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The DSLR question - We're All Mad Here.

About The DSLR question

Previous Entry The DSLR question Nov. 25th, 2008 @ 11:36 am Next Entry
I made a quick post on my twitter feed soliciting advice on a DSLR purchase.  Shortly afterward I realized this was not something that could be discussed 140 characters at a time.  I'd like to use this post as a discussion ground for my photography savvy friends to give me their advice.

Some background.  I have a 7.2MP Sony cybershot that I purchased about three years ago.  It's a fun little camera and I've been mostly happy with it but I'd like to upgrade.  I have no delusions that I will ever become a professional photographer.  I just want to take really, really nice amateur shots.  I've been reading http://www.photo.net/ in an attempt to learn more about photography and what kind of equipment I should get.  Lots of information has led to lots of confusion.  All I really know at this point is that I should get a Canon or a Nikon because I'll have the greatest success getting lenses for those brands.  I'll admit that I'm leaning Nikon but that's only because I picked up a D90 at Best Buy and fell in love with it.

Here's what I want:
-A camera body that I can use for years.
-Something with enough features so that as I learn more the camera will keep up.
-Budget-wise, I'm as concerned with not spending enough as with spending too much.  If it costs more but is worth more, I'll take it into consideration (but remember, still an amateur)

So, what should I do?  One friend has already recommended picking a brand and buying the cheapest kit.  Is that going to get me where I want to go?
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From:snicks_chan
Date:November 25th, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
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I don't have much feedback to offer, but if muffins_of_god doesn't respond to this post, you might want to seek her out. She's been doing that kind of photography for years (shiny amateur shots), and I know she has her favorite brands. I just, um, don't know what they are off the top of my head.
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From:zophos
Date:November 25th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
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This is also a good site: http://www.dpreview.com/ (especially their DSLR buying guide - it gives you more things to consider)

I have an Olympus E-500 which I love, but I was also using Olympus 35mm cameras before that and had lenses which I could use on both systems. The only two things I wish I had were less noise at higher ISOs and image stabilization - both of which were added to the later models.
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From:mixmastermike
Date:November 26th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the link. That site has a ton more info on specific cameras than photo.net. I love the comparison options.
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From:halofire
Date:November 25th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
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Amy dabbles in photography, and got a snazzy digital (Canon Rebel, maybe?) last year and has had fun with it. Give her a poke and I'm sure she'd at least give you reviews on what she's bought and used.
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From:igorxa
Date:November 25th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
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given everything you've said here, i would not recommend getting the cheapest kit. i did that last summer when i bought my d40. it was my first digital, and after two months i'd outgrown it, and i can imagine the same happening to you. as i used it more and more i found it lacking a lot of advanced features i really felt like i needed to get the shots i wanted. there was no mirror lock up, no bracketing, no built in af motor, no hi iso capability, etc. likewise i'd steer clear of the the rebel x series (xt, xti, xsi) for those reasons and more. at least among the lower end bodies, i think the nikons are much better built.

if you really loved the d90, i would HIGHLY recommend it. i'm a nikon guy, so i might be biased. but it's got enough features to keep you busy learning for a while, the sensor is pretty much the same one that's in the higher end d300 and has nearly the same or better high iso performance, and, gimmick or not, it'll do 720p hd video with all those beautiful nikkor lenses. i personally wouldn't get the 18-105mm kit lens that comes with it. if you can find a kit with the 18-70mm, i think it's a much better lens. or if you want to go old school, get a body only and pair it with the sigma 30mm f/1.4 (the equiv of the "nifty fifty" on the smaller digital sensors, and nikon doesn't make an af 30, yet).

i'd steer clear of the more expensive, prosumer d300. between the d90 and the full frame d700, the price point on the d300 is just not worth it.

if you want to go the canon route, i'd have a look at the 50d. i don't know much about canon lenses, so i can't make a recommendation. i can say that, at least for me, the attraction to canon is that they have up to date wide angle, af prime lenses. nikon has yet to keep up, and the natives are restless (we'd love to have a 24mm f/1.4, but our cries fall on deaf ears over in nikon land).

there's some color rendering differences between canon and nikon which are mostly subjective. i tend to think nikon is more accurate and canon is warmer. you can find sample images on the web if you really want to see a comparison. but with all the in camera options and photoshop abilities, those differences are negligible.

there are also some feature differences. for the last couple decades canon has been the sport photographer's camera, for its speed, mostly. when the d3 came out, for the first time in a long time canon shooters were switching to the d3, especially for the olympics (if you look at pictures of the photo pits, you'll see a lot more black lenses than white). neither the d90 or the 50d will perform like the d3, or the 1d mk3, but they're not supposed to.

remember that pixel count doesn't really matter these days. 12MP is plenty to print 8x10s. hell, you could actually print billboards if you wanted to (billboard resolution is much lower since you're viewing them at greater distances, natch).

i've steered clear of the other systems like olympus, sony, konica minolta and pentax, mostly because i don't know much about them. the new high end sony is supposed to be pretty nice. i'll go ahead and stand behind that d90 rec.
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From:mixmastermike
Date:November 26th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
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Thanks a ton, Joey. This was exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I'll keep you up to date on how things are going. Glad to hear from someone who also likes the Nikons.
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From:igorxa
Date:November 26th, 2008 04:45 am (UTC)
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glad i could help! def keep me posted. remember, a camera body is really only as good as the lens mounted on it. spend your money on glass and you'll never be disappointed. here's a good place for comparisons:

http://www.naturfotograf.com/bestof.html

that list is the best of the best, and most of those are pretty expensive (the 24-70 listed under the zooms is the one i just spent $1600 on), but the link at the bottom that says "lens survey" has a more comprehensive list.

with the exception of the sigma lens i mentioned earlier, i don't recommend (most) sigma or tamron or tokina lenses. they are cheaper, yes, but usually at a price. the build quality isn't as good as top grade nikkors, and usually the optics are not quite as good. there are exceptions and arguments for both sides, and where sigma (not so much the others) really shines is where nikon doesn't make an equivalent lens (the 30mm 1.4, the 150-500mm zoom, etc.).

oh, and i misspoke. i don't recommend the 18-70. the 18-55 mk ii, which is usually the kit lens on the d40 and d60, now comes with vr and is a much better lens than either the 18-70 or 18-105, and only costs about $100. the d90 body only is $1000, so you'd be saving $100-200 over the kit and be getting a better lens. if you think you'll want more reach, the do-everything 18-200 is not bad value for the money.

anyways, i could go on and on for hours. i'll wait till you have more questions.
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