First DSLR - advice?

KKH

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I'm a complete beginner looking to get my first dSLR. I'm considering between the Canon T3i and the Nikon D5100. From the reviews I've read it's clear that I can't go wrong either way, which is nice. Suggestions on which is easier for a first-time user? One review I read said Canons are more user friendly but less configurable while Nikons have more configurability but a less user friendly interface. Another review said Nikons are easier for a newbie. Due to medical reasons I can't go into a store and try them out, so I'm limited to doing all of my research online. Right now, the Canon is $610 body only and $750 with 18-55 lens, and the Nikon is $550/650. The Nikon price is a promo good through the end of the month, after which it goes up $200.

I take pictures for my own enjoyment, more to preserve a moment than to create a work of art. My usage would be almost exclusively of my cat being adorable (indoors and out) and my garden (exclusively outdoors). I would like one all purpose lens if that's reasonable, certainly no more than 2 lenses. Is the 18-55 kit lens good enough for my purposes? Suggestions for a better choice, or a second lens?

As a complete newbie my plan is to use full auto mode initially while I learn about how to be a *real* photographer. I've got my eye on a couple of photography how-to ebooks - the For Dummies book, for example. Would love suggestions for videos, ebooks, etc. aimed at a complete beginner.

Thanks for your help.
 
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Hi KKH, welcome to the forum!

I've got the Canon T3i - it's a good camera. I haven't seen the quality of the 55-250, and you might find it isn't quite wide angle enough for you outside, but it's a great starting point. I'd bet you'd fine the 18-55 lens unused on eBay too, where people have bought is as part of the standard kit, which would round out your range over time.
 

KKH

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Hi KKH, welcome to the forum!

I've got the Canon T3i - it's a good camera. I haven't seen the quality of the 55-250, and you might find it isn't quite wide angle enough for you outside, but it's a great starting point. I'd bet you'd fine the 18-55 lens unused on eBay too, where people have bought is as part of the standard kit, which would round out your range over time.

Hi Victoria,

Thanks for the welcome and the advice. I'm a little confused about your lens comments, though. I think you're responding to my second post (which hasn't shown up on the forum yet), about the deal Walmart has. Maybe I wasn't clear - they're offering the camera body, the 18-55 lens, *plus* the 55-250 lens all for $100 less than everyone else has the standard body+lens kit for. I keep thinking I should get it before they realize their mistake. :D

Kristin
 
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Ah, my apologies, I missed that it was in moderation. First few posts go into moderation if they include a link.

Oh that combination is a no-brainer - you can always upgrade the lenses later if you find you want something a bit sharper, but it's a great starting point.
 

KKH

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It pays to look again and again. I just saw that the Walmart deal is for the T3, not the T3i. I knew there had to be something.

Back to thinking about it.
 
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Some things to consider:
While the camera itself is important (the sensor resides there) in modern DSLR photography the camera itself soon becomes outdated;
The key issue to understand is that one is buying into a system - lenses and accessories;
Lenses are more important in the long run than the camera to image making;
Kit lenses are usually awful performers in modern digital photography so avoid them and buy good lenses;
When considering what manufacturer's offerings to buy think about your current photographic needs and then think about your future photgraphic needs - many brand systems are rather limited when viewed from this perspective;
Do not be romanced into using a DSLR in Auto everything mode - learn the photographic triangle and shoot in Manual mode (only takes an hour or so to learn) - one cannot effectively use a DSLR and lenses with different focal lengths in Auto mode.

I am not a brand snob and so I have not made any reference to specific brands.
If you are prepared to post information about what your photographic interests are currently and what they may be in the future more specific advice could be given by myself and others.

Regards

Tony Jay
 
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It pays to look again and again. I just saw that the Walmart deal is for the T3, not the T3i. I knew there had to be something.

Back to thinking about it.

If you are just starting out and learning about photography, I would imagine the differences between the two bodies, with respect to image quality, are not going to make a big difference for you. If you are budget constrained, then I would consider the T3.

--Ken
 
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If you are just starting out and learning about photography, I would imagine the differences between the two bodies, with respect to image quality, are not going to make a big difference for you. If you are budget constrained, then I would consider the T3.

