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Thinking about getting a DSLR


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I currently have a SX210IS camera from Cannon, its a grea camera, has lots of options and such, had it for almost a year, but now im thinking of upgrading to a DSLR in the next few months. Right now im liking the look of the Cannon EOS Rebel T3, are there any suggestions you have for any other camera, and is this a great one? And im looking for something easy, and also video use is important!

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I currently have a SX210IS camera from Cannon, its a grea camera, has lots of options and such, had it for almost a year, but now im thinking of upgrading to a DSLR in the next few months. Right now im liking the look of the Cannon EOS Rebel T3, are there any suggestions you have for any other camera, and is this a great one? And im looking for something easy, and also video use is important!

I have a Canon T1i, and I find it very nice to use. The few downsides are that it is a pain to carry on buses, and there is low FPS in 1080p videos (only 20FPS). I'm not sure if Canon fixed this issue in the T3, but I think it's something worth looking at.

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I have a Canon T1i, and I find it very nice to use. The few downsides are that it is a pain to carry on buses, and there is low FPS in 1080p videos (only 20FPS). I'm not sure if Canon fixed this issue in the T3, but I think it's something worth looking at.

I have a T2i which is the model made after the T1i and it does 30fps 1080p and 60fps 720p, I would imagine the T3 and T3i are the same.

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… now im thinking of upgrading to a DSLR in the next few months. Right now im liking the look of the Cannon EOS Rebel T3, are there any suggestions you have for any other camera, and is this a great one? And im looking for something easy, and also video use is important!
Now, ask yourself why do you want a DLSR?

The main difference between a DLSR and a “point-and-shoot” is that on the DLSR, you can change the lens to suit different needs; be it in the field (not much recommended) or when you get the camera.

If you plan to do the same kind of photography you are doing with your current camera, and you are satisfied with it, why change?

But if you’re not satisfied with it, what is it that you don’t like?

But before saying a DSLR will fix it, are you sure you can’t fix it yourself?

A DSLR is not necessarly a panacea; it is complex to operate, and even in automatic mode, you can screw-up the result. Sometimes, a cheap camera can do a better job.

France_20101128-203501_0849_LeChefDoeuvreDeHittorf.jpg

The picture above, for example, was taken by a little “cheap” point-and-shoot that I knew would do a better job than my big-ass DSLR I had at the time, because it has an integrated image stabilizer, and I could not use the tripod I would have needed to do such a good job.

But a DSLR allows you far more leeway and control, so you can learn to take better pictures.

So you want a DSLR. Okay. Now, all entry-level DSLRs are equivalent. Oh, some are crappier and some are shittier, but they’re mostly a good job.

But wait.

The DSLR’s main feature is the ability to change lens. So you can have several lens and several cameras. Myself, I have 5 lenses and 2 cameras; some lens I had for nearly 25 years and others for 3 months — yet I use them all.

So before you plunge ahead, you may want to consider what you will do next year, 3 years from now, 5, 10 and even 25 years from now.

j10089_QC-VIA_20110606-170502_Cape.jpg

I regularly use my 25 year old lenses; see the picture above, for example. 25 year old lens, 3 month old body (that’s the camera).

So you have to think ahead. That camera you buy will be obsolete in 6 months, and “unusable” in 5 years. Yet the lens will still be good and usable.

Don’t think about the camera first; think about the lenses first. Because the lenses will outlast your camera.

Almost 30 years ago, I got my first Nikon film SLR. Then, 5 years later, I got another one (which I've still got, and I actually used it last summer — because I wasn’t sure my DSLR could cut the mustard — it was a tie, actually). So when I was in the market, I was pretty partial to Nikon.

I nevertheless tried an Olympus, because I had an excellent experience with an Olympus point-and-shoot. But the result was not sufficiently better than the point-and-shoot to make me go this way and forget about my old glass. In truth, it was horrible; that camera was absolutely atrocious compared to what the point-and-shoot did — after all, I had the picture below from the point-and-shoot published in a calendar:

__natasquan_20060716_200131.jpg

So I went for a Nikon DSLR. One good thing with Nikon is that, except for a few exceptions, Nikon lenses will pretty much work on any Nikon camera. A 50 year old lens will fit on my camera, and it will completely work. Not so with Canon. Their digital camera will not work with the old film lenses, I hear.

If you don’t have old glass, of course, you don’t care about that. But 20 years from now, however, **YOU WILL** have old glass. And it might come to bite you in the ass. That’s why you need to think ahead.

Since you can choose a lens and a camera separately, which is the most crucial?

Forget the megapixel race. I just paid nearly $3000 for a professional camera that has “just” 12 megapixels. That’s actually **LESS** megapixels than your tiny SX210IS. Not to brag, but I betcha it cannot take the picture below:

j13447_QC-STM_20110622-122819_Plamondon_1-45deg.jpg

Look closely; there is no grain visible in the picture. And I did not blur it out, you can see the cracks in the concrete. And it looks much brighter than it really is; for a clue, look at the platform further back, they’re almost whited out in light! It was really DARK in there. And I had no tripod either; the picture was taken at 1/60 with a ƒ2.8 lens. But the professional camera yields almost no noise at the 6400 ISO I took the picture at.

