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Weighing my options with an entry-level DSLR

AnnieHuley

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Hello, I'm interested in buying a DSLR and need to be steered in the right direction here.

I am only interested in photography as a hobby, so while I know I would get a lot more camera for my money if I was willing to spend $300 more, I think I will be better off buying a true entry-level camera, and upgrading when I am out of college and established in a regular paying job.

I am looking to spend $500-700 on a camera and one or two lenses. I've been reading up on the basics of DSLRs enough to understand that most entry level cameras are neck-and-neck and the main thing to keep in consideration in how the camera feels in-hand.

The thing I need the most help with is finding the forerunners in this price range. I get confused because Canon offers the Rebel Xsi and T1i for relatively similar prices, and from what I can tell the Nikon D3000 and 3100 are the same.

I've also looked at the Pentax K-x which seems to be a pretty good camera for the price, but I am worried that pentax will not offer as many lenses and accessories and that I may regret it in the long run.

So any help is appreciated!
 
Maybe I should also add my priorities when taking photos would be image sharpness and color, but I also know this has a lot to do with settings, white balance, and lenses....
 
If you can find a used D90 and a use 35mm f/1.8 you'd be set. I got my D90 for $550 and I've seen 35's go for around $150 which is in your budget. The D3100 doesn't have an internal focus motor which is a bit of a hassle. Id go for a D90 or even a D80 of you don't mind not having video
 
I think you'd be happy with a T1i and a kit lens. Personally, I like buying used because the item doesn't devalue upon purchase like a new item does. Particularly used consumer grade cameras, especially the older models like the xti can be found cheap, around $250.
 
cbrown222 said:
If you can find a used D90 and a use 35mm f/1.8 you'd be set. I got my D90 for $550 and I've seen 35's go for around $150 which is in your budget. The D3100 doesn't have an internal focus motor which is a bit of a hassle. Id go for a D90 or even a D80 of you don't mind not having video

D90 prices have gone up a lot.
In the buy and sell section there's a guy selling a d40 with under 7k cliks and two lenses under 400 bucks. I'd hop on it and get a 35 and 50 mm 1.8. You'd hit your max of about 700 and you'd have a camera with 4 lenses. Or you can just get a 35 and a sb600.
 
I think you'd be happy with a T1i and a kit lens. Personally, I like buying used because the item doesn't devalue upon purchase like a new item does. Particularly used consumer grade cameras, especially the older models like the xti can be found cheap, around $250.
I agree with you.
g.php
 
I'd steer clear of the D3000/D3100 line. It's meant to be basically a super point and shoot-it has the interchangeable lenses of the DSLR and that is AWESOME for the high end point and shoot users. However it's got limits and it's really geared towards kids and mom's who just want that DSLR to look good. It has a much smaller, CCD sensor in it and no auto focus motor. You have to buy lenses with the motor in them.
The D5100 is a LARGE jump from the D3100 with a larger, much better sensor in it and that is what is most important in the camera body. It is also entry level and does not have the AF motor, forcing you to either manually focus or buy AF-s lenses. It has a lot of the fun features of the entry level/point and shoots that serious shooters don't want or care about as well as the abilities of a more serious shooter.
The D90 that someone mentioned is PROBABLY where I'd go if I were you and looking to go Nikon. It was canon's top of the line entry/pro-sumer DSLR. It's aimed more towards the serious hobbyist to semi-pro. Does have the motor in body.

Canon-T1i is a great entry level camera but a little dated at this time. If you bump up to the t2i you are looking at the same sensor as is in the T3i without a few superficial bells and whistles. You should be able to find one under your budget either new, refurbished or definitely slightly used. The canon XSi is a great camera, but it happened just before some major jumps were made in sensor technology. I'd go with it if you were on an extremely limited budget-you can find them pretty darned cheap and they're an amazing camera for the price.

Pentax is PERFECTION for someone who is wanting to have a serious hobby without ever thinking to get into heavy duty professional lines of the cameras. They do not strip down their entry levels like Canon and Nikon or even sony to an extent do. Pentax K-r is their entry level and if you are going to just be a serious hobbyist this is where I'd go. It definitely falls into your budget. 14636 Pentax K-r Digital SLR Camera Body with DA L 18-55 Zoom Lens, 12.4 Megapixel CMOS Sensor, 720p HD Video, Black

You didn't mention Sony-Sony has become the third leading DSLR brand for good reason. They make great cameras and it's getting to the point that you can get accessories and lenses for them as easily as a Canon or Nikon. The third parties are all making their accessories for Sony and at good prices. It should definitely be an option.

Don't compromise on buying the camera body in order to buy 2 or 3 lenses with it. Get the best camera body you can afford in your budget. I say this for several reasons: First being you don't know what you don't know. You have no idea what kind of shooter you will be and whether you will decide you want primes or zooms and you don't know what you will want in terms of f/. You don't know if you will need most a wide zoom or a long telephoto... Get the camera and kit and start learning with it. As you do you will also learn what YOU need and want. You'll make better lens decisions that way and not waste money on a bunch of crap you don't use.
Second-if you buy a good camera body now you won't find yourself wanting an upgrade in a few months, year... The money you invest now will last you longer into the future. Future money can then be spent on building a kit of lenses that suit you instead of upgrading bodies every few months to a year. The IQ is all in the lenses, but without a body that you can make the most of those lenses it's all null and void.


What would I choose if I were in your shoes? I am a loyal Canon shooter (notice the signature...) but in your case I'd go with the Pentax K-r. Pentax may not have a huge lineup of lenses but Sigma and Tamron make all of their lenses for the Pentax system and they have an excellent set of options for whatever pentax doesn't make.
 
My cousin uses a Pentax and gets AMAZING photos from it. He's got skills with the camera too, but the point is that the camera itself is not that limiting.

I prefer Nikon.
 
These replies are helping so much! I am glad I wrote here because I was highly considering a Nikon d3100, but now I think I'm debating between a d5100, a Pentax k-x, and a Canon t2i... I am finding both the t2i and the d5100 on cameraworld (I live near a store so I can go in and look at the cameras this weekend) for $600, the Nikon is refurbished, which is fine with me.

One flaw I saw with the Pentax k-x is the smaller size, I have never held one though, so it's hard to determine online but I have pretty large hands and I think I wouldn't like holding the smaller camera... Any opinions on this?
 
If it's too small- add a battery grip. It'll get too big real fast.
ALL of the entry levels are going to be smaller cameras and feel small in larger hands.
 
The D3000 and D3100 are NOT the same. The D3000 has an older CCD sensor and the D3100 has a newer CMOS sensor which performs significantly better.

They are about as different as a D300 is to a D200.
 
On B&H there is a refurbished nikon d5000 available with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses for 550, and I have been looking at a refurbished 5100 with the stock lens for 600... How much of a step-back is the 5000? Is it worth stepping back for the extra lens and saving some money?
 

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