I'm sure this has been asked a million times before, but I'm asking again. I'm looking at buying a new DSLR for general purposes: travel, snapshots, landscapes, portraits, weirdo art photography, you name it.
I currently shoot a 40-year-old Nikon F, which is pretty much bomb-proof, and have a large collection of lenses, finders, and other gear that's not going to help me at all. I customarily scan my film and am pretty adept in Photoshop CS2. I also shoot an older Panasonic wide-zoom point and shoot digital (FZ3) and a large variety of weird cameras, junkstore stuff, half-frame (Kyocera Samurai), pinhole, etc. etc. My favorite setup of all is the Nikon F with a gigantic "Speed Magny" polaroid back on it. I'm not very talented but I have a lot of range! But I want to get a bit more serious.
I don't have a lot of money. Discussions of the merits of the Canon 5D versus Nikon D2 are of no use to me. The cameras I'm looking at are the Nikon D40, the Canon Digital Rebel XTi, and the Pentax K100D, with some sidelong glances at the D200 (can't afford it) and the Pentax K10D.
I don't care about megapixels. My primary output is on the web. 10 MP isn't really anything more than a pain for me, as it means more cards and more processing time (a lot of which is just throwing pixels away, yawn). What I DO want, and can't get from any P&S, is: decent glass, shooting in the dark, shooting wide and very wide, and the flexibility of changing lenses.
The D40 sounds perfect. The only problem is, its $200 price advantage over Canon disappears when you factor in the 12-24mm lens that works with it, which is $200 more than the comparable (and apparently significantly better) Canon 10-20mm EF lens that works with the XTi. The fabulous new 18-200mm lens from Nikon is moot, because it's out of stock everywhere and it's too expensive. So I'm thinking about the D40 with the kit lens plus the 12-24mm, and then adding the new 55-200 VR lens later when I can afford it. Wide is more important to me than long, at least at first.
I know everyone says Canon kicks %$# in the high ISO category, but in my price range I've looked at the test shots everywhere and I just don't see it. They look very close to me. Especially at my expected output resolution I think it's better to have the 3200 ISO option than not.
But then I started look at the Pentax. It has virtually every feature I want except RGB histograms. I think I can live without that. If I change my mind, or you change it for me, there's always the K10D, which has that nice weatherproofing too. And Pentax has a VERY INTERESTING lens selection: good ranges, good primes (there are no primes for the D40), and great prices, because the anti-shake is on the camera. Assuming Pentax doesn't get blown out of the DSLR market, this looks like a system I can build on, maybe upgrading my body in a few years. The same applies to Nikon and Canon, but the lens choices are more expensive like-for-like. Causing me further pain is Pentax's extensive rebate program right now which is making it very hard not to just pick up the phone and max out the credit card this minute, even though that means most of my photographs will be of me sitting in my new post-divorce apartment.
Comments eagerly awaited. Particularly bitterly partisan ones from the legions of Canon and Nikon zealots!