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Dylan Couper August 23rd, 2002 01:15 AM

advice for buying an SLR camera
OK, I thought I would start a new thread with this, since the other camera thread was getting pretty involved.

As the topic says, I'm looking to buy a new SLR camera.
I'm going to mainly be using it for action/sports photography and portraits as well for a calendar I'm going to be making.

My criteria is: Cost effective.
I don't think I need a top end camera, or even something mid-ranged. Basicaly, I'm buying this to make some extra, small amounts of money and I don't want to spend more on the camera than I'm going to make in a year with it.

My brand choices are Canon or Nikon, mostly so I can use the lenses with the XL1 if I ever desire (but probably won't).
I figure one wide angle zoom lens 28-70mm or so, and one 100-300mm range telephoto lens.

Also, are the aftermarked telephoto lenses acceptible compared to the Canon and Nikon lenses? They are a lot cheaper and I tend to believe cheap=garbage when it comes to video/photo equipment.

Also, I'd prefer a camera that feels solid, rather than feeling like a plastic toy.

So, based on this, what would you guys advise me to buy?

Jeff Donald August 23rd, 2002 02:11 AM

Your were doing real good right up until the end. The cost effective cameras are pretty much going to feel like a plastic toy. But that's not inheirently bad. Remember, football helmets are made out of plastic. Who wants to wear a steel helmet all day?

First off, you don't want to buy a Nikon. Nikon makes great cameras, but their lenses don't fit Canon. You can't take a wheel off a Ford and put it on a Chevy. I would look for a used Rebel 2000 or Rebel G. Don't get confused with Rebel X, XS, S etc. These are older models many of which parts are no longer available for to repair. The models I recommend are current models and represent the latest technology. If you can get the Rebel 2000, it's a really nice camera. It uses EOS EF Auto Focus lenses that will work fine on the XL1 with the EF adapter. Buy it from a camera store so you can ask questions if possible. If you do ebay, make sure there is a return policy if there is a problem. You won't know until you process your first roll or two if there is a problem.


Ross Milligan August 23rd, 2002 02:21 AM

A lot is down to personal choice, how does the camera feel in your hand - does it balance etc. But remember that a camera is basically a light tight box for holding the film - it is, IMO, more important to go by the lenses. Remember, prime lenses tend to be better than zooms. Both Canon and Nikon lenses are generally good, although you will pay more for Canon.

Have a look at www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html and select 'Reviews' and at bottom of the page choose 'Lenses' from the small menu.

This gives a comprehensive review of Nikon lenses by Bjorn Rorslett.

Paul Sedillo August 23rd, 2002 05:16 AM


As Ross mentioned it really is personal choice. Go check out http://www.photo.net. You will find answers to just about any SLR camera question you have.

My choice for great bang for the buck is either the Nikon N90s or the Nikon F100. The N90s go anywhere (used) from $450-$500 and the F100 will fall in around $700-$850.

Check out this N90s package on eBay:


Good luck in your search!

Jeff Donald August 23rd, 2002 06:22 AM

It's not a personal choice if your looking for maximum compatability in lenses to use on the XL1. Will you make more money with the XL1 or a 35mm SLR? Then support the system that gives you the most versatility. Nikon lenses can be adapted to the XL1 but with limited capability. In the states, Canon equipment is less than Nikon. I don't know what it will be in Canada. Don't believe all the crap about Nikon lenses being better than Canon. More pros shoot Auto Focus Canon than AF Nikon. Do you remember the last Olympics? The TV would show the press pool and a sea of white lenses. Well, all those white lenses are Canon. Nikon long lenses are black.

If you want a good mid range camera look for Elan II's or Elan 7's. If you want a pro model look for an EOS 3.


Adrian Douglas August 23rd, 2002 06:37 AM


I've got a bit of experience in this area as it's how I got into video a few years back.

I started out with an EOS 500n, I think it's the Rebel something that Jeff mentioned. It's a great little camera and a good one to start with but you'll very soon find it's limitations, especially if you want to shoot sports.

I'd look a little higher than the Rebel and look at the EOS 5 or I think it's called the ELAN there in Canada. It's solid, that's from experience, it's got a pretty good drive, 5fps, and it's been around since 93 so there are pleanty of good second hand ones out there for the taking.

