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I want to buy a DSLR camera but I need help

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My wife told me today that she would like to buy a good camera when the taxman gives us back our money. I said that I have been thinking the same but I dont really know anything about them except that we need a good camera that will last a lifetime(or at least a good part of it)
I love taking pictures and remember learning to use a broken SLR(the shutter wouldnt always shut, making for some interesting exposures) when I was a kid. I hate using point and click digital cameras as i can never seem to get a satisfactory picture no matter how much I stuff around with it, and dont get me started on the 10 second delay between pressing the button to the image capturing :angryfire just enough time for the fish to move out of frame :angryfire

So want to get serious about a camera and am looking at DSLR's but im a bit over my head so what things do i need to look for in a fairly simple to use good quality setup that will last?

What sort of lenses should I be looking for to take family happy snaps, landscapes, fishing action shots and aquarium shots?

Are there any other important/usefull accessories that I should keep in mind? Which brands have the best support as far as accessories, spare parts/repairers?

I dont want to start a war or anything but which brand makes the best cameras? I am willing to pay for quality so I dont mind paying more if it justified.

There are so many numbers and stats and figures thrown around when comparing these cameras it would be good to know which ones are really important and which ones are just a sales pitch.

Hopefully some of the experts on here can help me out, thanks in advance, any advice is appreciated
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well you cant go wrong with a canon or nikon

with the list of pictures you want to take, theres no "all in one" lens.. unfortunately.

if you want quality, you gotta shell out the big bucks. fortunately, youre willing to. for family and landscape pictures, a wide type lens would be fine. 17mm to.. 70mm maybe. fishing action shots.. if youre talking bout taking a picture of the fish jumping out of the water like in the magazines, you need reach.. probably in the 70mm to 300mm range. aquarium shots.. u gotta get a dedicated macro

i guess before i start mentioning lenses and bodies, how much do you want to spend for a dslr body? and for the lenses?
 

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l'm no camera expert so i'll try to be as helpful as l can. You can go wrong with either cannon or nikon for starters. Those two are the most popular from what i've heard and read. 2nd it's more about the glass(lense) than the camera but sure the camera is important too. l've heard you'll eventually spend more on them than the camera itself which was hard for me to believe until l got my dslr and started doing shopping on amazon. Speaking of amazon that is a very good place to go look at reviews for both brands and lenses. There are lenses for everything from macro, portraits, and so on but i'm clueless about that so I won't steer you into that direction. Entry level dslr's would be nice to start off with and once you get the hang of it you can move on from there down the road unless you're like me and wanna spend big $ to avoid buying a better camera down the road. first party lenses are ,more often more expensive than 3rd party such as sigma, tamron, tokina and so forth but often have better resale value. However they are cheaper so that's pretty much the trade-off. There are some 3rd party lenses that are better than 1st party it's just a matter of searching for them. Hopefully that helps somewhat.

lol you beat me to it dodo :)
 

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good stuff shadow.....

and yeah.... dslr bodies come and go.. but lenses for the most part last a lifetime. there are upgrades to lenses now and then, but good glass is good glass.

i was searching through old pictures ive taken with my old 6mp canon 10d which was probably made in 2000 or something. i had a pretty decent 70-200mm F4 lens on it and the quality was still pretty good. if i had used my canon 40d, the colors and the image mightve been a little sharper but the details were there. photoshop can help clean up the picture as well. really good lenses are great investments and hold their value. in fact some of my lenses have increased in value. when i bough them, they were maybe $1400 new. now they're around $1800 new.. which means the used values go up as well =D
 

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and yeah.... dslr bodies come and go.. but lenses for the most part last a lifetime. there are upgrades to lenses now and then, but good glass is good glass.
... really good lenses are great investments and hold their value.
I couldn't agree more. A DSLR is most likely obsolete shortly after you purchase it. Spend your money on the best lenses you can get. Nikon and Canon are both good. Zoom lenses are more convenient but there are some sacrifices made in optical quality, especially with the consumer grade lenses that are most affordable. I'm not as familiar with the Canon line but good zoom lenses from Nikon are all well over $1000. Prime lenses tend to be smaller, sharper and more affordable. Both make a very good and affordable 50mm f/1.8 lens for under $150. For action shots and everyday snapshots you'll need coverage in the 24mm to 100mm range. There are a lot of zooms that are in this category. Nikon has a 24-120 mm f/4 that looks good but costs $1300. A flash is useful but takes some practice to get natural looking shots so I'd hold off on that until you decide you really need it. For aquarium shots look for something with a reasonable reproduction ratio. Macro lenses are 1:1 or better so anywhere from 1:2 to 1:4 should be OK so long as the closest focus distance is not too close. If the closest focus distance (which gives the greatest magnification) is 10 inches and the camera body/lens is 6 inches it means you can only focus on object that are within 4 inches of the glass. The Nikon 24-120 lens I mentioned has a 1:4 reproduction ratio at a closest focus distance of 1.5 feet. The lens is 4" long so you can focus on objects ~14" into the tank.

