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First DSLR, have a few questions


TPF Noob!
Mar 29, 2009
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I ordered my first DSLR last night, i've been using a Kodak Z612 for a few years and thought it was time to move to an SLR.

I purchased a Canon XSI Refurbished with a 90 day canon warranty and the 18-55mm EF-S Kit lens.

It's a Canon refurb, so i'm hoping everything works fine as i've heard good things about their refurbs. But, what should i check over when it arrives to make sure there are no problems with it? I know the basics of what i should check over, but i'm afraid i might miss something so i figured i'd ask people more experienced than me.

I also got a PQI Class 6 8 8GB SDHC card with it, this should be fine for me right? As long as it holds around 500-600 pictures or more that should be good enough for me. Is it fast enough to handle burst mode as well?

I also am going to grab the lens hood that canon sells for the 18-55mm lens (EW-60C), a spare battery, a decent case, canon lens cleaning kit, and possibly a remote. That's pretty much everything i need until i start getting to know the camera better right?
Congrats on the new purchase...you will have a blast...

With regards to the lens hood. I would hold off, if the bug bites you, which it likely will, you will quickly find yourself wanting a new lens (something faster), and the kit lens will be relegated to diminished duty if not sold outright. The hood will be a wasted investment at that point.

On the SD cards, that 8GB card should be fine. I have preferred to use multiple smaller cards, in case of a malfunction, or accidental "delete all" or format, you may not lose all the data on the card if you've switched between a couple of cards or more...

I have never owned a refurb item, but I would go through the manual exploring all the functions as if it were new. That should cover everything, it is under warranty anyhow if you find something. Perhaps the fit and finish may require a second look...

The battery that the XSi comes with, lasts though a high number of shots. Depending on what you shoot (indoors? outdoors?), I would take the spare battery budget, remote budget (use the self timer?), and hood budget, throw in a few more bucks and get:

A. a flash unit (430 EX, etc). This, IMO, made the biggest difference in my indoor shots looking way better.

B. If you prefer outdoors, you may want some reach - perhaps a 55-250 IS...

Oh yes, Camera Armor is one to avoid as well...IMO

Best of luck, I hope this helps...
Congrats on the purchase, the XSi is an awesome camera.
Javig999, what are your thoughts on the Battery Grip for the XSi?
Thanks for the response, the only reason i was going to buy the battery, remote, and lens hood is because i can get them really cheap on ebay. They aren't canon brand, but they all look to be decent quality. The hood i found for about $5 shipped, battery about $6.50 shipped, and the remote about $5 shipped. I'm probably going to skip the remote regardless though, i completely forgot about the self timer until you posted that.

I'm gonna do what you said, and go through all the settings to check the camera out and i'll check out the lens too. My father has a few 4GB SDHC cards that he hasn't used so i'll grab some of those if i need em.

I'm going to start saving up for some lenses too, i was actually going to go with the 55-250mm IS, it seems to have good reviews and it's a lens that won't break my bank. I may grab the 50mm f1.8 II as well.

I can't wait to get it and try everything out, i've been doing research for about 6 months. Thanks again for the info.
I bought a refurb XSi back in January and have been very happy with it. They are basically new cameras. I don't think you will have any problems with it. I agree with the above posters, get some glass. Forget the hood for the 18-55 you probably won't use it long. Wait on the battery too. Unless you are going to be shooting an unGodly number of shots, the battery it comes with, will last. By the way $6.50 seems awfully cheap for the battery. I'd be a little leary of it.
Oh and one small piece of advice. Even though you can shoot large numbers of shots and pick the best one, you will not progress in photography until you think each shot through. I know when I first shifted to the "Dark Side" (digital) from film, I fired away and hoped I got a good shot. Now I try very hard to set each shot up and find that many times I only take one or maybe two exposures of subject. My actuation count has gone way down since I started thinking my shots through.
Good luck and I hope photography brings you as much pleasure as it does me.
Thanks for the advice. Yea, i'll hold off on the battery until i think i might need a spare (for vacations, etc.). The lenses i'm planning on saving for are:

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Congrats on the purchase, but about the 55-250. I say you hold off unless you really need the zoom. I say you save up (for a long time) or borrow money for a 70-200 f/2.8 (IS if you really want to spend a lot). But remember that lens is pretty expensive but it's great in low light. I got my XSI in October and the bug bit me and look at my signature now lol. Also If you are planning to upgrade to a Full Frame sensor somewhere in the distant future then try to get the more expensive lenses. As for the remote I have the Canon RC-1 and it only costs $20-$25. I never tried a third party remote though but the Canon one is great. Also try looking into tripods and as recommended couple posts up, a flash.
Great start.......:thumbup:

Get to know your camera, shoot lots of shots, ask questions, then decide what you really need........:D
A good start to things - now a warning - if you ever want advice on what to get next be very specific - otherwise we will happily suggest 1001 things for you to get that are all essential ;)

My advice is to first get out and do some shooting - get a feel for the camera and how it works. Then start looking to your subjects and what they require of you and your kit and then start to think about expanding things.
For example if you do a lot of sports work you might be wanting a longer faster lens (large max aperture lens) or if your doing a lot of stuido work a shorter lens - possibly a prime for added sharpness - etc....
A really good lens is only any good if you have a use for it = otherwise its just a very expensive paperweight.

