looking to buy my first SLR...going crazy!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by bschmid84, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. bschmid84

    bschmid84 TPF Noob!

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    hi there. I am a new member and have numerous questions in regards to buying a DSLR. I have done extensive research over the past 6-8 months, and it seems I am only frustrating myself. I am making myself crazy. I am on this computer constantly reading reviews, articles, and anything I can get my hands on in regards to ''which camera to buy''. DPReview is my second home. I cannot join that forum because I do not have the right type of email, but fortunately I found this site! I am totally obsessed with making sure I get exactly what I am looking for, for the money I am spending. I have been saving for this purchase for about a year. Just when I think I have made the decision, I re-think things, and change my mind....I want to stop researching and get going with taking pictures, so I need some input! I really do not want to wait anymore for the ''right deal'' or next big thing...so here goes. here are my specs.

    my budget is around $700...for right now. I have scrimped and saved for over a year...

    the pictures I will be taking are as follows:

    1. my son playing basketball, ie...gymnasium, fast moving objects, not the best lighting conditions.

    2. my son playing baseball, ie...fast moving objects outside

    3. general outside photos, us goofing around playing golf, family gatherings.

    4. general inside pics. holidays, dogs/cats, the basic stuff.

    5. macros. bugs, flowers, etc. I like getting up close to stuff.

    Trying to find the right camera, I have owned a couple of P&S cameras since Christmas. One was a Panasonic FZ8. I really liked that camera. ALOT!, but....for taking pics in the gym, it just wasnt what I wanted. It was a somewhat complicated camera, but I figured it out pretty well.

    My son will be graduating HS in two years, and I figure I will be wanting something better for that event..I would imagine my daughter will be getting married in a few years, so there is ANOTHER arguement to purchase a good camera. my dilemma in purchasing an SLR is not having that wonderful zoom lens. I spend all that money, and I only have the basic lens, which is what, like 3x on a Point and Shoot? I love being able to get in close on something far away. I guess I just have to get over it.

    I have been researching entry level SLRs. I have looked at Canon, Sony and Nikon. At this point, I have narrowed it down to Nikon d40 and Nikon d60. My arguement between the two is this:

    I can use the kit lens with the d60 for basketball, and CROP better with more pixels. I wont have to be on the court to get good pictures.

    It has dust reduction

    It has a lower ISO.

    The lens kit is VR.


    however, the d40 is less expensive, I can buy another lens (the 55-200 vr, for example), and pretty much spend the same amount as the d60 with ONE lens.

    the flash is faster, takes better inside shots (?) is that true?

    the kit lens is not VR, but is supposed to be one of the best on the market...does having VR on a 18-55 lens matter that much?

    what about cropping down pics? If I am 35 feet away from my kid playing basketball, will the crops look good?

    my bottom line thought is to get the d40, then wait a little bit and get a used ''bridge'' camera with 12-15x zoom, and use that just for outdoors...i do not like the idea of constantly changing lenses, because I am scared of getting dust in the camera. plus...its expensive. that fz8 took AWESOME pics...

    I am really torn...my friend has a nikon d50, he has given me NUMEROUS pictures of my kids playing sports, and I have been relying on him for all my photos, for like TWO years now. I have messed around with it, its pretty bulky for me, though. i have small hands. I looked at buying a used d50, d70, etc..but i live in a small town situation, and finding a camera shop is next to impossible without traveling 100 miles....i could buy off ebay, but then I cant get an extended warranty. i am very frustrated. actually, there is a guy on ebay selling his brand new d60, unopened box, rec'd as a gift and has no interest in it....i could bid on it, as it is only at $550 right now. he has a great rating. but then again, i can not get the extended ''store'' warranty (ie, Best Buy)...which, knowing me, I will need.


    so. i would appreciate any comments, suggestions, tips so that can help resolve my issue. I would really like to put this to bed within the next two weeks. my son starts his summer ball league. I can use my friend's d50 I suppose, but I dont really want to. I would like my own camera...

    thanks for any advice
    -b
     
  2. Rogan

    Rogan TPF Noob!

