Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Nikon or Canon?

Canon Powershot SX10IS 10MP Digital Camera

The photographers among you might recall my fascination with the Nikon D40. I intended to buy it with my little book advance but, alas, that plan fell by the wayside as more practical imperatives became, well, imperative. A few of you have asked me why this camera? Someone swore by a Pentax, a couple others (including my son) think I really need a Canon Rebel. So, why the D40? Because I wanted a DSLR and was taken aback to find this brand in the price range I like to think I can afford, for one; it's a Nikon, for heaven's sake, and that name carries a lot of weight. In addition, most of the reviews I've read are honest to goodness rave reviews.

I've been having second thoughts over the last couple of days, though, so I pulled up the one-star reviews on Amazon. They aren't many, compared to the raves, but they gave me reason to pause and rethink. So, I started researching all over again, and one guy's advice stopped me cold. He asked something along these lines: Do you intend to get really serious about photography? Do you have any experience with digital cameras? Do you have any experience with DSLRs? Then he suggested that if you're a complete newbie you should start with a plain old digital camera with a few manual features, have fun with the auto setting, play around with the manual settings, and then decide if you really want to get in deeper.

I don't think I want to get serious about this thing; I have enough distractions as it is. I just want to take decent shots of scenery, my mother's yard, animals, my family and friends, as well as fiddle around a bit with a few SIMPLE options. When I look at my son's DSLR my head begins to buzz: so many knobs, buttons, features. So much to learn. And the damn thing is heavy!

The Canon Powershot SX10IS 10MP Digital Camera with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom - a mouthful, that - is what I'm looking at now. It's just a few dollars cheaper than the D40 but I'm reading the specs and reviews and I'm convinced - almost - that this is what I really need. The 20x optical zoom - see flamingo photos above - convinced me. The Canon PowerShot A590IS was a contender, and it's less than half the price of the SX, but that 4x zoom can't compare. The SX is pretty enough, too. Some of the others that are recced are so ugly I didn't even check them out. (Stop screaming, men! Aesthetics are important, as you visually hard-wired Y-chromosomers should know!)

What think you?


Kaz Augustin said...

If you value our friendship at all, don't buy the Canon. :) Any Canon. They've had a string of mishaps. There's even a fake Chuck Westfall (Canon's CEO) blog where one disgruntled customer talks about the problems with Canon's DSLRs. See here for hilarious details that Canon tried to stop.

I'm just not rich enough to buy Nikon ... or Contax. But I do so love my Olympus DSLR. Which kinda replaces my fully manual Olympus OM-1 SLR. Which adjuncts my Bronica ETR-S medium-format camera. ('Cos I can't afford Hasselblad either.)

Olympus seem to have a few good deals around at the moment, Liane. I picked up mine (an E-520) with 2 lenses duty-free on my last business trip in January. Chances are, there are still good bundles around to be picked up.

(I wasn't being biased. I was thinking of picking up the Canon DSLR, but the intel I dug up was too depressing. Back to trusty Olympus!)

Kaz Augustin said...

And those Zuiko lenses kick serious bottom, as Holly (*) would say.

(*) Red Dwarf series, of course!

JJ Beattie said...

I'm way too stupid to advise you on which one you should have but this is what I have:

A Sony Cybershot DHC-H3. It's between a small camera and a big one (I guess that would make it a medium sized one! You can see why I need a blog break, eh?) I can choose if I want it all automatic or all manual or somewhere in between. I am much too stupid to work out how to use it all manual so I usually do all automatic and fiddle about with the different settings ... like evening, portrait, sports shot, etc. All the pics on my blog are using this camera.

KeVin K. said...

Okay, I used Nikkormats for field and fun shooting. So you know I'm both a Nikon fan and hopelessly out of date. The glass is the most important thing on a camera. Whatever you buy, base your decision on quality of optics first and reliability second. Those are the two things you can not control and must rely on the camera. Everything else comes under the heading of skill -- you can learn to shoot with anything.

Anonymous said...

Listen to KeVin K since glass is important and good glass is not cheap. Most photographers like to use the phrase "A sweet piece of glass".

The type (not brand) of camera you get depends on what you want to do with it - Large prints, web photos, family shots for the album, all of the above. If you think you might want flexibility, and pro looking enlargements then go with DSLR. I have two Pentax DSLRs and four lenses so I am a committed Pentax person and they are reliable.

