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Thread: Camera and lens purchase help

  1. #1

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    Camera and lens purchase help

    I'm new to Cambridge and I'm seeking feedback/advise on purchasing a Nikon SLR. After a long break I'm back into photography and my goal is to start showing my work again in art galleries. Mostly I prefer b/w street photojournalism. I have a budget of around $3000 to start. Suggestions as to body/lens would be greatly appreciated.
    Sam E
    Last edited by Sam E; 14th September 2013 at 05:01 PM. Reason: question

  2. #2

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    I'll give you my standard answer for these types of questions:
    Regarding brand name, Nikon/Canon/whatever...it is rare to change brands after amassing an assortment of lenses for a specific brand, choose with that knowledge.
    There is not a significant difference in performance among different brands, given equal prices.

    With that in mind>visit your local camera store/BestBuy/wherever and physically handle the different brands. Which ones, in your mind, are more ergonomically suited for you...it's a subjective answer.

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Sam,
    A D600 with kit lens will be worth a serious look.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam E View Post
    ... Mostly I prefer b/w street photojournalism. I have a budget of around $3000 to start. Suggestions as to body/lens would be greatly appreciated.
    How important is being inconspicuous to you while street shooting? dSLRs are big and conspicuous, and with faster zooms on them, they can be intimidating to subjects. Discreet shooting while possible, is harder with one.

    You may want to take a look at mirrorless compacts--both fixed-lens and interchangeable lens. Fixed-lens large-sensored compacts tend to have a 35/2 equivalent lens. The Sony RX1 is a full-frame camera in the body of a compact P&S. The Fujifilm X100S is currently the darling of the shoot-streeting set, not only for the retro styling and handling, but also for the small light size and image quality. If your preferred lens is the film equivalent of a 35/2--these cameras are right down your alley. Tracking/low-light autofocus speed seems to be the only place where these cameras might be lacking vs. dSLRs; but on-sensor phase-detection AF is starting to sneak into the lineups and that seems to have improved performance in this area (see X100S vs. X100 comparisons). You could also consider the Nikon Coolpix A which has an APS-C sensor in a compact body.

    For interchangeable lens system cameras, you could wait and see what Sony has up its sleeve in an IL-version of the RX1, and its APS-C NEX system. Fuji has the XPro-1, XE-1, and XM-1 with a growing number of lenses. And if you really want to go small, and are willing to compromise on sensor size, there's Panasonic/Olympus micro four-thirds. The upcoming Panasonic DMC-GX7 and the current Olympus OM-D cameras seem to hit a sweet spot in terms of features, price, and image quality.

    There are a lot of non-SLR choices out there today, offering similar image quality and a quite different feature set that seems to favor street shooters: small, light, compact, great fast wide-to-normal primes, tilted LCDs for waist-level shooting, etc. I'd recommend doing a bit of research to see if one of those systems might be a better fit.
    Last edited by inkista; 14th September 2013 at 10:24 PM.

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    How important is being inconspicuous to you while street shooting? dSLRs are big and conspicuous, and with faster zooms on them, they can be intimidating to subjects. Discreet shooting while possible, is harder with one.

    You may want to take a look at mirrorless compacts--both fixed-lens and interchangeable lens. Fixed-lens large-sensored compacts tend to have a 35/2 equivalent lens. The Sony RX1 is a full-frame camera in the body of a compact P&S. The Fujifilm X100S is currently the darling of the shoot-streeting set, not only for the retro styling and handling, but also for the small light size and image quality. If your preferred lens is the film equivalent of a 35/2--these cameras are right down your alley. Tracking/low-light autofocus speed seems to be the only place where these cameras might be lacking vs. dSLRs; but on-sensor phase-detection AF is starting to sneak into the lineups and that seems to have improved performance in this area (see X100S vs. X100 comparisons). You could also consider the Nikon Coolpix A which has an APS-C sensor in a compact body.

    For interchangeable lens system cameras, you could wait and see what Sony has up its sleeve in an IL-version of the RX1, and its APS-C NEX system. Fuji has the XPro-1, XE-1, and XM-1 with a growing number of lenses. And if you really want to go small, and are willing to compromise on sensor size, there's Panasonic/Olympus micro four-thirds. The upcoming Panasonic DMC-GX7 and the current Olympus OM-D cameras seem to hit a sweet spot in terms of features, price, and image quality.

