Beginners dSLR choose body or lens system?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by bob5820, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. bob5820 macrumors 6502a

    bob5820

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    #1
    When the question which first dSLR should I get the most common response is to make your choice based on lens systems not bodies. While I somewhat agree with the argument of choosing the lens system not the body, I’m not so sure how appropriate that advise is for a first time buyer, or perhaps the better way to put it is it may not be easy for a beginner to make that choice. I’m not at all familiar with Pentax, or Sony so I’ll keep this as a Nikon vs. Canon argument. Both make high quality (and expensive) Pro lenses. Both make pretty good consumer lenses. Both have a fairly extensive range of zooms, primaries, and specialty lenses such as fish eyes and macro’s. So what’s the real choice here? Unless you know what you’ll need down the road and one manufacture can meet that need better then the other, on what do you base your choice? And how likely is it that someone buying their first SLR will know their future needs, or be able to distinguish which differences in the lenses are important and which are not. It’s an important choice as you are locking yourself in, but as long as you go with the big two is it really that critical of a choice?
     
  2. cube macrumors G4

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    #2
    If you go to B&H and look at the digital AND film lenses, click "for Pentax", you can see more or less all the current stuff for Pentax (more than what appears at the Pentax site, which is only the newest and from Pentax only).

    This is easier than going to http://kmp.bdimitrov.de/lenses/, which also lists the old stuff.

    The body is important because it could happen that you don't find a Canon that you like in your budget range, for example.

    It could happen also that the kind of lens you want to get NOW only exists for one system (Nikon 18-200 VR, for example).

    There is also the issue of software to consider.
     
  3. fr0 macrumors member

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    #3
    its all about planning ahead

    My brother is a pro photographer and just recently went through the migrations process. The cost is not only the leneses and body (which add up), but also the accessories (i.e. SpeedLights). When you get into a Canon or a Nikon-based camera you are truly investing in a system. At the pro level I firmly believe that Canon is the way to go. It's more costly to get into, but the image quality is far superior, particularly in reproducing skin tones. Canon uses a full-frame sensor which it claims gives you a superior image. From what I can tell the lack of pixel density increases the signal to noise ratio, but who knows how much difference that really makes? Also, the Nikons show banding when there is sharp contrast changes (i.e. black against a very bright sky). The Canons are not perfect yet. I have noticed that at very high resolution (within spec.) certain background elements (i.e. leaves on a tree in the distance) tend to lose some of their sharpness, but this is not really an issue for me since I never intend on making giant posters. I'm not sure what level of camera you are looking to buy, but Canon is currently offering $700 off if you buy a 5D and a lens. It will still set you back a few grand, but in my opinion it is well worth it. My brother recently got the 5D and it is outstanding. The ergonomics are not as nice as the Nikon, but everything else is much better. Good luck!
     
  4. raptor96 macrumors regular

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    #4
    From what I've learned recently I think that it is an extremely important choice for first time buyers (myself included). One thing I learned is the significant difference in even the sensors on the bodies of each of these brands. Just between the Nikon D50 and the comparable Canon there's a difference between the sensor quality and magnification. The D50 ratio is like 1.5 (meaning you lose part of the wide angle but you gain in zoom) while I believe the ratio is larger in the comparable canon. In analyzing your needs then, you have to consider that you'll also need a 28-80 lens to compensate for this and (I assume) an addiitional lens in the canon. For someone like me this is an important consideration.

    Additionally I think it's also a 'camera community' decision. Which is to say, for me, all of my family shoots Nikon in their SLRs and many of my friends shoot Canon, but I am more likely to be able to borrow my family's lenses and so I'm strongly leaning towards Nikon. Additionally going with Nikon means that I already know where to go for service and my family can help me with common problems.

    So anyway slightly offtopic but I think that the body is an important consideration even for the beginning DSLR purchase aside from the lens system. The body itself can have important characteristic considerations.

    My noob 2 cents.


    Disclaimer: I may be talking out of my ass but this is what was explained to me at the camera store and it made sense to me.
     
