Help me with my first DSLR purchase

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JeffiJers, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. JeffiJers macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    Finally i am in the market to buy my own Dslr. I have gained interest in photography and have been reading about the different systems inside and out, which leaves me clueless honestly.

    At first i figured a Nikond5100 kit would be more then enough but the more i read i feel like its almost pointless to spend 500-600 on an entry level camera (no offense to anyone)

    So, money is an issue and i would like to keep this on the low end as possible But! i dont like doing two things twice so i would rather buy good to high level equipment from the start that will last me some time.

    I am clueless as to what i should buy, originally the D7000 seemed like my best bet but then reading more into the DX / FX sensors maybe i should just spend a little more and go FX.

    Photography interests;
    Mountain bike
    nightlife (party scene)
    performance (my girlfriend is a professional choreographer/dancer)

    I would like to purchase the body only and pick up lenses as i go. Depending on fx/dx will determine my first lens.

    Two bodies i am interested in;
    BNIB D7000 Pro's- Cheaper, gf has multiple good lenses, warranty
    con's-Not an FX slr
    Used Eos 5d markII Pro's- solid great performing camera, FX35mm
    Cons-expensive, tech is getting dated, used

    I have found a number of 5dmarkii's in my area for around 1200 that look like they are in great condition. D7000 would run me 900+ tax

    Just need a little direction as what i should Do. Price limit, really depends on the deal.. if i found a smoking deal on a high end FX (i mean cant pass up deal) i would go for it. Rather spend less as its just a hobby.
  2. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Elyria, Ohio
    I'm not a Nikonian so I cannot offer real world experience with the D7000, but if you decide full frame, quality glass will cost much more than APS-C glass! Saying you buy a 5D MK II. Nikon offers more flexibility with their bodies when one transitions from crop to full frame.

    Meaning some lenses designed for a crop body can be used on a full frame body, with some trade offs. Furthermore, what is your budget? This will determine which "system you buy into". I say look at a Canon 7D, as it is one of the cream of Canon's crops. Pun intended!

    Have you considered point and shoot cameras? Do you mind lugging around gear while attending a nightlife event? Moreover, will you be a participant in a nightlife event? Personally, I don't want to start 'having a good time' and have to worry about my gear. YMMV of course. These are questions you must ask yourself. Although, I didn't answer many questions: I only presented more questions to pondered. Hope this helps
  3. aerok macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2011
    If you don't need video, have you considered a D90? Amazing camera!

    Also, since you want to do low light party photography, you'll have to invest on an external flash.
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I think you're making a typical newbie mistake: overemphasizing the body and undervaluing the lenses. If it's your first dslr, there is no way you should invest in a full frame body, because if you get a full frame body, you will have to invest at least the same amount in glass! A decent zoom/prime will easily set you back €1000+/$1000+.

    Instead, pick a budget and then start to select equipment. Don't forget a high-quality bag!

    Since you've mentioned specific activities where you'd like to take pictures:
    Mountain biking: Leave your dslr at home, seriously. I bought a Sigma DP1 for my mountain biking trips, sturdy, much, much lighter and if I fall and the camera breaks, I'll lose an investment of €150 instead of €1,500. It also nicely fits into the side pockets of my Deuter backpack.

    Night life: You need a fast prime and an external flash. I would suggest either Nikon's 35 mm f/1.8 or, even better, Sigma's 30 mm f/1.4 as a lens. I have the latter. You don't want a 50 mm, for party pics on a crop sensor, the focal length is way too long in my experience. As for a flash, if you stick to Nikon, for instance, I'll definitely recommend the SB-700.

    Dancing performances: Here, you probably want something longer, but it depends very much on the lighting and from what perspective you're taking pictures (e. g. during a performance from your seat or during practice).
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    From what you say you need good low light performance. This means a FAST lens. Either the f/1.4 prime or an f/2.8 zoom. Do not even bother with the "kit" lens as they are mostly f/5.6 Same for those cheap $200 200mm zooms, they are also f/5.6

    So your #1 goal is "fast glass". This is EXPENSIVE glass but if you are doing dance photography anything put fast lenses are a waste of everyone's time.

