What camera and lense should I buy as a beginner?


TPF Noob!
Apr 30, 2006
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I am wanting to get a good camera and learn a little about photography. Can someone recommend a good camera and which lenses would be necessary at first. I have been looking at the Canon Rebel XT but have no idea what lenses would be necessary. I would be taking some portraits and some landscape shouts for the most part at first. Thanks for any recommendations/help.

When you are buying a SLR camera you are buying a "SYSTEM". Most manufacturers make excellent camera bodies so you need to look at the accessories (Lenses, Flash, etc.) to go with your camera. Personally I think Canon and Nikon have the widest and best selections in this aspect.

If you are just starting out I would suggest going to a camera shop and holding a couple models of each manufacturer in you hand and seeing which one you like the most.

As for lenses I would recommend starting out with a standard 50mm lens. You can add to you system as you progress.

The Canon XT is an excellent camera as is the Nikon D50 or D70s. My personal choice made me go for the Nikon system. Although I still shoot 35mm and not digital, I scan my slides and negatives.
Welcome to the forum.

That is good advice, look at the system you are buying into because you don't want to change your mind once you are invested. Can't go wrong with Canon or Nikon.

I suggest getting the kit lens that usually comes packaged with the camera, the one that comes with the XT (18-55) gives you a wide enough view to be 'normal' on that camera. I also suggest getting a 50mm F1.8 lens. It's inexpensive but great for low light and has great glass.
The best way is to go to a camera shop and compare them side by side. As an entry level body, the Nikon D50 (or even D70s) or Pentax DS2 are better value and have better ergonomics than the Canon 350D (Rebel in the US?).

2nd hand Pentax lenses are also very cheap to buy. Pentax optics are also one of the best (check out their "limited" range). A good starting Pentax system would include the DS2, Sigma 28-70mm f2.8 DF (half price compared to the newer models), FA 50mm f1.7, Sigma EF-500 Super DG flash.

If you want a Canon system, definitely get the 50mm f1.8, and try to grab a 2nd hand 20D instead of the 350D. The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 is a nicely priced and sharp lens.

Don't blindly pick a brand/system just because it's popular (I see a lot of people pick Canon without having seen what others have to offer), everyone has different needs.
I would say if you are interested in the Rebel XT get it but skip the kit lens. I would suggest getting a Sigma 18-200 or Tamron 18-200. For the price you will get a good lens (not the best like Canons L series lenses which are way way more money, but worth it to some). But a very good quality lens with a good wide angle range and telephoto range. Basically a very good starter lens. These lenses are basically the jack of all trades. Good at alot but not great at any one thing. They are of the same if not better quality as the kit lenses (my opinion).

Then once you get better acquainted with digital photography, you can make choices on a very good lens you may want next.

That would really all you would need to start up, well and a memory card. I have a Nikon and a Canon DSLR so I am not for one brand or another.
I personally think you are wiser to spend the money on a quality lens and not skimp there. They really are the heart and soul of good photography.
What can you afford? If you're working on a budget the 18-55 will probably do you fine for a long time. For portraits you want to use the long end as this will compress perspective and make your portraits more flattering.
Hi, are you only interested in digital or would you consider at some point using film also? If you're considering also getting a film camera later then bear in mind that you can use a lens designed for 35mm film cameras on a DSLR but not a lens designed specially for digital on a film camera (AFAIK - am I wrong on this?).
I don't necessarially think a beginner should buy the "best" lens for starters. I really think a person should start with a good quality lens or lenses that will allow all different types of shooting. He may want to start with portraits and interior shots. But maybe fooling around outside and he decides he wants to try macro or wildlife. If he spent all his money on 1 very good lens with a small range. He would be stuck with that type of photography until he could afford another lens. Maybe money is no object, but very few have that luxury.

Now I am not saying go out and buy the cheapest ones just so you have a range from 14mm to 500mm. But Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina all have very quality lenses in the medium price range with good quality and a wide range of coverage. Some are listed as better than others but they all have good qualities.

Also have to remember that you can always sell a lens! The lens does not make a good photographer! It may help a photographer, but it does not make a good one. Another thing is if you look at lens tests. Almost all the lenses get very high scores in the smaller print sizes. Its when the prints get bigger that they start showing weaknesses. I don't think a beginner will be printing too many 16x20's or 20x30's.

If I had unlimited funds I would go out and buy the best glass I could. Probably every one (Nikon and Canon)! But for starters I think a good quality wide range lens suits the bill.

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