Finish my work for me
February 16, 2007 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Help me find the perfect digital SLR camera to substitute my Minolta Maxxum 300si

I have already done research and read reviews, now I need to be influenced towards one of my available choices.
Biased photographers, influence me away.

Myself as a photographer:
- Totally amateur
- Totally pretentious
- Not quite there as far as technique goes, but eager to improve

My preferences:
- 8x plus zoom
- 6 Mpx at least, but no real need to go beyond that
- Fast startup
- Manual focus, or an auto focus that gives me choices and lets me choose
- Possibly a stabilization feature, as long as somebody tells me it really works
- $500 - $800 range, lens included

My targets:
- Architecture and art - wide angle just important as good zoom (right?)
- Close ups of "step by step" DIY projects, Instructables style
- Pets, lots of close ups
- Travel and vacation, with a flare for those (pretentious) artsy shots

The selection so far:
- Pentax K100D / 18-55 mm
- Nikon D70s / 18-70 mm
- Canon Digital Rebel XT / 18-55 mm
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50s / 12x zoom

My doubts:
- Will I be able to screw in filters on all of these? I like filters.
- Should I buy separate body and lens?
- Btw, what are the basic filters I should have? I currently have the somewhat tacky fog and four-point star
- I guess a couple of these are not really SLRs, but will that make a difference, based on I told you above?
- The Maxxum 300si was discontinued, but did Minolta substitute it with any equivalent digital camera I might take a look at?
posted by AnyGuelmann to Technology (36 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I own both a Nikon D80 (Which I love love love - thank you AskiMeFi for finally kicking my ass enough to get it) as well as a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30.

The Panasonic made me love photography enough (and then some) to take the $$$ leap and drop the cash for the body and variety of lenses I wanted on the D80. I'm not sure I would have gotten there without the flexibility and performance of the Panasonic.

If stabilization is a big thing for you - you may want to go with the Panasonic. The OIS is pretty impressive and allowed me to get shots I would have otherwise botched without a tripod. I sprung for the wide angle lens, some filters, a spare battery, a shutter release and had a blast with it.

All that being said, I haven't used it in the three or four months since I bought the D80.

In other words - I can cut you a great deal on a Panasonic FZ30 kit. ;)
posted by FlamingBore at 6:48 AM on February 16, 2007

I highly recommend Nikon gear. Look at the D80, D40, or D50. I have recommended the D50 to many friends, and they've all been blown away by the quality of images. In addition, many of them have become really wonderful photographers due to the increased intentional interaction with the camera.

I personally own a Nikon D200, and love it with an unbounded passion. I use it every day, multiple times, and it never fails to deliver. It's a fucking awesome camera. The ones just below it are, too.

In any case, I'd stick with Canon or Nikon just because of the huge variety of lenses, filters, and aftermarket chinese batteries, accessories, and so on that you can get on eBay. Also, browse the Nikonians and forums for deals on used gear.
posted by fake at 6:56 AM on February 16, 2007

I'm not savvy enough to guess, but is there a reason you have not included the Olympus Evolt E-500 in your short list? I have it and am very happy, but can't really guide you on how it stacks up against the others. DCResource is always my first stop when thinking of buying a new digital camera.
posted by daveleck at 6:58 AM on February 16, 2007

I, too recently bought a D80 on the strength of MeFi recommendations. I <3 it. however, based how you're describing your needs, i think you might be okay with the d50, for about half the cost. use the money you save the body to buy a couple of nice lenses suited to the kind of work you're doing. the good news is that every lens and most speedlights that work with the d50 should also work with higher-end d80, d200, etc bodies, if you ever become a fabulously wealthy photographer and decide to>
That said, I'd stay away from the D40. It's even cheaper than the D50, but can only use certain lenses -- I forget off the top of my head, but it can only use lenses with (or without?) motorized aperture built in. Google can tell you more.

