Recommendations for First Time DSLR Buyer

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JPM42, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. JPM42 macrumors 6502

    Oct 21, 2007
    Yeah, another one of these threads…

    So, I've always enjoyed photography over the years, taking photos with my old point and shoot digital cameras and, in more recent times, my iPhone. However, in recent times, I've taken an almost obsessive interest in photography, and would love to finally step up to a DSLR.

    My main uses are for portraits, some landscapes, a bit of sports related stuff, and family related stuff. So I can't say that I have the highest of professional uses for it. Having said that, whichever DSLR I do buy, I would like to have for the long haul. In other words, while an entry-level DSLR (i.e., Nikon D3400) would probably more than suit my needs in the short-term, I fear that within 1-2 years, I would want more control, and thus outgrow it and wish to purchase something better. So I don't mind spending a bit more on something that will give me the opportunity to grow into it over the course of time.

    My budget probably tops out at $1,000, although, obviously, I'm not opposed to anything cheaper. Also, it's not necessarily a one-time investment, as eventually, I would like to gradually fill things out with better lenses, etc. Since I have no investment in any ecosystem, I have no particular brand preference, and if there are things beyond the Nikon/Canon world that one thinks are worth checking out, feel free to post.

    Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Floris macrumors 68020


    Sep 7, 2007
    Flickr has a great statistics page that shows the popularity (and their rise/falls) of cameras used for pictures.
    It might make you feel a bit more confident into investing into Canon over Nikon, etc.
  3. daflake macrumors 6502a

    Apr 8, 2008
    Canon or Nikon... You can't go wrong. The majority of your money will be spent on glass rather than on the body. My advice is to research what lenses you want and put your budget there. Also, remember that you can rent lenses so you can try before you buy. ;)
  4. Floris macrumors 68020


    Sep 7, 2007
    The quality in wide lenses are so crisp these days. Long lense and really good macro .. It's a set we have the urge to have. And they're worth the investment too.

    A wide lense that doesn't vignet or deform and makes great video that doesn't require retouching just to look natural (which is the case these days, so we're good) is really giving awesome picture quality.

    Sigh, now I wanna buy more camera stuff again.
  5. HDFan, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016

    HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    I like Tony Northrup's stuff on YouTube. He uses Cameras from multiple vendors, not just Canon or Nikon, choosing the camera based upon the task that needs to be performed. A camera from one manufacturer is better for sports, another for video, etc. He doesn't seem to be biased towards any specific manufacturer.

    Here's a Nikon/Canon comparison:

    And don't forget Sony, although they don't have as many lenses as Canon or Nikon.

    As for where your money should go, body or lens:

    I made the mistake of not getting a full frame lens when I purchased my Canon aps-c 7D, so when I got my 6D I had to repurchase the same lens. So if you're planning to eventually build up a lens collection I'd put my money in the lens and maybe even go for a used body.

    In 2-3 years bodies will be completely different but a lens purchased today will likely be the same.

    I should note that my goto camera's these days are a Sony RX100-IV and RX10-M3. I travel a lot overseas and just got tired of hauling around that much camera gear. My Canon 100-400 lens weighs 3 pounds, more than the body and lens of my RX10 combined. The up to 600 mm lens on the RX10 means that I carry around just one lens (permanently attached) but am always able to get the shot I want. Look at this video

    about 3:16 minutes in and watch the zoom. The fact that I can zoom in that close on a piper who is that far away still blows me away.

    It's a pretty terrible video (hand held) and the results aren't as good as if I were using a DLSR. But a 600 mm Canon L lens is almost $12K. In the tradeoff between getting the shot vs the quality of the shot I am willing to sacrifice quality.

    My shots are taken when traveling, where often I have only have seconds to frame, zoom and shoot before the shot is gone. I'll take a wide angle shot, but then seconds later need to take a zoomed shot, followed by a wide angle. When you're going to specific event, such as a wedding or a sports event, you can plan and take the right lenses with you and you have time to change lenses.

