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A Beginner needs help for a camera:
Hello everyone..

As the subject states, I am looking for my first, DSLR Camera.Little background..

Love photography. However, I have never done much in photography except for take the casual photo with family, friends etc. For quite some time now, I have wanted to get much more involved with photography in all angels..

I know I have much to learn, but I am very excited to do so. Being that I am very much a beginner, I am not looking for a high end camera ($1,000+), but something more in the mid range. I am planning on taking photos of my family (wife and son) as well as scenery, travel events and anything that I fancy. I already have a Canon SD750, which is fantastic. I just want something a little more that allows me to do more..

I need to read up on terminology, technology (digital camera specific). In the meantime, I wanted to see if anyone could point me in the direction of a certain camera that would suit my needs..

As of now, I have looked at the Nikons and they sound very enticing. I read an article on Ken Rockwells website regarding the Nikon D40 and it sounds like it might be a good camera to get me started with..

I am vendor neutral, so I am open to other brands if they are recommended..

I will start here for now and let others help with feedback..

Very much appreciated..

Jason..

Comments (18)

You are basically where I was at 4 weeks ago. I had actually wandered into Ritz a couple times just out of curiosity. I had squeezed what I could out of my sub-$150 P&S..

The first dslr I shot was a Canon 40D. There was a canon booth at the Tulip Festival here in Oregon and they let you run around with their dslrs if you left your license..

For that day, with no context - I thought for sure I should get a 40D. and then I thought about 'settling' for an XSI..

Then I came back down to earth, did my research, put things in perspective and got the Nikon D40.  .

I might should have gotten the Canon XTI - but it all came down to price for me and a couple hundred dollars was enough to sway me..

This period for you is like 'pregnancy' ... the 9 months is anguishing... but after birth (i.e. you get the camera), it's only just the beginning!   (Okay.. terrible analogy.. sorry)..

Comment #1

From what I hear the D40 has very excellent image quality but it might not take you to far when and if you want to upgrade. there are a limited number of lenses that will auto focus with that camera. something to do with a drive motor in the camera or lack of it. I would look into it before you go with the D40. I have a Rebel XTi and it is very nice, price is good right now also. It works with all canon lenses but the EF-S lenses aren't compatible with the pro level models from canon. there is a good web site called blocked URL that some great info on entry level DSLRs...

Comment #2

For some reason the forums blocked the URL. it is camerlabs -dot- com..

Comment #3

One more opinion, if you get the canon, buy the body only and purchase the new kit lens separately. new lens has image stabilization and is much sharper/ has less distortion than the older onenew= EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ISold= EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (non-IS)..

Comment #4

Appreciate the feedback very much..

I kind of feel like I am in a catch 22. Meaning, since I am wanting to get started with photography, finding the right camera without breaking my wallet is important. However, I do not want to corner myself and buy a camera that I outgrow sooner than later..

One of the things I have to learn more about is lenses. They are very important, yet I do not fully understand some of the underlying concepts and what I should be looking for..

You mentioned that the Nikon D40 would not auto-focus with some lenses? Being as that I am a beginner, what are some features I should be looking at? What should I steer clear of?.

I am assuming that brand name is a major factor, but more of a personal preference?.

Right now, I was looking at cameras from Canon, Nikon and Olympus..

BTW, is there a website that can give me a quick run down of understanding how lenses work, how to chose lenses etc?.

Much appreciated..

Jason..

Comment #5

Hi Jason.

You won't go wrong with the cameras that you mentioned. Like you, I just migrated from a P&S to a DSLR. I chose the D80..

I was contemplating at the D40 after reading KR's glowing review. But instead I chose the D80 coz it can auto focus with Nikon's older lenses, like the 50mm f1.8. I'm just too lazy to do it manually..

Sorry if I'm directing you towards Nikon, but models from Canon (XSi), Olympus (E510) or even Pentax (K10D) would also be a good choice..

What will make you choose will be the kind of lenses that you want to end up with and whether you are comfortable with the size and weight of those models..

Any model you choose, will be a good one..

Zac..

Comment #6

Jason Williams wrote:.

Appreciate the feedback very much..

I kind of feel like I am in a catch 22. Meaning, since I am wantingto get started with photography, finding the right camera withoutbreaking my wallet is important. However, I do not want to cornermyself and buy a camera that I outgrow sooner than later..

