How to pick an amateur DSLR with these requirements?


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weishengg

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Jan 6, 2008
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#1
Hi,

I'm a newbie and decided to foray into DSLR because photography has always been my interest. Hope to be able to learn how to use a camera and pictures to tell a story or convey a mood.

Right now i'm looking for a DSLR with the following requirements, would appreciate some recommendations/comments from fellow Clubsnappers

- sufficiently compact and lightweight kit (including body+lens) that will encourage you to take the DSLR with you anywhere you go. i know size is subjective, but something ard the size of the nikon d300 is pretty big to me. sony alpha a-100 will be the maximum size i can tolerate. good photographic opportunities lurks everywhere, even when you least expect it, so this factor is really important to me.

- great range of manual controls over the image.
to me, image quality is of lesser priority compared to the power of control over the parameters of the image. I'm not a professional photographer and i dont intend to me one (its a tough tough job, i feel), and i also dont intend sell them for prints or whatsoever. all my images will just be for a personal archive, computer wallpaper, some bigger prints to decorate my room blah blah blah... just nice pictures (i hope they turn out nice!) to share with myself and my friends and whoever wants to see them.

- cheap enough for an amateur, but sufficient features that i wont outgrow the camera too soon. hope to use it happily for 2 or more years before considering an upgrade

- good performance for night photography. because i like to go out at night and shoot city lights =)

- how well it captures potrait shots dont really matter to me, as i dont think i have the courage to approach a stranger to ask if i could shoot him/her :p

- i definitely need a solution for a wide angle lens, as i would love to shoot landscapes of greens and mountains when i travel. hope the wide angle lens for that system wont be too $$$

- good ergonomics and grip. i played around with the olympus e410 before, and found the grip a bit unusual at the first impression. however many user reviews and online reviews mentioned that its just about getting used to it. can anyone comment on this? i also tend to have a bit of sweaty palm, would it affect my grip on the e410 significantly? cant risk dropping such a expensive investment!

- all other factors are less impt compared to what i have here



Right now looking at these requirements i've set for myself, i've narrowed down my search to the following cameras.

1) Nikon D40
not too sure if the savings of ~$120 compared to D40x is worth the 4mp, but i suppose 6mp is good enough for my purpose
however, i think AF-S and AF-I wide angle lenses are not easy to come by and are expensive right?
i like the punchy image output of this camera, but some commented it looked a little overprocess, and can be easily post-processed via RAW.
i also like the low noise at high iso settings. incredible for this pricepoint i feel!

2) Olympus E410
i really really like this camera and its features. its small, compact, very small lenses, but my only grip with it is well....the grip. worried how sweaty palms will hold onto the grip for longer hours.
also, i like the ~$1160 dual lens kit. pretty good value to me, might consider using the 40-150mm for a while before selling it off to get a wide angle lens.
high ISO performance is endurable for me, although not as good as the nikon i feel.

3) Sony Alpha A-100
the biggest of my choices, but still reasonable to me. however the kit lens is pretty long, so might be difficult to lug around.
love the features, packed full of them, but will this distract me from the essence of photography itself? that your always playing with DRO and SSS and forget about the importance of the composition and subject? probably not a problem with the pros, but i'm an amateur and i think i get distracted quite easily by the gears and equipment. as you can see, i'm probably already overcomparing all these cameras :p
however, personally i find the sony lens quite expensive, even compared to the nikon ones.
But the SSS could really be a winner if i wish to take some night photographs. Although the sony's poorer high iso performance could somehow mitigate this fact? any comments?


So right now, i'm having helluva time deciding between these 3 budget SLRS, any help would be greatly appreciated!!

thanks fellow clubsnappers =)
weisheng
 

zac08

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2005
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#2
All these cameras are good.

Have you tried them out in your hands yet?? Felt how they handle in your hands? The controls, how much you need to reach to change the settings?