    Here's another example. I've always wanted to see an AirBus Beluga (there are only 5 of them). So I'm in a bus driving at 50 miles per hour in Spain and I see a dot in the sky in the window on the other side. I zoom in across the bus through a tinted window (not an easy task even if you are stationary if the object is small) and I was able to get the shot because of the camera. Even I will admit that it is terrible quality, but it was the shot of a lifetime for me. And this image has been heavily cropped.

    Spain 2016.09.07-2016.09.29 RX10M3-00793.jpg

    The RX10 has as many controls and options as my DSLRs so there are always new things to learn.
  6. JohnDS, Oct 22, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016

    JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    I am a Canon user, so really can't comment on Nikon, and I am not going to get into a flame war by suggesting that one is better than the other.

    If you are looking at Canon, the T6i with the 18-55 and 55-250 kit lens combination would be an excellent choice within your budget, at $899. See:

    You could even afford to add the excellent "Nifty Fifty" (50mm f1.8)

    See here for lens comparisons:

    I love the idea of a full frame camera, but that is beyond your budget unless you buy used.

    If you want to stretch your budget a bit, here is a great price on a lens combination (50 prime plus 10-18 ultra-wide angle):

    Here is a review of the T6i:
    --- Post Merged, Oct 22, 2016 ---
    P.S. if you are wondering why you might want a 10-18 lens, see here: Angle Lens.html
  7. tcphoto1 macrumors regular


    Aug 21, 2008
    Madison, GA
    I shoot Canon so I'll comment on the system I am familiar with. If you are new, learning and on a limited budget, I would buy clean used gear. A 5D2, 35/2 IS and 85/1.8 would be a great place to start. If you find yourself with an extra $450 a 200/2.8 would be a nice addition. Don't get hung up on gear, make due with what you have and concentrate on taking good pictures.
  8. TSE, Oct 23, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016

    TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Also consider mirrorless. The Sony A6000 is what I use and it's absolutely brilliant for the dollar. While the lens options aren't as strong as Nikon or Canon at this point, I found everything I needed natively, and it's not like the lens ecosystem right now is particularly bad. Great sensor quality, it's tiny, and the e-mount standard is going to be supported for a very long time, so the lens family will only grow. It helps that the A6000 is the best selling mirrorless around.

    -Check out my website in my signature and look at the blog and photographic works to see some samples of an A6000, note the quality is lowered to accommodate bandwidth.
  9. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    Other good mirrorless alternatives are Fuji and Olympus. Both get good reviews. They probably are not quite as versatile as a DSLR, but are smaller and lighter and a lot of people are switching to save weight and bulk. The Olympus is even smaller than the Sony or Fuji and its lenses are smaller and lighter. I am a long-time Canon user but am seriously thinking of switching to Olympus once their new EM-1 MkII is released in the new year.

    My brother has recently switched from Nikon to Fuji, but the Fuji cameras seem more oriented to portrait photography, which suits my brother's style of photography, but not mine.

    A friend of mine has had two very bad experiences with Sony Support and switched away from Sony for that reason. The cameras were great, but service was abysmal to non-existent. It appears that others have had similar problems: and for that reason, I would be reluctant to recommend Sony.
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You are asking something akin to - "I'm ready to buy a car and have 25,000 dollars. What should I get?"

    Your list of types of photography covers quite a span for a hobbyist and that is appreciated in that you learn more through the experience. I think you can't go wrong with the usual fair of Nikon or Canon and also agree that mirrorless is a good way to go save for the fact that they often do not excel in sports and fast moving wildlife (unless you get a mirrorless beyond your budget).

