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Camera recommendations

Discussion in 'Camera and Photography Tips' started by Jazzy, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    I'm planning on buying a DSLR after the holidays.

    Not to sound like a complete idiot but...I always purchased point and shoots because I thought the SLRs didn't have an automatic mode and I would have to futz around with all the settings which I don't know how to do and so I figured I couldn't use one.

    Now that I realize the error of my ways...what do you guys recommend for a beginner/first time SLR camera?
  2. Novy

    Novy Little Dog Premium Member

    Realistically I don't think there is a such thing as a bad DSLR to learn on. All of the consumer grade cameras are pretty good. One recommendation people make is to physically handle the various cameras as some may feel more comfortable than others and that could be the deciding factor.

    Another point to consider is that lenses will or should become your primary investment. Most kit lenses are OK but can also impose some limitations on your photography. I'd personally look for a decent used lens that suits your needs over buying a kit lens. There are lots available on places like Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums

    What type of subjects do you plan on shooting?

    While they do have auto focus, image stability and automatic settings, I'd urge you to take an interest in learning how to shoot in manual modes, as well as learning to deal with RAW images. I've had my Canon 7d for about 5 years now. My biggest regret was not learning how to deal with RAW images right off the bat, and my next regret was being lazy and not going through a trail and error method to understand how to set the camera manually. It made a substantial difference.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2014
  3. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    I do want to learn how to use the camera manually ~ but I think being able to at least take some half way decent pictures right away will keep me motivated to keep learning.

    I mainly want to take pictures of the dog :blush: and family members.

    Getting a sense of how the camera feels is a really good suggestion, and to be honest my original plan was to probably order something without having seen/felt it in person ~ so very good point.

    When you start talking about lenses and lens kits and RAW images ~ you start freaking me out a little bit. I'm a control freak, and when I know absolutely nothing about something it's a little overwhelming. If I can just get the camera, take some decent pictures, go "oh OK this isn't so bad" ~ then I can start futzing with one thing at a time.

    Do I have to make a decision about lenses when I buy the camera? I'm assuming it comes with something standard ~ part of the package ~ and then from there I can learn and figure out what I want...
  4. dogeatdog

    dogeatdog Good Dog

    I have a Canon 600D, I think it takes pretty good pictures. Heres an auto shot for you. It is easy to use, this camera came with two kit lenses. I bought it a while ago so they are probably a lot cheaper now.

  5. Novy

    Novy Little Dog Premium Member

    I assume you'd mainly be taking still shots of your family and V, or would you be looking to do some action shots as well? Do you have any sort of budget in mind?

    You don't necessarily have to make a decision on lenses right away, you can always upgrade later. Nikon and Canon have the most lens options available, which makes it a lot easier to buy and sell down the road. My only reason for avoiding kit lenses is if you do decide to upgrade, the kit lenses either become dust collectors or have poor resale value.

    Most people will find themselves with a "go-to" lens, but it can be difficult to establish what focal lengths you will typically shoot. Some people prefer zoom lenses, some people prefer prime (fixed focal length) lenses. If I were having to start over, I'd probably choose to look at either a prime lens with a focal range between 35 and 50mm with an aperture of f/1.4 or a zoom lens along the lines of a 24-70 with a fixed aperture of f/2.8. You could easily get a gently used Tokina, Sigma or Tamron lens meeting my description for what you would pay for a kit lens, and for the most part you'd be getting something with a lot more potential. Starting out, a lot of this stuff can seem like complete gibberish so if you have access to anyone at all who might be able to let you have some hands on time with a camera and different types of lenses it would help you better understand how different lenses work and perform under different conditions it would be very beneficial. Failing that, going to a camera store that will let you try a few lenses out to aid in your decision may be a wise bet.

    As far as being a control freak goes, that will come in very handy down the road once you get an understanding of how all this stuff works.
  6. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    Thank you both.

    DED - wow, that is tons better than anything my little P&S could do, so I guess it's a definite upgrade!

    Novy - Stiles and action shots of the dog. And yeah, you did start to tilt off into the land of gibberish :lol: Budget wise I'm expecting to spend between $500 - $700. $800 would be the absolute cap.
  7. Novy

    Novy Little Dog Premium Member

    Sorry for the delayed response. Rough couple of night shifts. I wanted an opportunity to do a little research into what the new and used market is like in the US. I don't even really pay attention to the market in Canada unless there is something I am specifically looking for.

    A couple of quick reads that might help with your understanding:

    Photography Tutorial: A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR Camera | Kevin Amanda
    How understanding exposure can lead to better photos

    $800 max puts you into the territory of a bundle with a basic lens. Of available kit lenses, I'd suggest looking to something like the Canon 18-135, Nikon 18-105 or Nikon 18-140. Decent lenses with a good walk around focal range. Brand new, any kits containing those lenses would probably end up pushing you beyond your budget. I think you're in a position to get the best out of your money looking for a gently used combo (generally, people care for photography equipment very well). Photography equipment holds resale very well after the initial depreciation, so it gives you the ability to try different things without a great loss if you decide to sell it because it doesn't suit your needs.

