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Another beginner who needs help
Hi everyone. I really hate asking this because it seems like every new person asks the same thing, but I need some guidance and it seems like everything I read just keeps taking me in different directions. So I thought I could start a discussion thread which is specifically about me  and maybe with some help I'll figure something out..

So I've decided to buy a camera. Since I have an older canon p&s, I wanted to buy something with manual controls, capable of taking fast consecutive frames (i.e. to capture action) and able to take indoor pictures with no flash because the flash on p&s washed out just about every single picture I've ever taken indoors. So... dSLR..

The only choices I am considering is canon D400 XTI or nikon D40x (leaning towards the canon). Now the problem I am having is the obviously what lens (es) I should buy. Clearly as the first dSLR, I do not want to go overboard and buy L-series, but at the same time I don't know if staying with kit lens is something I should consider. This is where I need help. I looked at lens prices and got a sticker shock at first because I though camera itself was at the top of my price range, but after having to sell my soul to my wife, I think I was able to extend my budget a little. So right now these are the choices I am looking at:.

1) Camera with kit 18-55mm (people seem to say good things about this lens for being a kit). Cost for lens ~$100.

2) Camera body only. Canon 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 USM IS. ~$370. If I don't buy the kit lense, I save $100, so price increase is around $270. Managable. Probably good for outside pictures when we travel..

3) In addition to above 2 lens options, I was thinking of also buying 50mm f1.8. ~$75. From reviews, it looks like it takes as good pictures as 50mm f1.4 USM, but costs 1/4th and will probably self destruct in about a year. For learning, I can live with spending $75 as materials cost, not capital investment. I am not sure if 50mm is a good walk-around lense because of 1.6 scale factor but people seem to like it for portraits and it should be good for taking pictures indoors..

4) Take advice on a page I can't find anymore and find one prime lens that is as close to 1x as possible and use that to learn basic photography before buying zoom lense. The only candidate I found is Sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM for ~$380..

I am sure I have other options, but I didn't find them yet..

Now the question everyone will always ask is "what do you want to do?" Basically, learn a bit about photography. I used to have SLR when I was a kid and played around with it quite a bit. My dad also had a darkroom setup, so I am not completely clueless, but at the same time, that was quite a while ago. Basically, pictures of friends, pets (no kids yet). Cars, like going to racing events. Also take pictures of my project car progress(that's where my requirement for 10megapixel comes from).

General travel. That's about it..

My goal is to buy something decent that I can learn on, but not spend more than I have to for a complete amateur. At the same time, if quality is that noticable between good lenses and kits, then maybe another $300 or so justifies the cost...

Comments (23)

Don't even think about DSLR is not for you stick with good Prosumer digital camera that covers 35-350mm in one lens for what you intended to use that what you need and newer Canons are very good..

Why I say no DSLR for you?? If $300 is now an issue in regarding a lens purchase you will never get to a point of owning a SLR that is to build whole system of lenses supporting one needs and field of interest. Half a doze of lenses is minimalist set up and there are other things like tripod,flashes light stands and endless other doodats. Another thing when one gets this deeper than back up body or 2 is needed so 3 years down a roade it shod cost about $2000-3000 for begginers set up.It takes time to build own system and not only takes $$$ but knowlage as well not only what to do with all of that but where you going with it and what capasity.Mironvhttp://mironv.smugmug.com/.

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Comment #1

Dxm wrote:.

So... dSLR..

Yep that's about the only choice if you want to take low light photos without flash..

The only choices I am considering is canon D400 XTI or nikon D40x(leaning towards the canon). Now the problem I am having is theobviously what lens (es) I should buy..

Why are you considering only these two? You can get an Olympus E510 dual lens kit for $700 ish. The two lenses cover 28-300mm and the camera has inbody IS and live view..

It's a great camera to start with to see if you are a DSLR person. Sigma makes an a 24/1.8 which on the Oly gives you 48mm in 35mm terms- So your normal lens. It's about $340..

