Entry Level DSLR Advice for Beginner

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by odway, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Hey I'm new here and after some advice!

    For the last few years I've been itching to get into photography a bit more than just weekend happy snaps but for some reason or another (money, time etc!) I haven’t had the chance. With Christmas coming up my parents have agreed to pay for some proportion of a DSLR for me which is great because although we already have a digital p&s I feel limited by it (it's at least 6 -8 years old with no manual settings... try taking photos of galloping horses with that!)

    I don't want to go down the film route because although I did photography in early high school (I'm 19 now) I've forgotten a lot of it and I don’t want to be spending a lot of money getting photos developed that are full of mistakes. Also I want to be able to see my photos on the spot. I think once I've found my feet with DSLR photography then I might look into film.

    I plan mainly to photograph animals (anything from insects and birds up to horses). I want to do equine photography so I'll need something that can handle action shots well especially for things like showjumping and cross country. I don't plan to go pro at all, but there is a strong demand for equine photos at shows so I suppose with time I'll see how it all pans out. I can always upgrade later so really for the moment I just want something that I can learn on.

    Anyway, the advice bit (sorry for the rambling!)
    From what I can gather the four main entry level DSLRs are the Canon EOS 350D, Nikon D50, Pentax *ist and the Olympus. I've narrowed it down to the Canon and the Nikon, but am open to other suggestions. I've felt both in the shop and I definitely like the feel of the Nikon better especially because I'm going to be doing a lot of shooting outdoors and it just feels more solid and robust. But then on the other hand I've heard it doesn’t handle action shots as well as the Canon... so now I'm stuck.

    Money wise, I don’t really want to spend more than $1000 AUD so that's then around $800 US. But duty free is an option as we are travelling soon, plus if the right camera presents itself I don’t mind going above (but not if it's unnecessary for my purposes... does that make sense?!). I wasn't planning on buying a kit (I'm normally turned off by the whole kit thing) and I'm more keen on buying just a body and then lenses separately. I've already got Adobe Photoshop.

    I found at home an old broken Minolta XG1 with a Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm 1:2 lens and a Vivitar Close Focussing Auto Zoom 70-150mm 1:3.8 I don't know if that's relevant to anything, or if I can use either of those lenses with a new camera.

    So really, I'm after advice about what you would do in my situation. Which body and lenses should I get for what I want to do? I'm a little bit lost with the vastness of how many choices there are.

    Thanks a bunch, I really appreciate that you read this far!
    od.
     
  2. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    Look into the D40, it is the new entry level camera replacing the D50.
     
  3. CMan

    CMan TPF Noob!

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    I have the 400D, the succesor to the 350D; I think it's a great camera. But I'm going to give you some advice.

    Go to the store, hold both the Canon and the Nikon, familiarize yourself with them, and whichever one feels the best to you is the one you should get. They are both great cameras that take wonderful pictures, with lots of good lens options. What is most important is what feels good to you.
     
  4. bla

    bla TPF Noob!

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    Hey there,

    If you like the feel of the Nikon better, then I would lean towards the Nikon. The Canon 350D indeed has the ergonomics of a lego toy.

    Your dilemma with equine action shots may not be as founded as you think. In my opinion, this has more to do with the lens than the camera body. I believe in fact, the Nikon D40 (new model replacing D50) and the 350D both have a max shutter speed of 1/4000, which should be ample speed if you have a good lens.

    What you heard probably has more to do with the Nikon kit lens, which might be a bit slow. I think the Nikon's autofocus is slower as well, but that depends if you want to use autofocus.
     
  5. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Ah that clears things up heaps, thanks for that! The input is much appreciated!

    I'm definitely leaning towards the Nikon D40 now if the max shutter speed is the same on both the Nikon and the Canon... that pretty much solves my dilemma in one blow.

    The only thing that now concerns me is that from what I've read the D40 is lighter and smaller than the D50. I'll try and go out as soon as possible to hold the D40 but until then I'd like to know if there's a huge difference in the way the camera feels now? What attracted me to the D50 was the way it felt more robust and less piddly than the Canon, is the D40 the same?

    Also could the lenses I found at home be used on the camera(s)?

    Once again thanks for your help guys, it's much appreciated!
     
  6. kelox

    kelox TPF Noob!

