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Old Dec 28, 2009, 7:36 AM   #1
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Default Wanting a Camera, Looking for Advice

I'm looking for some help in figuring out what kind of camera might suit me. Would an SLR be right for me at this time or should I be looking at something else? If you do have a moment to read and offer some advice I would really appreciate it!

I admire and really enjoy looking at photos of animals, people, scenery, nature, city shots, close-up macro shots, portraits and artistic shots with interesting effects. I love how there is so much that you can do. I usually end up being given someone else's camera at a party and take most of the photos or even borrow one for a bit to use on my own. I'll often see shots that get my interest and as a result have plenty of pictures cramming up my little cellphone. Ultimately I'd really like to learn how to use a camera properly and to do that I need my own. Since I am still limited in my experience and I'm only just getting into some familiarity with the camera world and language (when will I not see bokeh and find it funny? ) am I better off getting my feet wet with something that is less manual with a more all-in-one package or jumping in and just start learning with slrs?

During the summer I was really into finally buying a camera. I wanted to get into SLR cameras and it was suggested by some camera friends that I try something a step before SLRs to get used to cameras and figure out what I would want to use one for, as well as the fact that I wanted to spend around 500 or less. I remember looking into various types like point&shoot and especially zoom cameras. I wanted to see if there was something that at least gave more manual control to learn with but in the end it became necessary to save my money and wait a while.
Late November I started looking at cameras again but I still wasn't sure on which kind to go with. With Boxing Day in Canada there is a deal at Futureshop and Best Buy where FS is offering the Canon's XSI for 629.99 and BB is offering Canon's T1i at 779.99. Both come with the 18-55mm IS Lens, battery, and a 58mm UV Filter & Bag Package. I researched these cameras quite a lot and considered if just going straight to DSLR would be a good choice. I had handled them both, as well as some other cameras, and they were comfortable as I do not have large hands.

I understand that the T1i is the next step up from XSI. I read that it has a higher ISO number that can be more beneficial for indoor shooting, that it has a stronger processor and that it does have video capabilities which are a nice feature to have on hand but isn't a deal breaker for me. It seems like if I really wanted to use that I'd have to get a few fast memory cards. I had read that the better features this camera is capable of wouldn't come through so well without a better lense. It seems that both cameras can take some great pictures though, that they are both good cameras, and there is a lot of different opinions over which is better to start with.

In the end after a lot of reading I decided to go for it today and get a T1i as it may be better in the long run but I ended up just missing out on the last one being sold. I didn't have time to get to another store and since it didn't work out today I decided to think cameras over some more. I had browsed these forums quite a lot while thinking things over the past couple of days and it would be great to have some input on what might better suit me.

I had looked into Nikon cameras as well but it seems that the cameras around this price range aren't neccesarily so good because of the limitations of the lenses you can use. Lenses are another issue, where I know I wouldn't be likely to get one for a while. I understand that what you want to shoot will affect which lense you may want to acquire. It also seems like with SLRs you'd have to be carrying the camera around with some sort of purpose, or else you'd have too many lenses weighing you down. Are there many lenses out there that are handy for just walking around town or outdoors with?

I can see myself getting more into outdoor shots of people, animals and scenery for the most part as those are the most interesting to me. Indoor photos are very likely as well due to family, pets and friends. The only thing I really don't think there will be much of are sports photos. With my present budget new lenses really wouldn't happen anytime soon but I had thought that until then I could just be spending my time learning how to use what I do have, or would that end up being too frustrating with just that one 18-55mm lense?

I'm sorry if this is really too much to write about, I've just read a lot and I'm not sure which way would be best to go. If need be I could always wait longer on getting a camera, but this does seem like a good time of year to take advantage of.

Last edited by Amoux; Dec 28, 2009 at 7:55 AM.
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 1:55 AM   #2
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Well I guess I wrote more than people would like to respond to, sorry about that. I thought that if I was detailed about where I'm coming from it would help in giving me a better idea in what I should set my sights on.

Today I was able to try out a Nikon D50, it had a sigma zoom 18-200mm lense. It was just for indoor shots but I enjoyed being able to use an SLR and try out different shots for a part of the night. It gave me a good idea of the heft those cameras can have while in use and it didn't bother me.

As new camera owner would I be better off getting a camera such as a super zoom, or would learning straight from an slr be a good choice? I have a couple days left to go on this deal for the boxing day cameras, and with a difference of $150 the T1i is looking more appealing. I really would appreciate any insight.

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Old Dec 29, 2009, 5:03 AM   #3
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A decent DSLR is the perfect tool for learning photography.