So for about $1000 you have quite a range plus you indoor lowlight lens and all have IS..

The only other thing your might really need down the road is a flash or a longer faster lens if you plan on using the cam for sports or wildlife..

By the way, I own a Canon 40D and several lenses..

Pay not attention to the previous post. You don't need half a dozen lenses and 2 or 3 back up bodies and tripod and........ I'm assuming you're not turning professional in the next month .

Clearly as the first dSLR, Ido not want to go overboard and buy L-series, but at the same time Idon't know if staying with kit lens is something I should consider.This is where I need help. I looked at lens prices and got a stickershock at first because I though camera itself was at the top of myprice range, but after having to sell my soul to my wife, I think Iwas able to extend my budget a little. So right now these are thechoices I am looking at:.

Again I mention the Oly here, as it's kit lenses are somewhat better than most of the other kit lenses and of course are stabelized..

1) Camera with kit 18-55mm (people seem to say good things about thislens for being a kit). Cost for lens ~$100.

I've used mine to take a total of 2 photos. Maybe one day I'll use it, but it does not inspire confidence. Although I've seen plenty of super shots from this lens..

2) Camera body only. Canon 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 USM IS. ~$370. If Idon't buy the kit lense, I save $100, so price increase is around$270. Managable. Probably good for outside pictures when we travel..

From all account this lens is pretty good for the price. There will be a lot of people telling you it's not going to be wide enough about 44mm FOV for a walk around lens..

I use the 24-105IS and it has never NOT been wide enough..

But for about the same price you could get the Sigma 17-70 or Tamron 17-50/2.8..

Both are much wider and both are faster with the Tamron being a constant 2.8..

3) In addition to above 2 lens options, I was thinking of also buying50mm f1.8. ~$75. From reviews, it looks like it takes as goodpictures as 50mm f1.4 USM, but costs 1/4th and will probably selfdestruct in about a year..

Can't say about the self destruct part- but between the 50/1.4 stopped down to 1.8 and the 50/1.8 at 1.8 the former is much better and has better bokeh (background blur as well). Plus it focuses faster and is a half stop faster if you need it..

For learning, I can live with spending $75as materials cost, not capital investment. I am not sure if 50mm isa good walk-around lense because of 1.6 scale factor but people seemto like it for portraits and it should be good for taking picturesindoors..

Yep for $75 it's still a good deal..

4) Take advice on a page I can't find anymore and find one prime lensthat is as close to 1x as possible and use that to learn basicphotography before buying zoom lense..

Only if you're into self torture. Why would anyone whose just starting out do that? Zooms are popular for a reason. It makes things easier and your camera more flexible..

The only candidate I found isSigma 30mm f1.4 HSM for ~$380..

I am sure I have other options, but I didn't find them yet..

Canon 35/2.

Now the question everyone will always ask is "what do you want todo?" Basically, learn a bit about photography. I used to have SLRwhen I was a kid and played around with it quite a bit. My dad alsohad a darkroom setup, so I am not completely clueless, but at thesame time, that was quite a while ago. Basically, pictures offriends, pets (no kids yet). Cars, like going to racing events.Also take pictures of my project car progress(that's where myrequirement for 10megapixel comes from). Love hiking/backpacking andwant to take nature, landscape shots.

That's aboutit..

Sounds like a camera with inbody IS and good kit lenses is a nice place to start, to learn and do the things you want to do..

My goal is to buy something decent that I can learn on, but not spendmore than I have to for a complete amateur. At the same time, ifquality is that noticable between good lenses and kits, then maybeanother $300 or so justifies the cost..

Give the E510 a look. If not the E510 take a look at the Pentax K10. It can be bought bundled with a 18-55 and 50-200 lenses, both of which are also very good..

If you can live without the IS and you want a really small light package the Oly E410 can be had with the 2 kit lenses for $500ish..

Gene..