Yep, catch-22. It's not an accident that beginners struggle. You are in the right place, but don't expect an instant epiphany....

One of the things I have to learn more about is lenses. They are veryimportant, yet I do not fully understand some of the underlyingconcepts and what I should be looking for..

If I was in your predicament, I would get a cheap, entry-level camera from any of the 5 "players" and a basic "kit" lens (something in the 18-55mm range). Then use it to learn about digital photography. Sell the setup in 1-2 years on Craig's List. Then step up if you want to get serious (lots of beginners never take the next step)..

You mentioned that the Nikon D40 would not auto-focus with somelenses?.

That's true, but misunderstood. The comparable Canon entry-level cameras don't have focus motors in the body either! The difference is that Canon made this strategic move many years ago. There was a furor then...but with time it goes away. Nikon is madly designing/upgrading lenses with fast ring motors. So are the 3rd party mfgs like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc. In a couple of years there will be a glut of lense to choose from.



Nikon had to do this to compete with Canon..

Being as that I am a beginner, what are some features Ishould be looking at? What should I steer clear of?.

This is a very personal and emotional issue! Often people tend to like the features of the product they just bought. Duh! And unfortunately they insist that they are essential to beginners. Here are some examples:.

1. Sensor cleaning. Oly has the best system. None of them shake 100% of the stuff off. You WILL have to clean the sensor occasionally...or get somebody else to do it for a fee. Note that "sensor cleaning" is a misnomer.

You clean the filter. The dust on the filter is OOF! Unless you stop the lens down a LOT, you can't see the dust anyway. I've had my D300 for 4+ months...cleaned the sensor once. It was easy..

2. Live View/Preview. None of the dSLRs have a good LV system. Again, Oly has the best setup. It is good (at the moment) only for static subjects like landscapes and macro shots of flowers..

3. Number of Pixels. Less is more! Often you won't have a good option with fewer pixels. The rules are:.

1a. Buy a camera with as big a sensor as you can afford.1b. Buy a camera with as few pixels as you can stand..

I am assuming that brand name is a major factor, but more of apersonal preference?.

It's a "religion". I'd avoid joining a "church"....

Right now, I was looking at cameras from Canon, Nikon and Olympus..

That's a good group. However, Pentax and Sony also make great cameras too. It's hard to find a truly bad dSLR anymore..

BTW, is there a website that can give me a quick run down ofunderstanding how lenses work, how to chose lenses etc?.

I'm sure there are hundreds. I did and found:.

Http://www.digitalartform.com/lenses.htmhttp://electronics.howstuffworks.com/camera2.htmhttp://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_a_camera_lens_workhttp://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/?page_id=11.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #7

Just an FYI - I borrowed a friends camera for a few days and that made the decision process a lot easier for me...

Comment #8

Chuxter wrote:.

If I was in your predicament, I would get a cheap, entry-level camerafrom any of the 5 "players" and a basic "kit" lens (something in the18-55mm range). Then use it to learn about digital photography. Sellthe setup in 1-2 years on Craig's List. Then step up if you want toget serious (lots of beginners never take the next step)..

I was kind of thinking along the same lines. get something simple and basic, then move on in a year or two, once I have a better understanding of photography under my belt..

Could you recommend a couple of models to consider to get me started?I found a package at a place for a Nikon D40 that included:.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-SDX Zoom-NIKKOR Lens.

55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-SDX VR Zoom-NIKKOR Lens with optical image stabilization.

For roughly $559..

Would that be a good one to consider? look at other options? Still need to teach myself regarding lenses, as that is a crucial piece to the process. Not sure if this is to much at this point while I get started..

I am open to all makes and models. .

That's true, but misunderstood. The comparable Canon entry-levelcameras don't have focus motors in the body either! The difference isthat Canon made this strategic move many years ago. There was a furorthen...but with time it goes away. Nikon is madly designing/upgradinglenses with fast ring motors. So are the 3rd party mfgs like Sigma,Tamron, Tokina, etc. In a couple of years there will be a glut oflense to choose from.



I will keep that in mind. Taking quality pictures is something I will be striving for..

Appreciate your help..

Jason..

Comment #9

Nikon will auto focus on AF-S lenses. All new lenses are AF-S. What is missing are the fast primes that are AF-S. If you want these and you don't want to focus manually stay away from Nikon D40/D40X/D60..

