35 MM SLR Digital

I’m a huge digital photography buff (I actually have a personal, legit paid for copy of Photoshop ;) ) but I have continued to hold off on getting a 35 MM SLR digital until I felt it was a reasonably stable market (as stable as any can get in the digital world.) I’m not a pro, but I’ve won a few contests and I’m at the level where I’m looking at purchasing a couple of decent studio lights for portraits. But most will be personal photos. I’ve got my old Canon G2 for point and shoot, a Pentax Optio S for in my shirt pocket, but now I’ve got a real jones for the 35 MM SLR Digital option.

What are people’s experiences/opinions? I’m open to looking at several price points to decide which one is the sweet spot. I read dpreview.com but I’m interested in opinions of folks here.

I’m not as advanced an amateur as you, but when deciding which one to buy, I picked the brand according to lenses I had, or had access to. My non-digital SLRs (collecting dust) are Olympus, who I decided were not doing anythign interesting in digital SLRs. I already had a couple of canon EOS lenses, and two friends with canon digital SLRs and a few interestign lenses between them. So that cemented my brand choice, and then I just narrowed it down to a model.

I just bought the Canon Rebel XT over Christmas and I’m totally in love with it. It was a huge step up for me and my first SLR camera so I’m still learning everything it can do (and, more importantly, when to do it for best results). The quality of the pictures is fantastic, especially relative to my old point-and-shoot. It and the Nikon D50 are the highest-rated DSLRs in their price range ($800-$1000). I bought mine from Beachcamera.com for a pretty good price.

A friend let me borrow a 75-210mm zoom and a 50mm prime lens over the weekend and they both took great pictures. Now I want a telephoto and about a dozen other accessories. This is a pretty expensive hobby, I’m finding, especially if you start from scratch like I have.

Also, here’s the thread I started when asking for advice on pretty much the same topic:
There’s some good advice in there, too.

I went with a so-called Pro-sumer model when I bought a digital camera this past year. I wanted to be sure this was something I would pursue before I spent $1000+ on a true digital SLR.

I went with the Panasonic Lumix FZ20, mostly because of the Leica lens, and have been very happy with it.

Here are some examples of what I’ve been able to do with it:

There are other examples of my noodling here: http://www.gallowglass.ca

Good luck!

[edit: crap! sorry for the formatting fubar. I’ll try and reduce them.]

Can’t help you with a DSLR recommendation, as I’ve sworn not to buy one until I shoot all the film in my freezer.

But for inexpensive studio lights, I heartily recommend the Alien Bees. I picked up a couple for background illumination, and they are quality monolights at a good price.

I also like the Photogenic Powerlight series, and I have a couple of those as well. Expect to spend at least the cost of another monolight on light modifiers (honeycomb grids, barndoors, color gels, softboxes).

Also, this Bogen boom kit I got from B&H a couple years back is my best money spent on photographic equipment, evar. It’s like getting an epic mount in WoW.

I have a Nikon D70 that I got a few years ago. I have the kit lens (18-70 mm), the 50 mm 1/8, the 35mm 2, and on old extending 70-210 lens. It sounds like you know a bit about photography, so i’ll skip the basics and just talk about my experiences with the camera.
I really like the camera. When I was purchasing mine, the 300d, the 10d ( both from canon ) and the d70 were the primary options. Some others exist like the pentax *ist d, but I wanted to get something from canon and nikon because at the time they appeared to be the best. I chose the d70 because if you hold the camera, it really just feels more like a shooters camera to me. The buttons and feel of the camera just lends itself to using it more like a camera than the canon products i tried. I also shoot with my left eye, and the layout was much more to my liking. The canon products I tried tend to feel more like point and shoot camera’s as far as the button layout and shortcuts, whereas the nikon was much better. My only gripe for my camera is the viewfinder. Its much smaller and dimmer than that of a traditional film camera. That means I use the autofocus/autofocus lock much more often than if I could trust using the viewfinder. However, that complaint can be leveled at almost all digital SLR’s in existence. I did get a chance to try out a pentax *ist DS and its viewfinder it much better than what you find in an entry level DSLR. That camera however, feels much more primitive in other respects than the D70. The viewfinder was good enought to tempt me though…I think at this point I’m just going to wait for a new nikon and hope it has a better viewfinder. That way i don’t have to take a bath on changing over my lenses. Hope this helps!


p.s. Also, if you looking for some picture samples you can see my portfolio at www.monsoonstudios.com/huong
The most common complaint your going to hear about the d70 is moire. My experience? not a real problem.

