Camera Buying

jmarie26

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Hello :)
I am about to purchase my first DSLR camera and I have a few questions.
I've pretty much settled on a Nikon D5300. I've had Nikon cameras before, and I've also played with a Canon Rebel T6 a few times, so settling on Nikon wasn't too difficult. As for the 5300, I eliminated the 5500 because of the price jump and the 3300 because it was lacking a few features. Out of the 3400 and 5300, they are similar in price, and from my research, the 5300 is the better buy. If I am wrong with my conclusion, feel free to correct me!
I plan on mostly taking pictures of family and maybe some landscapes when traveling. So my needs are pretty basic.
So, now for my question...
Where should I purchase my camera? I'd obviously like to get the best deal, but purchasing online makes me question authenticity at times. My aunt just picked up a Rebel T6 bundle from QVC a few months ago and it was a good deal, but I really don't like the Canon as well. I've been looking on Amazon, but a lot are sold by third party sellers. I didn't know if there was some secret place to buy cameras from, lol. Bundles are a plus, since they tend to be a great value, but I'm open to anything.
On Amazon, the body sells for just under $700 with the 18-55 mm lens. But a third party vendor (Digital Universe) on Amazon sells it for $509 and it comes with a tripod and SD card. Obviously, this is a better deal as long at it can be trusted. Also on Amazon from a third party vendor are bundles, like this one from Green's Camera World that comes with a whole bunch of stuff for about $700. I just worry that the quality of that extra stuff is junk and it would be a waste of money.

Can someone steer me in the right direction? I've been doing so much research, but I just don't know what to trust. Thank you!
 

goodguy

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I am assuming you live in the USA so there are few really good stores to consider like Adorama, KEH, B&H
Since not living in the USA I can't comment much on other stores.

As for the Nikon D5300, great little camera, if needed you might want to consider an extra lens like the Nikon 50mm 1.8G for lower light situation and portraits
 
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robbins.photo

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When you see a new camera selling for a couple hundred less than it sells for retail odds are very good it's probably grey market.

The seller is selling a camera that wasn't intended to be sold here in the US, so they didn't have to pay import fees, etc.

So they sell it cheaper. However you can't send it to Nikon USA for warranty work, and authorized nikon repair places can and do refuse to work on it even as no warranty work. So I recommend you avoid buying one at all costs.

B&H and KEH are both great companies to work with. I'd also avoid bundle deals with tripods, filters, bags, etc. It's almost always cheap junk that breaks quickly and you'll often find you don't end up using it at all

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Dave442

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As noted above, I expect those cheaper options are Grey Market. Look in the section under Product Information, Product Warranty. The one that is by: Nikon shows the Nikon warranty, the other two say to contact the supplier (basically meaning for any warranty work the supplier and not Nikon would be whom you would have to contact).
 

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Nikon is a great manufacturer and is known for the best glass in the world. The 5300 is a capable camera and I know you will have a lot of fun discovering what it and you can do.
I advise you shoot .jpg and RAW and then do your RAW editing based on what you saw when you were there, then compare that to the camera made .jpg file to see the differences and similarities. You will be surprised.
 

Advanced Photo

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Ask the vendor to ensure it is a US model with full manufacturers warranty before you buy it. It looks like it is, and if you do buy it and it turns out to be not what was advertised, you will get a refund through Amazon if the seller will not refund your money.
 
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jmarie26

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Thank you all for the feedback! I forgot about Adorama. I've purchased from them before. It looks like they've got a pretty good sale on a D5300 with 2 lenses. I will definitely sleep on that.

Thanks for the other pointers, too. I definitely appreciate it! I'm semi-clueless. I've wanted a DSLR for years and couldn't justify the expense. It is my got out of credit card debt present to myself!
 

Derrel

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BestBuy is actually pretty lenient on returns, and has many outlets across the USA, and in Europe as I understand it. BestBuy gives you a 30-day money-back return as a way to get cameras out the door. Prices are competitive with larger retail mail- and internet-order companies. There's a pretty fair amount of competition on low- and mid-range Nikon cameras; I think the D5300 makes a lot of sense.

Advanced Photo above makes a good suggestion, specifically on shooting JPEG + RAW in-camera...it is pretty amazing with the "newer Nikon" cameras, what can be done by the in-camera processing and by using some of the newer image technology Nikon has developed, such as their dynamic lighting (scene contrast control) on camera-created JPEG images. Still, there's nothing quite as good as ALSO having a .NEF file to edit yourself, but for the beginner, the in-camera image processing might actually be better than what many beginner to intermediate shooters can do themselves!
 

Ido

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Canon and Nikon are not the only viable brands. There are also excellent cameras from Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony. Those four make mirrorless cameras instead of DSLRs — the big differences are the viewfinder (electronic instead of optical; I prefer electronic) and continuous autofocus (shouldn't bother you, with what you say you plan on shooting). Most mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than a comparable DSLR, and the lenses tend to be smaller as well.

