Good SLR starter camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Daveway, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. Daveway macrumors 68040

    Daveway

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #1
    Hello fellow camera aficionados. :)

    The activity in this thread got the idea in me that I really want to start shooting good pictures. The problem is I don't know what camera I should start with. I searched the forum, but couldn't find anything.
    Currently I'm fooling around with my dad's Ricoh XR7 that's like 25 years old but really good. Now I want to go digital.

    Should I maybe start off with a used camera from eBay instead of going straight into a brand new camera? I've been looking at the Canon Rebel and Nikon D40 cameras. Since I'm just getting into this area I don't want to spend a ton of money on it.
    Is it possible to pull off something like this for under $400?

    Thanks.
     
  2. silbeej macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    #2
    For me it was the D50, but now it is the D40. I've been a huge fan of Nikon, and started out with a Yashica FX2, with no light meter or anything, so i was basing my settings off what i saw with my own eye. Then i went up to an FX3, which had a light meter and that was it. Then i got my first digital, at the time the cheap one was the D50, and it was about 1k with the kit. Find a used D40, and you will love it. I'm not a fan of the canons, and find them slow and their cases are a little too cheap, but thats just me. Good luck.
     
  3. Daveway thread starter macrumors 68040

    Daveway

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #3
    Yea that seems to be the disconnect between the two cameras. Plastic vs. the magnesium alloy case the Nikon has. Any chance of finding a live preview camera?
     
  4. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #4
    Slow?

    Anyway, best go to a store and try one for yourself. All of the entry level DSLRs are decent. Just find one you prefer. As with all forums people will promote their own brand, usually with reason not to like another.
     
  5. silbeej macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    #5
    Well Olympus and Sony have some new DSLR's with live view, i think the sony is a little less "hard core" slr than the major Nikon, Canon cameras, but it is still a very good camera. Bad news is they are fairly new so they will not be cheap. If this isn't the road you want/need a live preview screen, you might want to go with a slr type point and shoot. They are less expensive, but have less features.
     
  6. mojohanna macrumors 6502a

    mojohanna

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland
    #6
    Daveway,
    I am in the same boat as you. I am planning on buying the D40X when I get back to the states in another week. I had a lot of the same questions you did.

    Here is the thread, it is a short read, only about 30 posts. There is a lot of good info in there. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=409828

    I decided on the D40X due to it being slightly faster than the D40 and it is 10MP vs 6. I am going to go with a 18-55 lens as well as a a 55-200 lens. This combo is out of your stated price range (about $750), but I think you can do a D40 and a 18-55 lens for probably $600.

    there are also some recommendations on places to shop/buy on the thread as well as people to look out for.

    Be sure you ask lots of questions and tell people the types of pictures you plan to take (action, etc) as well as what you plan to do processing wise. These things may help to lead you in the right direction.

    Other things to consider are things like batteries etc. What I learned was that some of the DSLR's take AA batteries, others have their own rechargeable batteries. Depending on your preference, this may help you to make your decision as well.

    Good luck, I can't wait to get my hands on one. The pictures that members post here are amazing!!!!
     
  7. silbeej macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    #7
    Yeah, there are three types of people, people who like Canon, people who like Nikon, and people who have never used a camera.

    lol
     
  8. mojohanna macrumors 6502a

    mojohanna

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland
    #8
    Olympus has one. However, I was told that it slowed the camera down in that mode. In otherwords, you would not want to use that mode for action shots.
     
  9. Daveway thread starter macrumors 68040

    Daveway

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #9
    Again this is just to get my feet wet in photography so I may not need to have live preview and major features. I would prefer to stay with Nikon or Canon because of lens selection and so forth.

    What is SLR type point and shoot? Seems like a contradiction to me.
     
  10. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #10
    You have two primary choices and a few secondary ones, but your budget isn't realistic if you want to get all the supporting things an SLR will entail.

    Your primary choices are:

    1. The Canon or Nikon bodies you listed- some will try to steer you towards a more expensive body- but trust me, you'll be upgrading at some point anyway- so get the cheapest body you can until you figure out how and what features you'll need for what you shoot- cameras will be better by then anyway. Spend as little as you can on the body and as much as you can on good lenses.

    Either of these two brands will give you the best selection of accessories, support and availability of equipment.

    2. Sony or Pentax- you'll get more features by default because these guys aren't the market leaders. That'll limit 3rd party support, where you can get lenses and in some ways what you can get. If know you're not ever going to get super-serious, then these cameras make great value choices, but you're likely to find them more limiting if you do get super-serious, and you'll have less choice over time for things like new bodies, 3rd party lenses, 3rd party flashes, underwater housings, etc.

