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Thread: Confused... Too many options/jargon when choosing a new camera

  1. #1

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    Confused... Too many options/jargon when choosing a new camera

    Afternoon all,

    New to this site, first post for me & new to the world of DSLR...!

    After years with a point & shoot digital camera I have decided to take the plunge and go back to slr camera. I have spent too much time (!) iin the last 10 days looking at various sites, reading reviews etc that I have thoroughly managed to corner myself as to what camera I should purchase.
    Generally I prefer to buy as well as I can and having started looking at a Canon 450 (as there are some good prices around at present) I convinced myself that the 550d would be a better long term investment.
    No problem - until I followed advice I saw on many of the forum sites and went to physically handle the camera, at which point I was also shown a Canon 50d with a Cannon EF 18-200mm IS lens which the retailer was very much trying to steer me towards as opposed to the 550 with Canon & 18-55mm & Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 Lens . No doubt I prefer the feel and build of the 50d and the retailer did a good job of telling me that the d50 lens with IS was a better lens (is it?) and I could add a converter if I really wanted zoom...aaahhh help.

    My useage is familly, holidays, occasional sports and general photography. No doubt I enjoy it and if time allows I will experiment further and try different types (I particularly like Black/White pics) but to start it is very much general use.

    I've looked at reviews and comparisons but there is soo much tech jargon that it makes it very hard to decide for a "novice" and I wonder how much of it really makes a difference unless you are operating at a semi-pro level. Aplogies for such a long post but damn - this is confusing! Any comments gratefully rec'd.

  2. #2

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    Re: Confused...

    Hey Jonathan,

    Welcome to CiC - it's great to have you with us

    This type of thing comes up quite regularly (as you've found) - here's how I see it ...

    First up, I think a lot of people are concerned about making a "wrong choice", but with modern cameras that's pretty hard to do. All of them from a 300D to a 1Ds3 have similar ranges of shutterspeed & ISO - the lenses have similar apertures - and if you took images with all of them you'd be hard-pressed to see the difference (in fact, in one book I have they have small pictures comparing 6 cameras from iPhone to 45MP Hassleblad and STILL there is no appreciable difference) (although they kept the images small so the higher resolution cameras couldn't press home their advantage). So what I'm saying here is that there is a HUGE overlap in capability between all current models on the market.

    Probably about now you're thinking "this guy is making it harder, not easier" All I'm saying though is whatever you get, don't sweat it.

    At the sharp end though there are - of course - differences. I'm a Canon man myself, but by and large, manufacturers have different ranges but the price of a given range of camera is pretty much the same from all manufacturers, as are the capabilities - so a mid-range Canon will be roughly the same price and have the same capability as a mid-range Nikon.

    So - having just said that - in terms of a camera body - my suggestion is give some thought at to whether entry-level (Canon xxxD) or pro-sumer (Canon xxD) is best for you - some thoughts on that ...

    - The xxxD range is physically smaller. Personally I find that they're too small for me; I think of them as the type of thing I'd keep behind safety glass with a sign underneath that says "In case of emergency: break glass, remove camera", but that's might be just me (after all my usual weapon of choice is a Canon 1Ds3 with heavy glass).

    - The xxxD range doesn't have a QCD (Quick Control Dial) - so rather than just rotating a wheel with your thumb, you have to make multiple button puches to adjust parameters on the fly (which you'll be doing constantly). In my opinion this is a major PITA, and the single biggest reason I know to move up to the xxD class of camera.

    - Being entry level, the xxxD range is typically only rated at 50,000 actuations before shutter failure whereas with the xxD range you can safely double that (or more). Shutters aren't THAT expensive to replace - but - the cost of a shutter replacement alone would probably make up most of the difference between an entry-level and pro-sumer range camera, so it's something to think about.

    - The build quality of the xxD range is superior (mostly internal, out of sight unfortunately) - but it's more likely to survive the inevitable knock or occasional drop (and yes I'm careful too, but accident still happen!).

    - Weather sealing - it's better on the xxD range as well.

