Buying into a system... question about costs.
Okay, I'm a newbie to SLR shooting and have been pondering the standard question of which camera to buy. My price range is in the XTi/D80/K10D area, but my real question is (and this may set off a war), which system gives the best bang for the buck? Since the glass is the key, I want to make sure that the system I'm buying into will give me value. My interests lie in sports and portrait photography, with some urban landscape. I know I want a decent travel lens in the 18-70 range, a 50mm prime for portraits, and perhaps a short zoom, 70-200mm. I'm looking at primarily Nikon or Canon, since those are the two biggies, and there seems to be more information (validity aside) about those systems readily available. I've looked at Pentax and Sony's entries, but I'm not sure about the Pentax system and I'm gunshy about putting money into Sony's first entry into the DSLR market.

Thanks in advance...

Comments (7)

Steve, Best bangs for bucks has to be the Olympus four thirds DSLRs. For the same money as a camera and 28-100 kit lens, you will get a twin lens kit taking you from 28-300. Once you start buying other lenses, there are some amazing ones available ( is a list) The Panasonic/Leica 25mm = 50mm (equiv) 1.4 has to be one of the fastest/best "standard" lenses around. Also, for sports, you have the benefit of the 2x magnification factor. Sigma do a 150mm 2.8 macro that translates into a 300mm 2.8, that is still easy to use. Have a look at the results from my E500 on my blog and see what you think.Feel free to eMail if you want more info. Ham.



Comment #1

They are all good. An advantage to Sony/KM and the Pentax models with inbody anti-shake is that any lens has "AS" available. The more extensive/expensive you go, that particular advantage may or may not continue to be big consideratin. Not real familiar with the Pentax offerings but consider with the 70-200 and 80-200 offerings. Sigma has a good lens, has HSM (the fast/quiet focus motor system), but the HSM isn't available on the Maxxum/Alpha mounts. But if you put one on the Sony, It's got AS for about $800 or so.

The non-AS types are sub $1000 or so. (OTOH, the stellar Sony/KM 70-200/2.8 SSM is a whopping $2400 the last I looked so that means you can buy a Canon/Nikon lens and camera for about the same as the lens alone.) I'd expect if you are getting into the more advanced bodies and lenses running several thousand dollars alone, your considerations will be different than those trying to stay at or below $2000-$3000 or so in all. OTOH, Canon and Nikon seem to be several steps ahead and definitely several models range selections ahead of Sony in some of the body selections and flash system componentry. Not that Pentax, Olympus and Sony aren't in the running, it's just that different systems have different strong points. Canon is perhaps a tad better in low light, others swear Nikon's flash systems are better.

5 fps and faster focus systems, etc. OTOH, the Canon 30D would have been a fine choice as well. I liked the D200 more...

Comment #2

I've just had the same decision to make. This is the conclusion I came to and how.... Canon - 400D is a superb starter camera and a bloody good camera all round. The 350D is pretty damn good too. Also even now, (you'll see what I mean after reading the whole post) the 5D is very, very tempting. A good rugged camera with a full frame sensor for around 2 grand (As you probably guessed, I am an Englishman, so I talk in Pound sterling!).

As for lenses, I'd say the pro spec Canon's are probably the best around, but I'd say Nikon have the edge at the lower priced beginner and enthusiast end of the scale. Pentax - The K10D looks like a superb camera, which uses the advantages digital technology brings whilst being very film like in use and output. I very nearly saved for one myself. But...Pentax seems to lag behind Canon and Nikon lens wise in my opinion. The limited edition lenses look gorgeous, but there's a lack of choice in most other areas.

Olympus - E330 is unique and very interesting, E-510 (on it's way soon) looks superb. I like Olympus but 2 things put me off - They (E-330,400 and 500 anyway) don't match Nikon, Canon or Pentax for high ISO shooting, which to me (I don't like flash) is important and one of the main advantages of digital over film.

Also, whilst they have some excellent glass available, the good stuff is VERY expensive. Sigma backing four thirds should help though. Finally, my choice. Nikon. For me this is the best overall system. The cameras - D40, good starter camera for novices like me, but the lack of an in body AF motor is a slight pain, D80, a better purist camera than the 400D in my opinion.

