DSLR for Beginner

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by cwright, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. cwright macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    As mentioned before in some other threads, I'm getting ready to buy a DSLR, and I'm pretty much set on the Digital Rebel (most likely the new 350d that is supposed to come out this week).

    I have looked at the Nikon D-70 as well, but I think I'm going to stick with Canon since I'm more familiar with them.

    Anyway, what I want to know is what lens I shouid buy for the camera. I'm hearing alot of reviews saying that the 18-55mm kit lens isnt that great, and thought I may be better off buying the camera without the lens and buying a better one seperately.

    I was thinking about this something like the EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM as a good all-around lens to start with until I can afford something better.

    Can anyone offer any other options for a lens? I'd like to keep it at no more than $200 if at all possible.

    One last thing... can someone explain what the full name of the lens means? all I know is that 28-105mm is the zoom length, but what is the f/4.0-5.6 USM mean to me?

    thanks :)
     
  2. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

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    #2
    wait a second... you really don't know what an f-stop is and you say that you're ready to go with an slr...!? :confused: :confused: :confused:
     
  3. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    thanks... call me stupid AND don't answer my question.

    I've used the SLRs at school from time to time just as point-and-shoot cameras and really liked the quality of the pictures. But, I never learned how everything worked. That was part of the point to this thread.

    I won't be buying immediately... ply in a couple months when I graduate. Between now and then I'll do all the research I can and learn on the 10Ds and Digital Rebels here at school.

    well now that we've established the fact that I don't know anything, could anyone else help me out?

    thanks
     
  4. cemorris macrumors regular

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    Oct 13, 2004
    #4
    Save Your Money

    I would recomend getting the kit lens and save you money for something later when you decide what type of photography you want to do. You will have a better idea of what you need in a lens later down the road. The kit lens is not acually that bad. Search the dpreview forums and they will confirm this. The kit lens does better at 50mm and below. If you really want a stunning lens for the price, try the 50mm 1.8 lens. Cheap plastic body but extremly good on the optics inside where it counts and it can be had for less than $80. Also you will appreciate the 18mm wide angle of the kit lens because of the 1.6x multiplier. All wide angle lenses cost a pretty penny in this range. For the price ($100), the kit lens cannot be beat.

    Don't listen to "gwuMACaddict", everyone has to start somewhere. The numers are the largest aperature at a given focal length. For your example, the lens maximum aperature at 28mm is 4.0 while when you have it zoomed to 105mm the maximum aperature is 5.6. The larger the aperature (lower fstop), the shorter the depth of field will be. The USM indicates it has Canons ultrasonic focusing motor in the lens. Musc faster that the standard focusing motor.

    Go for the kit lens and just start experimenting, you will pick it up in no time. Then go for the better lenses when you realize what you want.
     
  5. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    awesome, thanks for the info!

    I'm open to other suggestions, but I may do just that and get the kit lens first.
     
  6. cemorris macrumors regular

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    #6
    I highly recomend the digital rebel forum on dpreview.com. I have learned a ton there.
     
  7. rkphoto macrumors regular

    rkphoto

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    #7
    I'm a professional photographer and I have the Canon 28-85mm EF lens (same line/ optics as the 28- 105mm just slightly shorter) they're decent enough lenses although the quality of the optics isn't the best and they're relatively slow lenses (meaning that, basically, shooting in low light conditions is going to be problematic). Also the autofocus on them isn't the fastest (although it's probably fast enough for most consumer applications).

    I haven't used the Rebel (I use it's big brother the Eos 1DS quite often though) but the EOS line is the best Single Lens Reflex system out there. However, if you're going to be using the Camera for basic snapshot/ travel/ general photography I would recommend you look into the Canon Powershot Pro 1.

    http://consumer.usa.canon.com/ir/controller?act=ModelDetailAct&fcategoryid=144&modelid=9823

    I just got one in October and it's an incredible Camera. All the details are in the link but in a short summary:

    - the 28-200mm optical zoom is an amazing lens. It has better optics than the EF lens you're considering. It's also a faster lens f2.4-3.5 variable so you'll be able to shoot with less light and with a lower iso value (which will give less digital noise). It's incredibly sharp.

    - it also has a 8 megapixel chip compared with the 6.3 megapixel chip in the Rebel. You can shoot in RAW mode if you want but I've done 20"x30" prints (on a Epson 7600 printer) from the highest resolution Jpeg setting and it's tack sharp.

