Old 01-04-2008, 05:01 PM   #1
LSRC Railfan
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Default Looking for a new camera, need help please.

In 2004 or 2005 around this time, I purchased a little Olympus 3.2 megapixel camera to get into digital photography. I got what I paid for. It wasn't horrible, but if definiatly wasn't great.
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So in mid 2006 I purchased a Canon Powershot S2IS. I did my research and found out that the S2IS had some of the abilities of an dSLR and combined with the money factor, I made up my mind to purchase the S2IS and learn manual setting on it before I went to an dSLR.

It was a smart choice, in my mind. I went from shooting automatic always to shooting manual 90% of the time. But now my S2IS is wearing down. It has a lot of problems. My viewfinder/eyepiece thing doesn't work, making it hard to properly expose pictures outside on the LCD screen. Also it just doesn't seem to focus as nicely as it did when I first got it. My S2IS has served me well, but I think that it's time to move on.

So I'm looking for a dSLR and a telephoto lens. I've already found a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi 400D for a great price. But I would like a telephoto lens. I don't want one that's really expensive (not an L lens) but I don't want a cheap one either. I'm thinking of spending at the most $700 on it, less would be nice. My Canon S2IS has a 12x zoom on it, so I don't want a lens that has much less of a zoom as that. I also obviously have Image stabilizer on my S2IS, and although it's not necessary, I would kind of like IS to come with my lens. I am not the most coordinated person, so is there some kind of insurance that I can get for such an expensive lens. I guess I don't want a lens that will break easier (i.e. the model has a tendancy to fall out when pointed to the ground.

Also I have an old Pentax/Ashi film camera. With it I have a Takumar-a 1:35~4.5 20~80mm lens and a SMC Pentax-m 1:2 50mm lens. I was wondering if these would be compadible with an XTi.

Thanks for your help,

LSRC Railfan

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Old 01-04-2008, 05:34 PM   #2
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Seems like with the X-mas season recently past that there have been quite a few new camera threads posted in the past month or two. Most focus on the Canon Rebel XTi or the Nikon D40. Read through them and it should help you out, or at least give you a starting point to ask more questions from.

General Threads:

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...ra+Canon+Nikon

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...ra+Canon+Nikon

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...t=camera+Nikon

Canon 40D:

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...ra+Canon+Nikon

Canon Rebel XTI:

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...t=camera+Canon

Nikon D40:

http://forums.railpictures.net/showt...t=camera+Nikon

Hmm...looks like you added more info while I was responding! There are a few lens threads scattered around. The lens depends on the camera you choose, of course. 300mm should match or exceed the 12x when coupled with the DSLRs crop factor. Should you choose a Canon camera, there are a few under 700 lenses you could grab. If you wanted a super quality but not so long telephoto, jump on the 70-200 F4L non-IS which is a bargain. If IS is important you can get the 70-300 F4-5.6 IS which will take slightly lesser quality (but still great) pictures.
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan

So I'm looking for a dSLR and a telephoto lens. I've already found a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi 400D for a great price. But I would like a telephoto lens. I don't want one that's really expensive (not an L lens) but I don't want a cheap one either. I'm thinking of spending at the most $700 on it, less would be nice. My Canon S2IS has a 12x zoom on it, so I don't want a lens that has much less of a zoom as that. I also obviously have Image stabilizer on my S2IS, and although it's not necessary, I would kind of like IS to come with my lens. I am not the most coordinated person, so is there some kind of insurance that I can get for such an expensive lens. I guess I don't want a lens that will break easier (i.e. the model has a tendancy to fall out when pointed to the ground.
If you want one lens with 12x zoom, your choices are pretty limited when it comes to the SLR world, which is designed for multiple lenses of higher quality rather than all-in-one. Some of the third party manufacturers (Tokina? Tamron) have 18-200mm super zooms. Otherwise, you want to go with a standard zoom (18-55, 17-70, etc.) and a tele zoom (70-300, 55-250, 70-200, etc.).

