Digital SLR

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by stoid, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #1
    Hey, I'm in the market for a nice digital camera. I bought a Canon S45 a few years back when it was the top of the consumer line @ $500. Now that digital SLR cameras can be had for $800 or so, I'm thinking of upgrading.

    I've heard great things about the Canon Digital Rebel EOS system, and I really really like my S45's interface and feature set. However, I've also heard that Nikon makes some great DSLRs.

    I know that we've got some serious photography buffs here at macrumors, and so I value advice and reviews from you over some random internet site.

    Thanks for your help!
    Brian
     
  2. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #2
    Do you have any lenses in your posession, currently?
     
  3. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #3
    Rebel XT or Nikon D50/d70 are your main choices. like igary says, if you have lenses buy whichever the lenses will work on.

    do you have lenses?
     
  4. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

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    #4
    D70

    can be found cheaper now too, due to the new D70s... (dont worry, the D70s isn't radically different)

    Just helped shoot a wedding with a D70 this weekend...
     
  5. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    #5
    The only real differences between the DSLRs is the user interface and lens systems. If you have existing lenses that you'd like to use on your DSLR, buy one from the brand that your lenses fit. If you're not in this situation, you can start fresh with any brand. If you're particularly keen on the way a particular brand's interface works, then you know what to do...

    I own and use a Digital Rebel which I bought back at the end of 2003. It's a great camera and still works well. I had existing Canon EF lenses, and there was no other DSLR for less than US$1000 at the time so the choice was easy then! My next DSLR purchase will probably be a 20D or 5D.
     
  6. BrandonSi macrumors regular

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    #6
    What is your budget? If you wanted to keep it cheaper, I would recommend the Digital Rebel (original), not XT. Good deals can be had on refurbs or used equipment, and the XT's 8mp size doesn't really get you anything unless you're going to be using large print sizes, say 11x14 or larger. I would then take the money you would've spent on the XT and put that towards a decent starter zoom lens, like the 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 IS.
     
  7. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #7
    I think there's a bit more than just those two differences. I think many here understand the differences between canon and nikon and they're close, but Minolta for example, has anti-shake. Olympus has the 4/3's system.

    Nikon has great body build ergonomics and a great flash system. Canon has low ISO and full frame. I could go on and on.

    the differences are great. the final image quality usually is pretty close, but there ARE differences.... big ones. :)
     
  8. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #8
    iGary's question is a very significant one... Why? Because when you go DSLR, you're not really just buying "a camera," you are investing in a SYSTEM. Therefore, it's important first off to be sure that you're really satisfied with not only the camera body that you're purchasing and using, but also the lenses and other accessories that are available in the manufacturer's lineup. Nikon and Canon both make excellent camera bodies and lenses, but there are differences. There are also differences in the availability of one type of lens over another and that's important to realize, too. Will you be getting into photography to such an extent that further down the road you would be investing in more expensive pro-level bodies and lenses? Or would you be sticking mainly with the bodies and lenses targeted towards the consumer?

    What kinds of images are you envisioning you would like to make? Choosing lenses is an important part of the photograhic process. When you're buying a DSLR, even if you're happy at first with the "kit lens" that comes with some models (Nikon's D50, D70s, Canon's Digital Rebel), you are definitely going to sooner or later want to branch out and buy additional lenses. That's why it is important to be thinking in terms of a "system" rather than just "a camera." It can be a serious investment by the time you've added two or three lenses to your camera gear. (And don't be fooled: you WILL be affected by a serious case of "lens lust" not long after you've got your new camera!)

    I'm sure that Gary and I as well as other photographers on here can each give you a passionate argument for why our particular camera system is "the best." However, that's not really going to help YOU because in the end it's got to be your decision as to which camera body feels best in your hands and which lenses have the potential to help you achieve your creative vision. Obviously you probably wouldn't be buying a whole lot of them right off the bat but it is good to be looking ahead to the future.


    The first step in shopping for a new camera is to go to some websites which review the various cameras (http://www.dpreview.com and http://www.imaging-resource.com are two which come to mind immediately, but there are others as well). Read the reviews on the cameras in which you're interested, then read the user forums that focus on each camera. Ask questions there if you need clarification on something. It helps, though, to first do a search to see if there has already been a discussion thread on whatever your question is.

