DSLR recommendations for about £600

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
I'd be very grateful if others could chime in with their thoughts on getting a DSLR for work to replace the old Sony camera we have that's falling to pieces.

We have about UK£600 (about US$1100) to spend and would like to get a body and just one lens at this stage. Used for a wide variety of situations, the camera will primarily be used by the design team... and other people we like. :D

I'm not sure how focal lengths work in the DSLR world, but a lens that could zoom to an equivalent 35mm zoom of 180-200mm would be nice and at the other end a 35mm equivalent to a 38mm wide-angle.

Requirements:

• Robust
• Simple to use modes (for those who we lend it to)
• Able to shoot in RAW if necessary
• Be able to give good, press-quality images at a decent size
• Have a half-decent built-in flash

Also, if anyone could also recommend some online (UK) or London-based retailers that would be very helpful as well.

If there are any other considerations I've failed to mention or have overlooked, please don't hesitate to ask.

Thanks for all input and advice...
BV
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
I don't know about UK, but here in the US, you can get a refurbished Nikon D50 for ~$425 and then get the Nikon 18-200mm DX VR lens for ~$700.
 

Mord

macrumors G4
Aug 24, 2003
10,090
21
UK
If you can streatch to it the nikon d80 and canon EOS 400d are pretty good, but you'd get a nice deal on a second hand 350d or d70 and have money spare for good lenses.
 

iGary

Guest
May 26, 2004
19,583
0
Randy's House
I'd get a 20D if you can find one and a 50mm 1.8.

I wouldn't get a plastic framed body like the Rebel/D50 etc.

"Robust" was a requirement.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
beavo451 said:
I don't know about UK, but here in the US, you can get a refurbished Nikon D50 for ~$425 and then get the Nikon 18-200mm DX VR lens for ~$700.

I'd be inclined to get a brand-new camera only for ease of purchase and corporate insurance purposes, but that's just my guess at this stage.

Haven't got too much spare time to hunt around for superb deals but if anyone could shed some light on buying refurbished cameras in the UK, that might also be worth considering.

New and box-fresh would be ideal though.
 

Mord

macrumors G4
Aug 24, 2003
10,090
21
UK
If your up for the stress of it you can get good deals trawling*tottenham court road for deals and go back and forth to them them to compeat for your purchase.
 

skunk

macrumors G4
Jun 29, 2002
11,744
4,098
Republic of Ukistan
I've just bought a D50 with a kit lens and a 1 Gig card: total cost £430, from Jessops. It's certainly robust, and if you have big hands, it's much better than the Canon. That would also leave you £170 to spend on a second lens and a bag...
 

simie

macrumors 6502a
Aug 26, 2004
995
1
Sitting
Here's a starting point

Jessops.com

Canon EOS 350D Black + 18-55mm + 55-200mm Lenses £648.99 inc Vat

http://www.jessops.com/Store/s26743/0/Digital-SLRs/Canon/EOS-350D-Black-+-18-55mm-+-55-200mm-Lenses/details.aspx?&comp=y

Nikon D70s + 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Dx Lens £599.99 inc Vat

http://www.jessops.com/Store/s29706/0/Digital-SLRs/Nikon/D70s-+-18-70mm-f-and-35-45-Dx-Lens/details.aspx?&comp=y

Nikon D50 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED Lens £419.99 inc Vat

http://www.jessops.com/Store/s29722/0/Digital-SLRs/Nikon/D50-+-18-55mm-f-and-35-56-G-ED-Lens/details.aspx?&comp=y

Perhaps someone can now find you a better deal.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
simie said:
Nikon D70s + 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 Dx Lens £599.99 inc Vat
How does that lens focal length translate to a 35mm equivalent? Would that be something like a 135-38mm? Bit old-skool when it comes to cameras, I'm afraid. :eek:

I forgot to mention that the £600 is ex VAT. Registered charities are VAT-exempt for many products. So maybe we're looking more at £700 retail... :)

We could then get another card or a better lens, I guess.
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
Blue Velvet said:
How does that lens focal length translate to a 35mm equivalent? Would that be something like a 135-38mm? Bit old-skool when it comes to cameras, I'm afraid. :eek:

I forgot to mention that the £600 is ex VAT. Registered charities are VAT-exempt for many products. So maybe we're looking more at £700 retail... :)

We could then get another card or a better lens, I guess.
The focal length will remain the same. The crop factor (sensor being smaller) is 1.5x, so the field of view will be the equivalent of 27-105mmon a 35mm film or sensor camera.
 

eyup

macrumors regular
Aug 21, 2006
181
3
UK
cos if it's gonna be used with artificial lights for product shots it's handy to have a WB kelvin option - like the D200 and now, I believe, the D80.

the basic WB modes eg tungsten/fluoresent etc - are OK on my D50 but I'd prefer more control.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,610
408
Redondo Beach, California
the D50 would work.

Blue Velvet said:
I'm not sure how focal lengths work in the DSLR world, but a lens that could zoom to an equivalent 35mm zoom of 180-200mm would be nice and at the other end a 35mm equivalent to a 38mm wide-angle.

Requirements:

• Robust
• Simple to use modes (for those who we lend it to)
• Able to shoot in RAW if necessary
• Be able to give good, press-quality images at a decent size
• Have a half-decent built-in flash
BV
Do you really need a lens that long? The DSLR has a smaller sensor so on a Nikon a 200mm lens mounted to a DSLR acts like a 300mm mounted on a 35mm film camera. They call it the "1.5 x crop factor"

So you want a lens in the 120 to 200 range and a 24mm lens. These are common sizes.
the 200 however is almost long enough that you will want a tripod unless you are shooting in very bright light. Also if the subject is so far away you will indeed need a very robust flash, likely not the built-in flash for a subject that is 100 or so feet away.

