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Old Nov 22, 2005, 1:58 PM   #1
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I'm looking for a prezzy for my girl. She does some basic photography on a Minolta E323 which we print on an Epson R800: and she does pretty good. But she'd like to be able to print up to A3 (poster-size) and bigger, if possible. She does mostly close-ups as straight photos and processes about half of the other images quite heavily with Photoshop to make photo-paintings.

Do I get her the Minolta A200 , with a bag, spare battery, big storage card and some little gizmos? Or do I pay quite a bit more for the Nikon, with no extras?

I guess what I am asking is this: Ignoring everything else, Is the image quality from the Nikon SLR (used mostly in point and shoot mode to start with) going to be loads better than the Minolta? Is it worth an extra £150 without the added extras I could afford if I went with the Minolta?

Do the extra SLR features of the Nikon make it a better bet in the long-run? Is resolution an issue?

What do you think? I have no idea - Please help quickly!

PS I've used your site extensively for research. You're the best out there!

PPS Do I get points for that?
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Old Nov 22, 2005, 2:57 PM   #2
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FYI, Minolta also has an D-SLR in the D50's range in the Dynax 5D. 6MP, same as Nikon. I think it is cheaper than the Nikon in most cases. As for the typical "Prosumer vs DSLR", I think for the long run D-SLR is going to bebetter as it expands with the added ability of the user. In terms of picture quality, with the larger sensor(and if you spend some money on a decent lens), the difference is actually quite noticable, especially in situation where the lighting might not be ideal. With the DSLR though the costs do add up once you know what lens you want to add later and so forth.

Only problem I see is that 6MP might not be enough for postersize. Although I can't say for sure as I don't print anything that big.
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Old Nov 22, 2005, 3:40 PM   #3
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I think you should read this:


http://www.neocamera.com/feature_dslr.html

Quote:
The A2's focal length (in 35mm equivalent) ranges from 28mm to 200mm. This is a 7X range which suits most types of photography with very little weight...
For the part of DSLRs, a much wider range of focal length can chosen from. Single lenses even exist with 7X to 10X zoom to match the convenience of the A2. However, these lenses come with the price of reduced image quality and slower apertures. Lenses with large zoom ranges usually have slow maximum apertures such as F3.5-F6.3, which at the telephoto end, is much slower than the A2's F3.5 at 200mm (300mm with accessory lens). This is important when considering the need for high ISO settings. A similar shutter speed at F3.5 with ISO 200 and at F6.3 with ISO 800 would produce the same exposure. Therefore, a DSLR with a single lens can't easily match the range, aperture speed and convenience of a non-SLR camera.
...
Visible noise levels at various print size show that the A2 is perfectly suited at ISO 200 (or less) up to 25" wide and at ISO 800 up to 12" wide. The outstanding Canon 20D produces perfectly usable prints up to ISO 1600 even at 25" wide. This demonstrates that even though the A2's noise levels are higher at all ISO sensitivities, for most common print sizes (up to 9"x12"), its full ISO range remains very usable.
...
High ISO settings are used to achieve higher shutter speeds either to freeze action or prevent camera shake in hand-help photography. The Konica-Minolta A2 has an Anti-Shake system which reduces camera shake. It turns out that the anti-shake system works exceptionally well. So well that in cases where ISO 1600 does not allow a sufficiently fast shutter speed for hand-held photography with the 20D, the A2 managed to produce quite sharp and noise-free pictures using only ISO 200.
So DSLR's aren't such heaven like some would want people to think.
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Old Nov 22, 2005, 7:14 PM   #4
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DSLR's have much better sensors.

You can't beat the CMOS sensor on a Rebel XT or a Canon 20D. Nice smooth images, even at high ISO's.

Also, DSLR"s tend to have less shutter lag than the point and shoot variety.

Some people like the flexibility of detachable lenses. It's true that 28-200 will meet most requirements, but not all.

All the benefits of a DSLR come at a price, it's up to the photographer to determine if it's worth it.

-- Terry


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Old Nov 22, 2005, 7:49 PM   #5
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You get much better sensor with dSLR. If it's from Canon or Nikon you also have many lenses and acessarie readily available when needed.

Low light quality of the pictures taken with dSLR will be much better.

Attached picture was taken with my D50 with Nikkor 80-400VR lens.
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Old Nov 22, 2005, 9:54 PM   #6
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Here's a shot I took at a dim indoor track arena, ISO3200 with my Canon 20D.

