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Jacoby
23-02-2008, 07:53 PM
Alright, so I've got a lot of money coming back to me from the tax return. I want to buy a good-but-cheap Digital SLR camera.

You guys seem to know much more than I do about modern photography, so I figured I'd start up this thread. Basically, I have no clue what I'm looking for, or what to avoid.

I'm hoping to keep the total amount spent under $500, and I hope that this could get me a nice camera and a few extra lenses (see, I'm not sure how much the extra lenses are) Is that the point, though, do you have to have several different lenses for different techniques?

I'm looking into getting a Canon Digital Rebel, because it seems to be the cheapest, and it has a lot of positive feedback. There's an option on amazon for the Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens and that's $450 brand new. Is this lens all I'd need for a while?

But there's also a Digital Rebel XT 8MP used (just the body) for 370 after shipping. Should I go with that and buy the lenses seperately?

I basically want the camera to do a lot of still-life photographs. (Is that the term) I figure I'd just walk around Rochester or my neighborhood and take some nice pictures. I'd most likely take most pictures of landscapes, buildings, maybe more inanimate things. But I mean I would still want a camera that would be good for parties and going out. I'm moving to nyc soon, so I would like to go out and capture some interesting people instead of just 100 different angles of the Empire State Building.

I know that Cliff, Mandy, and pretty much all the regulars are photographers. So any advice at all would be really helpful. And Hasselbrad, this is the perfect chance for you to live up to your namesake.

I feel like such a ttl n00b writing all this, but I do need the help. Do you think I can get something sufficient for under $500?

Ranman
23-02-2008, 07:57 PM
sorry Jake, I know nothing, I suggest getting some advice from Cliff. He seems to know his stuff

Digital_Ice
24-02-2008, 03:09 AM
lenses are bloody expensive.

I, and i'm sure cliff, mandy and a good many other people would highly recommed the 400d. it's come down in price alot recently, but i'm not certain its inder $500 (and even if it is, you'd have sod all left for lenses)

the 350d is its predecessor, and a good alternative if you're on a budget (the 350d is what you refered to as "Digital Rebel XT 8MP")
there are some resonably good efs telephoto lenses out there for 100 or so (200-250)

Mandy
24-02-2008, 04:17 AM
My Rebel XTi is 10mp and it was about $800-$900 retail. I got mine on ebay for around $700 though.

Jacoby
24-02-2008, 07:03 AM
lenses are bloody expensive.

I, and i'm sure cliff, mandy and a good many other people would highly recommed the 400d. it's come down in price alot recently, but i'm not certain its inder $500 (and even if it is, you'd have sod all left for lenses)

the 350d is its predecessor, and a good alternative if you're on a budget (the 350d is what you refered to as "Digital Rebel XT 8MP")
there are some resonably good efs telephoto lenses out there for 100 or so (200-250)

Okay, yeah the 400d is the XTi one. I was drooling over that one for a while, but I think any way I look at it it's out of my price range. Which I'm okay with because I'm certainly a beginner. I think I'm going to end up going with the 350d. I did a lot of research on it today and I'm happy with everything I've read. It seems like you can get some great, professional-quality shots with it, but you really have to know how to set up the shots, and use the effects to your advantage. But I'm willing to learn, so it should be interesting.

My mom was a photographer about 15 years ago and she has a bunch of lenses that she hasn't touched in a while. Like a Vivitar panoramic lens. There's no way this would be compatible with the 350d, right? I figured there's no way, but she said if it works she'll give me all her accessories. Is that possible or does it have to be digital Canon stuff to work with it?

Jacoby
24-02-2008, 05:10 PM
It doesn't have to be digital canon stuff but you'll have to check the lens mount interface specifications of both the lenses and body to be sure.


