Which dSLR for a newbie?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by darrinaw, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. darrinaw macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    #1
    Hello All,

    I am looking at getting a dSLR in the next few months as my wife and I are expecting our first child. I was wondering what everyone thought might be a good SLR for a first timer coming from point and shoot. I want to be as budget friendly as possible.

    I have used mostly canon products before and am familiar with the layout. I have been looking at the Rebel XS and the t1i/t2i, and I found a refurb'd deal on the XS w/ a starter lens for $399.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

    -darrinaw
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
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    #2
    The entry-level dSLRs are all OK for what they are. Get whichever one is comfortable in your hand and you understand/find easy to use. If you are used to Canon then getting a Canon makes sense: I can pick up pretty much any Canon P&S and feel at home as them menus are similar to my two Canon dSLRs. I'd recommend budgeting for buying an additional lens: you are likely to want to take shots in low light without blurring the face of your child so a fast (f/2.0 or faster) prime will be useful to you.
     
  3. NeoMac macrumors regular

    NeoMac

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    #3
    I was in the same boat as you except I waited until after the birth of my first child to buy my DSLR. I went back and forth between Canon and Nikon after playing with both in the stores and a lot of time spent reading reviews, etc on line. I ended up buying a Canon Rebel XS. I love it. For my first DSLR I think it was a great choice. I like how it feels, and works great. I have no regrets. Maybe in a few years after I have more experience I may upgrade to a better camera but for now it suits my needs perfectly. Congrats on upcoming birth of your child and good luck with your camera choice.
     
  4. darrinaw, Mar 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2011

    darrinaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 8, 2007
    #4
    Thanks for the input! Any recommendations on additional lenses or books/websites that would be good for a first timer? Would you recommend getting a different flash as well?

    Thanks! I am really drawn to the price point and features that the XS has. Is there much difference between 10.1, 15.1, and 18 MP? I have read mixed reviews on how many MP's are optimal.

    As for video, I have a canon HD camcorder that I am in love with, so I am not concerned about that.

    Thanks again everyone.
     
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #5
    Depends on whether you want to take pictures using the flash! I personally try and avoid using a flash as I don't like the way it looks and prefer fast lenses. As to a lens recommendation? Depends on your budget. I have both a 50mm f/1.4 and a 35mm f/1.4 L. The latter is about my favourite lens: it's fast, renders beautifully and is about the right focal length on a 1.6 crop camera. The only downside is that it is very, very expensive. I find the 50mm a bit too long for general usage: you have to be quite a way away to take a picture of someones face for example. You could pick up a cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens on eBay and see how the focal length works out...

    As for books etc. Not really sure. Understanding Exposure gets recommended frequently. I find just taking loads of pictures and experimenting works pretty well. It's digital so it's not like it costs anything to make some mistakes :D
     
  6. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #6
    There's loads to consider getting zoom lenses, prime lenses, flash heads etc etc etc.

    I would give strong consideration to taking an evening class or two. It will help ensure you not on buy the right stuff, but actually know how to use it when you get it.

    understanding exposure by Brian Patterson (i think)? is a good book to keep you ticking over in the mean time
     
  7. epb87 macrumors member

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    May 14, 2006
    Location:
    Chicago
    #7
    I used Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson as well as The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. They were easy reads, and I learned a ton about how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO relate to how I wanted each picture to turn out. It will give you a good background before you start taking a ton of pictures and experimenting with the settings on your new camera.

    Good luck and congrats!
     
  8. darrinaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 8, 2007
    #8
    I think taking a class is a great idea. I will check out all the book rec's. Thanks all!
     
  9. ychung macrumors newbie

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    Aug 15, 2008
    Location:
    Davis, CA
    #9
    refurbished

    Hey if you are set on getting refurbished you might as well look into the canon loyalty program. You can google it but basically what happens is you trade in any broken canon and they will take %20 off the refurbished price on the canon website. So find a broken canon and call canon at 866-443-8002 or 800-828-4040 and ask about the canon loyalty program.
     
  10. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

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    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax, Canada
    #10
    People who say they don't like how flash pictures look aren't looking at pictures in which the flash was used properly.

    An external flash is a great idea. Just point it at the ceiling or a wall and not the subject and the results will improve 100-fold.

    I got a cheap fast prime before a flash and I don't regret that, but it was frequently a battle between high-noise and motion blur for indoor, at-night use. Love having a flash.
     
