"Hottest Digital SLRs" - Podcast #8

This week, I take a look at my favorite Digital SLRs. I start with the megapixel king in this roundup, the Canon 5D, and work down the list from there. All of these cameras are excellent. One of them may be right for you.

Canon 5D DSLR
The Canon 5D is the 12.8MP king in this roundup of advanced cameras...

  • Canon 5D -- $3,300 without lens or memory card. The Canon 5D is a "full frame" 12.8 Megapixel CMOS sensor. Full frame means that the image sensor (35.8 x 23.9mm) is roughly the same size as 35mm film. So your existing collection of lenses behave similarly on the 5D as they do mounted on your film SLRs. This feature is great if you have a handful of EF lenses; not as good if you've recently purchased EF-S lenses that don't work on this camera. RAW file size is approx. 12.9MB (4,368 x 2,912) and Large/Fine Jpegs are approx. 4.6MB (4,368 x 2,912). Use your best lenses on the 5D to get the highest quality results.
  • Nikon D2X -- $5,000 without lens or memory card. Nikon's CMOS image sensor (23.7 x 15.7mm) is smaller than the Canon 5D resulting in a 1.5X magnification factor for your lenses. This is a rugged, well-built SLR body that provides great resolution, wide tonal range, and is extremely responsive. You have good connectivity with the USB 2.0 interface and optional WiFi transmitter. Other niceties include good battery life, fast CF write performance, and fast start up time. Full image size from this 12.4 MP sensor is 4,288 x 2,848.
  • Nikon D200 -- $1,700 without lens or memory card. The much-anticipated Nikon D200 uses a 10.2MP sensor to capture sharp, clean high resolution images that you can preview on its 2.5" LCD monitor. Instant "power up" and almost immeasurable shutter lag will make this DSLR a favorite among sports photographers and photojournalists. It produces both Raw and Jpeg images as large as 3,872 x 2,592 pixels.
  • Canon 20D -- $1,300 without lens or memory card. With its 8.2 MP image sensor, the 20D combines high performance with a rugged magnesium alloy body, plus lots of shooting modes and features. Canon's EF-S lenses are perfectly suited for the 20D as well as the extensive line of regular EF glass, although with a 1.6X magnification factor for the latter. Other notables include fast start-up time, 5 fps second burst mode, and 9-point AF system. RAW file size is approx. 8.7MB (3,504 x 2,336) and Large/Fine Jpegs are approx. 3.6MB (3,504 x 2,336).
  • Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) -- $780 without lens or memory card, $880 with 18-55mm EF-S Lens. The Digital Rebel XT sports an 8MP CMOS sensor in a very light and compact body. Photo quality is excellent and on par with the 20D at low ISOs. The 20D performs slightly better at ISO 800 and above. The Rebel shoots up to 3 fps and has a 7-point AF system. Battery life isn't as good as the 20D, so be sure to buy an extra one with the camera. RAW file size is approx. 8.3MB (3,456 x 2,304) and Large/Fine Jpegs are approx. 3.3MB (3,456 x 2,304).
  • Nikon D50 -- $650 without lens or memory card, $800 with 18-55mm DX Zoom Nikkor lens. The D50 is high quality and very affordable for a DSLR. Its 6.1MP sensor provides plenty of resolution for large prints and cropping. The battery life is outstanding and it sports a 2" LCD monitor. Burst mode is up to 2.5 fps and it uses a 5-area sensor for autofocus. The D50 performs very well in low light situations. Image size is 3,008 x 2,000 pixels.
  • Nikon Coolpix 8800 -- $860 with 35-350mm built-in lens. This 8MP "all in one" camera isn't a Digital SLR, but might appeal to the serious photographer who wants high performance in a compact package. It can capture both Jpeg and Raw formats (3,264 x 2,448), plus includes all of the shooting and metering modes most photographers would want. Yet, it weights only 21 ounces without battery.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I have your curiosity piqued, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Hottest Digital SLRs" You can download the podcast here (35 minutes).

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Fujifilm finepix E900 every thing I want except its not a metal camera body and has no long exposure setting.