    There are a lot of non-SLR choices out there today, offering similar image quality and a quite different feature set that seems to favor street shooters: small light, compact, great fast wide-to-normal primes, tilted LCDs for waist-level shooting, etc. I'd recommend doing a bit of research to see if one of those systems might be a better fit.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    If you are essentially looking to shoot and exhibit B&W, the next question would be what size are you planning to enlarge the images to? That is going to potentially help decide which way you should go.

    Crop frame (something that is smaller than a 35mm film negative) is going to be far less obtrusive that an full-frame camera, to Kathy's point. You can get decent sized, quality enlargements out of them, but if you are looking at really large, high quality prints and doing a lot of cropping in post, you could find yourself limited with a crop frame.

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Sam you say that you are getting back into photography and that you use to show in galleries, so little need to talk about lens as you have a pretty good handle on them. Do you still have any lens that you used and they for Nikon as almost every lens ever made by Nikkor still work. This is all I am going to say on lens, today with Nikon DSLR they are either full frame FX or c-crop DX, put a 50mm lens on a FX camera you get the field of view of a 50mm, put the same on a DX camera and its' field of view would be as if you were looking at something as if were a 75mm lens.
    Now camera there I two I would suggest would be the D600 FX camera or the D7100 DX camera, both very good, here in Canada the D600 will leave you about $800.00 before taxes and the D7100 will leave you about $1,800.00 before taxes. You will still need computer software to purchase or rent (Cloud) to process your images.
    Oh by the way welcome to CIC and could you go into setting and give us you location as it would not be much use tell you to go to a store located in South Africa when you live in Portland Maine.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Good info. I'll keep this in mind, especially "given equal prices there is not a significant difference in performance among different brands". I always shot with Nikon and trusted the brand.

    However when I check out stores I don't necessarily trust the salesperson's experience or knowledge which is why I posted my question here.

    Many thanks, and when I narrow my search down I hope you all don't mind if I ask more specific questions.

    Happy trails,
    Sam E

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    I did check this one out, and I will go back and do so more thoroughly based on your suggestion.

    Many thanks,

    Sam E

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Kathy Li,
    So very helpful. Cameras I never considered. I go out of my way to stay inconspicuous so these suggestions are so worth considering. I'll check out these cameras and if most likely will have some questions, hopefully you won't mind my asking.

    Many thanks,
    Sam E

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    No problem, ask away. There are a few of us mirrorless fans here. The emerging class of mirrorless cameras seems to be filling the need for something similar to an affordable digital Leica M substitute.

    One tool you might want to use in your research is the camerasize.com site. For example, here's a full-frame Canon 6D with a 35/2 prime lens on it, compared to the RX1, X100, and GX7 with equivalent lenses (although keep in mind the Sony's lens is a Zeiss 35/2, and that Canon also offers an EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake prime).

    I don't street shoot, but here's an example of image quality from my micro four-thirds G3 with the kit lens. I chose mft as my mirrorless system for the low used gear pricetags and large lens selection, but you may prefer something with better handling and a bigger sensor.

    Camera and lens purchase help
    Panasonic DMC-G3. Lumix G Vario 14-42 f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens.

    Two other boards that may hold discussions relevant to street shooting with mirrorless would include seriouscompacts.com and rangefinderforum.com's CSC board.

    Nikon does offer a mirrorless system (the 1 system), but the sensor is one of the smaller sizes: 1" format, with a 2.7x crop factor, so it hasn't gained a ton of traction among camera enthusiasts, despite having the best-performing AF system of all the mirrorless cameras. Rumors are Nikon may be rethinking mirrorless. At the 1" format size, most folks seem to prefer the Sony RX100 compact instead.

    Canon's mirrorless offering, the EOS M, ticks a few more of the right boxes (basically having the guts of the T4i), but only has three lenses (11-22 ultrawide, 18-55 kit, and 22/2 prime--and the ultrawide's not on sale in the US) and has a larger pricetag and smaller feature set than other mirrorless cameras. Or did until Canon put it on blowout sale prices. Everyone's waiting to see if an updated model gets announced in the fall.
    Last edited by inkista; 15th September 2013 at 04:46 PM.

