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DSLR 4 Me

Ohaganrh
Contributor

Hello all!

 

I have been a point and shoot guy for years(stop rolling your eyes 🙂 ), however I now want more out of my photography, more versatility and capabilities.  I'm struggling big time in deciding which DSLR to get, not even completely settled on Canon yet (don't hate me). I'm looking for some insight and help deciding which is best for me coming in fresh with no brand commitment, no prior model commitment, it's all going to be new and equally confusing at first.  Clean slate, where do I start?? 

 

Here is some insight into my needs:

 

- Travel.  I travel  an average amount and like to document everything.  The compactness of the P+S is nice but they're just so delicate and limited. I just want more capabilities and mainly lens options.  I looked into mirrorless some but think I'm more DSLR suited. Variety in subject makes DSLR attractive, close up, far away, landscape, sports...can do it all with good quality. The mirrorless still feel kind of 'tinny' to me compared to DSLR.

 

- Main point for me is long exposure/low light performance.  I'm very into astronomy, and someday would like to transition to astrophotography so would like the camera to be able to grow into that role a few years from now.  I just don't know what matters and how much here.  High ISO?  ISO noise?  Pixel and sensor size?  How important are bigger numbers in these?  Pixel-peeper.com seems like most people rarely surpass 1600 ISO to do night sky star shots.  For the time being I want to be able to take nice clear shots of the night sky(without a scope) with little noise.   Can't afford the 60Da, figured I'd get out ahead of that one. 

 

-Video:  I only really use this for travel, once in awhile I'll shoot a quick clip of something extra interesting, but not a huge concern, don't need a high end video orirented machine.  I do however feel like the vari-angle screen would be handy in shooting stills too, not a neccessity.  Those of you who have used both could be more helpful on this?

 

- Budget.  I can't afford a professional FF camera which I'm sure would be best for night sky shots.  I want to be under $1000 with a basic lens, and preferably well below unless an option really stands out above the cheaper options.

 

Also based on what I've described, recommendations in lenses would be greatly appreciated.  Again, on a budget and for awhile the kit lens will have to do for me.  seems like I'd want a telephoto with IS, the nifty fifty, and a wide angle for landscape.  Any suggestions/ input?

 

Here is what I've been looking at:

Canon 60d, Canon 7D used, Canon T3i/T4i, Nikon D5200, Pentax K50, Sony A65.  The K50 looked great on paper but I read over and over to get into one of the 'ecosystems' of Canon or Nikon.  Not to mention every site I've checked says Canon over Nikon for astrophotography.  Can anyone back that up?

 

Hope you guys can help because I am stumped!  I wish the choices were much more clean cut and obvious.  I'm constantly doing the, 'well for another $200.....' dance.  Where do you draw the line? If canon had greater pixel/sensor size and better noise handling (Nikon D5200) it'd be an easy choice of Canon.  Then again, I don't understand how important that really is when it looks glaringly better on paper.  Thanks in advance!

 

Rory

24 REPLIES 24

Skirball
Authority

I have been a point and shoot guy for years(stop rolling your eyes ), however I now want more out of my photography, more versatility and capabilities.  I'm struggling big time in deciding which DSLR to get, not even completely settled on Canon yet (don't hate me). I'm looking for some insight and help deciding which is best for me coming in fresh with no brand commitment, no prior model commitment, it's all going to be new and equally confusing at first.  Clean slate, where do I start?? 

 

There’s a lot to comment on, but I think I could focus mainly just on this focus.

 

First point, nobody should be rolling their eyes at a point and shoot.  Those that are are gearheads, and you should just ignore them anyway.  PnS have their purposes, and the gap between them and dSLR is getting smaller.  They’re far more portable, cheaper, and (what the gearheads don’t want to admit) can take a landscape shot just as good as a dSLR so long as you’re not enlarging to huge proportions.  My first piece of advice, is to understand and accept this.  It’ll make you a better photographer to know what your camera can, and can’t, do better/worse than other options.

 

Canon: I’ve got no love for them.  Sure, they make good stuff, but they’re just a corporation trying to make money.  If lenses and camera bodies were universally compatible I’d have a lot less Canon equipment.  But they know this, so those of use with thousands invested in Canon glass are here for the long run.  Go buy whatever fits your needs, they’re all good companies.  Canon and Nikon will give you more options for glass.  Sony is relatively new, and they’re bringing innovation to the camera body market, which is nice, but you don’t get the glass options.  I also like buying from companies that specialize in optics.  At the level you’re buying at the offerings between Canon and Nikon will be almost identical.

