Help a noob decide!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Ben.baldwin55, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Ben.baldwin55

    Ben.baldwin55 TPF Noob!

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    Hey photographers! New guy on the block. Recently photography has really caught my attention. I am looking for a camera and a lens most suitable for my interests. I would really appreciate it if some of you more experienced photographers could point me in the right direction! I live in the Pacific Northwest and I love hiking, more importantly I love taking pictures of the hikes I go on, both up close and distant pictures. I've been doing some homework and I keep hearing that the lens is often more important then he camera itself! There's so much information that I'm taking in all at once and I keep finding myself overwhelmed with all the options I have. The only thing I'm sure on at this point is that I will get a pelican case to protect my camera. My budget for my first lens+camera maxes out at $1,200. What do you guys think? Any advise for a noob?
    Thanks.
    -Ben


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Welcome!

    Are you sure you want to carry around a Pelican case? That adds weight and bulk.

    I think if my main activity was hiking, I would go for a small rugged camera that was easy to jamb back into a pocket.
     
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  3. goodguy

    goodguy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Tough to answer your request.
    If you want a good camera that will do a good job for close and far which to me it mean all the way from macro to telezoom shots I would recommend Nikon Nikon D5500 with 18-55mm+Nikon 70-300mm VR+Nikon 40mm 2.8 Macro
    This is a very solid set that should do a nice work and its not too big but for somebody who is doing a lot of hiking even this set might be too much.
    Maybe you should think of a superzoom camera, a camera that does all in one, its not as good as a DSLR with different lenses but its much more portable and can produce good results, a camera like Sony RX10 II or Panasonic FZ1000
    These camera are still not small so if you will look for an even smaler camera I think the best will be Sony RX100 IV which is probably the best point and shoot in the market but it will not have a lot of reach when it comes to distance.
     
  4. Ido

    Ido No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A good place to start searching is DPReview's up-to-date buying guides. The one you should go through:
    Which one depends on your preferences. If you want to take this "creatively" and make it your hobby, you may want to go straight to the interchangeable-lens cameras. But if you just want a hiking companion, choose one of the other three categories: long zoom if you want to photograph wildlife and other distant objects along the way, advanced zoom if you don't need as much zoom (these cameras are smaller and lighter than the long zooms), or waterproof if your hikes involve some swimming or if you just want a more rugged camera (they tend to be tougher and withstand drops better).

    If you choose an interchangeable-lens camera, buy it with its suggested "kit" lens. This is usually a bargain lens the camera manufacturer throws in, which is versatile and plenty good enough to start. Their common weakness is that they're not great for shooting in low light, because their maximum aperture is quite narrow, but other than that they're terrific lenses at an amazing price when coupled with a camera.
     
  5. soufiej

    soufiej No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Don't spend your entire budget on a camera and lens(es).

    You'll need good software to process your photos, spend your money there too. Maybe your computer and monitor need an upgrade also.

    Determine how you will display your photos. If you are going to print your own work, maybe you should invest in a better printer.

    Most of today's entry level cameras will take exactly the same image quality as a camera further up the line for higher cost. What you'll get with the more expensive camera is more buttons and switches to learn. The base line camera will have everything the up-line camera has, you'll just have to learn to find it in a menu. Too many controls will often become more of a hindrance than a help to the student photographer.

    Recommended Cameras

    Paying more often isn't going to get you any bit better image quality if you know how a camera operates.

    DPReview Gear of the Year: Canon Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D

    A $500 camera and a $1k camera with the same sensor and processor will take essentially the same image quality. Lenses will make a difference but learn when you need a better lens before you invest in a better lens. Most of the kit lenses available today will take exceptionally good quality photos and packaging them with your initial purchase makes them a bargain.

    Buy one good prime lens to start with in addition to your kit lens. A 50mm prime is typically the best place to start. You can buy a 50mm, f1.8 Canon prime for under $150. You can't go wrong at that price.



    You'll want a nice tripod to hold the camera if you are doing landscape work. Maybe a monopod also if you want to take your camera out on a trail.

    Very few filters are necessary with a DSLR. In general, avoid any prepackaged kits that include a lot of totally useless crap thrown in to make the deal look better to a newbie. You won't use and won't want most of the add ons they stick in there.



    Head to a local shop and ask a lot of questions. Put your money into those things that will assist your photography in the real world. A good working relationship with a local camera shop is worth more than any real amount of money you could pay on line. After the sale advice and service from a trusted source is priceless.

    No need to get caught up in the never ending cycle of new gear acquisition. Learn your camera and your software and you will eventually know when you need more.

    Photography is about thinking, not just buying.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  6. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't live in the pacific northwest, but you don't need a pelican case to protect your gear (and this coming from someone who owns 7 different pelican cases.) I use pelican cases when transporting a lot of gear and it needs to be protected for long trips (the cases stack in an interlocking way that makes it more efficient to pack). For just a single camera and perhaps a couple of lenses you just want a camera bag that is water repellant, includes a "rain jacket", and uses water-tight zippers.

