Considering buying a DSLR cam...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by definitive, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    I have a point and shoot cam which broke recently, so now I'm shopping around for a replacement... A few things I didn't like about the point and shoot cams in general is their poor low light/indoor performance, and overall lower image quality compared to DSLR's.

    I take a good amount of macro photos, and ones of people and nature, so I'd prefer something with good short and long distance abilities, and an ability to shoot video at 720p - 1080p at 30 - 60 fps (would be fine with either).

    There's obviously lots of cameras to choose from, but I'm looking for the best way to spend my money. I'd prefer something that's either new or refurbished (not used), within $400-$800 price range.

    To my understanding I'd also need two lenses? I've been browsing through Nikon's site, and the basic camera kits come with 18-55mm lenses, while for more zoom they offer 55-200/300mm. What is a point and shoot's optical zoom equivalent to 55-200mm?
  2. AppleDeviceUser macrumors 6502


    Jan 7, 2012
    I was going to suggest getting a Nikon D7100 with a 85mm to 300mm lens, a 16mm to 85mm lens and a simple 35mm or 50mm lens however that would come to about $4000. You said in about the $400-$800 range, in that case you get get e refurbished Nikon D7000 (About $800) plus maybe a few lenses. If you do want to go DSLR though you are probably going to have to spend at least $2000 if you want decent equipment.
  3. definitive, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013

    definitive thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    I'm looking for entry-level stuff at the moment, to learn about DSLR's, since I'm new to them.

    I'm assuming that the refurbished D7000 comes with just a 18-55mm lens? In which case it would be out of my price range, since that would already be $800 without the extra lens.

    How about a refurbished D5100 with a 18-55 for $400? Is that a good deal? Or should I go for a D3200 instead? The higher pixel count in the D3200 isn't important to me...

    I've also read that there might be some auto focus issue wit the D5100? What is Canon's equivalent to this or D3200?
  4. nburwell macrumors 601


    May 6, 2008
    For Canon, you can look at the EOS T3, which comes packaged with the EF-S 18-55mm lens for around $500 (I'm sure you can find it cheaper online though). To keep costs down, the Nikon D5100 and D3100 are both comparable entry level DSLR's. If you want something a tad bit newer, you can go with the D3200.

    The best information I can give you, is to go to a camera store and play around with the each of the cameras to get a feel for them. That way you can see what works and what doesn't work for you.

    People are misled when it comes to megapixels, so try not to get caught up that conversation. That is, unless you're planning on making A4 sized prints.
  5. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Just picked up a Pentek K-5 IIs and cannot be happier. You really just cannot take a bad shot with this camera.
  6. zombiecakes, Jun 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013

    zombiecakes macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    Get the lens you want THEN the camera you can afford. Never spend all your money on the best camera with lenses as an afterthought. Lenses last forever and have the biggest impact on the image, cameras last a few years before becoming outdated and have horrible resale value.

    A lot of people just buy DSLRs because they want a fancy new gadget to play with and dont care much about taking serious photos, thats fine, if you are taking the photo part seriously then forget the gadget part of photography and focus on lenses.
  7. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
  8. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    Have a look at the "mirrorless" options too; they have image quality around that of DSLRs (i.e. better than some, worse than others) and are much smaller physically, if that matters to you.

    I know you don't want a used camera, but I'd suggest it's worth considering buying a used one for a few months then selling it again at minimal loss once you're sure you know what model you want to buy as your longer-term model. That way you get to experiment with the DSLR before making any significant financial commitment.
  9. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    I am considering the D3200 as well with a 18-55 (and maybe 55-200) lens. I've played around with 3100 and 5100, and they were both more than enough for what I wanted, but the 3200 is obviously a newer model, and I'd prefer to get something more recent. From what I've read, the 3200 is similar to 5100, minus the swivel screen and higher pixel count (again, this isn't too important to me).

    While I get the "buy lenses first, and the body later" advice, it also seems like that might become an expensive hobby, because I am not a professional photographer, and don't plan on becoming one any time soon. I'd just like a camera that takes great photos, and some of the separate lenses that I've seen are much more than what I'm looking to spend.

    I was also wondering if there are third party lens makers that sell AF-S type lenses for Nikon cameras at lower cost?
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    NOW you are thinking. FIRST decide on the set of lenses you like.

    (1) You said you like macro photography so look at macro lenses. Nikon makes a 40mm macro and some longer ones too. You decide basted on the subjet to camera distance you prefer. the 40 mm lens will have the camera very close. OK for photos of coins and stamps but not insects on flowers. For that geta a much longer macro lens so as not to scare off the little critter.

