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Thread: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

  1. #1
    New Member blockhead's Avatar
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    Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Hi, I'm brand spanking new to this forum and I'd like some advice. I dabbled in photography during high school - pre-digital age- and now I'm rekindling my interest. I've been researching some cameras and I'm deciding between a Sony a37 and a Nikon d3200. Both good cameras. I like that Sony's offers 7 frames per second, but I like Nikon's 24 megapixels. I don't want a camera that is too overwhelming, but am looking for something that will grow with me. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    What kind of photography are you interested in? And what's your budget?

    All the camera bodies are good these days, and you're unlikely to go wrong with any of them, and all of them can offer a good basic setup. But where the systems can take you in terms of future expansion or specialized photography are a bit different, mostly in terms of the lens lineups.

    I would also say not to think of this as a film camera, which will last you for decades. These are digital electronics. Like cellphones and computers, they'll either break down or have you jonesing for new features and wanting to upgrade within three to five years. What's likely to last you longer are your lenses, tripod, and flash gear. You're getting into camera systems, now, and unfortunately, the camera body is the most disposable part of that system. The biggest importance of the model choice you make for your first camera is the choice of mount system you're entering.

    I think you're going the right direction in looking at entry-level models, rather than prosumer ones, because by the time you've advanced to the point of needing mid-tier features, chances are good you'll be looking to swap bodies anyway, and newer models will have come along.

    Also, the D3200, while a fantastic camera with an unheard of resolution for an entry level, is missing a few features that you can find on higher-end cameras, like a DoF preview button, high-speed sync flash capability, accurate metering with non-CPU lenses, auto exposure bracketing, and a focus motor (i.e., it requires an AF-S lens in order to autofocus). These may not be issues for you, depending on what and how you shoot, but again, there are other entry level cameras that do have these features and that will autofocus with any of the current lenses in the mount.

    With the A37, you may want to note that the 7fps burst speed is only if you're shooting at half resolution (8MP). At full resolution, it's a still-very-impressive 5.5 fps.

    You may want to also run your eyes over the specs for the Canon T3, and the Pentax K-r.
    Last edited by inkista; 27th May 2012 at 05:18 AM.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Kathy is a very knowledgeable digital photographer and I agree with what she mentioned...

    I am not familiar with the D3200 capabilities but, for me the two primary downsides of the D3200 that Kathy mentions would be the lack of exposure bracketing and definitely, the lack of high-speed sync flash capability. In fact I was very surprised that it did not include those fairly basic capabilities.

    I use fill flash for the majority of people pictures outdoors and high-speed sync allows me to be freed of keeping my shutter speed at or below 1/250 or 1/200 second. Keeping the shutter speed that slow would keep me from shooting with wide apertures without the use of an ND filter...

    I also enjoy having the capability of a three shot burst in Auto Exposure Bracketing Mode. The Canon DSLR cameras since at least the D60 (which was the second Canon 1.6x DSLR not the new 60D) have had the capability to shoot three shots at varying exposures and then stopping. This is a really neat capability and I wonder why more Canon users do not take advantage of it.

  4. #4
    Photon Hacker's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Hello and Welcome.

    Would you like to update your profile to display your first name?. That way we could refer to you by your first name rather than user name, as customary on this forum but optional.

    The Sony A37 is a SLT while the Nikon D3200 is a DSLR. With a SLT the LCD is used for composing so it has a small but perceptible delay while a DSLR also has an optical viewfinder with no perceptible delay1.

    You seem to have made early conclusions. Research carefully. There are several points to consider, Kathy has shown some. What do you plan to use the camera for?. What's your budget?. We may provide more specific advice if we knew. Have you considered Canon and other offerings from Nikon?. If camera size and weight is important for you, have you considered these?. I'm surprised that you mentioned no option from Canon given it's the other dominant manufacturer, together with Nikon.

    I expect any DSLR to have exposure bracketing given it can be so useful and is trivial to implement. Even my current bridge camera has it and I use it all the time. For me, this is alone a reason to discard the D3200 as an option if I were to buy a DSLR right now, I think this is offensive for users.

