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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Monday, January 14th, 2008 02:06 pm
camera question(s)

This year I resolved to budget for, purchase, and learn to use a DSLR. An incredible number of folks on my flist are pretty good photographers, so I'm hoping that some of you will read this and respond with your suggestions of what I should get, or at least what I should think about when comparing different brands and models.

At this point I know nothing about cameras beyond the idea that you point at something and push a button, and it takes a picture. Terms like exposure, focal ratio, aperture, shutter speed, etc., currently have no meaning for me, and I'm not familiar with image-editing software beyond the tweaks I can do in iPhoto.

So, my approach might be a little backward in that I want to invest in a tool before knowing much about how to use it. Whatev.

Here are a few things about what I want to do with a camera:
  • Take both close-up and long-distance shots of subjects (people, landscapes, plants, other objects).
  • Avoid the lag with point-and-shoot models between pressing the button and capturing the image, and take a series of shots in rapid sequence.
  • Take shots under a variety of incident lighting conditions, especially at night.
  • Avoid the type of parallax error in a shot in which, for example, a building takes up most of the frame, but the vertical edges lean in toward the center rather than appear vertical.
  • Do a lot of macro work.
  • Get clear, crisp images with no processing.
  • Do some really cool processing.
  • Learn how and when to use a tripod.
Suggestions, criticisms, all input is welcome. Thanks!

48CommentReplyShare

bellybalt
bellybalt
Belly
Monday, January 14th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)

Even an entry-level DSLR (like the Rebel series) will let you do all of those things. Most of the things in your list are dependent on the type of lens you use.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Monday, January 14th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)

What additional bells and whistles do the advanced DSLRs give you?

And, when I buy one, which kind(s) of lens would be appropriate for these things?


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Here's what I read:

How else am I going to take pictures of the ninjas?


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pynk_gyrl
pynk_gyrl
pynk_gyrl
Monday, January 14th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)

I know there has been some bad blood in the past between you and winter_in_asia, but he and his wife elamine have started their own photog business and know TONS about DSLR cams. Just a thought!


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)

Ah, thanks. :)


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luvsammy
luvsammy
Samalamity
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)

Thank you for making this post. I, too, would like to purchase a DSLR in the near future.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)

Any particular one(s) you have your eye on?


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a_rockett
a_rockett
A.
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)

Nikon D40 DSLR. Its not what I use currently, but its what I'm saving up to buy. I have three people on my friendslist that use that exact camera, and their photos are beautiful, whether the photos are taken at night or during the day, macro, standard, landscapes, portraits..

One of them says that the difference for her is using a speedlight flash. I don't know which model she uses for this camera, but there are a few available.

link-
http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/SLR1172.htm
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_D40


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a_rockett
a_rockett
A.
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)

Ok, I'm retarded. I'm planning on buying the D40x, but they have the D40. I'm all for the extra 4 megapixels of the x. hehe..


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inkytwist
inkytwist
The Loch Ness Monster
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)

macro work = macro lens. (kind of obvious, but thought I'd mention that). You'd have to invest in a few different lenses to do the good kind of macro lens.

I'm still salivating after a gradiated filter, but I kind of want to buy a DSLR first. I have access to 2 SLRS, which are nice, but film isn't.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)

Now I'm confused ... someone above mentioned I'd need a micro lens for macro work.

I like that filter's effects, but could you replicate it with a good image editing application?


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solteronita
see the moon? it hates us.
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)

I'm happy with my Canon Digital Rebel. It's a good starter camera, because it's relatively cheap, and you can find them used. I found mine on Craigslist for $350. I started out with a little bit of background knowledge in photography, but it's quick to pick up with a good book. The library has no shortage of photography manuals.

It sounds like a lot of what you want could be accomplished with a compact point-and-shoot (though they're so much more than that now). You might consider a compact that has a lot of manual settings instead of an SLR.

What I did before I purchased my camera was go on Flickr and look at the camera info for pictures I liked. There's also a "camera finder" on the site that's fun to play with.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)

Right on, thanks. :)


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kaleidoscopeeye
kaleidoscopeeye
Kaleidoscope Eyes
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)

A wonderful website to use to look at cameras. read reviews, and learn more terminology is http://www.dpreview.com/. Start there, I think you will find a wealth of information.

Also a book that others swear by (and I recently ordered) is Understanding Exposure. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0817463003/bookstorenow57-20)

I don't think you can go wrong with the Canon Digital Rebel XTi or the Nikon D80 for a nice DSLR. I went with the Canon because the differences between them were minor to me, the cost of the Canon was significantly less, and I could justify getting an additional lens or two that way :)

For processing afterwards, I am a huge photoshop fan, but if you aren't familiar with it, you could easily get elements by adobe instead and play around with that. It does many of the same things as the much pricier photoshop.

I am also a huge macro person, I really love the details. My second lens for my Rebel is the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens and I love love love it. :) And I found that using a speedlite instead of a standard flash really improved my shots. My speedlite is the Canon Speedlite 580EX II.

