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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:42 pm 
Warning: this is filled with unfocused, newbie questions, so if you can’t stand that sort of thing, please move on (I don’t mind being corrected if you’re nice about it). After reading this, I realize it also sounds like I want the do everything camera for $1000 or less. I’m just looking for good value.

So I am a total beginner to photography, but am looking to improve the shots I take from my point and shoot canon sd800is.

I would like to get a good entry or mid-level DSLR to learn with. The type of photography I would like to do revolve around my interests in mountain biking, hiking, trail running, tennis, windsurfing, snowboarding, kayaking and rock climbing. I'd also like to take shots of kids and dogs at play, landscapes (outdoor and city), maybe some wildlife (elk, deer, lions on safari!), food I eat at restaurants, travel (not sure exactly what yet), and a little architectural. It would be great (but not a deal breaker) if the camera can also do a good job taking video with minimal effort (i.e. I don't have to worry about focusing video shots myself) for shooting family stuff without needing to carry a dedicated camcorder. And I need an articulating screen to frame shots of myself b/c my wife could care less about taking pics of me and I want to try out different shot angles.

From the little I've been told, I need to find a camera body that has a relatively fast continuous shooting mode (5 fps or more) with good auto-focus system. And the discussions I have browsed through all indicate that a fast lens is good to have (what does this exactly mean? Been told that the lower number on the lens means more light coming in and “faster”??). Sounds like to begin with, I would be safe carrying a wide-angle zoom lens and a telephoto lens to 300mm. Do I need a body that is "weather proofed" and usually cost a lot more? How bomb-proof does the camera have to be if I take it with me mountain biking or snowboarding???

My budget is in the range of $400 - $1000 (wow, big range, huh? I can maybe pad some more on this if it’s worth it, but as a beginner, probly doesn’t make sense to me to drop more than $1200). Am I better off buying a new entry-level DSLR or go with a used, but more advanced DSLR? People I am acquainted with and started photography went the used route. How would I know if I am buying a good used camera online?? Any websites good for used stuff?? Not sure how I would like carrying a lot of gear when out doing the activities I listed above, so something relatively light is nice too.

Seems like the “pros” all use Canon and Nikon, but if I'm just learning, that doesn’t matter too much to me (or should it?). I’m more in the stage of becoming an enthusiast with the wishful dream of being an outdoor action photographer for a magazine or blog someday. Of course, it would be great to find a brand that when I buy lenses, I can just upgrade the bodies, but how important is that? If I buy a Sony and use Minolta lenses for a year, get tired of it, would I be losing out by selling it and going Nikon or Canon?

Some ideas for DSLR brand / bodies I've been naively interested in, but don't know if they would be good for me:

Nikon d5100 (I like the ergonomics, articulating screens, but lowish fps for action shots? But I have a friend with a d300 who might lend me a lens or two to play with and all his friends have prosumer Nikons).

Canon T3i / 60D (I like the ergonomics on the 60D more than the T3i but it also costs hundreds more, video capabilities, articulating screens, good enough fps for action??).

Sony SLT-A55 / A560 (I think the 7 fps is good for action and built-in image stabilization is nice, but not huge fan of tilt screen. Friend bought Sony a550 last year b/c he got a deal on Minolta glass and has been taking amazing NYC shots).

Pentax K-r (I know nothing here, but was recommended on another site)

Oh, so many questions and seemingly too many options to confuse me... but I'd love to hear your feedback (without bashing other camera brands). My instincts tell me that I should just get something and worry about what I like later. Found the Nikon 5100 and Canon 60D at Costco so I could try either one of those out for 90 days if I return (or keep). I’ve also seen frequent Amazon deals for the Canon T3i which make it seem attractive. I just want a good value for my money.

All this time I spend trying to figure out what DSLR is best for me from forum discussions is time I'm not getting experience shooting photos :-P

Thanks (and sorry for sounding so newbie)!!!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:01 am
Posts: 1173
Location: bit east of Melbourne
Hi Welcome aboard.

you may get some value out of reading Gordon`s tips. There is a bit of a learning curve. ... uide.shtml

it is not all about the camera, most of the expense comes from lenses. So its worth considering what each manufacturer has to offer. Bright lenses have big apertures have lots of glass in them and are expensive.
Canon and Nikon lenses are easier to get, if you buy one of the other camerabodies make yourself familiar with what lenses you are going to use first.

All the bodies and lenses can handle a bit of light rain and are pretty robust.

The Tamron 17-50 2.8 (Without Vibration Control, VC ) lens with a new Tamron SP 70-300 VC Di Would be a really good value for money package. The 17-50 2.8 is a bright lens, with big aperture. The 70-300 will give you good reach, but not so bright as aperture is up to 5.6.

Maybe later you can add a prime lens like 50 or 100 or more with big aperture like 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 for fast action. Alternatively Canon make excellent zooms in the 70-200 range with aperture of F4 and F2.8 with or without IS ( image stabilisation) that would be great for action shots.

Canon Powershot S95, Canon 6D,7D, Canon 40 2.8 STM, Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC, Canon 17-40 L, Canon 15-85, Canon 85 1.8, Sigma 30 1.4, 50mm 1.8, Canon 100 2.8L Macro, Canon 70-300L +Kenko 1.4 Pro 300DGX, Canon 430EX II and RS 4 Classic

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:13 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Slovakia
well, consider nikon d5100, canon 600D, or panasonic GH2

with all of this you can make same things, and for this kind of money i would consider between theese cameras.

maybe someone would not like the tilty swively screen, but once you got it you will find it useful in a lot of scenarios.

