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Canon 40D, 450D or Nikon D80?
Comming summer I will head down to Southern Africa and travel through the region for three months in a 4WD. Documenting the trip is now giving me just the right excuse to finally upgrade from P&S to SLR..

As the SLR will be my first I would like to make as informed a purchase as possible, making sure I'm investing in the 'system' which is right for me..

I'm a hobby photographer who will never earn a living by taking photos but with aspirations to make presentable images, for slideshows or possibly for a small exhibition. Taking pictures for me generally happens out of doors in all conditions and terrain. I like to travel and to be active in the outdoors. Landscape-, nature-, and macro-photography with the occasional portrait is what I'm usually doing..

I have already done quite a lot of research and have come to the following shortlist of possibilities. Price does matter and the most expensive option below is the limit for Body and Lens..

The Canon 450d:.

Successor to the hugely successful 400d and very up to date. Live-View is nice price is good and it's probably the first thought for an ambitious beginner. Having held a 400d I'm not sure about the ergonomics of the 450d since I didn't like the 400d to much in this respect..

The Canon 40D:.

Being a semi-pro model maybe being too ambitious, but since the price is really competitive a real option. Faster operation, better contrast, less noise, a separate display on top of the camera (saves battery power because lcd can be off), a sturdy magnesium frame (to me a huge plus), not sure about ergonomics since i've not handled it yet..

Nikon D80:.

The earliest of the bunch and so far the best ergonomics i've experienced. Feels perfect in the hand and the controls are just where they need be. Love the two wheels for aperture and exposure as well as the on/off right at the shutter-button.No live view, specs seem somewhat below the 450d..

As the first occasion for using the camera will be a long journey and since being on the road will be one of the main situations I thought about getting a superzoom as a first lens. I know that this lens cannot be better than two separate ones, but prefer not having the added weight and necessity to change lenses in arduous conditions, at least for a start. I'm looking at a Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 stabilized or a Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 stabilized. From what I read the Nikon lens is superior but won't fit the Canon body. Therefore I would do the following bundles:.

Canon 450d with Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 stabilized (available in Switzerland for 915+568$=1483$).

Canon 40D with Sigma 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 stabilized (available in Switzerland for 1107 (alr. incl. the rebate if I buy before June) + 568$=1675$).

Nikon D80 with Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 stabilized (available in Switzerland for 912+830=1742$).

My question is now: what do you think about my reasoning and the bundles I made? Of course I would also like to know which bundle you believe offers the best value? At the moment I'm favoring the 40D bundle, but want to go and hold the camera to check out the ergonomics which to me is one of the most important factors..

Thank you so much for your input! Best..

Comments (6)

Some good choices and good reasoning.Of the three cameras I would go for the Canon 40D and couple it with a lens that you havent mentioned-the new Tamron 18-250mm.This would be a brilliant travel combo and the extra 50mm of the Tamron just gives it the edge over the Sigma for me.You may also want to consider taking a 50mm f/1.8 (small,light and as cheap as chips) for any low light situations.It seems to me that you have already pretty much discounted the 450D on ergonomic grounds.The Nikon has been a great camera but IMHO is well out performed by the 40D especially when it comes to noise.The truth of the matter is that all of your choices are excellent and will do a good job for you.For me though it would be the 40D and the Tamron 18-250mm.Enjoy your trip.PJT..

Comment #1

Thank you PJT for your input!.

I have looked at the Tamron 18-250 but find it going to extremes, especially since it has no stabilization in the lens. Also it has no USM which (i suppose) means slower and noisier AF. I guessed the extra 50mm (or actually 80mm) at the end are not really that necessary considering the drawbacks. On the other hand I don't know if the sigma 18-200 and the nikon 18-200 really are better or if they are all rather compromising a lot..

The 50mm you suggested, what is it's exact area of application? Would that be a good lens for portraits?.

As always thanks for any input you readers might have!Best _diego_..

Comment #2

Diego,.

