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Old Apr 26, 2014, 8:40 AM   #11
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One of the most important issues is can you get the lenses you need for what you want to shoot that are good enough and that are within your budget.

What do you want to shoot?

What's your budget?
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 2:19 PM   #12
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Wasn't sure if your questions were rhetorical. Let's say they're not.

In my fast film days my favorite setting was sitting across a table from a subject(s) clicking away through a conversation. Once the person got comfortable with all the clicking I was generally able to capture some wonderful shots of them being themselves. Nothing posed. Many were surprised to see "the first picture taken of them that they actually liked."

No technical knowledge of lenses or filters or F-stops, just manual adjustment and snapped. And passion. Having a friend in a photo store making contact sheets for a ridiculously low price and another with a small darkroom covered the film expense.

Shopping now I'll be relying on reviews to lead me to a package offered by a place like Costco. Do you have suggestions as to what would help in my choices? What would be most valuable when checking out included lens(es)? I could easily be mistaken to assume that a standard beginner's "kit" would probably do just fine. Under $1,000 would be great.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thank you again.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 3:39 PM   #13
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No, my questions were not rhetorical.

Costco, et al, packages are generally pretty good for bodies, but the lenses tend to not be very good. The standard 18-55 isn't generally too bad, but better lenses can be had for a little more money, especially for what you want to do. Tamron makes a very nice 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom lens which, on an APS-C dSLR (a dSLR in your price range will use the smaller APS-C size sensors) is a normal to a medium telephoto, and it has a relatively large aperture, so it will do well in lower light, and will give you a shallow depth of field. It sells for $500, and is available for any of Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax dSLRs. Canon and Nikon rely on image stabilization in a lens which the Tamron 28-75/2.8 doesn't have, but Sony and Pentax have image stabilization in the body, which means that the Tamron will be stabilized on their bodies. (Image Stabilization automatically compensates for motion blur due to camera shake, though it doesn't do anything for motion blur due to subject movement.)

With a budget of $1,000, that leaves $500 for the body. That's tight but doable. Pentax (with IS in the Body) has the 16MP K-50 body for $497. Sony (also with IS in the body) has the 24MP A65 body for $498, and the 20MP A58 for $448, though it comes with the 18-55 kit lens which isn't as good for what you want to do. Canon has the 18MP SL1 for $449 and Nikon has the 24MP D3200 with the 18-55 kit lens for $497.

There are other choices, though they'd either be refurbished instead of new, not as capable as the ones I mentioned, or more expensive.
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Old Apr 27, 2014, 11:31 PM   #14
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Hi,
just a question to think about.
You mentioned "fast film days" a couple of times, what ISO speed did you mean by that?
I think modern DSLR will surprise you with the ISO's they can cleanly hit now.

I'm attaching a couple of samples taken in the almost dark of a museum at ISO 3200, f/4 1/80 sec hand-held. The camera was set on Av and AUTO-ISO.
It was a full frame body with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro lens.
Processing was straight Adobe CC Lightroom 5, and the "coin" was behind thick glass which caused the bit of ghosting.

Auto-ISO is a neat feature I rarely use for anything important but it is handy to have, and the DSLR I used will manage up to ISO 102,400 with a lot of noise.

Remembering back to my old film days ISO 1000 film was considered fast and was quite grainy.

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In my fast film days my favorite setting was sitting across a table from a subject(s) clicking away
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 2:05 PM   #15
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I think Fujifilm 400 or Kodachrome MAX 400 (which I just learned was a rebranded 800) were my staples. I remember using the 1000 in a dark restaurant and being amazed. Thanks for showing the neat coin shots. I think the dSLR is going to take my breath away!
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 2:30 PM   #16
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TCav,

Plugging a few of your suggestions into Google has exploded my research. I'm going to slow down and check out more/different possibilities. Also time to remove the dollar limit.


When you say, "a dSLR in your price range will use the smaller APS-C size sensors" does that imply that a more expensive body would use a larger (and therefore more desirable) sensor?

Are there recommended vendors who offer a generous return policy like Costco's 90 days for cameras?


Given what I want to shoot, what are the most important things to consider, between the body and the lens. What should I be looking for? Would the Tamron you mentioned be an "all purpose" lens and stay on the camera, or is it something to switch to for these portrait occasions? Would $1,000 to $1,500 buy me a far better body than those presently offered by Costco?

I appreciate being able to ask these things! Do you have a recommended web source for the basics? There are a million out there. Thanks again.
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 3:01 PM   #17
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A more expensive body can have a bigger sensor but that is not necessarily better.
Depends on your purposes, and they do get a lot more expensive quickly.

