Best camera for a beginner

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gdeusthewhizkid, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2008
    Hey guys,

    Ive always had a interest in photography since i was young. Since the advent of instagram, flickr and upgraded iphone cam. Ive had more of a interest.

    I would like to pick up a more high end pic soon for travels and when artist come to my studio to work for shots. Ive narrowed it down to these choices. nikon d3100, olympus pen ep-1, canon 60d and canon rebel t3i. I know most of my photographers swear by the canon 5d. I can't afford that one yet.

    what do you guys think?
  2. macrumors 68030


    Dec 14, 2009
    I just nabbed a T3 as my first DSLR and I have to say, it's a beginner's dream. I'm enjoying it quite a bit.
  3. macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I don't know anything about the Olympus so I can't really say anything about it. The other 3 are decent choices.

    Go somewhere where you can handle the cameras in question. Check out the menus. Sometimes one camera will feel better in your hands than others.

    Also use a site like DP Review to compare the cameras in question. Some differences won't matter but there may be a feature that you really want.

    And finally if that doesn't help, would buying one of the mentioned cameras allow you to borrow lenses from friends and family members to try out?
  4. macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    You need to think about your needs and how they fit the brands. One thing to consider is that once you pick a brand you will probably stay with that brand as you accumulate different lenses.

    Whichever camer you pick you will probably only use a small subset of the available features. The trick is to figure out which subset you want to use and which camera best matches that subset.

    You should explain a little more about what you feel you want. Will these pictures be published in a book or catalog? Are these just for you to show to friends on your computer? Are these mostly indoor shots of still life or outdoor shots of things in motion? Are you photographing large objects or will you do macrophotography? Can you control the lighting or will you use natural lighting? I'm not a professional but these are the questions that quickly come to mind.
  5. macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2012
    For DSLRs, always stick with Nikon or Canon. Other brands can of course work; however, you will not have the same amount of accessories and software tools with other brands.
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2008
    i am really attracted to the street view look. you know people walking around. nice black n whites and colors of just regular people.. maybe some action shots like of kids playing, dogs running around things like that. Hopefully one day ill get good enough to sell but right now just getting good... Im into black n whites, maybe a few models, landscapes and street views..
  7. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If you are serious about photography, then you should be thinking about lenses as much as the camera, if not more so. Typically over time photographers trade in their camera bodies for better models, but keep their lenses. In the long haul you will likely have far more invested in your lenses than the camera.

    So, if have already decided on - for example - the Canon 5D then you might consider an entry level Canon, but paired with some good Canon glass. As your skills improve, and your savings increase, you can trade up but keep your investment in glass.

    Despite the Canon vs Nikon tempests - you really can't go wrong with either. As Bear mentioned, sometimes the "best" camera is the one your family/friend owns because you have access to lenses.

    As others have said - handle the cameras in question. Even better, you can often "rent" a camera to see if you like it. The "rental" can then be applied to the purchase price (i.e. no extra cost to you). And please, buy from a good camera shop. You may pay a few extra dollars than on-line, but you then have access to qualified professionals to answer questions, help with issues, etc etc.

    Good Luck.

    Remember - the best way to become a better photographer is to take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.
  8. macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2012
    All these are didn't specify which camera you want,digital or film?
    But i would not suggest to go for digital as you are a beginner,And what is your estimate?
    You yourself can compare prices with their features as there are so many camera available!
    Good luck
  9. macrumors member


    Jul 20, 2011
    I was also in the market for a beginner DSLR and ultimately decided on the t3i over the Nikon d5100 after months of reading. That was until b&h ran an epic sale on the t4i. Currently $649 with a free 16g memory card or $699 with a starter kit. And you can add the canon 55-250m lens for only $105. It's by far the best deal around and I've been all over eBay and amazon the last few days once I saw this and decide on the t4i. They are also as of today running a special $599 on the t3i and that includes the standard and 75-300mm lens
  10. macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    From what I've read, the Olympus PEN is a great camera for what it does, which is to give good results from a small size. However, if you're interested in making this a long-term hobby and potential career, I think you should stick with Canon, Nikon or (maybe) a Sony DSLR. Those systems give you more room to grow from good to great.

    When I was contemplating which system to buy into, I ended up choosing Nikon. Why? Simply because my office already had Nikon gear I knew I could borrow. Lenses will do more for you as a photographer than bodies will, so if you have a friend with a collection of lenses you can play with, get whichever brand they have.

