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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:39 pm 
Hi there,
Firstly I’d like to congratulate you guys on a superb site. The reviews are excellent and I really like the comparison tests – especially the outdoor ones! 8)

Like a lot of people, I’m looking to buy my first DSLR and it’s between the Canon 400D or Nikon D80 for me as I prefer the look and feel over the Sony Alpha. I do want anti-shake however and I could really do with some guidance on my options for general purpose wide to short telephoto range lenses with IS. In particular, are there any cheaper, budget options available?

Any advice/guidance would be very much appreciated. I too apologise for the repeat in advance as I’ve posted this in both the Canon & Nikon forums. Many thanks!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:07 pm 
Hi HikerGal, I'm in a similar situation and did some digging around on general-purpose lenses with stabilisation for Canon and Nikon DSLRs a few weeks back.

If you go for Canon, the best choice seems to be the Canon 17-85mm. This zooms in closer than the 18-55mm kit lens, goes a little bit wider, and has stabilisation. They also do a 17-55mm f2.8 with stabilisation, but it's very expensive. The 17-85mm costs about 370 quid.

Nikon don't seem to do any direct replacements for the kit lenses with stabilisation, or as they call it, vibration reduction. There's nothing around the 18-85mm range with VR for example.

Unless I've got it horribly wrong, I could only find two lenses with VR and wide angle - the 24-120mm and the 18-200mm. The 24-120mm on a DSLR though would be equivalent to 36-180mm, so doesn't really go that wide - I think it's meant more for a film camera.

So that really just leaves the 18-200mm. It's a much longer range than the kit lens and has VR, but costs about 500 quid.

So that means for stabilisation, you're adding about 370 quid to the price of a Canon 400D, or about 500 quid to the price of the D80. Both are nice lenses, especially the Nikon 18-200mm, but that's a lot of extra money to spend.

It's pretty much for that reason that I'm siding towards the Sony at the moment - 600 quid gets you the body, 18-70mm kit lens and stabilisation built in at no extra charge. But then I haven't made my mind up yet!

I also heard about a new version of the Sigma 18-200mm lens with optical stabilisation, but I dunno when it comes out or for how much. They'll do versions for Canon and Nikon though.

Hope that's useful!

Ferg


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:45 pm 
Hi FergUK,
My apologies for not responding earlier :oops: – I’ve had a few days away in the wilds of Scotland!

Thank you so much for your very helpful post and outlining the range of options for upgrading the kit lens to anti-shake. :D I can certainly see why you’re considering the Sony!

I’ve been having a good think about lenses and am now considering the kit lens for day to day use and investing in a specialist kit lens for my hobby – whale watching. As my countless photos of open sea testify, I need a lens with super quick zoom and focus, a big range and image stabilisation - I literally only have a second or two to get the shot.
So I know what I want from the lens but haven’t got a clue which options I have. I’m looking at spending no more than £500.

Once again, any advice you or anyone else may have would be very much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 9:47 pm 
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Hi Hikergal, welcome to the Cameralabs forums!

(and thanks also for your kind words about our articles!)

Hmm, whale watching huh? That can be a tough environment for a lens. As you say, the pesky creatures can popup miles away or right alongside you, so you really need a single lens with a long range. And since they only popup for a few seconds at a time, you'll also need something which focuses very quickly, and of course a body which can fire-off the shots the instant you press the button. Oh, and anti-shake can also be handy for counteracting the swaying of the boat!

In terms of range, the 18-200 lenses are hard to beat, but you should definitely try them for yourself to see if they're focusing quick enough. Of course there's few whales strutting their stuff outside of Jessops or Best Buy stores, but try scanning across the street as if it were the ocean, then pick a moving target and see how quickly the system can focus and take the shot. It's not ideal, but should give you a good idea in terms of response times.

One of the fastest lenses I ever used was the Canon 70-200 f2.8L. Sure it's an expensive product, but I couldn't believe how easily it tracked a bird of prey circling overhead when the (often premium) lenses used by people around me were failing to lock-on.

I'm not saying splurge on the Canon, but do try a variety of lenses to give you an idea of what's available and what they're capable of. You may need to sacrifice a long zoom range for focusing speed for example.

While it's convenient to have one lens for everything, I think you're right to consider one for everyday use and another for your hobby. You may well find the bog-standard 18-55 / 18-70 kit lenses fine for day to day shots, in which case you could complement it with a 70-200 or 70-300 range for the whale watching, rather than trying to do everything with an 18-200.

Hope that's useful!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:23 pm 
Hi Gordon,
Thanks so much for your post – you’ve obviously experienced the joys and frustrations of whale watching.... :lol:

Like the majority of entry level digital SLR users, I’m happy to use the kit lens for day to day use. Having made the decision to go for a specialist lens though, I really don’t want to compromise.

I’ve been trawling (pun intended) around some whale watching photography forums and the general consensus for lenses in my price range are from 70-200mm but preferably to 300mm. The Canon 70-300 IS seems to get a general thumbs up from my fellow whale watchers with a good range, decent image quality and IS although I understand there have been some recall problems concerning the image quality of that lens.

I will do as you suggest and try out the range and focusing speeds on a variety of lenses and let you know how I get on.

Thanks again for the advice – the people on this forum are just so helpful!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:51 am 
Hi HikerGal,

I'm looking at buying my first DSLR too, more for travelling, hiking and skiing than whalewatching. But I too am interested in getting IS in what ever I buy into.

I was looking at the Sony due to the in body IS, but wasn't all that impressed with other 'features', the Canon was winning on price and lens options, but after hearing about the Pentax K10D with in body IS and weather sealing, I'm waiting to look at that in the flesh before making a final decision.

