View Full Version : Buying my first Digital SLR
03-04-2008, 04:56 AM
Ok, so I want to take the plunge and make the investment in a digital SLR. I currently own a Canon PowerShot SD500. It’s great for stow-and-go but obviously doesn’t give me the photographic quality, versatility, and control over the photos I want to take. My preferences in photography are landscapes, travel/outdoor, night/low light and that occasional action/sport shot. Given the plethora of makes, models, and options on the market, how do I select a camera to fit my preferences in photography? I own a 35 mm but for the most part it sits in the closet gathering dust as film is so expensive to develop. While it might sound silly, I’d rather spend the money getting an entry level SLR then waste money developing film experimenting with photography. I’d appreciate any suggestions in equipment that will make photography fun without leaving me wondering if I make the right investment.
03-04-2008, 05:34 AM
03-04-2008, 05:55 AM
The are two answers to this question.
Don't look any further. It really comes down to these two brands as you want to consider whether you anticipate moving up later and whether you can take your lenses and accessorsies with you. I started with an Olympus and in a word "Regret" that choice. After extensive research and testing... I have joined the Nikon camp. I personally like their cameras a lot better than Canon's. I like the lense options better, the camera feel, and the technology. I think that Nikon does a better job with color and metering. I currently own a Nikon D300 and wouldn't trade it for the world. If I were you, I would make my decision between one of the following cameras for an entry level DSLR.
Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D70, or D80
Canon Rebel XTI
I wouldn't consider anything else. And for a great site to help you decide...
My two cents!
03-04-2008, 06:19 AM
There is a lot more than Nikon and Canon ;-)
If you don't stick to any lenses you already have, you have a wide choice in entry level DSLR.
One of the most wanted feature in DSLR you should not miss is Anti-Shake-Technology. Most systems have it built in the lenses (like Nikon and Canon), so using old Canon lenses for example won't have this.
Others have it built-in within the body like Sony and Pentax what means you can use the older lenses too without missing Anti-Shake.
I don't know much about other systems so I can tell you only about Sony: Although they are quite new in the DSLR Market they have bought the technology of Konica Minolta with all that experience (invention of Autofocus for example). Sony sensors are used in many (most?) other digital camera brands.
Right now they come up with a few very interesting entry level cameras, the A200 as a solid 10MP camera, the A300 and A350 with live-view and flipable screen (A350 even with 14MP). These new cameras lower the price of Sony's first DSLR, the A100 which is a wonderful camera too.
I think all of those are great deals and you can use any old Minolta AF lens on them. There is quite a big market for those old glasses and the quality of some of them is really amazing. Not the speed though since they have no Ultrasonic Speed motor, but the price difference between an old Minolta glass and a new USM lens is amazing too.
To bring it to a point: go out into a really big electronics store and/or a big camera dealer and take all into your hand, no matter of brand. How does it fit in, how can you reach the important buttons, how easy can you access important functions (via menu or button), how does it feel looking through, weight, size, it is more a question of sympathy than anything else.
Don't let you dazzle by lots of Megapixels or Frames per seconds: more than 10MB isn't really necessary and if you don't want to take action photos 3fps is enough.
ISO 3600 sounds great but you won't like the photos, and for 1/4000 shutter speed you may need lenses you can't afford.
Look out which camera fits best in your hands and for which system you can get the most valuable lenses for a reasonable price and how much accessories like flash or vertical grip will cost.
Consider shooting in RAW format, ask for the RAW format the camera uses and look wich RAW processing programs are available for that.
03-04-2008, 06:55 AM
Good post Austriaka!
One thing I can't stress enough... the camera body is only one (small) piece of the puzzle. The most important part are the lenses. Fast, sharp zoom lenses (expensive), or prime lenses (normally less expensive) will make the biggest difference in picture detail quality.
It's not so much about megapixels as it is quality optics.
What good is a super megapixel camera if you are shooting through a junky piece of glass? :)
I have a Canon EOS-20D myself, and I can recommend that for starters, rather than getting a "kit" zoom lens, you're much better off purchasing the 50mm f/1.8 (or 1.4) prime lens. It's razor sharp, and super fast. And can be had for as little as $100 brand new. I'm sure Nikon and the other various brands have similarly priced lenses as well.
Oh, and BTW, I use the 3200 ISO mode, and I love it as you can shoot in almost pure darkness without a flash. And the RAW image format is the only way to go. JPGs are fine for snapshots, but If you want serious control in post, there is nothing like RAW. :)
The are two answers to this question.
Don't look any further.
I don't know about you, but I'm really-really looking to this one (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0609/06093003hasselbladh3d.asp). Too bad I don't have the money and I stay with my Nikon D40. Anyway, I'm proud of it.
Oh, back to topic...
I own a Nikon D40 which really does a very good job for me. My friend owns a Canon XTi (400D in Europe) and I played a lot with both, so if it comes the choice between these two, my opinion is that if you have the money to buy an extra lens (quality one) go with Canon XTi(400D) and if not, Nikon D40 does a very good job! Yes... the stock lens of XTi really suck!
03-04-2008, 11:21 AM
what is your budget?
03-04-2008, 12:14 PM
Wow, thanks everyone. I wasn't expecting so many replies over night. I am looking to spend between $800-1200, though I'd like to stay under $1000 USD.
03-04-2008, 01:10 PM
does this budget includes lenses?
Or do you already have some lenses you can use for start?