After you've done that, then consider on the final amount you're willing to spend on it, remember to factor these in since you want to take those type of pictures.

A decent tripod (may cost as much as $300+ onwards)
Dry cabinet
Remote release cable
Filters for lanscapes (ND, CPL, etc)

Btw, if you're considering Nikon, do remember that you can still use AF lenses on the D40, just need to MF (manually focus) with it.. after-all, with landscape you got all the time to do it slowly.
 

ilario

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Dec 2, 2007
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#3
Good choices, i'd say of those 3 choices, nikon is good choice :) the bad thing is its limited compatibility with other nikon lens although i'm not too sure about this one. D40 better choice since lens is more important, can save the extra money from D40X to buy a better lens. If looking at olympus, E410 will be good if its cheap but at that price its not very nice, rather go for E510, more value. You may wanna consider canon 400D too, now you just have to do some homework: look at the accessories & lenses each manufacturer has to offer, then plan ahead which system to go to. Oh and take a look at the SONY forum, A200 is coming very soon :)
 

Oly5050

Senior Member
Feb 1, 2005
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#4
U really know what u want.

Let me be frank .... the Oly 410 will be the smallest and lightest SETUP that u will get. It will be a breeze to carry this camera around. It will give u a lot of control and will also give u live view. U willl probably take a lot of nice photos with the camera. However, I am not so sure if this is the best camera for night shots. For night, I think a powerful flash is necessary and may overwhelm or unbalance the small 410. If night is really important, I would suggest the E3 or buy the Zuiko 50 mm f 2 lens which is my most favourite and best lens.

When I first started, small and light was also a concern. Hence I got the 510 for its many innovative features in a small and light package. However, as time wore on, I realized that I could go bigger and now I have fallen in love with the E3. Compared to others, it is not that big, probably medium in size if u consider the 1D3S as large. It has great night capability and is one of the most ergonomically designed cameras. It has very good manual controls in addition to live view, tilt and swivel LCD screen, image stabilization, and dust reduction systems.


To me, the choice would be a 410, but will try to reach for E3 if possible.

Go post in 4/3 to find out more about the 410 if u need to.
 

nicsnaps

New Member
Dec 14, 2007
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#6
All these cameras are good.

Have you tried them out in your hands yet?? Felt how they handle in your hands? The controls, how much you need to reach to change the settings?
Yes, try them, preferably at a place which stocks all 3. Courts Causeway Point (or perhaps any other big Courts) will have a section where all are on display and you can play to your heart's content - just ask for the batteries :)

If the camera doesn't feel right or you don't like the way it handles, the $$$ is going to be wasted, whatever the reviews say since you are unlikely to shoot much with something that you do not find comfortable.
 

schon

Senior Member
Sep 10, 2005
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#7
2) Olympus E410
i really really like this camera and its features. its small, compact, very small lenses, but my only grip with it is well....the grip. worried how sweaty palms will hold onto the grip for longer hours.
also, i like the ~$1160 dual lens kit. pretty good value to me, might consider using the 40-150mm for a while before selling it off to get a wide angle lens.
high ISO performance is endurable for me, although not as good as the nikon i feel.
you've said it yourself. :)

try to ease up on the grip on the right hand, and try to mainly support the load by the left. also, do note that the only current 'affordable' wide-angle on the 4/3s system is the 11-22 3.5-4.5, which alone goes for about a grand. word has it that there will be a 'budget' 8-16, but i don't think it'll be out anytime soon.

i like the e410 alot too, but i needed IS. hope that helps. :sweat:
 

ortega

Moderator
Staff member
Nov 2, 2004
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Singapore, Singapore, Singapor
#8
hi and welcome to CS and the world of photography

trying not to push brands, IMHO the ergonomics of the camera is the most important
the camera must be a joy to hold and use.

go to the shops and feel them up, side by side, one of them will talk to you.
 

gooseberry

Senior Member
Mar 11, 2004
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#9
hi and welcome to CS and the world of photography

trying not to push brands, IMHO the ergonomics of the camera is the most important
the camera must be a joy to hold and use.

go to the shops and feel them up, side by side, one of them will talk to you.

