it's time to get a real camera. your opinions and advice are appreciated

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Rhett, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. Rhett

    Rhett TPF Noob!

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    hello everybody

    i'm new to the forums and the thought of professional photography so feel free to flame me if i say anything "stupid/ignorant" :) i won't mind

    i've always had a passion for taking pictures, but i never have given much thought to purchasing some really nice equipment to do it with.

    i suppose it would be easier for you guys to point me in the right direction if you knew where i'm coming from and where i would like to go.

    i like to take a lot of still photos. stuff like sunsets/rises, clouds, plants, architecture, animals, and just random things that i see a good "flow" of lines/shapes in. i hardly ever take photos of moving stuff (mainly because they are almost always blurred). i also like taking really close macro photos (bugs, coins, leaves) but i have a really hard time doing it because of my equipment. i am intruiged by the fine details in few good macro shots i manage to take though.

    the only two cameras i use are a 4MP nikon coolpix and (your gonna laugh) the 1.3MP camera on my cellphone :) . truthfully, 97% of the pictures i take are with my cellphone (proabably average about 20-30 pics a day) because i never think to bring the nikon anywhere with me.

    i'm ready to step it up though and i need a camera with manual focus. i can't tell you how much auto-focus frustrates me.

    as for applications, well i would like something versitile. here is a list of things i can see myself using a nice camera for:

    1. still photos like i described above (i believe some this could also classify as stock photography which could be sold on the internet). i also plan to do some serious traveling here in a couple years and think building a stockpile of photos from around the world would be a good way to stay productive while i'm traveling.

    2. modeling. i know a lot of beautiful women and a meet a lot more quite frequently. i've always thought of it as an untapped resource :) . plus i know plenty who would be willing to let me practice my photography skills on them in exchange for some free photos to put in their portfolio.

    3. i coulda sworn there was a third thing i was thinking about, but i forgot it for the moment (probably due to all the beautiful women i was just thinking of). i'll edit my post if i remember it later :lol: .

    i know a whole lot of nuthin about professional cameras. what i do know though it that "quality" lenses can be quite expensive. i'm not worried about buying the most bad ass camera i can right off the bat. i think it would be wiser to put my money into some really nice lenses that i can use with other cameras as i get more experienced in the years to come. besides, technology upgrades so fast that something that is mind blowing today will only be ho-hum in a year or two. i can see a good lense retaining it value (both usefulness and monetary) for much longer than a camera.

    maybe not though. this is just what i assume. i have no expertise

    so with all that being said, i would really appreciate some help in choosing a camera and some lenses to go with it. price isn't really an issue but i see no reason to spend exorbitant amount on equipment i wouldn't know how to use to even 20% of it's potential. if i'm right about the lenses i'd rather put my investment there and just buy a nice rugged/durable camera to learn the ropes on.

    and thank you in advance for any advice you are willing to give me. i trully do appreciate it :mrgreen:
     
  2. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you want some replies, I think you really need to specify a budget. What's exorbitant for you might not be exhorbitant for others and vice versa. Also, once you have a budget do some research on the cameras (features, lens availability, accessories...) that fall in that budget. Once you have a selection of a few cameras maybe ask some more specific questions on TPF and go to a shop to handle the cameras, to see which one is best for you.
     
  3. Rhett

    Rhett TPF Noob!

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    ok steph. as in budget i wouldn't want to spend more than about 1500-2000 total (camera body, lenses, carrying case, memory cards, etc).

    and after a bit of research i'm gravitating towards the canon XT / XTi. there only a price difference of $120 so i was thinking the XTi, but i read several things people have wrote on here that said you'd be better off just to spend that extra money on lenses.

    the whole photo jargin of cmos points, sensor sizes and whatnot i don't understand so the only difference i could understand is that the xti has 2 more megapixels and it can shoot more shots in a row or sumthin like that.

    i still have no clue about what type of lenses i would want to get though. i would like to start off with 2-3 maybe. i could really use some direction in this department.

    thanks
     
  4. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    You're correct on this point, and already knowing this probably puts you ahead of about 90% of the people making the "what camera to get" posts. :) That said, pick a lens or a group of lenses that you'd like to shoot with based on the majority of your budget, and then get a cheap or possibly even used DSLR body to shoot it with based on what's left. And yes, the feel of the camera in your hands and how easily you can reach controls and how much sense the menu system makes to you is very important. Of course, no need to spend tons of money on pro glass right off the bat either. The basic 18-55 kit lenses are perfectly fine for beginners while you're learning. Heck, they're even perfectly fine for more advanced users who just want to go light rather than toting their heavy pro glass around everywhere.

