Advice on getting started

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ja Di ksw, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. Ja Di ksw macrumors 65816

    Ja Di ksw

    Apr 9, 2003
    Hi all,
    It's been about a decade since I was into photography, and I've lost most (all?) of the knowledge/skills I had. Worse, I only worked with film and adjusted pictures in the dark room, not on a computer.
    Anyways, I know that this Christmas I'm going to get a decent amount of money, and I wanted to spend some on getting back into photography, and specifically into digital photography. I want to prep myself before this happens, so my main questions are:
    What are some good websites / books that will help me understand the ins and outs of photography again?
    If I'm going to be spending $2000 or so (less preferably, but I'm willing to spend more if it's not a ton more), what are some good combinations of bodies / lenses to have? How interchangeable are the lenses between different brands on digital cameras? In other words, what's a good set up for that price?
    Thanks everyone, looking forward to contributing to all the great photos of the day that I've been lurking around for awhile now on this board.
  2. Lovesong macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2006
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    Yup, Photography has advanced quite a bit in the past 10 years. Few of us use a darkroom any more, and fewer of us have ever been in a proper one still. Everything is about megapixels, RAW converters, and post-processing in photoshop.

    There are a number of good books and websites that will get you started again. If you feel that you have forgotten everything, I highly recommend reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson (it costs $14 on Amazon). Good websites include DPreview, FM, and DGrin, which have forums much alike these that will produce answers, and DPreview has great reviews.

    In terms of cameras and bodies, the leaders are still Nikon and Canon. Do look at a Nikon D80, and the new Canon 40D as starter bodies.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    It seems that everything has changed, but no it is still the same. An f-stop is sill an f-stop. The "sunny 16" rule
    still applies. But just like 50 years ago what really maters is the photographer's "vision", equipment is still secondary to that. The impotent stuff is still the same.

    Do lenses from differnt companie interchange? Basically "no." (OK there are exceptions.) Most people will go with either Nikon or Canon. The brands don't mix. It's one or the other. Pick the brand based of the total system of lenes, bodies and strobes you want to own over the next few years. The worst mistake is to go buy a "camera". Get rid of that idea. You are building a "system" and a camera is maybe only 1/3rd of the total system and the first part of it you will replace or upgrade.

    Good books are from the art section. Look at paintings from the masters, look at their use of lighting, composition and color. Then go look at the classic photography books until you have some favorites. (I'm still a big fan of the Edward Weston and his sons.)

    I'm sure you will get a lot of pointers to the technical side of photograpgy. That part is easy. Heck you can even teach it to a computer and then put the computer inside the camera. But the artistic side is still the side for humans.
  4. Ja Di ksw thread starter macrumors 65816

    Ja Di ksw

    Apr 9, 2003
    Thanks for the info. I definitely have a LOT of catching up to do. And I mean a LOT.

    Quick question, I understand that lenses are going to be what's very important, but aren't camera bodies more important than they were (not more important than lenses) now that it's all digital? Before I had film back there, but now I have to worry about sensor chip type, size, megapixels, and all sorts of stuff that I just do not have a firm grasp of yet. The Canon (I usually trust them more than Nikon) 40D was recommended as a good body, and I looked it up on dpreview and they seemed to like it. This seems like the best bet for now (considering cost and the brand I like), or is this a bad choice?

    I really, REALLY need to go pick up that book.

    I'm not too worried about the artistic side, just in how to control all this stuff and edit my pictures in photoshop. I miss my darkroom :(.
  5. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    May 15, 2007
    I'm where I need to be
    I've learned quite a bit from 2 good books. One is "Understanding Exposure" and the other is "The Digital Phptography Book". Lots of helpful tips in those two.
    Also, the Magic Lantern series are good for learning a lot of the functions of your camera. They print quite a few for different camera models. Check them out once you know which camera you want to buy. :)
  6. cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
    If you get the 40D there won't be much money left for lenses.

    Why don't you trust Nikon?
  7. dagored macrumors 65816

    Sep 18, 2007
    Answer Cube's question. I am also interested.
  8. Ja Di ksw thread starter macrumors 65816

    Ja Di ksw

    Apr 9, 2003
    Thanks for the book recommendations Kamera, I'll pick those up.

