View Full Version : Digital SLR Cameras

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Ed Stansfield
05-07-2007, 03:05 PM
Has anyone bought one recently?

What did you get?

What do you think of it?

What should I buy?



Chuck Clark
05-07-2007, 03:30 PM
Tell us what you're planning to use it for, how experienced you are, and then this is the really important part... how much are you willing to spend?

05-07-2007, 10:14 PM
It also depends on whether you have an existing investment in a particular film system such as lenses and other accessories. All current DSLR are excellent, with a slight edge to Canon, with Nikon coming a close second.

Ed Stansfield
05-08-2007, 02:27 AM

My existing camera is a (currently broken) Minolta Dimage A1 which, until it broke, I really liked.

I don't really have any experience of using a DSLR / SLR and I don't have any investment in camera lenses.

I'd use it for taking photos of people and places, so one that I can carry around without sustaining a back or neck injury... I'd like to be able to use it for taking photos of people doing Aikido too, but usually when I'm at an Aikido class, I'm on the mat, not on the sidelines! But I wouldn't want to invest in a camera that was totally useless for photographing Aikido...

To start with, for a body and a lens, I don't really want to spend more than about 700. That's probably a misleading comparison in $ because cameras and electronic things cost more in the UK. A better way of looking at it might be to say that the following Digital SLR cameras are in my price bracket.

Nikon d40
Nikon d40x
Nikon d80 (with the kit lens)

Canon Rebel XTi (or the 400D as it's called over here)
Canon EOS 30D (just about; it would have to be with the apparently dreadful kit zoom lens or a cheapish prime lens)

I've held the XTi and the d40x; I don't have big hands but the d40x was a lot more comfortable for me to hold.

Any suggestions gratefully appreciated!



05-08-2007, 02:36 AM
Hi Ed, Since you have no existing lenses, I would recommend the Canon 400D with a fast prime lens for aikido photos, probably the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 depending on the budget. The kit lens is not bad for general purpouse photos but useless for aikido or other low light situations. PM me for additional info if you like.


05-08-2007, 11:28 AM
I've been very happy with my Nikon D100 and a couple of Sigma lenses for the last 4-5 years.

What you select is a factor of many things, but most of these cameras have a good pedigree, you just need to decide which features are the most important to you.

Chuck Clark
05-08-2007, 12:58 PM
I also recommend the Canon Rebel with the fastest general lens you can afford (I promise you'll add more later...)

I started with the Rebel and then sold it, upgraded to a Canon EOS 20D, which I still have and then added a Canon EOS 1 MK II n with several high quality lenses (this camera was a gift... thank the gods) and I carry a Canon Shureshot 620 around with me all of the time.

Ed Stansfield
05-09-2007, 08:45 AM
Well, after two days of making a decision, changing my mind, changing it back again, and again etc. and after many repeats of "can I have a look at the other one again?" ... I decided on the 400D body with a sigma 30mm f/1.4 as a fast general lens and a 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom as, err.. well, a zoom. The fast prime for Aikido can wait a bit. Although I've just noticed that amazon have a 50mm f/1.8 fairly cheap so I might just get that and be done with it...

I still think that the d80 is a little bit better to hold but I decided that I couldn't justify the price difference to myself (or, more importantly, to my wife...:uch: )

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and advice!



Kevin Wilbanks
05-09-2007, 06:31 PM
I have a DSLR two point-and-shoots, and a whole box full of film camera stuff. I'm not really that keen on the DSLR. It's a D70. I've got a 50/1.4 and and 85/1.4, an ED extreme wide zoom, etc, etc... The only thing I use it for is people pictures in extremely low light and live on-stage stuff. Even then only on an occasion for which I have been invited or don't mind hauling around all that huge gear. For the vast majority of my photography, I use point and shoots.

I have a Nikon Coolpix 8400 that has a 24-85mm equivalent lens and what amounts to ground-glass composition. For just about anything on a tripod, it blows the D70 away. I use it for all landscape/travel stuff, and my sculpture documentation, which you can see here: http://www.freewebs.com/anatomist1/ While the D70 is technically better, those technicalities are imperceptible, even on 13x19 inch prints. The size, use and composition advantages far outweigh any technogeek advantages. You can get an 8400 for about $500.

For people pictures, I recommend the newest Fuji point and shoots with their extreme low-light sensors. I have a V10, but I'd recommend the F30 or F31. They have iso 3200 and are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. They have large viewscreens so that you can review the results right there on the spot. You'll be amazed at what these things can do without flash and how fun and easy to use they are... and also the response other people have to the instant viewing possibilities.

