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Digital cameras you are considering for upcoming safari???

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Apr 6th, 2005, 12:43 AM
  #141
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Lawrence,

I checked out the links to Fred Miranda. Thanks.

It appears that the Sigma 80-400mm F4.5-5.6 EX OS APO lens compares very favorably to the Canon 100-400mm L glass IS lens. It is a $500 savings and that savings alone would allow me to upgrade from the Digital Rebel XT to the Canon 20D. Frankly speaking, the Canon 20D is much more impressive than the Digital Rebel XT, although I realize that the latter is an excellent value.

I do like the fact, from an aesthetics standpoint, that the Sigma lens is black and will match the camera. I find it visually offensive to mix the white Canon 100-400mm lens with the beautiful blackness of the Canon cameras!

I do think I best take up a weightlifting routine for the next few months so that I am prepared to haul around the rubenesque Sigma 80-400mm lens (weighing 3.5 pounds).

Here are the reviews on the Sigma 80-400mm lens, some of which called its picture quality and stabilization an equal to the Canon 100-400mm L glass IS lens:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=37&page=2

Thanks again!
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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:54 AM
  #142
 
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Hi. I hate to piggyback on other people's threads, but since this has been the most illuminating discussion I've seen on Digital Cameras/lenses, and I'm in a similar boat with thinking about going digital, I thought I'd try to.

At the moment I've got a Canon EOS 500N from a few years back, with a couple of lenses, the "cheap" 75-300mm Canon and the 28-80mm that came with the camera.
So, I'm thinking of going digital and/or improving my kit for taking photos on my honeymoon in November (Botswana, Zambia and SA, btw..) but because of upcoming nuptials, money is tight, and I'm afraid I won't be doing what Roccco is, cos I won't have the moolah.

I was wondering which of the following options the "experts" here would think might give the best results:
Keep the lenses I have and buy the Canon EOS 350D.
Keep the camera I have and buy the following combination of lenses, the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 which has got excellent reviews on fredmiranda.com, plus the Sigma 1.4x teleconverter.

In either case, if money becomes freer over the next few months/years, whatever, I can buy the other part later...
Any thoughts?
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Apr 6th, 2005, 02:13 AM
  #143
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Okay, I put the carriage before the horse, but I made the plunge and just purchased the following lens:

Sigma AF 80-400MM f/4.5-5.6 EX APO Optical Stabilizer SLR Lens -77mm- f/Canon

Somebody please confirm that this is compatible with the Canon 20D and the Canon Digital Rebel XT.

Impulse buy, Impulse buy!!!

I bought it from an authorized (online) Sigma dealer, 17th Street Photo (www.17photo.com) and including shipping it was $968, a full $500+ less than the Canon 100-400mm lens would have cost.

17th Street Photo did have 5-stars for their reviews, while some other dealers had less glowing reviews. I could have saved about $25 with a couple other sellers, but that $25 extra is well worth the peace of mind I will have by going with a Sigma authorized dealer with glowing reviews, and a USA 4 year warranty.

Again, someone please confirm this is compatible for the Canon 20D and Digital Rebel XT. I am 99% sure that it is, especially since it says Canon right in the name of the lens, but I just want to be sure before they ship it.

Thanks!
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Apr 6th, 2005, 03:33 AM
  #144
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And some photos taken with the Sigma 80-400mm Optical Stabilizing lens, courtesy of www.pbase.com:

Wild Dog -
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38798231
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798223
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798213
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38798221
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798212
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798232

Lion -
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38799441
http://www.pbase.com/image/38799438
http://www.pbase.com/image/38799443
http://www.pbase.com/image/38796515

Giraffe -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798984

Elephant -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798994

Zebra -
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38798175

Millipede -
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38796502

Pelican
http://www.pbase.com/image/40637584

Child (the cure for this is to put insert hot sauce)
http://www.pbase.com/image/30100220

Cannot figure out if this is a break-dancer spinning on his head or if he is a cowboy who just took a nasty spill -
http://www.pbase.com/image/34323989

Full moon (I'll have one of those in the Sabi Sand) -
http://www.pbase.com/image/32080901

Dung Beetles doing their thing -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798194

Rutting Impalas -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798985

Rhino -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798184
http://www.pbase.com/vwbt/image/38798186

Cheetah -
http://www.pbase.com/image/38798191


Concluding thoughts...this seems like a great lens, if I learn how to use it properly.

