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Beginner Looking for first DSLR
I know that everyone has asked this before but I've been doing some searching and reading other threads addressing this... I thought I'd start my own thread asking for suggestions which cater to my specific needs..

First off, I'm a complete beginner. I'm very interested in photography as a hobby and wish to really spend time to learn the basics and eventually get more and more involved as I learn..

After reading tons of posts here and other places, I'm leaning towards a Nikon D40 to begin with. What would you recommend for a real beginner who wants to get serious with photography as a personal hobby?.

For the time I'm looking at learning photography by focusing on standard nature, outdoors, maybe a few indoor shots. I am an avid hockey fan and would also like eventually be able to take live action shots at games. Also I'm friends with a band and attend many concerts in clubs and bars. I would like to be able to take decent shots in a darker setting like a concert. My current interests however is more in line of learning the basics of photography and focus on things like sports and concerts down the line as I become more experienced..

Taking the above into consideration, what would you recommend I take a look at? I understand that the lenses are what's important depending on what you want to shoot, so knowing my future goals, is Nikon a good choice to start with that I'll be able to expand my lenses? Is there another brand or model worth looking in to?.

One thing I've been reading is the Nikon D40 does not have auto focus and that you'll need a lens that will auto focus. Is this a major concern, in that there are only a few lenses that will auto focus, or is this not really a problem knowing there are tons of lenses that will still provide an auto focus solution?.

I plan to hit up a camera store later in the week so I'd like to get a base of what I should spend time looking at, which is why I'm making this post..

Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to read and reply. ..

Comments (19)

CreedFeed wrote:.

One thing I've been reading is the Nikon D40 does not have auto focusand that you'll need a lens that will auto focus. Is this a majorconcern, in that there are only a few lenses that will auto focus, oris this not really a problem knowing there are tons of lenses thatwill still provide an auto focus solution?.

You didn't read that correctly. To be precise - the D40 doesn't have a screw-drive motor in the body for older lenses with screw-drive auto-focus. The D40 will thus only auto-focus with newer lenses that contain an electric AF motor within the lens itself and there are many such lenses for Nikon. Nikon launched the AF-I mount (Autofocus-Internal) in 1992 and updated the mount again to AF-S (Autofocus-Silent) using silent ultrasonic motors in 1996. The noise of a screw-drive lens vs. an AF-S lens is not something you're likely to miss terribly..

Canon has used an all electric lens mount since their EOS system was introduced in 1987. Pentax added optional electric AF in 2006 and just announced their first-ever electric-only AF lens (DA17-70mm) though due to Pentax's commitment to pancake primes they'll probably always retain screw-drive in their bodies. Also, of course all Four-Thirds lenses from Olympus, Panasonic and Leica are electric-only AF..

One of my all-time favorite lenses - the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 is being updated in the Nikon mount to include an internal AF motor and so provides another extremely nice lens option (highly recommended) for D40 owners:http://www.dpreview.com/news/0805/08051501tamron28-75.asp.

Group Captain Mandrake: 'I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story....Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.' (Dr. Strangelove, 1964)..

Comment #1

Http://www.popphoto.com/.../cameras/5326/camera-test-canon-eos-rebel-xsi.html.

And look at the one here in dpreview..

The cheapy Canon 50mm f1.8 will work very well in low light. Hockey is a toughy because it depends on how far away from the action you sit; the Canon f2.8 70-200 L lens might do you well; it has a fast f stop for interior lighting.Maybe the writing on the wall could use a little revisionShane Koyczan (Slam Poet)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f02Q5IFoyKw&NR=1..

Comment #2

CreedFeed wrote:.

After reading tons of posts here and other places, I'm leaningtowards a Nikon D40 to begin with. What would you recommend for areal beginner who wants to get serious with photography as a personalhobby?.

Exactly that. Get the D40, a very cheap and very good camera, that will help you grow with it. After 1-2 years, you could upgrade (if you want) to another Nikon.

Taking the above into consideration, what would you recommend I takea look at? I understand that the lenses are what's importantdepending on what you want to shoot, so knowing my future goals, isNikon a good choice to start with that I'll be able to expand mylenses? Is there another brand or model worth looking in to?.

Nikon is an excellent choice. Canon is also an excellent choice, but if you're looking at an entry-level camera, Canon doesn't have a model in the price range of the D40..

