Recommendations for my first SLR?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ppc_michael, May 16, 2007.

  1. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #1
    I'm looking to purchase my first SLR. I was wondering if you have any suggestions as to what I should get? My only real limit is that I don't want to spend more than, say, $700.00 on the body, because I'll want a few lenses as well.

    I'm actually coming from a professional motion film / video background, so I feel I have a rather solid understanding of lenses and techniques and such, so I would want an SLR that gives me as much manual control and as large a selection of available lenses as possible. This is probably the most important thing I'd like in my SLR.

    Also, my biggest annoyance with the "point and shoot" digital cameras I've owned in the past is that pictures taken handheld in dark environments ALWAYS come out unacceptably blurry. Are most SLRs and lenses able to achieve an aperture/shutter combo that eliminate this problem, or is that something you have to pay a million dollars for?

    Thanks for any help you can offer!
     
  2. furious macrumors 65816

    furious

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    #2
    Sounds like you want a Canon Rebel XTi/400D or the Nikon D40 or D40x.
     
  3. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #3
    I've got a Canon EOS 350/Rebel Xt (8MP), and I've been extremely happy with it. The only real dig on it is that it's fairly small (though not horribly so), but other than that, takes all the usual Canon lenses, etc. The newer Xti (10MP) is about $900-1000, and the Xt is still around, typically in the $600-800 range.

    My other choice would've been a Nikon D40 in the same price/performance range.
     
  4. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #4
  5. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #5
    That statement alone immediately says "Nikon or Canon". The answer to that particular dilemma lies in handholding the camera bodies and figuring out what's most comfortable for you; both have slight edges in particular areas over the other, but there's very little between them unless you're likely to go professional (and even then ...)

    The answer there is a fast lens (f/2 or faster will do reasonably well, for the most part), high ISO, and image stabilisation (or vibration reduction, depending on the manufacturer's nomenclature.) I don't even try with my current gear setup, unless I'm using the 50mm f/1.4 (and usually not even then), since every other lens I have is at least f/3.5.

    I heard a story - don't know how true - of a 1D mark 3 with the 85mm f/1.2 mounted on it. All the lights in the room were turned out, except for a couple of LEDs; the ISO was cranked up to 3200 (or it might have been 6400), and a shot was taken with the lens wide open, hand held. Turned out reasonably well.
     
  6. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #6
    You don't have to spend nearly that much for these cameras if you're talking body only. Adorama sells them for just over $500 for the XT and $665 for the XTi.

    If you're willing to go used, you could get the XT for about $400.

    On the Nikon side, you'd want the D50 ($400 refurb) D70s ($525 refurb), or D80 ($900), because the D40 and D40x can't use as many lenses (manual focus only on older autofocus lenses).
     
  7. fall3n macrumors 6502

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    #7
    If you want the highest amount of flexibility and range with lenses then you'll want the Canon Digital Rebel XT/XTi. The D40 and D40x require lenses with built in motors (AF-S) which limits your range on lenses. You'll want to go in to a shop and put your hands on them, I personally didn't want to spend any more then $1000, but when I tried the D40 and XT I found them to be too small for my hands and they felt rather cheap/plasticy (not that they are cheaply made, they just felt like that to me in my hands. I felt better with the D80 which is larger and more sturdy IMHO, however double the price.).
     
  8. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #8
    Very good point. I forgot to mention those prices would include the kit lens, which I don't think the OP would want, anyway. Thanks for the catch!
     
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #9
    In the Nikon line you won't want the D40 or D40x because of the limitations already mentioned. The D70s would be your best bet for the price you mentioned, or you might want to pay a little more and go with the D80. Good luck!
     
  10. ppc_michael thread starter Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #10
    Thank you all for the fast, informative responses so far!

    I was looking at the suggested cameras on Amazon, and judging by the user-uploaded photos, I think that I am currently favoring the Canon Rebel XTi.

    Now I have two more n00b questions related to this, if you don't mind ;) :

    1: During film productions, I almost always use some sort of Tiffen filter, like a ProMist, for example, or at least an ND filter of some sort. Are there filters compatible with the Canon? I don't believe I've ever seen a matte box holding one on a still camera, so I assume it screws on to the end of the lens or something? Would I look for a compatible thread size when shopping for them, or something else?

    2: If I do end up purchasing this Canon Rebel, am I limited to Canon lenses? Or are lens connectors universal? The reason I ask is that a studio I work with has a huge, diverse collection of some pretty great Nikon lenses that would be fun to use, but I don't know if they would fit on the Canon. If I can't just use any lens on any camera, what do I look for when shopping for lenses to make sure it will work with my Canon?

    Thank you for your patience with me! :D
     
  11. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #11

    You'll have to get Canon or Canon-compatible lenses, such as a Tamron, that are made for the Canon mount.
     
