Researching Camera Gear + Camera Geek Humor

The Sony Alpha 100 has been a good camera for me and I have gotten some very good results. Overall, I simply cannot complain. Still, I find myself jonesing for something new in my camera world and the desire runs the gamut from just just buying a new lens or upgrading my current camera to the Alpha 700 all the way to changing platforms completely to the Nikon D300 or the Canon 40D.


Side by side feature comparison of the A700, 40D and the D300

These cameras stack up VERY well next to each other in terms of features and capabilities. But try to make a decision based on unbiased opinion? Forget it! Discussion forums are littered with evangelists for each of the brands. Nikon and Canon devotees seem to be the worst. They bash Sony for simply being Sony and project a brand loyalty comparable to religious zealotry. Ask a Nikon user what to get, he’ll tell you Nikon and that’s that. Same for Canon users. And there’s a growing number of Sony-heads joining the fray.

So I’m left doing a ton of research on my own, educating myself and looking at samples and reading reviews and so forth which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, at a moment when I was feeling rather overwhelmed and somewhat frustrated I did have a camera nerd/geek moment when I found a discussion thread announcing the upcoming release of the Nikon D90. In reading the specs I started to get a little excited thinking this is what I’ve been waiting for! As I kept reading my enthusiasm turned to confusion and then I just burst out laughing! Read for yourself.

I needed a good laugh at that point and that article delivered in spades.

There are many things to consider in staying with Sony, not the least of which is the financial commitment I have made in purchasing my lenses. Obviously to stick with Sony means less money out of pocket. The Sony A700 has dropped to around $1,300 whereas the Nikon D300 hovers up in the $1,800 range. The Canon 40D comes in the least expensive of all at around $1,200. But when you factor getting some good image stabilization and/or prime lenses for either Canon or Nikon and the cost of upgrade via platform hopping is moves close to, if not well into, the 4 digit range.

And really, would spending a ton of money changing brands yield better photographic results? Would I see such a difference in my output? Would someone really look at a picture and think “wow, great shot! If only that picture had the enhanced highlights and color depth of a Canon! Or the ever so slightly sharper detail of a Nikon with the uber-expensive lens?”

I am thinking “no”

Also, Sony has indicated their top of the line or “flagship” dSLR will be released later this year. The “Alpha 900” was announced by Sony for release later this year so there is hope that they are in this for the long-haul.

Keep in mind that I am by no means ready to drop $3,500 to $5,000 on a pro camera yet…Canon, Nikon OR Sony. But knowing that there’s an upgrade path remains a strong consideration. And who knows what will be on the market when AND IF I decide to take my camera gear to the budget disintegrating professional level?

There’s some pretty cool stuff happening with digital video that could completely change the landscape of professional photography. As Tom Petty says; “The future is wide open” (unintentional photo pun there).

I was thinking maybe I could the put aside the idea of any large purchase by just keeping what I have now and that’s when I started looking for lenses for the A100 as a possible pacifier for my desire to get something new.

In my research I found the Tamron SP AF 10-24MM F/3.5-4.5 DI II LD Aspherical (IF) and thought OOOOH! Super wide angle zoom! That would be cool. But then I saw it was just announced and is not available yet.

So here I am, musing the whole thing over and browsing the web and I keep learning more while spending nothing. And maybe that’s the best upgrade of all.

8 thoughts on “Researching Camera Gear + Camera Geek Humor

  1. I have the D300 and it is freaking incredible. I LOVE it if for the giant 3″ LCD alone – the biggest of any SLR.

    But, you have to know what you are doing when you switch brands. I know a number of photographers who don’t care for Sony because its optics just don’t match up to that of Nikon or Canon and I’ve heard some outright worry that because Sony is not primarily a camera company, what happens if they decide it is no longer profitable to support SLR’s, not something Nikon or Canon are going to do.

    But, if you like your Sony, there is not doubt you’ll continue to take great photos with another and the savings on lenses is a big deal, I know. Personally, I don’t see much difference between Canon and Nikon myself even if I do jokingly refer to Canon as Nikon-lite to my friends who use Canons. 🙂

  2. Being a Nikon guy, I can tell you that for the three cameras you compared, it doesn’t much matter which one you buy. They are all very similar in quality, construction, and ease of use. What matters is the photographer.

    The nice thing about the Sony is that it can use Minolta mount lenses, so you increase your lens choices without need for weird adapters.

    The nice thing about the Nikon is that you can use just about any Nikon lens made since 1958 with that camera, and some of the pre-1958 models with a slight modification to the lens mount ring. Of course, since all of those cameras share the 1.5x crop factor, you’re only going to get the middle 75% of the image.