    Lenses are also a much longer term investment. No matter which body you get, you'll be itching for a new one in three years or so. But that new body will still use the same lenses. With Nikon, you can even still use f-mount lenses from the 1960s on their newest bodies, if that gives you an indication of their potential longevity.

    If borrowing lenses isn't an option for you and you're making the decision based entirely on technology, I think currently the Nikon d3100 is the best of the DSLRs you mentioned for still photography ... but I am a bit biased towards Nikon. If you're interested in getting into videography too, the T3i might be a better choice. My friends who do videography say Canon has better features and a better interface for that purpose.
  11. macrumors 68040


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
  12. macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    6 months ago, I was in your position and starting out asks the same questions.

    When you buy a crop sensor DSLR, the body will be the least significant part of your purchase. Additional lenses will probably be the bulk of your investment. Canon and Nikon have the two biggest selection of lenses, and accessories. This is why most people recommend Nikon or Canon. If you have friends, ask to borrow their lenses. If you can't borrow, I suggest renting lenses.

    I ended up buying a t2i. It was the least expensive crop sensor camera in the Canon line-up that share the same megapixels and basic features of the 7D. With the money I saved, I was able to explore buying additional lenses.

    For me, I found this saying to be true, and good luck.
    Beginners worry about price, amateurs worry about composition, and masters worry about light.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2010
    Several thoughts and recommendations -
    • First - determine what your budget is (personal advice - don't be cheap)
    • Look at the major brands - Nikon and Canon first
    • Hand-hold each of the cameras that fall into your price range - ergonomics is important
    • Don't get hung up on megapixels or DX vs. FX sensor size

    Also, consider what sort of stuff you might want to shoot. If you want to shoot sports, keep in mind that a high frames per second (FPS) is needed. Also, what do your friends shoot, and why?
  14. macrumors 68020


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    It of course depends on what you need and what you can afford. I'm still a very amateur photographer (it's just a hobby right now), but I have a Sony Alpha 65. It may not be a Nikon or Canon, but I really like it. It takes really great pictures. Plus, since it's an SLT (Single Lens Translucent), you can get autofocus during videos as well. One of the main reasons I got it was because it has GPS in it. That way, I can go into iPhoto or Aperture and look at photos just of home, or trips I've taken, etc. It takes a while to get the GPS signal, but it's a useful feature to me. Only gripe with the 65 is I can't use a vertical grip with it out of the box. There are a few hacks to let you do it, but that's not my kinda thing. If you want a vertical grip, go with the a55, a77 or a99. I'd prefer the a99 since it's full frame.

    One thing that I've learned is when shopping for lenses, make sure you look at 3rd party lenses, too, like Tamron or Sigma. They have pretty good lenses. The only thing with me (and this is just my opinion), but I wish there were more camera shops around me so I could test cameras and lenses before using them. That way, I know how well they work together.
  15. macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2009
    Boston, MA
    I just purchased a Canon T4i from Amazon for my trip to europe. The automodes are amazing, and the new innovations with the touchscreen are a treat. You can use autofocus similar to an iPhone with tap-to-focus, which even allows you to shoot video of yourself, by yourself. It is a very complicated camera compared to a point and shoot, but once you are comfortable it will satisfying pictures. I also purchased the 40mm pancake lens for mine to shoot video without any lens noise.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    If I read your initial post correctly, you have quite little experience with photography, especially outside of point&shoot operation.

    Problem is, most modern cameras have so many "helping" functions, that you might never learn. My honest recommendation (and I have some experience with teaching photography) is that:
    - whatever body you buy, you buy one fixed focal length normal lens as well (something in the 30-50mm range) and try to work with it as much as possible
    - try to keep the body away from the "smart" modes. start with aperture priority (Av) or time priority (Tv), depending on the situation.
    - get your hands on a photography guide/textbook from the days before digital. They cover the basics (and light has not changed) and do not linger on subjects such as digital post processing

    I also agree, SLR's, whether digital or not, do have the tendency to be magnetic - once you start gathering gear you'll be hard pressed to swap platform. Unless you have someone in the family who has a load of Pentax/Olympus/Sony/etc. -gear, I'd recommend Nikon or Canon (personally I'm a canonite) as both really have more accessories than you might ever need and will assuredly stay around.

  17. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    If you plan to upgrade to a 5D later, get the Canon. The entry-level Canons and Nikons are both excellent, but if you plan to grow into one system or another start with that system.

