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  1. #1
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    FAQ: What is the best digital SLR?

    This is a frequently asked question and some even expect a brief answer.

    Many of you probably know that there in no single good answer to this question.

    I would rather suggest a way more important question: "What do you want to do with your camera"

    I just want to list a few of the many more questions you should answer for yourself:

    - Do you like to work with the computer and Photoshop? If not, then digital might be not for you.
    - How large do you want to print on a more regular basis? Try to be reasonable.
    - Do you plan to use a solid tripod and carry it more often than not?
    - What kind of subjects do you like to photograph? Birds require very long lenses, sports fast cameras, ...
    - How important is photography to you?
    - Of course the budget is important too. Buying a camera and a few lenses is not all!

    Uwe
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  2. #2
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Excellent!

    Uwe-
    That's a great post. And I would add one more thing to your list - do you already own Canon, Pentax, or Nikon lenses. If you do, and a digital SLR fits your needs, then you should seriously consider sticking with the brand you already own. For most people, there's no need to reinvest the money they've already spent on lenses just because a different camera manufacturer has a newer, flashier camera.
    Photo-John

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  3. #3
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    >one more thing to your list - do you already own Canon, Pentax, or Nikon lenses

    Interesting, I wanted to write that but did not. Reason is that owning lenses from Nikon or Canon is not good enough for making a decision. Only true if you own top lenses. When I bought my Nikon D1 we had many Nikon lenses from the last 25 years. Later I only used new top AFS lenses (means having Nikon lenses did not help) and zero of my old ones!

    Reason: New top zooms and tele lenses are a lot better than old lenses. Why use zooms? True I am lazy but then there is the dust on the sensor introduced by too many lens changes.

    When I later bought a Canon 1Ds it helped to buy the right lenses right away.

    Here is my list of lenses I would buy over and over again (fortunately I have both for Nikon and Canon now):

    24-70 (or 28-70)
    70-200 (IS/VR is possible)
    100mm Makro
    90mm Tilt/Shift
    300mm for wildlife (starter level)
    1.4x tele converter

    Did I forget the wide angle? No, not so much for us. Although we also have:

    17-35 Nikon
    17-40 Canon

    But I could live without wide angle for a long time.

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  4. #4
    Ghost
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    Quote Originally Posted by ustein
    Reason is that owning lenses from Nikon or Canon is not good enough for making a decision. Only true if you own top lenses
    If I'm understanding this correctly, then I think I disagree with you. Just to confirm, are you saying that you need top quality glass if shooting with Nikon or Canon DSLR's? If so, surely you would accept that this is another area of subjectivity and debate?

    Choose me for example; I used to shoot with nothing but the highest quality lenses (like the Canon ones you mentioned). Eventually I decided that weight was a factor so replaced my entire kit with lighter weight (non-L) glass. I replaced the 28-70L with a 24-85 f/3.5-4.5. I also use the 20-35 f/3.5-4.5 and 70-200L f/4 instead of the heaver options that you mention above. I also use the Tamron 90mm macro instead of Canon's 100mm version although I admit I'd like to own the Canon instead due to the focusing motor and manual focusing ring. I've been very happy with this kit.

    Moral; If top quality "optics" isn't your priority, you don't need the manufacturers best lenses.

    Trevor

  5. #5
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    >Moral; If top quality "optics" isn't your priority, you don't need the manufacturers best lenses.

    True, but your lenses are not bad either. I would recommend your lens kit (except I don't know the Tamron 90mm) to anyone who looks at weight and tighter budget. Actually I would love the 70-200mm f/4 if it had IS.

    The new 70-300 DO IS lens could be my travel kit lens.

    Again, you have to know yourself.

    I wanted to explain why having lenses from Canon/Nikon may not mean too much (as in my case).

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  6. #6
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
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    My Simplistic Reply

    The best DSLR is the one you use.

  7. #7
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    >The best DSLR is the one you use.

    Right. But some plan to buy their first :-)

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  8. #8
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    Then the best DSLR is the one you can afford at the time. If you don't think you would be satisfied with what you can afford then I suggest the person should wait.

