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Thread: DSLR Recommendation For A Beginner?

  1. #1

    Default DSLR Recommendation For A Beginner?

    I've been wanting to get seriously into outdoor photography but other "serious" hobbies have got in the way! I've been looking at a new Canon t3i but with lenses and accessories, it looks like it might go around 1k or more. I'd rather stay under that for my initial purchase and buy components as I need/can afford them.

    So I was looking around and saw some Canon 30D's with lenses and other accessories for a decent price. I'm just wondering if that particular camera would be good for a beginner moving up from point and shoots to DSLR? I've also noticed that there are several "how-to" video and books on the Canon 30D and how to use it. Anyone have a favorite?

    Finally, if the 30D is not recommended for a beginner, which camera in the used market would you suggest?

  2. #2
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    After spending many hours researching DSLR's online I chose to purchase a Nikon D5100, give it a good look and compare to others in the same $$ range. I purchased a "kit", camera body w/carry strap, 18mm-55mm AF/AV, 55mm-300mm AF/AV lenses, carry bag, software, how to video, battery charger and cables. Impressive capabilities and features for a DSLR in this $$ range according to research info.

  3. #3

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    Thanks 338. I looked at the 5100's, but they were right at the same price as the T3i's. That's when I started looking at used models that were only a few years old. I'm currently checking out the Canon 30D's and the Nikon 3100's as they're in my price range.

    Quote Originally Posted by .338WM View Post
    After spending many hours researching DSLR's online I chose to purchase a Nikon D5100, give it a good look and compare to others in the same $$ range. I purchased a "kit", camera body w/carry strap, 18mm-55mm AF/AV, 55mm-300mm AF/AV lenses, carry bag, software, how to video, battery charger and cables. Impressive capabilities and features for a DSLR in this $$ range according to research info.

  4. #4
    Member Floyd_Davidson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AkDon View Post
    Thanks 338. I looked at the 5100's, but they were right at the same price as the T3i's. That's when I started looking at used models that were only a few years old. I'm currently checking out the Canon 30D's and the Nikon 3100's as they're in my price range.
    One bit of perspective to keep in mind is that digital photography is a relatively new technology that is no where near mature yet. It's only been a dozen years since the Nikon D1 hit the market. Half way from there to here... is back in the dark ages! And that will pretty much continue to be that way for at least another 5 or 10 years.

    There are two effects that are important to your decision. One is that you don't want to buy old technology compared to new technology. You may not need that most recently announced camera, but it just doesn't make much sense to look back father than a couple years. The other effect is that, to put it simply, money talks when you buy cameras. Spending more money will relatively always get a better tool. I don't mean $100 difference, I mean there is a big difference between $500 and $1000, and again at $2000 and again at $5000.

    You've stated you want to get "serious" about photography, but it's hard to judge what that means (and with no real experience you might not be able to decide yet yourself!). So the idea of limiting the initial plunge to $1000 is not a bad way to think about it. Actually I'd suggest slightly higher to include one kit lens. But if you buy used it looks like $1000 will work.

    That said, the Canon T3i (600d) just does not compare well with either the Nikon D5100 or the Nikon D3200 for that matter.. The D5100 is about the same price, produces better pictures, has slightly better high ISO low noise performance and significantly better dynamic range. There are lots of other small differences, such as better AF, smaller size, longer battery life, and a larger viewfinder. It isn't much of a contest.

    Where the real question comes in is the choice between a Nikon D5100 and their D7000. The sensor is about the same (and that would be the main reason to pick the D5100 over similar priced competition), but the D7000 has a significant list of advantages over the D5100 and similar level camera bodies.

    The D7000 has a pentaprism viewfinder that is much larger than the others with pentamirror viewfinders. It has weather sealing. The AF system has39 focus points vs 11 or fewer on the others. It as 9 focus points that are "cross point" types, the others have 1. It has a built in focusing motor and can use lenses back to the 1970's. It gets nearly twice as many shots per battery charge.

    For your stated purpose, serious outdoor photography, the D7000 really is just about the minimum camera that makes sense to invest in. Less than that and you won't be serious about it at all...

