Another Spec Me a DSLR Thread...

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I know these threads tend to be annoying, smacking of laziness on the poster's part, but I'm really lost and could do with some pointing in the right direction.

I'm a beginner to digital photography (will be doing a couple of short courses over the winter) but it's something that has always interested me. It's only now however that I have the funds and time needed to seriously pursue it as a hobby. I have consulted the excellent sticky at the top of this forum (nice one A.N.Other), but am still having trouble compiling a short-list of cameras to look at more closely.

I suppose the key factors I should point out would be that;

*while it would be nice to have a camera that could excel in all areas, my main interest would be wildlife photography, so I'm guessing I'd get better use out of something with a higher frame-rate?

*this is entirely subjective I know, but it would be great to have something that is as easy to use as possible. Now I don't mean something with lots of features that will cover up my lack of skill as a beginner, but rather nice ergonomics, intuitive menus etc etc. Again, it's subjective I know, but any feedback from your personal experiences would be much appreciated :) Essentially, the camera should be a pleasure to use, if that makes sense?

*budget is a consideration, but not a limit. What I mean to say is, while I'd like to spend as little as possible, if another hundred would get me something a lot better than the cheaper alternative, I'd be willing to spend it. So maybe a couple of recommendations at different price points?

I'm looking at this as a serious investment which will hopefully give me many years of enjoyment, so my hope would be to build up a nice collection of lenses, accessories and equipment over time. However, what would you recommend as "essential" requirements to get started?

Thanks in advance guys. As I say, there is a lot of info out there via the forum sticky, but I found it quite overwhelming, so if anyone can narrow down my search, it would be very much appreciated!
 
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Its a bit of a gray area at the moment since you haven't specified a budget (although yes as little as possible was mentioned) Can you put a figure down on what you'd like to spend say plus or minus that extra £100 if you thought it was beneficial?

Someone could easily say well go for a Canon 1D mk III with a Canon 400 mm f2.8 and that's over 10K worth of kit there and then. on the other end of the scale someone might suggest a Canon 1000D with a 70 - 300 mm f4 - 5.6 where you'd be spending around about £700
 
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Ah of course you're right, there's a huge difference in prices.

Okay then, would say £600 for just the camera body itself be enough to get a decent beginner's camera?
 
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600quid will get a decent amount of camera for your money. I personally use a canon 450D (circa £400 - 500 with / without kit lens) with 12.2MP sensor, 3.5fps shooting, with all the other gubbins, I'd say what it does lack is a high iso topping off at 1600 where the 500D goes to 3200.
I'm only quoting canon as thats what I use.

Since you want to take photos of wildlife have you got a budget in mind for the lens you'd want? As mentioned before you can pick up a 70 - 300 f4 - 5.6 for around £400 but depending on the wildlife you may need longer reach or faster glass which will inevitably come at extra cost.
 
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I'd second the 450D, Fine upto ISO 800 where noise requires attenion in post processing and IMO 1600 is unusable even Noise nInja begins to struggle.

But, having said that for wildlife most shooting will be outdoors at ISO 100/200 which yields excellent results. The kit lens is ok for landscapes and flowers, but tends to be a bit soft. A 70-200 might be a little short for wildlife but it depends where and what you shoot, so lens wise perhaps look into the 120-400 sigma -beware of the QC ;).

Hopefully you can see the slight softness in example one of a slower shutter and higher ISO at the long end wide open and in the second you can see it sharpens up toward the mid focal lenghts.

img2995edit2.jpg


img1383u.jpg


The are however both sharpened in LR - The second one now uploaded looks over sharpened but I think that might be resizing it?

The thing I regretted when I first purchase a DSLR, was only using the kit lens. BIG MISTAKE - the lens is almost everything the image is!

Beware however a DSLR is a money pit, flashes, tripods, lenses, filters & cases ect.

Sorry bit of a rushed post but hopefully this helps you.

On a final note, I'm a canon user because the Nikons I tried all felt a bit cramped, the sony bodies I found as nice to hold as the canons but canon do have a better system behind them.
 
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Okay, a lot of food for thought there guys, and truth be known, I'll have to do some more reading up before I post more feedback. I'm a wee bit out of my depth :p

But thank you both.
 
