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Old Nov 7, 2011, 9:49 PM   #1
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Default new to dslr... too many options!

ok, background:
i grew up (and was spoiled by) having pretty free access to my mom's 1970s nikon F2. fully manual, only needed batteries for the light meter, so i'm used to having complete control over all settings for my shots.

fast forward to now... i've gone through a couple digital point and shoot cameras, but i'm getting back into photography as more than just snapshots and i'm tired of having to outsmart my cannon powershot to try to make it do what i want. plus i'd really like better image quality than it can probably provide. but there are so many dslr options with stuff i probably dont even need, i dont know where to start and my head is about to explode.

the unicorn i am looking for:

-the ability to manually control everything beyond just aperture priority/shutter priority... this is less about me being anal and more about the fact i'm just used to it and its how my brain works.

- good enough image quality for an 8x10 print. i'm not looking to sell anything, or get anything larger than that printed, but i would like to put my own pictures up on my walls.

- good in low light/night without flash.

- it does not need to shoot video.

- i'd like it to have a fast enough shutter response that i can catch my cameraphobic boyfriend's face before he realizes what's happening.

- mostly used for candid portraits, landscapes, abandoned buildings... stuff i'm fairly close too. no plans for needing zoom or ultra-macro lenses.

- would like exposure bracketing so i can play around some with HDR, though its not necessary.

- it can be big and heavy if necessary, i have the p&s if i need something that fits in my pocket.

- the kicker: i'm going to school, so i dont want to outgrow it for a few years since i wont be able to afford to just go out and buy anther one. and i'd like to be out the door for less than $1,000 so i can, you know, still eat.

does this camera exist, or am i going to need to sacrifice some expectations until i graduate and can pay more?
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 1:58 AM   #2
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One item on my mind today is that I took my new lens in for repair and complained some. The girl said they have been getting a lot of problem lenses coming in lately from all companies. So, I think do not get overpowered by someone saying such and such has a bad rep.

Myself, 2 sons all have Pentax slr cameras. One has a w90 I think which he dropped in a lake and it came up still going. They make as good as lens as anyone and the bodies seem a little smaller especially the new K5. The company has been around it seems forever since I was a kid in 50s when my Dad first bought his first Spotmatic. I later went to the Canon A1 but changed to Pentax 645 in 1991 and have stayed with them since. Pentax seems to have less models to get confused with when making a choice it seems.

My old Canon lenses are now useless. But old Pentax may still be used on new digital bodies, even my 645 lenses.

Last edited by gkkemp; Nov 8, 2011 at 2:04 AM. Reason: correcting some spelling and added some info
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 3:21 AM   #3
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What's your budget? What's your preferred focal length?

From what you describe, you may be a candidate for the camera which has relegated my Canon 5D2 to the closet.

Fuji X100. Superb IQ, especially in low light. Good lens. Fully manual controls. Great viewfinder. A lot smaller and lighter than a DSLR. Very stealthy with a shutter that makes any DSLR sound like an explosion, even a Leica is much louder. Also looks incredibly stylish.

You might also have a look at the Fuji X10 if you want a zoom.

If you want a DSLR you can pretty much choose anything, choose according to budget, there are no bad cameras around. It will help if you can figure out what kind of lens you want first.
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 4:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easy rider View Post
-the ability to manually control everything beyond just aperture priority/shutter priority... this is less about me being anal and more about the fact i'm just used to it and its how my brain works.
Welcome to the forum.

Just about any DSLR will allow full manual control of aperture, shutter speed
and ISO.

Quote:
- good enough image quality for an 8x10 print. i'm not looking to sell anything, or get anything larger than that printed, but i would like to put my own pictures up on my walls.
Not much of a challenge for any recent DSLR.

Quote:
- good in low light/night without flash.
DSLRs are a lot better than P&S cameras in low light. For best
results, you will need to use a fast (large aperture) lens.

Quote:
- it does not need to shoot video.
You will have a hard job finding a current DSLR that can't shoot
video.

Quote:
- i'd like it to have a fast enough shutter response that i can catch my cameraphobic boyfriend's face before he realizes what's happening.
This is another area where DSLRs have a big advantage over P&S.

Quote:
- mostly used for candid portraits, landscapes, abandoned buildings... stuff i'm fairly close too. no plans for needing zoom or ultra-macro lenses.
You might say that now, but when you have a new DSLR, you will be
overcome by a strong urge to buy lots of new lenses.

