Need advice/recommendation on first DSLR

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Polyphony, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Polyphony

    Polyphony TPF Noob!

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    Quick background: I got into film photography about 5 years ago. After 2 years, I made the switch to digital but did not opt for a high-end camera. I bought a Canon Powershot A570IS and have been extremely happy with it since. I had already learned how to use manual settings with my film camera so there wasn't a problem there. Now after 3 years of digital photography, I quickly realized that I want to do more than what the Powershot can provide. This began my search for an entry-mid level DSLR.

    A good friend of mine had been using a Nikon D40 for quite some time. As a result, I was able to use and become familiar with this camera. I grew to like the interface and also the quality of its images. Now that I am actually in the market for a DSLR, I have my eye on the Nikon D5000.

    I went to Best Buy today and spent an hour messing around with the D5000 and also the D3000. The interface on the D5000 will take a little getting used to (coming from my Powershot) but otherwise I liked it. Just before I left the store I said what the hey and picked up the Canon EOS Digital Rebell T1i. I believe it is the same class as the D5000, just made by Canon.

    After fiddling around with it, I came to the conclusion that I liked the menu layout on the Canon better, but the physical layout of buttons on the camera better on the Nikon. At this point I had to leave so I just snapped two quick photos of the store from the D5000 and the T1i in auto mode. (I had previously selected the same settings for picture quality and size in both cameras). When comparing the two images side by side, I was amazed to notice that the Canons shot was MUCH better! I figured there would be slight differences but not this much. I mean, the Nikon looked like a camera phone picture (and I am NOT exaggerating). The Canons image was very clear and sharp, the colors were very defined etc. The Nikons image was dimmer, lighting was borderline terrible, the colors were dark and not defined. I was very disappointed with the image. I took some real quick shots of other parts of the store just to get one last comparison between both cameras and yielded the same results.

    What gives? Should I have expected this much of a difference? Both cameras were in auto and the settings were identical. Based solely on what I saw in those quick auto images, I would take the Canon any day.

    I guess I would just like some feedback. Experience with both cameras, what you've heard about both etc. Basically help me decide (also explain why there was such a big difference :confused: ). If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read.

    I should add, most of my photography consists of landscapes, waterscapes, nature..."outdoor photography" to sum it up :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  2. Polyphony

    Polyphony TPF Noob!

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    Anyone?
     
  3. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You cant go wrong with either.. but for the best bang for the money for an entry level camera, I think Canon wins.

    Those are floor models, someone might have messed around with the setting on both cameras that will effect the auto mode. So you cant compare the two especially from a small viewing screen.
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Did you check that the settings were the same? Someone could easily messed with the cameras and changed them.

    The photos taken with each, taken in program/auto mode, should be essentially the same. BTW buttons are more important than menus unless what you want to change is buried in one of them and takes too much time to get to a function you'll be using a lot. You can learn menus but you can't change the placement of buttons.

    Have you checked the Pentaxes?
     
  5. Polyphony

    Polyphony TPF Noob!

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    Right, I was trying to justify my findings that way. It could just be the screen on both cameras. Or someone could have screwed up the Nikon. I'm not sure if the screen differences could have affected the image as much as it did though. I mean, the Nikon image was VERY different from Canons. Like I said, much darker, blurred, and less vivid colors.
     
  6. Polyphony

    Polyphony TPF Noob!

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    Yes I specifically went through all the settings and made sure they were the same on both cameras. Otherwise my little test would have been useless.

    I will go back to the store today and spend more time with both cameras. Maybe I can figure out what happened.
     
  7. Lipoly

    Lipoly TPF Noob!

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    The LCD screen on the T1i has much higher resolution. I borrowed my friend's T1i to compare w/my D5000 and thought the same thing when comparing them on the LCD (Canon looked significantly better) but when I got them on the computer the difference went away. Here is some info I found on the D5000 @ Wikipedia which helped me decide on the D5000 over the T1i.

    "Dxomark published a detailed analysis where they rated the sensor of the D5000 in terms of image noise, dynamic range and color depth about 2/3 stops better than the Canon 500D / T1i,[8] which was visible in real-life comparisons made by Camera Labs.[9] DxOmark's camera sensor ranking places the D5000 above its competitors and even higher priced cameras like the Canon EOS 1D Mark III and Canon EOS 5D, partly due to a high dynamic range. [10]"


    I don't think you can go wrong w/either camera.
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    As mentioned above, image quality cannot be judged from the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

    DXO marks testing is only done on RAW images. DXO Mark only compares image quality metrics, but image quality is what a camera is all about.

