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Old 06-12-2011, 02:05 PM
 
568 posts, read 1,209,793 times
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Hi all,

I'm hoping you can give me some camera upgrading advice based on my specific photo habits and needs. I currently have an old film camera: Canon EOS Elan II, in conjunction with a Tokina 28-300 zoom lens that served me pretty well in the old days while it lasted (obviously I'm not a pro, but like to take a little more care in my pix than the average point-n-shooter). But I find the digital world a bit confusing and overwhelming!

Being a mere hobbyist, it seems a lot of the current cameras have a lot more gadgetry and features than I would ever find use for. Why buy more than what I need? I like the old-fashioned feel of cropping my images directly through the pathfinder and through adjusting the telephoto lens. Maybe I'm just being stupid and can't keep up with the times! I'm thinking of getting another Canon slr (digital), so I can keep using my Tokina in the meantime until I can afford a nicer upgrade on the lens. Here are some preferences I have:

- I don't need or want video-cam capabilities
- I usually like landscaping, still-life, slow nature, or architectural photos...I rarely take portrait or night-time or high-speed/sports photos.
- I do like to occasionally have my photos somewhat enlarged so I can frame them (largest so far is 1 ft x 8 inches). I want something that will allow at least an equivalent amount of quality when enlarged.

I notice there are some older, first-line Digital SLRs that are much cheaper than the latest/greatest. Maybe something like this:

Canon Rebel XS 10.1 MP Digital SLR Camera w/ EF-S 18-55mm


Or maybe I should try to find something even cheaper and then just get a better lens??? I'm not averse to buying used or refurbished.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Charlotte. Or Detroit.
1,456 posts, read 4,152,322 times
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When I switched over to digital, I was using a Canon Rebel G, and I bought the exact camera/lens (IF it's the version of the lens with the image stabilizer) combo you've mentioned. So far, so good. I've been completely happy with it, and I think sticking with Canon made the learning curve a lot easier.

My current lineup is the Canon XS, with the 18-55 IS, the 55-250IS, and the 50mm 1.8 (a great bargain lens). I'm thinking of buying an ultra wide angle zoom this winter, but other than that I'm quite satisfied.
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:14 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,191 posts, read 33,949,569 times
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The Canon digital bodies have good chips (sensors) in them and take good pics. When you shell out more money, it's usually because you're paying for a more solid body (alloy instead of plastic, etc) and more buttons and controls on the camera as opposed to having to go into the menu system, greater speed, etc. There are plenty of pros who actually invest their money in extremely good glass, and then buy the less expensive bodies (to consider them "disposable"), and go from there.

Belong to Costco? They have the Canon T1i with lens for only around $699, which includes an instructional DVD that helps get you up and running with the switch to digital, too. Many of your older Canon lenses will probably work on this, but not all of their functionality (auto settings/focus, etc). The 18-55 lens is "decent" that comes with these, but once you can afford it, the Canon 17-40mm L lens is a solid investment and good for landscapes. Remember, with digital of this level of camera, you have to multiply the lens by around 1.6, so a 17-40 on this camera = about 28 to 64 (roughly). It does have a video mode, but honestly, every camera coming out now and even some in the last batch have that - it's become one of those "you're getting it whether you want it or not, so don't use it if you don't like it", features. The 15 megapixel chip has received good ratings and you should have no problem getting good 16 x 20 prints (or higher) from it, especially once you learn to tweak the pics in an image editor a bit.

I know you said you didn't mind going the used route, but if you can swing this price range, it's a good deal. Costco also has a 90 day return policy on cameras and if you use an American Express card, they will extend the mfg. warranty by 1 year.

If you still want to browse the "used" route, KEH is a good source for that. Their Canon used page is HERE.

LINK to Costco's Camera

____________________________________________
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 7,677,416 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xica_da_Silva View Post
I currently have an old film camera: Canon EOS Elan II, in conjunction with a Tokina 28-300 zoom lens that served me pretty well in the old days while it lasted (obviously I'm not a pro, but like to take a little more care in my pix than the average point-n-shooter).
In the world of digital cameras, your old lens is not quite the same. The camera bodies you will be considering all have sensors that are smaller than a 35mm film frame, so the field of view you get with a 28-300mm lens is different. It will be roughly equivalent to having a 45-480mm lens. That's pretty cool if you shoot a lot of bird pictures, and not at all nice if you do landscapes at wide angles. With a typical digital camera in the range you have mentioned, regardless of the manufacturer, you'll want something like an 18-200mm lens.

Among other differences you'll find that digital cameras have higher ISO settings than film, the AF on new lenses is faster, and you can get a lens that has image stabilization too. And digital costs more to buy, but far less to use.

