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Thread: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

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    Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Hello!

    I'm looking into buying my first DSLR camera (am very excited!) and would like some advice about where to begin, as it seems there is a vast amount of information out there concerning DSLR cameras, all of which is a little daunting. I am a student and so my budget is limited to 400, at max. Basically from the DSLR I'm looking to acquire basic skills in photography upon which I can build once I have found an area that I'm particularly interested in - at the moment I just want to photograph everything! I'm also particularly interested in photo editing and enhancing, and am slightly confused about RAW and JPEG formats! I have looked at the Canon EOS 1100D, and was wondering if anyone would have any advice on this? Am open to other recommendations also and any general advice that will get me on the road to creating beautiful photos!

    Thanks in advance

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Jenny

    Photography can become an enormously and outrageously expensive hobby. The first fundamental principle is set your budget and stay within it.

    And the second is that great images are created by the person behind the camera, not by the camera which is just a box for capturing light with a bit of glass on the front to take that light into the box.

    Sure, the boxes with lots of bells and whistles do make more options available. But then if you can't have them, then you work within the limitations of what you do have and turn your attention to subject matter that can be captured as well on the equipment you do have as on the very high-end spec stuff. For example, great landscapes don't need thousand and thousands worth of equipment. They need a photographer with vision and a well-developed eye for composition.

    So, have a look at cameras within your budget. The 1100D is, for example, a fine camera and will open up many options that are not available with your compact camera and help you produce fine images. The Nikon equivalent will be equally as good. And other manufacturers, such as Sony, will have something within the same price bracket/range.

    The other thing is you need to keep an eye on the future. When you start into DSLRs you're buying into a system, not just a camera and lens. So, if you see this as a long-term interest that you'll want to develop and that you'll want to invest more in as money becomes available, then you need to think in a systems way. Because you'll likely want to stick with the brand you're going to start with (to change systems can be pretty expensive). So, with that in mind it is the case that Canon or Nikon offer the greatest range of options in terms of camera bodies, lenses etc, although other manufacturers do also offer products for people to grow towards.

    At the end of the day, identify the cameras that will fit into your price range. And then find a way of getting into a camera store to handle them. The one that feels good to you (the buttons make sense and you can reach them easily, etc), is likely the one to go for.

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by JennyG View Post
    am slightly confused about RAW and JPEG formats! I have looked at the Canon EOS 1100D, and was wondering if anyone would have any advice on this?
    HI JENNY, i have the canon 1000d, and its a great camera(especially to learn on) and its a model down from the 1100d. And as donald said "great images are created by the person behind the camera", which ever dslr you choose will be perfect cause its the photographer is the one that produces great photos with knowing the camera, the equipment and PP. it is important, and i cant emphasis this strong enough, to got to the stores and ask to handle it to see if its comfortable for you to use cause you dont really want one thats not comfortable to use cause this will effect the outcome of your photos and the enjoyment. and ask if you can have a test one if possible, so you get the idea of how it works, like buying a car, you test drive first.

    As for jpeg and raw, i shoot only with raw, cause you can do more in editing, cause shooting in jpeg the camera somewhat edits it a bit. Think of it like this, RAW is the negative JPEG is the basic print with little editing.

    oh and welcome to CIC

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Jenny

    Allen's comments about RAW and JPEG (or JPG) files are really helpful.

    I think 99.99% of people on here would say 'always shoot RAW'. That then gives you control of the data for post-processing purposes.

    In the old days of film, people went into a darkroom to develop the film and then produce prints from the best negatives (or most us took the film along to teh chemist's shop and came back a few days later and got an envelope with our prints in it). Now, with digital and the the capacity to shoot RAW, you take over complete control. You get what is says - Raw data. It is then for you to decide what you do with that - sharpen up details; adjust the exposure; introduce more contrast; etc, etc. Pressing the shutter is part 1 of the image-making process. Processing that data and making your final image is Part 2.

    If you do go for Canon equipment (and I think for Nikon also), then you will get their RAW processing software as part of the package. With Canon, this is a called Digital Professional Processing (DPP). That is a very good starter software. I still have it loaded on my computer and use it from time-to-time.

    The top-of-the-tree for post-processing for 99% of the photographic community is one or other of the Adobe suite of product, with Photoshop being the top-end product. But that's for the day when you decide you're going to get really serious about this. In the meantime, DPP or its Nikon equivalent, or some of the other packages out there, will more than do a good job for you.

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    I agree DPP is a great program to start out with, especially for me. Cause you can get great results from that program, but i wouldnt mind going to photoshop, cause you can do more than DPP can, but i dont know if i will, it cost alot(for my budget anyways) and i dont know if ill end up using it alot though. For now DPP is doing the job fine

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Hi Jenny,

    Welcome to the forums.

    I take it you're UK based, so all I'm going to add is a link to one of the best retailers in camera equipment here,

    Warehouse Express

    I've used them for years without problems. Plus they're often cheaper than the high street.