Canon is now offering a relatively inexpensive two lens IS set, an 18-55 (the kit lens with IS added) and a 55-250 or something like that (just coming out now, not sure if it is in stores, don't see it on Amazon or B&H). My understanding is that the quality of the IS is not equivalent to that available for the big $$, but that is no surprise.

If your $700 is for the body and the lens(es) to span 18-200 or so, you may find it difficult to do in Canon.

Also, used cameras are a great buy, in my view. In canon, the XT (predecessor to the XTi) is a great camera. Try KEH.com

Quote:
Also I have an old Pentax/Ashi film camera. With it I have a Takumar-a 1:35~4.5 20~80mm lens and a SMC Pentax-m 1:2 50mm lens. I was wondering if these would be compadible with an XTi.
No, sadly, I know of no adapter for Pentax (K mount?) to Canon. At any rate, they would become manual focus lenses if they are not already so. Too bad, the 50 f/1.2 would be really cool to work with. I still have my Pentax MX for nostalgia purposes, sold a 400m f/5.6 several years ago for a modest amount.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:10 PM   #4
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If you're open to Nikon, B&H has some pretty good kit deals going on right now with the D40/D40X. This will keep you around the $700 mark, and the D40/D40X continue to get impressive reviews.

D40 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoydie17
If you're open to Nikon, B&H has some pretty good kit deals going on right now with the D40/D40X. This will keep you around the $700 mark, and the D40/D40X continue to get impressive reviews.

D40 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.
Nice! I don't understand why Canon doesn't respond with it's own low-end package. Well, just looked at the Canon website, actually, it is still selling the XT as a new camera. $470 with kit lens at B&H. If I were them, I would do a two-lens bundled system. Maybe they are waiting for the new cheap tele IS lens to come out. But today one can do the XT and 18-55 and a 55-200 for under $700, even not bundled. No IS, though.

Wow, a new Canon 30D for $800! Cheap stuff... Holding onto my 20D for a while, however, no need to upgrade.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
No, sadly, I know of no adapter for Pentax (K mount?) to Canon. At any rate, they would become manual focus lenses if they are not already so. Too bad, the 50 f/1.2 would be really cool to work with. I still have my Pentax MX for nostalgia purposes, sold a 400m f/5.6 several years ago for a modest amount.
There should be such an adapter out there. Older Pentax used the M42 screw mount, and most of my shots are taken with M42 mount lenses on a Canon D30. I haven't looked for a K mount adapter, but I would be surprised if one is not available.

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Old 01-04-2008, 07:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for your help. For the $700, I was referring to that's the limit for the lens. As for the Nikon, I've owned the S2IS, and have borrowed a Canon EOS XT and have used an XTi, so I think that Canon is probably the way to go...although that doesn't look too bad...maybe I will look into that. Are there many differences between Canon and Nikon SLRs?

What I mean by 12x zoom is that well I'm looking for a longer range lens. I don't really need a lens that would be the equivilant of less than maybe 7-8X zoom. I will still have my Canon Powershot S2IS, so I should be alright. Ok, so how much of a zoom is 200mm or 300mm?

Along with this, I should be getting a new version of photoshop and an upgrade for my computer, so I should be in good hands. Plus with a possibly car this summer I should be all set for better pictures. I already have plenty of good spots picked out for this spring/summer/fall.

I would also probably need an extra battery, a memory card, noise ninja (if this is the best), and I was thinking of a monopod. Any good pointers? The thing with my tripod is everything in the Alpena area is unlevel and I never can level it properly with my tripod, thus the pictures are all unlevel, and then I have to crop it, and then noise comes into the picture. But I'm a little bit jumpy and excited when it comes to railfanning, so I was thinking that a monopod is perfect for me. Though I don't want to spend $200 on it.

Also I was thinking of looking for a hard case, for my travels. I've actually always wanted one. Is there a case that is recommended that I could maybe cut the foam into the shape of my cameras and lenses?