    In terms of lenses, things come in 3 categories; Kit - consumer, and Professional ("L-Series") Personally I only use L-Series - but I'm a professional photographer, and they're what I need for sharp large prints (not to mention build quality), but you're talking $$$$ rather than $$$. Consumer grade lenses are just fine - although these days it's just silly not to get IS models, but we can talk more about these later (lots to talk about). Kit lenses are basically "OK" but let's face it, they're only there to sell the camera (cameras without lenses don't sell very well to first time buyers!). For general use they're fine but if you're a bit of an enthusiast then it probably won't be long before you'll be after something better. I've owned a couple of kit lenses and I found them useful for space flight research (I was going to kick the damned things into orbit!) (but I ended up selling them ) But they have improved a bit since then.

    So where does that leave us? Well, I'm not you of course, so I can only offer you thoughts from my perspective ... and that would be to (a) avoid the entry-level range (it's a bit like riding a scooter compared to a more powerful motor bike; it still does that same job in a similar way, but it's just not the same as the "real thing" (apologies to all the xxxD shooters here!)), and (b) if you do go for a pro-sumer (xxD range) then it's probably silly to go for something like a 30D or 40D now that the 50D is out. So for starters I'd put 50D on top of my list. The other option is something like the 7D which is a little more up-market again (it's basically a crop-factor version of the Canon 5D2). Other options include cameras like the 5D2 - very nice cameras, but the price is starting to creep higher and higher; great if you have the money to spend (but don't forget that you're also going to need lenses, and eventually flashes, tripods, and other stuff), but the average "family photo" really won't look any better (in real-world terms).

    Does this help?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 4th June 2010 at 09:24 PM.

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    Re: Confused...

    Hi, Jonathan, and welcome!

    I use a 500D now, and it's a very capable camera. I probably followed the same path as you: I used SLR cameras for years, but started in digital with point and shoot. My first DSLR was a 400D, then I sold it and got the 500D.

    The point is, I wish I had jumped to the 40D (which would have been the choice at that time). Since you've used SLR before, you'll use the features of the camera, and the 50D will reward you, I think. I'll echo Colin's point, though: don't be afraid of making the "wrong" choice. If I'd waited until I was sure of getting the "right" camera, I'd have missed an awful lot of shots. I wish I had gotten a 40D, but I've taken a ton of shots with the 500D, so I've certainly gotten my money's worth.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  4. #4

    Re: Confused...

    Jonathan

    Welcome to CiC.

    The problem with digital photography is that it's addictive. Really addictive. I think it's something to do with the idea that you can produce something creative fairly easily (although in reality it's not that easy). How does that effect your buying gear? Well, assuming that you are going to be a digital photographer for the rest of your days, I think it's important to bear in mind a few things.

    1. It's a natural human desire to want things that are better (not just more expensive) as you yourself improve.
    2. Generally speaking, one always regrets cheap purchases (my only exception to that is the canon 50mm f1.8 lens I bought for 69)
    3. Used gear is actually very good. I bought a used 5D and 24-105mmL lens last year for a total of 1100. Great combination for moderate cost.
    4. Stick to a manufacturer, and stick to a format. I have a Canon 50D (great camera) and the 5D, but one is crop-factor sensor, the other is full-frame, so getting lenses to fit both can be restricting.
    5. Get your partner on board - you are going to be spending money. You might say now "I'll just get the ...." but a year later it will be something else. Trust me on this.
    6. As Colin said, there isn't much between camera bodies in terms of image quality - they are just built for different uses/people. The lens does make a big difference though. Always get the best lens you can afford, and don't ever be tempted to buy cheap lenses.
    7. Whatever you buy, keep all the packaging and accessories (even if you don't use them). When you come to buy something else you can get a decent trade-in with a unit that is in good condition and boxed.

    I can't comment on other cameras, but the Canon 50D is a very good camera for the money.

  5. #5
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    Re: Confused...

    I'll just add my usual to this sort of question in addition to the excellent above advice. Go into a shop. And pick up a number of different cameras in your price range. Just trust me on this. Do you prefer the feel of one over the other? It's important.

