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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:10 am
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As I'm sure many of you know, the amount of information out there on DSLR cameras is both amazing and mind-boggling. Right now my mind is quite boggled with what to buy, so I'm hoping you could help.

My budget for a body and any lenses to start is $800 tops. Looking at Nikon, Canon, and maybe Sony (Pentax looks interesting but I can't find one in my price range).

I know I will use the camera for taking shots of my daughter as she grows up, as well as any other children I'm lucky enough to co-create. I will use it on family vacations as well. My current camera duo is an older Sony Cybershot and an iPhone 5. Both take nice pictures, but not amazing pictures.

I'm not sure I'll use the DSLR for video - I take video with my iPhone, though, so there's a chance I will.

What I want to buy is a camera I will love for years to come. What I have is a pair of dilemmas:

1) I don't want to buy something like the Nikon D3100 and feel I've outgrown it after a few years - yet I don't want to spend extra on a D5100 if I won't use any of the extra features or take better pictures with it. Same with Canon's line of cameras, there are multiple in my budget range. Every penny I spend on the camera cuts out what I could spend on a second lens either immediately or down the road.

2) Each brand seems to have advantages and disadvantages. I don't know if I'll consider upgrading the camera for a long time, but if I do I don't want to swap from Nikon to Canon to Sony and back. I don't really understand why I should buy one brand over another - understand being the key word. There is plenty of information to dig through and I've read more than enough. I've held cameras in my hand, I've even used a family member's D3100, but none of that has helped me grasp why I'm going to be happy I bought one over the other 3 or 5 or 10 years down the line.

So, if I don't want to overspend, and I don't want to upgrade for as long as humanly possible - for my needs, what would you recommend?

More than happy to answer questions, as I don't know what answers might help you help me. Otherwise I'd have my final answer!

Thanks!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:10 am 
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First, how old is your daughter? If she's only a year or two old (or younger), I would probably suggest a Sony RX100 instead of a DSLR for now. Reason being, at that age, you're probably going to be taking mostly indoor candids (read: relatively low light and relatively short distances), and the RX100 is well suited to that. Also, it costs around $700, so it's a good value on your budget. (As opposed to trying to squeeze in an (entry level) DSLR (and a lens or two) on a similar budget. And don't forget to budget for accessories like an SD card or two, an extra battery, etc.) It's also very small, so it's convenient to have at hand for those spontaneous moments. And since you already have a Cybershot, you may find it somewhat familiar. And then, in a few years, when your daughter decides what her interests are, you can make a more informed choice of DSLR and lenses. (i.e. pictures of ballet have different requirements than pictures of soccer.)

Full disclusoure: I own an RX100.

Having said that, generally speaking, most DSLR owners upgrade the camera body every few years, but stick with the lenses for longer than that--in some cases, much longer than that--which means, when choosing between brands, it's more about the lenses than the camera body. This gets back to why I think you should hold off on buying a DSLR until you have a better idea of what kind of lenses you'll need. It also implies that you shouldn't stress too much about outgrowing a camera body in a few years, as you'll probably want to upgrade around then anyway.

Assuming the brands all have the lenses you need, the next criteria is: how does each camera body "feel" to you? Is it too small/cramped to operate quickly and easily or too big and heavy to carry around with you all the time? Do you prefer a certain type of controls or certain controls in a certain place? Do you find the menu system intuitive or confusing? etc.

Oh, and welcome to the forum - Mark


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:02 am 
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Hi JV & welcome.

Quote:
I don't really understand why I should buy one brand over another


The main reason is ......your choice.
That is to say, as Mark indicated, which feels best in your hands.
There aren't any `bad` cameras these days & it mainly boils down to preferences. Some are slightly better in low light/less noise in darker conditions, but that can also depend on which lens you have.
Having friends/family with a certain brand can be useful, if you can borrow & swap lenses with them as needed?

If you really like your chosen camera & want tp `progress` in a couple of years time, you'll likely want to upgrade anyway, so invest in good lenses if you can, it's they that will stay with you.

Also don't shy away from used gear, provided you can get it from a reputable dealer.

