Camera Advice

Tuffgong4

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I'm sure there are some Camera Freaks out there that could help me choose a good one but not break the bank for a couple of amateur photogs...

I'm wondering if a nikon d40 has so much more control over pictures as opposed to something like this
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-SP-57...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1223487127&sr=1-1

or this

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Coolpix...=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1223487266&sr=1-3

or this

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1223487266&sr=1-1

Some of these lower end cameras seem to have the same type of features, like manual focus and iso options and I'm not seeing the great difference.

I know there are some and I'm hoping someone will explain some of it for me, but it seems like these lower end models are getting some high end features...
 

zeke_mo

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if its canon and SLR it will be amazing. end of story
 

fitz

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Ok.. this is going to be a long post

I'm wondering if a nikon d40 has so much more control over pictures as opposed to something like this

Well, in a nut shell, yes it will offer more control.. but there's really more to it that just the simple question. A DSLR like the D40 (or the Canon XS near that price range) is significantly different than a Point & Shoot like the others you linked to.

From a "control" perspective, the most obvious difference between the P&S and the DSLR is the ability to use multiple lenses which provide not only different zoom/focal length but also different aperture ranges.
You also open the world of accessories with different flash options and filter options not usually available to P&S cameras. A DSLR, you view the image through the lens.. what you see is what the lens sees - this is not the case with a P&S by design. From the not so obvious perspective, you have much better control over exposure and, if you choose to shoot in RAW mode, much better control when doing post processing.

Depth of Field - something almost every P&S lacks is the ability to produce a nice shot with the ability to adjust the depth of field in the final picture. With the variety of lenses/zoom lengths/aperture, you can can adjust yoru picture to give a nice blurred background or not depending on your needs and wants for the shot.

Camera Startup, focus speed, "shutter lag" are all usually much better in a DSLR. I can take my Canon XSi, turn it on and take 3 pictures in burst mode in under a second (time to first picture is usually about 0.25 seconds if the lighting is good. Try that with a P&S..

While the P&S may have manual mode settings, they are geared and designed with the assumption that 90% of the time, the user is shooting in some pre-programmed/auto mode. Changing/adjusting the manual controls can be difficult at times. A DLSR is generally designed with the assumption that 90% of the time, the user will be shooting in a mostly manual way and the controls are generally fairly easy to access and set. You can change ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, focus point, flash compensation, etc without removing your eye from the view finder.

Image quality - DSLR use larger sensors. Larger sensor = lower noise = better picture quality (especially at the higher ISO range and higher shutter speeds). No contest here.

Because you are able to change lenses, the lenses generally move with you (assuming you stay with the same brand/line). Your investment is in the glass more than the body allowing you to upgrade to better/newer models with more features/control/etc

Again with the lenses, but you can get much more quality glass for a DSLR then you can ever find in a P&S camera.

Of course, there are some cons to a DSLR..

1) Price - they cost more and you may want to buy different lenses, accesories, etc
2) Size/Weight - they are bigger - both the body and the lens. You usually end up with more than one lens - meaning bigger bags more stuff to haul around.
3) Requires some maintenance - adding/changing lenses and parts means the risk of dust etc getting into your camera..
4) Physical noise - generally the motorized autofocus and the mirror going up and down produce a noticiable "clunk" when taking pictures as opposed to a P&S that has no moving parts when taking a picture. Well, I like the auditory feedback, but not everyone does.
5) Learning - all these things require learning and practice. Most of the time, my first pictures were crap - I took much better pictures with a P&S than with the DSLR - again - mostly because of all the options for "control" that you have and the dumbing down of the P&S interfaces.
6) No Video (well, the new Nikon has the ability to do video, but it hasn't really made it's way to the lower end DSLR lines that I'm aware of yet.

note: I'm not knocking P&S by any means.. generally, if I'm going to go anywhere worth taking pictures, we'll usually have two cameras - a P&S and a DSLR.. there are just times where the conveience of a P&S can't be beat.

