Trying to get into photography, which entry dslr?


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Nov 30, 2015
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I'm looking for something cheap for now as I'm not sure how far I want to take this. What are your thoughts on the canon SL1 or the Nikon D3300? (Refurbished with kit lens.) I'm trying to stay under $400 for the body and lens together. I will most likely be shooting landscape and night shots sometimes. Are there any other dslr's similar to what I'm looking for? Thanks.
It's a good deal. Get the Nikon D3300 refurbished with the 18-55mm zoom. You will like it.
400 for the refurb 3300/18-55 combo would be a great start.
Refurbished is perfectly OK.

The Canon 100D / SL1 is really cool, its the currently probably smallest DSLR of all times. I also really like that Canon offers a cheap high quality wide angle zoom: the EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS; Nikon sadly has no such offer.

My favorite pick from Nikon would be the D5500. It "falls" into your hands, has a really good grip. Of course any other Nikon will do, too. The AF-S 35mm f1.8 DX is a great lens, as is apparently the new AF-S 55-200mm f4.5-5.6 VR2. Wide angle, well I guess the Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 would have to do; Nikons own offers are all very pricey.
If I were trying to keep the costs low, then I'd go with a Canon refurbished DSLR body because you can get the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens and that lens is only $125 (that's actually the "new" price on that lens.)

When shooting in very low light you'll want a low focal ratio lens and that means getting a prime lens (affordable zoom lenses never have low focal ratios).

Nikon has a couple of 50mm prime lenses. They have a version that costs roughly the same as the Canon 50mm prime, but it can't do auto-focus when used on a D3300. The version that can do auto-focus on a D3300 costs about $220 (nearly $100 more -- and that's a big chunk of your budget.) You definitely want auto-focus on the lens as there are no focusing aids for manual focus -- which is especially difficult to achieve in poor lighting.

You could get a refurbished Canon SL1 body from the Canon store ($279) and then get the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM (about $125) make sure you see the letters "STM" in the name. Don't get the non-STM version.) The STM version has Canon's new stepper-motor focusing motor with is MUCH quieter and also faster than the older non-STM 50mm f/1.8 lens. But the bigger changes are that Canon improved the aperture blades (now using 7 blades on that lens instead of 5 on the previous version) which provides a more well-rounded aperture and that provides quite a noticeable improvement in the quality of the background blur. ) They also improved the build-quality of the new lens (the old lens had a plastic mount and also a reputation for cracking in two if dropped... I realize most people don't plan to "drop" their lenses... but it's nice to have gear that is more likely to survive an impact.) The old non-STM lens is still available, but only $25 less and the newer version is worth every penny of that extra $25 -- and then some.

The bad news is that I see Canon has the SL1 available on the refurb store with the 18-55mm zoom... for the same $279 price tag as the SL1 with the "body only" -- clearly the better deal because you start with a general purpose kit zoom. So I'd probably wait for that camera to come back in stock. The point is you can get the camera body, kit lens, and a low focal ratio prime and still pretty much be at that $400 price point (I think you'd technically be $404 and there's probably tax and a shipping charge.)

I'm also looking at the Nikon store for their refurbs. I don't see the D3300 being offered (which seems strange.) I do see the D3100 offered... for $719 (which seems REALLY strange -- I wouldn't pay that for a D3100 even if it were brand new and not a refurb.) The lowest price I can find on the Nikon store is $349 for a D5100 and kit lens but then you wouldn't get a low focal ratio prime unless you can increase your budget to something nearer to $600.
Nikon D3300 far better 24 mp sensor then SL1, Much lower noise,More Dynamic range,Better color depth, better view finder, significantly longer battery life per charge.I got the Nikon D3300 refurbished with 18-55 VRII $350.00 35 shutter actuations looks and functions like brand new.I don't think you will be disappointed with the Image quality or the kit lens,its very sharp with good color.
I think the D3300 is a fantastic entry level camera and I highly suggest it if you are starting out with photography.

My local camera shop was selling the D3300 + 18-55 + 55-300 + Nikon Bag for $399 on black Friday. That was one heck of a deal, it didn't last long and they already sold out of them. I have to say though, that was one of the best camera deals I seen around. Someone is going to be happy this Christmas. Haha.

B&H is selling a similar kit, but with the 55-200 VR instead for $496 and I think that is a pretty good deal too. Later on, I would recommend picking up a 35 1.8G DX as well and you have a pretty nice kit to learn photography with.
Have you looked into a Sony A6000? I recent went on a vacation trip to Japan, HK and China with my Canon 7d with 24-70mm 2.8L. It was bulk and heavy. I found out that I was leaving the camera at the hotel and was using my old Canon s95 point and shoot. If you haven't picked out a camera I would suggest you looking into Sony's mirrorless line up. I currently have a A6000 with Zeiss 24mm 1.8L and I'm going to be getting rid of my Canon 7D. I'll be add the Sony A7R. Keep your options open and don't be afraid of mirrorless.
Another vote for the D3300, modern sensor, great value for money!
D3300 is a nice camera for sure, great bang for the buck.

canon makes a fine camera but i do not think i would get a canon DSLR unless i could afford a high end canon body. i think nikon makes a better low-mid level camera body for the money, that is my opinion. i do like canon point and shoot cameras and i do like their high end DSLR body. seems like the newer nikons do better with high ISO, less noise in low light situations that is one main reason i like the newer nikon bodys better.

the 3300 has more mega pixels so you can blow up images to a larger size, if you have images that are cropped allot and you want to make prints the more MP the better. if your not going to make prints its not really a huge deal IMO but i really feel the 3300 is much better for the money over the SL1. either one would be a great starter camera though.
I agree, Canon is going to give you better "IQ" image quality and lens selection, etc. but also look at the mirrorless options
I have the d3300 I got for 399. I also got a prime lense from B&H 35mm 1.8g dx for 120.00. Used, grade 9/10. Looked brand new when I got it. I have no complaints. Great camera. Easy to use. You should prob just save some cash instead of holding yourself to the 400 and feeling restricted.

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