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Digital SLR advice

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
No idea if this is the appropriate forum for this question but "consumer gear" seemed a good bet...

My trusty little digital camera finally kicked the bucket last week and I'm keen to replace it with an upgrade to SLR. I will research fully before buying, but there is so much information out there that I could use a steer in the right direction.

I'll be using the camera for everyday purposes - landscapes, action and portraits. I live in the Caribbean at the moment, so it'll need to handle bright light well. Equally important will be its performance on snow. I'm keen to get into photography a bit so would be interested in spending a bit more than entry level prices to get a machine that I could grow into.

Do any of you experienced photographers have any advice onnarrowing the search before I get too bogged down?

Thanks in advance as usual,

JB
post #2 of 21

Link to snowsports DSLR discussion

This was discussed recently over on BOL, where there are apparently some fairly experienced lensfolk.



FWIW. Hope it helps.
B-2
post #3 of 21
Check out www.dpreview.com. Almost any prosumer DSLR from Canon or Nikon will probably do great. You'll need to manipulate exposure and shutter settings to get the best results, especially with on-snow photography. For action shots a zoom lens can be useful. Most DSLRs will give you high shutter speeds and continuous shooting modes, both of which are key to action photography.

I love my Nikon D50. I bought the Tamron 18-200mm lens in addition. Here are some samples:







post #4 of 21
I have yet to see any negative comments about any camera on DP review or on Steve's!

Digitals can be a bit confusing when you move into the upper Prosumers and the lower dSLRs.

I am lazy and ignorant so opted for a prosumer last winter, got a Panasonic Lumix FZ-30. all I can say is, avoid, and get an SLR. It is loaded with functions and a great lense and... the sensor lets it down. Also the camera internal software gets up to mischief. Thank god for photoshop. Only good thing about it is the versatility and power of the lense.

I'll be looking mostly at Canon entry levels this winter (cameras are cheaper in the US), I imagine the 350D (called a Rebel in the US) will come down in price now the 400D is out. Nikon also have some nicely priced dSLRs. Annoying thing with dSLRs is you have to buy lenses and make decisions about them (which is why I opted for a fixed lense prosumer last time).
post #5 of 21
While dpreview or Steve's digicams don't say outright that a camera sucks, if you read the detailed reviews, you will find that they highlight differences between cameras. At the high end, there's often very little to differentiate between models, and it is often down to your personal preference -- one camera might give you more saturated greens, while another gives brighter reds.

Also, just to clarify -- prosumer does not mean fixed lens or automatic cameras. A prosumer DSLR is simply an entry-level DSLR, like the Canon EOS Digital Rebel or the Nikon D50. For comparison, here are some prosumer DSLRs from CNET and some professional DSLRs as well.
post #6 of 21
faisay, what about this...


It's only $29,995
http://www.dcviews.com/press/Hasselblad-39-series.htm
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks all. Great shots by the way Faisasy.

I am guessing that if I go with the Canon Rebel or the Nikon D series (as much as i can afford) I'll be doing OK. I'll focus my attention on those two for now.

Two questions which may very well seem stupid to those of more experience though:

- as an enthusiastic amateur, I presume that the 6m pixels offered by the D50 are more than sufficient (noting that the D80 has an extra decimal place at an impressive 10 million); and

- those fancy shots you often see in ski mags, with a skier imposed several times in what seems to be the same shot at various progressive stages through a turn or a jump etc - do both the Nikon D50 and the Rebel offer that? (yes I am a total novice ... )

Also, any advice on good online dealers? The only cameras they sell down here tend to be the $12.99 underwater children's oness ...

Thanks again,

JB
post #8 of 21
http://www.sony.com/alpha

I just picked up one of these. Idiot-proof automatic mode, and compatible with all Minolta A-Mount lenses. Sony is bringing out some suh-weet Carl Zeiss lenses for this camera as well, although they may retail for a bit more than you want to spend.

In all seriousness though, the fact that this camera has image stabilization built in to the body is a huge plus for those shots you might not have a tripod handy for.
post #9 of 21
For those fast sequences of shots, where the camera takes a quick succession of pictures like you describe, check the specs for how many shots it will take in a "burst" before it pauses. Cameras have to write the pics to the memory card, and they pause while they do that. With my poor little canon ixus/elph, it was after 5 shots which was invariably exactly when the main bit of action was happening.

