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SolRunner Aug 26, 2010 3:41 PM

Entry to Mid-Level DSLR
Hi all,

After growing increasingly frustrated with the limited quality of my 5-year-old Sony Cybershot photos, I'm now in the market for an entry to mid-level DSLR. I like to take wildlife and nature shots, macros, landscapes, and portraits. Superb quality, hi-resolution is of major importance as I hang matted and framed 5X7 and 8X10prints on my walls at home. I like taking low-light shots, and evening skyscapes, so low-light is important. I'm interested in increasing to larger sizes as my abilities grow. I'm also thinking of trying my hand at selling some prints at regional craft shows and town festivals. My budget is around $1,200 to $1,500 which would hopefully include a good zoom lens. This is flexible; however, as I know I need a good zoom to get some of the shots I'm after. I'd rather spend a bit more going in to get what I really want.

I've gotten a bid overwhelmed with all the different brands and models, but have found good reviews on the Canon Rebel T2i. I also read the next on Steve's about the upcoming release of the Canon EOS 60D. I am especially interested in advice of whether to buy the camera only and the lens separately or purchase the kit lens and add a good zoom. Also, I'd love to hear your suggestions on other brands in this market segment.

I really appreciate any and all of your advice, as this is a large investment for me and one I don't want to end up regretting later.



shoturtle Aug 26, 2010 3:54 PM

well the t2i and the 60D will both have the same low light abilties. But if you are a big action shooter the faster burst rate of the 60D would be a better choice.

Also the other thing with low light besides the high iso performance, it the lens you match it with. If you get a big aperture prime of 1.8 to 1.4 you will get much better low light then with any of the kit lens. But that will mean you will not be able to zoom.

Also with the kit lens they are pretty good, but the 15-85mm is a much better lens in image quality, and much faster to auto focus. And it will cover a good rand for landscape work. But this lens is pretty expensive also. But now the kit lens of the 60 with the 28-135 is a good lens, but it is not as wide as the 15-135, so it is not as good as a landscape lens. But give decent reach. It is the same kit lens as the 7D. If you need more reach, you will need to invest in the 55-250mm or the 70-300.

mtclimber Aug 26, 2010 4:31 PM

Any wildlife shot would be improved by the added quality that a DSLR camera can provide. However, the cost does escalate rapidly when you get into the long zoom lens required for wildlife photography.

Therefore, a rough guess would be that you will need a budget of around $1,500 to do it correctly.

Sarah Joyce

TCav Aug 26, 2010 5:23 PM

I'd suggest the Sony A550/A560 with the Sony/Zeiss 16-80 and the Sony 70-300 'G'. That combination is as good or better than Canon's choices.

Flying Fossil Aug 26, 2010 5:36 PM

You may also want to take a look at the newly announced Sony A55. Looks good on paper anyway for low light and quick response.

Look here:

TCav Aug 26, 2010 7:34 PM

Actually, the A33 & A55 lose 1/2 stop of light to the Pellicle ("Translucent") Mirror, and so are probably not as good in low light as a more conventional dSLR.

shoturtle Aug 26, 2010 9:48 PM

I say get either the t1i if you want a lighter body, or the 60d if you need the higher burst rate. And get the ef 70-300 IS USM non L lens. About 500 bucks and it will do a very nice job. Less then the 800 dollar G lens of the sony.

SolRunner Sep 1, 2010 12:15 PM

Change . . .
In reassessing my needs, I realize I shoot mostly macro, low light, portrait, and wildlife/nature shots, and am close to making the decision to go with either the T2i or T1i and the ef 70-300 IS USM non L lens.

My question is whether I should choose the T2i or T1i and if I should purchase the kit lens that comes with either or opt for a separate one to go along with the 70-300. If separate, which would you recommend?

Thanks again!!


wave01 Sep 1, 2010 12:28 PM

t1i or t21 not much to chose between them but I like the layout of t2i better. better screen dedicated live view button a few more pixels. As for the kit lens its not a bad lens i would go that then see what you need later

JohnG Sep 1, 2010 1:01 PM

I will offer a word of caution - depending on the type of wildlife you shoot, 300mm is painfully short. OK for a deer in the backyard, terribly short for small birds in a tree and many birds in flight other than the standard seagull type shots you can get with 200mm.

shoturtle Sep 1, 2010 1:28 PM

The main thing with the t1i and T2i, is video. If you need HD, the T2i is the better option. That is why the lcd for liveview is is wider and slightly higher res for the video aspect.

But in low light and macro. They are about the same in performance. The ef 70-300 is a better lens for macro compare to the ef 55-250. especially if you go the inexpensive route and add the canon 500d macro conversion lens. And the 70-300 is sharper with more reach, and AF faster.

shoturtle Sep 1, 2010 1:38 PM

For low light, you may want to add a fast prime. On the inexpensive end the canon ef 50mm 1.8. This lens is a good prime for the price. And will give you good dof effect and without a flash for outdoor low light. It will give either camera better low light ability.

SolRunner Sep 1, 2010 2:06 PM

So if I decide on the T1i, which I probably will since I'm not interested in video, add the Canon ef 50mm 1.8 for low light, then I should skip the kit lens?

Also, since the 300mm won't handle my wildlife shots, what would be a better option here? I'd like to stay under $1,500.00.

Am I assuming correctly that a better zoom combined with the 50mm 1.8 will handle my macros, low light, portraits, and wildlife/nature??

Thanks for eveyone's help . . .


JohnG Sep 1, 2010 2:25 PM

SolRunner - you say quality is paramount. It's going to be tough to do everything you potentially want to do with high quality for the price point you have.

