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Author Topic: New Camera: Canon, Nikon or Sony?  (Read 6576 times)
JoshDuffus
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« on: December 26, 2009, 02:06:15 PM »
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A few years ago I inherited a Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and a number of accessories and lenses (85mm f/1.4, 24mm-105mm f/3-4.5, Sony flash, wired remote, and vertical control grip).  It's been a great camera, though I had to take into the shop a year ago because of a problem with the autofocus.  It continues to be a great first DSLR, and I've really enjoyed learning so much about photography.  However, one of the things I've learned is that Konica Minolta is no-more (bought by Sony) and Canon and Nikon dominate the market.  My camera is beginning to show it's age (2004) and I'm looking to replace it in the next few months.  My problem is that I don't know what my next camera should be.  I could:

A) Purchase a Nikon or Canon (I'm thinking a 300s or 7D) to have something more mainstream that would also allow me to play with video.  I've got a toddler and a 6-month-old, so the more fps the better.  Most of my family owns Nikon gear so exchanging lenses and flashes would be a plus.

 I could purchase a Sony Alpha 850 for a full-frame sensor, and continue to use my lenses and flash.  However, I'm stuck with a brand with a very small footprint in the DSLR market.

I can see the advantages to both scenarios, but I'm curious as to what anyone else thinks.  I've been shooting pretty regularly for a year or two now and even done some portraits and family shots for friends with good results.  I'd like to take the next step and consider shooting more portraits and weddings perhaps as a side-gig.

Thanks for your input!

Josh
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Brent McCombs
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2009, 02:22:15 PM »
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I use both Canon and Nikon, however if you have a nice set of lenses, I think staying with the mount makes most sense, and the 850 is a quite nice camera, from all reports, and much more likely than not to be growing in footprint and userbase over the next 4-8 years. Given Sony's size, I'd not worry too much about going that direction, and the camera does most all of what others will do, and some of it a good deal better, particularly in your position from a cost/benefit analysis.

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bradleygibson
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 02:43:48 PM »
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I'm not sure the size of the footprint in the DSLR market should be all that relevant to your purchasing decision.  You've already got an investment in Minolta glass--I'd leverage it unless, you are looking for a specific feature (ie. video) that Sony doesn't offer yet.

In that case, is that feature worth the cost and hassle of getting rid of your Minolta setup and buying more glass for your Canikon?  That depends entirely on your budget of course.

From the cameras you've mentioned, I'd give the edge in video to the 7D.  Nikon's been coming out with some killer bodies, and top-notch high ISO performance; Canon's been coming out with a lot of significantly improved pro glass.

Also consider what your friends might be shooting--basically you can't really lose here; it's nice to be able to share lenses and such with friends and colleagues, so consider what your peers are using as well.

Best,
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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 03:14:38 PM »
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Thanks fellas...great advise.  I was a little worried about where I'd be in 3-5 years with a Sony body, but it's good to hear that there's a perception that they'll still be around, doing what they do.

Thanks!
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Plekto
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2009, 01:01:05 PM »
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The Sony/Minolta is still a viable option as nearly every single lens made for the older Minolta AF SLRs works with it - you just have to buy used or new old stock lenses in those cases.  Obviously Sony wants you to buy their *new* lenses which are identical in almost every way other than the label, so you don't hear about the other 50-70% of the lenses(the old ones that still work with it).

Buy it - save a lot of money and enjoy.   It's a good camera since Sony pretty much has left the same Minolta team in charge and to their own devices all these years(and thankfully listened to them about full frame being a must-have, finally)

Nikon is good - though a bit more money.  You pay a lot but get a lot.  I still like the Minolta look and feel though, but that's my personal preference.  I'd actually rate the two as dead even with each other.

Canon, I have to say I'm not impressed lately with their cheapness and obvious corner-cutting.  That you have to try several of the same lens lately to find a "good" one kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  Though they do take great pictures despite all of the poor quality control and plastic.
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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2009, 03:02:19 PM »
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Thanks!  Looking forward to a new Alpha 850 or 900!
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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2009, 10:22:06 PM »
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Thanks! When I first got this camera and the lens package, I had no idea what a great lens it was.  And when I took the camera to the shop, the girl at the counter raved about it.  Since then, it's become my favorite lens for portraits.  I really love it.

Josh
www.joshduffus.com
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2009, 03:35:22 AM »
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Hi,

Yes, that 85/1.4 is known to be a great lens. I got the impression that the 24-105 may also work well on the A850/A900.

I own several Sonys (A100, A700, A900) and I'm pretty satisfied. I don't think they are better (or for that part worse) than Nikon/Canon stuff. It is a true advantage with body based IS, as it works with all lenses. To my knowledge there are no very large aperture lenses with IS. And IS also works.

The disadvantage with Sony may be that they lens line is thinner than Canon-Nikon and many of the lenses are quite expensive.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: JoshDuffus
Thanks! When I first got this camera and the lens package, I had no idea what a great lens it was.  And when I took the camera to the shop, the girl at the counter raved about it.  Since then, it's become my favorite lens for portraits.  I really love it.