I'm inclined to say the same. You can always sell it on in the future when you've grown into your new hobby. I've only recently swapped my walkabout camera from a much earlier Rebel XT, which was a good few years old and still perfectly serviceable.
 

KKH

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Thanks for all of the input. After all of my information gathering and talking with a friend I decided on the Canon T4i. It's way more camera than I know how to use right now, and that's just the way I like it - plenty of room to grow and learn.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, LR3 doesn't support it. I wasn't planning to upgrade to LR4, at least not any time soon, but I guess I have to now. Anyone know something different on that score?
 

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I'm not certain but I think when Adobe bring out a new version of Lightroom they tend to depreciate the previous version quite quickly. So you might well find they never update LR3 for your new camera. I stand to be corrected by cleverer people than me though. That being said Adobe went a bit strange with the release of LR4 and cut the price almost in half. So the upgrade cost is pretty cheap. $79.00 or about £50 I think.

Glad to see you have made a good choice. I'm a confirmed Nikon user but to be honest there's precious little difference between the major manufacturers. In fact I remember the reason I actually went for a Nikon rather than a Canon with my first SLR was mostly down to the fact that the Nikon came in a cool looking black and gold box. Hardly a sensible reason to choose a brand I'll admit but then I was about 15 years old. The only thing to consider is that if you start building up a collection of lenses you will be locked into your manufacturer of choice. The lens fittings are unique to each camera manufacturer and you cannot swap between them. So if someone offered to lend you their super cool whiz bang Nikon lens you'd be out of luck if you owned a Canon body and vice-versa of course. Swapping manufactures down the road is not really an option unless you're willing to swap your lenses, flash guns, accessories etc. which is going to be an expensive process. However I think most of us have chosen a brand and stuck with it over the long term. You won't go wrong with your new Canon I'm sure.
 
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Excellent, I've already been drooling over the T4i! ;)

There is an option for using LR3 with your new camera - you'd just need to convert to DNG using the free DNG converter first. That said, considering the great price of the upgrade, I'd go for LR4 and save the extra room for confusion.

Greg, you did make me laugh with your black and gold box!
 

KKH

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Thanks again for all of the help. One more question - I've been looking at UV lens filters, solely for the purpose of protecting the lens. Is there really any difference in quality or should I just get a cheap one? If there is a difference, which one would you recommend? Should I get something different than UV?

Greg - I've made decisions just like that! When there's no more compelling difference, why not? :D

For now, I'm taking JPGs. They're still way better than my old P&S, and when I learn what to do with a RAW file I can upgrade to LR4. Mostly I'm waiting for the new iMac to come out (this month???). Then I'll get LR4 and learn it and how to use a Mac at the same time. Last time I used a Mac it was on an original - 1987 or so.

My summer project - learn how to use a Mac again after 25 years on a PC, make the switch from LR3 to LR4, and learn how to use a dSLR. No problem. :wtf:
 
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Thanks again for all of the help. One more question - I've been looking at UV lens filters, solely for the purpose of protecting the lens. Is there really any difference in quality or should I just get a cheap one? If there is a difference, which one would you recommend? Should I get something different than UV?...
I used to be in the corner with all of those that added a filter to protect the lens. No more. With filter sizes for my lenses running 67 -77mm these get expensive in a hurry. and quite a dear price to pay for a piece of clear glass.

If you think about it you can see the futility of a piece of glass in front of your lens. All it can do is protect your objective lens from a scratch. The lens hood that comes with the lens will do that too and it is functional as well as free.

BTW, what you are looking for is not a UV Filter (although they work) but a Neutral Density (ND) filter.

FWIW, the only time I dropped my camera, the ND filter was shattered but them the rest of the lens was trash too.
 

Norfolk Lad

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The lens hood that comes with the lens will do that too and it is functional as well as free.

Not with the majority of Canon lenses. They make you pay for it.
 
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Not with the majority of Canon lenses. They make you pay for it.
Is this really true? I've bought multiple lenses for Pentax and now Nikon. Every Lens came with a hood. Third party lenses from Tamron and Sigma, all that I've bought came with a hood. So if you are really sure this is fact, then this would be a very good reason to avoid buying Canon.
 

cbizzo

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One major line of questions I did not see ask to the OP is: Are you making your decision on Fit in hand or Functions on Camera? These are to fundamental issues one should consider before making an investment into any camera system specifically on the lens options. You would be well advised to put each body in your hands and feel the control surfaces to see if they make sense to your feelings as there are subtle differences in approach taken by the manufacturers in their design approach.