Canon has a lot of features in the entry-level cameras but it has not so good kit lens and an awful grip. The body plus the 18-55 mm IS would have me costed almost double than Nikon D40 with kit lens (that has no IS) so I went for Nikon. I don't regret it the only problems I have are the lack of exposure bracketing and no gridlines in VF.Also look at Pentax entry levels (K100D)..

Before buying go into a store and see how they fit you. All can give you great photos but if you hate how they feel...VictorBucuresti, Romaniahttp://s106.photobucket.com/albums/m268/victor_petcu/http://picasaweb.google.com/teodor.nitica/..

Comment #10

[snip].

I found a package at a place for a Nikon D40 that included:.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-SDX Zoom-NIKKOR Lens.

55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-SDX VR Zoom-NIKKOR Lens with optical image stabilization.

For roughly $559..

I am open to all makes and models. .

Sony A200 10.2MP + 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens at Circuit City for $499.99.

The advantage is low entry-level price + in-body stabilization..

Or.

Sony A300 10.2MP with Live View + DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mm f/4-5.6 at Amazon for 699.99..

The advantage is in-body stabilization + a nicely configured Live View with tiltable screen...

Comment #11

Dennis Phillips wrote:.

Sony A200 10.2MP + 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens at Circuit City for $499.99.

The advantage is low entry-level price + in-body stabilization..

Or.

Sony A300 10.2MP with Live View + DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mmf/4-5.6 at Amazon for 699.99..

The advantage is in-body stabilization + a nicely configured LiveView with tiltable screen..

Interesting. Very interesting. Makes me think about a few things..

The more I think about it, the more I very much like the idea of getting a 'cheaper' camera to get my started with. Why? Because the reality for me is, I have a lot to learn and I firmly believe that you learn by doing and that takes time. If I can learn the ins and outs of photography, it will help me progress and really find my niche in what areas of photography I like..

The one thing I am curious about and not sure about is, what should I be looking for in regards to lenses? Will the type of lens I want to look for depend on what type of pictures I want to take? Since I am new, should I strive for a "neutral" lens, that allows me to take a wide variety of picture types?..

Comment #12

Jason Williams wrote:.

Dennis Phillips wrote:.

Sony A200 10.2MP + 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens at Circuit City for $499.99.

The advantage is low entry-level price + in-body stabilization..

Or.

Sony A300 10.2MP with Live View + DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mmf/4-5.6 at Amazon for 699.99..

The advantage is in-body stabilization + a nicely configured LiveView with tiltable screen..

Interesting. Very interesting. Makes me think about a few things..

The more I think about it, the more I very much like the idea ofgetting a 'cheaper' camera to get my started with. Why? Because thereality for me is, I have a lot to learn and I firmly believe thatyou learn by doing and that takes time. If I can learn the ins andouts of photography, it will help me progress and really find myniche in what areas of photography I like..

The one thing I am curious about and not sure about is, what should Ibe looking for in regards to lenses? Will the type of lens I want tolook for depend on what type of pictures I want to take? Since I amnew, should I strive for a "neutral" lens, that allows me to take awide variety of picture types?.

I liked this forum participant's response to the question of lenses.http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1037&message=27818529.

Quote:.

1. Flip a coin, buy something and enjoy it. Easier to do if you don't spend time on forums like this..

2. Pick something, buy it, but always be on the lookout for something else. Don't be content even when you have 30 lenses covering 28 to 200mm. You can shoot a wedding, school portraits, motor sports, cover the news, do landscape, do high reproduction macro or anything else you might one day want to do..

3. Pick something, buy it, use it, learn how it works for you. Figure out from practical use what you might need that your lineup doesn't offer. Buy something else, sell your old lenses and start over. Do this every couple years and work your way through 20 or 30 lenses while only ever owning a few at a time. Your lineup is tweaked for the way you shoot and if you change your shooting style, you may need to revamp the lineup.unquote.

He chose strategy #3. I suggest #1, but I follow #2 It's a pain in the pocketbook...

Comment #13

Jason Williams wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

If I was in your predicament, I would get a cheap, entry-level camerafrom any of the 5 "players" and a basic "kit" lens (something in the18-55mm range). Then use it to learn about digital photography. Sellthe setup in 1-2 years on Craig's List. Then step up if you want toget serious (lots of beginners never take the next step)..