    I've never used the 60D, but the 7D has a much nicer finder than the Rebels and if price is similar I would favor having a good finder over more image quality-related upgrades. The image quality is roughly the same on all modern Canon APS-C cameras, more or less, and the t3i, 60D, 7D, all have essentially the same sensor. Nikon sensors are a bit cleaner at low ISO, but it's trivial for most purposes.

    For street photography, I would... go Nikon and get the 35mm f1.8 DX lens. Personally. But if you're starting out I'd get either a Nikon or Canon (both are great) and if you want a 5D later the Canon for sure. Use the kit lens until you figure out what focal length you like and then buy a fast prime at that focal length. That will be a good start for street photography.

    And the automatic modes are way more difficult to use than just adjusting aperture, ISO, and shutter speed and referring to the meter and chimping. Get a how-to book on photography if you need to or just read a four-page tutorial on aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. It's simple stuff that 90% of people overlook, but because it's so overlooked people hype it up to be something you can't learn completely in an afternoon. You can. Making the automatic modes work for you... that can take weeks.
  18. macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Go for a Nikon D3200, D5100 or D5200.
    They are the only "budget" camera's with a modern high-d-range sensor (you buy the camera first of all for the sensor). Once you are treated with 14-stop images with beautiful skies and shadow detail, you don't want the old stuff. Canon is really lacking on this as they top at 12 stops with the 6D, where Nikon, Sony and Pentax have various 14+ stops models.
    And never go for the T4i, as that one has an even worse sensor than the T3 and the T3i.
    In-camera processing is also much better on the Nikons, as they ditch distortion, aberration and vignetting completely no matter what lens you screw on it.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    I'm rather late to the party here but any of these are fine choices, personally I'd go with a Nikon, mainly because I am familiar with them. I'm still using a fuji S5, which is really a d200 body, and I miss the controls when I use lower-end cameras. I've not used the canons, but I assume the 60d must have the best control set and viewfinder of these as it's a mid-level body while the others are low-end. These would matter to me more than absolute pixel cleanness or whatever.

    That said - and I'm only chipping in with this because I've got one and it's great fun - For black and white street photography I quite like the Nikon V1 - it's small, light, can be silent, has blindingly good autofocus, is cheap at the moment, and with the 18.5mm f/1.8 you can get some cute shots (all the lenses are good).

    Though - any of the DSLRs will have better image quality - but again, I've never looked at a great photograph which actually captures or expresses an idea or a feeling and thought 'shame about the luminance noise'. Barring very technical fields, details of image quality are mostly fussed over in poor quality work.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 9, 2003
    Durham, NC
    I wrote up some advice on picking a camera, for my website a couple of days ago:

    I do suggest going with a higher-than-base-model, if possible. The control schemes on the next step up are much better and will accommodate you when you venture away from the fully-automatic modes (and help you learn what impact changing the photographic controls have on the resulting image).
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    im not sure whether to pull the trigger on the d5200 or t4i
  22. macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    Southern California
    You can go on Craigslist and find great deals on second hand DSLRs. I got my girlfriend a Canon Rebel XTI last year for less than $200 with an 18-55mm lens and it takes excellent photos.
  23. Ish
    macrumors 68000


    Nov 30, 2004
    If you're into street shooting, have you thought about getting something smaller than a dSLR, such as one of the Sony NEX series, or the Fuji X100? These both have the same sized sensors as in the Canon and the Nikon you mentioned. Just thought I'd give you another avenue to explore. :)
  24. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2010
    If you are still looking, and your budget allows, go for a Nikon D600. It's one of the most affordable full frame (i.e. 35mm equivalent) cameras, and Nikon currently seems to be several steps ahead of Canon. Reason is, if you decide to stick with photography, chances are you will go to full frame eventually anyway.

    Having said that, for street photography, smaller cameras are usually better - micro four thirds cameras, for example, aren't quite as threatening to Joe Public as a full frame with a 70-200mm cannon on it.
  25. macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2010
    Eastern USA
    Well I was in the same thinking....looking at the D5200, even waiting for it to come to USA then when I went to store and actually held it and the T4i I was shocked to like the feel of the T4i much better. I couldn't believe it because I had figured on buying the D5200.....but I bought the T4i with the STM 18-135 and the 70-300 lens. But I'm thinking of exchanging the 70-300 for the 100-400L lens.
    anyway be sure to actually hold the camera bodies then get the one that feels best is my 2cents.


    Yeah, for sure.....I can say the canon S95 is great pocket point and shoot.

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