    Next step is to take a trip to the local camera shop (IMO it is preferable to go to a store in which the primary purpose is to sell photographic equipment rather than Best Buy or its ilk because you want to speak with someone who is really knowledgeable about the product). Handle each of the camera bodies in which you're interested. Have the salesperson show you how to switch lenses. Try looking through a few different lenses so that you get an idea of the real flexibility of using a DSLR. Pay attention to which camera feels most intuitive to you, which seems to be most responsive, which has the features you really want. Think about what you'll want to be doing with the camera and lenses, what types of photography and images most appeal to you. Portraits? Landscapes? Artistic abstracts? Macros (Extreme close-ups of objects, flowers or insects)? Family fun and activities? Travel? Large fine art images that you will be proud to frame and display on the wall?

    Ah, but there's more.... In buying a DSLR, don't forget to also have some extra cash available for at least a couple of memory cards, perhaps an extra battery, possibly protective filter(s) to put over the lens(es), etc. [This latter is not mandatory and some photographers prefer not to do this. I am of the school that believes in protecting my expensive lenses and I'd rather replace a scratched filter than a scratched lens.) You may also need to invest in a good camera bag in order to safely carry your camera and lens(es). Most photographers are not particularly satisfied with the on-board flash that comes with some camera bodies, so the addition of an external flash is another consideration.

    Some photographers, myself among them, choose not to download images into the computer directly from the camera itself but rather by using a memory card reader, so that's another item to think about adding to your shopping list.

    What about software? Some basic software comes with most new cameras, but most professionals and serious amateurs use Photoshop CS2. A "light" version of PS CS2 which is considerably less expensive but which also does a very good job is Photoshop Elements. They have just released v.4 for Windows but not yet for the Mac, but v.3 is still available at Apple stores and other places. Many photographers who own and use Macs are getting really excited about Apple's new Aperture, which will be released soon.

    Another consideration is your computer. Since we're on Macrumors, I'm assuming you're using a Mac. Check out your current equipment and configuration. You'll need a fairly large hard drive or an additional external drive to provide plenty of space for all those images you'll be shooting. Files from a 6 MP (or more) digital camera are pretty big. How's your RAM situation? It's advisable to have as much RAM as you can afford to put into your machine, because any photographic software is fairly memory-intensive.

    I hope I haven't overwhelmed you here, but am just giving you some things to consider before you plunk down your money on a DSLR....

    In summary:
    1. Research online at camera review websites
    2. Research at the camera store by handling various camera bodies and lenses
    3. Think carefully about what exactly it is you're interested in doing with the camera and various lenses
    4. Remember that this purchase does not involve just a camera, it is an investment in a camera system
    5. Don't forget the extra accessories (memory cards, batteries, memory card reader, image manipulation software)
    6. Take a look at your computer and ensure that it will be able to handle the large files and memory requirements you'll be throwing at it


    Have fun researching and shopping and of course, when you buy whatever your choice is, happy shooting! Please let us know what you decide....

    OTB
     
  9. stoid thread starter macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #9
    Wow! Thanks for the responses guys!

    OK, I don't have any lenses, when it comes to photography, I'm a TOTAL n00b. I'll be taking a digital photography class soon, whenever I can get it scheduled, and the school rents out some 8MP camera or some such, but as I'm interested in photography, I'd like to go ahead and purchase a camera.

    It seems that what camera I'd get will depend on use. I'd like a camera for use in an art class, which means that I'll want to be able to be able to do low light, depth of field, and close-range photography. However, I'd also like to use this camera for regular day-to-day activities. I'm of course going to hang on to my Canon S45 for casual use, and when I don't want to be lugging around a camera case as it fits nicely into a pants pocket. But battery life is important, because I like to travel, especially outdoors, and would like to be able to shoot for at least a full day without running out of battery. Of course switching out batteries is also possible I suppose.

    THE thing that I like most about my Canon S45 is that although it gives me fine control over white balance, aperture, shutter speed, flash intensity, focal length, etc it also has a magnificent auto mode, that I can switch to when I'm having someone else take a family photo, or don't have time to tweak every little thing and just want a quick decent shot.
     
  10. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #10
    I shoot Canon, I process Nikon.

    The difference is not significant at all. At all.

