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Thread: SLR camera purchase on a 500€ budget

  1. #1
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    SLR camera purchase on a 500€ budget

    Hello.

    Let me start by saying that I'm new to this forum and the photography world. My experience and knowledge about cameras, lenses and its functions are very limited. But I'm a fast learner and I really adore photography.

    Getting back to topic, I'm looking forward to buy a SLR camera. I've been doing some reading on dpreview and cameralabs, looking at ratings, samples and previews. But I really don't wanna buy the wrong camera just because of a couple reviews, so I've decided to come to you lot.

    What am I shooting? I guess that's the hard bit. I care about top quality when it comes to small details - small bugs, rocks, flowers, insects and so on. Also, I'll be photographing animals (dogs mainly), children, sunset, beach photos, monuments. Yea, I know. I want it all.

    What I don't care about: video mode. I don't need it at all. If it's there, it's a nice extra. If not, it's all good anyway. Also, all my shots will be from close to mid range.

    Cameras I'm considering: Nikon D5000 + 18-55 VR, Canon EOS 1000D + EF-S 18-55 IS, Pentax K-X 18-55 and Canon EOS 500D + EF-S 18-55 IS.

    That last one is a bit above the budget, but I'm willing to go for it if it's worth it. Now, I'm not saying I'm deffo buying one of those cameras. If you know a better deal, please do tell. Also, I've picked that website because I'm european (Portuguese) and the prices are quite good compared to the stores in here.

    I hope you can help me out. If it's not asking much, please elaborate why would you go for this camera instead of the other. Even if I might not understand (for now).

    Thanks in advance,

    Hugo

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Hi Hugo,

    In the first place, welcome to CiC
    I don't have a very specific answer for you (yet) but I would like to point some things out you might want to consider in choosing what to buy.
    At first I think it's wise to keep in mind that all the sets you mentioned above offer a kitlens. Talking about image quality these are not that great most of the time, but more important they are quite limited in zoom range. 18-55mm is from wide angle to 'normal'. Especially for macro and close up photography like bugs, insects and flowers a longer lens is preferable (or even a macro lens). So keep in mind that the lens you buy with the camerabody is important for the subjects you want to shoot with it. What lens to buy is something to take in consideration if you don't want to be forced to spend a lot more money than planned on other lenses because the kitlens is not what you expected form it.

    That brings me to my second point: the most important piece of your equipment when talking about image quality and flexibility is the lens, and not the camera(body). So I would recommend you to think also about the lens you want to have with it unless you're okay with buying the best body you can now and spend some (or a lot) more on the lens you prefer later.

    I started with a Sigma 18-125mm lens, which goes from wide angle to telephoto range and is not that expensive. Such super zoom lens is great to start with because its rather cheap and gives you flexibility in the kind of photography you can do with it so you don't have to buy several expensive lenses to cover that zoom range.
    The downside such rather cheap super zoom lens is that the IQ is not that good an their rather slow (you might want to read the "Understanding camera lenses: Focal length &Apperture" to understand that. Maybe you should read it anyway, I've you didn't already do this).

    If you can afford it I would recommend the 500d (or the nikon 5000d, but I don't know that much about Nikon since I'm a Canon man myself) since it's a good body which has enough potential to go with for a couple of years. I don't know about the Pentax but I would recommend Canon or Nikon anyway since they are both high quality brands with a enormous amount of equipment you can buy at about every street corner.
    Last edited by JK6065; 23rd October 2010 at 02:42 PM.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Hugo

    I agree with Jeroen's comments. Really explore what deal you can get on a body only (of whatever make) and then start researching lenses (make sure you only look at ones that will fit the body that you are interested in). Kit lenses will do a job, but as Jeroen says, they can be less good than some others. However, having said that, I am very pleased with the Canon EF-S 17-85 f4.5-f5.6 IS kit lens that I bought with my Canon 40D.

    The other thing to do is go into a camera store and ask to see the cameras that you might be interested in, even if you do not intend to buy from that store. Hold the cameras - check where the various buttons are on the front/top/back of the body and see how it feels. People usually find one more 'comfortable' that the others.

