Need Help With First DSLR Purchase

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Vel, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Vel macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Hi all at MR,

    I'm looking to purchase my very first Digital SLR camera, however I have no idea what sort of thing to look for and was wondering if you could maybe give me a few pointers and maybe things to look out for.

    At the moment I'm using a Casio Exlim EX-V7, which I've had for about 10months which I love and feel takes fairly good photos, however all my pictures seem to be missing that edge and a little sense of sharpness in comparison to photo quality of some of the shots on here taken with SLR cameras.

    I'm looking to take it photographing as a hobby as appose to just point and snapping when abroad etc etc. and possibly doing it slightly more professionally.

    I already have a copy of Aperture and a few Adobe CS3 applications for editing (I am aware that editing wouldn't be a big priority as I would just be starting out and would be better trying to build on my technique etc etc).

    So any particular suggestions on a camera and maybe a few lenses, I am looking to spend £800-1000 max.

    All suggestions and tips are welcome,


  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The most important bits of info you need to tell us are

    • What subjects are you interested in shooting.
    • Where will you use the camera system. Studio, backpacking, car races...?
    • What is your budget both for the intital system and per year for adding to it.
    • What will you do with the pictures? Show them on an electronic screen? make small prints or large fine art prints, the web?

    In general what you need to do is work out the total kit of lenses lighting and so on that you want to have after a couple years then find an SLR body that fits that kit of gear. Choose the body last even if that is the first thing you actually buy. Of course as a beginer you don't know what that set might be.

    Budget something for stuff like tripod and storage case and or bag

    Pick a brand that has been in the business for a long time. Most have been around for about 50 years or longer. Once you pick a brand you are stuck nearly for life. Choosing an SLR brand is like choosing spouse both are expensive should you decide to switch later.

    If you are thinking about being a pro then maybe also concider a formal education as an arts major. The field is very competitive.

    Relistically you should be looking at Canon and Nikon and getting famiar with their lens and body lineups. If you are thingking abot profesional photography the world is headed to full frame format or even larger but I'd not invest in that yet. maybe some FF optics but not the body yet.
  3. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thanks for your reply.

    • Scenary
    • Cars
    • Animals
    • People
    • (quite a variation really)
    Place of use:
    Everyday use, probably most place except for a studio as it will be my hobby for a good few years before I consider a future or anything in it.

    Initially a max of £1000 including a few lenses (hopefully)
    Not really thought about every year as normally if I see something I like then I will just save an purchase it.

    My photo's will be mainly be viewed on my iMac and on my .me account, with a few small prints upto A4 with a very rare larger print on occasions.

    I was looking at a few Nikon and Canon cameras however I was reading through the spec sheets for them and in all honesty didn't really know what the majority of it meant (which is partially the reason I posted here).

    When I purchas the body and a lens or two I am going to purchase a book to help me learn all the import factors (Aperture, Noise, Exposure etc).

    This may sound like a daft question, but what are FF Optics,

    Thanks Again,

  4. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    Bay Area
    FF is full frame, which essentially is referring to "full frame" digital SLR cameras that have sensors nearly the size of a traditional 35mm camera, as opposed to the more prevalent APS-C sensors, which use a "crop factor" of 1.5 or 1.6 versus a full frame.

    A FF lens is one that is not restricted to DX (digital format) cameras. This is mostly an issue on the Nikon side, whereas the Canon users have full frame issues when a lens protrudes too far back (EF-S).

    Take a look at Canon and Nikon's consumer models, the 450d and d60. Both of those are cheap enough that you would have much of your budget left over for great lenses.
  5. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thanks again for your reply, so if I was to purchase the Canon 450d, what sort of lenses would you suggest are purchased to go with it, and thanks for your explanation of FF Optics,

  6. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    Bay Area
    I have no idea what the prices are on your side of the pond, so I'm going to err on the side of expensive when I make my comments.

    Lets say that the Canon XSI (450d) with the 18-55mm IS kit lens is $800 or so here, we'll call it £450.