    Don't let Moxie Mike make you drink the Nikon Kool Aid too quickly. :p
     
  11. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #11

    Given what you like about yoour s45, the D70/D70s would be a great choice. Killer white balance control. 1/8000 shutter speed max, and moderately fast aperture with the kit lens (3.5-4.5 over canon's 3.5-5.6)

    Also has a 1/500 flash sync for ultimate flash control and iTTL with the SB-600 or SB-800 off camera flashes. the MP is lower than the canon and it'll be noisier at ISO 1600+ but you should find that the D70/D70s is much more feature rich than the original rebel and on par with the XT.

    Ultimately, the lens that comes with the rebels is total rubbish, so if you go canon, get a body only and get another canon lens with more quality. Maybe like, their 24-135 IS lens. That comes to mind immediately.

    m
     
  12. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #12

    OK, let me tell you about this. It's not which CAMERA (body) you'd buy that depends on use, it's which LENS. That's the beauty of shooting with a DSLR. You have the flexibility to choose the lens which will do the job for you. You mention shooting in low light and shooting in "close range." (You mean macro?) For this, you'd want a lens which is a fairly fast one (ie, f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2.0, or f/2.8). You'd want a lens which is a macro lens (capable of doing 1:1). There are various lenses that do this in the 60 mm range, 90 mm range, 105 mm, etc.... Some zoom lenses also do macro, but not as well as a lens specifically designed for it. Warning: faster lenses and specialized lenses are also more expensive.

    In making your purchase, too, you might want to consider forgoing the "kit lens" that is offered with either Nikon or Canon consumer-level bodies and put that money towards whatever lens you feel would best serve your purposes. I have heard that the kit lens which comes with the Canons is not all that satisfactory. In any case, the kit lenses provided by Nikon or Canon are not all that fast and both have a fairly medium-range scope rather than being either wider angle or long tele angle. This is something to keep in mind if you have a specific idea on how you want to use your lens.

    Something I forgot to mention in my other post: when it comes to buying lenses, you don't always have to buy a lens made by the manufacturer of your camera. Tokina, Tamron and Sigma all provide lenses with Canon or Nikon mounts, and usually these are less expensive while still providing excellent quality.

    Hope this helps clarify things for you...

    OTB
     
  13. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #13
    WTF??? Where did i say there was any difference?
     
  14. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #14
    I think the Nikkor kit lens for the D70 is a great choice. Not so psyched about the canon one, but the Nkkor is great, fairly fast and fairy wide and long for a beginner. They can add a 12-24 for ultra wide, and a 70-200 for tele later on and have a full kit.

    Throw in a 50mm macro from Sigma and you're almost all set.
     
  15. BrandonSi macrumors regular

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    #15
    Does anyone actually pay attention to white balance on the camera anymore? I certainly haven't since I started shooting in RAW.
     
  16. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #16
    Oh, another very important recommendation....

    Well, I'm sure on a roll here! LOL!

    In my list of recommendations I forgot to include this one:

    Go to the bookstore or library (or online, check out Amazon) and get a basic book on (digital) photography. That will help sort out things for you in terms of apertures, f/stops, lens sizes, shutter speeds, etc., and will nicely illustrate what the various lenses can do for you. It will also explain the digital imaging process.

    Some titles (there are loads, these happen to be the ones on my bookshelf):

    Burian, Peter K. MASTERING DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND IMAGING

    Sammon, Rick. RICK SAMMON'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

    Busch, David D. MASTERING DIGITAL SLR PHOTOGRAPHY

    Simon, Dan. DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BIBLE. Desktop edition.

    Eismann, Katrin, Duggan, Sean and Grey, Tim. REAL WORLD DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY. 2d ed.


    Happy reading!

    OTB
    PS: although books are good, there is definitely no substitute for hands-on and real-life experiences gleaned in taking a photography class, so that is good you're signing up for one.
     
  17. stoid thread starter macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #17
    Well, I'm also into web and graphic design, so I've already got Photoshop CS.

    My machine is a 2 year old 1.25 Ghz 15 inch PowerBook. I've got 1.5 GB of RAM and am considering maxing out to the full 2 GB soon. I've also installed a 100 GB 7200 HD, and that has made a huge difference in speed when dealing with photographic work now that they load twice as fast off of my HD.

