Recommend a Digital SLR + Extras

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by aaroncampbell, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. aaroncampbell

    aaroncampbell TPF Noob!

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    I know that this has been posted before, but I think I'm more ignorant than most, so here it goes:

    I want to get a good Digital SLR camera. The problem is...I'm no photographer. My wife is what I would consider a photography Enthusiast...something a little above the average "hobby," with no aspirations to do anything more with it than personal stuff (art for our home, scrapbooking, websites, etc). With the holidays approaching, I'd like to get her a decent camera in the $1000 (USD) range. She does NOT have existing equipment to use with it (so we aren't limited to something that fits her existing lenses, etc). There are a couple problems. First, there are SO many options offered, I don't know which ones are advertising fluff, and which ones are useful/necessary. Also, I don't understand the lenses very well. It seems that a lot of cameras come with an 18-55mm lens. Can someone explain to me how the mm system works as far as what it actually means as you USE the camera?

    My mom got a Nikon D50 about a year ago (maybe a little more), and my wife loves it. I was considering getting her one just like it, but I don't want to buy something old if there is something considerably better. The thing I like about the Nikons was that they take SD memory rather than CF. Just a personal preference though (speaking of which, is one actually better than the other for photography purposes?). However, the Canon seems to offer a higher Megapixel rating at roughly the same pricepoint:
    Canon Rebel XTi - 10.1 - ~$800
    Nikon D50 - 6.1 - ~$700
    Nikon D80 - 10.2 - ~$1100
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    This has been discussed here...and all over the Internet for quite a while...you could probably turn up a million Google hits.

    Any of those camera should suit your needs...they are all great cameras. There are some minor differences here and there. As you say, the Nikons use SD card and the Canon uses CF. I believe that the CF format has better (bigger and faster) top end cards...but for non professional use...SD cards should be just fine.

    The 18-55mm is the focal length zoom range. 18mm is the shortest focal length and the widest view...55mm is the longest focal length and gives you the most magnification. This is what we would call the normal range...so this would be fine for everyday type of stuff. If, at a later time, you feel that you need a shorter or longer focal length...you can get another lens.

    More mega pixels are nice...but don't get too caught up in that. The image quality from the 6 MP D50 will still be fantastic...and plenty good enough for the average enthusiast.

    As for which camera to choose...I suggest going into a store and holding them. The Rebel and the D50 are smaller and have more plastic, so they are lighter. The D80 (and Canon's 30D) are bigger and more sturdy. Also the control layout is a bit different. A lot of people find the small ones to be too small...but plenty of people like them just fine.

    As I said, they are all great cameras and you & your wife would be happy with any of them. It may be worth getting the D50...for the simple reason that you know someone who has one...then you can compare notes and share lenses etc.
     
  3. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Edit: Mike beat me there, ignore the following as it's pretty much the same as the previous post :D

    Hi. I don't think CompactFlash is better than SD or vice versa. The higher-end cameras tend to use CompactFlash, although that shouldn't really be an issue if you don't intend to buy one of those cameras. I also prefer SD.

    As for the focal length (the 'mm'), essentially what you need to know is that a shorter focal length gives you a wider field of view, and a longer focal length gives a narrower field of view. 18mm is wide-angle, 35mm is fairly standard, and at 55mm it's more like a portrait lens. It may or may not help to know that an 18-55mm is roughly equivalent in 35mm film terms to 28mm-85mm.

    There are more important factors than megapixels. A 6mp DSLR will still produce great images that can be enlarged quite a bit. Any of those cameras will actually suit your needs very well; you could go for a Rebel XT or D50 and save quite a bit of money (which could be put towards good lenses). Just an idea.
     
  4. aaroncampbell

    aaroncampbell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike,
    I HAVE searched the net...and you're right...millions of articles at least. However, I kept coming across things like this or this. Basically, assuming that the buyer/interested party is somewhat "photography savvy"...and I'm not. I just know that if I'm going to put nearly (probably over after all the extras) $1k into something, I want the RIGHT something.