Most all of these pics were taken in Madikwe. While the wildlife looks excellent, the landscapes do not look so great. I did not notice a single anthill, baobab tree, river or sausage tree. Still for the diversity, it does look worth a future visit, for perhaps a maximum of 3 nights.

Now, can anyone lend me some of your sleep. Just one of those nights when my brain would not shut down, but it will surely do so as I stagger through the day!
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Apr 6th, 2005, 07:04 AM
  #145
 
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Hey Rocco,

I've seen positive reviews of 17th street so I'm sure you will be fine, and I haven't heard any compatibility issues with that lens and Canon bodies. I'm sure you will be very happy with it! The 20D is a great camera and I'm sure you will enjoy it. For me the small size of the XT is a plus, but that is really a personal thing.

Mad_iguana, it really comes down to whether you want to have the convenience to take large numbers of photos, review them instantly and delete the ones you don't want - digital has serious advantages. However, digital isn't any better quality than film (there is huge disagreement there tough of course). Or whethe your want better quality glass.

I would be tempted to invest in a new lens if money were tight. I'm curious about your suggestion of the 70-200, conventional wisdom is you need quite a bit longer. If you leave the TC on, I don't know that its any sharper than the lens Rocco just got and that one has more range and stabalization. But I don't know too much about all the different sigmas.

Lawrence
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Apr 6th, 2005, 07:56 AM
  #146
 
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Thanks Sunny_days. Food for thought there...
The reason I initially was thinking of the 70-200 was that with a digital it would be effectively 320, and when I realised that I couldn't afford both, I kept it in my thoughts, but realistically with a film camera, you're right that it's probably not long enough.... hmmm. Just have to hope I can get both, somehow. The price of sticking the 350D on top of the cost of the lens isn't a massive amount more than the 100-400 that Roccco got, well, a few hundred quid but if I didn't get the telecon, perhaps....
Continue thinking, iguana!
Thanks for your help.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 04:49 PM
  #147
 
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It would seem that Roccco and I share similar woes - down to the Sony F707, which I must admit served me better than I thought it would on our safari last June. But that was mostly because we really were incredibly close to the animals in most cases.

But it is time to upgrade.

I think we have pretty much decided on the Canon 20D with the Sigma 80-400 (still waiting to see one in person although I just checked out the Canon 100-400 this evening). Roccco, I'll join you in those weight-lifting classes

Now the question is - what is a good all around lens? We were thinking of the Canon 17-85 IS, which does come with the D20 body as a kit, but the FredMiranda reviews about CA (chromatic aberration - if I understand it correctly) around the edges has me concerned.

Any comments/recommendations from all you knowledgeable guys and gals would be appreciated by us newbies to the DSLR world.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 06:54 PM
  #148
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eenusa,

This may be more than you (or I) want to spend, but the 28-70mm f/2.8L USM has great ratings from its users:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=2

This lens retails for about $999, but with a average performance rating of 9.9 by those who have reviewed it on Fred Miranda, it is the highest rated Canon zoom lens around.

The lens you mentioned sounds like it would be great, but in 21 Fred Miranda user reviews it only managed an average performance score of 7.0.

I will be buying my camera from Ritz Camera this weekend, and I do believe that, like the Digital Rebel XT, that the Canon 20D will come in a kit with the basic 18-55mm lens. I may just settle for this lens for awhile, and upgrade before my late August trip to something better.

About the Sony F707, it is fine when you are in the Sabi Sand and you are able to nearly reach out and pet the leopards and lions, but once you go somewhere truly wild, the F707 is not so great anymore. I missed out on so many great hippo and elephant shots last year that it would be criminal if I did not upgrade for my next trip.

