Need advice on new camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Patriks7, May 9, 2009.

  1. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    Oct 26, 2008
    #1
    Hey guys. After a couple years with my Casio point and shoot, I have decided to step my game up a bit and go for either a DSLR or a super-zoom. But after going through a couple review sites, I am OVERWHELMED by the choice of cameras and lenses. So I am hoping someone here could help me answer the following questions and get me some advice on which direction to go.

    First, I have only used a DSLR and a super-zoom in a store. Not really any "real-world" experience. I am also a hobby photographer, and I am not planning into go into anything professional.

    So what exactly is the difference between a DSLR and a super-zoom? From what I understand, the super-zoom has a fixed lens, which should be "OK" in most cases. Is that right?

    Can anyone explain to me exactly what the differences between lenses are? Because the number I found is really overwhelming and I was not able to figure out the differences and uses.

    So what I plan to shoot: practically, everything. From friends/family to sports to animals to architecture. Any advice on what would fit me better? DSLR or super-zoom?

    I am planning on staying in a 1000 Euro budget AT MOST, so I want something that will fit my needs above. I have currently been looking at some Canon's, Nikon's and Sony's, as I heard they tend to be a better choice for beginners. After looking at some models, with my limited knowledge, I am going more towards Canon, mainly due to their super-zoom being superior according to many reviews (SX1 and SX10) and their DSLRs have many more lenses from what I saw.

    So, guys, please help a lost noobie!

    P.S. - please don't make this into a Canon vs Nikon vs Sony vs .... thread, that is not my objective.
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
    Pretty much. The main thing you get with a DSLR in addition to being able to switch lenses is a physically larger sensor, which almost always translates to better IQ.

    Lenses are divided into 3 categories; Wide angle, telephoto, and those in the middle. That's about as much as I can tell you without knowing specifics like brand or desired focal length.

    super-zoom if IQ isn't a huge factor to you.

    Canon and Nikon dominate aftermarket sales due to their huge variety of lenses and accessories. If you were going to get a DSLR I'd stick with Canon or Nikon.
     
  3. cube macrumors G5

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    #3
    A superzoom uses a small sensor, so there's a big difference in image quality with a DSLR, specially in low light.

    I don't see which DSLR maker would not make good cameras for beginners. Pentax and Olympus, for example, make great entry-level cameras as well.
     
  4. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #4
    If you are serious about making a long term commitment to DSLR photography, wait until you can afford a full frame DSLR. The Nikon D700 is a great deal, and the prices to enter full frame will continue to fall rapidly. When they get to a point that you can afford, jump in.

    If you are serious about photography, your main investment is going to be in glass over the years. If you buy an APC camera like the Canon Rebel, Nikon D90 etc., when you do go to full frame, you are going to want to sell all your glass as well. If you start with a full frame, over the years you may upgrade the body from time to time, but the glass that you buy starting now will continue to serve you well.

    The D700 is a great DSLR, and if it is too rich for your blood, there will be another full frame soon that will be both better and much cheaper.
     
  5. cube macrumors G5

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    #5
    The entry-level price for full frame does not fall rapidly. Don't wait hoping to be able to afford a new full frame DSLR.

    (There are used full frame DSLRs under $1000, but they cannot be consided general-purpose cameras, because they are old and with sensor limitations).
     
  6. mcavjame macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

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    #6
    I agree that the lenses will be the major investment, but to suggest a full frame camera will add thousands to the initial investment.

    Starting with an entry level dSLR doesn't mean you have to sell your lenses when you upgrade. I currently own the Canon XS (cheapest of Canon entry level) but I am only buying L series lenses (top of the line) so that I have the flexibility to get another consumer slr or go full frame. There is no way I would sell these off with an entry level SLR. I would pass on the kit lens only.

    The benefit is that getting the best lenses maintain their value over time if I decide I don't need a particular focal range.
     
  7. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    As you don't really know what you want, dropping a ton of money right now doesn't make a lot of sense. Your best bet may be to buy something relatively cheap (ie a used superzoom would work well for this) and use it for a while. Take note of what focal length you are using the most, what focal lengths are critical, which ones and which ones you can live without. Also pay attention to what you like and don't like about the camera. You may find that you take most of your pictures of kids playing soccer, so you are always using 200-300 mm focal length and the light isn't great so the superzoom is missing some shots (I don't know your situation so this is just an example). If you want better low light ability, DSLR is a good way to go and you know you need a 200-300 mm lens (preferably with decent light sensitivity (ie f4 or better). You could also buy a DSLR and pair of kit lenses within your budget, but those lenses aren't the best and you quite likely will want to upgrade and the market for used kit lenses is quite poor. If you had bought the used superzoom, you could probably turn it around with very little money lost and a lot of knowledge gained.
     
