Recommendations for an entry level dSLR

tommyjay

Not-So-Venerable Asshat
Ok- I know that, at first glance, this appears to make as much sense as posting a request for MTB recommendations on a photog forum, but there is a method to my madness:
- I know that there are a lot of photo enthusiasts on this site
- I also have a feel for who is who here and it helps me to calibrate the input
- I am more interested in the features/performance of a camera from the POV of an enthusiast, rather than a real hardcore photographer

That being said, based on the reviews I've read, I am leaning toward the Canon Rebel XSi
Pros:
- image quality among best in class (per reviews)
- has all basic features (per reviews)
- reasonably priced
- accessories are readily available and also reasonably priced
- my wife likes canon, so I wouldn't have to defend the purchase decision vs. another brand

Cons:
- Lacks some features available in other cameras in the same class (per reviews) Would these be missed by a casual enthusiast?
- Body has a "cheap" feel (per reviews)

What else should I know?

I've seen some ppl refer to canon as being the choice of the uninformed (or something along those lines - kind of like the lemming camera). Is this a justified thing, or is it just sour grapes from ppl needing to be contrary (ala the bitter, morose psuedo-nonconformist music snob in high school who would only like obscure bands for the sake of being contrary)?

Thanks for any input. Now I'm off to ask the photogs what they think of the 650b wheel format.

Sorry for the uberlong post.
 

Mare45

Well-Known Member
I like Canon for point and shoot, but for an SLR, I swear by Nikon. My dad is an avid photographer, which is wear I got the bug from, and we always have had Nikons when it comes to SLRs (digital or not). I strongly suggest going to the store and trying out different models (Nikon and others) to compare them.

What type of photos do you plan to take? How will you print them? How large will you print them? Of course you don't have to answer this here, but how much do you want to spend? I'd compare all cameras in that price bracket and see what you can get for your money.
 

Glancing Aft

Active Member
I like Canon for point and shoot, but for an SLR, I swear by Nikon. My dad is an avid photographer, which is wear I got the bug from, and we always have had Nikons when it comes to SLRs (digital or not). I strongly suggest going to the store and trying out different models (Nikon and others) to compare them.

I'm the same way with Canon for Point and Shoot and Nikon for DSLR. Except I got the bug from my Mom.. hmmm.

As much as playing around in a store is helpful, much like bikes, a real world demo is where it's at. A year or so ago I went on a Nikon Demo day at the Bronx Zoo, and got to try about 5 different lenses, really good to see the pros and cons of each.
 

kush

Active Member
You are right on with the XSi.

It is the best kit out there for the money.

I've been into the photog thing for a while.

I'm biased as I only swear by Canon, and they are consistently ahead of Nikon in R&D spending, they usually set the bar for new models; and they got tons more cash and are diversified; so you're not going to go wrong by investing in a Canon system.

Look at any sporting event, you see the off-white big lenses most of the time, right? Those are Canon lenses. The army of SI photogs all have exclusively Canon.

But the bigger decisioness will be what lenses to buy, as that is equally or more important than the camera body. You gotta budget for a decent lens. Start with a kit lens, but know that you'll be upgrading within a year to get the most out of your cam.

Another is how to do post-processing; most of the times basic software is included with Canon cameras. The pictures that come out of any DSLR are simply raw material. You have to finish it, again, to get hte most out of the kit.

I highly doubt you will miss any features "available" on another camera. I don't even know what that could be. There is way more crap in this camera than any average human needs.

On where to buy, there is really only one place – B and H, which is online and a physical store in NYC. This is run by rabbis, and it’s the only source I would trust. There are so many scam storefronts online, you should check out www.resellerratings.com if you see a deal that is too good to be true. You'll be amazed.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/542177-REG/Canon_2756B001_EOS_Rebel_XSi_a_k_a_.html#features
 

Mare45

Well-Known Member
I agree - buy from B&H. I didn't get mine there, but that doesn't mean I don't highly recommend them. They have EVERYTHING and know their stuff. Their catalog is on my desk right now :)
 

tommyjay

Not-So-Venerable Asshat
Thanks everyone for the great input! I really appreciate all the suggestions!

What type of photos do you plan to take? How will you print them? How large will you print them? Of course you don't have to answer this here, but how much do you want to spend? I'd compare all cameras in that price bracket and see what you can get for your money.

Most of the shots will be standard casual enthusiast stuff - baby girl, special events, sports, occasional scenery and vacation stuff. Printing will probably be via a decent photolab (preferably one in cahoots with Picasa). Price for the initial kit (body, a few lenses, bag, etc) in the $1K or less area.

