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Old May 26, 2006, 6:49 AM   #1
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Hello. Over two years ago I bought a Canon G5. I still use the camera today but find it lacking in some areas. Mainly, the time it takes in-between shots and the lack of a manual zoom lens.

Therefore, I am starting my research for my fall purchase of my first SLR camera. I do have a budget, so I will buy the camera first. Then a flash (A compatible flash would be cool to buy now to use with my G5) and then lens/lenses.

Let me tell you about the types of shots I take. I do a lot of family photography, being close in door and out door shots. I also do family photos at graduations and family events, and that is where my G5 lacks now with no external flash and or much of a zoom.

Additionally, I do some vacation shooting of scenic views when we go to the west cost. They consist of a lot of wide shoots of breath taking views.

Now this is my first SLR so I am looking for a starting system and will teach me about SLR photography and help me learn to be a better photographer.

So my questions to start this are as follows:

1. What are good options for SLR Camera body's under $1000?

2. Do I buy body only or a kit?

3. What are options for a external flash for under $300 (It would be nice if I could use it with my G5 until I save up for my SLR )

4. What are some good lens / lenses options for $200 - $500

5. Based on my needs, do I get one lens or two?

6. If there is something else I would need, please post.

I would be grateful for any links to product reviews or comments as I am researching this and have a little time before my purchase.

Thanks a lot.


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Old May 26, 2006, 6:58 AM   #2
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Well buying the body without at least one lens isn't going to be much use.

All of the entry level SLRs have a built-in popup flash that is better than most P&S digicams.

Get one with a kit lens and use it for a few months and you'll be in a better position to decide what you need later.

Frankly any of the brands would be good enough, and all of them have options that start at under $1000.
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Old May 26, 2006, 10:19 AM   #3
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Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D
Nikon D70s
Canon Digital Rebel XT/350D
Pentax *ist DS2
Olympus E-500 Evolt
Nikon D50



These are Steve's picks for amateur DSLR's.

Whatever you get, I would advise you to also get the kit lens. A kit lens doesn't usually cost that much, and it covers a basic zoom range (28mm to 90mm or so).

I have the *ist DS. Its little brother, the *ist DL is still available at a very low price. It uses AA batteries, is small, and fairly easy to use.

Many people swear by the Nikon D50, which has very good low light performance.

Picture quality is supposedly outstanding for the Canon Digital Rebel XT, whose price has dropped a lot in the last 2 months. However, some people don't like the way it feels in their hands, claiming it is too small.

The Konica Minolta 5D has built in image stabilization and good low light performance. The downside is that KM is leaving the business, having sold a lot of its business to Sony.

That's basic information. I am sure other forum members will tell you more about their favorite cameras and lenses. Good luck!
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Old May 26, 2006, 11:06 AM   #4
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Either of you have any comments on flashes or lens?
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Old May 26, 2006, 12:17 PM   #5
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I got a Quantaray Flash for $140 from Ritz. It works ok. It sure does have extended range compared to built in flashes. Also, you can bounce flash for indirect (softer) lighting.

I have a Sigma 28-300mm zoom. It's ok. Some other people have touted the Sigma 18-200mm, and the Tamron 28-300. The downside of zoom lenses with such range is that they can't be equally sharp through the entire range. That's why many people have 2 or 3 lenses to cover different ranges.
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Old May 26, 2006, 12:47 PM   #6
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Is there a place that has reviews on lens and or flashes?

And thats for your input!!
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Old May 26, 2006, 1:04 PM   #7
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You'll find a category titled Amateur Digital SLR (under $1,000) in our Best Cameras List here that may make a good starting point.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

But, if it's going to be a while before you purchase a camera, then I'd expect some new models to be available later in the summer.

For example, Pentax just announced two new DSLR models earlier this week:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/pe...-k110d_pr.html

Also, Sony will also be releasing one or more DSLR models this summer, jointly developed with Konica Minolta (they've been working together on designing Sony branded DSLR models since July 2005).

Sony acquired some of Konica Minolta's assets earlier this year and will be entering the DSLR market with a goal of capturing more than 25% of DSLR marketshare over the next few years. Of course, only time will tell how successful they'll be. We will probably see some DSLR product announcements from Sony within the next few weeks.

If you want to buy an external flash for your G5 that also works with a DSLR and want a dedicated unit, then I'd make sure you want to go with Canon as your DSLR choice. If so, right now the only current production DSLR model for under $1000 available from Canon is the Rebel XT (a.k.a., EOS-350D).

An under $300 strobe to consider would be something like the Canon 430EX. It's $239.95 before rebates at B&H right now. A more powerful Canon speedlight like the 580EX would exceed your desired budget. The 580EX is selling for $379.95 before rebates right now.

There are a number of third party choices available, too. If you want more flexibility so that you're not locked into a strobe that only works properly with one camera brand, you may want to consider one of the Metz MZ series strobes. For example, the Metz 54MZ4.

It has system that uses a replaceable foot, and you can get them dedicated for most major camera brands. So, if you decide to change from Canon to another brand like Nikon, Pentax or Konica Minolta later, you simply replace the foot with the one that's designed to work with a specific camera brand, versus replacing the entire strobe.