Lens wise, a good start is a 28-105 and a 75-300, the IS version if you can afford it. I shot 2 seasons of snowboarding one in your stomping grounds, BC, with that exact combo and got some great shots. If you make some coin you can upgrade the lenses to include an ultra wide 20-35 and a 15mm fisheye. If it becomes a really woth while gig, you'd want to add a 100-400 and the king of sports shooter lenses the 600/f4.

That combo would do you well for years, it has for me, and they all work like beautifully with the XL.

Jim Sauza August 23rd, 2002 06:45 AM

Hi Dylan

Having used a canon rebel 2000 for almost 2 years I agree with Jeff.
It's an inexpensive camera that I have banged around in the rear of my suv and it still taking great pictures. Hope this helps. Jim

P.S. I added the optional base battery holder which made it feel real solid

Ross Milligan August 23rd, 2002 09:15 AM

Re: lenses, I personally believe that Canon *telephoto* lenses are the best on the market. Something like 75% of press photographers use them, so I hear, but it is not fair to say that all Canon lenses are better than Nikon. My advice would be to look at the range and compare the closest matches between the brands.

I was really surprised to hear that Canon is cheaper than Nikon in the US!!! Another example of 'ripoff Britain' as they call it over here. As Jeff says if you want compatibility with the XL1 then there is really only one route to look down.


Dylan Couper August 23rd, 2002 10:07 AM

Wow! First of all, thanks for the quick responses guys! I put this up late last night and expected maybe one or two replies. This forum is impressive (as usual). ;)

Regarding the Nikon lenses for the XL1, I didn't plan on buying the EF adapter, but there is some small hope of getting an P&S Technic system in the future. That's why I was considering the Nikon lens system. BUT, it probably doesn't matter right now. By the time I can afford a P&S, I will be able to afford a new set of Nikon lenses for it as well.

Canon does seem to be cheaper than Nikon here in Canada as well.
A plastic feel isn't really important as I guess they are generaly all solid. I just like metal. More reassuring when you are hanging it out a speeding car or carrying it in your backpack while snowboarding, which Adrian, is one of the things I want to use it for as well!

Paul I checked out that auction. That's a nice setup. I e-mailed them to see if they will ship to Canada. I'll probably end up going with the Canon though.

OK, so I'm looking for a Rebel G, Rebel 2000 or maybe an Elan if I can find one at the right price. My goal is to get everything for under $500us. Going by what stuff sells for on Ebay, this shouldn't be too hard. I'm going to try and find it at a local camera shop, since it will be guaranteed. I'm sure I will pay a little more, but the Q&A session and customer service will probably be worth it.

So my next batch of questions...
There are different models of Elan, right? Which should I look for/avoid?

Are aftermarket telephoto lenses crap? Tamron, Phoenix, Vivitar, Tokina?

Is there a camera year that I shouldn't go older than when it comes to EOS's? If I stick to a Rebel G, 2000 or Elan will I be ok?

One more Nikon vs. Canon question, what would be the equivalent Nikon models to compare with the Rebel G, 2000, and Elan series?
I was looking at this auction for an N65.


If anyone else out there hasn't chipped in yet and still wants to, feel free!

Adrian Douglas August 23rd, 2002 10:52 AM

I think there are two models of Elan/EOS5, one standard and one QD or Quartz Date. The QD models just has a function for adding a date/time stamp to the frame. Nothing special, and not something I have ever even though about needing.

The Rebel range is a good camera to start with but I found that for sports shooting, especially snowboarding, you need something with a half decent motor drive. The Rebel does 1.5fps which just dosen't cut it and the auto focus isn't really the fastest.

I'll have a look around here for you Dylan as the Japanese secondhand camera market is huge. The Japanese like to have the latest model of everything and camera gear is not different. The second hand deals here are amazing.

I really can't help you too much in the non-Canon dept as I have always used Canon gear and it has never let me down, even at 2000m in the Fernie back country.

Jeff Donald August 23rd, 2002 01:23 PM

The lineup of current Canon cameras is the Rebel G, Rebel 2000, Elan 7and 7E, EOS 3. The Elan 7 replaced the Elan II. The Elan II replaced the Elan. The Elan is getting pretty old and I suspect in a few years (2 or 3) parts will not be available for it, if it breaks. The most bang for the buck will be a used Elan II or IIe. The cheapest will be the Rebel G. The best value is the Rebel 2000, but it's winder will not be fast enough if sports is a major goal. If you want to do sports you'll need the Elan II or higher. The ElanII has better AF than the original Elan, especially in lower light levels. The Rebel 2000 has better AF than the original Elan but it's not fast enough.