Comment #2

Consider the 17-85 IS. The lens is about $500. It offers improved image quality, image stabilization, and a longer zoom range. It and an XTi should be about $1100..

50mm is definitely too long for a walk around lens. 28 or 35mm are more normal. But, your zoom lens should do just fine for starters. I'd get a flash as your next purchase...

Comment #3

Can anyone else confirm or disagree with above post? While I certainly value everyone's opinion, either above response sounded a little "elitist" or maybe we are just not on the same page..

When I say I am a beginner, I meant beginner amateur, home, personal time photo taking person. Not beginner photojournalist, photo studio guy or anything like that. 6+ lenses? light stands? backup body? If this body breaks, I'll take it to be fixed and will either not take pictures or use my p&s and I am certainly not planning to convert my basement into a studio or drag lights (and tripods probably most of the time) when I fly on vacation with my wife. I am a software engineer and for the time being sticking to that profession. In last 18 months I spent $4.5k on computers and parts. That's what I do and when I spend that money I know exactly what I am getting and paying for.



My intention with this post was not to announce "$300 for a lense is too much" (< and I don't think I ever stated that). I want to gauge how much should I minimally expect to spend as a beginner amateur, home, personal time camera guy. Bottom line is that I value quality and willing to pay certain premium for that, but I also know there is such a thing as too much...

Comment #4

A couple of thing for you to consider:.

- Don't be lulled into the megapixel madness. If you're considering Nikon, then consider the D40. There really is very little advantage to the D40x - and what is there is offset by a couple of extra "quirks" that the D40 doesn't suffer from..

- Lenses are a much longer lived investment than a camera body, so if you have a choice push your dollars towards the glass..

- As a beginner, range and flexibility are more important than test results. Don't ignore Sigma, Tamron, etc. just because some review says they aren't as good as Canon/Nikon. Odds are you'll never see the difference.

I went with the D40 and 18-200 VR as my first setup (sold the kit lens). Couldn't be happier. Does it do everything a high end multi-lens setup will do....No. Does it meet 99% of my needs for the price of a Rebel XTi and it's crappy kit lens (which I would have been looking to upgrade in 6 months) - yes...

Comment #5

There is a few reasons why I am leaning towards canon:.

1) So far from my reading online, it appears they have 44% market penetration, followed by Nikon and then others. So if I was going to look for a used lense in the future, my odds of finding a canon lense would seem to be better than for Olympus or one of the other brands.

2) I know two guys at work that have canons. One of them has a side business and does professional photography for weddings and other events (interestingly enough I asked and he doesn't have 6 lenses). Again, calculating my odds of borrowing a tele- lense for a hike or buying lenses from these guys, seems like canon might be good..

3) I've had 2 p&s canon cameras and loved them, so I am somewhat biased towards that brand..

4) Based on reviews and other advice articles I've read, all these cameras in the same price range (i.e. D40x, XTi, E510) seem to perform identically and general consensus tends to be to buy whatever makes you more confortable and take factors such as the first 3 above into concideration..

I will take a look at some of those other lense options in the next few days. I wasn't really sure which one I would find more useful, 135mm on the narrow end or 17mm on the wide end..

This is the article that advised to start with a decent prime lense instead of zoom: http://philip.greenspun.com/photography/building-a-digital-slr-system..

Comment #6

- Don't be lulled into the megapixel madness. If you're consideringNikon, then consider the D40. There really is very little advantageto the D40x - and what is there is offset by a couple of extra"quirks" that the D40 doesn't suffer from..

- Lenses are a much longer lived investment than a camera body, so ifyou have a choice push your dollars towards the glass..

I might consider older models and like you said, offset that with higher cost lense. One thing that attracted me to 10mp is that I take a lot of pictures of my project camaro and other cars I or other people work on. I know for few prints I will make, 6mp should be more than enough. The reason for high resolution was not for printing but rather for being able to zoom in as far as I can so that when I take a picture of a car under the hood, I'd be able to capture as much detail as possible. 3000x2000 vs. 3900x2600 seems like a significant difference..