Full frame bodies like the Canon 5dmkiii/Nikon d800 are close to the 3000$ range and go up from there to the top of the lines like the Nikon d4s and canon 1dx running well over 6000$.

aps-c or crop bodies are much more reasonably priced and are fully capable of producing very good images.
There is also a lot more choice of vendors in the aps-c sized bodies.
With full frame you are mainly limited to Canon/Nikon/Sony.
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 4:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellenhall View Post
When you say, "a dSLR in your price range will use the smaller APS-C size sensors" does that imply that a more expensive body would use a larger (and therefore more desirable) sensor?
A much more expensive body, yes, but contrary to what some might say the difference is minor, especially compared to the difference in cost. The actual advantages of a bigger sensor are a slightly more shallow Depth of Field, slightly lower image noise and slightly greater dynamic range. The disadvantages of a 'Full Frame' system are increased size, weight, and cost, plus the increased reliance on premium level lenses to project quality images over the larger sensor.

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Are there recommended vendors who offer a generous return policy like Costco's 90 days for cameras?
90 days would be hard to match, but Adorama and B&H Photo Video offer 30 day return policies, have a better selection, and can often beat Costco's prices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ellenhall View Post
Given what I want to shoot, what are the most important things to consider, between the body and the lens. What should I be looking for? Would the Tamron you mentioned be an "all purpose" lens and stay on the camera, or is it something to switch to for these portrait occasions?
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is quite versatile, but I would hesitate to call it an "all purpose" lens. It wouldn't do well for landscapes, cityscapes, or groups, for instance. The 18-55 kit lens that often is bundled with dSLRs is better for some of those things, but it wouldn't be as good as the Tamron for your casual and environmental portrait work.

As for an "all purpose" lens, may have tried, but so far, no one has hist the mark yet. Lenses with long zoom ranges compromise on sharpness, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration, tend to have smaller apertures so they don't do well in low light, and they aren't very good for macro work.

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Originally Posted by ellenhall View Post
Would $1,000 to $1,500 buy me a far better body than those presently offered by Costco?
The key component of a dSLR is the image sensor, and in the $500 to $1500 price range, manufacturers use the same sensors in most if not all their dSLRs. The difference there is features and capabilities, like 1/8000 shutter speed, 5+ frames per second burst shooting, better viewfinders and LCD Monitors, faster more accurate AF systems, and availability of accessories like battery packs/vertical grips. For what you say you want to shoot, none of those sound like game-changers to me.

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Originally Posted by ellenhall View Post
I appreciate being able to ask these things! Do you have a recommended web source for the basics? There are a million out there.
Probably the best place to go is the manufacturers' own websites. They all have significant selections of tutorials and other helpful information available free. I suggest you exhaust those sources first.
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Last edited by TCav; Apr 29, 2014 at 4:19 PM.
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 4:50 PM   #19
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G'day again Ellen

You're certainly picking up heaps of info here - the others above are "confusing" you in the best manner ... and may I do the same

Coming back to film for a moment - where you are familiar with things ...
The film you were using was 35mm x 24/36 exposures, and you will probably be familiar with the Olympus Pen 1/2-frame film cameras and also the Mamiya 6,45 large format roll film cameras used by professionals - and using the 120/220 roll films

You would also know that the 6,45 film images were able to be enlarged much more than 35mm images and they were able to be enlarged more than 1/2-frame images - before the image started to break down and go fuzzy

In the digital world, the 'standard' dSLR camera uses a 1/2-frame sized sensor called the APS sensor. [they come with several minor differences, but they are all about film 1/2-frame size]. Because these are the mainstay of dSLR cameras, their price is quite affordable
There are 35mm-sized sensors, called [funnily enough] Full-Frame, and
there are other cameras with smaller sensors called 4/3rds down to phone cameras with very, very small sensors

If your end result is to be printed photos of up to, say 12" x 20" then a camera with the APS sensor will do the job very well. If you will regularly print bigger than 12" x 20", then a Full Frame sensor will be needed

If you are not into large prints, then maybe even the smaller 4/3rds sensor cameras will do the job for you - these cameras [Olympus / Panasonic + others] are smaller & lighter than the traditional APS sized cameras from the big-4 camera makers

My final thought for you is that as you are used to an eyepiece viewfinder, don't get caught with a camera body which has no viewfinder - they are hard to hold & view the rear LCD screen in bright sunshine

Hope this helps a bit
Phil
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Old Apr 29, 2014, 6:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie_Traveller View Post
If your end result is to be printed photos of up to, say 12" x 20" then a camera with the APS sensor will do the job very well. If you will regularly print bigger than 12" x 20", then a Full Frame sensor will be needed
Actually, this was true in the days of film, where if you were going to make big prints, a small negative didn't enlarge very well, so you were better off starting with a larger negative. But since images are stored digitally, there's no benefit to a larger sensor, or even any way to tell how large a sensor was used to capture an image.

So if you're going to make large prints, you want a sensor with a lot of resolution, not necessarily surface area (except for the advantages I mentioned earlier: slightly more shallow depth of field, slightly less image noise and slightly more dynamic range.)
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Last edited by TCav; Apr 29, 2014 at 6:59 PM.
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