    - it's smaller and has a great feel. The 28- 200mm plus digital zoom lens means you won't need multiple lenses. I just love that it's really the only camera you need to carry and it's so small and ergonomically correct.

    - I don't know what your budget is but the Powershot pro 1 retails for around $700 or so.

    Anyway, check it out. I love my Powershot. I'm sure the Rebel is nice too although I would consider going the distance and getting an "L" series lens for the optics and the speed (f2.8 or less).

    Good Luck and enjoy!
    rk
     
  8. vtprinz macrumors 6502

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    #8
    if you need a decent all-around lens to learn on, you'll be fine with the kit lens that comes with the camera. It's in no way a terrible lens, just not as high quality as the more pricey substitutes. When you do eventually get more lenses, try to get them with the lowest f-stop possible. An f/2 lens will be much faster than an f/4 lens so you don't have to worry about boosting the ISO on the camera as much (thus keeping your shots as noise free as possible). Plus, the lower the f-stop number (which means the greater the aperture is opened) the shorter your depth of field can be. This is great for portrait work. the wider the aperture, the better you will be able to have the blurred background you see in most professional portraits.

    one more thing to remember: the 300D (and all lower-end DSLRs) have a field of view crop, since the sensor isn't quite the full 35mm that film is. Lenses are still listed in 35mm equivalents, as that's basically the norm. I believe on the 300D the FOV crop is 1.6x, so whatever the lens says, multiply it by 1.6 and that's the actual range that you would get with that lens on the digital rebel. For example, the 18-55mm kit lens ends up being a 28.8-88mm lens.

    The most useful range for all around photography is definitely 28-200mm. So if you can find yourself about an 17.5-125mm lens that would be best, and I think there are a few of those (or close to it) available now that DSLRs have become more popular. With that you'd probably never have to change lenses unless you really want some more telezoom. So you'd get the same range as most high end prosumer cameras without having to change lenses, but you'd still have the option for longer zooms if you ever need it. Not to mention you'll get a lot better quality images out of a DSLR than a prosumer cam.

    Someone above mentioned the Canon forum on www.dpreview.com, I second this to a huge degree. I learned almost everything I know (which includes both photography techniques and digital post processing techniques) from the Sony forum on dpreview.

    EDIT: in case you don't know what I mean by aperture (which I never knew until I got my first SLR), the aperture is the opening in the lens that lets the light into camera. it's best thought of like the iris in your eye (which is what it's commonly called anyway), as the iris (aperture) opens, light can enter the camera faster. And like I said above, the wider the aperture is open, the lower the corresponding f-stop number. So f/2 lets light into the camera faster than f/4 (f numbers usually range from as low as f/1 to f/32 or more) And again, the wider the aperture, the shorter the depth of field in the shot, giving you blurred backgrounds. The smaller the aperture (greater the f-stop #) the greater the depth of field, which is best for sweeping landscapes.
     
  9. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    thanks to everyone for their replies. it's all been very helpful!

    That 8mp Canon Powershot Pro1 seems interesting, but I really don't think I want to spend that kind of money on a camera with a fixed lens. Besides, the next Digital Rebel is supposedly going to be 8mp as well.

    I like the idea of a 28-200mm lens to use most of the time, and I may try to go that route. If I do have the extra money for a 28-200mm lens, should I get the 18-55mm lens kit still, or would there be any need for that lens?

    Also, are there variations of a 28-200mm lens with the Image Stabilizer? I've heard that they are much more money, but provide much sharper pictures. It would probably be overkill for me, but what do you think?
     
  10. DavidCL23 macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I have a minolta dimage 7 with 3 years left on warranty. I can't sell below $200 though ;-)
     
  11. Dutch13 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 8, 2005
  12. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Thanks for that... looks like a lot of good reading on that site.

    Also, I have another potentially stupid question. I have an old Fuji camera with a 6x zoom. Can anyone tell me what a 6x zoom translates into mm? I'm having a hard time figuring out just how far a 200mm or so lens is, and a direct comparison to what I already have would be helpful
     
  13. Dutch13 macrumors newbie

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    #13
    well, I think the 6x means that the focal length of the zoom on the long end (telephoto) is six times the focal length of the lens on the short end (wide angle). But be careful comparing focal lengths of different camera formats. The effect (field of view) of the focal length depends on the size of the sensor. A 200mm lens on a film slr (or 1ds) gives the equivalent view of a 320mm lens on the Rebel, 260mm on the 1d, and something even longer on an APS sized sensor.
     
