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Is it still ok to learn on a DSLR?

FilmCanister
Contributor

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

[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 (1.0.2.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100~400, +Canon Control Ring

~6D2 (v1.1.1) Retiring ~EF Trinity, others ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~Windows10/11 Pro ~EVGA RTX 3080Ti FTW3 Ultra ~ImageClass MF644Cdw ~Pixel6 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

View solution in original post

normadel
Rising Star

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

Waddizzle
Legend

I think that price is a BIT on the high side.  The Canon Online Refurbished Store is selling the T8i for less than that.

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

It even comes with a one year warranty from Canon USA.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Thanks for the link. I am not familiar with buying refurbished gear, though I do understand that there is an identical to retail warranty from Canon. Is the rest of my plan sound? 

If you find the deal for the Refurbished T8i, then I suggest you do not wait too long to pull the trigger.  Many listed are items are not always in stock, this hot potato is one of them.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Tronhard
Elite

Hi and welcome to the forum:

It is still absolutely fine to learn on a DSLR, and the model you have should be a good platform - depending upon your budget. I cannot comment on price as I don't live in the US. 

There are two major components to good photography:

First the control over the amount of light entering the camera to get the correct exposure.   
This uses three components that used in combination have significant impacts on the way the subject is displayed:
Shutter: decides how long light is presented to the sensor, and is used to control movement of both the camera and the subject.  Slow shutter speed allows blurring to occur to show movement, and can be used to creative effect by moving the camera.  Fast shutter can freeze movement.
Aperture: is the size of a (usually) variable hole in the lens that dictates the volume of light entering the camera.  A big aperture will flood light while a small one does the opposite - just like a tap.  The effect it has is to decide what is in focus - a small aperture will show a lot of objects at varying distance from the camera to appear sharp, e.g. for landscape photography; while large hole will show a much smaller range (what is called Depth of Field) and allow us to isolate a subject: such as for a portrait.
ISO (it's a word not an acronym BTW). is a measure of the amplification of the sensitivity (aka Gain) of a sensor.  The great the ISO the more the sensor is inclined to react to small amounts of light - just like we would turn up a quiet music track by winding up the volume.  The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the sensor and the more light delivered (either by a larger aperture or slower shutter speed or both) to get the right amount of light for the correct exposure.

This takes some time to get your head around, but mastering the three is a key to controlling the camera and getting creative images.

The other aspect of photography to learn is composition. 

That is, what you want to include in an image, and where and how it is placed to get the effect the photographer wants.  This is definitely an art and takes time and practice, plus the study of great artists: particularly painters and photographers.

Learning photography has great benefits:
1.  It teaches you to actively observe - you will be far more sensitive to your surrounding because you are always looking for an image.
2.  It uses the left and right brain: there is a technical and artistic component to photography, and that is a great balance.
3. It keeps you active - you won't get images sitting on a couch, so you need to go look for them.  Also, if you shoot with heavy lenses, such as for some kinds of wildlife, you will learn to maintain physical strength and endurance.

So, by all means look to the DSLR you mention, but go out and learn and practise.  You can attend courses, join a society, go on You Tube and watch courses, and there are excellent books.  A combination of this is a good idea, but depends on your own learning style.  The other thing to do is take lots and lots of photos and be prepared to look at them critically.

I have taught photography for many years.  If I can help remotely (I live in NZ), I am happy to engage for free - I have some courses on both the control and creative aspects designed for distance learning.  If you want to connect, just PM me.  As a retired photographer, it's how I like to give back.


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris

Thanks for the welcome and all the information. I am somewhat familiar with the exposure triangle but my shots had a tendency to come out over or underexposed. I like to think I am good at composition but I'm sure I can improve.

I can definitely relate to the benefits you mentioned. Those are all reasons I like taking pictures, especially the "keeping active" part. I've not been involved with a society or club, but I may want to do that in the future. I've enjoyed reading about different photographers and viewing their photography, too. Generally, my strategy for learning has been an iterative approach, where I take a picture and then later try to take an improved version of the same picture. It might be a good idea to find some instructional material. 

I may have to pick your brain about a lens recommendation at some point. I'm starting to understand more and more about why people say that the lens is more important than the camera.

[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 (1.0.2.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100~400, +Canon Control Ring

~6D2 (v1.1.1) Retiring ~EF Trinity, others ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~Windows10/11 Pro ~EVGA RTX 3080Ti FTW3 Ultra ~ImageClass MF644Cdw ~Pixel6 ~CarePaks Are Worth It

I realize that DSLRs aren't being made anymore and will go away eventually, but I'm not following your logic for how buying a mirrorless camera today gives a higher ROI. If I buy 1 or 2 EF lenses over the next few years, I can use those lenses in the future on a Canon R series camera. I'm hesitant about buying an R series mirrorless today because I don't know what features are important to me in a camera, and I also don't know if I'd want a full frame or crop sensor. Also, I haven't seen great reviews about the Canon M series, and the EF-M lenses aren't compatible with anything. Have I misunderstood something?


@FilmCanister wrote:

* "I realize that DSLRs aren't being made anymore and will go away eventually, but I'm not following your logic for how buying a mirrorless camera today gives a higher ROI".

** "If I buy 1 or 2 EF lenses over the next few years, I can use those lenses in the future on a Canon R series camera."

*** "I'm hesitant about buying an R series mirrorless today because I don't know what features are important to me in a camera, and I also don't know if I'd want a full frame or crop sensor."

**** "Also, I haven't seen great reviews about the Canon M series, and the EF-M lenses aren't compatible with anything. Have I misunderstood something?"

 


* My way of looking at it is you are saving money by not buying gear you will soon sale or not use for long (See next response). Image quality will also be a ROI, IMO.

** Yes, you can. But trust me, they don't compare to native RF, IMHO. I have a large stable of EF glass, both L and non L and it didn't take long for me to swap out EF for RF, L and non L, for my MILCs. I have quite a few Rebels, XDxx DSLRs and the R5 and R6.

*** My first creative endeavor as a young boy was the guitar. My grandpa bought me a cheap Kay electric. Even with it's crappy fretboard and fat somewhat warped neck, I learned to play and got pretty good at it. Then I was able to get a Gibson Firebird with a Marshal amp. That system opened up a new world for me as a musician and I soon found myself on stage. Although I had a very good, but short 10 year career in music, I can only imagine the "jump start" I would have got if I would have had better equipment. I have found cameras and photography to be comparable. Good equipment will open up your creativity. Going from Rebels to XDxx DSLRs with EF glass expanded my creativity and even farther going to the R5 and RF glass. As you move up im camera and lens, image quality improves and you find you can get those shots that you dream about 🙂

**** Nope 😎

Newton

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.

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