That last is very significant too! If you've been shooting 3 rolls of 36 exposures a week, that's a whopping 400 shots a month. If processing costs 50 cents an image, you've been spending $200 a month to use your camera. (I can only guess, so you'll want to plug in valid numbers and get accurate dollar figures to make this comparison.) At $200 a month, in a year that adds up to $2400 (or 1/3rd that if you only shoot 1 roll a week, but even $800/year is significant). The big thing to know about digital is that film is free, and you can spend the "operating budget" on "capital investments". I.e., if you are fairly active and make more that 1000 exposures a month... by switching to digital you absolutely can afford a top of the line camera and one or two professional lenses if you spread the cost out over 3 to 5 years. And the good part is that you can then afford to shoot 20,000 shots a year too!

Given that your existing lens will probably not fulfill your basic lens needs, and the lower cost of operating a digital camera means the initial outlay for a digital camera can reasonably be much higher than you would go with a film camera... I would suggest that you look at everything. Sony, Pentax, Canon and Nikon all make good cameras. If you want to stick with Canon I would highly recommend considering a full frame body such as the 5DII, which might well be much higher than you were thinking of... but that 28-300mm lens won't have to be replaced immediately and the 5DII is a vastly better camera than others you've considered! That's a deal that will pay for itself in about 4000 exposures...

Quote:
- I do like to occasionally have my photos somewhat enlarged so I can frame them (largest so far is 1 ft x 8 inches). I want something that will allow at least an equivalent amount of quality when enlarged.
Figure 300 pixels per inch to guarantee high quality prints. In fact many images can be printed at 200 pixels per inch too, but you can't count on it. An 8.5"x11" print, at 300 pixels per inch is 8.4MP, so any camera with 10MP or higher will meet your requirement easily. Note that 11x14 prints need 14MP and 16x20 prints need 30MP to meet that 300 ppi value. But in fact many 12MP images are printed at 16x20 or even larger all the time, and that's not quite 200 ppi.

Quote:
I notice there are some older, first-line Digital SLRs that are much cheaper than the latest/greatest.
Digital cameras are not yet a mature technology, and each generation is significantly improved over the previous. You'll probably be better off in the long run to get the most recent technology now, to avoid needing to replace it sooner. Saving $200 on the cost of a camera that you'll be using regularly for the next several years might not be as good as getting features that make it more pleasant to use. Keep in mind that if you spend $200 more on a camera you'll use for 5 years... that works out to a cost of $3.33 a month! (Personally, I don't have TV... and can spend the price of a cable TV hookup on photography! It goes a long ways.)
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:53 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,083 posts, read 38,937,352 times
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I have a 10.1 Mp camera body and print razor sharp 16 X 24 prints all the time. Largest I have gone is an 18 X 36 and if you get within 8 inches of it you notice I should have had a bit larger file, but back further than that, it is nice and you don't notice it at all.

Best bet is to go out to a good camera shop --- NOT Best Buy, ABC Warehouse, or others like that; but a real camera shop and handle the different bodies. Scroll through the menus, work the buttons, then put them all down and go home with nothing. Give it a day of two and go back and do it again. If the same body still feels right, then you are on the right track. After all if a body is uncomfortable, or awkward to use... in a short time you won't be using it. Don't discount brands other than Canon or Nikon either.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 7,677,416 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bydand View Post
I have a 10.1 Mp camera body and print razor sharp 16 X 24 prints all the time. Largest I have gone is an 18 X 36 and if you get within 8 inches of it you notice I should have had a bit larger file, but back further than that, it is nice and you don't notice it at all.
That's an interesting distinction, the distance at which an image is viewed. I've recently examined that in a different way than what I'd done previously. It was always just a case of considering how it looked "at reasonable viewing distances".

But I'm currently showing a couple dozen images that start at 16x20 in an area that includes 4 images hanging in a stairway, where the viewer sees them from different angles, heights, and distances! There is a platfrom half way up, and two images are hanging on that wall, so one is viewed straight on from below for someone going up the stairs and the other straight on from above when they come down. One of the two is viewed at an angle going up, the other one is also viewed at an angle going down. And then two images are on the wall going up the second stage of the stairs, and anyone that looks at them can't get more than 3-1/2 feet away! (All of this differs from the images located in the room at the top of the stairs, where two are about 4 feet from a viewer at the closest, and others range to as far as 12 feet at the closest.

I didn't personally hang the first photograph, and it was placed in that 12 feet away location. When I did finally hang the last image... I removed that first one and put it on the stairway so that a viewer cannot get farther than 3-1/2 feet from it, and put a different image in the other location!