    DXO Mark is also an independent lab.
     
  9. airgunr

    airgunr TPF Noob!

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    FWIW,

    You should also think about what you purchase as a system. The camera body is just a base. In some ways the lenses and other things have a greater impact on your photos than the body it'self. Which you can update at a later time.

    So it's good to consider those things. Nikon's have lens compatability going all the way back to early manual lenses. Canon does not, the modern cameras won't work with FD or earlier lenses without a special adaptor. I really don't think it's a big deal, just an example.

    Both Canon and Nikon have excellent flash systems. I've tried the Nikon CLS system and have been impressed with the relative ease in setting up and controlling the flash. I've not tried Canons system.

    Most manufacturer like Pentax, Sony, etc. make excellent products so a big part is the other stuff and what they have available so it suits your style of photography.
     
  10. AlexL

    AlexL TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't bet the actual difference in the photo was that much. Were both photos taken in RAW? You'll love the either anyways! I highly recommend the T2i though :)
     
  11. Polyphony

    Polyphony TPF Noob!

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    Ok guys, update. Went back to Best Buy to revisit this. I think some of the blame can be placed on the screen as someone said before. I zoomed in on both images and the two images from the D5000 and T1i are much more similar. There is still a difference though. I still lean towards Canon if having to choose the better image. I think Nikons tend to underexpose slightly and Canons tend to overexpose. My Canon PowerShot overexposes and so do all the models in the store. The Nikons in the store underexpose. (When I say over and underexpose I am talking VERY slight exposure differences). The information online seems to back this up also. Maybe what I am seeing in the Nikon is an underexposed picture that looks worse to me than Canons slight overexposure. Could someone confirm this? I'm thinking that if that is the case, then once you get either picture to the computer, it won't really matter.

    When it comes down to deciding which one to buy, I'm still stuck. Let's assume that both cameras produce a similar enough image that it doesn't matter once taken to the computer. On paper the D5000 sounds better to me. It's sensor is more advanced than the T1i. In practice, I like the feel and interface of the T1i better than the D5000. Is it worth it to get the D5000 with better components and take the time to get familiar with its layout? Or should I go for the T1i with the great layout and slightly under performing sensor? Any help is very much appreciated...and I need some! I have no idea what to do :grumpy:

    Basically my bottom-line question is: Should I be concerned with the fact that the D5000 sensor is better than the T1i sensor?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I see you're still undecided. In all honesty, it probably will not matter much which of these cameras you elect to buy. Most of what you are seeing is probably the result of the LCD screen differences, rather than the inherent image quality of the cameras. At the lower entry level d-slr category, I personally think that Canon has an edge over Nikon, and if you seem to prefer the Canon layout and menu structures, then the T1i might just be the camera for you.

    I was reading the other day at the Thom Hogan's Nikon Field Guide and Nikon Flash Guide web site, and he opined that Nikon has sort of lost its was at the lower end of the d-slr market, and that their offerings are stale, and unappealing. His article is probably now on the archived page 2 section, but what he was saying dovetails with my experience with Nikon going back to the early 1980's; namely, that Nikon has never been a very good entry-level camera maker, and their product history is littered with some really blase to awful lower-end cameras in the various Nikkormats, Nikon FG, FG-20, Nikon EM, Nikon N20/20, Nikon N4004 and 6006 models, N75, D50, D5000, D3000. Until the late 1970's, a "Nikon" was always a fully-professional camera, and a Nikkormat was an "amateur" camera. Beginning in the late 1970's, Nikon re-named what would have been Nikkormats, and started coming out with lower-cost models. But the Nikon corporation's real strength has always been its mid-range (aka its serious enthusiast/semi-pro bodies) and its flagship cameras.

    But you're inherently "onto something" between a T1i and a D5000, in that a well-shot image is going to be pretty good when taken to the computer, from either camera. I don't think either the T1i or the D5000 has a compelling or significant edge over the other camera. For a beginner, the d-slr advantage is going to be the viewfinder, the lens lineup available, and the speed with which the camera actually shoots a picture after pressing the shutter release button.

    I don't think the sensor advantage of one entry-level camera over another, in this instance, is that big of a deal. I'd buy whichever camera you happen to like more.
     

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