Another Newbie Wants to Buy a Camera

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by TheOtherBob, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    So I haven't taken pictures in any serious way for a while, but I want to start doing it again. I pulled out my digital camera (an HP photosmart 318) which was fine in its day, but with 2.1 MP, no zoom, and the only options being "flash" or "no flash"...let's just say that it doesn't do what I want it to do.

    I primarily take shots of buildings and landscapes, almost never take shots of people, and therefore don't need the ability to take many action shots. (Although one of the things that drove me nuts about the 318 was the shutter lag you could measure in eons.) Primarily I think I want to be able to do a lot of playing around with aperture, focal points, etc. - so I want a good range of manual control that can allow me to learn (while taking truly horrendous pictures at first). I also want good image quality, because I'd like to blow some of the pictures up for framing at 8x10.

    But at the same time, there's the "$800 door stop" concern - if it turns out that this isn't as much fun as I remember, I don't want to have blown a major pile of cash. Plus, I'm wondering about weight - I don't like the idea of needing a separate backpack for my camera equipment, because I'm worried that if it is too bulky I just won't carry it around.

    So I was thinking about the Canon A640 (or A630), which has a good MP, received good reviews, and seems to have some manual functionality (i.e. "stuff I can play with"). Alternatively, I also thought about the S3 IS, which has a longer zoom, but lower MP. With both, though, I'm worried about the reputation for noise at high ISO - but while I sound really smart saying that, I don't really know what it means in practical terms (i.e. whether it's a problem anytime you shoot in less than direct sunlight, or if it's only really a problem if you plan to shoot night bats in the darkest jungles of South America.) Either of those would be under $350, all in.

    There is also, of course, the Canon G7 - which seems to have even more manual functionality and to be an "almost DSLR," but has received mixed reviews about image quality. It would be around $550 all in - but has the advantage of being relatively portable compared to a DSLR. But if I decide to move up to a DSLR anyways, $550 seems pretty steep.

    I could also just start with a DSLR - presumably either the Rebel XT (or XTi) or a 20D (maybe used), or a Nikon D40 or used D70. I think they offer the most flexibility for learning and best image quality, but will also be the biggest and most expensive - and therefore more likely to end up holding a door open. (If I try a P&S out, learn the ropes, and really enjoy it I'll almost certainly go this way eventually anyways, though.)

    So enough about me - let's talk about you.

    What I really need to know (and hope one of you would like to expound on) is how much the differences matter. If you tell me that the image quality and manual functionality of a D40 so far surpasses that of an A640 that I'd be wasting time and money trying to learn on the P&S, or that DSLR's aren't as hard to carry around as they look - or, alternatively, that the differences aren't anything I'll notice for a while, and that the smaller camera will mean more pictures get taken...that would really help. I've looked at the charts and test pictures - but they're no substitute for experience. Do you find that you can do only a few additional things with a DSLR that you couldn't with a P&S - or do you find say, a whole, massive boatload of additional things that you can do? Do you ever carry your DSLR around with you just in case you see something worth shooting, or is it too much hassle?

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks for your input!
     
  2. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    well, mostly it all depends....
    yes, the image quality of any of the DSLR's from the nikons to the pentaxs far surpas the quality of any point and shoot camera. You have a larger sensor giving you less noise with a DSLR, with a DSLR you can also buy better lenses which will give you sharper clearer pictures with better colors.
    that being said. IT really all depends on who is taking the photo. I have seen great photos taken with a P&S and crappy ones taken with a SLR.
    I own a P&S which is what i learned on and a Film SLR. I have taken some good photos with both, and alot of bad photos with both. After getting into photography with my P&S (which had all the manual controls and stuff) i wanted the greater control that comes with the SLR, I have film and ill be upgrading to digital when i can afford it. (though i have the pesky habit of buying things for my camera now and not saving for that digital...)
    I personally dont touch my point and shoot now except for when i want pics of friends and partys and just stuff like that.

    As for the learning curve, jumping right into the SLR can be confusing and frustrating at first. Because i had been using a P&S that had manual controls for about a year before i got the SLR, i had some idea of how everything worked and while there still was a learning curve for the SLR, i think it was easier that if i had just jumped right in.


    lastly to me, a SLR isnt that big a deal to carry around. i carry mine everywhere. i had a backpack and i carried a camera, 3 lenses, film, filters, tripod and random other stuff around and i never thought twice about it.
    last weekend i went to alcatraz and for some reason i didnt have any film so i didnt bring my camera. my girlfriend told me it would be good for me to actually see where we were going instead of looking through a viewfinder the whole time:lol:
    i hope this helps
     
  3. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Random thoughts...

    1. If you are in a big city, you can actually RENT a digital SLR, you might want to take a look at that to see if you have fun with one...if you do find you are having fun, THEN buy one.

