Old 09-09-2010, 11:34 PM   #1
misoisland
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I've been shooting film for awhile now and the time has come to welcome my train photography to the digital age. Any advice for a relatively "cheap" dslr around $600? I don't need video as an option. I was looking into the Canon XSI but I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions.

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Old 09-09-2010, 11:53 PM   #2
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I was very happy with my Canon XSi. Good quality, decent peformance at high ISO's and overall a reliable camera body. Obviously, glass is more important and saving up for a nice L series lens would be your best bet.

However, I will not argue with the results of the Canon EF-S 18-55mm. The default kit lens produced some nice photos, particularly at night.

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Old 09-10-2010, 03:00 AM   #3
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You can get a used canon 40d for around that, if you are willing to pay a tad more, you can get a used 1d mark 2.
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Old 09-10-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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I guess the question is what kind of lenses do you already have? Are you already shooting Canon lenses? If so, then it definitely makes sense to go with a Canon body. If you're looking body only, rather than wanting a kit, it depends on whether you want/like the compact Rebel body style, or would prefer something heavier. If your OK with the Rebel body style, even though you don't need video, you still might want to consider the T1i, which B&H has listed for the body only at about $580. The advantage there over going with a used 40D or the XSi would be a Digic4 as opposed to a Digic3 image processor. If you prefer the larger, heavier (or perhaps stouter would be a better description) body style, then the 40D is a good idea.

Jon (the guy still shooting with the Digital RebelXT)
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Old 09-10-2010, 04:47 PM   #5
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The advantage there over going with a used 40D or the XSi would be a Digic4 as opposed to a Digic3 image processor.
I know you mean well, most people mean well most of the time, but this is hardly the way to compare cameras. Seriously, the advantage is a chip?

The advantage might be what the chip brings to the image, but you don't say that. You don't mention any improvements in noise control, you don't mention any improvements in frames per second (slower, actually, than the 40D, despite the newer chip). What does that glorious chip DO?

You don't mention any other dimensions in which the cameras differ, such as usability (the 40D has only a 230K LCD for viewing images, but it does have a very useful second control wheel), and you don't mention megapixels (hardly the be all end all, but worth a mention, no? before mentioning DIGIC 3 vs 4? )

An odd response, this. You do mention video and body size, but still.
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:58 PM   #6
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Exactly Janus, why I suggested the 40d or 1d2 was not for the better sensor and chip, but for the other things that you really need for shooting moving targets (IE: trains), better autofocus, deep buffer, more FPS, less mirror blackout and other features you may never use. I never used an XSi, but I had an XTi for a while and it was frustrating because when you shot RAW, you had such few shots you could take in a row and really slow frames per second. When I bought a used 5d, it kind of reminded me of that experience, but the 5d is a wonderful camera, just not necessarily for shooting moving trains.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
I know you mean well, most people mean well most of the time, but this is hardly the way to compare cameras. Seriously, the advantage is a chip?

The advantage might be what the chip brings to the image, but you don't say that. You don't mention any improvements in noise control, you don't mention any improvements in frames per second (slower, actually, than the 40D, despite the newer chip). What does that glorious chip DO?

You don't mention any other dimensions in which the cameras differ, such as usability (the 40D has only a 230K LCD for viewing images, but it does have a very useful second control wheel), and you don't mention megapixels (hardly the be all end all, but worth a mention, no? before mentioning DIGIC 3 vs 4? )

An odd response, this. You do mention video and body size, but still.
I suppose this is what I get for writing something quickly on a short break from work. And yet, Troy mentioned nothing but model designations in his initial advice, and that was more helpful?

The best source for detailed information on any camera one considers isn't going to be this forum. The following are links to the dpreview reviews of the four cameras mentioned so far, including all the technical details. Anyone looking for a camera should check out the specs, either from a review site, or from the manufacturers site.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1dmkii/

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS40D/

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS450D/ (XSi)

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonEOS500D/ (T1i)

Note that the camera reviews are listed in order of resolution. The 1D MkII offers 8.1MP, the 40D 10MP, the XSi 12.1MP and the T1i 15MP. If you want to do wall-size enlargements, get the T1i . Honestly, while megapixels are a consideration, they obviously don't tell the whole story. I can make perfectly lovely 16x20 enlargements of shots taken with my 8MP Rebel XT, but then I almost never shoot at above a 200 ISO, and I try to shoot at 100 ISO as much as possible. I can't imagine using it at anything above 400ISO because of the noise, and that has little to do with the megapixel count, and a lot to do with the image processor. That brings us to the advantages of the Digic4 processor over its predecessors - better noise control at higher ISOs. The 1D Mk II carries a Digic II processor, putting it 2 generations behind the T1i in that regard. Is that the whole story? Of course not. If you're willing to stick with shooting at 100 or 200 ISO, it may not make that much difference at all.

Whether additional control wheels are an advantage or a distraction probably depends on personal preference. Likewise, LCD size may or may not be of tremendous importance depending on the individual. How about Live View?

How many frames per second can you shoot? Do you care? Some people swear by shooting trains using multi-shot mode. I usually shoot single-shot. That is a matter of personal preference. Of course, if you make heavy use of continuous shooting, then you'll want to look for a camera with a higher FPS and deep buffer. Just remember to buy media with a higher write speed too . . .


Then there's the other question - do you want a new camera or are you willing to buy used? No doubt, you can get some very good used cameras, but you may not like the idea that someone else has already used up an unknown percentage of your camera's shutter life.

Jon (who still hasn't replaced his Rebel XT because he doesn't have the cash to drop on a 5Dii or a 1DsIII)
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:15 AM   #8
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Make sure you check out the number of auto-focus points the camera as well. The more auto-focus points the better.
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Old 09-12-2010, 09:31 AM   #9
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Make sure you check out the number of auto-focus points the camera as well. The more auto-focus points the better.
Not really, at least on canon, on non 1 series (and maybe the 7d) cameras, only the center focus point is high precision, and then in some instances only if the lens is f2.8 or better. The 1d mark 2 series had the best AF to date on Canon cameras from what I have heard.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by misoisland View Post
I've been shooting film for awhile now and the time has come to welcome my train photography to the digital age. Any advice for a relatively "cheap" dslr around $600? I don't need video as an option. I was looking into the Canon XSI but I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions.
Saw a body only Canon XS (or XSi, can't remember) at Wal Mart for $499. Spend a few dollars on one or two good lens, too. The Nikon equivalent should be fine, but I'm Canon through and through and love these cameras. Might could find a later generation camera on eBay, Craigslist or a local camera store too.
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Old 09-12-2010, 05:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Sounds like I have a little more homework to do before getting my wallet out.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:59 AM   #12
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It is a big jump but not all that bad, Most never look back after switching. One thing the software you will need to work your photos is more important I think so don't be cheep with the freeware and get Photoshop Elements $99 or less or something like that, I know some do well with freeware but it is hard to help you if no one is running what you are.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troy12n View Post
Not really, at least on canon, on non 1 series (and maybe the 7d) cameras, only the center focus point is high precision, and then in some instances only if the lens is f2.8 or better. The 1d mark 2 series had the best AF to date on Canon cameras from what I have heard.
50D and 7D is right up there with the 1D's with AF Troy. I too run only center FP 99% of the time but never had a loss of a train shot with one of the others unless I had all on, Cameras can't think!
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