 

Low light is where dSLR excels, and they’re great for astrophotography.  But at the budget you have I would recommend a Canon Rebel (or Nikon equiv), a T4i refurbished if you can find it is a great start, and some lenses.  I wouldn’t go up to a 60D, you won’t have any money for lenses.  Until you start getting to really high end cameras, lenses will make a much greater impact on image quality than the camera body.  The difference between a T4i and 60D has more to do with camera features than image quality.

 

Thanks to both replies so far. 

 

Skirball: Refurb T4i is exactly what I've been leaning toward.  Is there any reason to fear the refurb?  From what I understand the T4i is basically refurb due to problems with the grip turing white and also being discontinued for the same and to relieve T5i of competition some.  Which makes me feel some of these refurb T4's could be basically new cameras and therefore a great deal. 

 

My P+S was a Nikon and I loved the quality of that.  It blew me away for a $150 simpleton.  So I have a little bit of draw toward Nikon because I've witnessed first hand the quality, though never in DSLR, and I've never touched a Canon.  2nd point of importance, the vast majority of my DSLR friends have Canons, so buying a Canon gives me a better support group in a way.  Allows me to borrow lenses perhaps.... worth consideration right there.   

 

Sony looks great on paper and has some cool tech, the translucent mirror, giving way to fast shutter speeds, GPS (which I hear is pretty nice for astrophotography, etc. They seem like they might push the boundaries in the future.  Will they ever surpass Canon and Nikon though?  Who knows.  Trying to bet on the future in camera tech I imagine is impossible.  It's likely the same as any other tech and one has the lead, then another, and so on.  It worries me a bit they're new to the game in comparison as you said. Not as many lenses, AM brands don't have as many compatible lenses either.  The translucent mirror I've read creates other issues that may affect the types of photography I'm into.   

 

I've spent a lot of time on review sites such as photography blog, camera labs, DP Review.... I try to focus on the ISO and image quality comparisons.  These lead you to believe Nikon has the superior ISO noise handling ability.  How much exactly does this come into account for night sky shooting?  I suppose if I can get a better handle on the ISO world, I can better understand the importance.  Like I discussed before, the K50 looks great going up to 51,600 boost ISO, but in all reality, does anyone ever go that high in shooting?  And if you did, could you even tell what anything was from all the noise?  I'm not sure if you do much of this, but if you were to go out with a T4i or D5200 (My main choices to date), what settings would you be on to get a nice starry night photo?  What lense would you have equipped? 

 

Lastly, big differences between D5200 and T4i?  Anything that really stands out or is it more or less down to Nikon vs. Canon? 

 

Thanks again guys.  It's very helpful to be able to bounce my thoughts around and see what experienced people have to say. 

If I was in your shoes, and I decided to get a Canon, then a refurbished T4i is exactly what I’d get.  I personally don’t have fear of refurbished, but some do.  If you buy from Canon is comes with a 1 year warranty.  Which, in my opinion, is long enough for electronics to act up if they’re going to have issues.  Also, refurbished product usually is 100% inspected to specification.  I can’t say I have first-hand knowledge of Canon’s manufacturing, but generally companies will not 100% new product off the line, only a sample.  So it could be argued that refurbished product is less likely to fail than new product.

Here’s a T4i, looks like the price has actually gone up a bit, I’d guess they’re running out of their stock:

 

http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/cameras/refurbished-eos-digital-slr-cameras/eos-rebel-t4i-...

 

Is that camera sold at the same pricepoint as the T4i?  I was about to say no, there’s no difference, the Nikon and Canon offerings for entry-level dSLR are essentially the same.  But I looked it up real quick, and to be honest – on paper – the Nikon looks much better.  “On Paper” doesn’t always translate to real life, but I see a bigger sensor, much more AF points, and better high ISO performance.  Those are something that are important to me.  I don’t care about 24 MP, in fact I’d rather have less on a crop.  Also, I think Nikon has some weird issue where not all their lenses with autofocus on their lower end cameras?

