Dumb it down for me

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Mac'nCheese, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
    I was always more into video cameras then stills so I know next to nothing about digital camera. I'm currently using a sony cybershot (the 5, i think, which ever is the waterproof one). Its fine for outside use, vacations, etc but I want something better for special occasions. The little phd cameras aren't cutting it. I want (I think) something like the Nikon D3100. You know, bigger, more mps, nice zoom, built in flash. I still want to be able to put it in full auto mode, I don't want to have to focus manually, or decide what settings to use (its fine if you can do that on the camera, I'll learn eventually to use it to its full potential). I also don't want to change the lens just to get even more of a zoom or a wide angle. But I still want it to be able to zoom across a soccer field and fit in a couch full of relatives on XMAS. Something in between a higher end consumer camera and the little point and shoots.I know they probably all shoot video as well, but I don't care about that. I have been checking consumer reports and amazon and some other sites but I'd appreciate some advice from someone who might have the same needs I have. I'm hoping to spend under $500 but if that is unrealistic, I'll understand. Thanks in advance....
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The D3100 with its 18-55mm kit lens will do fine with the relatives on the couch and all your criteria except the soccer field. About the cheapest option you'll find that halfway meets that criteria is the 70-300mm, and that's a $450 lens by itself. Photography is an expensive hobby, and you'll find that spending hundreds, if not thousands to meet many specific situations is quite common. Built-in flash on automatic on pretty-much any camera sucks- you can do ok if you learn to adjust the flash power downwards, but just pointing and shooting produces harsh lighting that is no fun. Before you buy a DSLR, make sure you're committed to hauling it around, even the smaller cameras like the D3100 are a big commitment in hauling around if you're used to a point and shoot. Lenses, filters, flashes, tripods, software, the next body... it's an expensive trap to fall in.

  3. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Let's measure expense in terms of use per dollar. The 3100 is something that will be good for years and years, so figure your cost per year and number of shots. It won't cost you much if you think of it that way.

    The included kit lens is excellent and they can be part of the deal, so its cost is small.

    So far you are talking a few bucks a month over a normal useful lifespan, and pennies a shot at most.

    Now, if you plan lots of indoor shots of the kids and folks, then you will for sure want Nikon's smallest and cheapest flash. They are easily powerful enough to shoot indoors in a normal house, even a big one, while bouncing the flash off the ceiling. You will be really happy with the results, nice lighting, no redeye, real nice.

    I have also used mine outside for fill lighting and that is fun too, powerful enough in the sun even.

    Again, the more use you give it, the cheaper it is!

    Now, shooting outdoor sports is not easy or cheap. You can look at all of Nikon's offerings and you can bet that the most expensive ones will be the best! Of course.

    And it does not sound like you will be shooting thousands of telephoto shots and so your cost per year/shot will be high. What to do....well, look for a nice used lens. Nikon lenses fit a wide range of cameras, it is a strong point for buying Nikons actually, so you may find that there are some nice big telephotos and long zooms made for 35mm film that are not that expensive at all. You won't get VR, but you can shoot at a pretty high ISO with digital and practice makes perfect. Pros shot sports for a hundred years without VR and so can you.

    A couple of filters maybe, a small bag if you want and you are done. Tripod...again with the VR and high ISOs I hardly ever use mine. If you want one it doesn't need to be giant and expensive for your system.

    This system will give you excellent results, professional quality if you are up to it. I think this is the best deal per dollar available anywhere and you will be very happy and not so poor at all.

    As an aside, most reasonably modern computers will move these files around just fine.
  4. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    One thing to keep in mind is that many point 'n shoot cameras have greater zooming capacity than a standard zoom "kit" lens for an entry-level dSLR, which usually are a 3x zoom. Also, if you just set the camera on auto and point and shoot it like a point 'n shoot, your pictures will probably not look all that different from what you've been getting already, but the reaction time will be much quicker from the camera, which is a big factor when shooting people, kids or pets - no waiting a second or two for the camera to take the shot.
    Of course with the dSLR you can buy better lenses for different types of photography and you can adjust settings much more easily which would allow you to learn about exposure, aperture, etc. if you should choose to get away from "A" setting.

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