Ready to buy my DSLR... insight on options needed

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jimbo Slice, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. Jimbo Slice macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Oakville, ON
    Ok so I've been doing lots of reading around this forum, other forums and magazine reviews over the past few months all building up to now to try and decide what DSLR I would like to invest in.
    I have thus narrowed my options down to the following: -
    Canon Rebel XSi
    Canon 40D
    Nikon D80
    Nikon D90

    Now I've seen endless threads on this forum that end up being a Canon vs Nikon fanboy flame war and that is what I am trying to avoid here. A lot of you guys have great knowledge and experience with the above cameras so I'd like your insight.

    From what I've read, the D90 has superb image quality, sharpness and low light performance, my only issue with it is the price and the possibility that Nikon in other countries won't honor my warranty if I migrate (a friend who lived in NY, bought his D80 there and moved to Canada said Nikon Canada wouldn't service his D80 when he had issues with the sensor) which I may do within a year or two.

    The XSi has great quality too but when shooting in JPG the images are noticeably softened and this bugs me as I really like my images to be sharp but the pricepoint is a lot nicer than the D90 plus Canon's support seems to be internationally consistent.

    The D80 is like a D90 with less features and older technology but still excellent and at a decent price point and the 40D seems to be an excellent camera as well that doesn't suffer from the issues that the XSi does but its in the D90 price vicinity.

    Would you guys say that good glass is priced in the same range regardless of Canon or Nikon or is good Canon glass cheaper than good Nikon glass?

    Any help or wisdom offered is more than welcome, thanks so much for reading this long post, I truly appreciate it.
  2. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    It's nice to see that you've done a good chunk of research, and you're not blindly buying. It's quite refreshing. ;)

    All four cameras listed are fantastic and will all probably serve you wonderfully. However, all of them have to be attached to good glass to maximize IQ potential. First of all, what're you planning to shoot? If you shot, for example, outdoor sports, I would recommend a 40D, along with a 70-200 f/4 (a lens that I'm not quite sure Nikon has a direct competitor for, as far as I know they only have f/2.8s. Please correct me if I'm wrong.). The bulk of the higher-up models like the 40D and D80/90 may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what size you're aiming for.

    If I had the choice between the four, I would go with the XSi or D80, but I don't shoot sports so a 4.5 or 6 FPS shooting rate isn't that important to me. Getting the less expensive body allows more money to spend on great lenses, which will be a lasting investment and not be cycled out even as close to as often as a body.

    On the subject of XSi jpegs being soft, you can always turn up the sharpening in-camera, or shoot RAW and prevent everyone here from pouncing on you. :p

    I'm not totally familiar with Nikon's brand of lenses, so I can't quite comment with a ton of authority on those but Canon's brand of glass fits me fairly well for what I want to do/have been doing. Once again though, I don't know what you shoot so I can't comment on your situation between the brands. Most people will agree with me when I say that photography is an expensive hobby, though, no matter what brand you choose! The lowest possible admission price to joining the club of L-lens owners is around $600, for the 70-200 f/4L. :eek: Chances are, you'll always have something on your photography shopping list. A good lens or two, a flash, a tripod... it goes on and on!

    I hope I've helped at least a little bit. Good luck!
  3. Kiwi Mac macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2009
    The whole warranty thing is appalling; I am a professional photographer and my Nikon D3's will only be repaired under warranty in the country I bought them in, which I think is pants.

    After warranty expires, you should not have any issues as they will charge you wherever you are. So - only a problem if you are one of the lucky few who get 5 year warranties, rather than the 12 months we get in New Zealand!

    I also would hesitate to use the word 'invest' in relation to DSLRS. Essentially, they are camera-shaped computers and like computers, 5 years down the track they will be paperweights.

    What you are investing in is the glass. For example, almost every Nikon lens made since 1977 will work on their pro and prosumer bodies. I regularly use a 15 year old 18mm on a D3.

    IMHO, Nikon lenses are the best in the world from a major player and you can buy them secure in the knowledge that, unlike Canon, they probably will retain the backwards compatibility. Canon changed their mount in the mid 80's and lenses made before that do not work properly (or at all perhaps) with bodies made after that date.

    I think that the D90 is a great camera. You will find helpful reviews on Ken Rockwell's site, although his style sometimes grates!

