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DSLR questions for a complete beginner
Hi all,.

Thanks for taking the time to read this (& maybe respond).

I am completely new to photography, but since I am thinking of travelling to Nepal & India later this year I am wanting to get a decent camera that can take memorable shots and I can play with and get a good introduction to the world of photography..

At this moment I am thinking of the Canon 450D depending on what the reviews say on it, Canon seeming to be the most popular camera and easy to use, at least in the point & shoot category..

Once an entry level camera is found (guessing around $1500.00 AUD, including standard lense) there's a few things I get stuck on..

How many lenses would you need? I am thinking 2 (incl the standard package lense) but not sure of the appropriate sizes need to cover the majority of situations I would find myself in..

How long would it take to "familiarise" yourself with an entry level to start making the most of the camera? Obviously taking alot of photos is important, but I am of the opinion that understanding the functions and getting the feel of the camera are 2 distinct things.Is the step up from a P&S to an entry level DSLR really a huge one?..

Comments (21)

Das_Novice wrote:.

Is the step up from a P&S to an entry level DSLR really a huge one?.

Yes, yes and yes. It is a huge step, and it can take years to truely master the SLR with it's myriad of lenses..

As for what lenses to take on a trip to Nepal. I would go for a moderate zoom (say 28 to 200 (35mm equiv)) and a good wide angle, also probably a zoom. Personally I would also go for fast lenses (f2.8 or faster) when possible, as well as the best optics available..

The greatest of mankind's criminals are those who delude themselves into thinking they have done 'the right thing.'- Rayna Butler..

Comment #1

Many thanks Godspeaks..

Had hoped it would be a one or two yes leap from a P&S but then three should have been expected .

Am also considering the 30D or the 40D. The best deal I have found for the 30D here is a 30D kit with a 18-55mm lens (EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens) from Creature Electronics for 1,299 AUD..

Also found a deal for the 40D for $1,682.00 with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.55.6 IS LensThe 40D 17-85mm kit is $1,960.00.

On second thoughts I am thinking buying online from the states would be the better option ...

Comment #2

Hi,.

First I would have some conserns about the 450D. It's not out yet and like software you just never know. If this is a once in a lifetime trip don't go with the latest and greatest. There is not that much different between the 400 and 450. You will also pay a premium for the 450 just because it is new..

Secondly think about how you will be using the camera. The 2 locations you mentioned have huge extreams in weather. If your going to be treking around both countries you might want to think about a weather proof camera. Consider the Pentax as an entry level..

As for learning how to use the camera it depends on how much you did with your P&S. Many P&S cameras have a great many functions. If you didn't just leave it on auto and shoot then it may be less then you think. In general if you really use the camera and understand what the settings due you can be using a DSLRs full features in a couple of weeks and have it's capabilities known in a few months. If you have no idea of how to do anything but shoot on full auto to begin with then plan on getting some books and at least a few months until your really comfortable with doing your own settings..

Lastly if you do get a Canon, be aware that their kit lenses are poor quality..

Lastly do NOT pick a camera because of what is popular. Go to a store and handle any camera you are interested in. If it does not feel comfortable don't get it regardless of how "popular" it might be. All the DSLRs on the market now will take high quality pictures with a little practice..

You may also want to look at Olympus since they are smaller and far lighter then any other DSLRs. Also their kit lenses are higher quality then any others..

Have a great trip.

MaddogOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #3

I would seriously consider getting a good compact like the Canon G9 or the latest Panasoninc Lumix (can't remember the model number). They have extensive zooms, manual controls of you want them, and are generally complete all-in-one packages..

A DSLR like the Canon you mention has much greater scope for user input and require a lot more to get the best out of them. Sure, you can put a wide-range zoom on (the Tamron 18-250 seems to be the best of the current crop), stick it on fully auto 'P' modes, and fire away, and get lots of nice pix - but you could do the same for a quarter of the cost with a good compact..

So ask yourself what you want....

(i) Do you want something that will give good results with the minimum of fuss, is light, and you don't plan to spend extra money on accessories / lenses etc., and aren't interested in serious tweaking pictures at your PC with photoshop... get a good compact and off you go..

