Skip to comments.Freeper Recommendations on Starter Digital SLR Cameras
Posted on 05/15/2013 6:26:58 PM PDT by usconservative
Not sure but this may be my first "vanity" thread since joining in 1998. In any case, I know there's folks on here who are deeply involved in photography and know lots about camera's and digital camera's -- something of which I know about zero.
I'm taking the better half on her dream vacation this summer to Alaska for her birthday. We have a small 12mp digital pocket camera, but are thinking we'd really need something better (better zoom, image stabilization for example) for some nice nature pic's.
I've been reading up on different camera's from SLR to DSLR and am frankly lost at this point. I don't know what I *should* buy as a good "starter" camera for taking nice pictures.
Our camera experience is limited to PHD (Push Here Dummy) camera's, although I've recently had some experience with a Nikon DSLR (?) Camera taking pictures at a charity event a few weeks ago. Received alot of compliments on the pictures. Don't remember the model of the camera I used, but it was pretty easy. Had a big zoom lens and auto-focus. Not much of a 'step up' from the PHD camera's we're used to.
I'm thinking most of the pictures we'll be taking will be of the Alaska scenery from ground and air (we have a plane tour and a helicopter ride to a glacier for lunch scheduled) and some whale watching as well.
Budget for a camera is $500-$750. Ease of use is key, zoom capability I'm guessing 30x - 40x.
help him out, would ya? :)
Bump cuz I wanna know too.
Might blow your budget a little but the Nikon D5100.
Slightly less expensive, more friendly to novices but still very capable would be the Canon Eos Rebel T4i.
Should be plenty of reviews, ratings and comparisons to be found online via a web search.
I am a professional photographer.
When I am not working I use a Canon GX ( I think.). Not an SLR but about the most robust consumer camera out there.
Either one of the mid level Nikons or Canons will do the trick. But for that money you will come up a little wanting for lenses.
Personally, I would tell you it’s about the glass, and not so much megapixels.
assuming you don’t already have a bunch of lenses, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot which brand you get. They are all more than excellent.
DSLRs are one of those rare products in which there are no bad ones. I would not even worry about the number of pixels. They all have more than enough tho I would admit for a beginner camera the Nikon D3200 is pretty amazing with 24 MPs.
Pentax has the advantage that there are a whole lot of off brand (and name brand) lenses which will work with it.
Nikon and Canon probably have the most complete line of accessories tho Sony is really building up their line and a lot of the old Minolta Maxxum lenses work perfectly well on the Sony DSLRs.
Best place for comparison on the web:
“PHD (Push Here Dummy)”
LOL I love it!
Whatever it is, make sure it says ‘Canon’ on it!
Sony NEX-5n, used, Ebay... $330..?
If Yoda were a camera, then he’d be this one.
Switchable lenses, small form factor, very rich color. Just fantastic. Don’t be fooled by the size of that beast.
For $550 get a Panasonic Lumix GH-2 (very sharp, and not huge) with the kit lens.
Your only other choice is maybe a Canon T3i given that budget.
When you get $2,500 think about a used Canon 5D Mark 2 —but that’s after u get some experience.
Although it sounds like you want a super zoom ...zoom capability I'm guessing 30x - 40x." The 200mm lens won't give you that kind of zoom. A "superzoom", of which there are many are pretty good. I still use a Kodak Z712 when I want quick shots.
A DSLR takes some time to learn to use. Look for a local class on photography (I don't know where you live) that offers lessons on learning about lenses, light and exposure. Using a DSLR in "auto" mode kind of defeats the purpose of buying one....
Here is a link to the GX1 I mentioned before. It looks like a press the button cameras, but it has a ton of decent extra features.
This very versatile Rebel SLR has very good image quality, especially in low light, and very good performance across the board. It has a very short first-shot delay, a quick response time and is very good at minimizing the effects of camera shake. It includes a swiveling LCD, for hard-to-reach shots. It also has an excellent through-the-lens viewfinder.
Details, pictures, data and more at Amazon
Shopping channel QVC sells a very nice Canon Rebel package for $549.
They will have it to you in less than 10 days. This is where I got mine and I am very pleased.
IMO, Sony Alpha. They have models that will fit most budgets. I also recommend an 18-200mm zoom lens, which is good for about 99% of an average amateur photographer’s needs.
