First trip in a decade. Looking at DSLR. What is best?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Iphone4sinwhite, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Iphone4sinwhite macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2011
    I'm going on my first vacation with the wife and family in over a decade. I'm considering getting an entry level DSLR to take scenery and family photos and short videos possibly.

    Is the Nikon D3200 a good choice? Is there better choices in the same price range from Canon or Pentax? Are the pre-packaged lenses good enough for zooming and family photos?

    What accessories are needed? A battery pack, SD cards, and a neck strap? I have no problem carrying weight around with me, I just want to be fully prepared.

    I won't be leaving for two months so I assume it's wise to play around and get very comfortable with the camera before going.
  2. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    I'd go for something more compact, a mirror less or Sony RX100.
  3. Iphone4sinwhite thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2011
    I'd like to keep the budget under $700.

    Are the mirror-less as good as the mirrored? I don't mind the bulk of a DSLR, I've used my Dad's 1980s SLR before and I didn't mind the 10 pounds hanging on my neck all day.
  4. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    I have a Nikon DSLR.

    I take a Canon Powershot S100 on trips. It is in a case on my belt immediately available for potos or videos. Much more practical than the DSLR and the photos and videos are great. Could use a longer lens, but then I'd have to sacrifice lens speed.
  5. Parkin Pig macrumors 6502a

    Parkin Pig

    Oct 23, 2009
    I agree with Blueroom - if you haven't been on holiday with the family for over a decade, don't ruin it by messing about learning to use a DSLR.

    $700 will get you an advanced compact which will take far superior photos than you'll manage to achieve after 2 months with a DSLR, leaving you with more time for your family.
    Go the DSLR route at your peril - by the time you get back from your trip it will be known as 'that bloody camera' and may have been thrown against a wall!

    The Sony RX100 is a fantastic suggestion - check out:
  6. appleii.c macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2013
    I personally would go for the D3200 if photography is something you plan on keeping up with after the trip. I purchased a D5100 a while back as my first "high quality" camera and I love it. The only issue with the bigger DSLR is for those smaller trips, a family night out dining or a party, it's a bit bulky. But the choices in accessories, lenses, and the quality is unbelievable.

    As far as quality, I disagree a bit with Parkin Pig. That Sony is a good camera, i have a coworker that uses it, but it doesn't mean that a novice will take better pictures with it. Until you learn the Aperture, Shutter speed and other different photo "traits", you can use the Auto setting. These cameras take AMAZING photos in Auto setting. Much better than any point and shoot I've ever used.

    Also, use that dpreview site he mentioned. It's an EXCELLENT site to compare, read reviews, see actual shots taken with each camera.

    Good luck!
  7. fa8362, Jul 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013

    fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Without knowing much about you, it is not possible to say which is the best bang for your buck. Just make sure you check B&H and Amazon pricing, and make sure you compare and understand the features, and the feature differences between the Pentax, Nikon, and Canon models because they vary significantly.

    Canon and Nikon have more lenses in their lines, but Pentax makes more than enough lenses to satisfy most amateurs. Most amateurs own 2 or fewer lenses, and many own only the kit lens that came with their camera.

    The Nikon 3200 at 24 megapixels has 50% more megapixels than the Pentax, and 33% more than the Canon cameras you might look at, but that's not relevant for most amateurs, and the Nikon's files will require 50% and 33% more storage space.

    The Canons you'll be looking at are noisier above about 800 ISO than the Nikon and Pentax DSLRs. If you don't shoot at high ISO, you won't notice this, and you might not notice it at 800 ISO. At 1600 ISO and higher, you will likely notice it.

    The Canon sensor has less dynamic range, and will blow out whites and highlights more frequently than the other two brands. If you don't know what to look for, you probably won't notice this either. In practical terms, it means that clouds will often have less detail and specular reflections will be larger and more distracting. Again, if you don't know what to look for, you might not even notice this.

    There are also differences in the way the cameras render. I typically prefer the image output of Nikon and Pentax to that of Canon. But you might feel differently. I suggest going over to and looking at their samples. Be careful reading what they say about the cameras, however, because differences between cameras are often exaggerated, and in my opinion, their review summaries and overall ratings are clearly biased toward who is paying them the most ad dollars.

