Cerebral Gibberish

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Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Camera Research: Part 2

Posted by heymoe on 29th July 2007

I’ve spent a lot of time in forums on several websites related to photography and found several people that are in the same position that I am in. They are looking to buy their first DSLR camera or want to upgrade to a different body but don’t know which one to get or they have already narrowed down their selection to two or so and post questions like “Which is better X or Y”. You’ll also see questions like “How does X work for [insert style of photography here. IE: nature] photography.” and of course you’ll see a lot of technical questions about different brands as well. One thing to note about a lot of forums is that they are broken up by manufacture and / or model so if you ask a question about which is better X or Y into the forum that is dedicated to brand X, chances are just about all the responses are going to be positive for brand X and not so much for Y. People don’t like making bad decisions so they’ll most likely support what they bought. So you might have to post your questions to both brand’s forums try to pick out the least biased responses for both brands.

After filtering though the responses, the most unbiased answers I saw were the ones from people that had experience with all the cameras question and provided their personal pros and cons list for each camera. Another helpful answer that might not be considered when shopping for a camera are relate to the ergonomics and general usage of the camera. Several people recommend going to a store and actually holding and using the camera. See how well the grip fits into ones hand. How heavy is it and does it feel balanced with a lens attached? How easy it is to change some of the common settings like ISO, white balance, aperture and shutter speed? Do you have to dig though several layers of menus to make common changes or are their dedicated buttons for them? It does not matter how good the features of the camera are if the actual feel and usage of the camera makes you want to put it down.

To get an idea about the ergonomics of the cameras on my list I stopped by my local Best Buy and Circuit City. You might not be able to get answers to specific questions at these types of stores but they did have every camera on my list, except for the Nikon D200, out on display with easy access without having to deal with a sales person except to tell them you’re just looking. I had to visit my local Wolf Camera to get my hands on the Nikon D200.

Here is the size and weight of each camera in my list.

Size and Weight:

  • Nikon D40 – 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 522 g (1.2 lb)
  • Nikon D40x – 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 522 g (1.2 lb)
  • Canon XT – 127 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 540 g (1.2 lb)
  • Canon XTi – 127 x 94 x 65 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) – 556 g (1.2 lb)
  • Nikon D80 – 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in) – 668 g (1.5 lb)
  • Canon 30D – 144 x 106 x 74 mm (5.6 x 4.2 x 2.9 in) – 785 g (1.7 lb)
  • Nikon D200 – 147 x 113 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in) – 913 g (2.0 lb)

NOTE: Weights are made up of the body and the battery only and I don’t make any guarantee that these number are 100% accurate.

As you can see in above, the Nikon D40 and the D40x as well as the Canon XT and XTi are pretty much the same size and weight. Overall I felt that all of these felt small in my hands. Wrapping my right hand around the grips felt like most of the support was being supplied by my palm and finger tips leaving the rest of the surface area of my fingers floating over the grip. To me this made the cameras feel less stable when you had to move the index finger around to make changes or take a picture. The grip on the D80 and the 30D felt good and did not feel like I was having to use only my fingertips and palm support the body like I had to with the smaller bodies. I could tell the difference in weight between the D80 and the 30D but it was not that bad. I think the D200 had the best feeling grip of them all and it felt solid but I wish it was a little lighter.

Usage wise the menu system across each model of the same brand had pretty much the same layout. I felt that both systems were organized in a logical manner that one could quickly find their way around the menus after using them for a while. The D80, 30D and the D200 had the added benefit of dedicated buttons for a lot of the common settings which I found nice instead of having to navigate through the menu system to make those changes. The D80 and D200 had a nice feature called Auto ISO which allowed you to set the Max ISO setting you wanted to use as well as the slowest shutter speed you wanted to use thus allowing the camera to change the ISO setting as needed for you. The 30D had a really nice dial on the back that allowed you to quickly scroll though the menus as well as to make changes to the different settings quickly.

All in all after physically laying my hands on each of the cameras and using them in the store I’ve dropped the D40, D40x, XT and XTi from my list. I really did not like how these four felt in my hands, some lacked features I was looking or were to much of a entry level body that I felt I would grow out of it to quickly. All four of these cameras are fully capable of taking excellent pictures and some have the features like the D80, D200 and 30D. So if you’re in the market for a camera, don’t toss these four out from your list just because I did. Go and try them yourself.