I've been really wanting to get the Canon Rebel XT. Very helpful info. Excellent podcast!

Canon 5D would be my choice.

Out of these cameras which one would be best for in-studio product shots (catalog) ??

love the podcast!

Responding to KPS's question about best for in-studio product shots, that depends on your budget and camera mount. In the "Under $2,000 Category," I'd choose the Canon 20D because of its excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and overall picture quality. At this point, I wouldn't recommend the Canon 5D for in studio (but definitely in the field!) because it can show some softness in the corners with certain lenses, and that is not good for product shots. In the Nikon mount under $2,000, I'd lean toward the D200. You get a bit more resolution than with the 20D, and it appears to be a solid performer.

A Nikon D200 will be mine.

Another vote for the Canon Rebel XT. I use the original digital rebel at work and I really like it. The new model is supposed to be even better. I have a Canon point and shoot at home

I would love to have a Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) with a Sigma 18-200 lens.
One question occurred to me while listening to the podcast: Why does Olympus choose to go with the 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the 3:2? For me, 3:2 looks more like the human field of view.

Thanks for your great show!

I would go for Nikon D200.

Enjoy the podcast. Had I the money for a new camera, I would opt for the Nikon D200.

I've got a Digital Rebel XT that I love. But, I think it would be great to have a 5D with the full frame sensor. Although, the 20Da would be great because the lack of an IR filter on it.

After listening to the podcast I would choose the Nikon D50..

19 Raspberry Dr.
Mechanicsburg, Pa 17050

In the "Prosumer" range, I like the Panasonic DMC-FZ30. Very similar to the Nikon 8800

-> Leica Lens, 12x
-> 8MP, with image-stabilizing technology
-> Uses SD memory card with ability to save in RAW format
-> Manual Zoom and Focus rings on lens
-> Free-angle LCD that can be folded in towards the camera body for protection
-> 55mm threads for filter use

On paper, seems to out-spec the Nikon for less $ but I haven't seen pictures yet to truly be able to judge.

I have a Canon Digital Rebel, but am actually considering downgrading to a Canon PowerShot S2 IS. Or getting better "glass" for the Rebel.

Great Podcast. My choice would be Nikon D50


The Nikon D200 is my choice. I've never had any issues with Nikon cameras or Nikon glass, they are built to professional standards.

A Nikon D200 is they way I would go, Althought I have a D70 now, I am seriously thinking of selling it now and save for a D200.

As a long time Nikon owner, with a film N70, digital D70, and a handful of lenses (some quite old), I'm excited about the Nikon D200 - it will accomodate my old AI lenses along with the new.

Mine will be a D200. The 5D is overpriced for what you get, and the D200 will be a good upgrade for my D70.

By the way in the podcast you talk about how full frame noise is lower than APS sensor noise. While that makes a lot of sense in terms of the physics of it, it doesn't bear out in testing in the case of the 5D - in dpreview's test of the 5D the noise levels were almost exactly the same as the 20D's. So I think it's got a lot more to do with the in-camera processing than it does the size of the sensor.

You can see their testing results at http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos5d/page21.asp

Of the cameras talked about on this podcast, I would definitely want the Canon 5D. However, the one I really lust after is the Canon 1DS Mark IIn!

Thanks for a great podcast for us folks who are serious about photography!

Canon Digital Rebel, great camera but if I had the money, Canon 5D would be the one.

I started shooting with SLRs about 10 years ago with my Grandfather's Minolta (early 80's model) Six months later I did a little research and choose a Canon Elan. Fitted it with a 35-135 zoom, 50 & 28 mm lenses. Two years ago I moved into a Digital Rebel and have absolutely loved it. I recently tripped the counter at 10,000 exposures and have started again.

I'd really love to get a Canon 5D but the Canon 20D is probably more in my price range. If I had an extra 3500 lying around I might just get a Canon XL2 instead. Decisions decisions. I'm pleased with Canon, but I have friends who went the Nikon route.

Enjoy the show and made it though #7 despite the technical difficulties. Keep up the great work!