    I was shooting an outdoor concert event one year when the weather (originally forecast for clear skies that evening) changed within a matter of hours into a severe thunderstorm warning. All the gear (and everything else I wanted to keep dry such as mobile phones, wallet, etc.) went back into the bag as the storm arrived (we were much too far from shelter to get indoors). The camera bag itself was water repellant and had water tight zippers -- but the bag also included a rain-cover (bunched up in one of the pockets). I decided it was time to put the rain cover on (good thing too). The storm hit and the skies completely unloaded a fury on us in one of the worst storms we've had. The venue was destroyed (tents, tables, chairs, etc. all went flying) and massive trees were uprooted. The area lost power and it took the power company about a week to get power restored. You get the point... this was no mild rain... this was a torrential downpour with extreme straight-line winds (possibly a tornado but I don't think that was ever confirmed).

    But the point is... just having the camera in a soft backpack bag that included a rain-jacket/cover kept all the gear absolutely bone-dry. Not a drop of water in that bag even though everything and everyone else could not have been wetter even if we decided to all go swimming.

    A pelican case is going to be bulky. It isn't going to carry on your back well -- nor work well as a shoulder bag or waist bag. It'll get uncomfortable to carry for long distances. But a soft-bag can be comfortable all day long and can still provide protection from the elements.

    As far as cameras... you are correct in that the "lens" choice trumps the "body" choice. Sometimes there are cases where the photographer is shooting fast action and a camera with a more sophisticated focus system and extremely fast shutter burst speed will be especially helpful. But if you don't have to shoot in a hurry -- you can take your time to get the shot you want -- then camera body becomes much less important.

    Mid-range and high-end cameras tend to have weather-sealed features whereas entry level bodies do not have weather sealed features. But you can still get rain-jackets for camera bodies that let you shoot in the rain even with an entry level body (there are even disposable plastic rain-jackets that only cost a few bucks).

    Being in the rain-forests of the pacific northwest, you'll certainly encounter a lot of rivers and waterfalls. Being able to take long exposures to blur the water is appealing but to do this you'll need a tripod (so the camera doesn't move during a long exposure) and you'll need something called a neutral-density (ND) filter for the lens. Think of it as "sunglasses" for your lens... it simply lowers the overall amount of light while not altering the color of the light (hence color "neutral") and this is how photographers can take multi-second exposures to blur the water. A remote shutter release is extremely helpful here because you don't want to touch the camera or tripod (triggering a vibration that can slightly blur your images) while taking the shot.
     
  7. Ben.baldwin55

    Ben.baldwin55 TPF Noob!

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    Wow, I wasn't expecting this much support! Thanks everyone. First off, I want a pelican mostly just to keep it stored as safe as possible when I'm not out and about. I am also a rock climber so climbing with a soft case on would be no good. I'd have to deal with attaching it to my harness which I am able to do. I'll definitely be going into a shop to learn more in person. And I'll be looking for a camera that comes with a lens so I can just get used to the camera and practice with what I have before I get too serious about particular shots. My question now is what do you guys think of the canon rebel t3i? I found one online that I'm interested in. I'll post a picture below.
     

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  8. jaomul

    jaomul Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    T3i is a nice camera with plenty of nice lenses. What do you intend photographing? This may seem like a stupid question, but is valid as some excellent systems may be good for lots of things, but continuous focus (tracking moving objects) is not great with all types of camera. The t3i is however quite good at all types of shots.

    You say hiking, which means carrying a lot. If tracking moving objects is not high on your needs I'd look at an Olympus EM5 with its 12-50 kit lens. It's a few years old, but is weather resistant with that lens. Its nice and small and light, well under your budget and olympus make nice light small lenses for the system
     
  9. Ben.baldwin55

    Ben.baldwin55 TPF Noob!

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    It's hard for me to say what I intend photographing because I've never really done much of it before but I like alittle but of everything which is why I've been told the t3i would be a good choice for me. I really like taking shots at distant ranges and micro shots as well so I figure I'll need two different lenses for those types of photos but action shots of animals would also be very interesting to me! Anything from sunsets, mountain ranges, to close up shots of forest. Things of that nature.
     
  10. Ben.baldwin55

    Ben.baldwin55 TPF Noob!

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    Also, is digital SLR and DSLR the same thing?
     
  11. goodguy

    goodguy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    All modern cameras can produce good images!
    The Canon t3i is an old camera with an even older sensor in it, its low light performance and dynamic range is not very impressive, in its price range I would much more recommend Nikon D3300 which has a modern sensor in it with a much better low light performance and impressive dynamic range then the t3i
     
  12. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes

    BTW: just in case you hadn't thought of this before; the SLR (usually film) or DSLR (digital) pass the light through the lens then to a mirror, then another mirror or prism, then the viewfinder. The advantage is that you see what the lens sees. The disadvantage is that it all adds to the size, cost, and complexity.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015

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