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Newbie DSLR

Camera equipment and technique for taking photos.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Fri May 18, 2012 1:37 pm

prestone818 wrote: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.

1) you can swap lenses out on them
2) okay- you can call them an expensive "point and shoot" but that's greatly simplifying what they are (and are not)

Basically they are being heralded as having nearly identical image quality to DSLR (in some cases, better) while being smaller and lighter.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby climbing_rob » Fri May 18, 2012 1:39 pm

prestone818 wrote:i have a hard time paying 6/700$ for a camera that I cant swap out lenses with.
Not sure if you're referring to the above recommended camera, but if you are, that camera is an interchangeable lens camera. You don't need a DSLR to be able to change lenses.

Woops! dj beat me to it...

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby colokeith » Fri May 18, 2012 1:41 pm

prestone818 wrote: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.


The mirror-less dslrs (eg DMC-GF2) can be had for $400

I paid $370 for my Lumix that I can't swap lenses on.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby lafutura » Fri May 18, 2012 8:49 pm

i'm in complete agreement with the suggestions to go with one of the compact cameras with lenses you can swap out. interestingly sony is the leader of the pack on these. canon (who is the manufacturer i personally prefer) is late to the party on this one...way too late!

i have had a dslr and a point and shoot and always hated carrying the dslr with me on big hikes. i actually just sold it! eventually hope to have the money for one of the mirrorless ones.

should you want to geek out on specs and detailed reviews, dpreview.com is the place to go.

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby USAKeller » Fri May 18, 2012 8:56 pm

djkest wrote:1) Will the standard 18-55mm lens suit me well for taking pics on my hikes, or will I want something else?

FWIW, I use an 18-55mm lens on a Sony NEX-5 and like others have mentioned, that zoom lens definitely doesn't give me the zoom I'm looking for on climbs.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby mtnview » Sat May 19, 2012 12:07 am

I would say take a look at the mirrorless also like the Sony Nex 7, Panny GX1 etc.

Canon is allegedly coming out with their mirrorless announcement in June.

The Canon G1X might appeal to you as it has a large sensor in a smaller than dslr body with 5x zoom.
I hear it takes great pics but a bit weak on macro.

I personally am waiting for an updated sensor for the Fuji X10. It's size, IQ, and 4x manual zoom are about right for me for a hiking camera.

Almost too many choices out there!

Lots of reviews at http://www.dpreview.com
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Sat May 19, 2012 8:56 am

USAKeller wrote:
djkest wrote:1) Will the standard 18-55mm lens suit me well for taking pics on my hikes, or will I want something else?

FWIW, I use an 18-55mm lens on a Sony NEX-5 and like others have mentioned, that zoom lens definitely doesn't give me the zoom I'm looking for on climbs.


Cool. It looks like Sony has the NEX-5n with the 18-55 lens and a 55-210 lens plus a 16GB SD card for $950. 55-210 would probably be great for just about anything outdoors, not so good for macro photos of flowers. That looks like a viable option at this time. Free shipping and no tax to boot.
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666450160
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby USAKeller » Sat May 19, 2012 10:31 am

djkest wrote:
USAKeller wrote:
djkest wrote:1) Will the standard 18-55mm lens suit me well for taking pics on my hikes, or will I want something else?

FWIW, I use an 18-55mm lens on a Sony NEX-5 and like others have mentioned, that zoom lens definitely doesn't give me the zoom I'm looking for on climbs.

Cool. It looks like Sony has the NEX-5n with the 18-55 lens and a 55-210 lens plus a 16GB SD card for $950. 55-210 would probably be great for just about anything outdoors, not so good for macro photos of flowers. That looks like a viable option at this time. Free shipping and no tax to boot.
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666450160

Cool! The next lens I get will definitely be a telephoto lens. Are you entertaining the idea of a Sony NEX camera or are you set on a DSLR? I got the NEX because it performs mostly like a DSLR but is much smaller size. I like it. I'm really starting to get into photography with it now. But I'm a novice - what's the difference between an 18-200mm and 55-210mm zoom lens?
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby Kane » Sat May 19, 2012 10:53 am

Hi djkest,

My questions to you; do you see yourself improving your photography the past few years and does that matter to you? If "yes," do you want to continue improving? Do you have others praising your photography? Are you interested in printing images bigger than 13x19? If "yes" here's the kicker...If you accidently left your camera at home and realized it once you started your hike/climb, how bummed would you be...scale of 1-10. :wink:

I certainly recommend a dslr if you answer yes to most of these questions and here's why. No matter what they say dslr's will never go away. Every pro photographer on this planet is invested in dslr's. Most up and coming photographers are invested in dslr's. And every camera company I know of is primarily dslr driven. If you want to improve, that means you will need a line of cameras that fit your needs at the time you are improving, and in time, you will want choices to migrate to the next level...without reinvesting in a different camera system. Your choices will be limitless for as long as you're alive.