  12. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #12
    One of Nikon's strengths (in a case like yours) is they have kept the same lens mount for something like 40 years - so if you have a Nikon camera, you can mount pretty much any Nikon lens on it.

    If you're buying a Canon camera, then as has been posted you've got to buy Canon-mount lenses.
     
  13. ppc_michael thread starter Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #13
    I see. Thank you very much for clearing that up!
     
  14. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #14
    Actually, it looks like Canon's used the same mount for almost exactly 20 years - so practically speaking that's not a particularly onerous limitation either. :D But I'm not sure you get all the functionality with those lenses.

    The Nikon F mount was introduced around 1959, and until recently any old Nikon could use new Nikon lenses and vice-versa. The mount hasn't changed; but some of the new lenses are designed for the smaller digital sensor (Canon does this as well); so while they'd fit on an old film camera the lens would vignette horribly on a 35mm film frame.
     
  15. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #15
    The lenses accept a screw on filter. I don't know what a matte box is, but I would assume it's a filter holder. What size are the filters it accepts? Reason i ask is that I use the Cokin system which acceptssquare filters.
     
  16. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #16
    If you have the option of borrowing Nikon lenses, then I would say go with the D80 if you don't mind spending a little bit more, or if you don't mind getting one used, then the D70s would be good. And you are stuck with lenses made for the brand of camera that you get.
     
  17. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #17
    Bear in mind that the lens is more important to the image quality than the camera body, and the photographer is even more important than the lens - I'd rather have a cheap Nikon body with a high quality lens than an expensive Canon body with a cheap lens.
    The first type of filter you can get is a circular, threaded filter. These come in various sizes, and this is the type I would recommend for UV, circular polariser, neutral density, and colour filters - ie, any filter with a uniform effect across the entire shot. I have four lenses, with three thread sizes: 58mm, 67mm, and 77mm; I also have step-up rings to allow me to mount 77mm filters on all of them (because a circular polariser is so hideously expensive for a good quality one, I only have a 77mm polariser.)

    The second type is a filter holder of some sort; Cokin P series is the most common of these (although by no means the only one.) These consist of a filter holder, and usually an adapter ring to mount the holder on the camera lens. I have a P series holder with a 77mm adapter ring; if I need it on a different lens, I use the step-up ring to do the job. This is the type of setup that works best for gradient filters; it allows you to move the line between the clear and neutral density portions of the filter according to the needs of the shot, rather than having it go through the middle of the image.

    Note well the difference - circular filters for constant neutral density filters; filter holders for neutral density gradient filters. Given your background, I don't think I need to expand further on this. :D
    The answer here depends on who you ask. Canon will tell you that third party lenses may damage your camera body. In reality, Sigma and Tamron (amongst others) have reverse engineered the Canon EF mount, and manufacture their own glass to fit Canon bodies.

    As for Nikon glass: the design of the EF mount is such that you can obtain a physical, mechanical adapter, and mount lenses designed for almost any other lens mount on a Canon body without any issues beyond losing autofocus ability, and possibly aperture control (depending on the lens and adapter). The major exception is the obsolete Canon FD mount, which requires an adapter with optical elements to allow focus to infinity on an EF mount body; Canon used to make these, but they were intended for pros with high-quality FD glass; you would struggle to find them second hand.

    In terms of official Canon glass, there are two lens mounts of importance: EF, and EF-S. EF lenses are "full frame" lenses, designed to cast a circle of light to cover a 35mm sensor (negative, slide, or digital sensor of identical dimensions to a 35mm negative). These will mount on any Canon EOS body, digital or film, without issues.

    EF-S lenses are designed specifically for Canon EOS digital bodies with a 1.6 crop factor, and will mount only (as I type this comment) on the 300D (Digital Rebel), 350D (Rebel XT), 400D (XTi), 20D, and 30D. If you think you are likely to move to full frame photography (film or digital) down the road, you would probably be better off spending your money on EF glass, but the EF-S focal lengths tend to be more useful for a lot of people on the 1.6 crop bodies.

    A couple more data points about Canon's lineup: the highest quality lenses are the L series lenses (L for Luxury), but you pay through the nose for them. These lenses are always EF mount; Canon has stated that they will never make an L series EF-S lens. However, the EF-S 10-22mm (extreme wide angle) and EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 are L series quality in terms of their optics, and hold their value very well; the differentiation, for them, is marketing, and the quality of the physical body holding the elements together. The other EF-S lens I'd recommend is the 17-85mm. The 18-55mm tends to be underrated by most serious photographers, and can (and has) taken a lot of excellent photos, but the step up from it to the 17-85mm is noticeably improved in image quality. The 17-55mm is better again, but as always, you pay a price for that step up. Your money, your choice.

    Don't bother with the EF-S 60mm macro; you're better off with the EF 100mm macro, or a Sigma 105mm macro, if you want to do macro photography.