Agree with the above.

Also, your statement about AF-S lenses not easy to come by - actually Nikon has been making a number of low cost / good quality AF-S zooms especially targeted at the D40/D40x users, with more to come - expect also a number of AF-S primes coming soon ;)
 

cairocks

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Jul 8, 2006
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#10
About the Alpha-100, maybe can wait for the Alpha-200 before comparing the different cameras again., The specs are officially released today and it seems to be a replacement for the A100 with a number of A100 weaknesses improved on. The US priced seems quite competitive. But there is no date on when will it be available in the shops.
 

zerartul

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Jun 24, 2007
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#11
Its better you go down to the shop and try the cameras out. In terms of manual functionality, image quality, most of todays DSLR is almost the same. There some functions that you may want to look into like IS or DRO in varies brands. However for you I believe the most important point is how comfortable you are with the camera. As such holding them and trying them out personally will be your best choice. Nikon and Canon biggest advantage is their lens range. However getting D40 seems to make you lose that advantage.

Personally I will recommand you E-510 or the Sony entry line (A100/A200 to be revealed soon). They are light, has most functionality and IS if you need it. Else do consider 400D by canon which I feel is better then D40 for the fact that you have more range of lens to choose for. Then again nikon maybe making more lens that fits into the D40 AF function so you will never know lol.

To add on, wide angle lens dont come cheap, on a APS-C scale, wide angle im guessing you are talking abt 10-20mm type of range. This lens are more then 500 regardless of third party or original maker and camera brand.
 

shahrulesa

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Dec 2, 2006
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#12
have you consider Canon 400D. IF you're looking for night pics, I would recommend 40D but still thinks the 400D would take nicer pics at higher ISO than the D40. Anyhow, I would get the D40x over the D40 anytime considering the 10MP actually gives you some form of digital zoom to play around with.

Also, don't forget to factir in a flash since if you like night photo, i'm sure you'll get one soon. Well, now kinda think of it, do factor in the price of the f2.8s lenses as well, coz that might be your future upgrade as well.

Cheers and happy shooting.
 

ortega

Moderator
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Nov 2, 2004
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#13
actually if you have noticed most if not all the new lenses that nikon introduces are AF-S and thus D40/x friendly

factor in a good tripod is more important
 

creampuff

Senior Member
Jul 11, 2006
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#14
TS, the Pentax K100D Super fits your specifications perfectly. In-body stabilization, very good low light performance, solid build and compact size plus it uses rechargeable AA batteries. About $860 with kit lens.

Here's actual night shots taken by a forum member on the Pentax forum. Note the absence of noise and low shutter speed handheld.
http://forums.clubsnap.com/showthread.php?t=313509&highlight=K100D+Super
 

weishengg

New Member
Jan 6, 2008
561
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Eastern Singalalapore
#15
hi all, thanks alot for your prompt replies!
I've kind of tested all these DSLRs out at various shops, and I must say that ergonomically, I rate Sony A-100 first over Nikon D40(x) and lastly Olympus E-410.

Seems like the feel of the camera is going to be quite important, thus ruling out the Olympus E-410. (the E-510 actually felt really comfortable to hold, and with the built in image stabilizer, is a really really attractive package! too bad just out of my budget)

So that leaves me with the Sony and the Nikon, but.......

TS, the Pentax K100D Super fits your specifications perfectly. In-body stabilization, very good low light performance, solid build and compact size plus it uses rechargeable AA batteries. About $860 with kit lens.

