Which SLR? Sony Alpha, Nikon D80 or Canon Xti?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Silverbird0000, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. Silverbird0000 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    #1
    I am so confused as to which SLR to get. I have never had one before but have always had SLR like cameras such as the Sony DSC-H5. I like that the Sony Alpha has image stabilization built into the camera, but is this necessary? Will a non stabilized lens and the Nikon or Canon be ok. Can I live without IS? Also my dad has an old Canon SLR and tons of lenses from the 70's. Will these lenses fit the Canon Xti? That would be great cause I would not have to buy additional lenses other than the kit lens! Of course since they are 30 years old they are not image stabilized. Has much else changed with the lenses since the 70's other than IS? If his old lenses will fit and I can do without IS then I will prob go with the Canon Xti. I have always had IS in my cameras, so i'm a little nervous about not having it cause I usually do handheld shots. Any help would be great!! Thanks.
     
  2. valiar macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #2
    See my post here in regard to choosing your first DSLR:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=340242&page=2

    Now, first of all, avoid the Alpha - for a few reasons. The body itself is not designed or built too well, and it has a thunderous mirror slap. Sony's dust reduction is a joke. There is no "better" body to upgrade to (yet). The choice of lenses is quite limited, and the ones that are available are more expensive than corresponding Canon/Nikon/Oly analogs.

    You father's 70s Canon lenses are FD mount manual focus lenses. They will not work with a modern EOS camera. I do not think that an adapter will be easily available, because EF and FD lenses have different registration distance.

    Having image stabilization is nice - but it is by no means a "must have" feature for most common shooting scenarios.

    As a rule of thumb, you need some kind of stabilization (IS, or a tripod) if you shoot with a shutter speed of 1/FL or slower (where FL=35mm equivalent effective focal length of your lens). If you shoot with a normal (50mm 35mm equiv) lens, you need to start worrying about shake if your shutter speed is 1/30s. With a 300mm telephoto you want to keep your shutter at 1/500 or faster.

    Of course, this is just a rule of thumb - other things come into play here. A well-designed SLR with a properly dampened mirror mechanism has a better chance of producing shake-free images than something like, say, the Alpha :D. A Leica M rangefinder camera (that has no mirror at all) with due care will allow you to shoot handheld under the conditions where you will need a tripod for any SLR.

    So, in essence, you will most appreciate IS if you want to shoot a lot with long lenses and no tripod under poor lighting conditions - but you can live without it just fine.

    If you want to have in-body IS, make sure to consider the Olympus E510. Not only the E510 has in-body IS - it also has an ultrasonic sensor-cleaning system that actually works, and it has live view. Also, should you want to upgrade from the kit lens, the "pro-grade" Zuiko Digital lenses are bagains in comparison to equivalent G or Zeiss T* Minolta/Sony, or Canon L lenses.

    And, of course, make sure to consider Canon and Nikon - though they don't offer anything with in-body IS, and they probably won't. They do sell some expensive IS lenses instead. Canons have great high ISO performance, and in general Canon and Nikon systems are the most comprehensive, and most... entrenched :) Both Canon and Nikon offer great upgrade paths.
     
  3. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    #3
    Canon and Nikon both make excellent cameras. My advice to you would be to try their bodies and see which you like best. If one company or the other makes a specific lens that you want, bear that in mind.
     
  4. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #4
    I'm going to go out on a limb here a bit....:eek: and slightly contradict a lot of common wisdom about picking a system... if that's what you're really picking in the first place... (rather than a good camera body for general use with enough lens options, etc to give you some room for growth.)

    I'm going to say that if you stick to Canon, Nikon, Olympus and perhaps Pentax brands... go for the ergonomics of how the cameras feel in your hands, and how natural the controls seem to you. They all have slightly different approaches to how controls are laid out, and how viewfinders are set up, and the design of the grips, etc., which can affect how rapidly you can respond to situations, and make decisions concerning exposure, bracketing, ISO, depth-of-field, exp. compensation, metering, focus, and other variables. Personally, even though I shoot Nikon now (D50) and have gotten used to it, most of my experience has been with the Canon EOS system (35mm) and the controls became second nature to me, almost like an extension of my vision - easy to be in control, change things on the fly. The philosophy of design is different with Nikon, so it has been more of a learned thing with me, but not as natural - but that's just me. With you it could easily be the opposite. My whole point is: I think the ergonomics of the design/construction of the camera bodies is being downplayed too much in this forum (not this thread...at least so far,) because seriously good glass is available for all the brands. How the cameras feel/respond in your hand is a personal thing, and the largest difference between them, in my opinion (short of specialized professional needs, of course,) rather than image/lens quality. I'd bet most folks couldn't really tell which brand camera created which image, or what brand lens was used, but hopefully the photographer wasn't struggling with a body that didn't really feel intuitive to him. It's like shoes - you want them to be comfortable so you don't have to think about them. It makes the work you're doing easier and more enjoyable... :)

    I'm sure I'll get 98% disagreement on this, but give it some thought. There are good points to be made on choosing the glass, but don't ignore the "fit."

    cheers.
     