You will also need a decent image editing program. I recommend Lightroom or Aperture. Not very cheap, but not crazy expensive either.

Get the best equipment you can reasonably afford, and ideally leave a bit of spare cash for an extra lens or flash or something down the line.

Read some books and take a lot of shots. Post them online for feedback; it's very useful when you're getting started, particularly to help you sort out the technical issues.

After a year or two and 10-20 thousand images you should be starting to figure out what it is that interests you and you can revisit the equipment issue.

Avoid 10x zooms on SLRs because:
1. The image quality is horrible.
2. As a beginner your biggest challenge is to learn how not to compose your photographs by twisting the zoom ring, that is a sure route to banal photographs.

If you want a good zoom range then get one of the 2-lens kits. For Canon that is something like the 18-55 IS and the 55-250 IS. All the manufacturers have their equivalents.
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 6:38 AM   #4
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peripatetic has offered some good advice, that I'd like to suppliment.

Some of what you say you want to do leads me to think that you might benefit from image stabilization, and that cost is a concern. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization that makes their lenses more expensive. Also, since stabilized lenses are relatively new, there aren't very many available on the used market. Sony and Pentax use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, so any lens is stabilized, including 20 year old used lenses. Selecting a Sony or Pentax dSLR would allow you to expand your collection of lenses by purchasing lower priced used lenses, yet still benefiting from image stabilization.

While the Canon dSLRs that are the subject of some current Boxing Day specials, I think you should consider the Pentax K-x or any of the Sony Alpha dSLRs. And Pentax has some specials of their own right now.
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Old Dec 29, 2009, 7:13 AM   #5
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The T1i is a excellent camera, that gives you allot of abilities. That is what I use, I shoot allot of landscape, portraits, low light scenery, buildings and it does and excellent job. The difference between the sensor of the t1i and xsi is the amount of pixels, which can make a difference if you want to crop in to the photo with a editing software. It gives you more resolution after editing. But next to that the xsi is a very good camera in it's own right, the t1i just gives you a better low light ability with the higher iso and nicer features.

On the lens question, the canon 2 kit lens is quite good. I transition form a film canon and the t1i. I had good lenses for my old camera, but still got the kit lenses. My wife uses them most of the time, as they take really nice photos, and are very light. I use the 18-55 allot as it takes very sharp picture at 18mm, which currently is my widest lens. So they are very capable lenses in there own right.

So either the xsi or the t1i would be a camera that you will not outgrow quickly. The Pentax K-x mention is also a very good camera. But you may want to check the availability of pentax products in your area. The Olympus e620 is another camera you may want to check out. It takes really nice photos also and come with excellent lenses. The pentax and olympus is a bit easier to use as they offer more art filters to set up certain types of shots. It is nice if you are unsure the what the proper setting are until you learn more about manual setting. But since the sale may end soon, and you are interested in getting the saving. The T1i and XSi would not be bad choices. The T1i is the top of the line in the "entry dlsr market."

The DSLR will develop you photography skills better then any other type of camera.

Take a look at this site if you get a dslr camera. They have youtube video workshop that can help you understand dslr.

www.dslrtipps.com

Last edited by shoturtle; Dec 29, 2009 at 7:16 AM.
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Old Dec 30, 2009, 4:15 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for the advice! Image stabilization may well be ideal since I'm just starting out. Money is an issue in that it would not be wise to buy a second lense immediately, but I can afford up to the 700-800 dollar range for the camera. So long as the starter lense is good to learn with I'm okay to wait on getting another lense.

I will take a look at the reviews for the Pentax and Sony cameras and try to make a decision. One thing that has me looking at Nikon and Canon is how it appears that if I were to get deeper into photography and want to obtain an even better camera they seem to dominate at the higher end of SLRs. I don't know much about the higher ends of Sony or Pentax, such as how well they can compare.

Last edited by Amoux; Dec 30, 2009 at 4:34 AM. Reason: addition
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Old Dec 30, 2009, 5:49 AM   #7
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well at 700-800 you can actually get the 2 lens kit for a bunch of good higher grade camera's like Olympus e620, pentax k-x, sony a330, canon XSi. A little bit more you can get the either Canon T1i with 2 lenses which is selling for 820 at adorama.com right now, or the nikon d5000 with 2 lens.

The kit lenses form all these cameras are excellent general purpose lenses. And will allow you try different types of photography. And see what you like, and then you can focus on lenses that will be better suited for your interest. But you will still find that the kit lenses will still have uses.

