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Old Jul 27, 2010, 10:02 PM   #1
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Default New Camera for Inexperienced Beginner

Hi, I'm a complete newbie on this site and to the world of DSLR photography. The most experience I've had with photography is through standard point-and-shoit cameras, but I've been interested for a while now in taking the next step forward. To say the least, I'm a very inexperienced beginner.

I'm looking to purchase a DSLR camera that's easy to learn how to use for beginners, but that still retains a decent or greater photo quality. My budget lies within the price range of $400.00-800.00. I'm interested in using the camera for landscape and nature scenes, although I'm not sure which lense would be fit for such a use. For whatever camera I do purchase, I would like to expand the use for close-up nature shots and lower-light or night shots as well; in other words, I'm looking for a decent, lower-cost DSLR camera with an overall-use lense that specializes in landscape and low-light shots.

However, I do not know what brand or model would be best suited for this use. The Canon EOS 500D (AKA the EOS Rebel T1i) and the Nikon D5000 have caught my eye, although both cameras are a little high for my budget. Is the investment in either of these cameras really worth it, though? I mean, HD video is not a necessity for me; I just want a camera that produces great image quality. The Nikon D3000 and the Canon EOS 450D (AKA the EOS Rebel XSi) both look promising as well.

Does it really matter what brand you purchase? Are some brands superior to others? I've heard that Canons and Nikons are the best DSLR cameras to purchase, but what about Pentaks, Sonys, or Olympuses? Do those companies not also make quality DSLRs? Where is the best place to purchase a DSLR, at a chain retailer (like Best Buy) or an actual camera shop? Okay, well that last question sounds kind of obvious, but apparently there are pros and cons to both...

Sorry to ramble so much, but I'm honestly clueless as to what to purchase. I've been at this for months, and honestly need some advice

Thank you in advance to anyone who comments or even reads this thread!
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Old Jul 27, 2010, 11:52 PM   #2
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Each brand has their strong point are are better for certain things. But base on what you are shooting, there is really no clear winner which is better. As all of them shoot landscape well.

Any dslr will give you allot better image quality then the best point and shoots. And for landscape any of the brands will work well. But none of the kit lenses of any of the brands will really good for low light shooting. The are geared toward general photography shooting. Also none of the lenses are great close up lenses either. The best you can do is 1:4 macro.

So for your low light need, something like a canon t1i, pentax k-x or nikon d5000 would be a good camera. But you will have to bump up the iso to 1600 or 3200 with the kit lenses to get decent low light shot. If it is still to dark you can go up to 6400iso with the kit lens to get the shot, but it will be a little noise.

You can give any dslr better low light by getting what is call a fast prime. It is a fix focus range lens, that has a very wide aperture, the lower the F number the brighter the lens and better in low light. Depending on the brand they range in price. With the camera mention, canon has the least expensive option for about 100 dollars, the 50mm F1.8, nikon is next with the 35mm F1.8, and pentax do not have a low grade prime only a mid grade the 50mm F1.4 about 330 dollars.

Now all the brand you can get a decent macro lens for the close up. Depending on what you like to shoot, a 50mm may work if it does not spook away easily. But if you more working distance, you will need something in the 90mm to 105mm range. The 50mm range around 250 dollars and the 90 to 105mm is between 450-550 dollars.

There is another option, it is a macro zoom lens. They are not true macro len, but will give you 1:2 macro ability. The tamron 70-300mm is a decent macro zoom, better as a macro lens then a zoom lens. But it is about 170 dollars. If you do more close up shooting then long end shooting, this would be a good option to get a decent close up lens, and a low end low zoom. But if you do use a zoom, I would get the 2 kit lens for the canon, nikon or the pentax. As they are better then the tamron as a zoom lens.

In low light the pentax has a slight advantage to both canon and nikon. As any lens you put on the pentax will have the benefit of image stabilization. So if you are taking a stationary object in low light, and do not have enough light to keep the shutter speed up to prevent camera shake, the pentax will let you handhold a bit longer then the nikon and canon before camera shake. As none of the fast primes have IS for nikon or canon. Sony also has the same feature.

