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Newbie DSLR

Camera equipment and technique for taking photos.
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Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Fri May 18, 2012 9:56 am

Thinking about a DSLR camera. Wanted to see if anyone had some advice. We want something small, lightweight, and easy to use. Image quality or course is important.

Choices:
Nikon D3100- on sale right now for $550! (costco has this paired with a 200mm zoom lens for $700)
Nikon D3200- new model $700
Nikon D5100- on sale right now for $700 (I've seen it with a 300mm zoom lens for $950)
Sony SLT-a55 - innovative new design $700

The 3100/3200 are highly rated, compact, easy to use. I've heard people like the Cannons too, and I guess Sony is coming on pretty strong as well.

The "entry level" cameras come standard with an 18-55mm lens. My current camera is 5.4-54mm- not even sure what that means. Does that mean that an 18-55 lens could "zoom in" the same as my current camera, but not zoom out quite as much?

I've also seen some packages that come with a 200 or 300mm zoom lens- that would be cool, but might not want to carry 2 big lenses around all the time- especially hiking.

So questions:
1) Will the standard 18-55mm lens suit me well for taking pics on my hikes, or will I want something else?
2) Any suggestions as to which route I could go? 5100 supposedly has great Image Quality, the new 3200 is more MP; dunno if that even matters.


I'll probably be getting a polarizing filter ASAP since my photos tend to get washed out in bright sunlight.
Last edited by djkest on Fri May 18, 2012 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby TheOtherIndian » Fri May 18, 2012 10:18 am

As the controversial Ken Rockwell repeatedly puts it, MPs dont matter unless you are printing out room sized prints.

I am not really a fan of the 18-55. May I suggest buying just the body and then buying a nikon 18-105 (the kit lens with D90 and up)? 18-105 gives you a lot more zoom and can perform as a good kit lens especially if you are hiking with just one lens.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby colokeith » Fri May 18, 2012 10:19 am

I got a panasonic lumix dmc fz-40 last year. I have been very happy with this camera. This is not a DSLR but rather a superzoom camera. It basically has all the features of a DSLR, except that it has a fixed lens. I use it primarly when hiking so I don't really want to carry extra heavy lenses. It is very lightweight and takes very good pictures. With a wide angle lens that zooms to 24X I don't really feel the need for additional lenses.

I bought a nice sling type strap for the camera. I carry it over my shoulder, and I am able to swing it up for a quick shot quite easily.

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Because of zoom it also does very well with wildlife and macro
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby colokeith » Fri May 18, 2012 10:27 am

A couple more things.

I use my circular polerzing filter often, it is great for improving image quality. It is more useful for eliminating the haze caused by water vapor, reflections off water / plants, and deepening the blue sky.

A lens hood will help improve the saturation of your photos in direct sunlight more than a polerizing filter. It has the added benefit of providing some protection for your lens when you are hiking with the camera out.

graduated neutral density filters are also useful in reducing contrast from bright skies.

If you really want a good picture don't shoot in bright sunlight. Cameras are simply not good at dealing with that much contrast. the hour around sunrise / sunset provides the best lighting for photography. Shooting during these times will greatly improve your photographs.

Also carrying a light weight tripod such as a gorilla pod, will help improve the clarity of your images in low light with out tons of extra weight. A quality full tripod will be much better, but sucks to carry.
To climb is to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible. If your stamina, skill, and luck are sound you will get to stand on top. ... I realized that with climbing, I'd found something that nourished my soul and could forge me into a better version myself - Jim Davidson

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Fri May 18, 2012 10:38 am

TheOtherIndian wrote:As the controversial Ken Rockwell repeatedly puts it, MPs dont matter unless you are printing out room sized prints.

I am not really a fan of the 18-55. May I suggest buying just the body and then buying a nikon 18-105 (the kit lens with D90 and up)? 18-105 gives you a lot more zoom and can perform as a good kit lens especially if you are hiking with just one lens.


Yeah, I figured that might be the case. I always laugh when a cell phone says "8MP camera for stunning photos!" I'll see what I can find for something with a longer zoom- unfortunately it looks like the cost jumps up a lot when you go with a nonstandard lens- such is life?