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  7. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In practical terms...all the entry level DSLR cameras from Canon & Nikon are great cameras...and should suit you well. As mentioned, the biggest differences are the ergonomics and feel...so you are on the right track by holding them first. Go with the one that feels best to you.

    Also, as mentioned, the camera will be much less of a factor in what you can do/shoot...than the lens. With either Canon or Nikon, the kit lens is considered slow (largest aperture is not very big). However, the kits lenses will allow you to get a nice wide field of view...for a great price. After the kit lens...my suggestion would be to get a fast (large max. aperture) prime lens (non-zoom). A 50mm F1.8 lens is very inexpensive but optically very good...and the large maximum aperture will allow you to use a faster shutter speed...which will help freeze motion...like horses.
     
  9. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Firstly, thankyou so much for the help. I truely appreciate it and it's helping me out a lot, much thanks!

    I know I write really long posts, so I appologise in advance... it just helps me clear things up in my head. If it helps any, I normally put questions at the end :p

    Ok I went to some camera shops today and had a closer look at the ones I was considering. I'm pretty much sold on the D50. I've decided against the Canon, it just doesn't float my boat. My friend has one and she let me have a decent play around with it today, and I know if we both had Canons we could share gear, but it's just not feeling right for me. I'd rather something that felt good to me then sacrificing feel for the sake of sharing gear, even if I may upgrade the body later. Plus I like to be different :)

    I looked at the D40s in the camera shops and it's nice that it's cheaper and more friendly on my budget but I think that the price drop is not enough to make me want this camera. I was a little soured off it after looking more closely at the specs. and reading some reviews... I figure if I'm going to do this photography thing then I'm going to do it properly. From what I can gather a lot of people have started off with the D50 and it's done them just fine, I don't really want something like the D40 that's so new on the market. At least there aren't many unknowns with the D50 anymore.

    So it looks like I'm going with the D50. I checked and the max shutter speed is the same as the Canon, so my dilemma seems to be resolved. Now it's just the matter of getting my hands on one! Not so many around in the shops now with the D40 out, and the one I held last week was sold and is now back ordered. Oh well, no rush. Mum suggested online (not ebay, but online camera sales) but I'm not sure if I trust enough.

    Anyway, questions:

    Is it worth getting the kit lenses?
    I could get the kit lenses and then something that can handle action shots a bit better eg a 50mm F1.8 lens like Big Mike suggested (thanks BM!) or is there a better alternative?
    I've always been under the impression that things bundled into a kit were of low quality or not really worth it in the long run.

    also
    Will either of the lenses I found at home work with this camera (Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm 1:2 lens and a Vivitar Close Focussing Auto Zoom 70-150mm 1:3.8 )?
    I'm very "noob" when it comes to lenses so please excuse my ignorance, I'll learn soon enough!

    Thanks again
    od.
     
  10. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I think a kit lens and a fast prime is not a bad idea at all. As good as a fast 50mm will be, having that ('equivalent to' 75mm) and nothing else is likely to be a bit limiting, you'll probably want something a little wider, and a kit lens is a good way of giving you wide-angle without spending a lot of money. Yes, some of the kit lenses are a little poor, but some are better than others and most will be pretty decent at f/8 and above. Just ask around to find out which are the better inexpensive zooms.

    Sorry but the Minolta and Vivitar lens will not work on the Nikon or any other DSLR (with the possible exception of an Olympus with an adapter); they are for the Minolta manual-focus lens mount and won't fit on anything else.
     
  11. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for that info, very helpful! I'll do some reading tonight on lenses as I definately am lagging behind in the glass area!

    The cheapest D50 with lens I've come across so far has been the D50 with 18-55mm at $840 ($660 US) which is well within my budget as my max is $1000 AUD with an extra $200-$300 from the parents.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ZaphodB has given good advice. The kit lenses are actually pretty good...for the money. I think the only add about $100 to the price of the camera...which is a great deal. You probably won't find anything better in that range, for less than $400.

    A kit lens, paired with a fast prime (like the 50mm F1.8 ) would indeed make a great starter set. After that, I would suggest things like; more memory cards, a tripod, a circular polarizer & a hot-shoe flash.

    You are right to be weary about buying on-line. But there are some good places. B&H and Adorama are the two biggest stores and both have great prices and a great reputation.
     

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