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Need help choosing a D-SLR


Dave
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I've read about all I can possibly absorb right about these two cameras. The D3100 and the T3i. I don't think I can read any more yet I still don't know the right answer for me. I'm leaning towards the Nikon and a couple of lenses. The 200mm and the better 50mm f/1.8.

 

You're over-thinking this purchase, which is totally normal getting into photography since there's a ton of gear and absolutely no perfect camera/lens/bag. It's always about compromises in all of the gear you buy.

 

Any current model DSLR will be absolutely fine. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus -- they're all good. The question of 12/15/18 megapixels is totally irrelevant to your needs. Buy a kit with an 18-55 or one of the step-up kit lenses in the 18-70 or 18-135 range. If you also want a longer zoom, get that too. 70-200 is a useful popular range outdoors. After a while, if you find yourself wanting a lens for a specific purpose, be it low-light indoor photography or wildlife, buy the lens then.

 

Don't take this the wrong way, but the photos taken with your new camera will suck. Seriously. If you don't take the time to learn a little about your camera, composition, and lighting, you'll have high resolution, low-noise, crappy photos. Luckily, it doesn't take much learning or practice to dramatically improve your photography skills.

 

That's the most practical advice I can give you. That and to buy Lightroom.

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ikon,

 

What I am talking about in terms of sharpness is in most cases, a f/1.8 lens will be sharper than a f/4 lens. Not at f/1.8 and f/4, but at the same aperture. Put both lenses at f/4 and see which is sharper. The f/1.8 lens can stop down to f/4 and kill the f/4 lens in terms of sharpness, but can also go to f/1.8 which the f/4 lens can't.

 

Bokeh, is not an issue with landscape images, but with many other types of photography it is VERY important. There is a big difference between a good smooth boken produce by a quality lens vs the cheaper lenses.

 

As for the fast 50mm, I always advise new DSLR buyers to get one. Not only is it cheap, but it can produce excellent images. Once you are ready to spend a bit more, get a 85mm f/1.8 or even better f/1.4, but you are going to pay for that f/1.4. I have the 85mm f/1.8 and use it to shoot basketball and portraits. It's a great lens.

 

I think we disagree with the crop vs full frame. All mine are crop right now, but my next one will be full frame. The full frame cameras are a good stop or two better in terms of image noise. I think they both will be around for a good bit longer. With the full frame you do have some issues with the edges of the lens and with the longer shots, such as wildlife and sports. But all the pro gear is going full frame (Nikon D3x and D3hs, not sure of the Canon models).

 

And great point about getting to know the camera. I will add "GET OUT OF THE AUTO modes"!!!! Shoot RAW as much as possible! Learn to read the image details before taking the shot (ie, is the shutter speed fast enough for this shot). And, one that many people seem to never learn, get down to the level of your subject. Shots taken of a child by an adult standing up rarely look as good as those taken by someone on the same level as the child/subject, it can really make a big difference.

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You're over-thinking this purchase, which is totally normal getting into photography since there's a ton of gear and absolutely no perfect camera/lens/bag. It's always about compromises in all of the gear you buy.

 

Any current model DSLR will be absolutely fine. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus -- they're all good. The question of 12/15/18 megapixels is totally irrelevant to your needs. Buy a kit with an 18-55 or one of the step-up kit lenses in the 18-70 or 18-135 range. If you also want a longer zoom, get that too. 70-200 is a useful popular range outdoors. After a while, if you find yourself wanting a lens for a specific purpose, be it low-light indoor photography or wildlife, buy the lens then.

 

Don't take this the wrong way, but the photos taken with your new camera will suck. Seriously. If you don't take the time to learn a little about your camera, composition, and lighting, you'll have high resolution, low-noise, crappy photos. Luckily, it doesn't take much learning or practice to dramatically improve your photography skills.

 

That's the most practical advice I can give you. That and to buy Lightroom.

 

Excellent points. I would say stick with Nikon/Canon for the reasons mentioned above. With these two, the lenses choices available to you down the road will be much greater.

 

Many times, images from a DSLR need post processing to bring out their full potential, especially RAW images. Someone who has only shot with a PnS, may think the DSLR doesn't take as good an image. But as you learn the camera and the post-processing, things will get MUCH better. DON'T SHOOT FULL AUTO all the time!!

