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View Full Version : dSLR : To buy or not to buy



retish
07-03-2004, 02:15 PM
Hi,
I have spent the last several weeks browsing through reviews and pondering over which digital camera to buy. I am a very quality conscious person, and want the best even if at a cost.

I am a novice, with experience of only casual photography with ordinary autofocus film cameras. However, I am interesting in getting into some serious part-time amateur photography.
Since I would like to be in maximum control of what I shoot, I am not interested in ordinary point-and-shoot digicams, but prefer one with lots of manual controls.

While I would like to view most of the pictures I take, on a computer, I might also take prints (7" X 5") of say about 20 % of them, and would like take large prints of some of them once a while.

I am thus looking at atleast a 5 mega pixel camera. I am also not interested in compact cameras, as they tend to look like toys. I pefer the SLR look and size.

As such, I am in a dilemma whether to go for one of the higher end 8 MP fixed-lens digi-cameras or for either of the entry level digital SLRs (Nikon D70 or Canon Digital Rebel).

Any advice would be most welcome.

automatone
07-03-2004, 04:40 PM
The D-SLRs are tempting, but bear in mind that they are both larger in size (less convenient for travel photography) and more sophisticated, requiring more learning.

The middle-ground for you might be a top-notch 5MP camera like the Olympus 5060 Wide Zoom. With a price roughly half (or less) than a D-SLR, you have a great camera with lots of manual controls and available accessories.

Recommended dealer: Norman Camera

Norman Camera product listing page (http://www.normancamera.com/shop/SearchResults.asp?ProdStock=225420)

YMMV, of course, but I found this to be everything I ever wanted in a digital camera.

D70FAN
07-03-2004, 05:58 PM
Since dSLR's have the same Auto mode (and the D70 has preprogrammed scene modes as well) a dSLR is no more difficult to use than a point-n-shoot. I use my D70 in auto when I just want some quick shots, and they turn out great. AND they are no harder to tote around than the 8MP Super zooms on the market.

Once you go dSLR you'll never go back.

Nick
07-03-2004, 06:06 PM
Don't go for it, run for it! :D the most expensive 8MP high end, as you call them, will loose to a dSLR in the major and most important ways.

There is a learning curve, and yes, a steep one from P&S if you want to shoot full manual with a dSLR, or get into the quirks and details. However, the D70, what I have also, offers a fine auto mode, and other present modes. What's different that you'll feel right away? Focus speed, shutter lag, write times! Focus speed is instant, shutter lag doesn't exist, and there's a large-ish buffer, which will let you shoot continously for quite a while provided you have a fast or in the middle card.

Also, as your needs and interests grow, so can your camera. Add on accesories abound, and many, many lenses. Also, if you get the D70, naturally, you buy lenses that use the Nikon F mount. Say, four years after, your dog eats your D70 and it's gone - the lenses will last a very very long time, and will work with any other Nikon dSLR that you buy.

Skics
07-04-2004, 12:42 AM
If you are serious about persuing your photography interests I don't think you will regret picking up a DSLR like the D70 (mentioned) or a Digital Rebel. That said, there is a learning curve going from fully auto to fully manual so it is likely you won't be able to take full advantage of the advanced controls at the beginning, though with something entry-level professional like the D70 it shouldn't matter. It is a rewarding interest. :)

retish
07-04-2004, 10:27 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I should then be going for the D70. One concern I have, is regarding the problem of dust on the sensor of dSLR's. I understand dSLR's are prone to dust settling on the sensors. While I don't plan to change lenses quite often, I am still concerned, since I have no experience with changing lenses or cleaning sensors.

Nick
07-04-2004, 11:46 AM
Changing lenses is no hassle. To quote someone from another forum, in regards to dust:




There are so many scare stories about the sensor getting dust and dirt on it that like many others I've been reluctant to change lenses often in "hostile" environments. Specifically, I mean windy and dusty environments.

