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Help me pick a digital SLR camera.

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by mussel, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. visionology

    visionology Well-Known Member

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    The live viewfinder (on the screen) is now finding it's way onto DSLR cameras, the new Canon 1DS Mark III, which is the highest Canon you can buy has it now. I prefer to view in the viewfinder on DSLR's because I feel more connected to the camera.

    With my old Powershot G4 it had a great swivel out screen that was incredibly useful in taking group shots, photos of myself and my girl, and for taking photos at weird angles. I could see how it could be a help in judging some shots in a DSLR and is useful as another feature set to help get the final shot.

    I think good photos can be taken with any decent camera, however DSLR's give you a much greater advantage of taking good shots because they have a much larger feature set.
     
  2. Brian SD

    Brian SD Well-Known Member

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    I don't really find the "feature set" of DSLRs to be their greatest advantage, unless you include "high quality" in that.. The strength of an SLR camera comes from the lenses and the sensors; I've always been a proponent of the motto "quality over quantity" and that's what you get from an SLR over a P&S. I'd be completely satisfied with an SLR that lacked all of the in-camera processing features and other nifty computer functions that are so often used as selling points, so long as it had a great sensor and viewfinder and could use my favorite lenses (though I love on-screen histograms, doubt I could live without one at this point). Anyway, I didn't mean to pick on the actual medium of street photography or rangefinders. My comments were kind of a rant against the generic lazy photography that everyone seems to make a hobby these days. To be honest I don't give a shit what equipment is used so long as the composition and the spirit of the photo is good. My opinions are mostly for my own standards, I'd hate to find the perfect moment for a photo and have it ruined by noise, bad color representation, distortion and poor focus. BTW, I'm anti-Leica. [​IMG]
     
  3. GoSurface

    GoSurface Well-Known Member

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    What BrianSD said in his original post. I'm absolutely enamored with my D80. I researched for months though, before I made the purchase.
     
  4. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Well-Known Member

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    I think the advice on the lenses is spot on. I have been using ED lenses from Nikon with my F100 for 12 years and they take beautiful pics. The kit lenses are not horrible but best to put the money elsewhere.

    I have used the D80 which a friend has and it is very nice. We use it for car detailing shots where we need lots of resolution.
     
  5. Tyto

    Tyto Well-Known Member

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    Another note on the D40. It doesn't capture images in raw format. So if you want the full power of post processing in raw (which is pretty important) the D80 is the way to go.


    This isn't correct. Both the D40 and D40X have NEF (Nikon RAW) capability.

    Another couple of options in the OP's price range are the Pentaxes: K10D, K100D Super. Decent kit lenses, lots of good used lenses on the market (same is true of Nikon), though prices are definitely rising. Both cameras have good weather sealing, great build quality for the money, and in-body image stabilization. K10D has the same Sony 10MP sensor as the D80, though arguably lower image quality, but the differences shouldn't really be apparent for 8x10 and under.
     
  6. Brian SD

    Brian SD Well-Known Member

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    IIRC Pentax shares quite a bit of hardware with Nikons (I recall hearing they can even use some Nikon lenses, though I'm not sure). The photographer who shot my sister's wedding had some sort of Pentax/Nikon hybrid. I was really confused about it, but the pictures came out very well.
     
  7. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I'm not one of those militant Leica cultists with the matching Leica brass belt buckle (they exist) and a Leica baseball cap (they also exist), but I do appreciate their cameras, lenses and accessories. In my opinion, there are few cameras that can exceed the convenience, mechanical refinement and sheer esthetics of a Leica--whether M or LTM--for street photography. A Zeiss Contax comes closes, but for my tastes, I feel they're better for more static subjects.

    My other favorite camera is the Rolleiflex TLR.

    As for the viewfinder issue, I always preset my aperture/speed and then use a separate viewfinder--as Cartier Bresson sometimes preferred--to take the shots.
     
  8. Brian278

    Brian278 Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the market as well, and despite all the praise for the D80, what does it offer over the D40x for the absolute beginnner to real photography? I am starting from scratch here wanting to take the plunge as a hobbyist, does it make sense to purchase just the body of whatever (likely the D40x or D80) and get the lens separately, or is their a Nikon kit lens that is a good value (as I believe Brian SD stated)? I will also need to get some software (is Lightroom the way to go or is there a more economical option?) and I don't want this to turn into a $1000+ endeavor.
     
  9. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Well-Known Member

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    IIRC Pentax shares quite a bit of hardware with Nikons (I recall hearing they can even use some Nikon lenses, though I'm not sure). The photographer who shot my sister's wedding had some sort of Pentax/Nikon hybrid. I was really confused about it, but the pictures came out very well.

    Pentax and Nikkor lenses do not share a mount configuration and cannot be cross-mounted without some kind of jerry-rigged mount adapter. If you do that you will lose the lens-to-body focal distance transmission necessary to optimize flash metering, and you may have difficulty focusing at infinity. I would love to be able to use my Pentax Limiteds on a Nikon body but it isn't worth the effort.
     
  10. Brian SD

    Brian SD Well-Known Member

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    Well, if my word isn't enough, here's an overwhelmingly positive review from Ken Rockwell on the 18-55 nikon kit lens: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/1855.htm I personally think the D40x is fine - a great deal in fact, just knowing what I know and having experience with the D80, its worth the extra money to me.
     
