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Old Aug 2, 2009, 8:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
How I would spend your money if I were your personal shopper:

T1i body. ($800)
EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS ($960)
EF 70-300 f4-5.6 IS ($560)
Manfrotto/Benbo 190CXPro3 legs ($300) + Ball Head ($120)
Sigma EF-530 DG Super ETTL II flashgun ($220)

Cameras and flashguns last 3-5 years.
Lenses last 5-15 years.
Good tripods last a lifetime.

Notice that the most money goes on the "standard zoom". It is a brilliant lens and you will have it on your camera most of the time.
Thanks for the response. I'm kinda leaning on a canon cam because of its light weight and superb photo quality.
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Old Aug 2, 2009, 8:42 PM   #12
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Thanks for the reply JimC!

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If you don't need an f/2.8 lens, and want to keep the size/weight down, your best bet is probably something like the Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens in their lineup.

Nikon has similar lens choices. For example, their 55-200mm f'4-5.6 VR lens. Ditto for some of the other manufacturers. For example, Sony offers a 55-200m f/4-5.6 and Pentax offers a 50-200mm f/4-5.6.

In the entry level lineup, you can usually find two lens kits at very reasonable prices, too (for example, a camera kit including the camera body and something like an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens at a discounted price compared to buying the camera body and lenses separately).

For example, in the Nikon lineup, you could get a D60 or D5000 two lens kit with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens. In the Sony Lineup your could get some of their bodies (A230, A330, A380) in a two lens kit including their 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses. The same would apply to some of the Pentax Kits (for example, a K2000 with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens). I don't see a Canon two lens kit from a quick glance at vendors.

Is a Sony cam a wise choice? I used my friend's cam and I really cant get any good shots indoors with low light.

But, you could add something like their 55-250mm f/4-5.6 lens to a single lens kit if you want to keep size/weight down compared to a lens like that Sigma you're looking at.

On the downside, most of the lenses in those categories (18-55mm, 55-200mm, 55-250mm, etc.) are not going to work properly on a dSLR model with a larger sensor size, if you wanted to upgrade to a body using a sensor the same size as 35mm film later.

That's because these lenses are designed to project a smaller image circle for dSLR models with APS-C size sensors. That helps to keep the size and weight down (which seems to be one of your concerns if you think a Nikon D90 with an 18-105mm lens is too heavy).

Without any special requirements (i.e., a need to shoot in tougher conditions), I'd probably lean towards one of the entry level two lens kits if you want smaller and lighter (Sony A230, A330 or A380, Pentax K2000, Canon XS or XSi, Nikon D60 or D5000, etc.). You may also want to look through some of the Olympus dSLR models. In addition, you may want to set to add an external flash to a kit (since portraits is one of your interests). Then, set aside some money from your total budget for future upgrades, once you get a better feel for what you like or dislike in an entry level kit.

Is there a good external flash kit you recommend?

Any of those should be a nice step up from your Olympus 700 IS (which has a lens giving you the same angle of view you'd get using a 35-140mm lens on a 35mm camera). Then, after using an entry level dSLR model and kit lenses for a while, you'll get a better feel for where you may (or may not) be seeing limitations with that type of kit, without as much up front investment.

Then, if you upgrade (either body or lenses) down the road, you'll be able to make better informed decisions based on your experience with them (taking issues like size and weight into consideration).
You and the other senior members have given sound advice. I really appreciate it. I hope I could find the right fit for me.

Kudos to you and the rest of the senior members!
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Old Aug 2, 2009, 8:45 PM   #13
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In store, I used the canon xsi and t1i. Grip wise, it's good for my girly hands. Should I go for XSi or T1i? And what is a good starter lens given my subject photo preference?
The kit lenses are almost always a great deal (adding very little to the cost of the entry level dSLR models), and from your earlier comments about the D90 kit being too heavy, it sounds like you want a light weight kit.

Any lens choice is a compromise (size, weight, focal range from wide to long, available apertures, sharpness, color, contrast, flare resistance and more). You can't really have everything you may want in a lighter kit (if that's really important to you).

The T1i is a better camera between those two. But, you may not see any difference for the types of photos you take and the viewing/print sizes needed. ;-) I'd probably go with the T1i with the 18-55mm IS lens for starters in the Canon system lineup. From what I can see from current prices, this lens is adding less than $100 to the cost of the camera body when you buy them together in a kit.

