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Mid-Range DSLR (40D? D200?)

Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
edited March 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Alright, I'm a reporter. I also do a bit of photography. As the world of journalism has changed over the last few years folks like myself, in small town journalism, have been called upon to take on tasks that are outside their norm; particularly photography. Luckily, I enjoy doing that part of my job. I started out with a jankity Nikon coolpix 5700, a Fujifilm S9000 and, most recently, a Canon Rebel XT EOS.

Well, anyway, I was shooting at the homecoming basketball game over the weekend and then I was out hiking on a frozen over trail and then I was snapping four or five eagles in the same tree, and I realized that I'm outgrowing my equipment. In addition, I've been asked if I'd like to sell some of my photographs, especially the sporting event ones, to the schools, to parents and to a small postcard company but I said no because it felt wrong to sell something that I didn't make with my own equipment; I felt under obligation to my newspaper. So, I just burnt a few discs and gave them away.

I don't have a camera of my own, so it's nice that I can use the Canon from work whenever I want to, but I don't want to feel obligated and I want to be a bit more serious about photography.

So, I'm thinking of the Canon 40D; it seems like a good mid-range DSLR. I love the way the body feels and, from what I've been able to do with it in the shop I think it might be for me.

I'm probably going to be using it for a whole load of things, and it seems to fit the bill, but I wanted to know if there was anything else I should look into. I would be using it for a number of things, including sports photography, so low and awkward lighting and rapid movements, as well as a lot of nature photography (considering that I live in one of the most pristine natural environments in North America and have regular access to the Tongass National Forest).

So, camera gods, what do you think?

Also, recommendations on buying are appreciated (Body Only + this lens or +that lens. Kit?)

EDIT: Also, now considering the Nikon D200.

Uncle Long on

Posts

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Depending on how tight funds are you might also look at the 20D and 30D which are not much different from the 40D, they could save you a lot of money.

    Which lenses were you using with the Rebel XT? Were you satisfied with the results from them?

    XBL: heavenkils
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    saltiness wrote: »
    Depending on how tight funds are you might also look at the 20D and 30D which are not much different from the 40D, they could save you a lot of money.

    Which lenses were you using with the Rebel XT? Were you satisfied with the results from them?

    I've been shooting with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm Zoom lens with Image Stabilization. I've been using it for everything... because getting new things out of my boss is like pulling teeth. I think the lens is really well built but it seems like when they purchased it they were going for something that could cover a great number of things but none of them really well. I find myself oftentimes frustrated by the width of the angle now and the limits of the zoom shortly after, (particularly when I ran into 40 or so whales out on the river that were generally skiddish).

    I was looking at the 20D and 30D as well. I didn't think the jump from the Rebel XT to either of those was really all that dramatic so as to warrant buying either, but I certainly could be wrong.

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The x0D cameras are all significantly better than the Rebels in terms of build quality, ergonomics and image quality (especially at high ISO). If you don't mind paying more then the 40D is definitely the first choice. My first DSLR was a Rebel XTi and I decided to upgrade to a 20D after owning the Rebel for a few months and I never looked back. The benefits of the 20D far outweighed the extra 2mp of the XTi.

    Lenses are where the money really starts to come in. The 17-85 you were using is definitely one of those 'O.K. for all but not particularly good at any one thing' lenses but it's nice because it gives you a lot of range in one lens. If you want something wider than 17mm you're going to have to get a dedicated wide-angle lens like the Canon 10-22mm or Sigma 10-20mm. Then, you could look at getting something like the Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS as your main lens or a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Canon 70-300 IS or something similar. But either of those combinations of wide angle and standard/telephoto lenses is going to set you back at least $1,200 and force you to carry around a bag of lenses which some people hate (it doesn't bother me, I carry around four or five lenses whenever I'm out shooting).

    XBL: heavenkils
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Alright, well, I'll really look into it. I'm thinking going body only is the way to go for me. I'm considering going the 40D path (I know it's one of those first thought situations but I'll try to look at the other x0Ds too) and then a wide angle. I could always snitch the lens I'm using on the one from work if I have to for now and then look into getting a better telephoto lens down the line.

