I want to know how the Sony DSC-F717 would perform for Desert Landscape photography. I do have the eye for landscape, and I've used a lot of older cameras, such as the Praktica MTL5 with a Zeiss Tessar lens, or a Zenit. I recently got myself into a Nikon film SLR system, but I am still enticed to try digital, but scared! Lately, I've been thinking of trying Digital.
So how would Sony be? Could it produce photos to meet my expectations, to meet the quality my talent demands in a camera? Is it capable of being a true photographic instrument that I can grow attached to? The Zeiss lens is very tempting. But again, I know not the TRUE Nature of Digital. The urge to compare film is strong.
Do you live close enough to a large city with a store where you can rent a digital camera (Nikon D100?) for a day and see what you think?
I like taking desert landscapes myself (I live near the 4 Corners region), and have been extremely pleased with a Canon 10D SLR.
One thing that you need to realize is that 'prosumer' type cameras like the Sony apply in camera parameters like sharpening and color balance that you may not care for and that you can't reverse. Not to criticize this camera or anything, but I've read numerous complaints about Sony's color saturation with phrases such as 'Disney like'.
From reading your post, my hunch is that you probably should save the 600 odd dollars that the Sony costs and see if Nikon releases a sub $1000 DSLR soon.
Have you considered the aspects of those add-on lenses for the Sony F717v and what they may do for your range of photography?
The Nikon 5700 is similar in some ways, but both are unique, too. I like the fact the Nikon can use microdrives and larger memory cards than the Sony. There is a selection of four thread-on lenses for the Nikon 5700; so you should be able to do most any photography with either one. Cost is similar when looking at some of the USA guaranteed sources.
The Sony has been superceded by the 828 at more cost; yet not replaced. The Nikon 5700 design is due for a freshening; and there is room for a Nikon dSLR that can use Nikon/Nikkor AF D lenses; not just G-series...in the price-point of the Canon Rebel 300D with decent features!
Depending on your budget, no matter what you get will cost you extra once you decide to upgrade a color printer, software and maybe other tools!
I think Mr. J's idea about renting a D100 makes a lot of sense. That will alow you to try out the digital experience without making a major financial commitment to it. Not everyone enjoys it.
As an alternative, continue shooting with your Nikon gear and get your slides scanned into digital files you can work with in Photoshop. You can buy a scanner, or if you don't plan to scan every slide you shoot, send the ones you do want to scan to www.digmypics.com and they'll scan them for you.
As for the F717, the biggest drawback I see is its reliance on the memory stick. The fact that Sony is incorporating compact flashcard capability to the soon-to-be-released F828 clearly shows their recognition that the memory stick is holding back the wider acceptance of their digital cameras.