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Less Expensive DSLR Recommendations?
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ghporter
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Apr 11, 2008, 02:32 PM
 
In this other thread I seem to have helped kill or derail I mentioned being very interested in a Canon EOS 40D DSLR. I still think it's a wonderful camera. Unfortunately, my bank account does not completely agree with me on this, because the camera is kind of expensive and doesn't even necessarily come with a lens.

Can anyone help me figure out the pros and cons of the lower end DSLRs, particularly Canons? For example, the soon to be released EOS Digital Rebel XSi is a 12MP camera that comes with a lens, but it's hundreds of dollars less expensive than the EOS 40D. The Digital Rebel XTi is about half the price of the 40D and has the same resolution. What's up with all of this? Can I get one of these less expensive cameras and get fast enough frame rates and response times to take good pictures of kittens or birds in motion? Can I do decent close-up and macro photography with them? What CAN'T I do with them that makes the 40D "all that"?

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Apr 11, 2008, 03:09 PM
 
I usually go here for some info on DSLR's.
Digital Camera Reviews and News: Digital Photography Review: Forums, Glossary, FAQ
PopPhoto - Digital camera reviews, digital SLR Tests, photography news and all things digital imaging.

Just to name a few. I was looking at the new rebel but decided not to mess around with changing lenses so bought a canon sx100is. This thing takes awesome pictures, and fits great in my pocket.
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ghporter  (op)
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Apr 11, 2008, 08:39 PM
 
Thanks, bearcatrp. I've found something that looks more doable-the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. Comfortable price, same effective resolution and lenses as the EOS 40D, a hot shoe (!) and more. I'm still lookin'!

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IceEnclosure
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Apr 13, 2008, 12:53 AM
 
I've not used a Canon DSLR so I don't really have any experience there. I do, however, have a Nikon D40 and I love it. It came with the 18-55 kit lens. I got a 55-200mm VR lens and a spare battery with it, and paid less than $600 for it all through Amazon. This isn't "Less Expensive", it's least expensive. : )

I've had the thing for just a few months, and I already have over 3500 shutter actuations.
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Apr 13, 2008, 08:38 AM
 
I was going to say the same as IceEnclosure. If you're open to the Nikon cameras, the D40 is a great camera for the price. Ken Rockwell reviewed it and raves about it. I've been using a D50 for the past two years and it too is a great camera, which you could find cheap secondhand (if you're open to secondhand cameras).

Can I get one of these less expensive cameras and get fast enough frame rates and response times to take good pictures of kittens or birds in motion? Can I do decent close-up and macro photography with them?
Cameras like the D40 and the Digital Rebel XTI will be able to do all that you asked but certain photos might work a lot nicer with specific lenses.
Kit lenses that you get (such as the 18-55mm which is common) will be good for day-to-day photos, but won't get you great indoor shots, nor very close up macro photography.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 13, 2008, 09:28 AM
 
Ice and mdc, thanks for the info. I already expected to need to start collecting lenses, but from what I've read, the 18-55mm lens is pretty much the standard "utility zoom" lens, much as the 30-80mm is the standard lens for a 35mm SLR. I can work with that quite well. Either through dedicated lenses or attachments, you can do anything-if you can swap lenses, and if your lenses are threaded for filters.

I'm leaning more toward the Digital Rebel XTi at the moment; it has a 10MP sensor versus the D40's 8MP, the ISO range is 100-1600 versus the D40's 200-1600, and I like the interface a bit better. Plus I can get it for around $600 with a lens.

This leads me to another question. When buying an entry level DSLR, has anyone found that "entry level" media are a problem? The XTi uses CF cards for storage, so do I need really fast cards or will just "fast" cards be fine? (Yes, I know I said in that other thread that storage interface speed should be in the tech data for the camera, but I just can't find it on Canon's site.)

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Apr 13, 2008, 11:50 AM
 
Youll not go far wrong with a 400D and a canon L series lens!!! :-)
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IceEnclosure
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Apr 13, 2008, 12:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Ice and mdc, thanks for the info. I already expected to need to start collecting lenses, but from what I've read, the 18-55mm lens is pretty much the standard "utility zoom" lens, much as the 30-80mm is the standard lens for a 35mm SLR. I can work with that quite well. Either through dedicated lenses or attachments, you can do anything-if you can swap lenses, and if your lenses are threaded for filters.

