A&P Photograhy Crew: Help Me Pick My First "Good" Camera

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by heebdawg16, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    I've decided I want to take up photography, and am in the market to buy a new camera. My subjects are going to be outdoors; I want to shoot landscapes, nature, and architecture, for the most part. Currently, my only experience is with p&s digicams, like my Canon s400. I don't really know much about photography, but am going to start getting books relating to the matter, and may even consider taking a class when I get my new camera. My total budget (Camera + any required accessories like lenses or memory cards) is going to be $1000, but that doesn't mean I want to spend the full $1000 if I don't have to.

    I'm considering dSLRs, because I want something I can "grow" into. The ones I have looked at, and would consider: Canon Rebel XT and Rebel XTi, and Nikon D40, D50, D70s. A big issue I am wondering about though, is cost of lenses. I am not planning on spending over $400 on a lens anytime soon, so between Canon and Nikon, I'd like to know which have the better lens array to choose from in that price range. For p&s cameras, I've always preferred Canon to any other brand. How are the kit lenses on those cameras, btw?

    I made a thread about this in the main forum yesterday, although worded slightly different...and someone brought up the point that I should consider cameras like the Canon S3 IS, G6, and G7 as well, if I don't want to drop a ton of money on lenses at the moment...so this is another route to consider. However, one thing I was considering though, is that I don't really want to drop over $500 on a fixed lens camera, just because for that price, it would make sense to just jump up to a dSLR.

    Any help would be appreciated. I took a look through the "Best photos of 2006" thread, and god damn, some of you guys are amazing photographers. :bowdown: . I will trust your opinions, help guide this noob in the right direction!
     
  2. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    Let me say that although the S3, G6 and G7 are great cameras, I think that there comes a point that a person has to consider graduating from point-and-shoot and progress towards accessing the more creative controls offered by DSLRs.

    I can't vouch for Canon as I'm a Nikon guy. I think the D40 would be perfect for you because Nikon had your demographic in mind when they designed this camera. It has point-and-shoot convenience in a DSLR body.

    I also do landscape photography and sometimes portrait. So let's work with your budget:

    Nikon D40 with 18-55mm lens: $600
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8: $90
    Nikon SB400 speedlight: $130
    Circular polarizer: ~$30
    Tripod: ~$50
    SD card: get it cheap on eBay

    Let me explain each. The D40 already comes with a well reviewed kit lens, 18-55mm. I recommended the 50mm 1.8 because it's dirt cheap for what it offers. You're going to need the fast aperture this offers when the light goes down. It's also one of the SHARPEST lenses Nikon has. The SB400 speedlight is an option. The camera already has a built in flash but sometimes you'd want a cheap alternative so that you can use bounce flash for portraits and group shots indoors. Since you're going to be doing landscapes, a circular polarizer is a MUST. Every landscape photographer knows this. I recommend the Hoya ones. Also, a good tripod is a must for outdoor photography. For now, just get a cheap one at walmart and progress later to a more stable tripod as your need progresses.

    This set-up should serve you well for the time being when you're getting your feet wet in digital photography. You'll find that you can grow into taking better pictures, certainly better pictures than what you can achieve with point-and-shoot cameras. In time, you'll notice the difference. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
  3. Beeno

    Beeno New Member

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    You could go rebel xt + the 50mm 1.8 lens. the 50 is cheap and has amazing optical quality. you could get the kit lens as well, as a solution for a general purpose zoom. I returned my kit on my xti, but now that I think about it, it'd be nice to have it.
     
  4. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    this is by far the most helpful post i have read yet in my search. I think I have decided with certainty to go the route of a dSLR. I would say the three most likely contenders are the Rebel XT, Rebel XTi, and now the Nikon D40. My only concerns still revolve around the whole lens thing (as in, Nikon vs. Canon, in terms of variety, quality, and low cost), and the fact that the Nikon is only 6mp.

    Also,d oes the lens you mentioned work witht he D40? the D40 apparently cant control some of the older Nikon lenses
     
  5. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    Also, What is a circular polarizer?
     
  6. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    holy shit.

    :bowdown:


    This could be the most helpful post i've EVER seen on OT...

    The lens he's talking about will work on your Nikon D40.

    The xti will push you over your $1k limit if add all of the same things that were suggested, and I do believe all of them are necessary for what you want to do.