  5. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Location:
    Nassau, Bahamas
    #5
    Honestly, I agree with you. When I bought my D40x I was choosing between Nikon and Canon. I ignored Pentax mainly due to the ease of purchasing accessories with the "big two", borrowing lenses etc. Both Nikon and Canon make excellent glass and excellent cameras. If one really was better than another then they'd put the other out of business. Essentially, you can't go wrong with either brand. I loved the feel of the 30D and 5D in my hands, but of course I couldn't afford a prosumer camera right away. My choice in Canon therefore was the XT or the XTi... both of which felt horrible in my hands. The D40/x and the D80 (as well as the D50 and D70) felt like they were made for my hands. This made my decision easy. I had no old glass, or access to old glass. I buying into a system with no worries either way, and part of what sold me on Nikon was the ergonomics. Don't ignore that.
     
  6. valiar macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #6
    I would like to second (third?) the ergonomic argument.

    If you can operate the camera quickly without too much fiddling, it can be a difference between taking the shot or missing the event altogether.

    I use an Olympus E1, and it has perfect (for me) ergonomics and controls... It has been discontinued, and I am waiting for the next Oly pro body to upgrade. Their current consumer offerings do not cut it for me precisely in the area of ergonomics and camera operation.

    Oh, and I could never make myself love the feel of EOS cameras. They are just not made for me, I guess...

    So it is definitely important to try the cameras you are considering yourself - and see what "fits" and what does not.
     
  7. form macrumors regular

    form

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    in a country
    #7
    Most people pick Nikon for the more user friendly interface and/or better build quality. I picked Canon because it had 8mp and the sensor was 1/3 stop more sensitive at the same setting, back when the XT was modern. I needed high ISOs and it performed well. The sensitivity gain is no longer true with the Rebel XTi, but the picture styles and autofocus system are very attractive to me. An experienced photographer once told me that if he had the choice again, he'd have picked Canon instead of Nikon because the autofocus is faster on Canon.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    Here is the #1 thing you need to know:

    You will buy some SLR, call it "Brand X". Then you buy a second Brand X lens and then a Brand X strobe and then a third lens.

    Later maybe in 3 or 4 years you need to upgrade or replace the SLR body. You have this investment in three lense and a strobe so it's a no-brainer which brand of SLR body to get. This cycle will continue forever. Breaking the cycle is neither inexpensive nor painless.

    So whatever camera body you buy today will determine what you buy in 5, 10 and 15 years. So look not at the features on the body but at the company and decide which company you like because you will be stuck with them. Some day you might have kids and their dad will have all this SLR stuff and they will want to buy an SLR body and will select the brand you bought in 2007.

    Plan out what lenses you want now in a few years and thing the entire system though. Lok at the used market too. Nikon and canon have a robust used market. Take advantage of it.

    OK now back to your dad's 30 year old equipment. Canon basically screwed all their loyal customers when they came out with their current line of autofocus camera. Their "EOS" lens mount obsoleted all old lenses. Youcan not use old manual lenses with any (film or digital) EOS camera. They don't come even close to fitting

    Nikon and Pentax were a bit nicer to their users and kept the old mount. Lenses interchange and work to varrying degree. For example I use a 30 year old manual macro lens with my Nikon D50. It does not meter or autofocus but I don'e need that for macro work.

    Sony? Will they even be making dSLR cameras in 10 years? They have no history so we don't know. The others we know are commited to this market and have been for over 50 years. I would not invest in Sony equipment not untill they have a few decades of history and show commitment to SLR cameras

    About "IS" (or "VR" i nikon-speak) It is useful in some cases but is not a real substitute for a fast lens. Do you need it? Of course not but as I said It is useful in some cases.

    Go to the library can look at some photographic picture books and you will see that the best images ever made were mostly made on film with cameras that don't even have a place to put in a battery. I guarantee you that if you make every shot from a tripod and used a hand held meter your percentage of "keepers" would raise dramatically even if the total number of frames shot would plummet. Why say all this? to point out that while you might think you need IS and dust removal and TTL flash and so on, you don't. They are fun to have but the number of good photos you make does not depend on any of that. What matters is your ability to visualize the final print then go out and make the photograph. The people who can do that "win".

    So... (1) Pick a company that you like and that you will continue to like for decades, (2) pick out some lenses and don't forget to shop in the used markets, (3) buy an SLR to fit the lenses.