_________________
Image btw,He who dies with the most toys, WINS!
Nikon D800E & D700 bodies + Nikon 200-400mm F4 VR1, 50mm F1.4G, 16-35mm f/4G VR, 105 F2.8 VR macro, 70-300mm lenses. A couple of filters, Giotto tripod & ballhead. Lowepro Slingshot 302 AW
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:10 am
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Maestro wrote:
First, how old is your daughter? If she's only a year or two old (or younger), I would probably suggest a Sony RX100 instead of a DSLR for now. Reason being, at that age, you're probably going to be taking mostly indoor candids (read: relatively low light and relatively short distances), and the RX100 is well suited to that.


My daughter is nearing 8 months, so yes, lots of in-house shots. I'm still leaning towards a DSLR at this point, though I will take a hard look at the Sony RX100 and a few similar cameras.

Maestro wrote:
Having said that, generally speaking, most DSLR owners upgrade the camera body every few years, but stick with the lenses for longer than that--in some cases, much longer than that--which means, when choosing between brands, it's more about the lenses than the camera body. This gets back to why I think you should hold off on buying a DSLR until you have a better idea of what kind of lenses you'll need. It also implies that you shouldn't stress too much about outgrowing a camera body in a few years, as you'll probably want to upgrade around then anyway.


So besides how the camera feels in my hands, this is what both you and oldCarlos mentioned. I understand that lenses and skill are more important than the camera itself. What's the difference in lens systems? I haven't found a really good resource on that. I know there are differences with Nikon and Canon, as Nikon has a line of lenses which have the focusing motor in them whereas Canon's lenses do not - but do these things matter if I'll always have the same brand? What are the odds Nikon discontinues that type of camera/lens system?

My other question - why do DSLR owners upgrade the body every few years? Is it because technology was evolving so fast and cameras continued to get vastly better, or is it because people just want a newer camera? I was under the impression that DSLRs are more like the film camera I watched my mother use growing up - you buy a good one, get good lenses, and it lasts you a long time.

Thanks for the replies!

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Nikon D3100
Nikkor 18-55mm VR, 55-200mm VR, 35mm f/1.8
iPhone 5 for snapshots


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Location: NW England
Not ALL Nikon lenses have a focusing motor, but if you buy a body that has it built in, it wouldn't matter.

Mostly folk `upgrade` because, as you say, it's the latest must have, or it has new features you want, or higher megapixels etc. or going from cropped (DX) sensor to full frame (FX)
Just because a new camera is introduced doesn't mean the camera you presently have will take any worse images. If you're happy with what you have, you'll still be happy with your pics!

Also shutters are rated at X number of actuations (100,000 - 300,000 ish) & eventually you'll need to buy a newer camera. For most folk though, this will be many years down the line.

What can make a BIG difference though, for someone shooting often indoors & poor light is an external flash unit.
You don't have to buy a Nikon SB 700 for example if you have a Nikon camera, there are cheaper makes that will do the job just fine.
Same goes for lenses too. Just read a few reviews & look at sample pics.

_________________
Image btw,He who dies with the most toys, WINS!
Nikon D800E & D700 bodies + Nikon 200-400mm F4 VR1, 50mm F1.4G, 16-35mm f/4G VR, 105 F2.8 VR macro, 70-300mm lenses. A couple of filters, Giotto tripod & ballhead. Lowepro Slingshot 302 AW
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:51 am 
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JVegas wrote:
What's the difference in lens systems? I haven't found a really good resource on that. I know there are differences with Nikon and Canon, as Nikon has a line of lenses which have the focusing motor in them whereas Canon's lenses do not


Between Canon and Nikon, IMO it's not so much about the difference between the systems, as a whole, but the more subtle, specific differences for your particular situation (which again gets back to why I think you should hold off on choosing until you have a better idea of what your particular needs are).

But for the sake of discussion, if we artificially limit your choice to either a Canon or Nikon DSLR to shoot indoor candids for under $800--both brands have 50mm f1.8 lenses that you could squeeze into that budget with an entry level (crop sensor) body. However, on a crop sensor, you may find the 35mm equivalent focal length of 75-80mm too long for some shots. (Side note: on the wide end, the RX100 has a 35mm equiv. focal length of 28mm.) To go wider, both brands also have 28mm f1.8 lenses, but the Canon will run you around $500 and the Nikon around $700. (And another side note: crop factor will still apply, so both lenses still won't be as wide as the RX100.) So with a bit of good shopping, you may be able to find a Canon T3 body only and 28mm f1.8 lens within your budget, but I don't think you'll be able to do the same for a Nikon D3100 body and 28mm f1.8 lens. So in this particular (artificially limited) situation, Canon would be the better choice. (And a third side note: versus a Canon T3 + 28mm f1.8, I think the RX100 is a better buy.)