    That leaves £550 if you're doing the full £1000.

    With that £550, I suggest you pick up a Canon 70-200 F/4 L lens. Its a brilliant lens, beautiful color and bokeh and very sharp. Its around £300 by my bets guesses. You can call it quits there and have a great kit, or you can have £250 left and pick up something like the Tokina 12-24mm f/4 ultra wide angle lens.

    That would be a very solid kit with some great glass to grow on in the future.
  7. bigandy macrumors G3


    Apr 30, 2004
    I read a few reviews of the EOS 400D and the 450D, and they seemed to have a little bit of a consensus that the 400D was, if anything, as good as it's replacement, which is why I picked one up as my first DSLR purchase.

    Shop around carefully and you can get one comfortably under £400 new for the kit, leaving you lots more pennies for your lens purchases. :)

    Unfortunately US prices simply don't equate to UK, so you'll be looking at probably £500 for a nice 450D kit.
  8. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Realistically you should look at all your options before spending that kind of money. There are 3 or 4 other brands who make incredible cameras and optics (many of them rivaling, equaling, and even surpassing those of Canon and Nikon) that would be very worth while to evaluate before dropping 800 to 1000 pounds.

    I'd recommend Sony, Olympus, and Pentax (or Samsung which is identical with a different name) in addition to Nikon and Canon. All are able to produce equally stunning photographs and it's mostly a matter of ergonomics where the differences lie.

    I don't know if you have ambitions of making money at this, but I know many many professional Pentax shooters, even a few Sony/Minolta shooters, and an Olympus shooter. All brands have professional potential, but you've got to like the feel, and you've gotta be able to get the lenses you need to do what you do.

    I'd take a Pentax 77 mm f/1.8 limited over anything comparable from any other brand anyday, that's why I'm shooting Pentax (and yes I make a buck or two from my hobby). Pentax has more than suited my needs and style and I don't see that changing. I'm certain that Sony and Olympus (and Canon and Nikon) do the same for other users so find out what turns your tractor for yourself before putting too much stock into what anyone else has to say about it.

  9. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thanks for all your responses guys, I think I'm definitely going to purchase one of these in the next few weeks/days, depending on if I can wait till payday and I'll shop around and see how much I can pick one up for even if I just get it with the 18-55mm lens at first and then pick up the alternative lens in a month or so.

    Thanks again and I'll be sure to show you some of my pics when I get it and tell you what I think,

  10. jsgreen macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    This was a helpful site when I was making my DSLR decision (I bought a Nikon d40 about 7 months ago and really like it):

    Also helpful was this site:

    I think if you buy a Nikon you can't go wrong. Canons also come highly recommended (both make quality lenses). I had a bad warranty experience with a point-and-shoot Canon so I won't buy one of their products again.
  11. Dmac77 macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2008
    Personally I find Canon cameras to be awkward to hold, but for around $700 you could get a Nikon D80 and then still have $1300 to spend on some glass, 18-200 VR for an example. Sorry but I don't know how to enter the Pound Sterling symbol. Your best bet is to go and hold the cameras that your thinking about. When I was looking for my first DSLR I was dead set on Canon but then I went and held one and it just wasn't comfortable. The D80 is a very good camera, I wish that I would of had the money for it, but I didn't so I got a D60.

    Good Luck,



    Nikon's lower end optics (sub $1000) in many people's opinion are much better then Canon's, but once you get into the high end optics (canon L series) the optical quality is just about equal.
  12. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    People have different brand preferences. I prefer Nikon, but you won't go wrong with Canon either.