Going mirrorless, YOU will be the one waiting for the next step in technology. The mirrorless system is still in its infant stages and if you believe that the market will grow, then you must have faith everyone else out there feels the same, because if their isn't demand, you may be stuck waiting. I can tell you that waiting sucks. Nikon users waited 4 yrs for Nikon to announce the high res d800. I actually jumped ship to Canon, because I was tired of waiting for more resolution. In a two year span Canon and Nikon release on average 6-8 dslr's, 10-12 lenses, compared to maybe 2 mirrorless cameras and 4 lenses.

I would recommend a mirrorless camera if size and weight matter most and if this system will work for you for the next 4-5 yrs.

At any rate, the above is just my opinion. I've looked at mirrorless myself as a second camera and maybe in time I'll pick one up. For what they are mirrorless has some nice benefits and features.

Back to your question, which camera and lenses to start with. I prefer spending my money on glass first, then finding a body that complements my needs. Remember, “glass is forever and cameras come and go…” In the dslr world, you have so many different options for cameras. Don’t forget that upgrading a camera is easy to do on Craigslist or Ebay as well.

Since you’re considering two different systems that require one to change out lenses, certainly don't be afraid to get two lenses. As USAkeller notes, not having the right focal length will piss you off when you want a certain shot. I recommend the range of 16x300mm with two lenses; the Nikon 16x85vr and the 70-300vr. The difference from 16mm-18mm is a lot more than you may think and worth the price. If you cannot afford the mentioned lenses then go with the 18-55 and the very nice 55-200vr. I’ve owned both the 16-85 and the 70-300 and we’re talking about clean glass that will really improve your photography. I migrated through 3 camera bodies (d200, d90 and d700) while owning these two lenses.

Before I talk about Cameras, understand one thing, high resolution (mp count) will not matter if you do not have clean glass that will deliver the proper lighting and detail to your sensor. Investing in a 24mp camera would be a complete waste of money unless you pick up the 16x85 and 70x300. Matter of fact, you may need some of Nikons $1500.00+ full frame lenses to take advantage of all that resolution. I personally think Nikon is trying to take advantage of the newbies out there with the release of the d3200. 24mp sounds impressive right? Forget it unless you drop some serious money on glass.

I recommend the Nikon d5100. That camera has 16mp which is perfect for the above mentioned glass. The 5100 uses the exact sensor as the award winning “killer” d7000. It also has the 921,000-dot LCD screen which is a way better LCD than the 3100.
These are my recommendations. A d5100, a 16x85vr and 70-300vr will be all you need for years to come. Lastly, never forget about ease to sell and resale value, all of the above will sell in one day over on Craigslist at a fair price. People love Nikon and Cannon.
Hope this helps and let us know what you get!!!
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby kimo » Mon May 21, 2012 10:29 pm

Kane put it well.

I'm not big on Sony due to past experience with other products, but I really like what they are doing with their sensor technology (used by Nikon in D5100, D7000, and D800), and if I were to get a mirrorless system, I'd go with their NEX-5 or if I could swing it, the NEX-7. Check out Caroline's pics, she takes some great pics with that little camera. Their biggest weakness is their current lens selection (although some would say their crop sensor is their biggest weakness but that's a different topic). As for lens selection, maybe they'll change that soon and offer more affordable Zeiss alternatives that offer strong performance for the price. They need to do that to compete. Canon is about to join the mirrorless market and I'm sure they'll offer a EF mount adapter to fit their EOS lenses. Nikon provided an F-mount adapter to use SLR lenses with their 1-series mirrorless cameras. Unfortunately, they released the 1-series with a tiny little sensor that, while offering good performance, is exceeded by their dSLR line for only a few dollars more.

As for Nikon dSLRs, I fully recommend the kit suggested by Kane. I recently purchased a D5100 as a backup to my older D7000 body. I have one trip on it, and the D5100 may become my primary hiking camera. The sensor performance is the equal of the D7000 without the weight and size penalty. Other compromises are made but I can live with them.

My go-to walk-around lens for the past year has been 16-85mm VR DX lens. It's a solid performer in the price bracket. I see a 16-85mm lens in Craigslist every week or two for 500-600 bucks. One was on CO Springs CL last week, might still be there. Combined with 6 bills for the D5100 body, well, for a bit over a grand you'd have arguably the best performer for the money. But it's still a lot of camera to carry and you'll have to get used to that if you haven't done it before.


Here are a few taken recently using the D5100 and 16-85mm DX lens combo. Pics shot in RAW format, all hand held with VR on, converted to JPEG using Capture NX2, no cropping, but with some sharpening, contrast, and saturation thrown in for fun:

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Larger 1600 pixel image: http://kimoboeche.zenfolio.com/img/s3/v42/p941458429.jpg

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Larger 1600 pixel image: http://kimoboeche.zenfolio.com/img/s1/v48/p1018125364.jpg

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Larger 1600 pixel image: http://kimoboeche.zenfolio.com/img/s2/v50/p574642699.jpg

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Larger 1600 pixel image: http://kimoboeche.zenfolio.com/img/s1/v46/p595899766.jpg

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Larger 1600 pixel image: http://kimoboeche.zenfolio.com/img/s3/v44/p1028550253.jpg

This last pic was taken using a tripod.