    As for the Nikon question, it's not that I don't trust them, I've heard good things, it's just that whenever I talk to friends and ask them what they think the best camera brand is, it's been Canon every time. With that type of consistency, plus people on here saying it's good, plus people at dpreview generally giving Canon's the higher ratings, I thought I'd go with them.

    Again, I've been out of the game for a long time, so I really don't have a good idea of what's what.
  9. sblasl macrumors 6502a


    Apr 25, 2004
    Heber Springs, AR
    Canon's marketing obviously has been effective.:rolleyes: I think Canon over the years has spent alot of money on television (Andre Agasi) and they also have had some OK cameras with a good price point. Nikon I do not believe has been as visible. Are your friends using Canon products or are they just impacted from marketing campaigns?

    Do some research like you are doing now, get to a store and touch & feel the cameras. Determine what direction you are going to go in your photography, that may help in determining the lenses you might like to have which in turn will help you decide the body.

    Don't worry about software that comes with a camera in making your decision, you will end up using Adobe or Apple most likely. Either brand plays nicely with the Mac.

    Good luck

  10. Ja Di ksw thread starter macrumors 65816

    Ja Di ksw

    Apr 9, 2003
    Thank you, I agree that I need to do research. My friends own Canon's (and have owned other brands), but they're all point and shoots of various sizes. As for what I'm trying to take pictures of, that's a good point and might help with lenses. Mainly I'm looking to take pictures of:

    Landscapes, up close animals/insects/etc, and action shots of animals

    Fast moving sports (specifically, martial arts).

    Those will comprise 95%, at least, of the pictures I take.
  11. Butthead macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2006
    If you want to spend less than $2k, then I'd compromise on a Nikon D40 w/28-200 VR lens (about $800 for the lens), as something that will cover that larger range of focal lenghts you need for all those subjects. It would appear you'll be taking most of your pictures without a tripod, and VR is invaluable in those situations. Finish up with maybe a fast prime lens like a Sigma 30mm/F1.4.

    Notice that the D40 has autocontrast adjustment in this Rockwell comparison group? I think you'll like that too :).

    However, I'll disagree about the flash giving a better picture below the examples of natural light photography. I think the flash shot looks terrible with the reflections of the flash all over the place, harsh high contrast light...yuck!

    An intergalactic white fireball hit the wall right where the stolen TV set was, Ken's a bad boy.


    If you are serious about landscape photography, you might want to get a shift lens, and Canon has more of those available, except they only fit the old Canon 300d 1.58x sensor factor, not any of the newer smaller sensors that are 1.6 multipliers, like 400D, 20D, 30D, 40D, etc.
  12. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    I'm 99% sure that's totally wrong. Any of Canons EF mount TS-E lenses should mount and work on any EOS camera including all the ones you listed. Can you provide a reference or source for saying that they won't?
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    It sounds like you're a bit worried about moving from film to digital... having to relearn a load of stuff and not knowing if you want the hassle. well, I was in this position a year ago, when Fuji stopped making Velvia, the only film I ever used. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I took a deep breath and went digital (Nikon D200, coupla lenses), and I've never looked back. One of the best shots I've taken all year was on the first day I got the camera, and the past year has been an interesting learning experience about all things digital... and not in the least traumatic.

    The Nikon vs Canon argument will rage till doomsday (which may suggest that it doesn't really matter which way you decide to jump!). Whatever body/lens combo you choose, I hope you get as much fun and satisfaction out of your digital photography as I have... :)
  14. Zer0 macrumors regular

    May 22, 2007
    make sure you factor in the cost of Photoshop a.k.a the dark room of the digital age :)
  15. cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
    If you settle for a less expensive camera, don't go for the Nikon D40, D40x as they don't have a focus motor, so you will miss out on some used bargains and even some newer lenses which are still not AF-S.
    Also, the cheaper Canons don't have spot metering, for example.

    You should give some consideration to a used Nikon D70s (not D70 because of risk of BGLOD).

    Of course, the compelling feature of the Canon 40D is that it is 14-bit.
    It seems to me that the Nikon D300 will a be better camera, but that is probably going to be even more expensive.

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