Yeah, I was trying to check this online, but I couldn't really find the specs for the lens my mom has. Guess I'll just have to wait until I actually get the camera, and then see if they're compatible.

hasselbrad
25-02-2008, 02:49 PM
Mom's lenses won't work with the Canon.
In order for the camera's metering to work properly, you'll need Canon AF lenses. You can buy aftermarket (Sigma, Tokina, etc.) but the glass probably won't be as good as the Canon lens. The higher dollar, pro Sigmas and Tokinas are good, but you'll be spending a lot more money. And, with all of the techno bells and whistles cameras have now, I've always found you run less chance of having problems if you use OEM equipment.
I'm not positive what the aspect ratio is for Canon, but I know the Nikon digital cameras are 1.5, which means that your 18-55mm lens is actually the equivilent of a 27-82.5mm lens, due to the difference in the size of the chips versus a 35mm frame of film. That's a good zoom range. That goes from a moderate wide angle to a good portrait lens, all in one.
Personally, I'm a Nikon man. But, that's based on cameras such as the F3HP, F4, F5 and N90s. Those are film eating dinosaurs. I always liked Nikon because they operated the way I was used to, and I was able to control my aperture on the lens. With Canon, that's all through the camera. Other than that, Canon equipment always gave me excellent results. From what I've heard about their consumer digitals, you can't really go wrong.
As for your mother's lenses, see if you can see what kind of mount they have. It should be marked with an "F" (Nikon), a "K" (Pentax) or "FD" (Canon). I'd suggest getting an old body (if she doesn't have one) and discovering the joy of manual, black and white photography. I love the smell of black and white film in the morning. It smells like victory.

Jacoby
25-02-2008, 11:14 PM
Yeah, my mom had a Minolta XG-1 but the glass was scratched so every picture would be ruined. But we looked up how much it would be to get one, and it's like 20 dollars on ebay so I'll probably pick one up.

But I read your post about the black and white and all the lens connectivity to my mom and she's urging me to get into film developing and stuff. She says black and white is really incredible to develop.

If I get into NYU I'm probably going to take a photography course, so maybe I can work with development there.

Digital_Ice
26-02-2008, 07:48 AM
You can buy aftermarket (Sigma, Tokina, etc.) but the glass probably won't be as good as the Canon lens. The higher dollar, pro Sigmas and Tokinas are good, but you'll be spending a lot more money.

I'm personally a big fan of the Sigmas. I really want the 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX (http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3307&navigator=3)

hasselbrad
26-02-2008, 12:39 PM
I'm personally a big fan of the Sigmas. I really want the 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX (http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3307&navigator=3)

Yeah, when you get to that level with Sigma, you're looking at a really good piece of equipment. I was talking more about the el-cheapo aftermarket lenses a lot of places like B&H would kit with a body. I saw my share of those with "floating" elements in my day.

As for the darkroom, Jake...it is something to be experienced. And if you are going to take a photography class, I'm pretty sure they'll still require you to use black and white film. That's because if you learn how to expose it properly, you don't need Photoshop and/or hours in the darkroom.

Jacoby
26-02-2008, 07:31 PM
I'm personally a big fan of the Sigmas. I really want the 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX (http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3307&navigator=3)


Wow. You weren't kidding when you said lenses are expensive.

And yeah, Brad, I'd actually prefer if it required some film usage. That'd be interesting. But I'd still want to use the XT for the class. :D!

acliff
27-02-2008, 08:17 AM
Some thoughts:

Firstly you want to go to a camera shop and be all touchy feely on as many cameras as you can. DSLRs are heavier than compact cameras by far and if you don't feel comfortable with the grip and the weight and how comfortable it is, you just won't carry it around with you and you won't get your money's worth.

The canon DSLRs are excellent, as are pretty much every DSLR out there now, however the XTi, XT et all I find to have too small a grip. Though apparently the 450D has an improved grip.

The nikon DSLRs are excellent also, D40x being excellent, although you have to be careful which lenses you buy as some lenses are not compatible with the autofocus.

Sony DSLRs at the moment are in the process of expanding their range, they have the best liveview mode (autofocus and live preview of what you're getting through the lens on the screen at the back)

The olympus e510 is a bargain at the moment with the 2 lens kit. Good quality starter zoom lenses, good picture quality and optical image stabilisation built in, all in a really compact size.

My personal favourite (and the one I own) is pentax, which feels most comfortable in my hands, and the K100D super has antishake, great image quality and if you can find it on clearance new, you can get it for practically nothing.

