Before I tell you what I got, let me tell you about what I did not buy and why.
The first camera I looked at was the Canon EOS 50D. I have always really liked the Canon video cameras, and I thought I would take a look at the DSLRs. I have seen the 5D Mark 2 reviews, but honestly, that is too much money for me, so I looked at the next model down. This is a nice camera, to be sure, but I just didn’t like the ergonomics. Canon has a great reputation for excellent glass, and I really was interested in trying out this camera. I don’t know exactly what I didn’t like about it, but it just felt off. I also don’t particularly like the physical appearance of the camera. I don’t know why, but I guess it’s just personal taste. I decided to scratch this one off my list.
The Pentax K-7 is the next camera I was seriously considering. The K-7 looks to be an excellent camera. I say looks to be because no one in my area carries Pentax. That is really a shame because Pentax has some excellent lenses and this new killer camera. However, Pentax’s parent compay Hoya has stated that they need a partner to help keep Pentax afloat. This is unfortunate because from everything I have read, Pentax has a great system. I was initially drawn to Pentax because of the price and the variety of lenses I could get. I was also happy to see they have in camera stabilization. I think this is a great feature because every lens I put on the camera is stabilized. With Canon and Nikon the stabilization is built in to the lenses themselves. While I normally believe that you get what you pay for, Pentax glass has been praised for its quality, especially their line of limited lenses. I was seriously considering Pentax, but I was worried about not being able to hold the camera and not having a local store available for any problems. I’m sorry Pentax, you could have been a contender.
Another camera I was really looking at is the Sony Alpha 900. This is a beast of a camera. It has 24.5 Megapixels, a full frame sensor, in-camera stabilization, and Carl Zeiss glass. What could there be that is not to love? Well, the price. This is an expensive camera, but isn’t bad for what you get. What got to me was that the lenses are too expensive for me. Don’t get me wrong, these are great lenses, but generally every Sony or Zeiss lens for this camera will run upwards of $1,000 or more. Part of the problem is that this is a full frame sensor. The advantage to the full frame sensor is that it is great for wide angles. The downside is that you have to buy really expensive glass to get the long telephoto reach. Most of Sony’s lens line consists of their DT lenses for the smaller sensor cameras such as the Alpha 700. Out of all the cameras I held, I liked the ergonomics of the A900 the best.
This was the runner-up. I had fully intended to buy the Olympus E-3. I had done my research and this camera is great. It has the 4/3rds sensor in it which is designed from the ground up for digital photography. It has built in stabilization, a 100% viewfinder, 5fps continuous shutter, and is weather sealed. This is a great camera. Olympus also makes excellent lenses. The Zuiko lenses are top notch and have excellent optics. This was one of the main reasons why I liked this camera so much. The 35-100 F2 lens is just a magnificent piece of glass and must be held to be appreciated. The 55-200 SWD lens focuses really quickly and is great to hold in the hand. The 4/3rds sensor give a crop factor of 2 basically turning the 55-200 into a 110-400mm lens that is stabilized by the camera. What a great system. I must also mention that the E-3 is in space. Yep. It is on the International Space Station being used by astronauts to take pictures of the earth. You might be asking why I didn’t go with the E-3 if it is so good. Well in all honesty I did not buy this camera because of my local Ritz Camera store. I want to buy local so that if I have any problems I can take it to a local store and not have to worry about sending it back to the manufacturer myself.
I went into Ritz with the intention of buying this camera. I know they are a little high on the prices, but I would eat some of that cost to remain local. On the internet you can find this camera for $1,199. On the Olympus website they have the MSRP for $1,299. At my local Ritz camera store they wanted $1,399. Really? Do you think I am going to pay over retail for a 2 year old camera? I told the guy that I would buy it immediately with some lenses if he would drop the price to MSRP. He told me, “No! $1,399 is the price.” I asked him why every other Olympus product as well as those made by Nikon and Canon were listed at MSRP, but not this one camera. He didn’t have an answer for me. I gave him one more shot and he told me that $1,399 was the price. I told him he was losing a $3,000 sale over $100 and he once again said $1,399 is the price. I said fine and that you would not see me in this store again and left. This really made me mad. Not just because of the camera being high, but at the complete lack of sense this guy has. For one, that store is not going to make it. Why would they? I live in Texas. Texas has a sales tax. Internet sites like B&H do not. For small point and shoot cameras this is no big deal. But if you are getting a DSLR system this can be a huge amount of money. They also have high prices. If I was to buy the Olympus kit I was looking at from B&H as opposed to Ritz, I would save $900. That is a huge amount. I have been in that store many times over the last month trying out the different bodies and lenses. I talked to them about what they would do to earn my business. I was told, “Well, we offer free photography classes for any camera you buy from us.” Really? I am buying a semi-professional camera and you are going to give me free classes? Oh yay!! I said that would not do. What else could they do. They would not even throw in a memory card or a bag. What kind of business model is that? How are you going to compete with internet business? Just about every time I went into that store I was the only person. Sometimes I would stay for an hour or so, and would still be the only person. This even happened on a Saturday afternoon. I am done with Ritz. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, the Ritz Camera website is even higher than the local stores.
So what camera did I get? I got this beauty:
This is the Nikon D300s. It is Nikon’s top of the line DX sensor camera. It has too many features to list here so I will point you to Nikon’s Website. Why did I buy the D300s instead of all the others? Well, there are several reasons. The first reason is that I already own a Nikon D50. In fact, the D50 was my first DSLR and was purchased just after Tripp was born. I now have two Nikon bodies that I can use with the same lenses. The second reason why I purchased the D300s is because I am a fan of Nikon and I know they will be around and will be a leader for a long time to come. I like the 7FPS continuous shooting mode. I like the fact that I can shoot movies with this camera in 720p 24fps if I so choose. The ergonomics are great, and Nikon has an excellent assortment of lenses. In all, there is really no reason for me to complain about this camera. It was between the Olympus and the Nikon for a long time, and the sales guy at Ritz helped me make up my mind. So where did I get my camera? I got it at Best Buy. I could have bought it at Ritz, but once again, they can’t compete. I got Reward Zone points at Best Buy. That’s like cash back. At Ritz they would have given me a free photo book. I cannot contain my enthusiasm. I went to Best Buy and the sales guy there gave me 5% off each lens I bought so I saved around $100 just from that. I was really happy with the whole process at Best Buy and have no regrets.
I have been using the camera for a little under a week and I can say that this is a great camera. I haven’t been able to shoot as much as I would like because of all the rain, but what I have shot has been great. If you are looking at purchasing a DSLR I could recommend any of these cameras. They are all excellent in their own way and you will be satisfied with any of them. I love my Nikon and look forward to many more shots. If you are local, by all means, go by Ritz and try out all the cameras. They do have a decent selection. However, when it is time to buy, just go to Best Buy or order from Amazon or B&H Photo. Trust me. You will save money and be happier.