    And Fords are faster than Toyota.

    These kinds of general statements are just silly. Each company makes a large product line. In order to say which has faster AF you have to compare a specific body/lens combination and another specific body/lens and then if you were to swap lenses the winner might be the other company.

    For a while Canon did hold exclusive rights to the in-lens ultra sonic motor but it's been years since that expired.

    The other logical error people make in the nikon v. camon debate is to point to what the pros use on the side lines of foot ball games. It's about 80% canon. All this says is that Canon makes a nicer $8,000 camera system for sports then Nikon's $8,000 system. It's like saying "Corvetts are really fast so I will buy a GM car".

    This is what you should look for a company that has a history of making stuff you like and then buy whatever their current model is. Olympus has been in this business for over 50 years and has developed a certain style of compact and sturdy equipment. Nikon's reputation is for being very conservative and making small incremental changes and keeping with what works. Canon has the reputation for pushing the latet technology.
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #9
    Out of those 3 cameras....the Nikon D80. Get the Sony Alpha if you want built-in shake reduction (because lets face it....it is a valuable feature for anyone who knows he won't spend $800+ dollars on lenses), but the Nikon D80 is best overall, I think.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    So first of all, don't let others confuse you with stuff like 5 % less noise or faster autofocus this or that, it doesn't matter if you are just getting into (d)slrs. No matter what camera you get, you won't be able to put your old lenses to good use.

    Secondly, go to a store and try all of these three cameras. Really try the ergonomics of the camera and try not to listen to the salesman rattling about megapixels this or feature that. All dslrs that are currently on sale have good image quality and you can get very good lenses for them, especially if you are willing to pay a premium. Get the camera that you prefer.

    Don't hesitate to ask the clerk to give you a smaller and a bigger model as well, e. g. try the Nikon D200, the D80 and the D40X, ditto for Canon. Then you can appreciate the different sizes and who knows, maybe you prefer a smaller dslr (e. g. the D40X to the D80).

    Personally, I own a Nikon D80 and I'm very, very happy with it.
     
  11. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    Joined:
    May 7, 2004
    Location:
    Sod off
    #11
    From what little I know about DSLR cameras, it seems to me that there really isn't much to seperate the entry-level DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax - any of the four will be good choices with a good upgrade path. Sony's DSLR I know little about, other than the fact that it is based on a Konica Minolta design and can use Minolta lenses.

    I chose Canon because I had a little familiarity with Canon SLR & DSLR cameras, so the learning curve was not as steep. But I was pretty impressed by the Pentax K100D and Nikon D40x, and probably would not have regretted purchasing either over my new Canon.

    As a beginner myself, I suggest that you worry less about which brand is "better" - all of them are good enough. Concentrate more on which specific features are most important to you and then buy the camera system that best represents those.
     
  12. M@lew macrumors 68000

    M@lew

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #12
    As pretty much said, the D80 is the best camera out of the ones you said. BUT look at the lenses you want. No point wanting the Canon EF-S 17-55 lens and getting the Sony Alpha and vice versa.
     
  13. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #13
    Have you considered a Panasonic DMC-L1? It is under $1000 now and comes with a lens worth $1200 on its own. The L2 may very well be announced on August 31st as well. As a Digilux 3 user, I can wholeheartedly recommend this camera.
     
  14. disdat macrumors regular

    disdat

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Location:
    New England USA
    #14
    This is exactly how I looked at it.

    I was torn between the Nikon D80 and the Canon XTi. I loved the D80, but I have plans for a new macro lens soon, and additional cost of $300 for the Nikon 105mm macro (VR) lens vs the Canon 100mm macro was the clincher.

    The D80 camera body was an additional $300, add that to the lens cost, I would be spending $600 extra for the Nikon.

    In the end, I chose the XTi, and I am very happy.

    If you don't see any difference in lens cost (for the lenses you desire) then go for the D80. With whichever you choose, I don't think you will be unhappy though.

    If you want to see my train of thought on my choice, I blogged it:
    http://splashofstyle.com/archives/2007/08/03/d80-vs-xti-vs-xt-vs-d40/
     
  15. Silverbird0000 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    #15
    Thank you so much, you were so helpful!!! I was so confused about my dads old lenses... A sales guy at Circuit city told me they would work, but I some how did not believe him. Thank you so much for clearing this up!! I will definitely look into the Olympus too!


    Wow, I never looked at it like that! I never looked at it like an investment in that brand for the rest of my life. That really helped me out alot!! I'm going to totally re think my approach to picking a camera now! I hope that the day that my future kids get into photography that my lenses from now will fit there future camera, unlike me, with my dads old lenses. I never thought about used markets for lenses either. Are they usually good? What if you get it and it's scratched or something? What are the best places to look for used lenses?