  8. mcavjame macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

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    #8
    Keep in mind that a good superzoom and entry level dSLR will be close in price. The response and usefulness of the dSLR will far outperform the SZ. Shutter lag is my biggest beef with PS style cameras.
     
  9. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #9
    ...but going with your method also adds thousands, or at least double the price of the body, to the initial investment. Buying L-lenses for one's first DSLR, in my humble opinion, is overkill. The standard 18-55 IS on the XS and XSi is a perfectly fine beginner lens, and even if you resold it later on you'd probably only lose on the order of a few tens of dollars. Compare that to dropping a few hundred dollars on an L and not using it properly. Waste.
     
  10. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #10
    I think Nikon has stated and confirmed their commitment to the DX lenses and sensor. It'll be around for awhile.
     
  11. Patriks7 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    Oct 26, 2008
    #11
    Thanks a lot for the reply! Some useful info for me.
    Do you (or anyone for that matter) have a good site with reviews for both DSLRs with lenses where I could also price them up? (preferably European)

    Thanks, but if you would have read my post, this is as a hobby and not anything really serious. I travel quite a bit and want to bring back some nice pictures, which always suck with a point and shoot. So a full-frame is firstly out of my price range but also really unnecessary.

    Well I'm a student, so its not likely I'll be taking pictures of kids (at least not mine :p) playing soccer. But I'm really considering your idea to buy a super-zoom for now, find out how everything works and with time maybe move on to a DSLR.
     
  12. mcavjame macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

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    #12
    I agree. A dSLR with a kit lens is the way to go.

    My point was, if you happen to buy additional lenses, they don't have to go with your starter camera. They can be an investment into your hobby when you decide to upgrade in the future.

    Most lenses I purchase are used because there are a wealth of EF and AF lenses to choose from in the Canon community. I just tend to avoid the EF-S lenses so that I have the option to go full frame if I want to.
     
  13. Patriks7 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #13
    That actually makes sense.
    I just want to know, how important is image stabilization? It seems to be on the higher end lenses only and the only body with it I've seen so far is Sony. So is it just not a useful feature with DSLRs?
     
  14. mcavjame macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

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    #14
    IS is only good if you're a shaky photographer. What it does is allow for up to 2 f-stops of compensation when the shutter slows for lower light situations.

    It has no benefit for compensating subject movement. So if your subject moves in low light, it will be blurry.
     
  15. indiecraig macrumors member

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    Jan 25, 2008
    #15
    My suggestion is to go for a consumer level DX format DSLR from Canon or Nikon. With a superzoom you are pretty much stuck with what you started with, whereas with a DSLR you can buy new glass, flashes, filters, battery grips etc.

    For example, once you have gotten to grips with the kit lens and started using the manual settings you could get a nice prime lens. These have really wide apertures and are great for taking photos in low light. They also allow you to be a lot more creative by reducing the depth of field, blurring out the background and focusing attention on the subject.

    You can also get remote flashes, which you can place anywhere, giving amazing effects which just aren't possible with a fixed flash. Polarizing filters allow you to remove reflections, for example on water or glass, and can also make the sky much bluer, making landscapes all the more beautiful.

    There is just so much you can do with a DSLR, but if you want to just take photos, stick it in auto mode. They aren't much larger than bridge cameras either.
     
  16. Patriks7 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #16
    Thanks a lot for your reply! Do you have any particular models you could suggest? I have currently looked at the Canon XS,XSi and T1i (I think those are supposed to be the low end) as well as the Nikon D40, D40x and D60 (same) and I really can't find a decision which would be the better to start out with.
    Also, how is Olympus? Their E420/E520 both seem quite good (and pretty well priced) as do their lenses.
     
  17. indiecraig macrumors member

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    #17
    I have a Nikon D40 (now replaced by the D60) and am very happy with it, but there have been advances in the last couple of years, such as live view and HD video recording which you may be interested in, as they "fill the gaps" between DSLRs and bridge cameras/superzooms. Live view allows you to frame a shot on the screen, whereas with the D40 or D60 you must use the viewfinder. This doesn't bother me, I like the viewfinder, but it might be something to consider. HD video recording might interest you also, as you would be able to get some really nice effects as you expand your equipment. These features are available on the Nikon D90 and D5000 (D5000 has a swiveling screen!) and the Canon 500D. They do add a bit of cost, so if these features don't interest you, by all means go with a D60 or Canon equivalent, such as the 1000D or 450D.

    So, basically, it depends what you want and how much you're willing to spend. If I were you I would stick with Canon or Nikon, as third party lens manufacturers such as Sigma, Tokina and Tamron have some of their lenses only available with a Canon or Nikon mount, so if you get a Olympus or Sony you are limiting your options. If you do some research on all the model numbers shown above, I'm sure you'll find something that suits your needs and is within your budget.
     
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #18
    i suggest sticking to a superzoom, at least initially. if you don't like the results, that means you need an SLR, but at this point even you're not sure if you care about that kind of image quality.
     