Thursday I took the D70 out into the Mt. St. Helens National Monument on a windy day, but it wasn't so windy that it was kicking up a lot of dust like it does sometimes. I took three lenses with me:

12-24mm DX Nikkor
18-70mm kit lens
Sigma 70-300 APO SMII

This scenery is so rich, with opportunities from macro to infinity, from extreme wide angle to telephoto, that I could not resist changing lenses almost with impunity, even in a stiff wind you could not get away from. I just hoped for the best and turned the camera opening down and away from the wind.

The air seemed clean and clear. It didn't seem as if there was dust in the air. Yet, by the time I got back to the car nine hours later, everything was coated in dust, and I had fears for the worst.

Yet, after processing the 172 images I took, not a single piece of dust seemed to have got onto the sensor from this trip. I wouldn't think of opening the camera like this in the kind of dust storms that can kick up on the volcanoes of the Northwest, but if the air seems clear, even if it isn't as witness to the dust that got all over everything, it is probably clean enough to risk fast, reasonably protected lens switches as I did all day long Thursday.

If something does get on, you can get one of these, and probably blow it away:

this here, blower brush (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=195063&is=REG)

And at some point, you'll have to clean the CCD, believe me, it's not that hard. You can buy premade stick-wipe-things, just swipe softly, and you're done. Tons of links anout CCD cleaning. In fact, the first time, you'll probably swipe so softly that you'll need to do it once again ;)

Before I got my D70, I never cleaned a CCD before. My Pentax was covered in dust on the inside and I liked it like that; it produced old looking photographs :)

retish
07-04-2004, 12:07 PM
Thansk for the info, Nick. That's a great relief :cool:

Nick
07-04-2004, 01:01 PM
:) It varies from camera to camera, person to person, but it's really not that much of a big deal.

You'll need to buy something like this: sensor swabs (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=242758&is=REG) although you can get them cheaper, these seem a bit expensive. You can also get a small changing bag (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=123615&is=REG) if you're worried about dust getting in while you change lenses.

Jake Conner
07-04-2004, 03:19 PM
Changing lenses is no problem, you push a button, twist, and pull to take one off, and line up the red dots on lens and body, insert, and twist to put one on. I've heard that cleaning sensors is a bother (I don't own a DSLR), if you don't want to deal with it you may want to spring for the Oly E1 as it does this automatically and has many other high-tech features that no film/digital hybrid system can match.

Jake

tksuther
07-06-2004, 08:29 AM
Here's a good read on digicam vs. DSLR.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/digicams-vs-dslrs.shtml

retish
07-06-2004, 12:15 PM
While I realise the D70 and DReb are one of the lightest dSLR's around, are they still suitable for vacation photography or for casual travel photography, when u consider it from a comfort point-of-view? Are there any caveats involved?

Ray Schnoor
07-06-2004, 12:47 PM
You would have to make that decision for yourself. For everyone that says a dSLR is too big to travel with, I'm sure that there is someone else thinks it is fine. Personally, I have no problem travelling with a Nikon D70.

tksuther
07-06-2004, 12:50 PM
I agree this is a personal decision. I'd rather travel with a smaller camera but frankly I'd miss not having my D70, so depending on the nature of the trip, I may take both.

jamison55
07-06-2004, 01:16 PM
While I realise the D70 and DReb are one of the lightest dSLR's around, are they still suitable for vacation photography or for casual travel photography, when u consider it from a comfort point-of-view? Are there any caveats involved?

Great question, and one that I'm asking myself. My wife and I are taking a trip to Ireland in the fall, and I am leaving my DReb behind in favor of my Olympus 5050. The main reason being that the DReb with two additional lenses and a Flash requires a medium sized kit bag, and doesn't provide enough of an improvement in image quality for vacation-style shots to justify the additional weight. I can also replace my 5050 for <$400 if it suddenly walks away. I plan to take a lot of outside pictures of castles and such, so the better DOF of the 5050 (at f1.8) will come in handy. Finally file size is a consideration. At the Large/Mid Q file size setting I can fit about 230 shots, suitable for 8x10 printing, on a 256 MB card.