    I do think, if you have use for the fully featured cameras over the cut down ones, example 10D over the 300D, then you get the 10D. I thought about getting the 300D instead of the 10D, but decided on the 10D as it is close to my EOS30 (Elan 7).

  9. #9
    Liz
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    Moderator Emeritus Liz's Avatar
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    Smile Great post.......comment

    Uwe,

    This is a good topic as well as a learning experience. I agree with all you said for the most part. My only exception is from my personal experience, which regards enjoying the computer portion (I don't!). But I still feel the Rebel 300D was the best choice for me.

    I dislike working on the computer since I do so much of it at work. However, since I've used the 300D, my photography has improved immensely, and I enjoy it even more. I'm not a pro, but I do fairly well with little post processing, as I try to get better results right from the camera. I'm sure my images would improve greatly by increasing the work on the computer, but I can't do that, and really enjoy photography as a hobby and an outlet. My photography time is very limited, and my enjoyment comes from the actual out in the field work vs computer.

    Since purchasing the Rebel, I have changed my equipment by selling most of the lenses I used before and purchasing fewer, but better glass including the Canon 200mm/f2.8L (first L lens), 85mm/f1.8 and 50mm/f1.4. I still get good results from the 28-135 IS lens. I too have to take weight into consideration.

    Thank you for posting this list, as it made me stop & think things over a bit.

    Liz

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein
    This is a frequently asked question and some even expect a brief answer.

    Many of you probably know that there in no single good answer to this question.

    I would rather suggest a way more important question: "What do you want to do with your camera"

    I just want to list a few of the many more questions you should answer for yourself:

    - Do you like to work with the computer and Photoshop? If not, then digital might be not for you.
    - How large do you want to print on a more regular basis? Try to be reasonable.
    - Do you plan to use a solid tripod and carry it more often than not?
    - What kind of subjects do you like to photograph? Birds require very long lenses, sports fast cameras, ...
    - How important is photography to you?
    - Of course the budget is important too. Buying a camera and a few lenses is not all!

    Uwe

  10. #10
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    >which regards enjoying the computer portion (I don't!).

    I should have written "you should not hate working with the computer".

    >but I do fairly well with little post processing, as I try to get better results right from the camera.

    Good idea. I try to do as little as possible myself. But this was the result of just 4 years of experience of what to do and not to do (still learning). I try to make the life of the readers of my e-books easier by avoiding bad techniques. Of course today there is more good info available than 4 years ago.

    Look at this shot from a 2.7MP Nikon D1:

    http://www.outbackphoto.com/outbackp...picID=nikon_d1

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  11. #11
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Wink As far as size

    what is the smallest digital SLR within a $1500 budget???
    A few weeknds ago I held a couple of the SLRs available and found I CAN't comfortably hold any of them....are there any smaller and non plastic body ones coming out by anyone even if it's not Canon or Nikon.

    I'm doing research this year so all viewpoints are welcome...

    thanks
    nat
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
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  12. #12
    Member yaronsh's Avatar
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    Question zoom lenses

    What about one of those 28-200 (or 35-200 or somesuch) pieces?
    Is that pushing the limits of zoom lense quality?

    - Yaron



    Quote Originally Posted by ustein
    Here is my list of lenses I would buy over and over again (fortunately I have both for Nikon and Canon now):

    24-70 (or 28-70)
    70-200 (IS/VR is possible)
    100mm Makro
    90mm Tilt/Shift
    300mm for wildlife (starter level)
    1.4x tele converter

  13. #13
    Member ustein's Avatar
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    >What about one of those 28-200 (or 35-200 or somesuch) pieces?
    >Is that pushing the limits of zoom lense quality?

    I very much think so. 3-4x zooms can be pretty good.

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  14. #14
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Nat-
    You might want to repost this as a new thread. I think it's a subject that deserves to be a separate dusicussion.That said, take a look at the Pentax *ist D. I believe it's the smallest digital SLR,and there are tons of good used Pentax lenses available.
    Photo-John

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  15. #15
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Good idea for a post - there are no easy answers here. I have to disagree with some points, but this is a time when it's probably easier to decide if you've got the right gear as opposed to the time when you replace a film SLR. I say this because all of your lenses (at least those of us with smaller-sized sensor DSLR's) have now changed their effective length.