Nikon 5100 is a nice unit, easy to use, but something you can learn with too, got mine at SAMs with 2
lens case etc for about 700, worthy replacement for my trusty D70 that finally secumbed to old age and heavy use.
Canon makes a nice “prosumer” unit too. Be sure and get a unit you can grow with, experiment and have fun, digital sure changed the entire photograhy scene.
I currently have a Nikon D200, an advanced DSLR which takes good pictures, although I haven't completely mastered it. This is an older model--The D7000 and the new D7100 are its successors. The D3100 might be better as an entry-level model.
However, for most of my photography, I use a Canon Powershot G12 point-and-shoot camera, which is user-friendly and performs superbly.
If it only were as easy as — pick this one and this lens — there would be a lot less companies in the market.
If you have decided on a DSLR - it is hard to go too wrong with one of the major players (Nikon/Canon/Pentax). Don’t forget to include lenses in the total purchase. A DLSR only captures the light that the lens provides.
BUT - do you need a DSLR for the type of photography you want to do? The choices in the super-zoom P&S (point and shoot) market offer image stabilization and some very impressive functionality - all in 1 package - at prices that are in your price range.
Don’t ignore the DLSR market — but investigate the super-zoom P&S market prior to making your purchase. You might be very pleased with the products that exist there.
One major point to consider (any camera) - is how does the camera feel in your hand (and anyone else who will be using it). If the camera doesn’t fit - you won’t enjoy capturing the sights of Alaska.
(And for those who think I’m pushing that because I don’t like DLSR - I shoot Canon DLSRs with an assortment of L and non-L lenses - so yea, I do have some background in what I am saying.)
That's one of the camera's I'm looking at. Our "PHD" camera's have all been Nikon's and we've been happy with those.
I'm also looking at the Canon EOS Rebel T4i (I think that's the model..) which looks nice too.
Someone up the thread said it's more about the glass (lens) than the DSLR. Is that true? If I want to zoom in from the ship to the shore (we're taking an Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver up to near Anchorage with 2 days in Denali National Park) what type of lens do I need? Or are ship to shore pic's out of the question due to distance or the lens being too expensive?
I'm trying to stay under $750 for the camera and a decent lens....
“What camera makes & model’s would be good for us for this trip?”
This would be a logical question ten years ago, but with today’s electronic cameras, I see excellent photos from very low cost cameras, and even from the mobile phone cams.
We have a new I-pad where we see a 10 inch photo instantly.
The quality is amazing.
We have a couple of other compact digital cams that take great photos, and I doubt that either of them cost more then 100 bucks.
I was a pro photographer years ago.
Ever since I tried out a Canon PowerShot, the big camera bag has stayed home on trips. Mine’s a few years old now and I’ve done thousands of shots (we have three active kids). They have one now with a 50x zoom for about $500, I believe. I’d buy it in a shot if I were the least bit unhappy with my current camera. Even has a shoe for a real flash.
Thanks, that's just the kind of information I'm looking for.
If you get either the GH-2 or NEX-5n above, then by ALL means get this ridiculously cheap and FANTASTIC lens:
It’s strictly manual, but ohhhhh man....wow. It’s originally made for security cameras, but it’s TOPS. Pro’s agree.
You put a cheap $5 adapter between it and either of the 2 cameras above.
Resident expert needed on isle #2...
I have a D5100 - really like it. It replaced a D-60 with a messed up shutter. (which I'll probably spend the $250 on to fix and give to my son) The newer digitals are getting better at not needing a ton of light to take good pictures.
Still, (to the original poster) pay attention to the specs. Go to a camera store and try out the user interfaces on several cameras. See what makes sense to you.
It's ALL about the lenses. For what you are looking for a lens will cost over $2000. Look at the super-zooms in my previous post. I think that's a better fit for you.
I do not want to sound like a snob, but a decent lens from that distance is out of your price range.
You can get decent second hand lenses out there, so I would do some research and really ask yourself if you want to spend that much.
An alternative is to spend the money, then sell it after the trip.
I spent six grand on a lens four or five years ago, and sold it recently for just under five. The high quality stuff holds its value. I
But for what you are talking about you will spend as much on the lens as the body.