In my view, the DSLR is already a dinosaur, and I wouldn't invest in one unless you have extreme needs, like shooting wildlife from afar with multi-thousand dollar lenses, or concert/performance stuff where you need every little fraction of a stop of light sensitivity. 2 different Point and Shoots with different specializations have already supplanted the DSLR for almost all my uses. In a few years, they will be so good that I'll probably be able to junk everything I have for one P&S.

Keith Larman
05-15-2007, 08:38 AM
FWIW I have an Olympus E300 with a couple years of use on it. I do a lot of sword photography as well as photography of my family.

My daughter last Christmas...


The benefits of the SLR mode for me are primarily having an optical viewfinder that goes through the lens. Invaluable for photographing small sword fittings, doing closeups of activity in swords, etc. I've also found that most P&S cameras have some degree of latency between pressing the button and the photo being taken which is infuriating if you're taking shots of kids in motion, sports, etc. There are also times when manual focusing is important to me. Some lenses even on the digital slr's are "fly by wire" which I don't care for. I like my sigma lenses in that I can focus manually and have physical feedback as to how the lens is focusing. Maybe that's just a throwback to my film based experience and SLR's, but it helps me immensely with some tasks. Finally, I like the range of control you can get with a digital SLR like precise control of color balance, f-stop, shutter speed, etc. Most won't use those things but there are times for me when complete control of all of those factors is important. Especially under weird light, low light, etc. Many P&S cameras won't let you take photos the camera thinks aren't "right". Sometimes I want to override everything and take it at this asa, that shutter speed, this fstop, that color balance.

Yes, you can take very good photos with a good P&S. But the digital SLR is overall a better tool with vastly more control on the camera. To me it is like comparing a good Toyota with a Lexus. Both are made by Toyota. Both will get you from point A to point B. The Toyota is probably more than sufficient for most. But if you can afford it the Lexus is overall a nicer vehicle. With a digital SLR I can more easily get the photos I want. Ranging from using my macro lens for shooting steel grain in a 500 year old sword up to shooting photos of a hummingbird far away with a 300mm lens (on a four thirds camera sensor that makes for a serious telephoto).

Whether the extra cost and complexity of the digital slr is justified is something only defined by your knowledge of the intricacies of photography combined with your budget. And obviously for many the Digital SLR is overkill.

My Olympus e300 with a couple Sigma lenses combined with Photoshop was a godsend. 4 gig compact flash card shooting in RAW format with a JPG for reference... My biggest problem is archiving the data.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-15-2007, 02:49 PM
Those are points in favor of the SLR, relating to something more like pro-level use. I would alter your analogy though. If the P&S cameras I mentioned are like Toyotas, then my DSLR with its array of accessories is more like a military issue Hummer, replete with a 2-car garage full of accessories like a different truck-style rear end, hard and soft tops, and removeable armor - most of which you need to haul around with you in a trailer. To me this is my main problem with the SLR, and why I almost never use it: it's freaking huge. Add a couple lenses and a bounce flash and I'm hauling around a small diaper-bag full of gear.

Also, the Nikon 8400 and 8800 have most of the manual controls you speak of, except looking through the lens. I actually see looking through the lens as a major drawback now. Holding a camera up to your face and pointing it at people tends to be obtrusive, and changes the way people are behaving a lot more than something smaller that you can hold in a variety of less aggressive positions. For tripod work, I find the hinge and swivel viewscreen often saves me a lot of tripod hassles and keeps me from crawling around, craning my neck and so forth as I would with an SLR. Being able to take the shots from a lower vantage actually enables me to use a much smaller, lighter tripod sometimes as well.

If keeping track of people action is the priority, I would look into a digital rangefinder, if I was willing to spend the money. I think there is one based on a Bessa body taking Leica lenses and probably a D back for M bodies. More will probably come in time. An SLR may beat a P&S, but it still isn't very good for this purpose. It's like peeping through a keyhole, which makes surveying the scene difficult, and what you are looking at blacks out as you take the photo, leaving a question as to exactly what was captured.

Also, I've never seen any need for the RAW format. I was trying it and all hung up on doing it that way when I read an article explaining in detail how judicious tweaking in photoshop can make the difference between RAW and Jpegs negligible. Since then I've stuck with jpeg and had no complaints. If there is something that is really that much better about RAW, it is beyond my capabilities to take advantage of it.