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Thread: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

  1. #1

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    Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Hi guys, new to the site but looks like there's some awesome info here! I was hoping someone could help me out with a recommendation on what to buy. I'm totally new to DSLRs. I like to read reviews but personal recommendations mean a lot more.

    Some info about me, I've had my fair share of point and shoots I've messed around with. I also have a old but still good Nikon N2000 that was a hand me down from my sister. It came with a Nikkor 50mm lens and a Promaster 24mm macro lens.

    I didnt do a whole lot with the N2000 but boy does it take beautiful photos. I did take a college black and white photography course that I enjoyed a few years back with the N2000.

    Now that tax refund time is coming around I find myself with some extra money to spend and I would like to pick up an entry level DSLR. Something that would be forgiving to a beginner, but that I could grow into as I learned more about the camera. My budget is around $700 or so. My brand preference is Nikon. I was kind of looking at the N3100 but havent yet really looked at any other Nikon models yet. It would be nice if I could use my old lenses but I figure that would just be a bonus if it were even possible as they are quite old!

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    $700 and Nikon ... there go my recommendations!

    Anyway, welcome to CiC Sharon; it's great to have you with us

  3. #3

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Hmm, how about $700-900? There's also a local camera shop where we got materials from for the college course that sells used and refurbs that I could also consider.

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Using older Nikon lenses of any type are somewhat chancy with Nikon equipment, especially with lower end Nikon cameras. I am not at all familiar with the Nikon N2000 so I can't give any advice regarding those specific lenses.

    I am a Canon guy and although I am not saying that Canon equipment is better than Nikon gear, I know more about Canon, so I can make a recommendation for a setup. Any Canon DSLR camera you would consider can use any Canon auto focus lens manufactured since about 1980 (and that ia a wide variety of new and used lenses).

    I don't recommend that a person new to digital photography purchase used equipment, you never know what you will get. Luckily Canon has some models which are well within your price range and which you don't have to sell a kidney to afford.

    The very best way to buy a SLR is online... However, there are some crooks advertising on the Internet and the best way to avoid these rip-off artists is to buy from a reputable dealer. I strongly recommend either Adorama or B&H Photo. Both of these companies are New York based so you won't pay sales tax. They are extremely reputable and usually ship items very quickly. I have purchased many large and small ticket items from them and have always been satisfied. If you find photo equipment at a significantly lower price than either of these dealers, I would bet that the advertiser is a rip-off artist.

    Although I recommended not purchasing used equipment at your stage of experience; I highly recommend getting a Canon Refurbished camera and lens from Adorama. I have purchased two new Canon DSLR cameras and had to send each in for service within the first 90 days. I purchased my next two Canon DSLR cameras as Canon refurbished units and never had a bit of trouble with these cameras. I have more confidence in the quality control at the service centers that at the Canon assembly line. Adorama carried refurbished Canon equipment and adds their own one-year warranty on that gear.

    In your price range, I would probably recommend the Canon T1i camera with the 18-55mm kit lens. This camera and lens is capable of very nice imagery and also has some video capability. The price of a refurbished camera and lens is $549 (all prices in U.S. dollars) with free shipping. Although I usually recommend folks to stay away from bundles, Adorama offers a bundle which includes an additional 4GB CF Card, an additional battery and a slinger back pack. It seems to me that this is a very decent deal for ad additional $58 or so dollars. ($607 with free shipping)
    http://www.adorama.com/ICADRT1IKR.html

    Going up one notch in the Canon line is the T2i which has some additional capability, mainly along the video line. A new T2i with lens at Adorama runs $769 but, it doesn't seem to have free shipping. There are also some packages available with extra CD card, battery and carrying case which may or may not be a viable purchase and which will be over your $700 limit. http://www.adorama.com/ICADRT2IK.html

    Here is a quick comparison between the T1i and the T2i. http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EO..._EOS_Rebel_T2i

    ENJOY YOUR NEW CAMERA WHATEVER YOU BUY... Many members of this forum work with some of the highest line equipment and we sometimes forget that entry level equipment will satisfy most other photographers. All of today's DSLR cameras, even entry level models, are capable of some very good work. I would expect that the T1i or T2i have better capabilities than a DSLR camera from twenty or so years ago which people thought was a great bargain at $20,000 or so!
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 14th February 2011 at 03:21 PM.

