First DSLR, looking for advice

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by Zoolook, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. Zoolook

    Zoolook TPF Noob!

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    Hi all, this is my first post here.

    I have been an enthusiast photographer for about 17 years, having used an Olympus OM-1, Canon EOS 33 and various digital cameras like the Fuji S9000 and Olympus 5060 amongst others. I have never bought a digital SLR

    My wife is a journalist and sometimes does word and picture features, and has had photos published in national newspapers and magazines (in the UK) - she has traditionally used slide, but now, like me, is interested in moving to digital.

    Bearing in mind the economy, and other priorities we have between us (like Grad school and saving for an apartment in NYC), we're looking for a solid DSLR, that will suit both of our needs; occasional photo-journalist requirements and a lot of enthusiast work, but isn't going to break the bank!

    I am a lot more technical than she is, although she has the far better eye, so something that's simple on the surface, but has deeper features as well that are easy to access.

    So far, the cameras that have caught my eye are: Canon 30D (older but seems good value), 40D, 50D (are these worth the extra cash?) used 5D (around $1300) Rebel XSi (how does this compare with the older 30D?) Nikon D80, D200 (seem to be the same price-ish) Olympus e520 and Sony Alpha 300,, 350, 700 (at a push)

    Basically I can spend $700 or more on a body and get a couple of good lenses, or get a more expensive body (circa $1100 and perhaps only one lens).

    Looking for advice on flexibility, easy of use, image quality and longevity. If there are others I have missed, feel free to comment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Do you still have any lenses that you uses on you EOS 33? Because they will also work on any EOS digital body.

    This question (or similar) is asked fairly often, and as always, the best advice is for you to go into a good camera store and see the cameras first hand. The biggest difference between the Canon Rebel series and something like a 30D/40D/50D is the size of the body and the feel of it. The rebels are light and made with more plastic where the others use metal. I'm guessing that a 30/40/50D would be a better choice for your uses but it does come at an extra cost....which as you point out, could be well spent on good quality glass.

    The 5D is a step up from the 30/40/50D because it has a larger sensor, but I really don't think that will be a big factor for you. I think the 'crop' sensor cameras will be just fine.

    As for the 30D vs a 40D or 50D...I'd say that it is a fairly significant upgrade but the 30D is still a good camera. I think the 40D is a grea value right now, because it's not too old but has dropped in price quite a bit because of the newer 50D.
     
  3. Zoolook

    Zoolook TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Big Mike.

    Some of the better lenses we have on the 33 might not come over so well, for example a prime 50mm will suddenly be a prime 72mm and the 18-55 will be a 25 - 80 or so, which might be useful, but we want the wide-angle really.

    For this reason the 5D might be a good plump for the 'full frame', so the focul lengths stay the same.

    I'll definitely try out a few, but it would be good to get a heads up especially when considering some of them 2nd hand. I am leaning towards the 40D, but also like the Alpha 700. I have never owned or used a Nikon, but will still give them a look.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    To be technically correct, the focal length stays the same on either type of camera. The only thing that changes is the field of view. But yes, crop bodies would make it harder to get a wide view with you current lenses, but that doesn't mean that they are useless. A 50mm lens is still pretty good on a digital crop body.
    To make up for the loss in FOV, you can just use a wider lens...something in the 17-50mm range....or something in the 10-20mm range for ultra wide.
    But yes, a 5D would give you a FOV the same as what you were getting on your film cameras.

    As for different brands, I would certainly suggest that you check them out as well. I know Canon so that's what I use as an example, but the others are good as well. The latest crop of Nikon cameras seem to be very good. The D300 & D700 especially.
     
  5. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Which camera should you buy?

    Look at the LENS systems for the cameras you are considering... as your primary decision factor... since you have Canon lenses, you know what they are and whether you like them and plan to reuse them. Digital cameras come and go, but the lenses you will own for 10 or 20 years... so my advise is to look at which LENS system you like the best.

    I shoot Nikon because I like Nikon lenses... not because of a particular camera body. Canon also makes fantastic lenses. If you are wanting to use cheaper 3rd party lenses, then it doesn't matter very much which DSLR you end up with.

    I would make SURE the Sony has the lens system you really want before investing in it... while their lenses are fantastic, the system is not as well populated in choices as Canon and Nikon...

    Lens choice is far more important than which $700 camera body you will buy, especially when all the cameras you have listed will make excellent pictures.
     
  6. Zoolook

    Zoolook TPF Noob!

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    I agree, and the fact we have Canon lenses does factor in. The Sony cameras are compatible with Minolta as well.

    I am pretty hung up on the whole sensor size though, and having lenses retain their FoV when changing bodies later on seems important to me - I think this is a hangover from being used to 35mm film for so long. Is the full-frame sensor likely to become more common, or do you think there will be 1.4x and 1.6x sensors for the long term as well?
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    I can certainly see that it would be comfortable and convenient for you both, as you are migrating from 35mm film, to go with a full frame camera. But once you get past the notion that '50mm is this wide' then you probably wouldn't care about full frame or crop.

    Future compatibility is an issue to consider though. While there are more full frame cameras now than there were a year ago, I do think that crop cameras are going to be around for a while. And really, the only thing to be concerned about are the lenses that are designed for crop bodies only. Canon's EF-S lenses, for example, will only work on the crop bodies, not on full frame or film cameras. Canon EF lenses will work just fine on any EOS camera.

    One advantage of the crop bodies is that they ignore the outer edges of EF lenses. The outer edges are often the worst areas in terms of image quality, so crop cameras only use the 'sweet spot' so to speak.

    In the end, it comes down to what you are comfortable with, so if you think full frame is the way to go, then go for it. Full frame gives you great image quality, it just costs more.
     
  8. Zoolook

    Zoolook TPF Noob!

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    That's interesting; I can see there might be a trap of getting a lower quality EF lens that displays no signs of vignetting ona crop, but then does when you go to a larger sensor later on.

    OK, time to do some research, thanks a lot for the tips.
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    The answer may be to buy a crop body initially but full frame lenses. Then if you decided to, you could move to a full frame later.

    Full frame may be better for wider angles but crop body seems better for telephoto. A handholdable 70mm to 300mm for example becomes a 105mm to 450mm in 35mm or full frame terms. There are not many 450mm lenses tha do not require a tripod in the world of full frame shooting.

    skieur
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    There are many people who say you should take the crop factor into account when figuring hand-hold ability. So at 300mm on a crop camera (Canon 1.6), you would want a shutter speed of 1/480.
     
  11. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another advantage of a crop body, if you are shooting sports or wildlife (both of which is what I do), is the fact that you can get a lot longer "reach" out of your lenses... a 200mm lens is effectively 300mm which means you have to lug around less glass to get the job done.

    Conversely, this is BAD if you are a hard core wide angle shooter. People shooters tend to be hard core wide angle shooters...

    Bad landscape shooters tend to do it too (I never have understood why people want to shoot landscapes with lenses that have a ton of distortion in them, but that's me).
     
  12. Zoolook

    Zoolook TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, my range is usualyl 28mm to 128mm or so, my wife is more like 18mm to 50mm.
     

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