Entry level DSLR v. Mirrorless

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jinyoungkim7, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. jinyoungkim7 macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Hey guys!

    (Posting a new thread since I'm in a different dilemma now, not DSLR v. DSLR, DSLR v. Mirrorless)

    I've never touched a DSLR or mirrorless before but I've decided to get into photography because I love taking pictures, albeit it has been on my iphone. I've decided to take this step because I travel a lot and with my Kenyan safari coming up I don't want to miss out on lifelong pictures. Please remember, I don't yet understand a lot of photography lingo and terminology.

    Here's my dilemma, I need to choose between these two:

    - Rebel t5i with kit lens + Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II Telephoto Zoom Lens
    (This would be $720 total, because there is a deal right now on Amazon for $150 off the lense if I buy the camera)


    - Sony Nex 6 for $740 (Mirrorless camera) + some sort of lens better for wildlife photography (Amount of money = ???)

    Also, would those Canon lens (55-250) be good for wildlife photography on a safari? I can't afford much better, and I'm not a pro photographer that really needs much fancier anyways. And would the lens on the Sony suck for wildlife photography (the kit ones 16-55 zoom lens)?

    Currently leaning towards the Canon set up since my good friend has a Canon and so she could teach me how to use it / let me borrow some of her lens sometimes. I don't plan on buying the camera until mid April so if you guys have suggestions please let me know! But leaning towards the Canon!

    Thank you!!
  2. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Apr 1, 2008
    I'd go with the Canon, although I'm probably biased as a Canon owner/user.

    When I was just getting into DSLR photography I started out with an entry level rebel (not sure of the model, as their different between the US/European market) and it's a great body to learn the basics.

    The first lens I added to the kit lens was also the 55-250mm, which compliments that set-up really well and is fantastic value for money.

    I took both on a safari holiday in South Africa and got some fantastic shots using both the kit and telephoto lens.

    The only downside of buying into a DSLR system is that there is always something bigger and better (and more expensive!) and if you're not careful you'll soon be wanting to upgrade :D
  3. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    In my opinion the main reason to go with mirrorless is size. Choosing an APS-C mirrorless camera is not going to result in any huge size advantages because lenses are a big factor in size and weight considerations.

    I have 2 kits right now, once based on Nikon FX gear (D700) and the other Micro 4/3rds (Oly E-M1). The big advantages for the Nikon kit are autofocus performance for fast moving subjects (race cars, in my case), and subject isolation via shallow depth of field. The M43 kit simply can't compete on those 2 things.

    On the other hand, when I packed an M43 kit for some international travel last week, my all up kit weight was 14 pounds including lenses from 14mm to 200mm, 2 strobes, and an iPad. A Nikon FX kit would have doubled that weight, but the limit for international carry-on luggage is generally 15 pounds.

    I'd go with the Canon.
  4. sjschall macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2013
    The Canon kit will almost definitely give better results on a safari. You'll want a good telephoto lens with quick auto-focus, which the Canon wins over the mirrorless.

    Investing in Canon gear will get you off to a good start in case you decide to stick with photography. It opens the door to a world of possibility with lenses and bodies that all work together! Have fun.
  5. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I have been shooting SLRs since the early 70s and was an early adopter of DSLRs. When the wife and I head to safari we drag our photo rolling bags of 5D3, 7D, L lenses....etc. Each bag weights about 40 pounds. T

    Now that we are retired and getting older....a DSLR kit is simply too big, heavy, and expensive for us as non-professionals. For us the benefits of M43 are more important than the negatives. Since we mostly shoot landscapes and large animals, shallow DOF is not so important to us. Besides there are lots of post processing tools that let you do a good job of simulating a narrow and selective DOF.

    Wishing all every success with their photo projects!
  6. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    For a safari I'd go with the full DSLR kit with long zoom and fast lenses if you can afford them. I'd argue that the primary purpose of a safari is to see and take pictures of things, and you're probably not too concerned with lugging the camera around your neck all day.

    I'm about to go the other way -- I'm looking at a micro four thirds kit for a cruise vacation I'm going on. I want to be able to take some great photos from my vacation but that isn't the primary purpose, and I don't want to be carrying heavy gear all over the place. So for me, great image quality in a compact size is my primary requirement.

    Hope you enjoy it!
  7. Ish macrumors 68020


    Nov 30, 2004
    Think about how much weight you'd be happy carrying with you. The Canon might work out cheaper but will be heavier so you need to think about priorities. I've never used that lens so can't comment on it but I started with a Canon Rebel and was happy with it. If you haven't done much shooting before having a friend who can help will give you a kick start.

