Ergonomics above all?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by srt4cane, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. srt4cane macrumors member

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    #1
    Ok guys, i'm in a bit of a pickle. I'd call myself an amateur photographer, having taken thousands of pictures thus far and turning out some pretty good ones. I'd like to move up to the DSLR bracket and am between two: the Nikon D40x and the Canon Xti.

    I was about to order the Xti today, but decided to go directly to the store and feel them out first. Plain and simple, the Nikon felt MUCH more natural in my hand than the Canon. I had to cram my pinky under the Xti's grip in order to hold it in one hand. I'm not sure if it was just the security attachment that gave it such an awkward feel, because I can't imagine anyone being comfortable holding it.

    On the other hand, the Xti has so many more features than the D40x and is similarly priced. A huge detractor of the D40x is that it lacks an internal focus motor and finding lenses that work with it is proving to be difficult and expensive.

    I really like Canon's system, the looks of the camera, their lense selection, etc. However, should i sacrifice a little ergonomics to go with (in my personal taste) the brand that suits me best?

    Thanks
     
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #2
    What's the difference in price between a D80 and D40x, or D80 and XTi??


    I don't know what advice to give you. I'm a pretty simple guy in terms of what I need from a camera. I don't know what you mean by features. Can you give me examples of what you consider "features"? Also, which features do the D40x cameras lack?

    There are no features missing from either the Nikon D40X or XTi that I would need, personally. To me, the only difference between any 2 camera bodies is how quickly I can change settings (most likely a tie between the two cameras), the viewfinder (D40x wins handily), and the AF system (the XTi has more AF points, but I don't know if they're cross type. I don't believe either camera has cross-type...).

    All other features, like Live View (which both cameras lack), a high continuous shooting rate (ie: high frames per second), anti-dusk sensor shake, and that little sensor under the viewfinder eyepiece that senses whether a person is looking through the viewfinder are either unnecessary for my shooting, or gimmicks to me.

    To me, the image quality from of these particular cameras is going to be exactly the same at all ISO. It's certainly better than the competition. And if I understand you correctly, the things I consider "features" are essentially the same. Neither camera body is that fast to use, so that's a tie.

    I'd just get the camera that feels better. Ergonomics is an underrated "feature" of DSLRs, IMO. You need to pick up the camera every time you take a photo, so you may as well get what's comfortable. Same mindset can be used when you buy a car.
     
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #3
    I'm with Abstract: 'features' can be a bit of a red herring. I mean, how many 'programme' modes are necessary to do the relatively simple job of reading the available light and choosing the appropriate aperture/shutter speed combination? Choosing your first DSLR is like Catch 22: you don't know what 'features' are genuinely useful until you've used a camera for a few months. But you don't get to use a camera for a few months until you actually decide which one to buy... :)

    Ergonomics are important to me in that I want the camera controls to become so familiar that the camera almost 'disappears'. I have a Nikon D200, and I can't think of anything that seems difficult or out of place. When I bought the camera, I never imagined I'd use auto-bracketing. But I do (some HDR, mostly for interior shots).

    I'm sure either camera would serve you well. When people recommend cameras, it's generally just to say they're happy with the one they've got. I kept my film cameras for 20 years; if digital hadn't happened, I probably would have kept them for 20 more. But the mindset is different now. Pick a system that feels right for you in the expectation that you will probably be looking to replace the camera body in, say, three years. I'm not convinced that DSLR cameras are built to take the knocks, like my old metal-bodied cameras were.

    The second time around, you'll be pretty much an expert in all things digital, and you'll be able to make your own shopping list of 'features' that your next camera body should have. In the meantime you'll have taken a few thousand terrific pictures...
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #4
    They're both great cameras, they both take great pictures. Only you can really decide how important ergonomics are. If there's a specific lens you're lusting after long-term that one manufacturer doesn't offer, then you've got a difficult choice if it's a Canon lens- otherwise personally I'd say go with the one that feels right if you're going to shoot for extended periods of time with it. Otherwise, look at kit lens differences or flip a coin- you'll get good shots with either camera system.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #5
    The main feature the D40 lacks is a focus motor which means that none of the Nikon brand primes will auto focus on the d40. That alone, to me is a deal breaker. I have a D50 but if I was buying today I'd have to go with the D80.

    When choosing you have to look ahead a few years. Eventually you will replace the DSLR body and collect a few lenses. Don't look at just two entry level bodies, those are the cheapest part of the system and the first part you will replace. Pick the company that you want to stay with for the next 10 or 20 years.

