Lenses First, let me say I've been out of the loop for quite a while. The last SLR I bought was in 1987.
That said, I'm looking at upgrading and I played around with the Canon 40D in Best Buy and a couple things jumped out at me...
First, the lenses seemed pretty cheap and flimsy. My old Minolta lenses were monstrocities. Am I overreacting? I know material science has come a long way and light doesn't necessarilly mean flimsy, but can anyone comment on this?
The other thing I noticed missing from the lens was the F-stop ring. Does the camera handle this nowdays?
Its funny but things many of us take for granted like auto-focus and auto-exposure were once considered revolutionary, almost to the same degree as digital imaging was when it first arrived on the scene.
To answer your questions: - The f-stop ring is GONE. Nearly every modern lens uses electro-mechanical control of the aperture. The camera focuses with the aperture wide open and automatically stops down when you hit the shutter release. You can easily adapt manual Pentax screwmount/m42 lenses to the Canon if you ever miss using one ring to set the aperture, another ring to open the aperture, another to focus and then the second ring again to close the aperture back down before shooting.
- Lens build is indeed much less solid. Part of this is the modern drive towards cheap and fast manufacturing. Part is the development of new lighter but strong materials. Part is the fact the lenses now contain a focus motor, aperture actuator and electronics to run it all. And part is that dSLRs have become so popular that there s been a big call for cheaper lenses. Many of the pro level lenses are still quite solid.. though maybe not as much as some of the old lenses which seemed to be thick solid steel. Check out some of Tokina's lenses sometime -- quite solid and heavy like a TANK.