Purchasing a dSLR

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mechcozmo, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I'm going to be taking a trip soon, and I want to upgrade my photo hardware.

    I've sort of settled on a Canon. I've handled two EOS-20Ds and am very impressed with their quality and settings layout, and have also owned a Canon PowerShot S2 IS for a while. This isn't completely ruling out other brands, but just stating my bias.

    The EOS-30D is pretty nice, but a bit pricey and out of date. Upgrade soon?
    The Digital Rebel Xti (EOS-400D outside of the US) is also pretty nice, but it doesn't have the features of the 30D.
    I've also handled various other Canon dSLRs and have liked them.

    The Nikon D40 is a bit too simple feature-wise.
    I'm not sure where the D80 and the D200 fit in Nikon's camera lineup... although the D200 is a bit on the pricey side of things.

    I'm going to need a camera that will last. I know the lenses will outlive the camera but still-- I'm doing some stuff that leans towards the "professional amateur" end of the spectrum rather than the "clueless beginner" end.

    Whatever camera I end up purchasing, it needs to be durable. I take good care of my stuff, but solidly-built is a good plus.

    Ideally, I'd like to spend $1300 max for camera + lens + card + case/bag. Only one lens for now... can't afford anything more. I know the kit lens isn't the best lens for an SLR, but they also tend to have a decent wide angle to telephoto range for a good price... but a lens depends on the camera. I would end up purchasing a flash later, once my cash reserves have been rebuilt.

  2. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    If the Canon 20D is within your budget ... go for it :)

  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    In my opinion and as a faithful Nikon user the 30d should not be ruled out as old technology. Now understand that as a faithful Nikon user I am subject to the ******** Nikon is pushing out (ie: d50, d40) instead of doing what Canon is doing and that is focusing on both their consumer and prosumer dslr range. History shows the 20d came out 1 year before the 30d and so technically one might be able to assume the 40d or whatever it'll be named will be out sometime in the next couple of months. However, like a computer I feel that if what is on the market today suits your current needs and there is nothing that you know of coming in the next say week or so then buy what is available today.

    If the 30d isn't quite up to your specs and you feel an update to that line would be then you're going to have to wait. Obviously you're in no rush if you're willing to speculate on what may be coming and wait for it.

    I've used both canon and nikon, I was simply too heavily invested in Nikon glass from my film days to really make any kind of move to canon. Having shot with a 10d, 20d, 30d and 5d I'm confident that if I were willing to swallow the move (cost wise) I would.
  4. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    What features does the D30 have over the XTi that you are interested in?
  5. Mechcozmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Higher maximum ISO (and noise reduction)
    Long exposures
    Sports action, etc. (The 30D can take more pictures faster)
    Body (plastic vs. metal)

    These are just a few that I've noticed. I'm not sure on the rest; that's why I asked for help because the XTi does have a number of nice features like the CMOS cleaning, 10 megapixels, etc.
  6. suneohair macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2006
    In your range, I would go with a D80. You could consider the D200 to be the middle of the road to the high end Nikon and the D40. However, the D80 is on par with the D200 and I know some people who get the D80 instead.

    Go to a camera shop and try them out. I couldn't live without the dual wheel on the Nikon.

    Reviews are you friend as well. Dpreview is great, but most of all use them before hand. And just because you have used the Canon doesn't mean it is the best by any means, if you never try anything of course it would be the best.

    Most SLRs are built well. I don't think you have to worry, but honestly you still have to be careful. Durability doesn't imply that you can drop 20 times.

    KNow this though, a D70s or 20D will still take great photos and offer the same features for the most part. You get better JPEG processing, but if you are shooting in RAW that is moot.

    But, the D80 viewfinder is brilliant. I tried it once and hated my D70s afterwards.

    I mention the older ones because you can save some major dough going with something a little older. Your money is in the lenses of course and that is where your focus should be.

    Personally with that budget, I would get a D70s or 20D, 50mm 1.8 or 1.4, and another lens that matches your style of shooting.

    If you decide you need more later, build the lenses and add a new body. Or if you decide you don't like it you don't have a ton of money in a camera system and you can't switch easily.

    Hope that helps. Most importantly use the cameras.
  7. BurtonCCC macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2005
    Wheaton/Normal, IL
    Here's the thing you have to remember. It's hard for people to believe, but it's true. The quality between the XT, XTi, and 20D isn't noticeable. DPReview, one of the most respected professional photography reviewers has some side-by-side shots of the XT and XTi and 20D, all shooting the exact same thing at the exact same settings. For instance, the XT actually looks better than the XTi. The only reason my boss got the 20D is because his hands are big and the XT-style grip is too small, haha. Today he said, "My gosh, I wish I had smaller hands so I could get the XT!"