    Or I'll just do it all at once. I guess it really depends on what my tax return looks like. But, considering that I'm already getting requests for shoots it sounds like I will be able to at least offset some of the cost.

    Also, is there a good place to look for going rates for photos? I don't have any idea what to charge these people. For the most part I've just been giving them pictures of their kids at sporting events on a disc at no charge (so long as they bring in the disc) but the guy who had the photography job before I showed said I would be cutting in on the local photographers' business if I was not asking for any compensation and generally screwing everyone over; granted that could be a load of crap but it makes a strange kind of sense.

  • SigmaConditionSigmaCondition Registered User
    edited February 2008
    I've been rocking a Nikon D40 for a bit now, and I really only have good things to say. It's a solid device, and takes really nice photos. As stated earlier though, lenses are really where you want to be picky. I usually alternate between by 18-55 (mid range) and my 70-300 (Long range) depending on the subject. One thing that I love about my tele lense, it's manual focus only so it makes you really think about every shot and lets you get some really cool images depending on what you focus on. I've also got a prime that comes in right around 12 or 13, and that's great for wide. But expensive as hell.

  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Alright, the plot thickens. I've been comparing specs and looking at how much money I have to spend and all of that good old stuff.

    Anyway, at this point I don't have a closet full of high end lenses. This being the case it seems like now would be the time to really consider going Nikon, as well as looking into the Canons.

    So, I'm pretty set on the Canon D40. But, man the Nikon D200 looks really (and feels) damn good as well. Can anyone guide me here?

  • MephistophelesMephistopheles Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I got my DSLR last year with my tax rebate (yay!). It's good to see that you've already physically handled the cameras in-store, and have experiences with DSLRs already.

    For your first purchase, I really wouldn't worry too much about comparing bodies to each other, but instead start comparing lenses. Bodies drop in value far faster than lenses do, and the actual choice you are making right now is Canon lenses vs Nikon lenses, not the 40D vs D200. That is a ridiculously old argument, however, and either way you are going to find glass to fit your needs, without danger of it becoming irrelevent a few years down the road.

    What kind of budget are you on? I would highly recommend spending primarily on your lenses, even if it means dropping to a 30D or so. Kit lenses are normally pretty good deals, but if you know you're going to upgrade to better glass later on, why bother? Of course you could get the 40D with the kit 28-135 and sell it off.

    saltiness was pretty spot-on about lens advice. For nature photography a wide-angle is a must (especially if you are possibly going to be selling shots for postcards). For indoor sports, get the fastest aperture possible, as IS isn't going to help you there. I personally have the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and am constantly surprised by the IQ I get out of it. You've got a lot of pretty demanding environments, and rounding out a proper selection of glass will take time and lots of money. I'd recommend getting a wide-angle walkaround lens (17-50 or 17-85, etc) and for telephoto, the 70-200 f/4 L. Later you could add a proper wide-angle lens, if you find it necessary. I have zero experience with Nikon lenses and bodies, so I can't advise there, but the D200 is definitely a nice body.

    Resources:
    fredmiranda.com User reviews of bodies and lenses. Great forum, as well as the most active Buy/Sell forum on the net.
    slrgear.com Objective and very detailed lab reviews of lenses, along with user reviews. Great for comparing options and finding best value.
    the-digital-picture.com Canon lens, body, and accessory reviews.

    "Friends are just enemies in reverse."
    - Gary Busey
    A Glass, Darkly
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    For your first purchase, I really wouldn't worry too much about comparing bodies to each other, but instead start comparing lenses. Bodies drop in value far faster than lenses do, and the actual choice you are making right now is Canon lenses vs Nikon lenses, not the 40D vs D200. That is a ridiculously old argument, however, and either way you are going to find glass to fit your needs, without danger of it becoming irrelevent a few years down the road.

    That's just the problem. I'm sure I can find the lenses I need to do what I need them to do. And, looking at the bodies they each seem to have something that the other doesn't. The problem is that I don't have a clear leaning either way. And, yep, it's kind of a big decision because whichever one I go with will be the brand that I'm building my lens collection through.

