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Looking for some advice

KAB
Contributor

I hope I'm asking this in the correct place.  I currently have a canon point and shoot, Powershot SX1 IS, and while it is a nice camera, it's still a point and shoot and I'm ready to upgrade to a SLR.  I'm not looking to do anything real professional, I have a toddler and another baby on the way, and I'd like something nice enough that I can get some really good pictures of my little ones, since I don't ever pay for professional photo's.  My todder is very active, and all of the pictures I currently take turn out blurry, the camera takes too long to snap the photo.  I also need something that will be good with indoor low light.  My budget is $1000, I know that's not much in the camera world, but that's all I can afford right now. 

 

I have my eyes on the Rebel T3i or the T5i, I have no clue which one I need, if even one of those.  I don't plan on using the auto feature, I want something that I can learn and grow with, but again, nothing real professional as I will just be using it on my girls, but I still want something nice.  As far as lenses go?  I was thinking to start with the lens that comes with the camera, the 18-55mm, and I also was thinking about the 50 mm 1.8.  Would the 75-300 lens be needed as well?  And what about an external flash?  Obviously with my budget I can't get all of that right now, but I'm not sure what I should start with, and what would be worth saving for in the near future. 

 

I appreciate any advice, the SLR is really new to me and I want to make sure I'm investing my money wisely.  Thank you for any help you can provide. 

 

 

27 REPLIES 27

ScottyP
Authority
Welcome to the forum, KAB.

The T5i for $750 has the same sensor as the T3i for $500. (Body only prices- no lens included). The only real differences are that the T5i has a touch screen and has a better autofocus system. That may justify the additional cost, but you would have to decide.

If you get the kit with a lens, I'd get the one that comes with the 18-135mm lens. It is a useful focal range and it is a newer, better image quality model than some others.

For your kids, do one thing though: get a 50mm lens. If younspend to get the camera plus the kit lens, then add in a Canon 50mm f/1.8 for just $100. If you don't spend for the kit, you have a little more money to spend on the nicer Canon 50mm f/1.4 for about $350 or so. Having an aperture wider than 2.0 (a lower f-number is a wider max aperture) gives you two things: 1.) it lets about 4 times more light into the camera than the kit lens can, so it shoots much better indoors and in low light, and 2.) it gives you the ability to have a super narrow depth of field.

And "prime" lenses (fixed length) like the 50mm give much sharper pictures than zoom lenses do, and they are also cheaper and lighter.

The shallow depth of field gives you that professional/arty look. It blurs out the background so that any ugly thing or crowd of strangers softens into an un-distracting or even pretty haze, so your subject "pops out" beautifully as the only thing in focus. It really elevates your images beyond mere snapshots.

Have fun, and good luck. The kids will never ever be as little as they are today, so you can only get these shots right now!
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

Thank you so much for your reply.  My husband refuses to let me spend more than $1000, and he's already having a small heart attack that I'm spending that much on a camera, but my girls memories will be worth it.  It sounds like the T5i is a little out of my budget if I want the better lens, and if they are the same sensor system than it sounds like the T3i will be OK for me, I don't really care if it's touch screen or not, I just want something that I can grow with.  If I understand correctly, I want to spend more on the lens' than the actual body anyway?  So it looks like it will be the 18-135mm, and the 50mm 1.8 to start with.  Will I need an external flash? Is there a difference in memory cards? Is there anything else I should consider? 

If you want to record video then the card must be a minimum of a "Class 6" (logo looks like a letter "C" with a 6 inside it) card, although a Class 10 card will be even faster (the number represents how fast the card can read and write data).

 

I usually suggest getting a pair of cards rather than a single large card.  This has two advantages... 

 

#1 a lot of computers have SD card slots in them and this is the quick and easy way to transfer images from camera to computer (much faster than using the USB cable).  But there is a possibility you'll grab the camera, head out to take photos, and get the dreaded "no card" error only to realize the reason why is because your card is still stuck in your  computer... back at home.  Having a second card in the bag can save the day (don't ask me how I know this.)

 

#2 there is a possibility that a card can fail -- it happens.  Having a second card gives you a spare so you can keep shooting.

 

Cards are fairly inexpensive.  The guideline is roughly $1 per GB of storage capacity.  E.g. expect to pay around $16 for a 16GB card (give or take).

 

The built-in flash on any camera is generally good for about 10 feet ... if you're lucky maybe a few feet further.  But as it's a "straight on" flash, it doesn't provide a very flattering look.  To have good light you need good shadows... light falling from above, or from the side will always look better than light coming straigh tfrom the camera.  

 

An external speedlite flash can allow you to point the flash head to a wall or to the ceiling and "bounce" the light.  The wall or ceiling need to be color neutral (typically white) otherwise it'll put a color cast on your subject based on the color of the wall or ceiling.  Also it should preferably not be too high (there's a limit to how far the light can carry and still provide adequate illumination.)

