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Which Camera?

Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:43 pm
by Shi Tong
So So So.......

You'll probably know that I like to take photographs. I currently have a very old Minolta SLR which I want to sell and think about buying a digital SLR, probably on the higher end of quality.

My brother has an Olympus E-400 (or is it 300....), anyway.. he has one of those and he thinks it's the best thing in the world.

Apparently they have very good sensors in the cameras which pick up a lot of light.. their selection of lenses when you buy seems pretty good too (14-45 and 40-100) with pretty good F-Stops.

What do you lot think, that have obviously bought cameras before?



Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:24 pm
by Baiko Arashi
what is your price range and what are you looking for? How important is zoom and size? Honestly the camera Aquinas has is pretty good. Canon in my opinion is the best brand to buy but nikon is great as well, specially for SLR's.

Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:34 pm
by Aquinas
The most important thing to remember is that when you're buying a camera body, you're buying into a system. If you get a Canon DSLR, then you'll be purchasing EF and EF-S mount lenses (the latter only on APS-C sensors). Good lenses will always outlast the camera, so while I only have a Digital Rebel XT right now (which is great for what I need, and probably you too, but if you're going Canon then step up to the XTi or XSi for the better AF), it'll eventually wear out and I can just purchase a newer Canon model while retaining the use of all of my glass. In this case, I'll be replacing the XT with a 40D, which is a step 'up" as far as Canon's lines go, but still can use the EF-S mounts. If I decided to instead go with Nikon, then all of my Canon glass is pretty much useless without some converter, and that's extra money that could further be dumped into the EF system.

I know people who use Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony. Some things to note:

Olympus: Your brother uses an Oly, which means he's already into that system. This is great for you since you have access to his glass at no cost (if he lets you borrow it that is). The Olympus E-510 also has built in Image Stabilization which you might want. I've never used an Olypmus before and don't know anybody who has, so I really can't comment on the camera or lenses themself.

Sony: You mentioned that you had an old Minolta SLR. Sony's Alpha series uses the Minolta mount, which means you might be able to use some of your lenses with a Sony DSLR. You probably won't have auto focus, but if money is an issue then that might be something to look into. Just before you decide on a Sony, make sure those Minolta lenses are still compatible, since I am not sure which lenses will work with it out of the minolta lineup. Sony also has image stabilization built into it.

Pentax: I don't know too much about Pentax personally, but they do have image stabilization in the body like the Oly and Sony models. I know somebody who uses a k100D and some older manual focus lenses for street photography and his stuff is always fantastic.

Canon: I'd recommend Canon if you love accessories. No system has more accessories than Canon's system. Another thing to keep in mind is that Canon's Digic processors usually have less noise at high iso settings, which is always a plus if you're doing indoor or otherwise dark photography. Image stabilization is built into the lens and not the body for Canon, so if you want Image stabilization then it'll cost extra.

Nikon: I don't really like short changing Nikons, as a friend of mine has a Nikon and it seems on par with Canon, but their entry level DSLRs aren't as "user friendly" as the Digital Rebels from Canon. Image stabilization is in the lens and not the body like with Canon.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want the kit lens, and indeed the kit lens that comes with your DSLR might be a determining factor. I don't know about Nikon, but the XSi from Canon comes with an Image Stabilization lens as its kit lens. You could always forego the kit lens altogether and invest in better glass alongside the body, or pick up a prime and work with that since it'll help build your composition skills since you can't rely on zooming (which means a greater need to find better angles and perspectives). I only ever pull out the kit lens when I want a wide angle, but that's only because I don't have a wide angle prime yet. Primes are always sharper, faster, lighter and cheaper than a zoom, so keep that in mind. on the other hand, with a good zoom in the correct focal length, you have more versatility without carrying around extra lenses.

Make sure you have money for a camera bag, CF/SD cards and anything else you want to pick up. I'd also recommend a remote; my canon RC-1 cost under $20 CDN. My Camera bag is a Lowepro slingshot and I recommend it if you plan to carry your camera around a lot and don't want to get bogged down with a big bag.

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:11 am
by Shi Tong
Wow!! Thanks Aquinas! :D (and Baiko too! :D )


My Minolta lenses are ok. I have a 50mm standard MF lens, one which I use all the time, but it's not even the best Minolta 50mm lens out there (it's F stop is 1.7 and I know there's a 1.4 out there). The zoom I have is a 28- 85 with a nice little macro function. It's f stop though is really pretty pappy (it's 3.5-4.8 or something), so I'm not really into it.. basically my images look flat from it and I was disappointed with it pretty much as soon as I got it.

So it's not like I want to keep my old lenses.

I'd say price wise I have an ok-ish amount to spend. I would have thought something like £400-500.

