Entry-Level DSLR or Hi-End Fixed Lens Camera???

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ftaok, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #1
    It's becoming painfully obvious that our 5 year old Sony DSC P7 just isn't up to the task anymore. The photos are small (3.2 MP), the battery is struggling, and the camera is sssllllllooooowwww.

    Our main complaint is that it takes so long for the flash to re-charge that we end up missing many shots of the 2 year old (she's quite fast and doesn't sit still for long). Also, shot to shot times are pretty bad as well. The 3x zoom is also a limiting factor.

    The Sony has held up for the 5 years or so, but we've decided that it's time to move on.

    So here's the dilemma. Do we go with an entry level DSLR (like the Rebel XTi) or a hi-end fixed lens camera (like the Canon G9). I'm not married to Canon, but I would like to stick to a good brand (prefer Canon/Nikon for DSLR and Canon/Nikon/Panasonic/Sony for fixed lens)? I like how the DSLRs can shoot photos in rapid succession, but I'm quite intimidated by the manual controls. I would take the time to learn how to use a DSLR and how to take decent photos, but I fear that the wife won't.

    On the other hand, something like the G9 would be a good balance between manual controls and P&S. But then I would feel like I'm missing something. Plus, the G9 isn't quite as fast as a DSLR.

    What have other folks chosen when making the jump up from a basic P&S to something better?

    Any comments, stories, or suggestions would be appreciated.

    ft
     
  2. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #2
    Many so-called "entry level" DSLR's have program modes, ranging from portrait, landscape, to full auto. So if the wife won't learn the manual controls, she can still take nice photo. Same for you.

    In the end, the quality you get from a DSLR far surpasses that of a fixed lens camera.

    Go for the DSLR.
     
  3. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #3
    I agree with epicwelshman. Nowadays you can get a low-end dSLR for very little premium over mid-range point-and-shoots. Even if you never take it out of auto, I think it's still worth it. dSLR sensors are much larger, which means a higher-quality photo - especially if you are shooting at higher ISO speeds.

    The only downside is that a dSLR will have a limited zoom range compared to many point and shoots. I don't personally think that's a significant negative in practical terms, but it does need to be considered.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    All dslrs of any manufacturer will be superior. Canon and Nikon are both good choices, just try them out in person, that's more important. If you want something smaller, then perhaps Olympus makes your dslr. They have smaller cameras with built-in image stabilization (big plus) and their lenses tend to be cheaper.
     
  5. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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    #5
    I went with the entry-level dSLR, but the high-end fixed lens cameras offer a long in terms of convenience; you get a lot more zoom, and almost all come with IS. You'll end up paying a lot more for the equivalent in a dSLR.

    I'd say if the kit lens on the dSLR of your choice is what you need, get the dSLR. If you wanter more zoom, or something wider, or macro, I'd go with the fixed.
     
  6. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #6
    FYI Nikon just announced a revision to their low-end kit lens - the 18-55mm - so it now has VR as well.

    I imagine it'll be a month or two before the kits are upgraded to use the new version of that lens; plus people will need to check that the kit they purchase has the new lens rather than the older one.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #7
    All the current DSLRs have a "full auto" mode where you simply aim and press the shuter release. Just select the big green "A" and you are set. My guess is that 90% of the DSLRs sold are set that way and never move away from "A" mode.

    If your main concern is fast handling then you want the SLR. If what you wanted was a smaller size then the point and shoot is the way to go.

    If you do go the SLR route you will first need to pick a brand. Look down the road a few years and think about what all you might want. Maybe an other lens like the 50mm and likely someday an external strobe. Look at the total system not just the basic DSLR body

    None of the small shirt pocket size cameras can match the slr's speed of handling and the SLR viewfinder is a "real" view not an LCD screen with it's limited detail. But my SLR can't fit in my pocket. You need both.

    If you want a nice small camera look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX55K or the Leica version of the same called the "Leica D-lux 3" Of course if you have money to burn leica makes the M8 too.
     
  8. ftaok thread starter macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #8
    Thanks for the replies. Keep 'em coming if you's can.

    I would prefer to go DSLR and hearing that there is an Auto mode really eases the concerns. The main problem that I have with my old Sony is the shot-to-shot times and the flash recharging.

    I can handle the "bulkiness" since we'll likely keep the Sony. It should be much less frustrating since it'll be the back-up camera.

    ft
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #9
    Then you might want to consider an external flash. Nikon's SB-400 is great: small, you can tilt it and -- if the batteries are fresh -- you can flash up to four times in a row at the full 3 fps (I did it last weekend where I was the semi-official wedding photographer).
     
  10. ftaok thread starter macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #10
    Nice suggestion. I'm assuming that both brands have these external flashes ... right? Also, can I buy a 3rd party flash or do these DSLRs have proprietary hot-shoes?

    ft
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Yes, all dslrs have hot shoes, they are proprietary, but there are third-party flashes. You can get small flashes from other companies, so feel free to ask for recommendations once you have chosen your camera.