    Having said all of that: if you have access to a large library of good Nikon glass, I'd recommend a Nikon body, and that you follow the advice others have given in this regard about which one to buy (I wouldn't know - I shoot Canon). Much less hassle, and you won't have to spend as much money building up your lens collection. There's very little in the Canon world that you can't do in Nikon, and the reverse also holds true.
     
  18. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030

    xfiftyfour

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    #18
    lol. I love reading these threads because it's funny to me to read all the bias, although no one ever seems to come right out and say "Nikon sucks, go with Canon."

    I think whichever brand you go with you'll be thrilled. I have the Canon XTi, but that's because I started photography on a Canon film SLR, so the controls were immediately familiar. I'm not really biased one way or another.

    Go with either Canon or Nikon, because these will have the largest selection of lenses. Both have cheaper, but often just as good, 3rd-party alternatives.

    Which one to go with? Well, probably one of the easiest ways to decide is to go into a camera shop and actually hold both. The lower end of both brands have a very different "feel" - which is completely personal. Some people love the smaller form-factor of the Canon (like I do), but others hate it. No one can tell you which is better.

    Another way? Take a look at some of the lens selections, based on what you'll want to be photographing. Perhaps there's a particular lens that you'll just "have to have."

    Something else to consider: Even the Canon XT accepts the full range of lenses. The D40/D40x, however, doesn't have an AF-Motor, so it doesn't allow for autofocus with many lenses. If you don't want to buy used or refurbed, you'll have to jump up to the D80 in the Nikon line-up in order to get around that, which will be around $900. But, if you decide you want to go Nikon but don't want to pay that much, opt for a refurbed or used D50 or D70s like others have pointed out.

    Good luck!
     
  19. ppc_michael thread starter Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #19
    Just wanted to thank all of you again for your excellent advice and explanations. All of my questions have been answered and I feel much more confident in this field.

    Thank you very much!
     
  20. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000

    Veritas&Equitas

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    #20
    I bought a used Nikon D50 last month and I absolutely love it. I've already bought 3 nice lenses to go with it (which I couldn't have if I had bought the D40/D40x because of the lens AF-S limitations). Thus, I think I got in on the dSLR world at a great price, with a great setup. If you're willing to buy used, I'd go with a D50 or D80. It's really A LOT of camera at a great price.

    I just couldn't get used to the Canon myself. Too small, cheap plastic feel, etc. Plus, I really favored the VR lenses that Nikon makes, and I can get older Nikon lenses for great prices as well. To each his own...but either get a Nikon or Canon :)
     
  21. .JahJahwarrior. macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I think it's funny that people only discuss Canon and Nikon. What about Pentax?

    I shot Pentax film SLR's for a few years until I got a digital body. The thing I love about it is, I can use pretty much any lense ever made for a Pentax on this thing. Most of my glass is old MF Pentax K mount. I've even got an M42 screwmount lense, that I use with an adaptor. I can use virtually every Pentax lenseon this thing, and lots of people make pentax lenses, and they can be pretty cheap. I also love the body of my camera, an *ist Ds. It feels heavy. Small, compact, but solid. I couldn't stand the Canon's and Nikon's I picked up, though the Nikon's were better than the Canons in terms of feeling like it's worth the money.

    And yes, you can shoot with filters similar to what you are used to for videography. Cokin makes a thing that takes square filters, similar to the glass you are used to working with on a matte box, but it's not nearly as big and heavy. And rather than the flaps to block out sun, you use a lense hood, same thing but lighter weight:)
     
  22. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a

    epicwelshman

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    #22
    I think people discuss primarily Nikon and Canon purely because they're the two biggest names. When I bought my Nikon I honestly didn't consider Pentax, mainly because of the ease of getting accessories/lenses/support from nearby retailers was a lot easier than it would have been with Pentax. Also, with a bigger customer base the company is a lot more secure in the long run and isn't in as much danger of shutting down. Not that Pentax will, but you get my point.
     
  23. DISCOMUNICATION macrumors 6502a

    DISCOMUNICATION

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    #23
    Umm, the pending merger with Hoya is concerning if not at least confusing. It sounds like they want to give up on the digital camera market and focus on more profitable optics for medical equipment.

    A shame really as I was looking into my first digicam being a pentax.
     
  24. cube macrumors G5

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    #24
    I would say used D70s, but I'm seeing that a used D100 goes for about the same price and they have the same mpix. I imagine that the D70s, being a lot newer, has better PQ, but what advantages does the D100 have? It's not better for manual lenses...
     
  25. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601

    Plymouthbreezer

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    #25
    Between the two, I'd still go with the D70s. Despite the D100 being a higher end model at the time, the D70s is newer, and overall, a better camera IMO. I've shot with a D100 before (wearing a lovely 18-200 VR nonetheless!!), and between that and my D70s, I preferred mine.
     

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