That way, you can have an opportunity to use it for a while and decide if you really need anything more, and if so, what type of changes may work better for you. It can be very easy to spend a lot of money on gear that sits on a shelf because you don't like it for one reason or another. ;-) So, without any special requirements, I'd probably start with the kit lens. Then, after you've used it for a while, you can make better informed decisions on additional lenses later if you need them.
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Old Aug 2, 2009, 9:12 PM   #14
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Thanks for reply Interested_Observer!

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Just a few suggestions for your consideration. First, I would not run out and spend the entire budget all at once. I would select a camera system, and pickup the kit lenses (or lens), and start there. The kit lens will be relative inexpensive as compared to everything else.

What can you recommend as a good starter kit (body and lens)?

Starting there, with that as a base, your experience and needs will lead you to where your interests take you. It might be a bit premature to try to select everything now and then later decide you wish you would have gone in a slightly different direction.

Very good point you mentioned on blowing my budget. Will definitely heed your advice.

The next item, you asked about Tokina lenses - and other third party lenses. I will say that the Tokina 12-24/f4 wide angle lens is an excellent wide angle lens, extremely sharp and comes in both the canon and nikon mounts. It was co-designed by Pentax and essentially the same as the Pentax DA 12-24/f4 - however the differences are Pentax used their own SMC lens coating (reduces flare), used their own barrel design and their own autofocus manual clutch (not Hoya owns both Tokina and Pentax). It is a very good lens. The one item is that both Canon and Nikon has their image stabilization in the lens, while Sony, Pentax and Olympus have body based stabilization - so on the Canon and Nikon the lens is not stabilized.

On the tripod and ball head. Are you interested in stitching images together? If so rather than a ball head you want to look into panning ballheads - they are a bit more expensive, so that when you are using a tripod, you can keep all the images level and straight, so that they all stitch together level (if not you will loose some of the image to cropping after stitching).

Yes I am interested in stitching images. I'll be going to Santorini and I would like to capture the beauty of the caldera and Aegean sea harmonized together.

IS or image stabilization is very useful at longer focal lengths. You will introduce some degree of camera shake into the images especially at the telescopic lengths, and will be noticeable in lower light levels - especially when a tripod is not used.

So you're saying I should get an IS lens if I wont be carrying a tripod around?

As touched on before, a camera body with in body stabilization will provide image stabilization to any lens mounted, thus you will not need to go to the more expensive IS or VR lenses (Canon and Nikon).

What is the best beginner's camera with stabilized body then? (if you haven't included your answer in the first question above)

Just a thought.
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Old Aug 2, 2009, 9:17 PM   #15
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The kit lenses are almost always a great deal (adding very little to the cost of the entry level dSLR models), and from your earlier comments about the D90 kit being too heavy, it sounds like you want a light weight kit.

Any lens choice is a compromise (size, weight, focal range from wide to long, available apertures, sharpness, color, contrast, flare resistance and more). You can't really have everything you may want in a lighter kit (if that's really important to you).

The T1i is a better camera between those two. But, you may not see any difference for the types of photos you take and the viewing/print sizes needed. ;-) I'd probably go with the T1i with the 18-55mm IS lens for starters in the Canon system lineup. From what I can see from current prices, this lens is adding less than $100 to the cost of the camera body when you buy them together in a kit.

That way, you can have an opportunity to use it for a while and decide if you really need anything more, and if so, what type of changes may work better for you. It can be very easy to spend a lot of money on gear that sits on a shelf because you don't like it for one reason or another. ;-) So, without any special requirements, I'd probably start with the kit lens. Then, after you've used it for a while, you can make better informed decisions on additional lenses later if you need them.
Wow! Looks like I'm only spending over a gino :-) That's awesome and by buying only a camera with a single lens it'll make my life less complicated too.

God bless,
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 1:24 AM   #16
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Good Evening, Initially, when beginning - its very easy to be confident in terms of what interests you, and what you want to do with a camera. However, as time goes on, your outlook on the hobby may change a bit. So, what initially appeared as a must have, later on may seem to be a bit of overkill. For instance, initially it might seem wise to pick up a f2.8 lens, however you - depending on how you shoot, may not need that fast of lens, and a f4 (lower price, smaller size and lighter weight) may work out just as well. This was just an example....... Initially everyone wants the absolute best. However, there is no perfect camera that does everything perfectly - it is all a compromise. Canon and Nikon pretty much own the overall market - with Sony in third place, and thus are everywhere. Plus, everyone sees what the professionals use, and thus, that is what they feel they need too. All the major camera brands do a very good job at taking pictures - say 80% of the time for 80% of the users. Its the other 20% of the time, where certain activities will make a difference in terms of specific camera brands.

