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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎02-20-2014
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Starter DSLR

I am looking to move up to a DSLR. Keep in mind I am NEW...be easy on me hehe =)  I am crossed between a few T3, T3i and SL1. The t3's are a few yrs older so i don't know if I would be wise to buy an older camera model. For the money I would like something I will be able to keep for a few yrs with out it being obsolete. That is where I am looking at the SL1 for newer technologies/hardware. Also would you buy a camera refurbished ? Canon site had some pretty good deals on both the t3 and t3i with the standard 18-55 lens.

 

I will be photographing mostly landscapes, portraits, and nature.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,847
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Starter DSLR

I would certainly not hestitate to buy a Canon refurbished camera.  

 

The T3 (without the "i" suffix) is Canon's lowest price-point entry-level DSLR.  It's the most basic.  They've now introduced the T5 (also without the "i") replaces the T3 at the low-end of the entry-range.

 

The T3i (with the "i" suffix) was Canon's high-end entry-level body back in the year when it was introduced... then replaced with the T4i and ultimately the T5i.   But the T3i, T4i, and T5i all use what is essentially the same Canon 18 MP sensor.  Also... the SL1 uses the Canon 18 MP sensor as well.    

 

Don't expect a dramatic difference in image between the T3i, T4i (which is discontinued becuase it was nearly identical to the T5i), T5i, and SL1.    The differences will be in camera body features.

 

The 60D and now the new 70D are mid-range bodies, but since the 70D was released, you can get a pretty good price on the 60D (if that's within your financial budget).  The body is much nicer than the Rebel bodies.  The 60D also uses that same Canon 18 MP sensor.  The mid-range bodies are slightly larger and have a control layout a bit more similar to the pro bodies in that they have a top-LCD screen (in addition to the rear screen) which displays more info and also has several instant access buttons to change the most commonly used settings (ISO, focus mode, drive mode, etc.) and in addition to the main control dial on the front (near the shutter button) there's also a large rear-dial that can be controlled via your thumb (quite comfortably).  The mid-range bodies introduce some features of the pro cameras while not yet removing the features of the entry-level bodies (e.g "scene" based shooting modes are still there -- whereas on a pro body those are gone.)

 

Canon's online store has a refurbished section.  That page is located here:  http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/cameras/refurbished-eos-digital-slr-cameras#

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Starter DSLR

+1 on Tim's advice.  I wouldn't hesitate for a second to buy a refurb directly from Canon.  I'd go for a T3i.  It's several years old now, but still fairly representative of what's coming out in the latest entry models.  It's not going to hold you back.

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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎02-20-2014

Re: Starter DSLR

I want to keep my budget within $600

 

I do like the body of the 60d over the rebel bodies!! I like the 2nd LCD screen. I think for now I will stay within the rebel line. The T3i is looking appealing the refurbed price you can't beat  @ $320.

 

Here comes another question about lenses. A buddy of mine warned me to stay away from kit lens the 18-55 & 75-300 and go for a Tamron 18mm-270mm bc it is essentially  both the kit lenses without having to swap out lenses and has better image quality. Is this true?

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Starter DSLR

Relative to a kit lens the Tamron is probably on par with IQ.  But in general I tend to stay away from superzoom all-in-one lenses.  Part of the benefit of SLR cameras is that you can pick the right lens for the job.  In order to add a wider range to a lens you have to make compromises to the image quality, aperture size, etc.    So camera manufacturers typically make zoom lenses in categories: ultra wide, wide angle, standard, telephoto, etc., and you swap out according to your need.

 

I’m not saying they don’t have their uses (they’re great travel lenses), and some people are ok with the lesser IQ for the convenience.  I just prefer the latter, and large apertures.

 

All that said, I’m not really fond of the Canon 18-55 kit lens.  Mine was a poor performer and broke quickly, but others seem to have better experiences.  I replaced it with a Sigma 17-70 and thought it to be a much better standard zoom lens.  If you’re buying it refurbished and they have a body only, I’d look at getting that and a better standard zoom.

 

The 55-250 kit lens, on the other hand, is a nice little lens given the price.  They just released a new version, with a bit of an increase in IQ.  But if budget is tight I’d buy the old 55-250 in a heartbeat.  I’d imagine you could get one for cheap.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,847
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Starter DSLR

+1 on Skirball's advice.

The optical quality of the 18-55mm kit lens is actually pretty good. The build quality is not high, it has slow focusing motors, etc.

But back to Skirball's point... the ability to change lenses is WHY people really like the image quality of a DSLR. Prime lenses (lenses which do not "zoom") provide some of the best image quality -- and a big part of that "look" is that the lenses offer a very low focal ratio. This gives you a shallow "depth of field" -- which means you can have tack-sharp focus on your subject, and in the same shot you have a beautifully de-focused background that really helps the image pop.

Super-zoom lenses have only one advantage in that they are "convenient". If you were taking a trip and only had space for one lens... that's where they come in handy. But when you're shooting around your own town ... having a selection of lenses REALLY shows off why you want a DSLR camera over a point & shoot.

One last point... zoom lenses really have come a long way. The optical quality of prime lenses usually far exceeded that of zooms. Today's zooms are getting better and better (some are NOTICEABLY better than others and premium glass is not cheap) but highly ambitious "super zooms" still lag behind the quality of the less-ambitious zooms. This is an area where "less is more".

The best zooms tend to have the ability to offer a constant and low focal ratio throughout the entire zoom range. All of Canon's "L" series lenses are very high end. But there are some non-L EF-S lenses which are extremely good -- such as the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. The downside is, these lenses aren't inexpensive.

But... some prime lenses are fantastic -- especially considering their price tag.
Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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