- As a beginner, range and flexibility are more important than testresults. Don't ignore Sigma, Tamron, etc. just because some reviewsays they aren't as good as Canon/Nikon. Odds are you'll never seethe difference.

I am not excluding other manufacturers at all. Problem is there is so many choices, it's a little overwhelming and I can't seem to define the actual pool of cameras that I can choose from. That's why I am looking for suggestions on what I should be looking at or how to figure out what's out there...

Comment #7

K, I am looking for opinions about these 3 lenses (Rebel XTi walk-around lens):1) 28-135 3.5/5.6 IS USM.

Http://www.adorama.com/...273495.html?searchinfo=canon%2028-135&item_no=3 (used E+ rating for $314. New $409).

2) 17-85 4.0/5.6 IS USM.

Http://www.adorama.com/...85AFSR.html?searchinfo=canon%2017-85&item_no=12 (refurbished by Canon, $429. New $515).

3) 28-105 3.5/4.5 II USM.

Http://www.amazon.com/...UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1196198830&sr=8-1 (new, $237).

Also what do guys think about buying lenses used or refurbished? Is that a viable option, or should I stick with new? 17-85 is slightly slower on the wide end, but I don't know how much difference that would make..

Between (1) and (3) is 20mm on the high end and IS worth $170?.

I am still trying to figure out my options with Sigma/Temron lenses but unlike Canon, I can't seem to find a nice, friendly place that lists what's available...

Comment #8

Try B&H to see what's available. I'd go for one that starts at no more than 18mm. 28mm isn't really wide angle on a DSLR. I vote for option 2...

Comment #9

That's part of the price difference between the lenses. image stabilizing lenses allow sharp photos 2-4 stops slower than non-IS. For example at 100mm you might hand hold 1/100 of second with no blur. With image stabilizing you could hold 1/30..

I have a 17-85mm IS and a 17-55mm IS. The 17-85 is a great all round lens. It's not quite as sharp as the 17-55 but it's also half the price and weight. I haven't compared the 17-85 to the 18-55 kit lens. I think you will want something down in the 17-18 mm range at the wide end. That's like 28mm on a film camera which is a nice wide angle..

I would ignore people who tell you the whole point of buying an SLR is to assemble a kit. The point is to take photos you enjoy looking at.check this site for reviews:http://www.eflens.com/..

Comment #10

Dxm wrote:.

3) In addition to above 2 lens options, I was thinking of also buying50mm f1.8. ~$75. From reviews, it looks like it takes as goodpictures as 50mm f1.4 USM, but costs 1/4th and will probably selfdestruct in about a year..

... Your grand-grandchildren will probably use it, cheap does not mean lousy. (Nikkor 50mm is similar price, and is indestructible).

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

2007 Digital Camera Satisfaction Study:http://www.jdpower.com/electronics/ratings/digital_camera/dslr..

Comment #11

I could not disagree more, for better or worse for low light you are stuck with a DSLR..

This is my answer to a post with a similar problem, there are some good answers in this thread, just dont get to hung up on what brand is better than the other, I think they will all blow you away..

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1002&message=25788722.

RegardsRay.

Dxm wrote:.

Can anyone else confirm or disagree with above post? While Icertainly value everyone's opinion, either above response sounded alittle "elitist" or maybe we are just not on the same page..

When I say I am a beginner, I meant beginner amateur, home, personaltime photo taking person. Not beginner photojournalist, photo studioguy or anything like that. 6+ lenses? light stands? backup body?If this body breaks, I'll take it to be fixed and will either nottake pictures or use my p&s and I am certainly not planning toconvert my basement into a studio or drag lights (and tripodsprobably most of the time) when I fly on vacation with my wife. I ama software engineer and for the time being sticking to thatprofession. In last 18 months I spent $4.5k on computers and parts.That's what I do and when I spend that money I know exactly what I amgetting and paying for. Now I want to see if I can get intophotography just because I always had interest, but in this case Ineed help figuring out what I really need and what I am really payingfor..