On a photography forum, (I can't remember which) one pro asked if a people looked at a photograph could they tell if was a Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Sigma or Panasonic camera. The chances are it would be very hard to say. There is the 95-5 rule which says 5 percent of any photograph (good or bad) was due to the camera and 95 percent due to the photographer. I think this is mostly true. DSLRs are not small and not the best for sneaking into nude beaches.

A 20X zoom is useful but remember image quality and camera shakes at full zoom can be a problem. Generally, the cameras with the biggest sensors are the best and also most expensive.

Check out http://www.imaging-resource.com to compare images between different cameras. If I were to buy a non-DSLR camera I would probably go with what looks good, ruggedness, sensor size, friends' advice but with a heavy bias towards expert reviews.

Anonymous said...

By sensor size I don't mean megapixels but physical dimensions.

Hoodie said...

Hey Liane-
I've been on hiatus for a while but that's over now. Stop over to see what's happening if you'd like.

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

Kaz, you're awfully strict! :) But seriously, thanks for the input, and that very funny link. It was quite an eye-opener. I haven't looked into Olympus seriously, so I'll go do some research.

JJ, I've seen quite a few ads for the Cybershot. To be honest I was (am?) so obsessed with the Nikon that I didn't give any of these a serious look. Will remedy that. Thanks!

KeVin, the Sony that JJ mentioned has a Carl Zeiss lens. That's 'quality of optics', isn't it? I've just read up on her recommendation and the model I looked at is described as a "bridge" camera - not a point and shoot, and not an SLR, which sounds just about right for me at this stage.

Kaz Augustin said...

KeVin is right about optics. The Zuiko lenses (which Olympus use) have a great reputation and any assessment of a camera has to take that into account as a high priority. However, not the only one, as that Canon link shows. Best of luck and happy hunting! :)

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

akalol, you guys are so pro! While I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, just a raw beginner. Thanks for the input, and for the link which I'll be sure to investigate, and especially for the caution re the zoom. So much to learn...! (And since sneaking into nude beaches is vital (!!!) I'm going to weigh those ounces very carefully!)

Kaz, thanks! It's great to have such knowledgeable friends!

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

Hi Hoodie! Great to see you around again! I'll hop across and check out your latest tales.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I was looking at the Sony Cybershot with my daughter in our local camera store. It's light, easy to handle and the Carl Zeiss lens is a real plus.

For myself and my hubby, we always lean toward the Nikon if we can afford it. We have a closetful of Nikon 35mm equipment and should get off our asses to trade them in for a DSLR. My little Pentax is starting to feel its age at 3.2 Megapixels!

Chennette said...

Hi Liane - I have been so out of internet access recently, but I try to visit when I can. I think you've got lots of great advice already. My 2 cents :-) I've only ever had Nikon - I chose my P&S Coolpix 7900 as my first digital camera after reading lots of reviews and I loved it. It did what I needed and it was only at the end just before I lost it that I started wanting some more control. And now I am still at the beginning learning for the D80, which has lots of time learning for me. But I spend a lot of time on my own, so I went the DSLR route. I've browsed Flickr by camera type and seen amazing shots from all types of camera, that might be a good idea to compare shots of things you are likely to photograph.
I doubt this was very helpful :-) but good luck!

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

Chumplet, I'm leaning toward the Cybershot. Looks like the Nikon might have to come later.

Chennette, I drop by your blog every now and then, and it's good to see you around again. I haven't looked at the Coolpix because I somehow got the impression that manual options are almost non-existent, but I'll take a closer look. And thank you for the Flickr suggestion. I didn't even know you could browse there by camera type!

DiGgA said...

My camera is not "Heavy", it's big boned!!! lol

Kaz, no offence but you'd ALWAYS observe a sea of white lenses in any crowd of photographers... I wonder why that is? Canon with L-Glass combo ROCKS!!!

Anyway Liane, I'd say go for the Canon Powershot... for your purposes as they are listed.

Wordtryst - Liane Spicer said...

DiGgA, big boned!!! LOL!

Now you and Kaz don't fight, please. Canon people on this side, anti-Canon over there. Play nicely!

Thanks for the input, kiddo. Mwah.

Chennette said...

no, the coolpix doesn't have a whole lot of manual options, so i wouldn't go for that :-) it was my starter! Canons I think have better control/manual options.
oh flickr browsing by camera type is great - the things some people can do!