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Mark M.K

OT - SLR Camera's

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Hi all,

I'm after a DSLR camera, however i have no idea at all about what to look for in one. I have a budget of £500 maximum but anything less than that would be great. I need a faily good lense on it and it must be able to take pictures very fast of moving objects. So a very fast shutter speed and good ISO is a must. Anybody on here know what they are talking about? :) Many thanks

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I think you can get it for less than £500 now, the Canon 450D

Iv used my mums a few times and its a great piece of kit. Used it at the F1 practice last year at silverstone and again it was great for speed.

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thats the one yeah.

I always take pictures in RAW format so you can edit them fully on photoshop.

Its got lots of features on the camera aswell

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For added creativity, try slowing your shutter speed down, and 'pan' the moving image. This will give you the sense of speed, by making your object clear, but with the background blurred.

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Hi all,

I'm after a DSLR camera, however i have no idea at all about what to look for in one. I have a budget of £500 maximum but anything less than that would be great. I need a faily good lense on it and it must be able to take pictures very fast of moving objects. So a very fast shutter speed and good ISO is a must. Anybody on here know what they are talking about? :) Many thanks

You've hit upon my main hobby here! As others have said, there are a lot of very decent digital SLRs available now for £500 and under, and all of them in this category have a top shutter speed of 1/4000 (which is plenty) and go up to either 1600 or 3200 ISO (things get noisier at those settings - the digital equivalent of good old film grain). As mentioned, the Canon EOS 450D (with the 18-55IS lens) is a popular choice, as are Nikons (such as the D60). A cheaper alternative in the Canon line is the EOS 1000D (making sure it comes with the 18-55IS lens, as the non-IS version is optically less good but is sometimes offered instead) which is a slightly more recent introduction than the 450D. I have a 1000D with the 18-55IS and even though the lens is generally good and certainly better than the non-IS version, I did notice some colour fringing when I used it to take a shot of our Frozen White Fiesta. That shortcoming would apply equally to a 450D with the same lens - but equally, it may be just my example of the lens (they can vary a little, as with all manufactured items).

Whilst Canon and Nikon are easily the most widely-stocked makes, others are good too. Pentax (not stocked by Jessops any more, sadly), Olympus, and Sony all have very good, affordable models (the Sony A200 is available for under £300, as is the Olympus E420 and the Nikon D40 [now in its clearance phase] for example). Sony is probably almost as widely stocked as Nikon and Canon - Sony DSLRs have evolved from Minolta designs as they took Minolta over a few years ago (they still take Minolta AF fitting lenses).

Always make sure you handle the cameras on your shortlist in person at a high street shop, since the handling characteristics can make a big difference as to whether you "get on" with a camera or not. It's a personal thing - I have the Canon EOS 1000D because it was a great price before Christmas and I wanted to give a Canon a whirl - my own favourite is Olympus - and the Canon is very nice (but I still love my Olympus E-420 best of all).

One last thing (you're probably aware, but just in case) - if you want to be able to compose the shot prior to taking it on the rear monitor (as on compact digital cameras) you need a DSLR with Live View. If a DSLR doesn't have it, you can only use the monitor for making settings in the menus and taking a look at your shots after you've taken them. Live View is getting more and more common so most (but not all) recent models have it, but the affordable Pentaxes (K-m and K200D) don't, the Nikon D40 and D60 don't, and neither does the Sony A200 or its forthcoming replacement, the A230, though their other below-£500 models (A300 and A350) do. The Sonys are being replaced in the next month or so, so there could be good prices coming on the older, larger models (A200, A300 [Jessops only for the A300 - it's exclusive to them] and A350). You can't generally shoot as quickly with Live View as through the viewfinder of a DSLR, with the exception of the Sony A300 and A350, which provide Live View in a slightly different way and are fast, at the expense (slightly) of the quality of image you see on the monitor (no effect on the quality of the shot you take, though).

There's also the Panasonic G1 which usually comes in at just under £500 with kit zoom. It's smaller than standard DSLRs and not strictly a DSLR since its viewfinder is electronic, but it's styled like a DSLR and has interchangeable lenses. It's also capable of very sharp results.

So, plenty of choice! Feel free to ask me to translate any of my over-enthusiastic gibberish, if required!!

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Wow! what a reply! Thats very very helpful, thank's very very much :)

I have looked at the new G1 from Panasonic, best price we found was £449 but i've been told to avoid it as its not a "true" SLR and is just a fancy expensive digital camera.

As for the 450D, it will come with the IS lens, and have had a quick play around with it and i was very impressed. Theres also the 1000D which i belive is a older camera and less powerful?

I've also looked at the Sony A350, does seem very good but i've been told to avoid sony?

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Wow! what a reply! Thats very very helpful, thank's very very much :)

I have looked at the new G1 from Panasonic, best price we found was £449 but i've been told to avoid it as its not a "true" SLR and is just a fancy expensive digital camera.

As for the 450D, it will come with the IS lens, and have had a quick play around with it and i was very impressed. Theres also the 1000D which i belive is a older camera and less powerful?

I've also looked at the Sony A350, does seem very good but i've been told to avoid sony?