That's what I've heard too. I have some "decent" Nikon lenses, nothing fancy (ie. not something that cost 2x the camera body). I'd say get a modestly feature-equipped camera with good resolution, and spend the money on the optics and a good flash for inside/evening pics.
I picked up an old used Sony A100 DSLR on amazon for $200 for just that reason.
It uses all the old Minolta lenses.
“Budget for a camera is $500-$750. Ease of use is key, zoom capability I’m guessing 30x - 40x.”
I just got my wife a Canon Rebel T3i (600D). Got it at Costco (kit) with 2 lenses included. I just checked costco.com and see that they don’t have the Canon T3i anymore, but they have the Nikon D3200 for about the same price. Can’t go wrong with the Nikon, either.
1. Sony NEX-5n
2. Panasonic Lumix GH-2
3. Canon T3i (don’t screw it up and get the T3 —NO..!)
Any of those 3 are freaking fantastic. They have auto settings for dummies, but will relent and let a pro work his magic, too.
Look the key is at least get something that permits u to SWITCH LENSES:
Increasingly cameras are computers, and that means the camera platform WILL SOON CHANGE. When u discard that suckah in 2 years do u want to also throw away the lens? No.
Glass is forever, and you want to hold onto that and use it for the next platform, which is always coming down the pike in 1 year or less.
And do NOT get carried away with fancy proprietary full-auto lenses (even though I conceed they are quite nifty) cuz it’s a scam to get you permanently locked into ONE brand of (usually very expensive) camera.
On ebay you can get TONS of SUPER CHEAP adaptors made by Chinese slaves AS LONG AS your lenses are manual.
NOTE - People who work at Best Buy do NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CAMERAS;
“It’s here, yes. It’s for sale. It’s really good, and uh.....it takes pichures..”
That looks like a good deal. I was looking at the D3200 earlier. Can’t tell what the difference is between the D3100 and D3200 — would whatever the difference is matter to a novice like me?
I’m a Canon fan myself, but I will admit the Canon Nikon this is mostly just a preference.
Yes it is true that the lens is probably the most important part but that really makes no difference as they all, except maybe Fuji have all the lenses you could want.
They all have cheap and expensive ones. Good and excellent ones. Sony is regularly introducing new Zeiss lenses which are world beaters but really are they that much better than Nikon or Canon?
I have an old Pentax DSLR with only 6 MP which has made some great pics. One of the best photographs I have ever made was with a Canon P&S which allowed an extreme close up of a dragon fly. It has 5 megapixels.
I will have to admit that I am probably going to get a full frame 24 MP the next time I get a new one. Nikon also has one with something like 32 Megapixels.
ROFL! In my experience, people at Best Buy don't know anything about anything. I was "showrooming" using Best Buy long before "showrooming" became a term. (Now they're not even good enough for that!)
Getting some really good practical advice on this thread - Freepers are the best!
Sony has recently came out with a new alpha model that doesn't actually use SLR, but offers framing through the lens without the speed limiting of having to move a shutter out of the way to take the picture. Might be worth looking into.
You're going to love Alaska. Almost any direction you look is like looking at a picture postcard.
If u find “The Frugal Filmmaker group” at Facebook, then you will have top pro’s giving you amazing advice; how to save money, how to not get scammed, how to have that same gizmo, but make it yourself...
A bunch of nice filmmakers w/o tons of dough.
Very active group, a lot like freeps.
I have a Costco membership and they're 15 minutes down the road from me. I'll check their inventory online tomorrow and see if they have it. If so, I'll swing by on my way home from work and check it out --- thanks!
The D3200 starts at about $600 in most stores although the list price is $100 more. The D5200 a couple hundred more.
Both cameras have 24.5 megapixil sensors and both perform well, remarkably well in low light situations with ISO’s to 12800. The kit lens is usually an 18mm to 55mm zoom but other kits include a very nice 18mm to 105mm that will fill 90% of you needs. It won't provide the 200 to 300 zoom you were talking about but you can more than make up for it in cropping ability with the large sensor. For landscapes you really need the smaller number or wider angle anyway. The basic kit lens has vibration control built into it along with very fast automatic focus.