My intention with this post was not to announce "$300 for a lense istoo much" (< and I don't think I ever stated that). I want togauge how much should I minimally expect to spend as a beginneramateur, home, personal time camera guy. Bottom line is that I valuequality and willing to pay certain premium for that, but I also knowthere is such a thing as too much..

Http://www.pbase.com/ray645..

Comment #12

Dejan Malikovski wrote:..

... Your grand-grandchildren will probably use it, cheap does notmean lousy. (Nikkor 50mm is similar price, and is indestructible).

To those who focused on my "cheap" comment. Everything I say comes exclusively from forums or other people's posts. I know nothing. As far as I can tell, everyone always says "you get what you pay for" and I truly believe that myself. So here's this lense now selling brand new for $69 and everyone writes it takes great photos, so something else must be missing..

These are just few posts from amazon.com reviews (from first 2 pages):.

"... No, it's not going to withstand years of abuse - it likely won't survive years of *normal* use. But images taken with it are crystal clear, ...".

"... After a few months of use - use, not abuse - the lens literally came apart, ...""...The f/1.8 is plastic and feels cheap, like it might fall apart anytime".

Paying $69 for a lense, somehow I think these guys where not completely lying. Then again everyone says pictures come out just as good as $400 USM version because glass in the two models is identical...

Comment #13

Mironv wrote:.

Half a doze of lenses is minimalist set up.

I don't think so. If you want a really minimalist setup, a fast "normal" lens (e.g., 30mm f/2 on a Canon DSLR, or 35mm f/2 on a Nikon DSLR) + a bounce/tilt flash + "zooming with your feet" can cover most of your family photos for years...

Comment #14

I just wanted to tell those who consider getting their first DSLR, don't be fooled by some people trying to tell you "No, no, it's not for you", or "it's too expensive", or "You'll never learn how to use it". It's pure nonsense.

DSLRs (especially the entry-level ones, like the D40), are so easy to use that probably a trained monkey could do it. Of course, to learn all it's tricks and some secrets to get good photos, it does require more (like a WELL trained monkey), but for members of the homo sapiens sapiens, I'd expect someone to be able to get the hand of it really soon..

Besides, in photography you can be good, better, or utterly helpless either with a pocket kodak from the 80s or with a D300..

As for money for lenses etc., there's a reason why there are lenses starting from 150$ reaching to 10000$. It's for "ordinary" people to be able to enjoy their hobby without having to rob a bank..

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/96953368@N00/..

Comment #15

Considering? Buying a camera based on a company's market penetration is not a good idea unless you're going to amass a lot of lenses to build what people refer to as a "system" because you're going to shoot professionally..

I wouldn't base my "now" camera decision on a "future" possible need for a used lens. Try them out now, get what you feel like you can use, don't concern yourself with all this aspirational, my system is bigger than this other system nonsense..

What would I pick? I don't like the idea that the D40x only auto-focuses with lenses with the motor in them- they're too expensive. I would get the Canon, I guess, but I'd save up for a larger body- 30D probably..

Or I would get what I got - the Pentax K100D + the DA 40 f/2.8 Limited lens. You want something solidly built with high-quality glass and you'd like to start with a prime? That's the way to go. Any lens you put on it is stabilized, it's very well-built, they make excellent expensive glass and pretty good, better-than0you'd expect for the price glass...

Comment #16

Dxm wrote:.

Can anyone else confirm or disagree with above post? While Icertainly value everyone's opinion, either above response sounded alittle "elitist" or maybe we are just not on the same page..

Mirony does have a point..

I am a "point & shooter". I also have a "Bridge camera". All my "processing" is done at either the Kodak or the Fuji "kiosk". All my pics are "6x4". I am happy with the results I get, although -within my limited "genre"- I want the "best" result I can get..

I read the forums. There are many, like you, who want to go "up market". Great!.

