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 Post subject: Nikon D80 or Canon 30D
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:40 am 
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I am looking to buy my first dSLR and have been hunting the net looking for information. I came across this site last week and think the reviews are excellent. It must be because I've been a regular reader of PCW for the last 14 years and tend to read Gordon's columns first :)

Anyway I currently have a Fujifilm Finepix F10 which I have been very happy with but am now finding quite restrictive as I want to take more creative photos. My wife and I are going on a 3 week trip to New Zealand in March/April so I want to get a camera before then so I can get used to it. If you look at my Flickr photos you'll see I take quite a range of pictures. Recently I've been getting more interested in landscape photography and am also interested in motorsport photography along with some macro photography for good measure. I know that's a wide contrast, especially with a point and shoot camera.

I have a budget of around £800 and have been considering the Nikon D80, the Canon EOS 400D. I went into my local branch of Jessops yesterday. The salesman was very helpful in letting me try both cameras although he didn't offer much in the way of opinion.

I found the 400D to be a little small and less comfortable to use than the D80. I do like the anti dust features however and from what I've read the supplied software is better from Canon than Nikon. This is important as I'd like to shoot in RAW and only have Photoshop Elements 5. I don't have the budget to upgrade to the full version of PS.

I also had a look at the Canon EOS 30D. Canon are offering £100 cashback on it until the end of January so it just falls into my price range. I was quoted the following prices:

Nikon D80
Body Only: £542.75
+18-70 kit lens: £699.85
+18-135 kit lens: £763.75

Canon 400D
Body Only: £489.99
+18-55 kit lens: £499.99
+18-55 kit lens + 55-200 + battery grip: £859.99

Canon 30D
Body only: £789.99 - £100 = £689.99
+18-55 kit lens: £819.99 = £719.99
+17-85 lens: £1078.99 = £978.99

I'm having a hard time deciding between the 3 cameras. Each one appears to have its pros and cons. With the 400D and kit lens I could afford to look at getting a decent zoom lens. The EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS can be had for around £370 and I could probably stretch to that.

If I were to go the route of the D80 or 30D I would have to either go without a zoom lens or go for a budget one. Jessops are also offering the Tamron 70-300mm F/4-5.6 LD Macro lens for £99 which may be worth considering. I had a go with one fitted to the 30D and it felt OK.

The D80 appears to offer advantages in that the kit lens is better than the Canon one (according to what I've read). I'd probably go with the 18-70 lens as I understand the 18-135 lens has a plastic bayonet. the D80 also has a viewfinder grid and 11 point AF and is generally more up to date than the 30D. The big advantage of the 30D is its metal body and speed of shooting. It is definitely built more solidly than the D80.

As you can see I'm in a quandary. Any advice you guys can offer would be much appreciated.

I wasn't sure which of the forums to post in. Since I'm leaning towards the Nikon I decided to post it here. Maybe there needs to be a separate buying advice forum.

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Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:36 pm 
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Phil,

Bear in mind that the lenses you buy, possibly apart from the kit lens, will outlast your choice of body. Within the constraints of your initial budget consider which manufacturer offers the lenses you would most like now and in the future.

I admit a little bias as I went for the 400D but looking at your budget I wonder why you haven't already opted for the Canon + kit lens + EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS. You may want to avoid the 55-200 which lacks image stabilisation and doesn't have the build quality of the EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS.

I hope you make it down to Fiordland. Enjoy your holiday.

Bob.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:14 pm 
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Hi Phil, welcome to the Cameralabs forums!

(and it's always good to hear from PCW readers!)

Bob's absolutely right. You can carefully select a body only to find it doesn't support the lenses you really want. Believe it or not even in this day and age with the big names offering what look like countless optical choices, there are some gaps in every manufacturer's range.

For example the Nikkor 18-200mm is probably the best general purpose, all-round lens around today (so long as you can find one!), but there's no equivalent from Canon.