I'm leaning more toward the Digital Rebel XTi at the moment; it has a 10MP sensor versus the D40's 8MP, the ISO range is 100-1600 versus the D40's 200-1600, and I like the interface a bit better. Plus I can get it for around $600 with a lens.

This leads me to another question. When buying an entry level DSLR, has anyone found that "entry level" media are a problem? The XTi uses CF cards for storage, so do I need really fast cards or will just "fast" cards be fine? (Yes, I know I said in that other thread that storage interface speed should be in the tech data for the camera, but I just can't find it on Canon's site.)


D40's not even 8MP, it's just 6

XTi should work well for you, and like myself, I'll give you about 2 months before you're dying for new glass.
Regarding the CF cards, wouldn't the faster card also be of benefit when transferring to the computer via a card reader? I consider myself very budget-minded, and I don't see any downside to buying a faster card for a few more dollars.

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Apr 13, 2008, 12:56 PM
 
I love my D40 - it is, as was noted above, the least expensive DSLR, and a great camera. It is only 6mp (the D40x is 8mp, I think), but that's not very important for amateur photographers unless you have a need to print really large. My feeling is that if your budget is constraining, save on the body and spend the money on better lenses. You'll keep them longer than you will keep the body anyway.
( Last edited by peeb; Apr 13, 2008 at 01:09 PM. )
     
IceEnclosure
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Apr 13, 2008, 01:54 PM
 
If you shoot a sharp image, a D40 print can go to 13x19". I regularly print at 11x14".

The only real problem one faces with a 6MP camera is the reduced ability to crop and still print large.
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OreoCookie
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Apr 13, 2008, 06:05 PM
 
Megapixels are irrelevant, anything above 6 is fine (i. e. all dslrs sold today). Of couse, some people need more, but for most consumers anything above 6 is fine. ISO100 is also not really important to have as the sensor noise is fairly low in either case. I'd rather recommend that you invest money you might have in lenses. 18-55 kit lenses are not good, this is especially true of Canon's kit lenses. IMO you should do yourself a favor and skip kit lenses in favor of Sigma's or even even Tamron's 2.8/18-50 zooms.

If you prefer Canon's UI, get a Canon (just try all brands in a store). I would give a third option, though (Canon-oriented): how about a 30D? It's an 8 MP camera (no, that's not `bad' ), and very sturdily built.

I prefer the feel and user interface of Nikons. Canon's bottom-of-the-line cameras have always felt cheap (I haven't tried the new 450D, though).
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Apr 13, 2008, 06:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by IceEnclosure View Post
If you shoot a sharp image, a D40 print can go to 13x19". I regularly print at 11x14".

The only real problem one faces with a 6MP camera is the reduced ability to crop and still print large.
Yep - that is the issue. I'd still rather save the money and get a decent zoom lens. The results will be better than using the extra megapixels as an optical zoom.
     
IceEnclosure
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Apr 13, 2008, 07:18 PM
 
True.
Oh, I'm lusting after the Sigma 10-20mm for my D40. Hopefully in the next month or so.

Sigma 10-20 on D40 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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ghporter  (op)
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Apr 13, 2008, 07:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I would give a third option, though (Canon-oriented): how about a 30D? It's an 8 MP camera (no, that's not `bad' ), and very sturdily built.
Unfortunately, the 30D lists for around twice what the XTi does. I still haven't figured out the different lines, but the "Rebel" lines seem to be far less expensive than the plain EOS lines. And at the moment, it IS about money.

I got to play around with an XTi a bit at Office Depot today, and I do like it. It feels like a real camera-remember, I cut my teeth on a Canon A1 (not the AE1, mind you). I like the interface and the histogram display, but I really like the 9-point autofocus, and it tells you WHERE those 9 points are, so you can move it around. I'll admit that I haven't messed much with Nikons, but I did look at both the D40 and D40x (yes, that's where I got myself confused), but the layout of the controls wasn't where my fingers wanted to go, and at my age it's easier to adapt the camera to the fingers than vice versa.

I'm trying to find out how to price challenge something with one of my online vendors-hopefully I'll be able to get the kit I want for a touch less than $600 rather than about $640.

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Apr 28, 2008, 11:06 AM
 
I really want to make the jump to SLR too. Be sure to let us know what you choose and how you like it, Glenn.

