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Entry level dSLR market getting very crowded

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Seems to me that the "entry" level of the SLR market (i.e. the bit occupied by about 75% of SLR users) is getting very busy. I bought my first (decent) SLR in 2001, the days of film, and IIRC there were only about 4 models to choose from. The SLR world saw its biggest shake up when Canon brought out the EOS300D in late 2003 finally making the dSLR affordable to Joe Public. Five years later things are looking very different.

Canon's popular EOS400D is still around in dwindling numbers but Canon have gone slightly more upmarket with the EOS450D so, although it is still roughly competing in that market sector Canon have also added the EOS1000D to the bottom end slugfest. The EOS1000D, it is not hard to see, is basically the old EOS400D with some almost unnoticeable changes; it adds LiveView, uses SD media instead of CF, has a slightly improved flash range and adds AUTO ISO but otherwise shares everything with its predecessor.

Nikon upped their game with the advent of the D40 (which stopped Canon's runaway success in this sector in its tracks), followed by a slightly enhanced version in the D40x. Now along comes the D60 to replace the D40x but apparently the D40 is to continue to remain Nikon's entry level camera for some time, the D60 being pitched slightly higher. Doubtless there'll soon be a D60x as well to include the latest "must haves" like LiveView.

Determined to rattle cages Sony was next with not one but three new SLR's for this market sector in the form of the a200, a300 and a350. Essentially the same, the a300 adds the LiveView option missing from the a200 and the a350 adds another 4MP to the sensor, making it essentially the opposite number of the EOS450D.

And it doesn't stop there; old hands Pentax are in there with the K200D, Sigma's SD14 is still around and the SD15 just announced, Fuji are at it with the S5 Pro and IS Pro and then last but not least is Olympus with 4/3 system in the form of the E420 and E520. I am sure I read somewhere that another manufacturer (Panasonic?) was looking at the 4/3 system as well.

Anyone with a bunch of film lenses is going to favour their old mount, but anyone moving up from the ranks of P&S or just getting into photography for the first time is going to have a bewildering range of choice. How on Earth would you explain 4/3 vs APS-C vs FF to a newbie, especially with their respective changes in focal length multipliers? And the other problem, of course, is longevity - no sooner does a manufacturer bring something out and someone else trumps it which puts all the manufacturers under constant pressure to just keep bringing out upgrades (many of which barely qualify for the description) reducing the shelf life of individual models to really little more than a year (if that) before it becomes old hat.

So I guess it's not just the FF market being turbulent at the moment but the entry level segment too - and it is really here that the real battles take place and the professionals of tomorrow are born. Interesting times!

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare ... 0&show=all

[Edit to correct CD to read CF]

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I am sure I read somewhere that another manufacturer (Panasonic?) was looking at the 4/3 system as well.

Yup...

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcl10/

But it gets worse still!

Panasonic have also launched a 4/3 derived camera - Only it uses the micro 4/3 mount.

http://www.dpreview.com/previews/PanasonicG1/

It's not an SLR as it has an EVF, but is clearly styled to look like one and has interchangeable lenses. If that doesn't confuse consumers, then I'm not sure what will!

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If you don't understand it Bruce what hope is there for the rest of us? Or Joe Public? :lol:

That Panasonic DMC-L10 does look like a nice camera but I am not convinced about 4/3, to me Olympus are headed in the wrong direction. I suppose there must be some technical advantages to the system but I can't figure out what they are. The Lumix G1 looks like the ultimate bridge camera though and DPReview seem genuinely excited about it - which is usually enough to get my attention. Wouldn't be the thing for me as a "proper" SLR user but they may really be on to something if their research quoted is correct and they're certainly right about the gap between compact and SLR's having never been wider (not that there aren't some very good compacts out there too).

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The benefit of 4/3 is that the bodies are small and light, and because of the sensor size / position there is a 2x multiplier on the 35mm equivalent.. For some people that has a lot of benefits. I think the camera shops are going with the 'it's just like your good old OM-10' angle and notching up a fair few sales.. I still have my OM-10 and it feels much better built!

A colleague of mine has the E-410 and is very pleased with it. The E-420 was a model I considered when looking for a DSLR a few months back, and I can see that it works as a cost-effective package if you're after an entry-level SLR with one or two basic lenses and don't intend to buy any more (as obviously the availability of lenses is where you really save with Canon and Nikon)

I know there are a number of negatives with the E-Series (pentamirror, tiny viewfinder, fiddly controls, expensive lenses, tiny sensor etc) but they do shift a lot of units...

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My Brain hurts too Bruce!!

I say, just pick up a camera, look through the viewfinder, if you like what you see, then just press GO!! AND Pray!!

Yes there are good and bad cameras but there's also tons of sales hype to relieve the gullible of wads of cash from heavily stuffed wallets.

To my way of thinking,Cameras are somewhat like Electric Guitars...if you CAN play one then an el-cheapo will sound OK and do the job as good as an expensive model, but a '57 Les Paul,or '54 Strat costing £45,000plus won't make you play like Gary Moore,Jeff Beck or Satriani etc; etc. Neither will the latest all singing dancing DSLR make you take fantastic pictures...unless of course your name happens to be, Bruce Cairns! :bow:bow:bow:bow:bow:bow

As you rightly point out Simon, the market seems to be awash with entry level dslr's, often outdated within 6 months as another new model hits the shelves to relieve us of cash. People fall for it, in the belief that should they own the latest gimmick they will take stunning pics. What many fail to see is the likes of Bruce have PURE TALENT!! :clap:clap:clap

Right, I'm off to hide behind the sofa! :oops:

Clive.