  11. eg1

    eg1 Well-Known Member

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    I am a relative photo n00b, and I just got a D40x with the SB600 flash solely because I cannot get decent action shots of my small children with P&S cameras (and I've tried some rather expensive versions of those like the S9000).

    This Christmas I am going to catch those little buggers in action ... [​IMG]
     
  12. B1FF

    B1FF Well-Known Member

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    Well, if my word isn't enough, here's an overwhelmingly positive review from Ken Rockwell on the 18-55 nikon kit lens

    Hmm. Since Nikon started including this with their low end consumer model, the first thing everyone seems to do with a new camera is grind the shit out of it while playing manual focus.
     
  13. Rambo

    Rambo Well-Known Member

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    I've tested and used both the D80 and D40x. If you're good with cameras, and have all your photo skills, then the overwhelming choice is the D80. If you don't know what the fuck you're doing yet, the D40x is the choice. The menu system on the D40x is MILES ahead of the old Nikon menu system. Each and every option on the camera (white balance, aperture, etc.) has a help file with very good explanations on use.

    If you're willing to wait a few months, the PMA show (every player in the camera industry announces their new lineups) is right around the corner and speculation is that Canon will release an update to the XTi since it's getting a bit long in the tooth. I'd at least try and hold out until then.
     
  14. migo

    migo Well-Known Member

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    I'm not going to say much because a lot has been said, but I will say this about the D40x:

    the menu system is a lot of help when you don't know what you're doing, but if you plan on using your camera a lot, you will learn very quickly, at which point, at least for me, the D40x becomes a very n00b camera and you don't like it at all. I've been shooting a Pentax k100d for about 4 months now...I picked up a d40x last week and I felt like it was designed for a 10 year old. Not dissing the camera, it takes great pictures, but it won't feel right if you plan on using it for more than you would a p&s.
     
  15. migo

    migo Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the market as well, and despite all the praise for the D80, what does it offer over the D40x for the absolute beginnner to real photography? I am starting from scratch here wanting to take the plunge as a hobbyist, does it make sense to purchase just the body of whatever (likely the D40x or D80) and get the lens separately, or is their a Nikon kit lens that is a good value (as I believe Brian SD stated)? I will also need to get some software (is Lightroom the way to go or is there a more economical option?) and I don't want this to turn into a $1000+ endeavor.

    Kit lens should do for now...invest in a lens when you're sure you want to continue your hobby. By the way...you've picked an expensive hobby. It has a very, very good chance of turning into a $1000+ endeavor over time...much like peeps over at MC and their shoes.
     
  16. Brian278

    Brian278 Well-Known Member

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    Kit lens should do for now...invest in a lens when you're sure you want to continue your hobby. By the way...you've picked an expensive hobby. It has a very, very good chance of turning into a $1000+ endeavor over time...much like peeps over at MC and their shoes.
    All of my hobbies are expensive. [​IMG] At least this one doesn't have constant operating costs. I did just get a small prorated bonus after being on the job for a month, and (of course) I'm looking to blow all of it in one place. It's either this or the beginnings of a quality 2-channel audio system, thereby beginning my inevitable descent into audiophilia. Either way, I'm kind of screwed. Thanks for the feedback everyone. Any thoughts on software?
     
  17. mussel

    mussel Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advices, I think I am going to narrow it down to Nikon D40x and D80 but I am still open for suggestions. Here's a list of what I want to do with a DSLR:

    Hiking: taking pictures of wild lifes, plants (both zoom in and close up) and landscapes along the way so I definitely appreciate a powerful zoom lense. Weight could be an issue. D40x's compact size and lighter weight has an edge in this area.

    Museum exhibits: many museums allow taking pictures of exhibits without flash. Point-and-shot really sucks in this area. I understand SLRs take much better indoor pictures sans flash because the larger lenses allow more light in.

    Vacation: the usual stuffs, shooting subjects in front of a building or a scenery with a sharp foreground and background.

    Product photography: Occasional selling on eBay, close up and take in details of products. A live view LCD will come in handy in this case.
     
  18. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Kit lens should do for now...invest in a lens when you're sure you want to continue your hobby. By the way...you've picked an expensive hobby. It has a very, very good chance of turning into a $1000+ endeavor over time...much like peeps over at MC and their shoes.

    Well seeing as the D80 is close to $800 (street), by the time you buy 2 lenses, filters, camera bag, tripod, etc... you are in over $1000, guaranteed.

    Jon.
     
  19. Brian278

    Brian278 Well-Known Member

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    Is the fact that the D40x lacks an autofocus motor a big deal? It seems like that would be a convenience one would want. I understand there are certain lenses that will autofocus on the D40x, as well? Does that include the kit lens?
     
  20. Dmax

    Dmax Well-Known Member

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    Do you live in NYC? If so, you should make your way over to Beards & Hats on 9th ave and 34th street and at least handle both Nikons as well as Canon 40D and Rebel XTi. Once you have the camera in your hands you may discover that one may be too small or too big for your hands or that you hate the control layout. You will also be able to compare the weight of the camera and lenses. Nikon D40x, D80 and Rebel XTi have plastic bodies while Canon 40D and Nikon 300D have metal alloy bodies. Less expensive expensive lenses are generally lighter and smaller.

    Some salespeople at B&H also know what they are talking about if you need additional advice.
     

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