level" DSLR's, K30 & the new K50, are weather resistant with WR lenses (included with the K50 kit), plus they have in camera shake reduction, so any lens you can mount has image stabilization. You also have the ability to use ANY lens made for Pentax cameras in the past, even screw mounts with an adapter.
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Old Jul 10, 2013, 4:47 PM   #9
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G'day YB

Another side to all our photography is the ergonomics - size & weight

Here's a sketch I made some time ago ..


Hope you find it helpful
Phil
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Old Jul 11, 2013, 7:35 AM   #10
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Ozzie... FZ-150... 25-600mm...
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