DSLR

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DSLR

Post by Henrik on Thu Feb 11 2010, 21:43

So, as I understand Pabs is in the market for a DSLR camera. Now, I am not big on facebook, and so I thought I might take this discussion here.

So, as I was saying "over there", by far the most important part is always the lens. Well, actually the most important part is actually the photographer, and I have seen some amazing shots taken with old Canon 300D with the crappy standard zoom lens they used to come with. In the past couple of years I have done a fair bit of research to try and help recommend DSLRs to friends. Usually if people have an interest in photography, they will also have a fairly strong preference for either Canon or Nikon. I never try to convince a pro Nikon person to buy a Canon and vice versa, as ultimately they are both excellent cameras.

Both brands basically have an entry level DSLR range, an enthusiast range and then a pro range. The good news is that their lenses are available for all the ranges, so if you buy an entry level Canon, you can still buy and use their most expensive professional lenses. So, the first question is really how much money you want to spend. Saying that, I think that for any amateur the pro range really does not make any sense, so that leaves the entry level and the mid range.

To help you chose between Nikon and Canon, I would look at their lens selection and see how they fit in to how you intend to use your camera. For me, this was fairly easy as the most important thing is motor racing photography, and also wildlife. Here I find that Canon truly has the edge with their L lenses. Given that most of my pictures are taken in bright daylight, I don't need an extremely low f stop, and so the range of fixed f4 lenses they have are perfect. The prices are not too high, and I can't say enough good things about the quality of the optics in these. Right now I have the 24-105 f4L IS USM, 70-200 f4L IS USM, and also an older Sigma 50-500 lens often called the Bigma. If I didn’t have the Sigma already I would get the Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM which is probably the best and most versatile lens you could have around a track or while on a safari.

Now Nikon obviously make some really good lenses too, and their 28-200mm lens is one of the best allround lenses you can find. My brother has this one on a Nikon D300, and it is fabulous. Still, we have compared shots taken with his set-up and my Canon 50D with the 70-200 lens, and mine always comes out on top at a track.

Obviously you can go with Sigma or Tamron lenses as they too make some good ones for a lower price. The problem is that the quality is not very consistent, and while some of their lenses are great, others are total crap. I mentioned my Sigma 50-500mm which is surprisingly good, and I have used it a lot at 500mm. I also use a Sigma 10-20mm which is a fabulous wide angle zoom lens, one of the best I have ever tried.

So, to make a long post short, spend money on the lenses! You could do a lot more with a Canon 500D, or even an older 450D, with some good lenses than a 5D and a crap lens setup.

Let me know what you are looking at and I can see if I can give you some more help.

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Re: DSLR

Post by pabs on Thu Feb 11 2010, 22:12

Hi Henrik,

Thank you so much for your answer. I have really been stressing over this. I know a lot about scientific photography and obviously much of that translates to buying a DSLR. But before, I was buying scientific quality cameras (well over $100K) and my lenses were always top-of-line. My favorite was a f/1.2 50 mm Nikon so you can imagine how much were struggling for light. Now I am going to spend my own money and I want to be sure be making a good investment.

About 3 years ago I bought a Sony point-and-shoot and turned out to be absolute crap so I don't want to make the same mistake again.

Having said that...my primary interests are very much along the same lines as yours, though probably without the emphasis on motor sports, and I would add aerial photography. Also, I am not a very good photographer and part of the reason why I want to buy this camera is because I love photography and want to get better at it.

Regarding the camera, I have been looking at a few. On the Canon side, the xsi and the T1i (though they just released a T2i which looks nice). On the Nikon side, the D5000 and the D90. What I like about the T1i and T2i is that they shoot HD video, though only the T2i will shoot real HD (720p at 60 fps). Obviously video should not be the primary concern here, but it is a nice-to-have. I just don't want to have to carry with a photo and a video camera while on vacation. Other than that, like a good novice photographer, my decision will come down to $$$$.

I understand that I need to invest in lenses so I am leaning towards the xsi or even the T1i. For what I want, I don't need more than 12 or even 10MPs. But what concerns me about the T1i is that the pixels are smaller so they tend to introduce more noise. Now, having never owned an SLR, I don't know if the common belief that these artifacts are barely noticeable to the untrained eye is true or not. I think most of my pictures will be outdoors, with the occasional indoor family reunion-type picture. I don't think I need to go as low as 1.2, but something around 3.2 should be fine.

Finally, what other accessories should I look at like filters and stuff?

Thanks so much for the help, Henrik and Eso.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Thu Feb 11 2010, 22:16

This one was taken with the new Canon 50D and the 70-200mm f4L IS USM. The fabulous thing with these shots is that I can then zoom in on tiny details once back on the computer.