I hope this helps, and if I can clarify any of this, let me know.


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girl_on_a_stick
girl_on_a_stick
stickgirl
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)

Both the Canon (Rebel) and the Nikon (D80) are great, entry level DSLRs. They will be more than enough camera for you for years. Anything more than that is mostly just a matter of larger files/better resolution and a few tiny features, but both these entry level cameras will be more than enough for big prints. Larger files can even get to be a total pain in the ass to deal with. And higher end cameras are often heavier.

But know that in order to make your DSLR truley more useful than a point-and-shoot you're going to need to invest 2-3x the $ you spent on the camera on lenses. Not necessarily all at once at first, but eventually. And you'll never have enough lenses. Ever. I have 5 and "need" more. My bread and butter lenses are both $2,000 lenses.

Lastly, take a class. A DSLR in the hands of someone who does nothing other than use the "auto" mode is kinda like driving a Ferari in first gear :) At the least check out some books and learn what exposure is really all about. I even have a few I could lend you.

And I'd be happy to help you shop. This is a pretty nice starter package, and B&H are really the industry standard for online photography for pros and amateurs, great site:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/457539-REG/Canon_1239B001_EOS_Digital_Rebel_XTi.html



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girl_on_a_stick
girl_on_a_stick
stickgirl
Monday, January 14th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)

Also, we have the advantage of having a great rental shop in town. You can test drive cameras and lenses this way:
www.prophotosupply.com


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thatsassylassie
thatsassylassie
thatsassylassie
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)

whenever you decide you are ready for it, I have a tripod you can use.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)

Sweet! Thanks. :)


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polarbear
polarbear
No Time For Love, Dr. Jones
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)

Canon hands down makes the best glass, Nikon still has the edge when it comes to flash units.

I would recommend these bodies:

$520: Canon Rebel XTi, $1149: Canon 40D, $2110: Canon 5D

But since you're just starting, I'd stick with one of the first two. Unless you have a ton of cheddar, and then I suggest donating to a male college student. :D

Realize that with an SLR, you're going to be dropping far more on glass than you are bodies. Assuming that, you're going to want to pick up a macro lens, a prime, and a medium length lens. Maybe a longer one when you're ready.

Understanding Exposure is hands down the best book I'd recommend, and so would olegvolk for beginners and trying to understand things.


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momasarah
momasarah
Sarah
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)

i just picked up the canon rebel xt for the same reasons for $500. The new model just came out so the xt just got cheaper which allowed me to finallly buy one :)


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ghotighued
ghotighued
Isaac
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 06:36 am (UTC)

Allow me to donate my $0.25 (that's two bits) to the discussion with my humble opinion, etc. Not to devalue everyone else, but this is just my end of things.

A good camera does not a good photographer make. And so, since you admit that you have very little knowledge about the mechanics of photography, and since the digital SLRs are based upon their analog predecessors, I recommend you take a color photography course through PCC or a local photo shop and learn the basics on a 35mm camera.

The class I took over the summer was absolutely amazing, and I don't think I could have grasped the concepts better had I been shooting anything but a Canon AE-1. Sure, it's painstaking and you don't get that instant gratification, but I feel like my overall approach to taking photos has changed significantly.

As for entry-level cameras, I can't really help you, since I haven't yet procured my own (still lookin' for a sugar daddy to buy me one). Despite my love for the good ole AE-1, I've not been impressed with the Canon DSLRs and much prefer the Nikon's that I've had the privelege of borrowing in the past.

I've heard great things about the D40, and the lens recommendations, and succession of acquisition, are spot on with what I've heard in my various classes.

When you get into the post-process end of things, I've got some good books to recommend on learning Photoshop.

But the most important thing? You're not allowed to get one before I do. Ha! :-P

Edited at 2008-01-15 06:37 am (UTC)


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)

I'll definitely be taking at least one class when I get a camera, but I hesitate to learn on a 35mm more or less because of the tedium involved in seeing results, and the fact that unless I develop my own film, I'll be relinquishing control over that part of the process, whereas if I stay all digital, I'm in charge of all the steps and can really grasp the effects of different settings on the camera as well as during image processing. Or at least that's my theory, all wrapped up in a convenient run-on sentence. :)

Don't worry, I know that buying a good camera won't make me into a good photographer. However, I will have better-looking bad photos!

Thanks for the feedback.


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rougeforever
rougeforever
Liz
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)

I have a DSLR and I love it.

The two brand leaders are Canon and Nikon, and pretty much anything you get from them will be good - and do what you need.

When I bought mine, I bought a Sony Alpha. Controversial! I chose it because it looked fun, the lens it came with is VERY versatile (18-70) and it has in-body image stablisation (most cameras have that within the lens). I used to have a fine tremor, and I'm still not too steady a person, so image stabilisation was important to me.

I am very happy with my Sony Alpha. Do include them when you play with cameras in the shop. I bought my dad one when we were in Portland, in the shop opposite the Kimpton Hotel where we stayed.


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)

Deano! Thanks for chiming in, I appreciate the feedback.


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