One comment on the Nikons -- they're BIG. Not like, excessively big, but definitely rather bulky. I personally love the D80 body because I have large hands, but my girlfriend, who's parents bought her one a while back, complains that it feels huge in her hands, relative to her 35mm Rebel.

Filter-wise, any SLR lenses ought to have threading for filters. I've not used them, but I use my video lenses with a UV filter, mainly to protect the lens -- better to scratch my $30 UV filter than my $200 lens! You probably couldn't go wrong with a couple of ND filters and maybe a gradient. Someone who's more involved in photo can probably tell you more.
posted by Alterscape at 7:06 AM on February 16, 2007

Minolta is out of the camera business. Too bad, I liked their products.

If you are buying a new digital SLR you are buying a system, not just the SLR. Right now there are, IMHO, only two viable systems, Cannon and Nikon. Which one you choose really comes down to how they feel ergonomically as they are both top notch systems.
posted by caddis at 7:21 AM on February 16, 2007

Huh. It ate part of my comment there. I was trying to say that Nikon CPU lenses are compatible across most of the Nikon line, so whichever body you get, you can always upgrade it later. That said, I'm sure that's true on most any other family too.
posted by Alterscape at 7:21 AM on February 16, 2007

The lenses you buy for an SLR are much more important than the camera body itself. The intro-level camera bodies from Canon or Nikon (rebel,d80) will probably be just fine. But to make these cameras really perform, you'll need to spend some money on quality glass.

The power of SLRs becomes apparent when you start buying high-quality lenses. The images you can compose with a good wide-angle lens, or a 50mm f1.4, or a wide-aperture long focal length lens are on an entirely different level. If you buy an SLR and only use the kit lens, you might be a little disappointed at the extra expense of the SLR when compared to a high-level point-and-shoot.

I own the Canon Digital Rebel XTi. It comes with the same 18-55mm kit lens as the XT you mentioned. Opinions on this setup:

- This level of SLR has a cropped digital sensor. This makes the 18-55mm actually a 28-88mm lens. Thats wide-angle, and you can fit quite a lot into a shot with it. But you can go much wider.

- If you really want wide-angle with this camera, then you need the Canon EF-S 10-22mm (16-35mm equivalent) wide-angle zoom ($670). The image quality from this lens will blow away the kit lens. And it is super-wide, great for indoor and outdoor architecture.

- Kit lens (18-55) is OK, but I was initially disappointed with it. Sharpness and contrast were not the best. I really thought an SLR would be amazingly better than my point and shoot. It wasn't, until...

- I replaced the kit lens with the 10-22mm zoom, 50mm f/1.4, and an 85mm f/1.4. The images I'm making with these lenses have completely restored my faith in the decision to buy an SLR.

- Next up is a quality tripod and a 180mm macro lens.
- It becomes an expensive addiction.
posted by jsonic at 7:28 AM on February 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

(Disclaimer: I shoot with Canons, so I know more about them than the Nikons and most of my info is in regards to the Canon)

Speaking strictly about the dSLRs you list, the body doesn't matter as much as the lens you use. Your pictures will only be as good as the lens allows. Unfortunately, your budget doesn't allow for higher end lenses, but you should be able to afford something better than the kit lens before you max out your $800.

To answer some specific questions:

Filters: Yes, you can use 58mm filters with the Rebel XT kit lens. Get a UV filter at the very least. They are cheap, and while they don't make a huge difference in your photos, it could save you from having to replace your lens. Better to crack or scratch a cheap filter than an expensive lens.

8x Zoom: dSLRs don't really measure zoom in magnifications like point n' shoots do. Instead, you'll want to look for a longer focal length on your lens. The basic kit lens will not give you much zoom. I'm not sure what the mm equivalent to 8x is. According to the Pentax stats you linked above, 12x is equivalent to 420mm, so I would guess 8x to be around 300mm, which falls into the telephoto category and is not really cheap.

Manual / Auto Focus & Stabilization: Again, depends on the lens more than the camera body. You're not going to get stabilization with the kits lens, but then again, you won't really need it with 55mm. Stabilization really becomes more important with the longer telephoto lenses.

