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Old Jan 25, 2010, 10:32 AM   #1
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Hi everyone!

My name is Kevin Carter. I'm a volunteer FireFighter/EMT in Forked River, NJ. I'm 19, and I just got interested in photography. I registered at 2 other major forums so far and asked about where to start and what cameras to get, but the posts have barely been looked at, let alone replied to. So I'm hoping this will be the last forum I have to go to, because it looks very helpful.

I have ZERO knowledge of photography and basically I don't know where to start. I read some quick 1 page tutorials on composition and viewpoints and a general overview on shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. I still have no idea what they are. I pretty much need a good tutorial on what all of the stuff is, whether it is a website or a book I have to buy.

I don't understand lenses at all. I see a lot of new people getting the 18-55mm kit lenses then getting either at 70-200mm or 55-250mm or a 28-200mm. I see there are zoom lenses, telephoto, wide-angle, and more. People talk about EF and IS and some other things, but all I know is that IS is Image Stabilization. I don't know what lenses are used for what, what the f/(whatever number) thing means and what is good/bad.

I was looking at the Canon EOS Rebel T1i camera, but I have no idea what to get. I could care less about video capabilities; they make video cameras for a reason. I'd like to stay under $750 for camera/lens since it's a starter thing.

I'd like to be able to photograph people at some point down the line, motocross, wildlife, and of course, fires. As for the post-processing, I can get a copy of Light Room, that's not a problem. I have Photoshop already.

One last thing - I read that there are full frame image sensors and cropped sensors or something like that - and that the full size image sensor things are expensive. My question is does that only apply to cameras or lenses too? And if lenses matter, is it better to buy the high end full lens for a future upgrade to a full image sensor camera?

I probably mixed up a good deal of the information I gathered, so hopefully someone is able to sort it out and point me in the right direction.

Thanks for your time,
Kevin
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 10:52 AM   #2
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Hey Kevin.

Welcome to the forums.

I'm going to move your post to our What Camera Should I Buy? Forum so you'll be more likely to get suggestions.

The T1i is a well liked camera in the Canon lineup. As for lenses, you'll probably want something starting out at around 18mm on a camera with an APS-C size sensor.

That's because you'll have a narrower angle of view (more apparent magnification) for a given focal length lens on this type of camera, as compared to a model using a 35mm size sensor or film. Just multiply by 1.6x to see how they compare. IOW, a typical 18-55mm kit lens on a Canon dsLR like the T1i would give you the approximately same angle of view you'd have using a 29-88mm lens on a 35mm camera. If you go with a lens starting out too much longer, you may not be able to back up enough to fit what you want into the frame. That's one reason a lens like that is very popular on a model with an APS-C size sensor.

For more distant subjects, you may also want a lens with longer focal lengths, so that they occupy a larger percentage of the frame.

As for f/stop ratings, aperture as expressed as f/stop as a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris opening. So, smaller f/stop numbers are larger openings.

With a prime (non zoom) lens, you will see one aperture listed.

With a zoom lens, you usually see two apertures listed (the largest available aperture at wide angle zoom setting, and the largest available aperture at the full telephoto zoom position). When in between the widest and longest focal length of the lens, the largest available aperture will fall somewhere in between the apertures shown.

Some higher quality zoom lenses can maintain a constant aperture throughout their zoom range (with f/2.8 being the most common). A lens that can maintain f/2.8 throughout it's focal range is a must have for some types of shots (i.e., night sports in a stadium under the lights). Otherwise, you're going to get a lot of motion blur, even at higher ISO speeds if you subject is moving fast. To put things into perspective, a lens with f/2.8 available is exactly 4 times as bright as a lens that only has f/5.6 available.

For many indoor conditions trying to shoot moving subjects without a flash, even f/2.8 may not be bright enough. Then, you may need to use a brighter prime (fixed focal length versus zoom, since you can find brighter primes versus zooms). But, keep in mind that you can use an external flash in many indoor conditions (bouncing it for more diffused lighting).