(ii) Do you want a steeper learing curve, the weight / cost / inconvenience of extra lenses, BUT are interested in getting to grips with shutter speeds, apertures, ISO settings, depth of field, the befits of RAW, noise reduction, how to use Photoshop etc... then get a DSLR. More work and less convenience BUT if the bug bites it's a fascinating hobby and you have the scope to exert much more control over how your pix come out, and the results (especially in marginal situations like poor light) can be a lot better..

Actually many photographers have both... a DSLR kit for 'serious' work and a compact in the pocket for walkaround work..

If you want a DSLR, I would echo what a previous poster said. The advent of the new Canon XSi means that the excellent and proven XTi has come down in price and is excellent value. You will *not* notice any difference in the pictures: just a lot less $$$$. Check out the web sire of B&H photo in New York - you can get an XTi body for $520, to which I would add a Sigma 17-70 f/2.8 - f/4.5 for $400 - an excellent standard zoom lens, a lot better than Canon's kit lens and regularly praised on this forum. Also a tele-zoom of which there are lots to choose from, like the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS (with image stabilisation which helps compensate for camera shake) or the cheaper but good Tamron 70-300 f/4 - f/5.6..

Don't forget a couple of memory cards (get more smaller ones rather than one large one in case of a problem); a bag; a circular polarising filter (great for landscapes, reducing haze and giving richer colours); and a spare battery..

Whichever route you go... how are you going to back up your pictures as you travel? if you are staying in hotels and carrying a laptop, no problem, you can burn them onto DVD's and post copies home. If you will be away from civilisation for a while, some sort of external storage device would be a good idea..

Finally - if you do decide to go the DSLR route - get it NOW before you go and spend a few months practicing and learning what all the controls do so you will be able to take your once-in-a-lifetime pictures with confidence when the time comes..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #4

Many thanks for the replies.Certainly some good food for thought..

Not sure about the Pentax comment. From what a friend mentioned, the body of the Pentax is aluminium rather than plastic making it better for weather conditions?.

The reason I am looking at the DSLR is that a friend had one, a Nikkon 40D I think, and was just playing with it to get used to it. But still the pictures that he was getting were brilliant in my eyes. Better than I have seen of the P&S. Have not really been able to compare to the prosumer P&S though...

Comment #5

Not sure about the Pentax comment. From what a friend mentioned, thebody of the Pentax is aluminium rather than plastic making it betterfor weather conditions?.

The Pentax K10D is weathersealed, which is a big advantage if you want to use it in wet / dusty conditions. Also (unlike Canon / Nikon) it has image stabilisation built in to the camera body which works with all lenses: the camera can detect your hands shaking and wobbles the sensor in the opposite sense to compensate, giving sharper pictures when you use low shutter speeds. So it does have to significant advantages compared to other cameras at the same price point. The fact that is successor (the K20D) has just been announced means that the K10D is dropping in price and therefore excellent value, a lot of camera for the money..

The reason I am looking at the DSLR is that a friend had one, aNikkon 40D I think, and was just playing with it to get used to it.But still the pictures that he was getting were brilliant in my eyes.Better than I have seen of the P&S. Have not really been able tocompare to the prosumer P&S though..

This is likely to be just as much the operator as the camera! Maybe he got a DSLR because he was getting serious about photography and had practiced his techniques... something which a more casual point-n-shooter wouldn't do. Good compacts / prosumers / bridge cameras (whatever they are called) can produce excellent results too..

Best wishes.

Mike..

Comment #6

Many thanks Mike,.

The K10D reviews I have just read sound good, especially the anti shake being IN the camera rather than the lense..

Although one review I read wasn't overly impressed with the picture quality saying it had seemed to decline from the K100. Apparently it wasn't as clear/clean..

An of course to complicate matters there is the Nikon D40 which appears to be a great entry level DSLR..

If you were to advise a friend which entry level to go for which would it be in terms of ease of use, ease of intro to SLR's and still getting good pictures? ( I think the Pentax would be your answer...so it was probably a stupid question in the first place  )..

Comment #7

The K10D reviews I have just read sound good, especially the antishake being IN the camera rather than the lense.Although one review I read wasn't overly impressed with the picturequality saying it had seemed to decline from the K100. Apparently itwasn't as clear/clean..