Here is an example of a shot taken with the old 300D and the Sigma 50-500mm. What I love about using this lens at 500mm is that I can really get up close without any furtherr digital zoom. The very short depth I think also adds a great effect on these sort of photos, although it is more difficult to get really good ones than with the new 70-200 lens. Still, you can see what can be done with some older equipment (that camera is 6 megapixels....).



For me, the Rossi picture is easily the better one, which tends to show that it is not always the equipment that makes the best shot.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Thu Feb 11 2010, 22:36

Okay, for me I would never look at the video possibilities in a DSLR simply because I would never use it for that. I may be a bit old-school, but an slr camera is an slr camera! I might bring my pocket Lumix along as well as this can also shoot video though.

I hate the way Canon has a different name in the US from the rest of the world! So, the T1i is the 500D, and the Xsi is the 450D. Okay, here I think the Xsi will certainly do the job. I know there is a lot of talk also about live-view, but here again I can't see the interest. I think a proper viewfinder can't be beat when taking pictures, and I never liked using the lcd screen when taking pictures with my Lumix. Hell, most of the shots I take with the Sigma 50-500 end up being at f6.3 on bikes and cars racing by, and I have never really had a problem even using it handheld (and it does weigh a fair bit!).

Don't get too worried about the low light stuff. Sure an f1.2 is great, but I find with the modern cameras the much higher iso possibilities offered, together with the various anti-shake options in thee lenses, you really can get away very will with something like f4.

Other equipment you should probably look at, especially for indoor photography, is a proper flash. These tend to be a bit expensive too, but they can really add so much, and also help a lot in the creativity. For filters, a uv filter to protect the lenses should be sufficient. If you want to start playing with colours, you can always begin on the computer with photoshop.

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Re: DSLR

Post by pabs on Thu Feb 11 2010, 23:03

See, I always thought those racing shots were at a very low f-stop just because the shutter speed has to be very fast. But if you say you can get them at f6.3, then I believe you!

I am favoring the Canon so chances are, that's what I'll get. But I probably will end up getting a separate video camera for the video stuff. Like you said, a photo camera should be a photo camera.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Thu Feb 11 2010, 23:10

You do need a fast shutter speed for sure, but if it is sunny out, you have a lot of light. The details on the Rossi photo is as follows:

f/6.3
1/2000sec.
ISO-400
500mm

And, as I said, it was with the old Canon 300D (origonal Rebel SLR from 2004).

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Re: DSLR

Post by eso on Fri Feb 12 2010, 00:06

Our home was recently featured in a local magazine, and the photographer that did that session used Cannon. Apparently Cannon is currently the only maker of SLR lenses that offer rise/fall and tilt features that are critical to architectural photography, essentially giving 2 of the 8 movements of a view camera. That is a highly specialized application and those lenses cost a fortune.

It is easy to see from Henrik's shots that his cameras are up to the challenge. It is equally clear that he has an eye for what he's shooting and I believe good technique can take anyone further than having the best equipment and no clue.

I stressed-out before I bought Jill's Nikon, not unlike Pabs is now. Spending your hard-earned $$$ you want a margin of comfort that you're making an informed and smart choice.

Truthfully, if Jill's birthday had been a week later I would have gotten the D3000 and saved a few hundred dollars. It had raving pre-release reviews and was still plenty of camera. I just couldn't get any assurance that it would arrive in time.

I leaned towards Nikon at the recommendation of a Photographer on an audio board I frequent. He speakes very highly of the Nikon VR lenses.

They're both really good cameras. I'd say shop and find which one can give you the best deal when you're ready to drop the cash and don't look back.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Danny Boy on Fri Feb 12 2010, 11:50

My son has seen some of Henrik's photo's and he says they are as good as, or better, than many professional photographers.
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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Fri Feb 12 2010, 13:41

Thanks for the compliments. I tend to think it is a lot down to luck too though, and this is where the DSLR has revolutionised things for me. I rember before when I would go to an F1 race. I would come back with some 15 rolls of 36 shots each, have them developed for a fortune, only to find that a small number of the shots weere really usable. With the digital, I can take easily 300 or 400 shots in a day, and then not have to develope them to see what is good.

Eso, as I have mentioned above, both Nikon and Canon are excellent cameras, and you can't really go wrong with either one. The ones I don't like are the Sony DSLRs (formerly Konica/Minolta), which is funny as when I started out with my very first slr camera it was a Minolta SRT-101 and I was a huge fan. Pentax make some nice DSLRs as well though, but I just tend to find that it is the choice of lenses available for the Canon and Nikon cameras that goes in their favour.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Fri Feb 12 2010, 14:24

So Pabs, this is what I would go for if the money you intend on spending covers it.

Body:
Canon Xsi (450D)
You should be able to find these for really good prices now that the T1i and even the T2i have come out. Actually I get a bit annoyed at Canon for bringing out new bodies all the time, but it does have the advantage of bringing down prices on older models that are perfectly fine. If you can stretch the budget, skip the T1i and go for the T2i. Try to avoid a kit with lens as often these are crap lenses, although they have improved lately.