As far as camera bodies go, choose the brand/model that fits your hand. Find the one the feels best to you. Are the buttons and dials easy to reach? Does is make sense which to turn or press without looking? The camera body that fits your hand best is one you will more like use and get to know. Don't worry about megapixels. Any DSLR on the market now has plenty to spare. I have a 10 MP Nikon D80 and I've made several 30"x20" prints that look great. So unless your making billboards MP doesn't matter.

Lastly spend some time experimenting with your camera. Digital files are cheap and easy to delete. Unlike film days when you had to pay for each shot, with digital you can play around and try new things. Learn what your camera can do and it will become and intuitive tool.

Good luck with your camera search.
 

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whoa all that sounds a little overwhelming! we dont wanna scare him!

theres some decent pro glass lenses for around $500 for canon.. and they make a nice macro lens for around $450. most dslr bodies have a built in flash which should hold you over for a while. i barely use flash, i try to make use of the available light.

fixed focus lenses are sharper and all but i think zoom lenses offer more flexibility in a dynamic situation.

but i agree.. check out the different camera models and figure out which ones best for you. i personally think nikon bodies are too small. i like fat heavy camera bodies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow... thanks for the responses... i have literally just started researching cameras and have not had anything better than phone cameras and a ~6mp point and click digital. i am looking to spend up to about $1500 and hopefully get Camera, 2 lenses macro and longer range, bag, strap, sd card and a spare battery. I have never really considered this before and didnt realise the amount you can spend on this gear!

Are the lenses a universal fit as far as mounting on a camera body? what is the "f" rating on the lenses? I didnt particularly like the idea of buying a used camera but since a few peole mentioned that a camera is a camera its the glass that makes the diff, is it a good idea to buy a cheaper/used camera and spend more on lenses?

will a 17 - 50mm lense and a 55 - 200mm lense be suitable for most of the pictures i want to take? i should clarify my first post, by fishing action shots i mean photos of my mates and i fishing and then the fish we caught, most of the fish we catch around here dont really jump out of the water until they are in the boat, but it would be nice to be able to take pics of birds and seals etc. on the rocks about 50 - 100m away so what would that involve?

thanks for your help so far
 

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lenses arent universal if you mean you want to put a canon lens on a nikon body.

F stops on the lens means how big the maximum aperture hole is on the camera. the smaller the number, the bigger the hole, the more light can go in. bigger the hole, the more shallow depth of field the image will be. for example, F2.8, a picture of a birds eye will be focused, but the beak will be blurry. (subject focused, foreground/background blurry) the smaller the number, the more expensive the lens.
on the other hand, a big number like F22 means the lens hole will be tiny, less light means you have to have the shutter open longer. and basically everything will be focused... foreground, background and subject

well figure out what kinda camera you want first, and you can go from there. start with 1 lens.. u dont have to buy everything at once. remember, you get what you pay for. a simple kit lens would probably keep you happy for a while. you can learn and mess around with it. then u can decide what kinda pics you want to take and figure which lens to go with from there. actually... canon or nikon.. go to a camera shop and play with the cameras and ask questions, get opinions.

17-50mm and 55-200 is a good range, but theres plenty of bogus lenses in that range that are really horrible.. gotta do your homework on it. i had the canon 70-200 f4 lens. i paid $450 for it.. and it was truly worth it. not too heavy, pretty good pictures for the price vs the 75-300mm lens i had which was horrible. i couldnt sell it fast enough and i paid $350 for it.

50m-100m away is pretty far for a 200mm, i dont think thats enough.
 

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Canon 7D, you get that 28-135 IS as the kit lens which is great walk around lens and covers alot of ground, then from there if you wanted to get specific get a Canon 50MM F1.8 II for 100 bucks, or if you want to go long go 55-250 IS for about $250 dollars.
 

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Ken's site is OK to start with but he sometimes contradicts himself so take it all with a grain of salt. I suspect that even the kit lenses that come with most mid-range DSLR's will be a good working solution for you. Definitely an improvement over a cell phone camera and point n shoot. If you really get into photography you'll want better lenses but as you've seen the cost can be insane. It's easy to get carried away with technical specs and reviews. Online many of the folks that review lenses are zooming in to 500% normal size and looking at details you'd only see on six foot prints. For Nikon lens reviews take a look here. http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html It's fairly objective and provides a good overview and most current and past Nikon lenses.
I think a D90 kit might be a good solution for you with the kit lenses that come with it (18-105mm). B&H has a kit on sale right now for under $1000 here. Learn to use the camera, save your pennies and upgrade when your skills and interest are ready. (I'm not pushing Nikon in particular it's just the line I own and I'm most familiar with - Canon is equally good IMO).
 