  5. bob5820 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bob5820

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    #5
    I should have preempted this thread by saying I already have a Nikon D200. The decision for me came down to the fact that the D200 felt best in my hands and the fact that many of the D200's settings are reachable via buttons on the body rather then through the menu. I guess my point was that, at least in my case, the lens system was not an issue. Both Canon and Nikon have great lens lineups, and I would have been happy commiting to either. I understand the thinking that goes into making your choice based on lenses but think that its more difficult to do so then many let on. After all unless you have been out there using these lenses do you really understand what makes 'good glass'. As to Canon's image quality being 'far superior', I just do not think that image quality wise there will be much difference between Nikon and Canon. Will there be differences, yes, but far superior, I have a hard time with that. The only area in-which Canon blows Nikon away is in marketing. Canon really understands the importance of reaching the market. I also think that the 1.5 vs. ff sensor debate is a little over rated. I can see the ff payoff if you already have a large collection of film lenses. I remember reading that way back when 35mm came out there was an outcry about how this new format was completely inferior to the existing medium formats. On paper ff may sound better but image wise is there really that much of a difference? But I've digressed from the intent of the thread. The point I was trying to make was is given that most people (myself included) do not really know what makes great glass vs good glass vs average glass, and given that the market leader are fairly comparable in glass (my opinion) when we say 'go for the glass not the body' what do we really mean?
     
  6. cube macrumors G4

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    #6
    They all have good glass. It's the configurations/features of the kind of lenses that interest you.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #7
    This ONLY applies to the first time buyer.

    That's the whole point. If you are buying your second SLR body or your second lens the choice of brand is already made. You have to buy the brand you already have or junk all your old equipment and start over

    When was the last time you saw a post that read. "I own a Nikon D70, the 18-70 kit lens, an 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom a SB800 speed light. I want to upgrade the body. Should I buy the Nikon D200 or the Canon 30D?" People just never ask that question.

    It's only the first time buyers who ask. The advice is usless to 2nd time buyers
     
  8. wisredz macrumors regular

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    #8
    Software didn't really count that much for me because my PP skills are abysmal, I hope to hone them in time. Anyway as cube said sometimes there is a lens that only exists for one system and you go with a certain brand. The example he gave is exactly my case. The 18-200mm VR made me choose Nikon. It is one hell of a lens and is the only reason I went with Nikon. It also made me buy a D200 because you can't get the lens on its own because of loooooong wait lists. So I bought it with D200.
    Nikon or Canon doesn't make that much difference if you ask me. It's just a matter of feeling, go handle cameras from both manufacturers and go with whicever feels right for you. I can't talk for other brands but this is the case with Nikon vs Canon argument as you put it.
    There was only one way I could go Canon, and that was my being able to afford a 5D and a decent lens which was not possible at all. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining at all, Nikon is the best thing happened to me photography-wise :D
     
  9. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #9
    i think you have to think about what you photograph the absolute most and then second and third most, then choose nice lenses for that and find a compatible body. btw, choosing a brand that offers bodies with built in SR braodens your lense choices a ton!

    for instance, I shoot mostly large outdoor landscapes. the obvious choice for that was an 18-55mm, which is available in most manufacturer's kits. i also shoot a good enough amount of macro. i didn't want to buy an image stabilized macro lense, so that made pentax start looking really nice. i have also heard nothing but rave reviews about their 50mm macro. last of all, a decent telephoto is important for all serious photographers, and it'd be ncie for me when i'm doing architecture shots and I want to get a close up of a detail on a building. pentax's 50-200mm looked great! i bought the K100D 18-55mm kit, because it's got SR and a lens that i'll use quite a lot for wide angle and can also shoot fairly nice macro if you know what you're doing with it. anyway, i'll be buying the 50-200mm this winter and the 50mm in spring or early summer to shoot some nice flowers at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
     
  10. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #10
    I agree with you, but in that situation, I think the first question I'd ask is how serious s/he is with his/her photography. I always assume that the person who's asking about cameras isn't thinking about going pro. If s/he was, s/he'd know about some of this stuff already. :eek:

    Anyway, I still ask what they plan on doing. If they don't know, I just tell them to get whichever Canon, Nikon, Pentax/Samsung, or Sony feels best in their hands, because lets face it -- most people would be happy with any of these cameras and lenses as long as the camera was nice to use.

    I guess it's easier to give advice to camera n00bs when you're also a rather novice photographer. :eek:
     
  11. beavo451 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    I always laugh when somebody claims "far superior" image quality in Nikon or Canon. I will guarentee you that most people who buy photos can't tell the difference and don't care.

    I saw a skin tone "test" where the surveyers took a portrait with different cameras, printed the images, and then asked people to rank the quality of the skin tone. The list from best to worst went like this:

    Canon 5D
    Nikon D200
    ...Random
    ...other
    ...Nikon or Canon
    ...cameras.
    Nikon D2H
    Canon 1Ds Mark II :)eek: )

    Yes the most expensive, highest MP count camera was ranked the "worst".

    I don't understand what you are trying to say. Far away things in the background are not going to be sharp because of depth of field issues. If you have a small aperture to get more depth of field, lenses then to lose sharpness at those aperture sizes.



