A Few Beginners Questions

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Miss Mandy, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. Miss Mandy

    Miss Mandy
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    I'm looking at taking my first step into the world of digital SLR cameras soon and I's like to get a bit more knowledge before I start properly looking.

    I'm looking for an entry level camera that's fairly easy to pick up and use. I'll be using it for a wide range of things like holiday snaps, sports, wildlife and scenery so I want something pretty versatile.

    Firstly, as I'm looking for an entry point, is there any particular brand that I should aim for or avoid? From what I've read so far, its seems that they are probably all very similar and I should go for whichever feels most comfortable for me to use. Is this still the case?

    Is there any difference between having a camera body with image stabilisation rather than a set up with stabilising lenses? I've noticed that this varies across the brands, but at entry point does it make much difference?

    Lastly, the budget. I've got a figure of around £500 in my head at the moment with a plan of spending around £300-350 on the camera and then using the remaining funds to get a case, memory card, tripod, etc. Is this a good enough budget to start with, and are there any must have accessories I need to remember to get?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated before I head to the high street and have a play around in the shops. :thumbsup:
     
  2. ncmoody

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    IMHO forget case & tripod.
    Spend all your budget less £50 on the camera.
    The £50 on a couple of cards and a spare battery.
    If you think you will get serious and be prepared to spenf £000s in the future then stick to the big two Nikon /Canon.
    Otherwise any of the top brands will be OK.

    Built-in IS is cheaper in the long run but I do not think it is as good as in-lens.
    If you do not think you will want a super tele 400mm+ Then stick with in-camera. this really limits your choice to Sony or Olympus. Both good in their own ways. But Sony has more followers than Olympus.

    What feels best in your hand is a good starting point.
    Remember that Good Glass is expensive and Kit lenses are usually the bottom end.
    I think it is false economy buying the best body you can afford and sticking the cheapest kit lens on it.
    Far better to to get a lower grade camera (they are all good nowadays) and getting a better lens.

    Don't be swayed by gimmicks like 'live-view' and HD video, unless you really want them at the detrement of the still functions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010
  3. Pirate!!

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    On point 1. Try before you buy if possible, and try all brands if at all possible, not just what the spotty oik in shop tries to palm you off with which is likely to be Can-Knock-on (Canon & Nikon). It gets boring after a while. There is more to life than Windows and VHS.

    Other brands to try are: Pentax/Samsung, Sony, Sigma, Olympus/Panasonic.

    On point 2. Brands. None to avoid, but some will have features others don't and vice versa, though some entry level bodies are complete rubbish and made cheaply. Some aren't even compatible with AF lenses, so be aware.

    On point 3. Cost. Stabilised lenses can cost a fortune. Having had both in-lens and in-body systems, the cost of in-lens can be extortionate in comparison to in-body. Hope you have deep pockets if you go in-lens and want a 300mm f/2.8.
     
  4. Jammyb

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    Before I bought my first DSLR I was convinced that IS was going to be really important to me, I have shakey hands and struggle with compact cameras sometimes. However it's turned out to not be much of an issue, with the viewfinder pressed to my face I get little shake and can bump up the ISO to get a faster shutter speed.

    The 2 most recommended lenses for canon on here (which don't have in body IS) are the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 (£260 or so) and the Canon 50mm 1.8 (£80) neither of which have IS.

    In your budget Argos Ebay outlet are selling the Canon 450D with 18-55mm IS lens for £360 which is a nice starter kit.

    Sony 300mm f2.8 G £3999.00
    Canon EF 300mm f2.8L IS USM £3499.00

    Imagine how much the Sony would be if they had to fit it with IS :p
     
  5. Johnmcl7

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    The main advantage of having stabilisation in the body itself is that every lens you use benefits from stabilisation which can be very useful as stabilised lenses can be more expensive than non-stabilised versions and some lenses don't have a stabilised version at all particularly small primes and older lenses. The advantages of stabilised lenses are that you can see the effect of the stabilisation in the optical viewfinder to gauge how well it's working (although Sony offer an indicator to show you) and it generally works better at longer telephoto focal lengths. I don't find the stabilised viewfinder that much of a benefit personally as you get a good feel for what focal lengths and shutter speeds you can get away with but I do find in body IS struggles at longer focal lengths.