Second, I would also advise you to do a little research on which lens will suit your budget as well as which ones make the most sense to invest in that will give you the best value for money spent. Something as trivial as the nifty-fifty 50mm 1.8 vs. the 50mm 1.4 is actually huge when you know that one is designed to be used primarly if not solely in AF mode where the 1.4 is actually more suited for both uses manual and AF with ease. Little things like that make a big difference in learning to shoot your gear and just clicking about. The rebel can handle the L-lenses with no issue and truly show off what that body is able to do, again a note on the lens investment-- which is where you will see over the long term... no matter which system you go with. your lenses will often go from body to body.

If you are going to go with the train of thought of a UV filter staying on your lens for an added bit of security, it will do that until you knock you kit for a tumble onto a really hard surface and that sick shattering sound happens. While you ( and those around you) are cringing with fear and dont wish to look but you are hoping to the heavens that it was the filter doing its "job", chances are that you just bought another lense and filter to replace the pair that just broke. Closest thing to protection is a lens hood and the neck, shoulder or wrist strap connected to your body and not sitting on a counter, table or bar edge. The filters will mainly help preserve the front element of your lens from scratches and face it, the ways lenses are made, depending on the level of scratch on the element and type of lens (except a fisheye) you may or may not notice superficial scratches in the actual image file captured in many cases. I understand you on the point of perhaps buying a camera system that you will grow into, I would suggest you also look at the prosumer bodies like the 60D as well on the Canon side.. not sure of the Nikon or other manufactures equals may be.. but again, a suggestion for growing into a system.

Good luck.
 
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Is this really true? I've bought multiple lenses for Pentax and now Nikon. Every Lens came with a hood. Third party lenses from Tamron and Sigma, all that I've bought came with a hood. So if you are really sure this is fact, then this would be a very good reason to avoid buying Canon.

Well, I've got 5 Canon lenses, 4 of which came with a lens hood.

As for the lack of a supplied lens hood being "a very good reason to avoid buying Canon", all I can say personally is that this would be just about at the bottom of my decision criteria....in fact I doubt it would even make my list.
 

ukbrown

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http://photofocus.com/ has a guide.

Covers all the bases, big one is does it feel right and secondly what do your mates have
 

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Just my 2 cents on what KKH said about shooting JPG.

As somebody who switched from 35mm film to Digital a few years back and decided there to learn manual shooting at the same time,
and therefore being at the time in the same boat as KKH now, I would recommend starting with RAW straight away.

The reason being, I also started shooting JPG, but I was just learning manual shooting,
and I had several what would have been good photos I would like to have kept, but were too far gone to properly correct.

And I am quite confident that had I shot them as RAW,
I would have been able to fix them properly, and maybe even better enhance them as I got better.
Sometimes all you get is the one chance at a particular shot, so it can't hurt to have a little room to play with the results.

Perhaps then when you learn the manual side of shooting a bit so that you get consistant results, then you could save space by shooting JPG.
Personally I shoot mostly in manual mode these days, and get pretty consistant and good 'in-camera' results,
but choose to shoot RAW anyway to be on the safe side.
The area I have problems with, is in fact when I have to use one of the program priority modes, or leave it on automatic.
Then about half the time I get below average to just downright nasty unusable results.

Again, just a personal opinion.
 
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Well, I've got 5 Canon lenses, 4 of which came with a lens hood.

As for the lack of a supplied lens hood being "a very good reason to avoid buying Canon", all I can say personally is that this would be just about at the bottom of my decision criteria....in fact I doubt it would even make my list.
Sorry Jim, I was being both a skeptic and facetious. And after I wrote that I remembered that I once bought a 50mm f/1.8 Pentax lens that came w/o a hood. (While the 43mm f/1.9 came with a hood. Go figure?)
The topic at this point in time is buying an expensive piece of optically clear glass or using a lens hood (almost always supplied with the lens) or buying an expensive lens hood for the lens that your camera mfg didn't supply for free with the expensive lens. I think the lens hood (included or otherwise) is of more benefit and would put my money there if I had to pay for a lens hood.
 

