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What is a good DSLR to start with?

17 Apr 2012 10:13PM
Hello! I'm looking into buying a DSLR for my A2 (Year 13/Grade 12) Photography course as well as to carry on to University (as I plan on getting a BA Hons and eventually a Masters in Commercial/Contemporary Photography). I'm thinking of either a Cannon or Nikon but I have no idea what sort of model would be the best to start with (I would like something that's easy enough to operate but not so easy that I feel like I'm still using my schools Fujifilm). As well if you could recommend any good, affordable lenses that would be amazing.

Any advice on this would be fantastic! Grin

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f11digital 15 98 1 United Kingdom
17 Apr 2012 11:10PM
It really depends on your budget. For a 1000 I would go for either a Canon 60D or a Nikon D7000 with the kit lens. If your budget is only half that, then go for either the Canon 600D or the Nikon D5100. Cheaper still are the Canon 550D or the Nikon D3100. Whether you go for Canon or Nikon is a personal choice. My recommendation is to pop into your local Jessops or Jacobs and try both brands of camera and see which one 'feels' right in your hands.

StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
18 Apr 2012 2:58AM
I just sold a Canon 600D, not because I didn't like it, because I couldn't find the right combination of Camera and lens for a price I'm prepared to pay. The 600D has everything, I highly recommend it.
User_Removed 8 299 4 France
18 Apr 2012 8:34AM
I see you list Paignton as your fave location...if you live near there you have Mifsuds quite close...if not it may help to visit a good secondhand dealer in your area (ask some one with experience to go with you if possible) cos you could find a cheap used dslr and some impressive second hand glass to fit it...my honest belief is not to pay for too many bells and whistles on the latest kit whilst earlier models are given away at very low prices...a further tip I have passed on to friends is the "dummies" series of books...a mate in the UK bought a second hand Nikon d90 and a copy of the d90 for dummies and has found it great.....stuart
NEWDIGIT 7 401 United Kingdom
18 Apr 2012 8:53AM
Hello Maddy,
John (f11digital) has got it spot on if you are buying from new.Canon or Nikon its a personal choice.
As for lenses stick with the kit lens at first then as your knowledge extends and you settle into your course you will have more of an idea as to what lens combinations you need to do your course work, a good totor should be able to advise on this.
Secondhand can be a good way to go as there are some good deals out there on the various sites but do not get drawn into an auction frenzy and watch the prices as some people are expecting prices close to and in some cases over the new price.
Good luck with the course
collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
18 Apr 2012 9:02AM
I dont agree with IKKY - I think you should not waste money on a kit lens, 1) they are of doubtful quality and 2) they are limited by what the manufacturer thinks you want.

My suggestion would be to put tthe money towards a good quality lens with a reasonable zoom and I would go for a 18-200 or 28-200 this would cover most ranges and you would probably not need another one for a very long time if at all, unless you are going to specialise into Macro or Archtecture work or so. Another benfit of buying a lens in that range is that you will not need to keep changing lenses and so you will not get dust on the sensor.

AS for the camera, there are so many really good ones out there from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds and if you stick with the big brands you will not be dissapointed.
digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
18 Apr 2012 9:31AM

Quote:I dont agree with IKKY - I think you should not waste money on a kit lens, 1) they are of doubtful quality and 2) they are limited by what the manufacturer thinks you want.

That may have been the case a few years ago but these days kit lenses are normally very good. Okay they may not be as good as Canon L glass or Nikon pro series, but for example the Nikon D7000 has an 18-105mm VR kit lens which produces excellent results. The old Nikon 18-70 kit lens was so good people used to buy it independent of whatever body they had.

An 18-200 lens is good as a general walkabout, I have the Nikon 18-200VR, but they are not cheap and I would not recommend one as a starter lens. The OP would be better advised to consider getting the kit lens and using it until they discover what type of photography they like to do and which end of the focal length range they need. There are plenty of 2nd hand lens bargains around if you do a bit of searching.

Maddy - if I was starting again I would definitely go for an 18-105 kit. I don't have any knowledge of Canon but the Nikon 18-105 VR is certainly a good one. If you decide you really want to do some wide angle landscapes the Sigma 10-20 is an extremely popular and affordable lens, I have one myself and they produce lovely results. At the long end things get more expensive, so you need to have a good idea what you want before you take the plunge. Zooms never produce results as good as primes, but are popular because of their flexibility. The Nikon 70-200VR is excellent but hellishly expensive.