If you were to go with the Canon Rebel XT, based on your preferences and staying as close to your budget as possible, I would recommend the Rebel body with the Canon EF 70-300mm IS lens, which together would set you back about $1000. What can I say, dSLRs aren't cheap! I won't even tell you how much I spent on my 20d and L series lens...
posted by geeky at 7:29 AM on February 16, 2007

jsonic - when did the D80 become the intro level for Nikon? Aren't the D50 and D70 still available?
posted by FlamingBore at 7:34 AM on February 16, 2007

The DSLR market is exploding right now, so even though I agree that Canon and Nikon are the names to beat, there are other alternatives coming along all the time. I have a couple of Canon DSLR's and highly recommend them, but am not so partisan as to think everything else is worthless. I will point out that if you do a lot of architectural photography, Canon has 3 tilt-shift lenses-more than anyone else. Go look at the alternatives and get a feel for them in your hands; that is probably the most important. Even an entry-level DSLR will meet most if not all of your requirements.

Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned the Sony Alpha line; they accept Minolta A mount lenses, so if you have a lot of money tied up in Maxxum gear it might be worth looking at.
posted by TedW at 7:35 AM on February 16, 2007

Also, for close up shots of pets or people:

- Longer focal length fixed (primary) lens with a wide aperture. The wide aperture will allow you to have a razor-thin depth of focus. This makes the subject in focus, but completely blurs out the background, which can make some pleasing shots. You can even get to the point where someone's face is in focus, but their ears are blurred. It makes the subject stand out in the photograph.

- The wide aperture will also let you hand hold the camera in low-light (ie. indoors) without the flash. Which is where your pet photos will probably be taken.
posted by jsonic at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are no bad DSLRs. By far the most important aspect of a purchasing decision is handling the ones you're interested in. There are subtle differences in size, shape, grip and user interface that make a bigger difference in the long run than the tiny differences in image quality that you have to work hard to detect. If you can, go to a big shop and spend an hour or two boring a salesperson trying them all.

Having said that, most people will recommend Canon or Nikon. Personally, I'd avoid Canon in the more affordable price range, because their viewfinders are dismal and their cameras feel flimsier, in my subjective opinion. Nikon's viewfinders are a little better, but Pentax have the biggest and clearest, in my experience. Given that the viewfinder is the second most important part of the camera, it's something to think about. Again. you need to try them for yourself.

People will also suggest going with the brands with the biggest range of lenses. Don't worry too much about it. All the brands offer enough lenses to meet the needs of non-professional mortals. Another reason I like Pentax is that they offer several very small and pocketable prime (non-zoom) lenses of various lengths and excellent quality. If that appeals to you (some love primes, some hate them), it's well worth a look. The K100D itself is also a nicely designed and comfortable small package for what you get. It also has built in image stabilization that is quite effective, unlike Canon or Nikon, who require you to buy expensive individual stabilized lenses.

Your 8x zoom comment bears a mention. Those sorts of zooms are a significant design compromise. They're slower (smaller largest aperture) than short zooms or fixed length lenses. If making pictures in low light is important to you, wide-range zooms can quickly become a problem. They also can't compete in image quality terms with less over-engineered lenses.

For close-ups, consider a true macro lens. Great fun and opens up a big bunch of photo opportunities that other lenses can't meet. The camera own-brand ones can be expensive, but Sigma and Tamron both make some that are very well-regarded, so it needn't influence your camera choice. A good macro can also be used as a high-quality regular short-telephoto lens. Great for head and shoulders portraits or just whatever.

Get a tripod.
posted by normy at 7:51 AM on February 16, 2007

One thing that I was initially confused about when I first bought a dSLR was figuring out zoom. Basically, the "8x" zoom (or whatever) zoom just means that the focal length at max. telephoto divided by the focal length at the widest is 8, and the lens/camera covers the whole range between. It's a very poor measure of what the lens can actually do, though, which is why you don't (often) see it with SLR lenses.