Things to look out for is antishake, either in the lens or in the camera (olympus, sony and pentax offer the in camera option), nikon and canon have antishake in some of the kit lenses. Megapixels don't matter too much, anything from 6mp and above will get you excellent results, which is pretty much every camera out there. You're looking for features which allow you to use it more. Antishake allows you to take sharp shots in darker situations, and 6megapixel cameras are more sensitive and retain image quality in dark situations as well.

Which is why I like my kit of K100D, 18-55mm & 50-200mm lens, 105mm f2.8 macro, 50mm AF f1.4, 50mm f1.7 and 40mm f2.8 pancake (arriving soon)

Your budget is quite limited, $600 would be easier to work with.

So recommendations are:

New k100d super with kit lens and second hand manual focus SMC-A 50mm f1.7 or f2 should come in under $500. Add an extra $100-150 for a 50-200mm zoom lens. With that you should cover pretty much any situation for a while.

Olympus e510 with both kit lenses could be had for around $630 with a higher budget: Alternatively you could go for the e510 with kit lens and that should be around $500
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Digital-Stabilization-14-42mm-40-150mm/dp/B000NVXF30/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1204103546&sr=1-1

The canon and nikon budget models don't have antishake, whereas the two above will provide antishake for every lens you choose to put on it.

acliff
27-02-2008, 08:19 AM
And just to warn you in advance, once you've got your DSLR, you will feel the urge to buy more and more stuff for it, as one of the main benefits of DSLRs is that you can change lenses. So you may want to start saving for when you start lusting after flashguns, fast telephoto lenses, lenses for safari even if you will never have the money to go, tripods, camera bags, etc etc.
I don't think its just me

hasselbrad
27-02-2008, 12:48 PM
My personal favourite (and the one I own) is pentax, which feels most comfortable in my hands, and the K100D super has antishake, great image quality and if you can find it on clearance new, you can get it for practically nothing.

Pentax has always had really good glass. The better the glass, the better the resolution, regardless of whether it's digital or film. As an added bonus, the K100 uses the classic K-Mount, which would enable you to use lenses on both the digital as well as a manual body such as the venerable K1000. You wouldn't be able to use all of the bells and whistles on the digital body with these lenses, but you would be able to get an image.

acliff
28-02-2008, 12:49 AM
Pentax has always had really good glass. The better the glass, the better the resolution, regardless of whether it's digital or film. As an added bonus, the K100 uses the classic K-Mount, which would enable you to use lenses on both the digital as well as a manual body such as the venerable K1000. You wouldn't be able to use all of the bells and whistles on the digital body with these lenses, but you would be able to get an image.

you bastard, don't make me want to buy much more glass!
I want to buy a Pentax MX camera with a whole set of awesome glass just because you've said that...

Jacoby
28-02-2008, 01:27 AM
Firstly you want to go to a camera shop and be all touchy feely on as many cameras as you can. DSLRs are heavier than compact cameras by far and if you don't feel comfortable with the grip and the weight and how comfortable it is, you just won't carry it around with you and you won't get your money's worth.


You're right, I really should do this instead of being maybe disappointed with the feeling of a camera if I buy online.

And I researched each camera you mentioned, so it took me about 40 minutes to read the post. I'm going to see what feels right in my hands and I'll probably consider spending a bit more (just means I'll have to thrift shop for the clothes I need to buy with the money, also)

The antishake feature sounds really useful and would probably help me out a lot, but again I'm such an amateur, I'm not sure if I should be spending a bunch more on extra features when I could possibly be a shit photographer and end up just taking photos of Chester, the family cat. But then again it may benefit me really well and be more than worth the money.

I am gonna go to the store this weekend and really spend some time with the DSLR's within my price range. You're definitely right, Cliff, it comes down to how comfortable I'd be with the camera. Like you mentioned, I wouldn't bring a camera around with me much if I didn't like the way it felt in my hands. Thanks for the advice! :)

apoggy
28-02-2008, 06:25 AM
You can always be touchy feely at the store, then go home and find a cheaper date online, err, I mean camera....

acliff
28-02-2008, 12:03 PM
Yeah, try them out in a shop, and unless the service is outstanding, then buy online. Or buy the model second hand.