Where is it that your safari is taking you this year?
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Apr 6th, 2005, 07:16 PM
  #149
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Just came across this well-priced "Flash" that compares well to the Canon 550EX, but for half the price:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...at=all&page=16

I must say, that there were quite a few honey badgers, cirval, mongoose & hyena that we came across at night that required a better flash than I had on my camera.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 09:50 PM
  #150
 
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Hi Roccco,
My advice: invest in the lenses. Digital cameras are changing every 6-12 months, in 24 your camera will be discontinued, but lenses and good glass don't change that much. In fact, they hold their value superbly well. (Check out the used prices on ebay.) If you buy a good digital, even an OLD rebel 300 and put a 75-300 on it, you'll have wasted alot of money. You'd be much happier buying the 100-400L IS, or even the 70-300DO IS (if you want to go light and small) than wasting $ on the virtually disposable 75-300. the 20D and 350XT are sweet, but if you haven't used an SLR before, and need to save $ on the camera to buy the lense, consider getting a NEW but discontinued 300 Rebel or 10D, which are still an super camera. B&H has demos from Canon, and I think the 20D is only about $850, and the Rebel should be hundreds less. And THAT you can continue using form many happy years as your backup body.

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Apr 7th, 2005, 02:12 AM
  #151
 
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Well, thanks to people's advice and experiences, I'm thinking of holding off on the digital body for a wee while until finances are a bit stronger (might still be able to get it before going on honeymoon depending on various wedding costs).

Also, thanks to sunny-days' advice, I've ditched the idea of the 70-200 Sigma.

Instead, I'm now looking at one of two lenses, the Sigma 100-300 w/o image stabilisation and the Sigma 80-400 w/IS (or OS as Sigma call it).

If I got the first lens plus the 1.4 telecon, the longest focal length and aperture are pretty much identical to the second. Also, the cost is much the same as far as I can see.

(More than I originally planned to spend, but that's the way all of these things go, isn't it...)

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had particularly good or bad experiences they could share about these. I'm a big guy, so the weight of them isn't important. Is Image Stabilisation worth tipping the balance, or is one lens inherently better quality?

Thanks again!
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Apr 7th, 2005, 02:56 AM
  #152
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mad iguana

previously I used an Olympus E20 with 420mm focal length. With this combination I would rarely attempt to go for shutter speeds slower than 1/250
Before my last safari I switched to the Canon EOS 10D and the 100-400mm IS (corresponding to 160-640 mm on a 35mm camera). With this combination I get good results handholding or just supporting it at whatever is available (wo a beanbag)at 1/60.
I think that the IS is a marvellous invention and would recommend it to any one using long focal lense.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 03:44 AM
  #153
 
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Thanks, Roccco. I did check the 28-70 out, and as great a lens it is, with the 1.6 factor on digital, it goes up to a starting point of about 45mm. And the price, at this stage is a bit steep. So, I am looking at a starting point of 17 or 18 so that I can get the 28mm effect.

I just checked Costco - we've had good luck with them on past purchases, and their kit with the 18-55mm is now about $1500 (I know you're not keen on Costco, but thought I would mention it). Also, the guy at PennCamera told us there was a $100 rebate coming out on the D20 next week - you might check that out. In the meantime, we're still checking out prices for the best buy we can find.

As for a safari, there isn't one in our future this year - or probably next year, unless we win the lottery. We're planning an expedition style Antarctic cruise on an ice breaker for the end of 2006 and have to save for that adventure
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Apr 7th, 2005, 10:03 AM
  #154
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tasha,

I appreciate what you are saying about the body of the camera, but the Canon 20D does seem like an incredible camera. Although I am not keen enough to really know how much of a difference it will make in picture quality in comparison to a 10D, for example, I do know that it will boost the megapixel from 6 to 8, and the 20D does allow me to take 4 frames per second.

I do think the 20D will serve me well for the next 3 years, so I do not really mind spending an extra $500 on this camera over a (new) 10D or other camera.

---------

eenusa,

Unfortunately, for the lower zoom lenses, I am not having much luck on finding one that is really a stellar performer. The 17-85 IS lens looks great on paper, but its users do not seem to care much for it. Hopefully something really nice comes out in the next few months, in time for my safari and your Antarctic expedition!
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Apr 7th, 2005, 11:03 AM
  #155
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I think this looks like a great lens as an alternate to the 18-55mm Canon lens:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...&cat=27&page=1

Not now, but hopefully in the next couple months.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 01:29 PM
  #156
 
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Roccco - I know what the reviewers said, but after seeing the photo samples on dpreview taken with a 20D and a 17-85 lens, it's hard to believe some of those comments.

http://www.dpreview.com/gallery/?gal...os20d_samples/

In any event, I'll keep looking until I see something I can't live with. I have time on my side.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 01:29 PM
  #157
 
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For those looking for a "normal" range zoom lens for a digital body, there are many options, but no "perfect" solution - surprise

*Canon Kit 18-55 f3.5-5.6: cheap&light but slow and not that great overall. Doesn't have USM fast/silent focusing. $80-100

*Canon 17-40L f/4: great quality, a bit big, a bit slow, a bit expensive, kind of short range. $680.

