View Full Version : Rethinking my camera purchase

Tom Godley
09-30-2008, 12:12 PM
I had the opportunity to check out the new Nikon D90 body with the Nikon 18-200 lens installed. I am concerned that it may be too big for what I need it for - nice setup BTW.

I need to look at a more compact camera that will still give me some range.

We normally have a compact Nikon Coolpix and a Canon Elph with us but I would like to have some more range and stability while shooting.

Can anyone direct me to a good all around unit with an attached lens.

Jim Becker
09-30-2008, 1:25 PM
Per my response to your email, the trade off for you going with a compact is going to come into play with what you might be wanting to shoot where you're planning on shooting. ;) Whatever you choose, you'll want to make sure it doesn't have that annoying shutter delay since that all but kills any kind of action shots. And that 18-200 lens has vibration reduction which I can attest works very well from my experience in shooting from the back of a horse while it was moving through sagebrush... :)

Check out http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/ to look for alternatives, however.

Ken Fitzgerald
09-30-2008, 1:41 PM
Tom...My wife is an amateur photographer/videographer. She now has 4 digital cameras of various flavors. 1 a Nikon D40x is an digital SLR with 2 set of lens and no irritating shutter delay.

The other 3 are not Digital SLRs and she complains constantly about shutter delay.

Somethings are a comprimise. No delay....bigger camera and lens.....delay...smaller size and water and shockproof.

Bruce Page
09-30-2008, 2:36 PM
My Nikon D40X has more bells & whistles than I know how to use. Great DSLR.

Come to think of it, my calculator has more bells & whistles too......:rolleyes::o

Kevin Arceneaux
09-30-2008, 3:29 PM
+3 for the D40x

Bill Arnold
09-30-2008, 3:45 PM
Ditto on the D40X. I have the 18-55mm that came with the camera and I added a 55-200mm with vibration reduction for telephoto work. Great camera! :D

Eric DeSilva
09-30-2008, 6:00 PM
If you really want to go with a non-dSLR, I hear the Panasonic Lumix cameras do a pretty good job or, if you are willing to get spendy, the Leicas are hard to beat. Look for shutter lag--that is probably the biggest complaint I hear about compacts v. dSLRs and it was certainly the issue I had whenever using them (had a Casio Exilim and a Canon digital Elph).

I'd urge you to spend some time with the Nikon, however. I know its heavier and bulkier, but with the new auto modes (aperture/shutter priority) its pretty easy to get into more serious shooting with a greater degree of artistic control and better overall results. The only time I've taken a compact in the recent years was when I was traveling in an area where theft was a concern. Even so, with 20/20 hindsight, I probably would forego that now and just carry the dSLR. The other thing to consider is that the Nikkor 18-200mm DX VR is probably one of the world's best travel lenses. You are going to have a hard time finding a 10x optical zoom on any compact, and, even if you do, its not going to be the quality of the optics in the 18-200 VR.

The one issue with digital that a lot of people moving from point and shoots to dSLRs don't address is that dSLR images (all images, but certainly dSLR images) benefit immensely from post-processing. In the film era, there was a tech that spent their time balancing color and contrast. With point and shoots, no one seems to expect good results. But with dSLRs, it can be disappointing until you do some work in Photoshop or something equivalent (google "gimp," which is a free app). You can also vastly improve the sharpness of images in post-processing. I highly recommend picking up a book on Photoshop for dummies or something if you continue with the D90x.

I used to have a D80, and it is one heckuva lot of power in that package. I found that it gave, under most shooting conditions, images fully comparable to the much more expensive D200 my wife used. While I've now gotten rid of the D80, it was only because my wife and I decided to go with a full frame D700, and four cameras is too many (we also have a film F5). If you take the time to learn the camera--and a bit about post-processing--it is a tremendous amount of fun.

Oh yeah, it also has one of the all time great (and cheap) accessories--the $15 remote control. Excellent for tripod shots and pics where you wanna be a part of it...

Robert Eiffert
09-30-2008, 7:00 PM
One of the advantages to a D40 orD80 type camera is the larger sensor size. This translates to more detail in most any shooting situation. Think wood grain, tightness of joinery..... Most DSLRs also have better low light capability - better sensitivity of the sensor and auto focus as well as better flash capability.

DSLRs also give the manual controls that help when shooting your work. Easier to go manual than figuring out overrides if you're shooting a bunch of similar pieces.

+1 (or 2) on the image stabilization in the long lenses.

That said, we had good results with the Canon Powershot S5 for snapshots and sports type photography. But I'd rather take the D80, even with the bulk and weight, when out on the bike.

Tim Dorcas
09-30-2008, 8:55 PM
I have two cameras: a Nikon D70 and a Casio 800 8MP compact. As long as there isn't lots of fast action, the Casio works great and the video quality is pretty good. The D70 is in fact a lot of camera but when I want to do something other than take snapshots this is the camera to have. What kind of photography are you doing?

Tom Godley
09-30-2008, 10:39 PM
I have all kinds of great 35-mm equipment that I could use if I wanted to retrofit the the Nikon bodies with a sensors for 5k a pop -- not likely!

