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Old 01-13-2008, 03:00 PM   #1
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Default Looking into getting started with a Digital SLR

With tax time coming up, i am considering upgrading from my Canon S1 IS to possibly a DSLR camera. i have little to no experience with SLR cameras but i do know that i want a very flexible camera with zoom, and low light shooting. I have done a lot of playing around with the manual settings on my Canon IS, and am starting to think that SLR is the way to go for the next camera, especially in comparison to the $400 price tag for the new S5 IS. I havent really thought about price range that i want to get into, but I expect to spend anywhere from 500-1000 with a lense.

What advice can people give with getting started with SLR?

How do i know it is the right choice for me?

What are the pros and cons of SLR?

What are some suggestions on starter DSLR cameras?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-13-2008, 03:27 PM   #2
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My suggestions... you can't really go wrong with choices from Canon/Nikon and even Sony.

- Nikon D80. Excellent camera, positioned to compete above the Rebel XTi but a tad below the 30D/40D. I recommend either the 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 or 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 for starter kit lenses, both are rather quite good. It'* a model that has been out for a while now, you should be able to shop around for a good deal on one.

- Canon 400D / Digital Rebel XTi, however I am not officially recommending it because I rather dislike Canon DSLR ergonomics and interfaces... they're #1 more for reputation and accessory selection. I can't particularly think of anything else where Canon really excels above the rest. Most people won't tell you this. 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is the kit lens, and will do. You'll find yourself outgrowing it eventually.

- Sony Alpha DSLR-A200. This baby was just announced this week, and before anybody tells you about a lack of accessory support, know that you have 20 years worth of Minolta compatibility in terms of lenses. In-body stabilization, meaning you won't have to buy IS lenses. I shoot with an A700 myself, which with the 18-70 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is a bit out of your budget at $1400 USD.

I'm not particularly well versed on Pentax, but I know they do have some decent offerings available and are worth checking out. Olympus models are cheap, but I am not really a fan of them due to their small image sensors (high ISO noise performance is fairly poor) and the "four thirds" lens mount system is somewhat underwhelming - you get what you pay for.

Pros of SLR... image quality, high ISO noise performance, speed, expanded controls
Cons... weight/size/bulkiness, potentially limited zoom ranges with particular lenses, cost, not being able to take it absolutely everywhere

Get as much time as you can playing with different DSLR'*... that'll tell you for sure.
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Old 01-13-2008, 03:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Looking into getting started with a Digital SLR

Personally, I like the Canon digital Rebel...but I've been using the AE-1 for years and bought the Rebel a few years ago just because of it'* price, and it'* a Canon (my old lenses work with an adapter mount, though as manual lenses only, even the Kowa 65mm spotting scope...I haven't tried it on my brother'* 10" reflector telescope, but I would venture a guess that it will work there as well.)

Kit Lens.. yeah, the stock lens that comes with the camera is a general purpose snapshot lens, not really exceptional in any regards...but then again, nost kit lenses are like that, even back when they were film SLR'*. It good enough to get going with, until you find you are always looking for lens better suited to the subject matter.

If you are just making the transition from film to digital, it'* a real shock as to how much you will use the camera....flip side is that no camera will correct poor technique.
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Old 01-13-2008, 05:36 PM   #4
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yeah..For your experiance you need a rebel. XTI most likely. They are great for just starting to take photos and experianced photographers as well since it offers manual and auto settings.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:06 PM   #5
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i'm going to have to go against the rebel also... i find them very plasticy and cheap, as well as bad (uncomforatable) ergonomics... i would go to the store and handle them all. navigate through the menus and see which ones you like best.
remember, the lens has MUCH more of an effect on image quality than the body itself. you do not need lots of megapixels. don't cheap out on the lens, you will wish you had gone with a higher quality one later. i learned this the hard way.

I love my D50. the D80 is good also, as was mentioned.

and don't be afraid to buy used as long as you are able to inspect it in person, and take some test shots. you can get much better equipment for your budget, if you dont have to buy new.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Looking into getting started with a Digital SLR

Quote:
Originally Posted by clm2112
but then again, nost kit lenses are like that, even back when they were film SLR'*.
Are you sure? In the good old days, kit lenses were often the 50mm f/1.7 to f/2 prime lenses that could easily make your eyes bleed from the sharpness
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:23 PM   #7
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the nikon D80 kit lens (18-70) is excellent. the D50'* kit lens (18-55) is decent also, though not quite as good.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:33 PM   #8
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I'm currently looking into a DSLR as well. Nikon D40X was my first choice until I began looking into it more seriously. Each manufacturer will have their pros and cons, but frankly for a beginner, I would recommend focusing your attention on lenses. I've pretty much decided on the Sony A100 line (coming in around $600 for the body and basic 18-55 lens). I firmly believe that choosing a camera body is not the most important part. Its a matter of preferences. Things like build quality, screen sizes, and other bells and whistles are pretty much the same across the board.

I like the look and feel of the Nikon line, but will be opting for the Sony because all the lens technology is Minolta. Minolta has a helluva lot of lens history behind it and technology in front of it.

www.dpreview.com is a great site for learning and comparing DSLR cameras.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:45 PM   #9
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keep in mind that the d40 does NOT have a build in AF motor, so older lenses will be manual focus only.
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Old 01-13-2008, 07:08 PM   #10
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I think you'll find that people are highly loyal to either Canon or Nikon, and the reasons often tend more towards the emotional than the rational.

Really, though, the camera doesn't matter. Sure, play with them and get one that you like and isn't too expensive. After the purchase is done, go out and take pictures! Take lots of photos. Read about photography. Join photography forums and talk about photography with others. Enter photo contests.

In the right hands, a cheap point-and-shoot can take better photos than the fanciest DSLR. The photographer makes the photo, not the camera.

Yes, some things will make the process easier, and yes, you're better off spending money on lenses than camera bodies, but the single thing that will have the most impact on your photos is your photographic skill, and that can only come through practice and study.

Have fun!
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