D70FAN
07-06-2004, 05:14 PM
I just use a LowePro Topload mini case on my belt, with a separate (padded)belt-mount lens case for the 70-300 (105-450 in 35mm equivelent). The outer pocket on the top-load camera case has plenty of room for the 28-70 lens-shade, 1 spare battery, and 2 extra CF cards.

No more difficult to travel with than my CP990 in a fanny-pack.

I'm not even going to comment on the DOF at f1.8. But, will add that dSLR's allow much broader aperture range if you wish (and have a lot of light or shoot at higher ISO).

If you really are trying to squeeze every photon out of available light a dSLR will allow you to simply change lenses offering apertures down to f1.4.

For reference a nice 50mm f1.4 Nikkor AF-D lens runs about $270. The 70-300mm AF-G runs about $150.

Nick
07-07-2004, 11:36 AM
I think it's just fine for vacation/travel photography; in fact, I don't see why not. I have an Lowepro Orion Photo Trekker, which carries my Fujitsu laptop, D70 and the stuff listed in my sig ( save the Pentax ) quite well and without the feeling of burden.

I'd even be happy lugging around a 70-200 around all day - I'm used to having a heavy pack with me filled with just about all imaginable.

jamison55
07-07-2004, 12:40 PM
I just use a LowePro Topload mini case on my belt, with a separate (padded)belt-mount lens case for the 70-300 (105-450 in 35mm equivelent). The outer pocket on the top-load camera case has plenty of room for the 28-70 lens-shade, 1 spare battery, and 2 extra CF cards..

That'a a utility belt that Batman would be proud of! Me, I'd rather not have all that weight tugging at my belt. The Oly 5050 is just the right size to carry comfortably around my neck all day (and my A80 was even better as a vacation camera IMHO).


I'm not even going to comment on the DOF at f1.8. But, will add that dSLR's allow much broader aperture range if you wish (and have a lot of light or shoot at higher ISO).

No doubt about that, but at f1.8 the DOF is much shallower on my DReb than my Oly 5050, so the Oly get's the nod for vacation photography, where I am typically not trying to blur the background. The Dreb is my tool of choice for my photog business where portraits are my stock and trade


If you really are trying to squeeze every photon out of available light a dSLR will allow you to simply change lenses offering apertures down to f1.4.

Yeah, but unless you are shooting distant landscapes, try getting everything sharp at f1.4

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an SLR hater. To the contrary, if I could only keep one of my cameras it would be the DReb. If I was looking for the perfect vacation camera, however, size would be an important factor. As a matter of fact, I think that the Canon A80 is the perfect vacation camera. It is small enough to fit in your pocket. Can quickly and easily take snapshots, but has manual controls when you have time to plan the shot more carefully. Has that terrific swiveling LCD for the unusual shooting situations, like over a crowd, that you are more likely to face when on vacation, and takes standard AA batteries, which can be purchased anywhere. 4mp is the perfect balance between file size and print size. Oh yeah, and it takes great pictures!

D70FAN
07-07-2004, 04:11 PM
To add to this discussion. Pros have been using dSLR's for several years, in some of the nastiest environments on earth. I haven't see a single dust-laden picture yet. SI and most other magazines use dSLR's almost exclusively, as the workflow is phenominal compared to film. If dust were ruining pictures I'm sure they would be using all-in-ones or film.

As long as you use a little common sense and aren't changing leses every 5 minutes dust should not be a big problem. :)

Ray Schnoor
07-08-2004, 04:33 AM
I agree, George. Although I do not change lenses every 5 minutes, I do change them maybe once a day, and after 1-2 months of that I have yet to have a problem with my D70.

I also have a dSLR, a Fuji DS-560 at least 7-8 years old, that I have rarely had a reason to clean the sensor. Maybe just 2-3 times in all the years that I have had it. It doesn't get used very often, but it probably takes 25-50 shots a week.

Ray.

jamison55
07-08-2004, 09:46 AM
Wow, a DS-560. That must have cost a pretty penny back in the day...

Ray Schnoor
07-08-2004, 01:00 PM
You can say that again. ~$5000 for a 1.3 MP camera!!! A D70 is a steal at the current price.

Ray.