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Old Jul 15, 2010, 11:43 PM   #21
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It does work, but if you are looking to do more then basic hdr and want to do tone mapping, you will get better results by shooting a bracket and doing the hdr on the mac.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 10:34 AM   #22
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MacMum--
I probably shouldn't be chiming in here, since I'm far from a professional (actually just back into cameras after 5 years off), but some thoughts crept into my brain... now they're creeping out of my keyboard.

(1) Someone mentioned "full-frame." If you want to become a pro photographer, you'll want those big, awesome cameras with big, awesome sensors. Most of the sub-$1000 cameras on the market today come with kit lenses that are made for the smaller dSLR sensors (like the Canon "Ef-S" lenses). But full-frame lenses can be big and heavy, and most importantly, expensive (if you buy good glass). And, if you buy a $1000 lens today, you're probably stuck with that brand for a while. Another option is just to buy a good lower-end dSLR (like those that have been mentioned before) and learn on it. In a few years, you upgrade and sell the dSLR and get something new. Even today, I can sell my original digital rebel for 1/2 to 1/3 of what I paid for it, 5 years ago. How many other pieces of electronics are worth 50% of what you paid for them 5 years ago?

(2) Keep your eyes out for deals. B&H Photo often sells "reconditioned" cameras for hundreds of dollars less than current retail. And there's no appreciable difference.

(3) Consider something a generation or two older. I got into dSLR photography 5 years ago by continuously trolling eBay. I found an auction of a guy selling an original Digital Rebel, Battery Grip, kit lens, a crappy 100-300mm lens with magnifiers, and a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens. That professional quality L lens alone was worth over $1200, and they STILL sell it new for $1200 today. (http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0CDoQ8wIwAQ#)
But he sold the whole kit for $1200. And because the lens was being sold with a Digital Rebel, my guess is that most people looking for an entry level dSLR thought $1200 was too much. (Sadly, I dropped the lens, and instead of trying to get it fixed, I threw it away. I had no idea that you could fix it for a couple hundred dollars.... But I digress.)

Modern dSLRs are generally superior from legacy systems in a few areas: (a) More megapixels, (b) nicer LCD screens on the back, (c) better in-camera processing, (d) sensors that are better at shooting in low light with less noise, (e) faster performance (writing to cards... maybe focusing), and (f) maybe a few more bells and whistles (new shooting modes, HD video, etc.). (d) is really an upgrade, but the rest maybe you don't care too much. Since you have a little baby, video may be important, but there are still older dSLR cameras that shoot video. (Does it really have to be HD?). Megapixels should almost never be a consideration for an amateur, so long as the camera has at least 5. I have a framed 18x24" photo on my wall taken by a 3.1 MP Canon in 2003. Now, once you get up close to the picture, you can see the pixels, but the point is that 6, 8, 9, 10 megapixels is more than enough for any sized print. Higher megapixels just allows more flexibility in cropping, but if you're practicing your technique, your shots should be framed pretty close in the camera when you're taking the pictures anyway. Otherwise, megapixels just get in the way (more noise, unnecessarily large files necessitating larger memory cards, etc...). A nice big LCD screen on the back just encourages chimping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimping). Better in-camera image processing is nice, but if you're going to be a pro, shoot RAW, and do tons of stuff on your Mac in post, many of those features don't matter either.

What I'm saying is, think about a mid-range, older camera that will give you all the features you need to learn the technical aspects of photography, and move up from there. You can get a Canon 30d body for $350 on eBay, or a Rebel Xsi with a kit lens for $450 (which leaves you room to buy one or two nice, usable lenses). I'm sure there are many other great legacy cameras out there that would totally work but save you money now.

If you really like this photography stuff, then just start putting away $50-$100 a month, and in two years you'll be ready to break into the serious stuff (i.e. buy one lens).

Curious as to what others might think of that strategy.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 10:48 AM   #23
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OK, I'll chime in. For your stated needs of doing outside portrait work - you can do that with any system. You will want at least an external flash as that's important outdoors for fill. Your success will be determined more by your skills at posing, choosing location and controlling light.

If you are talking weddings - that's a whole different ballgame. There the conditions are tougher, the expectations are tougher and the stress is tougher - so gear becomes much more of a factor. Canon, Nikon and Sony are good areas for that - they all have good colors, good selection of high quality lenses etc.

Personally - if you have friends shooting Nikon that may be a very good route if you want to do weddings down the road. You might be able to buy used gear from them and could get great advice about specific lenses available etc.

For the casual portrait work no need for all the stuff those other systems offer. But for wedding work, those other systems certainly offer more than pentax system. Not to say you can't shoot weddings with pentax - so don't get me wrong. I'm just saying, the lens offerings, camera offerings and flash systems give the other systems a leg up for that type of serious work.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 3:13 PM   #24
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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your time.

There is one point I would like to correct for everyone. I don't want to do weddings. I will never do weddings. You couldn't pay me enough money to shoot a wedding. If I do decide to go into photography as a business I think I want to do outdoor portraits, full length, up close. I may do some HDR work as well but that is secondary.

Now today I went out and played with some cameras. I played with the Nikon d5000 and the Canon T1i. Of the two I actually came out liking the Canon more. On a completly physical level the Canon was a better fit for my hand. I thought the Nikon was bulkier, but I do have very very small hands. I was able to focus and take some nice shots with Auto mode on the Canon. I really liked the AF points that lit up on the Canon. The Nikon seemed to take nice photos for the clerk but I could not duplicate it. Opps baby is awake. I will be back with more.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 5:14 PM   #25
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If the fit and feel of the canon is better for you, that is most likely the better tool for you.
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