Best camera for beginners?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Robby9279, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. Robby9279 macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2008
    Hey all, I'm currently interested in photography, but don't have nearly nice enough of a camera. I own an easy-to-use point and shoot. However, I'm trying to look for a relatively nice DSLR camera for beginners, but with a low price tag. I don't know which brands to look at or anything, some tips on what to buy would be great!
  2. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    For brands, most people stick with Nikon, Canon, Olympus or Sony. Brands shouldn't be that important to you yet. You need to seriously think about some questions before you head down this road.

    1)What does a DSLR give me that I can't get now
    2)What type of pictures do I like to take (landscape, sports, portraits, etc)
    3)Where do I normally take pictures (inside w good light, inside w bad light, outside)
    4)What is my current budget and what is my budget for the future for this project

    Number 1 is the most important question, if you do not know the answer the this, you will probably waste you money on a camera that sits at home because it is much bigger, heavier and harder to carry than you PnS.
    Number 2 helps you determine the focal range of lenses you need.
    Number 3 can absolutely destroy any budget you have in mind depending on your answer
    Number 4 is important because although the first body and lens are a start, you can get vast improvements by adding things like an external flash that costs more than most Point and shoots. If you are sticking with one body and lens, you are probably better off with something like the Canon G10.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    One does not buy a DSLR. You buy an "SLR system". The system starts with a body and a lens. Then maybe a second lens, a flash then a body upgrade/replacment. then you sell a lens and buy another. It's a long process that never ends.

    The first step is to select a brand because every lens and body you buy will be that same brand. You'd have to start all over to switch brands. So find the brand that has the lenses you might want to buy in two or five years and that has the flash system you like and so on.

    Because all of the part of the system can be replaced you can buy used gear A Nikon D50 with a 18-55mm kit lens sells for about $300. Use it for a while then maybe get a new and better lens then maybe next year Nikon comes out with a new body, buy them and sell the D50 for abot what you paid for it.

    With digital SLRs the lenses last "forever". Technology is not moving very fast with lenses so a 20 year old lens still works fine. Bodies however are like computers. Your 20 year old computer might still work but you would not want to use it. Back in the film era this was not true. A body could last for decades

    So invest in good lenses but don'r spend a lot on the body or at leat never spend so much on a body that you have to compromise your lens budget. Lenses make images, bodies only record images.
  4. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland

    But if you first want to learn and then answer the question: "what kind of a system would you like to have", then your best bet would be to find a dirt cheap 2nd hand DSLR body and a dirt cheap lens (kit zoom lens or a plastic prime). The two can come together, but you can just as well buy them separately. Whatever deals you can find, don't spend too much at this point.

    Be aware that this method renders your initial investment close to worthless in few years. You will want a better lens and you most probably will also want a new and better body. And the old stuff that you bought dirt cheap and already used will only get more used and older as you live and learn. So only spend as much as you'll feel comfortable throwing away once the learning process is done.

    Once you know what you want to be using, buying more expensive gear becomes easy.
  5. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Nobody makes a bad DSLR. Pick the one you fancy.

    Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Pentax, Sony.

    A lot of people go with the Nikon D40 or canon EOS 1000D. unless they want video.
  6. techfreak85 macrumors 68040


    Jan 13, 2008
  7. davegregory macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2009
    Burlington, Ontario
    You also might want to consider taking a basic digital photography course from a local college. Believe me, it's worth $200 or so. But practice helps as well, just keep taking more pictures and you will get better, try to figure out what works best for you. As for buying an SLR, other posters are spot on. You're buying into the system, so whichever system you invest in, you're somewhat stuck with. But none of them are by any means terrible. Try out as many as you can, whichever one is most intuitive for you to use is the right one. You can get good pictures with a camera that sits on the shelf because you can't figure it out.
  8. Robg54 macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2008
    Thoughts from a fellow beginner

    Hey, I am in a similar position but very recently made my choice.

    You are buying into a brand, and while there are 5 or 6 manufacturers of consumer level dSLRs that are worthy of consideration. However, if you are planning to become serious about photography and want serious room to grow into a full featured system, your real choice is between Nikon and Canon.

    The bright side is that it is hard to go wrong. just about every camera from both brands is superb. For the record, in my price range, my choice was primarily between the Nikon d5000 and the Canon 500d or maybe the 450d.

    I chose Canon.

    Let me first say that the d5000 is a GREAT camera. It is likely better than the Canon 500d. It seems of higher build quality. It feels more comfortable in my hands. In terms of image quality, the reviews seem split as to which is better so closely that it could simply be a matter of personal preference, but Nikon does have a slightly larger sensor and a reputation of better low light capability.

    Both take excellent video even if the 1080 claimed by the 500d is basically a marketing ploy, as 2 fps is noticeably choppy and of little value. At 720 it's fine.

    Also, the Nikon has cool features like GPS capabilities.

    Why then did I choose Canon? Canon has a SPECTACULAR line of lenses. And the 500d can use the vast majority of them.

