New dSLR for me!

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by AaronM, Apr 8, 2008.

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  1. AaronM

    AaronM News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    I think it is finally time to augment the trusty Panasonic LZ30 with a real SLR.

    I tend to use the camera for macro work (50% of pics) interspersed with travel pictures. Where the LZ has been weak is low light(it's a panasonic), and I have a constant need to photograph things in museums, low light and no flash. I've also wanted it to go wider, and perhaps the option for real 1:1 macro. That in mind, I've narrowed the hunt to three of the current crop of <$1k dSLRs: Sigma SD14, Canon XSI and Sony A300.

    Sigma SD14
    • Pros
      • Sensor, only 5mp, but really nice color, and clean images
      • Build - It was a $1700 camera, they just cut the price, so it is build like a $1700 camera, and there are more dial-controlled things and fewer menu
    • Cons
      • I can't find a local dealer, so I may not get a chance to play with one in person
      • Less common than many others, so less support(i.e. no Aperture)
      • No live view
    In a semi-con, it uses Sigma SA mount lenses, so no other brands. In reality, I'm probably gonna be using Sigma for a majority of my glass
    Canon XSi
    • Pros
      • HUGE selection of glass, from $50-$80k! Any 3rd-party that makes lenses, probably makes Canon mount
    • Cons
      • No top LCD, gotta keep looking at the back for info
      • Strange Live view

    Sony A300
    • Pros
      • Really nice live view, and pivoting LCD
      • In body anti shake might help with macro work
    • Cons
      • Less common than many others, so less support(i.e. no Aperture)
      • No top LCD, gotta keep looking at the back for info

    What I don't know offhand is exactly how ISO ranges compare, except that the iso50 of the SD14 is slower than the others, and the Sony 3200 is faster. I don't know how usable the high speeds are, that's in the "to be researched" column.

    So what I'm asking for is advice, either why to go one way or another, or another spec that seems important to compare.
    Aaron
     
  2. usapatriot

    usapatriot Well-Known Member

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    I would avoid the Sigma SD14, I don't think it has received very good reviews and it is also a bit dated.

    The Canon Digital Rebel XSi and Sony Alpha A300 with both probably do fine, but in addition to the kit lens you will probably want a buy a dedicated macro lens. Canon probably has the biggest selection of macro lenses so this might be a determining factor. I'd probably recommend the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens is you were to get the XSi, its about $450 and is a nice lens, there are also third party alternatives from Sigma, Tamron, etc...

    Another model to look at would be the Pentax K200D and with a dedicated macro lens (especially with Pentax or Zeiss lenses) takes some very sharp macros. I'd recommend the Pentax D FA 100mm F/2.8 macro lens for Pentax or you can look at some nice Zeiss alternatives but they are very expensive ($800+).

    ISO 3200 is probably going to pretty noisy on the Sony A300, it might give you an advantage in low light but its going to be pretty noisy. ISO 1600 should be usable on all the models listed.
     
  3. David Rasnake

    David Rasnake News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Hi Aaron -

    It's hard to know what the high ISO performance of the A300 will be, as that's a new (I believe) CCD that we haven't seen in anything else yet (the previous Sony CCD, the 10.2 MP unit in the A100, was in several cameras I believe - Nikon, Pentax, etc.).

    The 100mm f/2.8 Pentax macro is a fantastic lens from what I've seen (one of the NBR guys here has one). For its price, it's really impressive. Definitely worth thinking about, at least.

    I think we've discussed my opinions on the Foveon in the SD14 before: from what I've seen, at least, the color is really quite good - rich and vibrant. I'm not sure that I would personally trade some of the other quirks that those cameras have come to be known for for that performance, but I can certainly understand people who do. Also, I don't believe ISO 50 on the Foveon is native, but an "extended" setting; as I remember, ISO 100 is actually smoother, though it's been awhile since I've even held one of these cameras, so I'm not a reliable witness, as it were.

    Pending a little more info, I would probably bank on the XSi based on the flexibility of the system alone (though if you want a top LCD and like primes, I'd tend toward the Pentax). I'm almost sure the Sony will have the best live view, but expensive (and limited) lens options and overall price-for-features ratio have discouraged me on these a bit.

    dr
     
  4. AaronM

    AaronM News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Looking at the recent review, I'm a little turned-off of the k200d. The combination of dark viewfinder and no live view(one can't cover for the other) seems like it would get annoying.

    I did forget one Pro on the Sigma: easy IR photography. I've wanted to try that in a friends smithy, and the Sigma is the only camera, except the crazy Fuji, that makes IR work easy
    -a
     
  5. usapatriot

    usapatriot Well-Known Member

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    Well any camera with a Penta Mirror type viewfinder is not going to have the brightest viewfinder.

    You'll need to look at cameras with a Penta Prism viewfinder found on high end models like the Canon 40D, Pentax K20D, and Nikon D300.

    Well you can always buy an IR filter for any of the above cameras so I don't know what makes it easier on the Sigma.
     
  6. AaronM

    AaronM News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    but all the other(non Sigma) cameras have a IR-blocking fliter on the sensor, whereas the one on the Sigma is removable, so I could use a 72b and get only IR through to the sensor.

    As for prisms, that's why the Pentax was out, the other two with mirrors(Sony and Canon) have live view to use in a dark place, and the Sigma has a prism
    -a
     
  7. Ailish Eklof

    Ailish Eklof News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    Aaron,

    I'm in much the same place, and am leaning toward the Canon XSi, partly based on image quality, lens selection, and that it's smaller and lighter than many of the alternatives. So, for that reason, I think you, too, should get an XSi, and that way I could borrow some of the nifty lenses and accessories I imagine you'll end up getting. :)

    Ailish
     
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