    I'd suggest you go into a camera shop and handle a few cameras. Have a look through the lens and see what the scene looks like through an 18-55. You'll probably find it not long enough for shooting wildlife but good for general scenes.

    What sort of budget do you have in mind?

    If you decide to go mirrorless have a look at the various options. The Nex 6 is a popular camera. Those with APS-C sized sensors like the Sony match sensor sizes with the Rebels. I've ended up with a Fuji X-E1 and a few lenses. There are some deals to be had on this now as the X-E2 has come out which is a bit faster but I haven't had any problems. You might find a nearly new one on the FujiX-forum but I will say that the lenses that go with these cameras are high quality. The new X-T1 is said to be fast but obviously more expensive. I only mention these as the ones I know best—I'm sure others will have other suggestions. It's not just the cameras that are lighter with these, the lenses tend to be much lighter than the DSLR equivalents.

    Most importantly, have fun choosing and, whatever you go for, get it well in advance so you learn the camera inside out before you go (well, maybe not literally!). Get plenty of practice The last thing you want is a picture of the back end of something disappearing into the bushes because you were wondering what setting to use! :)
  8. jinyoungkim7 thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    My budget is around $750 tops which is why I want to opt for the Canon and the 55-250 lens. The Nex 6 just for the body seems to be $700 so...
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    The big difference is size. The full up dSLR with a mirror box just can't be made small because of the mirror.

    As I see it there are two kinds of "picture taking" (1) is when you are out doing something and you happen to decide you want a photo. But the primary reason for being there is not photography. and (2) when the primary activity is photography. Mostly it is not done on spacial occasions and and mostly you do this close to home simply because most days are not special and you are home most days.

    If you plan in doing #2, that is dedicating time for photography, buy the dSLR.

    But if photos are a secondary activity you need a camera you can take with out with no need to cary a large box or bag of gear because you absolutely will not cary it around with you. This is why people like cell phone cameras because they can and do cary them around.

    Lastly to NOT decide on a camera based on an up-coming trip that yu will do only once. You can RENT a camera for a single use like that. If you buy a dSLR, make sure you intend to use it frequently every week and that your primary activity will be photos. a SLR is not a great "vacation camera" unless the purpose of the vacation is photos.

    The difference s really just the way you think of it. Are you going to the beach and need a camera to take or are you going to the beach with a rack of cloths and a couple want-a-be models? In the later case buy the SLR in the first case buy a compact camera.

    Next question is VIDEO. Can you see yourself shooting video? If you have an interest in wild life capturing behavior is what everyone wants and video does that. Before you buy an SLR today I'd check out it's video specs, just in case you decide to get serious about video.

    There is a great quote in Ansel Adam's book "The Camera" where he talks about what size camera to use. He said to use the biggest camera that will get the shot and then shows a very tiny 35mm half frame pocket camera and said this was the biggest one that could get some shots because he would never carry a larger camera around.

    Lastly that 55-200 f/5.6 lens is not as us full as you think. Yes it will allow you to take photos is subject you can not get physically close to. But it is to long for general photography. You will also need the 18-55 lens. So yo can only use the 55-200 when you bring some kind of shoulder bag. Peopletand to leave the second lens in the car, hotel room or at home because they don't want to cary the bag. Better to buy a (say) 18-105 lens or something like that whatever you can afford.

    Of ours "serious" wildlife photographers would never use the f/5.6 zoom. They would recommend something faster, longer and to use it with a tripod.

    finally do NOT wait until just before the trip to buy. Shoot at least 100 frames a wheel near home. Pretend you are a tourist for some place faraway to shoot "travel photos" of your home town. Do at least 100 frames then edit them to the few god ones. Do a critical evaluation (are they publishable?) then go do another 100. You need time for many cycles of this BEFORE you leave on the trip.
  10. jinyoungkim7 thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Thank you for the thought out answer!!

    Well, I really want to learn and enjoy photography. Every time I'm out somewhere or see a friend's photo on facebook taken on a DSLR I'm always thinking to myself, "I wish I had the camera to take something of that quality, instead of an iPhone".

    Also, I'm travelling to another country every summer and winter and have always wished I'd have a DSLR with me to take photos I can cherish years after the trip.

    I have a friend who's into amateur photography and she's going out on photography trips all the time to an abandoned building/zoo/backyard/parks etc. and to me, that seems so fun!

    And about the lens, I'll be getting the 18-55 kit lens PLUS the 55-200 f/5.6 lens, and although you say the 55-200 lens isn't the best thing around, that's really all I can afford at this point since I'm just entering the world of photography and can't justify spending even more money when I haven't even touched a DSLR before.
  11. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Safari photography would be a tough choice on a limited budget.