    Nikon has a wide array of lenses that rivals Canon's in terms of optial quality and selection. However, the d5000 and indeed any Nikon below the d90 cannot make good use of it. These cameras do not have an autofocus motor in the body. This means that they are limited to only AF-S lenses. These lenses are pretty much universally more expensive than the lenses with body driven autofocus and are sometimes of worse optical quality.

    The end result is that you can only use a fraction of Nikon's available lenses. this will become less of an issue in time as Nikon releases more AF-s lenses (all their new lenses the past few years are af-s. BUT it does mean you miss out on used deals on some GREAT lenses that you could have taken advantage with if you had the body motor.

    If your budget is such that you could consider the d90, then this disadvantage goes away. If so, I think I would definitely have chosen Nikon d90 as it is a better camera than the 500d and comes with a lens with a GREAT reputation far in excess of the d5000 or the 500d kit lenses. As it is I'll invest into the canon lenses and some day buy a camera in the 50d line.
  9. ghostguts macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    I would recommend a Nikon D40 or Canon XSi. These are both entry level DSLRs at good prices and with beginner settings/controls that enable you to learn about different elements of photography (composition, rule of thirds, aperture, and so forth).

    I personally started out with the Canon XTi a while ago, and it was a great starting camera for me to get used to what photography was. I subsequently upgraded to the 40D, 5D Mark I, and, now finally, the 5D Mark II.

    If anything I would recommend you strongly, however, it's to stay away from manufacturers that are not Nikon and Canon (i.e. Pentax, Sony, etc.). Though I'm a loyal Canon user, I'd gladly recommend anybody to get a Nikon or Canon, but not the other brands. While these companies, like Pentax and Sony, do make decent SLRs, for the price (usually relatively the same), the quality of the cameras are just a little lacking in terms of performance and body build.
  10. miket019 macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2007
    Agree with those that says Nikon D40 or Canon XS.

    That's all you need to know. Don't get caught in the brand war.

    You can't go wrong with Nikon or Canon.
  11. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    actually, you can't go wrong with any brand. They all have their respective pros and cons. I actually like Pentax. The K20D is a great camera. Lots of great glass for them, although they aren't as "mainstream" as nikon or canon.

    Here are a few things to do research on and think about.

    Like others have said, you buy into a system, per sé. Only Full frame cameras (5D/2, 1DS/II/III) are the only cameras that are NOT compatible with the EF-S line of lenses, as they are for the "crop sensor" cameras. I only know canon, but Nikon has the same kind of deal.

    So say you buy Nikon Dxx, and then you buy some glass, you are more than likely to stay with Nikon. As you get more and more glass, you will then come to a point where you will have a "system", so to speak. Switch to another brand at that point just kind of becomes a hassle, as you have to sell all your gear, and then replace it with the equivalent Canon or Oly or whatever you decide on.

    I would honestly buy whatever camera you want. You buy a base, "bare bones" body, and then you will outgrow it quickly. I have been shooting for a long time, and i am fine with the xD bodies of Canon, although Full Frame would be great, just don't want to spend the cash on it at this time.

    I think 4 fps is perfect for every day, all around use. You can pick up a used 30D body for about $400 with low clicks. Or a Nikon D200/300 for the price of a D80 or D90. There is nothing wrong with buying used. CHeck out . They have THE best B&S forum i have seen. Seriously, i would go used. Then when you want to upgrade, you can sell and not lose your ace on the body.

    Glass holds its' value, about 70% or so. And don't worry if the camera is a lower model camera. A lot of sales people will try to push a higher camera onto you, as i experienced yesterday. An XSI is perfect. Same AF system as the 30/40D, but not quite as a fast burst rate, etc...

    And while megapixels are great, i think on some cameras it is just a gimmick. The difference between 2 MP is not going to be make or break for me. MP count is great if you are blowing up images 20x30, but how many of us have even done a 10x15 on a regular basis. I have never blown any thing up over 8x10. Sad, i know...

    Just do research, bring in a CF/SD card into best buy and shoot with different cameras. Then view the info at home and see what the differences are. I know shooting indoors with a kit lens on auto isn't going to be scientific, but it will give you an idea... Buy what you want. We can all sit here and give you info and tips, but only you know how far you want to take this hobby.... is great, BTW.
  12. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    What are you talking about? NOBODY provides a better build for the price than Pentax.

    In terms of features for the money, Olympus and Pentax are both on top.
  13. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    What my Olympus E-420 compared to a Nikon D90? :eek:


    (see sig)

    Agreed. I looked at the Pentax's in the store and they were pretty good too...
  14. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    Why? Pentax has been in the business for many decades. Ever hear of the Pentax K1000 Asashi? Olympus has been around forever as well.

    Here is some reads to familiar yourself with history before making assumptions...

    Sony took over for Minolta, so their bodies are pretty much the minoltas', as there was nothing wrong with Minolta. I actually learned photography (ya know, before digital) on a Minolta, in the 1980s. I was like 9 when i got into it. Here is some info on Minolta/Konica...

    Just because it isn't "mainstream" doesn't mean it is garbage. The Pentax K20D felt more sturdy than a 40D, and it is weather sealed....