    I've not looked closely enough to see if this is the case across all brands but I don't know if there's any stabilised bodies which can stabilise video as the Olympus bodies currently do not.

    Owning two systems with stabilised lenses (Nikon F mount/Panasonic micro 4/3) and one with stabilised bodies (Olympus 4/3) I do miss the onboard IS as it's like a cushion always there to help you to really push the shutter speeds as low as possible. In the entry level market I think in body IS is particularly useful as it means if you pick up a Sony or Pentax you can opt for older legacy lenses while still gaining the benefits of stabilisation. It's not the be all and end all so other cameras are definitely worth considering.

    I think you're on the right track to go and try out the cameras first to see what you think first as I've seen plenty people who have spent hours comparing specs, decided on a camera then gone into a store and bought something completely different.

    John
     
  6. jradley

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    Sorry Pirate, but to be blunt I think that is rather a misguided and totally wrong thing to say to someone who is asking for advice as a beginner to DSLR's.. I'll address this first and then move on to what I think is more pertinent. You are right, an image stabilised 300mm f2.8 is very expensive. But equally there are no cheap 300mm f2.8 lenses without IS that fit bodies with in built stabilisation either, becasue the thing that makes them expensive is not so much the stabilisation but the fact it's 300mm and f2.8. Therefore the cost of this lens is not a reason to choose in-body IS vs in lens IS, hence irrelevant.

    Moving on....as is frequently said, with entry level DSLRs just about any brand will be competent. Some brands favour different features to others, some may perform better in different areas, but in reality the pciture quality difference between brands will be insignificant. What really matters is how the camera feels in your hand and if you like the layout of buttons, menus etc.

    Also important is if you think you may want to upgrade the camera or lenses in future what options are open, as some brands offer more flexibility than others.

    Finally a word of caution - with your budget you will probably be looking at a camera with a standard kit lens, with a focal range of say 18-55mm. This will be great for your holiday snaps and scenery, but is limited for sports and wildlife, which you may be disappointed with. With DSLRs you very rapidly learn that for each subject type you end up needing a lens to match, and that is where the money really goes. It is not uncommon to spend much more on lenses than the camera body.

    Ultimately you should read reviews, understand what the features of each brand/camera model really means, check out prices for each and go to a shop and actually play with the kit on your shortlist.

    Good luck,

    John
     
  7. Pirate!!

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    No problem. I had a Nikon D300 and Sony Alpha A700 together and was in the process of selling off my Alpha and going over to Nikon as everyone was saying this was the best blah blah blah.

    After doing the maths, the cost to change to replace like for like was in the thousands of pounds bracket. With regards to the expensive end of the lens market, yes, they're all expensive, but if you're lucky as I was, I bought an EX++ grade Minolta AF 300mm f/2.8 APO for £950.00 (it was later sold for nearly £2000.00 by Ffordes). That rarely happens I know, but to replace it with the Nikon equivalent at the time was what made me realise I was better off financially with what I already had as nothing was being gained.

    I think everyone would agree that the entry level is much of a muchness, but once the kit lens has been outgrown, this hobby of ours can get expensive irrespective of mount as our needs and wants change. These days, people want live-view and HD video on their DSLR's. Personally, I don't care for it as I see them as unnecessary features, but those who have grown up with it on their pocket cams may not know any different, however I digress.

    As for in-body v in-lens IS, unless I'm mistaken, the in-lens is a carry-over from the old film days when Canon and Nikon were trying to develop a means to eliminate shake at slower speeds, though in addition today, it's a great way for them to increase their revenues by keeping the system and charging the Earth for the privilege of having the in-lens feature.

    Basically, try before you buy and research the heck out of the system you're buying into so there's no surprises down the line.
     
  8. Johnmcl7

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    Yes I'd say you are mistaken as there are still beneficial reasons for an in lens IS system and I think you're massively exaggerating some of the price differences by basing your opinion on old legacy lenses vs new ones. Using your example as someone has already tried to explain to you above, 300mm lenses are expensive:

    Nikon 300mm F2.8 - £3939.00 (IS)
    Canon 300mm F2.8 - £3499.00 (IS)
    Sony 300mm F2.8 - £3999.00 (no IS)
    Olympus 300mm F2.8 - £5399.00 (no IS)

    Note that the two cheaper lenses are the stabilised ones while the non-stabilised lenses are actually more expensive. I could now claim that non stabilised lenses 'cost the earth' but that would just as incorrect as the information you're posting. As I've said already there are advantages and disadvantages to both stabilisation systems and I don't think it's of any benefit to post the very biased view you have been.