Lenses are rated by their largest available apertures (smallest f/stop numbers). But, most lenses can be set to use apertures of f/22 or smaller.

When you vary the aperture, you're controlling the iris in the lens (which like a pupil in your eye, can be opened up to let in more light or closed down to let less light in). So, this impacts the shutter speeds you'll need for proper exposure (since more or less light is getting through to the sensor).

The aperture scale in one stop increments (with larger than f/1 apertures theoritically available) goes f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22... With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (represented by higher f/stop numbers), you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure for the same lighting and ISO speed (only half the light gets through compared to a one stop larger aperture).

But, wider available apertures also means a larger and heavier lens for a given focal range. So, there are tradeoffs.

As for lenses designed for full frame (EF) versus lenses designed for an APS-C size sensor (EF-S), both can be used on a camera like the T1i. But, only EF lenses can be used on a model with a larger sensor or film size. The main advantage of an EF-S lens is reduced size and weight. That's because the image circle doesn't need to be as large to cover the smaller APS-C size sensors. With an EF lens on a camera using an APS-C size sensor, only the middle portion is needed (the rest of the image circle being projected just isn't used in a camera with a smaller sensor size).

As for quality... lens quality can make a big difference, depending on what you're shooting. For just getting started, the kit lenses are usually a real good idea (especially since they usually don't add much to the cost of the camera body alone). In the Canon lineup, the 18-55mm IS lens is also well liked. That way, you can determine if they have any limitations in the conditions you shoot in more often than are holding you back. Then, you can make better informed decisions later before investing a lot of money in lenses (that could end up sitting on a shelf if they're the wrong focal range, too large and heavy, etc.).
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:00 AM   #3
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Welcome,

You may want to check out www.dslrtips.com they have youtube video workshops for new dslr owner. Green lantern are good books to learn the exact camera you are getting.

With you lens question, EF is canon system for electronic focus or Auto Focus lens. Any EF lens will work on all canon EOS camera bodies, no matter how old the lens is. Canon put imagine stabilizing in their lens vs in the body like pentax or olympus. Some say it works a little better then in body system. But to have that feature on all your lenses, you will need to get IS lenses only. But to be honest, with shorter focal lengths IS is generally not need. EF-s are canon lenses design for their crop bodies only. S is for the short flange. If you do zoom out, I would recommend getting a IS model with the canon.

The canon ef 70-200mm is a L lens it comes in a IS and no IS version, a top of the line mode at almost 1000. It is a pros lens. The ef-s 55-250 consumer lenses, but it is a pretty sharp lens. The ef 28-200mm is no longer made, and it does not off IS.

With your interest in motorcross you may want to get a faster zoom lens then the ef-s 55-250mm and go with the EF 70-300mm IS USM. The ef lens has a faster motor for the autofocus then the ef-s lens. But this lens is 2x the money of the ef-s 55-250mm.

With the Full Frame vs Crop body and the lens question. The canon FF body is 2500 dollars. If you see yourself needing the pro body like the 5D mk II, then I would consider only getting EF series lenses. If not the crop body is a great format, and the EF-s lenses are just as good as the EF lenses, excluding the L series lenses.

Actually the T1i canon's top of the line Rebel, it is a high end "entry level" dslr. But perform like a prosumer level camera. You will get allot of use out of it. Since your interest is taking photos of fires, and they come at night too, the higher ISO abilities of this camera will let you can the night photo without a flash.

You can find the T1i for about 729 now with the ef-s 18-55. Sorry you missed the canon rebate that ended last weekend. You could have gotten the T1i with the ef-s 18-55 and ef-s 55-250 for 820. Hope this helps. If I missed anything let me know. I will try to answer your questions. Thanks
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Last edited by shoturtle; Jan 25, 2010 at 11:07 AM.
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:11 AM   #4
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Thanks for moving this and for the replies. Well that makes more sense, but it seems a little confusing still. Is there a good in-depth guide on each individual thing? (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) Aperture is confusing with the numbers. I don't understand why the scale goes the way it does with the random numbers, unless there is a formula or pattern I'm not seeing...

