May need new camera-Definintely need help

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by VinRoc, Jan 14, 2008.

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  1. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Not necessarily. The great thing about DSLRs is that, with the larger sensor, the full ISO range is quite usable for prints up to medium size. Hence, you can work at ISO 1600 with decent image quality.

    Also, f/5.6 at 150 (which translates to 300mm because of the 4/3 sensor's nonstandard crop factor) is pretty darn fast for an entry-level lens. I shoot indoors with a 300mm f/5.8 on my DSLR with no ill effects. At some point you may want a faster lens, but prices rise exponentially here (lots of physical glass has to go into something like an f/4 at 150/200mm), and you'll find that this kind of speed at zoom works even for indoor action shots.

    dr
     
  2. denncald

    denncald Well-Known Member

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    I could not find any negative comments reqarding the f stop range. One of the reviewers used a 50 - 300mm/f 2.0 lens for some shots of fireworks, but other reviewers used the standard 2 lens kit with very good results. I also discovered a chart of the Zuiko digital lenses, and the 50-300/f 2.0 lens is in the High Grade category. I also found Zuiko lenses on Amazon, with the 50-300 listed for $900. I would guess the 2 lens kit will work fine for your needs, since you can increase ISO to 800 or even 1600.

    Perhaps others have experience with this situation and can enlighten us?
     
  3. VinRoc

    VinRoc Member

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    Sorry David but you kind of lost me in your second paragraph there (remember, I'm new to all this). How does f5.6 at 150 (is that mm?) translate to 300mm? What does 4/3 sensor nonstandard crop factor mean? What makes a lens faster? What kind of speed at what zoom works for indoor action shots? I'm sorry if these sound like dumb questions. I just want to be sure I understand more before I make the plunge into the DSLR world. Thanks again for your help.
     
  4. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Super Moderator/Reviewer News/Review Writer

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    Some of the basics for you:

    "Fast Lenses": When people are referring to a lens by its speed they are talking about its maximum aperture. The goal here is to get a small f/ number (the smaller the number, the faster, so f/2 is really fast, while f/5.6 is slower). With a faster lens you can increase your shutter speeds to allow you to capture things like action, and increasingly so in lower light situations.

    "Crop Factor": Most everything in SLRs is still based on 35mm film sizes. So, a crop factor is the factor to get you from the 35mm film size to the size of the sensor on your camera. As the sensor becomes smaller, it "magnifies" the focal length of the lens (not really in actuality, it just changes the field of view). So when David refers to a 150mm lens at f/5.6 and says that due to the crop factor its like a 300mm, you have the same field of view that a 300mm f/5.6 would have (on 35mm), and it will shoot with the same "speed". Try not to be fooled too much by the crop factors. Don't let someone sell you a smaller lens because your camera will have a larger magnification with it, optically, you will get what the lens says.

    "Zoom and Speed": The reason zoom matters with respect to speed is because many lenses are not constant aperture. This means that as you zoom in from the wide end to the tele end (relative, obviously) many lenses go from a faster aperture (say f/3.5) to a slower aperture (say f/5.6). Because of this, in many cases as you zoom in, you lose more light. This can be bad for action shots. If you are indoor and its well lit, this might not be a problem. IS or VR (image stabilization, vibration reduction) can help, however they will only help with camera shake, not blur due to subject motion.

    Does that help? Feel free to ask any more questions - we are here to help!
     
  5. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    No apology needed; my fault for putting the cart before the horse, as they say... :)

    Basics first: In reading back through your posts, it looks like you have a good understanding of aperture (i.e. a lower number lets in more light). Lenses with a wider aperture (that is, a lower number) are referred to as being "fast." That is, an f/2 lens is faster than an f/2.8 lens, which in turn is faster than f/5.6, and so on. So by extension, a fast lens is one that performs well in low light.

    You've probably noticed that the maximum aperture on most zoom lenses is not constant. The longer zoom lens (the 40-150mm one) for the Olympus kit, for instance, is an f/4-f/5.6, which means it operates at f/4 at the 40mm end of the lens, and at f/5.6 at the 150mm end. This is because as a lens gets longer, it's much harder and more expensive to build it with a wider aperture, as the glass elements must be made larger, more efficient at transmitting light, or both.

    For lenses in the range we're talking about (100mm to 300mm in 35mm-equivalent - I'll explain this in a minute...), f/2.8 would be considered very fast, and lenses with this spec are much more expensive than the kit lenses we're discussing here. Thus, as I said, for a basic long-ish zoom lens, f/5.6 is pretty fast, which means it should work acceptably well for indoor shooting. You could get an f/2.8 lens in this range, but you'll pay more for the privilege.

    The rest of your questions focus on the large-level concept of crop factor. Basically, most DSLRs (putting aside some $$$$ professional models that are referred to as having "full frame" sensors) have a sensor that is smaller than a frame of 35mm film. Most DSLRs use a sensor that is what's called APS-C size; all you really need to know about this is that because the sensor is smaller, any lens used on this camera will be subject to a crop factor of around 1.5x - meaning a 50-200mm lens has what we call a "35mm-equivalent range" of 75 (50x1.5) to 300 (200x1.5) mm. That is, on a DSLR, a lens of this length has the zoom range equivalent to a 75-300mm on a 35mm film camera.

    To further complicate matters, Olympus and Panasonic use a third different size of sensor, which most people refer to as 4/3 (say: "fourth-thirds"). Because this sensor is slightly smaller than even an APS-C sensor, the crop factor for cameras with a 4/3 sensor like the Olympus you're considering is not 1.5x, but 2x. Hence, the longer zoom lens in the kit (40-150mm) is equivalent to 80-300mm.

