Beginner dSLR recommendation

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by solly07, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. solly07 macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi - I'm looking into buying my first digital SLR. Does anyone have any tips or recommendations? I've been researching different brands and models for awhile, but there just seems to be a massive wealth of information.

    I'll likely be doing more outdoor shots than indoor, and I'd prefer to spend a maximum of $700, although less is always better.

    I've seen the Nikon D40 for pretty cheap (~$420). Or the Canon Rebel XS (~$499). Does anyone have any strong objections to these models or can offer some insight as to which is better? Or maybe they are both bad?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #2
    Canon's entry-level models are better than Nikon's (and many would suggest the Nikon D40 is best left alone).
     
  3. mrmayor92 macrumors 6502

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    #3
    get the nikon d40... it feels much better that any canon ive ever used or you could always buy the d90 used
     
  4. pyramis macrumors member

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    #4
    Nikon D40

    I compared both those entry-level DSLRs and the D40 wins hands-down. Much better feel and construction than the Canon. Many more advanced features -- like Auto ISO -- which only more advanced Canons have. Don't take my word for it, Ken Rockwell makes the exhaustive argument here:

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/recommended-cameras.htm
     
  5. solly07 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Thanks!

    Any suggestions for the necessary accessories? Do I need a UV filter?
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #6
    The hot mirror over the sensor blocks UV, so it's not a necessity- some people like to have a protective filter over the lens, but for digital I think the drop in IQ isn't worth it. If I were to put a protective filter on, I'd use a multi-coated plain glass one- but those are probably more expensive than the lens you're likely to start out with on a D40...
     
  7. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

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    #7
    Other camera makes are available (ie don't discount Sony, Olympus, Pentax/Samsung etc).

    There's a lot of choice at the moment, some new, some old and now discontinued. Best to go to a store and handle the cameras, what suits someone else's hand might not suit yours.

    I personally prefer much larger camera bodies, you may on the other hand prefer a smaller model.
     
  8. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Why would you ever want Auto ISO? and please define the advanced features that the D40 has?

    The Nikon feels great in the hands, but buy a used D80 or D90 it will serve you better in the future. The canon is also an excellent choice, but go and feel both of the cameras!
     
  9. Acsom macrumors regular

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    Jul 10, 2009
    #9
    My opinion is that either Nikon OR Canon will give you great results. BUT... one of them will fit you better. Go to a camera store, pick up the camera, shoot around with it (a good camera store will allow you all the time you need). See if the heft and feel of the tool is to your liking. See if the buttons fall to your hand readily. See if the menus are intuitive to your way of thinking.

    My opinion is that those sorts of things are by far the most important in choosing your camera. Both brands have a well earned reputation for quality, and both have developed camera systems that are so extensive and well received that we generally don't consider the other excellent models offered by Olympus, Sony, Fuji, and whoever else makes DSLRs; in fact, you might get to the store and find you like one of those better! Pick the one that fits you best and don't look back. And don't get caught up in "product wars". It's the shot that matters, not the tool.

    Remember, just my opinion. I'm just another sap with a camera, and a keyboard and some time to type.
     
  10. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #10
    If you have an expensive lens, then yes. If your lens is disposable (such as Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 that costs less than a hundred) then no, it is not worth double the cost of a lens for little protection.

    Circular Polarizer or Neutral Density filters are another story, they add to the picture if used properly. But UV- or Sky-filters are only for protecting the front element of relatively expensive lens.

    That said; I do have a CP filter on my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and I use it as much for protection and for artistic purposes.
     
  11. bdj33ranch macrumors regular

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    Apr 19, 2005
    #11
    After much research I just recently got a Pentax K2000. Features I liked were reported construction quality of camera body and kit lens, smaller size, use of AA batteries and in-body shake reduction. A small consideration was that I can use the lenses from my old Pentax K1000 on the new digital K2000. Only regret is that there is a VERY good deal listed on dealnews.com thru B&H Photo on my camera today - always seems to happen to me just after I have made my purchase move :)
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    I'd rather pay a small insurance premium than lose 15lp/mm in every shot- and I'd say that a cheaper lens is a better candidate as the extra glass surface isn't going to degrade the image as much as it will on a good lens- but then I've never had a front element issue that'd be solved by a filter in ~30 years of SLR shooting- never had to make an insurance claim either, but I figure that's a better risk reducer.
     