Here's actual night shots taken by a forum member on the Pentax forum. Note the absence of noise and low shutter speed handheld.
http://forums.clubsnap.com/showthread.php?t=313509&highlight=K100D+Super

Now it gets more complicated! thanks creampuff for highlighting the Pentax to me. I saw the pictures from the link and according to the TS, no postproduction was done on it. I am totally impressed how well the night shots turned out, although much credits goes to the photographer himself.

So now i have one more DSLR to look at, which is quite a big problem because i havent been seeing any pentax dslrs in most of the cameras shops that i've been poking around at :confused:

but in any case, thanks a lot once again to all who bothered to reply with your valuable opinions :)
the search is on!
 

slypower50

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May 6, 2007
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#16
what is your budget anyway? personally feel E510 will fit you right well, if i am not wrong, it should be one of the lighest among your choices.. True that for 4/3 system, wide lens dont come cheap and if you are interested in tele photos, this will be a advantage.. so it depends on what you really want, if you are on a tight, may i suggest that you go second hand first? you may get the camera you really want at the price of your budget, especially sony A100 and D40.. If you really dont like the feel after several months , the damage will not be so high for you to suffer..
 

weishengg

New Member
Jan 6, 2008
561
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Eastern Singalalapore
#17
hi all once again,

Today i went down to Sim Lim Square + Funan IT Mall to check out a few DSLRs at a few camera shops.

Got into a few pretty awkward situations because I dont intend to make any purchases today, but wanted to get a feel of how the cameras handle in my hands and its actual operations.


So i walk into a shop, and the following happens:

Shop: Yes can i help you?
Me: Sure. Can i take a look at dslr1 and dslr2? i want to compare them in my hands.
Shop: Ok sure thing. *proceeds to get the 2 dslr, together with lens, memory card and battery*
Me: *fiddles around with the 2 dslrs. goes through menus, shoot here shoot there focus here focus there, checks out all the doors, compartments etc etc...*
Shop: *hangs around. occassionally fiddling around with the dslr that i'm not holding*

*silence throughout this process*

I felt so weird! was trying to crack my brain to ask some questions so i dont sound/look like an idiot. but i really did quite a bit of research on the technical specifications of these 2 cameras, could probably rattle them off my mind i suppose. And of course, asking for technical specifications and image quality wasn't my purpose for going down to the shop, i would be better off researching these factors online. Ergonomics, build quality, menu access, speed were my priority. And so, i stood there like another silly idiot customer.

Argh... what an awkward day. I'm really bad at PR.
Any suggestions on how to get out of this situation?

:confused:

oh btw, Sony Alpha A100 is out-of-stock! argh!!!!!!!
Pentax K100D Super, also out-of-stock!!!!!!
 

deklan

New Member
Feb 28, 2007
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#18
go to a shop with nice pple? one i can think of really nice sales pple is John 3:16 in funan.
 

night86mare

Deregistered
Aug 25, 2006
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www.pbase.com
#19
yesh, you should consider pentax too

but in any case, try the camera first, more important :)

every brand has its pros and cons, just remember to read up and know what you are buying into.. it isn't just the body.. but also the system
 

exhale

New Member
Jan 9, 2008
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#20
Hey all!

Here's my two bit worth..

Personally I prefer Nikon simply because of the user interface design. It doesn't come in the way when you are trying to take pictures. You can almost completely bypass menus and use buttons and dials to quickly configure settings to capture "the" moment. And the in-camera color enhancement does wonders too. I feel its the perfect beginners' DSLR, lets you learn quickly and helps you along. But yeah, different strokes for different blokes..

And now my question as an international student who is very new to Singapore (4 days :cool: and I :heart: it here). I wanted to buy a Nikon for myself and went to Slim Lim Square. Now the strange situation was that the prices being quoted were sooo LOW that I was flummoxed! :dunno:

Nikon D40 + Nikkor 55-200mm AF-S + 2 Gb card +1 year international warranty = S$ 700

Is it for real or was I being jacked?

(My apologies if I am posting in the wrong place)

~exhale!
 

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