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    id go for the D40 with the VR tele lens definately.

    then when you feel ready to spend more money repalce the kit lens with something of the same sort of range but faster and maybe with some sort of IS/VR

    and maybe a speedlight flash!
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi there! It looks to me as though a D40 with an 18-55 (non VR Not really needed at these focal lengths) would do you fine. You might look into getting a used 18-70mm AFS instead, you can check out KEH.com to start although e-bay might do as well as they aren't that delicate. I would then save up for a 70-300mm VR (it is helpful at the longer end of the scale ;)) for the out door sports and when you are further away.

    Many will tell you that you MUST have an f/2.8 or better but you can only do what you can do right?

    Good luck and don't be a stranger.

    or at least any stranger than me. ;)






    Edit: Doh, I completely forgot about the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. If it works with a D40 that would be the way to go.
     
  4. bschmid84

    bschmid84 TPF Noob!

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    thank you mike and rogan

    what does a speedlight flash do?

    18-70 AFS doesnt have VR...I am totally weirded out by not having some sort of stabilization. guess i got spoiled by the IS in that Panny. I cannot stand blur.

    thanks
    -b
     
  5. Rogan

    Rogan TPF Noob!

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    if ur in the right light and have a fast enuf shutter speed, IS is not really very beneficial

    a speedlight is a flash that can go onto the hot shoe on top of the camera or in your hand with the right cables etc,

    and can be pointed in all directions so that the light from the flash isnt dead onto the subject making it looks fake etc, they are also alot more powerful for filling a whole room with light
     
  6. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Welcome aboard! :) The reason you're still undecided after reading some of these other sites is because they don't actually tell you anything useful. :lol: I gave up on them long ago.

    The only thing that's really going to push the limits here is the first one, indoor gymnasium basketball. Any situation where you need to freeze fast motion and don't have good lighting at the same time presents enormous challenges. The professionals spend BIG money on the equipment needed to take great photos of that. The rest isn't anything out of the ordinary for affordable amateur level gear. All you'd need is an SB-400 or SB-600 flash for the rest along with basic kit lenses to get good results.

    You can get "super-zoom" lenses, but the 18-55 and 55-200 two lens kits offer superior image quality for half the price. Another option is to look for a kit with the Nikon 18-135mm lens. It's a great lens and also very affordable, but I'll get to that in a bit.

    You're correct that the higher MP sensor will let you crop better, but are a bit off path on the other points. First, I seriously doubt the 18-55 kit lens is going to give very good results for indoor basketball shooting. Again, fast motion and poor lighting means you need a fast lens. The 18-55 has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at the wide end (smaller f/number = more light) and f/5.6 at the long end (larger f/number, less light). For basketball you'll probably be at the 55mm end almost all the time where the lens is the slowest. To combat that, you'll have to crank the sensitivity all the way up to 1600 or 3200 to get the shutter speeds you need to freeze the actoin, and the photos will be noisy and just won't have the "punch". Will it be better than a P&S. Oh a great deal so! Just don't be expecting pro quality photos is all.

    Most of the dust reduction systems are gimmicks from what I've seen. I have a D80 and a D40 and nearly 30,000 photos between them, and the only thing I've ever needed to do as far as dust is just use a little $10 rocket blower to blast stuff out once in awhile, and that's it. I worried a lot about dust when i was first starting too, but it's been a non issue. Even if you do have dust, you'll typically only see it if you're shooting landscape type photos AND the dust area happens to land on a completely flat and neutral part of the photo, like the sky. Otherwise dust is usually invisible and doesn't affect your photos. When you can see it, because of the neutral background required to actually see it in the first place, that makes getting rid of it with the spot healer or bandaid tools that even the most basic photo editing programs have these days ridiculously easy.

    As far as ISO, what you really need for better sports action is better high ISO performance. They don't say this anywhere in the specs, but the 6MP D40 actually has better and cleaner looking high ISO performance than the 10MP sensors do. Reason? The more crammed 10MP sensor ends up having smaller photosites, and thus poorer sensitivity and image quality at high ISO. My 6MP D40 smokes my 10MP D80 and iso1600 and still gives passable results at 3200 believe it or not. I have no problem shooting my D40 at iso1600 if I need to, but don't like to take my D80 above 800. The D60 may or may not be a bit better than my D80 with an extra year and a half of noise reduction algorithms behind it, but from what I've seen it's probably not any better.

