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Meph Apr 17, 2007 11:27 PM

OK, so I'm in the market for my first dslr camera, and any help/suggestions you all could offer would be greatly appreciated. Here is the rundown:

I've got $500-700 available for the purchase. This must include everything (memory cards, lens(es), lens rings, etc).

I have an affinity for both Nikon and Canon. I'm not exactly opposed to other brands, but they would have to be pretty good deals to convince me.

I'm going to be shooting a variety of things: sports, people, indoors, outdoors, nature, etc. I'm probably not going to need a mounted flash, yet.

After getting your recommendations I'm going to be going to Best Buy and/or other stores to handle the cameras and see how they fit. I'm also interested in your recommendations for places online to shop, preferably a place I can get the entire package.

I'm not going to be printing much, so I'm guessing anything over 6MP is going to be overkill. My primary concern is sensor quality.

Anyway, that's pretty much it, I hope that gives you all enough to be able to help me out. As I said, I'm interested in places you all recommend online (B&H Photo, NewEgg, etc.) Anyway, thanks a bunch for the help!

Corpsy Apr 18, 2007 12:38 AM

My favorite of the cheaper cameras is the Pentax K100D (which I bought). I feel it offers the most for the money. It has most of the features you'd expect from a DSLR, built-in stabilization, and a huge catalog of older lenses that can be bought pretty cheap that will work with the camera. It can be had with a kit lens for under $500 after rebate. I bought mine with a kit lens and have 5 manual lenses that I use reguarly and spent around $700 altogether (though I already had memory cards). It takes SD cards and AA batteries, so while the cards are cheap and widely available (and you won't really need a fast card), you will have to buy some rechargeable AAs. I consider that a bonus, some might consider it a drawback.

The problem with the Pentax is that it's not widely available in stores (I found one in a Ritz photo locally, but it was way overpriced), so you might not get to handle one. Their selection of newer lenses is a bit limited but growing, and it probably has the weakest in-camera processing so it's JPGs aren't as high quality as Nikon's and Canon's. If you like to shoot RAW, then they are all about the same.

If you don't like the Pentax, then your next best options are probably the Canon XT and the Nikon D40. The D40 is a much more limited camera than the XT in that it has fewer features and a much smaller catalog of lenses due to it's lack of an auto-focus motor. However, with your budget that might not be a big deal. It probably has the best quality kit lens of the three DSLRs, and for $550 you might be able to stretch your budget just a bit to get a telephoto zoom and some accessories.

The XT is a compact and feature rich camera. Some think it's too compact (I'm one of them). A formidable camera overall with a good selection of lenses, but it's kit lens is one of the worst out there so you might consider just getting the body with some other lens. For $510 for just the body, I doubt you'd be able to get more than one lens on your budget.

kenbalbari Apr 18, 2007 2:06 AM

If you are going with Canon or Nikon at that price point, there's not much to choose from. There are reasonable options to start out with there, but you will likely want to spend more before too long on better lenses. If an additional $500-700 (or more) in the not too distant future will be in the budget, then starting out with an entry level camera and kit lens is a good plan. You will have a better idea of what, if any, lens upgrades you might need after getting some experience.

But, if the total budget is under $900 not only to start, but for the next year or two, I think you might be better off looking more seriously at other brands like Pentax and Olympus.

At that price point, the D40 kit is a reasonable compromise. You could add the Nikon 55-200 f4-5.6 and still be only a bit over budget. But that's still without memory cards, filters, camera bag, backup battery, whatever other extras. But you will find your options will be more limited when it comes time to upgrade those lenses.

But that's really the only up to date option available from Nikon and Canon at that price. The Canon entry level XTi will cost near $700 for body only, and more like $770 for a single lens kit. So you might want to look at older models, like the Nikon D50 and Rebel XT. If you have much interest in shooting sports or action, you should probably look in that direction, as these cameras will have better autofocus systems for dealing with action.

Meph Apr 18, 2007 2:52 AM

Yes, actually, I'm quite interested in the D50 and the XT. The D40 is a bit of a turnoff for me, as it lacks autobracketing. The only problem is that it is a bit hard to find now that it is not manufactured anymore. I'd even be interested in buying used, as I realize that my budget limits my options quite a bit.

when I said the $700 must include everything, I meant that I don't have things from a prior camera (cards, lenses, etc) and that I will have to buy pretty much everything. I fully realize that $700 is probably only going to be getting me a body and a single lens, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I just don't want to get a body only now and have to wait a few months to be able to purchase a lens.

What lens would you all recommend to pair with an XT body? Also, what are your thoughts on the 300D? I might be able to get a good deal on a used one, with only ~2000 shot taken. I know it is pretty old though, and I have no clue how it stands up to current offerings. Anyways, thanks a ton for your suggestions, I can tell I came to the right place :D

Rudo Apr 18, 2007 3:24 AM

kenbalbari wrote:

But, if the total budget is under $900 not only to start, but for the next year or two, I think you might be better off looking more seriously at other brands like Pentax and Olympus.

kenbalbari Apr 18, 2007 3:29 AM


Because of better overall quality camera bodies and lenses at that price point.

Rudo Apr 18, 2007 3:31 AM

kenbalbari wrote:

Because of better overall quality camera bodies and lenses at that price point.
Ok... Thanks for explaining!


kenbalbari Apr 18, 2007 3:45 AM

Meph, I'd take a look at one of these lenses:

Sigma 18-50 f2.8, Tamron 17-50 f2.8, and Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4.5. But all are near $400, which doesn't leave much left for a camera. You might see if you can find a used copy of one of these, though.

Meph Apr 18, 2007 4:01 AM

wow, those are some sharp lenses. That is also a site I had no clue about, thanks a ton for the links.

Another question: what about image stabilization? Do you all regard that as necassary? I don't have the most stable grip, although I'm sure that will improve with an SLR grip. I know the K100D is the only camera I'm considering that has it in-camera, what are the lens options for the others? Expensive, I'm guessing....

Corpsy Apr 18, 2007 4:14 AM

The 300D is a decent camera. I used one at my last job. It's larger than the XT and I believe it's better in low light due to it's lower megapixels (and from a review I looked up once). I used it for some pretty basic shooting though, so I don't remember if it was lacking any important features.

If you're interested in stabilization and you don't plan on spending several hundred dollars per lens in the future, in-camera stabilization is the only real substitute. How much you need it depends on the type of shooting you do. If you're just using a kit lens and shooting outdoors, it's effect is pretty negligible. The longer the focal length gets and the slower the shutter speed, the more useful it becomes.

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