    I only have the 17-85mm f4-5.6 lens from Canon at work, so that's not exactly preventing me from going Nikon.

    Looking at the D200 I see that it is a couple of years old but it is very much comparable with the 40D in specs and feels pretty great in the hand. But the 40D is going to have the advantage of any advancements made since 2005.

    I looked at the 30D and played with it, and from what I remember, it just didn't feel right. Specwise it is just fine, and it would be a step up from the Rebel Xt. Also, I've read that it isn't weather sealed. Considering that I live in a rain forest that's kind of important to me.

    I'd like to get set up for under 2k. With the D200 being out for 2 years I've been finding that I can get a better deal vs the 40D, but I still don't know for sure.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Check out this thread form a climbing website i read, lots of good info on cameras.

    http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=505722&msg=507478#msg507478

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  • tofutofu Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    For your first purchase, I really wouldn't worry too much about comparing bodies to each other, but instead start comparing lenses.
    I disagree. While lens choice plays a fairly large role body ergonomics are supremely important. Nikon and Canon are so similar these days in terms of optical quality and selection that it really boils down to which feels better when you hold it.

    At least that's why I decided to go with Nikon over Canon.

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    It's my experience that Nikon lenses cost about 20% more than their Canon equivalents on average - something to take into account.

    XBL: heavenkils
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    It's really a dead heat. But that does add another tally in the Canon column, saltiness. They each have their own pros and cons in feel for me. I like the feel of the Nikon a little more than the canon. It feels like I'm holding a Springfield 1911 vs a Glock. But I like the interface on the Canon moreso than the interface in the Nikon, but on the Nikon I ....Argh!

    Anyway, maybe I need to take a break from looking at these things and come back to it with a clean slate.

    I'm still considering the D30 too.

    Thanks for all the help so far guys.

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    You can't really go wrong with either system. They have their small differences but once you start using a camera it becomes your camera and you will know the ins and outs of it. So it really comes down to what you can afford at the level of camera that gives you the performance you need. I've used Nikon and Canon, the only reason I own a Canon is because my school has only Canon lenses for me to borrow otherwise I might have a Nikon.

    XBL: heavenkils
  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Have you taken a look at the Pentax K20D, Long? It's a hell of a camera for $1300, wonderfully weather sealed lense lineup that's filling out quite nicely. The ability to use ancient lenses with without having any compatibility issues is nice too. I just thought I'd complicate your decision some more.

    If you do go Nikon or Canon, it's hard to go wrong with either. On anything but the D3 the equivalent Canon will have better high ISO performance, but aside from that they're really similar. Pick the body that's more comfortable and stick to it.

    3072973561_de17a80845_o.jpg
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Alright, I pulled the trigger on the Nikon D200. I also went with the 50mm f/1.8.D. I'm looking into something with a bit more range over the rest of this week, but, really, I think the big hurdle is over for now.

    Thanks guys.

    Edit: Dark Moon, I looked it up, but I'd really like to have held it. I guess I'm not patient enough to wait until I see more substantial reviews. (This whole thing really played on my obsessive tendencies as it was).

  • altmannaltmann Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I'm surprised no one mentioned getting a full frame camera. You mentioned that the wide-angle was an issue and you're not seeing the full frame with any of those bodies. Looks like you bought though, so good luck!

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  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    altmann wrote: »
    I'm surprised no one mentioned getting a full frame camera. You mentioned that the wide-angle was an issue and you're not seeing the full frame with any of those bodies. Looks like you bought though, so good luck!

    He didn't want to spend $2,200+ on just the body otherwise that would have been a great idea.

    XBL: heavenkils
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Yeah, basically. I answered this in the photog thread in AC.

    I looked into going full frame but didn't think it was worth the extra bucks for the body + all of the money I'm going to need to spend on lenses in the first place. I went with a decent cropped sensor DSLR and plan to use the money on getting better glass and then consider going full frame in the future. The 5D was the only full frame that was in my general price area, and even then, it was more than I wanted to spend. Also, the 3fps seemed a little slow. I know it's a nice camera, but I think the D200 will be a better choice for what I'm using it for and where I am at in the grand scheme of things.

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