  19. cube macrumors G5

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    #19
    Canon and Nikon only have IS in the lenses. You can find in-body IS in other brands, like Pentax and Olympus.

    Look at the Pentax K200D. It's also weather-sealed, which is amazing for the price.
     
  20. indiecraig macrumors member

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    #20
    For the versatility to shoot sports, architecture, animals and people, in a variety of environments, a camera with interchangeable lenses is the way to go.

    Sports: Telephoto lens with stabilisation. The larger sensor will also allow faster shutter speeds (freeze movement) at higher ISO levels with less noise. Lots of jargon there, but basically you will get much better photos.
    Arcitecture: Wide angle lenses are invaluable for taking photos of large buildings.
    Animals and people: These subjects tend to move (especially kids, as I have seen with my nephew), meaning that you will want fast shutter speeds to freeze movement. Problems arise in darker conditions, where long exposures are necessary to catch enough light. You can use flash to get around this, which gives a blown out effect, emphasises wrinkles and darkens backgrounds. With a DSLR you can get a fixed focal length wide aperture lens, which lets in a lot more light, allowing faster shutter speeds without the use of flash.

    I guess it depends what you want to do with it, but if you want versatility, get a DSLR.
     
  21. indiecraig macrumors member

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    #21
    True, but putting the IS in the body means you don't see the effect of it through the viewfinder. You see the image all shaky and have to hope that the stabilisation does its job. I like to know just how much shake I'm putting up with after stabilisation, not before.

    It is advantageous to have every lens stabilised, but you only really need IS on your telephoto lens, as the amount of shake reduces with focal length, so you only need to buy it once. You can get IS on a few shorter lenses, but you probably wouldn't notice much difference.
     
  22. Patriks7 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #22
    OK so I started putting together a list of DSLRs and super-zooms. So which specs/features should I look for (what is most important)? After this I'll go to a store to try them all personally (if I'll find one over here...) and then decide, but I want to narrow it down to just, say, 4 cameras according to their specs.
     
  23. indiecraig macrumors member

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    #23
    Just wondering, when you say superzoom, what do you mean? Point and shoot cameras can have 10x zooms, which would class it as a superzoom. Then there's 'bridge cameras' which come somewhere in between a point and shoot and a DSLR and usually have a large zoom, so would also be classed as a superzoom. You can even get superzoom lenses for DSLRs, like the 18-200mm Nikkor lens I have. The term "superzoom" really describes the focal range of a camera, not the form factor.

    When looking at specs, don't get blinded by high megapixel counts. It's the image quality that matters, not the numbers. You can find out about image quality and other things that matter by looking on sights like "Trusted Reviews". I've used them a few times and find their advice to be sound.
    http://www.trustedreviews.com/

    One last thing: don't expect any one person to be able to tell you what to buy. You need to spend a few hours googling and reading reviews and figuring out what is best for you. Before buying photography equipment I spend a lot of time (sometimes too much) exploring all avenues and figuring out which is best for me. There's a camera out there for you, and when you figure out which one it is you will be so happy once you have it.
     
  24. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #24
    Specs and features aren't going to vary much between entry-level DSLRs. With superzooms, you might get slightly different zoom ranges and sensor sizes. Your first decision should be which it is that you want. Do you want greater convenience or greater image quality? A superzoom will give you more zoom range in a smaller and lighter package. But its small sensor will mean more noise in the images:

    [​IMG]

    Those sensors in the bottom row are what you get in superzoom cameras. They are very small and don't have enough light-collecting power to do well in low-light situations. If you'll do most of your shooting outdoors in good light, then perhaps the sensor size won't be so much of an issue for you.

    Most superzooms allow you to zoom with a lever on the camera around the shutter button. With a DSLR, you have to put your hand on the lens and rotate the zoom ring. So again, you lose some convenience with the DSLR.

    However, the benefits of the superzoom pretty much end there. If you don't mind a camera that is a bit heftier, and if you don't mind fiddling a bit more when taking pictures, then you'll gain a lot by being able to change lenses to suit your situation and to increase creative possibilities. A good lens will enable you to do things that are not possible with a superzoom, such as creating dramatic subject/background separation (sharp subject, very blurry background). Great lenses also offer the potential for superlative image quality, of course.

    So make that decision first: great convenience versus greater image quality and increased creative possibilities. Which do you prefer?
     
  25. Patriks7 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #25
    Yeah I mean a bridge camera. I just saw the term "super-zoom" on some sites so thought it's the term used (before I used "DSLR-like"). Also, thanks a lot for the site! I can already see myself buried in it for the next couple days/weeks :p

    Thanks for the explanation there with the sensors. The more I think about it, I would rather prefer the image quality and creativity. After all, I can always have my point and shoot with me as well for the time I really need the convenience.
    So I guess time to go back to Googling and reading all those reviews :p
     

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