  5. #5
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Using older Nikon lenses of any type are somewhat chancy with Nikon equipment, especially with lower end Nikon cameras. ...
    Actually, it's kinda the opposite. The focus-motorless entry-level bodies (D3100 and D5000) can use all the F-mount lenses. It's when you move up to the D90 and above bodies, that using pre-AI lenses (the oldest of the F-mounts) gets dangerous to the camera. So you could probably use the N2000 lenses. However.

    A 50mm prime is probably the cheapest lens you can get ($100). Choosing your mount system with that as your legacy glass is kind of false economy. What you want to do is figure out what kind of shooting you're planning on doing.

    Nikon can supply all your needs. But the one area where you're likely to feel the pinch is in low-light fast-action photography: indoor sports, stage shooting, kids running around indoors, etc. This is because the entry-level bodies (which is where your budget is at) lack a focus motor, and so the lens has to have one for autofocus to work. With Nikon lenses this means it's designated as "AF-S". Most of the zooms have AF-S, but few of the fast primes (read: affordable) do. You'll be limited to a choice of the $450 50mm f/1.4G or the $200 35mm f/1.8G. The 50/1.8 is AF, not AF-S and will not autofocus.

    If you're shooting landscapes, portraits, or anything that will sit still and wait for you to focus, you'll be fine with manual focus, and this isn't a big deal. But a basketball game in a gym won't wait for you to catch up.

    If you can go up to a D90 body on the Nikon side, then this issue goes away. But with everybody else: Canon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus, this isn't an issue.

    I'm a Canon shooter, too. To me, Nikon equipment is just as good, and in some cases better, but I'm damned happy I went with Canon because I discovered that I liked shooting birds. And I can do that with an $1100 EF 400mm f/5.6L USM. Nikon doesn't make a similar lens. They either make much faster pro lenses that cost upwards of $5k, or their 80-400 VR lens which is AF, not AF-S. And there's very little chance of successfully shooting birds in flight with only manual focus.

    OTOH, if i were a landscape shooter, I might be swearing over the fact that I can't get anything that gets into the ballpark of the performance of the Nikkor 14-24.

    It's all about the lenses. The cameras are more or less equivalent these days: they're all good and everybody plays feature hopscotch between releases. What's more important is the mount system you're getting into and what lenses that will let you put in front of your sensor. Do you want autofocusing Zeiss? Sony's your only choice. Do you plan on street shooting with pancake lenses? Then only Pentax is gonna work. Do you want f/2 zooms? Only Olympus can supply your needs. Canon and Nikon are the largest systems with the widest selection but slightly different odd lenses, and it's the odd lenses that you want that are gonna be the killer if your system doesn't have them. The 17mm tilt-shift, the 14-24 full frame ultrawide. A 10.5mm fisheye. Which system has the lenses you want?

    Yeah. Sorry. You gotta learn about lenses while you're on info overload on the camera body features.

    Ok. Short answer: Nikon D3100 or the Canon T3 (1100D) are the lowest-cost entry level dSLR bodies you probably want to look at. They cost around $500 with a kit lens, which leaves you a little room in the budget for extra gear like a bag, some cards, batteries, and maybe a fast prime.

  6. #6

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Thanks guys! Lots of food for thought.

    Inkista, good to know the old lenses could work with the N3100. Mostly landscapes, nature stuff and close-up/macro/playing with depth of field interest me. Not doing much indoor or action or kid stuff. Tho if you scroll thru my iPhone pics they seem to be ALL indoors and of my dog doing cute things. Go figure.

    Coming from the N2000 which has no auto focus, the older lenses on the DSLR not auto focusing is no big deal right? Tho I imagine the DSLR view finder doesn't have the focus aid built in. So how would that work?