    A good general guide for DSLR lenses is here: http://www.digital-slr-guide.com/best-digital-slr-lens.html
     
  5. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My opinion is that if you're serious about spending the money and getting into the hobby, you may be better off skipping the entry level offerings and getting a new, or gently used last generation prosumer.

    The XT/XTI/XSI/40D/40Dx/60D are good cameras, don't get me wrong, but you could pick up a used 30D for $650 with extra supplies, a new one for $750, a D70 or D80 could be had for a good price used as well. That leaves you more money to spend on glass and lights.

    Glass and lights....the expensive, but most important part of photography. If you want to do macro, you'll at least need a good macro lens to get started. If you want to do modeling, you can get away with a kit lens, seriously, but you'll need lights and the knowledge of how to use them.

    Usually camera "noobs" don't really think far enough ahead. Why purchase a $500 camera body if you're going to want to turn around and sell it for a loss and spend $1000 on another one a year down the road. Just do your reasearch first and read up on the type of photography you want to do and what it takes for each aspect.

    If you just came in here saying "I want a camera to take snapshots of my kids", then it would be a different story...

    And one more thing. You'll find AF on a DSLR to be more accurate and faster than any P&S.
     
  6. I agree with VI: If you know you like photography, and can afford it, avoid the entry-level stuff. The mid-field products are so good you'll never exceed the need.
     
  7. Ok, here's a post I made earlier, I think I will post this a lot in the future, as your question is hardly atypical:

    The suggested decision-making tree goes something like this:

    1: Do you already have SLR lenses? If you already own Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Olympus/Konica or Minolta lenses, then you ought to consider Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Olympus/Sony camera bodies.

    2. If you're going for a new system, consider the available legacy lenses. Pentax and Sony (formerly known as Konica-Minolta) have great old lenses to buy. Obviously the other brands do, too... but they're no longer overlooked bargains.

    3. Friends - got any close friends or relatives with gear and experience? Don't ignore it. You can shorten your learning curve, and borrow/share lenses and other gear before buying.

    4. Cost - each brand has entry-level and more advances products. See who gives you the most bang for the buck - pick more than one. If you can afford it, pay for a better body.

    5. Handling - go to stores, see what you think. This is an important step, and a nice way to confirm or dispell some assumptions.

    6. Once you're ready, take a look at package deals - pick the best lens + body combo, or buy them individually if you don't like what you're offered.

    --------------

    We ought to refine and then sticky that process....

    Personal recommendation: If I had to start with a new system, I'd seriously consider Pentax. Light, small, weather-sealed, Live View (all of which makes it good for landscapes and travel) a spectacular line of lenses going back many years... Also, for extra "smallness" add the 40mm f/2.0 Pancake lens to the package.
     
  8. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think you're skipping a very important step. Considering the manufacture's current lens lineup and availablity is very important as well. Not all systems allow you to AF or even meter with the older lenses. Telling some one that they should consider the older glass without even mentioning to make sure what's also in the current line up is suitable for them is guiding them in the wrong direction.
     
  9. Point well taken.

    VI is right - older lenses are often quite good, sometimes even better than current products... but they may only permit manual focus, it might complicate light metering, and limit or exclude certain modern functionality.
     
  10. Rhett

    Rhett TPF Noob!

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    Mav - thanks for that superb link. a whole lot of good info there i had know idea about. i feel like i'm more up to speed now :)

    VI- i can't quite tell if your saying getting and older model because of the cheaper price is a good or a bad thing. personally, i hardly ever buy anything when it first comes out (cars, computers, phones, etc). i personally believe the sweet spot of cost-to-function is somewhere about 1-2 years behind cutting edge.

