What camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by soccersquirt82, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. soccersquirt82 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    My family would like to get my dad a digital camera. When he was in college, he shot amazing photos (lions, elephants, gorillas, etc.) with film camera while on his trip to Africa. We want to get him a nice camera but not over the top. We also want to get him at least a few lenses. We are trying to keep it below $3,000. Any suggestions? Brand, model, lenses, and where to buy. Thanks in advance!
  2. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    You certainly have a healthy budget. Check out DPreivew.com for TONS of reviews.
  3. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    You need to find out what he shot with before and if he enjoyed it. Once you get the brand down, I think we can give you better advice.
  4. soccersquirt82 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    Thanks CMD for the site. Is the brand important since he was using film and it was 30 years ago? I will get it if need be. Also, I said my budget is $3,000. That is if absolutely necessary. It would be better to think about for the rest of my family if around $1500.
  5. soccersquirt82 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    I'm thinking of a Nikon. Maybe the D80, but I don't know anything about everything. Please tell me if this is a good brand and model. What lenses can be used, what type of battery does it have, and what kind of memory card? I am totally new, so please help!
  6. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California
    The D80 is more than fine. It depends how much you think he wants to get into the intricacies of settings and onboard settings or does he want to just have a great DSLR that provides more than a point and shoot but isn't heavy and doesn't have a ton of settings options. For me, I went with the nikon D40 because it gave me the freedom I wanted away from a point and shoot but it was small in the hand, compact and took great pictures. Honestly I don't see how the D40 wouldn't completely satisfy, especially someone away from the hobby for so many years. It's not intimidating, it's light weight and feels great. Has a great screen too. I'll let the others here say otherwise. But to just buy your dad a great camera that is what I would suggest.

    If he is hardcore with gear, doesn't sound like he is, and has a collection of lenses then you may want to think about what brand those are.
  7. Danny Futuro macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2006
    With that kind of budget, I'd have to HIGHLY recommend a Canon EOS 40D, with an L-series lens of some sort. I work with DSLRs everyday of the week, and the 40D smashes every other camera under $2000 in terms of image quality and ease of use, especially at high ISO. It also has three customizable settings slots that he can save to the top mounted dial for easy recall. You can find them as cheap as $1299 in most big box stores, and Canon lenses are by far the best in the business. Check out DPreview.com for a nice in-depth review.
  8. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    New York City
    I shot Africa for 2 months with a D80. I wish I had the D300 that I have now.

    If you can really do $3000, pick up a D300 ($1500 or so), an 80-200 f2.8 push/pull ($450 used), a 300mm f4 ($400 used) and a 16-85mm vr ($600 new).

    That puts you at $2900, give or take depending on where you buy your stuff. You've got great glass, an awesome body and you can get some great shots.

    edit - if money is tight, still get the D300. Best camera for the money on the market right now. Pick up a 70-300 VR zoom (very well regarded) and an 18-70mm (the best kit lens ever). That will put you at around $2200.
  9. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    You can also get a new D200 for less than $1000 nowadays. The D300 has several interesting improvements, but it still needs to drop in price. He could upgrade later to that (or to the D700).

    Lenses are more difficult to suggest without nowing the intended use of the camera. An idea would be to get the 18-200 VR for walkabout use, plus something more for his main "serious" stuff.
  10. RainForRent macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2006
    Greenville, SC
    Another thing to ask as well– if he shot with a camera way back when that he loved, did he keep any of his lenses? Some of that old glass, you just can't beat it today. I bought a Sony Alpha just so I could use my old Minolta glass.
  11. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    Yes, the D200 can meter with old manual focus AI lenses without CPU, which the D80 can't.
  12. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    Under $3k for quality and versatility I don't think you can beat:

    Canon 40D body-only, ~$950
    Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, ~$1000
    Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM lens, ~$600

    If he likes old film cameras, he'll appreciate the build quality of the D40 which exceeds any other camera mentioned above except the Nikon 300D (which is considerably more expensive.)

    It's also not worth cheaping out on lenses. Digital components may change but the laws of physics don't. Quality glass will always cost money to produce, and it holds its value well. I recommended the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens because it's as sharp as an L series lens but has image stabilization which helps a lot with hand-held shots in low light.

    The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is also a fine choice and only about $200 more expensive - somewhat better build quality and covers the 55-70mm range but no IS and it loses some very useful wide-angle range.

