need a Digital SLR camera

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dagless, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    Well i just got back from my first photography lecture thing, and i've found a new love for photography. we were using plain ol' regular SLR cameras and i learnt how to process the film to negatives... all in 3 brilliant hours!
    only thing is I dont have a dark room at my house so im considering buying a Digital SLR when my student loan comes through. I've seen this one camera on the internet - the Canon EOS D305 (i think it is?) which has had some very good reviews, and is within my price range (£600 limit).

    just want some opinions really about cheap Digital SLR cameras, which ones i should look out for. if any at all! is Digital SLR a good way to go? or are they a waste of money?

    also, whats the difference between a normal camera and an SLR? when i hear SLR i think Self Loading Rifle (a mate from a few years back had the initials SLR and yea... :) nicknames ensued)
  2. cheekyspanky macrumors 6502a


    Jan 21, 2004
    South Bucks, UK
    An SLR is a Single Lens Reflex - meaning when you look through the view finder, the image you see is actually what the lens is seeing. In a normal camera the view finder is simply a window pointing straight through the camera and can cause you difficulties in framing the photo as you desire (i.e the picture will be slightly shifted to the right compared with what you saw through the view finder). A link explaining this a bit better is

    The camera I assume you mean is the Canon 350D. I've heard good things about it, and it's the one I keep thinking about buying myself.

    There are two versions, the black one and the silver one - which seems to be a Jessops exclusive, and therefore is normally more expensive, £699 I think, whereas the black one can be picked up for £599 on a lot of websites.
  3. ZoomZoomZoom macrumors 6502a


    May 2, 2005
    Canon 350D is one of the best entry-level digital cameras to buy. However, I've always had to use traditional film cameras for photography classes. Here are several things to take into consideration. I use a Nikon myself, and I prefer the feel of the D70s because you can do all your setting without messing with the LCD screen, but you'd have to go to a camera store to compare if you want to. I highly suggest purchasing from cametacamera (they're on eBay). they give a good deal, have good customer service, and it's tax-free if you don't live in NY.

    If you're planning to use the camera to just casually shoot pictures, maybe with a little manipulation with shutter speed and aperture, and if you aren't doing serious sports photography or anything that requires a special lens, you might be better off with a compact camera with a few manual features. It'll be cheaper, easy to carry around - meaning that you'll have it with you during the moments that count (since you can't lug a DSLR everywhere), and you won't have to worry about upkeep such as dust on the sensors.

    You can not see what you're shooting on the LCD. Take out your SLR camera sometime, and put it on bulb. Remove the lens and look inside when there's no film in it. Then, hold down your shutter release. You'll understand how the mirror flips and the curtain opens and such to expose the film. DSLR is the same, except that you don't have the film. On a DSLR, you will have to look through the viewfinder for every shot.

    DSLR response time is instant. There's technically a small lag, but it's in fractions of tenths of a second. If you've ever taken a picture with a cellphone camera, you'd notice a huge lag. DSLRs dont' have that. It's virtually instant.

    DSLR cameras have the huge advantage of being able to switch lenses. Fisheye, wide-angle, telephoto, macro, etc... all of those can come in handy in certain situations. Again, if you don't have use for those lenses, I would reconsider, because the lenses also cost quite a bit of money. (Never buy generic name lenses.)

    I would consider the Olympus DSLRs, but they don't have enough lenses for my liking. I'd stick with a Nikon or Canon, from cametacamera.

    Here's a short list of cameras to keep an eye on.
    Canon 300D
    Canon 350D
    -the canons have a cheaper feel, and the controls are not as good, but the image quality is still superb. canon has some great lenses. however, you might want to buy a new lens if you get the kit, because the included lens is not good. (that's why i went with nikon. i could get the nikon d70s + good lens for a comparable price to canon 350D + good lens + bad kit lens.)
    Nikon D50
    -definately take a good look at this one. it's like a "baby nikon d70" almost. and from what i've heard, the pics look better than the d70/d70s right out-of-camera.
    Nikon D70
    Nikon D70s
    -nikon d70 is a better deal than the d70s, because the d70 can have firmware updated to close the gap with the d70s. i got the d70s for the nicer lcd though. i don't know about the d70, but the d70s came with a great lens.
    Nikon D100
    -nikon d100 is an older, larger camera, but still good. i've seen it for cheaper than the d70s at cameta camera, but i'd still rather have the d70s. no experience with the lens.