    As for mountain bikes. An SLR will work if you are NOT riding. You set up some place shoot. If you are going to ride and shoot them buy a smaller camera not an SLR

    Not that you have picked out some f/1.4 or f/1.8 or f/2.8 lens of the required length you will need an SLR body. Yes the FX or "full frame" bodies have better low light performance. But look at the total budget and get the lenes first. You can always upgrade the body later.

    You might even start with a cheap used body bt a nice f/2.8 70-200 lens then later replace that $400 body with a good full frame body.
  6. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    You're right, I was implicitly assuming the OP is riding (damn cognitive bias :p).
    Well put. The 30 mm f/1.4 Sigma cost me a fraction of Nikon's 35 mm f/1.4 lens.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes and there are used Nikon lenses too. And I guess used Canon too but I don't look at those.

    But the OP wants to shoot dancers. A 30mm lens mmeans he would have to by on stage with them. I think a 70-200 f/2.8 would be in order, This cost about $2K. I'm poor (typical starving grad student) so I use the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens for this kind of subject. It is much cheaper and much faster than the 70-200.

    OK thrn buy whatever body fits that expensive glass you bought. Just be sure the glass covers the full frame because you will upgrade the body every few years and keep the glass. I know. I have Nikon lenses from 1970 and still use a few of them with my dSLR.
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    But even then, they're a lot more expensive than third-party alternatives. Although I'd love to get a used 35 mm f/1.4 Nikkor for 500 € ;) :D
    I recommended a bright ~30 mm prime for night life photography (see my original post), not for taking pictures of dancers during a performance.
    The 85 mm is a great lens, although I'm not sure whether it is long enough for what the OP has in mind.
  9. Borntorun macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2011
    Perth, Australia
    I have answered this question many times before, and will repeat in short again.

    Rule 1: do NOT get fixated with, nor start your decision on our first dslr based on camera bodies! The quality and flexibility resides in the glass, or the lenses itself.

    Rule 2: make a decision on cropped frame vs full frame as part of Rule 1 - the two are interlinked.

    Rule 3: draw up a budget and stay with it, but rule 1 should always take preference in terms of your budget allocation.

    Now, getting to your specifics. For mountain biking, I assume you want to take the camera with you on your bike. If that is the case, forget about using a dslr. Get a cheap aim-and-shoot.

    Your other requirements are around low light shooting. In none of the application it might be practical (or even possible) to use a flash - I cannot imagine professional dancers being too happy with flashes going off around them.

    You also don't want to be in their face, too close to them.

    Hence, this screams for a fast medium range telephoto, such as a 70-200 f2.8. A lens of such quality fits more naturally on a full frame sensor camera, especially in low light conditions. Shooting dancers you might want to freeze the action, I.e. use a fast shutter speed. You therefore need a wide aperture (hence the 2.8), and a camera with excellent low light performance, I.e. very little noise at high ISO's as you would typically need to crank up the ISO.

    Stay away from full frame cameras with high megapixels such as some nikons. The best low light performance are typically given by full frame cameras with maximum 22megapixels. Trust me on this, lots of reviews will try to prove otherwise, but I have used the lot and can vouch from personal experience.

    Hope this helps, I do not want to steer this into a Nikon vs canon debate, as there has been enough of that. Bottom line, pick the lenses first to suit our applications, and then chose the body that best fit those lenses. Bodies are disposables, lenses are forever.
  10. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    I have a 5d mk2 its a fine camera, it was my second camera, and I stretched to buy it.

    I would maybe start at the cheaper end, maybe a used rebel or the Nikon equivalent, and see if you actually take to photography before you invest big ££££'s

    If in doubt, go and look at some of the russian photogs....

    .....One of my fav photographers, used a 5d for a lot of their images (think she might have a 5d mk2 now tho?)

    .....some of those Russian guys/girls are using old tech and still producing pics that will knock your socks really is far less down to the camera and far more to do with the photographer...

    ...maybe consider investing less in the camera and more in yourself and get some lessons at a local college?
  11. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    One of the things you need to do is go to a camera shop and handle both cameras. Play with them. Change settings. Sometimes one camera will fit you hands better than the other. Also, you may feel one control layout is better over the other camera.

