Best dslr camera for semi pro 2008

by Enche Tjin on December 18, 2008

Camera in semi-pro class has similar characteristics, they are design for their toughness, reliability and top of the line of crop sensor camera. Even they have bigger price tag, but it is still within reach for many consumers.

The competition in this semi-pro class is quite tight and the pricing is about right (market is working pretty well) and because of that, it is hard to determine the best value camera for 2008 in this class.

But after careful consideration, I pick Canon 50D as the best value.

Canon-50dCanon EOS 50D is an upgrade of the favorite camera Canon 40D. It is a respond for Nikon D300 which has more feature set for pro, more customizable auto focus system and noise handling. So, 50D come with higher resolution (15 megapixel), better buffer for continuous shooting, improved noise handling and some useful feature such as AF adjustment to combat lens front/back focus . 50D also has an attractive price. Looking back one year ago, the price is almost the same as Canon 40D which is a great! Canon 50D has 12 points.

Unfortunately Canon 50D comes with no so good kit lens (18-200mm), while the lens are very flexible due to its massive zoom, but the image quality is not so good. At least not for the price point. I will recommend you to look for other general purpose lens such as 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, 17-85mm or 28-135mm. Related post: 18-200mm vs 17-85mm

There are several cameras that earns 11 points or runner up. But I decided to pick Nikon D300 as a runner-up. This camera is tough, reliable have many features that usable for pro such as 100% viewfinder coverage, the famous 51 point Nikon Auto focusing system. It also has above average noise handling. As a result, this camera is ideal for sports. The only problem with this camera is the price, currently it is $300 more expensive than equivalent Canon 50D.

The big underdog camera of 2008 is Pentax k20d. Although this camera is an underdog, but it is definitely a camera capable to deliver high image quality. It has 14 megapixel resolution, water splash proof body, good noise handling and super duper attractive price. Priced around $1400 when it first launched, now k20D price has been discounted half ($750). K20d users are also benefited from built-in image stabilization. This feature will definitely save users a lot of money since lenses with Image stabilization are still relatively high.

The downside of this camera is the continuous burst speed is only 3fps, slightly slower auto focus comparing to competitors and not so intuitive menu control and handling. But overall this camera is worth to look for especially you have limited budget but want superior image and built quality.

Olympus E-3 is the next camera, It is the flagship and the best camera that use smaller crop sensor called micro four thirds. This camera is solid, tough, like k20d it features water splash body, very fast auto focus with it “semi-pro grade” kit lens 12-60mm. It has innovative swivel lcd screen, built in stabilization in body. The downside of this camera probably is the fact of using the small sensor, this camera has a slight problem in handling the noise compare to competitors in the same class, applying noise reduction in camera will wash some detail in high iso. The other disadvantage is the high price. It is priced around $1300 which is still a little bit high in my opinion for its features.

Camera to avoid to buy is Sony A700. Although a little bit unfair to compare because the A700 is not 2008 camera, but it is definitely the only Sony camera in this class. This camera has built in stabilization, good dynamic range, shoots 5fps and high resolution lcd screen. The downside are no live view which is already a norm for camera in this class. The body is not weather shield and the price is relatively high ($1000).

In conclusion, Canon 50D, Nikon D300, Pentax k20d and Olympus E-3 are great cameras in this class and you will get a lot of value from that. The only thing that you will need to consider is your budget, and kind of photography that you will do. For example, if you don’t do sport, Pentax k20d will be a very good deal since it is only $750 compared to D300’s $1500. We are also waiting for new upgrade from Sony.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sathish June 11, 2010 at 12:41 am

It is 2010 – too late to chime in….but Enche Tjin does not know about cameras or has not used any of these really. I own 50D myslef, it is very good. I have also used D300, it is simply more superior. At this level the dirreferences are very minor. To recommed Sony A700 as not to buy is damn so foolish. It is one of the best semi-pro camera in its class. No-live view is the only negative aspect. I have hardly used live view on my 50D. Enche Tjin has not even seen a A700 in its skin, leave alone hold one…such a moron you are and no authority to comment.

Jason July 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm

C’mon, someone’s a Canon fanboy. True, it’s pricey, but the D300s trumps the 50D… easily. It’s no contest.

I’d probably even take the D90 over the 50D, considering how important low-light photography is to me.

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