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Is it still ok to learn on a DSLR?

FilmCanister
Enthusiast

I would like to learn more about photography. I’ve used point and shoot (film and digital) cameras in the past but I’ve been exclusively using my iPhone for the past 7 years. I’ve mostly convinced myself to buy a Rebel t7i, as the $775 price for camera + kit lens that I see fits my budget well. My plan is to learn on the Rebel and kit lens for as many years as I can and buy EF or EF-S lenses if I need them. If I feel the need to upgrade the camera in the future, I’ll likely buy a Canon R series to continue using any EF lenses I’ve accumulated.

Have I missed something important? Should I be considering a mirrorless option more strongly? I’ll probably keep whatever I buy for 5+ years. If it matters, I’ll primarily take pictures of family, urban life (buildings, architectural features, people) and landscapes. I don’t anticipate shooting a lot of video.

Edit 11/1: I appreciate the replies I've received. I've been doing my best to understand the equipment and what it does and ignore marketing hype.

Edit 11/3: For anyone following this thread I decided the solution for me was to look for a mirrorless option. While I agree that someone can learn photography on any camera, I don't currently have any cameras or lenses so it makes sense to me to choose an R series camera as my first. Thank you to all who offered their helpful opinions.

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

[EDIT]

Whoops..  late post.

-----------------------------------------------

Hi,

You can learn the fundamentals on a DSLR.

If your budget is under $1k, the T8i kit is a better option.  Refurb directly from Canon is $719

https://www.usa.canon.com/shop/p/refurbished-eos-rebel-t8i-ef-s-18-55mm-f-4-5-6-is-stm-kit

If it were me, first time camera buyer, I'd go mirrorless.  Costs just a little bit more, but will provide a higher return on investment in the long run.  Its up to you.  DSLR equipment will continue to drop in price and become more scarce.  MILC (mirrorless) is here to stay.  Investing in older EF glass today is not as wise a value proposition as it was previously.  Yes there is still a market for it, but 5 yrs from now, it will be a different story.  Whereas mirrorless will be mature and continuing to be refined. 

Buying a DSLR today is something you need to be prepared to walk away from.  That ship has sailed (as others have said).  Mirrorless is still in its infancy comparatively.  It has a long road ahead.

Don't let me dissuade you from buying a DSLR.  You'll love it and will have years of learning and happy memories.  Just understand that manufacturers have already started to shift and move away from this technology.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

View solution in original post

normadel
Authority
Authority

To answer your original question simply, OF COURSE you can learn on a DSLR. All of the principles of photography and digital photography are the same, and you can absolutely transfer all the knowledge and skills you add.

I am a firm believer in avoiding latest technology when older stuff will do all you want to do for the foreseeable future. And if cost is an issue (as it is for lots of us, despite what some think it should be), you can use EF and EFS lenses on the R-series mirrorless cameras, if and when you think you have outgrown the "old" way. They are also widely available on the used market. The DSLR IS NOT OBSOLETE!!!

View solution in original post

32 REPLIES 32


@FilmCanisterwrote:

As I re-read your comment a month after I originally posted, I understand it a lot better. I ultimately found the budget for an RP and kit lens. I can already see that I'll want a better lens eventually (for more light). Your comment about EF glass not comparing to RF on an R series body was really impactful. Thanks for the insight.


You are welcome, and as Rick stated, there is a lot of good info in this thread, kudos to everyone!

I think the RP is a good choice and if the kit lens you are referring to is the RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM (non L), that should be a good lens to get you started. And yes, it is what is called a "dark lens", especially at the long 105mm end, so I know what you mean by wanting more light. Just keep in mind that higher ISO is not such a bad thing on the MILC's, so you can compensate a bit for lack of light by bumping up your ISO, at least that's been my experience. Also, Canons free Digital Photo Professional (DPP 4) has excellent digital lens optimization (DLO) and noise reduction (NR). It's a very good Raw editor, and I suggest you shoot Raw. DPP may be all you'll ever need, which is my case, but as you expand your interests, there are plenty of Raw and raster editors that are free or paid applications.

I hope you enjoy your new gear and don't be in a big hurry to get more glass. It's easy to get "lens lust". As you figure out what you want from your photography, those questions will be answered... Now, go shoot! 🙂

Newton

EOS R5, R6, R6II. RF 15-35 f/2.8L, 50mm f/1.2L, 85mm f/1.2L, 100mm f/2.8L Macro, 100-400mm, 100-500mm L, 1.4X.

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

@Film Canister,

As I said earlier, please do not let me dissuade you from purchasing a DSLR.  Yes, you can adapt EF glass to R (mirrorless) body's.   

If you do decide to go mirrorless however, do not buy an EF-M Camera.  Its lenses cannot be adapted to DSLR, APS-C or other mirrorless formats. 

There are 4 mirrorless formats to consider.