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You're over-thinking this purchase, which is totally normal getting into photography since there's a ton of gear and absolutely no perfect camera/lens/bag. It's always about compromises in all of the gear you buy.

 

Any current model DSLR will be absolutely fine. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus -- they're all good. The question of 12/15/18 megapixels is totally irrelevant to your needs. Buy a kit with an 18-55 or one of the step-up kit lenses in the 18-70 or 18-135 range. If you also want a longer zoom, get that too. 70-200 is a useful popular range outdoors. After a while, if you find yourself wanting a lens for a specific purpose, be it low-light indoor photography or wildlife, buy the lens then.

 

Don't take this the wrong way, but the photos taken with your new camera will suck. Seriously. If you don't take the time to learn a little about your camera, composition, and lighting, you'll have high resolution, low-noise, crappy photos. Luckily, it doesn't take much learning or practice to dramatically improve your photography skills.

 

That's the most practical advice I can give you. That and to buy Lightroom.

 

You are correct in the over-thinking and I am totally aware of that! I knew that after about 6 hours of research! I can just imagine a lot of people go through this. It's not an impulse type purchase.

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Ok, another question. Why the fast 50 over a 35mm f/1.8? The kit comes with a 18-55. Just wondering what your thoughts are. I see a lot of indoors opportunity with this camera. Low light situations.

 

Thanks again guys. You have helped me through this process and made me think. That helped me realize what I was going to use the camera for. I knew in the beginning but now it seems so much clearer. I don't know how to explain that any better. Just is...

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Don't take this the wrong way, but the photos taken with your new camera will suck. Seriously. If you don't take the time to learn a little about your camera, composition, and lighting, you'll have high resolution, low-noise, crappy photos. Luckily, it doesn't take much learning or practice to dramatically improve your photography skills.

 

 

I completely disagree with this. If you buy the T3i it will take pictures a lot beter than any point and shoot without knowing a thing about the camera. It will be the best pictures you have ever taken. Now, with that said, learning your camera will just make them that much better but it is not required.

 

Also, I don't know a lot about camera's but I know three professional photographers. All three use Canon. That is all I need to know as far as what one to pick.

 

 

Anyone have experience with the alpha SLR's? They look very interesting but I am not sure if they are any good.

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You can't go wrong with either Canon or Nikon. At one point, there was a mad rush of pros over to Canon, that shifted back the other way with the Nikon D3 a couple of years ago. The D3 was a "game changer". That said, since I am not a pro, I see no need in switching back and forth. Canon and Nikon will keep leap frogging each other for a good while. In general terms, Canon usually has the top camera in terms of megapixels (and it will cost you) and Nikon is generally thought to have the better focus, especially in low light.

 

I think what Citezein was talking about, was that RAW images from a DSLR will not look as good as the processed JPEG's coming out of a PnS. PnS images are usually over saturated, but to many people they think this looks better. Now, take a few shots with the 50mm f/1.8 at around f/2 of your kid, and it will blow away those PnS images. Although at that f stop, you could have the nose in focus and the eyes out of focus depending on your distance from the subject, so be careful.

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A few more points to add from others comments:

 

1. f/4 with IS will ONLY equal a f/1.8 lens where hand shake is a problem. The f/1.8 lens will BLOW away the f/4 lens in almost everything else, sharpness, bokeh (blur of the background), SHUTTER SPEED and in many cases color quality.

 

2. Unlike buying a point n shoot, when buying a DSLR you are buying into a "lens system". Sony can't touch Nikon/Canon in this area. Remember, the camera will only last so long, take care of your lenses and the will last MUCH longer than the body.

 

3. Regardless of what lens you get, get a "fast 50". It's more of a portrait lens and then images will blow away that kit lens. On top of that, it only cost about $100. The rare case where an inexpensive lens is also a good lens.

 

4. Anything over 12mp should be fine, I would be more concerned with image noise than squezing out a few more mega pixels.

 

5. Wildlfe? If that is your subject, be prepared to spend some BIG money. As mentioned before, a 300mm is the bottom end of what you will need, even then you will most likely need a 1.4 or 1.7 teleconverter.

