Please help me narrow it down.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by bazooka, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi all, I've been lurking here for a while and am now needing help. I am looking to buy my first dSLR and I'm having a hard time narrowing it down. I used the feature search at dpreview.com but there are several features that aren't listed, nor is the price, so it seems useless for me who doesn't have a starting point.

    I have a degree in TV broadcast so I have a fundamental knowledge of photography and some experience with my Konica Minolta SLR (At work, don't know the model, but it's a WalMart variety that I got in '98). I love photography and have been doing ok with my P&S Powershot a560, but would really like to take the next step and start taking photos that are worthy of prints to put on my walls. I also have been doing quite a bit of reading here, particularly the tutorial thread, so I think I understand the important features and terminology. I also have an old Pentax from the 70's that my mom gave me (they bought it new), which I've never used. I would if I didn't have to bother with getting the film developed.... I like having a manual aperture ring like a video camera has.

    I plan on mostly shooting outdoor scenes, local wildlife (birds, dogs, not exotic), outdoor macro, lightning, (i love skies, sunsets, etc...) old buildings. My budget... I'd like to keep my body and first lens under $1k and I don't mind buying used off craigslist. I'm in Houston so our craigslist is pretty busy, lots to choose from.

    I have a few questions.

    Is having HDR technology useful if I'm shooting RAW?

    I'm leaning toward in-body IS to keep lens costs and weight down... is this correct reasoning?

    Do all dSLR's have remotes available? I like to use a tripod and would like to have the option of having a remote shutter release so as to not create any camera movement. Is this really practical or should I not worry about it?

    Do camera's have a feature where you can hold the shutter open as long as you want (for lightning)? Or is this not the correct procedure?

    How important is environment sealing and dust control? I don't plan on going through any dust storms, but might be out in a drizzle...

    I looked around a lot expecting to find lots of similar "What should I buy" threads but found only a few so I'm wondering if I'm posting this in the right place. Does anyone have any suggestions to help narrow down my search?

    Cost: $1k including lens.
    Can shoot large enough for larger prints... 11x14 perhaps?

    Sorry for the long post, I hope it wasn't too much. For your time, I'll throw in a pic I took with my Minolta several years ago that you can CC if you want. Be gentle. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Is this an on-camera feature now? Seems like a gimmick to me. It's a post processing technique, so don't worry about it until after you get the camera.

    Yes, that's the general idea. The only problem is that you take Canon & Nikon out of the running if you want in-camera stability.

    I would guess that yes, all DSLR cameras to have remotes available. Either from the manufacturer or as an aftermarket product. They will all have a self timer mode as well, so a remote is not strictly necessary if you don't mind using the timer.

    It's called 'Bulb' mode and most DLSR cameras to have this capability.

    It's nice to have, mostly for our own mental state of mind...so you don't have to worry too much about weather. But as long as you are relatively careful and use common sense, you can get through a little drizzle without weather sealing. I've had my cameras though a lot of weather abuse, without weather sealing.

    Funny, it seems that there are at least 5 to 10 of these posts each and every day :roll: ;)
    There is no 'right answer'. They are all pretty much good choices. My advice is to look for the features that you think you want, but then go into a good camera store and compare them 'in the flesh'. Hold them in your hands and play with them a little. They do vary from brand to brand, and you will probably get used to whatever you get...but you may find that the 'entry level' models are too small, or too cheap feeling for you. I certainly don't like them. I much prefer the heft, the fit & finish of the higher level models.

    Max print size is pretty subjective. Sure, more MP is better for making larger prints...but good technique (using a tripod) will help just as much or more. Also, consider the viewing distance. You can blow up your images to the size of a bill board, and as long as you view them from 50 feet away, they will still look great.
    You shouldn't have any problems making an 11x14 from any of the modern DSLR cameras.

    My suggestion would be to look at the mid-level two digit models from Canon or Nikon. In the Canon line up, that's 20D, 30D, 40D & 50D. For Nikon, that's D70, D80 & D90.
    You should be able to find these ones used, for well under your budget. I'd look for something newer (higher number).
    Of course, Canon & Nikon don't have in-camera stability...but they do tend to have the biggest selection of lenses & accessories and are the clear leaders in this market. However, there is nothing wrong with a Pentax or a Sony (formerly Minolta) DSLR camera.
     
  3. Nikkor

    Nikkor TPF Noob!

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    BigMike always gives the best advice.
     
  4. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Awsome, thanks a lot!! So most digital people have either a Canon or a Nikon? I guess in-lens motors don't sway people one way or the other?

    It seems the D90 is getting very high praises. I'll keep my eye open for a used one, or maybe a D80 (I don't really need video)... the 'new' price is a bit steep. I'm reading the d90 review right now on dpreview. I like that they compared it side-by-side with the d80.
     