    (2) you said "low light". This means you do NOT WANT an f/5.6 lens. You wnt a faster one on f/2.8 or maybe even f/1.4. It is counter productive to go with the slower f/5.6 in low light. You will find zooms that open to f/2.8 and primes that go to f/1.8 or f/1.4 I might suggest the prime, like a 35mm f/1.8. It is low cost and fast and a very usfull length

    (3) You say you want t a wide range zoom like the 18-200. That may not work because it is also an f/5.6 lens A wide zoom that is also fast is WAY over your budget and into four digit prices, just for that one lens

    So,... you have to give up something, either boost the budget up to about $5K, or decide you don't need a wide zoom lens or ANY zoom at all. Actually there is not reason to buy the Kit zoom if you don't plan to use it. buying the 35mm f/1.8 lens and then whatever Nikon body the remaining budget can cover is a good plan for low light street and indoor club photos.

    The thing to do is the really think hard about the lenses first. Do not think much about dSLR bodies, they hardly matter. Any Nikon body will do well enough. Well OK, if you must have video then there is a minimum body you can use.

    One thing to avoid. You almost certainly do NOT need a long 200mm lens. All beginners think they do but really the ONLY reason to ever use it is if there is some kind of physical barrier that does not allow you to get closer to a subject. And that usual means youe are shooting sports or wildlife. Neither will work well with an f/5.6 zoom. Just accept that sports and especially wild life are EXPENSIVE subject an stick with closer shots for now.

    If you don't understand about f-stops and so on. read up BEFORE you buy. If would be like buying a car not knowing what a steering wheel was, the salesman would just take advantage of you.


    Before you buy, list the requirements of what you want to do. Make sure there is a good fit. I hate to say it but it looks to my like to said "I have X dollars, show my a way to spend that amount" and ignored all of the use cases you listed.

    Are you getting the "IS" version of the 18-55 or the non-IS version? Why?

    Lastly. I suspect you'd use of of the lower priced f/1.8 prime lenses a LOT more than a 50-200 zoom. Most people leave the 50-200 at home after carrying a round for a while and seeing they never used it. Nikon makes both a 50mm and 35mm f/1.8 for about $190. They now have a low cost 40mm macro too.

    OK, one more idea. Used cameras. There is little reason to buy a new camera the older D50 is really good and sells for about $175 now. It can use both the older and current lenses. Used lenses are even better deals because the technology has not changed.
  11. dwarnecke11 macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2009
    I second the Pentax K5IIs suggestion. Solid, compact body with weathersealing, in-body image stabilization and a well-respected 16 MP Sony sensor. I'm not very familiar with Pentax lenses though. I used to shoot with a Canon 30D before I moved to the Fuji X-Pro1.
  12. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    If you're willing to buy used, and if considering a Canon DSLR at all, you might want to wait a week or two -- the specs for the new 70D just leaked over at, so it appears the 70D will officially announced any day now.

    The 70D will certainly be above your price range; it's not a starter DSLR. However, it's a safe bet that people who want to upgrade to the 70D will be looking to sell their Rebels, 60Ds etc. on the used market, which will probably depress prices.
  13. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    I was thinking of getting the $400 refubished D5100 with 18-55 lens from the adorama deal yesterday, but decided to wait. I'm seeing the D7000 and 60D both for around $600 (refurb) without a lens. Not sure if I should go for it, or continue waiting, because I don't really want to spend that much on just the body at the moment.

    In the meantime I'm just reading some reviews and info here and there to get the basics on DSLR's and their lenses.
  14. zombiecakes, Jun 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013

    zombiecakes macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    It doesnt matter what camera you get if you dont have a good lens, the camera does practically nothing to the image quality, the lens does all the work. If the lens cant create a good image then the camera cant record it no matter how good it is. The only reason to go with higher end cameras over a good lens is if you require continuous rapid shooting.

    You can see this for how little the camera impacts photos
  15. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    I'll cut to the chase. If you're just starting out all you need is a DSLR camera that costs around $300-400 and you're fine. All the extra bells and features on $500+ cameras will do you no good.

    Get a bottom line DSLR camera first and learn the basics, then after some time if you're still interested upgrade. Too many people buy a $800 camera only to use it as a point-shoot, then it sits in the closet for years.
  16. ladytonya macrumors 6502a

    Oct 14, 2008
    I just bought my first DSLR and I love it! I picked up a Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses for $499. After about 3 months of research, I chose the Nikon over the Canon because the features are much more user-friendly. I've had my camera for 6 days and I am really enjoying learning how to use my new toy!
  17. I AM THE MAN macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Look into Canon as well. As recommended above, look into the T3. You can
    get a good deal on the T3 with the kit lens for about $400. Therefore, you'll have another $400 left to spend on lenses. After the kit lens, you might want to look into the 50mm f/1.8 (since you want a wide lens thats good in low-light). By this point, you'll have two lenses that you can use and get to understand DSLR photography with. When you go out and take pictures, make sure you keep noting what are your fallbacks (i.e. Do you think you need a longer zoom lenses?). After you get the feel for the DSLR, you can continue on buying more lenses (while saving up money for them while you get to know the T3).

