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Old May 22, 2009, 7:18 PM   #1
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Hi all. I am an ultra-newb who wants to break into some amature photography. I hate asking these what should I do questions but after reading site after site, page after page, post after post, I am good and turned around. I could really use some pointers or opinions.
I want to get a DSLR, and I want to keep it under $1200, but could strech to maybe $1500, my preference would be around $800-$1000.
What I think is important:
1. I will be doing mostly outdoor shooting, often in deep woods or in evenings, so low-light/night ability is a must.
2. I want to do alot of closeup or macro shots. I will be doing some mountain top panoramic shots for sure but mostly med to close ups. If I'm not mistaken though, that is more dependant on lenses is'nt it?
3. I want a fast camera, with good FPS ability. Often my subjects will be on the move, and many of the wildlife encounters in my area can be fleeting so I gotta be quick.
4.Video is cool but not important, I am more concerned with stills.
5. Color, clarity and detail, although I guess that goes without saying.
6. Some other options I like that are not necessarily deal breakers are
a good variety of iso settings, a variety of file types, and an articulating lcd screen.
I am concerned about lenses as well but I won't worry until I've decided on a camera. I shouldn't think I'll need a huge selction at least at first maybe 3 max. Macro/closeup, regular duty, telephoto(maybe).
These are the cmaeras I've been looking at:
Panasonic Lumix DMC G-1
Pentax K 200D
Pentax K 20D
Nikon D5000
Nikon D60
Canon EOS Rebel Xsi
Canon EOS T1i
Olympus E620
Sony A350
If any of these is more suited to my needs, please let me know, or if I can eliminate any options that would be a step in the right direction too.
Thanks in advance to any who can help, be assured it is much appreciated.
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Old May 22, 2009, 8:09 PM   #2
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I, on the other hand, usually start with lenses.

For what you want to do, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 is an excellent choice. It's a good zoom range and faster than most kit lenses, so it should do well for your outdoor-low light shooting, and it's a 1:2.3 macro lens which should work for your close-ups. And for wildlife/action shooting, the Tamron 70-300 Di LD is a very good, reasonably priced telephoto zoom, and it's a 1:2 macro lens as well. These lenses sell for $370 and $170, respectively, and are available for any of the cameras you mentioned except the Olympus. That leaves $660-$960 in your budget for a camera.

A big part of what you say you want to do (close-up/macro, low light) suggests that having image stabilization might be an advantage. Since the lenses I mentioned are not stabilized on their own, stabilization in the camera body would be a good idea. The Canon and Nikon models you mentioned come with stabilized 18-55mm kit lenses, but they're shorter, and more importantly, they're dimmer, so the outdoor-low light shooting might not work as well. And though stabilized telephoto zooms are available for Canon and Nikon dSLRs, they're more expensive, which will take a bigger chunk out of your budget. That leaves the Pentax, Olympus and Sony models you mentioned.

The Pentax K200D ($510, 10MP), Sony A350 ($700, 14MP, 'Live View' on an articulating display, 18-70 kit lens though this should not be factored into your decision as it's not very good), and Pentax K20D ($800, 14MP, 'Live View') are within your budget.

The Olympus E-620 is an attractive choice. It's one of the smallest, lightest dSLRs available, and it's stabilized. But the lenses aren't very fast, nor do they focus particularly close, and replacement lenses that are and do are much more expensive.

Last edited by TCav; May 23, 2009 at 9:14 AM.
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Old May 24, 2009, 1:38 PM   #3
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The good news is that any of the cameras will take good pictures.

Your list has cameras of a wide variety of shapes and weights. That's a very personal decision - while I might find camera A too heavy and prefer camera B, you might find B too light and would prefer A. Or the grip on C is too cramped for your long fingers. So make sure you actually handle all of the cameras that end up on your short-list. You may find you prefer one over another one, and that can be more important than the features (a friend of mine with a Nikon D200 leaves it home most of the time because of it's size and weight. He bought a D40 for carrying around on a regular basis and loves it).

