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Photography Question 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
 

Advice, please help...


Well, I broke into Fort Knox stole some gold, sold a couple of my Renoirs and mortgaged the house so I think I have scraped up enough money for a nice digital slr.

I know this is an often asked question in this forum, but I ask for your help with good reason. I read the forum, keeping my mouth shut 99% of the time. I have noticed that not only are there many -extremely- talented people in this forum, but also those who possess incredible technical knowledge.

Also, I am aware of steve's digicams, dpreview, etc. but I trust your knowledge above magazine and website reviews for a very good reason: I was formally the editor of a computer magazine and even though the editorial policy stated one thing, I was nonetheless pressured when writing reviews about major advertisers.

I would like your recommendations on the purchase of a dslr and one good general purpose zoom.

I'm open to all, but a few things are a must.

- probably about 8 megpixel
- I'm currently using a fixed-lens camera, and I want my dof back! so sensor size is also important.
- ability to save RAW is a must

Other than that, I'm open. budget without the added zoom is probably about $1200. And for the zoom I want something that has excellent optics, is super fast, and can do sharp macro.

If you have the time, I appreciate (and thank you) for your help.

-Dan


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3/23/2006 3:17:27 PM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Let me take that back. 6 or 7 megapixel will be fine.

-Dan


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3/23/2006 3:29:13 PM

 
Steven Bressan   Dan

I have a Nikon D-100 and am very happy with it. That being said, I think the D-70 is even better and is a newer model. The D-70 has 25 programable functions and can really help a photographer to experiment with their talents.

I don't think there is a major difference between Nikon or Canon except what you like in your hand so it's best to grab a few models and see how the controls work for you.

We used Nikon while I was in the service and never had problems so I bought the brand I was use to.


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3/23/2006 3:44:22 PM

 
Stan Lubach
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/1/2005
  Just to add, the current model is the D70s ( which I currently have ) and I've found it to be an excellent camera. The kit zoom lens, 18-70mm, is quite a respectable lens, though not meant for macros. For truly spectacular close-ups, you'll probably want a dedicated macro lens. In my case, I have Nikon's 60mm micro-nikkor lens ( I've also been told that Sigma's 50mm macro lens is quite good as well ).


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3/23/2006 3:57:15 PM

 
Glenn E. Urquhart
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2006
  I agree with Dan. That said, I have a Canon 20D, with 3 lenses. The lens I use 80% of the time is the Canon EFS 17-85mm IS USM (equivalent to a 35mm format of aprox. 28-135mm). This camera will meet all your requirements and then some!
Now, as Dan says, Nikon, Canon... same quality, its your choice of what feels better for your needs. Hope this helps, Cheers, Glenn.


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3/23/2006 4:02:37 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Congrats on the break-in! I could use some gold, do you have any to spare? lol

Let's see, yes, while certain websites and magazines may have their favored brand, dpreview.com does tend to include a lot of information on what the camera can and can't do. You can check out the thing lists as opposed to the writing and see if there are any other features that you like more than others.

I would say that you could check out the specs and features, plus custom options on cameras like

Nikon:
D70
D70s
D50 (right?)
D100 (is it still available new?)

Canon:
Digital Rebel
Digital Rebel XT
(D60, D30, and 10D are discontinued)
20D or 30D (nearly the same)

I believe Olympus also has a decent model in the EVOLT E-300 or similar.

KonicaMinolta also has a few.

The most popular are probably Canon and Nikon though.

Personally, I really like my 20D more than some of the other Nikons that I've had the chance to mess around with because I think the viewfinder on the 20D is larger, making manual focusing and just general viewing easier. Also, though it's a small thing, some camera's have mirror lockup and some don't, which will reduce the chance of camera shake and blurred pictures on some occasions.

Also, I would think normally, higher megapixel cameras are newer and would therefore have better technology and/or more features. I have also heard that there's not much difference between 6 and 8 megapixels.

Something else that I used dpreview for was to learn the complete layout of the camera buttons, plus what they all did, so that was a lot of work. Then when I would try the cameras in the store, I would know what most buttons did so I would be able to figure out which one felt the best.

Hope this helps!