RF (Full Frame mirrorless)

RF-S (APS-C mirrorless)

EF (Full Frame DSLR)

EF-S (APS-C DSLR)

EF-M (Don't do it)

EF and EF-S glass can be adapted to R bodies.  RF (mirrorless glass) will not work on a EF Mount DSLR or APS-C DSLR.  There are pros and cons to each.  You have some reading to do.  🙂

Here are 3 article to start with:

Lens Differences

Lenses2

DSLR vs mirrorless - Canon Europe (canon-europe.com)

Spend some time here learning.  Ask questions.  All here can help.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

Thanks for the lens information. My budget allows me to buy the Rebel mentioned in my post or an SL3. If a mirrorless is really that different of an experience, my budget only allows for an M50 Mark II. However, I have read that the M series cameras that use the EF-M lenses are likely to be discontinued. In any case, the EF-M lenses aren't compatible with anything. 

While I think that something like the R10 might be the long term "better" option for me, I haven't been able to justify spending the additional money right now. I'm trying to figure out if the mirrorless advantages are anything that would be noticed by someone less experienced with photography and it sounds like the answer is either "no" or "yes, but you'll still be able to get great pictures with a DSLR."

normadel
Authority
Authority

To answer your original question simply, OF COURSE you can learn on a DSLR. All of the principles of photography and digital photography are the same, and you can absolutely transfer all the knowledge and skills you add.

I am a firm believer in avoiding latest technology when older stuff will do all you want to do for the foreseeable future. And if cost is an issue (as it is for lots of us, despite what some think it should be), you can use EF and EFS lenses on the R-series mirrorless cameras, if and when you think you have outgrown the "old" way. They are also widely available on the used market. The DSLR IS NOT OBSOLETE!!!

Thanks, I'm sure I'll be able to learn plenty with a DSLR, but I was worried that I was missing out on something by avoiding the mirrorless option. There is a lot of marketing hype out there that I've been trying to wade through. Half of the mirrorless camera reviews I read seem to be aimed at people who want to make YouTube videos anyway.

normadel
Authority
Authority

Camera makers thrive on people who fear they're missing out on something if they don't have the latest and "best". So do smartphone makers, car makers, appliance makers and every other kind of maker.

No matter what camera you get and use, you will think you are missing out on something, so please don't succumb to it. Enjoy what you have, learn it, and only upgrade when there's REALLY something you need.

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

@FilmCanister,

You are correct about EF-M format cameras.  They are already on their way out.  So are DSLRs to some extent, but they have a much larger following and it will be some time before they are gone.  Like what normadel referred to above.

We want to remain sensitive to your budget, so the T8i kit we referenced above will be a great starter camera for you.  Do be aware that APS-C body's have smaller image sensors.  So when paired with a full frame EF lens, the field of view (FOV) is more narrow, but the focal length remains the same.  APS-C lenses on the other hand have a smaller image circle designed specifically for the smaller sensor.  The goal here is to empower you with as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

Again, I appreciate the information and I'm beginning to understand why you said a mirrorless would be a better ROI. It's a bit more money than I planned to spend, but the R10 looks like it's an upgraded, mirrorless Rebel.

krahe
Rising Star
Rising Star

About six months ago I was right where you're at. I came very close to pulling the trigger on getting a T8i. But then I decided to look a little closer at the differences between a DSLR and a mirrorless, and found that auto-focus works differently on a DSLR when you're using the viewfinder vs. a live view screen. That pushed me into a mirrorless - specifically the M50 Mark II - as I wanted to use the best auto-focus mechanism available regardless of what screen I was using to take the shot. Since then it's become even more apparent that the center of gravity in the market is quickly shifting from DSLR to mirrorless, so I believe I've made the right choice. I have four EF-M lenses plus an EF lens that I use with an adapter.

Kevin Rahe
EOS M50 Mark II

amfoto1
Authority

@FilmCanister wrote:.If it matters, I’ll primarily take pictures of family, urban life (buildings, architectural features, people) and landscapes. I don’t anticipate shooting a lot of video.

It matters a lot, what you plan to shoot. And for those types of subjects you would be just fine with a DSLR.

That said, the previous recommendation to consider refurbished is good. In the US Canon refurbished are only available via the Canon USA website. Those can be a really good deal. I've bought a couple items from them and the only difference from new that I could see was that they box was plain cardboard, rather than the fancier graphics. Aside from that and the money I saved, everything else about the items I bought was EXACTLY like buying brand new! It did take about a week or 10 days to receive the items, if I recall correctly. 

Something to consider... for the type of photography you plan to do a 24MP T8i would be fine and the EF-S 18-55mm lens can serve most purposes. You eventually may want an EF 50mm f/1.8 STM for family portraits and/or an EF-S 10-18mm IS STM for landscape photography, but the kit lens will get you started.

Whatever lens you get, also buy the lens hood for it. That's the best physical protection for it while out shooting and a lens hood can only improve your images as well. Just be careful to get the correct, matched hood for any lens that you get (for example, there have been something like six different Canon EF-S 18-55mm lenses, and I don't think they all use the same lens hood).]

One of the advantages of a Canon DSLR is that they have been selling lenses to fit them for 30+ years, so there are literally millions of them around on the used market. While there can be some risk buying used, with reasonable care such as only buying from reputable dealers who back up what they sell, you can extend your kit without breaking the bank.  As you know, with an adapter those EF and EF-S lenses can be use on an R-series mirrorless camera if you decide to upgrade to that type of camera sometime in the future. While they are excellent and innovative, there simply isn't the selection of RF lenses for mirrorless yet and the system is so new that there are almost none on the used market so far. 

***********


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2), EOS M5, some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
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