Ok so a question for the Nikon bundle here. The camera is only 6.1 megapixels instead of 10.1. Now I know that megapixels arn't everything, but I'm just wondering if it is going to make a difference in quality. I'm having quality problems with my S2IS, and the purpose of getting a dSLR is to solve my quality problems. I'm totally reworking my "home photography department". My idea is that I won't have to get a new camera body for a few years and I won't really have to worry about new lenses, though I might end up picking up a new one a maybe a year or two from now.I guess I just don't want my whole investment to stagger because the camera I bought wasn't quite up to my standards.

This Nikon D40 looks great. Great price and it looks to be a decent entry level dSLR. I mean, the Canon EOS digital Rebel XTi is $299 for body only. I just want to make sure I'm getting a good deal. That's why I'm posting this here. You guys are the experts.

Another question. With my Pentax SLR I have a "Vivitar electronic flash 2000". I was wondering if I would need this for the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi or XT or the Nikon D40, or are their flashed good enough. Is it compatible?

And two slightly off topic questions:
1. Did Nikon really give cameras to all the people in that one town in their commercials?
2. Is there a place that you can make your own calanders with your own pictures and have it sent to you?

Thanks again for all your help,

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Old 01-04-2008, 07:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan
T
What I mean by 12x zoom is that well I'm looking for a longer range lens. I don't really need a lens that would be the equivilant of less than maybe 7-8X zoom. I will still have my Canon Powershot S2IS, so I should be alright. Ok, so how much of a zoom is 200mm or 300mm?
Well, 12x refers to the ratio of focal lengths between the wide end and the tele. So, taken literally, the question is ill-posed. However, in practice, the long end of a S2IS is the equivalent of 432mm on a full frame/film body. For the crop bodies you are considering, that means putting on a 288mm (Nikon and other 1.5x bodies) or 270mm (Canon 1.6x body) lens, so call it a zoom that goes out to 300mm (labeled and actual focal length).

BTW, the narrow end of the S2IS is 36mm equivalent, not very wide at all. A kit lens for a DSLR will generally get you to 28mm equivalent on the wide angle, generally considered to be plenty, certainly starting out.

Quote:
This Nikon D40 looks great. Great price and it looks to be a decent entry level dSLR. I mean, the Canon EOS digital Rebel XTi is $299 for body only. I just want to make sure I'm getting a good deal. That's why I'm posting this here. You guys are the experts.
$299 for an XTi body sounds like a rip-off price, way too low, to suck you in, then you end up paying a lot more once they throw in stuff and hassle you. Deal with a reputable company (bhphotovideo.com, adorama.com, amazon). I'm not a Canon pusher, but if interested the XT at 8.2mp with two lenses may suit you so consider it.

To me, the most important thing is ergonomics, so find some opportunities to hold the cameras you are considering and see how you like the feel, the arrangement of dials/buttons, etc.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan
Thanks for your help. For the $700, I was referring to that's the limit for the lens.
If you are looking at $700 for a tele lens, you are at an entirely different level and you can get a fine, fine lens for that sort of money. The Canon 70-200 f/4 L is around $550, for example. Superb lens. Nikon, also superb, of course.

For that sort of money (what is the total budget, body and all lenses and accessories, BTW?) you also need to look at the tradeoff between fewer but better lenses and more lenses, good but not as good, to cover more focal lengths or other features (macro) that might also interest you.

I used to use a monopod a lot but now I either handhold (mostly) or tripod (better but does not fit my personal circumstances). Unlevel ground does not matter, the primary use of a tripod is not to level the camera but to hold it still.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:47 PM   #10
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Ok more questions, please. I can't seem to find this info, what is the mininum/maxium f stop, shutter speed, etc. that you get with both the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi and XT, and the Nikon D40? I know with my Canon Powershot S2IS it only goes up to f/8.0 making pan shots impossible unless it's a cloudy day.

My only decent pan shot
Strangly enough, my only decent pan shot was my favorite shot of this year and was a complete accidental shot.