    When I tell you that my Nikkor lenses would cost about $35,000 to replace, you will see that having lenses that you can continue to use with the newest bodies as they appear is quite important after a while!
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You are wrong about that. The N90 can't do anything.

    You are going to need a lens. Which lens you get will determine if you can shoot in low light and if the images will be sharp or not. All the camera body can do is record the image that the lens produces.

    Pick the kit of lenses you like then buy the body that fits them. Choose a price point for the body such that you are not having to skimp or "make do" with a lesser kit of lenses. In other words spend as much on the body as you can but not so much that you have to reduce what you spend on the rest of the system. Which body you choose matters the least, every other part of the system matters more. Lighting matters more, lenses matter more.

    But the body does have to fit the lens. So if you like the Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 AFd you are going to need the D90 or D80 because the N40 lacks a focus motor.

    When you show some one a photo they will not know if you used a D40, D90 or a Canon but they will be able to guess the lens you used by looking at the image.
  5. butterfly0fdoom macrumors 6502a

    Oct 17, 2007
    Camp Snoopy
  6. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2007
    I think he meant the D90/D40. His point was that non AF-S lenses will not focus on cameras that don't have a lens motor (D40, D40x, D50).

    Has the OP considered a D200? You can get one for a steal at Best Buy ($599 for the body). linky-poo. (To see $599, you have to add it to your cart).

    I've upgraded Nikon bodies several times and the D200 has been one of my favorites. Of course it's a few generations back so high-ISO performance isn't phenomenal like with the D3/3X/300/700 and there is no live-view shooting, and no video. If you're looking for excellent build quality this is a great price.
  7. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    Consider the Pentax K20D, it's better value for money and offers unique features not included with those you have listed.

    Shake Reduction with any lens, weather sealing, superior construction and large bright viewfinder are some.

    You can pick up a Pentax f1.4 50mm for 2/5 the price of the equivalent Nikon for example, built in shake reduction also reduces the price on all Pentax lenses in regards to that.

    I know you ask Canon or Nikon, just offering an alternative that seams to fit that space quite well…
  8. Kiwi Mac macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2009
    Nikon AF-S lenses have ultrasonic motors in the lens itself and will focus on any modern Nikon DSLR.

    They will focus faster and more accurately, and in lower light, the more expensive the body.

    The AF lenses require the motor in the camera to drive the lens focus ring and again, the more expensive bodies have more powerful motors. AF lenses are slowly being phased out and replaced with AF-S G lenses.

    The D200 is good value as one poster said - although the D300 is a much better camera if you can spring for the bigger price.

    Other than that, go D90.
  9. Kiwi Mac macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2009
    "When you show some one a photo they will not know if you used a D40, D90 or a Canon but they will be able to guess the lens you used by looking at the image."

    This is nonsense. No one can tell what lens (other than it was "wide" or "Telephoto") was used just by looking at an image!!

    For example, it may be a cropped section of a larger image or shot on a smaller sensor camera using a full frame lens.
  10. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    Here we go again.... lol

    Well I can at least tell you one thing... Canon has a real fuss free Warranty system and Canon's presence is considerably larger in the World so it beats Nikon in at least and probably the only front!

    I'm a Canon guy and so my advice will obviously be the Canons.. get the XSi if photography is your hobby and you aim to perfect it with time! Get the 40D if you dont have any credit crunch.... beyond this I would recommend you to splurge more on glass if possible... the first thing you should consider adding to your kit should be a prime... the Canon 50mm 1.8 for $80 is the best lens on a bargain out there and the 1.4 is the perfect bokeh machine if you're in that area.. The 24mm and 85mm might interest you after this...
    As for zoom... imho Canon really doesnt have something real good and vfm out there for the fovcf cameras out there... so you might want to keep your 18-55 IS and get a 24-135 IS USM or get a Tamron 17-50 2.8..
  11. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    The D90 is the best body of the ones you listed, but they'll all take great photos with the right lenses and more importantly, the right photographer.

    My first lens purchase if I were a new DSLR owner buying a D90 would be the new Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G.
  12. Jimbo Slice thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Oakville, ON
    Thanks for all the responses, I think this is a great photography community!