The main reason canon and nikon are the big player in the camera making industry is because they hold the majority shears of the market and on the pro end of photography it is because they have the largest lens support over the sony and pentax on the high end side and their pro system have the best AF systems out there. Also in the past sony and pentax fell behind. I think when sony brought miolta's camera division and rebrand it sony, it cause them to fall a bit behind. But both have made strides on getting back in the game with the sony a900 is a very good pro camera and pentax is gotten better with the k7 a pro camera and with the new k-x.

Since K-x is probably the camera you are looking for, you will not soon outgrow it, and it has gotten some very good review both user and published. So if you are interested in the K-x. It is really worth you time to check it out.

So you need to also remember, making the dslr camera decision is an investing in a system, so if you are vested in the system as a pro. It is very expensive to switch form nikon to canon. Some pro's I know have investments of 70-100k in a system. And unless the new system is that much better. It really is not worth the investment. So when Sony and Pentax fell behind they gave a huge part of the market to canon and nikon.

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Old Dec 30, 2009, 8:11 AM   #8
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Actually, when Sony took over Konica Minolta's camera business, they hit the ground running, and actually took market share away from Nikon and Pentax. In the race with Canon and Nikon, they are still just first among the also-rans, but they weren't and aren't doing as poorly as shoturtle seems to be saying.
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Old Dec 30, 2009, 8:25 AM   #9
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Yep, they've actually been increasing Market Share at a relatively brisk pace since they entered the dSLR market. You can see some numbers here for worldwide dSLR market share for 2006 through 2008 (the link is for google's translation from German):

http://translate.google.com/translat...Welt-im-Wandel

My gut is that they didn't increase much in 2009 (but I haven't seen any recent worldwide market share figures for 2009 yet). You can't really go by the individual countries much, as they have a much stronger presence in some regions. It will probably be a few months before we see worldwide dSLR market share numbers for 2009 published anywhere.

But, my gut also tells me that they'll do much better in 2010 (I suspect they'll start filling in more gaps in the body lineup, release more lenses, etc.).

If you want to see some interesting 2010 predictions, see this article by Thom Hogan. He does this kind of thing every year. He's usually close on some things and wrong on others. But, it's interesting reading if you want to speculate. lol

http://www.bythom.com/2010predictions.htm
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Old Dec 30, 2009, 9:07 AM   #10
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Only thing I'd like to add is about buying into a camera system. I sometimes think that the "Canon/Nikon-having-more-pro-gear-and-so-is-better" is sometimes over-blown for a new person buying a camera. Sony and Pentax have cameras that are feature-filled and would keep any serious enthusiast happy forever. I know of several pros that shoot Pentax and I would be shocked if there weren't pros who shoot with Sony (I'm just not familiar with them since I shoot Pentax). You can find pro-quality glass for both systems, though in some cases that might mean buying used (and will always be expensive, regardless). So for someone like me, who has no intention or desire to become a pro, but does want to take as good a picture as I'm capable of, having more pro choices won't make a difference. I'm not going to buy pro gear at all (the idea of owning one lens for over $1,000 sends shivers down my spine, I can't imagine buying one that costs $4,000).

I feel the same way about the entry level Nikon cameras not auto-focusing with certain lenses (those without a focus motor). That can definitely be a deal breaker for some people, ones who already know they auto-focus for a particular lens they need that isn't available that way, but for many people who just want a good camera for general use, it's not going to affect them. It's something to be aware of, something that may be a deal-breaker for some but not for others.

You are right that a dSLR sometimes means sometimes you'll find yourself carrying around a lot of extra stuff, but you don't have to. For walk-about there are some lightweight lenses that are quite useful - i.e., the kit lenses. It is surprising how easy it is to carry a camera and a second lens. And the nice thing about a dSLR is that you have so much versatility - you can either drag along everything and the kitchen sink, or you can go very simple and take just the camera and one prime lens, choosing your shots creatively based on the one lens you have with you (definitely improves your skills).

You don't have to get it all at once (in fact, I highly suggest you don't) and you can keep adding things as your budget allows - it's infinitely fascinating and there's always something new to try out (either software processing techniques or useful accessory). Not all hobbies allow you to continue to grow and develop indefinitely, providing years of pleasure and fun. I look at photography as a life-long journey and am in no hurry to get it all now.

My recommendation would be to buy one of the dSLR cameras with the two lenses if you already know you want something with a decent telephoto. If you aren't sure, buy the camera with the basic kit lens, keeping the extra money set aside for something else. Then use the one lens for a couple of months and see what it doesn't do that you really want. Some people will want the telephoto zoom, others will want an external flash, being perfectly happy with the focal length of the kit lens.

The big thing is that you should have fun with your camera. It sounds like you would have fun with a dSLR, and that's what's ultimately important.
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