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Welcome to CIC. You have come to the right site for good advice, comment and encouragement. The members with the big posting numbers are uniformly a great bunch; you can be assured they won't steer you wrong.

    Follow the above advice, almost all DSLR cameras are fully capable of producing god quality images so don't fret too much about the make or model.

    I will add one thing. Get quickly familiar with the basic concepts of aperture,speed,exposure and in camera composition of images and with every picture THINK about what you are doing. It may be daunting at first but you will progress very quickly if you develop some systematic way of being fully conscious of what you are doing.

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Also have a look at Pentax, Jenny.

    I have to admit a bit of bias as I have a Pentax, but I am not saying Pentax are better than any other brand. They are not, every brand produces cameras that are equally capable of excellent photos.

    With Pentax, however, you do get backward compatibility to all K mount lenses(at present I use two 30 year lenses on my camera). All K mount lenses (ie any from about 1975 onwards) will fit the current Pentax DSLRs. You will lose some or all of the auto functions, but there are a lot of old K mount lenses available for very little. Also the Pentax image stabilisation is in the body of the cameras, so any lens becomes an image stabilised lens.

    It is true that the range of current lenses for Pentax is not as great as for Canon and Nikon, but Pentax may be a way of getting a camera and lenses for relatively little.

    You will need some photo editing software. Pentax like, I think, all other brands come with photo editing software and there are lots of other photo editors available - some of which are free.

    Hope this helps, but apologies if it has only confused the issue.

    Dave

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    All great advice.

    Canon EOS1100D is a great camera and gives you a very solid platform to build a future kit. Best buy at the moment is the Silver version from Jessops because for 400 you get the Image Staibized lens and not the basic one as elsewhere.

    Something else to consider is the newer and ever more popular Compact System Cameras from the likes of Panasonic and Olympus. If you want a viewfinder - still popular with traditional photographers - then the Panasonic G2 is an awesome buy for less than 350 giving you budget for a good, fast memory card, a case to keep it shiny and a filter to stop the front getting damaged. If you don't think you need a viewfinder - lots of photographers move up from a compact and are used to taking pictures with a rear LCD - then you can pick up an Olympus EPL-1 up with TWO lenses for 350. It's a great camera with loads of creative options.
    Both brands use the same lens mount and while there are less lenses available than say for a Canon you will find that many of the 50+ Canon lenses are mentally expensive and so are rather irrelevant to us mortal people.

    Go along to a good local store and give them all a try.......I wouldn't be surprised if you fall in love with the G2

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    Re: Complete DSLR Beginner - Advice on best value camera to start with?

    Pentax is an excellent brand and the backwards compatiblity with older lenses can give you an enormous range of availability.

    The same is true of Sony which took over Minolta technology some years ago and all the old Minolta 'A' mount lenses are available. Not only Minolta but lenses by Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. An advantage that Sony has is that the image stabilising is done in the camera body, not the lens

    I used to have Minolta gear and because of the lenses I have, got a Sony A350 when my Minolta was stolen

    If you want to find what lenses are compatible with whatever camera you are interested in, have a look at 'www.lenshawk.com/

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    DPP as a post production program...

    I will agree with everyone that Canon DPP is quite a capable program when and if you are downloading and working with images from a Canon camera.

    However, if you can personally swing it financially, i would recommend that you try to get a copy of Photoshop Elements. Elements-10 is the present edition but, any edition from PSE-8 on is quite good.

    Elements is a very-very powerful cataloging and editing program which will enable you to do most of what Photoshop is capable of doing - and more!

    PSE-10 has been selling for about $50 USD here in the USA on Amazon and from other vendors. Perhaps it is also on sale on your side of the big pond. I don't know what the VAT requirements are on a UK order from the USA.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...s+10&x=20&y=27

    There are several reasons that I recommend a person begin with Photoshop Elements:

    1. It is a fully capable editing program with some mind boggling capabilities. It can even do some things that the full Photoshop program cannot do.

    2. It is very helpful to start cataloging your digital imagery with the Photoshop Elements Organizer rather than have to go back over thousands of images to label them with keywords.

    3. The keyboard commands in Photoshop Elements are identical to those used in the full Photoshop program. If you should ever want to use Photoshop, the transition from Elements to the full Photoshop is quite easy.

    I have been astounded at the capabilities of PSE-10. I shied away from this program because I have always used the full Photoshop CS-5 edition. However, since I have been playing with PSE-10, I have been growing to like it more and more. Every upgrade of PSE adds additional capabilities.

    PSE-10 being aim,ed at the non-professional has a lot more automatic corrections. However, the fact that you can make corrections automatically doesn't mean that this program will not allow you to make the corrections manually.

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    Re: DPP as a post production program...

    I'd recommend going into a store to handle cameras in your price range. Buy the one that feels best in your hands and has the most intuitive controls (everyone will differ on which is best).

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