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elizberd Mar 20, 2010 12:22 PM

Artist needs camera purchase advice
Hello, forum members.

I have been struggling with this issue for several years without any resolution, so I thought I'd ask for advice.

I need a camera that I can use primarily to shoot artwork, but also good portraits.

Here's the problem: my work takes the form of MINIATURE paintings, but in an INSTALLATION format. That is, I absolutely need a lens with an excellent macro feature, but also one that shoots a wall with no (!) distortion.

I do not need a good video feature, since I almost never use that.

I want the highest possible megapixels, and need a very good light-capturing lens, since I don't use a flash.

I have for years been using Canon's G-line. My current camera is the G6, which has been okay, but I spend more time trying to correct the camera distortion of my jpgs in Photoshop Elements. I am accustomed to Canon's menus and like the swiveling lcd of the G6. I don't know, however, if Canons slrs come with swiveling lcds.

My daughter has a Nikon D60. I recognize the superiority of the photos, but I am not sure I am ready to jump to a different brand without knowing anything about it (ease of use with the G6 is appreciated). What I don't love about the D60 is that you don't compose the image with the lcd viewfinder (but maybe I am wrong about this?) Also, I don't know anything about its macro capability, or about the barrel distortion.

So, to summarize, I know I need to go to a digital slr. What I don't know is which camera is best for my needs, and which lenses will take me from macro to full wall shots with the least amount of distortion, or which separate lenses I need.

Of course I want the best value for the money, but I am looking for something that I can use for years to come. I would not like to pay more than $1,200.

Thank you so much for your help!:o


mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 12:55 PM


Before the search begins in earnest, there are several issues to lay out on the table.

(1) Sony DSLR's have been acknowledged to have the best "LiveView" (where you compose on the LCD) among the DSLR camera.

(2) Unlike P+S cameras like your Canon G-6, DSLR cameras use dedicated Marco lens to attain the very best image quality. One of the classic macro lens is the Tamron 90mm lens which is available for Sony DSLR cameras.

Yes, all the camera manufacturers have "LiveView," even Canon, but Sony has the best implementation of LiveView. So, you may want to begin looking at the Sony DSLR to get a beginning point.

Articulated LCD Screens: Models within the Sony, and Nikon DSLR camera lines have articulated screens. So you might want to attach a priority rating to having an articulated LCD screen.

Next, you might want to critically analyze what you like and don't like about the Nikon D-60 on which you have some experience. That might provide an added starting or pivotal point in your camera search. So, there are some basics.

Good luck in your search and we are always here to provide more info and references.

Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:06 PM

Highest megapixel DSLR in that range would be a canon T2i with 18mp. But for your needs you will need specialized lenses. Like a true macro lens for the mini stuff, and a wide angle lens for the wall.

A good set up in your price range would be a canon t1i with 15mp, match with a tokina 11-16wide angle and a dedicated macro lens. But you have no articulating lcd. This set up will give excellent results. Better then any point and shoot, and with the higher mp count, you can crop in and still have very good resolution.

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 1:07 PM

Thanks, Sarah for helping me focus on the correct questions to ask. I will start to look into sony's dslrs. And the Tamron 90mm lens is a good place to start.

Any other thoughts are appreciated!

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:10 PM

Sony does have the best live view on the market for dslr's.

If you find yourself wanting to compose with the view finder, I would look at the sony A500, with the tokina 11-16 and the tamron 90mm macro. Both would give you a great set up for your needs. If you do not see yourself needing the viewfinder much and use the lcd most of the time the A330 or a380 would not be bad choices.

mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 1:13 PM


Please keep in mind that more megapixels do not necessarily mean better image quality.

It is the camera body and the lens combination that produces better image quality. That why it is wise to read the professional reviews on these cameras as you move forward in your search. I also find taking notes to be helpful for future decision making.

Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:45 PM

Very true more megapixal does not mean a better picture. More megapixel is useful if you do crop a shot. It will give your finish product more resolution when cropping down 25 to 30 percent form the orginal.

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 4:13 PM

thank you, shoturtle, for your suggestions.
Can you tell me why Sony is said to have the best live view? I don't really know what to look at/ask for with regard to that.
And I really don't use the viewfinder. I like (and am used to) composing with the lcd. But how do the sony models differ with regard to the viewfinder and lcd? I think I prefer to use the lcd because I wear progressive lenses and it is uncomfortable to look through viewfinder with my glasses on. Am I missing something if I use the lcd instead?

With regard to mps, I realize that higher doesn't necessarily mean better. But because of the format of my work, higher is much better for me.

Does one or the other camera body gather more light, or is that a function only of the lenses?

Thank you again!

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 5:21 PM

I just compared several cameras, and am now thinking about the Nikon D5000, mostly because I like the fully articulated lcd. Any advice (pro/con) about this camera?

Also, what lenses should i look for?

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 5:51 PM

sony has the best live view, because they give up on the hd video. The room that would be for hd video they use for a live view sensor. It is a completely different auto focus system for live view vs the traditional auto focus when not in live view.

On the A3xx series, to make room for the extra sensor, sony made the view finder smaller to keep the camera's size down. So if you use the sony view finder, it is small and do not give you an actuated view of what the lens see. On the A5xx line up, it is a bigger camera, so there is room for a full size view finder, and the the second sensor for live view.

If you are shooting live view, the nikon like the canon. Are not that good. If you like the articulating lcd, look at the A380 form sony. It has a much better live view system as mention. If you want a better view finder and higher end camera the A550 has the articulating lcd also.

The other issue that some people have with the nikon d5000 is that it can on use all of the nikon lenses. So of the macro and prime lenses that do not have built in motors in the lens, as nikon did not put a auto focus motor in the body like the d90, so some of the inexpensive prime lenses will not auto focus on the d5000 body.

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