This was probably JPEG not RAW. How a JPEG looks depends on the camera settings used to generate it (sharpness, contrast, saturation, compression etc. etc.) The K10D, being aimed at fairly experienced enthusiasts, deliberately does as little in-camera processing as possible so that the user can do this afterwards with photoshop and get the effects that he/she wants. the result is that if you look at a JPEG straight out of the camera it might not look as vibrant and sharp as one from a compact... but colour saturation and sharpness are things you can add later, as much as you want, from your PC..

This is a good illustration of the point I made earlier: if you are prepared to get involved and do this, a K10D will produce outstanding images, but it does require that extra input from the user. But for someone who wants good-looking ready-processed JPEGs out of the camera (which is what most casual shooters are used to) the output from a K10D might look a little disappointing because sharpness, saturation etc. are deliberately minimal: a Nikon D40 or D80 (which have an excellent JPEG processing engine) might be better for those people..

An of course to complicate matters there is the Nikon D40 whichappears to be a great entry level DSLR.If you were to advise a friend which entry level to go for whichwould it be in terms of ease of use, ease of intro to SLR's and stillgetting good pictures? ( I think the Pentax would be your answer...soit was probably a stupid question in the first place  ).

The Nikon D40 is indeed very good, with a reputation of being very user-friendly for beginners. So are all the others on the market at the moment from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Pentax... I chose a Pentax K100D (their entry-level 6MP model) because the camera has a second LCD display on the top-plate, to see the camera settings just by glancing down without having to look at the screen on the back. I was used to this feature from 35mm film days and liked it, and that was enough to tip the balance for me in favour of the Pentax K100D rather than the Nikon D40..

I would advise anyone new to DSLR photography to get into a store, pick the cameras up and try them out, and see what feels comfortable. There is no 'best'. People with smaller hands might prefer the very compact Olympus DSLRs. In-body image stabilisation is offered by Pentax, Olympus and Sony but not (yet) Nikon or Canon - might be an issue if you plan to buy a lot of lenses which will work out more expensive with Nikon / Canon. Conversely, Nikon and Canon have a much wider range of good tele lenses (the Pentax range is rather short on good telephoto zooms so is probably not the best choice for a budding wildlife photographer). Nikon has a reputation for having a particularly good flash system..

As you will see, it is the system as a whole that matters just as much as what camera body you buy. But you can't go wrong with any current model... so try them out and then just wade in and choose one, and don't worry any further: it will be a good choice. As always the arrival of newer and shinier models means that some of the current ones are dropping in price and therefore excellent value, like the Pentax K10D and Canon XTi. Cameras now are getting like PCs: todays whizzy new model will be obsolete in a couple of years and will be superseded by something 10x better that costs $99....

Best wishesMike..

Comment #8

Many thanks Mike, You have been a great help..

Will see what feels best in my hands and then see where that takes me...

Comment #9

Very good advice Maddog! In your case I would look for the Olympus 510 and as another poster said: buy it now! It can be quite a step up from point and shoot to DSLR..

In any case I would take my time to really feel the camera in your own hands. Try shooting with it. Olympus 510 is relatively small/has in body image stabilisation/ and very nice Zuiko glass!!..

Comment #10

Ok the plot thickens.

I can pick up the following;.

Nikon D40x twin lense kit with;.

Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm DX Zoom Lens f/3.5-5.6G ED IINikkor AF-S 55-200mm Zoom Lens f/4-5.6G DX ED.

For $1,299.00 AUD incl a 2GB memory card, camera bag..

Olympus E510 twin lense kit with;.

14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Standard Wide Zoom &40-150mm f4.0-5.6 Telephoto Zoom (Both Olympus lenses)Also includes binoculars (which I would probably never use).

For 1,298.00 Incl camera bag & memory card..

CANON EOS 400D WITH 18-55MM LENS for $999.00 AUD.

They are holding the Nikon for me and I need to ghet back to them as to yes or no to the buying tomorrow..

Any suggestions? Do you think they are over priced?..

Comment #11

Oh yes.

I have held both the Nikon & the Olympus & couldn't tell that much of a difference.The grip on both felt the same as well.

