Which DSLR system to buy into?

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    Hi all,

    I'm currently in a position to consider doing photography in a semi-pro
    way, and hope to maybe sell a few pics in various formats.

    I already have a Panasonic DMC-FZ7, which is a great Prosumer camera.
    However, I have recently been out and about and found the real
    limitations of a compact digital camera. It's certainly not the choice
    of camera, the images are great, it's the technical limitations of the

    I'm planning to specialise in landscapes and scenery shots, and wildlife
    as and when opportunity presents itself. So, a good wild angle and a
    good long zoom lens would be essential.

    The limitations that have become evident with the FZ7 have been the lack
    of control over field of view (a well known issue with compacts), and
    the limitations of the aperture range.

    For example, I recently went out to see the High Force water fall in
    Weardale, and wanted to try and get some shots of the water at both
    extremes of shutter speed - one to capture the water in action, and one
    to get the motion effect. I couldn't get a satisfactory result in either
    case, I either got bad under exposure when using a slow shutter speed to
    get the motion effect, or serious over exposure when trying to freeze
    the motion at high shutter speed. Getting an acceptable exposure didn't
    produce the effects I was after.

    I do have an old Olympus OM40 and a good selection of lenses, as well as
    motordrive and TTL flash. It's usable and produces good results still,
    but there's no telling when or if the camera will fail on me (it's
    knocking on for 20 years old, and full of electronics).

    So, I'm looking at a DSLR, with one good wide angle lens and zoom up to
    at least 300mm. I do occasionally do a little macro stuff, but mostly

    I was hoping to use my existing Olympus lens collection (28mm, 50mm,
    70-210 and a 75-300), but forums I've read suggest these don't work that
    well with a DSLR.

    I've had a good look around at what there is, but don't seem to have any
    real conclusions as to which system is best. It also needs to be rugged,
    as I tend to go out in all kinds of weather and terrains. I'd like to
    keep this under £1000 as a kit as well, and for my purposes the low to
    mid range models are more than adequate - I won't need to print much
    above 10x8, and most of my images are viewed on a monitor or TV.

    In short really, if you had these needs, and had to start again from
    scratch, what lens system would you buy into?
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
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  2. Andy Hewitt

    harrogate3 Guest

    If you want to use Olympus lenses then look at the E500. A good place
    for reviews and picture samples is www.steves-digicams.com

    The only main difference between a digi lens and a 35mm lens is that
    the focal length is multiplied by about 1.5, otherwise they work quite
    well, especially the longer end.
    harrogate3, Sep 11, 2006
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  3. Don't underestimate the better class all-in-one cameras. I've got a
    Panasonic DM-FZ30 and it works very well indeed. A proper DSLR would be
    better, but unless you're a very keen photographer indeed, then the
    improvement might not be noticeable.
    Chris Morriss, Sep 11, 2006
  4. Hello Andy.

    May I suggest you look at the Canon EOS350D and EOS400D (if it is available
    yet) and the Nikon D50 and D70.
    Canon and Nikon usually score sa high as, or slightly higher than, the
    competitors. The usual comment is that "if you have a Canon film body then
    get a Canon DSLR; there's no point in dropping Canon in favour of Nikon" and
    vice versa. They do seem to be (almost) equal. I'll leave it to others to
    express preferences for one or the other make.

    Doubtless others will recommend the Pentax, Sony (who bought the Konica
    Minolta DSLR system) or Olympus systems). There's a thought - have a look at
    the Olympus E330 because some of its lenses are (if I remember correctly)
    bargains compared with Canon and Nikon.

    Regards, Ian.
    Fred Anonymous, Sep 11, 2006
  5. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    [Snipped Text]
    Yes, they were the level I was looking at. Indeed, I've seen a EOS400
    kit with two lenses for £700.

    I was looking more at the Canons, as they use the CMOS sensor. The 350
    did come top in a recent magazine review.
    As I said, I already have a load of Olympus lenses, and indeed I
    recently bought the 75-300mm Vivitar lens for £3. However, many comments
    in the forums show they got disappointing results with the old lens
    system. They would certainly give me good zoom factors, but at what cost
    in quality.

    I think you're right though, the Canon and Nikon systems look best at
    the moment, and I believe the old Nikkor lenses are a straight fit as
    well - the Olympus needs a (rather expensive) adapter.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
  6. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    [Snipped Text]
    Erm, yes, that was the point of my lengthy post, I plan to go semi-pro,
    and I do need the better features. My FZ7 is a great camera, but fails
    when I really need to be more creative at extremes of exposure control.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
  7. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    [Snipped Text]
    Yeah, that's a good site for sure, I'm just after some real world
    comments as well.
    That was something I was considering for sure. I think I really need to
    try a few shots with my existing lenses before I can decide on that.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
  8. Andy Hewitt

    lofty Guest

    If your going semi-pro I'd stick to film mate, as your going to need top
    class gear to get the results, plus a powerfull computer
    with lots of memory, Photoshop programme another £500 plus a really good
    printer if your trying to sell prints. and all the other
    digital gismo's people say are needed.
    Your computer will need to be calibrated to your printer etc. A very
    expensive outlay is needed if you are expecting to make a
    living out of it, as there are a lot of pro's and semi pro's with top class
    gear and you will have to compete not only on price but
    also on quality.
    Upgrade your film camera body, and try things out first before spending all
    your hard earned cash.
    In my opinion film beats digital evry time.