03-04-2008, 02:05 PM
Don't get caught up in the hype between Canon vs. Nikon, there's practically no difference in image quality between the two brands. In fact, a good photographer can get great photos with pretty much any dSLR made in the last few years. You can also take bad photos with any of these cameras. It's not the gear that makes the photo, it's the person using it.
03-04-2008, 05:09 PM
As Autriaka+ said below "There is a wide choice...." But mark my words, if you buy anything other than a Nikon or Canon... you will recall this debate and kick yourself later.
Oh, and about the Hasselbad... I didn't realize the question had been asked by a millionaire... of course I recommend that one first! lol... my dream camera...
$1000 to $1200
If you can stretch a step further
Canon has more low-mid range options than Nikon but I don't think Canon has anything that can compete in the prosumer range of the Nikon D200 or D300 (And No I have not forgotton the Canon D5... I just don't like it) and I would recommend mid range before entry level if you can.
And MOST importantly, I agree... skip the crappy kit lens and just buy the body and get a better lense. I spent far more time making lens decisions than camera body decisions and you will find that its a much more complicated and important question.
03-04-2008, 05:35 PM
Since this is your first dSLR, I would skip the higher end cameras that EcoSee is recommending. Get a Nikon D40, D40x, or D60, with the kit lens. The 18-55 mm kit lens that comes with the D40 and D40x is an excellent piece of glass. I use this kit for all of my grab shots and as a backup to my main camera. The lens that comes with the D60 is essentially the same, with Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization in Canon parlance).
The D40 doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that the more expensive camera have, but if you're just starting out in the the dSLR world, then that can be an advantage. You still have control of the most important aspects of the image, without a lot of extra options that might confuse you.
As far as Canons go, you could either get the XTi or the newly released XSi.
I just checked Wolf Camera (http://www.wolfcamera.com/) for pricing, and they have several of the cameras mentioned in this thread for under $1000. If I were making your decision today, I would go with either the Canon XTi or the Nikon D40x and use the extra money from your budget to either get another lens, a tripod, or stick it in savings for when you decide to upgrade.
03-04-2008, 10:05 PM
I dug my camera out of the closet. Its a Chinon CA-4. I have a Auto Chinon 1:19, 50mm lens and a Sigma 1:2.8~3.5, 75~200mm zoom lens. From the information I've gathered the camera was made in 1980. Wow. It's older then me.
03-04-2008, 10:55 PM
I also just wanted to throw out there, that just because it is your first DSLR doesn't mean it has to be an "Entry Level" DSLR. Keep in mind that while they are great cameras, that buying one might mean it ends up next to the Chinon collecting dust in a year when you upgrade to the camera you wished you bought in the first place. Then you find yourself $2200 into a $1400 camera with an $800 paper weight. That's what happened to me! On the other hand, if it is simply for capturing the family picnics, vacations and holidays... there is no need to go any further than the entry level DSLR and I would really stick to the one's already talked about. Whatever you decide.... Have A Blast!
Nobody does a better job rating lenses than these guys:
And I'll stick to my guns... 90% of the time, I would skip the kit lens. Just cause its the "most popular lens sold" doesn't mean its any good.
03-09-2008, 03:20 AM
I think I made up my mind and will go with the Nikon D60. I also looked at the Canon XTI and I think the interface of the D60 is much more intuitive and easier to use, plus Canon's accessories are more expensive overall. Also, I don't it is worth the extra 100 dollars for the D80's built-in AF motor and 11 point auto focus.
Is it worth getting the kit lens (NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR)? I was thinking about the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D or f/1/.8D Autofocus Lens instead. Any suggestions? BTW Thanks for all your help :)
03-09-2008, 05:30 AM
Is it worth getting the kit lens (NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR)? I was thinking about the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D or f/1/.8D Autofocus Lens instead. Any suggestions?
I have a Nikon D40 and the kit lens that came with it, a NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX, and I happen to love the lens. It is nearly identical to the kit lens that comes with the D60, except the newer one has added Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization). I happen to love this lens. It has it's drawbacks, but for an everyday walking around lens it gives you a nice zoom range, with the tradeoff being it doesn't work well in low light. The VR on the D60's kit lens will probably let you slow your shutter speed a couple more stops, but still not nearly what you can get with the f/1.8 or f/1.4.
I also own the 50mm f/1.8D. It's an excellent lens for low light situations. I've found the focal length of the 50mm lens to be difficult to work with on a digital cameras, because the 1.5x crop factor for the smaller sensor effectively makes it a 75mm lens. So, I tend to only use the 50mm in situations where I know I am going to have low light, and stick to the kit lens the rest of the time.
So to answer your questions, in my opinion, it is definitely worth it to get the kit lens. It's a great lens, and you get the kit for about $100 less than you would spend on the body plus one of the 50mm f/1.8.
03-24-2008, 06:07 AM
Yay! I finally bought a digital SLR (Nikon D60 with the kit lens). I must say, I have my homework cut out for me having to relearn those "manual" photography skills and learning all the camera's features, but I absolutely love the camera nonetheless. Thanks again for all the help!
Congratulations for your new gear! ;)
I've visited your photoblog and I see you have some new pictures taken with your new camera.
Going from a compact camera to a slr is a huge step, you might not be so enthusiastic in the first place, but soon you and your camera will become as one. Now a few advices:
- always shoot raw+basic unless you want to shoot continuously at a sport event, etc where time is precious;
- use Nikon Capture NX for the best results in processing raw.
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