Both Nikon and Canon have a vast range of lenses for every need..

One thing I've been reading is the Nikon D40 does not have auto focusand that you'll need a lens that will auto focus. Is this a majorconcern, in that there are only a few lenses that will auto focus, oris this not really a problem knowing there are tons of lenses thatwill still provide an auto focus solution?.

There's many AF-S lenses, again for every need and every pocket, that will AF properly with the D40. AF-S lenses are the future, and I'm sure Nikon will keep producing more and more AF-S models. Also Sigma and Tamron produce many lenses that AF properly with a D40..

D40 has also an additional benefit: The lack of AF motor means that you can use older, pre-AI lenses (that you can't attach to e.g. a D80, because of the AF motor screw). I have a 50mm f2 from the early 70s that I bought for 20$. It's clean, sharp as a needle, and it will probably last another 40 yrs .

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

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

Comment #3

CreedFeed wrote:.

I know that everyone has asked this before but I've been doing somesearching and reading other threads addressing this... I thought I'dstart my own thread asking for suggestions which cater to my specificneeds..

First off, I'm a complete beginner. I'm very interested inphotography as a hobby and wish to really spend time to learn thebasics and eventually get more and more involved as I learn..

All of the dSLR's offer as much involvement as you want to be in the process... from fully automatic operation to fully manual!.

After reading tons of posts here and other places, I'm leaningtowards a Nikon D40 to begin with. What would you recommend for areal beginner who wants to get serious with photography as a personalhobby?.

The D40 is a good camera... so is the Canon XT (still available at some stores, 3 years old same as the D40)... or XTi, XSi, Oly E410, E510, and the Sony offerings...

Any entry-level dSLR is *still* a fully capable photographic tool, and can do any job you throw at it (some jobs are better served by higher-end models!)..

For the time I'm looking at learning photography by focusing onstandard nature, outdoors, maybe a few indoor shots. I am an avidhockey fan and would also like eventually be able to take live actionshots at games. Also I'm friends with a band and attend many concertsin clubs and bars. I would like to be able to take decent shots in adarker setting like a concert. My current interests however is morein line of learning the basics of photography and focus on thingslike sports and concerts down the line as I become more experienced..

You will need a couple of 'fast' lenses (f/2 or brighter - such as the 50/1.8 or 85/1.8 in the canon system, or for a crop sensor body, a 35/2 (canon) and/or a decent zoom lens - the 'kit lens' will be fully adequate for learning!.

Taking the above into consideration, what would you recommend I takea look at? I understand that the lenses are what's importantdepending on what you want to shoot, so knowing my future goals, isNikon a good choice to start with that I'll be able to expand mylenses? Is there another brand or model worth looking in to?.

One thing I've been reading is the Nikon D40 does not have auto focusand that you'll need a lens that will auto focus. Is this a majorconcern, in that there are only a few lenses that will auto focus, oris this not really a problem knowing there are tons of lenses thatwill still provide an auto focus solution?.

As other posters have mentioned, the D40 *DOES* have AF, but it is an electronic AF, relying on focus motors mounted in the lenses, as opposed to the standard Nikon practice (for the last 30 years!) of AF drive in the body via a screw-drive... yes, only a few lenses are AF-S, but more all the time as Nikon moves toward a fully electronic mount - probably in the next 5 years or so..

I plan to hit up a camera store later in the week so I'd like to geta base of what I should spend time looking at, which is why I'mmaking this post..

Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to read and reply. .

Have fun, enjoy the knowledge that there is *NO* 'bad choice'!!.

Cheers,S.**My XT IS Full Frame APS-C/FF of course!*****So is my 5D 35mm/FF**..

Comment #4

I looked at the D40 myself and almost bought it..

I decided I wanted something to grow into and picked the Canon XSi/450d instead..

If you want something that takes really nice shots without too much effort then I think the D40 or D40x (if you want to crop) are good choices..

If you go for something like the XSi/450d expect a steeper learning curve...

Comment #5

Well read the July issue of Consumer Reports it picks the Olympus E-510 as the #1 Entry Level DSLR. CR is unbiased and they do hard testing, you can't find a better deal or better lenses..

Darrell..

Comment #6

I agree. The D40 is a great place to start - great camera, kit lens and price. This will keep you busy for quite awhile...