Some specific options:
  • Sony a6000 w/ 16-50mm kit lens or 16-50 + 55-210
  • Fuji X-T10 w/ 16-50mm kit lens
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II w/ 14-42mm kit lens or 14-42 + 40-150
  • Panasonic GX85 w/ 12-32mm kit lens
  • Panasonic G7 w/ 14-42mm kit lens
 

TCampbell

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It's hard to buy a "bad" DSLR camera these days. I think you'll be quite happy with it and wouldn't try to talk you into getting something else.

To set one expectation... we don't know how much experience you have in photography. Getting a fantastic camera will no more cause you to suddenly start taking amazing images as buying a fantastic piano will cause you to suddenly start playing amazing music... both require that you learn the craft. Most of what you're going to get out of the camera will be to learn WHY the camera has all these buttons and dials and that the settings you choose actually will make a difference in the image you get. In other words you'll want to learn to use the camera in modes other than automatic. Your skill and knowledge makes the images look good... not so much the camera. If you're new to photography then I'd also suggest you pick up a good book. "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson is heavily recommended as are the Scott Kelby "Digital Photography" series of books.

As for "where to buy".

As others have pointed out... Nikon imports cameras into a market (such as the USA) and distributes them to their authorized retailers. The biggest retailers are companies like B&H Photo, Adorama (as online stores that exist primarily to sell cameras and photography equipment) but you can also find them at big-box stores (big box stores will carry the cameras but wont have nearly as large of a selection in other accessories.) The prices will generally be "about the same" regardless of where you buy. The camera will not include a memory card... so you'll need to get one of those (sometimes a retailer will add one in to sweeten the deal.) The camera as packaged by Nikon will otherwise include everything you need to start shooting with the exception that if you buy a "body only" version then it wont include a lens.

If you buy a body+lens combination then the "kit" lens that they include is generally designed for affordability (to keep the initial purchase price reasonable). These are great starter lenses but depending on the type of photography you prefer, there may be other lenses that will help you attain more pleasing results (but often those lenses aren't cheap).

I prefer to buy goods from local "real" camera stores (stores that exist primarily to sell camera gear -- as opposed to general "big box" stores that just happen to sell cameras... alongside many other products). For example there's a ProCam store located about 20 minutes drive from my home. They have an impressive showroom. The price will be the same. I will have to pay local sales tax (but I have to pay that even if I buy through Amazon). Obviously there's no shipping charges because they are local. But what I appreciate is that there's a store that I can walk into and inspect the goods -- rather than just buying product based on specs on a webpage. If I use the the store to "inspect the goods" then I am going to buy from that store (I feel that carrying the inventory and letting me inspect it is providing me with a valuable service and they should be compensated for that service. ) If everyone were to check out the goods in-person but "buy" from an online store then the local stores would go out of business and you'd never have the ability to locally check out what you buy before you buy it.

Nikon has their own distribution system to import cameras into a market and distribute them to retailers. It is possible for 3rd parties to import cameras and side-step the normal import process and get the goods for less money. They'll mark these cameras down (slightly) and the price makes them attractive... but beware. It's usually the same camera (usually... sometimes a feature varies based on the country that it was intended for -- if, for example, the camera would support WiFi or GPS but the local market has restrictions on use of such features.) But cameras not imported into the market by Nikon are considered "gray market" goods and two very important things happen:

(1) The camera does not have a Nikon factory warranty if it is a "gray market" camera.
(2) Not only does the camera not have warranty support... the camera manufacturer will refuse to service the camera EVEN IF YOU ARE WILLIG TO PAY for the service.

In other words you can end up with a non-serviceable product. Sometimes the 3rd party will claim that they will provide the service (and maybe they will) but I'd rather have factory service.

There is a third category... the bait & switch retailer.

Numerous horror stores exist of people who found advertised products at amazing discounts (when something sounds too good to be true... it usually is.) When buyers attempt to buy these products, they usually discover there is a "problem" with the order. When they phone to the retailer to resolve the "problem", the sales person immediately tries to upsell lots of other products (junk grade products at heavily marked up prices) or try to convince the buyer to change their mind and get a different product. If the buyer stands firm and refuses to buy the extras and refuses to change products, then the seller will claim they don't have stock (or some other excuse). You can find lots of stories of online scam stores.

A $200 discount off a "new" $700 camera falls into the category of "too good to be true". Sometimes the manufacturer has an authorized rebate but when that's the case then every retailer will offer the same rebate.

You can save money by purchasing a refurbished camera. Refurbished can mean anything... but usually what it means is someone previously purchased the camera and whether or not it was defective, they chose to return it. That camera can now no longer legally be sold as "new". Such a camera would be evaluated to make sure there are no defects. If none, the product can be re-packaged and sold as "refurbished". If it did have a defect (usually minor) then they may correct the defect before selling it. Descriptions will sometimes mention that refurbished goods may not be cosmetically perfect (a minor scratch that isn't very noticeable would be ok... but major issues would be corrected. The camera will be functionally perfect.)

Nikon's "refurbished" DSLR page is here: Refurbished Camera Products | Used Cameras, Lenses & Flashes | Nikon

I see that the D5300 is available in "body only" version for about $490 -or- with body + kit lens for $550. That's a reasonable price and realistic considering the camera is "refurbished".
 

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