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3/23/2006 4:07:19 PM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  I also have a Canon 20D and I love it. I was a Canon user many years ago with their A-series cameras. I opted for the 20D over the Reble XT mainly because of the body. they both are 8 megapixel, but the 20D is a magnesium alloy which is much sturdier and tougher then the plastic XT shell. With the releases of the 5D and 30D, the price of the 20D might come down some.
I currently use two lenses. The 17-85mm zoom and the 100-400mm. Both Canon optics and both incorporate IS technology. You may want something more in the 70-200mm range depeding on what kind of pictures you take most often. Keep in mind though, that a fast lens, especially a fast zoom, is going to cost moocho bucks. At least as much as the 20D camera body. Also keep in mind the 1.6 conversion factor because of the image sensor being smaller than a full frame 35. So whatever lens you by is going to give the image perspective of a lens 1.6x that focal length. So a 70-200 would be more like a 112-320mm lens. you may not want something that long. While the smaller sensor seems great on the telephoto end, you really get shafted with the wide angle. 17mm would be considered ultra wide on a 35mm, but on the smaller sensor, it only gives you the coverage of about a 28mm lens on a 35.

Bob


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3/23/2006 6:27:23 PM

 
Cathy Stancil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Hi dan,
I also use a Canon 20D and absolutely LOVE it ! It is a tuff sturdy camera (which I need), it feels great in your hands. As Bob was mentioning the body is down to $850 now... I also have the 17-85mm and the 100mm lens. But the best way to know which is teh ONE for you is definitely to go and handle the cameras for yourself. Good luck !


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3/23/2006 10:05:21 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Cathy where is the 20D $850? I'd love to snag one after my deployment.


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3/23/2006 10:41:47 PM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  A question for Canon owners.

I'm leaning a little toward canon. But I do not understand something that to me seem to be a big issue: lack of spot metering.

I shoot everything in the manual mode. I use spot metering to meter zones and calculate exposure to balance the range of light. I usually do a very good job of putting the histogram right where it should be, and in situations where brightness ranges exceed the camera's capabilities, balancing things the best I can.

That being said, I personally cannot conceive of shooting without the benefit of spot metering.

But perhaps I just don't get it. Does canon employ a method of metering that makes up for the loss of spot, or in some way eliminates the need for it? I would appreciate your thoughts.

(P.S., the 30D is a little out of my $ range.)

Thanks for your help.


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3/24/2006 6:05:25 AM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Cathy,

Thank you very much for the link. When I read your post I also looked for the $850 body, but could not find it. However, because it was justin who asked for the link, I hope you do not mind if I post it here:

http://www.thecamerapros.com/prodetails.asp?prodid=154

Does anybody have experience with these Camera Pro folks?

Thanks,
-Dan


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3/24/2006 9:00:56 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  I would be very careful. TheCameraPros looks like yet another bait & switch outfit that advertises a low "body only" price, then charges you a steep fee for the battery, charger and other items that are normally included in the box.

You can see a couple of reviews on them at Resellerratings.com HERE. They only have two comments, both bad.

B&H Photo has the 20D body for $1119.95 (including US warranty and ALL items that Canon includes in the box.) I would be VERY suspicious of any store that advertises it for much less than that.

Chris


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3/24/2006 9:21:21 AM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Doh! You beat me to it! I was doing the research myself.

I don't know if anybody remembers (or heard of it in the first place) the thomas hawk story about 4 months ago. Even if not interested in purchasing this camera, it's a great read because it's a story where the little guy wins. The short of it: via a blog, one guy exposed a ripoff camera operation in brooklyn that exploded so large it was on national network news, in newspapers, and in the wall street journal. the store eventually closed down when their apparent criminal operation was exposed. (actually, they just changed names). read the story here:

http://thomashawk.com/2005/11/priceritephoto-abusive-bait-and-switch.html

The family that owned PriceRitePhoto has been traced to between 25 and 50 other domains. and yes, it appears TheCameraPros may be one of theirs. and if not, it is apparently the same type of bait and switch operations as priceritephoto was.

I personally am going to stay far, far away from TheCameraPros, what you do is your choice.


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3/24/2006 9:32:29 AM

 
Cathy Stancil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  No problem Dan, I had already sent it to him...
Thanks Chris for the warning ! I am thinking of getting a second 20D and thought this was the deal, but was hesitant because "too good to be true kind of thing", and still am searching the web. I should have mentioned it in my email to you Dan... Sorry !


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3/24/2006 9:34:38 AM

 
Cathy Stancil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Wow ! I just went to that link Chris... Sorry you guys !!


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3/24/2006 9:38:48 AM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  No problem, cathy. the reason scumbags continue to successfully do business is because they are often hard to discover.

