What digital camera would you recommend?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Skippy, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. Skippy

    Skippy TPF Noob!

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    Greetings all;

    It's my first day & first post in the forum. I suspect this question comes up often, but if I know photographers (I'm one) there will be lots of opinions.

    Without going on about it too much I'm a half decent photographer, been using film for over 20 years and intend to continue doing so. However, due to desires for expanding my abilities in the commercial field I've decided to break down and get a digital camera.

    I know how to use a camera - but I know little about how to use a digital camera. I only recently discovered that somehow you have to set the white balance or something? I mean really, $2000 for a camera and it can't figure out what white is? This is the sort of thing which has kept me away from digital all these years. *haha*

    Okay, but seriously - here are the parameters I'm working with, and some specific questions I have.

    I know how to use a computer, I know how to use a SLR.

    I do not need to impress customers with expensive equipment. I can be convinced by evidence, but I will need to be convinced that a $10,000 camera takes "better pictures" than a $1,000 camera.

    I will want to make prints 11x17 typically (or smaller) but all the way up to 24x36 when I do posters.

    Obviously I want something I can get lenses for and something that can be serviced without too much trouble.

    I would like something that uses AA batteries.

    The stuff I'll be doing is portraits, still life and flowers, so macro ability is important for the last two.

    What features should I be sure a camera has?

    What features are mostly useless and should be avoided?

    With all that - any suggestions for a specific camera?

    Thanks for any & all suggestions.

    Skippy
     
  2. w98seeng

    w98seeng TPF Noob!

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  3. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    This will limit your choices rather severly. I don't believe any current DSLR uses AA batteries other that one or two entry level models from Pentax (e.g. 200D). A few others can be used with AA batteries via accessory battery packs that mount to the bottom of the camera in much the same way as the antique motor winders of the '70s and '80s. You'll have to do a bit of searching for specific info as these accessory packs aren't usually discussied the most reviews of the camera body.

    You print size desires shouldn't be a challenge for any current 10-12mp DSLR given a good lens and reasonable skill with an image editor to do the upsampling to get the best 24x36" prints.

    The features "to avoid" are not avoidable any more. Almost every model has some features whose only use is to sell the camera. Just look for models that include the features you need and want and accept that there will be wiz-bang features that you just need to ignore.

    As to the white balance (WB) issue, its the digital equivalent of choosing between daylight or tungsten film. Modern cameras do a very good job of automatically choosing an appropriate WB setting, but any automatic system occasionally makes the wrong choice. WB can be set manually either by selecting one of a list of choices and can be set by sampling a test shot and locking in that setting.

    Also, when you shoot RAW, you make the WB setting when you process the image on your PC later making the camera setting less important. With RAW, the camera setting, at the most, serves as the default starting point for the PC software. Its not carved in stone as is the chase when shooting JPEG format.

    As to what brand to get, ... well ... to start with, they are all good; its more of a matter of what fits your need the best. Nikon and Canon are the two 50 ton gorillas on the block and they enjoy the best support from 3rd partly lens manufacturers. Sony acquired the Minolta camera and lens division and has done well advancing the models. Pentax continues to make good products. Olympus and Pansonic have joined forces in developing compatible products, the 4/3rds system, sharing a common lens mount along with second new micro4/3rds system. The latter is a bit of a niche product line; not the "universal" DSLR.

    Read the reviews but don't get lost in the often overly hairsplitting technical distinctions. There's a lot of uncalibrated geeky number comparing out there where no effort is made to judge the real magnitude of the differences measured. Small or even trivial differences are all to often made to sound like major improvements.
     
  4. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Since you are coming from film, I would recommend a full frame sensor. If you want one without any frills, get a used 5D. Should be able to pick up a nice one for around 1250-1500 bucks if you look around.

    What film system do/did you use? If you still have lenses, that could really sway your decision.
     

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