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    Re: Confused...

    Most camera designs are similar, meaning the grip, I think the real issue comes down to weight and position of controls when judging comfort levels.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Blue Boy View Post
    I'll just add my usual to this sort of question in addition to the excellent above advice. Go into a shop. And pick up a number of different cameras in your price range. Just trust me on this. Do you prefer the feel of one over the other? It's important.

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    Re: Confused...

    All, thanks for the responces - good to have help on such a complicated subject.

    If I summarise all of the very good advice given then it seems to me that the concensus would be that the 50D is a better camera but the lense makes all the difference rather than megpixels etc at the level I will be starting at...correct? If so then my question moves to the lenses I looked at as I know even less about lenses than I do about camera bodies !

    The options I looked at were:
    on the 550d bundle
    •Canon EOS 550D with 18-55mm Lens (with IS I think..)
    •Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 Lens

    and on the 50d it was a Canon EF 18-200mm IS lens.

    (I would post the links to the retailer site so you can see more detail of what I am looking at but it may be frowned upon in forum so haven't at this point)

    The retailer was very keen on the Canon lense on the 50d and was pretty adamant that it would give better results as it had IS across the range of the zoom rather than just on the smaller lense on the 550d bundle and that the Tamron lense without IS at high zoom would definateky need tripods and and and...

    I haven't mentioned the fact that the 550 has video capability which on the surface sounds like a "nice to have" for familly environment but I'm not sure how good the quality really is and if I will use the facility.

    As I mentioned in my original post I purposley visited the retailer to hold the cameras and get a feel for their ergonomics and weight etc...No doubt that I prefered the feel of the 50d but it was noticeably heavier - the main reason I veeered towards this option. If the 550 was a similar size and felt like the 50 then I probably would have splashed out there and then. Still leaves the question of lenses unresolved though....?

    I understand the point about controls but bearing in mind my level of inexperiance I can't judge which ones will be used more often than others and if they therefore come to hand more easily on one camera vs another.

    What about software - they all come with software. Should I be thinking about the differences or again at this point accept that either is likely to be sufficient fior my needs for the next couple of years or at least until I put on my first exhibition !!!

    Apologies for the barrage of questions yet again...

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    Re: Confused...

    Well we do appear to be progressing with your questions. Don't worry about asking for advice on what may seem like very basic questions. The important thing is to discover what will be best for you.

    The next item to consider is your budget (unless I have missed that item). This will determine exactly which lenses we would recommend. A budget indication is important as we are very good at spending other people's money!

    So the first lens question I would ask is 'Are you happy to carry spare lenses around and change them over as required or do you want one general all purpose lens'? Also, do want the versatility of zoom lenses or would you be happy with at least one prime (fixed size) lens? A prime lens gives good quality at a reasonable price, but they aren't for everybody.

    For general purpose hand held photography I do recommend having IS.

    I agree with the salesman for advising against the 550D bundle unless money is really tight. Even then I would consider that if you want to take your hobby seriously that option would work out more expensive in the long run as you will quickly want better equipment.

    Adding a converter to increase lens size isn't really an option unless you use one of the better, and seriously expensive, lenses. They tend to cause quality problems with cheaper lenses.

    With just a little more thought, I'm sure we will manage to choose the ideal combination for your.

    And regarding software. I wouldn't worry about that until you have purchased your photography equipment. There is quite a bit of free software which will either come with the camera or can be downloaded. Once you start taking loads of photos we can consider your best editing/printing options.

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    Re: Confused...

    I posted a msg on welcome therad. i'm new to dslr photography. i also planning to buy a new canon DSLR. Here u r talking about 50D and 550D. I like to take photos and a little bit of videos as well. I'm thing about buying 550D with kit lens. Actually in norway i can find a 50D + kit lens cost less than 550D + kit lens.
    50D + kit - 6250 NOK
    550D + kit - 6395 NOK

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    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Most camera designs are similar, meaning the grip, I think the real issue comes down to weight and position of controls when judging comfort levels.
    Personally I tend to "discount" initial feelings of comfort - best example I can think of is when buying a new car ... some may "feel more comfortable to drive than others" because they're probably a little closer to the one we drive now, but even if you buy the one that's not as "comfortable", after a couple of days it feels totally comfortable.