Sharpness wasn't really the issue, but the image I moved (it's a 20x24 shot of an Arctic Tern hovering over the tundra) is loaded with a strange mix of fog, motion blur, and fine detail that just can't be appreciated from 12 feet away! It is originally from a 12 MP image, so the detail is printed at about 140 pixels per inch vertically and 178 horizontally, yet it is an image I wanted the viewer to inspect very closely.
Perhaps not so oddly, the other image that has to be viewed close up has a huge amount of fine detail. It's a shot of the most artistic example of an umiaq skin boat frame construction that I've ever seen.
Below is the first image seen as a person starts to climb the stairs. It is seen head on from below going up. But the real reason it was placed there is because it is viewed at an angle from above by someone going down the stairs, and the way the light falls on the print when the viewer's eyes are about two feet above it is just fascinating (something I can't recreate here with an electronic image).
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:42 PM
 
568 posts, read 1,209,793 times
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Amazing photos, Floyd, thanks for sharing.

Also, thanks for all the info and advice...much appreciated. I still haven't made up my mind yet, but at least have a better idea of what I'm looking for!
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
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As always, Floyd, great pictures!

Xica_da_Silva,

Almost any dSLR produced in the past 7-8 years will come very close to matching your old Elan for quality. My first dSLR was a Canon EOS D60 with a 6 mp sensor, and I believe that was 8 years ago. I bought it thinking it could replace my 35mm bodies, and it did. For most commercial work including portraits I'd been using a Contax 645 (medium format with high-dollar lenses). But the quality was so high with the new digital that I immediately started using it to replace my medium format (and sold the Contax while there was still a market for it).

So a couple weeks after I'd bought the D60 I dropped a digital image off with the local photo lab and ordered a 16x20 portrait print. Another professional photographer who I knew happened to be in the lab and saw the print lying on the counter. "WyoNewk really gets some sharp images with that Contax of his, doesn't he," he commented to them.

"Yeah, but this is from his new D60."

That photographer ordered a new D60 that week.

You don't need umpteen megapixels. My backup camera is the original Canon 1D -- 4.3 mp. I've sold prints from it as large as 20x24. (Granted, that's pushing it, and I feel more comfortable using it for 8x10 or smaller prints.)

But Greg is correct that great strides have been made since then, particularly with regards to sensor sensitivity. With my first cameras 400 ISO was about the limit for clean images, and now some of the cameras can go well past 1200 without much degrading. Auto focus has also improved greatly, along with other "stuff".

That said, my newest camera is a Canon 1D MkII -- roughly 5 years old. I see little point in upgrading it, and I shoot professionally and depend on quality images to survive. If I did upgrade today, it would likely be to a full-frame camera, probably the 5DII like Floyd recommended. The original 5D was no slouch either, if you're looking at used gear.


One word of caution about your old Tokina lens. Canon made a software change about 8 years ago, and many of the non-Canon brand lenses didn't work quite right after that. I had a Tamron that was a favorite zoom lens for me, and when I first got my D60 I was having intermittent exposure problems when using flash. I finally realized it was when the Tamron lens was mounted. I sent it to Tamron and they upgraded it for free (and cleaned it) and had it back to me a week after I'd sent if off. Some Sigma lenses had similar problems. I don't know if there were problems with Tokina lenses or not, but if there was it might not be possible to have it fixed at this point, and probably not for free.
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:44 PM
 
963 posts, read 2,306,365 times
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I made the same transition about six years ago. I also used a Canon Elan II for quite a while. I think you will be very happy with the Canon Rebel XS. The image quality is as good as digital gets, and 10 megapixels is a nice balance between reasonable file size and enlargements. I generally get excellent enlargements at 19x24 from landscape photos and am very happy with the results. The body will feel cheap compared to the Elan II but it is quite robust and delivers excellent results. You can probably find a Rebel XS kit refurbished by Canon for well under $500 at either Digital cameras, all other cameras and everything photographic from Adorama Camera or B&H Photo Video Digital Cameras, Photography, Camcorders to two best known and most reputable online camera dealers. They only sell refurbs by Canon which are basically new cameras that have been replaced by a newer model. They both stand behind what they sell and do not have restocking fees like bestbuy.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:15 AM
 
568 posts, read 1,209,793 times
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Hi WyoNewk and Design7,

Thanks so much for your input. Very informative.

Yeah, my budget is limited because I've already got another expensive hobby (music)! So, it's nice to know that I can get a better product than my old film EOS without having to buy the top of the line (expensive) technology. Plus, I don't really need something with a ton of bells and whistles at this point. I'm still focussing on making better compositions, working with light conditions, ie. the fundamentals.

Wyo, thanks for the warning regarding the lens. I'll have to see if the Tokina works out, and then go from there. This is all the more reason why I'd like to get just an 'acceptable' body; if the Tokina doesn't work (or even if it does), I can then invest more money in a better lens.

Design, yes, I would be keen on getting a refurbished one; those prices are within my budget! Thanks for the tip!
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