Purchase advise.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by ACMark, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. ACMark

    ACMark TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone, as you can see I'm new. I'll go straight to the point because I dont want to waste anyone's time.

    I'm quite a beginner with photography, but I've always liked it since I was a kid, so I plan to make it a hobby, and by this I mean I am willing to take the time and spending the money needed.

    I am planning to buy 2 cameras. One compact, basically to carry around and just take random shoots. My option for this is the Sony Cybershot DSC T-300. Its in the range of around 350 USD. I would like to know (if you don't mind taking a bit of your time) your opinion in this, basically in the overall, is the camera good for its price? Do you know of any other cameras in the 'compact' range that have similar prices but provide better things? Basically just to know if I'm wasting my money in something that might give me less than others.

    And then, I would like to know what is the best dSLR camera I could buy. If you think that this is too vague, make it around 2000-2300 USD. Ive been reading around a bit but I'd like to know your opinions.

    Thanks in advance, anything you have to say will be greatly appreciated so don't hesitate to give your opinion.
     
  2. Zansho

    Zansho TPF Noob!

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    2300 USD? That's a pretty good budget.

    Here's my advice, take it for what you will. First, were I in your place, I wouldn't purchase the biggest, baddest, and most meanest DSLR you could find for your money. Certainly, a D300 or a 5D or even a used Canon EOS 1 Mark II is within you reach, but I personally think it's a bad idea to purchase a semi-pro or pro-level body right now, especially given your experience level. You wouldn't go race in NASCAR after you just got your driver's license, would you? Same thing applies here.

    Any photographer worth their salt will tell you that lighting and lenses are what makes excellent images. Today's bodies are all capable of creating stunning imagery, it's what lenses and lighting equipment you have that makes the difference. I could take a Canon Rebel XT and with good lenses and good lighting, take an excellent image.

    That being said, I'd go for something like a used 30D, maybe a new 40D, or even refurbished. Adorama.com has plenty of refurbished DSLR's and they're all great value. I'd invest mainly in GOOD lenses - meaning primes, like a 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8, and maybe a nice zoom like a 24-70 2.8. Secondly, I'd grab a flash to help with your images too. If you're going through Canon route, the 430 EXII is a fine choice, and it's capable of doing pretty much what 90% of the consumer market asks of it.

    Read this if you need to know more about flash photography:

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=132035&highlight=flash tutorial

    Lastly, to find out which body you really like, you need to go out and touch them, play with them, and feel them in your hands. Rebel XSI's and smaller Nikons might not feel comfortable in your hands. You might prefer something like a 30 or 40D with larger grips for comfort purposes. Don't fall into the trap of "wow, this one has a lot of megapixels, it must be awesome!" Anything 8-10 MP is pretty much sufficient for consumers, and even pros use them. I still have my 30D as a backup to my 40D and 5D, and I don't hesitate to pull it out if I have to.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As a point the smaller XTi type cameras nearly all come with an optional battery grip = its well worth getting one of these for more battery life (the canon edition also come with a series of controls for your camera when you hold it in the portrate mode - to the side - so you don't have to reach for the normal shutter button) The grip adds more size to the camera for bigger hands.

    After that I second what Zansho says - its all about the photographer holding the camera and the lens on the camera rather than the body (the body only records - to record it must see which comes from the lens!)
    For canon L lenses are the best to head for if you can afford them. A key part in this is what sort of photography you are looking to use the camera for - that will determine which lenses are going to be important to you
     
  4. ACMark

    ACMark TPF Noob!

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    I am willing to take pictures of mainly landscapes and animals. I know I'm a newbie when it comes to photography, but Im aiming to buy a camera/lenses so that I don't have to buy a new one in the next 5 years at least (I know this is asking for a lot considering how things get older by the second now, but I think that if I invest a considerable ammount of money in lenses and a good camera body, for what I need the camera, I was hoping that I wouldn't need to invest a lot more in the comming years, unless I want to upgrade).