Looks like that lense isn't cheap, but would be a big step up- almost a "one lens to fit them all" kind of thing:
http://www.adorama.com/NK18105VRU.html
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby prestone818 » Fri May 18, 2012 11:14 am

i have seem some impressive pics from the lumix line. they are equally as expensive or more expensive in some cases than an actual dslr. the 18-55 is a decent starter lens but if you are hiking and like to zoom you wont have much options. i purchased the 18-200 so i am good basically anywhere, however it is a fairly heavy and expensive lens.

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby Steve Gio » Fri May 18, 2012 11:43 am

Sorry to change the subject a bit. But I was going to interject with Olympus. I have been using the E-410 for years, pretty much carry a 14-54 and 70-300 lens with me everywhere. Problem is they have discontinued their DSLR line except for the E-5.

So as someone who is looking for an upgrade I would be curious what other Olympus users on here think about this move. Was thinking about picking up a used e-610 body but not sure if it is a wise move.

Thoughts?

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby climbing_rob » Fri May 18, 2012 12:08 pm

Have you looked at the newer "mirrorless" DSLR's, except I think they wouldn't be called "DSLR's"... I'm shopping myself, probably going to dump my DSLR (Canon t2i) and go "mirrorless" for size/bulk and weight savings. No down side as far as I can see except the near instant response time of true DSLR's.

Olympus: I, too used to own/use this "4/3rds" line, and I still have the lenses... And that new "OMD-EM5" looks pretty sweet... so it's on my list.

http://www.dpreview.com/products/olympus/slrs/oly_em5

However, it has a smaller sensor than the big selection of APS-C size mirrorless cameras out there. so many choices these days.

By the way, and FWIW: I always shoot at -1/3rd or -2/3rds exposure compensation to try to "save" those washed-out highlights. I find it's easier to bring up a slightly too-dark image than to bring a too-light one down. Basically, what I'm saying is that it's not about filters, but about getting your exposure right. Look at your histogram right after you shoot, and if it is clipped on the right, try again with a different exposure. If you're going to learn to use all the features of a DSLR, this is important stuff to work on. If you just want to always shoot "auto", why buy a DSLR anyway?

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Fri May 18, 2012 12:31 pm

I have seen the mirrorless. Here's one that is mirrorless that is a little more affordable- the olympus is a little too much.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgx1

Image quality looks really great and my favorite point-and-shoot camera was a panny. I was looking at the sample images and the output stacks up pretty well to the Nikon D3100.
It's a "micro 4/3rds" camera.
14.5 oz with lens, vs. 1.1 lbs for a DSLR w/o lens.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby climbing_rob » Fri May 18, 2012 12:39 pm

djkest wrote:I have seen the mirrorless. Here's one that is mirrorless that is a little more affordable- the olympus is a little too much.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgx1

Image quality looks really great and my favorite point-and-shoot camera was a panny. I was looking at the sample images and the output stacks up pretty well to the Nikon D3100.
It's a "micro 4/3rds" camera.
14.5 oz with lens, vs. 1.1 lbs for a DSLR w/o lens.
Yep, looking at that one too, and my favorite P&S was a Panasonic as well. Have you looked at the Sony NexC3? The NexF3 is coming out soon, replacing the C3. So many choices! DPreview is a great resource for trying to decide.

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby jlarocco » Fri May 18, 2012 1:14 pm

I'm not sure I'd buy a DSLR right now. The new "mirrorless" cameras have almost all the benefits of a DSLR, but are smaller and weigh less. The biggest downside is that they're still pretty new so cost a bit more.

If it were me, I'd probably go with the Panasonic DMC GX1. It's similar in price to the ones you listed, but smaller. I have an older Lumix LX3, which is a higher end compact, and it's really impressed me. The controls are easy to use and the image quality is fantastic (for a compact), and it's very well built and rugged. The GX1 seems to be a similar design but higher end and using the 4/3 interchangeable lens system.

I've seen links to it posted already, but Digital Photo Review has a fairly comprehensive set of camera reviews and database of camera specs.

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby prestone818 » Fri May 18, 2012 1:34 pm

i have a hard time paying 6/700$ for a camera that I cant swap out lenses with. i also have a hard time paying for one of those expensive point and shoots and then paying an arm or more for one of the swappable lenses...id use one if someone gave it to me, but to be 1500+ in the hole for a point and shoot, ill stick with the dslr till those prices come way down.

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