    Considering the size of the investment - you might want to wait a bit and make sure that photography's really your thing. Here are a few costs to think about...

    1) Camera - you can get this for a little under $1000, pending on model.
    2) Memory - need to buy compactflash cards, mine ran me total about $200
    3) Tripod - expensive, also need a head for it. several hundred dollars.
    4) Lenses - huge cost. several thousand dollars if you build up a descent collection of actually useful lenses.
    5) Insurance :D
    6) Filters - you may or may not want these, but i'd at least suggest a polarizing filter and a UV filter. assuming you're getting good filters, that'll run you about $200. then you'll probably want some neutral-density filters, and that'll be money too. don't need anything else for the most part, because you can toy with white balance.

    whoa, i have class to run to.
  4. panda macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2004
    partial reply


    i can't help you out in your digital vs film debate. top photographers still use film, but more and more of them also use digital as well.

    the advantage with digital is that you can do things quicker. quicker to go from pic to viewable result.

    the other advantages i can see are savings in developing costs. one can view pics first before printing (if one indeed prints at all).

    SLR is: single lens reflex. this is a camera that allows you to view your subject thru the lens. the advantage of this being you see exactly what your camera is seeing. a viewfinder camera has a separate viewfinder that typically, but not always is an approximation of what the camera lens is actually seeing.

    an SLR is thus known to allow better control over the shot.

    one more note about digital issues. with a film camera you have the possiblity of converting film to digital by using a scanner, or having a photo or negative scanned by an outside company. it is not uncommon to have the company that develops your film create a cd of the pics at the same time as they develop your film.

    digital manipulation on the computer (eg using photoshop) is becoming a bigger part of the photo world, but having a normal film camera does not preclude you doing that, once you scan in pics. i have watched pros shoot in digital color, convert to black and white, then make amazing adjustments, in this case on portraits. real is not real anymore.

    photography is going digital increasingly, as better (higher resolution) cameras at lower prices are becoming available. film will soon only be a niche market for the 'old-timer' enthusiasts.

    photography is a great fun. so do enjoy. if you are taking a course, why not ask the instructor for advice on what to buy? :)
  5. petej macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2004
    D70 or D70s from Nikon get my vote might push the budget a bit though.
    SLR = Single lens reflex. This means that when you look through the viewfinder you actually get to see through the same lens that the camera will take the picture through. When you press a button, a mirror in the camera body will flip up out the way when you take the picture to expose the image sensor in the digital camera or film in the conventional.
    Good digital SLR's will blow away the pocket digital cameras. The sensors are usually much more sensitive. They are easier to control manually and are excellent in automatic. The only thing you have to be prepared for is that dust may get onto the sensor - especially if you change lenses regularly. There are a number of websites / companies dedicated to cleaning the sensor. It's not just a case of a bit of spit and polish.
    Ken Rockwell is a good source of info on DSLR's

    One other key difference apart from all the lenses you can stick on the front is that because the image sensor is hidden behind the mirror, you cannot preview what you are wanting to shoot on the LCD on the back of the camera like you can with the compacts. You have to use them properly and look through the viewfinder to frame you picture unless you are a member of the press when you just point the camera in the general direction press the button and wave it around hoping to get 1 shot out of 100.
  6. Jo-Kun macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2003

    I'm a professional photographer so I think I can maybe help you out.
    A lot of professional photographers work Digitally (mostly the ones that don't... they don't understand color management or are at the end of their career & don't want to spend all those $$$ on a digital system & don't want to take the time to learn all this... or need larger files (like I do sometimes))

    you're talking about Canon 350D and others mention Nikon D50 D70(s)

    don't buy the Nikon D100... why? lichtmetering is crap, sometimes 0.5 or even 1 stop UNDEREXPOSURE...
    Yes I still use one, but I use it in studioconditions with flashes... so I have my external lightmeter there... & it's controlled light...