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kikkoman
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Apr 28, 2008, 03:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Unfortunately, the 30D lists for around twice what the XTi does. I still haven't figured out the different lines, but the "Rebel" lines seem to be far less expensive than the plain EOS lines. And at the moment, it IS about money.
The Rebel series are Canon's consumer models. The EOS 40d and 30d are more prosumer. Image quality wise they are about the same. The 30d and 40d are better built, all metal body and more robust shutter. They also shoot a lot faster and give more control over exposure than the Rebels. I just picked up a Rebel XSI and like it so far.
     
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Apr 28, 2008, 04:28 PM
 
And according to that classification, what's the prosumer Nikon model?

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Apr 28, 2008, 05:14 PM
 
Nikon's prosumer model starts with the D80. It's a bit hard to tell, because Nikon's product raster has an offset compared to Canon's. D80 < 40D < D300 < 5D
( Last edited by IceEnclosure; May 1, 2008 at 02:53 AM. )
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ghporter  (op)
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Apr 28, 2008, 05:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by kikkoman View Post
The Rebel series are Canon's consumer models. The EOS 40d and 30d are more prosumer. Image quality wise they are about the same. The 30d and 40d are better built, all metal body and more robust shutter. They also shoot a lot faster and give more control over exposure than the Rebels. I just picked up a Rebel XSI and like it so far.
You left out the other major feature of the 30d and 40d: they cost at least twice as much as the EOS Rebel models. Thus my choice for my first DSLR is the XSi... Which is still backordered...

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Apr 28, 2008, 06:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
You left out the other major feature of the 30d and 40d: they cost at least twice as much as the EOS Rebel models. Thus my choice for my first DSLR is the XSi... Which is still backordered...
Hmm Really????

In England....

40D (body only) is £530 with the rebate.
450D (body only) is £540.

...id say get the 40D!
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Apr 28, 2008, 07:06 PM
 
[QUOTE=ghporter;3638051] The Digital Rebel XTi is about half the price of the 40D and has the same resolution. What's up with all of this?

Resolution isn't as important as the quality of the resolution. You pretty much can't go wrong with any of the dSLR offerings right now.

You should not neglect to try these cameras in your hand. Some may speak to you (ergonomically) more than others, and comfort is important.

Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Can I get one of these less expensive cameras and get fast enough frame rates and response times to take good pictures of kittens or birds in motion?
To my mind, framerate isn't that important. You might look for a camera that has, e.g., built-in shake reduction, which can add a few stops to a hand-held picture.

Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Can I do decent close-up and macro photography with them?
Macro photography is lens dependent, not body dependent. Get a good marco, and voila.

***

Since you're still looking, I'd encourage you to also take a look at other offerings than Canon and Nikon. Olympus and Pentax have some pretty interesting features -- Olympus with killer zooms and Pentax with amazing (and compact) primes. To my mind smart buying there can get you more camera for your buck.

FWIW I shoot with a Pentax K20D and love it. Check out the K200D -- a lot of camera for the money (and the ability to mount a lot of legacy glass).

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ghporter  (op)
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Apr 28, 2008, 10:32 PM
 
I prefer Canon-I'm used to their interface and terminology (from over 24 years ago), and I like the features sets they offer. And I'm not "still looking" anymore. I had to change my order because my first vendor didn't have it in stock and didn't have any date for when it was in stock. I went to Newegg and actually saved a bunch of money (but not as much as if I'd switched to GEICO ). But I'm getting the EOS Digital Rebel XTi, and it will be here by Thursday.

Kittens aren't racecars-a fast frame rate will capture enough pictures close enough together that I won't lose good setups because of quick kitten movement. Shake reduction might be helpful, but not for the kind of shots I'll be taking. The question about macro shooting was about the capabilities of the 18-55mm lens that comes with the kit. Someone has answered that it's OK with close subjects, not terribly good for macros-that tells me that I'll need a separate macro lens.

Thanks for the input though.

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Apr 30, 2008, 08:49 AM
 
Update-I forgot to take into account Newegg's processing time. The camera will show up on Friday. Just in time for studying for finals... But I'll have it and some time off shortly thereafter.

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Apr 30, 2008, 09:30 AM
 
I hate waiting for gear!

