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Old 06-03-07, 09:19 AM   #1
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@ Forum Photographers

I am planning on stepping up to a big boy camera and purchase and SLR sometime this summer before vacation to the Grand Canyon. Im looking for an entry level SLR thats at the $1,000.00(US) mark. The first camera I have demoed is the Cannon Rebel XTI and (thankfully I had no money on me at the time or I would have impulse bought it) I like it. However some of you have way more expense than I. Any recommendations?
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Old 06-03-07, 09:45 AM   #2
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I got the XTi myself.

While it's but a high consumer model, not a prosumer or professional model, it does very, very well. I got mine body-only from BH Photo. I got two lenses used, and in perfect condition from some users at photography-on-the.net. The lenses I got are the Sigma 17-70 and Sigma 70-300 APO. I really like them both. I also picked up a 50mm 1.8 from a local shop. That's one of my favorite lenses!

Radio Shack has specials on memory every week or so. This week, in my town, it's micro SD cards. Last month, there was a special on compactflash cards and I got a Sandisk Ultra II 2GB for $35 (a steal!). Newegg.com also has good deals on memory.

Personally, I like the Canon line more than the other ones out there, but try 'em all out. Your mileage will certainly vary.

Also, I'd get it soonish and get familiar with it before you go to the Grand Canyon.
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Old 06-03-07, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for those links much cheaper then the local Photography shops!
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Old 06-03-07, 10:08 AM   #4
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Do you photographers use all those features on the newer SLRs? I have a completely mechanical 1973 Canon that has a shutter speed setting under the film advance lever, and an aperture setting on the lens. Take a hand held light meter and I figure that is all you need.

But I don't take lots of pictures.
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Old 06-03-07, 10:52 AM   #5
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We bought our first DSLR about a year ago. I have a bunch of film cameras (even a Bronica medium format setup), and a bunch of half-decent k-mount (fits Pentax) lenses.

We looked at a few different options:

Pentax K100D: Very compact, in-camera image stabilization, ability to use my old film lenses (with reduced features)

Canon Rebel something-or-other: Nice enough, but felt light and "plastic-y" to me; YMMV.

Olympus Evolt (can't remember model number): Nice enough, has a built-in sensor cleaner, nice LCD screen (not so important; in most SLRs you can't compose your image with the LCD like a P&S camera).

Nikon D50: Nice features, intuitive controls, robust, felt beefy, like a 'real' camera.

All the cameras had similar features and prices, but the Nikon just feflt right in my hands. We just have the 18-70 kit lens right now (it's OK, but only OK). Eventually, we'll spring for the Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G DX VR Zoom Lens, and this'll be a decent do-it-all lens that should last us for a few camera body upgrades.

Head to some camera shops and get your hands on some DSLRs. Most entry-level camera bodies have similar features and price points, so you just need to figure out which one is right for you. $1000 will get you slightly better than entry-level stuff, so I'd suggest an entry-level camera body with an upgraded lens. Cameras are like computers; there will always be something better and cheaper a few months down the road, but a good lens will always be a good lens. Start with a basic camera and a nice lens, then upgrade the camera body sometime down the road when you need more/better features.
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Old 06-03-07, 11:06 AM   #6
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I'm actually going for a Nikon D40. Won't be able to purchase it yet... well if I cash more bonds I could. But I found the d40 body for 260.00, of course it comes with nothing. But from what I've read and heard it seems to be a nice entry level slr. Compact, 16 ounces, 6.1 MP.
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Old 06-03-07, 11:07 AM   #7
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XTI is a great camera, personally i prefer canon but some prefer Nikon, as long as you go either route you should be grand...don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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Old 06-03-07, 11:44 AM   #8
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Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, etc... all make great systems. It's just a matter of personal preferences and biases. Since I decided, years ago, to go the Canon route, my opinions will be biased in that direction. That being said, I think the Rebel XTi would be a great choice for a starter camera. The XTi is one of Canon's newest cameras and employs some of their newest technologies (i.e. self-cleaning ultrasonic sensor, Digic II processor, and all that other marketing stuff...). More can be found here.