In terms of the antishake, regardless of whether you're any good at photography, it just means that if the light isn't very good, you will have a larger proportion of sharp photos compared to not having antishake at all.

The majority of compact cameras have antishake now, imagine trying to hold something still that is 3x the weight.

Luckily, the image quality of all budget DSLRs are awesome, so just because you have a low budget now doesn't mean that you will outgrow your camera anytime soon. As hasslebrad said, the better the lens, the better the resolution, contrast and sharpness. Eventually put more money into the glass because like the lenses your mother had, they will last you years and years

hasselbrad
28-02-2008, 01:43 PM
You can always be touchy feely at the store, then go home and find a cheaper date online, err, I mean camera....

:mad:
That used to piss me off so much when I was selling cameras. People would come in and take up an hour of my time showing them all the ins and outs of a system and then walk out and buy it online.
One guy did that when the Canon Elan 7 came out. I worked for over an hour on him for that sale. After he left, Bill (the owner) came up and told me not to help him ever again. Apparently, it wasn't the first time he had pulled this stunt in the store.
About a month later he comes in like all the pro-wannabes, with his new gear around his neck and his Domke photo vest on needing a couple of rolls of Velvia to go shoot in the North Georgia mountains. I tell him we're out. He looks in the cooler and sees the box, plain as day and says it's right there. I told him it's on hold for a customer and he gets all pissy about it. Says he wants to speak to my boss. I smiled, and said I'll be overjoyed to let you.
Bill comes up front and asks the guy what his "fuckin' problem is". This is the same boss who once picked up a Yellow Pages salesman's bags up, carried them to the front door and heaved them into the parking lot, so you can see where this is going. He laces into this guy for several minutes about how much of my time he had wasted and that if he's going to buy his gear online then he can get his film online. The guy says "are you saying you don't want my business?" Bill says, "yeah...pretty much. Get out of my fuckin' store and don't ever come back."
Fucker wound up having to drive all the way to Showcase in midtown Atlanta to buy his film, which I'm sure royally fucked his shooting plans, since that would be like driving from Bishop's Stortford to Tottenham, and then drive to Cambridge to shoot.
Never saw that prick again.
:)
Living in New York, you should be able to find some good camera shops that'll be competitive price wise. Be careful of super low prices. These will be grey market cameras, which means they're for export. That means you won't have a warranty, and since cameras have gone high tech, chances are any problems you have will be when you first take it out of the box. Likewise, when you buy film, make sure it's USA product. Stuff for export may have sat in hot containers for weeks before being sold. You never can tell what has happened in film for export's supply chain journey.
At Photo Barn, we knew of a wedding photographer that claimed he got a great deal on Fuji NPH 220. Had cases and cases of it. He would buy a little from us every now and again, but it was a good friend of his who was a loyal customer that told us he nearly got sued out of business by two clients because their wedding pictures turned out horrible. The color and contrast were muddy and some areas were so grainy you couldn't see what was there. He wound up having to pay his lab for custom retouching on two clients' albums, plus all of the parents' albums and other prints.
His total lab bill, according to his friend, was over fifteen thousand dollars. But hey, he saved $1.00 per roll on the film. When he tried to go after the outfit (in New York) they told him the same thing Bill told that guy.

I feel like I should be in a rocking chair and a pair of overalls on a front porch, tellin' stories of the good ol' days.

But yeah...the Pentax K100 looks like a good system.

apoggy
28-02-2008, 02:27 PM
:mad:
That used to piss me off so much when I was selling cameras. People would come in and take up an hour of my time showing them all the ins and outs of a system and then walk out and buy it online.


But from a consumer point of view, its good advice. from Jake's point of view its the way to go, unless he feels morals :D

Jacoby
28-02-2008, 05:12 PM
What's a morals?

I was actually planning on going to Circuit City or Best Buy, because I know the big ones we have here display all their cameras. This way I won't feel bad not buying in store, because it's unlike a specialty shop. If I were to go into a camera store and hang out for 2 hours and leave empty handed, I would be an asshole. And I would deserve verbal abuse from someone like Brad's old boss.

But yeah, I will most likely go to the store and test them out, and then come home and do some online searching for deals.

