So, top of the line Point and Shoot or 'starter' DSLR?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras & Equipment' started by ArnyVee, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Alright folks, I need some help with picking a camera ; :confused:

    I have been using a Kodak point and shoot since it's the camera we first bought MANY years ago. Now, I want to upgrade and pick up a nice camera to take pictures for my websites and my family shots.

    So, I did some research about a year ago and was almost settled on a nice 'point and shoot' camera (can't remember off hand what it was) but didn't go through with the purchase.

    My question to this community of experts is....for about $400 or so (could maybe go a little more if the difference in quality is great) what is a better option....a nice higher-end point and shoot or a 'starter' DSLR?

    My follow-up question is.....whichever option you suggest, can you please give me some suggestions on the actual camera you would purchase for that price range?

    Thanks in advance to the responses and I hope to see you all at Pixelmania! ; ;)
  2. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Oh, forgot to mention that I am really interested in being able to take quality panoramic pictures in case that has any impact on which cameras to keep 'in the running' ;)

    And, once we figure out the camera choice, I have to start thinking about all of the 'extras' for the camera as well, right?
  3. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    Re: So, top of the line Point and Shoot or 'starte

    Welcome, Arny.
    If the cost is close, I would almost always recommend a starter dslr vs a p&s. ; I am a canon guy so I would recommend the digital rebel t1i but you can get older model rebels at very good prices. ; Nikon owners will tout their d40, d80, and similar starter models (check Craig and Roger's article on buying a dslr). ; Remember that whichever way you go, you are buying inti "the system" so you need to make sure you are comfortable with the choice you go with. ;

    That being said, a really nice point and shoot is the canon g11. I have the g10 and love it. ;

    The only thing I shamelessly ask is that when you do go to buy your gear, you use one of the b&h links to order from them, as it helps support the site and you will not find anyone here who has ever anything but superb service. ;

    Good luck and keep the questions coming ;
  4. WDWFigment

    WDWFigment Member

    Now that's a little unfair...the newest, slickest Canon starter/midrange versus two outdated Nikons?! ; Just giving you a hard time, Tim.

    The D40 and D80 are alright if you're on a tight budget, but the D5000 is what I would consider the camera most comparable to the T1i. ; I've heard great things about both. ; With the way camera technology is advancing so quickly, I think you'd be much better off to buy one of those newer cameras than to save a bit and buy one of the older models. ; Consider Olympus and Sony, too. ; Although they lack market share, there are a few folks around here who use both systems and have been pretty pleased.

    The biggest thing is going to the store and seeing how each feels in your hands--see if you think you could manage carrying a DSLR all day around. ; No matter how much a salesperson pressures you, don't buy it in the store. ; Stores like Best Buy are merely showrooms for internet purchases. ; B&H (see the banner at the top of the page) and other online retailers will usually have much better service and prices, and usually you won't have to pay sales tax (unless you live in NY for B&H or most other camera stores or Kentucky for Amazon).
  5. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    Another option would be the 4/3, M4/3 lines. ; If you can hold off a month, there is going to be an announcement by the end of the month by Olympus and perhaps even Fuji.

    The 4/3 line from Olympus has a built-in panorama mode if you use an xD card and the Olympus software - the software will automatically stitch the images for you. ; Granted, it is annoying to have to use the xD card to enable that mode, but the price/weight of those SLRs are worth it. ; (Unless you are planning on doing a lot of low light photography, in which case the other brands: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax would be preferred.)

    The Micro 4/3 (M4/3) represents the final merging of P&S and dSLR. ; Basically it's a large sensor P&S with interchangeable lenses. ; Olympus only has the E-P1 Pen, but Panasonic has three or four models now. ; Fuji is rumored to be in the mix as well - personally if Fuji does enter that market I'm going to take a serious look at it because no sensor has come close to Fuji's dynamic range in one shot.
  6. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Note that though we'd all probably recommend the DSLR route if price were a dead-heat...price usually ISN'T a dead heat! ; Even the entry-level DSLR will likely cost you more than an advanced P&S in the end when you try to add something beyond the kit lens, which usually has a very limited zoom range and a fairly slow lens.