What can you recommend as a good starter kit (body and lens)? - Well, I bought in to the Pentax system because I was familiar with their lenses and had used their film cameras back in 1970. What works for me may not work for you as well. You have an interest in Canon - and more importantly you have tried it out, in terms of its ergonomics. So I will leave it to others who are much more familiar with Canon. Overall, all the major brands have wonderful cameras and for what you are looking for any of the brands will do a very good job. Canon has a much larger lens selection and all the third parties build for Canon, so your selection is a very safe one. I like landscapes and panoramas and Pentax does well there, so it has worked well for me - however, that is me.

Very good point you mentioned on blowing my budget. Will definitely heed your advice. - You have given yourself a very generous budget, however you still need to watch how you spend.

Yes I am interested in stitching images. I'll be going to Santorini and I would like to capture the beauty of the caldera and Aegean sea harmonized together. - What ever you purchase, practice - especially on stitching - both taking the images, and then post processing them, i.e., stitching them together. This way, you know what works and what does not. Stitching essentially is a way to make just about any lens in to a wide angle lens. Get in to a process, so that you do it the same way each time, have sufficient overlap, whether or not you shoot hand held or with a tripod. Figure out under what conditions work best for you using whatever approach. I like to shoot low ambient light night photos, so with exposure times of 20 to 100 seconds, I need to haul a tripod along. Ballheads are expensive $100 to $600+ (and that is not including a tripod). So its important to not buy something that you will not use, or buy something that you will need to replace since you did not consider some aspect and you feel you now need something else. In starting out - it is difficult to know. You can take tremendous images with a basic setup camera, say 2 kit lenses (18-55 and 50-200), a bag/backpack to tote everything around in, plus maybe a simple flash, 2 batteries, 2 to 3 SD cards and your essentially set. As you take more pictures and develop an interest, then you will find more "toys" to spend additional funds on. Also, if your traveling and do not have room for a tripod, and will not be used - then, do not buy a tripod or a ball head. If you do not know - and people will differ on this opinion, buy a cheap $20 travel tripod to try out and see if it works for you. Most folks move towards a tripod only when they have to, and there is no alternative to doing the type of photography that interests them.

So you're saying I should get an IS lens if I wont be carrying a tripod around? - I find image stabilization very useful to the extent that I try to avoid using a tripod. However for the night shots I take - there is no way around it. IS certainly will help to avoid a tripod - however it is not a full replacement. IS comes in two different designs - 1) built into the lens (this concept is used by Canon and Nikon) and 2) built into the camera body (concept used by Sony, Pentax and Olympus). Both do the job very well - with probably a slight edge to the lens based system. The major difference is that for lens stabilization, it needs to be built into each of the lens, each lens that you want to employ it on and that costs additional. Body stabilization is essentially purchased with the body and thus is applied to any lens mounted on the body. This is one of the principal discriminators between the various camera brands.

Overall in order of importance I would say...
1) Lenses - does the brand offer the type of lenses you are interested in? Say for instance, as an example - Pentax does not offer a large selection of long telephoto lenses (over 300mm) - so if that is your main interest, Pentax may not be for you. Initially, your looking at a Canon - and they essentially offer everything - if they do not offer it, its not made.

2) Image Stabilization - Most of the time, it does not matter to a lot of folks. However, again as an example, I like to shoot low light landscapes, so having in body stabilization helps me since no one builds wide angle lenses with IS. Thus, selecting a brand with in-body IS was a plus for me. There are a lot of folks that do not use IS, and it makes no difference to them. IS is useful 1) in telephoto situations - as it helps remove the camera shake with the longer focal length lenses. IS is also useful 2) in situations where the light is less than perfect. Rather than possibly going to a faster ISO speed (thus increasing noise in the image), or to a slower shutter speed (possibly having the subjects be blurred), IS is another option of getting a better image.

3) Focusing - A lot of folks like to take pictures of sports and things that move rapidly (auto racing, etc.). Thus a camera body with fast auto-focusing is a must. Canon and Nikon excel here.

4) High ISO Speeds - Folks that take low light images, or telephoto, tend to use higher ISO speeds. High ISO speeds introduces noise into the image. Some camera makes handle high ISO speeds better than others. Canon and Nikon have cameras that handle high ISO speed as well as anyone - they are actually the leaders.
What is the best beginner's camera with stabilized body then? (if you haven't included your answer in the first question above) - In some ways, I will say that its a factor of where you live. If there are a lot of stores carrying cameras, then you have the ability to go out and "test drive" them. I would say that its very important for someone starting out to handle the camera that you may be interested in, rather than being surprised later and hating the selection. To specifically answer your question - the camera make that fits your situation the best. Olympus makes the smallest and lightest dSLR camera (because the sensor is smaller). Sony and Pentax are a bit larger, due to the sensor size. In this respect it it how it fits your hands and how their ergonomics appeal to you. How you like the various menus, buttons and wheels used to manipulate the various options on the camera.