    Either of these two brands will give you more features for your money, but at the expense of less overall choice.

    Your other choice is to get a used body- you'll end up spending about the same amount for a previous generation body with more features than the new ones you mention- if you're able to judge equipment, it may be an alternative.

    My recommendation is to go to a camera store and handle the D40 and Rebel, and see which one you prefer ergonomically. Get the body with a kit lens, and learn to shoot with it, learn to control it, and learn to process your pictures. After six months to a year (depending on how much you shoot, and how often you take the camera off of auto) get an additional lens that fits what you want now that you know more about it. When you're proficient with that, it'll be about time to get a new camera body and the models available will be attractive for features that you might not know you want or need now.

    Here's my list of equipment to start with:

    Camera
    Lens
    memory cards
    external card reader
    Processing software (PS, PSe, Bibble, Lightzone...)
    Decent tripod
    Decent tripod head (If your tripod comes with a head, it doesn't fit above)
    Circular polarizer
    External flash
    Flash bracket
    Remote release
    Extra battery

    Start with the first three, move up from there.
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    For what it's worth, the difference in MP for a beginner is likely to be more negative than positive. The extra resolution will show technique errors sooner, and the smaller photosites will blur due to diffraction sooner. Unless you plan on regularly printing 20x30 or higher, you're probably better off saving your money and applying it to good glass, good support or your second dSLR.
     
  12. yeroen macrumors 6502a

    yeroen

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    Cambridge, MA
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #14
    If you are on a tight budget I'd avoid the D40 and go for a used D50 or maybe a used D70s. The D40 will limit which lenses you can buy. It can only use the newer style ones with built-in motors but all other Nikon cameras can use the older lenses. If you plan to buy any used lenses this matters a lot.

    The D40 can't even use Nikon's current 50mm lens. This 50mm f/1.8 is the most bang per buck lens they make right after the 18-55 "kit" lens. If you are a serious photographer on a sewrious budget the D40 is a sucker deal, low cost up front but higher total.

    The d40 is a great camera and I would recommend it to someone who only ever want maybe two of those consumer grade f/5.6 zooms

    Do remember that once you go with Nikon (or Canon) switching brands is expensive
     
  14. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #15
    I was in the same boat a couple months ago and decided to get a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. The reason being was that the D40 was not able to autofocus any of the AF lenses, only AF-S. And from what I've observed, Nikon's glass seems more expensive than Canon's glass, so you may want to factor that into your purchase. You can get a Canon Digital Rebel XT for under $400 used, which fits neatly into your price range. I would choose one brand over the other based on glass, rather than the body, and Canon makes more lenses that (from what I've observed) are generally cheaper.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    Above is most right. Buy the kit lens and shoot 1,000 frames then buy an additional lens or flash or whatever you need.

    20 year ago I'd say to buy based on ergonomics of the camera body too. But back them we kept the SLR body for decades. these DSLR are upgraded to frequently. So I now say to choose the brand based on what you think they might make and sell 5, 10 and 15 years later because you'll be stuck with that brand almost for life. Both Nikon and Canon have been making good camera for many decades and past performance is as good an indicator of future performance as we have.

    In general I think Nikon has the best TTL flash mettering system and the best light meter. Some people hing Nikon has always been slow to gt new technology to market, Canon is always first.

    That's why I'd stay away from Sony. They may not even be in the SLR business in 10 years, who know. They have no history.
     
  16. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601

    Plymouthbreezer

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2005
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #17
    Another vote for a used D70s - Perfect feature set for novices and enthusiasts alike. It's a camera you won't outgrow in a year. It has more features over the D40 and D40x that will make your life - once you get to know your camera - easier to work wth.

    I chose Nikon because of the better lowend bodies. Basically, Canon and Nikon BOTH have amazing bodies when you have $3,000 to spend, but when you only want to spend $1,000, Nikon will give you a more solid camera for less money. They also both (Canon and Nikon) have optics that are on par with eachother... So that should matter little to you. Stay away from gimmicks like "live-view" - unless its Nikon's new system on the D300 and D3, which is indeed a real live preview (Olympus and Canon use a system that blacks out the screen at critical times and in focusing). Unless you have bunches of Minolta gear (Sony has based their SLR line off of Minolta), Sony has no real advantages.