    The 70-200mm f/4L USM telephoto zoom lens is probably Canon's single best value in lenses. It doesn't have image stabilization and it's a stop slower than their f/2.8 zooms, but its optical quality is impeccable and its relatively light weight makes it much easier to hand-hold. It's also half the price of the f/4 IS or f/2.8 non-IS version, and 1/3 the price of the f/2.8 IS.

    Probably the best place to read up on Canon lenses is http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ - and you should be spending more on the lenses than the camera body, always.
  13. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
  14. bobbleheadbob macrumors 6502a


    Feb 6, 2007
    Your two choices are really Canon and Nikon. Those are the 2 main players in the market today and you probably want to stick with one or the other. Once you decide on the camera and brand, you'll need to stick with it, b/c all the lenses you buy will only work with that brand. Did your dad use one or the other when he was back in college? Maybe he has/had a favorite?

    Canon 40D and Nikon D80 are both solid choices. Spend any extra in your budget for some accessories and another lens. Good luck. ;)
  15. soccersquirt82 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    Thanks for all the responses. I've narrowed it down to four choices (based directly from everyone's responses and price). It's either the Nikon D40 or D80 or the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi or XT. I'm leaning more towards Nikon just because I've seen it used more. Can y'all explain the differences between the Canon and Nikon? And what lenses (if any) to start with? I would like the camera to be below $1,000. I'm not sure how much the lenses could cost.
  16. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    Crap advice solely because of the bias shown towards Canon or Nikon.

    He can get any camera he wants using any brand, professional use wasn't mentioned otherwise I would go easier on you. You're just mentioning those 2 brands simply because they are more likely the ones you're most familiar with and know the most about. Olympus and Panasonic have some amazing glass to offer with their SLR's and Sigma offer something in the marketplace with a differing sensor design to everybody else in their SLR bodies. The other smaller brands have different traits which shouldn't be overlooked.

    It's interesting to read on these forums from Mac users when people ask for camera advice, when most users just simply suggest a Canon or Nikon and never leave the fall open for other brands.

    Reminds me of the time people suggested I should buy a windows machines because it was the main player in the market. I thought, us Mac geeks being users of an alternative OS, we as its users would also offer alternative suggestions alongside the mainstream in order to be balanced.

    There is nothing wrong with the top 2 brands, just be aware there are alternatives as well and with whatever you go with I hope your dad gets some good use out of it.
  17. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Not much difference between Canon and Nikon overall. Nikon is generally considered to be at least a little more ergonomic IMHO. D80 is a great choice. There are other good camera brands out there too, but Nikon and Canon certainly do lead the pack in sales in the dSLR arena.
  18. soccersquirt82 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    OK. It has been decided to get the D80 Nikon. Now I need help for some lenses. I was thinking maybe two lenses to start, but he may need to start with more or less. Any suggestions?
  19. ManWithhat macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    This is an expensive lens, but it is the sole reason I would switch from Canon to Nikon. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens. This thing is godly (and again, very expensive), but the glass is extremely important. This is also a great zoom range for the animal photography your Dad seems to like doing and has a good range for other activities as well.

    I would also follow taylorwildson's advice. Get the D300 and those few lenses; it's the best on the market, feature-wise.
  20. pinktank macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2005
    This is a good idea, however, I would get an 17-50 tamron 2.8 instead of the 16*85 vr
  21. telf22 macrumors regular

    Sep 2, 2007
    You cannot go wrong with the Nikon d300. It has everything that he would want from a film camera and just a whole lot more. There is ALOT of customization so he wont feel restricted in any way. the camera is very durable, weather proof, etc.

    check out my flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/telfa/. i have many d300 shots on there.
  22. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Whoa! I agree that the D300 is a truly excellent camera, but characterizing it as "weatherproof" is a substantial exaggeration. It's weather "sealed". In practical terms, it means you could take the thing out in a light mist and it would likely survive. Take it out in a major rainstorm and 8 out of 10 times a "weather sealed" camera is toast.
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If it's Nikon or Pentax whatever lenses he had will still work with the digital body. Of course if those lenses did not have auto focus they won't autofocus even with the new body so he may not want to use them even if he could.

    If you want to get a modern setup of comparable quality you would have to know what he was using. Which brand and importantly the specs of the lenses. Read the numbers off the front of those lenses.
  24. telf22 macrumors regular

    Sep 2, 2007
    yeh sorry bout that, wrong word. also, you should note that it is quite heavy.
  25. soccersquirt82 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    What types of lenses should I be looking at? (standard, wideangle, autofocus, micro, etc) He would need a lens mainly for landscape photos and action shots. Also, is the camera still great with no lens? Does he need a flash thing?

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