As much as playing around in a store is helpful, much like bikes, a real world demo is where it's at. A year or so ago I went on a Nikon Demo day at the Bronx Zoo, and got to try about 5 different lenses, really good to see the pros and cons of each.

Great idea. Any idea where I could find out demo days for the major camera mfgs?

But the bigger decisioness will be what lenses to buy, as that is equally or more important than the camera body. You gotta budget for a decent lens. Start with a kit lens, but know that you'll be upgrading within a year to get the most out of your cam.

Another is how to do post-processing; most of the times basic software is included with Canon cameras. The pictures that come out of any DSLR are simply raw material. You have to finish it, again, to get hte most out of the kit.

I highly doubt you will miss any features "available" on another camera. I don't even know what that could be. There is way more crap in this camera than any average human needs.

On where to buy, there is really only one place – B and H, which is online and a physical store in NYC. This is run by rabbis, and it’s the only source I would trust. There are so many scam storefronts online, you should check out www.resellerratings.com if you see a deal that is too good to be true. You'll be amazed.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/542177-REG/Canon_2756B001_EOS_Rebel_XSi_a_k_a_.html#features

I am totally sold on B&H - I used to live in NYC and have dealt with them for my point & shoot stuff for years now.

Right now they are offering a Rebel XSi kit with an 18-55 mm SI lens and a 55-250 mm SI lens for $790 OTD (no tax, free shipping). The lenses aren't the high end, but they're not the bottom level stuff either (like the 50-300 mm lens that the big box stores are offering).

I figure with that type of kit I would have a decent WA and a decent tele lens to start. So, regardless of mfg, that's the type of thing I'd be looking for. Or am I more naive than I think?
 

Mare45

Well-Known Member
In that price range, you can get a very nice camera!

For printing, I highly reccoment snapfish or someplace like that (meaning someplace online). They are very inexpensive and very consistent. I was going to Rite-Aid at first, but the photos would come out different, depending on what was wrong with the printer that day (sometimes they would come out great, but often streaked, too bright, too dark, etc). Snapfish is very quick to deliver and always offers discounts. This way you can also edit all you want, then submit the final product, no matter what photo editing software you use.

A demo day is a good idea, but if you want a camera before you can get to one of them, take stupid shots in the store. I went and I took ones of writing on packages, the salesman, things in the distance, etc... you can still get a feel for the quality.
 

kush

Active Member
Right now they are offering a Rebel XSi kit with an 18-55 mm SI lens and a 55-250 mm SI lens for $790 OTD (no tax, free shipping). The lenses aren't the high end, but they're not the bottom level stuff either (like the 50-300 mm lens that the big box stores are offering).

I figure with that type of kit I would have a decent WA and a decent tele lens to start. So, regardless of mfg, that's the type of thing I'd be looking for. Or am I more naive than I think?

No, I think that package is fantastic. But mark my words, in a year or so, if you're into it, you'll be looking for what I suggest will be quality prime lenses. Just a natural progression, kind of small wheels to big wheels :D

18-55 is pretty good for a kit lens
http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/canon_18-55_3p5-5p6_is_c16/

So is the 55-250, search in this forum (its a great place to learn as well) http://photography-on-the.net/forum/index.php

Go for it. You certainly cannot go wrong, and I doubt you can do better than this package.

Another suggestion, get a tripod. IS helps but is no substitute. Eventually you'll need a flash, the pop-up is not serious. Careful, the spending on all this can get out of control.
 

gtluke

The Moped
Nikon d90 w/ 18-200vr lens
save up and buy it, it will be the last camera you will ever need.
canon may have more advanced features, but nikon makes an AWESOME camera. Nathan dropped his down an entire flight of stairs and it was perfectly fine. Their customer support is flawless (and local)
The usability of the nikon's is superior.
All the shots of you guys racing are taken with a d80 w/ 18-200vr lens with over 20,000 shots on it. It has never, EVER skipped a beat on me. My lens needs repairs after certain rally events, it just gets completely packed with sand. Nikon has never even asked me to stop taking pictures buried in the sand :D
 

UtahJoe

Team Workhorse
Team MTBNJ Halter's
lol, where is Nate and Luke, they live for this question :D I spoke too soon
 
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gtluke

The Moped
i just posted!
even if you don't know about camera's, you should know enough that nate didn't break a single nikon camera yet and that means they make the most superior product on earth :D
 

kush

Active Member
Canon v Nikon is as polarizing an issue as tires, winter shoes, tripod turns, or clif bars.

