Should I get a dSLR?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Mongol, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Mongol macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2012
    I'm interested in getting into photography and possibly some video work.

    I have very little experience currently though.

    Would it be overkill to get a dSLR, or should I shoot around with a more basic camera first?

    And how much does an entry level dSLR+lenses cost these days?
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If you're good with hauling around and using a bulky DSLR, there's no reason not to get one. The price depends heavily on where you are, what you buy and if you go new or used.

  3. SaleenS351 macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2004
    I would check out the mirrorless cameras. Excellent photo quality, smaller, more affordable, interchangeable lenses, good video quality. Most shoot in 1080p. I got the Sony Nex-5n and I have Nikon dslr's and the quality is right on par for most of the things I shoot.
  4. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    I second the mirrorless systems. I have an olympus epm1 (available with kit lens from Cameta for $299). I love it, especially after getting an adapter allowing me to use my old canon fd lenses with it. I like the Sony systems, too, but personally prefer Olympus cameras.

    I feel a lot more comfortable walking around with my tiny epm1 than I would with a big dslr. The size difference is remarkable and I am more than happy with my results.

    For video work, I'd recommend looking at the Panasonic GX1 (more in the $500-550 range).

    I don't know if its just me, but after recording video with a manual focus lens, I never want to go back to recording video with autofocus again. All that focus hunting by the AF camera during videos is bothersome to me.

    If you're not bothered by the bulk and weight of the dslr, it probably provides the best results, but for me it's not by far enough for the step up in price and size.
  5. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    I'd get a new mirrorless camera if you aren't sure you need a DSLR
  6. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    When you say you have very little experience, what camera is that with?

    If you're using a compact camera and are finding you want to do things that it won't let you, I'd suggest a DSLR or mirrorless. Personally I'd go for a used one if I wasn't 100% sure it was what I wanted - at least that way you can sell it on for minimal loss when you decide either to upgrade or that it's not really what you want (e.g. maybe you want a dedicated videocamera, or you decide sports photography is what you want to do and need a fast DSLR, or perhaps something completely different).

    If you're taking photos and can't figure out why they're not as good as you'd hoped, buying a new camera is unlikely to fix that. You'll just have sharper better-exposed photos that you probably aren't quite happy with.

    If you can figure out what the "problem" is it will be much easier to fix it.

    I'd suggest the book Understanding Exposure before buying more camera gear, and having a good think about what you want to be "better" about your photos.
  7. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    What exactly are you trying to get into? If you don't know, then it depends on how much money you have to burn. If you know what you want to photograph, you should buy what you need to do those jobs.

    There's really no such thing as an "entry level" camera. Each camera forces the buyer to make compromises. Price, weight, size, overall performance, and compatibility with lenses are some of the issues to consider when buying a camera. I've found that the easiest cameras to use are the most expensive dSLRs designed for professionals, because these cameras have no-nonsense ergonomics and a conservative feature set that responds to the needs of people who need to get something done.

    For what I wanted to do, the "entry level" kit today would cost around $4,500.
  8. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    Basically, any camera with full manual controls (aperture, shutter, ISO, etc.) will do. With that in mind, it's just about what fits your budget and needs. If you're happy with superior image quality and bulky cameras, then go with DSLRs. If you can skimp on lenses and image quality, then settle for a MILC. Heck, if you're fine with film then go for an old Olympus OM camera or any Canon/Nikon film gear.

    Please, don't ask us what you like. You're the only one who knows that ;)
  9. aerok macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2011
    I say go on craiglists and find a very cheap DSLR used to test grounds. If you're happy then sell it for the same price you paid then buy a new one then start your lens collection!

    Mirrorless is not worth IMO because if you really do get into it, you''ll feel limited by your chocie of lenses.
  10. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    I disagree with this. There are plenty of native m4/3 lenses out there and if you're willing to do manual focus and aperture, the range of adapted legacy glass that can be used is huge.

    Granted, some of the bigger legacy lenses can look very silly when put on a tiny m4/3 body.
  11. aerok macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2011
    What you say is very true but I can't live without auto focus though :p

    And also don't like how many mirrorless don't come with a viewfinder.
  12. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    I agree on the viewfinder. It's a $100 - 200 addition for the lower-priced models. I wish I had one.
  13. aerok macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2011
    Either way, OP should either buy a used ones or find a place to borrow both to judge which one is right for him :)
  14. nburwell macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2008
    In that case, if he wants to borrow a camera to try it out, I would highly recommend
  15. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    I have a Sony Alpha 65. It's a bit bulky and takes a while to take it out of the bag & put on the lens. However, it takes great, high quality pics & movies. It also has a very low shutter lag which is good if you want to take a picture of something that may move quickly & ruin your shot.
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Buy a USED camera. No reason at all to have a new one. You can get started with a decent used Nikon DSLR for $350.

    But here is how to decide if you want one: Are you bringing the camera along when you do other activities or is the primary activity photography? SLRs are bast if the primary activity is photos.