Comment #7

MaryGierth wrote:.

I agree. The D40 is a great place to start - great camera, kit lensand price. This will keep you busy for quite awhile..

Huh? The D40 kit lens is "great" compared to what exactly ? With zero dampening, a plastic mount and a rotating front element, the AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX is about as cheaply made as possible for a camera lens. Olympus and Pentax have great kit lenses - the Nikon equivalent doesn't even come close in my book. I actually cringe each time I handle one in a store - seriously..

Http://www.bythom.com/1855lens.htm.

Honestly - the D40 has it's merits but the plasticy kit lens isn't one of them..

General Turgidson: 'Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.' (Dr. Strangelove, 1964)..

Comment #8

Maxwell Smart wrote:.

MaryGierth wrote:.

I agree. The D40 is a great place to start - great camera, kit lensand price. This will keep you busy for quite awhile..

Huh? The D40 kit lens is "great" compared to what exactly ? Withzero dampening, a plastic mount and a rotating front element, theAF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX is about as cheaply made as possible for acamera lens. Olympus and Pentax have great kit lenses - the Nikonequivalent doesn't even come close in my book. I actually cringeeach time I handle one in a store - seriously..

Http://www.bythom.com/1855lens.htm.

Honestly - the D40 has it's merits but the plasticy kit lens isn'tone of them..

Always remember that Agent 99 was the "brains" of the team! .

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 #9

Chuxter wrote:.

Always remember that Agent 99 was the "brains" of the team! .

"Don't tell me you got a kit lens with your Nikon D40.""Why, yes, I did get a kit lens with my Nikon D40.""I just asked you not to tell me that!"..

Comment #10

CreedFeed wrote:.

First off, I'm a complete beginner. I'm very interested inphotography as a hobby and wish to really spend time to learn thebasics and eventually get more and more involved as I learn..

Digital photography is 50% work with the camera/lens and 50% work with a photo editor. Get something simple and basic, like PSE6 (less than $80)..

After reading tons of posts here and other places, I'm leaningtowards a Nikon D40 to begin with. What would you recommend for areal beginner who wants to get serious with photography as a personalhobby?.

You have made a great choice. I would seriously suggest that you buy a used D40! Here is my rationalle....

The D40 comes packaged with a "kit" lens...or two kit lenses. You can't buy the body alone. The kit lenses are not expensive...the 17-55 is worth about $100. The kit lenses are not bad optically, especially for a $100 lens! But they are totally plastic and not likely to last long. I would suggest you buy the D40 body and then get a better lens..

There are LOTS of folks that buy a D40 and quickly sell it. For example, I saw an ad on craigslist.com last week...a guy had ordered a D300 and while waiting for it, he bought a D40. When the D300 arrived, he was selling the D40 with less than 1500 actuations for $350. That will save you some money and you don't have to struggle with the kit lens issue..

For the time I'm looking at learning photography by focusing onstandard nature, outdoors, maybe a few indoor shots. I am an avidhockey fan and would also like eventually be able to take live actionshots at games. Also I'm friends with a band and attend many concertsin clubs and bars. I would like to be able to take decent shots in adarker setting like a concert. My current interests however is morein line of learning the basics of photography and focus on thingslike sports and concerts down the line as I become more experienced..

The indoor hockey will be a really difficult venue for you. The lighting is poor and the action is fast. You will need a long FL, big aperture lens. VR will be only a little bit helpful as you pan to follow the action. A good monopod will help a LOT..

The concert venue is also tough...even dimmer lighting, but not as much subject movement. Often you, being "connected", will be able to get close I assume. You will need a very fast lens, but not a super long one..

I think your plan to avoid these tough venues at first is good..

Taking the above into consideration, what would you recommend I takea look at? I understand that the lenses are what's importantdepending on what you want to shoot, so knowing my future goals, isNikon a good choice to start with that I'll be able to expand mylenses? Is there another brand or model worth looking in to?.

All the dSLR made by the big-5 (CNPOS) are good choices. The D40 is very cheap for what you get! You should at least go hold all contenders. Pick the one that feels best. Also pay attention to how the menus and controls are designed. Pick the one that is intuitive to you..