    D50/D70(s) are improved in that way

    consider buying DX lenses when using Nikon DSLR... why? sharper better color etc (but they are expen$ive...)

    they are 6Mpixel camera's with CCD (cons: more noise when used on 400 or higher sensitivity) iso range 200-1600

    look better build than Canon, but that's only the look ;-)

    Canon 350D uses an 8Mpixel CMOS chip (2Mpixel more & CMOS has lower noise) iso range 100-1600

    all these camera's use non-fullframe chips wich means the focal length needs to be multiplied by 1,5(Nikon) or 1,6 (Canon) wich means that for instance my 20mm wideangle I allready owned became a 30mm on my D100

    so if you like wideangle and you want something similar to 17-35 for your DSLR: nikon has a 12-24DX (18-36 eqv) Canon a 10-22EF-S (16-35,2 eqv) but again $$$

    whatever camera you choose: Use RAW whenever possible... why? you can change your colortemp afterwards, no loss of information by Jpeg compression, the choice of not using the camera sharpening but do it in photoshop...

    make sure your screen is calibrated properly & even when it is... don't trust it 100% (or buy those EIZO screens with a calibrator... they are allmost perfect :p)
    find a lab where they use a Fuji Frontier or eqv to that so you can get prints on photopaper wich are developed by chemicals, and are much better than whatever 'normal' photoprinter you will find...
    make some testshots with different colors on it, and neutral grey.
    have them printed (ask them wich size they need & make your pictures exact that size & ask for no correction from the file) and then you will see if your corrections are right & compare to your screen.
    and then you will get the same image quality as you get with normal film.

    if you don't do any of these you will never be happy with the result of the camera I guess... as are a lot of people who I know... because they expect it to be right from click to print without thinking... because it was like that on film...

    what do I use when I have time for it & my clients need printsize larger than A3 (+/- 30x40 cm)? I use medium format (6X6 Hasselblad) or Large format (4"X5" Cambo) Slides wich I scan...

    when I have the money I will swith to a Canon Fullframe DSLR but that's $$$ Eos 5D (12Mpixel) is 2700 euro ex VAT Eos 1DsMKII (16Mpixel) 6600 euro ex VAT (both only body) and then I will be able to make lager images, wich doesn't ask for scans...

    but that's only my humble opinion ;-)



    -EDIT- I would choose the Canon 350D, because of the CMOS type sensor & the ISO 100 setting... and maybe the 2Mpixels more, but I think 6Mpixel is enough for most users anyway...
    and one advice whenever you have the budget, buy the highend lenses (L type or EF-S for canon, ED and ED-DX for Nikon) if you consider swithing to fullframe later on, buy canon, because for the moment Nikon is sticking to their DX format chips and have no intention to build Fullframe for now, allso if you consider that option & choose canon, don't go for the EF-S lensen since they won't work on Fullframe camera's...
  7. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    you can get a good deal on the nikon d70, that would be my vote
  8. xyouxfailmiex macrumors member


    Sep 24, 2005
  9. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Go to as store and actually hold the camera you're thinking about in your hands. Some people have issues with placement and layout of controls on some of the cameras.

    I'd recommend a D70s.
  10. chadwick macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2005
    Get the Canon

    The canon has a better image sensor and the lenses are cheaper. Canon quality is outsdanding. Even if this particular Nikon is made slightly better and the Nikon lenses are better overall thats not your concern. Anybody looking for the highest quality equipment and images would not be shopping for any of the cameras mentioned in this thread, they would be looking at the 20D or the 5D or the MarkII DLS and would be be buying lenses that themselves cost more than the 350. You want the most for your money and thats why you should buy a Canon.
  11. Jo-Kun macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2003
    actualy if money wasn't an issue... I wouldn't buy a DSLR for my studiowork, but get a digital back & a Fuji GX 680 III better lenses than any 35mmSLR... chipsize 6x4,5, shift & tilt movements possible... now they have res upto 38Mpixels (options available: 11,16,22,38Mpixel depending on how much you can spend...) possible to use a varial size filmback to shoot slides in 6x4,5, 6x6, 6x7 or 6x8... oh yes and off course get the Eos 1DsMKII to have when shooting situations in wich I can't use the GX...

    but we have to stick to his budget and I would reccomend to get the 350D/digital rebel... because of the CMOS (Nikon learned their lesson... D2X has allso CMOS instead of CCD ;-)) and save up for some nice L type lenses...
  12. Merf macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2004
    Northern California
    Go with the Nikon D70 its just a nice camera. One of my friends has one and he loves it. I myself have the Minolta Maxxum 7D its a great camera. I love it I have taken some great pictures with it.

  13. Dr. Dastardly macrumors 65816

    Dr. Dastardly

    Jun 26, 2004
    I live in a giant bucket!
    Jeez think people have an opinion about this. SLRs are great and I also agree with the 350D for its ease of use.

