Buy a Rebel XTi or keep my S3 IS?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Hls811, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Hls811 macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

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    #1
    Ok - I've decided to post this here instead on one of the Digital Camera specific forums because I think you all will be more impartial. :)

    Anyway - I have a Canon S3 IS digital camera which I use for sporting events and places I go where I don't mind carrying a camera. I also have a Canon Powershot 800IS for portablity and taking with me when I don't feel like carrying anything bigger.

    Anyway - I've had a bunch of Ultra-Zoom point and shoots in the past, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Kodak, etc... and am wondering if its time to take the plunge into a lower priced DSLR. The only problem is - I currently rely on auto settings and pre-sets to much and don't really know what all the controls on a camera mean! I try to play with them the best I can, and I have a good concept of it, but I'm by no means an expert....

    From what I've been reading a DSLR would definately produce better results than my current Canon (or any non-SLR) -especially because I'm mainly using it for live sporting events and fast action - but at the same time - without having auto settings and pre-set modes to fall back on, is it worth switching?

    Opinions?
     
  2. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #2
    I haven't switched yet either, but now that I have the Lumix fz50 I may not... I enjoy having a 420mm zoom without three feet of lenses attatched, much more flexibility and waaaay less expensive! I almost got the Rebel xTi starter kit instead, I felt it was the best product at the best price in dSlr offerings, but I'm stoked I got the Panasonic instead. Definitely gotta learn how to adjust the settings or a dSlr will be useless for you anyways.
     
  3. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #3
    The XTi is the first SLR I've ever owned and I'm loving it. It's really quite easy to use, the flexibility of changing the lens is great and it has full-auto and P mode (programmed-auto) to fall back on if you need it.

    The only downside is that you soon start thinking that spending a few hundred pounds (or dollars) every so often on a new lens is normal :D
     
  4. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #4
    I don't think a DSLR will produce significantly better results unless you attach good lenses to it and put some effort into learning how the controls and settings work.

    How much do you want to spend and how much effort do you want to put into it?
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    We likely are, but we're not as impartial as you think. ;)


    Overall, if you're going to shoot in AUTO mode, you're not really taking full advantage of a DSLR. Some of these smaller point and shoot cameras have a nice f/2.8 lens (many have an f-number that goes from f/2.8 to f/4 or something) with a large focal range (ie: big zooms), which is nice for things like sports. To get an equivalent lens for a dSLR will cost you $$$.

    DSLRs are capable of taking nicer photos, although that has a lot to do with the photographer, and the lenses used. The sensor is bigger, and so the lenses need to be bigger as well, although bigger lenses don't necessarily mean that a DSLR lens is better than all the smaller lenses found on ultra-zoom cameras. For example, the lens on the Canon S3 is better than the Canon 400D/XTi's kit lens. :p

    Anyway, DSLRs are great, but it's not always the answer for all your photographic needs. If you're not going to buy the expensive lenses that are needed to take good/great sports photos, and you're not too keen on using the camera in manual mode (or on any setting other than FULL AUTO), then just stick with what you have. It may actually serve your purposes better. You can't buy a dSLR and say "Ok, I'm done with the shopping." Oh no, that's never how it works. :D

    I'm sure many people here will disagree, but I'll stick by what I said. :p I love my DSLR, but we seem to recommend it to everybody who asks this question because DSLRs can take nicer photos than p&s cameras, as there's always a specific, purpose-built lens for the job. This isn't true of p&s cameras. However, that doesn't mean that a P&S camera can't do the job.
     
  6. Hls811 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

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    #6
    Umm.. I want to sell my Canon S3 IS for around $400 and spend only that money on the new camera and lenses. :)

    Ok, now - to reality... The camera kit with the basic lens is roughly $650 w/ good deals - I honestly don't know what a 'good' lens would cost vs. a cheap lens... The main reason for my Canon S3 IS is the ultra zoom, so I'd like something w/ the equivalent of that same range, but I haven't even done the research to know what that would run me. If I could get an acceptable set-up for $1000 I'd be content.
     
  7. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #7
    There is no difference at all between using your S3 IS and a DSLR. Both have the same modes of operation, ranging from fully automatic to fully manual.
    So this is NOT a deciding issue.

    There are some that you need to take into account though.
    The DSLR will not have a swivel LCD where you can see on what you are going to make a picture of. The LCD of a DSLR is there to view settings and to review taken photos.
    Another thing you will have to miss with a DSLR is the ability to record movie. You can not do that with a DSLR.
    Also, you will lose your panorama assistance your S3 IS offers.
    Another thing that is to the advantage of the S3 IS: good quality ultra zoom lens (with IS). You can not find a 36-420mm zoom lens of that quality for a DSLR, and things that come close cost a lot.