The Nikon felt a little better, but nothing was present that made me think "Nah I can't use this" for the Olympus either...

Comment #12

Das_Novice wrote:.

Ok the plot thickens.

I can pick up the following;.

Nikon D40x twin lense kit with;.

Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm DX Zoom Lens f/3.5-5.6G ED IINikkor AF-S 55-200mm Zoom Lens f/4-5.6G DX ED.

For $1,299.00 AUD incl a 2GB memory card, camera bag..

Are you in Sydney ?? These guys at Drummoyne have a similar kit with the VR version of the 55-200 (nikons version of image stabilisation) for $1,050http://cameras.net.au/.

Olympus E510 twin lense kit with;.

14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Standard Wide Zoom &40-150mm f4.0-5.6 Telephoto Zoom (Both Olympus lenses)Also includes binoculars (which I would probably never use).

For 1,298.00 Incl camera bag & memory card..

CANON EOS 400D WITH 18-55MM LENS for $999.00 AUD.

They are holding the Nikon for me and I need to ghet back to them asto yes or no to the buying tomorrow..

Any suggestions? Do you think they are over priced?.

Gerry,http://gerryd.smugmug.com/ discount code on homepage.

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Comment #13

Yeah,.

Am in SydneyI will have a look and see what the deal is like.

Many Thanks..

Comment #14

Das_Novice wrote:.

Oh yes.

I have held both the Nikon & the Olympus & couldn't tell that much ofa difference..

Disclaimer:- I use nikon.

Having said that either kit will do very well for travel, my somewhat slanted view of these two camera's .

Nikon prosFlash system much better, especially if you add an externalBetter dynamic rangeBetter high iso performanceBetter metering (subjective)Better AF.

Nikon cons.

D40x is pretty much discontinued, replaced by newly announced D60 which you may not see for a while in Oz.

Lens limitations with this model, no in body motor means you have to buy a lens with a motor for AF, limited number of cheap primes with a motor at this point.

For stabilisation you need a lens with VR, some good inexpensive ones available these days like the 55-200 VR.

Oly prosBody is stabilised so all lenses are stabilised Dust buster is very effective.

Oly crop factor is 2x, so any lens you purchase has the effect of being double the focal length (so an 50-200mm actually acts like a 10-400mm)Nikon is 1.5x (so 50-200 is like 75-300).

The flip side of this is that the nikon sensor is a little larger so that high iso performance is better (meaning ability to shoot in lower light).

But for travel with the oly you get more reach in a smaller package in most cases..

Oly cons.

Reverse of nikon pros above, but this is not night and day, as stated both will do wellLack of available / affordable lenses in Oz in comparison to nikon.

Tendancy to blow highlights (fixable with knowledge of how to use the camera, ie settings).

More on the lens limitation of D40x - lenses that will AF with this body must be nikon AFS, sigma HSM, or tamron advertised with motor for nikon D40/x, so this means a lot of good chap AF glass will be manual focus on this body. More lenses becoming available almost by the day so for a new user no big deal really, but something you need to be aware of..

The grip on both felt the same as wellThe Nikon felt a little better, but nothing was present that made methink "Nah I can't use this" for the Olympus either..

Gerry,http://gerryd.smugmug.com/ discount code on homepage.

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Comment #15

Das_Novice wrote:.

Yeah,.

Am in SydneyI will have a look and see what the deal is like.

They are very good, all oz products / warrenty etc (not imports), but they pretty much only do nikon new, so don't expect to compare camera's there .

Pretty much the best deal I've seen on this model in Oz, likely because the D40x is being replaced by the D60 (announced last week), but don't be discouraged, still a good camera at a bargain price, and will be hard to get a D60 for a while (and a lot more expensive for a similar kit).

Gerry,http://gerryd.smugmug.com/ discount code on homepage.

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Comment #16

Many thanks again..

Think I was typoing my response when you were typing yours..

I think I screwed the Description of the 55-200mm. It is the 55-200mm VR that is offered with this kit. An dwith the bag etc it is slightly more expensive than the other store....by about 40 I think..

The other thing I have been thinking about is this auto focus. While the guy in the shop basically said Nikon over Olympus, I am thinking the Olympus is quite a good entry level. Having said that from what you were saying the AF is probably only going to affect me if I look at old lenses rather than the new ones coming out?.

