First SLR

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mattyb240, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008

    Ever since I was young I have always had an interest in photography, and now I am in my final year of University I think I want to persue it as a bit of a side hobby. I have found some good deals on the Nikon range, specifically the D40 & D40X.

    I have looked at some of the cannon range as well but various reviews and a couple of hands on with the cameras are making me lean to Nikon.

    I want a camera that will let me learn but that I wont outgrow. I am prepared to take the time to learn on the side with reading material and experimenting. My budget is £280, and yes I have found a deal on D40X for that money.

    Is it worth me saving money on the D40 or will I lose out in the future? I will be taking pictures in various places including a lot of low light situations. I would rather spend all of my £280 and have something that will last me longer and allow me to develop further rather then limiting myself from the outset?

    Any suggestions and opinions are greatly welcomed. (p.s. I have searched but theres nothing like a more up to date personal view)

    EDIT: Is it possible to do High Dynamic Range photography with the D40's? As I have just looked through the thread and the pictures and techniques look amazing!! I would love to re-create something like this?

  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    The D40 is a fine camera, and if you've never used an SLR before, you'll be all the more happy with it. The main drawback to that camera is that it lacks an in-body focus motor, so some of the more affordable Nikon prime lenses will not auto-focus on it (you can still use those lenses, but you'll have to focus manually). It also lacks Live View, which is helpful for doing tripod work and, (somewhat ironically, in this case) is helpful for focusing manually. It also won't do auto exposure bracketing, which is especially limiting if you decide to get into doing HDR stuff.

    That said, it's a good little camera, and if you like the way it feels in your hand and the way the money you saved feels in your bank account, then you'll be happy with it.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Many years ago, back with film based SLRs people would buy an SLR body and expect it to last for a decade. No more. Bodies are like computers. They may continue to work for years but few people want to use a 5 year old compute or a five youear old SLR body.

    Lenses on the other hand are mature technology and do last for decades. Lenses also are more importent in determining how the image will look and in what you can shoot. So don't think to hard about which bodys to buy. In the end it hardly maters

    That said, in the Nikon line there is an odd thing. The D40/d40x/d60 all lack an in-body focus motor so they can only auto-focus lenses that have their own motor. Not all Nikon lenses have motors and none of the older lenses do.

    Make sure that you do NOT want to use any of the non-motor lenses before you buy a D40/D60. I think some of the best Nikon lenses would be excluded. If you are serious about photography (you are not just buying a camera to take pictures of your kids while on vacation.) then you should be looking at LENSES no bodies first. All an SLR body does is record the image made by a lens. It's the lens that makes the image.

    So,.... go make and look at both Canon and Nikon LENSES look at new ones and at the local used market. hen buy a body to fit the set of lenses you hope to one day own. In other works plan well ahead.

    As for the D40 vs. D40X the only difference is the number of pixels in the sensor. Choose more pixels for larger 10% prints or less pixels for slightly better low light performance and less noise. Either way the difference is small Look at used D50 as well and the D80. Both of these have in-body motors
  4. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    I imagine the live view would be an advantage as I would like to do some landscape tripod work. I have just been reading into the auto exposure bracketing, is there a manual way of doing it? My friend has a D40 and I think it is about the right size. I am just concerned that I wont be able to get the future customization of the settings? Obviously I'm along way off that mark yet.

    Thanks for your response!

    While I am serious about doing it as a hobby, it would mainly be that. I understand the need to check out the lenses so I will look into that now and do a bit more hunting about! Unfortunately my budget wont be able to stretch to wide variety of lenses, but I may consider a 55-200mm lens?
  5. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    I am starting to look at the canon range as well as the sony, as I think exposure bracketing will be quite important to me! Are there any entry level ones that people can suggest?

  6. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    In terms of entry level DSLRs, it's hard to beat Canon. Especially their most basic model, the EOS 1000D (Rebel XS in the USA). It features both Live View and autoexposure bracketing, and will work with any EF and EF-S lens produced by Canon (in other words, all of them). It will even autofocus them.

    Jessops have the body+18-55mm image stabilised lens kit for £349, so you should be able to find it cheaper elsewhere.
  7. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    The 1000D is the exact one I am looking at now! It does not appear to be that much of a step down in comparison to the 450D would this be a correct assumption? From what I have read it appears the basic Nikon range take "punchier" pictures as they are aimed at new SLR owners?
  8. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I can't recall the main differences between the 1000D and the 450D, but whatever they are I would say that the 1000D is the wiser choice for someone starting out. It's not over-investing, and if you decided 12 months down the track that 'this is it' - photography is your passion and you want to go further - then you can sell it for a minor loss and reassess features and platforms then.