    Perhaps a view of some photography sites are in order. DPreview is not a bad place to start but certainly shouldn't be the only choice (all sites and tests have some sorts of bias). If you are curious - I am a Fuji X camera fan while I have friends completely married to their Nikons and Canons and one other Fuji fan as well. You really have to decide what features are most important to you, choice of lenses to start (within you budget) and more often than not the major investment becomes the glass (lenses) as you may move up to a better camera but wish to use the lenses you started to invest in. I'll leave you with this - do your research on the lenses as well as the camera maker/models.
  11. daimos macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2009
    Find out if you can borrow lenses from a friend or family. Then buy the system they have.
  12. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    TBH just go into a store and find which one you feel most comfortable with using the controls on. That is the most fundamental difference these days between manufacturers and often between models within a manufacturers range. ANYTHING over 12MP will allow you to make A3 prints so further resolution will be largely wasted.

    Don't expect to get your perfect camera first (or possibly second) time. Most cameras from the major manufacturers will be capable of better images than you can create (or indeed most people, including me, can create). So just get one you are comfortable with and learn from there.
  13. Zenithal macrumors 603

    Sep 10, 2009
    Both are great systems. For a long time and still, Canon is more affordable once you expand your gear. It simply has a bigger following. I haven't read into cameras since late 2015, but the Sony mirrorless are quite fantastic and represent colors more true to life and accurate than the aforementioned system. The A7 series is what you'll want to look at. They also perform brilliantly compared to Canons at high ISOs.
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    The budget was for 1000 or under, that leaves the A7 series out unless the OP can find one going for a mysteriously cheap used sale price. The big river on line store has it body only for just under 1700 dollars.

    To the OP - lots of good advice in this thread but again, figure out what you want to accomplish and most likely get to those things over time. The usual advice still makes sense :
    1) figure out what you want in a camera
    2) realize that the investment usually is in the lenses (and ideally better quality)
    3) ideally go to a store to try handling different camera bodies for feel, menu access and exterior controls
    4) if you can afford it, possibly narrow down your choice and consider renting for a short time to see if it feels right.
    5) don't be afraid to get a mid to low level model if the features are close enough as you can upgrade down the line if you want to continue advancing your photography.
    6) check out various on line photo sites that talk about the cameras, may have "hands on" advice that covers negative and positives etc.
    7) review "kit" lenses to see if they really are a deal or just a mediocre item that you'll stop using shortly down the line. Some kit lenses are excellent and some don't match the ability of what the camera can shoot in terms of capable imaging.

    If you go to a store to play with cameras - might want to include these that I believe are in your budget with one good lens and possibly a second -

    Nikon D5500
    Nikon D5300
    Nikon D3300
    Canon Rebel EOS T6i
    Pentax K-s3 (if I recall correctly)

    There are also other makers out there but above is just to get you started.
    After you handle those cameras you might want to handle a Fuji X E2s and Fuji XT10 as they are nearly identical in features but slightly different bodies and yes, both are mirrorless but with some excellent control set features. The kit lens on the Fuji is a very high quality zoom lens (18-55).
  15. TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    All very, very good points; and you are right on all of them. It just comes down to what you want.

    Fujifilm comes at the mirrorless category as a camera company, whereas Sony comes at the mirrorless category as a consumer-electronics company. There are pros and cons to both ways of doing this.

    Advantages of Sony's approach to the mirrorless camera:
    -Best specs you can get for the dollar, which theoretically means you can take the best possible photos for much less money. This is the biggest plus, and this is because Sony manufactures many, many of the components, such as the sensors, that also go into competitors cameras. They cut out the middleman.
    -They want to upsell you, which has it's advantages. For example, when you buy an A6000, Sony hopes the experience is so good for you that you want to eventually upgrade to the A7 series, and the way they hope you do that is you buy full-frame lenses, which are compatible with both Sony's entry-level mirrorless and Pro-level A7 series cameras. This makes for a more seamless transition.
    -Related to the above point, the fact that Sony has dived in completely to the E-Mount means it will be supported for a very, very long time. The previous A-Mount has been supported for almost 30 years and has such a strong family because of it; the E-Mount should really be no different.

