wannabe amateur photographer--need help choosing camera, online stores

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by oceaneyes, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. oceaneyes

    oceaneyes TPF Noob!

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    Hi, everyone. I'm new here. I'm also pretty new to photography--that is to say, photography that goes beyond point-and-click snapshots using whatever camera happens to be at hand. I became interested in going beyond this simple interface with cameras when I stumbled upon the shutter speed and aperture settings on my mom's digital camera--I'd read about the basics of these features on the internet a couple months ago and decided to give the settings a try. The result, on my first shot, impressed me--though it may be below typical quality compared to stuff everyone here is used to. Here it is:

    [​IMG]

    Like I said, it's probably below standard but I've never been able to take a picture and get exactly what I wanted from it, with a foreground in focus and the background kinda blurred. I know it's a little dark, but I'm sort of a dark person and all that dark green with the red/pink/purple/whatevercoloritis in middle just pleases me...in short, the picture captured exactly what drew me to the flower in the first place. Had I the presence of mind or the skill, I might have taken two more photos...one with the background in focus with the foreground out of focus and one with both in focus. But hey--I remember where that flower is and what time of day it caught my eye, so if I get a DSLR...who knows? Plus, there are billions of other flowers in the world. Heh, what an exciting prospect.

    But I digress...What I'm here to ask about is digital SLR's...they seem neat. They look like they can do more than the camera above. But, there are so many! Luckily, most of them are out of my price range...so that narrows it down. What I've been looking at are the Olympus EVOLT E-410, the Nikon
    D40x, and the Canon Digital Rebel XTi. I'm really leaning toward the Olympus because on some websites I can find it in a kit with two lenses (which I really don't know anything about) for less than $720. This is a nice price, compared to what appears to be the MSRP listed in this Digital Photography Buyer's Guide that I picked up yesterday. I'm not sure about the other two, I haven't done much research into them but the kit's I've seen in the magazine seem to include only one lens at the same MSRP, leading me to suspect that the relative prices would probably be about the same on the websites I've found.

    So, any suggestions? Any words of wisdom? I definitely learned my lesson about impulse buying the first thing I saw with my current laptop...bad move on my part, but something I have learned to deal with.

    Oh, and are there any particular websites that anyone has advice about? Ones to stay away from? One's to check out? And what about used/refurbished equipment? Has anyone ever been burned by trying used equipment? Are warranties typically still good on used camera equipment?

    If I asked too many questions, please let me know how I can improve my queries. I know many forums have strict rules and guidelines but I didn't really notice any here yet--it's late and I should be getting to sleep soon, so I've been in a hurry to complete this post.

    Oh, and one more thing. I know this is getting a little long-winded, but are there any good references to learn about DSLR lenses? I'd like to know how to discriminate smartly when making my purchase--for all I know, the two lenses that come with the Olympus could be worse than the one that comes with the Canon kit.
     
  2. ryyback

    ryyback TPF Noob!

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    Hi there and welcome to the forum.

    To help in the search for cameras etc. where abouts are you located?
    In Canada there are a few good places on the net--www.henrys.com ,
    www.cameracanada.com , just to name a couple off hand. Or you can go with B&H and Adorama (click up in the right hand corner of this website).
    As for cameras, the choice is really yours! What is your budget, what do you want to shoot , etc. Most kits come with OK lenses, but the better ones cost more-the old saying, "you get what you pay for" applies here. Do a search on the forum for lenses or go over to www.fredmiranda.com to learn and compare.
    Hope this helps-:)
     
  3. Mesoam

    Mesoam TPF Noob!

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    if you are unsure how "deep" you want to get into it buy used first...IMO
     
  4. Richard

    Richard TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to the forum. I bought a D40 at the beginning of this year. My opinion is that I would go for the a Canon or Nikon. They are the leading SLR makers and produce great lens. As you will learn, the lens is a very important part in photography. I know you mentioned the Olympus coming with 2 kit lens but for about 100 dollars you could get a 50mm prime lens for a Canon or Nikon and that is a lens that you will be able to compare great glass from good glass. Just search this forum about the 50mm and you will see many post with recommendations.

    I do my shopping at http://bhphotovideo.com great prices and a trustworthy company.

    Be careful there are a few web sites that will offer too good to be true prices and I mean low prices for a camera, these are scams. If you find a place you want to buy a camera you can always post it here and ask if anyone knows anything about that company, or just research it on the internet.

    Also as far as Nikon I would skip the D40 if possible and get the D80. The D80 can use more lens and has a few extra features that will make shooting a little easier.

     
  5. oceaneyes

    oceaneyes TPF Noob!

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    I was checking out bhphotovideo last night and of the websites I've seen so far, it seems to be the best in terms of price, though I did have some trouble filtering my search results on my home computer last night...but that seems to work better on my work computer.

    I have found a Nikon 40x with two 2Gb SD cards (which is the capacity I was going to go for anyway since my access to decent computers will probably be few and far between over the next few months), an 18-55mm Lens...aw heck, I'm just gonna paste the description here:

    D40x, 10.2 Megapixel, SLR, Digital Camera Kit with Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens and SanDisk 2GB Ultra II Secure Digital (SD) Card


    So is that the 50 mm you were talking about?