For example: an 18-55mm lens would be about 3x (55/18 is about 3); a 70-200mm lens would be about 2.8x, but you're going to have a lot more "zoom" with that lens.

To sort of second what geeky said, it's certainly possible to sink a lot of money into a camera and lenses. It's also possible to sink very little, if you buy cheap lenses (especially used). If you've never used anything, you'll probably think these are fine, unless you start pushing the limits. Until you really see what the difference is with a $1000+ lens, you'll probably think that you can do fine without one (and even then, maybe you still would; it depends on the photographer and their style). When I first got a dSLR (and a couple of really cheap lenses), I was completely satisfied, and the photos were better than my P&S (though newer P&Ss may be harder to compete against).
posted by Godbert at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2007

Architectural photography: It depends how much you're really into it, but if you think it might be a big part of what you want to do, no DSLR is very satisfactory. Yes, you can buy expensive shift lenses, but even they are very limited, compared to the right tool for the job, which is a camera with bellows movements - shift, swing, tilt. A lot of fun, not any more expensive to get started with than a DSLR and the image quality will make any DSLR look like total crap. Much less spontaneous and mobile, however, and you've got film to consider, but I'd thought I'd throw the thought out there, anyhow.
posted by normy at 8:06 AM on February 16, 2007

1) Do not get a D70s. Get either a D80, D50, or D40.

2) I can personally recommend the 18-200mm VR lens from Nikon, but it doesn't quite fit into your budget. The 18-70mm lens is your next best bet. This is what I used before I got the 18-200, and it's very good. Not quite 8X zoom though.

3) It's generally better to buy the body and lens separately, IMO.

4) Yes, the SLR lenses will take filters.

5) Get a real SLR; Don't settle for what is essentially a bulky point-and-shoot.

6) I like Nikon. Your next best bet is Canon. IMHO, it's not a good idea to get anything else, because Canon and Nikon have by far the most lens choices.
posted by qvtqht at 8:14 AM on February 16, 2007

I shoot Pentax, and get kind of irritated by the Canon and Nikon enthusiasts that suggest theirs are the only brands worth considering. I much prefer the way my *ist DL fits in my hand to any of the Canon beasts. And their K mount means you can pick up cheap lenses to play with on eBay or your local pawn shop. All my pals shoot Canon, and I have no regrets about the Pentax.
posted by hamfisted at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2007

And, to echo what a few folks have said here: it's the glass that makes all the difference, the camera body is secondary.
posted by hamfisted at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2007

Ditto the Nikon D40, although the D50 is being discontinued and you may find bargains. The D40 is smaller and IMHO has a better user interface than the D50. the 18-55 that comes in the kit is the equivalent to a 28 to 80 , and for some that is a perfect range for indoor wide angle and portrait focal lengths. The biggest advantage of buying Nikon or Canon is the HUGE number of used lenses available. Note though that some older lenses will not work with the newfangled metering of the DSLRs.
posted by Gungho at 8:29 AM on February 16, 2007

The Sony Alpha, which TedW mentioned above, is the spiritual successor to Minolta's DSLRs. When Konica Minolta got out of the camera business, Sony bought all of their assets. The Sony A100 supposed to be quite good, so if you have an investment in lenses it may be worth looking at. And a feature it has above most other DSLRs is in-camera (as opposed to in-lens) image stabilization.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 8:29 AM on February 16, 2007

One advantage of those bulky point and shoots over a DSLR is that you can see your exposure before you shoot. In a really tricky lighting situation you just adjust exposure until it looks right in the viewfinder or on the lcd panel and voila. Of course with a dSLR you can just take a few pictures, checking each one until you get it right, which is not such a big deal as these lighting situations ar not that common, unless you are me. I do a lot of night shooting without flash.