    Now what do you gain with a DSLR?
    You gain a shallower depth of field. Some people do not like this (they complain most of their photo is unsharp), but when you get used to it and understand it, you can isolate subjects when needed, making photos a lot more interesting/better.
    You will gain better performance in lower light due to that the sensors are a lot less noisy at higher ISO settings.
    Another thing you will gain is the possibility for better optics. Your S3 IS has quite good optics though, so to beat that you will have to take care of which lenses you choose. This is a very important issue though, which will be quite important in choosing a DSLR brand.
    Since you chose an ultra zoom camera, I am assuming you want a camera with better optics and yet the same tele range. Your best choice will actually be the Canon XTi. Not because the camera itself is so much better than the Nikon D80, Pentax K10 D or Sony A100, but because Canon makes one very special lens, the Canon EF 70-300 IS USM. In shape and price it is not something really special, but in optical quality there is NOTHING that comes even close.
    Now this lens will make the XTi perform a lot better optically than the S3 IS, and offer image stabilization too. It is as sharp as anything on the market, and its 300mm will give you 300 x 1.6 = 480 mm tele power, a bit more than what your S3 IS offers. This lens is under 600$ I think. You may think that is a lot, but for the quality it offers it is a steal. And any ordinary 70-300 will not give better results on the long end than your S3 IS.

    You will need a lens to cover the wider end of course, you you are looking at a 2 or 3 lens solution. You can go with the 18-55mm kit lens of course, which will keep the price of the total package down.
    Or if you want a bit better alternatives, a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 macro. This will give you a little macro ability to, maybe saving the need for a dedicated macro lens depending on what you like to photograph.

    So... a few things you will have to miss on a DSLR, quite a few things that will improve photo quality wise IF YOU DO NOT THINK CHEAP LENSES WILL GIVE BETTER RESULTS with a DSLR.

    Only take the DSLR step if you can afford that 70-300 IS USM or other high quality lenses. Else the step from your S3 IS to a entry level DSLR will offer more down sides than upsides. Make no mistake, you can make very good photos with an S3 IS (at least, I can ;) ).
     
  8. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #8
    $1000? Probably not going to give you the same range as you have now. As noted above glass is probably more important than the body when it comes to a DSLR. Depending on the sports and the distance we are talking about you will be looking at a 70-200 lens. A 70-200 f/4L is a little more than $550 new. And that's the lower end of the price spectrum for a good zoom. A 70-200 f/2.8L IS is over $1600!

    There are cheaper alternatives to Canon lenses, and to the L series zooms, but they all cost quite a bit too. The advantage is that you can get the kit and see how you get one and buy additional lenses at a later date once you get a feel for what you want/need.

    And you can buy second-hand lenses to save some cash.

    I've just looked at the specs for the S3 lens. It's 35mm equivalent range is 36-432mm!!!! At f/2.7-3.5. Whilst the smaller sensor size makes this possible you'd have to spend a fortune to cover that range at that speed on a DSLR!
     
  9. Roy Hobbs macrumors 68000

    Roy Hobbs

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  10. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #10
    The EF 70-300 IS USM is a better choice than the 70-200 F4 L. It is more compact, has a better range, has a matching colour (not off white but black), is a tad cheaper, is sharper and offers comparable contrast and colour. And before you start to argue this, I do have that 70-200 F4 L and know what I am talking about lens-wise ;) .

    About aperture, you can NOT compare aperture figures from a compact digital camera like the S3 IS with aperture figures of a DSLR lens. Aperture is about 2 things: how fast the lens is (how much light it can let in at maximum aperture) and about depth of field control. A big aperture with give a more shallow depth of field.

    The depth of field of a compact camera is a LOT bigger with the same aperture, and the high ISO performance of a DSLR will make up the difference in light sensitivity easily. Therefore the 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM is very comparable (and exceeds) the f3.5 from the S3 IS.
     
  11. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #11
    Coldrain's right. That 70-300 IS lens would be your best bet, and would be a large step up from the S3 IS. With the kit lens and the camera you're well over $1300 though. ($650 for the camera and kit lens is probalby bait and switch.)

    You could also do a lot better than the kit lens with, perhaps, Sigma's 17-70 DC Macro. Now you're talking $1700+ for the set up...

    You'll also UV filters to protect the lenses... a bag... big new memory cards for all those 10MP pixels...

    $1900.
     
  12. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #12
    Personally I do not believe in "protecting lenses with UV filters".
    UV filters do degrade optical quality somewhat, and can introduce reflections and reduction of contrast, no matter how high quality the filter is. Also, it will not protect the lens from a fall or a hard bump into something.

    And how does a lens scratch? Not easily either. You have to poke it with something hard and sharp, or you have to rub it with grains of sand. What usually gets on your lens are finger grease and dust. Both are easily cleaned off with a good lens cleaning set (cloth and liquid) and soft lens brush. If you put a filter in front of the lens you have to clean that filter in the same way anyway.

    A better idea is to just place the lens cap on when you are not making photos (this will not break like a filter will if you bump it into something or drop it) and put the sun hood on the lens will give even more protection, even when in use.

    My motto is: use filters for what they are made for (so, for when they are needed. UV filters are for removing haze from UV light, mostly on higher altitudes).
     