    John
     
  9. Jammyb

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    I agree.

    Though there are some examples where pirate is right. Canon charge a huge premium for their IS versions of the 70-200mm lenses. Though they are also optically better than the non-IS versions.
     
  10. shotokan101

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    Yes and how Naff is that ? - forcing users to pay a premium for better quality and getting IS thrown in "for free" then ? :rolleyes: :devil: so in effect doesn't that invalidat the comarison between IS and non-IS Canon proicing the if you can't get a comparable IQ for a non IS lens even when tripod mounted ? ;)

    Probably worth posting this article for general in formation :-

    http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/digital/image_stabilization.html


    Jim
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  11. RobDickinson

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    Canons IS 70-200's have much better optics including flourite elements and weathersealing etc, its not just an IS upgrade that costs.

    As for IS , its a usefull tool for sure, though out of the 7 lenses I have spanning 10 to 400mm only 1 has IS.

    You can live without it easily enough.

    As for in lens IS costing more over the long run I recently compared sony and pentax gear with canon gear and found no significant price difference between them even though the canon lenses had IS.

    OK you get 'free' (ish) IS on (short) primes but thats not a big deal.
     
  12. Johnmcl7

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    Although Canon do charge a huge premium for the IS version of the lens, it's still only slightly more expensive than the Sony 70-200mm lens without IS but I don't fundamentally disagree that some lenses are more expensive than alternatives without VR but the original post grossly exaggerated the difference (Particularly when some lenses with IS are cheaper). However what I do disagree with is the misleading one sided view being presented which makes out that lens stabilisation is extremely expensive and only there to increase the manufacturer's profits neither of which is true. There's advantages and disadvantages not only to the different IS systems but to the DSLR systems as a whole.

    This is somewhat dragging the thread away from the original question so I'll leave it at that.

    John
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  13. RobDickinson

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    Yep both systems have their advantages, but on sensor IS has only 1 advantage, price.

    In lens IS has a ton more advangages, it can be better (last tests said by at least 1 stop) it stabalises the viewfinder too, and probably as important as anything else (and often not mentioned) it stabalises the image for the focus module which helps tracking focus a lot.
     
  14. Pirate!!

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    @ mandoo1011

    My apologies if I've caused any unintentional confusion and/or offence, though none was intended or implied as neither was it my intention to take your post off on a tangent.

    Whilst debate is good, I trust you will glean whatever information you deem useful in order to make an informed decision.

    @ mcmoody, jammyb, johnmcl7, jradley and robdickinson

    As above really, good to debate a point, though I hadn't intended to take the OP's question off on a tangent, though in all honesty I was making reference in relation to a personal experience and situation which my cost reference was relating to. Notwithstanding, my apologies if I trod on any toes, though 'hands-up' my referral to the high-end 300mm f/2.8 primes was actually based on legacy Minolta and not new Sony which I also didn't make clear and thus my costings was also unclear. My error.

    I trust we can at least agree on some points and maybe have a difference of opinion on others. I'm not so bull-headed not to at least acknowledge that we're all from different sides of the divide, but it's our shared interest and hobby that brings us together on this forum.

    I hope that these words are taken with good will. On a final note to the OP, I trust whatever you buy, you'll let us know and post some images and give some feedback. At the end of the day, we're all 'family' here.

    Nuff said (I hope).
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  15. RobDickinson

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    I guess it depends on what your going to be buying and shooting.

    Using shorter primes, or older lenses then a body with IS built in may be better.

    If your going to try high end sport or wildlife shooting then theres many other things to consider over the IS system and generaly for new supertele's canon are miles ahead of the competition.

    if your going to go for older supertele's then prehaps canon may not be the best choice if you still want IS?
     