    It's harder than you might think to back up and try to explain some of this, and once it clicks for you it's really not as confusing as it sounds. Let me know what needs more explanation (answering questions is what we're here for, after all).

    Good luck!
    dr
     
  6. VinRoc

    VinRoc Member

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    Caleb and David, Masterful job explaining that jargon to me......REALLY helped! Thanks. So you're saying that even with the lenses in the kit with a range of 3.5-5.6 (roughly) I can still freeze the action and let in enough light to get a good (if not great) shot? That would be great because after reading your replies I checked out some lenses at f2.0 and nearly fell out of my chair at the prices:eek: Now my next question, Are these basic lenses auto focus? I assume the zoom would be manual by turning an outer sleeve but I see some lenses with what appears to be extra settings on them. Are those manual focus lenses? I also saw a lens (for the Rebel XT) that was 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 .......would I be able to get away with this one lens for all my needs (wide angle+zoom) or would I be compromising something else like picture quality? Thanks for the speedy replies!!!
     
  7. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Told you they got exponentially more expensive! As I mentioned before, I shoot indoor action photos on a 300 f/5.8 with some frequency, and while there are times that I have to reach for a faster lens, in general, if I set the camera to a higher ISO number (I usually find that ISO 800 is a good balance point), I can get the shutter speed fast enough to adequately freeze action with the aperture wide open.

    Also, if you're able to get closer to the action and use the shorter end of the telephoto lens or the longer end of the wide-normal lens, you'll get even more lens speed. Can be a problem at professional sporting events, but for a high school basketball game or some similar, usually getting close enough isn't too hard.

    Additionally, remember that most of these longer kit zoom lenses have speed performance at least equal to, and usually better than, an equivalent lens on a compact camera. Not to mention the improvements in image quality.

    As to the 28-200mm, you might be able to get away with that single lens for lots of shooting, but remember that crop factor comes into play for wide-angle as well as telephoto shots. Hence, a 28mm lens on a Digital Rebel (with ca. 1.5x crop factor) shows a field of view more like 42mm - not very wide angle at all. That's why you see lots of "digital specific" wide angle lenses that begin (as the kit lenses from many of these cameras do) at around 18mm, which works out to a range approximating 27-28mm.

    dr
     
  8. VinRoc

    VinRoc Member

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    David, Thanks for reminding me about the crop factor on that lens. I was thinking that I would never need a lens as wide as 18mm, so chalk that up to another lesson learned. Of the four cameras you had previously recommended, in what order would you reccomend them as far as ease of use, picture quality, and value (probably in that order). Thanks again for your expertise!
     
  9. rp2s

    rp2s Active Member

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    Actually, the crop factor on Canon dSLR's is 1.6. They have a slightly smaller sensor than the other APC size sensors out there. A 28mm lens on the Canon would be 44.8mm. Thanks for the great site Dave. I visit often.
     
  10. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    They're all very good cameras, and it's hard for me to recommend one versus another: it really does depend on what you're looking for. In terms of ease of use, while these cameras are all pretty straightforward, I tend to feel that the Rebel is the most transparent for users more familiar with point and shoots. The other three are probably roughly equal, with a slight edge going to Pentax and Nikon over Olympus in my view (I've never been a fan of the way Olympus structures its menus, but this may be a personal thing).

    Image quality is very good all around (that's what you're buying in a DSLR), with top honors in my mind going to the Nikon and the Pentax: both of these companies make very strong lenses, in my view, and the quality of optics is often the difference in images in this class of cameras where sensors are large and processing is good. Olympus suffers just a touch in low light in terms of image quality as a result of the slightly smaller sensor, but the difference is so negligible to my eye that it perhaps doesn't even deserve a mention.

    In terms of value, the Olympus is one of the best deals out there in terms of features for price. As with my menu hang-up, I also don't like the way Olympus DSLRs feel in hand; they are a little more square, and you should probably try to get your hands on several of these cameras before buying. The Olympus also has live view, meaning you can compose your shots on the LCD (like on a compact digital camera) instead of through the viewfinder only. Because of how DSLRs are typically designed, this has not been a common feature, and is only coming into entry-level DSLRs outside of Olympus fairly recently (i.e. the brand new Canon XSi has it).

    The Canon is older technology than the rest of this pack, and while it's a good, solid all around performer, it's the most dated looking and feeling. Still, it's a pretty good value given its recently low price, and it would be easy enough to keep your lenses and upgrade the body later if you wanted to move up to a newer model.

    The Nikon feels much newer in terms of its styling, but overall features and performance of the D40, especially, are a bit behind the curve (especially the AF system). I like the image look from the D40 (and the D40x/D60, though these are more expensive), but it doesn't offer lots of snazzy features seen in some of the others.

    The Pentax has traditionally been a good deal, offering an upgraded auto-focus system and in-body image stabilization (Canon and Nikon don't have this: you must use their stabilized lenses, which work better than in-body stabilization but require you to buy these more expensive lens versions). You won't find as much lens support here, and the overall look of the camera is a little more "industrial," but it takes very good pictures. It also uses AA batteries versus a rechargeable lithium-ion, which can be a benefit in a pinch, but means investing in a set of NiMH AA-size rechargeables is a cost that should be factored in.

    I also just noticed your previous post about auto versus manual focus. All of the kit lenses, and just about every new lens you can buy for these cameras (specialty pieces aside) is an auto-focus lens. With each camera, there are some considerations about which lenses you can use which I won't go into at this point - talk about a can of worms - but suffice it to say all of these are AF lenses.

    dr
     
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