    So, my point is, there's two options:
    1. The 20D DOES have better features, so if you went with that, I would understand, but the picture quality isn't any better than the XT.
    2. If you went with the XT, you could get an awesome setup of lenses with the money you save. As for people thinking the XT is a beginner camera, that's pretty much crap. The XT and 20D have pretty much the exact same sensor, except the 20D sensor is 0.3 mm wider and 0.2 mm taller and is "modified for astrophotography." So when deciding between those cameras, keep in mind that with either one you get, it's YOU that determines whether you're a beginner or not, not your camera.

    That's my two cents.

  8. Mechcozmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Dual wheel? (I've used a D2x before, but not sure what you mean by the dual wheel...)

    I'm talking about how they stand up to dirt, dust, cold, hot, etc. At least one trip will be travel through Thailand and Vietnam, and I wouldn't want a camera that is prone to collecting dust inside port covers, etc.

    There is a photo store nearby; I'll see if they'll let me play with one a bit.

    My two cameras are currently a Canon PowerShot S2 IS and a Nikon FE with a 50mm f 1.4 and a 70-210mm f 3.6.

    My shooting style depends greatly on what camera I'm holding, needless to say. One weighs a few pounds more than the other. :)

    It does. In a month or so I'll check to see what's happened-- I like how the 30D has the improved shutter over the 20D, and I couldn't see any information about how far out Nikon's stuff was rated to. Thanks for your advice.
  9. mst0192 macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2003
    canon or nikon?

    compare the specs at dpreview:
    major differences imho are build-qualitiy and ergonomics.
    compared to 30d the rebel feels like a toy. beside of that, due to the differend layout, you can change settings much faster with the 30d.

    regarding camera choice:

    first, i would say that the lenses are more important then the cam.
    dont get the "best" body with a cheap lens.
    get a decent body with the best lens you can afford.

    as a nikon-user i would say:

    - d80 and d200 are almost on par and comparable to 20d/30d.
    - in most cases, the d200 isnt worth the higher price compared to the d80. (only minor differences).
    - skip the d40/d40x because it doesnt have internal af-drive (means that you can't autofocus many of the great nikon-primes)
    - d50 would be a very good option if you are ok with 6mp (in most of the other aspects, its as good as the d80) and want to stay cheap on the body

    -> the d80 is imho the best prosumer cam from nikon

    i would go for the d80 and a good lens in the 17-55 range.

    d80 + 2gb sd-card $960.20
    tamron 17-50 2.8 $439.95 (supersharp and fast walkaround lens)
    bag from lowepro or tamrac, maybe $50
    (best would be to add a 2nd battery and a reasonable tripod -> i recommend a basic manfrotto)

    you can safe a lot if you take the kit lens instead of for example this tamron, especially as the nikon kit-lenses are quite good (very sharp but slow), def. better then the canon kit-lenses

    if you want to go the canon route, skip the 350/400d. go with the 20d!
  10. bep207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2006
    d80 and 18-200VR

    Hands down the best combination for you in this price range would be a:
    NIkon D80
    and 18-200VR
    you absolutely will not find a better all around solution than this one right here.
    The D80 gives you power and expandability.
    The 18-200VR is an amazing lens. I know people who own lenses that cost 2000-4000 dollars and would rather pick up this 18-200 and have a great all around lens.

    The D200 offers very few features over the D80 that make it worth your money.
    I am a Nikon guy. I tried Canon and didnt like the ergonomics and toy-like feel of the Canon's. The Nikon bodies have all felt very professional and sturdy in my hand, where the Canon's (with the exception of the 5d and Mark II) have always felt very akward. (Ive hard that smaller hands love the D50 and most Canon bodies though)

    If you do decide to go with Nikon, send me a message and Id be glad to give you some advice and point you in the direction of some amazing deals... www.nikoncafe.com

  11. Mechcozmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    I do a lot of night pictures. Long exposures and the like. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few seconds. It is relaxing in a way... On the Nikon I like to set it up and then just watch as it captures light. Very different way of thinking about a picture, but very fun. Leads to neat effects.
  12. mst0192 macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2003
    how about a prime lens for the trip?
    as you already have a 50mm f1.4 i am sure you know the benefits of a fast prime.

    it would be cheaper than a good zoom, its light, small and still gives you the best image quality. on travels like this i only take my 35mm f2 with me (which gives you roughly 50mm on a nikon). i wouldn't feel comfortable carrying a big and expensive zoom lens with me...
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Well, if he skips the D40 (not sure about the D40x), then he's skipping what is possibly the best DSLR for night photography because of low noise at ISO 1600. The only one I can think of that's so good is the Canon 5D, which has a larger 35 mm equivalent sensor and isn't so packed full of pixels that noise is a huge issue.

