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Old Mar 16, 2006, 5:59 PM   #1
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So I've a budget of about $1000 (give or take a $100). Previously owned an olympus and a nikon 35mm slr (no lenses invested so can't choose based on that). I'm tired of my FZ20 and want something new with more control and flexibility with lenses.
My shortlist:

Nikon D70s w/18-70 (18-200 sometime later when budget allows)
Olympus E-330 w/14-45 (14-54 or 18-180 later)
KM 7D w/28-75 (current bundle $999 at adorama)

Nikon D50 ($507 body: 18-70mm + 50mm 1.4 -or- 18-55mm + 20mm f2. 8)
KM 5D ($625 body, 28-75mm -or- 17-35mm)


I like all of the above and the E-330 is the only one I haven't held. Wondering how nice the new CMOS is. The live view is attractive, as is the dust-removal system. The novelty of it really is a high selling point for me (i know it shouldn't be .
I'm not a pro, or semi-pro. I'll be using it for traveling (india or south america next), just walking about and a lot of evening/night/indoor shooting. Some portrait photography. Low light shooting is important, if that matters and can greatly separate one from the others I listed (i will also invest in better lenses for this sake!). I understand post processing is often necessary but it's something I am learning.
So what would you get? (leaning a bit towards the D70s ).

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Old Mar 16, 2006, 6:05 PM   #2
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If it were me, today, I'd get the KM 7D (you can find it for around $800-$900 now), the battery grip (not available with the 5D) & several lenses (& it doesn't matter who makes them).
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Old Mar 16, 2006, 6:35 PM   #3
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I'd probably go for the 7D package at Adorama.

B&H is getting almost that much for just a 7D body ($934) and gets $389 for the 28-75mm f/2.8

$999 for a 7D with a 28-75mm f/2.8 is a heck of a bargain.

But, I wouldn't wait too long (supplies may dry up quickly).

Since your primary concern is low light, I just don't think you'd find a better solution compared to a KM DSLR, since you'd have anti-shake with every lens, as well as ISO speeds up to ISO 3200.

But, I'm biased, as I have a KM 5D. :-)




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Old Mar 16, 2006, 9:13 PM   #4
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Have you looked at the Olympus E-500? I just purchased one for $699 after rebate from B&H with the 2 lens kit (14-45mm f/3.5-f/5.6 and 40-150mm f/3.5-f/4.5).

I've just had a couple of days to play with it so I can't vouch too much on the image quality. However, from what research I did it seems to beat least as good as the othersexceptingvery high iso.But the build quality is very good, it has the dust system, and the price with the lenses is great.
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Old Mar 17, 2006, 12:13 AM   #5
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Definitely a few choices. I like the AS of the KM 7D. The worry is what will happen next wiht sony. It's good to be optimistic but as a first time buyer, it makes it harder to choose it over the others. I can't ignore all the focus issues I've been reading about either. I realize that they can be fixed (and probably a little too much emphasis has been put on it) but again as a first time buyer, it makes it less attractive.

Is the D70s better at high ISO than the others?

I have looked at the E-500, at this point I'd prefer the E-330 if I was buying an Olympus. Speaking of the E-330, does the Olympus have a smaller sensor and doesn't that make it (potentially) worse in terms of image quality?

I have not really looked into canon, but it's been brought to my attention that they are tops when it comes to low light shooting (?). If I stretched my budget to $1100, I might be able to pick up a 10D kit w/18-55 lens. It's just that any other lenses would have to wait a while (when budget permits).

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Old Mar 17, 2006, 12:16 AM   #6
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Nikon D70s.

Read the reviews, and you will know why.


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Old Mar 17, 2006, 1:05 AM   #7
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One more vote for KM 7D w/28-75 (current bundle $999 at adorama) best value for money, go for it.
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Old Mar 17, 2006, 7:04 AM   #8
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NowGo wrote:
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Definitely a few choices. I like the AS of the KM 7D. The worry is what will happen next wiht sony. It's good to be optimistic but as a first time buyer, it makes it harder to choose it over the others.
I wouldn't worry about it. It's probably best for the long run, thanks to Sony's deep pockets.

Sony is one of the largest sensor suppliers in the world, and supplies sensors to most manufacturers for many of their non-DSLR models. If you use an Olympus, Konica-Minolta, Nikon, Pentax, or Canon non-DSLR camera, there's a good chance it's got a Sony sensor in it.

They also supply the sensors for Nikon, Pentax, and Konica-Minolta DSLR models, and by launching their own DSLR lineup, they don't have to worry about buying sensors from someone else, lowering their R&D cost for new products (while still supplementing revenue by selling sensors to the "other guys".