Dylan Couper August 24th, 2002 10:37 AM

Hey guys. Thanks for the advice so far. I think I'm going to go with a Canon Elan II or 7. Could you check these Ebay auctions and tell me what you think?

Oh, will aftermarket lenses still work with the Canon EF adapter for the XL1? I'm thinking they will, since they do the same job as an EF lense on an EOS body.



This particular one is near my house so I can go pick it up if I win. I'm bummed it doesnt have Canon lenses, but it seems to be well priced. A new Elan 7 and 1 lens is about the same price as this complete auction.

You thoughts?


Jeff Donald August 24th, 2002 11:26 AM

The 7 is a great camera. But the guy is selling junk with it. Those 2 Sigma lenses are nothing to write home about and the flash isn't any better. The other camera may be a bit of a bargin. The camera is a IIe, which means it has eye control. A feature that I really like. The lens is OK to learn on and your not wasting money on lenses that won't suit your needs. What kind of budget to you have for your setup?


Dylan Couper August 24th, 2002 08:21 PM

Well, I just got back from the camera store. A new setup of the Elan 7 model and equivalent Sigma lenses is going to run me about $1000, compared to the $500ish the the auction is sitting at. If I can get it for less than $600 it could be a good deal.

I checked up on Sigma lenses, apparently the optics are nearly as good as an equivalent Canon lens, but the build quality is not great. Still they could probably do me for quite a while. I'm not shooting for National Geographic remember. :)

As far as the Elan IIe vs. the Elan 7 goes, besides the eye control, wouldn't the 7 be the better camera between the two?
Is the eye control that useful that it is better to take an older camera for it? I'm going to do some checking on the feature difference between these two cameras and see how they add up.

My budget is about $600us to get a camera and two lenses. I can either get a used Elan setup or a new Rebel setup for that and still have money for film.

Adrian Douglas August 25th, 2002 06:35 AM


My EOS 5(Elan IIe) has the eye control and to be honest I don't use it. FOr sports shooting it takes too long and it doesn't always use the right focus point. It's a great idea but a bit gimmikey, which is probably why it was discontinued. I'd go for the newer 7.

Jeff Donald August 25th, 2002 10:44 AM

Eye control is not discontinued (at least in the US). The EOS 3 has 45 eye control focus points. The Elan 7e has 7 eye control points, corresponding to the 7 focus points. I have both an EOS 3 and Elan 7e and use eye control all the time. It took about two weeks to get my brain to think in terms of eye control. But once it started thinking eye control it changed the way I take pictures. But I admit, its one of those, you either love it or hate it features. If you can get the Elan 7 fine, my concern is that the 28-200 may not do what you need it to do. Can you elaborate a little more on what you hope to shoot? Worse case is you sell the 28-200 on ebay and get what meets your needs the best.


Dylan Couper August 25th, 2002 07:52 PM

Jeff, I was thinking the same thing you were in that I could sell the 28-200 lens that comes with it and just buy another.
I'll be doing mostly action sports, hockey, snowboarding, paintball, as well as portrait photography BTW.

I decided to go with the one on Ebay since I can pick it up in person and it's a good enough price that if I change my mind, I can put it for sale in the local classified ads and get my money back.
I ended up winning the auction for just under $500us, which is about the same price as a new Elan 7 body and a 28-90 lens would cost, before tax. I figure the total new price after tax would have been $900 or so, so I saved a bit of coin.

Anyhoo, I'll let you guys know how it works when I pick it up.
Thanks for the advice!

B. Moore August 25th, 2002 08:52 PM

I like Nikons, but to me it seems personal taste.

If I were you, I'd get a Canon so you may get multiple uses out of your lenses.
My only word of caution, due to the fact canon is notorious for changeing their mounts, I work backwards and find lenses that fit your XL-1 and than find a 35mmSLR that they fit. That way you'll be safe.

Plus, I wouldn't put a Nikon lens on a Canon or a Canon lens on a Nikon, no matter what kind of retro fit set-up is availabe.