  16. Miss Mandy

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    Thanks for everyone's posts here. Its nice to see a bit of healthy debate sometimes, but I suspect a lot of the stuff posted here will go over my head for now!
    I will read all posts thoroughly and gleam whatever information from that them I can.

    As someone mentioned about needed a different lens for my sport and wildlife stuff, I have already taken that into account. I should have mentioned in the first post that I have a separate budget set aside for a second zoom lens, but I have not even started looking at those yet due to not having a camera yet.
    My main priority at the moment is to get the camera and that's where my budget mentioned in the first post comes from.
     
  17. RobDickinson

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    Ye-see thats possibly an error. IMO the lens is often more important than the body.

    But I suspect your going to be looking at general sonzumer zooms like a 70-300 in which case there all quite similar...
     
  18. Miss Mandy

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    I know the lenses are important, but as I haven't even started narrowing down the choice of bodies, I don't what to start looking at lenses and overwhelm myself. I'm worried that if I start looking at lenses now I'd end up getting confused or trying to buy a camera to match a lens and it won't be the right camera for me.

    I'm a complete beginner as far as DSLRs go having only got a point and click digital camera so I'm not looking at buying really specific or specialised lenses at the moment, I'm just looking at getting started.
     
  19. ncmoody

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    I think we all understand your dilemma. We are trying to point out that glass is important as many people in your position do not realize that and spend their budget getting the best camera nd the cheapest lens. Then wonder why thier pictures are no better than those from their P&S.
    In a nutshell, if you are just wanting a DSLR that is better than your P&S then go for a camera with IN-body IS. If you are thinking of getting on the first rung of a serious hobby that you may spend £000s on over the years then get a body without and get the odd lens with IS as required.
    I am a Nikon owner and I would not change, that, however, that does not mean that I would suggest it to you. What suits me is not what may suit you. I personally do not like Sony and would not buy a camera from them, others think they are superb. I suspect that it may be the camera for you as the low end range seem at least as good as any other and in some cases better. they have IS an-body and a reasonable set of lenses and accessories.
    There are aficionados of Sony (I will not call them FanBoys because they will present a reasoned argument for their weapon of choice) who are in a better position than I to suggest which body/lens combination would best suit you. Likewise someone from the Olynpus camp should be able to recommend a suitable combination.
    Then it is up to you to handle both and make a decision.
     
  20. Ian_S

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    My view for what it is worth...

    When starting out, I don't think the brand really matters much. If you stick with one of the main manufacturers, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax or Sony (alphabetic ;) ) then you will get great pictures from any of them.

    With the wide range of potential subjects you've listed, then I think you are looking at getting a body with a standard zoom lens included, which will be something like an 18-55-ish, plus a telephoto of around the 70-300mm mark. Sigma are very popular for the 70-300 lenses, and do a reasonable model with the APO designation that offers better quality than the really basic lenses.

    A body plus those two lenses will let you experiment with a wide range of subjects so that you get a feel for what really floats your boat photography wise. After a while, you'll know yourself where you need to spend any money on better lenses etc.

    A tripod is handy, and again at this level you don't need to go mad as the camera + lens won't be that heavy. No point spending a fortune to find that you don't use it.

    So, as you say, the best advice is to go to a good shop and try out the different brands in your hands. It's more important to have a camera that feels right than to worry about which one technically. There are no bad cameras IMO from the major makers, so a bit of practice should yield equally good results.

    Also, if you find you made the wrong choice, entry level cameras won't lose you a fortune, and the Sigma 70-300 lenses hold a surprising amount of their value secondhand. So switching later isn't as painful as it could be. However, unless you are after some quite exotic lenses later, the entry level is pretty much of a muchness with the same lenses available from the likes of Sigma/Tamron and very similar manufacturer ranges too.

    Before getting too hung up in IS, remember that it does nothing for subject movement, to freeze that requires a high shutter speed. And on a tripod many such systems need to be turned off anyway.
     
  21. Thunderbird_010

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    This has really got me thinking now as I started off looking at the Nikon D3000. Then thought I may go for the D5000 with the twin lens kit from Jessops as the reviews are good but if its not going to be much different than a P & S camera (currently Panasonic Lumix FS15) then I need a serious rethink.

    For £600 what would be the best combo to get the D5000 with the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses or a cheaper camera body and more expensive lens?