  14. vtprinz macrumors 6502

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    #14
    If we going to give me more links, I, of course, have to add www.luminous-landscape.com :D

    Also, if you're going to get a 28-200mm immediately, than you don't need the kit lens. Just remember that you don't want a literal 28-200 lens, as that would give you a 45-320mm range on the digital rebel. 45mm isn't very wide at all. Sigma makes an 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 for $269 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=324385&is=REG)

    I've never seen an 18-125mm lens with image stabilizatin (IS). IS is really only necessary for telephoto shots, especially with modern DSLRs that have less and less noise at higher ISOs (I'm interested to see how the new dRebel handles this).

    You could always keep the 18-55mm kit lens and then shell out about $1200 for a 70-300 IS lens ;)

    Browse through www.bhphotovideo.com and/or www.ritzcamera.com to get an idea of what kind of lenses are available, and for what price.
     
  15. vtprinz macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Depends on what the widest angle is. 35-210mm would be a 6x zoom (35x6 = 210), as would a 28-168mm.
     
  16. MacSA macrumors 68000

    MacSA

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    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    The biggest photo show of the year starts in a few days - PMA, the "Photo Marketing Association" show. Should be some interesting new cameras released soon, so keep an eye on it before you buy anything :)

    http://www.dpreview.com/articles/pma2005/
     
  17. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #17
    You've already gotten some great advice, just my comments-

    1. The Canon DSLR's are really nice. So are the others I'm sure (Nikon, etc.) but I have only owned Canons myself.

    2. Whatever zoom you buy, I would recommend getting the 50 1.8 as well. It is about $70, and is truly a stellar lens! It is much sharper than any zoom under $500, and is a great portrait lens on the DLSR- f1.8-2.5 is great for throwing backgrounds out of focus, and also great for natural light shooting. It has cheap build quality, but mine has lasted for awhile. And if you ever break it, just buy another!

    3. The Canon DSLR's are excellent at higher ISO. I normally keep my Rebel at ISO 200, and routinely use at ISO 400 with almost equivalent results. Combine that with the 50 at 1.8 and you can shoot in natural light in a lot of situations! Great for candids (don't know what you generally shoot.)

    4. The Canon 28-105 f3.5-4.5 is supposed to be better IIRC, I bought mine at Dell.com for around $200 after coupon/sale price (just a few months ago.) It has a true ring-type USM, which is quieter and faster and has FTM (full time manual focus), vs. the cheaper micro-USM:

    http://emedia.leeward.hawaii.edu/frary/toolbox2.htm

    I used to have other lenses, but now only have the 50 1.8 and the 28-105 3.5-4.5. It offers all the usable range I need (I don't use large zoom much at all, nor do I use wide angle too much.) The 50 1.8 overlaps with the 28-105, but it's such a nice lens I don't care...

    One good thing is that the Canon lenses (like Macs) tend to hold their value very well. So you can partially feed your upgrade habits by selling your old stuff...
     
  18. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Here's the 28-105 3.5-4.5 at Dell.com-

    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/...=us&l=en&cs=19&category_id=2999&page=external

    My price was probably closer to $250 after discounts. I think there was a digital camera sale at the time, and I applied a coupon as well.

    If this is the lens that's going to be strapped to your camera 90% of the time, I would probably recommend getting this one over the other (if you can squeeze it in your budget.) The other one may be a fine lens, but ring USM lenses are a joy to use...

    Finally, if the bundle camera/lens kit is only $50 or so more than camera body only, you may want to spring for the lens anyway. It's not great, but good for its price. And you're not going to get another wide angle zoom for anywhere near that price. I ended up Ebaying mine for $90 or so...
     
  19. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I'm not sure exactly what 50 1.8 means. Are you talking about a wide angle lens that does not have any zoom? Also, could you please show me where it's being sold for $70?

    This seems like the best bet for me. I'm not going to be doing any one specific type of shooting, so I'd like to start with something that can give me a good overall zoom range. Is 28mm wide enough for decent close-ups as well? Or is that why you recommended the 50 1.8 lens as well?

    thanks again everyone!
     
