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soccersquirt82
Jul 25, 2008, 08:36 PM
My family would like to get my dad a digital camera. When he was in college, he shot amazing photos (lions, elephants, gorillas, etc.) with film camera while on his trip to Africa. We want to get him a nice camera but not over the top. We also want to get him at least a few lenses. We are trying to keep it below $3,000. Any suggestions? Brand, model, lenses, and where to buy. Thanks in advance!



CMD is me
Jul 25, 2008, 09:27 PM
You certainly have a healthy budget. Check out DPreivew.com for TONS of reviews.

Cave Man
Jul 25, 2008, 09:32 PM
My family would like to get my dad a digital camera. When he was in college, he shot amazing photos (lions, elephants, gorillas, etc.) with film camera while on his trip to Africa. We want to get him a nice camera but not over the top. We also want to get him at least a few lenses. We are trying to keep it below $3,000. Any suggestions? Brand, model, lenses, and where to buy. Thanks in advance!

You need to find out what he shot with before and if he enjoyed it. Once you get the brand down, I think we can give you better advice.

soccersquirt82
Jul 25, 2008, 09:43 PM
Thanks CMD for the site. Is the brand important since he was using film and it was 30 years ago? I will get it if need be. Also, I said my budget is $3,000. That is if absolutely necessary. It would be better to think about for the rest of my family if around $1500.

soccersquirt82
Jul 25, 2008, 10:22 PM
I'm thinking of a Nikon. Maybe the D80, but I don't know anything about everything. Please tell me if this is a good brand and model. What lenses can be used, what type of battery does it have, and what kind of memory card? I am totally new, so please help!

jecapaga
Jul 25, 2008, 11:01 PM
The D80 is more than fine. It depends how much you think he wants to get into the intricacies of settings and onboard settings or does he want to just have a great DSLR that provides more than a point and shoot but isn't heavy and doesn't have a ton of settings options. For me, I went with the nikon D40 because it gave me the freedom I wanted away from a point and shoot but it was small in the hand, compact and took great pictures. Honestly I don't see how the D40 wouldn't completely satisfy, especially someone away from the hobby for so many years. It's not intimidating, it's light weight and feels great. Has a great screen too. I'll let the others here say otherwise. But to just buy your dad a great camera that is what I would suggest.

If he is hardcore with gear, doesn't sound like he is, and has a collection of lenses then you may want to think about what brand those are.

Danny Futuro
Jul 26, 2008, 12:04 AM
With that kind of budget, I'd have to HIGHLY recommend a Canon EOS 40D, with an L-series lens of some sort. I work with DSLRs everyday of the week, and the 40D smashes every other camera under $2000 in terms of image quality and ease of use, especially at high ISO. It also has three customizable settings slots that he can save to the top mounted dial for easy recall. You can find them as cheap as $1299 in most big box stores, and Canon lenses are by far the best in the business. Check out DPreview.com for a nice in-depth review.

taylorwilsdon
Jul 26, 2008, 12:49 AM
I shot Africa for 2 months with a D80. I wish I had the D300 that I have now.

If you can really do $3000, pick up a D300 ($1500 or so), an 80-200 f2.8 push/pull ($450 used), a 300mm f4 ($400 used) and a 16-85mm vr ($600 new).

That puts you at $2900, give or take depending on where you buy your stuff. You've got great glass, an awesome body and you can get some great shots.

edit - if money is tight, still get the D300. Best camera for the money on the market right now. Pick up a 70-300 VR zoom (very well regarded) and an 18-70mm (the best kit lens ever). That will put you at around $2200.

cube
Jul 26, 2008, 08:27 AM
You can also get a new D200 for less than $1000 nowadays. The D300 has several interesting improvements, but it still needs to drop in price. He could upgrade later to that (or to the D700).

Lenses are more difficult to suggest without nowing the intended use of the camera. An idea would be to get the 18-200 VR for walkabout use, plus something more for his main "serious" stuff.

RainForRent
Jul 26, 2008, 11:08 AM
Another thing to ask as well– if he shot with a camera way back when that he loved, did he keep any of his lenses? Some of that old glass, you just can't beat it today. I bought a Sony Alpha just so I could use my old Minolta glass.

cube
Jul 26, 2008, 11:15 AM
Yes, the D200 can meter with old manual focus AI lenses without CPU, which the D80 can't.

vga4life
Jul 26, 2008, 11:33 AM
Under $3k for quality and versatility I don't think you can beat:

Canon 40D body-only, ~$950
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, ~$1000
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens, ~$600

If he likes old film cameras, he'll appreciate the build quality of the D40 which exceeds any other camera mentioned above except the Nikon 300D (which is considerably more expensive.)