Pentax, yes, they make great cameras. The only reason I would hesitate to begin investing in a Pentax system now is that Pentax could easily disappear from the market, like Minolta did. Sony is selling cameras which use Minolta lens mounts, but there have been gripes about the quality of Sony cameras. Pentax was just acquired by Hoya, which is a good thing as it looked like Samsung was going to buy them. The camera business is really cut-throat right now. I think Cannon and Nikon will survive, but even there who knows?
posted by caddis at 8:34 AM on February 16, 2007

Alterscape writes "One comment on the Nikons -- they're BIG. Not like, excessively big, but definitely rather bulky. I personally love the D80 body because I have large hands, but my girlfriend, who's parents bought her one a while back, complains that it feels huge in her hands, relative to her 35mm Rebel."

This is definitely the main factor you should be considering. The Digital Rebel is a wee little thing that I find hard to hold onto, my D70s is more man sized and fits me comfortably. Lense selection at your price range is basically equivalent between Nikon, Canon, and Pentax.

Having said that I'd go with the D80 over the 70s unless you needed the high flash sync of the 70. The 80 takes SD memory cards which are more robust, more versatile; and are as cheap as the CF cards used in the 70(s). There is nothing quite as frustrating as having a CF pin bend over while you're on an important shoot. Both the Sony and Canon also take CF cards.

Also going forward the Nikon Creative Lighting System is unmatched by Canon IMO. For architectural interiors the built in ability to control several flashes wirelessly in iTTL mode is awesome.

Good relative review of the Nikon, Canon and Sony offerings.
posted by Mitheral at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2007

At work I use a Canon EOS 30D; I find the kit lens works well for most tasks, but I would never think of shooting sports without my 70-200 2.8L or my 200 prime 1.8L Canon lenses. (I shot the linked photo with the 200 prime).
posted by bugmuncher at 9:28 AM on February 16, 2007

Oops. slash-a. Dang it.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2007

Seconding hamfisted on considering Pentax. I still shoot a Pentax ME Super (think fancy K1000) 35 mm, so I can get into the dSLR game pretty cheaply as I already have a few good lenses.

*Lots of lenses to choose from - and cheaper because you don't have to buy special dSLR glass.

*Image stabilization is built into the body, not the lenses as in Canon and Nikon.

*Only 6 MP models are currently available.
posted by Mister_A at 10:15 AM on February 16, 2007

While Minolta is "out" of the camera business, they didn't disappear completely, instead they were sold to Sony, who is continuing to make most of their gear under the Sony marque.

I recently bought a Maxxum 7D, because I owned a (film) Maxxum 7 and loved it. Sure, the back side looks like the cockpit of an F-14, with manual controls for everything, but I always liked that about Minolta.

So if you liked your 300si, you should at least go to a store and check out the new Sony DSLRs, because you'll be able to use your existing lenses, and may find the controls familiar. I forget the name of the DSLR that Sony recently brought out, but it's basically a Maxxum 5D. It has the same anti-shake sensor technology that the other Minolta digitals do (which means you don't need to get anti-shake lenses; all your lenses are "anti-shake") and I can personally tell you is a nice feature.

There are some good Flickr groups for Minolta cameras that you could check out and ask questions in, if you wanted to.
is one of them. (I'm on there, but under a different username.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, great feedback. I'll read it all carefully and let you know what I pick.
Thanks so much!
(Ask MeFi rocks)
posted by AnyGuelmann at 10:35 AM on February 16, 2007

"One comment on the Nikons -- they're BIG. Not like, excessively big, but definitely rather bulky. I personally love the D80 body because I have large hands, but my girlfriend, who's parents bought her one a while back, complains that it feels huge in her hands, relative to her 35mm Rebel."

You obviously haven't seen the D40. It's super tiny.

As others have pointed out, if you don't have an existing investment in lenses, then you should either get a Nikon or a Canon.

I shot Pentax for years, and they make great lenses and bodies, but they can also be very very slow to innovate. Their new K series is nice, especially the image-stabilization features, but I don't think they're selling very well.