Norfolk Lad

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Is this really true? I've bought multiple lenses for Pentax and now Nikon. Every Lens came with a hood. Third party lenses from Tamron and Sigma, all that I've bought came with a hood. So if you are really sure this is fact, then this would be a very good reason to avoid buying Canon.


Here in the UK only the L quality lenses come with a hood. For all (I think) the others you have to buy the hood separately.
 

Norfolk Lad

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Well, I've got 5 Canon lenses, 4 of which came with a lens hood.

Jim, see my post above. You must have 4 L lenses, lucky chap. I did check the WEX website to make sure I was not wrong. In fact I thought even the 17-40 L came without a hood when I bought it but it has one included now.

Jim any ideas on my Photoshop CS5 question in the Lounge forum. It seems to be up your street.
 
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KKH

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One major line of questions I did not see ask to the OP is: Are you making your decision on Fit in hand or Functions on Camera? These are to fundamental issues one should consider before making an investment into any camera system specifically on the lens options. You would be well advised to put each body in your hands and feel the control surfaces to see if they make sense to your feelings as there are subtle differences in approach taken by the manufacturers in their design approach.

Good advice. I chose based on functions. Fortunately, I like the way the T4i feels.

Second, I would also advise you to do a little research on which lens will suit your budget as well as which ones make the most sense to invest in that will give you the best value for money spent. Something as trivial as the nifty-fifty 50mm 1.8 vs. the 50mm 1.4 is actually huge when you know that one is designed to be used primarly if not solely in AF mode where the 1.4 is actually more suited for both uses manual and AF with ease. Little things like that make a big difference in learning to shoot your gear and just clicking about. The rebel can handle the L-lenses with no issue and truly show off what that body is able to do, again a note on the lens investment-- which is where you will see over the long term... no matter which system you go with. your lenses will often go from body to body.

More good advice. Where's a good source for lens info, e.g. the difference between the 50mm 1.8 vs. the 1.4? Canon's site just has basic specs and descriptions.

Right now I have the 18-135 STM lens that came with the body and I've decided to stick with that until I learn a lot more about how to use my camera and what I want to shoot. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time and will most likely do so several times/week. :D

If you are going to go with the train of thought of a UV filter staying on your lens for an added bit of security, it will do that until you knock you kit for a tumble onto a really hard surface and that sick shattering sound happens. While you ( and those around you) are cringing with fear and dont wish to look but you are hoping to the heavens that it was the filter doing its "job", chances are that you just bought another lense and filter to replace the pair that just broke. Closest thing to protection is a lens hood and the neck, shoulder or wrist strap connected to your body and not sitting on a counter, table or bar edge. The filters will mainly help preserve the front element of your lens from scratches and face it, the ways lenses are made, depending on the level of scratch on the element and type of lens (except a fisheye) you may or may not notice superficial scratches in the actual image file captured in many cases.

You guys have pretty much dissuaded me from going the 'lens filter for lens protection purposes' route, although my thinking wasn't about protecting the lens from a major fall but more of protecting the lens from scratches and such. Many moons ago I got interested in photography and one of the things I remember is that everyone said "use a lens filter to protect your lens." Apparently, that's either outdated advice or wasn't that good to begin with. I always, always, always have the strap wrapped around my wrist or around my neck, even when I'm sitting with the camera in my lap.

Now, about lens hoods - after market or brand name?

I understand you on the point of perhaps buying a camera system that you will grow into, I would suggest you also look at the prosumer bodies like the 60D as well on the Canon side.. not sure of the Nikon or other manufactures equals may be.. but again, a suggestion for growing into a system.

I looked at the 60D and read and watched a bunch of comparison articles and videos, wound my brain up in knots trying to imagine which would be better for me, and chose the T4i based on the DIGIC 5, the touchscreen, and the cool factor of having the "new tech." Yeah, I know, "new tech fever" is a bad reason to choose. It's kind of like Greg's "black and gold" box choice. It was just something to tip the scales between 2 equally good choices. :cool:

Now I've gone back and looked at the 60D comparisons and am twisting myself up in knots again. :(

Good luck.

Thanks!
 
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