    I stopped using my DLSR a few years ago, just hated lugging it around, mirrorless IMHO are a godsend. My wife didn't even like hauling her relatively small NEX-C3 with kit 18-55 so she bought a Sony RX100mk2 and loves it. Me sold my NEX-6 recently and I'm impatiently awaiting the Sony A6000 (April 2014).

    Cameras I'd consider, they may or may not break your budget.

    Micro 4/3 camera almost any and a lens that's at least a 200mm telephoto, if you can afford an f4 at 200mm that would be nice. Those huge white Canon L series telephotos are way outside your budget. Micro 4/3 has a large selection of glass and has an excellent size / weight to IQ ratio.

    Sony NEX-5R (going cheap these days) and the 55-210 zoom tele, you might be able to get it as a combo for around your $750 budget.

    Sony superzoom HX400V camera (March 2014) $500, cheap & cheerful, won't get dust on the sensor and uses Zeiss T* optics.

    Sony RX100mk2. Great all around P&S camera, you can carry it anywhere and get great photos. Not a long reaching tele 100mm f/4.9 BUT on a small budget you're simply not going to be in the same league as those folks with a FF $6000 setup and a lens the size of your arm (and the ability to hold it steady). If it were me I'd make friends with someone on the safari with one of those and offer to buy their photos :D

    Those big expensive DLSRs can attract attention often unwanted.

    Remember even the best camera body & sensor is only as good as the glass you're going to put on it. A good lens will cost much more than a good body. Plus a tripod or monopod when you're stationary is almost a must when shooting with long telephotos especially slow / cheap ones.

    Also keep your camera dry, only the $$$$ ones usually bother being weather sealed.

    Lastly it's the camera you're willing to carry around with you is the best camera. I'm willing to carry around a NEX-6 & 16-55 pancake and I'm 6'2" (I bicycle a lot during the summer)
  12. needfx macrumors 68040


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
    will this debate ever end?

    admittedly though, the sony a7 appears to be a serious contender and head turner. time will tell, and they need serious glass and a long term plan to compliment the new body. otherwise they won't win a piece of the pro market
  13. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I spent years lugging around a 35 mm film SLR and multiple lenses, before switching to mid-range digital point-and-shoots for a decade. I recently upgraded to a Sony NEX 6, and I love it. It's so much smaller and lighter than DSLRs, and it takes great photos (or, rather, I do ;)) My next lens will be the Sony SEL55210 55-210 mm zoom, which others have recommended as being great for wildlife photography. Unfortunately, it goes for $335, which puts the body and lens over your budget.

    There is another option: If you're interested in mirrorless cameras over the longer term, you could go with the entry-level Sony NEX 3N, which currently goes for about $400 with the 16-50 mm kit lens, and also get the SEL55210 lens, which would put the total package within your budget. Then you could upgrade the body later, if you wanted to.

    The NEX 3N got good reviews when I was researching cameras, but I had the budget for the NEX 6 and decided I wanted the extra features. I don't know how it compares feature-wise with the Canon you're looking at, but my advice is to research the reviews and features of the Canon vs. the Sony NEX 3N. If the Canon is significantly better, I'd go with the Canon, despite its being bigger and heavier. If the two cameras are close, I'd go with the Sony. Either way, I'm sure you're going to get some awesome shots!
  14. jinyoungkim7 thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    You think the Sony NEX 6 is better than the Canon t5i, disregarding it's size?
  15. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I didn't research the Canon t5i, so I can't say. But I just did a quick search, and since, with the kit lens, it's pretty close in price to the NEX 6 with kit lens, it probably has somewhat better specs. You do pay a bit more for the smaller size of mirrorless cameras, and compactness is a feature that's important to many. But if the OP can get the t5i, kit lens, and zoom lens for $750, that's a great deal.
  16. jinyoungkim7 thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Would you recommend snatching this deal up now or see what the t6i brings?
  17. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Sorry, I responded too quickly and missed that you ARE the OP. I thought it was someone else who was about to tell me that the Sony NEX 6 was a piece of crap compared to the Canon t5i. :)

    In my quick search, I saw the t5i with kit lens for between $700 and $800. If you can get that plus the 55-210 zoom lens for $750, I'd say to go for it. The t6i likely won't have deals like that for quite a while. With technology, there always will be something better next year. Instead of waiting for the t6i, I think you'd be better off getting the t5i deal now, and shooting, shooting, shooting, so that when you go on that safari, you'll know your camera well enough that you'll be able to take great photos. Remember that cameras are tools, and that the most important component of getting a great shot is the photographer. Some of the greatest photos of all time were taken with cameras that most people would deem unusably primitive today. If and when you outgrow your t5i, you can upgrade.

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