    In all honesty, it doesn't matter if you're professional or a hobbyist, you need to realize that photography is a very expensive hobby. I've been a hobbyist for a few years (gradually getting into the Freelance aspect of it as a side job) and I've already spent more than $6000 on lenses, bodies, etc. Of course, I've literally spent every paycheck on my gear. Nevertheless, I'm not telling you to go out and spend thousands of dollars on photography gear, but just to let you know that it is an expensive hobby and you DEFINITELY need to or will need to invest more and more money in the future. However, for now, I personally think $800 is a good budget to get started with! Good luck!
  18. ladytonya macrumors 6502a

    Oct 14, 2008
    Why spend that much money, though, if you are new to the hobby? I mean really, I have an awesome DSLR and two lenses and I paid $499. I might eventually want a 35mm but really. I spent $6,000 on my clarinet but I am a semi-pro musician and that brings money in no would never spend that much money on something with no possibility of recouping the investment unless I were to suddenly find myself independently wealthy! LOL! I have what I need to play and I spent less than $500 ($499 for camera and two lenses plus a memory card and case). What else do I really need as a hobbyist?
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You know something? If you posted a photo on-line on one but you would be able to figure out if it was taken with a D7000 or a D5100 or even a used D50. They all just pretty much recored whatever images is projected onto the sensor and after you down size the image to fit on the screen the number of pixels does not matter either.

    One more thing, The user interface of the Nikons and Canons is different. Try a few of each. Try doing common things like setting the ISO or white balance, zooming in on a shot you just took to check focus. You might like one system better. If you like to buy used, I think the Nikon used market is better. But check a few places yourself.

    Remember, if you buy a used lens or body you can likely sell it for closer to wht you paid. It is not a big risk.

    I just bought a used D200 earlier this year. It is old but does 100% of what I need. I wanted a body with an in-body focus motor, that was quick handling.
  20. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Seems like many have given you really good advice here including -

    Check out the handling and feel of cameras at a store to see if they fit your way of working.

    Realize that if you are somewhat serious, figure out which lenses you want then get the camera body. Chances are you will keep the quality lenses and only upgrade the camera body later.

    There are various starter cameras that are impressive from the typical makers - Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus etc. Each offers different menus and controls so best to try them out. Make yourself a list of things you might do/change while doing photography in the field and then see how each camera/maker handles these on the fly changes.

    New world ahead in photography with some very impressive mirrorless cameras ranging from some that only have the screen on the back of the cameras to view and some with electronic view finders and some with true rangefinder ability and parallax control.

    While for DSLR and film cameras 35mm I had preferred Nikon, I find more often than not that newbies LOVE the Canon cameras and Pentax offerings.

    When I first got into photography, my first lens with my camera was a 90mm lens that was a macro. I later found that macro photography was only about 10 percent of my shots and the rest I took with the 90 were typical shots from people to landscapes etc. I learned very quickly how to do "sneaker zooming" (moving myself closer and further back) to get the right shots. Today, you have zoom lenses that are amazing and then the typical "kit lenses" that often do not do the associated camera justice. I highly suggest if you find a camera and kit zoom lens, you research the lens first and see if it is a decent to more than decent lens.

    Pixel count - most people don't need 24 pixels but rather something between 8-16 pixels is "more than enough" for typical size photos to be printed out. Look for a good computer software to catalogue your images and perhaps edit them (Aperture and Lightroom come to mind with 3rd party filters/effects).

    My next camera will most likely not be a DSLR but rather a mirrorless and most likely a Fuji X series camera. They are a strange breed of cameras that function typical to digital but handle more like a film camera in many respects due to the dials on top and the somewhat focus ring and aperture ring on the lenses.

    Hope you read what the others have written and not have buyer's regret or end up spending far more by trading in/selling your new camera in an effort to get a "better" camera. As one person identified, got a used Nikon D200 which is an extremely capable camera and isn't by far the latest and greatest but does exactly what it says it does and quite well.