    The D50 and Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) were always comparable. The D200 does not quite compare to the 30D at ISO 1600 and above, but the differences aren't enormous unless you only view it on a computer screen. The D80 is even better than the D200, if I remember correctly. Regardless, I don't think you'd see a massive difference in print quality between a D80 and 30D.

    But as a Nikon user, I'd get the D80. Many reviews regard it as the best DSLR for $1000 or less. The D80's kit lens is the 18-135 mm, which is a fantastic range for a lens to have, and would prevent you from having to switch lenses all the time. I'd skip the 400D because it's built like a toy, while the 30D is obviously of very high build quality. The D80 is equal (or better) to the 30D in terms of build quality, and the D200 is better than both.

    If you're most concerned about withstanding the elements (and I've been to Thailand and know what it's like), then the Nikon D200 and Pentax K10D are the 2 cameras with full weather sealing. Not even the Canon 5D has weather sealing, oddly enough. It definitely should for the price you pay. :eek: The Pentax K10D is the cheapest DSLR that has this feature, and it also happens to be cheaper than even the Nikon D80!! It's a fantastic camera and takes great photos. :)
  14. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2006
    I LOVE my K10D. I used to be a canon addict, but I inherited my father's SMC-A lenses about two years back and finally got around to getting a DSLR for them. I bought the K10 at christmastime and it is AMAZING. Best camera I ever spent $950 on. Far better than any of the Nikon models in that range, and it blew away the rebel line. I never pick up my D70 any more. The K10 is my new baby.

    Plus it features many of the things you have mentioned such as CMOS cleaning, 10 mp, faster shooting, low noise at high ISO. One of the best camera values on the market today.
  15. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000


    Oct 31, 2005
    Twin Cities, MN
    Well, I'm a Nikonian, and I have the D50 with lots of glass, but in your range, I'd get a D80 and the best lens I've played with in your price range, the 18-200VR lens. You'll be spending a little bit more, but that's the most ideal setup I can think of in your range. The D80 is a great camera, no doubt.
  16. tuartboy macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2005
    I highly suggest canon for the glass. Nikon and Canon bodies may be quite similar, but it is often that canon glass is technically superior and/or cheaper than the nikon equivalent. Canon does serious R&D and really has an amazing lens lineup with the L series. Warning: once you buy one you will immediately fill out the rest of your kit with more Ls and ebay the rest!

    A site I have found to be very helpful in the past in guiding my purchases is http://the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/. Check that out thoroughly before making any decisions.

    Some golden buys:

    • Rebel XTi (as mentioned, no dark-frame subtraction like the 20d, but you can do this in post)

    • 50mm f1.8 prime - $75 (amazing lens for the price. everyone should own 1... or 3)

    • 17-40mm f4 L - $700ish (27-64mm on a 1.6 crop body and will make a great ultra-wide lens when you upgrade to full frame sensors)

    • 70-200mm f4 L - $700ish (great, sharp telephoto that is worth far more than it costs)

    Of course, those f4s aren't all that fast, but they are amazing values and take pictures as sharp as their 2.8 brethren that cost significantly more.

    If you can stand to lose the telephoto, that kit will serve you well without going too far over your $1,300 budget.
  17. plunar macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2003
    If the OP is not shooting professionally and doesn't want to start off buying a lens collection off the back, it's very hard to argue for canon. Canon's digital lenses are lacking in dynamic range, and their film equivalents, while very high quality, are also very large, and very, very expensive (not to mention they do not offer wide on digital). Case in point, the Canon 28-300. It is one of the best lenses ever made - for film, and for $1500. Nikon's 18-200 offers the digital equivalent of 28-300, meaning you will actually get the wide angle on a digital camera.

    Given that you give me the impression that you're looking for something to take outstanding pictures for personal use, and assuming you're not going to produce prints beyond 20", and your $1300 price cap, I would get the Nikon D50 ($300), 18-200 VR lens ($800), and use the rest for your accessories.

    Don't let the fact that the D50 is discontinued or relatively affordable lend you the impression it is an obsolete or otherwise substandard camera. I know many professionals who use this camera full time.