Just my opinion like! Then of course you have the excellent D200 before you get to the big studio cameras. What really swung it for me though was the lenses available. Nikon have everything from an 80 50mm f1.8 prime, to a 1300 70-200 f2.8. And everything in between. Add to that a superb creative lighting system (If you like that sort of thing, and that's what made them my choice.

And if you could afford the new Leica four thirds with that excellent kit lens, that would be interesting too. I think I'll keep learning the ropes with my little D40 for a while. I see the D80 as my ultimate camera, but if Nikon bring out the rumoured full frame camera and it's anything like as good as the Canon 5D, I'll have a tough choice to make........

Comment #3

Sam has put a fair case together, and it's true that currently the native high ISO performance of Canon/Nikon is less noisy than Olympus BUT.... that's not the whole story. First off, is the noise a real problem? Using noise reduction software you can get excellent results from Olympus (yes it is a drag!), but actually I often like to use the noise creatively - as I would have done with film. Also, the four thirds system allows faster lenses - Sam mentions the Leica lenses (either 28-100 2.8 - 3.5 IS or 50mm 1.4) and all four thirds are interchangeable. The lens list is here: as you will see, almost all are a stop or so faster than the Canon/Nikon equivalents. Add to that the IS of the 510 and low light should be much less of a dividing issue.

The bright screen, full information and "access all areas" from the screen (as well as menus and buttons) is tops. (although I confess I have only tried Canon 250D, 20D & 5D to compare against) Truth is, all these cameras are excellent, in the end your choice is what suits you. I'd just argue not to discount Olympus becuase they aren't Nikon or Canon. Ham.



Comment #4

I bought the Olympus E-510 three months ago, and the way things are going, I will never buy another Olympus camera. Olympus deliberately crippled important features like the in-body Image Stabilization (IS) and the Focus Confirmation (FC) to make them not work if you use a legacy manual focus lens on the camera. (Pentax did just the opposite.) Not even old Olympus OM manual focus lenses work. And then they did the same thing in their new flagship camera, the E-3. It seems to be a corporate marketing stunt to get you to buy their over-priced Zuiko lenses. But I like using old glass.

And I have no desire to buy expensive Four-Thirds lenses that can only work on deliberately defective.

Olympus camera bodies. When we us Olympus users ask that these things be fixed with firmware upgrades (easy fix, by the way), the official Olympus answer is "Many people have asked about that. We will think about it." Which is a polite Japanese way of saying, "It's never gonna happen."..

Comment #5

Hello, I just bought a Canon powershot a720 online for a very good price. My question is about what accessories are necessary. After I made my purchase, I received an e-mail from the merchant telling me I had to call an 800-number to confirm. When I called I got a hardsell about buying a high-speed memory card and batteries for what seemed like high prices. The story I got on the memory card was that if I used one other than the one the merchant was pushing, lag time would be longer and the quality of the images would suffer. When they said they would sell me a 1G card for the price of a 512 MB card$89.99and 4 batteries for $69.99I felt pretty sure they were trying to use the camera price as a loss leader.

I had already bought a A SanDisk 2 GB SD card, but I haven't opened it and can still return it. Do I really need a high-speed memory card, and if so, what is a reasonable price for it? Thanks for any info you can offer...

Comment #6

$89.99 ????? Wow, I assume this is not american dollars?? Those kind of tactics are shady in the extreme. The 720is takes normal AA batteries, so a good set of 2700mah rated nimh rechargeables will do fine, from probably less than $20 for a set of 4 from a good manufacturer. A good 2gb sd card costs from say $15 (american), a good fast 2gb card x133 speed (or Sandisk ultra II/extreme III) from say $40 maybe even less if you shop around. (edit - circuitcity have the SanDisk Ultra II SD 2GB for $24.99) Though those kind of fast cards may be overkill for the camera, though they will help to speed downloading once placed into a good usb2 cardreader (as opposed to downloading straight from the camera which tends to be very slow in comparison) You may like to check out the store or website you bought from at Since they tried to cheat you by asking you to spend well over the odds for basic cheap items, give them a bad review...

Comment #7

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