New amateur camera, or used semi-pro?


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Aug 29, 2010
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What camera for me (as my first ever DSLR) would be the best choice? I am very interested in photography, and have been reading for hours and hours about lenses and all that theoretical stuff.

So, I have the possibility of getting a Canon EOS 40D for $550 (used camera body only, no lens)

I would also buy a Nikon D90 with the kitlens (18-55mm) for $1000 (also used)

Or perhaps I should buy an entry digital SLR, for example Canon EOS 500D with kit lens for $800 (new from store).

So, what would benefit me the most? The 40D shoots 6.5 images per second, which is handy as I think I'll be taking some action photos.

So, every opinion is appreciated, but try and put yourself into my shoes: a beginner that's eager to learn to take good photos, and willing upgrade to better lenses when I find a concrete use for them. $1000 is the absolute max I am able to pay for this equipment at the moment (poor student;) )
Thanks in advance
Welcome to the forum.

I think it would be a good idea to go into a good camera store, just so that you can see the different models up close and at the same time. The main difference between something like the 500D and the 40D/50D, is the ergonomics & build of the body. The Rebels are a fair bit smaller and laid out differently...but for the most part, the image quality will be about the same. The semi-pro bodies will also have different/more features & it's up to you to decide if any of them are must have or not. Does it shoot video, for example.

Another important factor will be the lens. The typical kit lens is certainly handy to have (if you don't have a better one) because it covers the 'normal' range that you will likely be shooting. But they don't excel at things like sports/action or low light shooting.
So you might be better off saving a bit of money on the camera and getting a better lens, or maybe a second lens to complement the kit lens.

I'll also add another camera to your list...the Canon 60D. It won't be in stores yet, but will be soon. It's not really the 'next step' from the's more like the next step from the Rebel cameras...but with more features etc. It should be around $1000 (not sure if that includes a lens or not).

There is something to be said about buying the newest technology you can, because it moves so fast and you may not want to fall too far behind. But on the other hand, a used 40D for $500 (hopefully in good shape) would be a heck of a camera.
My feeling here is to get the entry level (is there really such a thing?) kit.

You will have a warranty, all new equipment and software, and you're ready to explore this fascinating hobby/career and decide where you want it to take you..

It is likely that you will get another camera and lens in the future, so why get old or overly expensive stuff now...........:D
I would recommend getting the new one. Entry level is fine, especially if you are at the entering level haha, but really that's what I would do. That's what I did, and yea, I feel that I'm ready for a new camera, but I am honestly glad that I went the way I did. It was a simpler camera and it really helped me to learn everything.
I don't know which is best for you, but I can tell you my experience with buying used has been a good one. I bought a Canon 300D "Digital Rebel" two years ago for $300. It came out in 2003, so it's a 7 year old camera. I can use any lens that any of the newer Canon's can. Even the super expensive L lenses (not that I could ever afford one, lol.)

That said, there's some things that kinda suck. I like night photography. The sensor on my camera is *very* noisy at the higher ISOs. If I go over ISO 400, it starts to look like a snow storm, lol. I've see photos taken with higher end Canons (I think it was a 1D MK5?) at ISO 3200 that looked like my ISO 200. But we're talking serious ca$h.

So, my recommendation is to figure out what kind of photos you think you're likely to take and compare each cameras performance in that area. Because if your taking sports shots in broad daylight, my camera and a good fast lens will suffice. But if you want to print that on a billboard later, the 300D's 6 MegaPixels just isn't gonna cut it.

So there's a lot to consider. Sorry for the book.

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