Best entry level DSLR ?

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  1. #1
    Member otown's Avatar
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    Best entry level DSLR ?

    I am looking to make my first foray into the DSLR world having previously been striclty a point and shoot guy. I am not lloking at photography as a future career and will probably never be anything more than an enthusiatic amateur. I would appreciate any advice or opinions on the best entry Level offerings in the $450 - $650 range. Currently looking at Sony Alpha series as they seem to be a bit better specd that the entry level offerings from Canon and Nikon. I would especially appreciate any advice or recommendations slanted towards watch photography.
    Thanks alot.
    Nick.

  2. #2
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    Hi -

    If you want really great pictures without spending a lot, then buy the lens, not the camera. If I may suggest something slightly different: consider one of the 4/3 or micro 4/3 cameras. You will get generally superior quality lenses in comparison to what the competition has, allowing some decent macro photography work without breaking the bank. I have an Olympus EP1, and if you take a look at what I've posted on this forum, you can see that it's quite a good performer.

    I imagine that you are looking at simply a camera that gives you better results that your typical point and shoot camera. The problem with a lot of DSLRs is that the kit lenses are not the greatest (otherwise they wouldn't sell many additional lenses!) until you spend quite a bit of money. The Olympus kit lenses are generally considered to be quite a bit better for what you get elsewhere for the price, and I think that would make more sense for you than buying into a complex system that you'd never utilize...

    JohnF
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  3. #3
    Member otown's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    Hi -

    If you want really great pictures without spending a lot, then buy the lens, not the camera. If I may suggest something slightly different: consider one of the 4/3 or micro 4/3 cameras. You will get generally superior quality lenses in comparison to what the competition has, allowing some decent macro photography work without breaking the bank. I have an Olympus EP1, and if you take a look at what I've posted on this forum, you can see that it's quite a good performer.

    I imagine that you are looking at simply a camera that gives you better results that your typical point and shoot camera. The problem with a lot of DSLRs is that the kit lenses are not the greatest (otherwise they wouldn't sell many additional lenses!) until you spend quite a bit of money. The Olympus kit lenses are generally considered to be quite a bit better for what you get elsewhere for the price, and I think that would make more sense for you than buying into a complex system that you'd never utilize...

    JohnF
    Interesting point...i was expecting to buy a macro lens for watch photography purposes so that makes sense.
    Thx for the advice

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  5. #4
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    an inexpensive alternative is to pick up a used Sony F717 or even F707 digital camera with Zeiss lens. Superb macro function. And the aperture with telephoto goes from 2.0 to 2.5, amazing light gathering range. Forget about megapixels, buy the lens, Zeiss or Leica, you can see the difference. Most importantly, get a light tent, which is cheap as dirt, and makes all the difference for macro watch photography.

  6. #5
    Member Steadyhands's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    Slightly along the same track as the others have said, consider you are buying into a lens system. ie you might change bodies over the years but your lens will usually stay with you. If you have a choice between two lenses, buy the most expensive one that you feel you will keep longer. It's a waste of money to buy a cheaper lens to "make do" because chances are you will end up buying the other one sometime later, (been there, done that,seen many others do it also).

    With this in mind think about what other lenses you might need in the future. Now start looking at the offerings from the major companies. Personally I'd say stick to either Canon or Nikon as they have the widest selection of lenses available. Generally their lens line ups are in several price brackets and to a certain extent you do get what you pay for.

    If buying your first Macro lens I recommend that you start at shorter focal lengths as this will make the learning curve simpler, especially on a crop body. That is don't start out with a 150mm or a 180mm macro lens. The focal length around 100mm is the best place to start and there are lots of options from many manufacturers at this focal length, all have great reviews. Don't expect to have a fast, smooth transition to shooting with a DSLR, there will be things that you will have to learn again.

    Don't expect to get fantastic results out of the on body flash, yes they work but if you are going to get more serious then a dedicated flash will be on your shopping list at some time. Maybe not right away but later.

    I recommend you don't buy a specialised Macro Flash at first. You are more likely to get better use out of a regular flash. You can use the normal flash in other areas of your photography ie Portraiture and also make good use of it for Macro work also. Locating the flash off of the camera can make a dramatic difference to your shots. While it is possible to hold the flash in your left hand and the camera in the right it is easier to use a Flash Bracket. The Flash Bracket will attach to the camera via the tripod mount and you can then position the flash head on the end a movable arm to best light your subject. The other item you need to complete this type of setup is a off camera flash cord. This cord connects to the hot shoe and to the flash, at the base of flash end is a screw mount to connect it to the flask bracket. Another way to do off camera flash is to use radio triggers. Over the last few years there's been a explosion of these available on the bay.