For good online sellers, check the various camera forums. On the net, there are those various shopping rating sites (with smiley faces etc) which are handy for comparing prices etc, but sometimes they seem to lose negative feedback. Abes of Maine seem to have stayed in business for quite some time and seem to get a lot of good raps.
Online buying is good because in the US, they often don't charge sales tax!
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Boy View Post
- as an enthusiastic amateur, I presume that the 6m pixels offered by the D50 are more than sufficient (noting that the D80 has an extra decimal place at an impressive 10 million);
While I'm sure you'll see a difference between the D50 and the D80, for most practical purposes, the 6MP should be fine. At the high end, a few megapixels either way don't matter that much. My D50 at 6MPs takes much better shots than my automatic.compact Coolpix 7600 at 7MPs. The quality of the sensor and the lens play a part. To get the best quality, shoot RAW instead of JPEG.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Boy
- those fancy shots you often see in ski mags, with a skier imposed several times in what seems to be the same shot at various progressive stages through a turn or a jump etc - do both the Nikon D50 and the Rebel offer that? (yes I am a total novice ... )
As ant mentioned, this is the burst mode, or continuous shooting mode -- these montages are taken by keeping the camera fixed in one position and shooting multiple times rapidly. Check how many frames per second (fps) the camera can handle. But note that this can be limited by the speed of the card you're using as well as the shutter speed. For instance, if you're using a 1/2 second shutter speed, it can only take 2 shots per second maximum.
post #11 of 21
faisasy:

I just wanted to say it one more time... you take gorgeous photos. I love seeing the things you shoot.

Johnnyboy:

I've got a Digital Rebel (the 350) digital slr and I love it. The reason I went with the Canon over the Nikon is that I already had several Canon slr lenses from a previous film camera. That aside, I've been extremely happy with the camera and the results.

I've literally shot thousands of images with it in the year and a half I've had it and it's functioned flawlessly. That's saying quite a lot because I don't "baby" that thing at all. I wear it under my jacket when skiing, fishing, climbing, or other activites. It feels kind of light and plasticy when you first hold it, but the thing has taken a lot of abuse and worked perfectly. It's relatively light weight although it's obviously much more bulky than viewfinder pocket digitals.

As others have said, you need to look at "burst" capacity if you want action ski photos. Mine is quite good (an ultrafast card helps with that), some of the higher level cameras are even better.

Another thing to keep in mind is that snow photos present tough lighting challenges. Mine (and others I'm sure) has a really easy exposure bracketing setting that I use a huge amount when I'm taking ski photos. It triples the number of images you take, but with digital who cares?

I really think that if you go with Nikon or Canon you'll be extremely happy.

Here's a link to some ski photos I took in Alaska. There are several other "Alaska Reports" with photos in the Trip Report section if you want to do a search.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...=alaska+report
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, as always. I am drawn strongly to the D50. The only advantages I can see with my limited knowledge and research thus far of the Rebel would be the extra MPixels and perhaps a slightly higher, and it can get 2.8 fps to the D50's 2.5.

It's also a tiny bit cheaper, which is nice.

JB
post #13 of 21

also check out

www.imaging-resource.com for good reviews.
post #14 of 21
The D50 is a great little DSLR, which would do pretty much everything you described, and do it well. While it is a lower priced camera than the now legendary D70, it is a newer model, so it benefits from technological improvements that happen quickly with anything electronic these days. It actually surpasses the D70 in some respects.

I've used a D70 for a couple years now, and can't recommend it highly enough either, although it is now getting a little dated. Nikon recently came out with its replacement--the D80, which is winning rave reviews already. Here's a good one from an admittedly die-hard Nikon fan.

For my purposes, there's only one thing I wish these cameras (D50-70-80) would do a little better. At 2-3 frames per second, these cameras are a little slow for creating photosequences of high-speed skiing. I create many of these, mostly from video because I can capture frames as fast as 30 fps. A few professional-level DSLR's can shoot plenty fast, but they are astronomically expensive. I have my eye on the somewhat more affordable Nikon D200. It shoots at 5 fps--fast enough (barely) for most photosequence purposes. It's half again as expensive as the D80 and also a bit heavier and more rugged, built more like a professional SLR.

Far more important than the camera body, of course, is the lens. It's almost always good advice if you're on a budget to spend less on the body (i.e. D50) and buy a better lens. Nikon has a new lens that I would love to have--the 18-200mm zoom. It's a great range for typical ski photography, and unlike many zooms, it's apparently a very sharp lens. Typical of zooms, it is not as "fast" (doesn't let in as much light) as some expensive single-focal-length lenses, which means that you can't always use a super fast shutter speed to stop the quickest action. But it has an intriguing image stabilzation feature, like many video cameras. That would be great for hand-held shooting, especially at longer zoom lengths. Get one if you can afford it, and if you can find one (they can't make them fast enough).