    My history of cameras -
    Kodak Instamatics, various Polaroid, original make Polaroid Land Camera (bellows), Nikon FM, FE, FM2, FE2, 8008, used Nikkormat, obscure brand roll film "toy" camera, Fuji 645, 645w, Nikon 4000 (?) digital, Nikon D200.
    Additional pro use cameras included rented Hassie, various 4x5 and 5x7 view and Mamiya 6x7 cameras and lenses.
    Most impressed with (historically) the original Nikon FM and Olympus 101 for size, quality and lens venue. Favourite lenses include that 90mm macro Series one lens (tack sharp), Nikon 24mm 2.8, Nikon 300mm f4, 180 f2.8, AF lenses 17-55 (heavy but amazing) Nikon and their 70-200 2.8 VR. Along the way I have used Tokina ATX, Sigma and Tamron. Each of the latter have some present day lenses that are as good and often better than their name brand (camera maker) counterparts but again, do the research first and don't get regrets.
  21. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    phrehdd - Thanks for the post. I still haven't made up my mind on what I want to get. The more research I do, the more torn I am between what I want to get. The cameras that I've personally used in the past were D3100 and D5100 with kit lenses. They seemed adequate to me for casual photography, but now I've too started looking into mirrorless cams. The Canon EOS M for $300 recently was very tempting, but I don't know if it would be the right choice due to the following reasons:

    a) Many people complained about the auto focus issue, and it looked like Canon released an updated firmware to address it, but it's obviously not as good as what DSLR's are capable of.

    b) There's little amount of lenses offered (one prime, one zoom, and another wide angle that was announced recently). In order to use other lenses I'd have to get a ~$200 converter, which to me seems a bit expensive...

    The plus side for me is that it's a compact camera which takes great quality photos.
  22. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    I've just upgraded to a 7100, it's a brilliant camera though wouldn't really recommend for for newbie to DSLR. I'd be suggesting the 3200 only because it does have a nifty feature being the shooting guide, this allows the user to learn the operations of DLSR though simplifying the process.

    Lens wise, I'd recommend the 35mm and 18-105mm. For a beginner it's probably going to be the best and most useful set of lenses.

    Again it's an expensive hobby :)
  23. throttlemeister macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2009
    Do you have friends that have a DSLR? If so, which brand? Buy that brand. It lets you borrow lenses from each other etc.

    Your budget is fine for someone starting out. Don't get all crazed out on the expensive stuff. If you really get into it, there is plenty time to lose money on photography.

    As someone else mentioned, also have a look at mirrorless. Olympus, Panasonic and Sony make great mirrorless camera's that produce great images.
  24. definitive thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    As I mentioned earlier, I've used D3100 and D5100 in the past, but only with their 18-55 kit lenses, so I don't have much experience outside of that. With Nikon, I am interested in a 18-55mm kit lens and the 35mm 1.8, and in Canon, the 18-55mm and a 50mm 1.8.

    After reading through all of the suggestions, I've decided to spend a bit less since the camera's body isn't as important as I originally thought. There seem to be a lot of weekly deals for ~$350-$400 on refurbished DSLR kits (D3100, D3200, D5100 and T3i). I just have to figure out which would suit me best for starting out, and long-term. Correct me if I'm wrong, but overall I think the cost of Nikon's lenses would be a little lower than Canon's.

    I've also looked at mirrorless cameras, though their lenses seem to be very highly priced, and their selection is limited. Canon EOS M looks like a decent camera for ~$300-$350 for either a 22mm or 18-55mm kits. It also has a lens adapter which allows you to use the EF and EFS lenses, which would allow me to get the cam with a 18-55mm and then get an adapter with 50mm 1.8.
  25. oldgeezer macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012
    Lenses truly are the key since most DSLR bodies have the basic functionality we amateurs need.

    When I considered lenses I thought back on the time that I had an old Yashika film camera with a bunch of prime lenses and remembered how lugging a bunch of lenses around was a real pain. Usually the one I really wanted was home on the kitchen counter. With that in mind I opted for a pair of zooms when I bought my D7000 a couple of years ago.

    My "walking around" lens is a 28-200 zoom, f3.5/5.6. Yes, it's a little slow at long focal lengths but compared to "the old days" when we were shooting ISO 400 film at most we can now shoot at ISO 6400 with pretty good results so the speed is not as important. Keep in mind that a DX format camera has a 1.5x multiplier on focal length so this lens is, in effect, a 42-300 zoom.

    Since I like architectural shots my second lens is a 10-24 zoom, f3.5/4.5. On a DX camera this is equivalent to a 15-36 mm zoom. Fine for wide angle shooting.

    I recently added a macro lens, but haven't done much shooting with it yet.

    Another trade-off with zooms, other than speed, is the amount of lens distortion you get as a result of the wide range of focal lengths available to you in a single lens. My long zoom has noticeable pin cushion and barrel distortion at long focal lengths which would normally be a deal killer. But Lightroom 5 (and, I'm sure, Aperture) have built in lens correction profiles that clean the distortion up with a mouse click.

    Another valuable lens feature to consider is image stabilization. That capability is critical to low light shooting without a tripod allowing you a couple of additional stops on the exposure.

    Long zooms are heavy, but you either carry the weight hanging from the front of your camera body or over your shoulder in your camera bag. One heavy lens or two lighter ones? You decide.

    That's my 2 cents worth. Advice is cheap and you've certainly gotten plenty.

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