    Here is a portfolio almost exclusively D50, and with the exception of a small number of fisheye and 17-55mm shots, were all taken with the 18-200VR: http://www.ludwighawaii.com/portfolio.html

    Nikon has been criticised professionally for focusing too much on the consumer level over the past year or so, but the degree in quality is really beginning to blur between the two, and in any case, the strategy ends up producing the best offers for non-pros.
  18. suneohair macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2006
    OP if you want the 18-200 start looking NOW. WHen I was looking they were very scarce and I think they still might be.
  19. Mechcozmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Nothin' is fast about a manual-everything camera. (Yes, I know what the true meaning of fast is in this sense) But a prime wouldn't be right for travels and stuff-- if I need to get closer to something I can't. One of the biggest issues I've had with my Canon currently is that it doesn't zoom in/out fast enough for some shots, especially right after I've taken a couple.

    I should have made myself a bit more clear. Long exposure work at night, which doesn't require such a high ISO but does tend to pick up a fair bit of noise. (Although I have been in poor-light situations where I've wanted a high ISO-- shooting in gyms and the like)

    Thanks. What about shutter life? I know the 30D is rated to 100,000 (or thereabouts)... what about the D80?

    It doesn't have to be weather sealed, just not going to fall apart in my hands.

    What is dark-frame subtraction? I haven't hard that before. Do you own an XTi? What do you think of its build quality compared to the 20D and 30D?

    I just saw that the D50 doesn't have a DOF preview... what price point does that come in at?

    Looks like I'll be planning a trip to a photo store and see if I can handle the XTi and the D50/80. Unless I find a used 20D those are probably going to be in my price range...
  20. Mechcozmo thread starter macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Wow-- just read a review of the K10D. Going to check that camera out. Sounds amazing. Any lens suggestions for that one?
    Also crossed the XTi off of the list-- that LCD info thing would drive me crazy.
    Haven't yet digested the D50 review, and have yet to read the D80 review.

    I know to invest in lenses, but to be honest, there is a good chance that I won't be keeping this system for a long time. I'll be sure to check back when I hit that stage, but I'm just outgrowing my camera and need a dSLR that I can grow on.
  21. tuartboy macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2005
    The dark-frame subtraction is the astrophotography "tweak" on the 20d. Basically it removes noise on the obviously black parts of the night sky. Like I said, this can be done in post and shouldn't really be a big deal to anyone interested in the 20d just for that reason.

    The XTi is definitely a prosumer camera. It is plastic bodied and much smaller than the 20d or 30d. If you have large hands this could be a problem. This could be negated by getting the battery grip (ALWAYS buy the battery grip for any camera! So worth it.). However, the size and build can really play into your favor. My camera with grip, walk-around lens and flash weighs in at 5.5 pounds and this gets awfully heavy after a couple hours of shooting.

    Basically, yes, you are buying a system you may not keep. But the beauty of the SLR is its modularity and you need to make wise choices about your equipment so you can expand. (like buying full-frame lenses instead of the EF-S line) Don't base your decision solely on the low end equipment. Both canon and nikon have committed to their formats for years and if you do this right, you can keep these lenses and accessories around for 10+ years and just swap out bodies.
  22. bmat macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2004
    East Coast, USA
    Well, he said $1300, so I think a D80 and an 18-200 VR is out of the price range by a bunch.

    I think a D80 would be a great dslr, but it's going to leave you with 400-500 for a lens (I've seen it for $825 as a refurb). Not bad by any means, but certainly doesn't allow an 18-200. The D50 + 18-200 is a much more realistic suggestion.

    I'm a Canon person, so I'd recommend a Canon merely because I'm not as familiar with Nikon. That's not to say that Nikon wouldn't be better for you....

    Personally, a 20D has a better feel than an XTi, and the two are going to be about the same price. I have an XTi as a backup, and while it's nice, it's very small and feels cramped. So I'd go to a store and feel both, and choose the one you're more comfortable with. (I think a 30D is much better, but it's about $1k -- or $850 as a refurb when it's available.)

    Let's say it ends up costing you $650-700 for the body, that leaves about $650 for a lens. I'd look at a Tamron 17-50 2.8 -- it would give you a decent range and f2.8 (about $400). With the left over $250 I'd get the cards, bags, and a 50 1.8 for indoor low light without a flash.

    Alternatively, if you're committed to getting the kit lens, then that adds about $100 to the body cost, and gives you about $550 for a lens.... With that, I'd buy a 50 1.8 and something on the tele end (100 f2, 85 1.8....), if that what you're looking for.
  23. emac82 macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2007
    NB, Canada
    I bought a D50 in December, after the D40 was released. I liked the way it feels in my hand better, it's slighty bigger, and it feels more comfortable. I got a great deal on it from my local camera shop.

