My first digital SLR camera.

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Natohog, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Gents,

    I am looking for a good digital SLR camera. I believe the warden said I could spend around 1k (I'd rather buy a rifle). What should I be looking for, what should I spend, what should I avoid? New/used/brick and mortar/amazon/ebay/craigslist? Thanks in advance.

  2. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    Get new. Like most digital stuff, cameras are superseded very quickly.

    Even the entry level cameras from good brands like Canon and Nikon take great photos, so I recommend spending less on the camera and more on the lenses. If the budget allows it might also be worth getting an external flash unit. The build in ones are pretty weak.
  3. There's a host of info in these archives. Search the threads. I do think it's important to go out and handle each model you're interested in. A camera's such a tactile thing.
  4. You can buy a Canon 60D with the kit 18-135 lense pretty good deal.
  5. If you have ANY questions id be more than glad to help
  6. Over 25 years in photography...

    Go to a store and play with ALL brands, get a feel of which one you prefer, which comes naturally for you.

    Quality: they are very close to being equal.

    Nikon's sensor are made by Sony btw... so any Nikon you get, you can probably save a lot by getting a Sony, but the caveat is that just about all of SONY's newer cameras aren't optical viewers... too much to explain, you're better to read about it, as while the downside is that it's not an optical viewer, there's advantage to it.


    I believe that all brands, from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax, etc.... can all provide you with great images, the differences are:

    Ease of use, the worse: Canon; the best: Sony
    Availability of lens and accessories: the best: Canon and Nikon (of course); the worse: all others
    Quality of lens and accessories: just about all the same, but you need to read bout the particular lens that interest you.
    Prices: overall would be Sony (due to being able to use the old Minolta AF lenses) where a very high quality lens can be half the price of the competitors, but availability can hamper finding them.

    Think about what sort of photography you want to get into... action, nature, wide shots, close ups, etc.

    The best advice I can give you if that you have to look at it from the point of view that once you buy into a brand, you might find yourself invested with your decision, and the most important thing are the lenses, you can buy any camera from the some brand/series and reuse the lenses.

    So if you get yourself a decent lens, you can get the lowest priced camera with just the basics so to learn, and once you are ready to move up, you just get the new camera body, and you will still have your lens.

    And for a beginner's lens... a good quality one, with the larger aperture, with macro capacity, and a decent range: I'd say something in the range of a 28mm-150mm, F2.0 or better.

    If you want to save money, a few details:

    Lens, as long as they are in good shape, they will be fine, you can buy used.

    Body: cameras have a lifespan of a certain number of shots before the curtain and mechanics will start dying on you, so for a startup camera, either buy a low model or get a used one with the knowledge that once you feel ready to move up, then you can get a new one.

    If you decide to buy used for a high level model, make sure that you get an image count (how many images have been taken with the camera, to determine the expected remaining life). You probably can get a camera rebuilt and inspected to bring it back to new status, but the workmanship would probably not save you much if anything compare to buying new.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  7. You guys are the best, thanks
  8. rearviewmirror

    rearviewmirror Moderator Emeritus

    i'm looking at a canon rebel t2i kit. Great reviews, now I just need to find one for CHEAP.
  9. What should I be looking for more pix, or speed, etc?
  10. johnniegold

    johnniegold Moderator Emeritus

    I am a novice at best and I purchased a Canon Rebel XS and it suits my needs just fine. I think it's a good entry-level DSLR at a decent price point.
  11. I looked for quite a while a month or two before Christmas. I picked one of these up off of Amazon. The T2i kit came with two lenses. The first lens is an okay 18-55 mm lens. It is one of the IS models which is what this camera is designed to use. The second lens is a 75-300 Canon lens but is not an IS lens. This second lens seriously isn't a great match for this particular camera but my daughter likes it all the same and it's fine off of a tripod.

    I saw these kits priced all over the board from $589 to $829 with these two particular lenses. I jumped on it when I saw it for under $600. It was one of their hourly specials, they also threw in an Amazon camera backpack, which was much better than I expected and a 16 mb memory card. It takes a very nice picture and she's having fun using it. I haven't seen this particular kit quite this cheap since but I have seen the same thing for under $700. In fact, I think had one of these in this price range just a week or so ago. Don't quote me on that one.
  12. I started a similar thread about 6 months ago and went through 3 weeks of indecision and reading, reading, reading. I could never get to grips with the Canon 550D or 600D- I was always more lost playing around with those models than with any other. They take great pictures though. Last time I had a playaround in a shop, just to confirm my decision to myself, it was almost impossible to seperate the main 5 models in the mid-level sector- Nikon D5100, Sony Alpha A55, Sony alpha A580, Canon 600D. Build and image quality are so well-matched- almost suspiciously well in fact. That said, the Alpha is the quickest to focus, the 600D has the most detail and the D5100 is best in low light.
  13. jrm


    I'm a Canon user, so I can recommend the t2i very highly. I have one as a backup for my 5D. It is an 18mp camera, quite easy to use, records 1080p video, does well in low light, etc...