*Canon 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS: has IS, essentially ideal range, but a bit slow and a bit expensive. $600

*Canon 24-70 f/2.8L: fast, quality, but heavy, expensive, and not that wide (24mm equiv is 38mm). $1150

*Tamron 28-75 f/2.8: fast and cheap. Many rave about quality, some aren't convinced. Main problem is its really not wide (28mm equiv is 45mm!!!) Doesn't have USM fast/silent focusing. $350.

*Sigma 18-50 f/2.8: fast, range, a little lighter & smaller than other options; its new and there isn't a consensus on quality, but seems good; downsides are it only works on digital 1.6 crop bodies, some say its not 50mm but more like 45mm, so range may not be that different from Canon 17-40. Doesn't have USM fast/silent focusing. $500.

*Sigma 18-125 f/3.5-5.6: cheap, wide range, supposed to be good quality but slow. $270.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 04:58 PM
  #158
 
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Dell has 15% off the 20D making it about 1350 with lens and shipping. Go to slickdeals.net for the coupon code. Do not know if it is good for more than today.

Without the lens, the body is about 1250.

Costco's price is 1420.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 05:02 PM
  #159
 
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This is the longest thread ever!
You'll get no arguments on the 20D from me...it looks superb, and I like the smaller/lighter package. all I was saying that without a great lense, you just won't see what that camera can do. So if budget is fixed, you are not losing much when you go from 20D to 10D (check out the side by side comparison shots at dpreview). You lose an ENORMOUS amount by going to a cheaper lense. I'd much rather have a Rebel 300 (or 10D--they have the same sensor!!) with a Canon L IS zoom than a 20D and a 3rd party lense. Take my word for it: without a really sharp lense, you aren't going to want to blow this up anyway. I've cropped 10D shots significantly and printed them at 8.5X11, and the detail is stunning. (as long as you shoot at ISO 100...which is still the case with the 20D anyway. I wish I could send you a photo to prove this, but I only have a dialup line, so the file is way too big.)

Yes, I'd love a 20D...but not if it take a lense compromise...

BTW, I highly recommend the Canon 17-40 L. It is excellent- very sharp. Not at all slow: F4 is plenty, plenty fast for a wide angle lense!!! (The real reason you want the 2.8 on longer lenses is so you can use a 2X extender and still be at f5.6 There really isn't much that you want to shoot at f2.8 with these lenses. Which is why the f4 version of this is a great deal, if you never need or use extenders.)
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Apr 7th, 2005, 06:50 PM
  #160
 
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I have to respectfully disagree with some of Tashak's points about the 17-40L

The 17-40L isn't really a wide angle lens on a 1.6 crop body being the equivalent of 27-64mm - a wide to normal zoom. F/4 isn't slow for taking many types of pictures, but if this is your main normal zoom (as contemplated by Rocco), you will miss the speed in some cases. At this range, speed of the lens isn't about teleconverters (Canon brand teleconverters require minimum 135mm focal length). It is about using narrow depth of field as a creative tool to isolate the subject.

Example 1: http://www.pbase.com/powerdoc/image/32700629/large
Look at the girl's hair that is highlighted by the sun - it is out of focus and this is one aspect that makes the shot.

Example 2
http://www.pbase.com/btullis/image/20785571/large
This one is a clearer use of the technique, only the spider narrow bit of web around is in focus, the rest 'disapears' out of focus.

I wish I could get better examples, sometimes the effect really blows you away, but I can't spend forever trolling on pbase

Notice that both these shots at 70mm and 2.8, the narrowest depth of field possible of the lens (at the given distance).

Personally, I can't live without the narrow depth of field of a fast lens - but that is based on what I like to shoot. (I also couldn't live with only 40mm as my main normal zoom). In some cases you will want more depth of field, but for that, all you do is stop down the lense.

Many recommendend the 17-40L but it is definitely not without its own set of compromises.

Lawrence
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