I used to take a lot of pictures -- but over the years I have moved away from the hobby. When the first digital Canon ELPH came out - I loved being freed from all that equipment. I never picked up the 35-mm cameras again.

I did purchase a Fuji fixed lens zoom on a trip but was not all that impressed - I gave it to to friend.

But sometimes you need a little more -- I do not want to lug around too much equipment while traveling - and this is why I want the camera

I am thinking I just need a little more camera - The Panasonic Lumix was recently mentioned.

I will give that a look

Brian Effinger
09-30-2008, 11:24 PM
I'd recommend the Canon A720. I got one for my parents last Christmas, and have used it myself and love it. It has an 35-210mm zoom lens (35mm equivalent), image stabilization and takes a great image.
If you don't mind used, check out the Olympus C5050 on ebay or such. I owned one for a number of years, and was amazed by it. It is as close to a slr as a point and shoot can get. The only reason I sold it to a friend was because I ended up getting a Canon 10d SLR.

Christopher Fletcher
10-01-2008, 1:13 AM
I have the Canon G9. It is a very nice camera. With 12mp and no shutter delay you can capture virtually any image. It also uses the new High Capacity SD cards. I got the 4 gig card and an extra battery for our trip to Cancun. It is sort of an SLR cross over because you can ad an optional telephoto or wide angle lens - plus all the filters you can think of. It is not going to fit in your pocket, but you don't need a messenger bag to carry it either. It comes highly regarded by several Digi Camera magazines. I would check it out if you have a costco in your area. Or try newegg - they had a package deal that was hard to beat.

James Gillespie, Jr.
10-01-2008, 1:09 PM
Check out the recently released Nikon D90, the long awaited update of the D80. It has live view, 12 MP, and is the first DSLR that can take movies, and in 720p High Def to boot! It comes with an 18-135 vibration reduction lens. If I hadn't just bought my D80 back in Feb. I'd be looking at this one big time.

Tom Fortier
10-01-2008, 7:32 PM
Rebel Xsi or Xti?? How does it compare to the Nikons?

Eric DeSilva
10-01-2008, 10:32 PM
Real men shoot Nikons. ;)

Seriously, both Canon and Nikon have excellent offerings in the dSLR range. I don't think you would go wrong with either--kind of like religious preference. I started with Nikon glass, so that path was clear for me, but if you are starting from scratch, see which ergonomics you like better.

The differences tend to get magnified in the higher end cameras in the pro lines where I think Nikon actually has an advantage now (that, and I like the range of lenses in the Nikon lineup better than Canons). My stock photographer/headshot photographer buddy is so PO'd at his $8K Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III's inability to focus accurately that he's about to shift to Nikon... And, my wedding photographer buddy, who has also always shot Canon, is seriously thinking about shifting to a Nikon D700 or D3 after seeing the low ISO performance...

Benjamin Dahl
10-02-2008, 7:59 AM
Tom, if you are certain you don't want to go with the DSLR route, I would also recommend looking at the canon G10 or something in that series. I have an old G2 and have used that all over the world with no problems. You can find models older than the G10 all over fleabay at decent prices. I also shoot a Nikon DSLR and like the fact that I can use my old Nikon 35mm lenses. Depending on what model Nikon DSLR one buys it will or won't be able to auto-focus or get light metering but with digital, it is pretty easy to compensate.
Good luck with your decision.

Tom Godley
10-02-2008, 8:27 AM
I have been spending a lot of time on this -- some of the better point and shoot units are almost as big as the D90.

The lens does put you over.

James Gillespie, Jr.
10-02-2008, 1:28 PM
Rebel Xsi or Xti?? How does it compare to the Nikons?

Generally the Cannons are a tad cheaper, but Nikon is usually considered slightly better. Cannon is usually the first out of the gate with new tech (such as live view) while Nikon will take some time to get it right (like live view with HD movie capabilities). Take note of what photographers at Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens and the like use. They all use Nikons. Just recently returned from Disney world, had our photo taken at night in front of the castle for the Photo Pass CD, and handed him my Nikon D80 for him to use as well. After he took the shots, he gave me a mini tutorial on how to setup my camera for better night shots. :D Don't think that would have happened if I had the Cannon. The photographers there did have a bit of camera envy when I handed over my D80 as they all were still using the D70 model. Spoke with several about the new D90 until I started getting a lot of :rolleyes: from my wife.


Ben Davis
11-02-2008, 4:00 PM
Just curious as to what the tips were for night shooting. What did they tell you to adjust differently?

James Gillespie, Jr.
11-04-2008, 2:44 PM
Just curious as to what the tips were for night shooting. What did they tell you to adjust differently?

I was using Auto mode. He showed me Night Portrait mode and how to brace it against something solid as I took the shot. My photos before that showed my wife and daughter in front of the Castle, but the castle was lost in the shadows. The Night Portrait mode allowed me to capture the family and the colorful details of the Castle. Having only recently purchased the camera before my trip, I didn't have time to play with the less automatic modes of the camera.