Both cameras are ready to click the shutter as soon as you turn them on. There is simply no lag. It clicks the instant you push the shutter release and both cameras have incredible video ability including full HD and even a slow motion mode that clocks in at 60 frames per second.
If you are a Photo Shop user they both have a Raw output along with 3 levels of JPEG. They take industry standard SD memory cards. They both have remote infrared sensors for remote shutter control and both can use an inexpensive add on device to allow you to control many of the camera features remotely via an Ipad or Android tablet or phone.
There are better cameras for more money but at your price these two will be VERY hard to beat. I've used them and they are simply fantastic.
I am the son of pro photog and grew up with cameras and developing film. Moved to digital a decade ago and I love my Canon G9 Powershot, great little camera with a lot of SLR type settings in addition to "dummy" point and shoot.
The D3200 replaced the D3100. It has gone way up on the pixel count (I have to keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t make a choice based on pixel count but the POP Photo tests, the D-3200 produced an incredible amount of resolution all the way up to ISO 6400 and decent quality a way higher than that.
Basically just the latest updates etc. with the 3200.
I always stick to my Canons as well. Both film and digital units have usually done me well.
I’ve had the 20D, 50D, T3i, and 60D over the years and am looking at probably a 7D after some other expenses are done with.
I do more video than phots since I used to be a television person. Most of my video is stock submissions and some youtube stuff once in a while. A good body is half but the glass is the other half. I have (all Canon) 70- 300, 70-200, 28-135, and 100 mm fixed macro.
Every now and then I pick up a paying photo gig (usually a 5K or mudrun race) to justify owning the gear in addition to whatever I make in stock which varies from a little to a few hundred bucks.
A fair amount of my stuff from all the Canons can be found on this page to links to various galleries.
Here is what is going to blow you budget:
You will need a decent telephoto zoom lens. Otherwise you will get a lot of sharp photos with very small subject matter. I would also say to but a polarizing filter (it will reduce the glare and bring out what little color there may be a frozen environment, You need to rotate the polarizer to its most effective angle for the direction you are shooting, so if you get a lens where the barrel rotates when auto-focusing, it will be a real problem for quick shots.
Personal recommendation Canon EOS Rebel T3i (might be a T4i now).
You can ask point-blank, and they’ll tell you.
The top pro’s there are probably “Nitsan” from London, and then there’s Sean Scarfo from Florida (more an audio guy, but a genius), and then there is another pro genius from Berlin, uh....Lucas.
And whatever you buy keep your eyes peeled for the (tiny but mind-blowing) “Black Magic Pocket Cinema” camera, which is $995 but you can get on the waiting list at B&H Photo, online.
It can be shoved in a pants pocket but has resolution 400% greater than 1080p, m’kay?
Not out yet, but cheap as hell, and it will be out in about 4 months, I think...
You could shoot and project in CINEMA QUALITY on a huge screen a full movie.
“If I want to zoom in from the ship to the shore (we’re taking an Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver up to near Anchorage with 2 days in Denali National Park) what type of lens do I need? Or are ship to shore pic’s out of the question due to distance or the lens being too expensive?”
The 55-200mm of the Nikon kit combined with the 1.5x crop factor of its sensor yields a real-world zoom range of 82.5-300. Now, when you combine that with the 24 megapixel sensor (easily capable of 16”x20” prints without enlarging the picture), you can take an image at full zoom (even if it’s just a tiny area in the frame) and crop to a decent (4”x6” or 5”x7” print) without much, if any, any quality loss. That’s where the megapixels matter: the higher the resolution, the less you lose when you crop. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about...
Canon fan also, primarily because I've built up a substantial investment in lenses. Otherwise, Canon or Nikon would be my favorites. Both have great cameras, lenses, and accessories.
You'd be nitpicking to pick one over the other in general. Each brand has their strengths, but I wouldn't expect any significant weaknesses.
Currently, in the Canon realm, low-cost bodies include the T3i, T4i, and I think the T5i is out now. There's also a new, tiny SL1 body. Any of those coupled with an 18-55 zoom and a 55-250 or 70-300 zoom would make a great travel/starting kit.
If you've already made a glass investment in one brand or another, you might consider going with that brand (if compatible) for you camera body so that you can use your other lenses with it.
A couple more good sites...