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being out of your depth is fine, everyone on here will have thought the same as you at some point. I know i have. The good thing is with whichever camera you do opt for there is the fully automatic mode so you dont have to think about anything you can use it as a point and shoot and once you've done some research into settings etc and become more confident you can try out the aperture or shutter priority until you can go fully manual and even get into custom settings. Its a learning curve to operate the camera but once you've got the hang of it then its very rewarding. :)
 
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my main interest would be wildlife photography, so I'm guessing I'd get better use out of something with a higher frame-rate?
what type of wildlife photography e.g. macro or birds or ...?
This will narrow down available lenses for the job which may rule out some systems.
btw you do realise that the glass will end up costing more than the body?

also ,what do you consider a higher frame rate & why do you think that may be beneficial for wildlife?
 
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what type of wildlife photography e.g. macro or birds or ...?
This will narrow down available lenses for the job which may rule out some systems.
btw you do realise that the glass will end up costing more than the body?

also ,what do you consider a higher frame rate & why do you think that may be beneficial for wildlife?
It's not the answer you want to hear, but a bit of everything lol. So naturally, that means more lenses, but immediately it would be fauna in the local vicinity - so deer, birds etc.

And yeah, I know that the lenses will be the bigger outlay :)

As for the last thing, I thought photographing birds (or any quick moving subject) might require being able to fire off shots quickly? If that's wrong, then by all means, correct me please :)
 
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Whatever DSLR you buy, you going to have to buy a Long Lens for Birding. Cheepest out there, and VERY GOOD, is the Sigma 150-500mm at about £700, then the Tamron 200-500mm. As regards the DSLR, I'm a Sony a700 user, but if I was starting from scratch I'd go for Canon or Nikon. (nothing wrong with my DSLR) I just hate sony! BUT! the best way is to pop into a shop and handle as many different ones as you can. Find photographers who will let you hold their camera and tell you what it's like. Join a camera club and ask the members. Or just go along for one month without joining and ask the questions.
 
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It's not the answer you want to hear, but a bit of everything lol. So naturally, that means more lenses, but immediately it would be fauna in the local vicinity - so deer, birds etc.
pretty much every system will do macro well afaik.
In terms of ultra tele primes then currently the 2 main 1st party systems would be Canon & Nikon with Sony (500/4) expected to join them soon.
Canon, Nikon & Sony all have good >400mm zooms.
Neither Pentax nor Olympus currently have anything beyond 300mm in 1st party lenses.
There may be various 3rd party options e.g. the Sigma 500/4.5 is already available for Sony & both they & Tamron do some >500mm zooms.

So, I would go to a shop & handle some bodies to see which you are most comfortable with but also bearing the above in mind I would concentrate on Canon, Nikon & Sony.
1 that may be worth seeking out to try is the Sony A700 which is currently a bargain price (£5-550) for what it is as it's about to be replaced - probably by something that will be 2x as expensive on introduction - but it's increasingly hard to find as people have been snapping up the last stocks as they realise what vfm it represents.
Also, worth checking to see if you could pick up something like a s/h Canon 50D for the money.

And yeah, I know that the lenses will be the bigger outlay :)
as long as you know & are prepared ... something like a 1st party 500/4 will run you £5K.

As for the last thing, I thought photographing birds (or any quick moving subject) might require being able to fire off shots quickly? If that's wrong, then by all means, correct me please :)
I may be wrong & am willing to be corrected by people with more experience of birding but I think that patience & timing in getting that 1 good shot is more productive than firing off a burst so I don't think that uber high fps is needed.

If you decide that you need a high fps body for ~£600 then the incoming Sony A550 will do 7fps which afaik is the highest in it's class (by about 2fps).
 
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Neither Pentax nor Olympus currently have anything beyond 300mm in 1st party lenses.
QUOTE]

I can't comment of bird photography but I can mention crop factors. Most cameras under the thousand pound barrier are 1.5x Crop so a 50mm lens would have a 35mm eqiv. of 75mm.

I think olympus are 2x crop factor and canon's tend to be 1.6x

So a 300mm Four thirds lens for an olympus would perhaps if I remember the crop factor correctly have a FOV like a 600mm. So when shooting handheld without I.S you'd want a shutter speed of over 1/600th of a second, that requires a higher ISO or larger aperture. Tripods probably let you shoot at1/100th. About f5-9 on a decent day.