    Iron - are you saying an XTi would be considered entery-level stuff? seemed pretty mid-ranged to me, but i am a noob. clarify this please. also you recommended a pentax if you were starting out again? i've never heard of that brand but i'll look into it. the weather-proof would definatley be a plus since i live in florida and the humidity can have some harmful effects on electronics. are the lenses on par with canon and nikon lenses though? the link mav gave me suggest canon or nikon cameras because of superior lenses and the fact that most 3rd party lenses are designed for these 2 brands.

    it seems that the hardest decision i'm gonna have to make is not which camera i want, but witch brand of lenses i'm gonna wanna stick with :meh:
     
  11. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That's it for the most part. Your good glass is normally going to cost you $500-$1000 retail for current lineups. Superb, $1000-$7000

    Switching brands can become insanely expensive, fortunately, glass usually holds it's value extremely well.

    The Digital Rebel, XT and XTI are Canon's entry level DSLR's. The XTI is about $500-$600 for just the body. The XSI is the upgrade to the XTI which is supposed to be released to consumers around the first part of April. The 30D is $700-$800 for just the body (new prices for both). The 40D is the current replacement of the XXD lines. They're considered "pro-sumers"

    The 30D is 8mp, and will deliver almost identical IQ to the XT and XTI, it just differs by having superior build quality and features. It's a magnesium alloy body and not plastic. It shoots up to 5 frames per second as opposed to 3 and has a larger buffer. It has the option to spot meter. It has a wider ISO range which is adjustable in 1/3's of a stop rather than whole stops. It AF's faster. It has more AF points, iirc. It has a top mount LCD as well for added convenience. You can adjust ISO without going into the camera menu. It has a scroll wheel which allows you to change aperture independently of the shutter speed where as the XT and XTI you have to press an AV button and scroll the shutter speed wheel to change the aperture. It's a larger body.

    You'll find advantage and upgrades like that between pretty much any brand's entry level and mid level lines. The only difference is that Canon and Nikon have been in the game longer, so they have several generations to choose from with lower prices. That's not saying the other brands are bad, it'll just be a few more years before you can buy a mid level pentax, sony, or olympus for $250.

    But keep in mind, the IQ will generall be the same between the mid level and entry level cameras with the exception of processor upgrades.
     
  12. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    The Rebel XT/XTi/XSi are all considered entry level cameras. The 20D/30D/40D are the more advanced amateur / professional level bodies. And then there's the 1D series and 5D which are professional in every aspect, with a professional price tag to boot.

    Nikon's D40/50/60/70/80 cameras are all entry level to advanced amateur. The D200/300 are the entry level pro bodies, and the D2-series and D3 are the full professional bodies also with full professional price tags.

    As far as consumer level lenses just talking about zooms, Nikon easily has the better lineup. They have the 18-55 (and VR version), 18-70, 16-85VR, 18-135, and 18-200VR lenses. 6 mid-zoom lenses starting at 18mm or less. Canon has the 18-55 (also with or without VR/IS), the 17-85IS, and that's it. 6 vs 3. The rest of Canon's lenses start at 24-28mm which are designed for film cameras and not the smaller "crop factor" sensors in most DSLRs and they're really not very wide at all. You'd have trouble getting group shots indoors, or getting a landscape with most of them.

    But then Canon has a much more complete telephoto zoom lineup. But then Nikon has a better wide angle lens lineup, including a crop factor fisheye lens for ultra ultra wide photography that'll work great on their cheapest D40 body. Canon has no equivalent, although there is a third party lens that'll work. Nikon's telephoto lineup can be a bit frustrating to Nikon guys to the point that they might to out and buy a Canon lens and body and still come out ahead money wise. And Canon's wideangle lens lineup can be frustrating enough to Canon guys that they'll actually buy Nikon lenses and then use special adapters and still get better photos than they would with the Canon glass. Guys with Canon 5D cameras do this all the time.

    It's tough to figure all of this out before you've started, and by which time you already have an investment in equipment for a particular brand which would make selling it all and switching a pain. Nobody has really captured this online in any article I've seen and I should really put one together myself. I've contemplated switching to Canon a few times just because I like a lot of their telephoto lenses A LOT better than what Nikon offers, but I like Nikon body designs enough that I've stuck with Nikon. And then some are the exact opposite. I'm sure there's more than a few Canonites lusting over Nikon's 18-135 and 18-200VR lenses. There's no Canon branded equivalent of those lenses, and they're amazingly versatile. There's some third-party alternatives, but they often cut corners and just don't have the overall image quality that the manufacturer brand lenses do. Anyways I could go on all day. I really need to put this all into an article.
     

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