    Heck, the devotees of Pentax, Olympus, Sony, etc. that post on this board demonstrate that you can't go wrong with most any brand really. The quality of your photos will not be dependent on the brand of camera you end up purchasing.
  13. Whorehay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2008
    He speaks the truth!
  14. hector macrumors regular

    Sep 18, 2006
    Cheltenham, UK
    I reckon the best thing to do is go to a camera shop, pick up and have a go with a Nikon d40/d60 (both are pretty similar), Canon 400d/450d, and the Olympus, Pentax, Sony etc cameras in that price range.
    They will all take really good pictures and they will all have great lens choices (except the Nikon if you are interested in prime lenses, in which case check out d80).

    Buy whichever one you like the most, you are unlikely to make a bad choice with any of those, and then go out and use it with kit lens for a month or so until you feel like you have an idea of what you are doing. If you can take it on holiday somewhere then that will help.

    After that, you will probably have worked out which lens(es) you want, zoom, macro, wide-angle or whatever and you will be able to make more informed choices.

    If money is no object then ignore what I just said and go and buy everything you like the look of :D
  15. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Re: Buying Canon/Nikon or something else

    To be totally honest, I would stick with one of the two main brands. There is a much larger community for Canon/Nikon than there are for Sony/Pentax/etc. It will also be easier to find repair shops and stores that sell a wider range of their products.

    In addition to the suggestions above, I would pick up the Canon 50mm f1.4. It's pretty cheap- in the US it runs for around $50. My setup is:

    Canon 400D
    Canon 18-55mm (crappy kit lens)
    Canon 24-105mm
    Canon 50mm
    Sigma 10-20mm

    That's another thing; buy the body without the kit lens. It sucks, and you can put the money you save towards something with superior optics.
  16. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thanks for all your replies,

    I think I will go to the Trafford Centre on Saturday and have a look properly, but I'm currently edging towards the D80 as the body is currently selling for £420 which seems rather cheap. Only question is if I were to purchase the body only, which lens would you suggest I lean towards as my first lens. I will probably use it for about 6months or so before deciding to purchase additional lenses, once I decided what I'll need them for and when understand a lot more about what each lens type does,


  17. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I'll just through this one out there.... are you sure you want a DSLR? I only ask because many people buy one expecting professional quality shots all the sudden. In fact, the people who do would be better off with an advanced P&S (like the Canon A720, 650 or G9) because the out of camera results are usually punchier (more saturation, sharpening, contrast, etc). I've seen comparisons on on DPR where a G9 used correctly is as good as a D350 .... that is not to say a G9 is better than a D350, just depends on the hands its in.
  18. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Yes, I definitely want a DSLR, I know I won't take it out of the box and be shooting amazing pics straight away, but it's something I'm wanting to spend a lot of time doing. I'm willing/wanting to put in both the time and effort thats needed to learn how to take good photos.

  19. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    I have the 18-70 DX, don't have any trouble with it. It has proper AF-S and is a bit faster at the long end than the cheaper 18-55 so I'd probably get it over that. Other suggestions would be the 50mm f/1.8, the 18-200, if you want just one lens, or, perhaps one of the f/2.8 17/18-50s from Sigma or tamron. I've been mostly using a sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 and it seems fine, I'm sure the EX is better.
  20. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thanks I'm just wanting one lens to start off with so think i may purchase one of these or once I've been to see the D80 in person and decided that's the camera I want,

  21. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Cool, those are both good. I suppose the 18-70 is probably better in that range, but of course you miss out on 70-200 and VR. Since you said you want to shot animals, people etc you may find the extra length very useful.
  22. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Cool I think it's decided then, if I like the feel etc of the D80 I'll be ordering one on Saturday,

    Thanks for all your help guys and I'll be sure to keep you posted on how the new purchase goes,

  23. NEiMac macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2007
    THe really dry side of the Pacific NW
    If you get the D80 you might seriously consider getting the 50mm 1.8 lens with whatever other lens you get. Its crazy cheep and a great lens. Just a thought.
  24. hector macrumors regular

    Sep 18, 2006
    Cheltenham, UK
    Good advice. Looking forward to seeing your results!
  25. Vel thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Yeah I've seen one for about £65 so I might pick one up just so I don't have to have the big lens on all the time,


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