Need some advice on first SLR purchase.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by iceblade, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. iceblade macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    Hi, thanks for taking time to check out the thread.

    I'm looking into getting my first SLR. Specifically, digital, because I don't want to have to develop, then scan, etc. But, I would get film if I really had to.

    The problem is, I've read so much stuff on the internet trying to figure out what one is right for me, I don't know which one is good for my uses anymore. edit: which one being what digital camera. I was afraid I worded this badly and someone would think the choice was between film and digital./edit

    I'm a highschool student, with as you can imagine, a very limited budget. That means most $1000+ cameras are way out of my range. That being said, the less expensive but still decent quality, the better. I don't need auto focus (I'm using a film SLR at school in a photography class, so I kinda know what I am doing), if I wanted that I'd just get a $100-$200 point and shoot digital camera. So, auto focus isn't a big deal I don't think (unless someone can tell me why it is a big deal?) but this is really where a lot of confusion comes in for me, I think. I could afford a Nikon d40 a lot easier then some of the higher end Canons and Nikons, but I've read that there isn't as much of a choice in lenses (and they tend to be more expensive), because the auto focus motor has to be integrated into every lens the Nikon D40 uses. Can I use other lenses besides those made for the Nikon D40 if I just don't use auto focus?

    Would I be better off just waiting and buying a camera twice the nikon D40's price, even though I may be looking at several years for that, instead of just 1-3 years (if that) for a Nikon D40?

    Should I even consider Nikons? Now I know a lot of people feel strongly about Nikon or Canon, either way... Personally, I am using a Canon film SLR at school, and it seems fine. I'm not a picky person, in general. If it works, if its inexpensive, and if it does what I want more or less, I'm happy. That being said, I've never used a Nikon. So, some guidance there as well, I guess.

    So, summed up before I told way too many stories and used too many words:

    Can I use regular lenses on the Nikon D40 if I don't use auto focus?
    (If no, what is the cheapest camera (canon or nikon) that I can use manual focus and no autofocus? By the way, I know that lenses made for Nikon don't fit on canon, and vice versa. Or, at least, I think thats what I've read...)
    Is there a reason I should go for a Canon instead of Nikon?
    Should I save up for a more expensive camera, even though I won't have a good camera for several years?
    Should I just use a film SLR and be thankful for my blessings, even if I have to get a scanner to scan stuff into my computer and develop every roll at walmart or something?
    Should I just get a point and shoot digital camera, because its pretty obvious I can't afford anything better (IE, film OR digital SLRs)?

    edit: By the way, thanks everyone for your help. I appreciate it.
  2. buffalomike macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2007
    you can manual focus non afs lenses on the d40.

    I use nikon and have liked them, but there is nothing wrong with the canons.

    What do you want to shoot? The body doesn't matter as much as the lenses.
  3. iceblade thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    Thanks for your quick response!

    I had a digital point and shoot that got broken, and when I had that, I tended to do macro and landscape, with occasional still life stuff thrown in. Like I said, it got broken some how (I'm not sure how), which gave me a good excuse to get a nicer camera for more 'artistic' photography. In the future, I could see myself doing a bit more sports photography. Those are just the main things I shoot or intend to shoot though... Naturally, there are other things as well that crop up from time to time, but nothing major.

    Thanks for your information and opinions :). Keep them coming, everyone!
  4. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    For macro, landscape, still life manual focus is probably fine 99.999% of the time. Like buffalomike said you can MF any Nikon lens with the D40. If you are going to get into sports photography I would think you'd want an AF lens. Athletes move fast and if you are struggling to get the focus right you're going to miss shots. That said, I'm sure it's not that bad to MF as long as you DoF is fairly deep.

    Finally, the D40 has a decent selection of lenses, with the glaring problems being in the fast primes lenses. There's a total of about 3 fast primes that will AF on the D40, and they are all $400-500. If you want to go manual, though, you can get a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 for under $100 used.
  5. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    ChrisA will always say, when buying a camera, don't look at the body only, look at the system. Which lens will suit your need and which system are you willing to spend on for a very long time. Something like that :D

    Anyway, for me, I would recommend the 1000D because since you are used at using Canon Film SLR, I guess it might feel the same? And besides, the 1000D has a lot of features then the D40 which will give you more room to play around with :) Not to forget to mention that you would be able to swap lenses with the Canon Film SLR which you are using now.