    Thanks both of you for the explanation on the lenses. It really helps.

    As for image size, what can you blow a 6.1 vs 10.1 mp image up to, and stil have it print photo quality? It SEEMS that a camera like the XTi with a resolution of 3888x2592 figued at 300dpi gives 12.96" x 8.64" (3888/300=12.96 & 2592/300=8.64) meaning you get something around an 8x10 (using standard photo sizes). Then, the d50 is 3,008 x 2,000, giving 10.02" x 6.66" which really only covers a 5x7 right? Does that seem incredibly small? Am I miscalculating somewhere?
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Your calculations look correct...but with a good quality digital image, you can print with less resolution than 300 pixels per inch...and/or you can interpolate (enlarge) the image in photoshop (or whatever) to get more pixels.

    It's quite possible to print a decent looking 20x30 print with a 6MP DSLR. There are other factors of course...like a good quality lens and use of a tripod ect...but the camera is quite capable.

    But if large prints are your goal...then more mega pixels do help...there is no denying that. Also, with more mega pixels, you have more freedom to crop.

    If it were up to me...I would certainly choose the XTi over the D50...not only for the mega pixel gain...but the XTi also has newer technology like the self cleaning sensor. The D80 looks like a great camera as well but it's a bit more expensive.
     
  6. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    IMO those reviews aren't overly technical. There are very few reviews of dSLRs that will completely avoid using technical terms, since SLRs are generally intended for users who have a rough idea of what those terms mean. Some of the terminology can be a little confusing, but just skip to the conclusion at the end of the reviews, where they'll give a general assessment of the things that will matter to you like the image quality, menu and button design, battery life etc. To be honest it might be better to ask your wife which camera looks better for her... sure it might ruin the surprise but at least then you'll know she's got the right camera for her.
     
  7. myopia

    myopia TPF Noob!

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    canon 20D. with a few prime lenses.

    compact, good price, good lens selection, good sensor size, etc.
     
  8. aaroncampbell

    aaroncampbell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone. We went and held the cameras, etc. She really likes the canon Rebel XTi. All the reviews says it's too small and "plasticy," but she has small hands, and "plasticy" means it's lighter (feels quite a bit lighter than the Nikon D80).

    Now, I hear over and over than the lens that comes with it is no good. Where do you get a replacement? Do you need to get one of the Canon Lenses? Or are there other places to get better lenses?
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    People (on the Internet) have been saying for years, that the EF-S 18-55 kit lens is crap...but many people use it everyday with great results. I have one...and it's not that bad. The worst thing about it...is that it's so light...it doesn't 'feel' like something of great quality...which is why I think it gets such a bad rap.

    For your wife, I suggest getting the kit lens with the camera...see how she likes it. She may never need a better lens.
     
  10. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just to add one more option here, I think the new pentax k10D is going to be a strong contender against canon and nikon. They have really stepped up to the plate IMO with their new offering with a 10mp camera, image stabilization, image orientation (camera knows if you are taking landscape or portrait), etc.

    Might want to consider this as well:
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Pentax/pentax_k10d.asp
     
  11. LWW

    LWW TPF Noob!

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    No matter which body you get you will always want more pixels.

    No matter which lens you buy you will always want it either wider or longer. Or both. Plus faster.

    My D50 from Feb,2006 was obsolete in some ways before I got home. OTOH my 1988 F4s still takes beautiful photos. Should I have waited 18 years for the D50 to come out? Look how much I would have saved. Look at what it would have cost me.

    LWW
     
  12. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I dunno about that... give me a 24mm f1.4 and it'll keep me happy for quite some time :D

    I agree with your point though - it's better to buy a camera and lens now than to be forever waiting for the next big thing. If we were a few months away from full-frame dSLRs being genuinely affordable for the average consumer then I'd say it's worth waiting; a couple of extra megapixels on the same small sensor is not quite as significant. For the money saved, 6 or 8 megapixels is still good IMO.
     

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