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pauljames Jan 15, 2007 2:36 PM

Hi, I was wondering...since I have little money and NEED a good DSLR camera if there are any online stores that sell dslr's like canon 350d DIGITAL etc. for under $150-$200? Or any stores that let you pay a down payment? Please help, I am a macro photographer and my current camera is NOT useful to me anymore.

TCav Jan 15, 2007 4:42 PM

That's a tall order. sells used equipment. The best I could find is a Pentax *ist DL in EX+ condition for $299, but that's without a lens.

You might do better at ebay.

Corpsy Jan 15, 2007 11:52 PM

Going for a used camera like the *ist is probably your best option. Modern Pentax DSLRs support old film SLR lenses, so you could also get the lenses cheap if you don't mind manual focus. I don't know of any comparable option.

JimC Jan 16, 2007 11:46 AM

pauljames wrote:

Please help, I am a macro photographer and my current camera is NOT useful to me anymore.
What kind of macros?

A decent macro lens alone will probably cost you more than your budget for a camera.

It all depends on how small your subject is and how much of the frame you want it to occupy. The desired distance from your subject also comes into play (since you may not want to cast shadows or spook smaller subjects, a longer lens may be better).

In third party lenses, there a few choices that receive high marks from users. Macro lenses are rated by their magnification.

A 1:1 (a.k.a., Life size or 1x) Macro lens allows you to fill the frame with a subject the size of your film/sensor. This is the most desirable for smaller subjects. A1:2 (Half Size or 0.5x ) rating means that it can fill the frame with a subject twice the size of the sensor. A 1:4 (0.25x) rating means that it can fill the frame with a subject 4 times the size of the film or sensor.

Most of the zoom lenses with "Macro" in their description are in the 1:4 category and are not considered to be "true" macro lenses by some users. But, many lenses have the ability to focus that close (and for flowers, that may be all you'll need). Filling the frame with an insect is one thing, filling it with a flower is another. ;-)

The kit lenses sold with most DSLR models can focus that close.

Consider distance to subject when buying a lens, too.IOW, it may be preferrable to shoot from further away to keep from spooking your smaller subjects (or to make it easier to compose). For example,a 100mm lens is liked better by some compared to a 50mm lens for macros.

A popular choice in a third party 1:1 Macro lens is the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro, which sells for around $399. Here is an example of one in Nikon mount:

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro for Nikon AF at B&H

Sigma also makes a 50mm f/2.8 Macro that sells for less. But, some users prefer a 100mm so that they don't have to be as close to a subject to fill the frame with it (and if you're too close, it can cause lighting issues from shadows, etc., depending on what you're trying to shoot).

The Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro lenses are also popular choices (very sharp lenses). Some of the older Tamron Macro lenses require an adapter to give you 1:1 Macro. The newer versions don't. A new Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro runs around $489 right now at most dealers. But, it looks like there may be a $90 rebate right now to lower the price some down to $399. Here is an example of one in Nikon mount:

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Autofocus Lens at B&H

The Camera Manufacturers macro lenses will run you more than the Sigma and Tamron choices.

A budget choice would be something like the Vivitar 100mm f/3.5 Macro. You can find these for around $139 or less if you shop around (Ebay is probably your best bet). They are 1:2 Macro without an adapter or 1:1 Macro with an included adapter. Build quality leaves something to be desired. But, some users appear to like the image quality from them. They're sold under a variety of brand names (Vivitar/Phoenix and more).


I am a macro photographer and my current camera is NOT useful to me anymore.
I'd suggest we figure out why you think your current camera is not useful to you for this purpose and go from there. Depending on what your issues are, you may make the problems worse.

Is it because your subject is too small to fill the frame properly? Are your photos blurry (you will probably need to use a tripod)? Is it the image quality? More often than not, lighting is the main issue taking macro photos.

Depth of Field will also be very shallow with smaller subjects. So, selecting a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) may be needed to get more of a subject in focus. Note that depth of field will be *much* shallower at any given aperture for any given subject framing using a DSLR versus a non-DSLR model. So, keep that in mind.

I'd suggest going into more detail about what you're trying to shoot and the problems you're experiencing. You may also want to post a sample image. I'd hate for you to invest in a new camera and lens and end up with the same (or worse) issues.

