Most versatile rig on a 700 USD budget?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Tritone, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. Tritone

    Tritone TPF Noob!

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    Hi!

    Later this year I'm moving to a strange and distant land for an indeterminate amount of time, and I want to document my experiences there. My current crappy, dying camera is NOT up to the task.

    Here's what I am looking for (Note: I honestly don't have enough experience to know if what I'm asking for is reasonable or not, so let me know if I'm being stupid):

    -700 USD or less

    -Obviously, good image quality

    -Versatile enough to photograph anything and everything (close people, far people, landscapes, monuments, signs, night, day) decently, with ONE lens if possible. This is the most important consideration, because I plan to keep this camera in my bag and on my person 24 hours a day. Am I asking the impossible? I'm too ignorant of photography to know.

    -Since I will be carrying this camera everywhere, not being bulky and heavy would be a huge plus. I'd rather have a nice, compact point-and-shoot, but I've heard DSLRs are more versatile because of the better depth of field range and ISOs (and obviously the interchangeable parts), but lugging around a big heavy camera isn't really what I want to do if I can avoid it.

    Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First welcome to the forum!!

    Now, understand that all of this is used except the memory card.

    A Nikon D50/70s with a 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens; a 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 lens -both Nikon!; a 4 gig card w/reader (so you won't wear out your camera's cable port). This will get you in around your budget.

    If you can scrape up a little more then get a flash -an SB 600 would be great but if you check out strobist and follow directions you can get a cheaper one. Another good purchase would be a 50mm f/1.8 lens for low light and nice bokeh.

    Best of luck and remember to write!! ;)
     
  3. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    We should first discuss if a DSLR is really suitable for your trip (lucky too). You already mentioned that bulk, weight and versatility is of the upmost importance. You already mentioned that you are a bit on the inexperienced side (therefor not tied to the feel and operation of an SLR). You already mentioned that this camera will be on your persons 24/7. You already mentioned that you prefer ONE lens. You also stated a budget of $700 (good for you.. most 1st time requests forget this important bit of info) All of which are reasons pointing towards a high-end P&S. Don't fool yourself into thinking that P&S == low quality.... there have been many professionals using these cameras for their assignments and backup cameras. My buddy currently serving in Iraq is a SLR user... always has been... its now at home collecting dust while his high end P&S serves with him. Reasons he has are very similar to your "specifications". There just isn't enough room...

    Some P&S that I would really recommend you at least look into:

    Canon G9. About $500 and the newest (and best IMO) in Canon's high end G-series line. Full DSLR like controls, RAW, full compatibility with their ETTL flashes, Compact, Good glass, Good sensor, Lots of features, IS, and good focal range (although not a superzoom).

    Nikon P5100. REALLY compact and packed full of features. Not as feature rich as the Canon but it is cheaper. Nikon has a very compact flash that fits VERY will on the Nikon... its one of the neatest little flashes I have ever seen... even has a bounce head.

    Ricoh Caplio GX100. Again.. high end camera with features. Very popular and good remarks from the Leica folks. Sorry.. don't have any personal experience to share though.

    All of these cameras have reviews on www.dpreview.com which are worth reading. www.reidreviews.com (requires subscription) also has a good write up on the Canon G9.

    You are in a photography forum.... As such, the people here are generally biased towards Image Quality above all else. They are willing to carry some of the heaviest and bulkiest equipment to create that perfect photo. Just like cigar and wine connoisseurs would puke at the thought of cheap flavored cigars and box wine, generally people here will balk at the thought of embarking on such a life opportunity with anything but the highest end DSLRs. So expect a bias that doesn't necessarily equate to something that fits your needs...

    If your final choice is an DSLR, Mike suggestion is a good one. If you can stretch your budget a bit more, you should REALLY look into the Pentax K200D with kit lens. Then add a fast prime of your choice for those really low light shots. Reasons.. Pentax's are very compact, the K200D (as with the K10D and K20D) are weather and dust resistant, and they maintain complete compatibility with older K-mount manual lenses (for those with a budget and willing to manually focus).

    I would also suggest looking at some of the backpacker's forums and get their input from the other side of the fence.


    oh yeh.. welcome to the forum.
     
  4. carlostau

    carlostau TPF Noob!

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    If you can spend a little more (around 830) you could get a Nikon D40 with a Sigma 18-200 lens which pretty much covers the whole range you are going to shoot: You have the 18mm end for landscapes and "storytelling" pictures and the 200mm end for portraits, macros, etc.
    The major benefit of that is that you would carry just one lens instead of two. In any case it will be quite heavier than any point & shoot, so I guess you have to first decide if you are willing to carry the extra weight
     
  5. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A friend recently bought a XT w/ 18-55 for $450, then a 70-300 Tamron for $130, and a 50mm f/1.8 for $75. That got him all kinds of zoom and a tack sharp lens. All for around $650.

    You could do the same with Nikon.

    Carlostau mentioned a supercrazyzoom - which may fit your needs well. I would add to that, a 50mm f/1.8 if you can swing it. It's itty bitty and you can carry it practically anywhere (don't get too creative).
     
  6. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A used d70 with an 18-135 and a 50mm f1.8, and then a used 55-200 if you still have money left over. Not the absolute best set-up, but it will be able to provide you with plenty of good images and will fit your price range.
     
  7. Tritone

    Tritone TPF Noob!

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    Thanks to everyone for all your help!

    I've decided to buy a high end point and shoot, save up some money and perhaps down the line upgrade to a DSLR. This way, I'll have a camera from the start that I'll take around with me, and then when I've grown some as a photographer I can add a heavy-duty camera when I need it.

    Thanks again to everyone for all your advice, and I hope to be spending a lot more time around here as I get more into photography.
     

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