I have a domke bag being delivered today!
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reader50
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Apr 30, 2008, 01:30 PM
 
You could take it with you to finals. The instructor will understand. Just assure him/her that you are *NOT* testing the zoom on the papers of other students.
     
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Apr 30, 2008, 03:13 PM
 
I'm interested to see how you like yours... a Rebel XTi body with the 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS (I've found IS to be incredible from my P&S experience) lenses is on my short list of things to buy.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 30, 2008, 06:29 PM
 
I've fondled handled the XTi body at a number of stores, and I like it. I have big hands and the body fits me pretty well without feeling huge. I have a number of subjects I want to play with while getting comfortable with the camera-some tomato plants, kittens, my new bike, etc.-so there will be no lack of things to shoot. Just lots of junk pictures to learn from. We'll see how I like the lens too-EVERYTHING I know about lens focal lengths comes from 35mm work, and that was a long time ago anyway. Hopefully I'll get the feel for this pretty quickly.

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May 3, 2008, 07:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
This leads me to another question. When buying an entry level DSLR, has anyone found that "entry level" media are a problem? The XTi uses CF cards for storage, so do I need really fast cards or will just "fast" cards be fine? (Yes, I know I said in that other thread that storage interface speed should be in the tech data for the camera, but I just can't find it on Canon's site.)
You want speedy cards. It's not only the camera operations that are enhanced by
their use but remember you're reading and often writing to them with your Mac.

I'm using these for the past 4 years (I have a whole stack of them!) and never once
a dead card, corrupted file, or disappointment of any kind.

A-DATA Technology
A-DATA Technology
A-DATA Technology

The 266x card is ultra speedy! My cams fly and I feel very comfortable editing the
images right on the card with PS or whatever. I dunno what the prices are in the US
but here in Japan they are not only the fastest cards I've used, they're also the very
cheapest cards I've seen - at any speed. The 2gigers were like $30 bucks back when
2 gig cards were rare and very expensive.

Also I noticed someone in this thread said having ISO 100 (sensor amplification level)
available is not important cus newer sensors don't produce much noise.

Umm, This is very mistaken. All CCD cameras produce too much noise at anything over
ISO 100. My Minolta A2 porsumer camera does, the Mamiya ZD 22mp digital back I had
did and all the buttloads of prosumer CCD based models I've owned in the past did.
There is just always an unacceptable amount of noise at amplifications over 100 and the
only way through it is to use algorithms (either in camera or in software) to remove it.
And the image always suffers. I pretty much always used the Mamiya at ISO 50, and all
the DC's I've owned at 100 or lower if available. My Nikon is probably the noiselessest ()
DC I've owned but it's CMOS with a pixel pitch (key to S/N ratio!) of 5.49µm - even so
there is still a noticeable amount of noise at anything over 100. Around 400 or 800 it
becomes such a terrible problem the shots are really only good in massively reduced
resolutions of some kind - like newspaper photos, web-page sizes, or etc.

Noise reduction algorithms are getting better in recent years but they still aren't up to
studio grade snuff and the results fall WAY short of using the same sensor at 100 or
below. If you need a professional solution for high-speed photography the only real
answer today just as it was 20 years ago, is to go with a brighter lens. Something like:


Canon EF 85 mm F1.2 L II lens (Mark II): Digital Photography Review



Three new super telephoto Nikon AF-S VR lenses: Digital Photography Review



Sigma APO 200 - 500 mm F2.8 lens: Digital Photography Review



Sigma 200-500 f/2.8 EX DG: Digital Photography Review

I know this info isn't critical for someone looking for "Less Expensive DSLR Recommendations"
but I think it's important to note that with the exception of a few VERY recent releases, sensors
have actually gotten noisier since the 4MP days in prosumer and consumer grade DCs and it's an
interesting part of the discussion.
( Last edited by Tesselator; May 4, 2008 at 02:07 AM. )
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Tesselator
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May 4, 2008, 02:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by Timo View Post
FWIW I shoot with a Pentax K20D and love it.
BTW,
People landing here with a search on K20D or coming in from the YouTube back
track might want to know that Samsung GX-20 and the Pentax K20D are 100%
identical with the exception of the menu layout and a tiny bit of body and button
styling - and also the Samsung costs considerably less than the Pentax.