I'm a Canon person (in a big way) but there's little if any didderence between the two with the printed photos..

I'd definately get a lens with image stabilization..

I have the 40D (among others) and am somewhat familiar with the 400D. The main difference between the 40D and 450D is probably speed (the # of shots you can make in rapid succession without the buffer becoming full). Also the 40D has the same approximate button configeration as the 5D, 30D and probably future mid-range Canon's. That's a big help for an old man like me trying to remember the different settings. The live view is great especially for macros and close-ups..

Be sure and shoot RAW + JPEG. JPEG format loses some info everytime you work on a file and close it. With RAW you lose nothing and you can save as RAW, TIFF or JPEG..

Regardless of your camera choice, buy the best lenses you can afford. The lens (or glass as they are commonly called) is much more important than the megapixels and features of the camera. I started out with a Canon XT and a Tamron 18-200 lens without IS for a trip to Greece and Turkey a couple of years ago and the pictures looked great (to me) until I saw what the good lenses are capable of doing. Another consideration is do you want photographs that you can blow-up and enlarge or do you want snapshots for memories of your trip(s)? If you want snapshots the Sigma 18-200 OS should be fine, but it hasn't gotten rave reviews in the Canon lens forum. I tried the new Tamron 28-300 stabilized lens and returned it because of the quality of the photos, but that's me and my opinion. You'll get all kind of advice on the Canon forums.

For more expensive choices the Canon 24-105L lens is a top choice if it's wide enough on the lower zoom range. The 17-40 also gets good marks. The 70-200L IS f4 is one of the best in Canon's lineup..

Have you thought about renting a telephoto lens for the trip to Africa? I've never been but I think most people suggest a zoom up to 400mm. Can you rent easily in CH or neighboring countries?.

Good luck! Kent..

Comment #3

I just read that you'll be gone for 3 months. That probably eliminates renting a lens..

Kent..

Comment #4

I was in the similar situation. I was considering Canon 40D, Nikon D80 and Canon 450D but decided to go with Canon 40D. My reasons are mainly on it's price and the features I get e.g. LiveView which I find it's nice to have so that I can see the effect of any change to speed and exposure I play on the camera and lens before I take the photo. Canon 40D has 14bit while Nikon D80 has 12bit..

Cheers!iAmSiam.

Canon EOS 40D + Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS + Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS + LowePro Fastpack 100..

Comment #5

_diego_ wrote:.

Thank you PJT for your input!.

I have looked at the Tamron 18-250 but find it going to extremes,especially since it has no stabilization in the lens. Also it has noUSM which (i suppose) means slower and noisier AF. I guessed theextra 50mm (or actually 80mm) at the end are not really thatnecessary considering the drawbacks. On the other hand I don't knowif the sigma 18-200 and the nikon 18-200 really are better or ifthey are all rather compromising a lot.The 50mm you suggested, what is it's exact area of application? Wouldthat be a good lens for portraits?.

As always thanks for any input you readers might have!Best _diego_.

Reviews on the Tamron are universally good.I also have two friends who use it as a walkabout and are thrilled with it.Stopped down a couple of points it produces excellent images.It will do a great job for you.The nifty fifty or plastic fantastic-Canon 50mm f/1.8 is Canons cheapest prime lens.It is most peoples first prime and is great for low light shooting without flash and takes pretty reasonable portraits on a crop camera.It is small,cheap very light and takes great pics.It would be really useful at night time when the other lenses might be too slow.Another thing to consider might be taking a 2x teleconverter with you.This would turn your Tamron into a 500mm lens at the long end and might help you get distance shots of animalsyou would probably need a small beanbag to balance the lens on the bonnet but there should be more than enough light to get acceptable results -for sure you are not going to get the same IQ as with a Canon 100-400L but you should get useable pics you otherwise would have missed.Whats more the whole kit will fit in a small Lowepro nova bag..

There are other routes you could go which would involve taking a lot more kit and involve a lot more money as well but that was not your post.Hope this helps..

PJT..

Comment #6

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