Some weeks/months down the track, they report their mega-dollar Dxx or xxD is producing results that are no better (or worse) than they got with their point & shoots: panic!.

What they are finding out is that by going into DSLR, they bought into a whole new ball-game of post-processing, requiring a whole new "set" of skills and supporting equipment/software, and investment of time and money..

Like the man said: "Anyone can play the harmonica, but few can play it well!"..

Comment #17

I have my 50mm f1.8 for 10 years and it hasn't self-destruct yet....

Wonderful pictures. Johnnyhttp://tuxbailey.zenfolio.com..

Comment #18

I have my 50mm f1.8 for 10 years and it hasn't self-destruct yet....

Not sure when they switched from selling Mark I to Mark II version of this lense. Johnny, you said you had it for 10 years, I am curious which version do you have?.

Btw, nobody has to really convince me this lense is good. No matter what zoom lense I end up buying, I am definitely going to purchase this one as well...

Comment #19

I have the cheap second version. I think I dropped it once and it has banged around a bit. For it's price, it is worth it even if I have to replace it every three years. Johnnyhttp://tuxbailey.zenfolio.com..

Comment #20

I'm in a similar boat - consider the Pentax K10D, it's a better camera than the other two (more comparable to Canon 30 ro 40, and Nikon 80 or 200), for same price as Rebel XTi or D40X (or similar in price - now $612-650 after rebate with kit lens). It has weather resistance/weather seals, image stabilization in the body, dust sensor, 10 MP, dedicated RAW button, can shoot RAW + Jpeg. It won 2 awards, including Pro (or maybe it was semipro) camera of the year. It's considered a semipro DSLR for the price of an amateur DSLR. (but doesn't have all the 'scene' buttons, just one or two automatic modes, the rest are aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual, etc.).

But it's the most camera for your money, and it's what I'm going with..

Beth..

Comment #21

I would seriously look at the Pentax K100D Super or K10D (K10D has 10 MP, K100D or 100D Super is 6 MP). K10D has weatherproofing/resistance, dust sensor, in body image stabilization/anti shake, so any lens you put on it has image stabilization - meaning you don't have to buy the much more expensive image stabilized lenses. It';s backwards compatible with previous SLR lenses, so you can buy used ones on ebay (already looking at 50 mm 1.4). I'm going with this camera...reviews say it's better than Rebel XTI (also has a heavier more durable body, too - doesn't feel as cheap or light as the Rebel) I looked at the rebel XTi and wasn't crazy about it, I didn't like the grip, it felt like it wouldn't stay in my hands easily. Go to a Ritz Camera or other store and compare the two, and hold both, and see what you like..

Beth..

Comment #22

A few things....

(1) Tailor your decision to what you specifically need. For example, I shoot mostly telephoto and do some significant cropping. This was also my first D-SLR, so I didn't need to worry about backward compatibility with older lenses. Therefore, I went with the 10 MP Nikon D40x (vs. the 6 MP D40) with a Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR (optical image stabilization) lens. I spent more money on the D40x than I would've on the D40 because of my need for greater resolution, but saved money by not getting the 18-55 mm kit lens.



(2) Your decision to strongly consider Canon and Nikon is understandable, as they do own the majority of the market. However, I'd suggest giving the entry-level Pentax and Olympus models a look. They make quality equipment as well..

(3) Look for deals. I liked the Digital Rebel XTi more than the D40x, but Nikon has knocked down the price of their camera by about $80 since it was released last year AND is also offering an additional $100 off when you buy it with their 55-200 and 70-300 mm VR lenses. I've read a number of posts here that claim that Canon's lenses are less expensive than Nikon's, but it's not really true right now with these recent price breaks..

(4) While reading online reviews and asking around in forums such as these is a must, you should also go to your local store and actually TRY OUT what you're interested in. For example, lot of people don't like the "feel" of the XTi and claim that it's too small (I didn't have a problem with it at all)..

Good luck.....

Comment #23

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