    If you did want to go with a Canon, I'd say you go with the xt, but then purchase all of the same extras. Meaning, the 50mm 1.8(canon makes one too...), the flash, polarizer and the tripod.

    When I decided to go from film to digital, I blew my whole load on the D80 and 18-70mm lens. For the first few months I was dying without any of the accessories. I didn't realize how much I relied on them until I didn't have em.
     
  7. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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  8. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    :bowdown: Thank you for that link, very helpful especially w/ the example pictures...

    And I agree, this is by far the most helpful thread that I've ever been a part of on OT. You guys are the shit.

    So D40 vs. the regular XT, you guys would go D40?
     
  9. bntboz

    bntboz ACME user text OT Supporter

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    Nice post!:)

    What are the differences between the lense that comes with the camera and the secondary lense? Is the lense that comes with the camera satisfactory for basic usage of the camera?

    *EDIT* I was just doing some reading in the FAQ (very helpful info in there). Is the lense that comes with the D40 a prime and that's why you need a second lense, for zoom capability?


    I'm looking for a camera that can take decent shot of moving targets.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
  10. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    Also, what exactly does a lens hood do, and would it help with the kind of shooting I am planning on doing?
     
  11. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    One of the first things you'll learn about the megapixel wars is that it has little to do with your photographs. You need to concentrate on more important things such as exposure, white balance, composition, depth of field, and focus among other things. Consumers get caught up with megapixels because manufacturers are sending out the message that you'll see a tremendous difference in your pictures with just a little bump in resolution. In reality, the differences in picture quality between a 6, 8, 10 mp is really trivial. A six megapixel camera can give you fantastic 12x18's (I have done this). Ask yourself, do you really need to go bigger than that? If you do, prepare to shell out $$$ for printing costs.

    About the only reason I'd imagine one would need more megapixels is if you're printing poster size pictures (24"x36") for a living OR if you do heavy cropping. If the case is the latter, then the issue isn't so much megapixels needed as it is one's photographing skills. If you take a picture with a 12mp camera 100 feet away with a zoom lens just to crop out a single flower, you're better off walking up to the flower itself and take a picture of it from 5 feet away with a 3mp camera. See what I'm saying?

    Please don't buy into the megapixel-marketing hype. All the manufacturers are doing it so you buy their product over another's. That's all there is behind the megapixel wars.

    I stand corrected. The kit lens that come with the D40 will autofocus with the camera but the 50mm f/1.8 I mentioned will be manual focus only. The D40 only works with AF-S lenses. If this is the case, I think you'd be better off with a Nikon D50 because the motor in the body will drive the screw-type focus lenses like the 50mm 1.8 for autofocus capabilities. Incidentally, since the D40 is now in the market, there are huge incentives to unload the D50's off the shelf. I've seen the D50 right now for $399 or less (body only)! That's a huge discount from when it first came out for $899.

    The reason I recommended the D40 is that the average point-and-shooter doesn't yet have an investment in lenses, either with Nikon or Canon.
     
  12. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    Ever taken a picture of a landscape with lush green pastures, clear sparkling waters, brilliant blue skies completed with a mountain range for a backdrop only to go home and be disappointed with the picture you took because of a bluish tint across the field and contrast were only so-so because you forgot to take into account to compensate for the sun's glare? And then you think "hmmm....I don't remember the scene looking this crappy."

    Trust me, I've done this so many times. Enter - the circular polarizer. It's really a magic filter and I still don't know how it does it's job so well. What it does is you put it on the front of your lens, look through the viewfinder of your camera, turn the filter clockwise (or counterclockwise--it works either way) and as you'll see with your own eyes it cuts out the glare and UV light that manages to screw up your scene and leave you with the saturated colors and glare-free picture you want to take home with you. The first time I used it, I was amazed! (Remember to take this off though when you're taking pictures of people. Otherwise you'll end up with a person with saturated reddish skin).

    When you get this filter, experiment with it. It will darken the bright sky into a deep blue hue. Also point the camera at store windows and cars. When you turn the filter you'll actually be able to SEE into the window or the windshield that was once blocked by the sun's glare right before your eyes! It's like it's erasing the sun from your view. You'll see what I mean. Highly recommended.
     