  13. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Well, how far are wanting to take photography? Are you an absolute beginner, or do you have experience with photography? Are you going to be doing a lot of night shots, landscape, sports, etc?

    I ask this because if you are going to be shooting sports or action, the base models are limited in frames per second (fps) and the buffer of which they can continually shoot. A used 30D or even a 20D (Nikon D200) would be great to start with, as it is still a stellar camera. They both shoot at 5fps, and have a fairly large buffer (less when shooting RAW, however)

    If you are going to be shooting at night doing long exposures or waterfalls, etc, a camera that is capable of mirror lock up (MLU) would be very helpful (which the XSI has, but the XS doesn't, as far as I know). While not necessary, it is quite helpful.

    I would search dpreview.com and search through their database of cameras, and just get an idea of what is out there. Also, seeing and using it at a photo shop is going to be the best, as a camera may be too heavy or may not fit well into your hands.
     
  14. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #14
    I have been looking into DSLRs to replace my locked up film camera and I strongly suggest you look into Pentax. Don't let all the Canon/Nikon talk push these cameras to the back of your consideration. When I was shooting film in the late '60s it was Canon/Nikon then too, with the occasional rich Hasse kid tossed in. But there was always someone around with a Pentax and they seemed very pleased with their choice. The more I read this forum and research DP Review, the stronger Pentax looks as a good deal.

    Dale
     
  15. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #15

    This is true. It is too bad that Pentax just pretty much gets overlooked. I mean they are not in most brick and mortar stores, ie; best buy, target, sears, etc. I do think that Walbogs sells them, albeit online. Ritz has them, if ritz is even still in business..

    Pentax probably has the best quality lens dollar for dollar versus Nikon or Canon. Plus their pancake lenses are amazing!
     
  16. maeman macrumors newbie

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    Jul 14, 2009
    #16
    The XS does have mirror lockup.

    The XS seems to have the edge feature-wise (which isn't surprising, considering it's much newer than the D40) but, like others have said, try them out in-store and see how they feel.
     
  17. clams macrumors member

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    Aug 2, 2009
    #17
    The one thing that I found unappealing about the D40 vs. the beginner Canon SLRs is the fact that many of the settings of the camera such as white balance and ISO require much more menu digging than the Canon equivalents. When you start shooting more, this menu digging will get more cumbersome.
     
  18. cblackburn macrumors regular

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    #18
    Auto-ISO lets you shoot in low light without a flash in the "P" mode of the camera without thinking. It allows you to get the must stable shot possible with the availible light. And believe me, stable images are *far* more important than worying about the noise you get off the sensor. Especially considering that the sensor on the D40 is only 6MP which means that each individual pixel is bigger, and hence collects more photons, making it more sensitive anyway.

    I have my D90 configured such that the camera will reduce the shutter speed first, down to 1/30th of a second. This is the point at which (I personally find) that I start taking bad shots. Especially without a VR lens. At this point the camera will start increasing the ISO to compensate for lack of availible light. Once the ISO hits a preset limit (1600 in my case) the camera gives up (again) and starts reducing the shutter speed. From this point there is nothing else the camera can do but decrease shutter speed.

    If you have VR and a *very* steady hand and you hold your breath and you have time to compose your shot properly and...... Then you can reduce the limit of 1/30th lower. You will have to experiment as to what works for you.

    There is one large caveat that you have to be aware of however. The activation of Auto-ISO is independent of *any* other setting in the camera. If you switch to "M", or even "A" or "S" modes, the camera will still Auto-ISO. If you have gone to "M" then you should be exposing the image yourself and hence you want to set the ISO yourself. Remember to switch it off! My D90 has a cool feature where if I plug a flash in it says "ah, if you're using a flash then you don't want Auto-ISO do you!". Very clever, but your D40 doesn't have it!