    Any of the bodies is going to work for you. Which one you get is down to your personal preference. As Jeroen says, the key to quality is the lens. Since you are starting out and given you will, quite correctly, want to try taking photographs of everything, then the idea of a zoom lens with a decent range (e.g. 18 - 125) is a good idea. I see you had animals and children on your list. Something at 125mm is going to be much better for that job than a lens with a maximum of 55mm.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    I'm not going to be specific on kit either, except to say there is no single camera/lens combination that can do everything for you. Always bear in mind that a well composed interesting subject is the most important thing, regardless of what you're shooting with. Don't get too hung up on your equipment and forget that or you'll end up with photos that you don't even like yourself (voice of experience speaking here ). It's an artistic hobby, not a macho competition about who has the biggest and best kit, so I hope you just enjoy doing it .

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Thanks for the replies, JK and Donald.

    I understand that the lens is the key-stone for photography. The problem is my limited budget. That and my zero knowledge about lenses and compatibilities with a camera body.

    That said, what would you recommend? I could buy the body and lens from a different store other than cameraNU, as long as it's reliable and among EU.

    EDIT: I know what you mean, Fred. But since I'm spending ~500€ on a camera, I'd rather shorten the risks by getting some feedback. You know the drill :-)

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Here's something I don't quite understand. Why is this Nikon D90 + 18-105 VR *much* cheaper than Nikon D90 + 16-85 VR? What am I missing here? Isn't the 18-105 VR better, as it has greated zoom?

    I'm taking into consideration both Nikon D5000 + 18-105 VR and Nikon D5000 + 18-55 VR + 55-200 VR. This is stretching my budget for quite a bit, but at least I guess I would have all my needs covered. Or should I go for the body and another lens?

    Cheers.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Sundae View Post
    Here's something I don't quite understand. Why is this Nikon D90 + 18-105 VR *much* cheaper than Nikon D90 + 16-85 VR? What am I missing here? Isn't the 18-105 VR better, as it has greated zoom?

    I'm taking into consideration both Nikon D5000 + 18-105 VR and Nikon D5000 + 18-55 VR + 55-200 VR. This is stretching my budget for quite a bit, but at least I guess I would have all my needs covered. Or should I go for the body and another lens?

    Cheers.
    Unfortunately it's never that simple. Price is usally determined by the quality of the glass elements, build quality of the body, type of motor and then lesser considerations. You can have a lens with much greater zoom capability but poorer quality glass (or combinations of the things I've mentioned) where the price can vary greatly the wrong way from how you imagine it should. This is particularly pertinent to the glass quality. It's difficult for someone who is new to understand all these things and very easy to get hung up on equipment, which is why I advised not getting too drawn into it. If you can only afford one lens then a greater zoom capability might be your best choice to allow you more opportubity to photograph a greater number of subjects. A better quality lens might restrict that but would give you better shots of what you can get with it.

    The usual outcome for people who get hooked on photography is an ever increasing financial commitment as they want better lenses, bodies, adding flash and all sorts of other things. Just think of it as having a big hole in your pocket.

    Start off simple, get the best out of your kit and see how you want to go as you learn.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    I think I know what you mean, Fred. I'll go with a kit for now then. Just have to decide between 18-55 VR and 18-105 VR. I guess it will all come down to my account balance at the end of the month ;-)

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Sundae View Post
    I think I know what you mean, Fred. I'll go with a kit for now then. Just have to decide between 18-55 VR and 18-105 VR. I guess it will all come down to my account balance at the end of the month ;-)
    Your budget isn't a great amount when it comes to buying camera gear so whatever you get will be at the 'kit' end.

    Google for some reviews about both lenses and see what they say. Also go onto Nikon user forums and see what opinions there are about the two of them.