Both are very nice DSCs!
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IceEnclosure
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May 4, 2008, 05:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
Umm, This is very mistaken. All CCD cameras produce too much noise at anything over ISO 100.

heh, what?

too much noise for WHAT? name it.
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OreoCookie
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May 4, 2008, 06:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
All CCD cameras produce too much noise at anything over
ISO 100.
Really?
In my experience, dslrs have better noise characteristics than film. For example, I've recently had a picture printed for my parents' birthdays (it's an available light shot in an udon restaurant in Nagoya). I took it with a Nikon F80 on Ilford FP4 Plus (ISO125 bw negative film). I've had it scanned with a professional scanner, the resulting image file has at least 16 MP. This is a 100 % crop:

Compare this to 100 % crop of a shot with my D80 (originally a portrait at a wedding in Manchester):

Can you guess the ISO without looking at the file name?
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Tesselator
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May 4, 2008, 01:39 PM
 
OK, Im gong to guess. The brown one looks like it's over 800 and the B&W is
difficult to tell - because it's B&W. At 800 and over a CCD starts producing
massive color splotches. You should be able to see 15 pixel wide false color
blotches by increasing the saturation or isolating the color channels which
won't be there at 400 - at 400 they will be about 5 or 6 pixels wide, at 200
they'll be 2 or 3 pixels and at 100 and below they'll be about 1 pixel wide.
I see false color that is caused by amplifying a CCD's sensitivity, in there that
are over 15 pixels so I deduct that it's over ISO 800.

The B&W I'm going to guess is also over 800.

OK, now I'm going to submit and look at the file names.
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Tesselator
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May 4, 2008, 02:46 PM
 
400 on the brown and a film scan of 125 on the B&W...

I forgot to read the top paragraph of your quote before I replied. "In my experience,
dslrs have better noise characteristics than film." - yeah, I understand why you might
think that. I don't think it's "better" or "worse" just different and a HUGE amount of
that depends on the film, film age, film temperature, exposure time, and etc. I have
a roll of 400 C4 Kodak I shot while water-skiing and wind surfing on a bright day
with exposures all less than 1/3000, where the film was manufactured 2 days prior,
and the air temp was in the 50s F. It was processed about 2 hours after the shoot
and the resulting 8x10s had no detectable noise in them at all - literally zero grain.
Kodachrome 25/64 which is a color dye processes through chemical sublimation
"fogging" also has nearly zero grain - 25 ASA rating actually has zero where 64 has
a density layer that starts to show some grain spec when scanned at 32 megapixel
resolution. 25 ASA Kodachrome is said to hold the equivalent detail as a 50 megapixel
digital negative but that's subjective and the number goes way higher or a little lower
depending who you're talking to.

The newish Canon and Sony (Nikon) CMOS chips with a cell die of less then 6um are
inherently less noisier than any of the CCDs in production in 2007 that I read about.
So things are looking up! But IceEnclosure brings up a pretty good point I guess.
Photography is art so why not just enjoy the results of the current technology and
let the engineers at Sony and Canon worry about and be critical of it's limitations?
A good question indeed and certainly there are times when I liked an overly grainy
image - seriously.

That said I'm wondering how long it will be till we learn to vectorize in camera, the
images which pass through our lenses in combination with light-field technology
so as to produce a nearly infinitely scalable image - not to mention what we could
do in the editing bay with such image data.
( Last edited by Tesselator; May 4, 2008 at 03:07 PM. )
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Tesselator
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May 4, 2008, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by IceEnclosure View Post
heh, what?

too much noise for WHAT? name it.
To answer directly: Any noise at all is a bad thing! And as soon as it's noticeable to
a person with 2.0 | 2.0 vision when displayed at print sizes of 8x10 or so it's "too
much". At least that's my definition.

This looks promising: Sony announces development of 35mm CMOS sensor: DPR
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May 4, 2008, 05:09 PM
 
The BW film is Ilford FP4 Plus and hence is ISO125 (I thought I'd have tipped you off with the name only, Ilford's ISO400 film was the HP4 (not sure if the last version was `plus'). The FP4 has had a good reputation of having little noise and high resolution, and of course I have examples where it fares better. Perhaps the relative graininess is due to some mistakes developing of the film rather than the raw material itself when it came out of my camera. I have to admit it's one of the grainiest pictures with FP4 I've taken.
I also have many color films (most of them Fuji Superia 100 or 400), but the picture I've posted was the only one I have a decent scan of. The others were scanned with my flatbed and it's just not a fair comparison to scan a perfectly good negative with a crappy scanner and then compare quality
Otherwise, I would have picked a second and third example … you see my dilemma Also, I think the picture is great because of the graininess, I love seeing it on the wall of my parents.