  11. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #11
    Ah, generic statements which include all people with no knowledge of the people you are making the statements about. Wonderful :rolleyes:

    I am talking about my own pictures, taken with the flash diffused and bounced as per the normal "correct" usage. I still prefer the look of available light. There is not ever one correct answer: people have personal preferences which might not be in line with your own.
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    Light is light. What matters is direction, and intensity- control of direction and intensity takes some level of skill to not make things look artificial, but light is light- if you can differentiate a "look" then the flash is probably not well done unless that "look" is "unrealistically perfect lighting."

    There are lots of available light shots that totally suck out there- the generic bounce and diffuse answer doesn't really do well for directionality and is useful for fill under lots of circumstances, but not so much for a key source. If you're dragging the shutter and bouncing for fill, then that's one thing- but not every image/situation works well that way. If you're purposefully lighting the situation, that's another thing entirely.

    Photography is all about the light- when you control the light, you control the image- and nothing should stop flash from looking like any level/type/direction of ambient light other than the time to set up and the skill of the person doing the lighting and to some extent the equipment being used. Strobes and flash guns emit the same photons as the sun and lightbulbs do.

    Paul
     
  13. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

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    Jan 7, 2008
    #13
    Just my 0.02.

    Buy as much camera as you can afford. You wont regret it, and if you make the right choice it will be the last camera you ever buy. If you have a basic understanding of how a camera works in terms aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. there is no reason why you should stick to one of the "entry level"dslrs.

    I shoot Nikon, so do not know much about Canon offerings, but right now there are some pretty good deals out there on the Nikon D90 kit with the 18-105 VR lens, which is actually a fairly decent lens (though I am sure there are lens to lens differences). With that kit, and the purchase of 35 or 50 mm fast prime lens you will be set for years to come.
     
  14. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

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    In Hell
    #14
    Right on Paul, flash is light and learning to control light is the way to take your photography to the next level.

    To the OP if you're going to be shooting kids primarily then get an external flash, you'll need it to get the shutter speed up, kids are quick. You don't need a Canon flash if funds are short just a generic off ebay should do the job. Get some triggers, a stand and umbrella at the same time then you'll be cooking. Do lighting 101 (it's easy) on the Strobist Blog and you'll be able to produce beautiful professional looking photo's of your kids every time for years to come. http://strobist.blogspot.com/


    Get a Canon and get the most megapixels you can afford, the more the better. There's no such thing as too many megapixels, you can never have too much detail.
     

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  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    Actually, I disagree with this- more megapixels shows poor lenses, diffraction effects and poor technique more easily than fewer megapixels. There's nothing size-wise that you can't do with an image from any modern DSLR- the only reason for going with high MP is (a) ultra-large detailed prints (20x24 or larger) or heavy (50% or more of the frame) cropping.

    Paul
     
  16. Rowbear macrumors 6502a

    Rowbear

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    Gatineau, PQ, Canada
    #16
    First, congratulations on the new one :)

    Your off to a good start with the equipement IMO :)

    Next on the angenda:

    Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson (great book)
    Canon EF-s 17-55 f/2.8 (expensive but excellent and fast lens)
    Canon 430EX II (external flash) bounced on a wall or white ceiling (but not at a new born's eyes please )

    Good luck
     
  17. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    the cold dark north
    #17
    Why is it that in every "starter DLSLR" its the same tendency?
    most responses are: Oh you need to get this expensive lens and that one and i know its pricey but its good.

    People: HE IS A BEGINNER!!!!! which person goes into a new hobby with no clue and buys the most expensive thing he can buy? Golf is a good example. I have yet to meet anyone who starts to play and immediately drops 2000 USD on custom made golf clubs... why? cuz its pointless and he/she does not even know if they will bbe at it.

    To the OP:
    Get a starter kit: The Xs with a Kit lens or any other Cam (Nikon d3100 or even d3000) with a Kit lens and POSSIBLY one cheap additional lens just so you can play and get versatile. Don't get ANYTHING else yet...
    Forget about external flash for now, forget about a lot of things and LEARN first. Believe me.. the kit will NOT limit you.

    400-500 USD MAX should be your budget! The loyalty program is a good hint.


    And to everyone else... nice that you all have expensive kit but be realistic.. a beginner with an L glass? someone who has never even owned a DSLR? are you serious? Same thing with the Professional grade 17-55...
    geez...
     
  18. admwright macrumors regular

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    Sep 11, 2008
    Location:
    Scotland
    #18
    I also agree with this. I find I am really struggling with a D3100 (14 mpix) where I could just shoot off good pictures with a D40 (6 mpix). And printing upto A4 size there is very little discernable difference between them.

    All the best
    Andrew W.
     
  19. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    In Hell
    #19
    Actually my first camera/lens combo was the 17-55mm 2.8 with an XTI. And I also bought an external flash at the same time.

