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Digital SLR - In the market

Travel Forums Travel Photography Digital SLR - In the market

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1. Posted by agc_cwm (Travel Guru, 45 posts) 26 May '06 22:17

I'm in the market for a new camera. I've been looking at digital SLRs, and have decided that this is what I'm going with. Can anyone recommend brands/models? How are they for travelling? I do a lot of wildlife photography, mostly marine life, so I need a camera with minimal delay (I have too many pictures of water, and not enough with whales).

Also, I am currently in Japan, so if anyone has any advice on navigating this marketplace, please fill me in.

Thanks in advance!

2. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru, 8868 posts) 27 May '06 02:48

Hi there,
Depends on your budget, and if you have a SLR now and want to keep the lenses you are already using.
Top SLR's at the moment:
Canon: D350 (budget priced SLR) or D20, D30, both semi-professional
Nikon: D50 and D70,
Like I stated it depends on what your budget is and lenses, also what 'feel' you have for any camera.
But you won't go wrong with any of those i've listed. Just pick one up and have a play to see if you like it.

I got a D20 (now superceeded by the D30, but still in production), as i was told by lots of people that i'd get bored with the 350 quickly as i've used slr's for years. Also the size and quality of build were better.

Good luck, and happy shooting

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4365 posts) 27 May '06 03:38

Nikon and Canon DSLRs are really the only two brands worth considering. There's some from other brands as well, but you're buying into a system, and you'll very quickly be stuck with it, so going for one of the two which have a huge range of options is definitely recommendable.
The way to choose is to pick the two or three cameras around your price point, and hold them in your hands - see which handles more comfortably. For me, two years ago when the only affordable options where the Nikon D70 and the Canon 300D, that was the Nikon D70. It felt much more solid, and just had all the buttons where my fingers wanted them to be, plus a grip that I could very comfortably hold.
There's differences in features of course, so if you know exactly that you must have flash sync at 1/500, or really good noise handling at ISO 3200, or somesuch, then that will make the choice for you, but basically you can assume that Canon and Nikon's respective cameras at the same price point will be comparable.

Street prices (taking rough averages of dpreview listed prices) at this point are Nikon D50 (~$550) - Canon 350D (~$700) - Nikon D70s (~$900) - Canon 20D (~$1050) - Canon 30D (~$1300) - Nikon D200 (~$1700) (This last is the camera I currently own, and on features I'd say that it blows away even the ~$3000 Canon 5D, and for a serieus amateur is as good as the full-blown professional cameras in the price segment above that.)

Minimal delay is inherent in these DLSRs; doesn't really matter which one you go for there. I've traveled extensively with both the D70 and the D200 - it's less convenient than a point and shoot which you can just put in your pocket, but it's definitely worth it. You will want to stick to just one or two lenses for travelling though. On the Nikon side of things, the 18-200mm VR lens (~$700 - available as a kit lens with the D200 as well) is probably the most useful travel lens ever, offering very good quality pretty much throughout its entire range, and vibration reduction is just very useful at times, especially for your wildlife shooting, where you'd constantly operate on the long end. (Its main problem is that it has some purple fringing on the wide end, so if you have money to spare, the 12-24mm makes a nice addition if you're into shooting landscapes as well.) I don't know if Canon has an answer to that particular lens.
Generally speaking the Nikon kitlenses have been getting raves, while the Canon kitlenses are only so-so (some Canon shooter correct me if I'm wrong), but if you prefer the feel of a Canon, that means you'd simply buy a "back only" DSLR, and then add a more expensive Canon lens with the money you've saved by doing that.

[ Edit: Edited at May 27, 2006 3:39 AM by Sander ]

4. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru, 8868 posts) 27 May '06 13:25

Sander,
Your comment on so-so for the Canon lens is only half the story.
Canon are producing three ranges on lenses.
The first ones are the budget priced (V.cheap, polycarb bodies and fittings) quality of lens is comparible with the nikon lens, the next ones up are metal bodied and comparable with the Nikkor lenses (correct me if i've got them around the wrong way), and the professional branded (with the white bodies) these are some of the best in the world, but you pay through the noses for them.

Lens ranges canon wise look for:
10-22 to go with:
24-70 and 70-300 or
28-200,or 28-300,or 35-350
should cover almost all the ranges.