    As for 'punchier' photos - I'm not sure what that's all about - perhaps it's referring to the camera's inbuilt image processing. I use an EOS 40D and it has inbuilt colour settings - they can be adjusted on the fly to make images more saturated or contrasty or whatever. I have mine set to neutral because I do all of my colour work in Photoshop and don't want the images adjusted for me.
  9. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Several points:

    • All these cameras are great. Also look at Olympus and Pentax. In my experience Pentax have excellent viewfinders, though I haven't seen their most recent bodies.

    • Manually bracketing exposure is not difficult, but will inevitably involve a second or two between shots. If you are trying to do an HDR merge involving moving things, this may be a problem. Personally I'm not a big HDR fan, mainly because people often process things in a pretty ugly way. I am lucky enough to have a camera with decent DR (Fuji S5) and I tend to be able to bring the whole scene together from just one RAW.

    • I never use live view, though I suppose it is fairly rudimentary on my camera, it might not actually be important to you either. Try to think about how it will actually help, if making a decision ends up being based on something like this.

    • All of these cameras are great. We have a tendency to look to the next best thing and lust after it. The reality is, this just distracts from photography. Unless you're doing specialist things you don't need a particularly high end camera. Additionally 6 megapixels is still enough. I'd be tempted to get something cheap and just use it. Like this K100D Super with 18-55mm AL refurbished
  10. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    That is a good deal on Pentax! I am aware that 6MP would be more then sufficient, nor I am I basing my decision on the live view. I am just trying to get the best value for money, but without limiting myself in the future.

    The main thing that is putting me off the Nikon are the choice of past & future lenses where the Canon wont be lacking. I think the bracketing will be important during sunset scenarios where I may not want it default. But then I guess this can be corrected afterward by adjusting the EV in Photoshop?

    I am quite technically minded and will explore all the features over time, I am just concerned that the D40 range while excellent cameras lack a little bit in features that most other SLR's seem to have? And I do not want this to hold me back in the future, so spending a little bit more, to get a little bit more could be justified.
  11. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    The Pentax is cheap, yes. I just checked the company out as I bought my first DSLR from their shop in Chelmsford and they were pretty helpful. I believe you can use old pentax MF glass on their digital bodies with metering, while the D40 certainly cannot meter with nikon MF glass. Focusing is more difficult than it was back in the day though, as the focusing screens don't have split/prism areas.

    There's generally a couple of stops of latitude in a RAW. I can often pull back four stops and still gain detail on the S5, which seems crazy. Really though, metering right is something you learn, and nikon's metering is so good that I have become a bit lazy.

    I don't think I can help you on the rest. Really personal decisions!
  12. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    Argh I hate this choice, I have just been offered a brand new D60 with warranty fro £300, or I could get the Canon 1000D for £330 from amazon.

    One thing that is putting me off the canon is the strobe flash opposed to the Nikons low level light? Does anyone have any experience of this? Or frustrations, I will be taking low level light shots (theatre etc).

  13. dukeblue91 macrumors 65816


    Oct 7, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    You should also look at the Sony Alpha line.
    All lenses will be stabilized with in body stabilization and you can draw on a wealth of second hand Minolta glass and also in the top end on Carl Zeiss glass.
    The a 200 is dirt cheap for what it offers in comparison to Canon or Nikon at the entry level.
    Feature for feature pound for pound the Alpha line beats it's counterparts every time.
  14. mattyb240 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    Well I am going to head into town now to get 'hands on' with some of these cameras an see which I prefer an talk through with a specialist my needs and requirements.

    Thanks everyone for their input. If anyone has any other comments I would be grateful to here them!
  15. shady825 macrumors 68000


    Oct 8, 2008
    Area 51
    I would recommend the 1000D. Im VERY happy with it.

    Some notable differences between the XS & the XSi are:
    Bigger LCD
    3 inches on the XSi vs 2.5 in. on the 1000D.
    Greater resolution
    12 MP on the XSi / 450D vs 10 MP on the XS / 1000D.
    Higher number of AF points
    The XSi / 450D has 9 vs the XS / 1000D which has 7.

    ...FOR ME, it wasnt worth spending the extra money on the XSi.
  16. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    don't get a D40, or Nikon without an in-body motor. Manual focus won't be a big deal for landscapes, but in more dynamic situations, it isn't as versatile.

    for entry-level, look at Pentax and Canon. maybe even Sony, if their lenses aren't horribly expensive. personally, I'm partial to Pentax at this level.
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    That is the type of photo where live view would be the least helpful. When you are using a tripod you have time to experiments with camera location and framing. You will allways get a better view with the optical view finder, no matter how good the LCD is the real thing is better.

    Live view might be usful for the times when it is hard to get your eye to the camera, maybe if you are holding the camera over your head to get a photo over a crowd.
  18. numbersyx macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2006
    Would definitely go into a store and try both out and how they feel in your hands. Features and buttons mean nothing if the camera doesn't feel right.
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You are right, you have to like it. Don't put up with something you don't like just to save $150.