    I don't know much about cameras and/or lenses, but I will definitely put the effort needed and I will take my time to learn about it, I just need a bit of help to buy the gear first, and I didn't want to just ask maybe in a store in which they will probably just try to sell the most expensive thing, and then I might be disappointed in a couple of years when I know more about it.

    Thanks for all the info so far, I really appreciate it! Further comments are welcome aswell!

    edited: btw, any comments on the compact camera? Ill be buying it in the next 2-3 days probably.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2008
  5. snowalker

    snowalker TPF Noob!

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    In my opinion it's not good to buy a pro or semi-pro camera if you don't know to much about photography. Take it easy.
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Lenses tend to be more stable in their upgrading than other products at the moment - that is the top end ones are. New technology does come out, but a good high level lens can be around for years without getting any update - and even after the update the lens is still valued.
    The bodies are a different matter - they upgrade and become old very quickly, especially at the lower end of the body line - though one has to accept that these are hobbled cameras that will never upgrade as much as a top of the line will.

    In the end its best to get a good (top quality) set of lenses and then look to a top of the range body - that way you get the most out of your lenses now rather than have a body with substandard lenses
    http://www.juzaphoto.com/eng/galleries/fauna-geese_and_ducks_of_racconigi.htm
    there you can see a 350D and 20D squaring off against each other - the 20D is the middle of the range body whilst the 350D is the lower end of the market - and when both have pro level lenses they perform brilliantly well - stick low end lenses on them and quality would degrade.

    Now as to your interests, when you say animals are you thinking pets, zoos, wildlife? Pets and zoos you can work with a good 70-200mm range (f2.8 I would advocate as the best aperture to aim for as with this not only do you get a good low light performing lens, but also if you use teleconverters (which add focal range at a cost of quality) you can keep a lower aperture than on a higher aperture lens (this is because teleconverters also reduce the maximum aperture available to a lens).
    300mm is a good mazimum range for captive animals at zoos - whilst it also sits as the best minimum range for wildlife. If birds are your thing then you might need to look (in the future) more to a 500mm lens due to the small size of most birds (And the ranges that you tend to end up shooting at). That said a good 300mm f2.8 (wide aperture) will work with teleconverters to get you that extra range - it won't be as good as a prime lens, but it is good enough for when you are possibly waiting to upgrade
     
  7. ACMark

    ACMark TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a lot for the information Overread, it was really useful. I want to focus mainly in wildlife by the way.

    I've been talking with a friend of mine who's got a Canon 5D, I talked with him about what you're telling me and his opinion is that the difference in the body would be that if you take a camera that isnt so good, even wearing the same lenses as a good model, you'd have to edit it to get the final picture to a better quality. I don't know what you guys think about this, I'll take your advise anyways as my friend is only an amateur, all the information we have is what people have been telling us, yet no one has given us examples such as you, which is why I greatly appreciate the information and the examples, as it gives me more confidence in what you're saying.

    You guys have cleared quite a lot of doubts I had, I still have to wait a while though to buy a camera, so further opinions would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for all the effort you've been putting in helping a beginner like me.
     
  8. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    Boy with that budget, you can get a very good dslr kit. Go to a local shop and test them out before deciding. Ergonomics plays a big role in decision and accessories are a huge part. Canon and Nikon are the two largest players, with Sony, Panasonic, etc. pulling up the rear.
    Since i use Canon, my recommendation will lean towards that way, but the choices are interchangeable among companies. Start with a decent camera body that will allow you to grow as you progress in skill. Better to have features and not need it, than needing it and not having it. I lean towards the pro-sumer/ semi-pro bodies (Canon 30D, 40D, Nikon D200, D300). The Canon 40D kit with the EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS lens just dropped to like $1089 USD. Considering that it's a $550 lens and a $1300 body that I paid for less than a year ago, that's a sweet deal. Add a EF-S 10-22mm ultra-wide angle for landscapes and a EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS for wildlife and you are set up with a very sweet starter set. Throw in a camera bag, extra battery and CF cards and go to town. That should last you a while until you really figure things out and will cover the whole gamut of landscape to wildlife photography.
    As you progress, those lenses are still very good and should carry over. The larger aperature and zoom lenses are nice (f/2.8 and less) but are pricey and you will make a move towards them as you see the need for them. (Think $3K+)
    Nikon has similar bodies and lenses in the ranges I mentioned also and so does Sony.
     