Both are fine systems.

But I do wonder what you are proposing specifically in terms of benefits to Tommy at 2x cost.

The real difference in quality of pictures will not be in the body, it will be in a) actual photo skills, b) skill in post processing, c) lens quality
 

UtahJoe

Team Workhorse
Team MTBNJ Halter's
i just posted!
even if you don't know about camera's, you should know enough that nate didn't break a single nikon camera yet and that means they make the most superior product on earth :D

true, i have personally watched nate drop his D3 about 10 times. If he cant break it, its pretty durable.
 

soundz

The Hat
Team MTBNJ Halter's
You can't go wrong with Canon or Nikon for an SLR. The lower end bodies are fine in terms of picture quality. One of the major things you're getting by spending more is better construction (i.e. not plastic). I own a Canon 20D, but I've seen plenty of people take awesome photos with any low level SLR.

If you're looking for a deal, Woot sellout is having a one day only deal on a Pentax K100D for $239 (body only). IMHO, the photographer and knowledge of lighting has a lot more to do with the quality of photos than the equipment that's being used. After that would be the quality of the lens. Body comes last.

Jimmy
 

gtluke

The Moped
Actually I have a sure fire litmus test to determine which camera you will be most happy with.

Choose which car you would buy
blogsti_2.jpg
 

NJ-XC-Justin

KY-DH-Freddy
From consumer reports (I can vouch that there are pro photographers there). Ratings attached.

Basic leaders. Among basic SLRs, the top-rated Nikon D80, $900, stood out for its all-round performance, including excellent ability to capture a wide range of dark and light tones and the ability to minimize image flaws in low light at ISO settings up to 1600. Yet almost as impressive and far less expensive was the Olympus Evolt E-410, $450, which also maintained image quality up to ISO 1600. (The Evolt E-410 may be hard to find. A successor, the E-420, $500, was set to ship this spring.)
How to choose
Select an SLR level. If you're thinking of trading up from a point-and-shoot, a basic SLR is the place to start. There are fewer controls, easier-to-read graphic interfaces, and fewer options. Advanced SLRs are more rugged, weather-resistant, and versatile, but also bulkier and heavier. Many of their features can be daunting if you're not highly experienced.

Know the system and brand. When you buy an SLR, you're potentially buying into a family of lenses and integrated accessories, such as external flashes. Those from the camera maker are often pricier than ones made by other companies, but they will be compatible and will take full advantage of the camera's features. Olympus and Panasonic SLRs are exceptions. They use a system known as "four thirds" that ensures compatibility with standardized components made by other manufacturers.

Don't scrimp on performance. While all the SLRs we tested are competent, narrow your choice to those models that are at least very good for image quality and versatility, and can shoot to at least 800 ISO without image flaws. That includes most rated models. Battery life is important too; most better performers offered more than 400 shots per charge.

Know about IS. Image stabilization, a technology found on most point-and-shoots and SLRs, compensates for shake in a handheld camera. It lets you use a slower shutter speed while minimizing blur, although it won't compensate for a subject's motion. There are two IS types: lens-based ("L" in the Ratings, which is available to subscribers) and body-based ("B" in the Ratings, which is available to subscribers).

Lens-based stabilization is used by Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sigma. Using it requires a lens with built-in IS, which costs more than one without. We have found that lens-based stabilization works a bit better than the other type, body-based.

Body-based stabilization, used by Sony, Olympus, and Pentax, is built into the camera's body. Every lens used with that camera, including wide-angle lenses (which need less stabilization), gets the benefits. That saves you money because you don't have to buy pricier lenses. Of course, there is another, low-tech way to stabilize any camera: Use a tripod.

Search for special features. Decide on any unusual capabilities you need. For example, if you often shoot in crowds, look for a swiveling LCD and live view, so that you can see shots taken from hard-to-reach angles. Other things to consider: which file formats a camera supports and whether it's one of the few models with wireless capability.

Get some hands-on experience. Go to a store and get a feel for the SLR you're considering. Make sure it's comfortable to hold, not too heavy, and that all buttons and controls are intuitive and logically positioned. Be sure to use the viewfinder, especially if you wear glasses.
 

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tommyjay

Not-So-Venerable Asshat
Actually I have a sure fire litmus test to determine which camera you will be most happy with.

Choose which car you would buy
blogsti_2.jpg

I would probably get the Evo - always thought they were mad cool and big bang for the buck. What does that say about my camera personality?
 
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