    I could post abunch of photography mumbo jumbo but its nothing you havn't heard before a thousand times so let me just direct you to You will find all the info you pretty much needed to know about digital cameras.

    Beware of the forums however, they are pretty scary. :p
  14. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Just a caution on online pricing.
    The lowest prices are invariably from scumball discount artists who

    * Sell you a camera at a low price, but remove the battery, strap, software, instruction manual, and everything else that normally comes with the product, then sell those pieces to you individually at inflated prices.

    * Advertise a price as new, but sell used, reconditioned, returned, "B" Stock or damaged product.

    * Advertise a low price, then when you buy it, call you back with a hard-sell pitch to sell you all kinds of accessories at inflated prices. If you don't buy the additional junk and double your expenditure, you'll find that your order has suddenly gone missing, or therer is a "problem" with your card, or the camera is out of stock and will be backordered for 6 months or is a foreign version (see below) and you have to pay more to get the North American version.

    * Sell gray-market cameras - product that has been brought in from a foreign country and not purchased through the manufacturer's authorized wholesaler. These will often have manuals and labels not in English, and often will not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty. One tipoff is if they say the warranty is covered by themselves or by "the importer" rather than the original manufacturer.

    * Selling sub-standard goods with punitive shipping and restocking policies, so that it costs you bigtime to return it and get your money back.

    ALWAYS read through the seller reviews on and

    You can ignore any glowing ratings of praise. Some of these dealers will bribe buyers to give them a great report, and some reports are outright shills. Read the bad ones and look for a pattern. An occasional screwup happens to every seller, and they should put it right, so the occasional flame isn't indicative. But a consistent pattern even of 10% of the reviews showing the above behaviour should warn you away.
  15. superfunkomatic macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2003
    calgary, ab canada
    i did a bunch of research this spring on the same topic. i purchased the D70 and love it. the canon were a bit cheaper, cheaper lenses but i liked the ergonomics and controls of the nikon d70 more. the d50 is a bit cheaper (along the price lines of the canon rebel series) but looks very promising.

    i also liked the tonal qualities of the nikons better, but it's a bit subjective.

    here's a great site to do some research, shows examples and detailed tests of the cameras by pros -
  16. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2004
    I would agree that you need to actually handle the camera before you buy. I was all set to get a Digital Rebel XT. It got great reviews, specs and fit my budget. Then I went to Best Buy and picked it up. I instantly knew I would not buy it. It was too small for my hands and was very uncomfortable. I am a big guy, so it might not be a problem for you, just something to consider. I ended up getting the Canon 20D, almost twice what I wanted to spend, but I couldn't be happier with it.

    I also know some people who have the Olympus E-300 Evolt. It is a good camera. My two complaints are: 1. quite noisy at higher ISO/long exposures, 2. can only buffer about 4-5 shots in continuous shooting mode (which is not bad, but compared to the 20D is pathetic.)

    Good luck with your purchasing.
  17. ZoomZoomZoom macrumors 6502a


    May 2, 2005
    Amen. When I went to buy my camera, I googled each seller + "scam", i.e. "cametacamera scam", "buydig scam", etc. because even resellerratings isn't accurate enough IMO.

    I wouldn't say Canon image quality is better. If I remember right, the Nikon and Canon were comparable in quality (better and worse, pending on the test.) Neither really has significant advantage, because all of those tests are pretty much mumbo-jumbo for most amateur photographers. And if you printed out a small print from a 350D vs. D70 using comparable lenses, most people won't tell any difference. It's a good idea to go to a photography store and holding each camera and playing around, to see what feels good and intuitive, and then figure if the costs associated with each makes the camera worth it.

    The following site is SUPERB for catching the scam retailers.
    Make sure to find a store with a good amount of reviews, and keep an eye out for stores that have a ton of "positive" reviews that were posted in the same week. (i.e. fake postings)

    Oh, and never buy grey market, even if you don't care about warranty. In addition to the warranty issues, (correct me if I'm wrong) your camera will have a shorter lifespan because of different AC standards in different countries. (i.e. you get overvoltage if you purchase a grey market item from japan and ship to the USA)
  18. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
  19. Lau Guest

    Yeah, I agree. I'm a manual SLR lover, but when I saw some of the manual features on the more pro compact ones, I chose one of those instead. I bought the Canon PowerShot S60 last summer, and not once have I felt I needed more features than this has.

