Camera recommendation < $1000

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by shinji, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #1
    Years ago I had a Nikon 35 mm camera that took outstanding pictures.

    I now have a Canon A510 point and shoot that I'm looking to upgrade from.

    Specifically, I want a camera that:

    1) Takes higher quality pictures without needing to spend 20 minutes changing settings every time I want to take pictures.
    2) Is at least somewhat faster than the A510.
    3) Has an optical viewfinder.
    4) Total cost under $1000.

    I don't need video, HDMI outputs, GPS, etc.

    About picture quality...I don't recall tweaking much at all on the Nikon. While I don't know a whole lot about photography now, I knew even less then. It took great pictures with minimal effort... better than my A510 which I find often doesn't take sharp enough pictures and the colors even after playing with the settings aren't really what I think they should be. I've been using Photoshop for a while now, but I want the pictures to be good enough that I don't need to move the adjust levels sliders etc. on everything.

    I'm not a professional photographer nor looking to switch careers. It's just something I like doing and want to take better pictures. I never shoot sports. Primarily people, but also things when I'm traveling, and occasionally the park near me. The ability to fit into my pocket really is not important because I have no problem carrying a case with a strap etc.

    I've been looking at the following:

    1) Panasonic G1 or G2 [DMC-G1 12.1 mp is $455 at a camera place near me]
    2) Canon G12
    3) Nikon D3100
    4) Canon Digital Rebel
    5) Leica X1 which I realize is twice the budget I just mentioned, but it looks pretty cool. Do you think this is worth stretching the budget over? I really don't want to spend more than $1000 but I would if the picture quality can justify that. Wouldn't really stretch the budget for another camera, though. I love the design of it, too.

    Also not looking to buy used.

    Any suggestions on this? For my use, am I better off with a higher end point and shoot, a micro 4/3s system, or a digital SLR? Is there much benefit to a digital SLR over a high-end point and shoot if I'm likely to only ever use the kit lens? The D3100 comes with an 18-55mm VR lens for $600'ish.
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #2
    I'd recommend either the D3100 or the Digital Rebel. Go somewhere that has both and see how they fit your hands and how logical the controls are for you. Either will produce wonderful images and should you happen to get bitten by the bug, they both have the best upgrade options and future model capabilities.

    Personally, I prefer the ergonomics of Nikon's bodies, and I like the construction quality of the models I've used in the past over the feel of the plastics in the lower-end Canons. However, the lower-end Nikons won't autofocus with a lot of older Nikon lenses, leaving out some great affordable lens choices (Lenses need to be AF-S from Nikon, HSM from Sigma...) That doesn't detract at all from the large number and variety of lenses, but it does mean you can't get a $100 50mm with AF.


    Paul
     
  3. Hisdem, Feb 17, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011

    Hisdem macrumors 6502a

    Hisdem

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Location:
    Boca Raton, FL
    #3
    I'd go for the Nikon D3100. I think it has the best cost/feature ratio. Though the Rebel TXi series is very good too. I just happen to like the Nikon better :eek:

    I prefer the ergonomics of the T2i, but I like everything else better on the D3100. Plus, AFAIK, the Nikon is considerably cheaper. If you are tight on cash though (I saw your budget, and it seems you are not, but saving money is always nice) and don't need a great range of lenses available, you could check out Sony's Alpha line. I got the DSLR-A290, which sells in the US for around $450 IIRC. And has internal IS, so lenses tend to be a little cheaper, along with a built in focus motor.

    I must say though, every now and again I do regret not splurging for the D3100. Would have been a considerable difference in price, but I think it would have been worth it. Especially for the ability to record videos, which is something I miss being able to do. I'm sure you'll be satisfied with any of the cameras you choose, though!
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #4
    In my opinion, there's not much benefit of getting a DSLR rather than a point & shoot. You're only going to be shooting with the kit lens, and you're probably not going to sit down and meticulously edit every photo. The only time you'd suffer is when you take photos at high ISO. If shooting at ISO 800 and beyond is important to you, then don't bother with a compact!!

    The Nikon, Canon, and Panasonic G1/G2 are all great cameras. Personally, I prefer to use a Nikon over Canon, but there is nothing wrong with Canon.

    The Panasonic is smaller in size than even the smallest Nikon DSLR, as would the lenses. The Panasonic kit that includes two lenses --- a typical zoom lens, and the 20 mm f/1.7. Personally, I'd use the 20 mm lens all the time!


    And about the Leica X1: Unless brand recognition is something you truly value, the camera is not worth the price. I have never used it, but from what I have read, it has a very slow AF, produces poor JPEG output, and it uses an outdated screen (important if you rely on it, since you won't have an optical viewfinder). If you would consider the Leica X1, you'd be better off with the Fuji X100.

    - The Leica X1 doesn't have an optical viewfinder, although there's an accessory available. The X100 has it built-in, and will overlay electronic information into the frame if you want it to.
    - The Leica X1 has a prime lens: 36 mm equivalent, f/2.8 lens. The X100 has a 36 mm f/2 lens.
    - The Leica X1's lens isn't any better than the lens on the Fuji, according to MTF charts. We'll have to wait for proper reviews of the lens to conclude anything, but still shouldn't be discounted entirely.
    - The Leica X1 has a minimum focus of 30 cm in macro mode, or 60 cm in normal mode. The X100 has a minimum focus distance of 10 cm.
    - The Leica X1 is ~2x the price of the X100.