    But remember how sort lived current SLR bodies are, and how you are making a longer commitment to a specific BRAND of camera. Buying a Nikon D60 because you like the buttons kind of commits you to buying the Nikon D62 (or whatever it will be called) in four years and the Nikon D73 and D84x and so on....

    So what I'd do is handle three or four of the camera each brand makes and see if you like the STYLE on the buttons and menus. You are deciding more on a brand here then a camera body.

    If you need to choose a brand, Nikon tends to be more conservative and makes changes slowly. Canon tends to jump on new technology quicker, and changes and re-works user interfaces. Both make very good high end lenses although at the lowest end Nikon's cheaper lenses are better. Check out the vitality of the used markets too. The abilty to sell stuff you don't like lowers the risk of buying. If you know you can sell a lens for 2/3 of new price then you can try one out for 6 months and only loose a couple hundred dollars if it turns out you don't really use it as much as you thought you would. This makes Nikon and Canon slightly better options then , say Olympus or Sony.

    The point here is to shop for a brand not a body.
  20. I'm a Mac macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2007
    Yeah, you can't go wrong with good brands like Nikon and Canon, although others do have good products. As others said, the best thing is to test these products out. I have the D60, and even though others disagree, if you can get a good deal on it (like I did), VR-kit lens and Active-D Lighting make it a better deal than the D40. [And actually the in-camera RAW edititing tools are pretty cool.]
  21. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    I see you often repeat this point, but I think it's worth noting that you've never once provided any real justification why a dSLR body is so short-lived besides bringing up the rather contrived point that a dSLR is a computer and who wants to use the same computer after five years. That doesn't change the fact that a camera is a device which takes pictures and barring any functional failure will continue to do so after five years. It's also worth noting that on many occasions you've recommended used D50 and D70 cameras as preferrable to the more recent D40 for some photographers, which would seem to contradict your point that nobody ought to be using a camera after four years. Does not compute.

    Now if there is some sort of mechanical failure in a camera,, or a new camera arrives on the market with significant new features (i.e. D90), then the point could be taken. But I challenge you to prove that your thoughts on the matter include substantive reasons rather than contrived ones for someone who is interested in taking pictures.
  22. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Upgrades are always more of want than need. Things largely carry on as they did unless, as you say, something breaks. I'm not sure if DSLRs are more likely to fail than film based ones. I guess it depends if it's generally the mechanics or electronics that go first.

    I suspect that any modern DSLR would be better than most 35mm emulsions for resolution, absolute sharpness, smoothness etc. Though film did have a certain aesthetic, and grain alters the perception of sharpness, which is more important than what's really there.

    It's all too easy to look at the minutiae in digital files, hence worse than ever test peeping. Just for fun though I stuck some (fairly recent) slides under my microscope and was pretty surprised how bad the quality was.

    If the quality of slide was fine for the amateur these last 50 years then I see no reason why, if the camera could hypothetically stay working, powered and produce files accessible to the computers of the future that the images would not have the same effect they do today. More realistically, I think 10-15 years ought to be achievable, especially considering the rapid development that we have had as with any industry explosion, and the fact that even the (≈1999 era) images from early Nikon D1s are passable now. If the shot was any good to begin with doubly so.
  23. BanjoBanker macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2006
    Mt Brook, AL
    I agree on upgrades to cameras. I used a Nikon F2 for twenty years. I still have it and my youngest used it in a high school photography class where they had to use film. I have a D70 that I have been very pleased with since I bought it new 4 1/2 years ago. I can use all my old Nikon glass and anything Nikon chooses to produce today. The D70 is a 6.1 megapixel sensor, but as mentioned many times before, it is the glass that counts. As some one said earlier, buy a good piece of glass first and then find a body you can afford to go with it.
  24. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Agreed. I had a D70 and I added an S5 on a kind of whim. Bad. It's a fabulous camera but I didn't need it, and I think I would have had more photographic opportunities if I'd spent the money on an 80-200 f/2.8 or a nice astronomical mount. Bodies are alluring but the glass actually lets you do things. Never again. I'm using the Fuji until it breaks.
  25. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I think I'll pipe in again on this thread.

    The advice above about buying into a platform/investing in good glass - it's all true.

    But search your feelings Luke.

    Are you wanting to commit to all of this, or do you just want to get something entry level to see whether it's something you might want to take more seriously later on? If it's the latter, then get the cheapest body and lens kit you can (that has the features you desire). Forget platforms and forget expensive lenses. That can all change later if you keep it simple and don't over-invest.

    For example, my walkaround lens costs over GBP900 quid. That's a commitment. I'm pretty much stuck with Canon now, unless I want to sell my camera bodies and lenses and accessories. Don't do it! Go cheap, and then you'll have options later.

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