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Thread: Entry level DSLR's

  1. #1

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    Entry level DSLR's

    Hello,

    I was looking through some websites that were doing direct comparisons between three DSLR's. They were described as 'entry level'. The cameras were Nikon D3100, Pentax KR, Canon 1100D. I was wondering if anyone has experience of these cameras or other so called 'entry level DSLR's'?

    Also, what about the secondhand market? Is this a good place to go for a newcomer? I am not currently in a position to buy. But, I am interested in responses as this will help my future choice. Thanks!

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  2. #2

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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    Just tell us how much money you have in the bank, Gary, and we will spend it for you.

    And a bit more information about what you intend to photograph and where you see yourself going, photographically speaking, over the next 5 years or more.

    Basically, when you enter the dslr market, you will be faced with a choice of two slightly different ranges of 'cheaper' cameras. I'm ruling out the pro equipment here.

    In the Canon range, for example, there is the **D or the ***D range, and I include the 1100D in the second category; for instance 50D against 500D. The ***D cameras are slightly cheaper and smaller which suits some people while others prefer a chunkier piece of kit with simpler to operate controls, although a bit of extra knowledge may be beneficial for these.

    If you intend to spend a lot of time, and eventually more money on photography it pays to get something which will make a good foundation now. Purchasing too low an 'entry level' camera may prove more expensive in the long run if you soon 'outgrow it'.

    Also, if you can find somewhere where you can see and hold different cameras in your hand you will get an idea of which 'range' will feel best for you. Personally, I would get something from the **D range, or better.

    But remember, Nikon and Olympus, etc, are equally as good.

    Secondhand equipment is certainly a good starting point if you know that you are purchasing good quality equipment from a reliable source. Many of the slightly older cameras will still perform well.

    Don't worry about reduced pixel numbers in these older models, 8MP for example will be more than adequate for most uses.

    Then, once you have committed to a brand you will have to think about lenses. But this is where we really need to know more about your aspirations before giving firm advice.

  3. #3

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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    Hello Geoff,

    Thanks for your reply.

    The main reason for putting the post was to narrow down the choice to be able to set a budget to work towards. As I said initially I am not in a position to buy at the moment so the forum is a good way of researching for the future.

    A brief overview of were I am coming from. I am interested in capturing outdoor images. These would be mainly rural/countryside though they can also be urban/town/village as well.
    For example this can be from walks or my involvement in volunteer wildlife conservation. This could be for example landscapes, flora and fauna, people, buildings or to allow my creative juices to flow any image with an interesting form, colour, shape etc. This could mean capturing subjects that are static or moving. In respect to the wildlife conservation, the images could be used to help identify species so accurate representation of colour and detail would be important. With these subjects it could mean capturing images with large depth of field, close-up, moving and static subjects etc. Also with wildlife it can mean having to be able to take images from a distance without frightening the subject.

    I think that I am looking for a camera that will offer opportunities to be creative i.e. not being reliant on 'auto' process's to capture the image. Example scenarios could be that I have the time to setup a shot or it could be as with wildlife the ability to capture an image quickly.

    I guess that in an ideal world I would be able to have a 'point and shoot' and DSLR camera but I do believe that the DSLR would open up more creative opportunities.

    I am currently following up some suggestions from a previous post i.e. books and a 'cheap' solution to get going in digital(any further suggestions, pleased to hear them)

    I have also had Adobe Elements 10 on a 30 day trial and I think it is a terrific piece of software. Although, I do tend to favour Linux rather than Windows as an operating system so this narrows done the choice of software. But, I do see from reading some books that it is important to be able to capture at the camera the important details/exposure etc. The software seems to me anyway is for 'finishing off' the image.


    Thats a brief overview and I hope in fills in some of the gaps. I look forward to receiving further response.

    Thanks for reading

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  4. #4
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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    A good place to start looking at prices and functions would be current advertisements, photography magazines (both hardcopy and online), and online websites. The online camera manufacturer and some of the distributors will do a good job of comparing various brands. You'll find that many of the members on this website have the models you listed. Most of the images posted on this forum will list the camera model.

  5. #5
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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    I can only speak for Canon cameras but, I suspect that my post may have a relationship to Nikon equipment.

    The one thing that I would like to mention is that the "entry level" cameras such as the 1100D or the 550D are no easier to use that the prosumer models such as the 40D, 50D, 60D and 7D. In fact, IMO, the controls on the later group are easier to manipulate since they have two dials with which you control the camera parameters and a top LCD where you can see the parameters selected without having to look at the back of the camera. Many of the camera adjustments on the entry level cameras are done using the menu which, IMO, is not as simple as the two dial system.

    Virtually any DSLR camera from Canon is capable of producing very good to excellent imagery however, I would shy away from four of the older Canon DSLR cameras: D30, D60 (I am not talking about the 60D), 10D and 300D (also known as the Digi Rebel). The first three of these cameras were the original offerings of prosumer cameras from Canon and cannot accomodate all the Canon lenses. They are not able to accept the EFS lenses so your lens choices are quite limited. The 300D was deliberately downgraded in capability by Canon so it would not compete with more expensive cameras.