Hi there,

given my choice I would get a Nikon D200. Great podcast, I have learn't loads.

regards, Chris Carpenter

I would love to have a Canon digital rebel XT

i want to buy Digital Rebel XT.

The Nikon D50 really does seem like the best way for me to get into a DSLR. It's affordable, FINALLY, and it rocks. Those are the qualities I need in a camera!

(Saving up, so I can stop borrowing my friend's D50. (Okay, not even my friend's D50: My wife's friend's D50!) )

For once, I'm really satisfied with my camera - Canon 20D, although that said, I don't care what brand camera I'll use because it's what's behind the camera, *you*, that matters. One of my favourite shots is one I took with and old 2.8MP Finepix 2800 years ago!
That said, if anyone wants to buy me a Canon 5D I won't say no!

I'd love to buy a Nikon D200!

I chose the Nikon D70 and am very pleased with it.
I am a long time Nikon user with lots of Nikon glass from the late 1960's to late 79's- no autofocus lenses. Nikon had a BIG advantage when it came to comparing the alternatives even though I would have to use my old lenses in manual mode.

A week or two after I bought my camera the D70s was introduced. I was happy to learn that I could upgrade the in camera software for free to make it functionally equivalent to the new model. The Kit lens is an 18-70mm lens, and I have also purchased a 70-300 lens. They are a nice combination although they are a bit slow. I only use my "old" film camera fixed focal length lenses for specific projects. The newer D50 would probably be adequate for less money (although I like the bigger range in the kit lens that comes with the D70), but my decission has already been made and I am glad of the decission that I made. I have no need for the newer D200 model. 6MP image size is fine for my needs.
Derek love your program. your attitude towards photography closely matches mine, so I enjoy learning of your "little discoveries".

I'm wishing for a Nikon D200.

I bought the D70 because I love my N70 and have a few Sigma for Nikon lenses that I wanted to keep using. My only regret D70 is that the slowest sensitivity is 200 and I'm used to shooting 64 or 100.

Another issue I've run into is that the exposure seems to be 2/3 to a full stop slower than my N70 is with a given lens at a given focal length. Could this be due to a given focal length on the lens being longer on the D70 because of the magnification factor?

Keep up the good work on the show. I hope to contribute a Grab Shot soon.


The EOS-1D Mark II N looks interesting as a next camera. Really enjoy the podcasts.

I am a visual artist, painter, started with an early nikormatt in the 70's and later with a pentax.
My first entry to digital was a jvc camcorder and then an Olympus pd580. A small ps that made good images that ignited greater interest in digital photography,
After reasearch on the net and instore and working within budget I will probably purchase a Nikon D50. Would love a D200.

Great knowledge base and podcasts. Thanks much.

Nikon D200 would be my choice. Excellent podcast!

would buy the canon 5d

Thanks for another great podcast. I was really interested in hearing about the current crop of DSLR cameras. The Nikon D200 looks good to me.

D200 sounds like the one

I just bought a new Casio Ex Z750 for the versatility. The next camera I get will be a digital SLR and it will be a Canon Rebel XT. Terrific podcast!

I'm going with the Canon 5D.
I think there is a lot to be said for a full frame sensor. This would include better focusing and better sensor heat dissipation.

Canon EOS 5d for me, though I can't afford/justify it.

I'd definitely go for the new Nikon D200. A fantastic feature set: unfortunately I haven't quite got enough money, so in real life for my first DSLR I'm going to buy a Nikon D70s, so that I've got enough cash left over for a couple more lenses to go with the very nice 18-70mm kit lens.

Great Podcast, I've been researching these DSLR's for weeks, you helped me decide, 350D for me (This year...)

I like to get the Canon 5D for my next camera.

I would like the Canon 5D


In the real world, I crave the Rebel XT, since I can't really think about anything more expensive.

I can't get your site thow show up correctly in k-meleon and I thought you should know, cool website though!

Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbour were just preparing to do some research about this. I am very happy to see such great information being shared freely out there.

There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That?s a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game.

Hello, cheers for this excellent blog, a really great start for the 2010, keep up the fantastic work, Brenda.

Hi there, thank you for a great article, a truly great start for the 2010, keep up the fantastic work, Angela.

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