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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Help me pick an SLR! *please* :-)
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10/26/2005 11:39:04 PM · #1
Ok, I need some help deciding on an SLR etc. and would love some advice :-) First, I'm not looking to go professional with photography, just to have a camera that can get good images. Second, most of the stuff I shoot/plan to shoot would likely be: portraits/candids, macro, wildlife/nature, and landscapes. Hahahaha, ok, so that's a lot. I guess what I will really need is a system that is pretty flexible, which is why I've researched standard lenses and zooms.

So, here's what I've found. Any input you have on lenses and whether or not these are good choices would be FABULOUS! And (sadly) I'm budget restricted to these cameras (though I have to say that they are better than what I have and like them all!) I know they all have pros and cons.....

Olympus E-300 with 2 lens kit: $749.00
14-45 f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko EZ Zoom
40-150 f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ Zoom

Nikon D50 with 2 lenses: $849.85
Nikor 70-300 f/4-5.6 G
Nikor 28-80 f/3.3-5.6 G
Memory Card

Pentax *ist DL with 2 lenses: $855.80
Pentax 28-80 f/3.5-5.6
Pentax 100-300 f/4.7-5.8
Memory Card

Canon 300D with 2 lenses: $873.90
Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6
Canon EF 35-80 f/4.0-5.6 III

Olympus E-500 with 2 lens kit: $899.99
14-45 f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko EZ Zoom
40-150 f/3.5-4.5 Zuiko EZ Zoom

Having not done this before, I want to make sure that the lenses I've selected aren't completely bogus choices :-) I'm trying to save money, but DANG! I want to be able to take pictures with what I get :-)

Thank you all very much for your help!!
10/26/2005 11:41:16 PM · #2
Remember that when you're buying an SLR you're buying into a lens system more than the camera body. You may upgrade to a better body later, but your glass can just go with you.

For that reason I recommend the Nikon or Canon. I'm a former Nikon person converted to Canon so you can guess which I'd recommend. Really either are good choices.
10/26/2005 11:43:25 PM · #3
The best way is to go into a camera store and either use them or just hold them for a while.

But go either Canon or Nikon

Message edited by author 2005-10-26 23:43:41.
10/26/2005 11:45:02 PM · #4
I'd recommend to review them all and see which offers the best features for you, but then go and try them out and see which feels best to you as well!
10/26/2005 11:45:43 PM · #5
I've heard bad news about the Nikkor 70-300 f/4-5.6 G
10/26/2005 11:45:56 PM · #6
Hold each one in your hands before buying.
10/26/2005 11:46:18 PM · #7
Originally posted by ttreit:

For that reason I recommend the Nikon or Canon. I'm a former Nikon person converted to Canon so you can guess which I'd recommend. Really either are good choices.


You can still be saved from the dark side, there is still time :)

j/k - I don't want to start a religous debate, both are excellent.
10/26/2005 11:46:36 PM · #8
I love my Canon 300D...BUT, after nearly 2 years and lots of practice here, if you can afford one of the next up in that line, I recommend it. I would like to have mirror lock-up and one or two other features not available on the 300D. (Unless you like hacking the software on your warranteed camera, that is.) Small things, maybe. But if you're the type to stick with equipment for a couple of years (or more), you'll eventually want the extra nicities...
10/26/2005 11:47:14 PM · #9
Buy the best you can afford. You won't regret it. There is no "bargain hunting" in good equipment.
10/26/2005 11:49:14 PM · #10
I looked at Nikon and Canon. I went with canon for several reasons, one being more lens options (go and look at what is available from the manufacturer and sigma, tamron, tokina at //www.bhphoto.com)

Anyway, on your list of lenses for the 300D:
the sigma 70-300 is ok ONLY and ONLY if you get teh $219 APO model. The non-APO is about $159 and NOT worth the savings.
The lens you chose, the 35-80 is crap. If average works, the kit lens is fine (with the body i htink it adds $100. you can get them like nnew on ebay for $70 or less). A decent alternative is teh Tamron 28-80 3.5-5.6 for $50-70.
One lens everyone will recomend is the canon 50mm 1.8 for $70 or so.
Ther are other good lens choices, but your tight budget really limits your options, at least for now.