Having said all that, if you buy your kit second hand you could end up with a body and a few lenses for the price of the new kit anyway.

Most important is to do your research and have fun.

cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
18 Apr 2012 1:22PM

Quote:I think you should not waste money on a kit lens, 1) they are of doubtful quality and 2) they are limited by what the manufacturer thinks you want

You obviously have not bought or used a kit lens recently.....Sad

I had a play with a Nikon 18-55 ED/VR, So called kit lens....Grin For what it cost as part of the kit package, It performed superbly in all respects, PLUS, As part of the kit it only stood the proud owner in for 60 quid more than a body only option, Now where are you going to get a half decent used lens for that money, Let alone a brand new makers own item.....!!!!!!!!!!!

The problem with forum information these days is its more a case of weeding out the " Misinformation " , Or finding a decent review that has no bias.....Wink
petemasty 9 155 England
7 May 2012 10:55AM
Kit lenses should not be knocked. I pixel peeped between a canon 15-85mm on my Canon 7d, and the Pentax 18-55 on my Pentax Kr both at the same aperture and focal length on the same subject,and can honestly say are cropping the image in half and then printing the crop at a3 I could not make out any discernible difference. Some will no doubt question my judgment and/or eyesight, but I can honestly say, hand on heart, there was no difference in my eyes.

Kit lenses give very good image quality. However, they perform their best at certain apertures and focal lengths, but so do most lenses.

As for a good beginners dslr, I would recommend a Pentax Kr. Downgraded from Canon 7d for it (went back to Pentax). That said, I don't think you could go wrong with any entry level dslr to be honest.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
7 May 2012 11:29AM
Unfortunately, a photographer needs experience before he or she knows whether a camera is the right one. I'm not sure that "expert" advice will help.

When She-who-must-be-obeyed started to photograph weddings, she used the company kit. Although of top quality, she didn't like using it but she did gain a firm idea of what sort of camera she did and didn't want. Six months later, she was in a good position to choose her own kit. More important, she chose the right kit for her needs.

Maddy, when you start, borrow kit if you can. This way, you don't waste money while forming your preferences. At first, When She-who-must-be-obeyed couldn't understand what professionals tended to use top-end bodies and wide aperture zooms which are heavy and costly. But after using the company kit for a few months, she did.

The other way is to start with a secondhand camera because you'll get most of your money back when you sell.

As for Nikon or Canon, handle them both and go with whichever feels better. Don't give in to any temptation to change if the other marque brings out a better camera. Nikon and Canon leap-frog each other and, a few months down the line, you'll want to change back again.
Carabosse 15 41.1k 270 England
7 May 2012 12:47PM
And don't even assume a DSLR is what you need. A 'Compact System Camera', e.g. Olympus/Panasonic Micro 4/3, Sony NEX, Pentax K-01 may suit you better than a DSLR so you may want to look into those options. Not necessarily a cheap option though.

The cheapest option is still an entry level DSLR with a kit lens, e.g. Canon 1100D + 18-55mm IS lens at just over 300 new. Which is less than some compact cameras.

Think of how much you are prepared to spend and work backwards from that. Smile
8 May 2012 8:28PM
I have the 600D and although I love it I never held it before purchasing. It is on the small side, the contoured thumb position on the back "just" takes my thumb without squashing buttons.
The downside of that though is unless the Nikon 5100 feels any different you may or could end up with a camera that feels right but is less of a camera "In that price bracket"
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
9 May 2012 6:07PM
It would be interesting to see what the university recommends as the kit they have may steer your decision if you use their lenses and radio triggers etc.

For Commercial photography you may end up with wide angle lenses and Tilt shift lenses - i think (but not sure) that canon have the edge on lenses in this this area.
For Contemporary Photography the lens choice is less critical.

But whilst you are at school/college you may consider portability and discreteness better criteria. Maybe a smaller Sony NEX 5 or an Canon G1x - i bet Nikon have a similar product too.

One thing though, a digital camera with manual mode is essential to learn on, but you will out grow it and want a new one if you stay on track, also the technology is still rapidly changing every few years. So do consider buying 2nd hand or reconditioned as you'll want to spend more later.

Good luck
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
9 May 2012 6:22PM
I would check what is recommended for your course. It is probably best you hold off on purchasing till you need to. See what kit they have and what you can borrow. I know someone doing a photography degree now who is not using a digital camera.

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