    To put this into context I do heaps of macro photography but am only just starting with watch photography. PS I use Canon gear and can advise on that if you need.

  7. #6
    Member BenL's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    One of the newer "entry level" DSLRs that is creating a lot of buzz these days is the Nikon D3100, successor to the D3000. You might want to take a look.

  8. #7
    Member DragonDan's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    Since you're just getting into this, you are at a great point. Yes, Canon and Nikon are the big dogs, although Sony, Sigma, FujiFilm and others are offering some great products. I like the idea of a 4/3rds camera - all the IQ (image quality) without the weight.
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  9. #8
    Member Chris Hughes's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    I favor the Nikon D7000 as a good entry level piece of kit. The lens that comes with it is far better than the lens that comes with the comparable Canon.

    I also like the Micro 4/3 cameras, but at the moment lens options are limited and the cameras are still basically in the first generation. I'd wait a while before investing in a Micro 4/3 system.

  10. #9
    Member AZJack's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    Hi Nick: The above comments about the 3/4's system are excellent suggestions. That said, one way to get into a true DSLR at a good price is to look at some used equipment. The references to the Olympus line are also good suggestions (3/4's system - the sensor/receptor is larger than a Nikon, for example). The Olympus E-1, while only at 5 MPX, is a good alternative to newer and more expensive models. It was Olympus's introduction into DSLR cameras (and with a heafty price), and still is my first DSLR, here with the Olympus 14-55mm f2.8-3.5 zoom lens (with quick / responsive focusing with the extra battery pack). Accessories shown also include the battery pack extension that connects to the bottom of the camera (extended battery and additional vertical shutter release button):

    Name:  E-1 No. 4.JPG
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    Here is a sample photograph (I had to re-size to about 289 KB from an over 3 MB file size to upload):

    Name:  AGUSTUS B OBARR resized ii.JPG
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    And another...

    Name:  AA Salamingo resized.JPG
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    I still use the camera although less these days, but it is a great travel companion, the menu system is easy to use and understand, and it was "good to go" practically out of the box (I had to charge the battery). I can walk a cemetery and take a lot of photos that are sharp. At the highest quality setting the image files are about 3.5 MB apiece. I like the ergonomic feel to the camera, which is about the size of a standard 35mm film camera.

    Here are additional photos taken at Washington DC on a trip in 2006... Washington DC 2006 (Olympus E-1) Photo Gallery by Jack Sheldon, Jr. at pbase.com

    Notice, however, that the illumination was a cloudy and hazy day, but the colors still came out "OK." The pillar family marker in Arlington Cemetery against the Washington Monument will give you a realistic image of what the daylight was like, so it wasn't sunlight that would have made a difference in the colors.

    I hope this gives you some encouragement that you can find a good used DSLR as well within a reasonable price range.

    Best regards.

    Jack

  11. #10
    Member sgav8r's Avatar
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    Re: Best entry level DSLR ?

    I'm going to throw something completely different at you here. You may be wanting a DSLR simply because you've been lead to believe that in order to achieve great photos with crisp clear focus and wonderful depth of field control, etc etc etc., you simply have to use a DSLR. Not necessarily true.

    You mentioned in your original post that you do not see yourself aspiring to become a professional photographer and you will likely at most be an "enthusiastic amateur". That is great understanding of where you are, and where you intend to be with your picture taking. Kudos for knowing what you want! Also, you requested that the response be geared largely toward watch photography, which means one thing... MACRO. That's kind of a game-changer when we're talking the price and skill range you are in, and intend to stay in.

    The truth is there are some very excellent "point and shoot" style cameras with absolutely wonderful optics (Zeiss, Leica, etc) that will not break your budget and will likely be everything you need to get the images you want. I don't know what's currently "tops" as far as point and shoot cameras with great lenses right now, but I'd venture to say that for well under 400 bux you could get your hands on a very capable unit. I would invest additionally in some decent editing software and a tripod.

    I am a professional photographer and I've been shooting portraits and weddings for almost two decades now. I've used all types of cameras, film and digital, from Mamiya RB67's all the way down to a Sony point and click! Currently I'm a "Nikon guy". All my bodies, lenses and flashes are Nikon and I intend to keep it that way. I have a studio with all kinds of strobes, softboxes, umbrellas and doo-dads that you need to pull off great portraiture. But when I shoot my watches I pull out a Sony point and shoot that has a Zeiss lens, and a tripod....that's it. :)

    If you get to where you need advice on technique or specific equipment choices and you'd like my opinion I will happy to help! PM me if you like, and keep shooting!

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