    With a Nikon system, you can get the 12-24 DX lens for about a grand. Sure, the 80-200 f2.8 basically gives you a 300 f2.8 but you lose the wide end. Add another thousand to the package if it's something you need. This will be true of both Nikon and Canon, one (expensive) full frame sensor camera available per brand. I'm sure Canon has or will have a wide zoom like this, the 17mm or 20mm just isn't that wide anymore on a DSLR.

    Other things to consider if you switch brands - all of the accessories that accumulate, like flashes and electronic cable releases. However, they may or may not be compatible to some extent with a DSLR. There's also the lingo, Nikon calls it matrix, Canon calls it evaluative. I suppose they handle differently too but I don't have experience with Canon. All of the recent Nikons seem to handle pretty similarly. If you change brands, you've got to learn more about how the new camera works. All just part of a big learning curve.

  16. #16
    Member danag42's Avatar
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    Unhappy Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    Nat-
    You might want to repost this as a new thread. I think it's a subject that deserves to be a separate dusicussion.That said, take a look at the Pentax *ist D. I believe it's the smallest digital SLR,and there are tons of good used Pentax lenses available.

    The Pentax uses the newer Pentax lenses, but if you own a lot of the old (and very high quality) Pentax-M lenses you're out of luck; they won't work on the new cameras.

    I think I'll go with the Oly four-thirds system, might as well start from scratch!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by natatbeach
    what is the smallest digital SLR within a $1500 budget???
    A few weeknds ago I held a couple of the SLRs available and found I CAN't comfortably hold any of them....are there any smaller and non plastic body ones coming out by anyone even if it's not Canon or Nikon.

    I'm doing research this year so all viewpoints are welcome...

    thanks
    nat
    Natalie,
    I went from a lightwieght digital to a very heavy DSLR and found that it took a while to get used to the wieght but it was actually easier to control, even with a lens that wieghs the same as the body. There seems to be much less camera shake.... even when shivering in the the cold.
    John

  18. #18
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSPhoto
    Natalie,
    I went from a lightwieght digital to a very heavy DSLR and found that it took a while to get used to the wieght but it was actually easier to control, even with a lens that wieghs the same as the body. There seems to be much less camera shake.... even when shivering in the the cold.
    John
    That's a very good point, more mass equals harder to move, which helps to deaden shake. Plus a heavier body helps to balance heavier lenses. It all is a tradeoff though depending on what your priorities are.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

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  19. #19
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Not True

    I'm not sure exactly what era the M lenses are from. But as far as I know, almost all Pentax lenses and even a lot of Cosina and other K-mount lenses will fit the *ist D.
    It's only newer features like autofocus, auto exposure, etc, that might not work. But the lenses will fit.
    Photo-John

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  20. #20
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by natatbeach
    what is the smallest digital SLR within a $1500 budget???
    A few weeknds ago I held a couple of the SLRs available and found I CAN't comfortably hold any of them....are there any smaller and non plastic body ones coming out by anyone even if it's not Canon or Nikon.

    I'm doing research this year so all viewpoints are welcome...

    thanks
    nat
    Hi Nat,
    The Pentax-ist is the one for you, its tiny. Well actually its more the size of a film SLR. I am 6' 2" and have large hands and found it a bit too small. I like big bulky cameras coming from a medium format background, hence I have a Sigma SD10 - its a monster! Hope this helps.

  21. #21
    An Oz in HK
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    Why choose the four thirds 'standard'?

    Hi

    I too am starting my camera gear from scratch. What is your thinking behind adopting the new standard? I haven't been able to get my hands on a new E-1 yet, but the light weight (for use as a travel camera) seems to be a plus, along with physically small but high quality lenses.

    What do you think about the picture quality. Most reviews are slamming the noise and insisting that the Canon D300 and Nikon D-70 are better.

    thanks
    David

    Quote Originally Posted by danag42
    The Pentax uses the newer Pentax lenses, but if you own a lot of the old (and very high quality) Pentax-M lenses you're out of luck; they won't work on the new cameras.