    Off to learn more about lenses! Is that Promaster I listed any good?

  7. #7
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sefirothe View Post
    Coming from the N2000 which has no auto focus, the older lenses on the DSLR not auto focusing is no big deal right?
    Depends on your definition of "big deal". Coming from a manual-focus film SLR, it probably isn't. Coming from an auto-everything digital P&S, it probably is. The biggest gotcha here is that if you shoot with anything under a D300-tier body, you're going to lose metering. With histograms today, this isn't as big of a handicap, but it can still be annoying.

    Which is why I'd actually recommend getting a Canon body instead, if this is a huge priority for you (as I said, you'd probably be better off just buying a newer 50mm lens). You can also use F-mount Nikon lenses on Canon dSLRs these days with a simple adapter ring. And you'll retain stop-down metering (which is where the lens's aperture is actually stopped down to the aperture used, rather than wide-open as is the default on most cameras). You'll have to use adapter rings, and there is no aperture control from the camera body, but you get accurate metering. AND the ability to adapt and mount Contax/Yashica, Leica-R, Olympus OM, Pentax K, and M42 lenses as well. Nikon can't really use any of those other lenses without replacing the lens mount altogether.

    Tho I imagine the DSLR view finder doesn't have the focus aid built in. So how would that work?
    I probably should have added "and your eyesight is good" to the no problems list.

    You no longer have a split circle or prism collar to guide you in manual focus, but you'll still be able to see the focus through the viewfinder. And the AF-confirm dot will still work and light up when the AF system in the camera thinks focus has been reached. Obviously, you still have to focus with the lens's manual focus ring. Some folks may replace their focus screen to one that has manual focus aids, but there are some drawbacks, particularly with slower lenses darkening the viewfinder.

    I'm a Canon shooter and use adapter rings, so I'm not sure how you set the aperture (if it's done from the camera or on the lens ring), so I'd recommend googling up "using non-CPU lenses" and see what happens. The main thing to be careful of is to avoid pre-AI/non-AI lenses if you plan on upgrading your camera body in the future. If the lens has two prongs on it, and they're solid, the lens is pre/non-AI. If the prongs have holes in them, it's an AI lens.
    Last edited by inkista; 14th February 2011 at 09:39 PM.

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    While we are talking about lens compatibility on the Nikon line, I'm going to step in here. This link discusses this very subject very well, using his personal testing and experience, rather than taking from manufacturer's manuals and specifications. He talks about non-AI and Pre-AI lens and shows pictures to guide you.

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm

    If you browse about in his site, you will find many lens and camera comparisons. He concentrates on Nikon and Canon, but does also review some others. Use the search function on his pages.

    I was saving pennies (and nickles and ...) to get the D90, but decided to go with the D200, instead. The reason was that very lens compatibility issue. If I could have afforded the D300, I'd have gone that route. As you can see from my signature, I have a number of Nikons and every one of them has at least 2 lenses. My 400mm prime is at least 25 years old and works just as it was designed to work, on all my cameras. My signature doesn't list the N60, N6006, FG and FG-20 as they are no longer in daily/weekly use. The FG is my fishing camera and the FG-20 is the backup for it.

    My personal reason for going Nikon when I replaced my camera kits was the fact that the new Nikons can use the old lenses, just as they were designed to work. I moved out the 3 Canons and the Ricoh and all their lenses when I made the switch. (I have some grandkids who think I'm something special. ) I like the extra heft, larger size and control location feel of the Nikons better, now that I have had a chance to shoot both brands. Shop around and handle a number of cameras before you make your final choice.

    I have purchased refurbished cameras and am very satisfied with them. If you stick with reputable dealers like Adorama, B&H, Ritz, KEH and such, you won't get bit. Browse their used departments. They are very picky about how they grade their cameras and linses. When they say "E," they mean it. You will even find the occasional "open box" deal in their listings.