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Jonzo I admit there will have been occasions where I have left my SLR at home simply because its bulk has made it impractical. I am fortunate that I possess a very good compact, albeit somewhat long in the tooth. The market for a small SLR type camera looks like it's received a big shake up with the Panasonic G1 though. When I decided to upgrade from my first dSLR I looked at the entry level and mid level bodies available to me (I already had several lenses so was reluctant to switch systems). In the end I opted for the entry level because I saw the advantages to me came down to little more than bragging rights and there was a big step up in physical size. It was compactness which won it for me in the end. Yes, the mid level camera had some improvements in performance, a few more MP and a higher frame rate, plus some nice changes to the menu system to make it easier to move around and change settings - but ultimately it was twice the size, twice the weight and built to withstand treatment it was never going to come in for. And twice the price. Was all this useful to me? If I wanted to feel smug when stood next to someone with an entry level camera then yes, but beyond that no. Was that worth the extra £400? Hmm, let me see....

I've always thought the availability of lenses was a bit of a red herring when it came to choosing a system. After all, the vast majority of the market (in unit terms) is made up from the entry level segment. In this segment many users never move on from the kit lens, some may get one all purpose lens, e.g. Sigma 18-200mm or similar. A few might branch out and get a reasonable sized kit of a few lenses which gives them a few options to play with but who really is going to inconvenienced by their system? A quick look at Warehouse Express shows it lists 135 Canon mount lenses but only 71 Pentax. Yes, that's only just over half the number but few mid level, and virtually no entry level, SLR users are going to be inconvenienced by having "only" 71 lenses to choose from. In fact, sometimes too much choice can be bad thing as it can be difficult to know where to begin. I will concede that a lens catalogue of say 5 lenses might be a handicap but once the number pushes above 30 pretty much all options are going to covered in one form or another.

Clive is right, of course, as has been said before on this forum that any half decent photographer, not just Bruce but hopefully any one of us, could get a decent shot with any old camera. And to be honest the market is so competitive that whilst there are some dodgy compacts out there I doubt there is any significant difference in the performance of any of the entry level cameras listed. It's also worth remembering that a good camera does not suddenly become a bad camera just because there is a newer model out.

Bruce's comments on nerds on the "Salhouse" thread amused me too. I sometimes read the DPReview forums, though I almost never participate in them for this exact reason - except once and that was just to hurl a grenade amongst the nerds. This poor bloke, who had never owned an SLR before, was looking to getting one because he son had started to play for a local football team and he wanted to be able to take some pics from the side line. His compact had not proved up to the task - as one might expect. For whatever reason he was looking at Sony but didn't know whether an entry level SLR would be up to the task. Almost all the nerds were urging him to buy the mid level a700 (then £900 body only) because football is a bit quick and he'd need the a700's AF. Oh, and because that camera is too good for the kit lens he'd also need a Carl Zeiss 16-80mm (at a further £600) to get the best from it. What??? Idiots. In the end I felt forced to post, knowing I'd be damned to hell for it, to point out that my Minolta 5D could track birds in flight or high speed trains and that the AF on the new a200 was noticeably quicker (and, incidentally, the same as on the a700 anyway) so, unless his son could outrun a saker falcon chasing a lure he probably wasn't going to run into any problems with an entry level camera and he certainly didn't need a Zeiss lens to print 6x4's! I didn't bother to read the thread after that so I have no idea how many effigies of me were virtually burned at the stake. :lol:

I must say, it's nice to be able to chat about nerdish things like this on here without having to deal with the actual nerds themselves and their mudslinging and fanboyism. cheers

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I agree Simon, I have a Nikon but would hope not to be though of as a Nikon fanboy! Don't get me wrong - I really am very pleased with it but it was far from the only make in consideration, and not the only Nikon either. I certainly didn't buy it because I thought it was cooler than any other model, it just seemed a better all-round package for what I wanted / needed.

In terms of lens availability I was thinking of secondhand lenses too - Buying into a format where I can easily get good quality extra lenses for sensible money was important for me. I've always had used SLR gear before and I'll probably continue to do so with lenses.

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Interesting thread.

For me the avaialability of second hand lenses is always important - I would rarely buy new. BTW, a good place for buying and selling is Ffordes - https://secure.ffordes.com/index.htm

On the forum nerd thing, the time I realised that (generalising shamelessly) photo forums are often a huge waste of time, with people tending to pool their ignorance apart from a few genuine cognoscenti on each forum, was when I first saw this site. I almost did myself an injury laughing the first time round, and it still makes me laugh: http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/2006/06/great-photographers-on-internet.html Some of you will recognise the photos as some of the greatest photographic images of the 20th Century. The wonderful thing about it is that if these images were posted on a forum for critique these are exactly the sort of comments that would be made, right down to the Leica acolyte commenting on the Bill Brandt image, and someone telling Henri Cartier Bresson (who was basically a human camera) that his "AF" had led him to focus on the wrong subject (of course Bresson didn't have AF, or auto exposure, and was renowned for making all his camera settings without even looking at the camera as he saw an image beginning to fall into place). I don't think I've ever posted on a photo forum since I first saw this!

Going back to the question, I think people with enough understanding will be fine - they can carry out their research and make a choice. What worries me is the people who will be at the mercy of the retailers - but I suppose it was always thus.

Bruce

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Indeed, I operate a four lens kit and three of those were bought used.

Especially, in light of this thread's theme of a very crowded entry level market with short shelf lives for models, the point is made more than ever that glass is probably second only to the user in terms of contributing to quality images. Models come and go and there is little to separate the manufacturers - a few decent lenses will last for body after body as the entry level slug fest continues. It's an important point actually, because it hadn't truly sunk in even with me but now that it has I feel that a re-shuffle of my glass collection might be looked at. :naughty:

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I know now that after reading Bruce's first post I should have given up straight away but no I carried on and my little brain is more scrambled than usual.

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