Which SLR for a beginner/entry level

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by LGShepherd, May 28, 2012.

  1. LGShepherd macrumors regular

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    Teesside, United Kingdom
    #1
    Hi MacRumors!

    I usually read through these forums for Apple computer related stuff, but I have a SLR related question that I hope I could get some help with?

    I have no experience in photography or with SLR's, but I now have a 7 month old son who gets photographed a lot. The photos tend to be quick snaps on my iPhone 4 when he is doing something funny or random and the quality is good and what you would expect from an iPhone 4, but as he grows up I would like to have better photos of him and this is where the SLR idea popped into my head.

    I understand it will be a large learning curve, but I can imagine the results will be worth it.

    The questions that I have is which SLR to get? I have seen two reasonably priced SLR's on the internet, but as I have no experience in this area I don't know which would be best. The choices are:

    Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm VR lens
    Canon 1100D with 18-55mm IS or DC lens

    The difference in price between the two is about £30, so that wouldn't be a deal breaker. The specs on the Nikon look better to me, but I do know that megapixels etc isn't the only thing to consider.

    Once I know what SLR to purchase and get round to that then I know I will need to learn how to use Aperture, Photoshop or equivalent, but I can cross that bridge when I come to it.

    If anyone can help then that would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Sirolway macrumors 6502

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    #2
    This won't help you, but I'd advise you to stick to (low end) Nikon or Canon, which you seem to be doing anyway ...
     
  3. LGShepherd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    Those SLR's seem to low end(ish) anyways, but I can imagine that there will be other options out there.

    Thanks
     
  4. someoldguy macrumors 65816

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    usa
    #4
    Pretty much 6 of one , half dozen of the other .... you won't lose either way .Probably the best thing you can do , if possible , is to find a place which has both models and handle each and get the one which feels the best in your hands .
     
  5. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #5
    Two questions, how much are you willing to spend and are you only capturing pictures of your son? I assume you will photograph other subjects etc...
     
  6. LGShepherd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    A friend of mine who does a little photography, but nothing major, said that Canon tend to be the be the best as it is easier to get lenses, more people use them and stuff tends to be cheaper for them? Is that true?

    In regards to how much will I spend. I am hoping to stay around the £300/£350 mark which will get me either the D3100 or 1100D if I shop about.

    I will use it for when I go on holiday and other random shots as I collect shoes and toys, so I would definitely take photos of them, but the main reason for it is my son as I want some better quality photos of him as he grows up.

    Thanks
     
  7. jpine macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #7
    I don't know about the video capabilities of either camera, but it seems that if the two are more or less equal in acquiring still images, then the added ability to flip a button and shoot the occasional quick video might come in handy in some circumstances.
     
  8. LGShepherd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    I know that the Nikon has 1080p video recording which is definitely a nice to have
     
  9. paolo- macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 24, 2008
    #9
    Spec wise, the Nikon does seem like a slightly better camera. Biggest difference to me is that the nikon shoots full HD where as the Canon only does 720(still very decent). If video isn't a big deal, I'd look into what brand you want to buy into.

    If you start buying lenses, you'll need to buy the same brand camera in order to use those lenses. So pay attention to how buttons are laid out and which one you're most comfortable with. You might also want to look what possible lenses you could get for your camera (though that might be a bit hard when your starting out).

    One thing to note is that the 3100 doesn't enable autofocus on all Nikon lenses. A common lens to get along side the kit zoom is a 50mm prime lens. It doesn't zoom but allows you to shoot sharper, with much less light and give you a shallow depth of field look. It's often possible to take indoor shots with very little light without using a flash. Sadly, I think the 150$ AF 50mm f/1.8 lens doesn't work on the 3100 and you need to pony up for the 250$ AF-S 50mm f/1.8 lens instead. On the Canon side, a comparable lens is available for 110$ and will work on the 1100d. Maybe someone can double check that, I'm a Canon user so I'm not too familiar with Nikon's stuff.

    To give credit where credit is due, Nikon does have a 35mm f/1.8 prime that will work with the 3100 at 200$. On crop sensor cameras like those you're looking at, 35mm is usually more versatile...
     
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #10
    My suggestion is to go to well regarded camera store. Since you are quoting in Pounds (currency) I have to assume you are in the UK - so can't recommend a store (from my lack of experience there).

    A good sales clerk will ask what you want to do with the camera, and won't immediately trot out specs. If you don't understand a spec, a good clerk will explain it in a way that makes sense. And a good clerk will also explain why it may make no difference in any-case.