    Oh yeah and choose a camera and system that you like :D
     
  12. bob5820 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bob5820

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    #12
    OK valid point, but it doesn't really address my central point, when we tell people that the lens system should be the deciding factor what are we telling them to look for. A number of you have pointed out that the 18-200VR was a deciding factor, its a nice lens (I got one with my D200 also), maybe not the harbinger of the second coming of Ansel Adams, but its a good walk-around lens. But does a single lens constitute a lens system? I'm not second guessing any ones choice, and I do see wisdom in considering the lens system you will be committing yourself to, I'm just getting the feeling that this advise sounds better in theory then it is in execution.
     
  13. Jay42 macrumors 65816

    Jay42

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    #13
    You are right on in thinking along the lines of lenses. If you are serious about photography, the differences in the first camera body you buy will be meaningless down the road, especially once you upgrade. That being said, go and handle the camera bodies, it is still a large investment you should be happy with.

    It's very tough to evaluate the lens systems as a first time buyer because you have to predict your needs/wants in the future. You could argue over Nikon and Canon lens quality until your face turns blue. The truth is, both companies make excellent quality lenses; they are lens companies first, camera companies second.

    What you should look for is the types of lenses each company offers. Do you want to shoot sports? Look for long, fast lenses. Macro (close-up) photography? Read macro lens reviews. Landscapes? Fisheye and super-wide angle lenses. If you are looking at Canon and Nikon, they pretty much offer any lens you would need.

    Its generally agreed that Canon offers more choice for sports lenses, but I feel Nikon makes a better camera body (they all feel great in the hand). I'm a Canon guy and I recommend checking out this site which lists all of the current Canon lens models along with some 3rd party lens options. I trust these reviews:

    The-Digital-Picture.com

    EDIT: whoops, I didn't really understand the original post. I thought you were looking to buy...
     
  14. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #14
    But if the person asking the question doesn't seem pro at all and just wants a camera that can take good quality photos, and wants a lens that's useful for general stuff because that's the majority of his photography, then I'd recommend Nikon because of the 18-200 mm VR, or even because of the 18-135 mm with the D80. I don't think recommending Nikon because of this one lens is bad advice, or a bad way to give advice. I don't think I'll ever buy the 18-200 mm VR, but for someone looking for a lens that can do a lot, I'll happily recommend that lens and mention that it only works with Nikon cameras.

    Again, I agree with you. How can we tell someone to choose a system based on lenses when they don't know or understand lenses, terminology, or what they want to shoot? It's impossible. However, you assume that all of us will make a recommendation that they choose a system based on lens availability, which isn't true. I wouldn't. I would only do so if the advice seemed applicable.


    If that person wants more lenses later, s/he will have many choices from Nikon and wouldn't see or understand the benefits of going with Canon instead (the strength in particular types of lenses over Nikon), and probably won't care.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #15
    Unless you have a specific need, it's probably not that big a deal, outside of tilt and shift and macro, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two lens lines other than image stabilization on the longer primes. There's some difference in flash systems, if you go with manufacturer's flashes.

    The truth is that a first-time buyer probably isn't going to be spending money on pro glass anyway, so switching systems at the next body change point if you get *really* serious won't have the same effect as someone with $10,000-20,000 in lenses and flash equipment. But then at that point, if you really need to switch, there's an ROI calculation that needs to happen.

    Spend more time worrying about trying to shoot on a good stable tripod as often as possible, it'll do more for your pictures than about anything else.
     
  16. cube macrumors G4

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    #16
    There's also two Defocus Control lenses in Nikon's lineup. Canon has 1 Soft Focus, but it doesn't give you as much control.

    Also, don't forget Canon Diffractive Optics tech, although only one lens might be worth it. Nikon doesn't have this.

    But all these lenses are related to the sensor. So, Nikon has 100 and 135mm DC, but no full frame, so probably they become too long for the studio.
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    I'd go even further and say that if they tell you they don't know dick about cameras or photography, but want to get one to shoot better quality photos of their baby's first steps and their son's soccer games, tell them to get what they think feels good, and leave it at that. It's impossible for them and for us to know what they'll be shooting in 5 years. If you tell them to buy for the future and choose a "system" with lenses that's right for you, maybe they should also consider the possibility that they won't take as many photos using their big DSLR as they thought they would, and so maybe they should spend as little money as possible on a DSLR and just get the kit lens. As people giving advice, you could really look at it both ways

    Telling them to consider what lenses they might get is looking too far into the future. If you told me 2 years ago that I was going to own a DSLR, I would have thought you were crazy. ;)



    Sound familiar? We get threads like this all the time. Is someone actually going to suggest to this photo-newbie to look at the lenses options from each company when he probably doesn't even know what 18 mm means, and why 18 mm focal length doesn't mean that the lens can focus on an object 18 mm away? I've been asked that....
     

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