    If you want to see what Pentax can do, your best bet is There are lots of images, camera reviews, and lens reviews done by users and by reviewers.

    I personally wouldn't go the micro four thirds or smaller route. I frequently shoot in low light, and the smaller sensors in those cameras are significantly noisier at higher ISO and longer exposure. If you shoot snapshots primarily, and don't care as much about image quality (it is the highest priority for me), then the smaller sensor cameras might satisfy you.

    A battery, charger, and strap come with the camera. If you have a place to recharge, many people won't need a second battery. But make sure you check how many images you can get from the batteries, because it varies. If you think you'll shoot more than a few hundred images during the day, then you might need a second battery, depending on which camera you buy.

    If you're not taking a laptop with you, then you'll need multiple SD cards. I buy only SanDisk Extreme 45MB/s in either 16 or 32 GB sizes. With Pentax, a 16 GB card will hold about 600 RAW images, many more if you shoot jpg only. With Nikon about 400 RAW images, and Canon about 530 RAW images.

    Lastly, I disagree with those who say you'll get better images from a compact camera. Pentax, Nikon, and Canon all have idiot proof auto modes that will enable you to get good images, despite your inexperience. Just make sure you read the manual, understand the various modes, and practice, practice, practice before you leave.
  8. RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    My son got a Canon T2i a couple years ago for his Europe trip and boy was it worth it! As previously stated, what these DSLR cameras can do in Auto mode and relatively poor lighting is amazing. There are some drawbacks when compared to camcorders for video but for short HD clips without need for significant zoom a DSLR is going to be great (kit lens will only zoom so much).

    Not sure if you need an extra battery or not. The included battery lasts a long, long, long time between charges.

    One thing you should also consider is a decent camera bag - I got him a case LOGIC (model SLR Zoom Holster) with a sling so that the camera is well protected and suspended in the sling with lens pointing down. I wanted to make sure he didn't have to fumble with the camera too much, disconnect the lens to stow, etc.

    Heres the link:

    Enjoy your trip!
  9. palmharbor macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2007

    I would get:the Flip Video U260 UltraHD Video Camera with 4GB
    the idea of having your wife speak at this time in her life and you plus capturing the sounds and moving video of the area will be MUCH more memorable than still images you will look at maybe twice after you
    go home.
    Imagine playing this on a USB stick plugged into your TV twenty years from just import the video Imovie, edit the mistakes save it and export it to the desktop and copy it to the USB stick.
  10. nburwell macrumors 601


    May 6, 2008
    If you're just planning on using the camera on your trip and that's it, why not just purchase a mirroless camera? Or even a point & shoot? It seems a bit unnecessary to buy a DSLR if you're not going to use it once the vacation is over.

    If you plan on getting more into photography as a hobby, then you certainly can look any of the Canon or Nikon entry level DSLR models. I would strongly suggest that you go to your local camera store, and try out each of the entry level models to see what feels good in your hands. Also, play around with the menu to get a feel for the ergonomics of each camera model.

    However, if you plan on just using the camera strictly for the vacation, then having it sit once you return home, then you will want to look at mirrorless or point & shoot cameras. They take up less room in your bag, still take great pictures, and they are inexpensive.
  11. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    All current DSLRs record video.
  12. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Here's some advice that I found helpful

    Also a good you tube video about the D3200 can be found here.

    He goes through all the settings and functions which is easier than reading the manual.

    If you have an iPhone or iPad I recommend Nikon learn & Explore, as well as Manual Viewer (the manual in an app basically)
  13. palmharbor macrumors 6502

    Jul 31, 2007

    My recollection of SLR cameras is they cannot fit in a shirt pocket
    and they cost much more than a flip camera....
  14. Parkin Pig macrumors 6502a

    Parkin Pig

    Oct 23, 2009
    Long term if you're going to keep up photography as a hobby you will no doubt want a DSLR. My suggestion of avoiding one was purely based on the fact that you haven't had a holiday with the family for 10 years, and a compact is less likely to be a distraction.

    I have a Canon EOS 1D mkIV with a number of lenses as I am a serious hobbyist, occasional wedding photographer, and have also sold a number of shots to the motorcycling press.