For example - portraits. Portrait work (from an equipment standpoint) is primarily abouot lighting, then comes the lens then the camera. A good lighting setup with softboxes, umbrellas and OLD XTi camera with a good lens will produce lovely shots.

Take low light work - what type of low light work? Sometimes fast primes work and sometimes you simply need to use flash. It depends on the conditions and your subject. Is 50mm a workable focal length? Maybe, maybe not. Will you even have enough light for a 50mm 1.8 lens to produce the types of shots you want without tripod or without flash? For wildlife - what lens you need depends on the shooting situations you'll be in. Will 300mm be enough? Will 400mm? Or will it require 800mm or more? Are subjects going to be moving (which brings lens focus speed into things) or stationary (where old but sharp manual focus lenses can be used)? What lighting situations? In low light you may have to add powerful external flash and better beamer. And, of course as you get larger lenses you may need tripod and if in flight you may have to add a gimbal head or similar.

There is no magic kit by genre: Oh, buy this one camera and this one lens and you can shoot any type of wildlife. Doesn't work that way.

Same with low light. Low light museum is different than low light toddler playing in daytime indoors is different than multiple people in low light indoors at night, etc... They all have different challenges which benefit from different tools. Which, of course, is why there are so many lenses, flashes, tripods and accessories out there.

So you've got to provide a lot more details about the types of macro, types of low light, types of wildlife situations you want to shoot. Otherwise you can easily spend your limit and be completely unsatisified with the results. But with more details, even if you can't afford the right gear to do everything we can give you better specific answers as to what the different gear options will do for you and where they'll specifically fall short.

SolRunner Sep 1, 2010 3:24 PM

My low light work will be shooting interior design shots during the day, inside get togethers during day, evening and night, and evening and night skyscapes, so I'm sure the external flash will be a must.

My macros are generally daylight plant/nature types. The range on my wildlife shots is wide, and could include hermit crabs on the beach, coastal birds and water fowl, whale and dolphin shots, tree monkeys and tropical frogs in a rain forest. This is the area that I'm most interested in, and where I'm willing to spend extra $$ to get what I need. While I felt it possible to keep it under $1,500 with the T1i and a good lens, if that's not possible I'll spend more to get what I need here. I'm a total newbie to the DSLR world, and don't want to make a mistake getting the wrong camera/lens that will end up haunting me later. I may not be asking the right questions either, so I appreciate everyone's patience!


shoturtle Sep 1, 2010 4:09 PM

Well for you indoor need a flash base on what you are talking about seems to be the better option then a fast prime as a first purchase. Something along the lines of the canon 430 exii, metz 48 or nissin di622. Think that would do more for you indoor interior shots.

With the wildlife shooting. It comes down to how far you are from the monkeys in the tree. If you are relativity close to the base of the tree, 150-250mm may work. But cost vs perfromance is something we all have to decide on, as there is always a trade off.

But the kit lens, plus the ef 70-300 and a good flash, would be a good starter kit. It may not be perfect but it is a pretty good start. And for the hermit crab. The add on conversion macro lens may work well. It will not be as good as a true macro lens. But it save cost. You will need the 58mm thread 500D macro lens if you are interested in this route.

But at the end, this is a dslr system. So you can always add, or upgrade lens down the line.

wave01 Sep 2, 2010 2:33 AM

Hi again I have just read your original post and I have done this year what you are about to do, thats go into the DSLR range of cameras from a high end p & s. I got a t2i/550d with the kit lens 18-55 my budget allowed either a 50 1.8 or a flash, I went with a nissin di622 it ticked all my boxes. My thoughts were this I can now take pictures outside and inside and the flash can used effectively with both. I have just saved up again and and my experience over the last few months has directed me to get a 50 1.8 and a 55-250 IS. You may be better taking a kit and practising then seeing what your needs are. Hope this helps

SolRunner Sep 9, 2010 9:56 AM

After more thought and research, here's what I'm now thinking:

Rebel T1i kit w/EF-S 18-55 - $545
ef 70-300 lens - 475.00
ef 100mm f/2.8 macro lens - 499.00
Nissin di622 flash - 125.00
Total: $1,644.00

I thought I'd be happier going with the ef 100mm f/2.8 rather than the 58mm 500D in the long run, and since I've found the T1i kit and ef 70-300 at less than I originally planned it won't break the bank.

As always, I appreicate your opinions and thoughts!


shoturtle Sep 9, 2010 1:56 PM

I have pretty much all the equipment you listed, and they will work fine for what you want. The di622 is a good flash so it looking like a very good package for your needs.

I have the 58mm 500D lens, it is not bad, but the true macro with the ef 100 2.8 macro non L does a better job.

Data Sep 9, 2010 9:30 PM


Originally Posted by SolRunner (Post 1139209)
After more thought and research, here's what I'm now thinking:

Rebel T1i kit w/EF-S 18-55 - $545


where do you find this deal?

thank you

SolRunner Sep 9, 2010 9:46 PM


Originally Posted by Data (Post 1139414)
where do you find this deal?

thank you

The price is good thru this weekend only. I found it here at Steve's.

TCav Sep 10, 2010 4:09 AM


Originally Posted by SolRunner (Post 1139423)

The price is good thru this weekend only. I found it here at Steve's.

Beware. is in Brooklyn. That's not usually a good sign.

SolRunner Sep 16, 2010 1:08 PM

TCav, thanks so much for the warning. I did some research, and ended up purchasing my camera, lenses and accessories from B&H. Again, thanks for the save!


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