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Thread: Buying my first DSLR

  1. #1
    New Member DemSpursBro's Avatar
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    Buying my first DSLR

    Hi,

    First off, I'd like to apologise because I'm sure you get these threads half a million times a day.

    I'm looking at buying my first DSLR camera. I've had some experience with DSLR's in the past, more specifically the Canon 60D and 600D. As such, I'm looking to stay close to home. I've found a 600D coupled with 18-55mm IS II and 55-250mm II lenses for $800, which is pushing the top end of my budget.

    Ideally, I'd like to eventually move into macro photography as those sorts of images fascinate me, however, I do not have the money to buy a proper macro lens at the moment.

    Is my choice a solid one? I'd be happy to take suggestions for alternate options.

    I'd also like to say how helpful the tutorials on this site are. They've proven invaluable when I've been borrowing camera's in the past.

    Thanks for any help in advance.

  2. #2

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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Hello Josh,

    I'm going to suggest you buy a Nikon DSLR, not because Nikon lenses or bodies and paraphernalia are any better than Canon's, but because of the great back compatibility of Nikon lenses. By way of illustration, my Nikon D7000 is compatible with more than 700 Nikkor lenses going all the way back to the 1960s.

    Good lenses hold their value very well, while the price of bodies plummets fast. If you buy into the Nikon system, when you have outgrown your first body, or it is becoming obsolete - a quick process in these digital times - you will still have your lenses to carry forward to your new upgraded body.

    There are a few exceptions to this general back compatibility, the most important of which concerns the focusing motor. If you want to use all the AF Nikkor lenses going back to 1986 - some of which are of excellent quality and reasonably priced second hand - you must buy only those cameras where the focusing motor is housed in the body, and not in the lens. For example, the D50, D70, D80, D90, D100, D200, D300, D300s, D700, D7000, D1-series, D2-series, D3-series and D4 models all have the focusing motor built into in the body, while the D40, D60, D3000, D3100, D5000 and D5100 do not.

    Ken Rockwell has a very comprehensive-looking Nikon lens compatibility chart here: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm

    All the best,

    Christopher

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    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    A 600D would be more than adequate for macro photography. some of the best macro photographers I know shoot Rebels, and I started macro with an XTi (400).

    Those two kit lenses are both very good for the price. When you do move into macro, you will probably add another lens. Those are both slow lenses, which would make using them with extension tubes tough. Canon makes a number of superb macro lenses, and you can also get good ones from third-party companies.

    I'll post one shot I took with the XTi years ago, with the EF-S 60mm macro lens (superb for flowers, a little short for chasing bugs).

    Buying my first DSLR

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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Hi Josh,

    Welcome to CiC.

    There are a few threads on this site that discuss new camera choices. You could try to search the site using the search box or using Google.

    There is no tutorial on purchasing a camera (yet). You may want to look at this article for some starting points:

    http://photofocus.com/2012/07/30/wha...ion-july-2012/

    As for your camera choice then most modern DSLRs will provide a good starting point. The 600D is certainly capable. Canon cameras can be easily classified using the number of digits:

    Xd -> Professional/Semi-pro (1D, 5D, 7D)
    XXd -> Advanced (40D, 50D, 60D)
    XXXd -> Mid-level (500D, 550D, 600D)
    XXXXd -> Entry-level (1100D)

    The higher the number in the series the newer the camera with the exception of the Xd models which are incremented by versions, i.e. 1D mark 2, 1D mark 3, etc. The XXXd series is updated approximately every year, the XXd series every 2 years and the Xd series is above that. I say all this as you may be able to find a good second hand camera that exceeds the specifications of the 600D (for example an old 40D). Have a look in local camera shops, eBay or other places to see what you can find.

    If you are interested in macro work then a camera with Live View will be helpful. That would rule out cameras older than about 4 years. It really helps for close focussing work. Also budget for a tripod for static subjects. If your subjects are moving then a flash is a way to provide more light and enable higher shutter speeds to capture the subject in sharp focus.

    Remember that the lens is arguably more important than the camera. Here is the importance:

    Light > Photographer > Lens > Camera
    (Note that the photographer can influence the light thus bumping up their importance in some situations, e.g. inside a studio).

    Make sure you know what you will be shooting. It may be better to buy one good lens that suits your needs rather than two lower specification lenses.

    A good start for a Canon camera would be the 50mm f1.8 or the new 40mm f2.8 lenses. Both are very good and cheap lenses (since they are easy to make). You could shoot with a single lens like this for a while and build an idea of what is missing. Then you will know what is the next lens to buy.

    Getting into macro can be done a bit more cheaply by using extension tubes. These put a space between the lens and the camera and effectively enlarge the centre of the image. They work well for shorter focal length lenses. For example the 50 f1.8 has a magnification of 0.15x but with a 25mm tube it goes up to 0.68-0.53x.