Beachcamera.com (a known good guy) = $1097 (all packaged items included)

other good prices from the good guys on the white horse can be found at shopper.com and pricegrabber.com


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3/24/2006 9:41:37 AM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  The closest thing that canon has to spot metering, without being a spot meter, is partial metering. I believe even the rebels have this since my 35mm rebel has partial metering.

There is a center circle in the camera's viewfinder that sections out about 8 or 9 percent of the area. It will meter an average for that center circle. If you have used a manual focus slr with the split prism focusing screen, it's just a tad bigger than that I believe. Generally, if you've got a long lens or you can zoom in to make sure you have what you want metered in that circle, you will be pretty good. I have had a few times where I would have liked a spot meter, but it hasn't been that often. It might be a little different though since you're used to using one. They make seperate spot meters of course but those cost a lot if I'm not mistaken.

I was just looking to see if I could find a screenshot of the Canon 300D/Digital Rebel through the viewfinder but the one that I found on dpreview.com doesn't show it having that central partial metering circle.Though, this will show you what it looks like on a 20D. It should be the same size on Canon's other cameras with partial metering besdies the 1D line.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos20d/page3.asp

Check the photo of the cat.


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3/24/2006 10:16:27 AM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Thank you. Your reply was very helpful, and may have helped me make a decision.

The way I presently meter with a spot meter is to wave the spot over the various brightness zones while watching the exposure meter change realtime in the viewfinder. I can then accurately gauge the range of brightness and set the exposure.

Even tho the 9% area is bigger, as long as you can see the exposure meter change real time, I see no reason that it can't be used in the exact same way, zooming in when necessary on a particular spot. I'll have to put the camera in my hand at a local store, but your info was very helpfull. Thanks.


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3/24/2006 11:15:45 AM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  Hi Dan:

The EOS 20D offers three different metering modes.
Evaluative metering that averages the entire scene.
Centerweighted Average metering that weighs more heavily in an area slightly larger than the target circle on the groundglass and then averages in the rest of the scene.
Partial or spot metering which measures only the target circle as one of your respondents already pointed out.
And the 20D isn't nearly as pricy as the 30D and they use the same sensor and digicII processor.
How badly you need the true spot metering capablility of the 30D is up to you. Or maybe you could consider a hand held spot meter, which cost far less than either camera and usually measure an spot from 1 to 3 degrees depending on manufacturer.

Bob

Bob


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3/24/2006 3:24:25 PM

 
Dan C.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Thank you all, very much! Your input was invaluable. I've decided on the 20d. Now I'm in the process of deciding on lenses: sigma or canon. There is a ton of discussions in the archives right here on betterphoto about sigma lenses with the 20d which has already provided a lot of info. AGain, thanks. -Dan


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3/24/2006 9:00:54 PM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006
  Congrats Dan:

I know you will love the camea as most everyone else does. I've read lot of "reader" not piblisher reviews of this camera and the number of unsatisfied users is probably less than 1 percent. And that one percent is either someone who got a defective camera, which can happen with anything, or they simply don't know how to use the camera correctly and were frustrated with thier results and blame the camera.
The other 99% or so, absolutely love the camera and are amazed at just how much camera it really is. You'll discover this also with features like not only color balance control, but auto color balance bracketing as well as exposure bracketing. Also B&W filter effects as well as the usual toning filters. I don't know if you shoot a lot in full auto, but one really nice feature of this camera that I wish they had on the A-1 back in the '80's, is the program shift. It's like have shutter and aperature priority at the same time. Shooting in Program mode, if the shutter/aperature combo doesn't fit your scence, simply turn the dial to shift the values. So if you need a faster shutter, shift to a faster shutter speed and the camera automatically compensates by opening the aperature a like number of stops. If you need a smaller aperature, turn the same dial to shift the values to a smaller aperature and the camera automatically shifts the to a slower shutter speed.
In the A-1 days, if you didn't like what the cameas auto setting picked you had first shift into either AE or Av mode or manual, then set your desired settings. Really is great that someone finally thought to put something like like that on cameras for people who mostly shoot in auto for the convenience, but still want to have control when the need arises.

Bob


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3/25/2006 6:27:33 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  The only advice I have is that since you broke into Fort Knox, you should keep a real low profile. The feds are probably really wanting to talk to ya LOLOLOL.


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3/26/2006 4:08:40 PM

 
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