    Oh yeah, and for sports photography, I've read a lot of people response about this kind of question (regarding sports photography) and they will tell ya, Body matters in Sports Photography, you will need at least 3fps and higher for sports photography.

    Anyway, keep in touch :)
  6. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    If you wait for a year or two, then you may be able to afford a newer and better camera. Technology is moving so fast that a period two years is a long time. Canon upgrades its cameras (XT series, 20D series) almost every year.

    If you buy a Nikon D40, or maybe a Canon XT, soon enough you would want a more advanced camera.
  7. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Yeah, last year was XT, this year is XS (1000D), I wonder what will next year be? Xx? :p
  8. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    I shoot Nikon and am very happy with it - but I don't think you can go wrong with Canon either. As a matter of fact, one advantage to the Canon's (in the short term anyway) is perhaps you might have access to some additional Canon film lenses from school?

    I personally wouldn't worry about the D40 "AF-S only" limitation, if you decide you prefer Nikon.

    Seriously, I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever camera you buy. It's pretty rare to hear anyone complain about their camera after the purchase, no matter what brand they choose. What we usually see is people getting overly enthusiastic about their particular brand of choice. :p
  9. juanster macrumors 68020


    Mar 2, 2007
    i would say look into a D40 or D60 (Nikons) or if you want Canon then you can probably get a rebel xt (or 350D) for a really good price nowdays and its an awesome camera for its price, maybe an XTi or maybe even a XSi it depends how much you want to spend, IMO you ll want to spend more in a good lens, so a good used or even better a new Rebel XT body with a nice lens (400 bucks will get you a very nice first lens i think) and you are set for a while... same goes with a D40 ...there also are otehr brands out there of course, but i don't know anything bout them so i won;t suggest anything on them
  10. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    The D40, and D60 still use the old Nikon CCD sensors which don't perform nearly as well as Canons CMOS sensors when it comes to noise.

    My vote is to find a XTi or XSi, I regularly see the XTi going for around $450-$500 used. They're much better cameras in terms of features than the D40 and D60 IMO. The XTi will probably be much less limiting in the long run.

    What I would do:

    Buy a used XTi with the kit lens - $400 - $500
    Buy a new 50mm f/1.8 or beg and work for the 50mm f/1.4, with a set of tubes they can make very decent "macro-ish" lenses. - $100 - $300
    Save for a used 17-40 f/4 L for the landscape work - $500 - $600
  11. timmyb macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I've just bought a D40 and it's excellent - the D60 doesn't give a lot extra for the price.
    On that basis no-one should ever buy any piece of technology!
  12. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    One important note, since you've been shooting film...

    I'm assuming you have some understanding of focal length. Well, with the lower end digital SLRs, the sensor is smaller than the 35mm film frame. This means that, when shooting with one of these cameras, you have to consider the sensor crop factor - 1.5x for Nikon, 1.6x for Canon. Basically this means, in terms of the field of view, you have to multiply the focal length by the crop factor when figuring out what focal length works for your shot.

    Here's an example (it's all pretty simple): With film, 24mm is considered a wide angle lens. But on a Nikon camera, that 24mm lens gives you the equivalent field of view of a 36mm lens (24mm*1.5) - not really wide angle at all. On the Canon, it's roughly equivalent to 38mm (24mm*1.6). If you want the same field of view as you'd get with a 24mm lens on film, on the Nikon you'd need a lens whose focal length is 16mm (16mm*1.5=24mm).

    On the plus side, that crop factor really benefits a person shooting with a telephoto lens - 400mm*1.5=600mm!
  13. juanster macrumors 68020


    Mar 2, 2007
    ohhhhhh, thanks a lot, i ve always seen or heard people talking about this crop factors and i really had no idea what that was all about,, now it's so clear...I always thought it had something to do with uncompatibility with leses.:eek:

    The reason i said get an XT was becaus eyou can probaly find a new for about 300 bucks or even less... and spend whatever you have left on a) the 50 mm f/1.8 ($100) its pretty much a must and b)on whatever other lens you want to have, so if lets say you had 1000 bucks to start with you have over 350 for a nice (used maybe) glass instead of 250(which wont' get you much unless you buy used).