Note the a "faster" lens can double the effective range of your flash. If flash and the 200mm lens will be used together, please ask and let someone do the math to see if it will work out.

Nion (and canon too) have lenses that meet your needs and also have much nicer lenses that would break your budget. If you are thingking about shooting night time sports from the sidelines your _really_ need to think about finding some more money but for general photography you will do fine with a D50, the "kit" 18-55 lens plus a low cost 300mm zoom. The total price will come it right where you want it.

I don't know what your intended subject is so I ddon't know if the low priced lenses will do the job. In any case concider getting a tripod.

The D50 shoots a 3000 x 2000 pixel image in either RAW or JPG format.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
Thanks very much for all replies... going to go for a Nikon D70S with 18-70mm AF-S DX Nikkor Lens plus a 2gb SD card.

£611.37 from amazon.co.uk

:)
 

Mord

macrumors G4
Aug 24, 2003
10,090
21
UK
The d70s uses compact flash cards only the d50/d80 use SD, hope it's just a typo and/or you havent ordered yet.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
Hector said:
The d70s uses compact flash cards only the d50/d80 use SD, hope it's just a typo and/or you havent ordered yet.
Haven't ordered yet. Thanks for the warning... I just selected one of the recommended accessories from Amazon.

Better find the right card then... thanks, I owe you a drink. ;)
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
OK, still haven't ordered it yet due to bureaucracy... but spotted this today.

Canon EOS 400D - 18-55mm Kit£579.99 inc vat

10mp I believe... anyone shed some light or personal experiences on the pros and cons vs. the Nikon D70s?

Thoughts much appreciated.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,638
61
Harrogate
Blue Velvet said:
OK, still haven't ordered it yet due to bureaucracy... but spotted this today.

Canon EOS 400D - 18-55mm Kit£579.99 inc vat

10mp I believe... anyone shed some light or personal experiences on the pros and cons vs. the Nikon D70s?

Thoughts much appreciated.
I have one of these :D I bought it in Japan a week or so ago. The Camera itself is fantastic. The kit lens is OK, nothing special. I've bought a Canon EF-S 17-85 IS USM lens to go with it which has improved the image quality no end. Personally if I had the chance again I'd probably buy the body without the kit lens and go for the lens I bought to save some cash. This lens may be somewhat outside your price range though. The camera is so new nothing apart from Canons own software will open the RAW files at the moment but that will change soon.

The camera is 10.1Mp and compared to the point and shoots I am used to is a revelation. Everything is instant! No shutter lag, 0.2s startup time, very fast auto focus. And of course in manual mode you have total control.

This is my first DSLR and so far I've found it very straight forward to use. I'd budget for a pretty big CF card (sorry no SD) for it though. Shooting in RAW+JPEG you are looking at around 15Mb per image.

I can send you some sample images I took in Japan when I get home if you like?
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
robbieduncan said:
I have one of these :D
Thanks for the review, Robbie. :)

Does the camera feel robust, build quality-wise?

Just had approval to buy either one of the two in the last 20 minutes, so will be ordering either one first thing tomorrow morning.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,638
61
Harrogate
Blue Velvet said:
Thanks for the review, Robbie. :)

Does the camera feel robust, build quality-wise?

Just had approval to buy either one of the two in the last 20 minutes, so will be ordering either one first thing tomorrow morning.
It feels well made, but it's not something I'd want to drop! I think it's designed to last, but it's entry level so plastic bodied. That said all the controls are very positive, the ports have good quality covers so they should be safe, the dust removal system seems pretty cool and should extend the life of the camera.

Depending on your actual final budget you might just sneek the body and lens I suggested (I found this store via a thead on dpreview, I've not shopped there): body and lens.

Total is £859.95 (I know, it's a lot more than £700 but the lens really is worth it).
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
Budget is def. £600 give or take £30, enough to get a 2gb Sandisk Compact Flash card... we've currently got a Nikon v. Canon debate breaking out in the office around me. :D

Think I'm sold, will do a little more research tonight and sleep on it.

Your input is very much appreciated... the Nikon D70s is getting on a bit, I feel.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,638
61
Harrogate
Fair enough. The kit lens will take OK pictures, although it's nowhere near your desired 200mm equivilant. Canon have a 1.6 crop so the 55 works out at a 88mm equivalent.

If the £600 is without VAT then you might be able to get a longer fixed lens within budget. The store I linked to above seem to be selling the kit for £540 including VAT. That leaves around £160. You could get a 75-300 zoom lens for £169. I have no idea what the image quality with this lens is like. I'd imagine at the 300mm end you'd definitely need a tripod.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,638
61
Harrogate
So I'm home :)

I've put a zip of 6 pictures from Japan. It's almost 20Mb sorry. All are JPEGs from the Camera, not created from RAW. The first 2 are with the kit lens, the other 4 with the better lens.

Example Zip

I'm not sure how long I'll leave that file there so get it whilst it's hot!
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
robbieduncan said:
I'm not sure how long I'll leave that file there so get it whilst it's hot!
Grabbed it, thanks! :)

See what you mean about the lens differences, the kit lens seems noticeably softer both in sharpness and in contrast. But there's not much I can do really money-wise (approx £600 inc VAT) but I also think the kit lens will do for a general-purpose camera... most of its output will be going to press rather than high-end inkjet anyway so a bit of sharpening and tonal adjustment will be forgivable.

I might pop into Jessops at lunchtime to see if I can get my hands on one or both of them... just to cop a feel, as it were. :D

Thanks very much, you've been very helpful. I owe you a drink as well. ;)