    Your post was great help, thanks a lot man.
    I forgot to mention what I'll be shooting. Not sure if it'll be much help because of my hobbies it will be a variety of different things. I would like to do some sport shooting as I'm really into soccer and enjoy live matches a lot but I also do a lot of landscape (city/nature) shooting; I also love to do macro work on strange insects or creatures. Thanks for your insight on the fast telephoto zoom lens, thats why I came here, because I really don't know the range of glass available for either brand.

    LOL I know, shooting in jpg is pretty lame but to be honest if I shoot exclusively in RAW then I'll run out of HDD space so fast. Sometimes shooting in jpg is good for small events like a family dinner or something where I don't expect to have to do much processing after and I just want the shots. I'm doing this is a hobby, not as a profession right so I won't spend all my time processing images.

    Kiwi Mac, I use the term invest because I'll be dishing out a substantial amount of money for something that I plan to keep for at least 5 years as you aptly put it, something that will bring me much happiness and enjoyment so to me, it is an investment with the ROI just being measured in enjoyment and quality images being captured.

    I see what you're saying, sorry let me clarify. I'd be buying the DSLR with the kit lens which I will have to use for a few months until I save enough to get a good piece of glass. The D90 using the kit lens has amazing photo quality, IMO better than what I've seen on the XSi. What really impressed me with the D90 with the Nikon F4.5-5.6, 70 - 300 mm VR lens is this night shot taken from
    Even at 6400 ISO, you can even still read the us bank sign on the building, after reading many other reviews I haven't seen comparable performance in that area.

    I'm not too sure what glass I'll be investing just yet but I've realized now that I've been doing this all wrong, I guess I should have done my research on glass first and then researched what body to buy based on what glass I wanted lol. Damn, its just that there is so much glass out there, if it took me months to research bodies, it'll take me years to research glass lol and I miss shooting with a good camera so I want to get back into the hobby as soon as possible.

    ab2650, I was considering the D200 some time back but the pricepoint was substantially more than the D80, I guess I'll have to take a look and see if that has changed over the past few months but in any case I most likely won't buy my Nikon in the US as I won't get warranty coverage from Nikon Canada, which is where I currently live. Load of bollocks, that warranty business.

    TheReef, I remember reading the review on the K20D when it came out but a few of the comments turned me off, I like how feature filled it is for the low price but the reviewer noted that it had noisy low light performance, consistently underexposes, outdated UI and relatively slow burst rate. I will definitely go to a photo store and give it a whirl though, thanks for your suggestion. (BTW what good glass is available for Pentax?)

    Apple Ink, I don't have a credit crunch but I am a student who is currently without a part-time job so price is an issue. However I'll be using this for some time to come so I'd rather spend a few extra hundred and get something I'll be happy with for the next few year, rather than save a few hundred and get something with small niggling problems that will just bug me. Thanks for your input on lenses though.

    Ideally, I'd like to get a telephoto zoom lens, a wide angle and a macro lens for my insect work.
  13. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
    Personally I have the D90 with the 18-105VR and 70-300VR lenses, I love the combo and does pretty much everything I need except for low light, for low light situations I plan on investing in some primes firstly the new 35/1.8 once it is available. I may also look at something like the 70-200VR (the beast) if I end up doing a lot of indoor sports like basketball.

    Unless you really find a rare someone that has used all of the cameras you mentioned for an extended period all you are going to get as advice is from people that have read the same reviews you have mixed in with people chiming in about the one camera they own.

    It sounds like you have done your research though so I would say go with what your own choice is based upon your research, however I will recommend that you at least step in to a camera store and handle each camera before making a purchase as that could sway you one way or the other. I'm actually starting to form an opinion that body selection shouldn't be based on the glass but rather the ergonomics of the body itself, after all having the best glass is hardly going to matter if you hate using your camera due to the ergonomics of the body!
  14. Jimbo Slice thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Oakville, ON
    jaseone, I have been to a few Best Buy's, Future Shops and Henry's to mess around with the cameras but its hard to gain an idea of what its ike to use it in the real world by just messing around with it in the store, the ergonomics of all of my options are pretty good, the only camera's ergonomics I didn't like all that much was the Olympus E-420 because it just feels like its going to slip out of my hand lol.
    I was hoping that people who own the cameras that I'm looking at would give me good insight as they're actually living with it and would have information I might not read in a review.
  15. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    I'd strongly suggest the 40D with the excellent spot metering system an a Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro... the Macro lens is well renowned and used by most professionals. It has simply superb optics, lightning fast AF for a Macro lens and cutting sharpness... for telephoto I recommend the 70-300 IS USM or the 70-200 2.8L... the L is Canon's luxury range and pretty expensive but you usually dont walk into a zoom doing constant f/2.8 everyday do you!
  16. MacJenn macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2008
    The 40D is a decent body and while I'm not the biggest fan of the D90 (I own one), it is better than the 40D.