  20. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    #20
    By '50 1.8' I actually mean 50mm f1.8, so it's a prime (non-zoom) 50mm lens with a minimum aperture of f1.8. You can pretty much find it anywhere, but here's a link-

    http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=20368

    If you search around or buy on EBay, you can come closer to $70.

    The 28-105 is a great starter lens (equivalent to 45-168mm after crop factor which is a pretty good general purpose range.) Regarding your second question, if you are going to do close-ups then you would typically zoom to get closer to your subject, rather than use wide angle. A typical wide angle usage (17 to 35mm or so) would be landscapes, architecture, or interior shots where you are trying to shoot a large room or large group of people but cannot back up too far.

    For close-ups (typically called 'macro' photography), a typical macro lens is around 135 mm. This seems to work well for people shooting flowers, bugs, or whatever. Dedicated macro lenses allow you to get much closer to your subject while still being able to focus (they are also expensive.) With the 28-105, you would typically get closets by zooming in as much as possible.

    Higher zooms are typically for wildlife and other stuff. You're looking at 200mm to 400mm here. These ranges are hard to use for general use, as you have to be more careful with camera shake.

    For general photography, you will be in between those extremes. Portrait photography is typically done around 135 to 200mm. If you shoot too close, the perspective changes and features can get distorted (noses get bigger, etc.) This range is also preferred because you will have a narrower depth of field (if you notice most portraits are shot with either a blurry background or a relatively featureless backdrop.)

    PS- Did I tell you to buy the 50 1.8? ;) If you want to see some sample, go to my web site at www.madmaxmedia.com. They are scaled down from full size, but the full size shots are amazing in their clarity and quality. Here's a quickie example-

    http://www.madmaxmedia.com/photos/march2004/img_5167.htm

    No imagine that shot at 6 MP, and it's almost just as sharp and noise free as my webified version...
     
  21. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    you have some really nice pictures on your website, thanks for sharing.

    as for the 50mm lens, let me get this straight: since the 28-105mm lens can zoom to the same 50mm, does that mean that the main reason for buying the seperate lens is the lower aperature rating of 1.8? So this would mean that with the 50mm lens you could take nice close ups in less light with less grain? please correct me if any of this is wrong.

    I'm still planning on buying the Digital Rebel, and then pick one or two lenses and still keep it on a relatively tight budget. So, of the three main lenses we've talked about (18-55mm kit lens, 50mm lens, 28-105 lens) which ones would you recomment I buy?

    If I bought the 28-105 lens, would that be good enough as a main lens that I would not need the 18-55mm kit lens? I'm thinking maybe my best bet would be to buy the camera body without the kit lens and instead get the 28-105mm lens. And then I could add the 50mm lens soon after once I have some spare cash.

    Does that sound like a good plan?
     
  22. vtprinz macrumors 6502

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    #22
    If you go with the 28-105mm, I suggest complimenting it with the kit 18-55mm. Depending on what you shoot, you may get frustrated at having 45mm as your widest angle. You should really go into a local camera shop and look at the difference yourself.

    Plus, if you ever decide you need more zoom after that, you can top off your collection with a 100-300mm zoom lens, so you'd then be able to cover everything from 28mm to 480mm. 100-300mm generic brand lenses can be had for anywhere from $100-$150.

    As for the 50mm f/1.8, you'll be able to get the same coverage with the 28-105, but the 50mm prime lens will give you better quality shots (not to mention a much lower f-stop, lower f-stops usually hike up prices quickly). In general, prime lenses will give you better images than zoom lenses. And this lens in particular is probably canons most popular.

    EDIT: if the 28-105 costs $250, you can spend $20 more and get the sigma 18-125mm to cover a wider range with just one lens. Might not be as good of quality, but it's doubtful you'd even be able to tell the difference. Plus, you'd actually save money as you wouldn't need the kit lens either.
     
  23. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Thanks for the info on the Sigma 18-125 lens. I looked up reviews and most seemed to like it. My one concern is that since it is not a USM lens, the auto-focus will be slow. I'm used to using the Canon USM lenses at school... so just how much slower would the Sigma lens be? Would it be noticeable?