Minolta is gone, and Sony bought up their remains and rushed the A100 out the door as the first camera in their new Alpha line, but I have serious doubts as to their commitment. Sony has a nasty habit of dropping technologies whenever it suits them, which isn't something you want in a camera manufacturer. Who knows whether they're going to ever come out with a new camera body.

There are some people that like the 4/3rds bodies that Olympus is putting out, but I'm definitely not one of them.

They have teeny little viewfinders, a huge crop (50%!), and the bodies are as large or larger than APS-sized bodies from other manufacturers. Their lenses are also priced at a premium, which just seems insane to me. Their sensors tend to be noisy, as well.

The camera market has changed completely in the last 5 years. When the image quality you'd get was mostly due to the film and the lens, marginal players could thrive, because they were essentially selling a light-tight box with a hole in it, and they could leave all the complex issues of film production to Kodak and Fuji.

With digital, it's different. The camera's sensor is the film, and marginal players are really struggling. The only real sensor manufacturers are Canon and Sony, since the sensor design is unbelievably complex. If you buy anything other than Canon, it probably has a Sony sensor in it, although it might be customized or even designed by someone else, such as Nikon.

The problem is that Canon and Nikon have the vast majority of the dSLR market locked up, and the marginal players are fighting over the scraps, which isn't very profitable. This leads to financial troubles, and venerable companies like Minolta killing their camera business.

Since your lenses should be your real investment, you want to make sure that you'll be able to by dSLR bodies in the future that you can put them on. If you're buying lenses and bodies from a smaller, less stable company, then you might wake up one day and realize that your current system is as good as it's going to get, since your mount is suddenly obsolete and your quirky little camera company shut its doors.

And, from your description of what you want to take pictures of, you're going to want something like an 18-70mm zoom, that'll probably come as a kit with your camera, and possibly a macro lens (60mm is a good place to start), if you're serious about doing Instructables-like projects.
posted by bshort at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2007

Whatever you do, stay away from the D40. It renders turns many of the interesting AF Nikkor lenses into MF lenses, and of course won't meter with the MF (AI/AIS) lenses.

What he's talking about is that the D40 only has auto focus with AF-S lenses. Luckily, the kit lenses sold with the D40 are all AF-S, so this won't be an issue for you.

Also, the fact that it won't meter with AI/AIS lenses is entirely irrelevant.

If you think you want a D40, you really want a Sony R1 or other prosumer P&S. If you want a dSLR, you want to start with the D50.

This is wrong and very poor advice.

The D200 has poor battery life, and really requires the dual-battery grip to be useful.

This is wrong, too. I have a D200 and I get great battery life. At least as good as my D70. You absolutely don't need the grip.
posted by bshort at 10:55 AM on February 16, 2007

Telling a person who's interested in a pocket-sized dSLR that what they really want is an outdated, huge all-in-one makes no sense at all.

The R1 is freaking huge in comparison to the D40, has much higher noise, and you only get the one super-zoom with it, that's permanently welded to the front. If you ever want a wider-angle lens, then you're out of luck. If you ever want to shoot macro then you have to get a new camera.

At least with a D40 you can clean the sensor if you want. If your R1 gets a speck on the sensor then you're screwed.

Mirror slap doesn't mean a thing if you can shoot at higher ISOs.
posted by bshort at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2007

Also, it costs twice as much as the D40, or at least the introduction price was almost twice as much. It looks like the R1 isn't even in production any more.
posted by bshort at 1:56 PM on February 16, 2007

The R1 is freaking huge in comparison to the D40

Unless you happen to install a lens on your D40.

You have no idea what you're talking about. The R1 weighs two pounds. The D40 weighs 1.1. Unless you're putting a 17-55mm on the front, you're still way, way ahead with the D40.

With the d40, you are limited to the insanely expensive Nikkor 12-24. The Tokina 12-24 won't AF at all on a d40. I don't know of any prime ultrawides that are AF-S.

There aren't any prime ultrawides that are DX, either. And with the R1, you don't have any other choice at all.