  13. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    Ok, I'm starting to get over the whole megapixels hype thing, but the inability to use a good amount of cheaper lenses with the D40 is probably enough concern to warrent me limiting it out. I'm wondering if I should just go w/ a Canon camera instead. I need to relook at the D50, but I thought I had some reason in my head as to why I shouldnt consider it (i cant remember now). They ARE pretty cheap now, though.
     
  14. hsubaru

    hsubaru New Member

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    Nice post, but let me add a note to one thing. Whoever considers the D40 needs to know that it is an AF-S only camera. There's no pin drive for non-AF-S lenses. What that means is that the 50mm f/1.8 now becomes a manual focus lens. This is VERY important for anyone who isn't expecting that.


    Ooops, just saw your later post. My bad.
     
  15. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    Well I dont know why I had the D50 cancelled out before, because I just checked a few different reviews and it seems pretty damn nice.
     
  16. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    The lens that come with the D40 is the 18-55mm (version 2). It is a zoom lens for wide angle photography (landscapes) to standard angle (portraits). It's a very capable lens for basic use. The second lens I recommended (50mm 1.8) is a prime--meaning it only has one focal length: 50mm (no zoom)

    In your case, the 50mm 1.8 is even more important for your purposes because the large aperture will freeze motion of moving targets. The 18-55mm is too slow by itself to do this. However, if you use flash (either in-camera or the SB400) you will be able to freeze action also. But bear in mind, if using flash, you need to take into consideration the flash recycling time before another picture can be taken. With the 50mm set at f/1.8, you'll be just clicking away -- given adequate lighting conditions of course.

    ***Please take note of my correction in my previous posts. The 50mm f1.8 will NOT autofocus with the D40. You will need the D50 to be able to do fast action photography. But if you don't mind manually focusing, it will also work on the D40.***
     
  17. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    A lens hood will help with cutting out light glare. Ever see a picture with annoying circles in it? That results from the sun hitting the glass in your lens. You can eliminate this with a lens hood. It also serves to protect the front element of your lens from shattering when dropped.
     
  18. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    Probably because of the megapixels. At the time, Canon was offering an 8mp camera to go head-to-head against the D50.

    Let me just say that either way, Canon or Nikon, you won't go wrong. It's all about the photographer, not the camera.
     
  19. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    Are there any negatives to the Lens Hood?

    Also, I can get a D50 body for $150 less than the D50 kit w/ the 18-55mm lens...is the lens worth the $150, or is there a different lens I should instead get with it? Remember, I'm willing to buy from any online store, or eBay, when considering prices, so anything goes.
     
  20. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    The lens hood can be a pain to lug around and having to put it on/off. Sometimes, I don't bother with it when I'm on the fly. I just shield the front of the lens with my hand. But it comes free with the lens so it's there when you need/want it.

    If you're getting the D50 online, you can put the money you're saving from purchasing the body alone and put it towards a slightly better lens combo. The 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 comes to mind. It's sharp! Of course, the best walkaround camera/lens combo is with the much heralded 18-200mmVR. But the lens alone is going for $799 and up and if you order it, you'll be in the rear of a very LONG waiting list. It's getting better though, but still. I had to wait 4 months to get mine.

    If you're willing to go 3rd party on the lens, the Sigma 17-70mm Macro f/2.8-4.5 is a stellar alternative (much better bang for the buck than the Nikon 18-70mm IMO). It has 2 things over the nikon lens: f/2.8 on the wide end and MACRO function. You can take close ups with the sigma without having to buy a dedicated macro lens. The Nikon can't do that. Granted it gets you only 1:2 ratio but that's pretty impressive for a standard walkaround lens. It's also sharp. I had one before I traded it in for the 18-200VR.
     
  21. bntboz

    bntboz ACME user text OT Supporter

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    The D50 comes available with 2 different lenses (28-80mm F/3.3-5.6G Lens & 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G Lens).

    Now, please bare with me because I'm trying to make sense of this (and sorry to be hijacking your thread heebdawg16), which one is more beneficial for what purpose? I'm trying to understand it but I'm having a little trouble.


    28-80mm F/3.3-5.6G Lens - better for low light, fast moving and distance???

    18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G Lens - better for portraits, wide angle and general???

    What are the major differences between these two lenses?
     
  22. heebdawg16

    heebdawg16 New Member

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    I dont see any problems w/ going 3rd party. I dont really care about the name of the brand I am using, just what it accomplishes.

