Which Mac and camera for a beginner?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Aerador, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Aerador macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Hello all! After using/building PCs for a good 10 years I switched to a Mac a little more than half a year ago and i'm so in love with my MacBook Pro that i'm in the market to get another Mac. I'm also looking to get a DSLR for some regular shooting but also macro shots and have some questions.

    1. What would a good Mac to get for photography? I was looking at an iMac vs a MacBook Pro and noticing in my price range I can customize the iMac a bit more. I do need portability but only around my house since I setup and shoot mostly macro shots so just relocating an iMac twice a day doesn't seem like a big deal. I won't be running anything like Photoshop but most likely will be using Aperture or Lightroom. I also do a lot of vector illustration work, some light 3D Graphics, and a little World of Warcraft and Eve Online but that's the heaviest loads i'll be putting on it. Not a lot of multitasking nor any huge heavy renders.

    2. What would be a good entry level DSLR camera? I stated I do macro shots so i'm not new to DSLR however i'm no expert either, more of a hobbiest. I had a Rebel XT w/ 100mm Canon Macro Lens until they were stolen and now am looking to get another camera. I was looking at the Nikkon D40/D60 or the Canon Rebel XS. Any thoughts? I'm not good with settings, as much as i've tried to learn, and end up taking a good 20-60 photos until I get the settings right just by trial and error.

    3. Telephoto vs Macro? From my days of searching looking for a lens I want to get I came across people saying a telephoto lens can be used for macro photography and the IS/VR is great for it. I didn't find anything real specific and I do understand that a macro lens will provide a sharper photo but does a macro shot with a telephoto lens still look good? I would love to be able to take wildlife/landscape shots along with macro shots without having to swap out a lens. Dust scares me. LOL!

    I have done close to a week of searching on all these issues and am at a loss. The new MacBook Pros are coming out but then again the iMacs are nice too. I've read and watched reviews for the Nikkon D40/D60 vs Canon XT/XS and just don't know. So i'm coming to you Mac Photo Experts over here. ;)

    Oh and budget wise is looking at about $2,800 for everything which I know isn't a lot and I might be able to stretch the budget a tad depending on the wife. Any help is greatly appreciated!
  2. techie4life macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2007
    Do you really want to lug around an iMac multiple times a day? A high-end MacBook with maxed out ram might be able to handle the kinds of applications you are talking about using. As for the camera, I (and most everyone on MacRumors) am going to suggest staying away from the D60. Sure, a few more megapixels can't hurt, but there aren't really enough advantages of the D60 vs. the D40 to justify the extra cost. Just remember that the D40 (and I think the D60 as well) won't be able to autofocus some of Nikons older lenses because they don't have built-in autofocus motors. I personally have a D80, and I really think that might be a good buy for you because it's relatively cheap nowadays due to the release of the D90. You can get a D80 body for ~$530 at B&H and Nikon Macro lenses tend to run around $400-450, so right there you're talking about $1000 max for the camera setup. A new MacBook will run you $1750 with 4 gigs of Apple RAM, so you've just hit your budget. I might also recommend checking into Apple's refurbished page, the products go on and off, but you can get a Unibody MacBook Pro (2.4) for $1700, and their refurbs are almost always just as good as new, sometimes better than new because of the extra testing. I'm no expert (yet), but that's my two cents.
  3. numbersyx macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2006
    MacBook Pro - you need portability and that means a laptop not a desktop.

    Camera - D60 is the newest entry level Nikon so go with that rather than yesterday's entry level..
  4. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    hmm, well get a highest end Macbook like the previous poster mention. I dont agree for him to get a D60, since he is thinking of D60 vs Rebel XS, I say the Rebel XS beats D60 hands down. The D60 is too basic that you will out grown it too quick and you will be wanting a newer body too soon. Get the XS, it has a lot of features that will be useful as you learn more about photography. Not to mention dedicated buttons to common change features.
  5. LittleCanonKid macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Besides the megapixels, is there really that much to justify more money for the D60 over the D40? I also remember that they downgraded the flash sync from 1/500 on the D40 to 1/200 on the D60.
  6. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    Isn't the Rebel XSi a closer competiter, both price, and feature-wise, to the D60?

    I would look at these three dSLRs

    Canon Rebel XSi
    Nikon D60
    Pentax K200D

    Try testing them in stores, get a feel for them, and test each one's menu system for ease of use.
  7. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    You're definitely gonna want a laptop (what's wrong with the one you have? is it outdated?)

    And I suggest a D40... I just don't see the features of the D60 being sufficient to justify cost. And that decision would also let you do more with your MBP.
  8. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Get a laptop. Relocating a desktop (even if it's and AIO) several times a day is a pain. Besides, with a laptop you could do things that would be impossible with the iMac (like taking the computer with you if you decide to shoot further away from your house).

    MacBooks sounds suitable IMO. Of course MacBook Pro is better, but it's also bigger and more expensive. The money you save on the laptop could be spent on the camera or maybe an external display. The one thing MBP has over the MB is FireWire (for external storage). But for most uses, USB2 is "fast enough".

    Also, consider buying a Drobo for storage.