memory cards you can pick up on sale at best buy/staples etc as time goes on. watch for rebates and you can get em cheap.
10/26/2005 11:51:32 PM · #11
Originally posted by KaDi:

I love my Canon 300D...BUT, after nearly 2 years and lots of practice here, if you can afford one of the next up in that line, I recommend it. I would like to have mirror lock-up and one or two other features not available on the 300D. (Unless you like hacking the software on your warranteed camera, that is.) Small things, maybe. But if you're the type to stick with equipment for a couple of years (or more), you'll eventually want the extra nicities...


not a warranty issue. many folks have sent in cameras with the hack loaded, and they get fixed. many come back with the hack still in there, some have hte canon software in there. you can, depending on the issue, reload teh canon software before sending it back in. The features in the hack make the 300D much better and more 20D like in many ways, saving you hundreds of dollars. it only takes 10 minutes!
10/26/2005 11:54:09 PM · #12
Originally posted by jpeters:

I've heard bad news about the Nikkor 70-300 f/4-5.6 G


I haven't had any problems with this lens at all. I actually like it for the cheap price that I got it for. I'm sure some others might feel differently, but this has been a great starter zoom lens for me.
10/27/2005 12:05:11 AM · #13
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

I looked at Nikon and Canon. I went with canon for several reasons, one being more lens options (go and look at what is available from the manufacturer and sigma, tamron, tokina at //www.bhphoto.com)


Seems whenever I try and contact B&H they're on a bloody holiday of some sort! I never get return emails! So, I don't bother now!
10/27/2005 12:06:55 AM · #14
hold them all before you buy. if you dont plan on buying super expensive lenses a bunch down the road i would really look at the olympus e500 you mentioned. that is probably the best body and glass youll get for that price range, in my opinion. The olympus glass is quite good.

If I didn't get nikon i'd probably get olympus (probly because they also make a fisheye for digital now!)
10/27/2005 12:11:08 AM · #15
Is 50mm maybe wide enough for most purposes? I don't intend to be taking panoramas, but I do want a lens that could work for macro and portraits. I'm VERY excited about the zoom lenses, as that will make it much easier to take pics of animals and such :-) I find I can't always get close enough to the things I want to shoot.

So would the Canon 50mm suffice, in place of the kit lens?

I guess right now, what I'm looking for are lenses that will get the job done. If I had all the money in the world, I'd go straight to the really good stuff, but I'm still learning my style and the money is limited as well. So I don't want to get lenses that will give BAD pics, but I realize that L glass and the like is obviously better than these cheaper options :-)
10/27/2005 12:12:30 AM · #16
Each camera has different crop factors. So 50mm is not really wide. It's pretty good for like street photography though.
10/27/2005 12:14:19 AM · #17
If it were me, I'd get the 350D (Rebel XT) for the same price if you drop one of those lenses for now. The chip in it does not just have more megapixels, but the biggest difference is the noise improvement. For example, the XT Rebel at ISO 1600 is about the same quality as the regular Rebel at 400. I know cause I just sold my Rebel (300D). You can always buy better lenses that are worth keeping as time goes on.
10/27/2005 12:25:39 AM · #18
BUT I love my 300D!!! Honestly I've had no regrets since I bought it .. but stay away from the 75-300mm IS lens because it is a battery hog!!
10/27/2005 12:58:13 AM · #19
I've given up trying to be intelligent about recommending cameras on this site. You really do just have to go with what feels right to you after you hold and try each camera.

I do have to say, though, that listening to people that *only* recommend either Nikon or Canon will be closing your eyes to some fantastic camera systems.
10/27/2005 01:06:05 AM · #20
I would avoid the older Canon 300D and Olympus E-300 in favor of newer models. Keep your eyes on DealMac and DealCam for bargains. This week alone I've seen the Olympus E-500 for $633 and the Canon 350D for $664 (both WITH kit lenses). I've also seen the Nikon D50 for $696 and Minolta 5D for $780- also with kit lenses (both still available). IMO, these are the four best "inexpensive" models out there, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Canon and Nikon have the best lens selections (the D50 is a slightly better camera, with a more comfortable grip)
The Olympus gives you a "self-cleaning" sensor and a huge LCD
The Minolta also has a big LCD, and image stabilization built into the camera

As others have suggested, go to a camera store and hold all four before you decide.