I was kind of thinking along the same lines. get something simple andbasic, then move on in a year or two, once I have a betterunderstanding of photography under my belt..

Could you recommend a couple of models to consider to get me started?I found a package at a place for a Nikon D40 that included:.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-SDX Zoom-NIKKOR Lens.

55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-SDX VR Zoom-NIKKOR Lens with optical image stabilization.

For roughly $559..

This 2-lens D40 "kit" is a good one. Unless you know that you will want to take pix of distant subjects, skip the 55-200 lens. These "kit" lenses don't hold their value as well as "real" lenses and the various bodies. You cut your losses by only buying one "kit" lens to start. That will save you about $120, ie, spend only $430 for the D40 & 18-55 lens..

Would that be a good one to consider?.

Yes, or any of the comparable camera/lenses from the other "players"..

Look at other options?.

You can't buy a D40 w/o a "kit" lens. .

Consider a used (lightly) one for about $300. I see them all the time on Craig's List for about that price. Lots of people do what I was suggesting that you do, ie, buy a D40 kit and then move up to a D80 and want to use the 18-55 on it so they dump the D40 body. If you get a low-mileage D40, this can be a real bargain!.

Then get a better lens as your primary lens. Something like an 18-135 f3.5-5.6 for about $330 (new...B&H). Or a 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 for $650. Both these are better than the "kit" lenses, which are NOT terrible. You can keep these lenses for a long time..

Also, don't avoid Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina lenses. I bought a Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 DC Macro HSM (used) for $350. It's faster than the above Nikkor lenses and has great IQ. There are LOTS of good lenses out there. Explore! Read lens reviews....

Stillneed to teach myself regarding lenses, as that is a crucial piece tothe process. Not sure if this is to much at this point while I getstarted..

I am open to all makes and models. .

Good. Stay that way..

Also...VR/IS...is not needed on short FL lenses. You do see a few WA lenses with that feature, but it's because the customer is ignorant and thinks it's a good thing to have. Don't fall for that one! Once you get up in the 200mm range, then VR/IS is a plus. But many beginners don't understand that VR/IS doesn't help stabilize the image of a moving subject! It only (somewhat) compensates for motion of the camera. Thus, if taking pix of kids running/playing, VR/IS is of limited value..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #14

Baloo_buc wrote:.

Nikon will auto focus on AF-S lenses. All new lenses are AF-S. Whatis missing are the fast primes that are AF-S. If you want these andyou don't want to focus manually stay away from Nikon D40/D40X/D60..

Good point! There is a AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED available. Nice lens, but pricey! And Sigma has a new 50mm f1.4 HSM lens (no price yet) and the 30mm f1.4 HSM for about $450. Both these Sigma lenses are EX, which have excellent build and image Q..

Canon has a lot of features in the entry-level cameras but it has notso good kit lens and an awful grip..

Amen!.

The body plus the 18-55 mm ISwould have me costed almost double than Nikon D40 with kit lens (thathas no IS) so I went for Nikon..

Since IS on an 18-55mm lens is silly, that was a good choice..

Note that if you want to take low-light pix, a fast lens (under f2.8) and great high ISO is better than VR/IS..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #15

Dennis Phillips wrote:.

[snip].

I found a package at a place for a Nikon D40 that included:.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-SDX Zoom-NIKKOR Lens.

55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-SDX VR Zoom-NIKKOR Lens with optical image stabilization.

For roughly $559..

I am open to all makes and models. .

Sony A200 10.2MP + 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens at Circuit City for $499.99.

The advantage is low entry-level price + in-body stabilization..

Or.

Sony A300 10.2MP with Live View + DT 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 & DT 55-200mmf/4-5.6 at Amazon for 699.99..

The advantage is in-body stabilization + a nicely configured LiveView with tiltable screen..

Hi,.

I was in a similar position 1 year ago. I was confused by D40, D40X, D80, Sony A100, XTI, XT, Olympus.... etc. I chose Sony because of in body stabilization. If you remember your blurry indoor low light pictures, you'll definitely feel the need. Well, I could get image stabilized lenses of Canon and Nikon, but they are expensive and probably person like me with low budget wont be able to afford many of them.