    That said, some almost-replaced models from Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus would likely be selling for well under $500, often with one or even two lenses...and they still work just as well. ; Nikon's D40 or D60, Canon Rebel XS or XSi, Sony Alpha A200 or 300, or Olympus E420 all should be findable in the under $500 range often with lens packages...and all are quite good and capable cameras.

    Even a 2-year old DSLR will be more capable than a top-of-the-line brand new P&S...but that doesn't mean you'll get better photos from it or that it will be able to do more FOR YOU. ; It all depends on your skill, shooting style, and needs. ; DSLRs will excel in detail for very large printing or heavy cropping, in burst-speed for action shooting, and in high ISO shooting in low light. ; If you don't need those things, the advanced P&S models can close the gap significantly.

    You might consider the afformentioned Canon G10/11, or the SX110 IS which is an ultrazoom model that has lots of flexibility in that it can shoot from wide to extreme telephoto in one small package. ; Also worth a look is the Sony HX1, very similar to the SX from Canon. ; The HX1 has one very interesting feature unlike anything else on the market so far - a sweep panorama mode, that allows you to press the shutter and then 'sweep' to take panorama shots with no stitching required - the camera takes multipls shots, and they come right out of the camera pre-aligned and stitched into 2 different panorama lengths. ; It also has the ability to take multiple shots in low light situations and automatically stack them in camera for low noise and better dynamic don't even need a tripod as the camera can align the shots despite slight movement while shooting.

    Fuji has a larger P&S model that is nearly the size of a DSLR, but also has a larger sensor than most superzooms giving it pretty decent low light results...and the lens is quite good - the F100FS, or its replacement the S200EXR (which sells around $500, so is a little pricier).

    If looking for a compact camera that is pocketable but still capable, there are a new crop of surprisingly capable pocket cams out now from several manufacturers. ; All of these seem to have a new low light capability that hasn't been seen in a long time in the compact market - some with better processing, and some with new sensor designs. ; The Canon S90 is a compact with a larger sensor, RAW shooting mode, and fair amount of manual's in the $420 range. ; The Sony WX1 and TX1 are two different ultra-compact cams using a new sensor design built to improve low light reception - the TX1 a super slim designer cam with a 35-140mm zoom, while the WX1 is a very small compact with a useful 24-120mm zoom and a nice, fast F2.4 lens. ; Both are capable of shooting shockingly clean ISO1600 shots, and can even push to usable ISO3200. ; Most compacts like this stop way back at ISO400 before they start to look like abstract watercolors. ; And Fuji has the F70EXR, which uses a technique of combining pixels together into larger pixels for better light reception - giving better high ISO capability with a slight loss in resolution.
  7. Paul

    Paul Member

    The only other P&S I could think of besides the ones already mentioned is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. ; I have heard good reviews on it and may be worth a look.
  8. Jeff Fillmore

    Jeff Fillmore Member

    +1 for the entry level dslr.

    I hope the Fuji has a viewfinder- that killed my interest in the EP-1
  9. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    Rumor mill says yes to an EVF. ; Personally, I think Fuji, with very little costs, can convert the FinePix S200 to a M4/3. ; Size would be about the same too. ... /KBID/2466

    Panasonic has an EVF in the GH1, but none on the GF1.
  10. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Okay, so here's a list of some of the suggested cameras in my range....

    Canon G11 - $499.95
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 - $499.95
    Fujifilm S200EXR - $539.95

    Nikon D40 - $469.95 about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1? It was listed as one of the best in reviews on the B&H site. Any feedback on that one in comparison with the others on the list here?