Ok, so I was fooling around with my Pentax K1000 film camera and I zoomed in to the maximum (80mm). So would the Nikon D40 200mm lens or the Canon 70-200mm L lens really be over twice that zoom? Or is there some other factor that I don't know about.

So my guess that my two choices right now are:

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L
or a
Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens

I'd top both of these off with around $150 dollars of extra equiptment.

The thing is this, I know that the Canon package here would produce better pictures. I mean, come on, it's a L lens. The Canon package would probably be around $900 and with the extra stuff probably around $1,050. That's really pushing my limit. But then we have the Nikon D40 with two lenses for $650. With the other stuff it would probably be around $800. Is the extra $250 worth it?

Thanks again,

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Old 01-04-2008, 07:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan
Ok more questions, please. I can't seem to find this info, what is the mininum/maxium f stop, shutter speed, etc. that you get with both the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi and XT, and the Nikon D40? I know with my Canon Powershot S2IS it only goes up to f/8.0 making pan shots impossible unless it's a cloudy day.
Remember that DSLRs have separate bodies and lenses. So the answers depend on which lenses you put onto which bodies. Apparently it's a different world than you are used to. Maybe you need to do some more reading...

dpreview.com has lots of reviews of DSLR bodies and include lots of technical data.

Quote:
Ok, so I was fooling around with my Pentax K1000 film camera and I zoomed in to the maximum (80mm). So would the Nikon D40 200mm lens or the Canon 70-200mm L lens really be over twice that zoom? Or is there some other factor that I don't know about.
The Pentax is a "full frame" body for which the focal length of 80mm is an "equivalent" film focal length of, wait for it, ..., 80mm! Most DSLRs (the affordable ones ) are "crop sensor" bodies, so if you put a lens of a given physical focal length on them, the effective focal length will be longer. So if you put an 80mm lens on a (1.5x crop) Nikon body, the image will appear, in terms of framing, in terms of what parts of the scene are captured, just like what you would get if you used a 120mm lens on your Pentax. So the equivalent of an 80mm image on your Pentax can be had by putting a 50mm lens on a (1.6x crop) Canon body like the XT or XTi.

Thus, 200mm on a 1.5x Nikon is equivalent to 300mm on the Pentax, so almost 4 times more telephoto to the 80mm.

Honestly, I think you need to learn more about this stuff before you shell out the sort of money you are talking about. Your life, my advice.

Quote:
So my guess that my two choices right now are:

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L
or a
Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens

I'd top both of these off with around $150 dollars of extra equiptment.
One combo (Nikon) covers wide angle to pretty good telephoto, the other coves only moderate to pretty good telephoto. Apples and oranges. Please re-read the last two sentences of my previous section. No offense intended.
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:06 PM   #12
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Well for the Canon, I was only looking into one telephoto lens. Majority of the shot I take are at last at a 3-5x. I frequently go to like a 10x zoom on my camera. It seems like most things in Alpena need a zoom. So basically I'm looking for a good quality lens that's sturdy and produces good images. That's why I really like that 70-200L. I'm REALLY sick of this:
Image with Noise
I'm just afraid that it might be at little bit pricy....but who knows. It all depends.

Quote:
For that sort of money (what is the total budget, body and all lenses and accessories, BTW?) you also need to look at the tradeoff between fewer but better lenses and more lenses, good but not as good, to cover more focal lengths or other features (macro) that might also interest you.
I guess I'm not really sure what my budget is. Anything more than that 70-200L lens will probably be out of the question. I'm ready for the challange of a dSRL. I just have to find the right package. I'm not really ready to buy my dSLR for a couple more months. But I am in the stage right now where I pick out what I want, and then save.

Thanks,

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Old 01-04-2008, 08:22 PM   #13
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Honestly, I think you need to learn more about this stuff before you shell out the sort of money you are talking about. Your life, my advice.