    It's quite a nice size as well. I paid £350 for it, but you can get it for less than £200 now. [​IMG]

    I think there's a newer S70 now, and that looks good too.
  20. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    If I were you I'd get either the Canon 300D or Canon 350D. The 300D can have a firmware hack that releases a lot of functionality, and the 350D feels bad in my hand. No kit lens, I've done some tests with it, just go get other lenses somewhere. For a mid zoom with good functionality get the Canon 28-105mm 3.5-4.5 USM. Maybe a 50mm 1.8 or 28mm 2.8 prime lens since they can be had for around 50USD.

    Bottom line, around the time the Canon EOS 10D/300D came out, not too much has happened since then. So save your money on the camera and no kit lens, and go get some better lenses.
  21. Dagless thread starter macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    the Nikon D70 is really out of my price range.

    the Canon 350d has my attention at the moment. i mean it was the first one i read about online and what seems to crop up here a lot.

    thing is I'm not made of money. i'll have £800 for my student loan to last me a few months, £600 really is my limit. I cant afford new lenses or anything fancy like that for a while :(
    and remember im just starting out too so i don't need the uber pro stuff for a while :D im really hoping i get into photography. i just had such a fantastic time today getting the lighting right and finding good angles.

    thanks for all the suggestions so far guys :)

    another thing; is it wise to buy second hand? just i've heard some scare stories about getting dust on the CCD (is it called?) and that they have to be professionally cleaned.

    oh and to all you Canon 350d owners; have you got any full size shots i could look at? so i could judge the quality. cheers :)
  22. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    If u don't have any lenses from 35mm SLRs, I would suggest the Olympus E-300. The colour is outstanding and the available lens range is fine with more to come. I have the E-1 and can handle almost any situation with 3 lenses. An extra body would be nice at times, though. So, would an extra camera body. :D

    I don't like the idea of compromise and with Olympus, you're getting a whole system created for digital work. A friend of mine kept telling me how great his Digital Rebel 300D was and then, he tried an E-300. He'll never go back to the Canon.
  23. briangig macrumors regular

    May 16, 2005
    Canon 10D, 300D, or 350D. And then get the 50 1.8, about 50USD. Being forced to used a prime will help you in the beginning. Then, when you feel you can afford it, or need it, start collecting some lenses.
  24. AstrosFan macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2005
    I recently faced the same decision.
    For me, I was primarily comparing the Canon 350D/Rebel XT, the Nikon D50 and D70.
    A couple of other sites that I found useful in my research were:

    On DP review, if you search the forums, you will find MANY threads on XT vs. D50/70.

    I would DEFINITELY second what has already been said about going to a store & picking up the cameras. The other thing to do if you have both SD and CF cards is to take the cards with you to the store - go ahead and shoot some test photos with them. Then come home & look at them & see what you think about the picture quality.
    I read good things about all of these cameras and numerous pro/con debates that mentioned some of the features listed above (CMOS, noise rating, etc.).
    In addition, I looked at several photo magazines and read their ratings.

    Based on my reading, I was thinking that the Canon was probably the camera for me. However, after going to the store & trying it, both my wife & I felt that the D50 was a better fit for us. Not to say the XT isn't a good camera, but rather that the D50 felt the best in our hands.
    Also, I had read that the D50 has some of the best pictures out of the box, without post-processing, which was an important feature to us. It may or may not be that important to you.

    Another factor to consider is the lens - are you planning on buying body only, or getting the kit lens?
    Most sources I've read say that the kit lens with the D70 is the best of the 3, followed by the D50 and that the XT kit lens is the worst of all.
    A popular thing I saw being done was people buying the D50 body only and getting the D70 kit lens. That way, they felt that they got the best of both.
    I got the D50 kit & am happy with it, but I am by no means a professional.

    In the end, I think any of the cameras recommended will give you excellent pictures - try them out & see what fits your fancy.
    Happy shooting!
  25. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    The lenses I talked about are cheap, I got my 28-105mm for about 150USD. I'd buy a used camera, I bought that lens used off ebay. I bought my 28mm prime lens for 50USD from a pawn shop. The thing is that lenses like the ones I mentioned are not pro lenses, but they are so much better than the kit lens you will swear they are.

    The rebel xt is a very capable camera, but they tried to make the body too small to be useful. But the original rebel is a quite good camera and would work well in your budget.

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