The Sony with the articulating LCD screen also has a significantly smaller viewfinder. That's a very big deal for me since I do lots of macro and use manual focus mostly. Others won't mind it - again, handle the various cameras and look through the viewfinders. You need to make sure you can live with whatever you buy - you'll be spending a great deal of time looking through it.

I shoot Pentax and think that the K20 is an outstanding buy - Pentax has announced a new top of the line camera so the K20 is selling for significantly less than what it once was. It's a more advanced camera than the K200, which can work against someone who's not interested in learning what all the levers and knobs do - it's easy to accidentally change something then not know how to change it back. As long as you are interested and spend the time learning the controls, it's a fun camera to use.

Ultimately, the quality of shots will depend on what lenses you use. I always think buying a less expensive body and then buying better lenses is a good idea - bodies come and go while lenses last a long time (in my camera bag right now is a lens I first bought in 1980. Works great on my Pentax K20). The nice thing about a dSLR is that you can buy one lens now, use it to figure out what it's capabilities and weaknesses are, then decide what else to buy to fill that weakness.
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Old May 24, 2009, 8:34 PM   #4
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I have actually cut down my choices quite a bit. Pentax K20 is leading followed by the Nikon d5000 and running in 3rd the canon 500D.
I am leading toward the pentax because of Inbody AF, and IS. Also the werather sealing. Probably wont be needed all that often but will get some use I am sure. Especially where I live on the Wet coast of canada.I think I'll probably get the K20 and in a few years bump up to that new K7 or whatever comes out next.
My only consideration now is basically trying to figure out if this camera will be good (enough) for some lower light action captures. For example capturing a deer running in woods in a nice clean shot. Do you find the pentax is good for your macro? I assume you must or you wouldn't use it.
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Old May 24, 2009, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordzilla View Post
... My only consideration now is basically trying to figure out if this camera will be good (enough) for some lower light action captures. For example capturing a deer running in woods in a nice clean shot. Do you find the pentax is good for your macro? I assume you must or you wouldn't use it.
That part is the lens, and the lenses I mentioned would be good for what you want to do.
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Old May 24, 2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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As TCav mentioned, macro requires a sharp lens. The K20 does macro very well, and you have a number of fairly inexpensive options. I don't use auto focus with macro - it's much easier to focus by leaning in and out slightly (if you are hand-holding) and since your DOF is so tiny, it's easy for the camera to auto focus on the background, not your subject, making AF a liability at times. You can use any Pentax lens ever made on their digital cameras (though the M42 screw mount lenses require an adaptor). My first macro set-up was an SMC 50 mm f1.7 lens first purchased in 1980 as a kit lens with a Pentax ME film camera, along with an extension tube (which at one time had been a poor quality 2X teleconverter). I ended up buying a dedicated 1:1 macro lens that probably was made in the mid-1990s for $250, less than what a new macro lens would cost and love it. There's some really nice old glass out there (though you also need to understand what the lens was originally. A manual lens doesn't suddenly become auto focus/auto exposure, but a lens that had auto exposure and/or auto focus will retain that capability). If I want to get closer than 1:1, I can always add that same extension tube, or reverse the same 50mm f1.7 lens (a ring to mount the lens reversed on the front of the macro lens costs under $10) for larger than 1:1, so they continue to be useful.

The 70-300 Tamron lens TCav mentioned is well liked, and will do 1:2, a good start for macro. The Pentax DA 55-300 seems to have less purple fringing than the 70-300 (what seems to be the Tamron's biggest disadvantage), but is only 1:3.5 when it comes to macro and is more expensive.
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Old May 25, 2009, 3:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordzilla View Post
...I am an ultra-newb who wants to break into some amature photography...I want to get a DSLR, and I want to keep it under $1200, but could strech to maybe $1500,.....I will be doing mostly outdoor shooting, often in deep woods or in evenings, so low-light/night ability is a must...closeup or macro shots..mountain top panoramic shots...
If you wish to succeed straight away with a dSLR & lenses in these challenging fields, I'd urge you to add a photographic study course to your list of equipment. Learning on the job is always difficult, and a dSLR is a finely-tuned technical set of tools.

I refer you to my other advice this morning at...
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/what-camera-should-i-buy/155551-lets-say-i-wanted-buy-camera.html
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