The Panasonic G1 is a bit of a new category - I think the best acronym I've heard is "EVIL" (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens)! It's a very nice little product - Amateur Photographer (usually hard on the cameras they test) always mention how incredibly sharp (high resolution) it is. Some people think it has a tiny sensor because its system is called "Micro Four Thirds" but "micro" only refers to the size of the lens mount. The Four Thirds format sensor size it uses is also used in Olympus DSLRs with the full-size lens mount, and whilst it's somewhat smaller than other DSLR formats, it's not anywhere near as small as the sensors in compact digital cameras (a larger physical size of sensor tends to give less noise and a wider retention of detail at the extremes of the brightness range in a shot - called dynamic range). The G1 is not a true SLR because it has no reflex mirror (the 45 degree mirror behind the lens that diverts light to the optical reflex finder in an SLR and it's that mirror, incidentally, that makes Live View such a tricky feature to include on DSLRs). Whether that matters depends on whether you want to have a non-electronic eye-level viewfinder or not. The G1's is better and bigger than any other electronic viewfinder, and DSLR viewfinders tend to be smaller than the ones in film SLRs, but you might still prefer them. It just depends on what you need/prefer. The G1 is always in live view, and its autofocus is very accurate. On DSLRs the type of autofocus the G1 uses is slow (all DSLRs except the Sonys offer this type of autofocus for uninterrupted live view, because if you opt to use their normal type of autofocus in live view, they have to interrupt the process by flipping the mirror around sporadically, which is clunky), but on the G1 it's much faster than in DSLRs - but still (probably) not quite as fast as a DSLR can be when NOT using live view at all (or a Sony when using live view, as they use the same autofocus system in live view as when they are not, if you see what I mean, but their design means they DON'T have to flip the mirror about). The swivel monitor of the G1 is a handy feature - the only affordable DSLRs with any movement on the monitor are the Sony A300 and A350, which have vertical tilt. Movement is useful when combined with Live View (think of shooting over your head in a crowd, or at ground-level for some tiny little insect or plant).

I have handled a G1 but don't own one. Whether it would be any good for you I don't know, but don't write it off without a look, as some people misunderstand it. Perhaps a more important thing to bear in mind, though, is that there aren't yet very many lenses to fit it. Like the camera itself, they're noticeably smaller than those in the DSLR category.

The Canon EOS 1000D is actually a slightly more recent introduction than the 450D, but it is intentionally the next step downmarket from it. It's a shade less powerful in that it is 10 Megapixels rather than 12 (but it's wise to bear in mind that anything over 8MP is more than enough for most mortals, and higher megapixels can show up shortcomings of lenses). The 1000D has a slightly smaller viewfinder, a slightly cheaper finish on the handgrip, and a slightly smaller monitor (2.5 inches versus 3 inches). When shooting raw files (for processing on the computer afterwards), it runs out of puff sooner (and thus has to pause to save the shots sooner), and it only has 7 AF targets in its viewfinder (arranged 5 across, plus extra 1 up and down in the middle) versus 9 in the 450D (arranged in a diamond). This means a 450D might have more chance of one of its targets landing on what you wish to have in focus, when you're in a hurry, if you're letting the camera pick and choose focusing targets by itself. Oh, and you can use an infra red remote control on the 450D but not the 1000D. There may be something else I've forgotten but that's mainly it. I didn't go for the 450D because I just wanted to give Canon a whirl - plus the camera forums were full of people worrying about the 450D's focusing accuracy at the time, whereas there was much less concern about the 1000D. Nobody ever decided if some 450D's had a fault, or if it was just that some beginners found it harder to get to grips with. Whatever the case, I haven't regretted going for the 1000D instead of the 450D, but perhaps someone else would. Only you can tell - again, try 'em both in the shop. You may find you don't like the feel of the 1000D. The 450D is likely to give way on the shelves to the new EOS 500D which is evolved directly from it (15MP, a really high res monitor and a movie mode - the next new thing in DSLRs!) but that one's currently over your price limit.

I have used a Sony A300 (the Jessops exclusive model) quite extensively. It's identical to the A350 but with 10MP instead of 15MP. I haven't heard of a convincing reason to avoid Sony (and Minolta before them were fine) - it performs well. For my particular eyesight the optical viewfinder in the A300/350 is too small (it's due to how they do their unique form of live view - it requires a bit of jiggerypokery in the viewfinder design) but other than that it's a good camera (the non-live view A200's finder is bigger). But I've discovered that perception of viewfinder size is dependent on your own particular eyesight, so not everyone would agree that the A300/A350 viewfinder is too small. Picture quality is fine - some say the 18-70 lens is a bit mediocre, but I think it just varies from one example to another and my experience of it is fine. The A300 being 10MP means the lens is able to perform more within its comfort zone than on the 15MP A350, so that might be a factor. The fewer megapixels means the A300 can shoot a bit faster in sequence shooting than the A350 too (because the image files are a little smaller and so quicker to save, with more fitting in the buffer). However, being only sold by Jessops means it's not always that much cheaper than the lowest price you can find an A350 for at some internet shops. I find the bodywork a bit creaky on the A300 and its siblings, but it's a purely superficial thing and many might not notice it - again, trying one in a shop is the best way. But for DSLRs to shoot sequences *in live view* the Sonys are very good - the other DSLRs don't do continuous autofocus at all in live view, just single shot. The Panasonic G1 can do continous AF in live view as well (remember, the G1 is always in live view). Obviously most people will shoot sequences on DSLRs using the optical reflex finder, though, as live view often suits slower shooting conditions like close-ups better, anyway. One last thought - when it comes to live view, the G1 is the only camera of this lot where you can see live view through the eyepiece - on the others it's only on the monitor (which the G1 can also do). Of course, the DSLRs allow you to see real life through their eyepieces when not using live view, not an electronic live view version of it like in the G1!

But really, it's up to you to see which one you find the easiest to handle as that's a big part of finding the right camera for you. Nobody really makes a *bad* camera these days!

Phew! Sorry it's so long.... :P

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