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Old Nov 19, 2009, 4:48 PM   #1
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Default First dslr advice - nature, scenery and action shots

I am researching cameras and like most people, my head is spinning. I started by looking at the cannon XS because a friend has it and gets good pictures - the actions shots are what sold me. I then started researching, I wonder if I would be better off with the XSi or even the T1i.

So, my main uses:

- general family photography, family events, pets etc (don't have little kids anymore)

- horses. I own and ride a horse - I take a little point and shoot with me on trail rides but I would love to get great pictures, both still and "action shots" outdoor and in an indoor arena. It is hard to get good pictures inside an indoor arena with your typical point and shoot.

- dog hobby action shots. We are starting to do agility and it is fun to catch those action shots

- family vacations, scenery etc. I was so disappointed with my photos on my point and shoot from our trip to Yellowstone. I live in the west and we go to a lot of national parks for vacations and weekends and I like to take scenery and wildlife pictures.

- I have an older kid who plays soccer - indoor and outdoor. It would be fun to be able to photo the team, I don't even bother with my point and shoot and instead mooch photos off one of the other parents.

- my husbands real estate business. He used to hire a pro to do all of his shooting of listings, but times are tough right now. I would love it if this camera could take great wide shots, including the wide angle you need for photographing homes and properties.

I was going to list video, but since I know only one of the cameras I am looking at has it, I thought I should describe what I am thinking. I would love to have the video, but only if it is easy to use and gives decent results. I don't like having separate video cameras etc - I have always liked doing more still photography. I would like to use the video camera to do video home tours (for real estate) but not sure the T1i is up to that??? I would also use it for filming horses and riding, indoor and outdoor. I don't do much video now ... so I would probably only be interested in it if it is pretty good and not too hard to use.

I have a cheap point and shoot now - works okay for daily stuff but I don't get great shots. I used to have a nikon 5700 but it broke. I took great photos with that the nikon, but hated how slow it was, hard to do action shots of any kind.

I noticed that Cannon has a rebate going if you get the zoom lens. So, just for comparison purposes Costco has them priced at:
XS $669
XSi $800
T1i $900
Those prices are the body, the kit lens, zoom lens, some other accessories like battery pack, charger, SD card.

Would need to buy external flash if that is needed for those indoor shots.

It is in my budget to get the T1i, but I wonder if it is a waste - will the extra features be worth it? Will the video recording be good enough to serve the purpose? For handling those indoor photos - are the less expensive models just as good?

I am open to other brands, it just seems like these are pretty good choices for entry dslr. Oh, and I don't like things that are toooo complicated. I have always been a point and shoot kinda person.

Thanks so much for your help!
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 4:58 PM   #2
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I'm going to address the indoor action - horse, soccer, and any dog agility done indoors. You're stuck with some pretty poor lighting in all of these. No kit lens with any DSLR is going to do the trick. You're going to need either ISO 6400 and f2.8 or ISO 3200 and f2.0 (soccer is usually really poor lighting).

If you really want the indoor stuff you need to step up to the T1i and some rather expensive lenses. Something like a sigma 70-200 2.8 ($850) or primes - 85mm 1.8, 100mm 2.0 ($500ish for either). Then distance becomes an issue. Shooting with primes is tough.

TCAV is one of our members and does some indoor horse shooting - currently he uses Nikon D90 and 85mm 1.8.

But 85mm or even 100mm is tough for indoor soccer - not a lot of reach. Dog agility if it's indoors can also be tough. Outdoors you have more options for all of this (canon 55-250 is an inexpensive budget zoom you can use in good light. It's not a great sports lens but if lighting is good it can get you started).
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 5:09 PM   #3
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For shooting from horseback on a trail ride, a dSLR will be too big and cumbersome. For that, you're better off with a P&S.

For outdoor sports, the XSi and T1i have a better autofocus system than the XS. The Canon 55-250 is a nice lens and Canon has a rebate on it right now, so the price is right, but if you're shooting soccer from the sidelines you may want something longer, and if you're shooting from the stands you'll definately want something longer.

For indoor sports (soccer and equestrian events) you'll need a large aperture lens. Canon has some good ones like the 85/1.8, 100/2.0 and 135/2.0 that would work on any of the cameras you mentioned, but they wouldn't preform as well on the XS as they would on the others. Also, the lenses I mentioned are fixed focal length ("Prime") lenses that don't zoom. Zoom lenses have smaller apertures which will require the camera to use higher ISO settings, and the T1i can go higher than the XSi.

And the T1i can record video while the others can't.

Everything else you want to do, any of the cameras you mentioned could do equally well. But for your specific requirements, I think the T1i is the best choice.
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 5:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
TCAV is one of our members and does some indoor horse shooting - currently he uses Nikon D90 and 85mm 1.8.
Thank you, John.

You can see some of my recent attempts in my gallery here:

Dr. Cesar Parra Dressage clinic Sept. 15-16, 2009

I was inside the arena, so I was able to get away with the 85/1.8. If you must shoot from one end of the arena or from stands, you might need something longer. Canon has a good selection of lenses for that, and if you go with the T1i with its higher ISO capability, you can add some f/2.8 zooms to your list of possible choices.
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 9:35 PM   #5
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If I could get as good of results (or anything close!) as those dressage photos I would be thrilled. I don't see myself buying $800 lenses so I may need to temper my expectations a bit. Perhaps over time I can find some used or something.

Does anyone have experience with the video on the T1i?

I do take a little point and shoot horseback/trail riding. The little camera bag hooks right onto a ring on my saddle so it is always ready to go! I am usually photographing from the saddle/moving and I don't get great pictures but good enough for that purpose. An unedited snapshot with my point and shoot - not trying to replace this at all.



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Old Nov 20, 2009, 2:02 PM   #6
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Just gotta like a fellow horse person...
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