My brother's Olympus really is great. One thing about it is that the lenses which come with are 12(ish)-45 and 40-150. The 40-150 is annoying because you cant take pics if you're too close to the subject, and the 45 isn't a 50mm (if you see what I mean).

I personally feel that the system really is brilliant though and the image quality is always amazing. My brother loves it and I think he'd stick with Oly's even after his one meets retirement age.

I've always heard a lot of great things about Canon, so I'm quite tempted. Of course, I can say the same about Pentax and Nikon, these are two brands which my uncle and my mother owned (and my uncle with his Nikon was a Rosteram Cameraman as a profession, so he seems pretty wise about it all), that said, he tells me he's choose an Olympus if he was going to buy a new one after his research.

I also think that I might be able to borrow some lenses from my brother.. but he only has those two standard lenses at the moment.. so it's not like it's a great deal different from what I'd get anyway.

Ignorance is bliss, but tell me.. what is Image Stabalisation? Do you think it would affect the image in a bad way if it was built into the camera, or do you think it's best if it's concentrated in the lens?

How easy to use is your Canon- is the AF/ MF switch on/off easy to use? Can you change the contrast etc before you shoot like you can on a Oly?

Sounds like the E-510 is pretty hot.

When you say Accessories, what do you mean?

I have a lowepro for my Minolta already and it pretty much houses as much as I need (space for two lenses and a lot of other crap besides), so that's good!

Thanks again for the advice!


Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:23 pm
by Baiko Arashi
Image stabilization is basically a feature for running or old people. If your hand shakes it balances the picture out thus not making it blurry. It's a good feature but dont expect it to do wonders.

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:24 pm
by Aquinas
As Baiko Arashi said Image Stabilization isn't really an essential feature. I can see it being useful if you're shooting at night or in low light without a tripod and need to get in a couple more stops of light, but apart from that I think that it can be used as a crutch and harm the photographer. If somebody is not increasing their handling skill with the camera and instead using Image Stabilization to compensate, then there are going to be many missed shots when they are without the Image Stabilization body or lens.
Shi Tong wrote:How easy to use is your Canon- is the AF/ MF switch on/off easy to use? Can you change the contrast etc before you shoot like you can on a Oly?
The AF/MF switch is on the lens and I can flick it without even taking my eyes away from the viewfinder.

I don't know what you mean by "contrast". Is this some sort of software processing in the camera? If so, then I turn as much as that off since I shoot in raw and do all of my processing in lightroom/photoshop.

Shi Tong wrote:When you say Accessories, what do you mean?
Accessories such as flashes, remotes, straps, grips, batteries, etc. All of those little things that make you get more out of your photography, yet aren't essential. Basically, if you love to spend money and add to a system, then Canon will be more than willing to take that money. :P

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:11 pm
by Shi Tong
Oh right, image stabalisation sounds bad. Sometimes I like to purposefully move/ etc to make my image more interesting and it sounds like it will affect that.

So no thanks.

What I mean by contrast is.. err.... basically there's a feature on an Oly I quite like- it's a plus/ minus thing which lets you turn it up and down to make, say, leaves on a sky background look less dull, or, you can make it take a better sunset by telling it not to have enough light for the ground....

Do you know what I mean?

As for accessories, I'm not that bothered. I just need a couple of good lenses, a large memory card (I saw a 2GB card for £5 earlier!!!), and that's it.

I even have a good tripod I dont use! :lol:

Thanks again for the advice!


Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:52 pm
by Baiko Arashi
you mean it adjusts the brightness/contrast and other levels?

Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:23 am
by Shi Tong
Yeah that. So you can take a pic of the leaves against the sky without the leaves just being blackened out in silhouette. If you see what I mean.

Which I think is pretty useful- I hate taking pics on my 35mm and find the subject is all contrasty and wrong. :evil:

Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:18 pm
by Aquinas
My XT has the following in-camera options: There's sharpness, contrast, colour tone and saturation. Then there's a black and white setting that allows you to select colour filters as well.

I keep all of the in-camera stuff off if possible. This is due to what I posted in a lengthy post in my own photo thread a while back about the limitations of automated processing when compared to a skilled person. I could see those settings being useful if you're into photojournalism where you have limited control over post processing and it just isn't feasible to manually process every photo (especially when you don't know if they'll even be selected for print).

However, I think that you're thinking of exposure programs and not contrast or in-camera processing. There's three on my XT (Evaluative, Partial, Center-weighted average). The XSi adds spot metering as well.

A circular polarizer helps with skies as well. The best thing you can do is to learn to work with the light you have though. If you want pictures of some leave? Don't shoot into the sun and shoot with the sun behind you or off to the side. You could also wait until an earlier/later time of day to shoot the shot for different light (since light is worst when the sun is highest but better when it is closer to the horizon).