One thing I've been reading is the Nikon D40 does not have auto focusand that you'll need a lens that will auto focus. Is this a majorconcern, in that there are only a few lenses that will auto focus, oris this not really a problem knowing there are tons of lenses thatwill still provide an auto focus solution?.

This is propoganda...mostly. As someone else related, Canon did the transition from screw drive to in-lens AF motor many years ago. That move caused a lot of @#$%, but it's all over by now. Nikon is just doing this transition and again there is lots of @#$%. The Nikon approach is better then the Canon approach in one significant way: The old Nikkor lenses still fit and work on modern Nikon digital cameras..

For your future plans, the only difficulty will be finding a fast lens for that concert venue. I would like to tell you to get a cheap 50mm f1.4 or 1/8, but those don't have AF motors in them. Sigma has one, but at least while it's new, it's a bit expensive. This "hole" is likely to be plugged soon?.

I plan to hit up a camera store later in the week so I'd like to geta base of what I should spend time looking at, which is why I'mmaking this post..

As I said, hold and use each candidate. Don't rush! Take your time. Ignore the advice you get at most stores, especially the big-box-stores. If you can find a small, independent store, you are likely to get better advice. If you do, buy from them! They WILL lower their prices. Simply explain that you appreciate the time they spent with you, but you know lots of places to get much cheaper prices.

Meet them half-way between their standard price and the B&H price..

Have fun!.

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 #11

First off thanks to everyone who gave a response. It's much appreciated!.

Chuxter wrote:.

As I said, hold and use each candidate. Don't rush! Take your time.Ignore the advice you get at most stores, especially thebig-box-stores. If you can find a small, independent store, you arelikely to get better advice. If you do, buy from them! They WILLlower their prices. Simply explain that you appreciate the time theyspent with you, but you know lots of places to get much cheaperprices. Mention B&H and they will understand that you are not someoneto be triffled with.



I plan to hit up either (or all of them) Arts Cameras, Ritz Cameras, and Mike Crivello's. Not sure if those are national or just local stores but they are smaller, dedicated camera shops..

Finally, one more question, generally when you go to the big box stores they offer an extended warranty with the products they sell. Do camera shops like this offer extra or their own warrenties with cameras they sell? If so, is something like that worth it?..

Comment #12

CreedFeed wrote:.

I plan to hit up either (or all of them) Arts Cameras, Ritz Cameras,and Mike Crivello's. Not sure if those are national or just localstores but they are smaller, dedicated camera shops..

Ritz is a national chain. .

Finally, one more question, generally when you go to the big boxstores they offer an extended warranty with the products they sell.Do camera shops like this offer extra or their own warrenties withcameras they sell? If so, is something like that worth it?.

Skip the big-box warranties..

Do you have a house? If so, you can get a policy that covers your photography equipment. It even covers accidental damage, like if you drop something. It's cheap too..

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 #13

Chuxter wrote:.

Ritz is a national chain. .

Unfortunately I don't own a house  Knowing this would you still recommend a warranty or is it really just not worth it?.

After looking around online a bit it seems Ritz has the best deal on the D40 if that is the one I choose to get. $499 for the 18-55, $579.98 for 18-55/55-200 or $799.98 for 18-55/55-200 VR (the D60 is $729.99 with the same two lenses). Ritz wants $94 for a 1 year extended warranty and $186 for a 2 year... skip those or get them? In general I'm fairly careful with stuff I purchase so I don't forsee myself dropping it or anything. Do these types of cameras generally have mechanical problems before their manufacturer warranties expire?.

Finally, one more question, more specifically about the D40. Will I be disappointed if I do not get a VR lens with the camera? It looks like the kit lenses that come with the D40 are non-VR. Reading these forums everyone has a different opinion on the VR lenses. What's your opinion on them? Worth it or not?..

Comment #14

CreedFeed wrote:.

Finally, one more question, more specifically about the D40. Will Ibe disappointed if I do not get a VR lens with the camera? It lookslike the kit lenses that come with the D40 are non-VR. Reading theseforums everyone has a different opinion on the VR lenses. What's youropinion on them? Worth it or not?.

Think about grabbing this for $550.

Http://www.amazon.com/...E7O&s=electronics&qid=1213067523&sr=1-12.