Canon 500d, most lens option, great Auto Focus for action shooting, very good low light
nikon D5000, decent lens selection only because it will not auto focus with all nikon lenses, good low light and ok AF system
pentax K-x very good low light, decent lenses selection only, very good AF for action shooting, all lenses will be stabilized, easiest for a new dslr shoot to use as it has menu scene mode and art filters.

So I recommend you go to a camera store with a sdhc memory chip, handle each camera, and take photos with each. Take the card home and see which ones image processing you prefer and which cameras layout you like most.

The 3 camera I cover are within your budget and can provide that low light ability you stated you want.
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Canon Eos 60D, T1i/500D, Eos1, Eos 630, Olympus EPL-1, and a part time Pentax K-X shooter.

Last edited by shoturtle; Jul 28, 2010 at 12:57 AM.
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Old Jul 28, 2010, 12:51 AM   #3
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Good Evening and Welcome to Steves! I agree with shoturtle to a large degree - there are a few tweaks I would like to make, though.

Overall, for what you are trying to do, I think your budget is adequate and you should do very well, with a bit of care and consideration. I will admit that I use Pentax, so there is a bias - mainly with being more familiar with them than with Canon and Nikon. They are all good cameras, and and will do well for your indicated use.

As shoturtle indicated, the Pentax KX and 2 lens kit (the 18-55 and the 50-200 or the 55-300) would be a very good start. With that you can do wonders. I too like ambient low light - especially landscapes and cityscapes. There are a few ways to approach low light, add light - i.e. a flash, or with a very fast lens (usually expensive), or you leave the shutter open longer, in order to collect more light (and that involves holding the camera steady for a period of time - landscapes tend not to move too much).

One item in Pentax's favor is a large supply of older lenses. If you would like to expirement around with manual focus (as opposed to letting the camera focus for you), there is a large supply of manual lenses. shoturtle indicated that 50mm f1.4 would go for $330 - which is right for a brand new autofocus lens. There are lots of older manual Pentax 50mm f1.4, 1.7, 1.8 and f2 lenses out there, starting as low as $10 to $20 (some even attached to an old film camera). A 50mm f1.7 fetches anywhere from $30 to $60 or so, as an example. A f2 can go for as little as $10. Optically, these are wonderful lenses. Pentax is known for their prime lenses.

The nice thing with a 2 lens kit is that you can go wide or telephoto or anywhere in between. There are always limitations - and there are also ways to work around them. A cheap tripod (and I know, I will catch flack on this), is a way to start - lots available on Craigslist (or a flea market). Its a start without a large investment - and you will learn what works for you and what doesn't. A tripod is great for low light, even with kit lenses. For very wide angle landscapes, you can stitch images together.

So, do go out and handle the cameras and see what appeals to you. I will say that Pentax is a bit difficult to find, in that they have essentially gone on line. Ordering from Amazon (directly) you do have the ability to return for a full refund and their prices are very competitive. Also, I would suggest scrolling down to the Pentax/Samsung dSLR forum. Lots of pictures to look at to see what might appeal to your tastes.
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Old Jul 28, 2010, 3:23 AM   #4
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For "landscape and nature scenes", any dSLR will do well. For "close-up nature shots" all manufacturers have a good selection of appropriate lenses, but image stabilization, which can be very useful for handheld close-up shooting, narrows the field considerably. Canon only has one stabilized macro lens, and Nikon only has two. Because Pentax and Sony have sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, all lenses, including third party macro lenses, are stabilized. For "lower-light or night shots", you'll need a camera with a good selection of large aperture lenses and high ISO capabilities. Sony's choices exceed your budget, so that leaves the Pentax K-x, which is an excellent choice.
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Old Jul 28, 2010, 3:41 AM   #5
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I think everyone has given you good advice but i would take a sd card and to a shop take pictures and look at them on a pc. canon nikon and pentax use them. This way you get to try them and see what they produce.
You may want to concider taking some classes to as you stated you were a beginner. Hope this helps
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