In addition, Sony is number 3 in market share in Digital Camera sales in the U.S. behind Kodak and Canon (and number 2 worldwide).

They've already announced their intent to capture 25% of the DSLR market, too. So, I wouldn't underestimate them, and they've already got a huge distribution network in place to market DSLR models.

I'm sure you'll be seeing new lenses announced, too. Third party suppliers are still announcing new lenses for KM models. For that matter, in just the past month, Tamron and Sigma have announced more lenses that will be available in Minolta mount.

I'm keeping an eye on the new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 to see how well it's received. It's designed only for DSLR models with sensors smaller than 35mm film. So, it's going to be smaller and lighter compared to a lens designed for 35mm models.

http://www.tamron.co.jp/en/news/rele...s0215_a16.html

I'm also keeping an eye on the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC that Sigma has decided to make available in Konica Minolta mount, for when I need something brighter than my Minolta 28mm f/2 provides in very low light clubs and restaurants with live music in the area (and the Sigma will be available at a much lower price point compared to a Minolta 35mm f/1.4G, too).

Minolta has manufactured 16 Million Lenses in Maxxum/Dynax mount since this mount was introduced in 1985.

That's a lot of lenses in the market (and that doesn't even included third party lenses in this lens mount from Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, Vivitar/Cosina, etc.).

Even Canon (which has been making DSLR models for much longer, with a huge number of users), has only manufactured 32 Million lenses in their EF mount.

So, even though we're seeing some short term "panic buying" in the used market impacting supply, what lens is going to be harder to find on the used market?
Many times the users of Canon DSLR models trying to pick between 32 Million lenses, or a small number of KM DSLR owners in comparison, trying to find deals with 16 Million lenses in the market.

Also, KM is not going out of business. They've just decided to stop selling cameras under the Konica Minolta brand name. They'll still be making cameras and lenses for Sony (as the OEM supplier).

That Sony will be selling cameras and lenses in Minolta mount is not a new thing. That was announced a LONG time before KM decided to stop selling cameras. So, models with a Sony brand name have been "in the works" for quite a while now, and they've announced their intent to launch them this summer.

Sony DSLR models using the Minolta Maxxum/Dynax mount have been in the works since last July.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/digin....html#sony_slr

We've already got a new Nikon models using Sony's 10 and 12 Megapixel sensors, and Pentax has announced a DSLR that will be 10MP (probably using a Sony CCD, as do their existing DSLR models).

I have no doubt that we'll be seeing higher resolution models from Sony that can use Minolta Maxxum Mount lenses, too (and I have zero doubt we'll be seeing some new lenses announced, too).

I got a KM DSLR myself (KM 5D), and I wouldn't trade it for another model for my needs.

A news story from last month:

Quote:
Sony Aims For Quarter Share of DSLR Market

Following Konica Minolta Holding Inc.'s announcement of withdrawal from the arena of the imaging business and an agreement to transfer Konica Minolta's assets related to R&D as well as manufacturing of DSLRs to Sony Corp., an official of Sony said on Jan. 20 it would aim for at least a quarter of share in the DSLR camera market in a few years, reports PEN News Weekly.

Sony commands the second-largest share of the digicam market after Canon, but its operations have been focused mainly on compact models, missing lucrative DSLRs and interchangeable lenses to warrant a push. Canon and Nikon dominate the DSLR market with a combined market share of nearly 90 percent.

Through acquisition of the right to use the Konica Minolta's Alpha/Maxxum mount system, access to manufacturing/designing technology and R&D/manufacturing assets (though Konica Minolta retains its patents), Sony plans a big push to high-end digicam market including DSLRs, to chip away at Canon's dominant market position, says PEN News Weekly.

Yutaka Nakagawa, president of Sony's digital imaging business group, told reporters that the company "will target for at least 20-25 percent of the world digicam market, and even a higher share as far as DSLRs are concerned, by making the most of its advantage," ie., its capability to make key devices such as CCDs, lenses and LCDs. He continued: "Because there are only a few players in the DSLR market, we would like to grab an even bigger market share. We wish to nurture our DSLR segment to a business that accounts for more than 20 percent of our total revenue from digicam sales in the near future."