Let’s just pause for a station identification. You are listening to the mellow sounds of WQT3.

Oh, and I love my Digital Rebel XT. If you want a great price, you can lurk slickdeals.net for about a month.

Just what is a 35 MM SLR Digital? I thought 35 MM refered to film.

Sorry, DSLR is actually the correct term, I’m just an old fart who is used to thinking “35 mm” when I think SLR. ;)

I have a Rebel XT and have no problems suggesting it, but if you want to know to know what you could get by waiting, the full-format sensor-equiped 5D is only $3k or so now. The Rebel and D20 only have (roughly) half-sized sensors.

The sensor size of a DSLR is important, but not the only determining factor in its performance. That said, unless you are a professional photographer who is of the most discerning taste in photoimagry, i wouldn’t wait too long for the full-size sensor. The current sensor size now for most DSLR is perfectly adequate for taking excellent pictures with low noise. You can see some comparisons at dpreview and luminous landscapes, but IMHO its not really worth the price differential or the wait, when you could be shooting right now. hehe.


I would make the choice based on your current selection of 35 mm lenses, assuming that they will work with the line’s digital SLR. I have Nikon lenses, so I went with a Nikon DSLR. My dad is a big Canon fan, so that’s who he purchased from. I prefer the feel of Nikon cameras, but your mileage may vary.

When you’re getting into the 10-12 megapixel range at max res, 35mm film resolution is pretty much right there. Noise reduction is becoming less and less these days, and the new sets of sensors just keep getting better and better.

dpreview is very nice for very professional reviews of cameras (and comparisons). They offer very technical and substantial tests of cameras and usually are able to figure out where the deficincies lie.

My brother and I have been waiting on DSLRs for a bit and seeing how things shake out - he’s a Nikon guy through and through, has some money invested in their lenses, etc. He’s the same way though, he still has a lot of film left in the freezer… and waiting for the right moment. I think (if the rumor is true) about the D3H may push him over the edge.

Me, I was leaning to a Canon model as one of my interests is night and star photography, and their long-term exposure noise-reduction stuff was badass (and Nikon’s was terrible). However it appears Nikon has come up with a couple of different methods and have caught up in that field for the most part. But I haven’t kept up with some of their new stuff yet as I can’t afford anything yet.

— Alan

Resolution for the most part is overrated. 35mm film certainly has the capability to offer more “resolution” than a CCD or CMOS sensor, but not every scene you shoot is going to exploit the full capabilities of either a film or digital capture. In practice, Getting a higher resolution camera gives you more ability to crop and to generate larger prints. Getting a lower resolution camera is not in general going to limit the shots that you can make. Also, if you get an enormously expensive camera and mate it to inferior glass, or lenses that don’t cover the ranges that you shoot, its worthless. I suspect an “inferior” DSLR that you shoot with is more valuable than a very expensive DSLR that you can’t outfit properly.


Wasn’t that the point of getting a DSLR in the first place?

— Alan

If you read the first post, he is looking for the “sweet spot” in DSLRs. I just pointing out that going for a 10+ megapixel camera certainly isn’t the sweet spot and to consider why one is going for such a large megapixel camera when one with a 6 megapixel capability would be more than sufficient for his needs. I’m also pointing out the faulty idea that a DSLR “needs” to match the resolution of 35 mm film, when 99% of all shots taken are either not utilizing said resolution, or the shot is defect in some other way and unusable.


As I understand Jeff’s original post, he doesn’t own any Nikon or Canon glass. So, whatever purhcasing advice you guys give him should be based solely on the body, it’s features, and its UI.

What would be more important to me as a photog would be sensor size, rather than sensor resolution. Small sensors are smaller than the image circle formed by the lens. The effect is that you’re digitzing and cropping only a portion of the complete image, decreasing the resolving power of the lens, and increasing its focal length.

Some people like the fact that small sensors effectively give their telephoto lenses and zoom lenses a 1.4x or even 1.6x increase at the top end. But, you lose out at the wide end. No more mind-warping 17mm-how-did-he-do-that? perspectives for j00!

Never been a fan of the small sesnor/multiplication scheme thing, I ran into the same issue way back using an APS film camera which was basically, what, 24 or 26mm, don’t remember now. Sure, it was easy as pie to use…

— Alan