I'm assuming an APS-C sensor is the standard for the smaller size ones? And from what I gather of what you explained, having an EF lens is fine and will work on a camera like the T1i, you just don't use it's full capacity. It is also heavier. But in the future if I decided to upgrade to a camera with a full size sensor, those lenses are what I would need and if I already had them it would make everything easier?

I agree with starting with the kit lens being the best option, so pretty much I just need some in-depth guides to go through, and is the T1i right for me? Or is it too much?

Also, is it worth getting one of those books like "Canon T1i for Dummies"? And is it better to buy Canon lenses with the camera? Or go with like Sigma or these other brands I see that mount to Canons?

Shoturtle - Thanks for the more detailed response on the lenses. I like to plan for the future, and it also seems like the stuff holds its value, so should things change and I didn't need the stuff anymore or decided to just stick to like an enthusiast level, I could sell them to someone or keep them and use them.

With EF-S, what does crop body mean? And Short Flange? Sorry - I'm not familiar with all of these terms.

Also, what does USM mean in "EF 70-300mm IS USM"? And is there any different between the EF 70-200mm and the EF 70-300 IS USM? Aside from the obvious 100mm extra zoom.

How can you tell if one lens has a faster zoom motor than another lens? Is that just from common knowledge based on experience? Or is there an easy way to tell?
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:22 AM   #5
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Here's a post that may help you understand some of the basic concepts of exposure. Note that the same principles apply to both film and digital.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/we...ml#post1040267

As for APS-C being a commonly used standard, yes it's normally found in entry level models from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony. Olympus models use slightly smaller sensors.

As for lenses, you have to take them on a case by case basis. You have very good, and not so good (to put it mildly) lenses from all of the major manufacturers (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc.).

Again, for just starting out, I'd get one of the camera manufacturer's kits, including a lens like the EF0S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS in the Canon lineup. A second lens for bringing in further away subjects is also a good idea. For example, a lens like the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS would be a popular choice for many daylight conditions. But, I wouldn't spend a lot of money up front on lenses until you have a better understanding of how one can limit you versus another in various areas, which you'll learn as you gain experience with a camera and realize what (if any) shortcomings a given lens has for the conditions you shoot in more often.

As for USM, that stands for Ultra Sonic Motor (which means the lens has a fast focus motor type built in). Canon makes more than one type of USM (with the "Ring" type being the fastest). As for a Canon 70-200mm, which one? They make more than one lens like that. For example, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L, Canon 70-200mm f/4L, etc. ;-)
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:23 AM   #6
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With a crop body, the flange on the lens that connects to the body does not need to be as far away. So it makes for a more compact lens design over the EF lenses.

USM stands for ultrasonic motor. It is a faster and way quitter motor then the regular dc motors.

The 70-200 is the pro series lens "L". It has higher quality optics in the lens and even better build quality.

With canon any lens with a USM will be faster the one with out, if you get a sigma lens for the canon HSM would tell you it is a fast lens, and OS will tell you it has IS.
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:28 AM   #7
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Note that for your wildlife type photos, you may want something even longer. For example, for birding, a lens like the Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM (a.k.a., the "Bigma") is a popular choice. But, I'd probably get some experience under your belt before spending a lot on lenses. That way, you can make better informed decisions later, after you determine where any lenses you buy up front are holding you back for the types of shots you take more often.
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:31 AM   #8
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OK, that all makes more sense now. Now, after I finally get a chance to order a camera, which might be a little while from now, I'll play with the 18-55mm lens for a while. What would be a good 2nd lens for a zoom lens? I see a lot of 55-250mm lenses being the next choice, but which specific one?
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:32 AM   #9
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I am a fan of the dummies book personally. But some think they work great.
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Old Jan 25, 2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
I am a fan of the dummies book personally. But some think they work great.
Based on the way you wrote that sentence I'm guessing you meant you AREN'T. I was just using it as an example because it was the first that came to mind.

Are there any good books on photography/that camera that would be worth getting? Or is it easier to learn from websites and stuff as you go?
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