And EVERY lens you attach to it is image stabilized. yes, IS is good for a beginner, yes IS will give you a larger keeper rate. yes IS over the long haul is cheaper to buy once in body as opposed to asking yourself if you want to pay for it every time you consider buying a lens..

The d40 while a good beginner camera has been around a while. there are other ways to spend the same money and get yourself more features, no auto-focus lens selection issues, more mp, better dust reduction, live view, better kit lenses, and a camera that you may not grow out of nearly as quickly. yes you can have all of that for the same money and yes it will make a difference..

IMO the real point is that there are other options(pentax, sony as well that offer in body IS, not sure of their current pricing) that are available to you to consider. go handle all of them in your price range in a store and buy the one that feels best as they are all more than capable of taking a great picture with a little help from the operator. it is very easy to come here and find people to tell/encourage you to buy the anything you come here asking about...

Comment #15

Got a costco membership? or a friend with one?.

D40 w/ 18-55mm AND 55-200mm VR! for $599.

Http://www.costco.com/...x=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1.

Use a good credit card at any store (ie American Express) and you usually get a 1 year extended warranty for free..

I'm in the same boat - looking for my first dSLR and need to get out and feel the differences, instead of just reading about them online. Great advice above...

Comment #16

CreedFeed wrote:.

Chuxter wrote:.

Ritz is a national chain. .

Unfortunately I don't own a house  Knowing this would you stillrecommend a warranty or is it really just not worth it?.

Some people like the Ritz warranty. I think THEY repair the camera? I've heard bad things about the Mack warranty (doesn't cover much). You might consider the Nikon ESC warranty? It's an extension of the 1-year warranty for an additional 3 years..

After looking around online a bit it seems Ritz has the best deal onthe D40 if that is the one I choose to get. $499 for the 18-55,$579.98 for 18-55/55-200 or $799.98 for 18-55/55-200 VR (the D60 is$729.99 with the same two lenses). Ritz wants $94 for a 1 yearextended warranty and $186 for a 2 year... skip those or get them? Ingeneral I'm fairly careful with stuff I purchase so I don't forseemyself dropping it or anything. Do these types of cameras generallyhave mechanical problems before their manufacturer warranties expire?.

Not many, but if you don't have a warranty, lightning WILL strike...sometimes. .

Finally, one more question, more specifically about the D40. Will Ibe disappointed if I do not get a VR lens with the camera? It lookslike the kit lenses that come with the D40 are non-VR. Reading theseforums everyone has a different opinion on the VR lenses. What's youropinion on them? Worth it or not?.

The 18-55 comes in three versions. The most recent version (Nov 2007) is VR. The 18-70 is not VR. There are two versions of the 55-200...one has VR. The 18-135 is not VR. The 18-200 is VR..

It's obvious that VR is a "consumer" option. The best Nikkor lenses don't have VR. Getting a short FL lens, like the 18-55 zoom, with VR is silly, even for a "consumer", it's simply not needed. But if you don't feel like explaining to other "consumers" why your new camera doesn't have VR/IS, then it's available for you..

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 #17

Surfstar wrote:.

Got a costco membership? or a friend with one?.

D40 w/ 18-55mm AND 55-200mm VR! for $599.

Http://www.costco.com/...x=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1.

Use a good credit card at any store (ie American Express) and youusually get a 1 year extended warranty for free..

Costco only accepts the good credit card, ie, AE....

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 #18

Well I hit up a local camera store this evening (Arts Cameras) and the staff was very helpful. The lady I spoke to explained the differences between the Nikon d40, d40x, and d80 and also suggested an Olympus e510 as a beginner camera. She didn't push any one camera on me but she was making a case to purchase a d80 because the d40 does not have an AF motor in the body and the price of lenses with AF motors were significantly higher than those without..

I've gotta think it over now. I'm still kinda leaning towards the d40 for the time being. I don't want to go to an Olympus because I've got two friends with Nikons who will let me borrow their lenses so I'm really leaning towards a Nikon. The only question now is should I drop the bucks for a d80? They do have a sale this week for father's day so I need to make a decision quick cause I'd like to save the extra bucks..

The d40 with 18-55 is $449.99 and the d40 with 18-55 and 55-200 $699.99.

The d80 with 18-55 is $899.99 and the d80 with 18-135 is $1049.99.

Hrmm, what to do? ..

Comment #19

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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