    If you had your choice of the ones listed, would you still go for the Nikon DSLR vs the P&S models? I had actually researched the Nikon D40 before and it was on my short list. So, glad that the quality held up on those.

    Thanks for the help so far and I hope that I can get my choice done soon! Then, I move onto the 'extras' ;)
  11. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    the only real advantage you get with a p&s over a d/slr is "pocketability". ; the d/slr wins in all other scenarios (noise, speed, no lag, etc.)
  12. gary

    gary Member

    i'm going to put my .02 in here, i'm a canon guy, but only because i already was invested in quality canon lenses before i went digital, so no scrapping an entire system for me

    you need to go to a few stores, try to handle as many of the top contenders as you can, if you don't carry it, use it, love using it and want to outgrow it, why bother, so the camera that's best for you falls into the above parameters

    i totally agree with tim on this, other than sheer size and ability to stick into a purse, the dslr wins hands down in ALL other categories, including that so very important, and so often overlooked shutter lag, photos of kids running, p&s simply cannot keep up, too much shutter lag

    and remember you are buying into the system, that starter body will last a long time before you outgrow it, i would rather see you get an older entry level dslr, a kit lens and spend the next 2 years studying the owners manual,and experimenting, than take any other route, the 100-30 you save this way, start putting it towards your first quality glass, or that most needed and often overlooked accessory, the monitor calibration device

    remember, good glass, taken care of, holds most of it's value and lasts a lifetime

    oh and i almost forgot, that absolutely necessary of tools for night time wdw and great landscapes, the official tmip tripod
    and a great ballhead that i highly recommend, been using it for about 6 months now, a standard ; acratech
  13. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    well said, gary.
  14. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Okay, so it looks like I'm leaning towards at least the Nikon D40 :D

    Is there another DSLR in the same 'price range' with better quality/features that I should look into? Or, would this be plenty for a person brand new to the hobby?

    And, as a follow-up to that....what sort of 'extras' should I look into possibly picking up outside of what is included with the camera.... ... amera.html

    Edited to add: Where do I find the info on these? "the official tmip tripod and a great ballhead" by Gary
  15. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    Let me quote from my post above:

    I know I probably type far too much to want to read...sorry for that. ; Just wanted to take that snippet and point it out as I do actually recommend a look at the HX1 for serious consideration.

    Here comes my huge post again! ; While Tim and Gary are spot on and correct in almost every way (I might add to Tim's list of point and shoot advantages to actually be two - portability/size for sure, but silence too is a great attribute - P&S models have no mirrors and mechanical bits to move inside, so you can turn off their shutter sounds which are all created, and shoot in complete and utter silence, such as at a recital, wedding, or any other event where shooting candidly and unnoticed is the preference)...I think folks should consider whether they intend to become photographers or not. ; By that, I mean do you take photography seriously enough as a pursuit that you will likely always be thinking about shots, wanting a camera in hand, wanting to shoot subjects other than the family and travel snaps, and willing to invest in a 'kit' that will grow and expand with your needs? ; We as photographers pretty much assume everyone else thinks the way we do...but a large number of people don't. ; It doesn't mean they aren't photo hobbyists, or can be quite skilled or capable...some folks with great photo 'eyes' and good technique still don't have a grand ambition to shoot artistically, professionally, or with enough regularity to justify large expenses and large kits. ; And others are just the stereotypical 'snapshooters' who just want the camera as an appliance that does a required job when needed - documenting a person, place, or trip.

    The only reason the DSLR push rubs me a little bit the wrong way is because I know so many people who really shouldn't have bought one, but did anyway because every reviewer, camera shop, message board, and internet site told them that's what they should buy if they want good photos. ; Many of them have this big, heavy and capable camera sitting in a bag gathering dust except for 1 trip a year, when they pull it out and complain how bulky it is, or they demonstrate that they've never really learned how to use it because it just wasn't something they really wanted to do. ; And I know, from experience, how much better off some of them would have been had they chosen a very good P&S camera, that would have been perfectly capable of taking 99.9% of all the same photos they took, but easier, lighter, cheaper, and viewed on a computer screen or printed at 8x10, every bit as good. ; They didn't need a 1/8000 shutter speed with a 7fps burst to freeze sports stars on a distant field, or ISO12800 converted from RAW of a person camping under a tree on a moonless night. ; Sure, the DSLR has a much better result when those situations are needed...but those situations represent 1% or less of the photos many people need.

