Help me replace my S3IS with something a little beefier
January 24, 2008 7:19 AM   Subscribe

It's time to upgrade my Canon Powershot s3is. I have a specific budget and feature set, and I am looking for some opinions as to where I should go from here.

I have a budget of about US $1000 for Camera, and lenses. I would like to get something that takes really good macro photos, and has some DOF control. Reading past digital camera posts, I don't really know if this budget is going to be enough to break into the SLR territory, or if the canon s5is is the tits, and I should just look there.
The features I use the most on the S3 are:
Program mode
Taking short videos with it occasionally (I know, camera's are for pictures, and camcorders are for video, but the s3 takes pretty decent video)

Features I would like:
Remote shutter control for better macro taking
time lapse without having the use the PC software.

Any advice is welcome. I've been reading reviews on dpreview, but I trust the hive mind to guide me.
posted by JonnyRotten to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I read a glowing review of the Canon D9 recently, but I have no idea how it handles macro photography, although I think it does work with the remote trigger. It's way under you budget, too!

I'll let more expert folks comment on your DSLR options; I love my XTI which was well under $1000, but I'm not sure what a good macro lens will set you back.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:33 AM on January 24, 2008

Err, G9 not D9.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:34 AM on January 24, 2008

I think you're going to hit a brick wall and have to decide whether you want macro or video more. You do have the budget for an entry level dSLR + good 1:1 macro lens (1:1 means the magnification = sensor size). (I suggest the Canon XTi + 100mm Macro at around $1,100) Or you can get an amazing do-everything prosumer fixed-lens model. But mid-range zooms just can't focus nearly as close as a dedicated macro lens. If "great macros" is what you're after, SLR is the way to go.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:40 AM on January 24, 2008

You'll definitely want to look into the XTi and a good macro lense. You should be able to get both for under $1k.
posted by sanka at 7:41 AM on January 24, 2008

I went from an S1 IS to the XTi, and although I do miss the video shooting I'm happy with the macro lens that came with it (18-55mm IS lens). Kit was under within your stated budget and included a 70-300mm lens (though not IS) which has also been useful.

Only drawback aside from video is that while my new DSLR uses the same 4 gb CF card I had in the S1 IS, you'll need to pick up a CF card as I understand the newer S-line cameras stopped using compact flash.

(You're right though, that S1 did take some really nice video - and I imagine it only improved with the newer revisions of the line. You might want to upgrade, but keep the S3 around jus for video shooting if you do go with the DSLR, especially since it's no cost to you at this point to keep using it. My S1 is flaking out, or I'd do the same thing.)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:43 AM on January 24, 2008

Oh: Examples of the shots I'm getting with the XTi can be found here. Focal distance for the macro lens is 10.9 inches, so while it isn't the best macro available it's pretty damned good.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2008

get yourself a used Nikon (or Canon + Nikon adapter ring) DSRL that can mount this lens, and you'll be OK
posted by matteo at 8:00 AM on January 24, 2008

Oh yeah. Canon have just announced the followup to the xti which will be called the Rebel Xsi. Seems like its going to retail for around $900 with the kit lens, which IMO is horrible, you are better off buying the body only and then getting a macro lens to start with. Saying that, and rereading your post, this camera will not take video, and you will need software to time lapse.

I have heard great things about the G9 as well.
posted by chromatist at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2008

A Canon DSLR is a good choice for macro (I have a D400/XTi), as the 100mm Macro lens is a superb piece of glass, albeit a bit expensive. The new XSi will be really nice, as the Live View will make it easy to frame shots in places where you can't get your eye on the viewfinder. Just get a $5 cable release off eBay and away you go.

I took some the other day with my borrowed Canon 100mm Macro.

A leaf:

It's good at non-macro photos too:
posted by Magnakai at 8:38 AM on January 24, 2008

I go out shooting pics with a friend on occasion, and he has a Nikon D50 SLR. Unfortunately, Nikon has quit selling them, going with the less-featured D40 or the muy-expensive D70. The D50 is a hell of a camera. In fact, it has been rated higher than the D70 in several aspects, including image quality. If you want to go dSLR, try finding one of these used. (You should be able to get the camera with a standard lens, macro, and remote for well under $1000.) Get a macro lens and the wireless remote and you're in business.
posted by azpenguin at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2008

At your budget I'd recommend the used DSLR route. I went from a S1IS myself to a Nikon D40x (same class as the XTi) with the 18-200 mm Nikkor lens that (almost) everyone raves about. Together they were $1350, and I dropped another $150 on some typical accessories (remote, polarizer, tripod, etc).

There is no comparing DSLRs with lower tier cameras. They're an entirely different class of beast. The precision, control, build quality, range of options - the difference is stunning. I could never go back. The size is sometimes a pain, but I keep a small point-n-clicker around for when that is an issue, and it also does video for the occasions when I need it.
posted by MillMan at 12:59 PM on January 24, 2008

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