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Manfred,
    I know I can't limit myself too much to size, 11X14 was the biggest I used to show, my main choice was always 8X10. So thanks for making this point as I am seeking really high quality prints so I will have to balance all these concerns in choosing a camera.

    Thanks,
    Sam E

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Thanks Allan,
    I appreciate your feedback and suggestions, especially regarding specific models.
    I do have a Mac computer, recently purchased, I'm exploring different software. I'm not that much of a tech head but I realize that technology has now become an intricate aspect of photography. I miss my darkroom.

    Regards,
    Sam E

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Sam - two of the most reputable camera stores in the USA are next door to you in NYC (B&H and Adorama); frankly, if they don't have a product, chances are no one will. Very knowledgable sales staff too and good web stores to order online.

    I regularly print 17" x 22" images from my Nikon D90 (APS-C crop frame) to that size. I also shoot a full frame Nikon D800 and I haven't really pushed the print size to it's lmits, put suspect I could get a quality 3ft x 6ft print out of it.

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Sam - two of the most reputable camera stores in the USA are next door to you in NYC (B&H and Adorama); frankly, if they don't have a product, chances are no one will. Very knowledgable sales staff too and good web stores to order online.

    I regularly print 17" x 22" images from my Nikon D90 (APS-C crop frame) to that size. I also shoot a full frame Nikon D800 and I haven't really pushed the print size to it's lmits, put suspect I could get a quality 3ft x 6ft print out of it.
    Adorama TV has some good videos on the basics of photography. B&H is just one exceptional photo store.


    Bruce

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam E View Post
    I'm seeking feedback/[advice] on purchasing a Nikon [digital] SLR. After a long break I'm back into photography and my goal is to start showing my work again in art galleries. Mostly I prefer b/w street photojournalism. I have a budget of around $3000 to start.

    Nikon D800 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G AF-S FX SWM
    (Canon EOS 5DMkIII and EF 35mm F/1.4L USM)

    You will be a bit over your $3000 budget with either kit.

    The Fuji X100s appears a marvellous camera. I have used the x100 and I have an x100s on order. I use this camera as an example only of why I would not suggest it for you.

    If your aim is B/W Street Journalism for Gallery Display, IMO you’d best get the gear that will hold to Gallery Standards, in all lighting conditions first up - and that means buying the best you can afford in a digital 135 format sensor and fast, quality glass to put on it.

    WW

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Sam... I totally agree with you when you mention, "However when I check out stores I don't necessarily trust the salesperson's experience or knowledge which is why I posted my question here."

    Many chain stores employ persons right off the street at a bit over minimum wage and with little or no digital photography experience.

    I may also add, that I don't necessarily trust the integrity of the local photo stores either. Sure, the majority of them are probably quite honest but, there are some in which the profit margin is the most important factor in their camera recommendations.

    Whether a person chooses a Canon or a Nikon or one of the other brands and whether a person chooses a 1.5x (1.6x) crop camera or full frame camera, that photographer can be assured of getting good imagery if he/she can utilize the camera/lens to its greatest potential and if he/she selects from the upper level of each manufacturer's gear rather than the entry level cameras or lenses.

    How a camera performs "for you" is one of the most important aspects of camera selection. I do best with cameras that I enjoy shooting. I often mention that I had some limited experience with the Leica IIIG series camera which was the standard tool of the professional photojournalists of its day. However, I did not enjoy the Leica until the M-series came along. Unfortunately, you cannot always determine how a camera performs in your hands during a quick visit to a camera store.

    I have had only one DSLR camera that I did not enjoy shooting with. I purchased a 350D Canon to shoot side by side with my Canon 10D. I wanted a camera which could utilize EFS lenses but, I was too cheap at the time to purchase the 20D. When I am stingy in camera/lens purchases, it often backfires on me as did the 350D.