    The nice thing about the Canon is that they made so many different lenses that you can probably find any combination of zoom, fstop, and whatever to meet your needs.

    All three have extensive 3rd party lens options.

    Yeah, there are evangelists for every brand and while they can probably tell you all of the interesting little tips and tricks and hacks, very few of them are truly creative with their photos. They are in the hobby to measurebate, and if that floats their boat, more power to ’em.

    I’ve had my Nikon D70s for nearly 3 years and it has held up to my hamfisted meathookery with a minimum of maintenance and it turns out excellent images. Friends with Canons have had them perform equally well. I know your Sony has taken some punishment and kept on working, so I don’t think any of the three has any real robustness edge.

    My suggestion, save your $ and get the D3 or the 1D Mark III. THOSE cameras have some definite distinctions, don’t have the 1.5x crop factor, allow for live viewing on an SLR, and both contain WiFi bits that allow you to control the camera remotely from a laptop.

  3. I say wait just a little bit longer. Canon should announce something spiffy pretty soon, or at least they had better considering how hard Nikon blindsided them with the D3 and D300. So if Canon does something cool, you know Sony and Nikon will answer it, by years end. man I love competition.

    Or if you stick with your old Sony, hold out for something like the new Tamron 18-300mm Macro with vibration control, when they get around to making the sony mount. I played with one the other day and wow, talk about the all around only need one lens for the vacation type thing. The VC on it grabbed focus and you had to fight it to get it to lose it. It was better than any IS I’ve seen on the canon lenses or at least on par with them, and for a lens that runs around 600 bucks that ain’t bad. (*it’s probably too slow for concert shooting though)

  4. Oh boy do I know this happy madness, complete with late night clickathons at DPReview and angsting over release dates.

    Then I go to Flickr and look through the (very cool) pinhole camera groups for awhile and think, “uh, what is my objective, again?”

    I’m not allowed to get more gear until I stop answering that question with “EVERYTHING!” 🙂

  5. I have to say that you have some very nice commenters on your site, mabee it’s the remarks about evangelists in the post that sacred the others away…

    I’m a sony person, and have an A700, I’m very impressed by it, and would recomend it to anyone who (like myself) found that they were getting a little cramped by the A100.

    As has been said, all of the cameras are largelly equivelent, however I would note that the D300 does have some more features than the other 2 (live view most notably), as it’s aimed at a slightly higher market, and priced accordingly.

    @jeff — the A700 also has a 3″ screen, I believe it’s the same part number. you are right that Sony arn’t primarilly into DSLRs, but they certainly are into “cameras” in a big way — they are the market leader for HDTV, and they manufacture Nikon’s sensors. There is an HDTV camera in the works that takes Alpha lenses, so the 2 markets are being tied together. I understand it’s a theoretical point, but I really don’t see this happening

    @satyr — the 18-300 lens is interenting, however a lens with a zoom range that long is going to have compromises in it, I personally would be carfull about anything longer than 4x (ie: 18-70ish or 50ish-300). also the A700 has sensor stabilisation, so some of that edge is lost. However as a holiday lens it would be wonderful.

    To stay with the same brand is a very good idea, as you save a considerable amount of money on buying new lenses, but if you find somthing that you really want from another brand, go with it.

    The 10-24 should be a very cool lens, it’s the next item on my shopping list, and is going to get bought unless somthing comes out that’s better. I have looked at the sony 11-18 and the sigma 10-20 and 12-24 and found that thier lack of zoom range was a bit frustrating, I’d rather have a prime and crop later.

  6. I think both the Sony and Cannon make great cameras. But I’ve been in the Nikion camp for 18yrs(film). I read a ton of reviews also. Most only feed back the product info. Then I found Thom Hogan’s review. http://www.bythom.com/nikond300review.htm a very honest look at the D300.
    Others I found helpful was Dave Black
    http://www.daveblackphotography.com/workshop/02-2008.htm
    Rob Galbraith did a nice review on the seed of memory cards in each camera.
    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/camera_multi_page.asp?cid=6007-9254

    I ended up with a D300.

  7. I’ve got Canon EOS 350D and I love the hell out of it. I kinda want the newer version with more megapixels now that I have a half-decent telephoto, but, really , I’m more than happy with it.

    The other two brands have their partisans, but it looks like everyone agrees on one thing–stick with the one you have as long as it suits your needs. As long as the camera-maker doesn’t leave you high and dry.

    You don’t have to mess with a new user interface. You can still keep your old lenses.

    And by surfing you might learn about some of your camera’s features (like in completely manual mode) you didn’t know you had, or sort of blew past when you first read about them.

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