    There are a lot of impartial sites on the internet but one of the biggest for Canon products is http://www.the-digital-picture.com/. You will find a lot of reviews of Canon cameras on there.

    Hope this helps.

    Alex
    Last edited by herbert; 30th July 2012 at 05:06 PM.

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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Firstly, Josh, what sort of macro photography do you mean? Flowers, small insects or other inanimate objects.

    Those suggested lenses may well be sufficient for many flower shots. Adding an extension tube (say 25 mm) to the 55-250 would just about be sufficient for larger insects but if you intend to get serious about close work on insects, fungi, parts of flowers etc, I would recommend getting a proper macro lens, which will be expensive.

    Your suggested equipment is OK for general photography. The 55-250 lens gets reasonable reviews for the cost; but although the optics may prove sufficient, the build quality is a little on the light side. You can't have everything in a budget lens.

    As an alternative, if you are considering purchasing secondhand, from a reliable source. I would fully recommend a used 40D for everything which you will need.

    After moving up to a 7D, I retained my trusty 40D which gave a few years of hard service. True it doesn't have a video capability, but I don't need that anyway.

    Going secondhand would also allow you a little spare cash towards a different lens or an external flash and a tripod.

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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    This is a Canon 30D, with an old Sigma 105mm macro lens, taken on Sunday as part of a time sequence for 7 hrs at 1 frame each 2 minutes. I got a number of insects, bumble bees and honey bees!

    Buying my first DSLR

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by DemSpursBro View Post
    I'm looking at buying my first DSLR camera. I've had some experience with DSLR's in the past, more specifically the Canon 60D and 600D. As such, I'm looking to stay close to home. I've found a 600D coupled with 18-55mm IS II and 55-250mm II lenses for $800, which is pushing the top end of my budget.

    Is my choice a solid one?
    In relation ONLY to Canon –
    Your choice is a solid one, IF you have compared and contrasted the FUNCTIONALITY and USEABILITY of the 600D to the 60D and chosen that the 600D is more comfortable and user friendly in YOUR hands – or that either series is equally as comfortable.

    If you have not made these comparisons and contrasts then NO, your choice is not solid as it is not included this very important factor.

    ***

    If the ultimate criterion to make a choice of DSLR is Lens retro-compatibility including universal inter-changeability: then one should consider a Pentax DSLR, which sits way above both Canon and Nikon, in this regard.

    ***

    A 50mm Prime Lens when mounted on either a 60D or a 600D, is a short telephoto lens: and as such is not the most versatile lens – a Prime Lens in the range of 28mm to 35mm, would however make a more versatile lens if one wanted a (fast) Prime Lens for an APS-C Format Camera.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 31st July 2012 at 04:13 AM.

  8. #8
    New Member DemSpursBro's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    First off, thanks for all the help everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    Thanks for the comprehensive reply, just one thing though.

    You're saying it would be better off for me to get the body and a 50mm f1.8 or 40mm f2.8, then either try using extension tubes or wait until I can afford a proper macro lens?

    Either way I'm going to just be doing general photography until I can afford another lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I was looking more towards flowers and inanimate objects.

    In addition, I've looked for a 40D and all I can find are over $1,200 for the body alone.

  9. #9
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by DemSpursBro View Post
    Thanks for the comprehensive reply, just one thing though.

    You're saying it would be better off for me to get the body and a 50mm f1.8 or 40mm f2.8, then either try using extension tubes or wait until I can afford a proper macro lens?
    Extension tubes would work equally well for added magnification with other lenses around the 50mm focal length. So they would work well with the 18-55mm kit zoom. However since they effectively enlarge the centre part of the image it will enlarge optical flaws in the lens. This is where a dedicated macro lens will be better. The lens will be designed to work best at close focus distances.

    I suggested the 50mm or 40mm primes as they offer a good optical quality to cost ratio. However they are not very flexible since they are only one focal length which, as Bill points out, are both a little bit too long for 'standard' use on a crop sensor camera (APS-C). It could be argued that the prime will make you work harder to get your images as you have to move around more to compose the shot. This can greatly improve technique and the photographic making process. However it can just be annoying, especially when you want a wider/longer shot and you cannot get it.

    The 18-55mm kit lens on the Canon bodies is a good performer. Since it is probably the most sold Canon lens it is mass produced and so cheaper than expected. It would be a good place to start.

    Lenses are the biggest cost involved in DSLRs. It would be a great help if you knew someone who you could borrow items from to try them out. At least try and get to a local store where you can shoot images with the lens and then take them home on a memory card to scrutinise. It is easy to amass a range of lenses and then end up not really using most of them. This is even more true if you only have one camera body since you only shoot one lens at a time.

    Another possibility is buying a lens and then selling it if you do not use it very often. This can be viewed as a long term rental. Most lenses hold their value well and so you will not lose much money. The flip side to this is that there should be a lot of barely used lenses available to buy second hand a little bit cheaper than in the store.