Good luck!

Best regards,
Bob
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
Far more important than the camera body, of course, is the lens. It's almost always good advice if you're on a budget to spend less on the body (i.e. D50) and buy a better lens.
Couldn't agree more!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
Nikon has a new lens that I would love to have--the 18-200mm zoom. It's a great range for typical ski photography, and unlike many zooms, it's apparently a very sharp lens. Typical of zooms, it is not as "fast" (doesn't let in as much light) as some expensive single-focal-length lenses, which means that you can't always use a super fast shutter speed to stop the quickest action. But it has an intriguing image stabilzation feature, like many video cameras. That would be great for hand-held shooting, especially at longer zoom lengths. Get one if you can afford it, and if you can find one (they can't make them fast enough).
That is one amazing lens -- I've seen shots from it -- the image stabilization is unbelievable, allowing shots at very low shutter speeds without a tripod. It does cost a pretty penny though (it was something like $700-$800 when it first came out a few months ago -- almost as much as the D50 itself!). I cheaped out and got the Tamron 18-200mm lens -- for about $300, it gives me the range I need.
post #16 of 21
Nice shots. I just skimmed through and may have missed this but, I'm wondering if older lens from SLRs will typically fit on DSLRs or not, or work with an adapter?
TIA
post #17 of 21
It depends on the camera and the lens, Alpinord. Nikon has always done a pretty good job making new cameras compatible with old lenses, even as they add new features to new lenses. Most Nikon lenses will work with Nikon's DSLR cameras, although not always perfectly. If they're not autofocus lenses, naturally, you'll have to focus them manually. The less expensive Nikons (D50,70, 80) do not have the interface needed to identify manual aperture settings on older lenses, although the lenses are still usable on the camera. You'll have to do some manual meter calculations. No big deal if you're used to that, but probably a very big deal if you're not.

Remember that the sensor chip on most digital cameras (including all Nikons) is smaller than a frame of 35mm film. That means that the lenses behave as if they are about 50% longer on a DSLR than on a standard SLR. That's great if you want telephoto--a 200 mm lens gives you the same result as a 300 mm lens on film. It's not so great if you like wide angle shooting. An 18 mm lens would be very wide on a 35mm film camera, but behaves like a 27 mm lens on a DSLR.

Some new lenses are made only for digital cameras, so they won't cover the full frame if you use them on a film camera, even though they may fit the camera body. That's important to know if you intend to use a lens for both digital and film. Otherwise, if you're going all digital, it won't matter at all. Also, the least expensive digital lenses sometimes don't have manual aperture rings, so they'll be useless on an older camera.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 21
This isn't exactly the popular route, but you might look into olympus. they use a new system called "four-thirds" that does away with most of the problems that bob just brought up about sensor sizes and lense sizes by using a fixed sensor size. i just bought an Olypmus E-1 and i've fallen in love with it. Its a great camera, without breaking the pocket book totally. Everyone i've talked to who has one has never had problems, i've not had any issues. Its also a great build quality, its splash proof and made from something besides the cheap feeling plastic (i forget what exactly). Its a solid camera.

that being said only "four thirds" lenses will work for that camera, so its a gamble as to whether or not the system will catch on. but with some of the larger brands of lense makers starting to come out with lenses, it looks like its here to stay. www.myfourthirds.com is a great site to see some images from the system, and get a great explanation of how it works! good luck!
post #19 of 21
Thanks for the thorough insights. Great thread and one to bookmark.

After sticking my SLR and lenses away when I got my Olympus D-510 'point & shoot' camera, I had been waiting for the DSLRs to drop in price and then put it off, now I'm hoping my past lenses may see a revival and keep the upgrade cost down.


Thread drift? : Is there any decent compact & lightweight digital video camera with decent still capability to consider as an 'all-in-one' option? I've been considering the JVCs with hard drives. The still shot capability (or simply extracting video frames) is more for when it's handy and the future SLR isn't.

Thanks
post #20 of 21
Check over on www.tetongravity.com/forums
Do a search for Canon/Nikon etc and you'll get a wealth of information. At least 5 professional photographers are regulars there and they know their stuff.
The topic has been covered many times, so I wouldn't bother starting a new thread.
post #21 of 21
i have a lot of experience in digital photography and can tell you from my personal experience to go canon. If you dont want to spend $$$$ go for a rebel xti (400d) but if you have the cash get a canon eos 30d not that much more. OH and another thing about dslr. dont ever cheap out on glass. the only good (in this case great) peice of glass(lens) you can get for cheap is the canon ef 50mm mk II about 70-90$
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