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    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by jp01 View Post
    All, thanks for the responces - good to have help on such a complicated subject.
    That's what we're here for

    If I summarise all of the very good advice given then it seems to me that the concensus would be that the 50D is a better camera but the lense makes all the difference rather than megpixels etc at the level I will be starting at...correct?
    Yes, although keep in mind also that for general shooting it's not so much a case of their being "good lenses and bad lenses" so much as it is a case of their being "adequate lenses and better lenses"

    (I would post the links to the retailer site so you can see more detail of what I am looking at but it may be frowned upon in forum so haven't at this point)
    Nah, posting links is fine - we're not like the other sites

    The retailer was very keen on the Canon lense on the 50d and was pretty adamant that it would give better results as it had IS across the range of the zoom rather than just on the smaller lense on the 550d bundle and that the Tamron lense without IS at high zoom would definateky need tripods and and and...
    Personally I'm pretty weary of salesmen - it's their job to sell (ie "extract money from you using a variety of techniques"; most don't want any kind of personal relationship with you -- they just want your money -- and most won't be losing any sleep at all if what you buy turns out to be not the best value for money. Having just said that, I wasn't quite sure what you were meaning in that sentence; any lens can be fitted to the 50D or 550D - if that lens has IS then the IS will work equally well on either body. The only "difference" is that they may bundle some lenses with some cameras (ie offer them together at a better price), but you can certainly buy any body as "body only" and add any lens you like; just do the sums first. Personally I WOULD buy a bundle, but only if it was a lens that I thought was appropriate. In your case I'd probably work out what would be good lens characteristics for the types of things you want to shoot, and then go from there.

    I haven't mentioned the fact that the 550 has video capability which on the surface sounds like a "nice to have" for familly environment but I'm not sure how good the quality really is and if I will use the facility.
    It's something that's been popping up on most new models; some find if useful, many never use it regularly. Personally, I prefer my good old HDD video camera. What I would suggest though is don't get a camera with poor ergonomics (eg 550D) just because it has a marketing gimmick that you probably won't use often. Trading something that affects you ALL the time (ergonomics) for something that may be of benefit some of the time (video) doesn't sound like a good deal to me. If you really can't get the notion out of your head though, consider upgrading to the 7D which has the best of both worlds and more.

    As I mentioned in my original post I purposley visited the retailer to hold the cameras and get a feel for their ergonomics and weight etc...No doubt that I prefered the feel of the 50d but it was noticeably heavier
    Try a 1Ds3 with 70-200 F2.8L IS lens and 580EX II flash attached, and then you'll know what heavy is really about! Seriously, I often shoot with exactly that combination and I don't even use a neck strap ... I just use a hand strap and let it hang from the end of my arm, or rest it on my arm. It's my standing joke around here that if a pro-sumer camera and lens is too heavy then perhaps they need a gym membership more than a lighter camera

    What about software - they all come with software. Should I be thinking about the differences or again at this point accept that either is likely to be sufficient fior my needs for the next couple of years or at least until I put on my first exhibition !!!
    They all come with something that's appropriate, but my advice would be to start thinking about using at least Photoshop Elements (which is cheap) "sooner rather than later". If you want to get the best out of your images then post-processing is simply a fact of life with any photography (including film); some like to fight it, but resistence is futile

    Apologies for the barrage of questions yet again...
    No need to apologise - we're here to help, plus it helps us and others too. And I'm sure that we're all hoping that it you like "the service" here then you'll hang around and let us help you with the next phase of your photography as well.