Sony plans to roll out its first high-end DSLR model jointly developed with Konica Minolta this summer. The company plans to entrust manufacture of its DSLRs to Konica Minolta's Malaysian company through capital participation. A certain number of designers and engineers may be transferred from Konica Minolta to Sony, but details are not disclosed, says PEN News Weekly. (Source: Photo Marketing Association's Newsline International)
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I can't ignore all the focus issues I've been reading about either. I realize that they can be fixed (and probably a little too much emphasis has been put on it) but again as a first time buyer, it makes it less attractive.
Yep... I think that really hurt KM. You never really know from reading forum posts, since the people with problems will post about it and the ones that don't have problems don't.

But, my take on it is that an unusually high number of 7Ds had AF sensor alignment problems causing backfocus.

It's not really a big deal. Personally, if I got one with the problem, I'd just fix it myself. I've seen multiple users report doing just that. There are 3 hex screws under a piece of rubber at the tripod mount that control the AF sensor alignment. Most users report that it only took about 15 minutes for them to adjust their own using a tripod, with about 1/4 turn clockwise on the 3 screws fixing it, turning all 3 screws an equal amount while taking test photos to see when a target is sharpest.

Since users report an equal number of turns on the screws fixed it, it was probably a calibration error during production with a number of cameras.

Problems with the newer 5D are much rarer (I probably see just as many backfcous problems reported with Canon models as I do with the KM 5D). My Maxxum 5D is "spot on" (and I verified it using a 100mm f/2 in controlled conditions), with no adjustment needed.

Quote:
Is the D70s better at high ISO than the others?
No. Out of your list, I'd say the Nikon D50 and Konica Minolta 5D were pretty much neck and neck (with the KM 5D having the lowest measurable noise shooting jpeg). Shooting raw, I doubt there would be any difference between them.

A number of reviewers and users have noted that noise improved considerably with the D50 in the Nikon lineup.

But, the Nikon D50 is missing ISO 3200. You don't want to shoot at ISO 3200 unless you have to, but I would not consider a model without it (I've used it often with my KM 5D, because light was so low I didn't have any other choice in order to keep shutter speeds fast enough).

Comparing the Konica Minolta 5D and 7D, they both have similar noise graphs (which, by the way, are lower than any of the other cameras you're considering, including the D50). But, the KM 7D suffers from a more loss of detail at it's highest ISO speeds (probably due to image processing to keep noise levels down). Shooting raw versus jpeg, you would avoid this softening with the 7D.

I can't prove it (at least not without a 7D to do some controlled conditions tests shooting raw). But, IMO, the 5D does have an advantage over the 7D at higher ISO speeds. This is visible in jpeg files. The 5D appears to be about 1/3 stop more sensitive compared to the 7D at the higher settings (ISO 1600, 3200).

That's not a big deal, but I did consider it when comparing these models for my needs.

I based this conclusion on looking at multiple sets of photos, including a set taken at ISO 100 through 3200 of the same subjects, in the same lighting, with the same lenses, with the same manual exposure settings, right down to manual white balance. One reviewer also noted a descrepancy of 7D sensitivity at ISO 3200 (calling it 1/3 stop less senstive than indicated). The 5D has a more linear sensitivity curve in comparison (at least shooting in JPEG).

According to a KM France presentation showing how the models compare, the 5D also incorporates a new shield for the sensor which is probably one reason it's better (helping to eliminate interferance from other components).

That's not to say that the 7D is a "slouch" at higher ISO speed performance. I think we're just seeing some improvements in the designs (sensors, supporting chipsets, etc.) with newer models.

Dave Etchells has a noise graph that you may want to look at. Both the 5D and 7D have lower measured noise compared to the D50 or D70s shooting JPEG. But, the differences between them would probably narrow shooting in raw.

Dave did note that the 5D didn't exhibit as much softening of detail that you see with the 7D at it's highest ISO speeds, even though the two cameras look the same from a measured noise perspective (the 5D appears to have more efficient algorithms for noise reduction, retaining detail).

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PROD...M5DIMATEST.HTM

I rarely shoot below ISO 400 with my 5D, and don't even think twice about going higher if shutter speeds call for it. In some of the clubs and restaurants around here, I've needed ISO 3200, a bright prime *and* anti-shake to have any chance at all of getting photos. I've got some hand held shots taken at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 second at ISO 3200 with a Minolta 28mm f/2 in cande lit restaurants.

I am confident that I could not have gotten those shots with *any* other camera made today.

Quote:
I have looked at the E-500, at this point I'd prefer the E-330 if I was buying an Olympus. Speaking of the E-330, does the Olympus have a smaller sensor and doesn't that make it (potentially) worse in terms of image quality?
It's too soon to tell how it's going to perform. But, all else being equal (and it never is), the smaller the photosites for each pixel, the higher the noise. That's because the surface area for each photositel is smaller when you try to stuff more of them into an even smaller sensor. So, more light is needed for the photosites to generate a strong enough signal, requiring more amplification (which adds noise) for equivalent ISO speed sensitivity.