Message edited by author 2005-10-27 01:12:27.
10/27/2005 01:12:16 AM · #21
I'd recommend looking at the Minolta 5D or 7D. I have a Canon 350D, and I love it, but I think image stabilization is an important feature, and with the two Minolta's, you get that built into the camera, rather than paying for it each time.

And what does that mean? If I were starting over, I'd buy the 5D or 7D and the excellent Sigma 18-125 or 18-200, and you'd have a killer combination of a nice sharp compact lens with incredible zoom range, near macro capabilities, and image stabilization to boot! With the 5D, you'd also have a "compact camera killer", with the range of the S2 or Panasonic Lumix FZ5 or FZ30, but the large sensor and great response of an SLR.

Just my 2c. Hmmm, maybe I should buy a second SLR!

10/27/2005 01:41:24 AM · #22
Now if I can just find stores within an hour of where I live that CARRY all of these options :-) It seems that not to many places in the middle of Illinois have the Olympus or the Pentax in store :-(

Anybody who owns one wanna come sleep on my couch for a night so I can try it out?? I make AWESOME beef stroganoff!!! I'm just saying...... ;-)
10/27/2005 02:05:23 AM · #23
I can tell you about the Olympus cameras. First off, the prices you listed for both the E-300 and E-500 can be gotten a lot cheaper.
Secondly, if you are buying the two lens kit with either of those cameras, you are getting a really great deal and those two lenses have a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28mm to 300mm. That's a pretty wide range in focal length that will probably be very good for greater than 90% of your photography. Plus, the kit lenses supplied are much better than the kit lenses of the competition. The only other lens I can see purchasing would be a macro lens, of which Olympus has two, a 35mm and 50mm (70mm and 100mm 35mm equivalents).

In either of the Oly cameras you listed you get a self cleaning sensor, which is a great feature since with all of the other cameras you are considering you will have to clean the sensor yourself, or send it out to a shop to get done.

The Oly cameras are feature rich, much more so than the others, and if you are learning, they are great cameras to learn on since you have so much control. They both have mirror lockup, which is important in shutter speeds between 1/2 sec to 1/30th sec.

One thing you should know about the Oly cameras is that they can be more noisy than the Canons (not sure about the others) at high ISOs (greater than 800 iso), but unless you will be doing a lot of low light photography, you won't normally be shooting with high ISO.

The E-300 is a very robustly built camera and is also sensitive to the infrared spectrum, which would be important if you are decide that you want to have some fun with IR photography.

Image quality on both the 300 and 500 is very good, especially with color and they have high dynamic range, meaning you will be able to capture detail in dark shadows and very bright highlights.

One more thing...Olympus gives very good, and very quick, customer service, should your camera need any kind of servicing, unlike one other company that was discussed earlier this week in the forums which will remain nameless.

Good luck and have fun.
10/27/2005 03:06:25 AM · #24
If lens quality is a priority, and you don't want to have to upgrade your lenses right away, I say get the Oly 500 with the 2 lens kit. I know it is the most expensive of the packages you posted, but if you can afford it, you will be getting the best value for your money.


Originally posted by ladyhawk22:

So would the Canon 50mm suffice, in place of the kit lens?

No, they are not the same thing and won't serve the same purpose. The 50mm is a very good lens, fast aperture which is good for low light shots, and sharper than it should be for the price. The 18-55 kit lens has more range, it has a reputation as a cheapie but I think it works much better than people give it credit for if you don't use it in extreme conditions like low light.

Check out what dpc'ers have done with each here:
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

The Oly lenses are too new to have representative results yet.
10/27/2005 03:18:28 AM · #25


Message edited by author 2005-10-27 03:25:01.
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