Friday, June 8, 2007

Canon EOS400/XTi, Nikon D40x and Pentax K10 pros& cons; SLR over SLR-like triple benefits

Nikon digital SLR's fansCollecting and analyzing all good and bad features of newest and most interesting SLR cameras such as: Canon EOS400D / Rebel XTi, Nikon D80, D40x, Sony A100 and Pentax K10D, I planned to put them in one post. But these devices have so rich abilities that it’s impossible. A great amount of SLR’s information in the Net, my own experience and users opinions can’t place in one item. There is too much material and it shows that users’ admiration of SLR cameras is enormous. Therefore I have been reviewing SLR characteristic properties thoroughly and decided to devote a few posts to this photo issue. Don’t take seriously some SLR’s drawbacks because one is worth ten SLR-like advantages. For engineering information look at The summary table of DSLR cameras specifications post.
Canon Rebel XTi / EOS400D
($660-725 body only)
The good:
- Excellent image quality, good color, exposure accuracy and contrast, excellent image details, fast and responsive, flexible image parameters
- Very low noise, even at high ISO
- Dust reduction technology
- Large 2.5" LCD display
- Large buffer memory
- Fast and accurate autofocus, flash-based AF-assist lamp, very good low light focusing
- Full manual control, nice white balance control , robust performance, especially in terms of continuous shooting
- Light weight
The bad:
- No Image Stabilization
- No spot metering
- Consumer-style build, hard hand grip, feels too "plastic"
- Second status LCD has been eliminated
- Weak battery life
- Slow kit lens, better to buy body only
- Poor exposure of backlit subjects
Conclusion: Canon EOS400D / Rebel XTi can be a great device as a first SLR and not bad upgrade for your old SLR especially if you have a gross of Canon’s lenses. It’s a fully featured camera that yields excellent image quality. As for ergonomic problems, I’ll recommend to test its weight, hands grip and your feelings before buying.
Pentax K10D
($739-920 body only; $788-1031 with 18mm-55mm lens)
The good:
- Excellent image quality
- Image stabilization system which works with all Pentax lenses
- Well-designed and solidly built body, easy to hold
- Weatherproof seals
- CCD dust reduction system
- Good quality in kit lens
- Excellent metering accuracy, good focus speed, Innovative exposure modes and choice of program line, digital white balance and depth of field preview
- Unique sensitivity and shutter/aperture priority modes
- Very fast performance; great continuous shooting mode
- Accurate low light focusing (though sluggish if you don't use the AF-assist lamp)
- Large, bright and sharp 2.5” LCD, info display with super-bright backlight on top of camera
- Support for two RAW formats
- No redeye
- Optional battery grip
The bad:
- Occasional autofocus hunting
- Very warm color balance in low-lighting and warm outdoors, auto white balance had a hard time with household incandescent lighting
- Shadow detail lacking in JPEG images
- Slightly high contrast, especially outdoors in full sun
- The mirror/shutter slap is not as sweet as it might be
- Above average noise at ISO 1600
- Battery life a bit below average
Conclusion: A great feature set such as image stabilization, dust reduction and weatherproof seals along with Pro-level customization and excellent photo quality make the Pentax K10D a very interesting SLR camera. In combination with not very high (as D80) price it's a good choice. But in my opinion Pentax K10's design is somehow awkward and a little hard for long shooting. For more look at Pentax K10D vs. Nikon D80 or vs. D200? Samsung GX-10 as Canon killer? post.
($649-730 body only; $890-1030 with Nikon AF-S DX 18-135mm Lens)
The good:
- Good image quality
- Low noise at higher ISO
- Highly customizable menus
- Shooting data well presented on the main LCD; settings can quickly be changed from the info screens
- Useful features for beginners like D-Lighting, redeye removal, assist images, help system
- Solid construction, feels better in the hand than the competition
- Large, bright and sharp 2.5” LCD
- AF assist lamp
- Full manual control
- No redeye
The bad:
- Limited selection of AF-S lenses means that many Nikkor lenses (mostly primes) will not support autofocus
- Images are overly saturated and a bit soft at default settings
- Controls can be awkward, occasionally slow to focus
- Say ‘No’ to: depth of field preview, exposure or white balance bracketing, dust reduction, automatic sensor cleaning
- No lens motor in body (non-AF-S/AF-I lenses manual focus only); look through $1000 Sigma lenses for Nikon D40x or NikonD80.
- RAW-plus-JPEG mode limited to basic instead of fine JPEG compression, RAW editing software costs extra
- Some purple fringing with kit lens
Conclusion: It’s been just under four months since the D40 and Nikon announced an upgraded ten megapixel version of the camera. The new Nikon D40X is essentially identical to the D40 apart from its ten megapixel CCD. It offers a compact, portable body, great performance and photo quality, and a really user friendly interface. But in my opinion, chasing the cheapest SLR Nikon made too short circumcision for the cam. Nikon has an excellent but a few expensive SLR – the D80. Look at Women’s reasons to choose Nikon D80. And Canon EOS350D or Rebel XT is more preferable. Look at my previous post: SLR's price-cutting: $250's Canon XT vs. $500's Canon S5; 10 motives to spit upon SLR-like and buy cheap SLR.
Nikon D300 vs Canon 40D vs Sony A700 vs Pentax K20DPostscript
Today we have much more digital SLR choice from Canon, Nikon and Sony: the EOS 40D (Canon EOS 40D features, pros and cons), D300 (Nikon D300 as a higher one to Canon 40D and even to sensor’s mommy – Sony Alpha) and Alpha A700 (Sony Alpha A700: choosing a digital SLR for advanced amateurs). Moreover, we have a chance to see the new Pentax K20D this January. Just as in case of Canon 40D, Nikon D300 and Sony A700, the Pentax K20D is not a cosmetic upgrade of previous Pentax K10D. In addition, that is not the point that these SLR cameras have a large 12MP CMOS sensor (in case of Canon 40D – 10MP, Pentax K20 – 14MP sensor). Much important for me as for an engineer is the fact that now we have a sensor with not only extra 2MP, but with the analog-to-digital converter onto the chip. Finally, photographers have a new effective feature for lower a sensor noise without an extension of a sensor size. Moreover, it is a rule for middle-class SLRs.