So now we are down to three: Nikon D80 & D200 and the Cannon 30D

I’ve already made my decision and my new camera will be here tomorrow. Which one will it be? You’ll have to wait and see. I’ve already wrote about the lens I got so that might give you a clue.

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I have a Camera…

Posted by heymoe on 23rd July 2007

18-70mm Nikkor

… sort of. Well maybe that should be: I have part of a camera. After monitoring several eBay auctions over the last few weeks i was able to snip a 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor lens. The retail price on this lens is $350 but it looks like Nikon might not be making these anymore so I got a factory refurbished and tested one which comes with a 90 factory warranty + a 1 year store warranty from Cameta Camera for $195. If you’re looking to buy some camera gear, check them out. They sell both new and used gear with some nice bundles and seem to have good prices. Now I just need to buy the a camera body for the lens to attach to and if you read my previous article called: Camera Research: Part 1 you might have figured out by now that the body will be a Nikon.. but which one will it be… You’ll just have to wait and see.

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Camera Research: Part 1

Posted by heymoe on 4th June 2007

Well I’ve been doing what I normally do when I want to buy something and that is research, research and more research. I’ve never really owned “nice” camera before and most of the time I tend to borrow a camera from my friends when ever I go on trips but I’ve been told I’ve been cut off (cough.. Justin). I decided to skip over the Point-n-Shoot style cameras and go right to the Digital SLRs (Single-Lens Reflex). Prices of D-SLRs have come down quite a bit since they were first introduced and now you can get a starter D-SLR for not much more then a top end Point-n-Shoot. From there the sky’s the limit.

Even thought I’ve never owned a SLR camera I have used them in the past and I am a quick study so I’ve decided to look at the cameras in the Prosumer / mid range category. This way I have something that I can grow into instead of growing out of one to soon. I’ve set my budget to be no more then $1500 which needs to cover the cost of the body and a lens, a case, memory card, and an extra battery. Later will come a flash and more lenses as I need them. This is where a SLR really shines by being able to swap lenses. Its like getting a whole new camera. Plus being that a SLR has a larger sensor then a point-n-shoot, image quality is, in theory, better even if the point-n-shoot has the same Megapixel (MP) rating.

From my research the main players in the D-SLR Prosumer market are: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and Sony. After my initial research I’ve pretty much dropped Pentax, Olympus and Sony from my list due mainly to the lenses they have to offer for their cameras. They may make great D-SLR bodies but if you can’t get great lenses to go with it, then you’ll loose out in the long run. Since lenses tend to only work with a specific manufacture (IE: A lens you buy for a Canon does not work on a Nikon and vise versa.), you tend to pick the body based on the lenses you want to use. Lenses also tend to out live a body so when its time to upgrade you will either have to 1) by a new body from the same manufacture so you can continue to use the lenses you already own or 2) switch to a different manufacture and have to re-buy all new lenses. Granted you could sell your old body and lenses but you would still most likely end up paying more for all new gear again. Since I don’t have any existing lenses, I’m pretty much free to pick whatever I want but once I buy one I better be happy with it.

Both Canon and Nikon have a great lineup of lenses for their bodies. Some say at the low to mid level, Nikon has the best lenses that money can buy without breaking the bank while Canon’s low to mid range lenses might cost a little less but the image and build quality just can’t compete with Nikon at this level. Things more or less even out between the two when when you compare their High end Pro lenses though.

Any ways, the contenders for my research are.. In Canon’s corner we have the XT, XTi and the 30D and in the Nikon’s corner we have the D40, D40x, D80 and D200. All of these are currently available as of this writing. Now there are way too many features to list for each of these cameras so I’m not going to recreate the wheel and cut-n-past them here. A simple Google search for any of these cameras will provide you all the information you will every want to know. I will list the Megapixel rating and retail price for each camera since these tends to be the main things people look at initially. If you spend time shopping around and looking online, you can find these camera below their retail price.

Canon:

  • XT: 8.0MP – $699*
  • XTi: 10.1MP – $799
  • 30D: 8.2MP – $1299

Nikon:

  • D40: 6.2MP – $599*
  • D40x: 10.2MP – $799
  • D80: 10.2MP – $999
  • D200: 10.2MP – $1699

NOTE: The Canon XT and the Nikon D40 (*) include a 18-55mm lens, the rest are bodies only. Also, a higher Megapixel (MP) rating makes not a better camera (/Yoda) 🙂

Well this is the end of Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2.

Posted in Gibberish, Internet / Tech, Photography | 1 Comment »

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