    Alex

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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    If the ultimate criterion to make a choice of DSLR is Lens retro-compatibility including universal inter-changeability: then one should consider a Pentax DSLR, which sits way above both Canon and Nikon, in this regard.


    WW
    Good point Bill - I've often argued this to several friends who use that argument to sway people to Nikon.

    AND Josh - DON'T pay $1,200 for a 40D!!! I'm not sure where you're looking, but you can find scads of them all over the country for less than $400!!

    http://www.ebay.ca/ctg/Canon-EOS-40D...d=p3286.c0.m14

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    If the ultimate criterion to make a choice of DSLR is Lens retro-compatibility including universal inter-changeability: then one should consider a Pentax DSLR, which sits way above both Canon and Nikon, in this regard.
    Bill - I'm a bit confused by this recommendation. All through high school I shot Praktica / Pentax screw mount cameras. The Pentax K mount came out in the mid 70's, while the Nikon F mount has more or less been the same since its introduction in 1959 (that of course does not count the evolutionary changes over the years).

    I can even shot an F mount non-CPU lens on my D90, albeit in manual mode.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Explanation of the comment -

    I am of the understanding that if we look at all the lenses available to mount on any DSLR - more (substantially more) are available to mount and maintain infinity focus, on a Pentax DSLR, than on either a Canon or a Nikon DSLR - (albeit some by means of an adapter).

    I understand the comment about the different issue dates of the modern Pentax and Nikon mounts, but I am of the understanding that: Manual K – Mount M & K series; Takumar and M42 Screw mount lenses can be also be used on Pentax DSLRs.

    WW

  13. #13
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Thanks Bill - that makes sense now. Soligor, Vivitar, Zeiss Jena, in addition to Pentax and Pentacon all made the the Praktica / Pentax screw mount lenses. Pop on an adaptor and you should be good to go on a modern Pentax (and Samsung) K-mount camera.

  14. #14
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    I am of the understanding that if we look at all the lenses available to mount on any DSLR - more (substantially more) are available to mount and maintain infinity focus, on a Pentax DSLR, than on either a Canon or a Nikon DSLR - (albeit some by means of an adapter).
    Huh? Exactly where are you getting that Pentax can use more mounts than Canon, with an adapter? The big advantage is in using manual lenses without an adapter. If we're talking simple ring adapters and manual lenses:

    Pentax (45.46mm register distance):
    • K-mount (natively)
    • Leica-R (adapter)
    • Nikon F (adapter)
    • M42 (adapter)


    Nikon (46.5mm register distance):
    • Nikon F (natively)


    Canon (44mm register distance):
    • Nikon F (adapter)
    • Pentax K (adapter)
    • M42 (adapter)
    • Leica-R (adapter)
    • Contax/Yashica (adapter)
    • Olympus OM (adapter)


    In other words, Canon can use every manual lens that Nikon and Pentax can use combined, and an additional two mounts they cannot (Contax/Yashica, Olympus OM) without replacing/modifying the mount on the lens. And if we throw in the Leitax mount replacement kits, then we're pretty much back at parity for all mounts, although there are individual lenses that won't work with the kits within the C/Y and Oly OM mounts. Of course, there's also a Leitax kit for the Minolta MD 58/1.2 for EOS, so Canon still comes out slightly head.

    And if being able to adapt the most lenses is the criteria by which to judge a mount, forget all of these, and go for micro 4/3 or Sony NEX.
    Last edited by inkista; 3rd August 2012 at 07:44 PM.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Buying my first DSLR

    Adding to my response to Manfred:
    Also all those bellows, rings and other lens accessories we are likely to find at the back of the cupboard – but there’s: all those old lenses become ‘stabilized’.

    ***

    Answering Kathy:

    I agree with what you wrote here – “The big advantage is in using manual lenses without an adapter.”

    And that thought was integral to my original comment as the general thrust of what I was writing in my original Post #7 was in two parts the first part being the more fundamental.

    The first part of what I wrote was concerning the sum of all the lenses which will natively fit to Pentax, i.e. in the Pentax lineage and that sum of those lenses was referenced by this phrase “Lens retro-compatibility”.

    I was aware of the timing of the lens mounts changes of Pentax Vs. Nikon as Manfred pointed out and I am not about to debate the totals of each ‘natively capable mounting’ by making lists of lenses, but I will say ‘I understand’ that between Nikon and Pentax - even though Nikon has an earlier change date of their lens mount, Pentax including OTHER lens manufacturers made a truckload of lenses to fit Pentax - so it is my understanding that Pentax has more lenses in that list of ‘natively capable mounting’



    Secondly (and less importantly) in post #7, I included all those lenses which can be used on a Pentax DSLR (compared to a Nikon DSLR) by means of adaptors – with this phrase – 'including universal inter-changeability'. And that is not confined to only 135 format lenses but also MF and LF lenses.


    Certainly, ‘by means of an adapter’ many lenses can be mounted Canon DSLR – I do that.


    WW

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