Pro 35mm SLR users are like people who own pick-up trucks... Fanatics! If you don't believe me, look at the owners of Ford, Cheveys, or Dodges who get those big decals and put them all over their truck, what do the decals say ...FORD, CHEVY, DODGE . Dah!

If you want to get into white lenses vs. black lenses it's all BS , promotion and politics.

Jeff Donald August 26th, 2002 10:49 AM

Canon is not so notorious for changing lens mounts. The manual focus mount was changed once. The AF mount has never changed, which is more than Nikon can say. They had to make D series to add features Canon already had built in. Nikon has changed the bodies on the N-65 and N-80 so that the older MF lenses won't fit. Nikon is no better or worse than Canon. My point about the white lenses was to illustrate that more pros now shoot AF Canon than AF Nikon. However, the new Nikon D100 will make big in roads in Canon's pro market share if the D60s don't start shipping in quanities soon.


Adrian Douglas August 27th, 2002 12:48 AM

From the looks of the D60 specs I don't think it's all that crash hot a camera. Sure it has a huge pixel count but the rest of the camer just doesn't have what it takes to cut it as a Pro camera.

1. The mag factor is still 1.6 - Even with a 16-35 WA lens it's still only a 26mm lens.

2. It only has 3 point auto focus - They should have given it at least 5, or why not the 32 point found on the EOS3.

3. It's buffer/burst rates are too low for anything ohter than still/portraits. Sequential action shooting is out.

They need to fit something in between the D60 and the D1, just like Nikon have.

Dylan Couper August 28th, 2002 11:29 PM

Elan 7 first impressions.
Wow, what a difference between the Elan 7 and my old Pentax. (not all good, but mostly)
The continuous mode is great. I was taking test photos with it and forgot I left it in that mode and sqeezed off 4 shots before I realized it was still on. Won't do that again. It'll get expensive.

I'm plowing through the instruction manual, and realizing my knowledge of the physics of still photography is pitiful. I think it's much more difficult than taking video with an XL1 where you have more of a WYSIWYG type setup.

The one thing I can't stand and will have to get used to, is certain camera modes won't let you take a picture unless certain conditions are met. This peeves me. When I hit that button, I want to hear a click. I'd rather have an underexposed or out of focus shot of the perfect moment, rather than nothing at all.

Oh, these Sigma lenses are noisy and IMHO slow to focus. Of course, I'm judging them against a $1000 canon XL1 lens, which isn't really fair. I will be testing out some Canon EF USM lenses for a comparison, and will probably replace the Sigma ones. Any suggestions which to get for a good range? 28-105 and 75-300?
Price is an issue.


Jeff Donald August 29th, 2002 05:47 AM

The Elan 7 has 2 types of shooting modes. The Image or Icon based modes and the Creative modes. The Image modes will require certain conditions be met before the shutter will release. The Creative modes (P, A, S, M) will release the shutter when the button is fully depressed. For sports you'll want to start using the S (shutter priority) and for just about everything else A (aperature priority). If I'm just out for the enjoyment I set it to P so I can concentrate more on the composition of the shot. The 28-105 is a very good choice as is the 28-135 IS if you've got the extra money. Canon makes three lenses in the 70-300 range. The USM is on the two more expensive lenses. The top dog has IS also.


Dylan Couper September 1st, 2002 07:35 PM

OK, I've now finished off the manual. It turns out I had it set in "One Shot" mode which wont allow the picture to be taken unless the AF has found a focus point. That was the problem.

It looks like I'll be getting the 75-300USM lens. As far as a wide lens goes, I'd like to get something wider than a 28-... I think I saw a 20-55mm, which would certainly rock, but it was pretty expensive.

I found another interesting problem. The camera will not operate properly in Continous mode using the Sigma 28-105 lens. It will only take one shot at a time. I've gone through the manual and through every mode and it's the same. This must be a flaw with the lens, I guess?

Jeff Donald September 1st, 2002 08:39 PM

Sigma is the only major mfg. that doesn't buy their chips from Canon. When Canon upgrade the performance in the Elan 7 (from the Elan II) the Sigma lenses (Ritz house brand Quantaray, also) wouldn't work right. The wide angle lenses you might be interested in are the 22-55mm (OK lens, not too expensive), 24-85mm (good lens), 20-35mm (good lens, fairly expensive) and the 16-35mm (BIGGG, bucks).


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