It's also not worth cheaping out on lenses. Digital components may change but the laws of physics don't. Quality glass will always cost money to produce, and it holds its value well. I recommended the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens because it's as sharp as an L series lens but has image stabilization which helps a lot with hand-held shots in low light.

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is also a fine choice and only about $200 more expensive - somewhat better build quality and covers the 55-70mm range but no IS and it loses some very useful wide-angle range.

The 70-200mm f/4L USM telephoto zoom lens is probably Canon's single best value in lenses. It doesn't have image stabilization and it's a stop slower than their f/2.8 zooms, but its optical quality is impeccable and its relatively light weight makes it much easier to hand-hold. It's also half the price of the f/4 IS or f/2.8 non-IS version, and 1/3 the price of the f/2.8 IS.

Probably the best place to read up on Canon lenses is http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ - and you should be spending more on the lenses than the camera body, always.

cube
Jul 26, 2008, 11:39 AM
Pay attention to your D's.

I am not sure the 40D even reaches the build level of the D200.

http://www.komar.org/faq/camera/canon-40d-versus-rebel-xti-400d/weatherproofing/

bobbleheadbob
Jul 26, 2008, 11:56 AM
Your two choices are really Canon and Nikon. Those are the 2 main players in the market today and you probably want to stick with one or the other. Once you decide on the camera and brand, you'll need to stick with it, b/c all the lenses you buy will only work with that brand. Did your dad use one or the other when he was back in college? Maybe he has/had a favorite?

Canon 40D and Nikon D80 are both solid choices. Spend any extra in your budget for some accessories and another lens. Good luck. ;)

soccersquirt82
Aug 3, 2008, 11:22 AM
Thanks for all the responses. I've narrowed it down to four choices (based directly from everyone's responses and price). It's either the Nikon D40 or D80 or the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi or XT. I'm leaning more towards Nikon just because I've seen it used more. Can y'all explain the differences between the Canon and Nikon? And what lenses (if any) to start with? I would like the camera to be below $1,000. I'm not sure how much the lenses could cost.

CrackedButter
Aug 3, 2008, 12:51 PM
Your two choices are really Canon and Nikon. Those are the 2 main players in the market today and you probably want to stick with one or the other. Once you decide on the camera and brand, you'll need to stick with it, b/c all the lenses you buy will only work with that brand. Did your dad use one or the other when he was back in college? Maybe he has/had a favorite?

Canon 40D and Nikon D80 are both solid choices. Spend any extra in your budget for some accessories and another lens. Good luck. ;)

Crap advice solely because of the bias shown towards Canon or Nikon.

He can get any camera he wants using any brand, professional use wasn't mentioned otherwise I would go easier on you. You're just mentioning those 2 brands simply because they are more likely the ones you're most familiar with and know the most about. Olympus and Panasonic have some amazing glass to offer with their SLR's and Sigma offer something in the marketplace with a differing sensor design to everybody else in their SLR bodies. The other smaller brands have different traits which shouldn't be overlooked.

It's interesting to read on these forums from Mac users when people ask for camera advice, when most users just simply suggest a Canon or Nikon and never leave the fall open for other brands.

Reminds me of the time people suggested I should buy a windows machines because it was the main player in the market. I thought, us Mac geeks being users of an alternative OS, we as its users would also offer alternative suggestions alongside the mainstream in order to be balanced.

There is nothing wrong with the top 2 brands, just be aware there are alternatives as well and with whatever you go with I hope your dad gets some good use out of it.

Hmac
Aug 3, 2008, 01:09 PM
Thanks for all the responses. I've narrowed it down to four choices (based directly from everyone's responses and price). It's either the Nikon D40 or D80 or the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi or XT. I'm leaning more towards Nikon just because I've seen it used more. Can y'all explain the differences between the Canon and Nikon? And what lenses (if any) to start with? I would like the camera to be below $1,000. I'm not sure how much the lenses could cost.

Not much difference between Canon and Nikon overall. Nikon is generally considered to be at least a little more ergonomic IMHO. D80 is a great choice. There are other good camera brands out there too, but Nikon and Canon certainly do lead the pack in sales in the dSLR arena.

soccersquirt82
Aug 3, 2008, 11:31 PM
OK. It has been decided to get the D80 Nikon. Now I need help for some lenses. I was thinking maybe two lenses to start, but he may need to start with more or less. Any suggestions?