    Also, you do not need 10 MP... 6-ish will be fine. Unless you're doing massive prints, it wont matter. Anyway, I can get massive prints out of photographs taken on my D70s (or hell, even my D50) and they don't have 10 MP sensors. This is maybe the biggest misunderstanding in digital photography - more megapixels do not equate to a better photograph.

    Invest in a nice lens only after you know how to work your camera. So many people out there have D40's or Rebels and haven't a clue what it all is there for. But since you have some experience with film photography, you'll know the majority of principles needed in creating good photographs with your DSLR.
     
  17. ArtandStructure macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Location:
    Klamath Falls, Oregon
    #18
    For the record, I am sure this poster knows what they mean to say, but this is worded very poorly.

    I use a D40. The 50mm 1.8 Nikkor can absolutely be used on this camera. I know because I just purchased one. This lens is a serious joy to play with. It does not autofocus on the D40, but manual focusing is easy and more (to my preference) tactile. Besides, with the narrow depth of field at the low apertures of this lens I would think you'd want to control your focus more precisely by hand than allowing the camera to make that choice.

    As far as the "serious photographer" and "D40 is a sucker deal" my work is shown through a gallery in one of the most highly regarded arts towns in the country. The owner of this gallery has a distaste for the look of digital photography brought to her and emphatically accepted my work to show/sell half way through the second print I put in front of her. She had not accepted a digital photographer before me.

    If you are on a budget, I recommend this camera highly. Save the rest of your money for lenses/accessories.

    Take care

    Jesse Widener
    www.artandstructure.com
     
  18. mojohanna macrumors 6502a

    mojohanna

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Cleveland
    #19
    I don't plan to regularly print at those sizes, but I do want to print out in those sizes. Plus I have young kids who are starting to become more and more active in sports and other activities and I feel that the extra speed the 40X provides will help.
     
  19. Daveway thread starter macrumors 68040

    Daveway

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #20
    I think I'm sold on getting the D40. I have a friend who has one and loves it, and Ken Rockwell has a pretty good write up about it (one of his favorites).

    The lens compatibilty thing doesn't really bother me much as I likely will not be buying more than two lenses, the stock and maybe a telephoto. I actually enjoy manual focus sooo.....:)

    Right now I'm hunting down good deals. Any more advice is welcomed.
     
  20. e4rthling macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    #21
    I have the olympus e410, it is small, its is very good value for money especially with the two lens kit, the olympus e510 is also good value and has built in image stablization, the olympus zuiko digital lenses have gotten good reviews and there is a pretty good collection of lenses available

    For reviews on the olympus e-410
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympuse410/
    http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/OlympusE410/
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E410/E410A.HTM

    And the Olympus - e510
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympuse510/
    http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp?newsID=3127
     
  21. yeroen macrumors 6502a

    yeroen

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    #22
    If you're intent on using a D40 with 50mm prime, then since you're going to have to manually focus anyway, I'd skip the AF version and look for a used AI or AIS version on ebay, keh, adorama, etc.

    Most of the less expensive AF lenses aren't meant to manually focused and it shows. Comparing the solid, well-damped manual focusing feel and build quality of an older AIS model and the new, plastic-y AF versions is like night and day.

    The 50mm 1.8 AI/AIS is the same optical formula as the newer AF version (that is to say outstandingly sharp and contrasty with a beautiful creamy bokeh at the wider apertures).
     
  22. kingslod macrumors member

    kingslod

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2002
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #23
    Best Digital Camera Resource

    You should go here and read the reviews:

    http://www.dpreview.com/

    I have a Canon Rebel xti, btw. I chose it over the Nikon for the image quality--the Nikon images often look too pink for my tastes-especially skin tones.
     
  23. Airforce macrumors 6502a

    Airforce

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    #24
    Plus one more vote for the E-410. :) I've had mine for about a month now and it has been nothing, but great.
     
  24. Macerture macrumors member

    Macerture

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Location:
    Dirty Jersey
    #25
    Hands down, the Pentax DSLR's offer more bang for the buck than any other camera available. Period.

    Check out either the K10D or the K100D-Super - I recommend the K10D. And, as a bonus, your Ricoh lenses will fit the Pentax DSLR's, how's that for bang for the buck? Just a little reminder, the Ricoh lenses sometimes have a small pin instead of ball for the AF confirm slot and can cause issues. It's best to remove the pin as it will not be needed on the Pentax DSLR - if it's the rounded ball type, leave it, it's fine. Oh and, every single lens you slap on either of those Pentax DSLR's, will have Image Stabilization. Try that with Canon or Nikon ;)
     

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