 

Regardless, either camera can provide you will great pictures.  But if the cost is the same, and you’re not invested in Canon at all, it may be something to consider.

Yes, thanks again Skirball!  My research revealed similar findings. Looking kit vs. kit....  The T4i refurbished is $720 on Canon's site.  Nikon's site doesn't appear to offer any D5200 refurb models, brand new is $800 with the kit lens.  However, Adorama has a D5200, claimed as 'Refurbished by Nikon USA' for $680.  I'm just unfamiliar with Adorama.  So many scams out there I'm nervous of buying anywhere but dealers. 

 

http://www.adorama.com/INKD5200KR.html

 

http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/cameras/refurbished-eos-digital-slr-cameras/eos-rebel-t4i-...

 

I'll have to continue reading reviews and just make a decision ultimately.  I think it just gets to a point where you can't read or filter through any more information and have to just pick because there is no clear cut winner.

 

One last question...for now at least.  Would I be better off going with the kit or buying refurbished body and an aftermarket lens...something like:

 

http://lenshero.com/lens/Sigma-18-125mm-f3.8-5.6-DC-OS-HSM-Canon-ef-lens

or

http://lenshero.com/lens/Sigma-18-50mm-f2.8-4.5-DC-OS-HSM-Canon-ef-lens

 

Would these be improved or are the cheaper AM lenses not much better than the kit lens from the dealer? Could you recommend some great lenses and types beginners should have, or for night sky shooting, travel, etc.  Please keep in mind investing in the camera itself will eat up a lot of my funding, so I can't be buying $800 lenses and such.  Is it worth it to buy cheaper AM lenses like those I linked or just use the kit lens and hold off until can afford really good and more expensive lenses?  Thanks!!

Interesting.  I would recommend doing some more research to get a feel for the comparison between the two.  If the results are at all close, then don’t worry about it.  People on the internet will debate the smallest difference in test charts until the cows come home, you’ll never see the difference in your photography.  But if there is a legitimate difference, then perhaps Nikon is in your future.  I will say though, that I learned on a 450D, ancient compared to either of these, and it’s still a fine camera.  I still use it on occasion, and I know how to get it to give me the results I want.  I know it’s limitations, but it’s still quite capable, so I’m sure the 650D will be as well.

 

Adorama is a fine company, one of the two major camera dealers in the US (B&H being the other).   My first dSLR came from them, my second from B&H.

 

Kit lenses is a tough subject.  On one hand, you’re new to dSLR, no telling how into it you’ll get, etc.  The kit lenses offer an affordable solution to get you out and shooting.  On the other, they’re not that great and if you upgrade later that’s a couple hundred dollars you could have spent towards something good.  I got a Sigma 17-70 as my first upgrade when I broke my 18-55 kit lens while traveling.  The difference was very noticeable, in performance and build.  If you’re buying refurbished, and don’t get the big discounts of getting a kit, then yes, I’d recommend bumping up to something like a decent Sigma, or one of the Canon upgrades, like the the 18-135 STM.  At a minimum you should try to get a good focal range out of the kit lens.  It’s not going to be fast (large aperture), or crazy sharp, you might as well get flexibility.  Though I will say that the Canon 55-250 kit lens is a decent piece for the price and I highly recommend one.

Excellent! Thank you Skirball you've been a huge help.

Skirball
Authority

@Ohaganrh wrote:

Hope you guys can help because I am stumped!  I wish the choices were much more clean cut and obvious.  I'm constantly doing the, 'well for another $200.....' dance.  Where do you draw the line? If canon had greater pixel/sensor size and better noise handling (Nikon D5200) it'd be an easy choice of Canon.  Then again, I don't understand how important that really is when it looks glaringly better on paper.  Thanks in advance!

 

Rory


Don't get too caught up in Pixel peeping, both Canon and Nikon offer good options. You won't see the difference near as much as the internet would lead you to believe.  Especially in the beginning, camera skills will have far more of an impact.

 

That said, had I not been invested in Canon glass I probably would have got a Nikon D600 instead of a Canon 6D.  The dynamic range of Nikon at low ISO is quite nice.

"The dynamic range of Nikon at low ISO is quite nice."

 

But keep mind the dynamic range of the Nikon at high ISO is not as nice.  There are always trade-offs.

 

I bought my camera because I was often dealing with situations where I needed high ISO.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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