ManWithhat
Aug 4, 2008, 12:09 AM
This is an expensive lens, but it is the sole reason I would switch from Canon to Nikon. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens. This thing is godly (and again, very expensive), but the glass is extremely important. This is also a great zoom range for the animal photography your Dad seems to like doing and has a good range for other activities as well.

I would also follow taylorwildson's advice. Get the D300 and those few lenses; it's the best on the market, feature-wise.

pinktank
Aug 4, 2008, 03:39 AM
I shot Africa for 2 months with a D80. I wish I had the D300 that I have now.

If you can really do $3000, pick up a D300 ($1500 or so), an 80-200 f2.8 push/pull ($450 used), a 300mm f4 ($400 used) and a 16-85mm vr ($600 new).

That puts you at $2900, give or take depending on where you buy your stuff. You've got great glass, an awesome body and you can get some great shots.


This is a good idea, however, I would get an 17-50 tamron 2.8 instead of the 16*85 vr

telf22
Aug 4, 2008, 10:54 AM
You cannot go wrong with the Nikon d300. It has everything that he would want from a film camera and just a whole lot more. There is ALOT of customization so he wont feel restricted in any way. the camera is very durable, weather proof, etc.

check out my flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/telfa/. i have many d300 shots on there.

Hmac
Aug 4, 2008, 11:33 AM
You cannot go wrong with the Nikon d300. It has everything that he would want from a film camera and just a whole lot more. There is ALOT of customization so he wont feel restricted in any way. the camera is very durable, weather proof, etc.


Whoa! I agree that the D300 is a truly excellent camera, but characterizing it as "weatherproof" is a substantial exaggeration. It's weather "sealed". In practical terms, it means you could take the thing out in a light mist and it would likely survive. Take it out in a major rainstorm and 8 out of 10 times a "weather sealed" camera is toast.

ChrisA
Aug 4, 2008, 11:48 AM
Thanks CMD for the site. Is the brand important since he was using film and it was 30 years ago? I will get it if need be. Also, I said my budget is $3,000. That is if absolutely necessary. It would be better to think about for the rest of my family if around $1500.

If it's Nikon or Pentax whatever lenses he had will still work with the digital body. Of course if those lenses did not have auto focus they won't autofocus even with the new body so he may not want to use them even if he could.

If you want to get a modern setup of comparable quality you would have to know what he was using. Which brand and importantly the specs of the lenses. Read the numbers off the front of those lenses.

telf22
Aug 4, 2008, 04:44 PM
Whoa! I agree that the D300 is a truly excellent camera, but characterizing it as "weatherproof" is a substantial exaggeration. It's weather "sealed". In practical terms, it means you could take the thing out in a light mist and it would likely survive. Take it out in a major rainstorm and 8 out of 10 times a "weather sealed" camera is toast.

yeh sorry bout that, wrong word. also, you should note that it is quite heavy.

soccersquirt82
Aug 6, 2008, 10:04 AM
What types of lenses should I be looking at? (standard, wideangle, autofocus, micro, etc) He would need a lens mainly for landscape photos and action shots. Also, is the camera still great with no lens? Does he need a flash thing?

ProwlingTiger
Aug 6, 2008, 11:24 AM
I'd go Canon above Nikon, but thats just me. I'd buy a flash too, as they greatly improve photos. Yes, you'll need lenses, or at least one. Get maybe a 35-75, and a 300mm lenses. Those are the 2 I take when I'm in a hurry, as they give me a good range for casual shooting. As for the flash, I use the Canon Speedlight 580 EXII.

Mousse
Aug 6, 2008, 12:14 PM
First off, I'd recommend getting something in the mid-range. Since you're going Nikon I'd say D200 or D300. He knows his way around a camera, so using a low end model is going to restrict his ability considerably. The expanded features set would makes life easier for a seasoned photographer.

Also, is the camera still great with no lens? Does he need a flash thing?

Without a lense your fancy DSLR would be as useful as a restroom stall without toilet paper.;) I'd recommend getting a flash. It's not a necessity, but very useful in lots of situations. As for a lense recommendation, I'd either get a fast 35mm or a 50mm and let him decide on the rest of his line up.

miles01110
Aug 6, 2008, 02:35 PM
Crap advice solely because of the bias shown towards Canon or Nikon.

...

It's interesting to read on these forums from Mac users when people ask for camera advice, when most users just simply suggest a Canon or Nikon and never leave the fall open for other brands.