    Lastly, VR. It's useful if you're shooting still subjects such as landscape or scenic photos in marginal light without a tripod. But for moving targets it's useless. What you need for that are fast lenses, such as f/2.8 zooms, or f/2 or faster prime lenses. Given the choice of having it or not having it, of course I'd rather have it since it's not a whole lot more money and definitely useful in some but not all situations (like sports and action).


    Yes. :) So with the D40 you get better high ISO performance which would be great for sports, but you'll loose the ability to crop as aggressively since it's only 6MP vs 10MP. That's where the tradeoff is. Also if you got the D40 and the 55-200VR, at 55mm that lens is f/4, which is a one stop larger aperture (lets more light in, allows you to use a faster shutter speed) than the 18-55 which is f/5.6 at 55mm.

    Honestly the D40 and D60 will do about the same indoors. The D40 has a faster maximum flash sync speed of 1/500s which is GREAT if you need to fill in harsh shadows during the day, or use a flash when you have kids running around. Sounds like your kids are older, but for my 14 month old it's great. Getting a nicely exposed photo of her face if she's on a swing during the day with a shadow on her face, the 1/500s flash sync is essential for me. My D80 with only 1/200s flash sync doesn't do nearly as good of a job. I have to break-out my bigger and clumsier SB-600 flash and use one of the trick modes to use the flash at a shutter speed that fast. This isn't that big of a deal for most people, and there's other ways around it too, but it might help out a lot with your basketball shooting if you're allowed to use a flash. You'd have to check but probably not. Too distracting for players in a lot of cases, and you'll typically be out of range anyways.

    Probably not a whole lot of difference for the shooting conditions you're describing, to be honest. It's far more useful for people doing travel and scenic type photography where the best light is in the very early AM or late at night when you want to keep the ISO as low as possible for maximum image quality and are fighting slow shutter speeds as a result. That's where VR comes in handy and lets you get away without bothering with a tripod as much. The VR system on the 18-55 lens only gives a 2-stop improvement, so not really a big deal. The fancier VR versions give 3 or even 4 stop improvements which is much more significant, but will only if your shooting situation calls for it and it doesn't sound like yours does.


    [hit the character limit! :lmao: continued next post]
     
  7. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Well you have to be able to get a decent photo to begin with that would actually be worth cropping. :mrgreen: What you really need is a long fast lens or zoom, but unfortunately almost anything you get is going to blow your budget because that stuff is all expensive.

    I think the whole dust issue is over blown (sorry for the pun). Just get a $10 rocket blower and you're set. I'd skip the bridge camera and just get the extra 55-200VR lens.

    What you'd really need for those indoor BBall photos though is something like a 50mm f/1.8D prime lens for $100, or an 85mm f/1.8D for around $300 (used). The problem with these lenses on the D40, D40x, or D60 is that they have Nikon's old-style screw driven type AF system which depends on a motor in the camera body to drive them, which the D40/40x/60 all lack. So they'll be manual focus only. For autofocus on these cameras, you need "AF-S" type lenses or equivalent (Sigma HSM). They tend to be pricier, but are also newer designs that have much better optical quality than the older stuff. Nikon hasn't gotten around to updating their fast normal and short-tele primes to AF-S yet. Manually focusing is doable, just more difficult is all, and don't count on a high 'keeper' rate. Or consider a Canon where their equivalent lenses will all work with even their cheapest bodies. The Canon system has other issues working against it though.

    A used D50 would actually be a GREAT camera to consider buying used. I've seen them going for less than $300. Combine that with an 18-55 non-VR ($100), 50mm f/1.8D for bball stuff where you'll have AF support ($100), and then a 55-200VR for longer reach stuff ($200) and you'll come in at right around your $700 budget. Ask your friend what lens he uses for his D50 to get the photos, since the lens will make the biggest difference of all. The D50 has the same fast flash sync, greater lens compatibility with regards to autofocus, and the high ISO performance is still probably better than the D80/D60, although I've heard mixed reports. Every year the algorithms for image processing get a bit better as far as distinguishing detail from noise, and thus the ability of newer cameras even with the same 'old' sensor to give great performance at high ISO keeps getting better as well.