    I haven't used it much, I haven't had much time, but I am hoping that I will soon. I didn't buy an expensive lens, it's a Nikon 55-200MM for about $250CAD. I didn't want to invest a lot in a lens because I am not sure how much use I will get out of it.

    I read every review on dpreview before buying, and I'd say 98% of them are positive. Most people who bought the D50 didn't buy the Rebel XT, mostly because they found it to small.

    Also...Nikon comes with a 2-year warranty, right out of the box.

    I recommend Nikon, but you can't really go wrong with a Canon either.

    The most important thing is that it is comfortable when you hold it, if it's not, you aren't going to like it.
  24. Fuzzy Orange macrumors 6502

    Fuzzy Orange

    Jul 29, 2006
    I personally have an XTi... it is great. The only problem I have is that the grip gets annoyingly cramped after awhile, but I just bought the BG-E3 battery grip to remedy that. The LCD info screen isn't as bad as people would say. In fact, I like it because the info is displayed very clearly and nicely on the 2.5 inch screen.:)

    But anyways, I would wholeheartedly recommend the XTi. Canon's lens system is great.
  25. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    None of them are bad in terms of noise, particularly compared to film.

    When it comes to noise, try not to listen to pixel peepers that need to see every photo with a magnifying glass before judging whether a photo is good or bad. Noise always looks worse on an LCD than it does in print.

    These people tend to look at 1:1 closeups at DPReview and base everything around that, when in the real world, they're all quite good (except the Sony A100). :eek:

    Then you want the Nikon D50, D80, Canon 30D, or Pentax K10D.

    The K10D is a huge hit for a reason. It makes Pentax one of the most exciting DSLR makers today. (Well, I actually think it's Fuji and Sigma) I think the Nikon gives slightly better JPEG results, but if you ever compare photos in RAW format from Nikon, Canon, and Pentax cameras, they're almost identical. Yes, the JPEGs look different in comparisons, but the high similarity between RAW photos just proves how capable they all are. The difference is in the in-camera processing, which isn't a factor if you shoot RAW. Since I shoot in RAW, I just went for the most ergonomic body, and that's Nikon by personal preference, and by reputation. ;)

    It's when the camera takes 2 photos rather than 1 photo during long-exposures (which are usually taken at night, I guess). When you take a photo using a long-exposure, you're more likely to end up with noise because the sensor heats up. With this feature on, the camera does takes ANOTHER exposure with the aperture closed. Ideally, the resulting photo should be perfectly black, but it won't be due to noise.
    The camera then tries to remove the noise from the 1st photo. This is done by subtracting the "black" photo from your first photo. The black photo is supposed to be a "photo" of the noise, so by subtracting it from the 1st photo, you're (supposedly) subtracting the noise.

    The D50 can do this, and so I'm confident the D40 and D80 do as well. I'd double-check to see whether the Pentax K10D does this. From what someone said above, the Canon DRebel XTi doesn't have this feature. Odd. :confused: Canon also doesn't have spot metering on the 400D/XTi, which is even more odd. Check the 30D for spot metering ability.

    1. The grip gets annoying because the camera is too small for most hands. Some people like it, but most adults, especially male ones, tend not to. It's probably the biggest complaint about the Canon 300D, 350D, and 400D, and yet they keep it small because uncle Bob thinks "smaller is better" for everything. Again, if you go with Canon, go for the 20D or 30D.

    2. The LCD info screen sucks battery life. Having a small separate screen for settings is great. It just makes more sense to have it. That's why good Canon models have it. Changing settings on the Nikon D50 is fast, and faster on the D80 because it has 2 wheels to scroll through settings rather than just one. Canons have one, I believe.

    For $1300, I'd get the Nikon 18-135 mm + two 2 GB memory cards. If you can, spend another $100-150 on a Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 for lower-light photos. With Pentax, you get more and pay less money. However, Nikon and Canon have the lens lineup that Pentax does not have, although with the current hype around Pentax, they're always bringing out more exciting lenses.

    The reason to get the Nikon 18-135 mm kit lens is because kit lenses tend to go very wide. An 18 mm lens (which is equivalent to a 27 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera) is quite wide, and yet the 18-135 mm gives you great range. Also, the kit lens from Nikon, Pentax, and even Olympus piss all over the one supplied by Canon. Based on rep, the 18-55 mm kit lens quality goes (from best to worst): Olympus (it's a 14-45 mm, I think), Pentax, Nikon, and Canon. The Nikon 18-135 mm is different. It has good performance for the low price you pay and the wide focal range.

    If you buy a Canon 20D or 30D, only buy the camera body. Get other lenses.


    Looks like a good place to start.

Share This Page