All I wanted to say was that we've gotten pretty spoiled, because there are things sensors can do better now than film. Sure, there is Kodak Technopan 50 (I think that's the name) that has a wonderfully different way of taking pictures, emphasizing contrasts. But anything beyond the 100-400/800 range is rather exotic material (read: too expensive for me to afford at that time under usual circumstances). I've used ISO1600 film only once or twice, for instance, on digital, I use it quite often.

I hear numbers about resolution of film (in terms of megapixels), but most or them are practically meaningless. AFAIK the physical resolution of films are of the order of magnitude 100 lines/mm (some of the highest numbers I remember are 140 lines/mm), but that's just the film. It's meaningless. Then there is the rest of the camera (optics, film transport mechanism, film being perfectly flat, etc.). Also, in these days, you would like to scan it. So in the end, you'll have to work hard to best digital sensors in some respects.

Different technologies have trade-offs. I was thinking of getting a medium format equipment back in the film days. But I couldn't have been as spontaneous with it, so I decided against it. Different purposes, different tools
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May 4, 2008, 05:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I've fondled handled the XTi body at a number of stores, and I like it. I have big hands and the body fits me pretty well without feeling huge.
And in an interesting twist of irony, the biggest complaint about the Rebel series is that many people complain that they're too small for their hands. XD
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ghporter  (op)
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May 4, 2008, 06:11 PM
 
Mastrap mentioned that in a post in the Photo Critique thread. I'm astounded. I have big hands, and the XTi body is a nice handful for me. How can this relatively large camera be "too small" for people's hands?

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May 4, 2008, 07:43 PM
 
I think Mastrap would crush my D40 in his overly large hands!
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May 4, 2008, 11:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
...Also, in these days, you would like to scan it. So in the end, you'll have to
work hard
to best digital sensors in some respects.

Different technologies have trade-offs. Different purposes, different tools

Yep! That's why I got my fist Nikon Digital too! I must have had at least 8 different
slide and film scanners always trying to get higher and higher resolution textures for
my CG TV/Film work. I pretty much exclusively shot Kodachrome 25 so you can guess
I was a big fan of tripods. I currently never set any of my cameras to over 100. The
Minolta A2 stays on ISO 64 100% of the time and the Nikon D2x is almost always at
100 though with its sensor 125, 160, and 200 look "OK".

I almost never take a picture with either of these two cameras off of a tripod although
the A2 is usually on the carry-able one and collapsed.


Gumby says hi...
( Last edited by Tesselator; May 5, 2008 at 12:03 AM. )
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IceEnclosure
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May 4, 2008, 11:56 PM
 
I want a blue nikon strap now. thanks jerk!
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May 5, 2008, 12:38 AM
 
You'll have to battle Gumby for it...
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mkerr64
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May 7, 2008, 10:47 PM
 
KenRockwell.com

this website has great information on cameras, reviews, recommendations etc...
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butterfly0fdoom
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May 8, 2008, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Mastrap mentioned that in a post in the Photo Critique thread. I'm astounded. I have big hands, and the XTi body is a nice handful for me. How can this relatively large camera be "too small" for people's hands?
Because other dSLRs are larger than the Rebels.
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May 9, 2008, 01:25 AM
 
I never mind about the form-factor of a DSC. I care a little bit about where
the physical controls are located and a little more about what functions are
controllable visa-vie. But generally not enough to base any purchase decisions
on unless all other things are equal.

I care about the image sensor 1st and then things like the focusing and tracking
system - speed and performance, The metering systems - speed and performance,
general accuracy throughout, extras - like anti-shake or ccd self cleaning systems,
expandability, then to build quality, battery life, remote controllability, external
connections, and etc.

I have pretty large hands and I've used some truly tiny cameras without being hindered
by it's size. It usually just takes a few moments of handling the device to become happy
with it - one-handed shooting, tripod required, two-handed, the double index-thumb
combination vulcan pinch, it's all good.
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