    Look at the D80. It's advantage is that it can use more older used lenses. Even at a higher cost for the D80 body the total system price can be better. For example if yu like the 80-200 f/2.8 zoom the older non af-s model is available used for maybe $600 but if you bought the d40 you'd be forced to pay about $800 _more_ for the 70-200 lens that would work with a d40.

    Don't worry to much about camera features. The features that matter are the flash sync speed and how good the built in light meter is. The Nikon "color" meter is like magic. near perfect. Even gets snow scenes right. I think Nikon has better flash metering too But Canon is good too. Both are far better then you need. I've done my best work using manual camera and hand held meters
     
  6. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #6
    They seem to be roughly comparable to me, but I've used neither. The Canon probably has a better autofocus system than the Nikon, but I am not too familiar with Canon. CMOS sensors are generally better than CCD sensors too. Both are entry level bodies, and both are capable of taking excellent photographs, so I wouldn't get too attached to the body specs. You will eventually make a commitment to one manufacturers system through buying lenses, flashes, and other items, so evaluate the manufacturer in the context of their system.

    FWIW, Nikon has been aggressively updating their consumer lenses, so finding moderately priced AF-S lenses is easy. It's people like me looking for professional-grade AF-S lenses who are being left out in the cold...
     
  7. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #7
    As others have suggested, a recommendation can merely be defending a choice that I have already made. While every time I pick up a Nikon, Im impressed with the cameras feel, Im still happy with my Rebel XTi and I very used to the cameras feel by now. Id suggest thinking out the lenses you are likely to buy in the next 5 years or so as part of your decision making process. If its pretty unlikely that youd be buying a lot of primes, then maybe the lack of the internal motor isnt a big deal. If you think that in 5 years or so youd upgrade to the 40D level camera and love Canons glass, then thats another point for Canon.

    As others would probably recommend, if you decide on the Nikon route, consider the D40 strongly and spend the extra money on better lenses or a flash.
     
  8. Regis27 macrumors member

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    #8
    20d

    I would recommend taking a look at the Canon 20D. They're in the $500-$600 range right now, and have the features of the XTi and ergonomics of the d40.
     
  9. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #9
    I am in the market, early stages, for a dSLR camera, i view the XTi as a good way to get in with a decent camera where i can same some $$ which can be invested in quality lenses early on. Then each time i pick up the XTi it feels way to small in my hands and my right hand feels cramped with the grip.

    I borrowed my friends 30D when i was in Australia in Sept. and loved using it. Although maybe a little extra weight the feel of the camera is much better to me.

    Nothing like trying to make the decision on which camera body to buy :)

    Second opinion from the masses... if you get the XTi, then decide to up for a 40D later on or whatever the model of the time is, you will hopefully have great lenses AND a very respectable backup body for just in case? (replace the Canon models with the appropriate nikon ones..i am just not familiar with them)
     
  10. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #10
    The internal focus motor, for me, would be a deal breaker on the D40x if I were looking at Nikon cameras. But if you're finding the XTi (400D) too small for you, you'll be unhappy with it in the long term - the camera has to feel good in your hands; if it's uncomfortable, you'll not use it.

    I'll echo advice that's already been spoken here and expand on it a bit. Ask to hold the Canon EOS 40D at the shop. If it feels good, I'd strongly suggest the 20D as an option (bought second hand, the price has come down heaps from what it was new, and it's still an excellent camera - when I upgrade from mine, it'll be to a 5D, not the 40D.) The moulding of the two cameras is very similar - enough so that if the 40D feels okay, the 20D should too.

    Nikon has some good products too - you might find that you can pick up a camera with an internal focus motor on the second hand market for a reasonable price, and if that works financially, by all means go for it. I can't comment much on Nikon's offerings, being a Canon shooter, but I will say that there's not much between the two companies. Go with what feels right to you.
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Both cameras have similar image quality and have a comparable feature set. You can and should base your decision in large part on the ergonomics. (That's why I shoot with Nikons, too.)
     
  12. cube macrumors G5

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    #12
    "Feature" of XTi: it's crippled by lack of sport metering, which all Nikon DSLRs have.
     
  13. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #13
    That's spot metering. And crippled is too severe a word. These are both entry level cameras. My guess would be that 90% of their users rarely leave the auto or program modes. Those that want more creative control and have the budget to accommodate it sooner or later upgrade to more capable models.
     
  14. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #14
    And the D40x is crippled by a lack of exposure bracketing and inability to record RAW+JPEG fine, and it has no depth of field preview! ISO and white balance are burried in menus...

    The fact of the mater is, each camera has its advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to read up, try them out, and make an informed decision.
     