B&H sells them with the correct foot included for popular brands. They've got the Metz 54MZ4 with the correct foot for Canon models for $389.95 (before $50 rebate) right now.

There are other solutions that can work as dedicated strobes with Canon models, too (both from Metz and other manufacturers). Some users like the Sigma strobes on a Canon. They make some dedicated models that work work (but, they don't have any with a replaceable foot designed to be able to work with more than one camera brand).

You could also go with a non-dedicated system and use Manual Exposure. Some of the Sunpaks are popular choices for this purpose. In a new strobe, the Sunpak 383 Super is a popular choice for not much money. It's got 3 Auto Aperture Ranges as well as Manual Power Settings. You can get one new in the box for $79.95 at B&H:

Sunpak 383 Super at B&H

You lose some features with a non-dedicated system, and you have to use manual exposure on the camera. But, it's not as much trouble as most people think. You simply select one of the Auto Aperture Ranges on the strobe, dial in the desired ISO speed, and set the camera to match. Then, you shoot within the distances shown for the selected Auto Range on the flash.

For example, one of them may be something like 4.5 to 30 feet at f/4 using ISO 100. When the camera and flash are set to match, the flash uses it's own built in sensor to measure reflected light during the exposure, then terminates the flash burst when it sees enough light. This type of system also has the added benefit of eliminating the metering preflash found in dedicated flash systems used by Digital Cameras.

You can buy similar Sunpak models for practically nothing on the used market. But, make sure to keep trigger voltages in mind if you go that route. Canon recommends trigger voltages of 6 volts or less. So, always measure any strobe you consider before using it. You can find user reported trigger voltages for a number of strobes here:

http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

I spent a total of $48 for a flash system for use on my Konica Minolta 5D, including two strobes. ;-)

* $16 for a third party adapter to give it an ISO standard hotshoe and a PC Sync Port (not needed to use a hotshoe attached strobe with your Canon).

* a Sunpak 222 Auto with tilt and two aperture ranges for a smaller flash unit (GN of about 72 feet at ISO 100) for $7.00 from KEH.com (and they even threw in a nice, coiled PC Sync Cord with it).

* a Sunpak 333 Auto with tilt, swivel and manual zoom head with multiple auto aperture ranges, as well as manual settings (full, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16). GN runs from 86 feet to 120 feet at ISO 100, depending on the zoom head setting. I got this one for $25 (as new in box in 10 condition from the used department at B&H).

Total Flash System Investment: $48

Both strobes can be triggered via hotshoe or PC Sync cord, and both have nice scales for aperture needed for the selected auto range based on the ISO speed dialed in. Once you select an Auto Range and set the camera's aperture and ISO speed to match, just stay within the distances shown on the scale and the flash does the rest
.

I noticed you mentioned graduations. Make sure you are buying a strobe that's powerful enough to work for this purpose if you can't get very close.

To calculate maximum flash range at ISO 100, divide the Guide Number by the Aperture. For example, if you're shooting at f/2.8 and using a strobe with a Guide Number of 120 feet at ISO 100, your maximum flash range would be about 43 feet (120 / 2.8 = 42.85). Then, each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x.

As for lenses, once you narrow down your choice in camera brand, I'd ask questions about choices in the manufacturer specific forums here for advise.

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Old May 26, 2006, 1:28 PM   #8
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Do you know the difference in distance between the 430 and 580 canon flash?
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Old May 26, 2006, 1:46 PM   #9
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robbo wrote:
Quote:
I have a Sigma 28-300mm zoom. It's ok. Some other people have touted the Sigma 18-200mm, and the Tamron 28-300.¬* The downside of zoom lenses with such range is that they can't be equally sharp through the entire range.¬* That's why many people have 2 or¬* 3 lenses to cover different ranges.
I think this is good point also to take "crop factor" (caused by sensor being smaller than 3mm film) into account.
For most of these dSLRs you'll get rough effective focal length of lens by multiplying stated focal length with 1.5, so for example 28mm becomes 42mm which isn't anymore much any wide angle.
As exception to this is Olympus whose cameras use smaller sensor and have "crop factor" of 2x.



JimC wrote:
Quote:
When the camera and flash are set to match, the flash uses it's own built in sensor to measure reflected light during the exposure, then terminates the flash burst when it sees enough light.¬*¬*This type of system also has the added benefit of eliminating the metering preflash found in dedicated flash systems used by Digital Cameras.
Metz 54 MZ4 has also this feature. (and also 44 MZ2)
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Old May 26, 2006, 2:26 PM   #10
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E.T wrote:
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Metz 54 MZ4 has also this feature. (and also 44 MZ2)
Yes, AFAIK, all the MZ series strobes have Auto modes that use the strobe's built in sensor to measure reflected light and eliminate a preflash when used in that way (although, youcanlose features like HSS using the Auto mode).

Some MZ series strobes have more Auto ranges compared to others, andsome aremore aware of camera settings compared to others, depending on the foot used. Some support HSS and wireless and some don't.

The lower priced dedicated Metz AF series strobes don't have a sensor built in. The MZ series strobes have a sensor that can eliminate a preflash, as well as a replaceable foot so you can use the same strobe with more than one camera brand.

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