After reading reviews and forums for the past few weeks, it's now a good time for me to select my first DSLR. I found CiC during a search for tutorials on how DSLR's operate, and have spent considerable time here and on other sites studying up on as many features and functions as I can comprehend without actually having a camera in-hand.
I have been shooting images with a Fuji FinePix A700 for the past couple of years, and have made an effort to improve my shot selection and composition skills. I have added 2 images to my album (in profile). Those are 2 of my favorites so far, but there are a thousand other subjects within a mile of home I am just frothing at the mouth to get a decent image of with quality gear.
Talked it over with the wife, and negotiated a maximum of $1500 to put towards the purchase. Considering that I need to get a few accessories (bag, flash, etc.) I've been looking at some of the combo deals that are offered on the retail camera sites, and aside from the camera's and accompanying lenses, my guess is most of those included accessories are not worth much (have read this in several forums, as well.) Still, I will need the frame, lens, a proper bag and other "must have's" to get started. Lens cleaning and quality tripod are covered with my existing astronomy gear.
Read reviews on Canon's, Pentax's and Nikon's till my eyes are bleeding, and along with that have made a couple trips to the closest camera retailer which is a "Best Buy" about 35 miles from home. There I've had a chance to fondle the Canon 60D, Canon T3i (600D), Nikon D90, Nikon D3100 and D5100. Unfortunately, they did not have a D7000 in stock.
Research says all of these are pretty decent cameras aside from the odd-duck that has spot issues on the lens/mirror, or back/front focus issues. These quirks seems to be somewhat universal, as I've read about people having those issues with almost every DSLR out there excepting perhaps the Canon 5DMkII and others at that level.
My trips to BB to fondle were helpful in many areas. First I found that I did not like the feel of the smaller body sizes (T3i, D5100, etc.). I don't have that large of hands, yet they just felt small and uncomfortable. This lead me to remove the smaller frame cameras from the choices.
OTOH, the 60D and D90 felt excellent in-hand. Having read about both, I had initially settled on the 60D. I like the articulating LCD, and the reviews have been good. The D90 was very comfortable in my hand, and I liked the layout of controls and features. Nikon says the D90 was improved on with the D5100, however that small frame issue put it out of the running.
The 7D looks awesome, however it is out of the price range. Whatever camera is chosen will need to challenge me for awhile, as I tend to follow a fairly steep learning curve when I have great interest in a subject.
Then I read up on the D7000, and it appears to be a true winner in many areas. It doesn't have the articulating LCD, but in every other technical respect it seems to be equal or better than the Canon, and according to reviews is slightly larger in frame size than the D90, so this is also good. I have no doubt that it would challenge me for some time to come.
What kind of pictures will I be taking? Landscapes, wildlife, people, events (air and car shows) and although I do not have a telescope suitable for AP at the moment, the camera may eventually be tasked to do some LRGB astrophotography. It will definitely be doing some imaging of the night sky with whatever lens is included. Basically, I want it all..
As a final step before I buy, it seems prudent to share the choices and seek some input from those of you with vastly more experience. Options are:
60D - affordable and highly regarded, but seems to be in short supply at almost every site I look at. The included kit lens (18-135 IS or 18-200) did not feel very "robust" to me, but then I have never been a big fan of plastic stuff that costs so much.
Nikon D90 - Well within budget, and has a great history to it. If I chose the D90 I could add a better lens and still be within budget. I don't feel I need to have the "latest and greatest", yet this camera is now several years old and technology has advanced quite a bit.
Nikon D7000 - My preference, to date. It is within budget, and the Nikkor lenses are well thought of in comparison to those from Canon. Unless I buy from one of the online mass marketers it seems the standard kit includes an 18-105 that people seem to like yet no one raves over. I like the features and it has stellar reviews, and is often compared to the 7D (although I would think it's closer to the 60D?)
Whew..that's a lot of info to lay out there, but it's always better to ask too many questions than not enough. Basically, unless there is a good reason not to buy the D7000 I would like to go that route. I plan to make this purchase tomorrow, and would absolutely appreciate any bits of wit or wisdom you can cast my way to help me make a good choice. Thanks in advance for any suggestions, as the DSLR world can be quite confusing to the uninitiated!