    The camera just did not fit well in my hands. My right thumb kept unconsciously hitting the button which controlled single shot, burst and timer mode. Whenever I pressed the shutter button and the self timer unexpectedly began counting off, I would say Darn ( or *******) I have done it again! No matter how I tried to solve this ergonomic problem (admitting that it was user error) my thumb still sought out that handy button. This was a big PITA for me. I also did not like the lack of dual control dials which I had gotten quite comfortable using with the 10D and I disliked the completely different configuration of the 350D shooting side by side with the 10D....

    However my image quality was quite good and I replaced the 350D with a Canon 30D and then shot for years with a combination 30D and 40D which suited me quite well. I have kept with the Canon 1.6x system with top line lenses and really enjoy shooing with this gear. I am sure that I would have also enjoyed Nikon; if I had chosen the right model of that brand...

    Choosing a camera is like marrying a woman with a large family. For better or worse, you must live with the relatives as you must live with the lenses and accessories provided by the manufacturer or by third party suppliers...

    There are some things that I just love about my Canon 7D cameras and some things that I would happily change. But, I have married the "Canon Bride" and I have learned to coexist happily with her relatives. While a divorce would not be impossible, I would need to have overwhelming reasons for the split up. A few additional bells and whistles would not, IMO, be a valid reason to dissolve the union...

    As far as specific equipment recommendations, I like to have slightly longer zoom lens available to match up with my mid-range zoom. I am very happy with the combination of 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses. They fit my needs for 90-95% of my photography and provide excllent image quality on my 1.6x cameras...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 15th September 2013 at 04:37 PM.

  18. #18

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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Sam ... when I changed to digital I was not flush and didn't want to borrow and though I spent approaching your budget it was when digital was new and expensive. The result was that I was 'saved' from the natural assumption of thinking SLR film means I need a DSLR. Instead I got a Nikon bridge camera [ DSLR-Like ] which I quickly discovered was quite capable of making 14-11 prints when I got it 'right'.
    Today I am using MFT because the small sensored bridge camera does have some limitations which didn't really bother me but it can be fun to explore different avenues and all along with my bridge cameras, I kept on updating , I felt that REALLY I needed a larger sensor to enable me to use higher ISO. The camera is not made and probably will never be so I settled for MFT with a long zoom and got a G3 with the 14-140 zoom until I went for a GH model becuase I am not bothered about being inconspicuous.
    So I doubt if I ever will get a DSLR ...I had one for a specific purpose but these days MFT covers that so have dispensed with the DSLR to some people who I hope will appreciate it becuase I never used it after a brief enthusiasm

    Edit2 ...With your aims I wouldn't expect to pay more than a third to half your budget, including an editor.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 15th September 2013 at 10:31 PM.

  19. #19
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam E View Post
    I miss my darkroom.
    If you intend to sell mainly to art galleries, continuing to use film is perfectly viable. Web distribution, time-dependent photos, and ease of editing are the main reasons for digital. The fine art world is still quite dedicated to film. I assume the drawbacks are obvious, so I'll leave that alone. But suffice it to say that you could get yourself a Contax IIIa (drool) for about 15% of your budget, and use the rest to cover lenses and building a darkroom.

    If you definitely want to go digital and stick with street photography, you might not even need to break the $1,500 mark. Users who have suggested bridge cameras are definitely on to something. At the moment, the main arguments for DSLRs are high-speed burst rates and low-light performance, neither of which are critical for street work. Can't make any recommendations on that front (not very familiar with the options), but I do recommend something that has an ultra-wide available (12-20mm full frame equivalent). For street work, coupling an ultra-wide with a 35mm and maybe an 85mm or 50mm will keep you covered. In my opinion, you can get away without zooms for this application.

  20. #20
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    Re: Camera and lens purchase help

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    ... suffice it to say that you could get yourself a Contax IIIa (drool) for about 15% of your budget, and use the rest to cover lenses and building a darkroom.
    Or blow half your budget on a Leica M6 and collapsible 'cron 50 or a vintage Rolleiflex/Rolleicord TLR , and get a tank, reels, changing bag, and a scanner and still use a digital workflow at the end of the process. Cheaper than a dark room, more control over the final print. And, hey, who doesn't like owning a classic camera?

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