Reminds me of the time people suggested I should buy a windows machines because it was the main player in the market. I thought, us Mac geeks being users of an alternative OS, we as its users would also offer alternative suggestions alongside the mainstream in order to be balanced.

There is nothing wrong with the top 2 brands, just be aware there are alternatives as well and with whatever you go with I hope your dad gets some good use out of it.

Reasons to buy Canon or Nikon:

1. Widespread availability of parts, accessories, lenses, etc. Anywhere in the world you'll find what you need for Canon and Nikon. Not the same for Sigma, Olympus, Pentax, etc.

2. Community support- Canon and Nikon's user bases are huge. Any problem that can come up has been documented and probably solved.

3. Neither brand is going to go away. Canon and Nikon's commitment to the DSLR is tied directly to their company's success, unlike companies such as Kodak or Fuji who have since decided to stop production of their DSLRs.

4. Quality doesn't suffer despite mass production. A prime example of this are the Canon L-series lenses. It's very hard to find comparable glass whose use is so widespread while at the same time maintaining near-universal agreement among professionals and amateurs of their quality.

Yes, other companies have unique aspects or features that might be desirable, but when it comes down to what's important Canon and Nikon just do everything else a little better. Recommending one of them might be a result of personal bias, but at least it's not going to have negative consequences.

NEiMac
Aug 6, 2008, 06:33 PM
Not sure I would throw out Pentax as a option, they have been around for ever and while not as easy to find stuff as Nikon or Canon, you can find stuff for them. If I recall correctly there camera's have image stabilization built in too. Personally the best thing you can do is go handle them and see which one feels better. Oh and for the record I prefer Nikon.

CrackedButter
Aug 7, 2008, 01:04 AM
Reasons to buy Canon or Nikon:

1. Widespread availability of parts, accessories, lenses, etc. Anywhere in the world you'll find what you need for Canon and Nikon. Not the same for Sigma, Olympus, Pentax, etc.

2. Community support- Canon and Nikon's user bases are huge. Any problem that can come up has been documented and probably solved.

3. Neither brand is going to go away. Canon and Nikon's commitment to the DSLR is tied directly to their company's success, unlike companies such as Kodak or Fuji who have since decided to stop production of their DSLRs.

4. Quality doesn't suffer despite mass production. A prime example of this are the Canon L-series lenses. It's very hard to find comparable glass whose use is so widespread while at the same time maintaining near-universal agreement among professionals and amateurs of their quality.

Yes, other companies have unique aspects or features that might be desirable, but when it comes down to what's important Canon and Nikon just do everything else a little better. Recommending one of them might be a result of personal bias, but at least it's not going to have negative consequences.

1. Yes useful but pointless unless you're a professional, otherwise Amazon+Fedex takes care of 99% of it.

2. Dependent on the issue at hand but for the most part all companies will resolve issues with the cameras they sell.

3. It is another good point but I doubt his dad is going to be looking for an upgrade since it is a birthday present. I have an SLR from a company which stop production of its SLR's, its cheaper to take them to a 3rd party repair shop incase of any issues unless its something really exotic.

4. Besides some questionable 3rd party lenses, tell me of a company which has suffered with lens quality from mass producing it?

I did say that there is nothing wrong with Canon or Nikon, personally I love Canon but my point was it might not be the solution for him and I've noticed a trend here that the answer to everything is either a Canon or a Nikon camera. I'm trying to point out there are alternatives while you're talking up the qualities of L glass and professional service to somebody who sounds like somebody who likes to take pictures for the love of it.

miles01110
Aug 7, 2008, 02:17 AM
1. Yes useful but pointless unless you're a professional, otherwise Amazon+Fedex takes care of 99% of it.

2. Dependent on the issue at hand but for the most part all companies will resolve issues with the cameras they sell.

3. It is another good point but I doubt his dad is going to be looking for an upgrade since it is a birthday present. I have an SLR from a company which stop production of its SLR's, its cheaper to take them to a 3rd party repair shop incase of any issues unless its something really exotic.

4. Besides some questionable 3rd party lenses, tell me of a company which has suffered with lens quality from mass producing it?

1. Ok, but if you're taking pictures and your battery dies in the middle of a foreign country (battery isn't a great example because most camera stores will carry batteries for most brands), you won't be able to use fedex or amazon.

2. Yes, all vendors will most likely have some sort of service to send in your camera to have it fixed. With Canon or Nikon you're more likely to be able to just walk into a store and resolve the problem though... at least in my experience.