    However I rarely if ever take out that camera when I'm heading out with friends/family - I use my Canon G12, which gives fantastic results for general use, has excellent scope for manipulating various settings, and a flip-out screen for unusual angles or simplifying set-up to include yourself in the photograph (which I presume you will want to do on a family trip).

    If you're going caving on your holiday this may be relevant, but rather than listening to what everyone else uses their camera for and why they needed to spend so much, you need to think about what exactly YOU require from your photographs. Do you think you may pursue it as a serious hobby? If so, you'll be keen to ditch the kit lens ASAP, and your $700 budget will start to look like a drop in the ocean. The DSLR route is not a cheap one, but it is an addictive one.

    $700 will get you a decent DSLR with a crap lens. Or it will get you an excellent high-end compact. You will need to spend more on the DSLR to get the best out of it.

    One accessory I would recommend for your trip is a mini tripod (something that stashes into a bag or pocket) so you can set up shots of the whole family. I have a Joby GorillaPod which are great for uneven surfaces or attaching the camera to a fence post or pole.

    You haven't mentioned what your future plans are, photography-wise. My suggestions are based on your initial post about a family holiday. I think some of the suggestions on this thread here are based on assumptions beyond that.
  15. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    Here’s to hoping you can enjoy your vacation!

    I had a former co-worker who was going on vacation with family (first in a while) and wanted advice on a camera. And I will try and give a similar response here.
    Both DSLR and P&S cameras are good. Better than a smartphone (though they can be great now-a-days and I use mine on vacation for photos and video). The P&S is great for convenience and pocket-ability...but P&S can be similar to a smartphone camera. A DLSR will have greater versatility BUT also heavier and most often a two-handed device.

    * I many times carry these cameras on vacation: DSLR, infrared DSLR, Waterproof P&S and iPhones. I figure if if I have a DSLR and iPhone the P&S is not needed but a waterproof camera is nice to have *

    Back to my response...Both Nikonj and Canon DSLRs are good. Go to a store and hold them in your hand and see what you like. Personally, I like the heavier feel of the D7k over the D5k/D3k series. The Kit lenses wont be great but will suffice. Shooting in Auto will get you decent photos. If you have time and can, learn about using Program/Shutter/Aperture modes (and perhaps Manual). Also, the Scene modes can be a great starter for you...when on vacation you don’t always take your brain with you to think too hard and a program mode could be helpful. Landscape mode basically switches to a smaller aperture (larger number) to get more in focus...and Flower mode switches to a larger aperture (smaller number) to get smaller depth of field/blurry background.

    With a DSLR, you can purchase better lenses over time and then “upgrade” the body for something with better parts inside. The DSLRs are great because you turn them ON and then don’t worry about battery drain unless you are using the Live View Mode/LCD Screen.

    My co-worker bought the D3100 kit, bag and some cards. (she was fine with the charger as I know I can go a day on vacation without needing to recharge) She LOVED the photos that she took of her family on their vacation! Sure, they weren’t the best, the exposure might have been off some but she was VERY happy and said they were better than her other camera she had. She also wanted a camera to use for future times and capture moments of their family happenings.

    One last thing...once you get home, do SOMETHING with the photos. Edit/Sort/etc but then either make prints, a photobook, a slideshow/DVD, etc. to cherish the family vacation.
  16., Jul 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    Unless you regularly analyze your photos at 100% or more, it's really hard to pick a "bad" DSLR or mirroless these days, but here are a few suggestions.

    If size and weight are not an issue, these will give you the most bang for your buck. Nikon and Canon are the safe bets here because there's a good chance you have a friend that has one of the other if you need help, need to pick up spare batteries on the road (easiest brands to find) or want to borrow lenses. Nikon: D3200 or D5200 Canon: T3i, T4i, or T5i (all have the same sensor with very minor differences)

    If size and weight ARE an issue. Some also bridge the gap between point and shoot and DSLR with their ease of use. Here's the big players that are in your budget: Olympus EPL5, Sony NEX5 (or NEX6 if you want to stretch your budget), Panasonic GF6, Fuji XM1, or if you want a REALLY good deal you could pick up Canon EOSM for under $400 with a flash and purchase the extra 22mm prime with it and STILL be under budget. Since it's firmware upgrade the AF is much better.