The only AF-S Nikkor Micro (macro) is the $800 105mm. Everything else turns into an expensive MF lens.

But you still have the option, don't you?

And still, you can't buy the R1 either of the reputable online dealers.

Static shots with a tripod will always look better at a lower ISO and longer exposure than a higher ISO and shorter exposure.

But if you're using a tripod then you don't care about mirror slap, anyway.
posted by bshort at 2:17 PM on February 16, 2007

Please try to make more sense. First, you worry about sensor dust inside of a sealed P&S. Now you think a tripod can stop mirror slap.

If you're putting your camera on a tripod, turn on the self-timer, hit the shutter button, voila. If you still think the image is too blurry, then you're using the wrong camera anyway. Get a D2X.

..But really, it's obvious you just want to argue. The poster is looking for a dSLR, not an R1 that neither of the reputable online dealers carry. The D50 is getting discontinued, and the D40 is a fine, fine replacement.
posted by bshort at 2:46 PM on February 16, 2007

Yesterday the mailman was kind enough to deliver my Canon EOS 400D, A 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, and a nifty little 50mm f/1.8 II (wasn't going to pay 6 times as much for the f/1.4)

Let me just say how my head is still exploding from the awesomeness of it all. I'd strongly recommend it. Luckily for my delicate digits it's not huge, and while a little heavy with the 28-135 on, it's still manageable.
posted by oxford blue at 3:58 PM on February 16, 2007

I have and use a Canon 350D, the same as the XT you mention. I ditched the lens that came with the camera as it is the worst POS I have ever seen from Canon. As an Amateur, I didn't just go for the really good lenses, but live - and live well - with a Sigma 18-200 and a Canon 50 mm/1.8. I wouldn't mind the 1.4, but the price is like 5 times the 1.8, so go figure ;-)

I love the weight (or lack of) of the body, and am always carrying this setup around in my backpack. The Flash, I only carry if I know I need it. (I have and enjoy the Speedlite 430EX, but it demands a bit of training to get the most out of a mounted flash).

I use iPhoto for all my storing needs.
posted by KimG at 5:37 PM on February 16, 2007

But PS to edit?
posted by oxford blue at 7:41 PM on February 16, 2007

As a recent upgrader from a P&S (A coolpix 5700 that required lots of manual control) I opted for the D40 over the D50, in spite of lack of AF with older lenses. The D40 just fit and felt right in my hands in a way that the D50 didn't. *shrug*

It also has the more advanced software of the D80, and ISO 3200 equivalent (although you need some major Noise Reduction afterwards...

The lack of AF'ing with fast primes is an issue that I rationalized away before purchasing, but I have been using and practicing with the 50mm 1.8D lens (which really makes the camera tiny btw!) in Manual Focus and I'm getting pretty good at getting in focus quickly (It's taken a lot of practice (much different than my old manual film SLR, and I may get a aftermarket Focusing Screen to help extra with focusing)

There is a Sigma 30mm 1.4 HSM that WILL AF with the D40 (and i'm holding out hope that Nikon brings out some inexpensive DX lenses for people like me. That combination may make for a great camera, but will run you some $1000

What I did may be exactly what you're looking for: the Nikon 1.8D (is only an extra $100 on amazon) may be EXACTLY what you're looking for. It will be MF, but it will give you VERY sharp quality.

And the kit lens is light, fun to play with and gives a very decent nice wide open shot, but it won't give you 8X zoom, and you'll have to pay considerably more (+$800!!!) for a telezoom (Nikon 18-200VR or and Nikon 18-300 VR which were both REALLY nice, and the VR definitely works FWIW...)

So for the price you get a great, AF'ing light kit lens that Wide Angle, a MF 50mm prime for you to be pretentious with, and a damn light super fun body...

PS if you are deciding to go between the D40 and the D50, go to the dpreview D80/D70/D50/D40 forum and do a search on those lines, LOTS of ink spilt on pros and cons, so read up then go to a store and try both out, and try various lenses...
posted by stratastar at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2007

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