    That's (IMHO) the biggest difference between the high end DSLR's these days and the low end. A low end DSLR will give you a fantastic shot if you set it up perfectly yourself, trial and error, and you get really good at using it. Even then it may take you a few attempts to get it right. A mid range DSLR will get it right *most* of the time without you messing with it much. A high end DSLR is perfect for someone like a photojournalist. It will give you a good shot autmatically *every* time, bar a few extreme circumstances. As always it depends on what *you* want to do with it. If you just want to learn and/or mess around then the D40 is a great start :)

    Chris
     
  19. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

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    #19
    I went through this entry level nightmare last year soaking up the argument over the Canon v Nikon.. ended up with the D40.. excellent move, don't regret it at all..
     
  20. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I'm afraid we will have to agree to disagree :)

    I would never want the camera to pick my settings which is why I only use TV or AV mode very rarely I shoot manual 99% of the time. I choose how I want the image to look, where to take my exposure from not the camera and this is how I would like it to stay :) Also any long exposure I need I use a tripod its the only proper way!

    I must also disagree, you can buy a 5MKII if you stick in P, the green box etc it will not produce a good shot automatically, it will do what any DSLR does in an automatic mode and take the information in front of it and make its own judgement. Which again is not a good thing. I believe learning how to learn M mode can be a bit of trial and error but it really is the best way to shoot, this allows me to not have to "mess with it too much" as I have got it right in the camera.

    I still believe the D40 is a great camera, I just like my 1000D alot more! I hated having to navigate through menus just to change the iso, white balance, focus points (D40 has three, 1000D has 6). Knowing how much I use all of these settings it would bug the hell out of me not to have a button there for it. Unfortunately I don't believe the D40 has any advance feature, like exposure bracketing which I personally find very useful for a lot of landscapes and HDR's. Or a dust shaking sensor, which my friend with his D40 gets plenty of.

    It all comes down to how much your prepared to spend and which model feels best in your hand be it Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc. Just don't get one with AA batteries:D

    My advice looking back when I first bought mine, would be to have an understanding of a lot of the terms used in photography and see how easy it is to access these functions within the camera.
     
  21. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #21
    Basically exposure comes down to choosing ISO, aperture and shutter speed. These three variables have to be set "somehow" and I do agree that letting camera choose from three variables is a nightmare.

    That said; I do shoot AV 99% of the time, and it is perfectly okay. It's like back in the film days and mechanical lenses: you have already loaded film in the camera (thus choosing ISO value for the shoot), then you choose the aperture by physically turning the ring on the lens (which is now done electrically which is nice). And lastly, the camera is then calculating required shutter speed. One variable and perfect results.

    Or, if I choose TV (want specific shutter speed), I've again already set the ISO appropriately so it is then trivial for the camera to calculate required aperture. Again, one variable and perfect results.

    In other words, it is okay to leave one variable for the camera. It is not guessing, because you would yourself get same result for the calculation given you and camera use same basic parameters.
     
  22. cube macrumors G5

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    #22
    The current Pentaxes also have sensitivity-priority mode. The K10D and up also have the reverse: aperture-shutter-priority mode.
     
  23. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    While I understand and appreciate what you are saying for me it doesn't work as I like to pick my exposure to get the results I want from it. Yes the camera calculates it, but not always correctly, or artistically or how I want it to look.
     
  24. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #24
    My experience about this Canon 40D that I've been using is that 99% of the time it calculates just the way I want it. At least I know how to set it up that way, 'cause it naturally depends on the lens being used and the plethora of other settings affecting to the final image.

    That 1% I go manual.
     
  25. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

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    #25
    I'd trust Ken Rockwell about as far as I could throw him - ie: not very far. He says things for pageviews, and in turn advertising revenue.


    As for the D40? Old, replaced technology that suffers from flaws just like the entry level Canons. They have to compromise somewhere, but just in a different place.


    OP: I'd recommend getting a second-hand more advanced dSLR (Canon: 30/40D, Nikon D200/D70/80/90) rather than buying an entry model and getting frustrated in time over the lack of features, cumbersome controls and general "cheapness".
     

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