You can also find a detailed write-up on it at dpreview here. But, remember, this is just one site's review and I'm sure you'll find others' reviews which may or may not agree. I'd recommend checking out some camera/brand specific forums such as those on www.fredmiranda.com and www.dpreview.com for some actual comments made by people who use or have used the camera. Again, take some of the comments with a grain of salt and try not to get to swayed in one direction based on just one user's perspective (complaint).

What I always like to do is see some "real" photos taken from the actual camera/lens. Pbase has a really good database for this. Sample photos taken by the XTi can be found here.

As far as getting a hand-held light meter goes, I'd refrain from that until you start getting really serious about your photography. The built-in light meter should be more than sufficient.

Hopefully, you'll be able to wade through all the info in the above links. Btw, you should be able to navigate those sites to check out other camera systems as well. Once you figure out what kind of photography, other than just for your upcoming trip, you'd be interested in, you can start deciding what kinds of accessories (i.e. lenses, flashes, tripods, etc...) will suit your needs and still be within your budget. Be careful though, photography can be like cycling... so many things to buy!!!

Some of the reputable sites I've purchased photo equipment include www.bhphoto.com, www.adorama.com, www.keh.com, www.normancamera.com, www.keh.com, www.onecall.com, and a bunch more. Some will have prices lower than others but, hopefully, you'll be able to find some combination of no sales tax, shipping charge, and low product price which you'll find satisfactory.

Hope this is enough for you to go on...

Last edited by alainp; 06-03-07 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 06-03-07, 12:01 PM   #9
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Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, etc... all make great systems.
Again, i respectfully disagree. The only two companies with a lens lineup worth a hoot is Canon and Nikon
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Old 06-03-07, 12:02 PM   #10
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I've been using Nikon equipment for over 30 years, so please keep that in mind. My current choices for others are:
Pro/sumer: D80 Nikonians D80 Group
and
Semi/Pro or Pro: D200 Nikonians D200 Group

That said, my recommendation for cameras will not start at the camera! Why? With DSLR imager densities at the current level, the limiting factor of quality moves first to the lens you can afford, then the DSLR body, assuming the DSLR class yields an imager size/density of over 6MP. Some lower-end bodies greatly restrict your lens choices, making the choice even easier. If you want to take amazing images, start with lens reviews, pick the lens you will be carrying mostly, and then see what the highest affordable MP body there is.

There are many ways of judging lenses; so first start out with MTF curves. Here are some samples:

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED (5.0x) Compact Super Range Zoom

AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF (3.5x) Semi-wide Zoom

AF Zoom-Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED (1.9x) Ultra Wide Zoom

BTW, one of those would also be my initial purchase lens recommendations.

Good luck!
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Old 06-03-07, 01:22 PM   #11
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The only two companies with a lens lineup worth a hoot is Canon and Nikon
Regarding lens lineups, yes, I'd have to agree with this statement as well...
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Old 06-03-07, 01:40 PM   #12
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Yep, if you plan on buying plenty of lenses, go Nikon or Canon. Particularly if you want long glass (200+ mm).

I'm a Pentax user. I love my Pentax gear, and in my opinion, Pentax has great solutions in many cases. The problem is the lens availability. Finding good used lenses is tough. Finding good new lenses is almost impossible!

In the future, if I ever get enough money left over after my bike addiction is satisfied, I'll jump ship and move to Nikon. Canon has better sensors, but their cameras are ugly and non-intuitive and their lenses are so damn ugly that you kinda wonder if they left the exterior design to the local janitor... Nikon, on the other hand, makes beautiful cameras and lenses. Sigma uses the same look and finish for their newer lenses, and I've got three of them (10-20, 17-70, 70-200).
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Old 06-03-07, 01:41 PM   #13
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I'm a Canon man myself.