    The Sigma 17-70mm Macro lens appears to be around $389...you think its worth it? If I got that, I would probably hold off on getting the other 50mm lens. Would the 17-70mm be a good "All-purpose" lens, for a beginner? As for Macro shooting, I do know what that is (i mean, i know what it means), and I am very interested in being able to shoot macro shots.

    As for saying "f/2.8", i don't really know what that means...does it have something to do with the amount of light you need to focus or something?
     
  23. Redliner7

    Redliner7 New Member

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    Great post by NSX --

    Yeah, F2.8 is how big your aperture is...the lower the number, the better. A good lens will have that constant throughout the zoom range. That's why on some lenses, you'll see f3.5-4.5.

    I recommend a D50 + 18-70 F3.5-4.5 + 50 F1.8. Or if you can swing it, a Tamron 17-50 F2.8 + Nikkor 50 1.8....if you need a zoom lens, Nikon has their old zoom lens for about $120, a 70-300mm 4.5-5.6 lens.
     
  24. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    Okay, here's a quick tutorial about apertures I found in a few seconds:
    http://www.wpgphoto.com/tutorial_aperture.html

    Clearly a few of the beginners are learning quite rapidly that there is more to photography than pointing the camera at something and shooting it. Hence, you are no longer in the "point-and-shoot" mode. :) This is great because now your interest is increasing about a passion that most of us in here already have. Of course, I'll try to help as much as possible but half the fun of photography is the experimentation. Just be glad you're doing this during the digital age. Some of us had to learn the hard--and expensive--way by developing tons and tons of prints from film that went straight to the garbage. :(

    I think that the 17-70mm is excellent for a beginner. But I say, shop around. I sold mine on eBay for close to half of what I bought it for. Big loss for me, but we all progress. It has the same range as the 18-70mm with macro. I say experiment with macro (closeup) photography. Folks who look at your pictures get intrigued about seeing things in the everyday that we usually take for granted. If you get this, you can certainly hold off on the 50mm 1.8. You need to take time to get to know your lens and maximize its strengths while figuring out how to work around its weaknesses (which ALL lenses have--even the professional grade ones).

    Lenses with constant f/2.8 aperture is usually considered pro-glass. This means that the aperture (hole) is very wide which makes it a "fast" lens. What that really means is that the camera takes a shorter amount of time to stay open for enough light to get to the sensor and get a proper exposure. This requires BIG and complicated glass arrangements in the lens barrel which professionals and advanced amateurs demand. Of course, with big glass comes big pricetags. The "faster" the lens, the more expensive it is. In comparison, consumer-grade lenses (usually zoom lenses that are f/3.5-5.6) are cheaper because the maximum aperture they can stay wide open is smaller than the f/2.8. Hence, they're "slower" because they're letting in less light that get to the sensor.

    If you compare two lenses with the same focal length, you'll see what I mean. Consumer grade lenses are smaller and skinnier than the Pro grade lenses which are bigger and fatter. For example, the afore-mentioned 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (that comes with the D40) is around ~$200 or so. The 17-55mm f/2.8 however is over $1000. See what I mean? Bigger glass, bigger price tag. Lenses like the 85mm f/1.4 for instance, is even "faster" than the f/2.8 hence, is also priced over $1000. People who have these lenses keep them for the rest of their lives if they can. That's why it's rare you'd see them in the used market.

    There are also exceptions. Like the highly recommended 50mm f/1.8 I mentioned. Notice it's got the f/1.8 but it's dirt cheap and an incredible bargain for ~$90. Why? Because it's so easy to make. Couple that with the price tag, it's no wonder it's Nikon's best selling lens to date. However, if you want the 50mm f/1.4, well you'll have to dig deeper in your wallet to shell out ~$300 for it. Big difference, eh?
     
  25. NSX

    NSX OT Supporter

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    If you do more portraits, you need the tele end so go with the 28-80mm. If you do more landscapes, you need the wide end so go with the 18-55mm. Neither of these excel at low light, but with flash they will be more than up for the job with stopping motion. Just make sure they permit the use of flash where you're using it and you'll be fine.

    If you want to cover the range of both these lenses, buy the D50 body only and spend just a little more for the Nikon 18-70mm or the Sigma 17-70mm. If you like to experiment in macro photography, go with the Sigma.

    If you're still confused let me know. :wavey:
     

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