    One thing people quickly learn from this site is the Canon fanboys (post above is perfect example) are extreme and the Nikon lovers are quick to suggest someone get a Canon if that fits their style better.
  17. mikekelley macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2009
    What about a Rebel XS instead of the XSi - the extra features you get in the XSi are not really worth what you are paying. Spot metering and an extra 2 mp. Not worth 200 dollars in my opinion. And if you are a beginner, you probably don't need the extra 1.5 FPS in RAW.
  18. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    Golly, those Canon fanboys sound a lot like Apple fanboys. ;)

    (Canon shooter here, who recommended the D90 above.)
  19. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    Aah... I was just wondering the other day when we might meet again.. must be my bad day!

    Anyway let me ask you if you'd suggest a Dell over an Apple?!?

    Besides you yourself once suggested people should only suggest something that they 'own'!!

    LOL.. Alas I suggested the 40D OP.. You see Nikon can't use the 100mm or the 70-200 L lens.. If it were I'd have suggested the D90 LOL.
  20. MacJenn macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2008
    Wow you remember my comments from a long time ago. I'm either freaked out or impressed. I said people shouldn't say a product is bad if they have never genuinely used it (most people I think on the internet say they have used xxx product to make them look more credible).

    Using your analogy the Canon would be the Dell (cheap, plastic and can be bought at Walmart) and the Nikon is the Apple of the camera world. See we can play these tit for tat games all day, Canonboy. I, however, am quick to bash Nikon when they deserve it.

    The Nikon 70-200 VR is world class and Nikon's 105mm is awesome. We can debate all day which company makes better lenses, but it is all just opinion at the end of the day.

    I do find it funny when I visit the Canon sites and find many of their little fanbois have those fancy little signatures with the L in red and with italics. I guess whatever makes them feel special. Maybe insecurity does that to some people.
  21. Kiwi Mac macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2009
    The whole thing revolves around how much glass you will buy.

    I now have a large collection of Nikkor lenses which effectively tie me to Nikon bodies. If you intend to buy a big collection of lenses, this will be an issue. If just a few, not so much.

    Canon bodies are regarded - currently at least - as having worse ergonomics and poorer menus etc etc. At the top end, the low light performance of a Nikon D3 knocks anything Canon currently make into a cocked hat. I can produce useable images at over ISO25,000! An EOS 1D does not even go to half that.

    They tend to leapfrog though, so for example in the mid range the new EOS 5 Mk2 is probably better than the Nikon offerings at that price, at least in terms of image resolution etc. However, the next Nikon will probably beat it for a while etc etc.

    I always view Nikon as the equivalent of what Apple used to be - they make specialist equipment for choosy users. Canon make photocopiers, printers and all manner of other things which dilute their R&D budgets. Nikon make cameras, lenses, glass, microscopes and binoculars etc - a sort of Japanese Leica, if you like.

    Best advice I can give you after 20 years as a professional shooter? Go and play with all the ones you shortlisted in a GOOD dealer (not a stack em high dealer) and see how they feel in your hand and how you like the interaction with controls, weight, menus and what the images look like.

    Buy the one you like the best, screw the reviews and get out there and shoot images!

    There is an old saying in photojournalism - "How do you take great pictures? f8 and be there!"
  22. Jimbo Slice thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Oakville, ON
    I guess it was only a matter of time until brands started getting bashed lol.
    Today I went to Henry's used centre and saw a D200 for $599. Thats starting to look really nice to me, thanks for all the input everyone, I'm not a particularly indecisive person but this decision is taking me lots of time to make :eek:
  23. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
  24. Jimbo Slice thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    Oakville, ON
  25. Wingnut330 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2008
    Central Ohio - USA
    I have an XSi and love it. I will be upgrading to a 50D soon. If I had it to do over again I likely would have just started with a 40D (or now a 50D). It's an expensive jump so if money is an issue I would get and XSi and start shooting. It's a great camera, easy to use and would allow you to save for nicer lenses.

Share This Page