Please re-read the last two sentences of my previous section. No offense intended.
Yeah, you're right. But it's not like I'm going to just run out and buy the camera JUST on what you say. I'm just having a little bit of trouble fully understanding the whole how 200mm vs 200mm is different. I'm probably going to spend many a Sunday evenings on the computer learning everything I can about the camera bundle that I choose. I'm just trying to learn about each of the cameras right now from an expert like you.

Thanks,

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Old 01-04-2008, 09:41 PM   #14
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Regarding the "differences" between Nikon and Canon, I could be the smartass Nikon-freak and say it's like comparing a Lamborghini to a Volkswagen, but I digress.

The fact is the "differences" between the two manufacturers is largely over-played mostly in the "wanna-be" photographer's forums.
There are some guys that insist on buying the absolute latest gear with the most bells and whistles simply because it's the flavor of the week. And there are others that buy the higher end stuff because it suits a specific role in their hobby. And even more, there are the guys that will buy whatever makes a decent and respectable photograph and will do quite well with it.

From the sounds of your comments, I think you're simply looking for a camera that will provide quality images at a reasonable price, and the flexibility you need to do wide open scenic images as well as the ever popular tele-squash in a tunnel of trees setting.

If that's the case, the XTi will certainly provide that for you, as will the Nikon D40. Really it just boils down to which camera you like the feel and operation of the best.

Even though I'm biased towards Nikon, I would still pick the D40 combo over the XTi combo. I own both of the lenses in that package for my two DSLR bodies and they've always turned out fantastic images, even for being widely regarded as "economy grade" glass.

As Janusz points out, the fact that Canon or at least none of their distributors has come up with a comparable package puts them at a disadvantage to users such as yourself. Starting out with those two pieces of glass should be more than satisfactory for your needs, at least for the next few years, or until you determine otherwise.

Regarding the 6.1 Megapixel vs the 10 Megapixel resolution, if you plan on printing large prints on a frequent basis, then this should be an issue of SOME concern, but not the deciding factor. I've used a 6.1 Nikon D70 for roughly four years now, and I've had no issues at all with quality when compared to a DSLR at a higher resolution.

Megapixels is one of those cute little marketing ploys that the corporate advertising goons want you to always ponder while shopping. In the same way you would go car-shopping and compare a V6 versus a V8 HEMI. 7 out of 10 people have no rational use for something with the power of a HEMI while commuting to and from the office.

BUT beause it's perceived as bigger, badder and "better", they'll shell the extra 5K out to drive said HEMI off the lot. The same goes for the camera, marketing specialists know that the average consumer croons for bigger numbers, so they make darned good and sure to point that out at store displays.

Sean
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Old 01-04-2008, 10:20 PM   #15
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Ok thanks for all of your help. What I really need to do now is get my hands on a D40 to see if I like it. I've handled the Canon Rebel enough that I know it pretty well, though I have never shot with anything more than the kit lens.
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I think a good idea would to be to a)test them out at Wal-Mart and b)rent them. Is there a decent place where I can rent a camera online (there's no true camera store for at least 100 miles)?

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Old 01-04-2008, 10:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
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I think a good idea would to be to a)test them out at Wal-Mart and b)rent them. Is there a decent place where I can rent a camera online (there's no true camera store for at least 100 miles)?

Thanks,
LSRC Railfan
This is tough, there aren't very many companies that rent out the lower end DSLR bodies, there are of course a few renting out D300s and 40D/5D's. Your best bet is just going to be go to wherever your nearest camera shop is and test it in their parking lot/neighborhood if they'll oblige.

You could possibly buy one from a big money distributor such as Best Buy, if you don't like it, take it back within 30 days for a full refund (sans restocking fee) and then go buy the XTi.

Only ideas I have on that one.
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Old 01-05-2008, 02:42 AM   #17
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Don't forget Nikon makes an extremely good 18-200MM Vibration Reduction lens for about $600-700.
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Old 01-05-2008, 03:11 AM   #18
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Don't forget Nikon makes an extremely good 18-200MM Vibration Reduction lens for about $600-700.
Very good point, that is a superior piece of glass, a lens like that in the hands of most contemporary railfans will negate the need to ever change lenses.