    When you're trying to decide, go to a store and try them out. Quality wise they're all very close, but their menus, handling etc. will be different from brand to brand. Some may also have a killer feature that you may want. It's best to go to a knowledgeable camera shop so they can guide you through the choices.

    Hope this helps!
  17. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000


    Jun 5, 2012
    Where are you headed for vacation?

    Personally, I wouldn't take an expensive camera of any type to an ocean (salt water)/beach (sand) type vacation. You also have to consider security/theft on the beach and around the pool.
  18. Iphone4sinwhite thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2011
    Thank you for all the replies, this feedback is terrific. I plan on using the camera frequently after vacation as in the next few years we will be having children.

    Are refurbished cameras a bad idea? I was considering this nikon D3100 (it seems very similar to the D3200):

    I figured this is a good camera body choice and then I could buy a second lens. What is a good lens size in addition to the 18-55mm that comes with it? I imagine I'll be taking more scenery/family shots and very few micro shots.
  19. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    He stated he wanted a DSLR and he wasn't concerned about size or weight.
  20. InTheMist macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2013
    There isn't that much difference. You'll take the your photos ever. Have you held it in your hand to make sure it isn't too small?

    I recommend two lenses other than the 18-55:
    • 55-200 - use this to photograph portraits, and obviously when something is far away.
    • 35mm f1.8 - use this indoors when it's dark.
  21. Iphone4sinwhite thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2011
    Thank you for the good lense suggestion. I notice Pentax makes a lot of water resistant cameras. Is this a worthwhile feature to have? My trip have extensive time outside and near water.

  22. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    When you need it, it's a great feature to have. Check Amazon for prices on the K-30, which is being replaced by the K-50, which is basically the same camera. The K-30 has weather sealing. The 18-55 WR and 50-200 WR lenses are weather resistant. Note that Pentax makes a few different varieties of 18-55 and 50-200 lenses. Only the lenses with WR in the name are weather resistant.
  23. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    a review between the 3100 and 3200 is here:

    I would guess any refurbished through Nikon should be good.
    something to note is you may one day upgrade your body but can keep teh lenses so don't cheap out on lenses (also don't overspend what you cannot use now either)

    Anyway, it depends on your vacation subject matter. should you think you'll need a telephoto lens, a zoom lens to 200-300mm would be a nice addition. the 35mm prime lens is a great lens too-small, lightweight and fast.

    I have an 18-200mm zoom and 35mm prime. fits nicely with what I it a fast lens or one that covers a fair amount of distance.
  24. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    I'd look towards the Nikon D5x00 series if possible. The previous generation D5100 shouldn't cost much if anything more than the latest generation D3200. You'll get a more versatile camera for your money.

    I recommend Nikon in general, having had the D70 and now the D300 for the best part of a decade. They are well-designed and dependable.
  25. edricfilho macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2010
    Have just returned from family vacations in NYC...


    Perhaps my experience would be useful to you. I have been using SLRs and DSLRs for a long time, but I decided to "surf the heat wave" of NYC carrying something comfortable and flexible, my kit of choice being a Sony NEX-6 w/16-50mm wrapped in a Domke Wrap and thrown into a bag/small backpack/wife's bag. Strolling in NYC, I could see LOTS of tourists with DSLRs in AUTO hanging from their necks under THE 100F heat while my little Nex-6 was inside my wife's small bag (I carried her bag...) or hanging from my hand. Couldn't resist to swing by the biggest photo shop in the place to buy another lens for my Canon, alone and sad at home...:D

    For vacations with the family, if you are not planning to wake early and force them to wait for the "magic hour" where they do not want to be, the NEX-6 is unbeatable, IMHO. Inside the museums the 16mm end is great, and under full sun the electronic viewfinder is fantastic.

    Another option I considered, since I use Canon, was the smallest DSLR they recently released, the Rebel SL1. Great compromise for those who want to use their FF or cropped lenses without purchasing another brand and still carry a smaller load. I didn't get it because I considered the NEX-6 way better for me, and it was.


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