    If the camera is not comfortable to use, you will not use it as much.

    You also need to think about whether you really need FX or not.
    Being able to share lenses with a friend is a good thing. This will allow you time to figure out which lenses to buy over time. Also, if you buy a DX camera, you may just want to buy FX lenses (for the most part) when you buy them.

    And finally, having a warranty is a good thing for a digital camera. And more importantly the lenses.

    Also, you did say something about biking, camera weight may factor in to how much you carry it around.
  12. NZed macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2011
    Canada, Eh?
    You barely started. Dont worry about full frame yet.
  13. JeffiJers thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    wow I am sorry all, I replied to this but it looks as if the post never went through. Not sure what happened.

    Wanted to Thank everyone for their input as it really help guide me to where I should be in a purchase.

    I have held off in buying a camera until now that I have a little extra funds available.

    After doing more research I have came to the Nikon d600. The deal back in december was Amazing and i missed it due to the flu. Lost track of dates and it was January 1st.

    I believe I found a friend in retail that can give me the deal again, d600 + 24-85 for around 2k. Just waiting to hear back from him.

    the glass I am really interested in is the 17-35 2.8 which i hope to buy come late spring.

    Depending on how much I can read and learn on my own there are photography courses at the local county college that I may look into but hoping to self teach by research.

    Thanks again everyone! I will report back after I make the purchase. Just hoping I can still get that deal... If not its back to the drawing board
  14. Caliber26 macrumors 68000


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I was kinda in the same boat as you a couple months ago. I decided to get into the photography thing and, with very minimal research, got the Nikon D3200. It's a great camera, don't get me wrong, but I quickly figured out it wasn't a camera that I could grow with and get into the type of photography I'm interested in (real estate). So, instead of pissing away $600 and investing in DX lenses, I returned it for a full refund.

    I started reading A LOT about lenses, aperture, ISO/low-light performance, and the never-ending "FX vs DX" and, like you, opted to go for the D600 and got it right before Amazon stopped the "free kit lens" promotion + 4% Rewards. So far, I'm very impressed with it and have been lucky to not have the dirty sensor "issue" that is often brought up in reviews. (I'm starting to believe that it's the same type of whining we constantly hear about on this site in regards to scuffed iPhones, yellow screens, bad reception, etc)

    I really, really want the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 but it's gonna be a while before I can afford it. I did buy the Rokinon FX 14mm f/2.8 ($399 on Amazon) and I have to say I'm very impressed with it. I was skeptical about buying third-party but for the price and build, you can't really ask for more. In addition to that and the kit lens, I also have the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. Also a great, low-cost lens and ideal for portraits.
  15. JeffiJers thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2012
    Great to hear this, looks like I am where you once were and i too thought about picking up a basic crop lens camera but for the money spent on that and a decent lens I would not be that far off from the full frame. Sure the d600 is more then I need right now but I feel like i can grow into it and hopefully keep it around for a while.

    Just waiting to hear back if i can pick up that deal. Never been so mad about missing out on a sale before.
  16. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    Many of today's cameras are comparable in nearly all areas. I've discovered it has come down to two standouts:

    • Form factor/ergonomics
    • ISO performance

    Get the camera with the better ISO performance. This will help until you can afford the better glass.

    The ergonomics will determine how comfotable (or miserable) you'll be in using that camera.

    My 7D is excellent ....... except for IOS performance. About average in that respect, meaning that I have to rely on software correction a bit for those high ISO shots. While the 1DX is the pinnacle of dSLR performance (I tried one for a week). But it's also the pinnacle of price lol.

    I had a D7000 and it's ISO performance was below average. And the body is too small to be comfortable, hand cramps up, and too large to be 'small'. It also had the backfocus issue.

    Between the D90 and D7000 I would go with the D90.

    But I got out of Nikon and went Canon. I prefer the lens choices in the Canon lineup.

    I never used the 5D series but the word on POTN is that the low light focus on the mk2 is average at best. So nightlife and dance routines will result in fewer keeper shots. While the mk3 has received high praise for it's focus.

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