Eric DeSilva
11-05-2008, 9:41 AM
Not sure what night portrait mode does, but I'd recommend investigating rear curtain sync for the flash. Normally the flash fires early in the shutter cycle, which means the exposure metering sees mostly light reflected from the flash--i.e., nearby objects. If you use rear curtain sync, it fires the flash right before the end of the shutter cycle, which gives more time for background light to impact the overall exposure. In other words, far off objects that are dimly lit will have more prominence.

Rob Russell
11-05-2008, 10:28 AM
If you really want to go with a non-dSLR, I hear the Panasonic Lumix cameras do a pretty good job or, if you are willing to get spendy, the Leicas are hard to beat. Look for shutter lag--that is probably the biggest complaint I hear about compacts v. dSLRs and it was certainly the issue I had whenever using them (had a Casio Exilim and a Canon digital Elph).

I have a Panasonic/Lumix DMC-FZ30. It's about 2 1/2 years old. Image size is 8 megapixels (about 4 meg on disk per image). The built-in Leica lens has 12x zoom which is equivalent to about 420mm. It has shake reduction builtin. I bought the accessory zoom lens that screws onto the end and increases the effective zoom to about 700mm. The zoom is a manual ring on the lens - much preferable to a toggle switch.

It's a good camera - "shutter" lag is low, although it's not quite as quick as a true DSLR. One place a true DSLR has an advantage is taking indoors shots without a flash - you can get lens that need much less light.

The convenience of the built in zoom lens is hard to beat, although a DSLR will take a somewhat better picture.

That model has been replaced by the 10 meg DMC-FZ50.

Jeff Bratt
11-05-2008, 1:21 PM
Good choices for an integral (non-SLR) type of camera are the Cannon SX110, Sony DSC-H50, Panasonic TZ50. All have wide zoom ranges and image stabilization. All are very responsive with little shutter lag. None are quite as flexible as an SLR with interchangeable lenses. For me, having an adapter available that allows mounting filters was a must - the Sony has this available, I'm not sure about the Cannon, and the Panasonic does not.

Also note that an SLR megapixel is significantly better than a compact camera megapixel - the overall size of the sensor is significant.

SLR and point-and-shoot cameras have their own pluses and minuses - I have and use both kinds.

Rob Russell
11-05-2008, 1:48 PM
FYI, the Lumix FZ50 (new version of mine) does have a threaded end on the lens. Unless I'm using the telephoto extender or wide angle convertor, I have a 55mm UV filter screwed on.

Christopher Stahl
11-05-2008, 3:50 PM
I would like to shed a little bit of light on the subject. Many really get worked up about getting expensive camera bodies and high megapixels, and then this camera takes better photos then that camera, and so on. Well, 99.9% of the actual work is done about 3 inches behind your camera. Good photos are taken by you, the person holding the camera. So, it's great to buy expensive camera bodies, but that doesn't make your photos better. The only way to make your photos better is to take photos, as many as you can, and then you'll learn to take great pictures.

People tend to get caught up in these expensive bodies, and then don't have any idea how to use all the settings to their advantage. A good photographer can take great shots with either a D40x or a D700, or even a P&S. All the SLR's today are better than any of us can take advantage of. Pointing out that Nikon is better than Canon, or vice versa, is moot. If you're good, any camera will work. It's best to pick a body based on what feels good in your hands and then go from there.

For the OP, you'll find many point and shoot cameras do a fine job and I carry around a P&S all the time. Cameras today can snap fantastic photos and it doesn't matter how many megapixels. Find one that you feel comfortable holding in your hands and has little shutter lag and you'll be happy.

Sorry for the small rant. I love everybody here, but I just don't want people getting the expectations that throwing money at camera equipment will make them a better photographer. Only you can make yourself a better photographer. If you're getting into an SLR, buy a body that's inexpensive like a D40 and then buy some cheap glass. Learn how to use the camera, and understand how to use the aperture, shutter and exposure settings. Figure out what you like to shoot, then buy some better glass for those focal ranges. If you feel the body is holding you back down the road, then look into something more expensive.

Sparky Paessler
11-05-2008, 4:07 PM
Take a look at the new Canon SX10IS. 10meg 20x zoom with Optical Image Stabilized Zoom. I have the older S5IS and it takes great photos.

Phillip Bogle
11-05-2008, 5:46 PM
I still have my studio and the half doz. cameras. Like everything, from wood turning to photography, the better you get at the craft the more you will demand. Get the best you can with interchangeable lenses. I have both Nikon and Canon. My last camera was an Canon 10D which I still use a little. The issue between all of the cameras are shooting style, and what you like. The "compact all in ones" I would pass on. Many do not allow you to connect mono lights or other synchronized lighting system, and in a short time you will be demanding more than the unit is capable of. You probably do not have a lighting system now BUT you may get something in the future. You will want a fast lens with good aperture range. Because of the challenging conditions you may want to shoot in, don't just take any old lens. The glass is as important or more important than the camera body -- IMHO. By going with a Nikon or Canon you can keep the glass as your body needs change. Some of the lenses will cost more than the body.

I would still be shooting but I was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer in 2004. The treatment left me unable to lift my left arm. Big price to pay, but I am still alive when I wasn't supposed to make it through treatment.