    The down side of course is that the D7000 will cost $450 more than a D5100. However, when you start looking at high quality lenses, that might be the best money you ever invested! The d7000 will AF with Nikon's older lenses that require the camera to have the drive motor. Examples are the 85mm f/1.4D, the 105mm and 135mm f/2 DC lenses, the 80-200 f/2.8D, the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D and several others. Great optics, but less than half the price on the used market than the equivalent AF-S lenses that are required for the D5100.

    In the long run, a Nikon D7000 is way out ahead of others.

  5. #5

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    Thanks Frank! Although you've added to my distress by suggesting another camera model (lol), I do appreciate your reply. Especially the part about the lenses and battery life, that's something I haven't heard before and certainly something I'll consider moving forward!

    I know all about buying quality stuff at the start rather than later on. But I still find myself trying to save a few pennies when starting something new. Just a tad bit impatient I guess...LOL Once I decided to put the money down for quality tools, my woodworking improved drastically as did my reloading skills and knife making abilities. As the old saying goes, high quality tools don't make the man, but they sure do make it easier to get great results with your chosen hobby!

    Thanks again!

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    Years ago I bought into the Canon EOS system due to better features for the price at the time. Over the years the really good Nikon lenses have pretty consistently been higher priced than the similar really good Canon lenses, so by going with Canon I have probably saved more than a few hundred bucks. I can't complain as Canons have served me well, but at the moment I think there are several Nikon camera bodies that are a little better than the equivalent Canon bodies. For much of the past decade Canon had several advantages in image quality, especially in low light, than the Nikon's of the day. In the past 2-3 years Nikon has caught up and in many cases surpassed the similar Canon bodies. I'm not changing now but I'm not sure I would not pick Nikon if starting out.

    All that to say that if you are considering a camera more than 3 years old, you will likely get a better image from a Canon than a Nikon for the same amount of money. Even more so because used Nikon prices are usually higher than used Canon prices. Personally, I think the Canon 20D and 30D are a pretty good buy. They only have 8 MP sensors, but the high ISO quality was surprisingly good, and they had good autofocus systems. They were also reliable. And I much prefer the handling and access features of the 20D/30D over the lower end bodies like the T3i. Still, the advances of the last 3 years have been significant for both Nikon and Canon. For instance there is no video available on the older DSLRs.

    I often see older but seldom used DSLRs on Craig's List being sold by people who thought they wanted to get into photography but soon lost interest. For that reason spending less now can make sense for people who are not really sure want to commit to a new life hobby. But if you're sure that photography is worth the pursuit for you, then I agree with Floyd. Get a really good starter system now. To do otherwise is like wasting money on an extended warranty that you know you will never use. If you stick with it, buying quality now is cheaper.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
    In the long run, a Nikon D7000 is way out ahead of others.
    I was once a semi-serious outdoor photographer, back in the days of film. I started with Minolta and then switched to the Nikon system because of the lens quality available across the entire line, with the added benefit of having a wide range of useful accessories.

    My wife is a serious amateur photographer who started with Nikon. Over the last several years she's gone from a film camera (N70) to a decent digital (D90) to a D7000 to a D800. That last one blows me away with what it can do for picture quality, even after some mind-blowing cropping of images. She's holding tight to the D7000 nonetheless. She loves that camera, even though it is now mostly a backup.

    You can get decent outdoor shots with average equipment. But there are two things I think are critical to keep in mind here. First, the technology is evolving at such a pace that it will be hard to sell a used camera for anything near what you pay for it, whether you buy it new or used. So if your strategy is to buy something and hope to sell it in a year or two, be prepared to see the price slide down month by month. Second, it is a fact, however harsh, that you get what you pay for when buying camera bodies and (mostly) when buying lenses. Occasionally there's a great lens to be had at a relatively low price. However, that's virtually never the case with any fixed-length telephoto or zoom that you'd want to use to get great pictures of animals and birds, at any distance farther than the feeder outside your kitchen window.

  8. #8
    Member EMoss#83's Avatar
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    These are essentially disposable cameras, dont forget about the new nikon D600 which i am going to buy soon, i will be on the five year plan before upgrading. i am currently on the seven year plan going from the Nikon D50 (2005) to the D600 - hope i can handle it- now all my fuzzy concepts will have higher resolution (per Ansel Adams) HA HA!!
    "f/64 and be there"

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