Quote:
- would like exposure bracketing so i can play around some with HDR, though its not necessary.
Auto exposure bracketing is a standard feature on most DSLRs. One
notable exception is the Nikon D3100.

Quote:
- it can be big and heavy if necessary, i have the p&s if i need something that fits in my pocket.
Entry to mid level DSLRs are all of similar size, weight and image quality.

Quote:
- the kicker: i'm going to school, so i dont want to outgrow it for a few years since i wont be able to afford to just go out and buy anther one. and i'd like to be out the door for less than $1,000 so i can, you know, still eat.

does this camera exist, or am i going to need to sacrifice some expectations until i graduate and can pay more?
Yes, you can get a very good camera for arond $1000 these days. All of them
will meet your list of requirements. A few you might consider (in no particular order
of preference).

Nikon D5100
Canon T2i (550D) or T3i (600D) if you need the flip-out LCD.
Pentax K-r

Sony also make some fine DSLRs. Canon and Nikon have the largest
range of lenses and accessories. Go to a camera shop and handle a
few cameras. As there is very little difference between the image quality
and price of the top brands, the choice often comes down to the
look-and-feel of the camera.
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 5:22 AM   #5
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From what you say, I don't think there's a dSLR on the market that won't do what you want. I think it's important for you to go to a good camera store, and see how each of the cameras (within your budget) feels in your hands. If you can't comfortably hold the camera, if you can't find the controls and commands when you need them, you'll miss shots and be dissatisfied with the camera.
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 9:54 AM   #6
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A nice "all rounder" would be the Canon 600D with the 18-135 IS lens attached- being offered around the web as a decent "kit" price- or maybe the 18-55is lens will suffice if you don't need the extra zoom.
Peripatetic's suggestion of the Fuji X100 is a good one- stunning image quality and great in low light- again,provided you don't need the zoom.
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 10:56 AM   #7
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The differences between brands are fairly mild (exception for the rad Sony SLT-series). So vee get to split hairs a lot. My experience has been that what I loved / hated most about a camera I have actually owned was something that never occurred to me when I was shopping for the camera. Long way of saying - expect surprises. One approach I have found useful is to download and compare sample images from different cameras. If you like to browse, lots more thoughts on this site, examples:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com//s...d.php?t=180093

http://forums.steves-digicams.com//s...d.php?t=190751

http://forums.steves-digicams.com//s...d.php?t=193135

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Last edited by KCook; Nov 8, 2011 at 11:29 AM.
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Old Nov 8, 2011, 11:43 AM   #8
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As has been mentioned already, most any of the dslr out there today will meet your needs. However, some will provide more tools for you to use now and will be a better option for the future, shield you decide to get more serious and want additional lenses.

Basically, the differences between the entry level dslr and the slightly more expensive ones are better build quality, more controls, buttons and features to allow for future growth.
As an example, you mentioned you like to shoot in manual and be in total control of all the settings. Well, the Nikon D5100 doesn't have a custom user's mode that would allow you to get up the camera exactly the way you would like the settings to be for a particular type of photography- say night street scenes and then save them for future use.
The Nikon D7000, a slightly more expensive camera has 2 custom user's modes. It also has a lot more adjustments available by way of buttons and controls on the body of the camera, rather than having to go into the menu to make the changes. If you like to shoot in auto, then this isn't much of an advantage. But, if you like to tinker with settings (as I do), this is a major consideration.

And don't get me wrong that only Nikon has this capability as Canon's Dslrs do as well. Just using the Nikons as an example.

My suggestion to you is to list down all the things you think are important to you, then go to a reputable Camera Shop- (Not a big box store) and discuss your requirements with the rep there.

As has been already said, make sure and hold the cameras, compare feature sets, locations of buttons and controls. Go thru the menus - do they make sense to you? look thru the viewfinder- is it tiny or is it large enough for you to see. If you wear glasses, the viewfinder should have a diopter for adjusting to your eyes. Also, make are you can see clearly with your glasses on.
Does the camera have a couple of custom user's modes?

Last as far as lenses go, street shooting and night shooting can be best done using a relatively fast lens such as a 50mm f1.8 or 35mm f1.8 lens.
Both are relatively inexpensive and would keep your initial cost down as well keep the size/weight of the camera down to a minimum.

Good luck in your hunt


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