    But perhaps I'm biased and only justifying my purchase, because I'm getting the Fuji X100 when it comes out next month. ;)
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Buy a used Nikon digital SLR body and put those older nikon lenses to good use. Image quality will about match what you had back then.

    Seriously, if this is a good plan or not depends on how many years ago. If your old SLR is from the 1960's well maybe not a good plan but if it is mid 80's gear it will work just fine.

    None of the "point and shoots" on the market will match your old SLR. The two problem with all of them are (1) shutter lag and (2) a physically small sensor which cause noise, reduced dynamic range and more depth of field then you want.
     
  6. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #6
    Unfortunately I don't have the camera or lens anymore. :(
     
  7. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #7
    Adorama is selling the Canon 60D refurbished with 1 year warranty for just $799 which seams like a great deal for an amazing camera. You could add a kit lens for what amounts to spare change or spend a bit more for better glass, more zoom or a used lens that suits you.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    If you buy an SLR, (and you will need one to reach your goal of having image quality as good as the old Nikon SLR.) The you have to decide how to allocate funds between the body and the len(es). Most beginners make the mistake of buyinf an expensive body and a cheap "kit" lens. Much better bang per buck if you split the money even. Rather then an $800 body and $150 lens is to get a $400 entry level body and spend the rest on good glass. Cheaper in the long run too as glass will last for decades while a body will be "old" in four years. Glass also is what determines image quality.

    I'd go as far as to say the OP asked the question backwards. He sould have said "what lenses should I buy?" and then get whatever body remaining budget can suport as that part matters so little and will be replaced after a few years anyways
     
  9. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Location:
    melbourne.au
    #9
    I use Leicas - but proper ones! Not the compromises that they've been putting out occasionally since their very first digital camera (which was crap).

    Sonys are great if you want stabilization - any old lens you put on the body will be stabilized. Pentax also has it in-body. I use Nikon for digital and none of my F mount lenses have VR.

    Most Pentaxes take AA cells. A very good idea. Nikon 35mm AF SLRs all took AAs but the DSLRs take custom batteries by default. It's one thing that I don't like about Nikon.

    Here ends my two cents.
     
  10. btbrossard macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #10
    I would favor an SLR of any brand over a point and shoot or super zoom camera. An SLR allows you to grow (with lens purchases at a later time, external flashes, remote shooting) if you would like. You're also going to find that they CAN offer greater control and creativity IF you want.

    We have Canon SLRs in my house; my wife and I have a 7d and the kids use an XS.

    The Digital Rebel line offers the same automatic modes that you would find on a point and shoot, so you can just flip it on and go. My older kids (9 and 11) take very good photos with the XS just in the automatic modes. I'm sure the other SLR brands offer similar modes in their entry level models.

    Another advantage of an SLR is going to be how fast it is. I tried shooting some photos with my daughters newer Canon point and shoot recently, and it's amazing how much shutter lag there still is on the smaller cameras (and, of course, it's much better now than 5-10 years ago).

    I like the Sony SLR cameras when I've used them, I like the in body stabilization. Never used a Nikon camera, but my sister loves hers.
     
  11. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    I used to have a Nikon FE which I used quite a lot. I then had a digital p&s for a while when they became affordable. Like you, I wasn't too happy with the quality and eventually changed to a dSLR. I started off with the Nikon D60 before changing to a Canon 450D/XSi which is the camera I have now.

    I found a dSLR needed quite a learning curve for someone used to SLRs. Having said that, once you've got your head round it, they're a lot more versatile. As you were talking about the length of time it takes you to change settings at the moment, I'll say that I prefer my Canon because more of the functions are accessible via buttons on the outside. That's definitely something to look out for imo on whatever camera you choose.

    Think, too, about whether you want to be able to change lenses, for your portraits, landscapes etc. or whether you want a jack-of-all-trades lens/camera. That might narrow it down a bit further for you. I'm not interested in shooting video either but so many of the newer cameras have it, that it's just something to ignore if it's there.
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    Pentax K-x CIPA battery life with NiMH AA: 420 shots.
    Nikon D3100 CIPA battery life with LIon battery: 550 shots.
    Pentax K-r CIPA battery life with LIon (Non AA) battery: 560 shots.
    Pentax K-5 CIPA battery life with LIon (Non AA) battery: 980 shots.

    There are good reasons Nikon, Canon, Sony and even Pentax went to LIon batteries. FWIW, you have to get an optional grip to use AAs on anything but the lowest current Pentax model. The first is battery life- you can get much better life out of LIon batteries. The second is you can go to a higher voltage. That's not as important on the consumer-level cameras as it is on the higher-end models, but it's certainly enough of a difference that everyone is doing it.

    Since chimping, live view, image stabilization, sophisticated metering and focus tracking all suck up battery power, having more is generally better.