 

6. Both of the cameras you are looking at are cropped sensors. This is actually good for wildlife or sports. BUT, pay attention to the lens you buy and if possible, don't lock yourself into a cropped sensor. Down the road you may want to go full frame and any cropped lens is not going to work well.

 

7. Wildlife? You are really going to need a tripod if you seriously want to shoot wildlife. My tripod/ballhead setup ran just at $1,000. You can get cheaper, but like many things in photography, going cheap will actually cost you more in the long run.

 

All this said, just starting out I would say get the kit lens AND the fast 50. Figure out what you want to shoot and how serious you want to get. Build your system over time. If all you want to do is point and shoot, then this setup may be all you need.

 

Can't beleive I missed this category to the forums. While geekaccountant is my name here, the name I use other places is geephotant (geek-photographer-accountant).

 

 

not sure where you're coming from. f1.8 is never as sharp as f4. It is possible that a particularly good f1.8 lens might be sharper than a poor quality f4 lens, but that would be rare. Most lenses are sharpest in the middle of their range. An f1.8 stopped down to f8 will be sharper than it is at f1.4. IMHO bokeh is highly overrated.

 

 

totally, totally agree. Most of us can't afford Leica or Hasselblad lenses, so Nikon/Canon are the best we can get.

 

 

The best portrait lens is slightly telephoto. So, for example, with a 1.6x DSLR sensor, a 50mm would be a good choice because it will shoot like an 80mm, which is a good portrait length. On a full frame sensor it would be a bad choice.

 

 

generally agree. That said, getting a low noise camera that also has lots of pixels is a win-win.

 

 

yeah. 300mm is really pretty short for wildlife. Most pros I knew in the 70s used 600mm or longer.

 

 

I used the feel this way. Not any more. I believe the cropped sensors are going to get better and better and the days of full frame sensors are numbered. I have fallen in love with how light and portable good digital lenses are.

 

 

excellent point. It's very difficult to shoot wildlife handheld. Also, good wildlife photography takes enormous patience.

 

 

we're pretty much on the same page. I only suggested to stick with the kit lens to start just so Dave can get really used to the camera and lens. Then, when he's more comfortable, go for more glass.

 

9. Dave, this isn't really something to do with what to buy but, whatever you buy, spend time to get so familiar with the controls it becomes 2nd nature.The biggest secret of pros is that they know their gear so well they don't even think about it; they can concentrate totally on the shot itself.

 

These two posts are the reason why asking anything about photography really always boils down to a very simply question: Nikon or Canon. It's also why the first thing I pointed out in my post is whether the camera or everything you buy will be under $1000, as the reason I advocated the T2i vs the T3i is because while cameras do advance, they are the items you will replace most often. A quality lens sticks with you throughout time (but is very expensive).

 

I do feel there are general principles to be observed before delving into specific topics like "Is f/1.8 sharper than f4".

1) No camera lens will do everything.

2) Photography is expensive when you get to higher quality lenses

3) You will always need more hard drive space.

4) The only way you're going to get a good shot at night is with either a) a tripod or B) a tripod or c) an act of God shining a lot of light on your subject.

5) The best picture is the one you get a chance to take, so having 25 different lenses is pointless.

 

That's all I have for now.

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I think I have opened up a can of worms with this new forum! Should I just go ahead and start a chevy vs. ford, coke vs. pepsi forum as well? ;)

 

Everyone here is polite enough to disagree nicely and say their peace. I know the level of respect will same as in the regular HSS forum.

 

Just think, the more folks you guys can get into this high megapixel hobby, the more they will need a home server! We are doing a favor for Microsoft!

 

I've taken a lot from all of the conversation in this thread. Now, just pick one and buy it dammit! I know that's what your thinking....

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Ford Sucks! That is all I have to say about that. Actually, I have a funny story. My highschool track didn't allow Ford engines for years because the rear seal on their oil pans would leak from the first day they were in stalled. Some time in the late 80's Ford finally learned how to make a rear seal that didn't leak so the track ran Ford Fridays for almost two years as a promotional campaign. Being a Chevy fan, I thought this was hilarious.

 

 

PS All pop sucks.

 

;)

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