    BTW, the fast recycle rate is the feature I underestimated the most compared to built-in flashes. Plus, I don't think I would have managed to capture the whole wedding with only one battery for my dslr if I used the internal flash. (I shot about 550-600 pictures, most of them with flash. The fast recycle rate allowed me to capture the exchange of rings at 2-3 fps .)
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #12
    Unless you want to record video, I see very little reason to consider a high-end point and shoot. Get the dSLR.

    Get the Nikon SB-400 flash, which is a LOT more convenient than Nikon and Canon's 2 main flashes. The other flashes are great, but not practical for really casual photographs of your kids. Or just use the flash built into the DSLR. It's also good, but you can't bounce the light off the ceiling, which means the light is a bit harsher. Nikon's iTTL flash system is very good, even with the built-in flash.

    If you know you won't really be getting into photography all that much, get the 18-55 mm VR lens, and the 55-200 mm VR lens. You are set. I have somewhat fancier, mid-level lenses (ie: nothing that's $1500 or something), and even I'm thinking about that 55-200 mm VR lens. It's very small, very sharp, and it's great. Over the same range of focal lengths (ie: from 70 mm to 200 mm), the 55-200 mm VR lens is sharper than the 70-300 mm VR, which is a LOT more expensive.
     
  13. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    #13
    A friend of mine (a professional photographer) has just got a Canon G9 to complement his 5D bodies, and he is mightily impressed with the results. It has become his 'go everywhere' camera. He can also attach his Canon Speedlights to it should he wish for more flash power/speed. You can also get a wide angle adapter to extend the lens range.

    The focus speed isn't as fast as that on a DSLR though - compact cameras use a different method to focus, which is what allows viewing on the rear screen as you take the photo (which is in itself a useful feature).

    So, both the G9 and DSLRs take great photos, both have green/program modes. Both type of machine allows for more advanced photo technique should you wish to progress your photography skills.

    DSLRs are larger, more expensive but offer great kit expansion/flexibility.
    G9 small, light, kit expansion options would cover 99% of most photo situations.

    Sorry, this doesn't give you a definite answer, but hopefully some points to consider.
     
  14. ftaok thread starter macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #14
    The G9 does seem pretty nice, but the 6x zoom has me a little put off. The S5 IS has a 12x zoom and the 100IS has a 10x, which is more my speed.

    I'm actually thinking DSLR and also a smaller compact P&S. The DSLR would cover the manual and fast action stuff. Something like an ELPH would capture the spur-of-the-moment things (and hopefully would take better pictures than our current Sony - which we could give to a niece or nephew).

    anyone have a Nikon D40? I've been reading up on it and it seems to be a good fit for my needs (and wallet).

    ft
     
  15. form macrumors regular

    form

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    #15
    There is no comparison between any prosumer all-in-one camera and a dSLR when it comes to image quality at high ISO. By ISO400 most prosumer/compact cameras (the G9 included) are noisier and have lost more detail than the XTi - or the XT - at ISO1600. The best competition in this field comes from the Fuji finepix F30/F31fd, NOT any Canon model. What do you need high ISO for? Shots taken around the house; shots taken in fluorescent or tungsten lighting; shots taken with shutter speeds fast enough to freeze motion; shots taken of your family playing in the evening; shots taken in darker conditions; shots taken at a school play or dance, or gymnastics class; shots taken at many sporting events, including/especially basketball; shots taken in a night club or other social gathering; the list continues.

    dSLR cameras are also far better at handling high dynamic range (subtle gradations of color and brightness between pitch black and blown out white) than any prosumer/compact camera.

    dSLR cameras will always have greater versatility. If you want a cheap, lower quality ultra zoom that has serious sharpness and fringing issues (like the lenses on the prosumer G-series and S-series), you can buy one for a dSLR. If you want to exchange your low quality, large zoom optics for a sharp, high quality standard zoom or an even sharper fixed-focal lens that can gather almost 4x the light as virtually any prosumer/compact camera, your only choice is a dSLR.

    With bigger zoom range (10/12x) comes poorer sharpness and more fringing and aberrations, especially around the edges. There are very few exceptions to this rule, and I don't believe any of them are in the Canon G-series or S-series lists.

    And none of these features have anything to do with "fancy stuff" that might challenge or daunt a new dSLR owner.


    Nikon D40? I'm a Canon user (Rebel XT, and an XTI briefly), but there's nothing really wrong with Nikon. My only issues are that I don't care for the moire effect of fine detail with some of their dSLRs, and 6 megapixels is a little dated and more limiting than 8 or 10.
     
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #16
    Just one more thought: you can always add a super zoom later whose image quality will be much, much better than what you get with a `pseudo-slr'.
     