    This camera is perfectly within my price range ($749) and has the extras that I was hoping for...the D80, however, is more expensive than this...with the same extras, it costs about $1199.95. Which is just too much for me right now...

    As far as lenses go, I think from what I read on the website that the lenses the D40x can support are the ones with AF-S or AF-I in their descriptions, right? I guess that makes sense, since the CPUs would have to be compatible with the camera or they wouldn't be able to communicate...

    A nice person pm'd me a link to the wikipedia article on bokeh...very interesting. I read about it and if I recall correctly, then there are lenses that are made(not really, made, but more useful for I guess...) for portraits, which tend to have a smaller depth of field...right? Or am I completely off the mark?
     
  6. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, that is correct to a point. The D40x will not autofocus with anything other than than AF-S or AF-I lenses. All G and D series lenses will work but not autofocus.

    I am not recommending buying them for the D40x (personally, I think that somebody who has never used manual focusing a lot is best served by autofocus, at least in the beginning).
     
  7. Richard

    Richard TPF Noob!

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    Here is the link to the "nifty fifty" as it has been called. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/247091-USA/Nikon_2137_Normal_AF_Nikkor_50mm.html

    This lens is called a fixed focal or prime lens. There is no zoom. You can get bokeh real easy with this lens and is a good portrait lens. The only catch is you will have to use manual focus with the D40, which didn't stop me, and I have really started to like manual focus.

    I would suggest the Nikon D40x with just the 18-55 kit lens. Got to ebay or just shop around at stores like best buy, comp usa, or circuit city for 1 2gig SD card. I got my SD 2 gig sandisk ultra II for 25 dollars from comp usa. Then buy the nifty fifty.

    What are your plans with this camera? What are you going to be shooting mostly and would you have the budget in the future to upgrade a camera or does this one need to last you for many years? I am wondering if maybe you could get a D40 6mp and save some cash but that depends on your answers to my questions.
     
  8. Richard

    Richard TPF Noob!

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    As I read your first post again I think the manual focus is what you want anyway and the nifty fifty would be a good start. Manual will give you some control and like sabbath said it will take some practice, your first set of photos might not be correctly in focus but the more you shoot the more you will learn and it won't take you long to learn manual focus.

    Tip: With the D40 you can look in the viewfinder and a green dot will appear when you are in focus. This can help a little as you try to learn.
     
  9. oceaneyes

    oceaneyes TPF Noob!

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    What will I be using my new camera for? Well, I am a pretty big fan of nature myself, but since I live in a large city for the time, I will probably be documenting some of my urban explorations...but artistically, what I'd like to do is capture what little of nature there is in such a concrete-dominated world. In addition, there are some nice horizon views of the beach and mountains around where I live, so that's another consideration. I guess I'm being pretty oblique...to be more direct, I guess I'd like something that can do landscapes and portraits.

    And yeah, you're right about the manual focus...I usually tend to be somewhat of a purist in the pursuits I take up and while I'm sure Auto-Focus would be desirable in some situations, being able to manually perform the operation would make me feel more connected with the pictures I take...if that makes any sense.

    I probably won't have the budget for upgrades within the next few years...I plan on traveling abroad as part of a TESL program and having a decent camera would really be a great boon on this little adventure, but the pay probably won't be the best plus there are student loans to take into account...the only reason I can really afford this right now is because I'm making some extra cash working for a company on a 6-month internship. I just bought a new computer, but it sucks so I'm sending it back and getting a refund (btw, never get a glossy screen for your computer unless you want a $1k+ mirror in all lighting except for dark rooms).

    As far as MP goes, I was considering dropping down to 6 or 8 for the price reduction, but I haven't quite decided yet. I understand the difference, which is in the number of pixels (the picture in my first post was on a 6 MP camera) hence the number of pictures that can be saved per Mb of memory, which means less worry over how much storage capacity I need...But then, I guess there is less quality for fewer MP. I'm just not sure I have a very good qualitative understanding of what the difference is in that regard. Before I decide I'd like to "test drive" by actually seeing the difference between similar shots using cameras that are similar save for that. Which I can probably easily find on Nikon or Canon's website...I'll have to look into it later.

    By the way, thanks for all the advice...I'm finding it really helpful :).
     
  10. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    First let me congratulate the OP for the thoughtful first post.

    If you are fixed on a zoom lens, if you can find the camera body alone, you might look for, rather than the 18-55 lens, the 18-70.

    It has been discontinued but is often available used. It is a superlative lens for the price, comparable in quality to lenses 5 or 6 times the price, and was the kit lens for the D70 for years.
     
  11. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Assuming a D40/D40x however the 18-70 would be manual focus only.

    If I recall correctly the D40/D40x are not sold in the US with US Nikon Warranties without a kit lens... you can get Gray Market, but that is a wholly different kettle of fish...
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My 18-70 is an "AF-S". I thought they all were.

    As to the worth of the lens, I would give it up but it would be Expensive!!
     

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