    Disadvantages of Sony's approach to the mirrorless camera:
    -Many people complain of Sony's complicated menu system and user experience being less thought out. I agree, it does get annoying sometimes, but I've never not been able to take a shot because of a problem with the menu.
    -While they make cameras that are pro in specs, their tech support is not good enough for many pros to rely on.
    -They want to upsell you, which means that their cameras are on much slower update timelines, instead their camera upgrade timelines are better described as upgrade "cycles". For example, instead of just updating the A6000, which is currently starting to show it's age compared to some of it's competitors, Sony introduced the A6300, and now A6500 in less than a year together. For much, much more money for those two cameras, you can buy slightly better cameras. After the A6500 gets long in the tooth, they will reset this cycle, stop manufacturing all three cameras, and introduce a single new, mid-range camera that sits in-between the A6300 and A6500, and then after THAT camera gets long in the tooth and the price drops, they will introduce more, slightly better cameras for you to buy. This is not a big deal AT ALL if you enjoy your Sony camera you bought, so for me, I don't care.
    -This is related to the previous disadvantage. Sony focuses less on supporting and improving current cameras through the firmware, instead they focus more on making people happy by fixing common complaints through new hardware to buy. A good portion of people's A6000 menu complaints could have been solved through a firmware update.

    Advantages of Fujifilm's approach to the mirrorless camera:
    -It's designed by photographers, for photographers. This means the experience of photographing is more seamless. For example, the X-T2 has three wheels to control three settings manually, and they are well-placed, whereas the A6000 has two wheels to control two settings, and one of those wheels is placed on the back and somewhat out of the way.
    -The lens family is strong, really really strong.
    -Fujifilm is not trying to upsell you, and this means that they designed the singlehandedly best mirrorless experience on a mirrorless, APS-C sensor camera.

    Disadvantages to Fujifilm's approach to the mirrorless camera:
    -You are going to pay much more than Sony for less capable hardware. The X-T2 is very, very comparable to the A6300, but almost twice the price.
    -Fujifilm is not trying to upsell you, and this means that there is no upgrade path with any of the lenses or accessories they sell. They do not have a professional-grade, full frame camera.

    Fact is, nobody can really decide what camera is best for you. Do your research ahead of time and nail down what camera you would choose from each company depending on what pricepoint you want to hit, go to a camera store and just start playing with them. I would not trade my A6000 for any other camera.
  16. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Might want to look at this article for fun (there are others of course on the net)

    For the OP, the Fuji XT2 is not an option as it is out of your stated budget, thus the Fuji XE2s and XT10 remain not only budget friendly but great cameras to get up to speed in photography. The jpegs option in the camera are among the very best of small sensor and of full frame, the video mode is perhaps best stated as "acceptable" if not mediocre.

    My take is it is about learning to use the camera, gaining skills and more. Again to the OP go out and try a few cameras and see what feels like a good fit. Just avoid compulsion buying and get your top contenders in a list and spend an evening on line reading reviews, owner comments and more. The latter may help you avoid buyer's remorse on your thousand dollar or less budget.
  17. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    Entry level cannon or nikon for DSLR's

    Mirrorless is worth a look, I would look at panasonic, olympus and Fuji (my friend swears by his fuji's and he's used just about everything going..(he lectures in photography))

    Sony spec wise are great, but to me they are just uninspiring soulless boxes for the most part (YMMV).

    You could put a few down on paper that meet your needs then go and have a look..for the most part at entry level most specs will be good enough...getting something you enjoy using is probably far more worth while..
  18. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    I'm a Sony user, and I've used the Alpha 65 (APS-C) & 99 (Full Frame) DSLTs. Pretty good cameras and decent lenses. While Sony doesn't have the most 1st party lenses, many 3rd party lens companies make lenses with Sony mounts. I particularly like how the cameras include GPS tagging, so you can remember where you took them. Here's a link I found that reviews Sony compatible lenses: You can look for A-mount lenses (for their DSLTs) or their E-mounts (mirrorless). Pretty good.