  9. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    If that's really true then you need to be looking at pro models or upper end semi-pro models.


    • Sony:
      A700
    • Olympus:
      E-3
    • Pentax:
      K20D
    • Nikon:
      D3,
      D700,
      (maybe on the low end the D300.)
    • Samsung
      GX-20
    • Canon
      EOS 40D
      EOS-1Ds Mark III
      EOS-1D Mark III

    And here they all are. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare_post.asp?page=1&remove=5
    Actually the Olympus E3 is missing from the line up so here it is separately:
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Olympus/oly_e3.asp
    and http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympuse3/ <-- Use the pull-down menu to navigate this 35 page review.

    I think this won't be matched in 4 or 5 years at least but it's not a dSLR..:
    Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1


    But it also depends on what you mean by "have to buy a new one". If you mean features and image quality then I got it right. But if you mean the camera will physically wear out or something like that then really any camera should last 8 or 10 years if you care for it. Even a pocketable P&S. :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2008
  10. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    No camera will keep you "safe" for 5 years, and any camera will. What I mean is, it doesn't depend on the camera type as much as it does on you - you might never need anything more that an entry level model, and you might realize you want a professional body after only a year. Therefore I would suggest trying a balanced approach - a mid-level, prosumer camera with a good choice of lenses which you can use later, or which at least have a good resell value. My suggestions:

    Ultra-compact P&S: Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-V7

    Good, compact and cheap - you shouldn't give more than USD200 for a compact P&S in my opinion.It's around USD150 new in Japan (going out of production though, due to the new V8 model - +1 megapixel and face recognition...)

    Nikon dSLR setup:

    • Body:

    • Nikon D200 camera body (new or used) - around USD700 used
    • Lenses

    • Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 with AF motor (same price as without) - around USD300-350 new
    • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 Macro OR Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 - around USD900 new
    • Nikkor 50mm f1.4 - around USD250 new
    • Other equipment

    • Good tripod with good head - around USD200
    • Nikon SB-600 Speedlight - around USD250
    TOTAL:USD2800 (P&S included)

    About USD150 more than you mentioned, but you could get the 50mm f1.4 later.

    Canon dSLR setup:

    • Body:

    • Canon 40D (new or used) - around USD750-800 new
    • Lenses

    • Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 (same price as without) - around USD300-350 new
    • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 Macro - around USD900 new
    • Canon 50mm f1.8 - around USD100 new
    • Other equipment

    • Good tripod with good head - around USD200
    • Canon 430EXII Speedlight - around USD250
    TOTAL:USD2600 (P&S included)

    Fits nicely in the range you mentioned.

    You will also need to think about some memory cards and batteries, and maybe a camera bag. I use a Nikon, and have been playing with several Canons so I can only give you some advise on that. Hope this helps
     
  11. ACMark

    ACMark TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the info, specially the price ranges, they're really useful.

    I took a look on the D700 and the D3 Bifurcator and I think they're a bit over what I'm looking for, they seem to be around 3500+ just the body (and thats the cheapest I could find).

    You did get the idea right though, I was asking about features and image quality, I expect the cameras not to wear out (I still have my father's cameras, I don't know the model but they're around 20+ years old, a Nikon, a Canon and a Leika) as I take good care of my stuff.

    I think I'm going to aim for a Nikon probably, but I still have a month or two to choose. The D300 seems a bit more in the price range I was looking, what are the big differences between the D300 and the D3 and D700 that creates that huge gap in the prices?

    I'm quite interested in the Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1 though... I saw the videos, I was wondering if I could take nice wildlife/landscape shots with it, since you said it's not a dSLR, (obviously I can, but my point being, would there be a big difference with the results?). What would the main use for this camera be so to say?

    Samriel's suggestion for the Nikon 'pack' looks like what I'm looking for, I think I'm gonna go for that but I still have a while to decide.

    Thanks everyone and I'm sorry for all the questions.
     
