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Buyers' Guide - 26 Digital SLR Cameras

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March 29, 2007 11:28:07 AM

Lists, describes, explains and evaluates the features of 26 Digital Single Lens Reflexes from entry level to professional
March 29, 2007 1:38:30 PM

I'm an avid amatuer photographer when I have time, or catch something interesting going on. I carry my camera in my truck all the time a now aging but very good Canon 300D and an array of lenses from 18mm to 700mm.

I like to see the feature set of a camera as much as the next guy because thats a fairly good determination of the camera's performance range. BUT

I am more concerned with when the rubber hits the road issues. How well does the camera perform on site? How fast does it really work. How easy is it to swap batteries, transfer files, change lenses, navigate the menu, setup your shots? And the most important. What is the output quality like especially in low light conditions (per pixel quality) and dynamic range.

To be honest I think there are way to many cameras in this review to have all of this done but I think it would be necessary to do a valid comparison that would truly benefit the reader.
March 29, 2007 4:10:07 PM

:D  GREAT article. I'm not in the market for a new digital camera but this article is very informative. Even though I've already made my DSLR purchase, it's always nice to see what's new and a potential replacement down the line.

Currently I use the Canon XT with the BG-E3 battery grip. I also purchased the 580EX Speedlite. I bought the XT a year plus ago for $999 with the 18-55 lens. The battery grip was $180 and the flash was $479. I bought all of these at a local camera shop rather than online so the price of purchase was higher but on a purchase like this, I wanted to make sure I had a local authorized dealer support.

There are three things that the article didn't really stress and were major deciding factors for me:

1. Start Up Time: Most cameras start-up fairly fast these days... but not too long ago startup averaged 3-6 seconds. It may not seem long but when you are trying to catch your kids in a "photo moment" 3-6 seconds is forever. I had an older Canon G2 point and shoot and it took 4-5 seconds to startup. Blah! Canon XT is pretty much instant (0.2 secs).

2. Shutter Release response time: Nothing worse than pressing the shutter release button and nothing. Or press the shutter release button and it shoots 1/2 second or second later. With my Canon XT, now there' literally no lag after the focus is set.

3. Flash: No internal flash will give you quality lighting. In reality no add-on flash will beat pro lights with umbrellas etc. But I think most buyers skimp on the flash. With most built in flash units on DSLRs, the results are pretty much point and shoot quality lighting. Getting a add-on flash adds to the tally but it's worth every penny. I suggest getting a flash which allows you to pivot the head upward - you will be amazed how your camera will be transformed by using a quality add-on flash. My flash was $479 at the local store last year but now you can purchase it online for about $350. While I have several different lenses for my XT, the flash purchase was by far the best add-on for the camera.

Last thing... I think Nikon and Canon makes the best DSLRs on the market.
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March 29, 2007 5:14:15 PM

" For a while after Minolta left the camera business, Konica produced A mount cameras and lenses under the Minolta-Konica label. With Konica now out of the camera business, Sony's A100 is the only Minolta A mount camera being manufactured."
Actually Konica got out of the SLR business way before Minolta.
The 2 companies then merged under Konica Minolta.

Sony entered into a joint development agreement with KM ~2 years ago afaik but somewhere along the line KM decided to get out of cameras entirely & the upshot was that Sony basically bought KM's camera division last Spring (KM still retains some IP though).
At PMA in March Sony announced another 2 forthcoming DSLR bodies (& quite a few lenses).
March 29, 2007 5:42:17 PM

I'm still a major Minolta fan even though I don't own Minolta cameras anymore. I grew into the Minolta family via my Dad's first SLR, a SRT101 back in the early 70's. When he was at work, I'd pull it out of the plastic body case and play with it. Then in the mid 80's one of the first commercial ready autofocus SLRs came to market - Minolta 7000 Maxxum. I was in 7th grade and I saved up and purchased it for $380 over 20 years ago!

To this day, I think the Minolta Maxxum is an amazing camera which helped create a paradigm shift in photography. This was back in the day that manual focusing was king and poo pooing on autofocus was the norm.

