Young African Magazine
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Newer not always better


Canon and Nikon have both launched new DSLRs.Canon and Nikon have both launched new DSLRs.

 May 21, 2009

These two DSLRs are built to a price – and it shows, writes Terry Lane.

One of the fastest-growing sections of the digital camera market is the so-called entry-level digital single-lens reflex, and $1600 seems to be some sort of sweet spot in the price range at which people trade up from a compact to a DSLR.

Canon and Nikon have both launched cameras into this part of the market. Canon’s new EOS 500D and Nikon’s D5000 distinguish themselves from entry-level predecessors by having a high-definition movie function of limited usefulness. We are yet to be convinced that a DSLR is the ideal gadget for shooting family movies.

The Canon is a 15-megapixel camera and the Nikon makes do with 12.3. In real-world terms there is no difference in image quality. Both are good.

Construction of both cameras is heavily plastic, in the bodies and the kit lenses. Both companies offer two image-stabilised kit lenses covering ranges from 18-55mm and 55-200mm in the case of the Nikon, and 55-250 from Canon. None are ideal, the best being the shorter Nikon and the least satisfactory the long Canon. The Nikons are slow to focus, and neither brand has really effective image stabilisation.

The Nikon has a swivelling LCD and the Canon a larger fixed screen. Both have relatively cramped and dim viewfinders. They are both light and small.

In use the two cameras are similar, being mechanically gritty and noisy, and not having the luxurious feel we associate with the brands; it seems they are made to a price point. We fitted each with better lenses from our Canon and Nikkor optics and then they performed well, producing consistently excellent pictures. The moral of the story: buy the camera body but spend a little more for better lenses.

The D5000 is another camera from Nikon without an in-body auto-focus drive, which means any additional lens purchased must have the auto-focus mechanism built in. This excludes a large number of legacy Nikkor lenses and also raises a question about the value for money of the D5000. Good lenses will be expensive.

We have been comparing camera prices on the website of a national chain of camera shops. Both the new cameras sell for $1600 with the shorter lens, but the incomparably superior Nikon D90 with the same lens is only $200 more. The best always trumps the good.

From the same shop, the gorgeous (but superseded) Canon EOS 40D with a better lens is also $1800. Just a few months ago, this superb combination cost 50 per cent more.

And while you’re shopping, look at the Pentax K20D and the Olympus E30, both offering more to the serious amateur than either of the new cameras. Bottom line: don’t fall for the “newer is better” argument.

Original article–camcorders/articles/newer-not-always-better/2009/05/20/1242498758526.html


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