Sure, there's now a Sigma 18-200mm with stabilisation, but many people want a Canon branded lens. So the desire for this lens has seen many people go for a Nikon body, and certainly the Nikkor 18-200 on a D80 or D200 is a killer combo.

And of coruse there are equally a number of lenses made by Canon which would sway you to their system. So as Bob says, think carefully about what lenses you might want now and in the future, as they will out-last your body.

As for your shortlist, as much as I like the 30D, the D80 is probably a better step-up choice - unless you need the 5fps speed for your motorsport, or the Canon mount for a particular lens of course! So I'd say it's between the D80 and the 400D.

If you shoot RAW, the 400D definitely has some advantage with the supplied RAW processing software, but there's plenty of third party RAW processing alternatives beyond PS CS2, so I wouldn't let that sway you too much. The anti dust feature is also nice on the 400D, although as you'll see on my review, it wasn't 100% effective.

So I'd say if you're not bothered about having support for specific lenses, it boils down to price and the way the camera feels to you. Put it this way, both are great cameras and are capable of taking fantastic images. If you do go for the 400D though, go for the 70-300 IS as Bob suggests - you'll appreciate the IS.

That's also great to hear you'll be visiting New Zealand - it's an ace place with probably the widest variety of landscapes you'll find in a compact, easily accessible country. I'm of course biased towards Queenstown, but highlights for me also include Fjordland (especially Doubtful Sound), Glenorchy, Kaikora, Abel Tasman, Marlborough Sounds, Tongariro, Rotorua and the Coromandel peninsula. So much to see!

Gordon

PS - if you're thinking of buying through Jessops, please consider clicking through to the Jessops website from our reviews - the price is the same, but they give us a small referral fee. It's these referral fees along with the price-check links and ads which fund Camera Labs, so if you find our editorial useful, please consider using them! Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:36 pm 
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Gordon is so balanced, it's incredible!
I've just bought the Nikon D80 + 18-200mm Nikkor based on Gordon's reviews and I'm so happy. :D
If your on a budget and can't wait because your traveling date is coming close, chose the D80 + standard combo and replace later with the 18-200.
OR, if you see the 18-200 on offer - JUST GRAB ONE. It's only a small surplus on your budget, but on the long run, you save on the standard kit lens (that makes at least 150GBP!). Plus you will be making the most phantastic photos on your journey (and I assume you don't go regularly to New Zealand...). Don't miss this chance. :!:
What I especially love about the D80 is the fine filmlike grain that can be seen in low light situations! I would have never thought that noise can look so good (what little noise the D80 displays)!! Look at Gordons great feature, the "10 Megapixel DSLR group test".

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D800+assorted lenses


Last edited by Thomas on Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:32 pm 
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Cheers Tombomba!

PS - Phil, I also meant to mention that we offer special discount vouchers which give you money off when shopping at the Jessops website. If you visit our Buyers Guide at the link below, then click the Jessops logo, you'll get the discount voucher, and if you then buy during the same session, we'll earn the commission. Win win!

http://www.cameralabs.com/buyers_guide/budget_DSLRs/

Let us know how you get on anyway!

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 3:41 pm 
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Thanks for the great feedback. I'm taking my time to think over the options. My budget is pretty tight so I'm having to think carefully about what option to go for. The 400D is looking more attractive now simply due to the freeing up of £300 for an additional lens. I couldn't get a decent zoom lens for the D80 or 30D and stay in budget.

_________________
Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
My photos on SmugMug


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:31 am 
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I'm replying to myself now :)

The more I think about it the more I think that I'll be getting the 400D. I want to get a zoom lens. One of the things we'll be doing on our trip is going whale watching. I need a zoom lens for that. I will also make use of a zoom lens in the future for motorsport photography. I'd also like one with image stabilisation.

The Canon 70-300 F4-5.6 IS USM plus a 400D with kit lens is £69 over my budget. To get the 30D with kit lens and the same zoom lens is £288 over budget. To get a D80 with kit lens and an AF-S VR 70-300mm zoom lens is also £288 over budget. I don't think I can stretch the extra £219 at the moment.