The camera has a lot to do with the quality of the picture there.

This is why I took that camera: it works fantastically well in low-light situation, which is the norm in the Métro.

j8687_Art-chitecture_20110529-201354_TourDesVierges.jpg

Now look at this one. It is very sharp; you can see the concrete blemishes up to very far. It was taken with this lens, which has been made for 16 years. But it’s a very good lens (that’s why they still make it nowadays).

The lens has also a lot to do with the quality of the picture.

Megapixels is nearly meaningless; my camera has less pixels on a muuuuch larger area; in fact, my sensor (24x36mm) has 31 times the area of yours (4.5x6.17mm); in fact, my pixels are ≈37 times bigger than yours, which explains why they are much less susceptible to noise, hence the stellar result at ISO 6400. (My mind still boggles; I recall being thrilled with 1600ASA film, like in the picture below):

TunnelAuPuits2.jpg (No, that’s taken with a film camera. And yes, I still use that lens).

In fact, the megapixel race is counterproductive; the more pixels there are, the smaller they have to be, and the smaller they are, the more susceptible they are to catch ambient noise! Plus, huge megapixels counts distract the public from the fact that megapixels is just a very small bit of the quality equation.

My camera takes 4284x2844 pixels pictures (yours takes 4320x3240 pixels); at 300 dpi (about the maximum resolution you can get with a high-quality photo printer), that makes for 14¼" x 9½” pictures. By comparison, a high-quality book is printed at 120 dpi, so you can have a 35⅔” x 23⅔” picture without any loss of quality. That’s huge. Nowadays, people e-mail their pictures or post them on Fesse-Bouc, and over there 1200x750 is huge.

j12069_QC-Oceanex_20110616-061307_ArriveeMontreal.jpg

That’s not even 3 megapixels.

j5169_QC-AF_20110521-173209_A-380.jpg

That, too, is 1200x750[/url] (this is a crop of the actual picture from the camera; it wasn’t even resized at all).

Because your camera will be replaced often, unlike your lenses, you should concentrate your attention to the lenses. It is better to splurge on an expensive lens and get a slightly cheaper body, because you will change your body in 3-4 years. But the lens will still be good; and that’s something you won’t have to buy again when you change your camera; in short, the money you won’t have to spend on a lens can now be spent on a better camera — that’s why my $3000 camera paid off handsomely because if I wanted to get the same functionnality I get from my 25 year old lenses, which I paid about $800 for, I would have to dish out more than $1500 for them, because they don’t make the old lenses anymore. Phewww! What a relief!!! So, spending $800 25 years ago saved me $1500 now. But most significant, if I had chosen to go Canon, I might not have jumped to a full-frame pro camera, because those old lenses weighed significantly in my DSLR choices, both 4 years ago and 2 months ago.

No, I did not calculate that I would ever get a DSLR; 25 years ago, you didn’t even dreamed about thinking about a DSLR. In fact, when digital cameras came about, I was sure that Nikon would eventually come out with a digital back for my film camera. Well, no, I was wrong. Very wrong. That never happenned. I am just lucky because I chose a system that made backwards compatibility it’s mantra. Had I chosen Canon 30 years ago, I would not be there now (in fact, I bought it on my lunch hour, and my boss was with me, and I wanted to buy a Yashica — who remembers Yashica now??? — but my boss kept saying “get a Nikon!” “get a Nikon”, so I got a Nikon — sigh, a FE-2, a very good camera for it’s time; it eventually got stolen, and I cursed the newfangled autofocus Nikon I got aferwards that often didn’t focus correctly).

Given my experience, I’d say go Nikon. But Nikon isn’t without problems; in fact, they were slow to get on the DLSR bandwagon, and their early bodies were atrocious, which made plenty of pros reluctantly swith to Canon. I was initially jittery to go Nikon, even though I already had the lenses, given the bad experience I had with the autofocus film camera of 25 years ago. If you plan to still do this 10 years from now, you have a better chance of keeping your lenses (of course, this is if some absolutely revolutionary breakthrough happens to totally turn photography as we know upside-down…).

But still, look around nevertheless; you never know, you may want to check the newest “micro 4/3” non-reflex interchangeable lens cameras that came out recently; to me, they look like a promising paradigm, because they do away with many of the legacy stuff carried over from film cameras most DSLR sport; my new D-700 feels just like a film camera because it has many things from a film camera: the mirror, the focal-plane shutter, the mechanical diaphragm — I learned photography on a film camera, and I‘m comfortable with a film camera.

But those newfangled have none of this. Just a lens and a sensor, and that looks promising because it does away with the clutter of a DLSR; the mirror, notably, which constrains lens design by forcing them to be far from the sensor (/film) enough to let the mirror go-up.

Okay. Enough theory.