I hear that the in body IS supposedly isn't as good as optical IS, but I'd rather save on the cost of optical IS and instead invest in better quality optics. I'm also thinking of starting out with a 18-200 zoom, then investing in a good quality telephoto down the track...

That's the plan at the moment anyway.... :D


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:41 pm 
Hi Benno,
Thanks for your post - it’s just so great to meet so many outdoor enthusiasts on this forum! :D

Thanks for reminding me of the Pentax K10D – you’re right, there are some really interesting features in that line-up – in body anti-shake, anti-dust and weather sealing.

I must admit though, I’m really confused regarding the whole in-body vs optical anti-shake debate. Canon and Nikon say optical is better – but that’s hardly surprising if they can charge a premium for IS/VR lenses eh? And the Sony A100 in-body anti-shake seems to work fine…

I did read that the whole optical IS being better only really becomes noticeable at telephoto ranges and therefore wouldn’t affect the majority of day to day DSLR users but I couldn’t find out at what point this so called deterioration happens – is it at 200mm, 300mm, 400mm? and how noticeable is it? If anyone can give me any insight into this issue, I’d really appreciate it!!

One thing I do prefer though is the experience you get through the viewfinder with optical anti-shake – the image is instantly steady, whereas with in-body you don’t ‘see’ the effect of anti-shake until the image is processed.

Anyway, let’s hope Gordon will do a Pentax K10D review in the not too distant future (hint…hint..) :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:12 pm 
how about the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM? :D....it's expensive...but i think it would be better suited for whale watching than the 18-200vr. plus that the canon lens is weather sealed.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:10 pm 
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Hi HikerGal,

Just a quick thought about the in-body vs optical anti-shake debate. If either system were markedly superior I think we would know by now. It is possible that with anti-shake built in to the lens the mechanics might be better tuned for that lens but I doubt that most of us need worry too much about this.

Good luck with your continuing search. I am sure you will be delighted with whatever choice you make.

Bob.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:10 pm 
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Why is there nobody from the pros giving us some insight on the effectiveness of lens-based vs body-based antishake???

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 1:04 am 
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Hi Tombomba, welcome to Cameralabs!

I'm not a professional sports or wildlife photographer, but I can tell you the difference between in-camera and in-lens anti-shake systems.

In-camera anti-shake can only shift the sensor by so much, regardless of the lens that's attached. Since any wobbling is magnified as the focal length is increased, the in-camera anti-shake systems become less effective. At what point this becomes a problem, I can't say, but I did test a 300mm focal length on the Sony A100 recently and I personally didn't measure as many stops of compensation as I did at shorter focal lengths.

Of course that could just be me or the particular conditions of the day.

In contrast, in-lens anti-shake can be tailored to the focal length of that particular lens. So if it's a long focal length, they equip it with greater stabilisation.

In-lens stabilisation can also be seen through the viewfinder, whereas in-camera cannot. This can make precise framing at long focal lengths quite tricky with in-camera systems. Of course the advantage of in-camera anti-shake though is effectively getting it on every lens for free.

So it's pros and cons, but I'd say if you regularly shoot at 300mm or higher, in-lens systems would be preferrable. If you shoot mostly at shorter focal lengths, it's swings and roundabouts.

I should finally say you're unlikely to find many pro sports or wildlife photographers who'd be able to comment on the effectiveness of in-camera anti-shake as almost without exception they all use Canon or Nikon systems which use in-lens stabilisation.

If anyone out there shoots with long focal lengths, we'd love to hear from you!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:04 pm 
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Yeah, hi Gordon, nice to share some insights on your forum!

Is there a limit in focal length below which anti-shake (either body or lens based) will not be exactly useful?
You know, many "short" nikon/canon lenses don't come with anti-shake and I'm wondering what a body-based a-s can do to a 50mm...
I'm personally quite frustrated by unusable pics even with short lenses but I assume that compacts are much more susceptible to "trigger-shake" than a DSLR because of their weight (or lack of it).

Any comments on that?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:21 pm 
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Hi Thomas, at first you might not think anti-shake is that useful at wide angle, but it allows you to start taking very different types of shots - for example if you could safely handold a wide shot at, say, 1/15, then three stops of stabilisation will let you do it at half a second or if you're really steady, one second!

This means you could theoretically handhold shots of city skylines at night, trailing car headlamps, or easily blur moving water for a dreamy effect. All these things would previously have required a tripod or a steady place to rest your camera.

I realised how useful this could be when I was taking a portrait under extremely dark conditions with the Canon EF-S 17-55 IS and found it looked fine with a 1 second exposure - so long as the subject was very still of course!

So as someone who always seems to be shooting in dim light, I'd personally value stabilisation at all focal lengths.

Gordon


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:32 pm 
Hi guys,
Thanks so much for the excellent advice here.
Noji- that Canon 28-300mm looks like an awesome lens – but you’re not kidding about it being expensive eh? Sadly, a bit over my budget… :(

Actually, I met some professional wildlife photographers at the weekend and they swore by the Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR. Has anyone ever tried this lens? I’m sure I’ve read this lens can be a bit slow to focus. Anyway, they did make a good suggestion of renting a couple of lenses to try them out before buying. Guess that' makes sense…I’ll let you know how I get on...

Thanks again guys, I really appreciate your posts!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:53 pm 
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@Hikergal: Don't think you can get the nikkor 80-400 for 500 quid either...
What about the 70-300 VR, that's MUCH more affordable and with 745 grams (vs. 1340g) easier on your neck!

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