_________________
Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
My photos on SmugMug


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:02 pm 
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Hi Phil, are you heading to Kaikoura then? Beautiful place...

We went whale watching there and if you have a similar trip, you'll find the 70-300 invaluable. I got some ok shots with a shorter lens, but like most whale watching trips, they can be further away than you think. I wish my stomach had IS though if you know what I mean...

There's also lots of other wildlife opportunities for a long lens in NZ - there's albatross and rare penguins near Dunedin and seals all over the place.

I think you've answered your question anyway. Go for the 400D kit with the 70-300, and the 69 pounds you lose will be more than compensated by the strong pound versus kiwi dollar ratio at the moment.

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:46 pm 
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Yes we are going to Kaikoura. We're stopping there for 2 days so are definitely going whale watching. I can't wait!

I'm going to hold off buying a camera until after Christmas. I don't need it straight away and there may be the odd sale offer on then. I'm 995 sure I'll go for the 400D now. I just need to hold it again to make sure I don't hate it.

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Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
My photos on SmugMug


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:06 pm 
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Gordon, I know it's a bit off-topic, but when I read in your post: "Queenstown,... Fjordland (especially Doubtful Sound), Glenorchy, Kaikora, Abel Tasman, Marlborough Sounds, Tongariro, Rotorua and the Coromandel peninsula" I thought you might post some Google-Earth placemarks or at least give us the lat/lon-values of those beautiful places :)

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 Post subject: Re: Beautiful Places
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:43 pm 
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Thought I'd butt in as Gordon is still catching up on his beauty sleep. Some nice photos are available at

http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Oceania/New_Zealand/

Bob


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:55 pm 
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Bob, thanks for the lovely link!
I finally got New Zealand covered (with placemarks :wink: ) and managed to get all of Gordon's highly recommended places on Google Earth. Even his famous place where he shoots his zoom comparison shots down on Queenstown (must be a racetrack nearby...)

B.t.w.: Google Earth seems to be "way off" in some New Zealand places e.g. Mount Cook is only 3130m high, whereas my trusty Encarta gives it 3764m :!: :?: :!: :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:47 am 
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Hi Bob, nice photos!

And glad you found some good stuff on Google Earth Thomas!

If you're into grid references and NZ, I can highly recommend the Lord of the Rings location guidebook - it actually gives you GPS positions of the exact areas they filmed various scenes!

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 4:41 pm 
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Looks like I may be buying a camera next week. I have to fly down to Gatwick so I feel a trip into the tax free Dixons is in order. If they have the right camera at the right price without VAT to pay then I may well take the plunge. I'm pleased the tax free prices apply to all passengers and not just to those flying outside the UK.

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Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:35 pm 
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And so this thread continues....

I'm still sitting on the fence as to which camera to buy. I may be able to stretch my budget a bit now since I've sold a guitar and amp for £200 and have just got a rather nice Christmas bonus. I don't know how much of the bonus I'll be allowed to spend but hopefully I can go up to around £1000 now. I've been doing a lot of searching on the web and come up with the following deals:

EOS 400D with 18-55 kit lens £485.99

EOS 30D with 18-55 kit lens £648.84 (inc £100 cashback from Canon)

D80 with 18-70 kit lens £698.10

The reason the 30D is so cheap is that as well as the cashback it is also VAT free. I have to fly to London next week so have the chance to buy VAT free at Dixons Tax Free. The only one of the 3 cameras I'm considering that they stock is the 30D.

I'd then want to buy an extra telephoto zoom lens. The two choices are:

Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM £367.11
Nikon AF-S DX VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6G IF ED £337.00

Both lenses are in short supply so I will have to order soon to be sure of getting them before our holiday.

At the moment I'm totally torn. I can see the pros and cons of each camera. I guess I just have to decide at some point.

_________________
Nikon D80, Nikkor lenses: 35mm f1.8 G AF-S DX, 50mm f/1.8 AF D, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR, SB800 flash
My photos on SmugMug


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