Josh
www.joshduffus.com
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sean mills
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2009, 09:04:13 AM »
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Ive been in all 3 camps, I was continually underwhelmed by Canon... bodies, glass, everything, and they're  the biggest footprint in DSLRs. Jumped ship happily to Nikon, and only consider picking up a Canon body for the new TS lenses and alt lens adaption.

Nikon is great, world class glass, and the bodies are nice, but for me, you just don't get enough bang for the buck out of the bodies resolution wise... for what I do at least. D700 high ISO is great, but Low ISO isn't the best, and the lack of rez makes all the great Nikkor lenses sad.
Nikon's high end lenses aren't any cheaper than then Sony Zeiss/G counterparts.

Sony has been able to meet all my needs, the glass line up is world class quality, simply phenomenal, though does need a few things here and there. It really isn't as lacking as you might think. Even if you only consider current Sony lenses. Really all I am missing is a fast wide like a 24 1.4  and a really good fast 50 (the current offerings are fine but not amazing), but G or Zeiss versions of these should be coming in the next year... outside of those, what's really missing besides the long teles and TS lenses?

An a900 and the ZA 24-70 cover most of my needs, then for low light / portraits the Zeiss 85 1.4 and 135 1.8 are just insanely good and worth every cent.

I'll also add the Sony flash system is just awesome. A pair or trio of HVL-F58AM flashes and some stands and you have your studio lighting down.

That said I can't recommend the Sony system enough. Go for it!
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 09:06:19 AM by sean mills » Logged
Theresa
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2009, 08:29:53 PM »
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Quote from: Brent McCombs
I use both Canon and Nikon, however if you have a nice set of lenses, I think staying with the mount makes most sense, and the 850 is a quite nice camera, from all reports, and much more likely than not to be growing in footprint and userbase over the next 4-8 years. Given Sony's size, I'd not worry too much about going that direction, and the camera does most all of what others will do, and some of it a good deal better, particularly in your position from a cost/benefit analysis.

Its not as if you will make a profit depending on how much of a market share your camera makes up, so "market footprint" shouldn't matter.  For video get a hd camcorder, they are relatively cheap right now.  I think that 3-5 fps should be enough to photograph the children, but what do I know, I used a Minolta x-700 to do that, without a motor drive.  Things certainly have changed.  I would certainly give a lot of weight to owning Minolta lenses, it would save a lot of money and I wouldn't want to be borrowing lenses, but that's due to my family's dynamics.  If you envy your family's Nikons then maybe you wouldn't be happy with anything else.  Nikon makes at least a couple of very good cameras, if you can afford them.  For me it would come down to money, I don't have the money to afford a Nikon that is equivalent or better than the Sony a850.  If I had the money I would have gotten the D3x.
I don't think that prestige or market share are a major factor in deciding, just capability, use of lenses already owned, and money.
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Theresa
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 08:31:37 PM »
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Sorry, meant D3s not D3x

Quote from: Brent McCombs
I use both Canon and Nikon, however if you have a nice set of lenses, I think staying with the mount makes most sense, and the 850 is a quite nice camera, from all reports, and much more likely than not to be growing in footprint and userbase over the next 4-8 years. Given Sony's size, I'd not worry too much about going that direction, and the camera does most all of what others will do, and some of it a good deal better, particularly in your position from a cost/benefit analysis.

Its not as if you will make a profit depending on how much of a market share your camera makes up, so "market footprint" shouldn't matter.  For video get a hd camcorder, they are relatively cheap right now.  I think that 3-5 fps should be enough to photograph the children, but what do I know, I used a Minolta x-700 to do that, without a motor drive.  Things certainly have changed.  I would certainly give a lot of weight to owning Minolta lenses, it would save a lot of money and I wouldn't want to be borrowing lenses, but that's due to my family's dynamics.  If you envy your family's Nikons then maybe you wouldn't be happy with anything else.  Nikon makes at least a couple of very good cameras, if you can afford them.  For me it would come down to money, I don't have the money to afford a Nikon that is equivalent or better than the Sony a850.  If I had the money I would have gotten the D3s.
I don't think that prestige or market share are a major factor in deciding, just capability, use of lenses already owned, and money.
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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2009, 09:06:37 PM »
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I love this forum.

It's good to hear that a lot of people out there are (happily) shooting with the Sony Alpha series.  I get discouraged with all my friends shooting Nikon and Canon, as well as every photography book and magazine doing this same.  I get the feeling I'm missing something sometimes.  On paper, the 850 and 900 have everything I need and I'm really looking forward to checking them out in person.  I'm pretty happy with my old Maxxum 7D and it'll make a great backup body.

You're right about the lenses I own.  They're both great, particularly the 85mm, and I've got a HVL-F42AM flash...which has been a real eye-opener.  I should probably get another one of those.