I'm a Canon fan and i know Sander is Nikon, we could argue the pro's and con's of each brand till the cows come home. For some reason it's that sort of thing (windows v linux etc...). But I agree they are the best two brands with the quality and range of lenses. The one you feel the like of and get a good deal on is the camera you should go for.

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4365 posts) 27 May '06 14:02

Quoting Jase007

Sander,
Your comment on so-so for the Canon lens is only half the story.
Canon are producing three ranges on lenses.

Oh yes, I didn't mean to imply that Canon don't create absolutely excellent lenses. They do, and at the highest price range, I believe they even have a way better selection than Nikon does. I was just commenting on the lenses that are bundled by default in the starter kits when you buy one of these entry level DSLRs.
For example, the most common (and popular?) lens that Nikon bundles (with the D70 and even the D200) would be the 18-70 DX, which has been pretty universally hailed as a superb lens (optically; most of the photos in my gallery here on travellerspoint have been taken with that lens) with performance far exceeding the expectations based on the cost (~$300). I think it's available as a kit option for the D50 as well, although the default 18-55 lens there isn't anything to rave about. And likewise, as far as I know, the lens(es?) that is(are?) bundled with the Canon cameras by default are just not worth bothering with. (Looking at dpreview, that would be the EF-S 18-55 DC for just $100 more over the price of the body, for both 350D, 20D and 30D.)

So basically what I was saying to the original poster is that if you buy a Nikon, it's worth buying a kit that includes a starter lens (as long as it isn't the 18-55), but if you buy a Canon (and assuming I'm correct here), you should buy the body only and then buy a more expensive higher quality lens next to it.

[ Edit: Edited at May 27, 2006 2:13 PM by Sander ]

6. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru, 8868 posts) 28 May '06 04:40

Quoting Sander

I think it's available as a kit option for the D50 as well, although the default 18-55 lens there isn't anything to rave about. And likewise, as far as I know, the lens(es?) that is(are?) bundled with the Canon cameras by default are just not worth bothering with. (Looking at dpreview, that would be the EF-S 18-55 DC for just $100 more over the price of the body, for both 350D, 20D and 30D.)

So basically what I was saying to the original poster is that if you buy a Nikon, it's worth buying a kit that includes a starter lens (as long as it isn't the 18-55), but if you buy a Canon (and assuming I'm correct here), you should buy the body only and then buy a more expensive higher quality lens next to it.

Yes, I agree with you on that one, when i got my 20D I took the 18-55mm lens as it was only £10 difference. But they are the cheapest of the range and would recommend getting the better lenses. I use it when i'm going somewhere I don't want the others to get ruined (parties, motor-x etc..).

7. Posted by Q' (Moderator, 1987 posts) 28 May '06 07:14

Forget about the body. Put all your money in good lenses. Do what I did, go to the Nikon or Canon website, print out their lens spec's, and highlight the lenses you want. Which ever brand has the most highlights. Get that.

8. Posted by pixcee (Full Member, 28 posts) 31 May '06 06:21

I just got the Canon Rebel XT a few months ago and I LOVE it..it has a smaller body size, which is nice for my little hands. The lens it comes with isnt that great thou..I use my 28-80mm lens from my rebel 35mm camera instead. So I definately recommend this camera body with a different lens than the one that comes with it.
:)

9. Posted by Kelvin Ang (Budding Member, 43 posts) 3 Jun '06 15:11

I would suggest taking a look at Pentax's offerings. Traditionally, Pentax has offered smaller DSLRs at lower price points that perform just as well, if not better, than the competition. In my opinion, comparing value for money, few models can beat the Pentax *ist DL kit. If you can wait longer, an upcoming model (Pentax K100D) offers an anti-shake sensor technology that makes shooting at night without bumping up the ISO an easier task.

10. Posted by agc_cwm (Travel Guru, 45 posts) 23 Jun '06 07:45

Thanks to everyone for imparting your knowledge of things photographic. I purchased a Canon Digital Kiss (Japan's version of the Rebel) kit today, and have been trying to figure out how to get optimal shots with it. Decided to give it a month to figure out how to use it before summer vacation in Hokkaido. I've never used anything more than a point-and-shoot before, so I'm looking forward to learning. Consider the advice about the 28-80mm lens duly noted, and I intend to pick up an addition when my understanding of the basics improves, and when I've got the cash saved up.

Again, thanks for the advice!