    Good luck with your choice

    lofty, Sep 11, 2006
  9. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    [Snipped Text]
    Will a dual processor G5 Mac with 2.5GB of RAM do?
    I intend to keep the images in a simple format, and sold in context with
    their output. I already have image software anyway.
    That all depends, If I was to be sending images to a pro printing house,
    then yes you're right, but I dont'. You only need to be serious about
    colour calibration if the end user knows what the original image looks
    like. As it is, I have already done some small test prints, and framed
    them, and comparative to others I've seen on places like eBay, they are
    quite sellable at a reasonable price. All without a huge outlay.
    What would I upgrade an Olympus OM40 body to, if I stayed with film?
    In some ways I agree, and I plan to use film, but more in a hobbyist
    manner, perhaps even a little developing myself. However, I need to
    speed and volume that digital can offer at a low cost.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
  10. Andy Hewitt

    Tony Hall Guest

    Hi Andy,

    I can't help you with your choice, but if you think it may be vaguely
    useful I could pop down to Durham and let you have a hands on play with
    some Canon kit.

    Unfortunately, the gear I use is of higher spec [1] than you are looking
    at so probably of no significant help at all! But you could take some
    8MP CMOS snaps to compare and contrast.

    I'm on a day off tomorrow (Tuesday) if it'd be useful, email me at the
    above address but put something other than 'spam' before the @.


    [1] EOS 1D mk2 + 'L' lenses from 14mm to 200mm.
    Tony Hall, Sep 11, 2006
  11. Andy Hewitt

    Tony Polson Guest

    With the Olympus DSLRs, the effective focal length multiplier is 2.0
    not 1.5. That is because the "Four Thirds" sensor is smaller than the
    more widely used APS-C size.
    Tony Polson, Sep 11, 2006
  12. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    Thanks for the kind offer Tony, that is something that could be useful
    for sure, although I'd really like to test my OM lenses first if I was
    going to do anything like that.
    Very nice, trouble is I'd just end up wanting one :)
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 11, 2006
  13. Andy Hewitt

    Tony Hall Guest

    Sadly it all belongs to my employer.

    Should you eventually go for a Canon system I've got an old (but in
    excellent nick) 80-200mm f2.8 L sitting in a cupboard somewhere that
    needs a good home (I keep meaning to Ebay it); like this one...


    Tony Hall, Sep 12, 2006
  14. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    Ooh, I could be tempted there. My personal feeling is to go a little up
    from the base models, I'm currently short listing the D70 and the
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 12, 2006
  15. Not entirely, the oldest Nikkors have too much of a lip at the back of
    them, which interferes with a little lever on the D70 (and presumably
    other Nikon DSLRs). The lip can easily be machined away, preventing
    damage to the camera, but the total lack of automation can be a pain.
    You'll be forced to take test shots to work out the exposure.
    Willy Eckerslyke, Sep 12, 2006
  16. Andy Hewitt

    Neil Barker Guest

    You know, I do wish you'd stop trolling here with such fatuous
    Neil Barker, Sep 12, 2006
  17. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    Ah, righto, thanks for that, as it was definitely on my list of
    considerations. As I look at things, it points more and more to the
    Canons - for a start I like the CMOS sensor they use, and test shots
    I've seen do indicate a damned good image quality from the Canons.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 12, 2006
  18. Andy, others have replied regarding gear (I can't - I'm currently
    rejoicing in my Pana DMC-FZ5 free of all those lenses I carried round
    for years!!) But there a couple of points I wondered if you could
    clarify from your post...
    I'm not clear, I use a 0.79 extra to give me a 28mm equiv. for wider
    field of view. Wider still would, I agree, be nice. (I still miss my
    21mm Super Angulon from my Leica days.) Or did you mean depth of field
    (lack of)?
    The problem with a three stop (f2.8 - f8) range is precisely that,
    although I would have expected over-exposure with slow speeds and vice
    versa. I have come to the conclusion that an ND filter is necessary for
    the long exposure shots. But - forgive my ignorance - do any of the
    lenses you have (or consider) for the dSLR stop below f16? It would only
    give an adjustment of 2 more stops. (Of course, the lower noise
    associated with the larger sensors would help at the high speed end.)

    Thanks for any clarification.


    Michael J Davis

    Now with added pictures on http://www.flickr.com/photos/watchman

    Even Photographic newsgroups sometimes lose perspective.
    Michael J Davis, Sep 12, 2006
  19. There's really no substitute to trying them out to see how they handle
    for you. Regardless of how it does on paper, the Nikon D70 simply
    "feels" right to me, to the extent that I can forgive it it's very few
    foibles. I couldn't stand older Nikons, which were overhyped, overpriced
    and unpleasant to use (compared to the Contax cameras I used at the
    time), so I'm not saying this as a long time Nikon fan.
    Willy Eckerslyke, Sep 12, 2006
  20. Andy Hewitt

    Andy Hewitt Guest

    Indeed, I'm a long time Olympus fan, but I'm not sure they're even in
    the running at this time. I certainly intend to handle some of these
    before buying though.
    Andy Hewitt, Sep 12, 2006
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