I'm sure there are some Camera Freaks out there that could help me choose a good one but not break the bank for a couple of amateur photogs...
Ahh.. there's the real question is what is your budget?
If you want to go with a lower end DSLR, I would look at the D40 as you already mentioned or the Canon XS for a little more.

My own personal preference leans toward Canon - but the Nikon is a nice camera as well. Really, you won't go wrong with either choice. Again, with a DSLR, your real investment is in the glass (lenses). The body can be changed.. and you can move up to a D80 in time (or a 40/50D in the Canon side)

edit: waits for mlakrid to chime in
 

mlakrid

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I own a Canon Xti, and the biggest differences I saw when testing out several models were these:

Canon: More Rugged, more lenses built for outdoor photogrpahy... MUCH more choices for distance shots (although VERY expsensive)

Nikon: Better for Super fast shots for capturing the movement of extremely fast objects... (if using cannon this can be overcome by using the L series 2.8 or faster Pro lenses.. again I repeat EXPENSIVE)

If I were going to buy Nikon, I would spend a little bit more and get the D60 or D80...

If you decide on going with Cannon, agree with Fitz here, it DEPENDS on your budget much more than if going the Nikon route...

I tried to be VERY Unbiased because I do like both, I chose the canon because of its track record of being abused and keep on working...

Plus, I love outdoor photography, so Canon was the obvious choice FOR ME...

Hope this helped you a little bit...

Mike A!
 

ElementalDragon

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mlakrid: you also don't really NEED to buy Canon lenses. I actually have a Tamaron lens.... similar to the stock lense that comes with the XTi bundle, but i got it cause it came with a fisheye lens adapter.... and the lens takes excellent pictures. I'll upload some in a bit and link them here.
 

fitz

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Very true.. both Sigma and Tamron make quality lenses.. of course, they make many lens that are not very good quality either.

Some of the low-end Canon lenses aren't very good either

Canon does have some cheap lenses that are very good - you can pick up a Canon nifty fifty (50mm f/1.8 prime lens) for $80-$90 brand new and is pretty damn good for the price. Then you have some of the kit lenses like the older 18-55mm kit lens that wasn't very good at all (although the new 18-55 IS is considerably better for a kit lens!).

Canon/Sigma/Tamron all make some nice lenses.. and they all make some crap lenses. Basically, do your research and make an edumicated decision before you shell out the money.

I will, however, say that there is almost no bad L-series lens. Granted, you pay for the quality there.. Anyone want a really nice Canon 70-200 F4 IS lens? I think mlakrid was selling one before :)

The difference is that the Sigma and Tamron lenses won't be guaranteed to work properly with some of the newer bodies - although those issues are VERY few and far between, it has happened.

BTW - Tamron and Sigma both make lenses for Nikon as well and the same rules and issues apply.
 

LeeJend

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Some items missed above:

Ability and speed to autofocus in poor lighting conditions.
Battery life.
Dynamic range of the the image sensor (none come near film) which determines how washed out outdoor pictures and highlights on portaits will be white.
Compression options and/or ability to shoot raw (no compression).
Color quality of the image sensor.

Sigma and Tamron make adequate lenses if you do not plan on doing big blow ups (over 8x10). With zooms the cheaper lenses produce distortion the further you get out from the center and at high/low zoom.

Off brand lenses will have near 0 resale value compared to Nikon/Canon lenses.
 

Tuffgong4

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I don't think I'm going to be nearly as advanced as any of you anytime soon!! My budget will be between 300-550 I believe. I won't be able to afford lenses anytime soon and want to just take artful shots, my wife would like more control...but I don't know what the hell that means!! Sorry guys I'm a crazy beginner.

If possible can someone point out the negatives of the cameras that weren't dslrs that I chose. They seem to have nice wide angle 15-20x optical zooms with tons of features, I'm wondering what is so wrong with them. They seem to be a pretty big jump from the Casio Exilim with 3x optical zoom and other features that I'm using currently??