  12. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Those seem like really simple questions but they're actually quite involved.

    1. Will there be a big difference with the results?

      Based on my experiences with other bridge and P&S models I'm firmly convinced that this depends (99.8%) on the target output.
      • Magazine images offset printing: Little to no difference.
      • Poster Offset Printing: Little to no difference from a viewable distance.
      • A4 inkjet home printing: Little to no difference.
      • Viewable sizes on you're computer's LCDs: Little to no difference.
      • 100% zoom on you computer's LCD: huge difference.
      • 100% zoom on you computer's LCD after post processing: some difference.
      • Sharing images on the Web: Little to no difference. (or take a look at my threads (link below) and see what even more inferior gear produces.
      • A2/B2 large inkjet studio printers: I think big difference but photoshop can equalize allot of it.

      In all of these examples the small-sensor camera images will almost always need photoshopping but so do most images from a D3 so it's like that same thing with different settings. The D3 will need the sharpening slider in a different location. The noise reduction on a D3 image at 400 ISO or below, is mostly academic while at ISO 100 in the Casio-like cameras it's needed. Stuff like that.

      I haven't seen any test images from the Casio but if it's like my Minolta A2 (which took all the images in the threads listed from that link) and many other small sensor bridge and P&S cameras it's so so so close (when using them at ISO 100 and below) to the same quality as Mmmm, a Nikon D200 or D300 at 200~400 ISO or really any other semi-pro dSLR. I guess the Casio is new so its 200 ISO is at least usable but that may even be questionable. Basically with these small sensors you're stuck using ISO 100 or if they offer a lower one then that too (mine has ISO 64 as it's lowest). Anything above 100 ISO introduces too much noise and starts looking more like the D300 at ISO 3200 or the D200 at ISO 800. The DOF blur effect is also lessened considerably by the sensor size - though not eliminated entirely as some suggest.

      Landscapes would be fine. Wildlife would probably be fine on the Casio with it's 60fps full 6mp continuous mode. On my camera it could be troublesome if the animal is moving and in dark shady areas. Daylight is fine with my camera but the (non-detachable) lens that mine comes with is not posumer or high grade and at 200mm (it longest length) I'm pretty much usually noticing a quality (resolving factor) hit. Anything below 190 is pretty average tho. Again, I dunno what the casio is like yet. I think I'm going to get one though while I'm waiting for Nikon to come out with a semi-pro model with 1080i or progressive-scan video.


    2. What's it good for?

      Wow, too much stuff. The casio has 1080i video which is actually too big for anyone to use in home systems conveniently and it has 720p which is massive but at least normal people can edit it. My machines are all set up for working with 4k motion picture film so I don't mind either personally. It can also shoot 60fps (adjustable down to much lower if you like) in "continuous" still sequences in full 6mp frames.

      I think the more appropriate question is: What is it not good for?
      • Any shots outside the range of it's zoom obviously. There are attachments though.
      • Small sensors probably suck at commercial grade architectural photography where the resolving power of even really high grade glass and large sensors are often put to the test.
      • Low light shots without a tripod or flash are probably out. Low light as in 1 second exposures wide open at ISO 100. Good dSLRs have ISO 1600, 3200 and above so the same shot on something like the D700 or D3 can be hand held.
      • I guess even new small sensors are still terrible at very long exposures over 3 to 5 minutes or so. And the resolving power isn't really there for astrophotography. so that is probably out.
      • It probably would not be ideal at indoor or night-time sports outside the range of it's flash. But it would still mostly be good enough at it for the school paper or a web site. (that one is kinda tough without actually trying it, so this is a guess based on experience with older equipment - again.)
      • It would probably be fine for everything else I can think of. I wouldn't be afraid to shoot a wedding or try studio portraiture with it - given the output considerations listed above. In fact with it's fast continuous mode and ultra rapid flash recycling it might be better than some pro cameras at weddings, events, and similar stuff. You would probably have to know the camera well to do so tho - what it can and can't do and plan for those things.
    Umm, I guess I covered all the bases. Others may know more.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008

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