    Step #1 for a beginner is to go to the library and get some over-sized coffee table books filled with pictures from famous photographers and find the ones you like. So step one is looking at other's work. Then go out and try an emulate the style.
  17. Throw Out macrumors regular

    May 12, 2012
    Just bought a Nikon D 3100,
    Go for it, and if you don't enjoy it, sell it.
    Sure you'll lose money, but nevertheless you tried something new
  18. jji7skyline macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2011
    Despite what people say about mirrorless dSLR 'replacements' their lack of viewfinder makes them harder to use, and they are not in the least professional. What kind of experience do you have? If you have none whatsoever, you might as well get the D3100 as dSLRs are usually no harder to use than compacts and definitely have much more room for expansion.
  19. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    I have a Nikon DSLR and while I love the handling of it and the images it produces, I do wish it was lighter: it's D7000 with 18-200mm lens mounted most of the time, weighs in at over a kilo :(. I tried some mirrorless cameras and really wanted to like them, but the handling of them still came up short in my opinion. The menu systems are just a bit more retarded, the autofocus is just a bit less reliable, the process of taking pictures from pressing the shutter to when it's ready for the next shot - notably longer. Most of the problems I have with them seem like they could be solved in future generations, but now they are still significantly less mature compared to SLRs.

    I think if you don't know for sure if you want to get into photography, you should start with something simple. Maybe even so simple that you already have it - like your phone's camera. It may seem silly at first, but the idea is that you want to learn the basics first, and the basics of photography are light and composition. If you jump to a fully manual control camera right away, you will be tempted to spend too much effort on things like aperture and shutter speed settings - those are useful of course, but not to a beginner. You can create amazingly complex images with modern phone cameras, especially with the help of some good photo apps.

    Once you get a feel for how to make a well composed image, how to capture the best light - you will naturally transition to dedicated cameras. It maybe will take you only a month to get there, but I find it's good to start with a simpler tool first. The market is flooded with tons of cameras, lenses and accessories, it's so easy to become a gear-head instead of a photographer.
  20. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    There are some mirrorless models that come with an EVF (G3/5, OMD). I know of some pros that happily use the OMD. I doubt that they'd use the entry level dslr's as readily, but don't know for sure (also don't really care).
  21. zombiecakes, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012

    zombiecakes macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    Get a used Canon Rebel (whatever you can afford, I would recommend an XSi as minimum since it has live-view mode) with stock 18-55mm lens and then go to amazon and get a 50mm f1.8 lens for $100.

    Do not focus on the body, even the oldest 6mp Rebel for $150 takes better pictures than most modern point and shoots, the lens is what really makes a camera. Do research on what kind of lens you need for the kind of pictures you want to do and budget based on the lens. A 50mm 1.8 lens offers the most bang for your buck at just $100 and is probably the most popular lens among photographers. The type of things you want to shoot will determine what you can afford, if its nature then you probably need an expensive 200mm lens, if its just portraits and things at normal distance then the 50mm will be ideal. Put a good lens on a crappy Rebel and the kit lens on a $5000 pro camera and the Rebel will run circles around it.

    And just dont get a point and shoot, theres no reason unless you need something to carry in your pocket, in which case just use your phone. You wont learn anything from them and all DSLRs come with the same automatic modes. So if you you cant figure out a DSLR (unlikely, semi-manual modes like Aperture priority are painfully easy if you read the instructions) you can still resort to the full-auto modes.
  22. Policar, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012

    Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    A professional is whoever makes money off photography and "professional" gear is whatever that person uses--usually what's cheapest and easiest for a given job. In theory the 1DX is Canon's only "professional"-grade camera and yet you get people making money of iPhone photos. A lot of DPs and directors I know also own dSLRs and will shoot b-roll with those or use them for small shoots rather than real video or film cameras. The significance of that is that someone who's making money knows their market and knows what that market demands and how to deliver it. If you're just starting out, you might want a more flexible system than someone who knows exactly what they need or if you're doing something as a hobby you might want to dabble in other styles but not focus on any given one.

    Aperture/shutter sped/ISO etc. is extremely simple and it's funny that anyone makes the basics of photography out to be complicated when they're not, especially since Av/Tv/etc. modes are still 90% automatic. That said, the automatic interfaces obscure a lot of what's going on so figuring out these basics won't be as trivially easy as it is when shooting with an old (pre-AF) SLR. So either invest in some literature or find a good tutorial online on this, on exposure, on focal lengths, composition, etc. If you try to learn the camera interface first (and these cameras have ludicrously complex interfaces) you'll think this technical stuff is complicated--it's not. Learn the basics first and you'll soon see that all of the potentially hundreds of options you have relate to four or five simple variables.

    If the size doesn't bother you, get a dSLR. You can easily upgrade (with new lenses, accessories, etc.) and the entry level is nearly as good as the high end in terms of IQ if not durability and AF speed--whereas with any other system you have to drop it if it's not what you like. Mirrorless cameras are great, particularly for video, but I do miss optical finders and the lens selection is a bit worse so until you know what you want to shoot (landscapes? birds? portraits? just snapshots?) and what gear that requires get a dSLR because they can do it all....
  23. jji7skyline macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2011
    SLRs have the best viewfinders. Tunnel viewfinders and digital ones are just not as good.

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