    If that isnt a big deal, then I'll probably buy the 18-125 especially since I'm on a budget and the added range without having two seperate lenses would be a big plus. Does anyone else out there have any opinions on the Sigma 18-125 vs. the Canon 28-125, or why I should pick one over the other?

    Also, while we're here... would anyone like to give me an idea of some of the "essentials" I need to buy? like Compact Flash cards, UV filters, Polarizer filters, lens hood, etc. I'm pretty sure I'll buy either a 1gb or 2gb CF card, but I'm not sure how to determine which cards are the faster ones and better for SLRs, or if the CF card speed even matters that much.

    Thanks again!
     
  24. vtprinz macrumors 6502

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    #24
    I can't say about the difference between canon or sigma. All I can say is that you should really think about usability vs. quality. It's all nice and good to have the highest quality glass you can afford, but if the frustration of having to change lenses when something comes up makes you less likely to use the camera, then you're doing yourself a disservice in the end by going with the more expensive glass. If you don't think you'd ever be frustrated by changing lenses, then by all means get several higher quality small range zooms rather than a single lower quality wide range zoom. Whichever you choose, just make sure you're going to ENJOY using it, otherwise it's just wasted money.

    As far as other essentials, there really isn't much you need, other than the CF card. Now, I know with the current digital rebel (300D) you don't really need to waste your money on a really fast card, the 300D just isn't fast enough to make any use of it (Most CF cards are labelled as 12x, 24x, 40x, or 80x, you'd probably be fine with 24x but I wouldn't go less). The newer version that's supposed to come out soon will undoubtably be faster, so you may want to consider at least a 40x CF card for it. The faster the card, the less time you'll need to wait between shots before the camera is ready to fire again. Plus, you'll be able to take more consecutive shots on a faster card before the cameras buffer fills up.

    You could consider getting a backup battery, but they're not cheap, and probably wouldn't be used all that much unless you need to go all day long without having any time to charge.

    Most lenses come with a lens hood in the box, so that's taken care of.

    Filters aren't all that necessary these days. If you're worried about your lens getting scratched you can always put a UV filter on it to protect it (just make sure it's multi coated), but it's not all that necessary. Modern lenses have UV filters built in so the filter itself isn't necessary, it's just a buffer in case you drop it. The only filters I can think of that would be useful are a circular polarizer and a neutral density filter. The polarizer will cut down glare off of cars/water/shiny stuff. The neutral density filter is less useful on average. It basically allows you to take longer exposures in the day (it cuts the amount of light that reaches the camera). This can allow for some really great waterfall/stream pictures, which get a really silky fantasy look to them when taken with long exposures. Again, with any filter, make sure they're multi-coated. No sense in buying nice glass and then putting crappy filters over them.

    Hmm...what else. Interested in flash photography at all? If you are, onboard flashes don't usually cut it. It will probably rise high enough to cut down red-eye, but it won't be that strong and will lack the all-powerful ability to bounce the flash. If you buy any external flash, make sure you can swivel it to face up to the ceiling. You get a much more natural look to the image if the flash is bounced (you can also attatch a white, laminated card in front of the flash to bounce it up if the flash can't actually swivel up.)

    The only other thing I can think of is a sensor cleaning kit. They're not too expensive, but your sensor is, so I'd say spend a few bucks (probably find some for $20 or so, maybe less) and get a sensor cleaning kit (I hope you're aware that with digital SLRs, you're going to occassional have to lock the mirror up inside the camera and clean the sensor, as dust will accumulate over time. Depending on how often you change lenses and what the environmental conditions are, you may have to clean the sensor once a week, but that's a little extreme)

    If I think of anything else I'll let you know
     
  25. cwright thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Wow, I think you've covered everything :)

    I'm going to have a real hard time deciding on the lens though... I'm trying to get a lens that does everything well at a price point I can (and will) afford. Looks like that's not going to happen :D

    For some reason, I like the idea of buying Canon lenses over Tamron or Sigma. Lots of people seem to think the Canon's have better build quality, faster auto-focus, and holds their value longer.

    Right now I'm leaning towards buying the camera with the 18-55mm lens and then buying a much better lens a month or two later after I get familiar with the camera. One good lens I'd really like to wait and save for would be the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens.
    It would cover pretty much the entire focal range I would need other than the really wide shots which I would have the 18-55mm lens for. And the image stabilizer would be nice too. Anyone have any opinions on this lens? would it be worth saving for?
     

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