I've never bought anything off ebay, but I've searched and they have some good deals. I think I'd have to sign up for a PayPal account to buy on ebay, though, right?

acliff
28-02-2008, 07:21 PM
you don't necessarily have to, some dealers on the bay accept credit card and debit card payments directly, as well as bank transfers and cheques.
Paypal does make it alot easier and arguably safer than wiring someone money directly for used items.

I used to work in a Sony Centre and people used to come in ask for advice and leave all the time. Nothing we could really do, and even at the time I couldn't blame them when you could buy it cheaper on the net. For some things, the net was cheaper than my staff discount price!
I do believe in rewarding staff for exceptional service however, so if its marginally more expensive than the net, I'll buy things in store.

Hasslebrad, why don't you buy a pentax DSLR and buy some old pentax glass and start snapping?

hasselbrad
28-02-2008, 07:25 PM
you don't necessarily have to, some dealers on the bay accept credit card and debit card payments directly, as well as bank transfers and cheques.
Paypal does make it alot easier and arguably safer than wiring someone money directly for used items.

I used to work in a Sony Centre and people used to come in ask for advice and leave all the time. Nothing we could really do, and even at the time I couldn't blame them when you could buy it cheaper on the net. For some things, the net was cheaper than my staff discount price!
I do believe in rewarding staff for exceptional service however, so if its marginally more expensive than the net, I'll buy things in store.

Hasslebrad, why don't you buy a pentax DSLR and buy some old pentax glass and start snapping?

Mainly because I just dropped another $2,000 toward the debt I was left with after the divorce. Just another $15,000 to go!
$)
I did take the Hasselblads out a while ago and shoot a little. I just haven't managed to find a place I trust to develop 120 around here.

Jacoby
29-02-2008, 03:28 AM
Dropped by Circuit City today and played around with all models that Cliff mentioned, save the Pentax one. I think Best Buy might carry it, though, so I will be going there to mess with that one soon.

But I really did like the feeling of the Canon XT. It's small, but not too small, I found a comfortable positioning with my hands and like the way it felt. I prefer the larger models, like the Olympus E510 felt great in my hands, probably my favorite feeling. But right now I'm pretty excited about the Canon deal. Plus I found this accessory kit on amazon that I will probably buy.


$189.99
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51REFBJpdSL._SS400_.jpg

comes with Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens + Spare NB-2LH Battery for Canon + High Speed USB 2.0 CompactFlash (CF) Card Reader + Deluxe Photo/Video 57" Tripod + Deluxe SLR System Camera Bag/Case

Jacoby
17-03-2008, 05:58 AM
So I settled on getting the Nikon D40. I read all about it, all the Nikon vs Canon and it seemed to lean toward Canon a very little bit. But I made the decision because the D40 feels great in my hand and I think Cliff was definitely correct with the ergonomic importance. (SAT word)

I'm shooting on default settings right now (which is terrible, I know) but I haven't really had a good chance to read over the manual and play with it yet, but I intend to as soon as possible.

Anyway, here are a few shots for you to check out (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakedilucia). Make sure to click the image and check it out at a better resolution.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v258/devendra87/mebathroom.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v258/devendra87/camera-1.jpg

acliff
25-03-2008, 10:59 PM
Congrats on your new purchase, you'll enjoy it, and as its a small SLR, hopefully you shouldn't find it too cumbersome to take around everywhere.

Glance at the manual, go on www.photo.net and have a look at the photography guide there to get some inspiration.
And then change the white balance settings in the camera, and see what colours you can get indoors.

Jacoby
26-03-2008, 03:58 AM
Congrats on your new purchase, you'll enjoy it, and as its a small SLR, hopefully you shouldn't find it too cumbersome to take around everywhere.

Glance at the manual, go on www.photo.net and have a look at the photography guide there to get some inspiration.
And then change the white balance settings in the camera, and see what colours you can get indoors.

Yeah, I take it pretty much everywhere I go. The only place I feel uncomfortable with it is in coffee shops when my friends and I end up there. I swear, the coffee drinkers are so judgmental.

I'll check out the photo.net website for sure! Thanks. And I've been looking through the manual and learned a lot about the features and manual settings. Haven't been able to play with much but the exposure at the moment but I'm interested to see what I can do.