    Just remember to enjoy whatever you get and don't always hanker for better gear believing it will make you a better photographer - it won't. Free resources, such as sites like this and others, will do far more to help you. Enjoy.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    One final question: when it comes to image quality, is D5000 better than D3100? According to dpreview and cameralabs it is, but I've read many posts on Nikon forums saying otherwise.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Sundae View Post
    One final question: when it comes to image quality, is D5000 better than D3100? According to dpreview and cameralabs it is, but I've read many posts on Nikon forums saying otherwise.
    Hi Hugo,

    I have the D5000 and am happy with the image quality because I know that my PP skills (such as they are), will likely make far more difference than the technical ones like 14.2 vs 12 MP. Also the flippy screen is handy on occasions.

    I had a quick look at this site's comparison - reading the top half, with D3100 on left, it seems to win, but, reading the second half, where the D5000 is on left - I wouldn't under estimate the benefit of 1.2 EV more dynamic range, it means more than the small difference in MP or noise performance. Beware: not all their comments and figures in first and fourth columns seem to agree with the data in the second and third columns

    Some of the things in their Common weaknesses section are certainly true, but on your budget, don't worry about them too much.

    That said, the biggest thing to get past if you can afford say, a D90, is the lack of focus motor, as that allows a wider selection of (probably) cheaper glass that wil AF and meter. But then again, being forced to use newer AF-S lenses with their SWM focus motors means a good focus speed compared to older style.

    Cheers,

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Hi Hugo

    Another satisfied D5000 user here.

    I started with the standard 18-55mm kit lens, and then very quickly purchased a 55-200mm VR lens. The 18-55mm is a decent kit lens, but you'll quickly want that extra telephoto capability.

    I've never used the 18-105mm lens, so I can't comment.

    If you're starting out with DSLR cameras (like I was), be aware that the Nikon D5000 does not have an auto-focus motor built in. That will "limit" you to buying AF-S lenses, if you want that auto-focus functionality.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Hi niallc99.

    Thanks for your reply. I'm 90% set on the Nikon D5000 18-55 VR + 55-200 VR kit which goes for 660€. It's a tad over my budget but I think it is a good deal. The only downside I might care about is not having an ISO button at hand. The auto focus part is not exactly an issue for now as the kit lenses are both AF-S iirc.

    As for the bag, should I be aware of any features, or any regular camera bag will do? I'll be carrying the Nikon D5000 with 2 lenses and eventually a spare memory card and battery.

    Thanks again,

    Hugo
    Last edited by Sundae; 25th October 2010 at 01:43 PM.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Don't worry too much about the lack of a dedicated ISO button, there's a Fn key at the front that you can assign to ISO if you like - that's what I've done.

    I'm mainly using a Lowepro Rezo 180 AW camera bag, and everything fits in it nicely.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by niallc99 View Post
    Don't worry too much about the lack of a dedicated ISO button, there's a Fn key at the front that you can assign to ISO if you like - that's what I've done.
    Me too

    It is easily accessible to the thumb of your left hand while that is supporting the lens barrel, and using the thumb of your right hand to spin the wheel to choose a different iso - quite slick - because you still have a forefinger on the shutter button to instantly take a pic if need be.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    That bag is a bit over the price I'm willing to spend. At least for now.

    Anyway, I'm soon going to be a proud owner of a D5000. Can't wait to have it in my hands and show you my horrid begginer shots

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Sundae View Post
    Anyway, I'm soon going to be a proud owner of a D5000. Can't wait to have it in my hands and show you my horrid begginer shots
    You could always say you were led astray so made the wrong choice of camera.

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    Re: SLR 500 budget

    Last hour crisis: I've been doing some thinking (yes, more!) and I can't really decide if I should go with D5000+18-105VR kit or D5000+18-55+55-200VR kit. The price difference is just 50€, so I can afford either.

    I believe I could do most of my shots with the 18-105. On the other hand, shooting the sky, sunset, birds and so on might make me miss having extra zoom.

    The other option would be buying the basic kit D5000+18-55 and the Tamron AF 70-300/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Nikon (Built In AF). Would that be compatible with the D5000? And would it be a good choice?

    What says you, masters?

    EDIT:

    Oh, here's a newbie question: that Tamron lens doesn't have "VR" on its description. Would that be a problem?
    Last edited by Sundae; 29th October 2010 at 08:53 PM.

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