It may just be technique, and for smaller subjects, a non-DSLR model can work quite well. For example, Steve took most of the closeups you see in the reviews here using Nikon Coolpix models, even though he has other cameras. For one thing, the greater depth of field you have with a non-DSLR model can come in very handy for closeups when you want more of the image in focus.

See this older response to a question about it here, when a forum member noticed how much detail there was in things like dials and buttons in the images:

The Swivel Bodied Coolpix models (like the Nikon Coolpix 990, 995, 4500) are pretty good for macros, and you can probably find a used Nikon 990 on Ebay for under $200 if you're a good shopper. But, you still need to worry about the basics (making sure you have a diffused light source, using a tripod to prevent blur from camera shake, using an aperture that gives you the desired depth of field and more).

A DSLR body alone will sell for more than your budget. Ditto for a dedicated Macro Lens (if you need a 1:1 Macro lens, which will depend on what you're trying to shoot).

pauljames Jan 16, 2007 2:50 PM

Thanks for you response!

I didn't get into detail before because I didn't have much time to write, but now that I do I'll get into more details.

I recently bought a Sony cybershot p200 from ebay (used) for $100. I can't post any pictures because it judt came with the camera and battery-charger...the usb cables I bought seperatly and are still on the way (from china :evil:). I bought lenses (wide, telephoto, and macro...also came with adapter) seperetly, thse came in a day after the camera did.

I would love to take pictures of flowers and water...with colors, crisp details, etc.


The problems are (from what I can see): 1. the macro lens is too small, it doesn't go into close details. 2. The camera only has two aperture settings (i)F2.8 (ii)F5.6 Niether look like they make any difference, I'd love it to be a shallow DOF.

I thinkonce Ihave enough money I will buy a Canon DSLR and use the reverse lens. But is there anything to do with the p200 until then?

JimC Jan 16, 2007 3:41 PM

pauljames wrote:

But is there anything to do with the p200 until then?
Take pictures with it. ;-)

The aperture should change your Depth of Field (f/2.8 will be shallower). But, because the actual focal length of the lens is so short, you'll have much greater depth field than you will with a DSLR for the same subject framing and aperture. So, the difference may not be very obvious unless you're zooming in or moving in closer to a smaller subject. With a larger subject, you may not be able to get the desired background blur. Fill the frame more if you want a shallower depth of field (get closer or zoom in more).

As for the photos posted, the skill of the photographer has as much to do with it as anything else (as does lighting, lens quality and more). Don't assume that because you get a DSLR, you'll automatically get photos that good.

Post processing may be needed for best results, too (and photos you find in web albums may have been tweaked a lot in an image editor). Lens quality can make a big difference. There's a reason that some of the macro lenses in the 100mm focal length neigborhood I mentioned sell for around $400 or more (and they're not even zoom lenses).

Good Glass is not cheap, and the quality of your lenses can impact color, contrast, sharpness, chromatic aberrations, the appearance of the out of focus areas, and more.

pauljames Jan 16, 2007 5:33 PM


Don't assume that because you get a DSLR, you'll automatically get photos that good.

Oh, I know! lol

As for the aperture...I'll try again but the last time I tried it didn't get shallower then the regular aperture just got darker.

What aperture setting would you need for the background to go completely blurry like this:<<she said she used gift wrap and a really shallow aperture. Is 2.0 that shallow?

Thanks for answering all the questions, I'm sure I must sound stupid:?

JimC Jan 16, 2007 6:34 PM

That was taken with a closeup lens (+10 diopter) attached to the filter threads of a zoom lens. See the comments under the image.

f/2.8 is more common on macro lenses and will be much shallower than you'd get with a non-DSLR model for the same subject framing.

More often than not, someone shooting closeups has the opposite problem (depth of field is too shallow for the desired results at wider apertures). It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Buy a camera and lenses and take photos to find out what to expect. ;-)

But, if macro photography was my primary interest, I'd get a decent 1:1 Macro lens (which means a budget of around $400 for the lens alone for popular choices).

pauljames Jan 16, 2007 7:36 PM

Thanks for all your help!:!:

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