Thanks again everyone.
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dseelig
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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2009, 09:21:31 PM »
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Hi Josh
Until you find a limit with the system you have that you cannot live without I would stay with sony. I am  a long time pro. I shoot canon and leica. I would never switch a system unless I had a need that the my system could not do. Do not worry about what other photographers have worry about what you need. If I were you I would get the sony 850 and use it. 2 grand for a 25 megapixel body that is a bargain. Happy shooting David
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 09:22:21 PM by dseelig » Logged
Plekto
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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2009, 01:50:26 PM »
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Quote from: sean mills
Really all I am missing is a fast wide like a 24 1.4  and a really good fast 50 (the current offerings are fine but not amazing), but G or Zeiss versions of these should be coming in the next year... outside of those, what's really missing besides the long teles and TS lenses?

http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=474
This is as close as it gets.  

The only thing about Sony is that you have to also include Sigma and Minolta used and NOS lenses in your searches.  This is a minor concern, in my opinion, since used gear is so easy to find these days.

http://www.mhohner.de/sony-minolta/lenses.php?lg=e
This is the other "master list" online of older OEM lenses.  As you can see, often only the Sony label is different.  You can save some serious money this way by getting used gear that's functionally identical.

http://www.dyxum.com/lenses/detail.asp?IDLens=187
Getting back to the "missing a fast wide 24" comment, this is as good as it gets.  Discontinued, but well worth considering.  My old Minolta years ago had a similar 28mm/2.0 on it and it was my #1 lens that was on it all the time for trips and scenery.  I never noticed the difference anyways between 1.4 and 2.0 on any lens since the last stop isn't really usable anyways (though other will give you clean images at 2.8, which is far better than having a 28/2.8 that's only sharp at f8 or so)

You have to make a *few* concessions with Sony these days, but that's true for every lineup as well.  Each has their small holes and lenses that you wish were offered or done a bit better.
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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2009, 02:20:08 PM »
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Here's a quick Sony Lens follow-up question.  As I've said before, I've got the Konica Minolta 85mm f/1.4 and a Konica Minolta 24-105 f/3.5.  I don't know if these are full-frame lenses.  If I were to buy the Alpha 850 or 900 would I need to crop?  I'm not sure how this really works.
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Tony Beach
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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2009, 02:59:52 PM »
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Quote from: JoshDuffus
Here's a quick Sony Lens follow-up question.  As I've said before, I've got the Konica Minolta 85mm f/1.4 and a Konica Minolta 24-105 f/3.5.  I don't know if these are full-frame lenses.
I don't either, but they almost certainly are because 24mm is not very wide for APS-C and 85/1.4 is a classic portrait focal length for 35mm full frame.

Quote
If I were to buy the Alpha 850 or 900 would I need to crop?  I'm not sure how this really works.
There is an APS-C crop mode that can be activated; unfortunately there is no mask of the viewfinder so you have to rely on the viewfinder guides to frame your shot, and there is less viewfinder magnification than what you get from a smaller format camera.  Sony is also deficient in not giving any RAW shooting benefits (that I'm aware of) to the APS-C crop format, most notably you're still stuck at 3 fps on the A850.

Nonetheless, at full frame the A850 is a really fine camera as far as image quality is concerned.  Its AF is snappy, and its individual pixels have more acutance than what I get from my D300 pixels.
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aaykay
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« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2009, 04:55:40 PM »
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Quote from: JoshDuffus
Here's a quick Sony Lens follow-up question.  As I've said before, I've got the Konica Minolta 85mm f/1.4 and a Konica Minolta 24-105 f/3.5.  I don't know if these are full-frame lenses.  If I were to buy the Alpha 850 or 900 would I need to crop?  I'm not sure how this really works.


Both of your lenses are FF lenses.....the 24-105 is actually a f/3.5-4.5 (introduced by Minolta in 1999 and the near identical Sony version with some coatings improvement, introduced in 2006).  Sony recently stopped production of the 24-105 f/3.5-4.5, and there is speculation that a new 24-105 f/4G SSM is on the way soon.

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JoshDuffus
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« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2009, 07:18:37 PM »
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While I've got all you experts here...what are the fundamental differences between the Alpha 850 and 900 (aside from the $$$)?  I've been looking hard at the 850, but don't know much about the 900.
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Tony Beach
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« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2009, 08:04:24 PM »
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Quote from: JoshDuffus
While I've got all you experts here...what are the fundamental differences between the Alpha 850 and 900 (aside from the $$$)?  I've been looking hard at the 850, but don't know much about the 900.
The A900 has a 100% viewfinder and does 5 fps.  There appear to be very minor differences in the spectral responses of the sensors, too small for most people to notice.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 08:05:19 PM by Tony Beach » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2009, 11:43:53 PM »
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Hi,

Viewfinder is not 100% on the Alpha 850, I think it's 98%. So you get some more into the image than what you see in the finder. Only pro cameras have 100% finder.

Frame rate is lower on the Alpha 850 (3 FPS vs. 5 FPS).

Image quality wise they are supposed to be identical, at least according to DxOmark.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: JoshDuffus
While I've got all you experts here...what are the fundamental differences between the Alpha 850 and 900 (aside from the $$$)?  I've been looking hard at the 850, but don't know much about the 900.
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