    If you don't plan to shoot sports or other fast action the framerate is of little relevance. Likewise, you won't be able to make the most of the high pixel count of either with the kit lens, for that you need a prime lens (Fixed focal length). You may value the wider aperture a prime lens provides, especially if you want to do portraits in the field. Research the relevant lens available for each camera.

    Do you have an idea of what's the feel of field of view associated with different focal lengths 35mm-equivalent? (I don't mean numbers). If you don't, a good way to experience it would be to use a camera with a zoom lens covering a large range. This is of course, a requisite to know what lens to look for. You can also get an idea by checking the EXIF data of images that includes it. Flickr lists the focal length when it's included in the image. Don't forget to compensate for the crop factor. In my case, it was really informative to check the 35mm-quasiequivalent of keepers in my bridge camera (It has no strict equivalent because it uses a 4:3 aspect ratio).

    [1]: The delay of the viewfinder of a DSLR compared to direct vision is due to the refraction through glass which makes image formation possible. However this delay is in the order of nanoseconds or less and so is negligible, it's only of theoretical interest. Shutter lag is several orders of magnitude longer. Optics is the branch of physics which studies image formation among other things, if this topic interest you take a look at a hard copy or scan of Optics by Eugene Hecht.

    Regards.

  5. #5
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Welcome, Blockhead. (That felt rude to type!) I am sure you are being overly modest in picking your user name!

    Coming back into photography after a while on the sidelines, you may be even more turned-off than I am to discover the Sony's lack of a real through-the-lens viewfinder. Even though there is a separate eyepiece, don't be fooled. The Sony actually has a tiny LCD TV for a viewfinder, not a "real" one. I have heard people say these viewfinders are dim, and hard to see in low light. I personally don't want to be forced to shoot off of the back LCD like a compact/pocket point-and-shoot. You just can't steady the camera that way, I think. Also, that electronic viewfinder (2nd LCD screen) burns through your batteries faster than regular DSLR's do. Frankly, I find with digital, one big problem is TOO MANY images. My camera gives me 4 frames per second, which is more than enough for me. The Sony mirrorless ones give more, at least if you reduce your Image Quality, but for me anyway, I don't find any upside to that.

    Good luck however you go.
    Last edited by Scott Stephen; 27th May 2012 at 08:25 AM.

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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    I'd suggest not getting too carried away with the "quest for mega pixels". A camera might have 24MP, but we typically only use about 1MP for average internet display, and even a 12 x 8" print at 300 dpi still only uses 8MP - so for the most part, anything past the 8 to 12MP range is typically ultimately wasted.

  7. #7

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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    I may have had a atypical unfortunate experience with Sony, but I ditched mine after about 18 month,s when both lenses required work.

    These lenses I had were "kit lenses" and were made in China. Maybe their more expensive lenses are made in Japan.

  8. #8
    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    I will call you bloke, it's less offensive than blockhead.
    It is very difficult deciding on a camera and mine is a biased opinion.
    I bought a Sony a100 5 years ago as my first dslr. Still have it and it was and is a good camera.
    I upgraded last year to a Sony a55 which is a great camera for me.
    It has a flip out lcd view finder which I find fantastic for my macro photography as the camera is either upside down or very low to the ground a lot of the time.
    One nice feature I found for macro was that by using the trash button you can zoom into the subject to make sure of pin point sharp focus.
    I will admit that I now use Tamron lenses as I feel that the kit lenses that come with the Sony cameras are ok..ish.
    It all comes down to the size of your wallet and how serious you want to be about your photography at this stage
    Buy something that doesn't stretch the budget too much and see how you go.
    Best of luck. Greg
    Ps. Don't get caught up in the my pixels are bigger than yours bit

  9. #9
    MrB's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by gregj1763 View Post
    Ps. Don't get caught up in the my pixels are bigger than yours bit
    Just to clarify for a "newbie" - from reading information that can be found on CiC, I understand that bigger pixels are better (they trap more light), but more pixels do not really matter (unless a severe image crop is needed), and I guess you probably meant the latter.

    Philip

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    gregj1763's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Yep, your right. Thanks Philip

  11. #11
    New Member blockhead's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions on new camera - newbie

    Thank you, everyone, for the helpful advice. You've given me much to think about!

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