I keep saying I'm going to buy one, but then I find other ventures for my bank account.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:51 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan
Is there a decent place where I can rent a camera online (there's no true camera store for at least 100 miles)?

Thanks,
LSRC Railfan
borrowlenses.com rents a Canon Xti body. I've used these guys before and will again. In fact, I will never buy a lens in the future without taking their version for a spin! You can get an Xti and the 70-200 F4L for a 2-week rental for about $150 + shipping, and 1-week is about $88 + shipping. The rental period doesn't begin until they attempt to deliver it, which I think is awesome...you actually get a full 2 weeks without them trying to gouge you for time!
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:25 AM   #20
JRMDC
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Ken, thanks for the tip on borrowlenses.com. I've used rentglass.com - my Frankfurt, Germany pix used a 10-22 from them - with satisfaction, but I am pretty sure they don't do bodies.

Hmm, 40D, $99 for one week. 1DsIII, $449 for a week. Guess I am not shooting the latest 1-series any time soon!
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:55 AM   #21
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Guess I am not shooting the latest 1-series any time soon!
Oh, but when you do ... you'll never go back.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:01 AM   #22
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Talking 1 series user

Hi John,

I guess you too are a 1 series user.

Which particular camera do you use?

I have just had to return a 1D3 for poor focusing (even after the sub mirror fix), so am currently using a 20D.

I'm interested in case you are a 1D3 user and can shed light on your experience with the camera.

But you are right, get a good 1 series and you'll never want to go back.

Worth every penny

Alan
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:10 AM   #23
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Ok, so I went to Walmart to the photography department and took a look at the Nikon D40. All I had to say was wow. It met my expectations. It was truely a great camera. It felt great to use. I loved it. So now, after a little bit of looking and searching, I was thinking of getting the Nikon D40 and this:
Nikon 70-300
That way I'd have the 18-55 Kit lens for a beginner, indoor, etc. and the 70-300 VR for railfanning.

I have to say, I was really impressed by the D40. Now my question is I see that it has RAW capabilities. Does the camera come with software for RAW conversion (can't seem to find that info) or do I have to buy something for that?

Thanks,
LSRC Railfan
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:24 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSRC Railfan
I have to say, I was really impressed by the D40. Now my question is I see that it has RAW capabilities. Does the camera come with software for RAW conversion (can't seem to find that info) or do I have to buy something for that?
The D40 comes with PictureProject 1.6, most all of Nikon's recent camera's are bundled with it. It came with my D300, though I've never even taken the CD out of the box, since I already had Lightroom and Photoshop Elements 6 for my RAW processing.

I don't know if PictureProject is ready to process RAW files right out of the box, you may need to download a plugin for it. Even so the camera should also come with Nikon Capture software which can convert RAW files to another lossless format for processing in PP, such as .TIF.

More information can be found for Picture Project at www.nikonimaging.com

I can't necessarily argue with your rationale for lens choice, being that I don't really know your personal style or taste in photos. If you plan to do alot of shots where telephotos will do best, then the 70-300 isn't a bad idea.

Though I think after you've used the new SLR for a while, you'll find alot more utility for the wider angle lens.

Sean
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:49 AM   #25
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Quote:
I can't necessarily argue with your rationale for lens choice, being that I don't really know your personal style or taste in photos. If you plan to do alot of shots where telephotos will do best, then the 70-300 isn't a bad idea.

Though I think after you've used the new SLR for a while, you'll find alot more utility for the wider angle lens.
Thanks for the info on the Raw. 95% I'm shooting outdoors I am am zooming in and using telephoto. Another 2-3% of that remaining 5% I could use telephoto. Overall, I've found myself as more of a telephoto kind of photographer. It seems that every expedition I go on I'm always using the zoom. However maybe after a while I might look into a wide angle lens.

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