I personally wouldn't buy an Olympus DSLR, since I like taking photos in low light. To the credit of Olympus, they did come out with a couple of f/2 zooms. But, they're pricey (over $2000 for the 35-100mm f/2), and you *need* the extra stop, so you can shoot at lower ISO speeds for equivalent noise compared to competing DSLR models using an f/2.8 zoom (and there are more alternatives in lenses for other DSLR models).

The native ISO speed range of these sensors goes through ISO 400. Anything above that is considered to be an ISO "boost" (probably by multiplying the values for each pixel after the analog to digital conversion). With competing models, their "extended" ISO speed mode doesn't take effect until after ISO 1600 (for models that have ISO 3200 available).

I have not seen noise tests for the Olympus E-330 yet from reputable sources (although I did see one test that looked pretty "bogus" comparing some DSLR models). So, we'll need to wait to see how well it will perform. But, I don't expect a huge improvement due to sensor size limitations (at least not without significant loss of detail at higher ISO speeds from noise reduction in the image processing pipeline). But, perhaps it will surprise me.

Quote:
I have not really looked into canon, but it's been brought to my attention that they are tops when it comes to low light shooting (?). If I stretched my budget to $1100, I might be able to pick up a 10D kit w/18-55 lens. It's just that any other lenses would have to wait a while (when budget permits).
I wouldn't go that route. If you decided on Canon, the 20D can be found for a bit over $1,100 now (and the kit lens wouldn't be that much more). It's going to be better from a noise perspective compared to the 10D (as well as having improvements in a number of other areas).

But, given that you seem to want to take photos in low light, I'd make sure to get a bright lens no matter the camera. Those kit lenses are really not suitable for existing light use without a tripod, unless you stay on the wide end and have a steady trigger finger at ISO 1600.

Make sure you compare these models in a store, too. Compare ergonomics, viewfinder, control layout, etc. You want to make sure you're comfortable with the model you choose.

Out of the models you've mentioned, the Olympus models have the smallest viewfinder area (mm2), with the Nikon models having the next smallest viewfinder area. The 7D will have the largest viewfinder area, followed by the EOS-20D, then the KM 5D.

Even though the 5D's viewfinder is larger than the other entry level models, if you wear eyeglasses, the 7D would be a better fit due to it's superior eye relief (and at $999 with a bright 28-75mm f/2.8, that Adorama deal is one heck of a bargain while supplies last). It's also got a number of features not available on the 5D like a larger buffer, more controls, PC Sync Port (although you can get an adapter for the 5D), manual power control of it's flash, higher resolution LCD).

Keep in mind that this camera was selling for *more* than the EOS-20D when it was introduced, despite the 20D having a 2 Megapixel advantage. The 7D is a very nice camera. Make sure to try one out in person at a store. It's superior control layout is sweet, and by shooting in raw, you avoid image processing differences if you need to shoot at ISO 1600 or 3200.

P.S.

I would not expect the Adorama deal to last for long. They had a sale on this same lens (28-75mm f/2.8 ) which only lasted about 2 days. I'm surprised they kept enough of them to bundle with the 7D at that price. You'd pay just about as much for the 7D without this lens at vendors that still have them in stock.

My guess is that we'll start seeing some announcements from Sony after the deal with KM is finalized (after the end of this month). But, I would not hold my breath expecting supplies of the 7D to last in the meantime at prices like Adorama has right now (and any new Sony models manufactured by Konica Minolta probably won't be available until later this summer anyway).

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Old Mar 17, 2006, 3:01 PM   #9
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From the 5D reveiw.

"Print Quality
Good print quality, good color, good-looking prints to 11x14 inches, and 13x19s are entirely suitable for wall display. ISO 1600 images are rough at 8x10, good at 5x7. ISO 3200 images are only acceptable at 4x6."

The same reviewer says that ISO 1600 prints from the Rebel and D50 are good at 8x10 and pretty usable at 13x19. It isn't just howmuch noise a camera has, but also how the noise is distributed in the image.

If it were my $1000, I would buy a D50 body, a 18-70 lens and an 80-200f2.8. If I had a bit more money, I'd buy a couple prime lenses. 50mm 1.8, 185 f1.8.

The D50 gives an image comparable to the Rebel and better than some others and it is a bargain to boot. I'd spend more money on lenses. Lenses last forever and you can use them on your next body.
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