    I suppose it depends if you're buying a DSLR to use like a glorified compact camera or if you're buying a DSLR because you're interested in learning the art of photography.

    I bought a good camera/lens because I was interested in photography and wanted to take really nice pictures of my kids, just like the OP. I suppose it's all about how much effort you want to put in. It's the old story though that a better camera won't make you a better photographer. The problem with kit lenses is that they just don't do anything that a compact can't do almost as well, so when you ask on a forum photographers recommend more expensive lenses because they allow you to experiment with photography more.

    You can't take photo's like these with kit lenses and no flash.

    5530363392_a6a536394b_z.jpg

    5533897264_53cf7ec5b2_z.jpg
     
  20. wisty macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    #20
    Even kit lenses and an entry DSLR are quite forgiving, in terms of ISO and shaky hands.

    You might need a faster lens to get those photos, but the camera shouldn't matter. The exports you posted look very good (due to the good light, fast lens, and good photography), but they have less megapixels than a cheap camera-phone picture. I think better camera will only be noticeable if you blow the photos up, or print them, or take photos in very poor light.

    A cheap (~$100) 50mm prime is great value, and very good at what it does (animals in the zoo? head and shoulders photos?), but not too practical for family photos. You could also look for a cheap (or second-hand) prime in the 20-30 mm range. Expect to pay >$300.

    A Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens would be a massive upgrade, but it costs > $1000. The Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a good value "general purpose" lens, but it's not cheap either.

    A >$50 macro adaptor is fun, if you want to play with a wide lens but aren't sure you want to drop $1000 on a real lens yet. But never ever admit doing this around serious photographers.
     
  21. wisty macrumors regular

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    Feb 18, 2009
    #21
    Also remember, the best camera is the one you have with you.

    A really good P&S takes decent photos. Just play with the apature and ISO settings a bit ;)

    A superzoom can also be good. Not as good as a DSLR, but it's a bit lighter.

    I don't have kids, but I can imagine that they might be a little difficult to carry. The DSLR might get left on the shelf, because your hands are full and it doesn't fit in your pocket.
     
  22. Grasher macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    #22
    Speaking as a father of two young kids (almost one and almost three) I'd recommend a fast 50mm lens and a flash that you can bounce off the ceiling or a wall as vital accessories. The body largely doesn't really matter - they're all good - so pick the one that you feel most comfortable with in your hands and with a menu system that makes sense to you.

    With a 50mm lens wide open (even the cheapest ones will go to 1.8) you'll get great photos with a nice soft background. Get the eyes sharp and the rest will look great. Just make sure you practice shooting at this aperture before your baby arrives as the shallow depth of field can be a little tricky. Once the baby is here you won't get time to practice and you won't want to miss a shot!

    With babies, their skin can be a little blotchy so black and white conversions will be your friend.

    Last tip is when you're getting group family shots, as a beginner go for the "f8 and be there" rule. Once you have a couple in the bag then go for more creative shots. Babies don't wait for you to fiddle with aperture and ISO.
     
  23. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    Location:
    the cold dark north
    #23
    You are absolutely correct but for someone to get those shots with beginner knowledge, I would say they should start then immediately become professional.

    It is nice that YOU can burn 1500 USD on a cam and a lens but I doubt everyoen else can and by suggesting that everyone just get the best and most expensive ... well.. i dunno..
    btw, just for the record. I can come pretty close to those images with a 50mm prime or a kit lens and a bounce flash.. both of which cost a fraction of what your 17-55 cost. It is all in the eye of the beholder but I will go out on a limb and say that anyone that starts off and has no concept of photography needs to learn with the basics and for that a "kit" is perfectly fine and will produce great images from which he or she can learn...
    going out and getting a 2nd mortgage just to pay for a lens is not something i would recommend...

    just my 2 cents
     
  24. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    #24
    I see no one has mentioned the micro 4/3's category. Panasonic and Olympus have some pretty good entries in this emerging market. It is a bit of a difference from the other discussion here, though. The Olympus PEN e-pl2 is a pretty decent new version based on some reviews I've read. I read one by a pro photographer who tried it out for a while and was impressed with the focus speed. He recommended getting the electronic viewfinder, though.

    Just a thought. I have no experience using any of the micro 4/3 cameras. I bought a Canon 60D for myself.
     
  25. darrinaw, Mar 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2011

    darrinaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 8, 2007
    #25
    Thanks, that's a great point to consider.

    Thanks for the advice. I agree and think this is where I am going. I think this might be the start of a great hobby.
     

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