So for a first DSLR, with minimal experience, given the Oly has more stability built in thanks to the motor but Nikon appears to have the better imaging, which would you go for?..

Comment #17

Das_Novice wrote:.

Many thanks again..

Think I was typoing my response when you were typing yours..

I think I screwed the Description of the 55-200mm. It is the 55-200mmVR that is offered with this kit. An dwith the bag etc it is slightlymore expensive than the other store....by about 40 I think..

Well I'd call 1,299 vs 1,050 a bit more than $40, the link I gave also has a free bag and card (and no I do not have any affiliation, have bought some glass there though).

The other thing I have been thinking about is this auto focus. Whilethe guy in the shop basically said Nikon over Olympus, I am thinkingthe Olympus is quite a good entry level. Having said that from whatyou were saying the AF is probably only going to affect me if I lookat old lenses rather than the new ones coming out?.

Correct, if you had some older nikon glass you might be better off with a different body, but starting fromscratch there are a few gaps (like an affordable 50 f1.8 prime that will AF for example) but you have plenty of choices..

Olympus make very good cameras and lenses, both brands do some things well and others not so well, my personal thoughts are that it is far easier to buy nikon accessories / glass / bits and bobs in Oz than it is for Olympus..

So for a first DSLR, with minimal experience, given the Oly has morestability built in thanks to the motor but Nikon appears to have thebetter imaging, which would you go for?.

Ahh, I already said I use nikon !!!.

Really you can't go wrong with these two cameras as kits, but as stated above I think the nikon system as a whole is more complete and more readily available and thats important to me..

You really do not need a stabilised short lens (18-55) it is a nice to have but not critical as it is far easier to hold shorter focal lengths without it. On longer glass it is more of a bonus, and you will have it on the 55-200 (VR).

Having said that "none" of my glass is stabilised but I still manage to get pics .

Also don't confuse stabilisation with AF, the motor I was talking about is to drive the Auto Focus (AF) system. Nikon DSLR bodies all had an in body motor to AF motor until the introduction of the D40, this camera therfore needs a lens with a motor to drive the AF, at present there are some 40 or 50 lenses available with a motor from nikon / sigma and recently tamron..

Stabilisation is a bit different with gyros and gizmos to either stabilise the lens (nikon) or body (olympus). Both give you the ability to hand hold at slower shutter speed in lower light, you will get arguments over which is more effective so I'll let that sit for now .

Gerry,http://gerryd.smugmug.com/ discount code on homepage.

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Comment #18

Think I got a bit confused..

I was looking at the one for 1215.00 with bag & SD card (which is actually closer to 80.00 diff).

I am guessing that the $1215.00 has the VR lens (as stated) but the $1055 is not VR?.

Kit 1D40x + 18-55 + 55-200 Nikkor lens[nikon_d40x_kit2] $1,215.00.

Price shown is after $100 Nikon cashback.GET A FREE Nikon bag and Lexar SD card!.

NEW Nikon D40x Digital SLR -10.2 Megapixel + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens + NEW AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED lens.

Kit 2D40 + 18-55 + 55-200 Nikkor lens[nikon_d40_kit2] $1,050.00.

Nikon D40 Digital SLR + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Nikkor lens + 55-200mm f/4-5.6 G ED Nikkor lens.

And yes I was guessing you would go for the Nikon, but nice to see the equal praise for the Oly..

Comment #19

Are you looking at this pagehttp://cameras.net.au/.

Scroll down about 1/3 to 1/2 way, don't click on links.

D40xBody & 2 Lens Premium Kit + FREE Nikon bag and SD card!.

NEW Nikon D40x Digital SLR -10.2 Megapixel+ 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens+ NEW AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED lensAmazing value $1050 inc GST..

You can always ring in the morning and clarify,.

Cheers.

Gerry,http://gerryd.smugmug.com/ discount code on homepage..

Comment #20

Ok.

Now I see it.I was clicking on the Nikon Kits link.

Nicely spotted and thanks for taking the time to point it out several times until I actually saw it.Will speak with them tomorrow.

Once again many thanks..

Comment #21

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