  12. #12

    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by sakthi View Post
    I posted a msg on welcome therad. i'm new to dslr photography. i also planning to buy a new canon DSLR. Here u r talking about 50D and 550D. I like to take photos and a little bit of videos as well. I'm thing about buying 550D with kit lens. Actually in norway i can find a 50D + kit lens cost less than 550D + kit lens.
    50D + kit - 6250 NOK
    550D + kit - 6395 NOK
    Siva

    Yes, it's the same here in the UK. The 550D is new so it's more expensive. After a short period the price drops. But at the moment you can get a new 50D body for the same prices as a 550D. I'd go for the 50D, but as Colin said, it's cheaper to go for a bundle which includes a lens, provided it's a lens that you want. Here are some prices (they also have lens prices) http://www.warehouseexpress.com/digi...37-r1054#first

  13. #13

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    Re: Confused...

    tx Rob.

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    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    ... 5. Get your partner on board - you are going to be spending money. You might say now "I'll just get the ...." but a year later it will be something else. Trust me on this.
    LOL this is so true. Right now I'm considering getting another lens to complement my first three

    You really only know what you'll need once you start using your equipment alot.

  15. #15

    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by pwnage101 View Post
    LOL this is so true. Right now I'm considering getting another lens to complement my first three
    Troy

    I believe the standard procedure is to order your gear from an on-line supplier, and in the 'special shipping instructions' to say "I will take delivery from the courier at XXXXX bar at 13:00". Then after you have collected, you return home and say "Honey, I just got a great deal on a new lens from this guy in a bar..." Psychology, it's great isn't it?

    Don't get confused, get cunning.

  16. #16

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    Re: Confused...

    Thanks all for the assistance. I'm going to go back to the retailer (Jessops) to view the two options once more and come to a decision - see links below for details...

    http://www.jessops.com/online.store/...7600/show.html
    or
    http://www.jessops.com/online.store/...5390/show.html

    It certainly seems that the 50d is a better built camera and is designed to cross from consumer / semi-pro level but the 550d has many features that are of interest to someone who at this point is a "general" user, namely the video option. I looked at the camera labs video report and have to say that I was impressed with the quality of the recording and playback from a DSLR. That being said I do understand Colin's view wrt confusion of application and compromising ergonomics.

    Equally I still think that I prefered the feel of the 50d - that's not to say the 550 felt bad, just that the 50 felt better.

    I guess I need to weigh up which of these is more important to me as a general user / beginner who is looking to develop over the next few years.

    What I would really like is the 550d in a slightly larger body with a quicker frame rate... I suspect that is available seomwhere in the range as another product but at a cost.. is that the 7d?

    Geoff asked about budget and in reality I don't want to spend more than 900 - 1000 tops. Also if I could simply have one lense for the time being then I would prefer that as I have a nasty suspision that I will miss all the good shots as I'm too busy changing damn lenses or have the wrong one attached!

    The lense issue is still a little "unclear" (a pun used many times before no doubt and subject to a forfeit or fine in here...) to me but I hope that will be sorted on my next visit to the toy shop! As for my partner (wife) then I have to say that DSLR camera budgets pale into insignificance compared to those of shoes etc ...

    So all in all still not sure but hope to resolve on next trip and still grateful for comments and advice.

  17. #17

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    Re: Confused...

    Firstly, do compare prices before purchase. There are a number of excellent outlets on the internet, and many of them also have retail shops. You may be able to save 10% or more by buying wisely.

    With that budget, I would say you are definitely going to be starting with just one lens and adding others as funds allow. But don't get tempted by some of the ultra low budget lenses which are rather poor quality and will work out expensive in the long run. If necessary, it would be better to wait a little longer until you can afford something decent which will last for years.

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    Re: Confused...

    For what it's worth, my first real digital SLR was a Canon 350D -- a few weeks after getting it I played with a friends 20D -- immediately sold the 350D (at a loss) and never looked back. Would do the same again in a heartbeat.

  19. #19

    Re: Confused...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    For what it's worth, my first real digital SLR was a Canon 350D -- a few weeks after getting it I played with a friends 20D -- immediately sold the 350D (at a loss) and never looked back. Would do the same again in a heartbeat.
    Ah! fond memories. I too had (and still have) a 350D. Occasionally, I get it out (the 350D) and gaze fondly at it, and think what a small toy it is. But, it still takes good shots - well, I'm assuming that as I never actually use it.

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