    Pops

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    One small interjection: if you're inexperienced about camera gear, and you're going to use Ken Rockwell's site, be sure to read his about page. Particularly the bits like:

    ...I have the energy and sense of humor of a three-year old, so remember, this is a personal website, and never presented as fact. I enjoy making things up for fun, as does The Onion, and I publish them here — even on this page.
    While he's got a ton of good information on his site (and that page Pops linked to is fantastic), you really want to tune your sarcasm and humor meter up on some of his statements. He's an eccentric and a curmudgeon. Read him that way, and be willing to fact-check him, and you'll be fine. When he declares things like the fact that the "G" on Nikon lenses stands for "gelded" you should know that he's joking. And when he recommends the SB-400 over the SB-600, or using a shop vac to clean dust off your sensor, understand that he's coming from a very strange place. If you can't tell when he's joking or the advice he gives you may be questionable, then you may want to stick with sites that are less humor-laden and have a more...er... conventional take on things, like Thom Hogan's, until you can.
    Last edited by inkista; 15th February 2011 at 05:50 AM.

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    One thing I've noticed over the years is that Ken has slowed down on the really subtle, inside jokes. Particularly since he got married.

    One thing you do have to pay attention to is the date at the top of his reviews and tests. If he says the D70 is the greatest camera that eer came across the counter and later says the D300 is the greatest camera that ever came across the counter, you have to take into account the dates on which each article was written. I'm sure I can find an article somewhere which says the 1928 Ford Model A "is the greatest... etc"

    Pops

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Oh ... and G lenses ARE gelded.

    Pops

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Actually Ken's style of humor is right up my alley. The couple pages of reviews I read I quite enjoyed. Reading thru the listing of Nikon lens types and trying to identify exactly what my 50mm is exactly (I think its an AI-s but not sure) is a good learning experience. I havent even tried on the other lens yet. Sister is no help. She bought the whole thing as a package off of EBay about 5-10 years ago and doesn't remember either.

    I'm certainly not going to let the old lenses hold me back. In all likelihood they'll go up on eBay with the N2000 body to fund accessory/lens purchases for the DSLR when I do settle on one!

  13. #13
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Cool. As long as you "get" Ken, you're fine.

    Pops: [shakes head]. Nikon shooters. Still clinging to your aperture rings. That's so last quarter-century. [ducks].

  14. #14
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    The main source of information on Nikon lenses for me is HERE

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    nikon shooters. Still clinging to your aperture rings. That's so last quarter-century. [ducks].
    lol


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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Cool. As long as you "get" Ken, you're fine.

    Pops: [shakes head]. Nikon shooters. Still clinging to your aperture rings. That's so last quarter-century. [ducks].
    What can I say? I LIKE things that work. Besides, they didn't have such rings when I started in this game.

    Pops

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Reading thru the listing of Nikon lens types and trying to identify exactly what my 50mm is exactly (I think its an AI-s but not sure) is a good learning experience.
    Sharon, look at the aperture ring. If it is AI-s, it will have the smallest aperture (largest number) in red or orange. If it is just AI, it will be colored the same as the others.

    Pops

  18. #18
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    What can I say? I LIKE things that work. Besides, they didn't have such rings when I started in this game.
    Oooo! I bow down. I am not worthy.

  19. #19

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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Pops, Yep it definetly has the smallest aperture number in orange, depth of field markings on a chrome ring and the cut out on the mount. But it has no prong. Nor does it look like it ever did. I thought all these old lenses had a coupling prong? Or am I understanding incorrectly?

    As to the other lens I have, I honestly now have no clue what it is. I cant even find a website for the maker (Promaster).

    Any chance I could post up a few pics of the lens and get some help?

  20. #20
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Recommend me a camera" post!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sefirothe View Post
    As to the other lens I have, I honestly now have no clue what it is. I cant even find a website for the maker (Promaster).
    I'm not surprised, given it's age, the company probably got taken over, or went out of business, long ago - before the web (as we know it now) took off

    Quote Originally Posted by Sefirothe View Post
    Any chance I could post up a few pics of the lens and get some help?
    Yeah, of course, go for it - I'm sure I won't personally be any help, but someone will

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