DSLR for an art historian?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by klover, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. klover

    klover TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,
    I'm looking into buying my first DSLR and would like some advice from the forum. As a student in art history, I will primarily be shooting two- and three-dimensional objects indoors, often in dimly-lit museum galleries. My secondary use will be shooting architecture, so some sort of wide-angle advantage would be good. Obviously, I won't be doing too many "action" shots but capturing minute details is essential for my purposes. Of course, I will also be using the camera for recreational purposes. The research I've done so far has pointed me to the Canon XT/XTi and Sony Alpha A100, given my **grad student budget**. Does anyone have an opinion on which would be a better camera for me? Is there another option I should look into? Also, any thoughts on lens options?

    For background, I have a little experience with film SLR but lately, it has just been my little 3.2 Canon Elph. Looking to step up :)
     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    any camera body will work, the lenses is where you're going to get the detail.

    the 18-55 and 18-70 kit lenses won't cut it. Prime lenses or f/2.8 zooms.
     
  3. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Switch is correct in that the body will not make a whole heck of a difference. Look into the lenses you will need for your particular situation. The XT comes with the 18-55 which is par at best but gets the job done. If you can upgrade to the EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS or the 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS will be a worthwhile trade-up. The 17-85 will give you more on the wide end. Still having a difficult time replacing mine with a faster equivalent.
    For close-ups and minute details, look into getting a good macro lens. Canon offers the 50, 60, 65, 100 & 180mm Macro. Price increases accordingly but so does performance. Working distance might become a factor for you. How close can you get to your subject and how much magnification do you need? The EF-S 60 f/2.8 offers excellent resolution and you can get within 4" of the subject. The 100 and 180mm offer more working distance and still maintain the magnification. The EF 180 f/3.5 L is the beast of all macro lenses with a pricetag to match! But an absolutley gorgeous lens. The MP-E 65 f/2.8 is a truly dedicated macro lens that is highly specialized for enlarging tiny subjects so might not suit your needs.
     
  4. klover

    klover TPF Noob!

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    Thank you very much!
     
  5. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Your welcome. As a side note, you may want to consider some sort of lighting set-up also. A normal single flash might not cut it since the light will be head on. You can try it with a difuser or bouncer. I like to set-up my miniature shots with two ambient side lights to soften the scene a bit. Since your in a gallery, I doubt they will let you set-up any light stands or what-not. Consider maybe a ringflash or something of that nature. B&H has those dual strobe set-ups by Novoflex, but it's pricey. Just something to consider.
     
  6. klover

    klover TPF Noob!

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    Hi Soylentgreen, thanks again for the follow-up. Actually, I doubt I would be able to use any flash in museums, maybe some galleries. I suppose that's where a steady hand (and good equipment) is necessary. I have to admit, I'm getting lost in the technical jargon. I'm sure it will all make more sense to me with some actual experience! Just browsing on my local craigslist, I found the following listing:

    "I'm debating on whether to sell my Canon Rebel XTI, 10.1 MP camera. It comes with three lenses: 1 50mm Canon 1.8f, a 75-300mm Quantaray 4.5-5.6, and a canon kit lens 18-55, 3.5-5.6. Great camera for just about anything. I bought this camera because a friend needed to save money on a photographer for a wedding and I wanted to make sure it was a wedding to remember. I haven't used it much since then except for just a few sports pictures. It includes a 4GB CF card, so you'll never run out of space. Includes carrying case, and all needed accessories. And...I did not include this the first time because I just plain forgot about it. But I do have a Canon digital flash 420EX. This flash can swivel 360 degrees and also up and down to bounce light off from different angles. Please make an offer."

    I'm considering pleading my case to this person as a poor student who will put this camera to good use, in hopes of getting a good deal. Do his lenses and flash sound like what I need? If so, would you recommend a good price I should offer him/her?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Good camera and flash...lenses are so-so. The 50 is actually an awesome lens, especially for the price. I think you should also consider a tripod. if it's pretty low-light, you can just use a longer shutter speed and it'll get you a better picture without blur. Just a thought.

    Just remember, none of those lenses are expensive...so don't make the offer too high.
     
  8. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    The Canon Rebel XTi is a good camera, but go to the store and play around with it to see if you like it. I found it a bit too small and "light" in my hands so I opted for the 20D. Feel is important, since you have to use this thing.
    None of the lenses really do anything for me, but the 50 f/1.8 is a great lens that can be had for about $90. The kit lens is ho-hum and I am sure the consensus will be the Quanteray is crap.
    You can use the lenses, but I am not sure the results will be too good. You can try haggling with the seller, but just make sure to have everything checked out before you buy. See if he will agree to bring it to a reputable shop to have the camera checked.
    For reference, you can get the XTi body for less than $600 brand new and the lenses I mentioned range from $400-1200. A new 20D is about $650 now. Sad since I paid $1100 for mine. Browse through B&H, Adorama for prices and eBay for the going rate on used equipment.
     
  9. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    If you do find the XTi too small, the battery grip should fix that. It might not, but any good shop should let you try it out as well.
     

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