  5. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes. And he is a great TEACHER as well. I learned a lot from him by just reading his posts in the past! Yes .. I was a noob before. :lol:
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    In-body HDR capabilitiy is something Pentax has managed to include in at lest one new body the K-7 I think it is. Sony and Pentax both have gone with in-body stabilization systems, which is a feature I think is pretty good. I tried an earlier Minolta 7D with in-body stabilizer and a 28-90mm zoom lens; I was able to get good, stabilized photos as low as 1/4 to 1/8 second over pretty much the entire range of the 28-90mm zoom lens (I have good technique and am quite steady, but the boost from the in-body system gained me additional stability I think). The value of having in-body stabilization with EVERY lens mounted is something a Canon or Nikon owner cannot tell you about...and it is one of the central selling points of Pentax and SOny d-slr bodies.

    The new Pentax K-x...dPreview is proclaiming it to be the best d-slr for low-light, High-ISO photographs. Apparently, Pentax has figured out a superb way to perform noise reduction on in-camera JPEG images, and has established itself as a true leader in this specific area.

    Pentax also has an emphasis on sealed lenses and sealed bodies, which I think is an over-rated aspect of d-slr photography, but for some people, that might be a key factor. The Pentax "sealed" thing depends however on using their sealed lenses--and not all are sealed! Pentax however, does have some nice lenses, in some focal lengths that NO OTHER maker has, like a 60-250mm f/4 constant aperture, higher-grade zoom--THAT is a lens range many Canon and Nikon shooters would really like to have available. Sony is making their new 70-400mm medium-heavy weight zoom--no other maker has that range these days, and their lens seems to be the new class leader in optics in the 80-400 or 100-400 class.

    Sony is pricing bodies very low, in order to "buy market share". Sony has the lowest-price full-frame bodies available in two classes. Sony has very low-cost entry level and medium-level bodies. Same with Pentax--they are pricing higher-end Pentax bodies well,well below the price of Nikon or Canon comparable models. I've been impressed with what I have seen/felt/shot with Minolta and now Sony bodies and higher-end lenses.

    Most people run with the herd...so Pentax and Sony have some unique selling propositions that no other camera/lens maker offers. Most owners shoot Canon or Nikon,and so will be able to tell you all about those two brands.
     
  7. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for your response. Do you think Sony and Pentax have an equal-quality product compared to similarly featured Canon/Nikon models? I'm wondering why (or so it seems) fewer people have Sony and Pentax than do Canon/Nikon if the prices are lower. I just want to make the most educated decision I can, so any input you and others can give me, I certainly value and will consider.
     
  8. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Bodies don't mean too much.
    Any dslr company will produce a body that will be functional for you. It is the glass you are shooting through that counts.

    There are two issues that you need to assess for ourself.
    1) How does the body fit in your hand?
    2) Can I get/afford good lenses? Look at lens reviews and costs. For example, the Nikon 18-70 (used to be the kit lens) is incredibly sharp and very affordable.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, Sony and Pentax in some cases have better-quality products in some cases than either Canon or Nikon have. Pentax has very high build quality in its lenses; compare the Pentax 18-55 kit lens against a anon or Nikon,and see the huge difference in build quality--Pentax has the best-made 18-55 on the market. Pentax has asmall,dedicated following, with many Japanese home market afficionados; people from the land of cameras, and who love equipment that is well-made. Compared to "similar" products, my opinion is that Pentax is offering higher-than-industry build quality at each price point, and is offering more features at a lower price than the competition. Sony is doing the same thing; the A900 has the same basic sensel as the Nikon D3x, but the price is lower by far, and the image quality is not as optimized as that of the D3x, but the price is around $5k less. The Sony A850 is offering a higher MP count than a Canon 5D-II, with a better-built body at hundreds of dollars lower a price point, and I think, with better features than the Canon 5D-II.

    There are far fewer Sony users because Minolta, then Sony, got to the d-slr party quite late. Same with Pentax. Pentax has only recently really gotten itself on the right track with camera bodies--they have had the lens area well covered for a long time. Canon and Nikon are the Ford and Chevrolet of the camera business...Pentax and Sony are like, well, Volvo and Audi,let's say--not the biggest manufacturers, not the best sellers.

    Pentax and Sony are two very different types of companies. All this stuff is just words on a computer screen; five minutes with a Pentax or Sony d-slr in your hands will tell you more about the company and their products than I could in a thousand words.
     
  10. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for your time. One last question if I could.

    I've decided that a d80 would be a good fit for me to start out with (unless I can find a cheap used d90). What would a similar featured camera model(s) be for Sony & Pentax (and Canon)? Thanks again.
     
  11. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hmmm, I found a used Canon 40D for 900$ with a new 28-135 lens (no other details as of yet). It looks like that's a step up from the d80? It seems to be much more expensive on retail sites. Is that a good deal assuming everything is in good condition?
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    I would favor the 40D over the D80.
     

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