This photo has had no post production noise reduction.

And this is scaled down to a 145kb image, not as sharp as the original.

Hard to beat, really.



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Old Nov 23, 2005, 2:44 PM   #7
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Of course for low light action photography DSLRs are only useful choise, but for non moving objects it's more about right methods.

Sure real wide angle lens possibilities of SLRs would be really nice in stormchasing, but then I would constantly need to change between it and normal to average tele lens.
DSLRs have also one big minus, without ability to take videoclips I wouldn't have gotten any material from summer's best (and one of the strongest I've experienced) thunderstorm, you can't get that feeling of downpour and strong gusts caused by downburst into still photo... rain photo just doesn't look much anything, even less when you see enough rains without looking any rain photos.


Guess what time of day...


And these must be slow targets...

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Old Nov 23, 2005, 3:32 PM   #8
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ET,

You have specific requirements, for sure.

There are so many nice cams out there.

I'd love to get an FZ5 as a second cam; maybe for Christmas!

-- Terry
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Old Nov 23, 2005, 6:09 PM   #9
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[email protected] wrote:
Quote:
You have specific requirements, for sure.
There are so many nice cams out there.
I wouldn't call general nature photography as so specific...
it just has certain requirements: good wide angle, then some tele, some macro capability, good manual controls, low light capability.

And I'm afraid there aren't much nice general cams currently... they just seem to put prosumer and SLR-like sticker to every camera and even reviewers swallow that while most of those cameras only desecrate those names, total lack of wide angle is very general, then many have missing features which top of the class camera should have, especially good manual controls are rare. Actually even some consumer class DSLRs have worse manual controls than A2.

Truth is that every camera is a compromise...
-Small easy to carry pocket cameras lack any versatility, zoom range from both ends and manual controls and small sensor requires low ISOs.
-Ultrazooms surely have long tele equivalent to expensive DSLR equipment but lack wide angle and manual controls, also small sensors again requires low ISOs.
-Then rare cameras with little bigger sensor, good manual controls, lot of features and useful zoom range with sharp and fast optics but lack that longest reach of tele.
-DSLRs surely shine in low light capability, speed of autofocus and ultimate versatility but price of that is literally expensive and heavy, to cover good range you'll need multiple lenses (sharp and fast zoom lenses are expensive) and you'll end up quite heavily loaded easily. Also you need separate lens for macro photography, loose live preview, lot of convenience and need separate video camera if you need that ability.

So if you look at it expect for low light action photography and large prints from those top end/real prosumer can give DSLR real run for its money when used right... and in versatility without hassle its in own class.
And now A2 seems to be being left as ultimate prosumer because DSLRs are more profitable (good collection of lenses ain't cheap and nicely tie customer to brand) and lot easier to sell because there's always ready "parish" for preaching of "absolute truth".


PS. That landscape shot was taken at night with tripod, that's moon in it and time was 1 am (or 2, don't remember exactly). Light level was such that you didn't see any colors... or too well what you were stepping on and evading tent wires was quite hard.
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Old Nov 24, 2005, 9:20 AM   #10
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Despite the predictably strong arguments for dslr, guess what? I went with ET's arguments and bought the Minolta...

I reckon that for £370, it's a good deal - and with the extra goodiesI got, like a 1GB memory card, bag, spare battery, clear lens-protecting filter and enough money left over to go drinking, it's got to have been better than spending all my money on an entry-leveldslr with nothing in the way of accessories.

OK, so the picture might be considerably worse inmost situations, but it might be comparable, maybe better,in others. The extra 2MP over the cheapest dslr's will be useful, and we use photoshop, so I guess it might be possible to remove a fair bit of the noise and generally tweak the images to get them looking good, and big enough to have a bit of impact. Whatever, the images will be better than the 3.1MP images girlfriend currently takes (and I'm reasonably impressed by the quality of those). On top of that, the Minolta is a less scary proposition for someone who is feeling her way by trial and error through the physics of taking photographs.

I bought a Minolta E323 two years ago for the best part of £200. Similar cameras now are way cheaper. Maybecome Christmas 2008, dslr's with a higher resolution will become more affordable too. I might even be able to get a dslr with 8MP and a decent lens for not a great deal more than I have spent this time.

Thanks, everyone, for your responses!
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