When I first thought of DSLR, I thought I'd be happy with 1 lens .. now I have 3 and upgraded my camera to A700 which is at par with Nikon D300..

Hope this confuses you a lot ..

Better go to a local shop and try all models, ergonomics, ease of undrstanding the controls, menu, button possiotion, grip all matters.. in fact these matters much ... taking pictures is easy with all these extreme machines.. need to know to control it.ThanksAyan..

Comment #16

Ayan Dakshi wrote:.

Hi,.

I was in a similar position 1 year ago. I was confused by D40, D40X,D80, Sony A100, XTI, XT, Olympus.... etc. I chose Sony because of inbody stabilization. If you remember your blurry indoor low lightpictures, you'll definitely feel the need. Well, I could get imagestabilized lenses of Canon and Nikon, but they are expensive andprobably person like me with low budget wont be able to afford manyof them.



When I first thought of DSLR, I thought I'd be happy with 1 lens ..now I have 3 and upgraded my camera to A700 which is at par withNikon D300..

Hope this confuses you a lot ..

Better go to a local shop and try all models, ergonomics, ease ofundrstanding the controls, menu, button possiotion, grip allmatters.. in fact these matters much ... taking pictures is easy withall these extreme machines.. need to know to control it.ThanksAyan.

Hi Ayan..

Thanks for the input. Hmm, body stabilization eh? Something I probably should consider, being that I am very much a perfectionist. how does one deal with that, assuming the camera does not have it?.

I have been wavering on the direction to go. I stopped by my local ritz camera store and looked at a couple cameras; Nikon D40, Canon Rebel XTI and the Sony A200. All are very nice, but I need to go back and look again. Guy was nice and answered my questions. I have a feeling I would be happy with any of them..

I do see myself getting into the same position you are; buy my first camera, thinking it will be fine for awhile. Then, a year later, I have sold an upgraded my camera and have a couple of lenses as well.  Very much a strong possibility of that happening..

I have to say, I am very excited about this (photography). Something I have been wanting to do for a very very long time..

Cheers,.

Jason..

Comment #17

Jason Williams wrote:.

Ayan Dakshi wrote:.

Hi,.

I was in a similar position 1 year ago. I was confused by D40, D40X,D80, Sony A100, XTI, XT, Olympus.... etc. I chose Sony because of inbody stabilization. If you remember your blurry indoor low lightpictures, you'll definitely feel the need. Well, I could get imagestabilized lenses of Canon and Nikon, but they are expensive andprobably person like me with low budget wont be able to afford manyof them.



When I first thought of DSLR, I thought I'd be happy with 1 lens ..now I have 3 and upgraded my camera to A700 which is at par withNikon D300..

Hope this confuses you a lot ..

Better go to a local shop and try all models, ergonomics, ease ofundrstanding the controls, menu, button possiotion, grip allmatters.. in fact these matters much ... taking pictures is easy withall these extreme machines.. need to know to control it.ThanksAyan.

Hi Ayan.Thanks for the input. Hmm, body stabilization eh? Something Iprobably should consider, being that I am very much a perfectionist.how does one deal with that, assuming the camera does not have it?.

I have been wavering on the direction to go. I stopped by my localritz camera store and looked at a couple cameras; Nikon D40, CanonRebel XTI and the Sony A200. All are very nice, but I need to go backand look again. Guy was nice and answered my questions. I have afeeling I would be happy with any of them..

I do see myself getting into the same position you are; buy my firstcamera, thinking it will be fine for awhile. Then, a year later, Ihave sold an upgraded my camera and have a couple of lenses as well. Very much a strong possibility of that happening..

I have to say, I am very excited about this (photography). SomethingI have been wanting to do for a very very long time..

Cheers,.

Jason.

Hi,.

Probably you are aware of the rule of shutter speed (its 1/focal length), you'll be amazed to know that I was able to shoot blurr free images with my Sony A100 inside a cave with shutter speed 0f 1/6 .. my focal length was varying from 18-35mm. With a monopod you can go slower even..

Well, I'd request you to check A300, A350 and A700 as well. You might like A350/A300. They got a live view..

I can talk about wireless flash capabilities as well .. but thats adifferent story. All Sony/Minolta camera can use external flash in off shoe/wireless mode.ThanksAyan (Sonian)..

Comment #18

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