    The pancake lenses that Pentax makes are very VERY sharp and render beautiful results.

    Don't disreguard products just because you are uneducated about them.
  15. Robby9279 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2008
    Wow guys, thank you all so much for the information, I have many things to think about now! I will be mainly looking at Nikon and Cannon, and will have to determine which lens I need upon further "investigating". As for the Camera, I am looking at the Nikon D40 and the EOS Rebel XS.

    What it comes down to is, I plan on doing this as a hobby. I enjoy photography and taking pictures, however, what I don't want to do is become engulfed in this hobby. Meaning, I don't want to be continually spending $200 there and $400 there for fixes/upgrades and the etc. So- is there any glass out there that can be used for virtually any purpose? And will the 40D/Rebel XS hold up to everyday things?

    I mainly will do this for landscape pictures, however, I'd also like a lens to use for taking pictures of friends, and special occasions- whatever those occasions may be.

    I will say that right now, my overall budget for the Camera and Glass will be roughly $800. I don't have a problem buying used, but definitely prefer new. However, for a lens I probably could make an exception to that as I know it's not cheap.
  16. Sharewaredemon macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    Cape Breton Island
    pentax k1000

    OOPS digital photography.

    Sorry, no suggestions.
  17. object88 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2008
    I got a refurb'ed Nikon D40 w/ the stock 18-55mm lens for $375 at Adorama, plus another $25 for memory. After shipping, etc., it was about $430. You could add a SB-400 or -600 flash & the new 35mm prime lens, and be about at budget. I don't know that you would need the lens for what you're interested in, though. Those are the two upgrades that I'm looking at next, and I don't need them for a while; I've been pretty happy with the built-in flash and stock lens for taking photos of friends and various (mostly close-up) city shots.

    That said, if you didn't already do so, make sure you hop into a brick & mortar store and pick up both cameras. One of the two main reasons that I got the Nikon was that it felt better in my hands than the Canon. (The other was that I have several friends who also use Nikon, so there's the opportunity of borrowing equipment.)
  18. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    No. But the kit lens that comes with the XS (18-55mm IS) is a great lens for the price and weight. It's got a decently wide angle (even with the crop factor) and better quality than you'd expect from a kit lens.


    The kit lens will be fine.
  19. Astroguy12s macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    You should really take a look at the Pentax K2000 system. The Pentax kit lens is well regarded and gets good reviews. Also, in my opinion, the build quality of the Pentax surpasses the Canon and Nikon at this price level.

    One advantage (IMO) that Pentax, and I believe Olympus and Sony, have over the Nikon and Canon variety is built in image stabilization. This means any lens you use will have image stabilization. Pair up that K2000 with the Pentax FA50mm f1.4 lens (can be found used for $150) and you will have an excellent low light system (great for indoor shooting of your friends) that Nikon and Canon can't match for the price. The Pentax lens mount is also compatible with any Pentax lens ever made, so there's a host of old lens out there you could use for cheap prices. Defitely worth a look if you don't mind brancing away from the typical Canon/Nikon variety.
  20. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    (my first SLR) :D


    best post in here to date... :eek:
  21. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Here are a few good web sites to learn about DSLR's :

    Learned allot when wanting info. But, like others have posted, what do you want in a DSLR? Whats your budget? Also suggest you get one of the top photo magazines and read what people use when taking particular shots. My wife subscribes to popular photography. Hope you have a good job because your interest may become an obsession. Always wanting the best. Not a bad thing though. I myself chose video, the wife chose photography. Good luck.
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    any camera made in the last 4 years or so will last. the main difference between now and then is things like Live View, microadjustment, and video. any lens made in the past 100 years will last as well.

    no, there isn't any glass that can be used for virtually anything. the best thing to do is a two or three-lens kit - a standard zoom (e.g. 18-55), a telephoto zoom (55-200), and maybe a standard prime (35/1.8) - plus a flash.

    since you only want to keep a small kit, there is little sense for you to stick only to Canon or Nikon. their biggest advantage over other manufacturers is lens selection - something that won't matter to you, as long as they have the few lenses that you do want, which they all do.
  23. a350 macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2009
    I have two suggestions

    1. Possibly a "dslr like" camera, something like the Sony Cyber-shot® Digital Camera DSC-HX1. I say this because I bought a "dslr like" camera before I got a dslr and I am very glad I did, it helped tremendously and had I not I would probably have shelved my dslr.

    2. Looking for a true beginner dslr, Sony again has you covered, I don't work for Sony, Sony A330 DSLR, Can be had with two lenses for $700 18-55mm & 55-200mm. I recommend the Sony a330 because it seems Sony has went pretty far in making there entry level dslr very beginner friendly.
    Is it the best camera in the world, no. For $700 you are in with 2 lenses with a camera that has built in image stabilization. Sony also ofers some fantastic lenses, can we say Carl Zeiss?
  24. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Very glad to see all the Pentax love in here. Here's another vote for something like the K20D. Great camera.
  25. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    ok, so because it says "Carl Zeiss" on the lens, it must be good?

    Panasonic puts Leica lenses on its point-&-shoots. so what?

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