Like I said I'm a crazy beginner and don't want to invest in something that is way over my head.

Thanks all, and I am leaning towards the DSLR but for my own knowledge I need to know what is so wrong with the other cameras.

also fitz I can't rep you I have to spread the wealth to others!!!
 

fitz

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Some items missed above:

Ability and speed to autofocus in poor lighting conditions.
Battery life.
Dynamic range of the the image sensor (none come near film) which determines how washed out outdoor pictures and highlights on portaits will be white.
Compression options and/or ability to shoot raw (no compression).
Color quality of the image sensor.

Sigma and Tamron make adequate lenses if you do not plan on doing big blow ups (over 8x10). With zooms the cheaper lenses produce distortion the further you get out from the center and at high/low zoom.

Off brand lenses will have near 0 resale value compared to Nikon/Canon lenses.

I did mention some of them in my post (albeit however brief - ie: RAW mode, focus speed). Dynamic range is debatable.. but, on the whole I agree that film is generally better. Battery life can be tricky too. I had a Canon powershot 620 P&S that took 4 AA batteries. With some high quality batteries, I was able to get 1200-1500 shots off a fresh charge.

I don't agree with the Sigma/Tamron are only adequate. Some of their higher end lens meet (or beat) a comparable Canon lens at the same price point. A more accurate statement would be that any cheapo lens may only be good enough to produce enlargements in the 8x10 range (regardless of brand).

Also disagree with the resale value being 0. Yes, it is a bit lower but again, it's based on the quality of the lens more than the manufacturer with a slightly better resale value edge to the canon lenses. One need only to browse the used lens market to see many excellent condition Sigma/Tamron lenses going for near retail much like the Canon side.

I don't think I'm going to be nearly as advanced as any of you anytime soon!! My budget will be between 300-550 I believe. I won't be able to afford lenses anytime soon and want to just take artful shots, my wife would like more control...but I don't know what the hell that means!! Sorry guys I'm a crazy beginner.

If possible can someone point out the negatives of the cameras that weren't dslrs that I chose. They seem to have nice wide angle 15-20x optical zooms with tons of features, I'm wondering what is so wrong with them. They seem to be a pretty big jump from the Casio Exilim with 3x optical zoom and other features that I'm using currently??

Like I said I'm a crazy beginner and don't want to invest in something that is way over my head.

Thanks all, and I am leaning towards the DSLR but for my own knowledge I need to know what is so wrong with the other cameras.
Nothing wrong with those cameras.. just not really in the same class as the DSLR's. For P&S, they are some of the better ones out there (i would still go a high end Canon on the P&S though - just my Canon bias :)

It's like comparing a Civic or Accord with a Race car. Both will get you there, but one is a lot more capable but a lot more work to learn to drive well.

If you do go the DSLR route, my advice to you (speaking from experience) is to dedicate yourself to learning it. You will take some really crappy pictures when you start messing with the manual modes.. don't get discouraged and stop using it. Learn why the shot turned bad and make the next one better.

You can get a nice body and kit lens on either the Nikon or the Canon in the $500-$600 range that will get you started. The nice thing about the DSLR is you can save up for another lens later and be able to use the same body which is something you can't do with a DSLR.

edit:
You can also look at buying a used Canon XTi and lens from various places that may throw in some lenses and filters for around that price range. http://photography-on-the.net/forum/ is a Canon forum hangout - their classifieds usually have used bodies and lenses/kits for sale for decent/fair prices.
 
Last edited:

mlakrid

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My point about the lenses was for long shots more than anything...

I got the L series because of the quality of the glass...

Neither Tamaron nor Sigma have anything in the precision glass in the L-series...

Do they make a good lens? Absolutely, and if you don't need s super quality lens, then any of the Tamaron or Sigma lenses will do fine...