    I think going from an iPhone right to an SLR may be too big a leap initially. There are lots of "pro-sumer" models available. These are models that don't have interchangeable lenses, but instead have a single optical zoom lense. Not as flexible as an SLR, but better than an iPhone. And cheaper. And smaller than an SLR. A camera is only useful when it's not in its case... and unless you are committed to photography in general, an SLR often spends a lot of time in its case because it's big and complicated.

    Actual stores may not be able to match the price of an online store, but they can offer things an online store can't.... lessons, advice, a chance to rent a camera and then apply the rental to the purchase (a really good idea since you get a chance to see if you actually like a model before spending hundreds or a thousand pounds.)

    Also know that taking the photo is just the start.... then you get to do the post processing, the sorting, the organizing, and if your wife has albums - the printing. Fun, eh?!
     
  11. mulo macrumors 68020

    mulo

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    #11
    in line with the prosumer camera have you considered a sony nex? My girlfriend has a Sony NEX-3, although I would suggest the NEX-5 because of the touch to focus feature, which is a biggie. It takes remarkably good pictures, but in a small form that will fit in her purse. the lenses are interchangeable, and there are a dozen available here
     
  12. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #12
    Not sure that over the long haul Canon and Nikon are that different price-wise or even on the lens-availability front. Nor are the accessories cheaper for one or the other (on average). Best advice is to hit a camera shop or big-box retail store and try them out. You may prefer one's workflow over the other. They tend to swap spec leadership over time, but it will average out. You can't go wrong with either one.

    I personally prefer Nikon's workflow and autofocus capabilities and their backwards compatibility with some of the older truly outstanding AF and MF lenses (depending on the camera you buy - tends to me more true on the higher end models). But to a large degree, all of this is a matter of taste. Give 'em both a look and above all, have fun!:)
     
  13. LGShepherd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Thanks for all of the advice guys!

    I am still unsure what to go for. I can see the pros and cons in everything that everyone has said. I think my best bet will be to get myself to Jessops or somewhere similar and pick their brains.

    I'm sure there will be a lot more to learn once I get passed the first hurdle of buying a camera.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. mikepro macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2010
    #14
    I have seen some killer deals on the Canon T2i, and picked one up myself with the lens and a $70 camera bag thrown in all for $548 US. It sounds like you might be in the UK, so I think they call this the 550D. I think it is much better than the T3/1100D you are looking at.

    Just hold both that and the Nikon and see which feels better in your hands. Can't really go wrong. The other thing to consider, is what camera do your friends have? If you have some friends that have say a Canon, get the Canon because you can share lenses and experience.
     
  15. LGShepherd thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    Funny that you mention the 55D as I was reading about that online today.

    The 1100D seems to get better reviews online, but only marginally.

    My friends have already offered me the use of their lenses which is helping my decision as one day I could repay the favour.

    I am going to take a look in some camera shops over the weekend and see what is what.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    Buy the best lens you can afford and then buy whatever SLR body fits it. In your case you ned a lens that is "fast" and that can focus very quickly.

    What you have done above is what every beginner does Buys an expensive SLR body and then gets the lowest price "kit" lens he can find. That is backwards. SLR don't make images, they can only record the image the lens creates.

    Also when yo pick a brand Canon or Nikon you are pretty much stuck with your choose. The next lens you buy will have to be the same brand. With your subject you will quickly find t=you need better lighting the the built-in flash, so you will need to buy a speed light of the same brand. So,.... Plan ahead. think about the system you will own in a few years. Which lenses and flashes and so on do you like. Then five years from now you will need to replace/upgrade the SLR body and yo will buy the same brand. So think ahead. Both Canon and Nikon are good. I think Nikon's flash system is better and I like the way the Nikon flash metering works. Nikon has more used gear on the market simply because the Nikon f-mount has been around from the 1950's. Canon always looks best on a spec sheet and adds new technology first but Nikon is conservative and many people prefer that.

    Still my #1 point is not to think backwards and buy the better SLR with the cheapest lens you can find. Spend the bucks on the lens even if that means buying a used SLR body to stay in budget.

    One one thing. I bet no one here could figure out what SLR body was used to take a photo if the photo was posted here. Look at an image all you like and you just can't tell. But in a minute you can tell watch lens was used. A 50mm f/1.4 lens will make a very different mage then a 18-55mm f/5.6 Decide what you want the images to look like then buy that kind of lens. Don't forget lighting too. For indoors a bounce flash can make all the difference. While a "drect flash" is just horrible for for intended subject.

    ----------

    What it. Professional salesmen if these are good will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Better to ask photographers what they use and why. Also get some books with photos. The big coffee table kind. Pick a few shots you like and ask people how to get those shoots.