Another retailer to be aware of is Calumet. They have always been extremely helpful and easy to deal with, more so than most all other stores I've traded with.

Buy a 50mm prime lens. The cheepo ~$70 version takes razor sharp images. The more expensive models come with quieter motors, slightly faster lenses, but the cheepo is a great knock around lens.

I've lost track of the current lineup of DSLRs, Canon or otherwise, my current cameras are servicing me well and I haven't been paying attention for about a year.
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Old 06-03-07, 02:57 PM   #14
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Personally, if you can afford it, I'd recommend a Nikon D80. the D40 is okay, but your are really limiting yourself with available lenses due to the AF of the body.

Check out www.nikonians.org for more info.

Full disclosure: I've been a member there for 7 years and have moderated for probably the last five (user ID there is avm247).
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Old 06-03-07, 03:41 PM   #15
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I've been biting my bias tounge...but

Canon Sensors > Nikon Sensors which obviously > any other affordable DSLR solution
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Old 06-03-07, 04:03 PM   #16
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^^^^
+1
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Old 06-03-07, 04:10 PM   #17
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My brother swears up and down that Fuji sensors are the best. I don't know, I like my canon. Canon's lens selection is better IMO, and I really like their glass, so there is my vote.

Oh, and when you get over the zoom lust phase, (it can take years but sooner or later you'll realize the power of the prime) look at getting a tilt/shift lens. It'll open up a whole new world in what you can do with a camera.
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Old 06-03-07, 04:43 PM   #18
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+1 on bhphotovideo.com. If you don't have any lenses at this time go either Canon or Nikon (I have a lot of nikon lenses from the film days so I got a d70s which allows AF on some of the older ones). I'm much more familiar with the Nikon line so this is what I would look at on the Nikon side (Nothing against the Canon's, I just have little knowledge of the lens line).

Check out the D40 w/18-200mm vr lens (if you can find one, the lens is almost always backordered). It will cover most situations pretty well. This set up is pretty good too (the vr long lenses give you greater ability to hand hold vs. use a tripod (the rule of thumb is your shutter speed needs to be the same as the length of the lens you are using i.e.: you can handhold a 50mm lens at 1/50th second shutter speed, much slower with vr (or I think it's "IS" on the Canon lenses) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...amera_Kit.html

For the Grand Canyon you might want to concentrate on wider lenses for the big landscapes. If you are familiar with film cameras one thing to look out for is many (not all) digital cameras have a smaller sensor than a frame of 35mm film so the lens length gets multiplied by about 1.5. This helps get more reach on the long end (300mm lenses are equivalent to about 450). This hurts on the wide angle end because the wide lenses from the film days are no longer "wide".

Get what you end up with before you trip and go out and use it a lot so you are used to it (and bring the manual with you!). I'd also consider a tripod. If you can spend a little more the 50mm 1.8 prime lens is great at low light (but won't auto-focus on the d40 (it requires AFS lenses that have built in motors (older AF nikon bodies have the af motor in the body). I hope I didn't confuse things...

Mike

Last edited by root11; 06-03-07 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 06-03-07, 04:58 PM   #19
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My brother swears up and down that Fuji sensors are the best.
lol...yeah, that's why all the pro's are using them
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Old 06-03-07, 06:27 PM   #20
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If you are familiar with film cameras one thing to look out for is many (not all) digital cameras have a smaller sensor than a frame of 35mm film so the lens length gets multiplied by about 1.5. This helps get more reach on the long end (300mm lenses are equivalent to about 450). This hurts on the wide angle end because the wide lenses from the film days are no longer "wide".
Not necessarily. While many DSLRs have a 1.6 (some have a 1.3, I think) crop, there are some lenses which accommodate for this. The Sigma 17-70 I have for my XTi is one of these lenses.