About Minolta... Konica... Sony... Not too may people understand why Minolta went through such troubling times after the introduction of the Maxxum 7000. Minolta and Honewell USA were at battle in the courts for half a decade. Honeywell prevailed in 1991 with it's suit that Minolta was using its auto-focus technology. Minolta had to reckon with a huge legal lost (over $150 Million) which they never revived from. Even with the merger with Konica in 2003 things looked grim. They did try fighting back with more consumer products such as printers, scanners, commercial microscopes etc but the heart of the company was cameras and sadly it's failure was due to an expensive legal battle. Google "Minolta vs. Honeywell".

If Minolta wasn't put against Honeywell, there would be three very strong camps to pace the photo industry - Canon, Nikon, and Minolta.

Now Sony is running the Minolta Konica venture... I think it would be smart to re-release the Minolta name in the future especially considering Minolta had been around for 78 years.

FYI - Many well known Leica cameras are built by Minolta - the good classic Leicas. Since 1976 they built Leicas R3, R4, and R5.
March 29, 2007 8:08:59 PM

That was a nice article overview of the DSLRs in the market, however, I have a quibble about the lens perspective on a cropped sensor camera. This is a well know misconception. A 50mm lens on a 1.6x crop sensor will produce exactly the same perspective as a 50x1.6=80mm lens on a "full frame" 35mm sensor. Your perspective is only dictated by the distance away from your subject. (http://hannemyr.com/photo/crop.html)

However, it is right that the depth of field is affected, since it depends on the actual size of the lens aperture, not the f number. A 80mm f1.4 lens has a little bit more than "one stop" larger aperture than 50mm f1.4. Therefore the DOF for 50mm f1.4 lens on a cropped 1.6x sensor is more like 80mm f2.
March 31, 2007 3:21:31 AM

Yeah, the article was wrong about perspective as it only has to do with subject distance. Longer lenses just allow folks to get the same frame from farther away, which the cropped, shorter lens can do the same as the longer lens.

I think you are wrong about the depth of field though. It only has to do with magnification and f number I'm pretty sure. Try taking a picture of that bird with a 50mm lens from 2 feet away, and I think you would get the same results

The article was wrong about both points in the "masquerading" section
the cropped lens can do the same thing as the long lens
the real difference is that the quality is less
March 31, 2007 12:20:39 PM

The depth of field (DOF) issue is perhaps a little more confusing than perspective. To backup my argument, consider a point and shoot camera. If you look carefully, their lenses are usually marked f2.8 for the shortest focal length (which is normally at 35mm). Try shooting macro with that camera. Even at f2.8, the DOF is pretty impressive. Try doing the same with f2.8 35mm close up with a full frame or 1.6x crop SLRs. The DOF is significantly smaller, which is why these point and shoots are great for macros. The article in my previous post also mention the same effect:

Quote:
If we only want to compare the relative DOF when moving a specific lens between imagers of different sizes, both FOV and and DOF can be computed by multiplying with the crop factor. For instance, if we use a 50 mm lens at f/2.0 at a full frame camera, and then move that lens to a 1.6x crop camera and set aperture to f/2.0, the result will as if we've used a 80 mm lens at f/3.2 at a full frame camera in terms of FOV and DOF. But not in terms of speed, the f-stop would still be f/2.0.
April 1, 2007 4:07:06 PM

Quote:

Now Sony is running the Minolta Konica venture... I think it would be smart to re-release the Minolta name in the future especially considering Minolta had been around for 78 years.

1. I'm sure that Sony want their cameras to be known as Sony
2. they can't because Konica Minolta still own it.
Without the camera division it's still a 1000 billion yen/p.a. turnover company...
June 24, 2007 4:49:48 PM

Why did you not put the prices in the charts ? Right below the name looks like space..
September 10, 2007 4:21:58 AM

I wish I had seen this article sooner. A very nice article although I did see a problem with the comments on the D40 and D40x.

For the auto-focus to work on these two cameras the lens needs to be an AF-S or AF-I series lens. These lenses have the focus motor built into the lens itself. So the comment on the fact that if the lens is D or G series it will not auto-focus is untrue. All AF-S and AF-I lenses are of the D or G type. The D and G designations tell you that the lens has a cpu built into it that can talk to the camera body, which is required to work on all of Nikon's dSLR's. Unless you want to do manual everything, in which case any F-mount lens will work.
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