    And the P&S compact can do some types of shots extremely well, with no additional parts needed. ; For example, try taking a macro shot of the stamen of a flower with a DSLR and kit lens. ; Sorry! ; Not without a macro lens, or closeup filters, or extension tubes. ; With many P&S models under $ 'macro' and stick the lens 1" from the flower, and snap away to your heart's content. ; Need a nice slow shutter night shot? ; P&S models can do them just fine, as long as you get one that can leave the shutter open at least 10 seconds or so. ; Landscapes are just fine too - nice and sharp and the depth of field is miles and miles on a small sensor P&S. ; Sure...DSLRs can do some of these shots incrementally better...but often times they can't do much better, or require specialty lenses or filters to do it. ; And of course, the flip side are the shots a DSLR can do that a P&S will struggle with - closeups with narrow depth of field, high ISO, action, etc.

    Which is why I always recommend folks really think about what they want from their photography, and how far they will go with it. ; Many times, an advanced P&S can do folks just fine, and really is as far as they want their photography to does everything they need it to do for a great price and a portable package. ; If you think you will want to grow and expand, and don't mind investing money and some shelf space to a growing camera collection, then a DSLR is a wonderful tool and I'd highly recommend one. ; Otherwise, there are some stellar P&S models out there from pocket cams to advanced ultrazooms and manual controlled compacts...and a person can get excellent results from them as their skill improves (some of us even managed to go semi-pro with P&S cameras...both selling, and publishing with them!).
  16. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg Member Staff Member

    BTW - one tiny warning about the D40, just to make sure you know - not all Nikon lenses will be autofocus capable with this camera...Nikon didn't include a focus motor in the camera body, so only lenses with the focus motor in them will be compatible. ; This wouldn't really matter too much if you just picked up one or two lenses you need for it and were done with it...but could matter if you got into photography and started hunting for specialty lenses or used lenses.
  17. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    external flash for sure, along with cable/remote shutter release for night time photography

    Grip Action Ballhead
    Velbon Ultra Luxif Tripod
  18. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Wow, great post zackiedawg.

    And yes, I did read your prior post but somehow overlooked the Sony in that bit, sorry about that :)

    I was really considering that Sony HX1 because of the very cool Sweep Panorama mode and one of the main reasons why I want a solid camera is to take great quality family pictures, but also to have some nice quality panoramic shots for my websites that I'm building and redesigning. So, I'm a little torn, but I'm a little more knowledgeable because of the comments here and other threads! :)

    So, I'm still debating the Nikon D40 (or other comparably priced DSLR) and the Sony HX1 P&S. Gotta do a little more research and price these out with extras.

    As far as the extras....extra batteries, memory cards, bags, external flash, cable/remote shutter releases for night time....what are the best (with price in mind, of course ;) ) to go after. Any particular ones?
  19. Tim

    Tim Administrator Staff Member

    you should have one more card and battery than you think you would need.
    you should have a cable release for night time shots.
    you NEED to have an external flash (on board is great in a pinch, but lousy in all other scenarios)
    i prefer a backpack style bag.

    check my GEAR PAGE for some more ideas and links.
  20. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Member

    Wow Tim, that's a lot of equipment! LOL :D

    I'm definitely gonna have to keep reading to see what I settle on as far as the camera.

    If I go with something like that Sony P&S, do I need anything other than maybe some extra batteries and a nice sized memory card?

    Just trying to balance out cost vs need right now :)

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