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In the future, if I ever get enough money left over after my bike addiction is satisfied, I'll jump ship and move to Nikon. Canon has better sensors, but their cameras are ugly and non-intuitive and their lenses are so damn ugly that you kinda wonder if they left the exterior design to the local janitor... Nikon, on the other hand, makes beautiful cameras and lenses. Sigma uses the same look and finish for their newer lenses, and I've got three of them (10-20, 17-70, 70-200).
Which is why you need to hold as many cameras as you can. I've been using Canons for so long that their menus are second nature to me. Also, my camera fits perfectly into my small hands and is nice and relatively lightweight. After a long day of massage, I don't want to rassle with an overweight camera!

Check out Sigma4Less.com for some killer deals on lenses!
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Old 06-03-07, 07:37 PM   #21
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Wow thanks for all the replies! Im going to read up on the listed brands from above.
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Old 06-03-07, 08:28 PM   #22
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Not necessarily. While many DSLRs have a 1.6 (some have a 1.3, I think) crop, there are some lenses which accommodate for this. The Sigma 17-70 I have for my XTi is one of these lenses.
This is a fairly common misconception. Your 17-70 is still a 17mm lens and covers the same area in the frame as any other 17mm lens. The difference is that, because the sensor itself is smaller and therefore captures less of the view than a "normal lens" would, they are able to use less glass to get the same picture. It's not a matter of making 17mm wider, 17mm is 17mm and is always 17mm. It's merely a matter of weight and money savings.

If this still doesn't make sense, here is some food for thought. If you were to modify that lens of yours to fit on your film camera, or even my 1D (1.3 crop), the edges of the frame would have serious vignetting...

CdCf, if you are concerned with the way your camera looks then maybe you want to rethink investing thousands of dollars on camera equipment
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Old 06-03-07, 09:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
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This is a fairly common misconception. Your 17-70 is still a 17mm lens and covers the same area in the frame as any other 17mm lens. The difference is that, because the sensor itself is smaller and therefore captures less of the view than a "normal lens" would, they are able to use less glass to get the same picture. It's not a matter of making 17mm wider, 17mm is 17mm and is always 17mm. It's merely a matter of weight and money savings.

If this still doesn't make sense, here is some food for thought. If you were to modify that lens of yours to fit on your film camera, or even my 1D (1.3 crop), the edges of the frame would have serious vignetting...

CdCf, if you are concerned with the way your camera looks then maybe you want to rethink investing thousands of dollars on camera equipment
Right, the image circle is just smaller on the "DSLR" lenses. If you put one on a regular film body you get an image with vignetting like below.

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Old 06-03-07, 09:51 PM   #24
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If this still doesn't make sense, here is some food for thought. If you were to modify that lens of yours to fit on your film camera, or even my 1D (1.3 crop), the edges of the frame would have serious vignetting...
Exactly.

A 50mm lens on a 1.6 cropped sensor has a focus length of 80 on a 1.6 crop, as far as I know. My Sigma 17-70 is designed to provide 17-70 on a 1.6 cropped sensor. Were it designed for a full-frame sensor, it would provide 27-112 on my 1.6 crop.
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Old 06-03-07, 09:55 PM   #25
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Exactly.

A 50mm lens on a 1.6 cropped sensor has a focus length of 80 on a 1.6 crop, as far as I know. My Sigma 17-70 is designed to provide 17-70 on a 1.6 cropped sensor. Were it designed for a full-frame sensor, it would provide 27-112 on my 1.6 crop.
No, you still aren't getting it.

a 50mm lens on a 1.6 cropped sensor does indeed give the perceived 80mm image, but it's still 50mm and it is 50mm on no matter what camera its on. Your 17mm lens is 17mm on your 1.6 crop with an effective 27mm field of view compared to a 35mm film camera. You can't change the focal length of the lens. The only purpose of those 1.6 crop lenses is to save weight and money...that's it. You aren't getting any more "wide angle" out of your lens. Don't over think it
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