If you guessed that personal preference plays a large part in this - you're right. If you do not like the camera, you will not use it. So the preference part is an important aspect to all of this - exceeding the technical sides. Technically brand A may be the best fit for your situation - however if its too heavy, does not feel right, you do not like using it, or have problems with something - its the wrong camera.

Bottom line - if it feels right to you and it appeals to you, in terms of using it, then technically it will work for you very well in your situation.

hope that helps...

Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 3, 2009 at 1:34 AM.
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 3:05 AM   #17
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Some good advice has been given. A few thoughts..

Because you have done some SLR photography I don't think you are necessarily in the same boat as a complete beginner to DSLR photography, so it is reasonable to accept that you might have a better idea than a complete beginner of what you will be doing with the camera.

Getting the camera with just the kit lens is usually a good idea, they are generally excellent value for money. But this applies more to novices and slightly less to you.

A cheap tripod is a disaster. Get a good one or don't get one at all.

It makes sense to me to spend most of the money in your system on the lens that you will be using most of the time. The lens will probably last you for the lifetime of 2-3 bodies. For most people this will be a "standard 3x zoom", something that covers 28-70mm 35mm equivalent. So in your case something like 18-55 is the right sort of range. This can often be extended to a "standard 4x zoom" without too many optical compromises - something in the 28-120 35mm equivalent range, on the APS-C cameras that translates into 18-80 ish. However you might not be most people, some prefer to used fixed focal length lenses (I do) or mostly like to shoot very wide or very long. So in that respect getting the kit lens until you get back into the swing of things makes a lot of sense.

Go for the T1 rather than the previous model. The fantastic LCD and video mode make the extra cost well worth it.
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 7:52 AM   #18
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Because you have done some SLR photography I don't think you are necessarily in the same boat as a complete beginner to DSLR photography, so it is reasonable to accept that you might have a better idea than a complete beginner of what you will be doing with the camera.
Unless I missed it, the OP hasn't mentioned any SLR experience, and indicates she's been using the Canon SD700 IS, a subcompact camera weighing in at around 6 ounces. ;-)

So, given the comments about finding a Nikon D90 with the 18-105mm kit lens too heavy when trying it in a store, I'd suggest sticking with the light weight kit lenses to get some more experience before spending a lot of money on a more expensive (and heavier) alternatives.
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 6:25 PM   #19
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Considering your dislike of heavy cameras, here's something to think about. How about a lightweight DSLR like the Canon T1i with the lightweight kit lens for most of your shooting and a lightweight ultrazoom like the upcoming Panasonic FZ35 for long shots?
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 7:19 PM   #20
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Some good advice has been given. A few thoughts..

Because you have done some SLR photography I don't think you are necessarily in the same boat as a complete beginner to DSLR photography, so it is reasonable to accept that you might have a better idea than a complete beginner of what you will be doing with the camera.

No I haven't done SLR before except for that one time when my friend let me use his cam in which I wasn't very pleased with the results.

Getting the camera with just the kit lens is usually a good idea, they are generally excellent value for money. But this applies more to novices and slightly less to you.

A cheap tripod is a disaster. Get a good one or don't get one at all.

It makes sense to me to spend most of the money in your system on the lens that you will be using most of the time. The lens will probably last you for the lifetime of 2-3 bodies. For most people this will be a "standard 3x zoom", something that covers 28-70mm 35mm equivalent. So in your case something like 18-55 is the right sort of range. This can often be extended to a "standard 4x zoom" without too many optical compromises - something in the 28-120 35mm equivalent range, on the APS-C cameras that translates into 18-80 ish. However you might not be most people, some prefer to used fixed focal length lenses (I do) or mostly like to shoot very wide or very long. So in that respect getting the kit lens until you get back into the swing of things makes a lot of sense.

Go for the T1 rather than the previous model. The fantastic LCD and video mode make the extra cost well worth it.

Please forgive me if I'm going to ask this again. What is the difference between an XSi and a T1i apart from resolution and video format? What made you say T1i is better than XSi?

If I will get a T1i with the basic lens of 18-55mm, what do you recommend for a zoom lens?

And in your first reply, you said to get a 17-55 f/2.8 IS. Do you have this lens? Are you using a hood with this lens?

Thanks again,
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