21 June 2008

Camera Shopping is Driving me Nuts!

Ok, not having a camera is killing me so I've been doing some window shopping on the internet. For those keeping up with the camera saga, I have decided not to have the Sony camera cleaned. I'm just going to have to struggle along with it until it flat out poops out.

I have decided to wait on the waterproof/dustproof camera until the price of the Pentax W60 drops after initial release. I never saw the waterproof model as much more than a field camera, which leaves me free to fantasize about my "everyday" camera. I have spent a lot of time considering my camera use. Understanding that I am more than a casual camera user, that I find photography to be both a work necessity and a hobby, and I like to have "snapshots" of normal family/friend stuff like everyone else. I love to spend my free time taking photos in natural areas.

Before my next big trip, I would like to have in my camera bag: a quality, high-megapixel dSLR camera with an adequate kit lens, a kick ass macro lens (or at least mid-range), and a wide-angle lens for landscapes. This is a rather expensive proposition. Thus, it remains in the realm of fantasy at the moment. But, with my car nearly paid off, I can plan my attack.

I have narrowed my choices down to two camera bodies: The Canon D400 Rebel Xti and the Nikon D80. Both are 10 megapixel dSLRs. All the reviews say that the Canon is light has great features...overall a great entry-level SLR. It has a dust-reduction mechanism that the Nikon lacks. The Nikon is thought to be a slightly better quality camera, but still entry level. Much is made about its viewfinder, which I seldom use. The Nikon lacks some of the nice features of the Canon (like anti-dust). The Nikon body is also $150 more expensive.

The "kit" lens with the Canon is an 18-55mm number, and the reviews are rather ho-hum about it. The kit lens with the Nikon is a Nikkor 18-135mm lens, and the reviews are slightly more complimentary. Obviously, that lens is going to get me better telephoto capabilities. To compare, the Canon plus kit lens runs about $675 and the Nikon plus slightly better kit lens runs $950. That's a pretty substantial difference.

However, let us keep in mind that my mother has a Nikon macro lens that may or may not be compatible with the D80. I'll have to check on that and also on whether my mother is willing to loan me her lens for any length of time (like forever). Presuming the best, for a $950.00 investment, I'm up and running with a decent all-purpose lens and a decent (?) macro lens.

Back to the Canon. I can get a Canon EF 100mm USM lens (with auto-focus) for $455. I can get the Canon EF-S 60mm USM lens (also with auto-focus) for $370. Now, I've been dutifully trying to learn about lenses here, but I'm a bit confused. These are fixed focal length lenses. If I am understanding the lingo correctly, the 60mm lens with have a wider frame of focus (will get more along the sides and top) than the 100mm. What I am unclear on is whether you sacrifice something in getting that wider frame. Surely, less must be preferable since the 100mm lens costs more. Somehow, I get the feeling that the 60mm lens will be more than satisfactory for my botanical photographic needs, but I don't like not understanding everything before I plunk down my money.

Obviously, the Canon 40D would be a much better camera, but unlike a film camera, I am a bit concerned that there is a shelf-life on digital cameras of around 10,000 shots. How much better does a camera have to be for me to justify raising the cost of that shot from 6.8 cents to 12 cents? On the other hand, with a pocket-size point and shoot in my arsenal, maybe I wouldn't be so tempted to waste those shots around the house. However, the very idea of spending $1500 on cameras in the next year sends even my fantasies crashing down again.

I think I better do some more thinking on this.

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