    So are you saying that you would have rather gone with the D80 than the Xti?
     
  16. Silverbird0000 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    #16
    What about the D40x?

    So i've added another possibility to my original post. What about the Nikon D40x? I does not have auto focus with out a lens, where the D80 does. Aren't most lenses AF anyway? Should I even consider the D40x? I could get the D40x and more lenses initially, or get the D80 with just the kit lens or maybe one more. Broadwayphoto.com has some great deals, and some of the SLR's come with two lenses, the kit and and additional tele lens. Is Broadwayphoto a good place to buy? As you can see, i'm kinda nervous about my first SLR purchase. I am very happy with my DSC-H5, but I think I have maxed out it capabilities.
     
  17. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #17
    Well, un/fortunately lens technology is constantly progressing, and so your kids will be in a similar position most likely.

    1st party lenses (i.e. Nikon's "Nikkor", or Canon's line, NOT sigma/tamron/etc.) can recoup up to 80% at resale... and are still useful even 20 years from original production. I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I can buy new–other forum members will be more helpful, although when I was looking into used I checked out http://www.adorama.com and eBay alot (although eBay is probably a mixed bag...)
     
  18. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #18
    (copy edited)

    The D40x does not have a built in auto-focus motor. This means that any Nikon lens that is not AF-S (their silent-wave motor) or, in older versions, IF (internal focus) will not have an operable autofocus. As you might imagine, AF-S lenses cost more (but focus faster) than lenses which rely on the camera's motor. Personally, I'd go for the D80 because I don't like to be limited. But if you think that you'll be going for high-end lenses anyway, you won't miss anything with the D40(x).
     
  19. JDN macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Lund Sweden {London England}
    #19
    If you want to see what one person can do with a D40 flick through the Pic Of The Day Thread and look at Freebooter's photos. In the right hands it can take magnificent photos.
     
  20. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #20
    One last yelp for you to have a look at the Panny L1. Leica lenses are quite extraordinary if they suit your tastes and the kit Leica lens is great - very contrasty with a nice range (28-110 35mm equivalent) and good speed (2.8).

    The L1 is a great bargain at the moment at less than $1000 which represents a discount on the lens with a body included free. For less than a grand, you can get established with a Leica lens system that will serve you well into the future. Just a thought.

    Canons and Nikons are fantastic lines, no doubt about that, but Leica glass, if it suits your taste, is very much in a universe of its own, producing quite different results from either Nikon or Canon glass.
     
  21. Hero33 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Makati, Philippines
    #21
    I've got a Canon 30D.

    If it were between the D80 and the 30D I'd pick the 30D.

    D80 vs. the 400D (Xti) i'd choose the D80. Though the d80 may be the more direct competitor of the Xti.

    Xti just too small for my hands. Try it out for yourself.
     
  22. disdat macrumors regular

    disdat

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Location:
    New England USA
    #22
    Hello again,

    I was really really leaning toward the D80. It is a solid camera. In every single review I read comparing the two, the D80 won by far.

    I just had to bring myself down to earth and tell myself that I am never going to be a pro, so I needed to get the camera that would be the best, without breaking the bank.

    You sound like you might be younger than me, so if I were young (without mortgage, and a husband that also likes expensive toys) then I would go for the D80, but you won't be making the wrong decision if you choose the XTi. As I said, both have the power to make you happy.
     
  23. Le Big Mac macrumors 68020

    Le Big Mac

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #23
    While much of this post makes very good points, bear in mind that Sony bought up the Minolta (then Konica-Minolta) SLR/dSLR business and rebranded it. While Minolta was always the red-headed stepchild to Canon and Nikon, they had a lot of innovation over the years and produced a number of good products. Sony may run it into the ground, but I doubt it. Sony made a significant investment rather than trying to enter alone, and I suspect they will continue to make efforts.

    That all said, Sony has been very slow in introducing new models. In fact, it has only the one model it introduced after the purchase and loyal Minolta types (myself included) are getting a bit like loyal mac users when no updates have come for a long period.
     
  24. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #24
    Broadwayphoto.com is probably one of many Infinity/Infiniti/Broadway scams.

    Out of the cameras, you initially listed, I would select the D80 quickly.

    The D40x is a reasonable choice and, in a way I think they've done people a favour by keeping them away from older lenses but the D80 is a better camera overall. After all, you choose a brand like Nikon for the choices. At these price points, if you want value, you choose Pentax or Olympus.
     
  25. Silverbird0000 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    #25
    Why do you say Broadwayphoto.com is a scam? I really would like to know about them before I dump hundreds maybe a thousand dollars on their website.
     

Share This Page