    If anyone has any suggestions then would really appreciate it.
     
  22. ncmoody

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    I am pleased you are considering Nikon (thats the FanBoy in me speaking)

    Has the D5000 got any features that the cheaper body lacks that you deel you need. If the answer is no then the cheaper body and better glass would be better.

    If I were in your shoes ( and they might not fit) I would seriously consider a second hand D80 fitted with a 24-120mm VR lens. and possibly an older 70-200mm f2.8 (or 80-200mm f2.8) with AF ofcourse but no VR. Later if you need wider than 24mm there is a range of lenses both new and second hand, that also means you are not buying all at once. Perhaps someone could get you a S/H wideangle (even zoom) as a Xmas/Birthday present.

    My own 24-120mm VR was bought second hand on eBay and this below is from it.
    _NCM4199a | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    There are plenty of other examples on my Flickr with that lens.
     
  23. Thunderbird_010

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    Thanks for that, yes I had a look in the shop and the various models and the Nikon felt right in my hand compared to the others.

    Im a complete novice to all this and apologies if I'm going to sound thick now but im a little confused with all the lenses and numbers and letters. Is a say 10-24mm lens for portraits and macros then the 18-55mm for general shots then the 55mm - 200mm for close ups of long distance shots. Also whats the f2.8 stand for as ive also seen different numbers like this also on different lenses.

    Finally have you got an example of the lens that I should be looking at and how much it would be second hand. Ive seen a few D 80's on ebay that im keeping my eye on what do you think is a fair price for a D80???

    Had a quick look at your flickr page and if I can do half as good as your shots after some practice would be really happy.

    Thanks in advance once again.
     
  24. Noggin1980

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    No thats a wide angle lens it's good for landscapes

    yes, the lens that will likely spend the most time on your camera.

    yes

    The F number is the apature. The apature is basically the hole that lets the light in on the lens. The lower the f number the bigger the hole. The bigger the hole the more light the lens lets it which allows you to use it in lower light and with faster shutter speeds.
     
  25. Noggin1980

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    Sorry someone came in while I was writing so I couldn't finish.

    So f2.8 is quite a low number which means the hole is big. This makes the lens good in lower light situations. Lower f numbers also mean that the depth of field is smaller which makes the background blur that makes the subject stand out which can be very appealing.

    A lens with a low f number is particually good for portraits because then the focus is just on the person and not the background.

    F2.8 versions vs say a lens that is f3.5-5.6 (3.5 zoomed out, 5.6 zoomed in) tend to be better, but also heavier and more expensive.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  26. shotokan101

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  27. Jammyb

    Jammyb
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    What if your subject is also blue, wouldn't that make it hard to see them?

    It's not a problem with younger people, but a lot of older people will be turning blue in this cold weather. You can always warm them up in photoshop though.
     
  28. RobDickinson

    RobDickinson
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    The aperture is one of the main defining things of a lens. You can always make it smaller (i.e. let in less light, higher number), you cant make it larger without $$.

    Everything in photography works on 'stops' which is halving or doubling of light.

    So f5.6 is slow but typical for kit lenses and longer zooms.
    f4.0 is the next stop larger and lets in twice as much light as f5.6
    f2.8 is another whole stop larger (you can shoot in 1.3rd stops) and is 4 times more light than f5.6
    f2.0 is 8 times more light than f5.6
    f1.4 is 16 times more light than f5.6

    As lens apertures get larger the lenes get larger and heavier and more expensive. And as focal length increases you need larger lenses too (as aperture is a function of focal length).

    Heres the canon 'nifty fifty' a cheap f1.8 lens next to the sigma 50mmf1.4, not quite a whole stop faster, but 4 * the price:

    [​IMG]
     
  29. Noggin1980

    Noggin1980
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    :blush:

    :laugh:
     
  30. Miss Mandy

    Miss Mandy
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    Thanks again for everyone's advice and knowledge.
    I had a quick look in Comet today and had a play about with a Canon model, the Sony A290 and the Nikon D3100. Out of those three I was very impressed with them all, but the Nikon felt so much better in my hands. It really is a very nice camera.
    I know I've still got a bit of research to do, and probably more models to play about with, but I think the Nikon is leading the way so far.
     

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