Lenses:
Wide angle- Sigma 10-20mm 1:4-5.6 EX DC HSM
This is a fabulous ultra wide angle zoom, for a reasonable price given the quality of the optics.


Normal zoom- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
Excellent lens for everyday use. Given that it is an IS I find that the f/4 is more than good enough. For sure you can get more light sensitive lenses, but price will quickly begin to shoot up. This lens is also excellent for portraits. If low light photography is really important to you though, there is the 24-70 f/2.8L USM, but this is more expensive and is not an IS lens.


Tele zoom- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
The ideal tele zoom lens in my opinion. Sure it is not that light sensitive, and you can get something like the 70-200mm f/2.8L, but weight doubles and price goes way up. An alternative is the 70-200mm f/4 that I also have, but you will miss the 400mm.


Flash:
Canon Speedlite 430EX II
A great flash that will help you out in low light conditions, and also to help with the creativity in your photography.


Now I know all this will cost a bit, but I think that in NYC you can find lots of places to try and bring the price down. Think of it as an investment as this should last you for a very long time, with possibly only the body needing updating in a couple of years. The lenses will be with you for life, and if you want to change them later they can easily be sold as second hand for good prices.

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Re: DSLR

Post by eso on Fri Feb 12 2010, 15:23

Funny Henrik. I too had an SRT-101, 30-35 years ago? It was a really good camera. I had a grip of various lenses too.

I shot a lot of B&W and used to bulk load and develop my own film, and did a lot of printing too.

What is IS? Is that a cannon equivalent of the Nikon "VR" vibration reduction?

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Re: DSLR

Post by pabs on Fri Feb 12 2010, 15:34

Again, thanks a lot guys!! I think I am getting closer to making a decision. I am not in any rush so I have time to gather information. I'm thinking I can start with the camera body and two lenses for the time being. I don't want Ana Maria to freak out when she sees how much I've spent.

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Fri Feb 12 2010, 15:36

eso wrote:Funny Henrik. I too had an SRT-101, 30-35 years ago? It was a really good camera. I had a grip of various lenses too.

I shot a lot of B&W and used to bulk load and develop my own film, and did a lot of printing too.

What is IS? Is that a cannon equivalent of the Nikon "VR" vibration reduction?

eso

Yep, IS is Canon's VR.

And the Minolta SRT's were popular back then. I obviously lusted after a Nikon F2, but there was no way I could afford one. I know my dad has an old F2 with a nice selection of vintage lenses well as a Hasselblad that I hope to get my hands on one day when I can convince him...

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Re: DSLR

Post by eso on Sat Feb 13 2010, 01:26

[quote}... well as a Hasselblad that I hope to get my hands on one day when I can convince him...[/quote]

Oooohh. You could get a digital cartridge and be in business.

I worked for a Photog in school and used to load his cartridges and develop his B&W film. Did all of that in total darkness with open top tanks. Long time ago that...




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Re: DSLR

Post by pabs on Fri Feb 19 2010, 01:42

Ok, given our current budget, we think we want to get the Canon 450D or 500D. We are waiting for the 550D to come out next month to see if the price of the 500D drops.

As for the lenses, we think we want to start with the EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM as a general purpose lens and will wait a couple of months to get a telephoto zoom lens, which will probably be the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. We thought about getting the non-IS version of it, but decided that we can wait a little and save for the IS. And later on in the year (say around my birthday) we may get a 50 mm prime for portraits.

What do you guys think?

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Re: DSLR

Post by Henrik on Fri Feb 19 2010, 08:56

That is a pretty good way to start out. Certainly with the 550 coming out you should be able to get good deals on the 500. The 15-85mm lens, even if not an L lens, seems to be a very competent general purpose lens. I haven't actually used it myself, but have tried it in a shop. All the reviews I have seen on it are very positive, especially due to its wide 15mm possibility. If I didn't have the 10-20mm already, I would find my 24-105mm to be a bit too limited in the wide angle area.

As for the 70-200 I can't say enough good things about it. Do get the IS version though.


The only other option I would consider is getting the 24-105 instead of the 15-85, as it is a better lens and it is also very good for portraits. Then, instead of a good 50mm, you can get a 10-20 for a proper wide angle. Put it this way, I think the 24-105 is better for portraits than what the 15-85 will be for wide angle shots (if that makes any sense...).

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Re: DSLR

Post by Srrh on Tue Feb 23 2010, 13:17

I recently replaced my old sliver based Nikkon F4 with a digital D300S.
(S is for....video....whatever....)

I am thrilled about it....
But you know what the most important part of my kit is: Photoshop CS3 !!

As for lenses, dont forget that, unless you have a full size captor, you must add close to 50% to the mm of your lenses...

If you have an old 400....turns out you now have a 600 mm for your DSLR.
At half the cost....
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