    Also FX120 what are this tubes you are talking about i owuld very much be intereste don those...(with a set of tubes they can make very decent "macro-ish" lenses. - $100 - $300
  14. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Wow, thanks for the calculation, that's great. I mean if the lighting is okay, and if you have a 400mm lens, this is great :D, don't need to bring around a full-frame ;).
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The biggest different between Nikon and canonis the Nikon never changed their lens mount. So (with some exceptions) a VERY old Nikon lens fromthe 1960's can still be used on a new Nikon DSLR. and the new Nikon lesn will fit on the old 1970's film camera. Canon changed their lens mount when automatic focus was invented maybe 25 years ago. So Canon's lens compatibility "only" goes back to that point.

    The D40/D60 take the same lenses are other Nikon DSLRs it's just that these low-end bodies lack their own focus motor so you are going to need a lens with it's own motor. These are actually NOT more expensive.

    If you are on a budget look at used equipment. A used Nikon D50 is a great deal. Cost is about $300 and the D50 has the in-body focus motor which opens the door to all those older used Nikon lenses.
  16. Regis27 macrumors member

    Dec 13, 2006

    a Nikon d40 can use all the same lenses as the bigger Nikons, it just can't autofocus them. Since you said that autofocus isn't a big deal for you, a d40 could work out well for you.

    That being said you might also keep an eye out for cameras 2 generations back (Nikon d50, d70; Canon XT, 20d). They would probably be more than sufficient for your needs (I say that as a 20D user).
  17. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    You can get a used D50 body for around $200 and autofocus with all Nikon-mount AF lenses.
  18. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    For me, the small size of the D40 is a problem. I own one, and after using a larger camera like the D300 (which I also own now), the D40 feels cramped in my hand. I realize that the D300 is obviously a more expensive camera, but it isn't the image quality in question for me. It's just that the D300 is just much nicer to hold and to use.

    Some people want light and small cameras. I'm just not one of those people. My only thought is just to be sure that you're okay with a small camera in your hand on a regular basis.
  19. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    Are you stuck between Canon and Nikon?

    I was, but couldn't pass up a deal on a 2 lens Olympus E-500 for $500.

    Just a thought - the Olympus does have the Four-Thirds system with a slightly smaller sensor, but may be a better value for your first DSLR.

    I'm really happy with mine...
  20. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    Extension tubes. They let the lens focus at a closer distance, upping the magnification factor. You're not going to get the same results that you would out of a dedicated magnifying macro lens, but for what most people think of as "macro" they work fine.
  21. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Yeah, Olympus is value for money (my friend wanted to sell me a second-hand Oly) but I don't like the picture quality it produces. To the OP, make sure when you are choosing your camera, visit a few review sites (don't visit only one).
  22. romanaz macrumors regular


    Aug 24, 2008
    I'm in the same boat as you. Honestly, if you have experience with Canon, grab it. IMO best for the money would be the Digital Rebel XS or if you can swing it, the XSi. Best deal imo is @ B&H photo. 489 for the XS w/ the kit lens, 18-55mm w/ Image stabilzer, and 540 or so with the kit lens and a non-image stabilized zoom lens, I think it was 75-300mm lens.

    imo, for the money, its got the best picture (check out for that) and it has the most amount of lenses it is compatible with (all the EF and EF-S series lenses).

    but, i would run through and see what you want and feel would fit your needs better.

  23. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    I'd opt for the Sony A200 which offers the biggest bang for the buck at very decent image qualities! High ISO noise is a bit erring but then you have inbuilt IS......

    P.S.: the crop factor from film or full frame diag 35mm to APS-C is 1.6 if I'm not mistaken!

    And if you're more into Canon... Adorama has it for about 488
  24. legacyb4 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Look at picking up any of the recent Pentax DSLR bodies as well; full featured, great cameras, and access to a really, really long history of good glass.
  25. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

    Mar 7, 2008
    Yep pentax is good too. But the only hitch I'll have in recommending it is that the company.... speaking frankly... isnt faring too well and we just cant be sure if it'll stick around in the next 5 years!

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