    I can say for certain that I'd much rather have the 4400 CIPA shots my Nikon camera's battery provides than whatever minuscule number AAs would provide (and given the CPU horsepower in my camera, I doubt it'd be more than 400 shots.)

    Since I don't use VR or Live View often, I can often get 4800+ shots on a single battery charge. In fact, that's one of the reasons I like Nikon-- the equivalent Canon model is only rated to 2200 shots and the equivalent Sony is a mere 880 shots. I do admit that if I were somewhere without electricity, and shooting every day for more than two months, I'd have to watch my number of shots/day if I only brought two batteries though.

    Paul
     
  13. rufhausen macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Location:
    Littleton, CO
    #13
    You might want to take a look at the Nikon D90. It can auto-focus the non AF-S lenses and can be had at a good price these days since it's been out a while and has been essentially superseded by the D7000. Another big advantage (I think) with the D90 over something like the D3100 is the LCD readout on the top of the body. That's where I get the information I need re: ISO, f-stop, etc. instead of having to use the large display on the back of the camera.

    If you decide on a 'tweener, I had the Canon G10 and loved it. I wish I could have kept it when I got the D90, but it wasn't financially feasible. I'm sure you'd love the G12 if that's all you need.
     
  14. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #14
    In general, I agree... and if there's no opportunity to upgrade the lens down the road, then a used body and lens (with emphasis on the lens) is probably the best solution for under $1K.

    I had assumed that the kit lens would be only temporary... that the OP might consider upgrading his glass as soon as funds allowed, with the ultimate goal of having a body worth $800 paired with a lens of similar value (an EFS 15-85 would be a great match for this body).
     
  15. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #15
    I just can't see myself getting another lens at any point. If I go Nikon, I might also buy the 35mm f/1.8 AF-S for shooting indoors etc. without flash, in addition to the kit lens but that would really be it. I think the 18-55mm VR it comes with would be enough got what I'm doing anyway?

    I would not buy used regardless.

    Again, this isn't a career for me or even a major hobby. I just want to take better quality pictures at least on par with my old Nikon 35 mm and have the camera there for when I need it. A high-end point and shoot might be enough. Or micro 4/3s.
     
  16. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
  17. huck500 macrumors 6502

    huck500

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Location:
    Southern California
    #17
    See, you're already planning another possible lens.:D

    If you want to shoot indoors without a flash, I think you need to go with the DSLR. P&S cameras are getting better at that, but they can't match a DSLR.
     
  18. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #18
    I'd go either for a Nikon or Rebel, with a G1/G2 coming in a close second.

    G12 would be ok, but I'd prefer an S95/XZ-1/LX5 for the larger aperture(s).

    The X1 is the last camera I'd consider buying, and not merely for the price (as ridiculous as it is); I have similar reservations about the Sigma DP series. I'd rather stick a Leica lens onto a Sony NEX.
     
  19. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #19
    Any more thoughts on this? Still undecided.

    It's now really between a high-end point and shoot and a dSLR.

    I would like to take indoor pictures in normal room lighting without the flash, though...can an S95 or G12 really not handle that?
     
  20. Razeus macrumors 601

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    Jul 11, 2008
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #21
    If available light shooting is the goal, then you want two things

    (1) A physically large sensor. The square area of each pixel determines the "noise" (all else being equal of course) So either a large sensor or a sensor that is not divided into so many pixels (lowering the number of "megapixels" does improves low light ability.) The SLR will have a much larger sensor than almost any point and shoot

    (2) A "fast" lens. The slowest to conciser is f/2.8. but look at the f-number at both ends of the zoom range. many lower cost lenses are only fast at their wide angle setting. So look at the worst case f-number. May SLR come with a "kit" lens that is very bad about this and might be f/5.6. Don't fall for that. Get a better lens. Some high-end point and shoots have a fixed f/2.8 lens. That's acceptable but f/1.4 if FOUR (not two) times faster and you can buy an f/1.4 lens for the SLR.

    Also think hard about shutter lag. That is the worst problem with cheaper cameras. You will never capture action with a camera that has even 1/4 second of lag.

    If buying an SLR don't shop for a camera, shop for a lens or several of them then buy the body that fits. Good llenses cot more than a SLR body and are what makes the image.

    If someone recommends a model of SLR body with not lens he is not listening to what you are asking for.

    One more thing: It is perfectly reasonable to own more than one camera and SLR and a pocket size P&S is a good setup.
     
  22. reggie23x macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    #22
    camera <$1000

    this might not help, but the Nikon d90 with 18-105mm is on sale for $1049.99 this week @ Best Buy....

    this has been @ $1199.99 price point for a long time....
     
  23. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #23
    hmmmmmmm

    The D3100 body + kit lens is on sale too for $587.

    Thanks for the heads up!
     
  24. shinji thread starter macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #24

    Yeah I was thinking of getting a P&S and then seeing how much I want to get into it, buying a dSLR later.

    But I think a dSLR and a good lens for low light as you were saying is probably the best idea now.
     
  25. des63 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    #25
    D90 plus 18-105 is $899.95 at Amazon.com, from Amazon not one of the other resalers, right now.
     

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