  17. motownflip macrumors regular

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    Oct 24, 2007
    #17
    I'm on the fence too. Thanks for posting this thread. I'm going dslr. Just not sure which one.
     
  18. mr.666 macrumors member

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    #18
    ^^ just picked up a D40 for the GF's birthday. i chose it over the canon (xt) for the better feel in the hand and what i feel is better color out of the box and less noise at equal iso's. (less pixels to jam light into 6.1vs.8mp). SD cards (which she has a few of already vs. CF in the canon and the larger screen on the back. it also feels less like plasic than the Xt. the lack of bracketing stinks as does not having the focusing motor in the camera but rather in the lens, but... i overall there very equal and a good start. it all comes down to preference
     
  19. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #19
    It doesn't make much of a difference whether you have 6 or 8 MP in a dslr. Both will definitely have better image quality than any of your non-dslr alternatives. Get the camera that you prefer having in your hand …*
     
  20. form macrumors regular

    form

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    #20
    My hands didn't care, and the XT's actual sensitivity was about 1/4 to 1/3 stop greater than the D40/D70 when I made my purchase, so that and 8 megapixels made the difference for me. It's only worth about $330 now (says ebay), but it has paid for itself.

    I upgraded to an XTi briefly, but I bought used and the unit was dinged and dented quite a lot, and I couldn't stand that; so I resold it. I have since spent that money on lighting equipment. However, the XTi's display was very nice, and I liked the way the images came out on it; picture styles are great.
     
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #21
    "moire" is a trade off with details. More filtering can solve the moire effect but you loose some sharpness. You can control the tradoff in many raw image converters that run on computers. Of course the camera has a built-in raw iage converters too. Some camera allow the user to control "sharpness" via a menu setting. So you always can have some control over the trade off but it may mean having to shoot in raw format.

    As for 6 vs 8 megapixels. Do the math and see just how much that effects the number of pixels per inch for a give print size. Pixels per inch in the final product is all that maters. It turns out the pixels per inch in proportional to the square root of the pixel count. So, while 8 sounds much bigger then 6. what matters is the square roots of 6 and 8 which are 2.45 and 2.83. The 0.38 difference seems small.
     
  22. jayb2000 macrumors 6502a

    jayb2000

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    #22
    Best thing to do is try them out in your hand and what feels good.

    First, try to narrow down some by price checks:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...ac=&fi=all&pn=1&ci=6222&cmpsrch=&cltp=&clsgr=

    B&H is a good vendor and good prices. If you see something more than 10% cheaper thatn B&H, its probably a scam.

    I would vote for the DSLR. The speed and build quality are much better, and you can always upgrade the body or lenses at some point.
     
  23. cube macrumors G5

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    May 10, 2004
    #23
    Pentax K100D Super kit is out of stock at B&H. No wonder, as it's only $400 after rebate.
    At Beach Camera it costs $450 AR.
     
  24. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #24
    The other part to this is - everyone thinks about the total pixel count, but somehow many people miss the fact that their photographic technique may very well not be allowing them to capture even 6MP worth of detail. Not to mention that the lowest-end lenses many people are buying probably don't have the resolving power to take advantage of a high-density sensor, even with perfect technique. Additionally, physics sometimes comes into play - many photographers don't know about how diffraction at smaller apertures can affect their captured resolution (e.g. do you ever shoot below f/13?).

    It doesn't matter one whit if your sensor is 6MP or 8MP or 10MP (or 21MP), if what's being captured doesn't have the detail to match.

    I suspect most peoples' hand-held shots with consumer lenses are probably not even pushing the limits of a 6MP sensor.
     
  25. Dave00 macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Two questions you need to answer first and foremost:
    (1) Where are you going to be shooting?
    (2) What is your intended method of display?

    My uncle has a studio he's constructed in his house. The prints he creates from his photos of his grand-daughter are stunning, with nuanced colors and fine detail. Of course, he uses a DSLR.

    For myself, in contrast - most of my shots are "in the field". Either at someone's house, or on one of my travels, or some event. My output of choice is movies that I create with iMovie/iDVD. I could never survive with DSLR, because I wouldn't have it with me for half the shots I take. Also, since my method of recording an event involves both movies and still-frames, a P&S is much more convenient. Slide a dial, now you're filming. Slide a dial, now you're taking shots. For prints, my shots look absolutely second-rate compared with my uncle's. More grain, less detail, frustrating things like purple fringing. But it's worth it for what I do.

    For the OP, it sounded like a big issue was shutter lag. Shutter lag (the time between pressing the shutter and actually shooting the picture) has gotten MUCH better on P&S cameras in the past few years. Nothing worse than seeing a great candid and missing it by half a second. Most newer P&S's are pretty good about shutter lag. My personal favorites are the Fuji F30 and Canon SD700IS. The Fuji is great for high-ISO use, although you do get a bit of watercolor effect.

    Dave
     

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