    As an aside, I don't find the Canons to be hard to use at all. Of course, it's all I use, so... But, to each his own. I have found them to be quite user friendly and have recommended them to many people beginning to dabble in photography. Really, I think it all comes down to preference. Nikon makes great cameras, I'm just a Canon guy. I could have just as easily been a NIkon guy.

    I got my t2i from the Canon Refurbished store because I wanted a backup that I could also use for video projects at my job. I enjoyed the camera so much that when my father called up asking about getting his first DSLR, I recommended the t2i for him as well. When our church secretary contacted me with the same question, I pointed her in the same direction. From the Canon refurb store you can get a t2i with the normal kit lens (18mm-55mm) for $560 ( That would give you a very nice camera to start with, and to grow with for quite some time. If you have an old broken Canon camera laying around (point and shoot, film, etc..) you can look into the Canon Loyalty Program. I've used that program and traded in an old broken point-n-shoot and received an additional 20% discount on the refurbished gear. It is a very affordable way to start.

    The bonus of these programs are that you'll have a good size chunk of cash left over to put towards whatever else (additional lenses, tripod... rifle). Lenses get expensive, but there are great deals to be had out there. The Canon 50mm 1.8 can be found used for under $100. It's a fun lens and a great introduction to prime lenses and larger apertures. I use it all the time... even when I've got a few L lenses in the bag. There's also a 55-250 lens that won't break the bank that I've seen people use and enjoy. I've never used one, but I've heard it's a decent versatile lens to see how you like working with zooms and getting some extra reach out of your camera for a smaller dent in your wallet. Good luck!

    Also, if you like to scour forums for info (or for deals), take a look here : It's pretty much a Canon specific site, but there are LOTS of knowledgable people there and you can see some great examples of what the t2i can do (or 60D, or 7d, etc...) Plus they have a pretty active Classifieds section (you may have to register to see them, but its free).

    Phew! Best of luck.

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  14. +1, altho what are you going to use it for, primarily? I also agree that the lens/lenses are more important than the camera, so even a 40D would be a good choice and buy a better lens.
  15. In my opinion technology has progressed faster than customer's needs in the last decade. Something with 6-8 megapixels will take great photos that can be enlarged to reasonable sizes, back when a 30D or Rebel XT came out they were the best thing since sliced bread the resolution was better than 35mm film, the autofocus was fast and accurate, metering was adequate, they were great cameras. Every model since then has had improvements, and I don't mean to downplay the improvements, but honestly the value of those improvements depends entirely upon you as a photographer. If you don't care about video why pay extra for a camera that will shoot HD video, if you don't care about photographing constellations why pay more for a camera that has superior low light performance...? I have no problem recommending older equipment as long as it's in good condition and meets your minimum needs there's no reason to spend more for newer equipment with features you'll never use.
  16. I agree with much of the above post. My 10MP S95 gives clear, noiseless prints up to 11 by 14" at lo ISOs. But go much beyond 350 and it starts to break down. This is fine in B&W where some grain adds texture, or at least doesn't ruin the image. Hi ISO performance is an issue for me personally purely due to my desire to be able to print larger- these tiny little specks which are un-noticeable at "family album" sizes don't half annoy beyond A4. Of course a 500D or 600D is pretty noise-free anyway, but the D5100 has the lead. You might factor in colour palate too- I find the colour rendition from Nikon a bit cold compared to my Canon.
  17. rearviewmirror

    rearviewmirror Moderator Emeritus

    fyi, target is running a deal on the rebel t3 i think, with a second lens, for $600
  18. Pick Either Canon or Nikon DSLR - Both are exceptional..but you have to make a choice between bulky & light or ease of use...
    I personally own Nikon D5100 great for 700$ :D
  19. I bought into Nikon in 1976 when I bought an F2AS. Over the years I built up quite a collection of Nikon lenses. I have always subscribed to 'Amateur Photographer', and just before my birthday in 2008 my girlfriend was reading it and said, 'this new Nikon D40x will take your lenses won't it'. Guess what turned up on my birthday. I have since bought the 12-24mm VR and 18-200mm VR lenses, as although my old lenses do fit they do not have the electrical connections so they do not allow all the functions. Unfortunately these new lenses are made for the smaller sensor size of the cheaper range of Nikon DSLRs and will not work on my old film Nikons, or the newer pro range of Nikons with the full sized sensor.

    Anyway once you buy into a system you will probably be stuck with it for many years to come. If you think you need the latest technology to get great pictures just look at the photos taken during the American Civil War, and the photos taken by the likes of Ansel Adams and Eugene Smith.
    Their pictures could not be improved by the latest digital technology.

  20. The hardest part of making a buying decision is to have a realistic fix on what it is that you want to do with/get from the camera. Unless you have some knowledge beforehand, the technical aspects are, at best confusing and as worst, misleading. As others have said, you really can't go wrong with any of the major brands and getting hands on is a big plus, as they can be quite different. If you have a friend that can give competent advice, without brand bias, that is a great way to go.
    My particular brand bias is for Pentax cameras; I think that they are excellent cameras and a great value for the money. They lack the Canon/Nikon name exposure in the consumer marketplace, but then again, Leica does also.

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