    I think I'll go with the Oly four-thirds system, might as well start from scratch!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by deekay
    Hi

    I too am starting my camera gear from scratch. What is your thinking behind adopting the new standard? I haven't been able to get my hands on a new E-1 yet, but the light weight (for use as a travel camera) seems to be a plus, along with physically small but high quality lenses.

    What do you think about the picture quality. Most reviews are slamming the noise and insisting that the Canon D300 and Nikon D-70 are better.

    thanks
    David
    Let me jump in here for minute about cameras. I have been around them for about 65 years and am now just getting into digital.
    First and foremost the end product is what is iimportant and always, always starts between your ears. The best, most expensive camera in the world won't take a good picture without a good photographer using it.
    Second, whatever you buy, master it before moving on to another one. These digital cameras are tricky to master especially for old dogs like me.
    I started with the Kodak DC5000, then an Olympus C2100 Zoom and now own the new Pentax *istD. I like the Pentax very much. The only real draw back is that I took it out into a very hostile dusty desert for about 10 weeks. I made the mistake of changing the lens in the field when it was a little windy. I didn't notice any dust in the air but the camera sure did and collected some. When I returned home I had to send it back to factory for cleaning. It was a mess.
    So jump in and no matter what camera you buy master it and you will end up with great photos.

  23. #23
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    some opinions

    I've used the D70, digital Rebel, and Canon 10d, and decided that the 10D was for me. The 10D is a wonderful camera--in terms of performance, I must admit the D70 matches it. The 300D is way behind...mainly, I found that the buffer filled up fast enough that I was left waiting--and feeling like I was using my old Olympus E10 (a point and shoot). Feel is important to me; the Rebel feels like it's worth $400 less than the D70, and the Canon 10D feels like its worth a few hundred more. This is where the E-1 SLR comes in--it feels wonderful, like the E10/E20 did, even better. It's also light and compact for something so rugged. Image noise? I mean, keep in mind, the aim of any 5 or 6 megapixel DSLR is to make really great 8x10 prints...which is also the aim of 35mm, which digital SLR's (most of them) replace. If you want bigger prints, use LizardTech or S-Spline PhotoZoom Pro software to "up-res" the image...but don't blame the camera.
    Look at the lenses, too: Canon and Nikon both offer a lot, but if you're interested in high quality consumer zooms, the kit lens with the D70 is hard to beat. Canon has two great "L" pro lenses, the 17-40mm f/4 (a 28-70 35mm equivelant) and the 70-200mm f/4 L (112-320mm equivelent). These are around $650 and $550 street each, respectively. My point is, the cheapest Nikon pro lenses are hundreds of dollars more. So, if you're like me, and you want to eventually step up in the world, Canon's offerings may be better. Again, this is where Olympus comes in: a great first offering of lenses, but if you can't afford the tele zoom from Olympus and want one, you have no options. I have no doubt Olympus is dedicated to it's new system, and the lenses have a bright (pun intended!) future.
    Nikon bugs me as a company. Nikon's "old" (like, six months old) "DX" flashes don't do "i-ttl" with the D70...and their SB600 flash has not been released. Also, no grip is available. Also, I couldn't BUY a D70 when I wanted to--everywhere had a wait list! I'm only getting into all this to state that there are a lot of other factors that sold me on the Canon system...even though I was a devout nikon manual FM shooter and love Nikon lenses.
    Either Nikon, Canon or Olympus has a strong future system-wise for the professional or advanced amature. Any one of your choices offers great image quality (so long as you're not into 'fill flash'--the Rebel/300D is just not very capable in that area, due to no flash compensation on the body and the slower sync speed.)
    Good luck!

  24. #24
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    Too many people have expensive cameras and still don't know what how to shoot a descent picture. I would advice photographers to focus more on their technique than their camera or lens.

  25. #25
    Junior Member setiprime's Avatar
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    Re: FAQ: What is the best digital SLR?

    The true answer is quite simple.

    It is the DSLR that came out AFTER you just bought yours, and it is the same price but more STUFF built in.

    Remember EVERYTHING is affected by either/both- Gravity or greed !!
    A couple of 20D's and some good glass
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