Julia said...

You recommend the cheapest Canon XT, but which lens set I need to have such abilities as Canon S5' ultra-zoom lens. How much will have to pay? It may be more than 500 hundred.

fototramp said...

I have recommended used lenses for cheap Canon XT. Two zoom lenses such as 18-70mm and 70-300mm are enough. But for photografers who like landscape shooting it's good to have one wide angle 28mm or 50mm f1,8. It's not expensive.

Julia said...

I'm interested in 28mm f1.4 because I fancy shooting landscape. But it's a very expensive feature. Which one do you recommend?

shorty said...

Nikon's 28f1.4 costs nearly $1000. What do you think?

fototramp said...

I would recommend Sigma 28mm f1.4 for abt. $300 for a new lens or any 50mm f1.4-f1.8 from Sigma or Tamron. They are great lenses for landscape and other shooting. But I don’t know which camera you choose.

Julia said...

Hi, Alexander
I was found an interesting Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens in ‘This is a ‘standard’ lens for a cropped digital SLR. 25 years ago, all SLR’s came with a ‘standard’ lens and everybody learned how to use one. Those lenses, at 50mm, are still about but don’t have the versatility that they had on a 35mm film camera. This 30mm offering from Sigma is a brave move forward that takes a backward step! It makes a lot of sense. The picture quality alone, putting all the acquired knowledge of digital capture from the last few years into a simply constructed lens will pay dividends for those of you who purchase this lens. Me? I don’t really want to send it back!’ What do you think about?

fototramp said...

Hi, Julia
I’m glad to see you again. Sigma’s 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM lens is perfectly suited for a wide range of subjects, portraits, indoor or landscape shootings etc. It is fast aperture makes this lens desirable for use with Digital SLR cameras (Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony). The shallow depth of field of this standard macro lens produces an outstanding image, sharply outlined from the blurred background. From 40cm (15.7”) minimum focusing distance to infinity, this lens creates very sharp images with high contrast. The HSM models provide quiet high-speed auto-focus shooting, as well as full-time manual focus. Large Maximum Aperture of F1.4 can perform superbly in a great range of applications, including snapshots, portraiture, indoor shooting and landscape photography (It was Sigma’s opinion).
Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC costs abt. $330 only, but it’s a Sigma! And you can buy some problems for this money.

Andrew Ferguson said...

I noticed that you marked "No Image Stabilization" as a con for the XTi.

I think you mean 'no in-camera image stabilization.' Canon prefers to put their IS in their higher end lenses instead of in-camera.

Having used both Canon bodies with IS lenses and the Pentax with in camera IS, I strongly prefer Canon's method. It feels more natural, the cost is moved to optional lenses rather than the mandatory body, and I find it performs better.

Something to think about...

fototramp said...

Hi, Andrew
I'll be glad to post your opinion about Canon' pros and cons. I think that you know this SLR better than I know my friend's Canon XT. And I'll be glad to post your photos. As for Canon's IS lenses I think it's much expensive method. Unfortunately there are so many all-in-one camera lovers now. And our swapping lenses (Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony) become slightly old-fashion.

Dave said...

Actually Nikon D40x is essentially a D40 with a higher resolution CCD sensor in 10 megapixels instead of 6 megapixels, slightly faster continuous shooting rate in 3fps instead of 2.5fps and a lower base sensitivity in ISO 100 instead of ISO 200.

Anonymous said...

Nikon D40x isn’t the best value in SLRs but this camera does everything I need it to do.

なつき said...

hi, i am choosing between Canon EOS 400D and Nikon D40x. with the things you have mentioned it seems that both are alike.[are they?] aside from being ergonomic and pricing.

so which do you think offers the best quality and performance?

fototramp said...

In my opinion the Canon EOS400D is much better then the Nikon D40X and it's right to compare it with the Nikon D80. D40's small size isn't advantage for SLR.

The Geeks said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)