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Old Nov 10, 2009, 5:14 PM   #1
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Default Best Beginner DSLR Camera?

I know everyone has his own preference, so this is always a difficult question to answer. But I am getting back into SLR photography after decades away with point-and-shoot cameras (had a Minolta SLR which I lugged as a college grad to New York City and London and elsewhere in a life long ago). Well, now I am considering these three models: Canon EOS Rebel XSi, Nikon D3000, and Nikon D5000. I know the D3000 has a built in guide feature but wonder if that will get "old" before I know it. Any information and help would be appreciated! Susan
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 5:40 PM   #2
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What do you want to shoot?

The Canon has a better autofocus system than the Nikons, and because Nikon left the autofocus motor out of the D3000 and D5000, the Canon has a larger selection of lenses too. All the features in the world won't help if you can't get a lens you need.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 5:42 PM   #3
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The recently released Pentax K-x is getting a lot of good user reviews, I've heard good things from the Nikon d5000 and the Canon xs and xsi as well.....oh, and the Sony a230/330
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 6:17 PM   #4
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InStitches-

This may indeed be a good time to make a clean break, and to follow your interest in Sports Photography. The A-100, the 50mm Minolta and the Sigma can be sold on E-Bay to begin your nest egg perhaps toward a new system.

Although I like Sony DSLR's myself, they are not well adapted as sports cameras.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 9:07 PM   #5
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In some respects there is no "best" entry dSLR camera - they are all capable of delivering good pictures. Some do certain things better than others, but not everyone needs those things. So the best thing is to look at what you want to take pictures of, look at which cameras and lenses will allow you to do that and that will fit into your budget. Are you interested in macro photography? Or landscape? Or low-light? Wildlife? Sports? Or a little bit of everything? Do you like small, high quality prime lenses?

While I'm not a fan of guides or scene modes, they can be useful for someone who's never used an SLR camera and who doesn't know about photography basics like aperture, depth of field, shutter speed etc. However, since you've used film SLR cameras in the past, you probably won't have much trouble remembering the basics. That part of it is the same, all you would need to do is figure out where the controls are, and one can learn that from reading the owners manual. In your shoes I wouldn't pay a premium for a camera with a guide (but wouldn't necessarily NOT buy one because it had it).

Best thing to do is go to a camera store and handle the cameras you are interested in. I shoot Pentax (in-camera stabilization and the ability to use 25 year old lenses are high on my list of priorities) and haven't yet checked out the latest Nikon offerings. I don't particularly care for the grip on the Canon but that's such a personal thing - we all have different sized hands. And there's nothing worse than carting around a camera all day that is too big/small/heavy/light etc. Also make sure that you look through the viewfinder - you'll be spending a lot of time looking through it. Can you see the focus easily?
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 10:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of your notes and comments! First, I should mention that I photograph primarily people (family and family events), pets (a lovely kitty when he'll pose), and scenery (landscapes and vacation sites). But I hope in the future (probably several more years) to photograph grandbabies when our children marry and start their families. Our daughter's high school graduation next May is one big event I want to capture without the limits of a traditional point-and-shoot; thus the interest again in DSLRs. I have held all of these cameras I mentioned and felt little difference in the grip but did feel that the Canon had a much clearer, bigger viewfinder eyepiece. No one locally has a Pentax so I can't even try that out. Susan
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 11:57 AM   #7
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Susan,

From what you state, virtually any DSLR will be able to fit your needs. I don't think your stated needs benefit from ony one particular system. So that's a good thing. Based on your current shooting needs I would suggest you plan on getting an external flash for indoor family events. It will provide a huge difference in the quality of your flash shots vs. the built in flash of any camera (DSLR or digicam).

The upcoming graduation is a specific event. What equipment you will need will depend on the venue the graduation is being held in. If it's the HS gym or other small venue then a telephoto zoom (in the 200mm - 300mm range) and external flash will get the job done nicely (a good external flash can easily provide enough light for a 200-300mm lens):


However, if the HS holds their graduation at a large venue you might have some obstacles to overcome. They're obstacles you'll encounter independent of the camera system you buy into so they won't drive your initial purchase. So I would leave that discussion for early next spring.
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 11:59 AM   #8
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Sorry - forgot to conclude: If the XSi had a better viewfinder than the other models you tried and you liked the ergonomics I don't see that any of it's drawbacks will hinder what you want to use a camera for (i.e. you don't have a need for ISO 3200 or video or high frame rate) then it will certainly meet your stated needs and is a good choice.
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 6:22 PM   #9
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For what it's worth, I like Sarah's thought on making a clean break from old cameras. Backward compatibility of new camera designs with old gear is not for the faint of heart. My antique Minolta lenses will not simply spin on my shiny new Sony Alpha DSLR. So when I see posts about clinging to old lenses I start growling and kicking the dawg.

Also like the suggestions about checking out the feel of the various cameras. And not just the feel, but also the layout/accessibilty of the various controls. Different controls are important to different folks, so this has to be a personal call.

no help Kelly
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 7:03 PM   #10
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Old lens capability depends on the person and their priority. Some of us have a love for top quality glass, but have a budget that won't support it. I'd rather spend $50 for an older, manual 50mm 1.4 lens in excellent condition because I can't afford the $250-350 for a new, auto focus one. A little bit of extra work (a bit of practice to learn how to see the focus and pushing a button for the camera to set the shutter speed) is nothing compared to my enjoyment of having lenses that suit my subject, something I simply couldn't afford when I first bought a dSLR. So backwards capability might be meaningless for someone on an unlimited budget, for many of us it becomes a big deal.
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