    I go to school in a small college town that hasn't got anything for camera shopping, but I'm going to visit my family in St. Louis, and I will probably stop by the camera specialty store that I got my Canon S45 from. The folks there have always been extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

    Also, advice on purchasing a used camera? I've seen used Rebels go for as low as $500, and I'm wondering if it's a good idea, or if I should buy new.
     
  18. mpopkin macrumors 6502

    mpopkin

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    #18
    the history of digital camera's is extensive, but the company that makes the best camera for digital use is Canon, there is no doubt in my mind, being a photographer, of the quality of CMOS vs CCD, CMOS is used in all Canon Digital SLR's while Nikon uses CCD, I use a Canon EOS 20d and have great color clarity, sharpness and great image quality, i also prefer Canon lenses to Nikon's so the lens is also the question, but dollar for dollar, Canon had the first digital slr on the market(joint venture with Kodak) and continues to make the best camera for image quality, clarity, sharpness and expandibility. You can get a Rebel XT for almost the same price as a D70s and it is a better camera or you can shell out more and get a 20d(i have no regrets with my camera)
    Good Luck

     
  19. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #19
    Please note emoticon :)p), Mr. Sensitive. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #20

    Only real pros and serious amateurs worry about white balance. ;)

    RAW is surely no cure all and color shifts still exist. So you're definitely off with your white balance theories. It also effect exposure, flash metering, etc.

    Wrong White Balance can be fixed in RAW but it never looks as good as white balance done right. ;)
     
  21. Moxiemike macrumors 68020

    Moxiemike

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    #21

    FYI, my 5d and 28-70 is going on order in the next few days, Mr. Kool Aid. It's not an easy time. wasn't an easy decision either. ;) I;m tense these days
     
  22. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #22
    Yes, the Nikkor kit lens IS good for a beginner, but it might not satisfy his needs right off the bat if he's into wide-angle, macro or tele. As for low lighting conditions he could always kick up the ISO to compensate....but that runs the risk of adding noise to the image.

    In my earlier posts I was trying to be very objective in outlining his choices for him, but yeah, I'm a Nikon girl and have been for many, many years. I shoot with the D70 and D70s, but I'm waiting with bated breath (as are many, many others) for an announcement about the long-rumored D200....

    I haven't gotten into the wide end of the spectrum yet but one of these days I will be adding a 12-24mm lens to my bag. My favorite lens is the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. It really is a phenomenal lens and is worth every penny. Although I have the kit lens, I eventually went ahead and got the 17-55mm for its additional speed and quality. I also have the 50mm f/1.4, which is relatively inexpensive and it is great for low light conditions.

    Because I am a longtime Nikon user my natural tendency and bias is to steer someone towards the Nikon system, but this really is a decision that comes down to each user deciding what is most important to him or her. Nikon and Canon each have their loyal users and each system has its own unique characteristics.

    OTB
     
  23. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    #23
    try before you buy

    Take everything that has been said to heart, then go to your local "PRO" Camera shop (not wallyworld) and try out the different brands and models. Maybe even rent one from the school if possible before you buy.

    Personally I use the Fuji S2 Pro because it fits my hand better. It's alot more money that the Rebel and D70, but it has paid for itself in the 2 years that I've had it. Since I already had a mint in Nikon lenes it didn't make since to switch to Canon at the time and I didn't like the "feel" of the Nikons or Kodaks in my hand. I didn't like the buttons under my fingers while shooting.

    Since you are open to which brand "TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!"

    Oh, and one or two more things to conciders:

    Batteries...I know the Nikon uses their own batteries, what about the Canons? Fuji uses AA and CR-something. I can get 600-800 shots on a fresh set of both.

    Memory cards...I like the Sandisk Extreme Compact Flash. The price has dropped way down since I bought my first 256MB card. Now you can get them up to 2, 4 and more GIGs.

    good luck
     
  24. jeffzoom macrumors member

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    #24
    i would say go for the XT, I am a fan of canon DSLR's, they do perform well. My favorite one of all time is still the Canon 10D. My dad has one, even at 6mp it has the lowest noise of that range of canons. It is a bit heavy, but that comes with the territory, plus...if you can spare it, try to get a "white" lens (l-series), they make it even better, i bet iGary can prove it.
     
  25. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #25
    2 grand is quite a savings....and yeah that is a hard decision.

    I use the D2X for our aerial stuff and really like it.
     

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