    Personally I'd get the D40 and 18-55 / 55-200VR combo, along with an SB-400 flash for indoor shooting. The SB-600 is the bigger bang for the buck and gives you more capability, but it's bigger and heavier and doesn't handle particularly well with a small body like the D40 unless you have a big lens on it too. By the time the fall basketball stuff comes around, Nikon may very well have a fast AF-S prime out, and the third-party lens makers are coming out with stuff all the time that will autofocus on these cameras as well, especially Sigma. They have a 30mm f/1.4 HSM that will AF on the D40, but 30mm probably isn't long enough for most bball shots unless you're standing right under the hoop and wait until they get close.

    Just for reference, the professionals use lenses like 200mm f/2 prime lenses ($5000) or 70-200mm f/2.8 professional zooms ($1700) along with professional $5000 camera bodies that work and look great up to iso3200 or 6400 for indoor low light sports like gymnastics and basketball, so set your expectations accordingly. :confused: Particularly for basketball, you're not going to achieve pro level results with amateur level equipment. ;)
     
  8. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    Mav
    Simply put
    Your my hero
     
  9. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    A good low light / available light camera for $700? I really think you don't want an SLR. They aren't as sexy at parties or in discussion on sites like this (or as expandable) but in terms of the price|performance ratio you're going to get allot more for $700 from a P&S. I guess $700 won't cover just the lens you need for the images you're talking about taking in an SLR form - especially if you don't want all of your images flashed. So a P&S with a good low light rep maybe? (Something like the DSC-F828? It's got a Carl Zeiss 28 - 200 mm (equiv.) at F2.0 - F2.8! external flash abilities [read below] etc.)

    I dunno what else you're going to do for indoor games. 35 feet with a $700 kit... I guess... That seems like it would be really stretching the limits of the equipment though. I think I would get high-spec point and shoot like that sony or maybe the Minolta A2 (for like $200) that can sync to an external flash (A2 has wireless flash controls built in so doesn't need the line-of-sight slave triggers) and then spend some money on a nice flash (or two - about $250ea. would bring it to your $700) - something along the lines or spec of the Speedlite 580EX. Mount one flash on the camera (via shoe or bracket) and set one on the side-lines on a mini pod (with diffuser cap) and shoot in comfort at ISO 100. The FZ7 might have worked like this but if I remember right it didn't have the hotshoe or PC cable connecters. Of course spending $2k or so on a bright lens and good flash for DSLR is better but $2k isn't $700.

    I dunno, just another option and opinion to confuse matters even more for you I guess.

    On the complete other hand if your friend takes "good enough" pics with his d50 and you can get the same rig for ~ $700 then do that by all means. I believe extended warrantees are purchasable separately - at least I see them advertised on-line. In-store options in Japan (where I live) are too good so I rarely consider them.

    Other people will probably know more. I was trying to remember what the lighting was like when I was on the HS basketball team but thinking about it I'm not sure they even had electric lights back then. ;)
     
  10. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mav .. what can I say ...:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     
  11. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    HUH?? :confused: I realize you're from Japan, but they don't even sell P&S cameras at more than USD $300-400 here anymore due to pricing pressures from the entry DSLR kits.

    Apples to oranges. The sensors on P&S's are tiny which is what lets them have larger aperture zooms like that. But the sensors start to look like crap above iso100 whereas you can shoot a Nikon D40 at iso1600 all day long and get great results. My D40 is easily better at 1600 than my P&S is at iso200, on top of being way sharper. And if you really want to get serious, $300 buys a 50mm f/1.4 lens for Nikon ($225 used), albeit manual focus on the D40.
     
  12. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Didn't I say $200? I thought I did...

    Yeah, a typical P&S from long long ago (3 years) at iso 200 is just about a perfect match to /most/ midline CMOS sensors at 800. Interestingly 100 on a P&S is about the same as 100 on a CMOS so it doesn't scale linearly. Modern P&S like the Nikon P5100 (although it shouldn't enter into this particular discussion I think) are about the same as your midline DSLR sensors. 1600=1600, 800=800, etc.

    If it's a good/newish P&S I would challenge that and even go so far as to call BS on it. :D No offense.

    Hmm, shooting basketball at 50mm? Yeah, I guess... I mean it could be done. Especially if there were no other fathers on the side-line and you could move about freely without being too disruptive. I wouldn't want to.

    But I don't want to turn this into a thing where we're each defending our opinions & recommendations either. That's usually not fun [Edit: although sometimes it can be.]. If he gets great deals on used equipment and/or has the time to hunt them down then I like your explanation much better.
     

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