3. Doesn't have much to do with upgrades or anything. I'm not sure if fuji and Kodak continue to support their DSLRs or not though.

4. The Canon 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the XTi/XSi. I guess take this with a grain of salt, since I don't have any figures in front of me as far as how many of these vs how many L lenses are made. I don't know why 3rd party lenses should be excluded from the discussion though.

I did say that there is nothing wrong with Canon or Nikon, personally I love Canon but my point was it might not be the solution for him and I've noticed a trend here that the answer to everything is either a Canon or a Nikon camera. I'm trying to point out there are alternatives while you're talking up the qualities of L glass and professional service to somebody who sounds like somebody who likes to take pictures for the love of it.

It certainly is a trend, and you're not wrong by any means. I was just offering some explanation as to why Canon/Nikon usually dominate the discussion.

CrackedButter
Aug 7, 2008, 03:09 AM
It certainly is a trend, and you're not wrong by any means. I was just offering some explanation as to why Canon/Nikon usually dominate the discussion.

Which is helpful for the thread starter, I'm glad our discussion brought those points out.

I wanted to exclude 3rd party lenses because they are platform independent and I wanted to focus on Canon, Nikkor or Zuiko quality glass as they are very respected in the industry more so than say Sigma or Tamron. Or to put it another way I'm more interested in those 3 brands over 3rd parties and its unfair to make a complaint/comparision about say a Canon camera because of a Sigma lens, I didn't want to draw a relationship between a lens that a camera manufacturer doesn't make or support it.

soccersquirt82
Aug 11, 2008, 06:39 PM
Just found out that my dad has some Canon lenses. Will lenses that he used 30 years ago on film work on any digital Canon cameras? I'm thinking the Canon EOS 40D. I don't want the camera itself more expensive than that. Other ideas?

Cave Man
Aug 11, 2008, 09:04 PM
Nope, they won't. Those are probably FD lenses, which are incompatible with the EOS mount.

CrackedButter
Aug 12, 2008, 01:56 AM
Nope, they won't. Those are probably FD lenses, which are incompatible with the EOS mount.

There are adapters available so that isn't entirely true.

Cave Man
Aug 12, 2008, 08:59 AM
There are adapters available so that isn't entirely true.

Yeah, there are two types. The one from Canon (out of production) which only worked with certain telephoto lenses, cost you 1.3 stops and compromised image quality slightly. If you can find one for sale, it'll set you back about $1,000. The other is from Adorama works only with lenses that have a recessed rear element and also costs you 1.3 stops and kills the image quality. You also lose aperture control. I guess if you're willing to accept mediocrity, then go for it.

soccersquirt82
Aug 17, 2008, 10:25 AM
So would you suggest getting a Canon so he will know something about it? Should he use his old lenses and get him an adapter or would it be better to get new lenses? Should I stick with my original choice of a Nikon D80?

CrackedButter
Aug 17, 2008, 01:07 PM
So would you suggest getting a Canon so he will know something about it? Should he use his old lenses and get him an adapter or would it be better to get new lenses? Should I stick with my original choice of a Nikon D80?

With regard to the adapter, I wouldn't bother, I was just pointing out that FD lenses can be used on an EF mount, though in a limited fashion.

Trajectory
Aug 17, 2008, 01:15 PM
Canon and Nikon have perfected DSLR cameras and are always making advances in the technology, so, they are good brands to go with. I've had a Canon Rebel XT for a few years and really love it. I think this is the perfect camera for the "serious amateur" photographer.

jhamerphoto
Aug 17, 2008, 05:36 PM
Your choice of a D80 is good, but for a little extra cash (very little) you can get a D200 as they are now discontinued. I'm sure your father will appreciate the far more solid build. But don't think that just because it's discontinued that you're buying something obsolete. The D80 should be updated soon (likely D90) but I would still take a rugged, advanced-feature D200 over an upgraded plastic-body camera any day.

Just my two cents.

PS price wise, a friend of mine just bought a D200 on friday (with extended warranty) with an SB800 flash, 18-200mm lens, a lowepro backpack, and a 72mm UV filter totalling $3300 CAD.

SLC Flyfishing
Aug 19, 2008, 12:19 AM
Tell your dad to get a Pentax K20D and call it a day. It's everything that the Nikon D300 or Canon 40D are, but with a price closer to the Nikon D80 or Canon XSi.

And I've said it before and I will certainly say it again, FA* and DA* lenses are every bit as nice as Canon L glass of the same focal lengths.

Open your mind to alternatives, you're a mac user after all!

SLC