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I wouldn't be so quick to discount a good camera body. If camera bodies were a waste of money, pros would be walking around with D40s attached to a $10k lens ;) I have a Nikon D90, and I'm working my way up to a D700. Once you get to know the features each model offers, you'll realize why it's worth the money to upgrade. With that, I would recommend buying a used body over a new one though. My D90 was used, as will be my D700.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the most important thing when it comes to aquarium photography, and any photography; a Speedlight. A speedlight will give you far better results when used with your basic kits lens, than using a nice expensive macro lens alone.

My recommendation: Invest your money in 1-2 speedlights first, then upgrade your kit lenses. Most DSLR kits will come with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens. These will be great to start off with. These lenses are tack sharp and give you great results when used with a speedlight. I don't even take pictures without my speedlight anymore. I use it for anything and everything. Indoors, outdoors, all the time. It will really transform your pictures. Once you get more serious with lighting, you could add modifiers to your speedlights like softboxes, reflective umbrellas, shoot-through umbrellas, etc etc.

For my D90, I use the 17-55mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8. Both very expensive lenses, but they are not needed when you are just starting out.

Before giving recommendations, we need to know your budget.
 

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Sorry, just saw your budget is $1500. If you choose Nikon, I would definitely recommend a D90. It's a great camera, and has two important features that you won't find in the lower models (3100, 5000): internal focus motor and built-in Commander mode).

The D7000 is the replacement for the D90. It's nice, but a used D90 will save you a lot of money is you buy it used. That leaves you more money for speedlights and lens upgrades.

Canon, I can't help you there. I don't know the models too well :)
 

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I am 100% a Nikon man (Get it? A mix between Canon and Nikon!).

Provided it's in your budget, a nikon d90 would be best, the kit lens are okay, but you could upgrade once you play around with the features and feel you need an upgrade. I am saving up for one right now :)
 

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haha you Nikonians are so quick to recruit newbies aren't you :p

I agree 110% on what jcardona1 is saying about flash photography. Especially with aquarium photography, flash is BEST hands down.

For me I like my DSLR to have decent video capability (especially now... it's the new wave) as well because I like to take snippets during vacation and on family outings. These video segments can later be edited into nice short artistic videos using readily available video editing software. I own a Canon 60D which has 1080p (24fps) capability. Canon has yet to perfect auto focusing for video but it not like it's a dedicated video camera. It's a very nice/fun feature for some folks. Video is def making a big move onto DSLRs, moving forward. Just look at the 5DMKII. Now that's the camera I want ;).

Don't ask me anything about Nikon cause I don't know that brand :p.
 

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from what i read, he mostly wanted pictures of average everyday stuff. i didnt get the impression he wanted a macro set up.

and whats with the flash for aquarium macro photography? i guess im cheap. i just put 3 light fixtures over my tank to brighten it up. i guess it doesnt look real? i dont really use flash that often, so i'm not sure about spending the dough on multiple flash units

i'd recommend buying a new camera since this seems like its a 1 time purchase for a really long time. might as well start off with something new and something you know the history of.

if you dont mind used, and since everyones recommending nikons already, i'd recommend a canon 40d. theyre excellent cameras for around $450, great colors, good low light capability. get a kit lens 18-55mm and a 70-200mm f4 lens for around $500 and youre good to go. :D
 

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dodohead,

You need to get into it. I felt the same way you did before I started shooting with remote flash. Old habits die slow, I know ;).

OP,

The 40D is a rock solid camera! I'd recommend it to anybody who's barely getting into photography especially because of the price tag. Just make sure you get an actuations (camera ODO) reading before buying since these cameras have been well seasoned.
 

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and whats with the flash for aquarium macro photography? i guess im cheap. i just put 3 light fixtures over my tank to brighten it up. i guess it doesnt look real? i dont really use flash that often, so i'm not sure about spending the dough on multiple flash units
Give one a try for aquarium photography, then let's talk ;)

Unless you're running over a 1000w+ of metal halide lighting, odds are you do not have enough light for aquarium photography. Give this a try: set up all your extra lights, and try shooting at 1/200th, ISO 100, and f/16. What do you get, a pitch black image??? :D

You don't need a macro lens, I actually use my 70-200mm for aquarium photography. If you want extreme closeup of inverts, then a macro lens will help. For fish only, not needed.

These were taken with a wireless overhead speedlight. They look pretty real to me!





 
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