    I'll leave the camera-comments to those who have more experience with different models :).
  9. CarlsonCustoms macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2007
    Well I was kinda in the same boat as you..

    I went with an imac becuase its just plain BEAUTIFUL.. i got the 24" one. I can't see how you would move this thing around 2 times a day. Its just huge. I used to have a macbook but honestly the imac blows it away. Why exactly do you need to move the imac for macro work?

    For camera I bought a D60 but quickly realized I needed more. So I just purchased a D90 and its very eye opening. I love it so much compared to the d60. yes it cost more but I think its worth it.

  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you are doing macro work stoart shopping for the lens FIRST. Find a Canon or a Nikon marco lens that suits your needs. The buy the body that fits the lens.

    For example if you like the Nikon 100mm lens then you can't use a d40 or d60 body you'd need the d80. because you need a body with it's own motor inside. But I think Nikon makes an AF-S 60mm lens that does have an in-lens motor,

    That said with macro work you mostly use manual focus on a tripod s maybe you want the lens that ha the best "feel". Many AF lenses have horrible manual focus rings. Some bodies do have better focus aids in them. Nikons have the green in-focus light but a real split prism is better. For that you'd want a body that allows for replaceable focus screens.

    I don't see why you'd need to move the computer. It it easier to move the camera to the computer to down load the files. Moving the computer to the camera seems the wrong way.
  11. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    If you already have a MacBook Pro why not just upgrade it and purchase a nice external monitor? :confused:

    Nikon or Canon as far as dSLR's if you're a beginner needing to invest in a system...

    (an old-timer like me is happy with an Olympus...) :)
  12. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    The issue as I recall is that the higher MP count means less sensitivity so the D40 starts at ISO200 and the D60 at 100, so the flash sync speed is thrown off by that. What I mean to say is the flash and the circuitry and whatnot is likely all the same, it's just the sensor "upgrade" throwing off the speed of the whole process.

    To the OP: Nikon D40 with either 18-55mm and 55-200mm or 18-135mm and the aluminum MacBook (either model) would be my advice. Good luck!
  13. Aerador thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Wow, thank you for all the replies! The reason I would be moving the computer to the camera is just for the fact that I got used to shooting tethered to the computer. As for my current MBP, it's my "baby" but I was noticing that it is a bit outdated. The current iMacs and even the regular MacBooks have better specs then what my MBP has.

    The problem i'm having right now isn't so much the specs of the computers so much as it is "screen real estate" and integrated graphics. I've never owned a mac with integrated graphics so if I was to get a top of the line MacBook I need it to be able to handle what i'll throw at it. Plus there's the issue of the 13.3" screen seems a tad small for what i'm doing which is working with close up textures and details matter a lot in those shots and when i'm doing any kind of editing on them I like to have a large screen. Tho I have never had a 13.3" screen so I just don't know how big of a deal it would actually make to me. We don't have an apple store anywhere remotely close by so I can't go and see for myself.

    Already was in that frame of mind. I found a Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DG Macro AFD Zoom Lens that looks pretty good online. Now if I could just find a store that has it locally so I could see it in action. The description states;

    *Switch converts the lens to macro photography at focal lengths between 200mm and 300mm with a minimum focusing distance of 95cm.

    Which would also put me in the realm of getting the D80. The macro shots i'm doing consist mostly of textures. An example would be using coarse instant cappuccino powder on a plate and getting in real close so it looks like very smooth dirt. LOL! Or ricotta cheese has an awesome texture you can do tons with like adding food coloring or specs of black pepper. I should also note i'm shooting straight down with a tripod.
  14. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    95cm is nearly 1m is pretty much 3 feet... are you ok with that?

    And also, if you want to switch everything else why not separate yourself from tethered shooting? You'd be able to get a lot more computer if you didn't insist on that.
  15. Aerador thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Indeed, I am good with the distance since I am shooting pre-setup textures and not things like flora/bugs or that type of stuff. As for the tethered shooting the reason I was doing that was because i'm shooting straight down and some of the shots I would have to get pretty high up with the tripod. Looking threw the eye piece is out of the question since it would require a chair to get up there and i'm not the... steadiest person on a chair. LOL! :eek: So i'd keep the camera tethered, take a shot, adjust as needed from the computer.

    Again, i can see for experienced photographers how this might seem a bit strange but for me, not experienced, the trial and error way is how i've been taking my shots. But from doing it that way some of the shots that would be considered an "error" have actually made me some money just because they look awesome. I am however TRYING to get away from trial and error shooting and more into the realm of "ok, this is what I need to do!". I have some Nikon DVDs but couldn't get into them since I had a Rebel and it seemed alot of the features the DVDs were trying to teach were for the D lines of cameras.
  16. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    I guess it depends on how much you'll have to spend to upgrade. But alas, a MBP with discreet graphics and larger screen may be the ticket you need compared to a new MacBook.

    See how much it would cost to update your MBP to 4Gig RAM and a larger hard drive, then a price for a nice external monitor for photography (NEC 24"?)

    Or get an Aluminum iMac Refurbished.

    I would spend as little on the computer since you have a MBP, and invest in the camera, especially the lenses you'll need.

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