    I'm actually looking to sell my Sony Alpha 65 for around $800. Comes with the body, a 18-270mm lens, battery + charger, an SD card and carrying bag. I don't have it with me right now so I can't say how many shutter actuations it has. PM me if your interested.
  19. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I am exactly in the same 'frame' of thought as your comment here.
  20. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    The Nikon DSLR that have room to grow and around your budget are the Nikon D7200 and Nikon D7100. These are midrange DSLR that will give you some beginner features and some pro features. In this group I had the first one that came with video, D90. I loved using it with a 50mm prime lens. When I got to learn more about Nikon technology, I rented several lenses until I found the right one. If you are starting out I would get the kit lens that comes with the D7200/D7100 and a prime lens (50mm or 35mm or 85mm).

    D7200 is pretty close, image wise, with the D750.

    The difference is
    the D750 is a full frame camera, better in low light.
    the D7200 uses a crop sensor. Cheaper priced.
    These are the two top choices for midrange cameras from Nikon.

    The D7100 gives you similar results as the D7200. The difference is you get a bump in megapixels and video

    D7200 with kit lens $1300

    D7100 body $696
    D7100 with kit lens $996

    If you are feeling adventurous. Nikon released a previous kit lens with the midrange cameras, the 18-105mm thats pretty good. You could pair that with the D7100 and 50mm lens which will put you under your budget.

    D7100 + used 18-105mm + used 50mm f/1.8 $970

    18-105mm open box $259 (I purchased an open box from BH that was close to new. The only thing that was missing out of the box was the manual).

    50mm lens $216
  21. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Recommendation: Don't purchase a mirror based 35mm system. Go mirrorless 35mm FF or crop with Sony or Fuji or, go micro four thirds with Olympus or Panasonic.
  22. Precision Gem macrumors 6502

    Precision Gem

    Jun 3, 2015
    I have both a Nikon D750 and an Olympus OM-D M1, and find I use the Olympus much more than the Nikon. Lenses and camera are much smaller and less expensive. Difference in image quality is very hard to distinguish.
  23. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    PG, I really don't know how to respond to your last sentence without sounding unkind. I'll just say that we have very different ideas of what IQ is defined as in true output and potential of camera/lens. Perhaps we could agree that the Olympus can produce extremely pleasing images and most hobbyists would be more than satisfied. The Olympus also might fit the bill for certain types of pro work as well.
  24. Precision Gem macrumors 6502

    Precision Gem

    Jun 3, 2015
    phrehdd, If you are making 30x40 enlargements, yes you will see a difference. For images used on websites, viewing on an iPad etc, prints of 8x10 etc. you won't see any difference. For the price I paid for the Nikon D750 body, I was able to buy the Olympus and 4 lenses.

    Maybe you have not had the chance to compare images from both cameras in person like I have.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 25, 2016 ---
    Here is an image from the Olympus, shot with the Olympus 60mm Macro lens.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 25, 2016 ---
    As an example in difference in lens cost, consider you are looking for a telephoto lens.
    The Nikon 200-400 f4 lens cost $6996 @ B&H Photo.

    Olympus mades a 40-150 (equivalent to 80-300) f2.8 lens for $1399

    Or the 75-300 (equivalent to 150-600) f4.8-6.7 for $449

    To get a 600mm lens for the Nikon you are looking at over $10,000. Now this Nikon will certainly be a sharper lens than the $449 Olympus, but the Olympus is not bad, and weighs about what the lens caps for the Nikon would be. Very portable, you could put it in your pocket.

    Here is a shot taken with this 75-300 lens, hand held. File has been reduced so that I can upload it here.


    Attached Files:

  25. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    We concur that those that wish to view in a minimal capacity (web, small print) are not going to see much difference. However where differences will be noted (akin to your large print mention) is the ability to do major crops and this is where the 750 would excel in most cases. Shooting in the lowest of light, the 750 excels, and so on. However I'll say it again, for the hobbyist (that overlaps your criteria of why the Olympus is a good choice) will be happy with the results.

    Btw, this is just for fun and not to be taken as any absolute measure -

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