So remeber focal lenght x crop = Min. Shutter speed
 
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So a 300mm Four thirds lens for an olympus would perhaps if I remember the crop factor correctly have a FOV like a 600mm. So when shooting handheld without I.S you'd want a shutter speed of over 1/600th of a second, that requires a higher ISO or larger aperture. Tripods probably let you shoot at1/100th. About f5-9 on a decent day.

So remeber focal lenght x crop = Min. Shutter speed

This is particularly important on overcast days when the light levels severely restrict what you can and cant shoot over certain focal lengths. As an example, I normally shoot footballers at the weekend and even the past couple of weeks with the days getting darker my 70 - 300 on my canon 450D is beginning to struggle certainly at the higher focal lengths despite cranking the iso up to 800, not attempted 1600 yet but feel having a f2.8 lens would help greatly although a camera with a better sensor would also increase the chances of getting a sharp shot.
 
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Thanks for all the tips and advice guys. I truly appreciate it.

I found a couple of sites after Googling "dslr for wildlife photography", and quite a few of them mention the 450D for example as being a good place to start. And I definitely agree with going into an actual bricks and mortar store to actually get a hold of one of these bad boys in the flesh. Thankfully there's a really good friendly store I know of in Dublin city centre, so I'll head in there at the weekend.

Funny thing is, I was talking to my cousin last night, and he's thinking about taking the plunge on a dSLR as well, so we've kinda decided that we'll both buy the same brand and can therefore share lenses and kit etc until we build up our own collection :)

Anyway, still obviously in the research phase, but thanks to you guys and your advice, my search is narrowing down. So cheers! Will keep you posted on my progress :)
 
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Just a quick update here - I was in the purple shirt shop killing time while waiting for a friend the other day, and went over to their camera section for a looksee. Now I'd never buy anything from here, but I was able to pick up a few display models to get a feel for them.

It may have been the security alarm cable thingy getting in the way, but I much preferred one Nikon over the Canon 450D in terms of how they felt when holding them. I dunno, but my grip felt more natural on the Nikon - think it was a D5000. As I say though, it could have been the security sensor on the Canon which hampered my grip.

So next port of call will be to go into a proper camera shop and get a feel for a few different models. It's sad, but I'm quite excited :p
 
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It may have been the security alarm cable thingy getting in the way, but I much preferred one Nikon over the Canon 450D in terms of how they felt when holding them. I dunno, but my grip felt more natural on the Nikon - think it was a D5000. As I say though, it could have been the security sensor on the Canon which hampered my grip.

A lot of people find this. As an old 350D user myself I can now say with certainty that the xxxD Canons really don't do brilliantly well in the ergonomics catagory - even in my freakishly little hands! For starter bodies the Dxx and xxxD are great little cameras, but moving up to a D90 or 40/50D is a massive boost in construction quality, even before you begin to consider the IQ. For this reason it's also worth buying into a manufacturer's lens system that you believe will suit you best in the long run, so make sure you get a good feel for a range of DSLRs.
 
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Interesting. So do the different lens (and therefore camera body) manufacturers have different strengths and weaknesses in relation to specific branches of photography? Or is it just another way of saying make sure whichever you buy has quality lenses to suit the type of photographic work you intend to do?

If it's the latter, I naively thought that Nikon and Canon would both have lenses to suit your individual tastes/needs?
 
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One major point I and I think everyone else forgot to mention was actually getting into a shop and taking a hold of a camera! I went in knowing I wanted to buy a canon so i guess it was academic really and because of this thats all I've spoken about in your thread. forgot to mention that if it doesn't feel right then there are alternative brands available but then again you've found that out for yourself :)
 
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Interesting. So do the different lens (and therefore camera body) manufacturers have different strengths and weaknesses in relation to specific branches of photography? Or is it just another way of saying make sure whichever you buy has quality lenses to suit the type of photographic work you intend to do?

If it's the latter, I naively thought that Nikon and Canon would both have lenses to suit your individual tastes/needs?
Canon & Nikon have the widest lens range overall but many of the lenses that some people say that other mounts lack are a) very niche markets b) very expensive c) often have equivalents available 3rd party.
Now, if you have a specialist need it's an important consideration but all the systems have the main market needs covered.

& no 1 mount has the best of everything e.g. Canon are good for ultra teles & their new tilt/shifts appear to be the business but their wides aren't considered to be the best.
 
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