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Need Camera Advice

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by KG, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. KG

    KG Active Member

    I've wanted to pick up photography as a hobby for a long time but haven't wanted to spend the money on a good camera. Now I'm ready to bite the bullet and make the purchase. I've done alot of research, but nothing compares to advice from actual users of the cameras. I've done some research and have narrowed my choices a little, but I'm still not sure which ones really give the best performance for fewer dollars.

    I want to keep the price near $1,000, especially since it will be my first SLR. Does anyone have any suggestions of what to buy and what to stay away from?
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    1) Worry more about good lenses than about the camera... Camera is important, but even if you pick up an old used Canon Digital Rebel for a couple of hundred bucks, you are going to get really nice pictures that you can print at at least 4X6 at 300 DPI. And although you can't use it for something like fast-action sports photography very well (you won't be able to use any camera in your price range that way, though, and still be able to afford anything near the lenses you need...), you can get the basics of SLR photography down with it. It will take really nice pictures and you can control all the settings and give yourself a nice education. 2) Canon, Canon, Canon... Best lens choices. There is a reason why when you look at any sporting event, all the photographers are using Canon glass. 3) Really good lenses are ridiculously expensive. Do a lot of research and invest in the following: 1) A standard zoom lense in the 18 to 55 mm range or so. This is the kit lens that comes if you buy any of the Digital Rebels. It's not a super fast lens (f/3.5 to 5.5.) but it is a good walking around lens and not bad value for a cheap lens. It will take decent portraits. 2) The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. This is the best $90 you will spend for your camera. A prime 50 mm is apparently really easy to manufacture. This lens is as good as most L series lenses, but super cheap. It will do several things: Teach you what a really fast lens can do. You can shoot indoors with this thing without a flash. For example, it will be the lens you use if you are in a museum that doesn't allow flash photography. Also, a prime lens that doesn't zoom teaches you a lot about positioning yourself. You have to physically move yourself to frame a shot and that is valuable. And that 50 mm 1.8 takes gorgeous photos. 3) A relatively fast (f/2.8 ) zoom lens in the 70 - 200 or 70 - 300 mm range. You will want a longer range lens and something a little speedier to catch action... The caveat is that this is going to be nearly impossible to be able to pull off within your budget, so it might be a secondary purchase. For example, the Canon L Series 70-200 f/2.8 costs several grand new... Look at other manufacturers but be careful. Sigma lenses are cheap knock offs, for example, and even though there are exceptions, they are not great lenses, even for the money. Soon after I started to learn about photography, I did a ton of research and put this kind of lens on my "must have" list. I finally found someone online selling an old Tokina, 80-200 f/2.8 lens that is really hard to find because people hold onto them and it only cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Tokina doesn't get a lot of attention, but they make some quality lenses. The one I bought was an old version of a stalwart they have improved and still make. Mine is a tank and searches a little on autofocus, but damn it takes sharp pictures. It is still one of my favorite lenses and sturdy as hell.

    You'll probably want to invest in a flash if are going to do a significant amount of indoor photography. The built-in flash on a Digital Rebel or XT or XTi is not great. The Speedlite 420 (you don't have to go 550 or 580) is fine and I am sure there are third-party flashes that are pretty good. I just don't know a lot about them.

    A great resource is www.fredmiranda.com. There is a message board with lots of used equipment for sale by pros. And there are reviews by users (and these are mostly pros or very knowledgeable amateurs) of just about every photography-related item you can think of. If you are thinking about a specific lens, you'll find a consensus rating from 1 to 10 and dozens of detailed reviews giving pros and cons.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Nikon D40 at 10mp... can get a body and an 18-55 and 50-200 zoom for under 1,000
    Can get it cheaper at a 6.1 mp body
  4. KG

    KG Active Member

    Thanks for all the info Ragu. I was wanting to keep the camera cost at around 1K since they usually don't come with a lens at all, but I did notice the Rebel XTi I saw on sale came with a 18-55mm and a quantaray 55-200mm AF lens. I've been trying to learn more about SLRs so it's not all Greek to me. I can tell that in my current price range I still won't be able to take the best pictures, but it's a start. I'm still going to try to find some used equipment to keep the price lower for the faster lens.
  5. KG

    KG Active Member

    I was looking at the D300 but hubby would probably kill me if I spent that much on my first one.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Ms. Slappy had a Pentax (forget the model) for all of three months. Tried her siste in law's D40 and proceeded to sell the pentax and two lenses on ebay and buy the D40. Nothing wrong witht hte Pentax, but liked the Nikon and the way it worked a whole lot more..
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    It really depends on what you think you're going to be shooting.
  8. spup1122

    spup1122 Guest

    Decidedly less than your $1,000 budget.

  9. KG

    KG Active Member

    Wow. That XTi only weighs 1.1 lbs
  10. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member


    899.98, 10.1 mp 2 lenses
  11. John

    John Well-Known Member

    That's what I have, though I don't recall paying that much for it.
  12. KG

    KG Active Member

    This is one I was considering but if I want the price I have to hurry and decide.
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