Thank god i'm happy i dont need to make choices again :lol:

I'm new to DSLR's, so please be patient and take my opinions with reserve. Thank you : ) Yes, i am Canon man.
Image Google + Image My picasa photos Image My 500px album
Canon 60D + 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS II, Canon 430EXII, polarizing filter 72mm,
Canon AT-1, 50mm FD F1.8
Canon A430,

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:07 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 832
Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
The brand isn't too important in your case - you need a fast shooting body and a decent lens (at least one), and you can get that from any of the 4 major brands of DSLR. I would tend to advise against mirrorless cameras, which are quite capable and good but action shooting is not their forte - even in the case of the focus systems getting better and working in daylight, they don't have the battery durability, buffer size, and focus tracking abilities of the DSLRs.

Canon and Nikon will give you the widest overall lens selection, but the gap isn't quite as vast as is sometimes thought to Sony and Pentax...remember that within Nikon, there are 4 different types of lenses within the same focal range - with VR, without VR, with in-lens motor, and without in-lens motor. And with Canon, they have many overlapping focal range lenses, same focal length lenses with different maximum apertures, and both stabilized and non-stabilized versions of many. The 120 or so current lenses for Sony or Pentax lines are supplemented by the 300-400+ used and older lenses that remain fully compatible and function like a modern lens - since both these lines have the focus motors and stabilization built into the camera bodies. And having stabilized fast short primes or ultrawides is another very nice perk of the bodies with stabilization in them - something you can't get in-lens versions.

Handle the various models, and see how they feel to you. That will play a part too. See if any particular standout feature seems more important to you, that maybe only one of these models has. Tilting LCDs will only matter to you when using live view to shoot - if using the viewfinder, the LCD is incidental. If you DO intend to shoot live view often, the tilt screen can come in handy - and if live view shooting like you do with a P&S camera is something you'll want to do for any action or sports, then knock out all other choices and stick with Sony. They are the only DSLR that shoots in live view identically as in optical view, with phase-detect AF, 7fps burst, and no shutter or mirror delays.

As for body upgrade future, don't overlook Sony in that regard - looking at the past two years, they've actually released more camera bodies than any other manufacturer, and already have 2 new cameras hitting the market now, and at least 3 more known to be coming within the next year, including an enthusiast level model or two. And they are still rumored to be on track to continue in the full-frame line, possibly with an SLT type body. You may find you like the feel, the features, the unique abilities of their line, and can successfully shoot with them as a pro or semi's the lens and photographer that determine your professionalism. I have been semi-pro with Sony bodies for years, including hired shoots and national publication. Sony won't give you the full professional support you get from Canon and Nikon when you enter the career professional lines in photography, including international support and lens replacement in the field...but very few photographers are that type of professional shooter that requires this level of commitment - for those types of photographers, they should unquestionably stick to Canon and Nikon.

Hope that helps.

Justin Miller
Sony DSLR-A68 / Sony 18-250mm / Minolta 50mm F1.7 / Tamron 150-600mm / Minolta 300mm F4 APO
Sony A6300 / 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 / 55-210mm F4-6.3 / 10-18mm F4 / 35mm F1.8 / 16mm F2.8 / FE70-200mm F4 G OSS / FE70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS / via manual adapter, lots of Pentax K mount, Konica K/AR mount, and Leica M mount manual lenses


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:59 pm
Posts: 6010
Location: The Netherlands
Welcome Eric!

Quite an active person you are! As far as cameras go, the D5100 is a good camera body, but you may quickly tire of it's limited controls as you progress into the world of photography. a better camera in your price range would be the D90, featuring slightly higher FPS (I think), more controls on the body (I know), and a generally sturdier feel. It also has an AF motor on board so you can use autofocus with older AF-D type lenses.

As far as those sports go, those decide what lens(es) you buy. For just general shooting, the 18-55 is a cheap good option, but also consider the 18-105, featuring better build quality, and more zoom.

Having shot some windsurfing myself, I can tell you that you need a long lens! 100 mm on a crop body is generally sufficient for surfers (air)gibing near the coast line:


When they're further out, 200 mm is not uncommon (if you're lucky). ( ... pers&qo=72)

However, that's only if you're very close to the water line.

Fast glass (F/2.8 ) is preferred, but a slower lens (F/5.6) can still maintain the shutter speeds you need to capture those gorgeous water sprays, but you may have to bump your ISO to 800!

I take pictures so quickly, my highschool was "Continuous High".

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:36 am 
I'd also be considering a couple of introductory photography classes if you are looking to truly get into the hobby seriously. A few in-class hours with a competent instructor will save you hours of time guessing what you should be doing.

+1 to what Justin says about manufacturer -- any of the entry level cameras will serve your needs. Get cameras in-hand and actually find out what feels good in your hands. If it isn't comfortable, you won't use it.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:08 am 
I would honestly read reviews and see what other people say. I would look for dslr's that have fast sensors as well as high ISO speeds. You mentioned beginner, but you also want to look at what your budget is, if you could afford a little more I would, just to get you into a camera that will last you a while:

Good cameras to check out:

Less expensive
Nikon D5100
Pentax K-7
Canon Rebel T3i
Olympus E-620

Little more, but you get a lot of bang for your buck!!!
Canon 7D
Nikon D300s
Nikon D7000

Hope that helps:) and best of luck!!!

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