  13. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #13
    Fair enough. I only have the 70-200 so I can't compare it to the 70-300. All I know is that all the reviews rave about the 70-200L zooms!

    All true. In my experience though f/4 has proved to be slow for indoor sports. f/5.6 would simply be worse. IS won't help as it's the speed of the target, not camera shake that's the problem.

    Still we all seem to agree: you need to spend quite a bit to match the possible results from the S3.
     
  14. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #14
    Makes sense, but I think a lot depends on the application too. I wouldn't use a filter as protection for, say, essentially studio type shots indoors. But outside in, say, windy beach conditions, I definitely would.

    Also, I was raised to put a fliter on my camera lens, turn off the lights when leaving a room, and to eat my veggies.
     
  15. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #15
    On a beach in windy conditions, I do agree with you.

    I still won't touch green peas and red beets though :eek:.
     
  16. Hls811 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hls811

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    #16
    Wow.. All the attention - I'm honored! :) And yes, I still think you all are more impartial and fair than the other photography board I search though. At least I trust your purchasing decisions - you have Macs!

    I have a feeling - at least for now I'll stick with what I have.. I'm not so concerned with Macro photography - and for general use I think I could get by with the basic lens that comes in the kit - my primary goal is to take zoomed in shots, and would require me to get one of the more expensive recommended lenses.. add on that I am not completely sure what I'm doing and letting the S3 do the work might be the best bet. I'm actually glad I posted - I liked the S3, but the few comments on here about it made me feel better about that purchase!

    I guess I'll look into educating myself first and learning how to use a high-end camer, and then buy the camera... :)

    As for there "Where for $650" question - Dell (boo, hiss) sells the kit for $788, but occasionally runs a 15% coupon - and I have a stackable 10%, bringing it to $609 (plus tax, shipping and the unhealthy thought of knowing I gave Dell money for something).

    Thanks again for the input - I'm glad I didn't rush out to buy it!!!
     
  17. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #17
    kit lens = evil. Spend the extra $75 on a 50mm f/1.8 -- sharpest lens you'll own for a long time!!

    Digital SLRs are great b/c you can learn for free! Take a couple of shots, figure out what things do what, and get feedback from the likes of us!! :p
     
  18. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #18
    The kit lens is OK to start with. You can get decent results out of it. Not stunning. Not L. But it's enough to let you learn about the camera and how to use the settings. From there you can decide on the next step lens to get.
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #19
    The 70-200 mm f/4 is faster. The IS is nice, but you can probably guess why the subject may end up blurry if he's photographing a sport that's rather fast. I'd get the 70-200 mm f/4 whether the 70-300 mm IS had slightly better optics or not.

    But it does depend, though. If he's going to be photographing sports that are always played under bright light, maybe there isn't much to worry about.
     
  20. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #20
    I would get the rebel XTi

    Can I suggest you pray for guidance :)


    FJ :cool:
     
  21. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #21
    You much more often will find yourself to have that extra zoom power though. If you want a low light sports lens, the S3 IS, EF 70-200 F4 L and 70-300 IS USM all are not very likely candidates.

    The two(and a half) reasons I can think of that can make one prefer the 70-200 f4 L:
    Probably a bit nicer bokeh (even though the 70-300 IS is very good in that respect anyway), the 70-300 has a rotating front element (not so handy with polarized light filters and such), and build quality and a red L if that is important to you.
     
  22. annk Administrator

    annk

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    #22
    I realise you say that you're planning on using the money from the sale of you S3 to finance part of the new camera, but consider waiting a bit and doing both.

    I bought a 350D a while back and kept my S2, and I'm really glad I did. The macro and video functions of the S2, coupled with the portability, mean that the S2 is still on occasion the best tool for me at times. And the fact that they both are Canon, means that it's not confusing to switch between the two, because the menus are similar.

    I use my 350D most of the time, but boy am I glad I still have the S2.
     
  23. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #23
    Good advice. I have a Fuji F30 as well as my XTi. Sometimes you don't want to carry the SLR and having a compact to carry instead is great.
     
  24. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #24
    UV coatings affect the image slightly, you can get plain glass filters that'll provide the protection w/o affecting the image as much. Most super-telephotos have a large front glass element that's not part of the optical formula just for such protection.
     
  25. Coheebuzz macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I just got my 400D this morning and am in love with it already! The kit lens seems good enough for what is worth ($30??), it lacks some contrast and sharpness but you can fix that with some basic post-processing. Am saying this because you could do some great shooting with this lens until you save up for another.

    It took my about an hour to get to know the interface and its already starting to become second nature. It's a bit more 'elaborate' than some other interfaces i've seen, like having to press and hold a button down while using the main dial to get to some settings. Also all the buttons feel a bit hard to push are are quite small so it would be a problem if you have bigger hands, but it feels great in my smaill-ish hands.

    Also if you like using presets, the D400 has plenty and it also has special mode for sports. But on the other hand this defeats the purpose of getting a DSLR. If you want to get more serious with photography then i'd say go for the D400 and you won't regret it.
     

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