 

You don't necessarily need an external speedlite on day #1.  

 

The pop-up flash is great for "fill" light when outdoors in sun.  It seems counterintuitive to use flash in the sun but it turns out the shadows cast by the sun are a bit too harsh... the "fill" flash helps weaken the strong shadows by providing gentle shadows for a much better look.

 

More than gear, I'd recommend a good book to help get you started.  Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exosure" is fairly heavily recommended for beginners... as are the Scott Kelby "Digital Photography" series (which I think are now up to 4 volumes.)  it turns out your skill will be the biggest factor in how well your images turn out.  I like to say that I don't know how to play a piano... and buying a Steinway Concert Grand isn't actually going to make me play any better.  But a few books and some lessons might be a tremendous help.  It's nice to have the right gear... but it's ESSENTIAL to have the right skills.

 

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

Thank you!  I'm not going to be using the camera for video, so I guess I don't need a fancy card, and that's a great idea to buy a pair, I can be rather forgetful.  I'll put the flash on my future list, maybe I will end up not needing it at all.  I will look into that book, anything I can do to improve my skills to get the best quality pictures, I'm willing to look in to and learn as much as possible. 

Hi,
You can avoid the flash for a while by just getting a collapsible reflector to bounce ambient light onto your subject. This is usually prettier light than the flash anyway if you are outside. The ones from American camera stores are more money than you need to spend. Just google for collapsible reflector and go with a Chinese import for like $19.00 or something. You can get a 5 in 1 that gives a lot of unnecessary colors, but they are awkward to use. I prefer a simple one that is silver on one side and white on the other. You want one that is 42 inches or so. They squish up into a little 10" pouch, but then burst open into the big reflector.

I will heartily second the book recommendation. Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure is really great for giving a new photographer a solid understanding of the underlying concepts, and it is about 65% pictures, which is ideal for a book on photography.
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

This probably what you want.

EOS Rebel T3i digital SLR camera and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Type II 

The list price is around $800 bucks I believe if memory serves me correctly. Don't pay list, shop around, Make sure the one you buy has the exact numbers and letters as above.

After reading your posts, this is likely more camera than you will ever need. I probably know a dozen "Moms" that have this rig.

 

As for additional lenses.........

I am going to deviate slightly because I don't like the 75-300mm or the 50mmm f1.8 lenses at all and I cannot recommend anybody buy them. For a Rebel I would much more prefer you get the 35mm f2 and forego any thoughts of the 50mm f1.8.

 

Also forget the flash.......................right off. Maybe later on but use the camera for a while first before you decide.

The T3i is a very capable camera but you must use it to learn it, whether you read books or watch videos. Go out and use the camera! And later on you can even add really great Canon lenses and show what a fantastic camera theT3i is.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I am going to disagree with Ebiggs, but only on the 35mm vs 50mm lens part.

If the OP buys the 18-135 kit lens, then she has 35mm and 50mm both covered there. The only reason to get a prime fixed lens to double-cover that range, then, is to get a better, more specialized lens for her shooting purposes.

50mm is a perfect portrait length on a T3i. Portraits of her kids is likely to be important to her. It is also long enough to give the nice blurry background/shallow depth of field in focus effect that is so desirable.

35mm is too wide for portraits. If you get close enough to do a head or head and shoulders portrait with a 35mm lens, you start getting the unflattering distortion making their noses and foreheads look big. Yuck! And it is hard to get as blurry a background at 35mm as you would get at 50mm.

Also, the 35mm IS lens is out of her price range, and the old non-IS lens is not exactly spectacular. It may be a great lens and a better-built lens, but I don't think it is the right lens for what she will be shooting.
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

"I am going to disagree with Ebiggs, but only on the 35mm vs 50mm lens part."

 

My reasoning for suggesting the 35mm over the 50mm is, on a Rebel the 50mm becomes a more "specialized" lens.

The 35mm remains a more normal lens.

Would you walk around with a 85mm lens on a 5D?

The benefit of the 35mm f2 it is faster and sharper. But if you get the 50mm, you may lose the faster part if you are indoors and can't back up any for instance.

All of photography is a trade of. There is no free lunch. I still recommend KAB get the 35mm f2. Personally I would even go for the 35mm f2 over the EF-S 18-135 IS STM, if I had to choose just one.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Always the contrarian, eh, ebiggs? 🙂

But she wants to shoot good portraits of her kids more than she wants good dark & gritty street shots of strangers. The zoom covers the whole range. The question is what range then does she want to duplicate with a better and more specialized lens. I shoot my kids a whole lot and I can tell you I'd be lost without a decent portrait lens for my kids. And 35 is not a portrait lens even on a crop, while the 50mm definitely is a portrait length on a crop.
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
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