    The first decision you must make concerning camera selection is whether video capability is important to you. If it is not required, you have a wider rage of cameras at a wider range of prices with which to choose.

    The second decision is whether to buy new or used. You can get some excellent values in used DSLR cameras since they depreciate at an astronomical rate. However, I am not sure that a used camera would be the right choice for a total newbie unless he or she was sure of the condition of the camera. I would think that it might be confusing to a new photographer if he or she is not sure whether it is the camera or the photographer having problems if the imagery is not turning out as expected.

    If I were to select one camera on the used market which might be the best combination of low price and capabilities, it would be the 40D. Although that camera is several models old, I still shoot with one alongside my 7D which is among the newest of Canon's offerings.

    See my China gelleries at http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/ which were shot with a 30D and a 40D.

    BTW: The lens you have on the camera is more important than the camera model with which you are shooting. Good lenses are expensive but well worth the cost. They also maintain their value better on the used market than do the camera bodies.

    Additionally, post processing is very important in DSLR photography. A good editing program is absolutely essential. Although there are so quite good free programs out there, I woul recommend Photoshop Elements-10 as a good choice. It is not terribly expensive but is a powerful program that can do virtually everything a photographer needs to do.

  6. #6

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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    Your photographic aspirations, Gary, includes most of the things which I currently shoot. But it is an expensive area once you get into photographing wildlife to identification standards. You can easily spend 1000 or more on just one lens. It has taken me a long time to gradually build up my equipment through purchasing one item a year.

    I suppose one of the intermediate 'Bridge' cameras may be one way to go. Just a single fixed lens and relatively low cost. The best of them are quite good now and may prove sufficient for your needs; but if you want to go that little bit further, particularly with regards to shooting in poor conditions . . .

    However, if you decide on the dslr route. I would personally prefer to get a decent secondhand Canon 30D or 40D (providing you can find one from a really genuine source) than a new 1100D, but that is just my personal choice.

    Remember the lens cost and getting what you really need is going to be expensive, even secondhand. I would use 3 different lenses to cover the subjects you mentioned. A general 'walkaround zoom lens'; a long zoom which reaches at least 400 mm for distant wildlife (although a fixed length lens may be suitable and a little cheaper) and a fairly large macro lens for insect/ fungi/flower photos. That is around 2000 or more, plus tripod and flash etc.

    So starting with a Bridge camera sounds more realistic. Although if you are lucky, I suppose you might find a secondhand camera and basic lens for around 500 or 600. For instance, a 40D with 28-135 lens; and forget about the long range shots for now.

    But, like Richard, I have only mentioned Canon equipment because that is the brand which I am familiar with; I will leave the recommendations of other brands to those who use them.

  7. #7
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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    Hi Gary, I faced this issue back in February when I decided to replace my Sony bridge P&S camera with a DSLR. I wanted one that would grow but not break the bank. After much research it came down to either a Canon or a Nikon as these cameras have the widest latitude of accessories available to them and I didn't want to be restricted in lenses or accessories later on when I learned more about what I would want to be photographing.

    Although I chose to go with Nikon, Canon would have worked as well. The next decision had to do with full frame or cropped sensor. I decided to go the less expensive route as there was very little downside to the cropped sensor but a potentially high expense for lenses.

    Next came the budget issues. After looking at the reviews and comparing features it came down to either a D3100 or a D7000.
    The additional features didn't justify an almost doubling of the cost for the camera body and I knew that I could always upgrade somewhere down the road and retain the investment in the lenses should the desire/budget improve to the point where it was doable. So again, great upside for the D3100 over the Sony but very little downside to not getting the D7000.

    Next came the lenses. The Kit 18-55mm normal lens would be fine to start with, but it might be some time before my skills would demand a brighter Normal lens. For telephoto, I could get the Nikon 55-300mm at a significant discount if I bought the Camera and second Nikon lens at the same time and for starting out, 300mm is a pretty good reach, particularly with auto-focus and Vibration Reduction built in.

    My wife does Real Estate and I take indoor shots for her business so I needed a Wide-Angle lens to round out the stable. The Nikon 12-24mm was a nice lens but at over $900, a budget buster and for some http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/1224.htm, not the best value for the money. I eventually decided on the Tonika 11-16mm as a reasonable alternative at $300 less and well received in the reviews.

    I now had the D3100 with the normal, telephoto and wide angle lenses for what I would have paid for the D7000 with just the normal lens.

    By the time you add CF cards, spare battery, tripod & head, CPL filters, and a host of other gotta have's, the budget exceeds $2,000 US.

    I have been very pleased with the equipment, its performance, and the fact that I can expand any part of the system where and when it is appropriate.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 8th December 2011 at 05:48 PM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    Thanks for your replies. As I had hoped, plenty of information to digest and assist in making an informed decision!

    I am getting a copy of John Hedgecoe's 'Book of photography' from the library later on. Looking forward to reading that.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Entry level DSLR's

    I'v only had my Nikon D3100 now for afew weeks and just got the 35 mm f/1.8 which I'm loving only need a zoom len like the 55-200. But anyways about the D3100 I feel it's one of the best entry level DSLR out there, yes cost a bit more but you get what you pay for. You be very happy with it and it will be one you can grow with as I'm doing.

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