Quote:
why do DSLR owners upgrade the body every few years? Is it because technology was evolving so fast and cameras continued to get vastly better, or is it because people just want a newer camera? I was under the impression that DSLRs are more like the film camera I watched my mother use growing up - you buy a good one, get good lenses, and it lasts you a long time.


Yes, at the risk of stating the obvious, the biggest difference between a DSLR and a film camera is that a DSLR doesn't use film. It's a digital device, so Moore's Law applies. To use your situation as an example again, what version of the iPhone did you have before you upgraded to the 5? Even if it was a 3GS, it was still less than 3 years old. Or, to use a DSLR as an example, the Canon 5D Mark II is less than 4 years old, but I know several owners who will be upgrading their cameras as soon as finances allow. And keep in mind that the 5DII was a top end body, not an entry level, so if anything, the upgrade cycle should be longer than it would be for an entry level body.

Having said that, something else I've said several times before--if your current camera does everything you want satisfactorily, there's no reason for you to upgrade.

Mark


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:56 am 
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Location: The Netherlands
I think you should concentrate on your biggest needs, and then tell them to us so we can help. For me, it was simple. I needed low noise, high quality telephoto shots on a very tight budget. Used market was an option too, so I went for the Canon 350D and Canon 70-200 f/4 L.

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Ruben

Panasonic DMC-FZ18, Panasonic DMC-FZ28, Canon G5, Canon 350D, Canon 50D + BG-E2N
Tamron 17-50 2.8, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM,
Canon 18-55 II plus lots of Minolta MD/M42 lenses and bodies


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:10 am
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Everyone, thank you for your input.

Maestro wrote:
Assuming the brands all have the lenses you need, the next criteria is: how does each camera body "feel" to you? Is it too small/cramped to operate quickly and easily or too big and heavy to carry around with you all the time? Do you prefer a certain type of controls or certain controls in a certain place? Do you find the menu system intuitive or confusing? etc.


This is the advice I simply need to go with at this point.

Maestro wrote:
Having said that, something else I've said several times before--if your current camera does everything you want satisfactorily, there's no reason for you to upgrade.


And I want to buy a new one because my camera does not do everything I want satisfactorily.

I've weighed the pros and cons of compact vs DSLR well enough to know I'm going to buy a DSLR. The replies are getting more specific, and all I want is to buy a camera I'll like with a zoom lens - and if I like a particular focal length I can find a way to swing a prime lens. Right now i just need to go to a store, hold some cameras, try out their menus, keep the pros and cons in mind that I've read online, buy something I like, and have a blast taking pictures. I'll figure the rest out from there. That's half the fun for me, learning how to take better pictures.

Again, thank you!

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Nikon D3100
Nikkor 18-55mm VR, 55-200mm VR, 35mm f/1.8
iPhone 5 for snapshots


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:13 pm 
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Have you thought about looking at getting say, a Canon or Nikon, and getting a 3rd party zoom lens? The combination can be rather cheap.

Most people tend to get Sigma as the first 3rd party lens, they are quality mostly, and are cheaper only because many of their lenses use a lot of plastic

Then theres Tamron, who actually make decent lenses - but very cheap for what they offer

Rokinon, Which I dont mind but they are reasonable lenses... Id still get a Tamron if given the option

Dont let the stigma of "oh its not an official lens" or "Thats not a Canon/Nikon" get you down. I used to get that a lot when I had sigmas on my pentax film camera and olympus cameras growing up (that I still use.)

Going this way might save you 100 - 150 bucks and means you might be able to squeeze in that D5100 or that 600D that you might be looking at.

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1) Olympus OM1 [Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8]
2) Pentax MZ-60 [Sigma 28-90 & 100-300]
3) Canon 7D [EF-S 15-85 & 70-200mm f/4 IS & 50mm f1.4]

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:06 pm 
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Leo wrote:
Have you thought about looking at getting say, a Canon or Nikon, and getting a 3rd party zoom lens? The combination can be rather cheap.


Yes I have. Also looking into used and refurbished lenses.

At this point I'm getting a Nikon - felt good in my hands, price is better than Sony (which I also liked).

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Nikon D3100
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iPhone 5 for snapshots


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