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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby RoanMtnMan » Tue May 22, 2012 1:35 am

-If you really enjoy photography and/or video, then a DLSR is the natural progression. Though you better really enjoy it in order to justify the cost. A skilled photographer can take just as good of a photo with a $200 point and shoot as a $800 DSLR. I can't count the number of folks that have come to me with DSLR purchasing advice only to see them take photos over the subsequent years that could have easily been done with a point and shoot. The keys to photography are still the same; light, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and post processing (I think I stole that from Ansel). The point of a DSLR is that it gives you total control of 4 of the 5 variables.

-Cannon and Nikon are the best brands as they have the greatest variety of equipment and aftermarket sellers of compatible accessories in the states. As for the choices you listed I like the D3200. Though I am a bigger Cannon fan, but that is mainly for video reasons.

-Olympus DSLR equipment is unfortunately not the way to go. Only unfortunate because I own a yak load and they have produced some incredible glass over the years. Sorry to see they are moving away from the DSLR market.

-Megapixels are a 10 year old selling point. It is complicated to explain, but Google "megapixel quality". It is more about the sensor and lenses than the number of pixels. Most people have a 10mp camera on their phone that cost them $100, however they pay thousands to a wedding photographer with a 10mp camera or two. There is a reason for that. Lenses and sensor. Bigger lenses=more light, bigger sensor=more light absorption. But bigger sensor doesn't necessarily mean more pixels.

-For outdoor pursuits kit lenses work well, but you do get better results from high quality lenses. The body adds a bit less than a good lens will to a photo. For mountaineering, I prefer a $500 body and a couple of kits rather than a high quality get up. Because I may destroy it (I have several times), as well as less bulk and weight. 200mm is heavy and not really all that useful for what we 14er wranglers do, unless we are speaking of setting up a tripod for a flower or wildlife shot at 13k, and who really does that? It is difficult to handhold a lens over 150mm and shoot faster than 1/60 on all but the sunniest days, so add 2-3lbs for a tripod. I have my "serious photo taking" setup which includes 3 lenses and a tripod, it dials in at about $8k and 14lbs, I also have my "let's be realistic this morning you old fool" setup, which weighs in at about $1k and 5lbs. The photos that I am proudest of come from the latter. If I could only carry one lens, something in the range of 15-60mm would be it. Perfect for 75% of what I like to photograph during physical mountain activities.

-Always have a UV and polarizing filter for your lenses, stacked if possible. I broke my back on a camera in my pack after a nasty fall once. My T5 vertebrae was destroyed, but my $1200 lens was saved because I only shattered a $50 filter. It was the lens that impacted and broke my back,
small solace but good lesson.

-Lastly, unless you are getting really serious about the art and technicals of photography, as opposed to just wanting to take much better photos of the great stuff we all see at 6am, take a look at the micro 4/3rds format (Oly E-PL series is a good place to start, though there are also equal quality competitors). Interchangeable lenses, good quality, durable, light, and the answer for the intermediate photographer. In a few years, the format will produce images that are as good as a mid range DSLR in the right hands, but still not as good as the Canon 5D mark III.

I would bet a beer to anyone that can go through the slideshow on my website and pick out the 10 of 180 shots that were recorded with a $200 point and shoot camera versus the rest that were shot with expensive DSLR equipment. (Offer not valid to those that were there).

Good luck djkest. Feel free to PM me with questions. Obviously I love this stuff.
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Re: Newbie DSLR

Postby djkest » Tue May 22, 2012 9:01 am

Thanks for the responses guys, they are much appreciated and well reasoned.

Yeah, I'm aware that Megapixels are not really a measure of quality; what really upsets me is that so many people have escewed even a $200 point-and-shoot for a camera phone- as their only camera. As in, all the pics of their kids growing up are crappy, blurry camera phone pics. Sure, it's their life and their choice, but I would never chose that. Half the people I see on the summit are using iPhones now.

I have looked at the micro 4/3rds cameras, the one thing that jumps out at me is that the Mirrorless NEX-5n and the like use an APS-C sensor just like the D5100, the Sony a57, et cetera, whereas the micro 4/3rds uses a much smaller sensor; from what I can tell.

It's also unfortunate that most "entry level" DSLR cameras come with 18-55mm lenses almost universally, and it costs you "big bucks" to get anything else. I am really leaning toward the Sony nex-5n right now, as you can probably tell. Second choice is the Nikon d5100. It's funny that I'm considering a new (bigger, heavier) camera when I have also been lightening up the rest of my gear. Besides the outdoors, we are planning on going to Italy next year and we have a new baby we take lots of pictures of.

One thing I know is that I already talked to my insurance company about getting full replacement coverage on the camera and lenses in case of theft or accidental damage. It's not that expensive.
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