    2. The latest round of point and shoots take excellent pictures, and have modern features like vibration reduction.

    3. Some of the latest P&S's are EXTREMELY easy to carry, especially the thin ones...so you may be more likely to have one with you when you happen on a surprise photo op.

    4. DSLRs will give you more control, allow you to swap lenses, and will usually do a lot better in low light than P&Ss.

    Look at it this way...no matter what route you take (new P & S, used DSLR, new lower priced DSLR), you will be able to take great pictures, so don't fret too much.

    I might even consider a used P&S (Ebay?) and a low cost slightly used DSLR (D40), if your budget allows. I think that P&Ss and DSLRs can complement each other.
     
  4. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, GMarquez and FightTheHeathens. I didn't know you could rent cameras - it looks like Adorama rents, so I may try that (I'm in Manhattan). It sounds like even the P&S will provide at least enough manual control to get started learning, and enough image quality that it won't just go into the closet if/when I move up to the SLR - so I may start there. But I think I'll try out a DSLR and see how it feels - thanks again for your help!
     
  5. SCWIDVICIOUS

    SCWIDVICIOUS Where did I put that camera?

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    kool, camera rentals. I never even thought of that, but not heard about it around here anywhere.
     
  6. reshp1

    reshp1 TPF Noob!

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    I actually just got into this game as well. I decided to go with a DSLR. I did a bit of photography in high school, and my P-S (Sony DSC-S90) made me miss the creative control of a SLR.

    I ended up getting a Pentax K110D, I've only played around with it for a few days, but I'm liking it a lot. The only thing I don't like is the small buffer size for continuous "burst" shooting, but if you're not doing action shots like you said it shouldn't matter. I got mine for $450 at beachcamera.com, and there's a $50 dollar rebate available right now through Pentax.
     
  7. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    One of the things i wanted to do with my compact was blur the background of some shots but that was almost impossible due to the small size of sensor. the SLR is so much easier to control.

    Also with a small sensor you'll get a lot more noise than with any DSLR. At 800ISO a compact's image will not look great but with a DSLR I can go to ISO3200 with my 20D and still get useable results. 1600ISO looks clean if you get the exposure right.

    If you can afford it go for a DSLR and get a decent lens (not the kit lens). I'd suggest sticking to Nikon or Canon only because of the amount of lenses and accessories available for these.

    Cheers
    Jim

    PS - I love my 20D.
     
  8. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    ^ pentax also has a rather large line of lenses, not to mention that all their lenses are back compatible, unless you use really old manual focus lenses but even then you can still use them.
     
  9. Funky

    Funky TPF Noob!

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    i still dont think you can beat the alpha a100 for the price and selection of lenses....its just a solid camera that can take some abuse. anything AF minolta will fit it.
     
  10. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for everyone's help. I went to the store today - I hit Calumet Photo and Best Buy (because Best Buy has the cameras out where you can hold all of them). I'm going to try Adorama and B&H tomorrow. I tried the Canon and Nikon SLR's - I held each of them, and I liked the Canons more than the Nikons just from the way they fit my hand. (I also tried the Sony - it was nice, but I preferred the Canon). That being said, I need to decide on a set-up. I'm looking in the $1000 range - I could go a little higher for taxes, accessories, and such, but don't want to break the bank. So if I could impose on you all one more time, here is what I'm thinking:

    a) a used or refurbished Canon 20D with the 18-55mm kit lens - and then buy a 55-200mm down the line for more zoom.
    b) a used or refurbished Canon 20D body, but pair it with a 28-135mm lens instead of the kit lens.
    c) a new Canon XT or XTi with a 28-135 lens, or the 18-55/55-200 pairing from above. The advantage of this is that the XT or XTI would be (a) slightly cheaper, (b) lighter, and (c) easier to find. The disadvantage is that I like the 20D better - but that's just from the feel of it (or rather the feel of the 30D, which I understand feels the same). Has anyone shot with both the XT and the 20D?

    So I think the main question is - what lens? The pairing of the kit 18-55 and a 55-200 would be a little cheaper than the 28-135 - but I've heard that the kit 18-55 isn't great, and I know glass is more important than the body. (Plus, is that even how it works? I assume that if I pair an 18-55 and a 55-200, I've got a working pair of lenses that will cover from 18-200, but...well, that's why this is "the beginner's place!") :)

    Any thoughts, experiences, rants, or random growling is appreciated!

    Thanks -B.
     
  11. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    Just as an update, I went with a new Canon 20D from Beach Camera, with the 18-55 kit lens. It won't be here until next week, given the holidays and all, but I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for all your help!
     
  12. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Post some pics when you start using it. Congrats!
     

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