Close ups (macros), panorama views, and or normal everyday shots do not require a high end lens...

Good luck with your choices...

Mike A!
 

falconguard

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We have that Panasonic, the lens is better than most point and shoots it also has the burst mode, and you can manually set the shutter speed and all the other variables like an SLR.

Is it as good as an SLR, no, but it has all the features that an SLR does.

*note--make sure you get a big card for storage, when you use burst mode on any camera the card will fill up fast.
 

technomom

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Does your wife know how to use an SLR or DSLR? If not, there is a learning curve, so keep that in mind. Hubs has an SLR and Desperately wants a DSLR. I'm happy with my Sony P&S.

Stay as far away from anything Kodak as you possibly can. Their digital cameras are junk. I've owned Kodaks, FujiFilms, and another brand I can't recall at the moment and I've used a very fancy Canon P&S, but none compared to my Sony.

Seeing what you have now, I'd suggest a high end Sony P&S, either the DSC-H10 or DSC-H50. These give a beginner plenty of control without too much confusion and frustration.

My mother in-law just bought a beautiful Canon that would the the competing model for either of the above and I just can't get the hang of it. The buttons are in odd places, the menus are confusing, and I couldn't make myself use it long enough to find out if it took a good picture.

I found mine had all the features hers boasted, but the camera was much more user friendly.

You should be able to get either of the above Sony's for $250 - $350.
 

Johnny

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I have a Canon Rebel xti and love it. I will get nothing but canon, and will not buy anything sony. I am seriously thinking about getting the dslr (EOS 40D) canon here soon and selling the rebel.
 

technomom

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@Johnny

Funny how everyone has their favorite. My husband swears by Canon. He's always drooling over the Rebel...

I just couldn't get over the stupid fancy P&S I messed with for an hour before getting the flash to come on...

I've heard for DSLR's, Canon and Nikon are the way to go. But, for P&S I stand by Sony. :)
 

Dusty

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One thing people need to realize...
Photographs come from the eye and knowledge of the photographer, Hardware has maybe 10% of the rest.
I have a Nikon D3, a Nikon D300, and a Nikon D40
I can get the same quality out of all 3 cameras. Difference is the D3 and D300 will let me blow a print to about 60 inches X 60 inches while the d40 will still get good print up to 11X14 maybe a little bigger.
I also know an award famous photographer that got a shot with a Canon P&S. Its all composition.. not the equipment.
If you are going to get a DSLR... get one, but spend the money on the Glass... not the body. DSLR Bodies become obsolete in 3 years. Glass retains its value for a long time. Most DSLR's now are at the 12 meg pixel now. That's enough to print a hugh 3 foot print. If you are only going to print 5X7 or 8X10 or 4X6's, a 6 meg pixel will be enough for that.
Thats my opinion.
 

Mizzle

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I started with a Nikon D40. Excellent camera, I must say, but I quickly upgraded to a Nikon D80 and now a Nikon D90. I'll probably upgrade to the Nikon D400, once that's announced.
 

fitz

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In the DSLR space, Canon and Nikon really rule the roost.

@Johnny, I would look at the 50D over the 40D if you're going to the next step.. if you don't have a big investment in glass yet, you can also look at the Nikon D300 (or the soon to be D400) which is really nice (although, I'm a Canon person myself, I can still see the beauty in the Nikon camera's as well and often recommend both).
 

Johnny

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In the DSLR space, Canon and Nikon really rule the roost.

@Johnny, I would look at the 50D over the 40D if you're going to the next step.. if you don't have a big investment in glass yet, you can also look at the Nikon D300 (or the soon to be D400) which is really nice (although, I'm a Canon person myself, I can still see the beauty in the Nikon camera's as well and often recommend both).

Nikons are very nice. But I am institutionalized to canon. I'll take a look at the 50D. If it is anything like the 40D; it will be awesome! Thanx for the tip :)
 

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