    The worst mistake beginners do is to start comparing features of various SLR bodies. That is pointless. Start with example of the desired result and from there work backwards
     
  17. Bear macrumors G3

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    #17
    You're right, the specs that you read are not the only thing to consider. While both Nikon and Canon make excellent cameras, they do feel different in your hands. Go in to a camera shop and handle both cameras, check out the menus. See which feels better to you.

    Over the long haul, the prices for accessories will be about even. There is no problem getting lenses and accessories for either of them.

    Disclosure: I own Nikon gear and prefer their controls and menu layout.
     
  18. 100Teraflops, May 29, 2012
    Last edited: May 29, 2012

    100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #18
    Can you rent both cameras in question? If so, then rent them and a lens or two for each camera. I think renting is a great way to form accurate conclusions based off personal use.
     
  19. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    #19
    Believe me, the 1100D has four digits for a reason. It does not stack up to a 550D.
    I don't know about the dark side called Nikon, but I chose the 550D over the 600D due to a lack of improvements worth the price gap and over the 1100D because of the 5MP improvement, 1080p video, improved burst, and better build quality.

    Plus, with Magic Lantern, you can get oodles of features not possible with a 1100D.
     
  20. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #20
    Excellent advice. If new photographers paid attention to this advice more often you'd be making my job (as a pro photographer) even more difficult than it is.

    Really good glass (lenses) on a basic camera body will make better images than crappy glass on the most expensive camera body. Over the course of owning a camera system you will spend way more on lenses than on the camera body.
     
  21. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Any DSLR you buy is going to have more megapixels than you need. You should think about what you want. If you're like most people, it's nearly totally irrelevant which camera you buy. You'll use it to photograph your kids and use it for vacations and that's about it. Most of the time, it will gather dust.

    Think size and lenses. Size matters to many people. Lens quality varies between brands and within a brand. Sony NEX lenses are inferior, but as a beginner, you might not notice that or care.

    Both Canon and Nikon make good lenses and chances are, you only need one. The kit lens should be fine for you. Indoors, you'll have to raise the ISO a bit with the kit lens, so you might see some noise. You can avoid that by buying a fast 50mm lens, but it won't zoom.
     
  22. JackHobbs macrumors regular

    JackHobbs

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    London
    #22
    As a Canon user I am not going to really make a recommendation either way as I am a little biased! I can recommend some shops that are very competitive though. I have bought lenses and cameras from all of these places and would not hesitate doing so again.

    London: Camera World which is just off Oxford Street and they also have a branch in Chelmsford.
    Burgess Hill: Park Cameras
    Norwich: WEX (it used to be called Warehouse Express)

    All three of them have sizeable internet operations and real shops where you can try before you buy. Jessops is also good, especially for a chain but I prefer the above shops. Do not buy your memory cards from Jessops as they are not cheap there. Premier Ink in Leamington Spa are pretty good for memory cards that are cheap and legit.

    Whatever you go for, enjoy your purchase and take time to learn your camera.
    :)
     
  23. paolo- macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    The 550d seems to be quite a step up from the 1100d. That said, as others have mentioned getting good lenses make a bigger difference than getting a better body. Depending on the price you can get for the 550d it might be worth the upgrade. Though the price on that camera seem to vary widely on that camera. It's probably the next camera to get discontinued by canon but it still offers better tech than the 1100d. The 550d shares a lot in common with Canon's flagship crop sensor 7d, where as the 1100d is using "older" tech.

    Does your friend have two camera bodies? I got into photography when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go take pictures with him. He lent me his older camera body and we were swapping lenses. I learned a lot from the couple of times we went. From there I was able to know what I was looking for in a camera. I ultimately bought a 550d with the kit lens and a 50mm f/1.8 and I still feel like a made a good choice.
     
  24. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    #24
    Owner of a D3100 here. I've had the camera for a little over a month now and have really enjoyed it thus far. My only complaint thus far has been that the 3100 doesn't get the built-in interval shooting mode that the bigger Nikons get. I'm interested in long exposures and star trail shooting, so that's a bit of a downer for me. I'd also like to note that Nikon just came out with the D3200, so you can probably get the D3100 for a very good price.

    The kit lens has been solid. I'm very impressed with its low light performance, and I've gotten very good pictures with it. The VR feature def. works; I've played around with it and it def. does its job. They aren't lying when they say that you get an additional stop or two before your pictures go blurry.

    My D3100 is my first dslr, and I would gladly recommend it to somebody else.
     
  25. TheGenerous macrumors 6502a

    TheGenerous

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    #25
    My friend who does a lot of photography, as a living, said so.

    After a year and a half of shooting with a point and shoot I knew I liked photography and wanted a better camera.
    First I got a micro four thirds Lumix G1, and after two years of using it I decided to get a Canon 600D.
     

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