Now, ask yourself what kind of photography you do, or you want or plan to do.

You photograph buses on the street? That’s pretty straightforward; a “simple” kit lens will do.

You like underground subway pictures? That’s more complicated. You need a fast lens that will work in low light, and a wide angle.

You like pictures inside of trains/buses? Fast lens and wide-angle, again.

You want to take pictures of airplanes far enough from the airport not to be deemed a terrorist (oh, it can happen with buses too)? You need a telephoto lens, as fast as possible (to shoot at a higher speed).

The best thing to do is go to look at what’s available, what tickles your fancy the most, then look at internet reviews, like on dpreview.com. Some sites are more specialized, like kenrockwell.com for Nikon.

Get as much opinions as possible to better light your choice.

Don’t assume that more expensive is better. Maybe a cheaper camera will be more appropriate.

Don’t be afraid of asking questions, here or on photo forums.

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For the most part, ^ what he said.

Megapixels are important to a certain extent as they give you more picture to work with which is handy if you want to crop an image and/or if you find you crop your photos a lot. The quality of images from a DSLR sensor is much better than the quality out of ones average P&S. But that said, the quality of the optics in the lens plays a big part too. Because of the sensor, DSLR's also have better high-ISO performance (less grain) as EMDX mentioned above. Handy if you take a lot of pictures under poor lighting conditions like a subway or dark bus terminal.

Most of the lenses you get in your basic DSLR camera kit package are relatively disposable: plastic, fair build quality, easily found because people like to sell them when they upgrade, and they're replaced with newer upgraded versions after a few years. You don't necessarily have to worry about them holding value; it's the more expensive, better performing lenses (think Canon L-lens) that hold their value with age. That said, even the basic ones offer better image quality because of their optics than many of the lenses in P&S cameras.

The Canon FD mount system lenses will not work with their EF mount system. Canon changed the mount type in the 1980's when they came out with electronic autofocus, whereas Nikon kept their lens mount the same and integrated the AF around it. You don't need to worry about this unless you plan to get serious about D/SLR gear, or buy used lenses from eBay etc, or have a stash of old lenses you might want to use. Any manufacturer nowadays considering changing their lens mount would receive a very large negative backlash from their current users, so you don't really have to worry about this.

Look at the basic DSLR's at your local camera shoppe, start out with a basic kit and go from there. Don't worry about buying expensive lenses and camera bodies, but work with what you get until you reach some shortcomings with them. Canon and Nikon are the two big hitters (they offer a wider selection of lenses and camera stuff), but don't rule out Sony, Olympus or the others.

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Canon is awesome for videos mainly, even pictures also. But the Nikon D3100 in my opinion is good too. If you're looking for easy to use, the 3100 has a guide mode to help you with the picture and video features. I say it will help you get started! But then theres the 5100, the newest camera by Nikon. The Only big difference with it is that it has a D7000 sensor stuffed into a smaller body. Everything else is pretty much like all other nikon DSLR's. But i say if you want a good easy entry level DSLR, the 3100 is a good camera to start with if you choose to get it, it shoots 1080HD video, 24-30fps.

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  • 2 months later...
I’ll just add that you can never be wrong by buying an expensive lens before buying an expensive camera.

This. So much this.

Some people look at me funny for using multiple Canon L series lenses on a Rebel XSi camera body. I have never once regret my decision to invest in the glass before investing in a better body (although, now that I primarily have the glass I want, a body upgrade is in the works).

The other thing that you have to remember is that a dSLR will not instantly make you a better photographer. To prove a point - here are two exploring photos I took on similar bridges. The first was taken in May 2009 when I got my Rebel, the second was taken July of this year. Granted, the glass changed significantly between (from a kit lens to an L series), but the point is there.

catwalk3.jpg

IMG_0016.jpg

You tell me which one is preferable. <_<

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This. So much this.

Indeed. Lenses are an investment. A body is disposable.

A lense if taken care of will last almost forever. My father has 40 and 50 year old lenses that work better than some of my new ones. A body, on the other hand, generally has a finite number of movements before the mechanism gets worn out.

Dan

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Indeed. Lenses are an investment. A body is disposable.

A lense if taken care of will last almost forever. My father has 40 and 50 year old lenses that work better than some of my new ones. A body, on the other hand, generally has a finite number of movements before the mechanism gets worn out.

Dan

"Lens", not "Lense". Don't use the urban hipster spelling. <_<

Digital bodies become obsolete after a number of years due to the rapid progression of technology (improved sensors that offer less noise, more megapixels, better design and better options). This doesn't mean that older bodies are bad (they still produce excellent results), but newer ones offer improved performance and improved features.

Also, certain camera-specific accessories (proprietary batteries and camera grips) change from release to release. You could get a camera that is a number of years old, but might have a hard time finding new or replacement batteries for it. While Canon's and Nikon's lens and flash systems are designed to be compatible with all of their Digital SLR cameras (with some minor exceptions), batteries and grips only 2-3 select cameras at best.

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