  15. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #15
    I've turned that feature off in my D2X - it just wastes storage space and slows things down during continuous shooting sequences. I used to use the jpegs to generate proofs for preliminary review, but now that Lightroom has become central to my workflow, I no longer do that.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    What complete and utter *bunk*. High quality imaging applications use CCD sensors almost every single time, especially if long exposures are involved. Medium format CMOS cameras? Nope, they're pretty much all CCD. While CMOS sensors have closed the quality gap in recent years and they aren't any longer significantly worse than CCD sensors they're not "generally" better. The are "generally" cheaper.

    http://www.dalsa.com/shared/content/pdfs/CCD_vs_CMOS_Litwiller_2005.pdf
    http://www.ifp.uni-stuttgart.de/publications/phowo01/blanc.pdf

    1. The OP isn't likely to be spending thousands of dollars on a lens for their first DSLR.

    2. Nikon's position is probably that they've got most things pretty-well covered in terms of AF-S lenses:

    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED
    AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
    AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED
    AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED
    AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mmf/2.8G ED
    AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED
    AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED
    AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
    AF-S VR NIKKOR 200mm f/2G IF-ED
    AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED
    AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4D IF-ED
    AF-S VR NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED
    AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8D IF-ED II
    AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR
    AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4D IF-ED II
    AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR
    AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4D IF-ED II
    AF-S NIKKOR 600mmf/4G ED VR

    That's pretty-much consistent coverage from 12mm to 400mm in "professional" AF-S lenses.

    (There's no telling what their position is on primes below 105mm, and you could argue about the 12-24mm, but it's likely due for an update relatively soon anyway- personally I prefer the Sigma 10-20mm.)

    3. If you're looking solely for professional lenses, you're probably *not* the correct target audience for a D40x, Nikon still makes a lot of professional AF-D lenses which focus just fine on their professional and semi-pro bodies.
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    I wouldn't worry about the lack of internal motor.

    From everything that I have read, wide fast prime lenses are a priority of Nikon's at the moment. Other than those lenses, the 50 mm, and the 85 mm f/1.4 and f/1.8, is there anything in the Nikon lineup that's obviously outdated by not having AF-S?? Not really. They also need a 300 mm f/4 lens, and a 70-200 mm f/4, which does make Canon look very tempting from a consumer's point of view, IMO.

    Just wait. Chances are good that Nikon will introduce some new updated lenses in 3-4 months at the next big show.
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    They have a 300/4. I think on the consumer side they're relying on the 18-$foo ultrazooms (and probably rightfully so.) I have yet to look at the $foo-70's on the pro side for image quality against the venerable 35-70, if they stack up though that's the only other staple lens that's still AF-D.
     
  19. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #19
    Harsh

    Lower power consumption too. The advantage is slight and in many cases only a potential advantage. This is an interesting article on sensors in photographic applications: http://www.bythom.com/ccds.htm

    I know that. That's why I stated that the OP's needs were covered by Nikon's recent lens releases.

    My needs are different and mostly involve freshened primes.
     
  20. cube macrumors G5

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    #20
    If you are in USA:

    http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20278451.html

    It says "with accessories". Call to check what is included. This is important so as not to end up paying as much as for a new camera.
    Note that no lens is included.

    The SKU seems to indicate and US model, but I would verify.

    If BGLOD happens, Nikon fixes the camera for free even after the warranty has expired, at least in USA and some other countries, and maybe only if it is not a grey import.

    Don't worry about megapixels.
     
  21. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #21
    I would choose the camera body that has the features I need and feels right in my hands, regardless of which brand... good lenses are available for either system.
     
  22. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #22
    Well, no, there are very few prime lenses (except very long telephoto ones) that can autofocus with the Nikon D40 or D40x.
     
  23. cube macrumors G5

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    #23
    That's one of the reasons why it's preferable to but a used D70 than a D40x.
     
  24. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #24
    Well, no, there are very few prime lenses (except very long telephoto ones) that can autofocus with the Nikon D40 or D40x.
     
  25. srt4cane thread starter macrumors member

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    #25
    wow guys thankyou so much for all the replies! What i'm most concerned about with the Nikon is that the AF-S lenses get to be a little pricey. I already have a few types of lenses in mind and know what kind of photography i want to shoot:
    1- A fisheye lense- I just love the effect and have had alot of fun using them in the past with friends' cameras.
    2- A macro lense
    3- A nice general use lense, maybe a 28-135 mm?

    Would anyone be able to suggest one of each type of lense from both Nikon and Canon?

    As far as features not included in the D40x, the main ones i can think of are lack of depth of field preview, 9 point AF, self cleaning sensor, and display off proximity sensor (turns off lcd when you raise the camera to your eye). I don't know how much of the first two will make a difference to me personally, but the last two seem like they are very convenient.
     

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