    A second option would be getting a body and something like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. It is a very cheap lens (around $100), but dollar for dollar is probably one of the best lenses you could buy. It would allow you to learn a little bit and then maybe help decide what else you want to buy to compliment it. The auto focus can be a little slow, but with the large aperture (numerically lower, like cameras aren't confusing enough as it is already) it will really outperform kit lenses in lower light and will allow you to take shots with bokeh. Bokeh is the blurred background effect, basically you need something with an f/stop of 2.8 or numerically lower to do this. I am a big fan of having at least one large aperture lens, preferably in the focal range you would use the most.

    Based on what I recall you posting in the past I think you are probably going to find yourself shooting in a focal range somewhere between 35mm and 70mm, unless you have somewhere with a lot of room for V to run. Basically anything under 35mm is pretty wide, 35-70mm is a very common for walk around lenses and portrait work, 70-100mm is on the short end of zoom, and anything over 100mm is pretty long zoom wise. When I'm out hiking I always take my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II, but rarely shoot beyond 135mm. If I were in my back yard I would use my Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM. I've got a pretty wide gap between the 2 lenses, but I did have the 50mm f/1.8 in the past and gave it to my cousin because I didn't use it much other than as a portrait lens which made having it and the Sigma sort of redundant (just move closer in with the sigma). I really like fast focusing lenses ($$$), and if anything I shoot is too wide I just crop it.

    Just doing some browsing around on the photography forum I frequent:

    Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums: thread not available (Permission Denied)
    Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums: thread not available (Permission Denied)
    Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums: thread not available (Permission Denied)

    I wasn't sure where exactly you are located but I did some browsing on craigslist for some ideas:

    Canon EOS 7D DSLR Camera with lens
    Canon 7D with 24-105L Lens
    Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (Nikon compatible)

    Some ideas to think about. I was surprised to see some 7d's with lenses close to your price range. Great camera (it's what I use), awesome burst rate with a fast memory card, but a bit on the heavy side. If you want any further guidance feel free to ask.
  8. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog


    Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate your taking the time to give me such detailed information!! I'm going to go through your post over the Christmas holiday and research and check everything out; thank you for giving me a good foundation to start with! I'll let you know what I end up with!
  9. timsm80

    timsm80 Little Dog

    Hey Jazzy ,
    Last year i finally got my dslr setup and i only spent $500 i got every thing[SIZE=+1][FONT=Verdana, Geneva, sans serif] [/FONT][/SIZE]separate. I got the canon t3 rebel with the 50mm lens Novy mentioned and a cheap 18-90mm lens. But i love my 50mm lens and really only use it. I dont see that a zoom lens that important unless your shooting landscape or long distance of course just my .2 worth. But in my year experience with mine for just shooting Titus and my family the 50mm is perfect. I would go with a $500 or $600 canon body only and the 1.8 50mm is $125 and the 1.4 is $400. I do believe for first time dslr users a canon is more user friendly.
    some sample shots.



  10. Novy

    Novy Little Dog Premium Member

    Thanks for chiming in, Tim. I was hoping somebody would, just so Jazzy wasn't only getting one point of view. I'm glad you agree with my recommendation with regards to going with a prime lens, at least to start out. One you go large aperture and see what all the fuss is about, it is hard to find any circumstance to go back.
  11. timsm80

    timsm80 Little Dog

    Yep now i cant decide between a 50mm 1.4 or a 100mm for my next lens?? and advice not to hi jack the thread though??
  12. Novy

    Novy Little Dog Premium Member

    If you are totally content with the 50 f/1.8 and want more reach, either the 85 f/1.8 or the 100 f/2 are good options depending on which focal length is more suitable to your needs. If you are happy with the 50mm and want faster auto focus, then going to the 1.4 should help. I think the sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART probably focuses faster/more accurately than the canon, but it costs a lot more and is a fair bit heavier. I've actually been contemplating the 85mm for hockey shots where the lighting is poor in most rinks, it would probably be an improvement over the 70-200 f/2.8. My other thought is buying a used full frame as a second body. It would allow me to push the ISO further with less noise, and bring the 70-200 into more of an optimal focal length for my needs (I find it a tad long on a crop body at times).
  13. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    Okay...I ordered a camera. Since I don't know what I'm doing - for some reason - probably misguided - I was more comfortable ordering new from Best Buy so if I have any kind of problem and I can bring it back and say "fix it please".

    I got a package deal - I got the Nikon 5200 which comes with an 18 - 55 mm lens and a 55 - 300 mm lens. I hope I did OK. I was stuck between the D5200 and the D3300 and everything I read said they were comparable - I was leaning towards the newer version with the faster processor but I really REALLY wanted the flip LCD screen - and then that's the one that was in the weekly package deal - so hopefully that wasn't a bad decision.

    I'll post my experiments :grin:
  14. Beki

    Beki Good Dog Premium Member

    Congrats! How exciting!
  15. lizzie13

    lizzie13 Good Dog

    Can't go wrong with that camera. I have the d3200. It is super easy if you choose to shoot in auto mode. Manual is super simple once you figure out what each setting does. There are a few good videos explaining the 3 main things you need to know. Here is a good one that's easy to understand. Once you start playing around on your own it will all make sense.
    DSLR Basics: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO: [video=youtube_share;pzgALhGF8_o]http://youtu.be/pzgALhGF8_o[/video]
  16. dellacella

    dellacella Big Dog

    I can't wait to see them
  17. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    Thank you so much for the video Lizzie - I will definitely watch it several times!!!! :lol:

    I got my camera a couple of weeks ago, and only just today had time to take it out of the box. I'm charging the battery. It's going to take me awhile to figure everything out!

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