There are some general parts to consider though:
1) tripod - a decent one like a manfrotto 055XPROB or a silmilar priced model is a good investment and will last you a very long time - very cheap ones can work in a pinch but you will likley outgrow them very quickly

2) memory cards and batteries -- always worth having more if you have the option of getting them

3) battery grip - great thing to have for a camera and if you combine with a second battery it can make life a lot easier. It also gives your right hand pinky finger somewhere to site when holding thecamera (as opposed to just hanging off the bottom and rubbing against the edge of the camera)

4) flash - a speedlite 430 is a very good addition to a photography kit and can really open doors - the more expensive 580M2 offers some additional features, but unless you feel that you need them don't feel pressured to go for it

Further the 60mm macro you are looking at - is that for macro work with insects? If so then I would recomend looking at lenses like:
Tamron 90mm macro
Sigma 105mm macro
Canon 100mm macro
Sigma 150mm macro
Sigma 180mm macro (mostly regarded as a tripod macro lens and not best suited to handheld macro work)

Since 60mm does not give you very much working distance (distance from camera to subject) and so has a greater chance of spooking the insect. A good flash and tripod are also important things to have.

In the end work out your needs and then get kit to meet them
Thanks for all the advice.

Yea, i'm gonna just shoot with the basics for now until i get the hang of the camera first. Besides, right now i'm tight on cash and i'm gonna be saving for atleast a few months until i start looking around at lenses.
You will be fine for a while. You really need to just focus on mastering your camera. Know that thing inside and out. If you ever have to get a shot in a hurry you want to be able to grab your camera and turn it on with all the right settings by barely glancing at it.
Down the road you will want some better lenses, but get to know the one you have first and then get a prime lens i.e. a 50mm 1.8 or something.

Enjoy your camera and enjoy photography. I'm sure you will have a blast.
Yea, i just can't wait to start shooting with my first SLR. The Kodak Z612 was alright for family use, but alot of pictures would come out oversaturated, over/under exposed, not to mention it has alot of noise even at iso 200 like most P & S cameras.

As far as telephoto lenses go, which brands should i look at? I've been looking at Canon, Sigma, and Tamron. I really like the Canon L series lenses, but i'm not sure if i should spend that much on my first lens. But i also don't want to buy a low quality lens that i'm going to replace in a few months. The Canon 70-200mm f/4 L looked pretty nice and it's something that i should be able to afford (i've found it for as cheap as $570).

The IS Version is nice as well, but out of my price range. Would the Non-IS Version be fine for me or is it worth paying double for the IS version? I'm assuming it depends on the situation. Some Sigma's and Tamron's look nice as well. What would be some good suggestions for a telephoto lens that's priced between $300-$600, has 200-300mm of reach, and good build quality?

I'm probably going to be purchasing a telephoto lens first, as i plan on doing mostly wildlife and sports photography.
I learned the most when i got my 50mm/1.8 prime lens. I think you can start be more creative and also are looking for new angles in a more creative way than if you are using a zoomlens.

So my advice to beginners are to get a fast primelens that give you the incentive to learn more about settings. You will get better using Aperturemode or even Manual if you dare out there. Experimenting with settings and trying out your camera and lenses posibilities is what makes good pictures....

Good luck with your camera. You will have a fun journey ahead.
Yea, i'm going to grab the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II regardles. I mean for the price, you can't really go wrong and i've heard alot of good things about it.
A quick update, i got the Camera the other day. It seems like it's brand new, i couldn't find any wear or scratches on it and the LCD was spotless too. I don't even think anyone used the thing before it was sent to cannon. It was set to continuous file numbering, and when i took my first shot it was numbered 1, so i don't think any pictures were taken with it. The lens is in perfect condition as well.

I just have a few questions though if someone could help me. I have the metering set to evaluative metering. What is the best metering mode to use and how do i use spot metering? I also have the AF focus points set manually to focus on the center point out of all nine points. Is that a good idea because i know alot of people say to have it focus on the center af point?

Also, when i use manual focus i know that when i hit the right focus point the camera beeps. The problem is, that it only beeps sometimes. Usually i will sit there and keep focusing it back and forth and it won't beep at all. It seems like i have to hit a very precise point or else it won't beep, is this normal?

Also i have been editing my raw photos with DPP and Photoshop but i don't know if i'm adjusting them like i should. is there like an online tutorial that will teach me how to adjust the raw pictures correctly, and what to look for while i'm adjusting them?

I haven't been able to get outside to get any pictures because it's been cloudy and raining for 4 days straight. I can't wait to get outside and take some shots with it, atm all i have been doing is messing around with it indoors.

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