View Full Version : Jumping into the digital world.

02-01-2008, 07:46 PM
I am looking to buy my first DSLR camera as a replacement for my venerable Nikon F3 set-up which was stolen while I was hospitalized.

Photography is strictly a hobby for me and I have no desire to use it as a source of income. One of my other hobbies, computers, is now my vocation and I find it not nearly as enjoyable as it use to be.

Most of the people I associate with are film zealots, but the few hobbyists I have spoken to locally about digital photography rave about the Canon Rebel XTi and I have heard some good things about the Nikon DSLRs.

I will not be buying my camera until April as I will be burdened with physical therapy until then. Any suggestions of cameras to look at would be greatly appreciated, I am open-minded towards brands and have set a personal price limit of $2000 for the body. Thanks in advance for the advice.

02-01-2008, 09:32 PM
Hmmm, starting over with 2000 to spend... I guess our first question would be what type of photography interests you most? You said that 2000 was your limit for the body, but what is your limit for the lenses? Are you aware of the difference in size of the sensor in the XTi compared to 35mm film and how that will affect your choice in focal lengths?

Oh, and the replacement for the XTi has just been announced. The new model is called the Xsi.

02-01-2008, 10:55 PM
Welcome to the 21st century. :)
Digital photography will treat you well.
It's a pity with your job and computer use because with DP a computer becomes a very important piece of equipment.
I agree with Nick, the XSi comes out in April. The XTi is a good camera, but be sure to check out other cameras in the same range, especially now as so many new Dslrs are being introduced. This is one of the things you'll need to get used to in DP, the top Dslr today will be in the clearance bin within a few weeks (not literally, but close :()

Other expenses you may have to consider; image editing software, if you already have a computer then a high quality monitor.

A word of warning; having a film slr has not prepared you for digital. Your F3 taught you about the physical side of the camera (eg. which end to look into, how to change lenses), the digital world is much vaster; ISO, white balance, noise reduction and so on. It's best to get a book geared specifically towards Dslrs.

Canon, Pentax, Sony all have new gear coming out in April, I would wait to see how that pans out.

Hope I didn't scare you :eek: I threw myself into DP (AE-1 owner) and was shocked by how much I had to learn.

Enjoy the ride

02-02-2008, 06:02 PM
I second fotogmarc. I took film class for a year and i thought digital would be a breeze in comparison. Boy was i wrong. Digital introduces a new host of issues. Monitor quality/calibration, figuring out how you are going to store and/or catalogue your pics.

Sometimes to get the best out of a shot you will have to do some editing. That being said there are plenty of programs out there and some are more in depth than others. Basic ones like Picassa to Photoshop. What you like will all depend on how much you want to spend editing your shots.

Lots of new models are rolling out in the next few months, so you can wait for those or pick up an older one at a cheaper price. Im sure you know good glass beats having a good body any day.

Be aware of the little hidden costs of digital... memory cards, photo editing software, monitor calibrators, etc etc.

Use your time in PT to figure out your needs and learn more. This site is a good start, lots of smart folks (for the most part) and i learned a lot from browsing and asking questions myself.

Good luck with your rehab.

02-02-2008, 08:13 PM
Thanks to all for the responses,

Noobie error on my part for not stating my photography interests. Most of my photography revolves around the outdoors, mostly wildlife in action, although I do enjoy the occasional panoramic shot. One of my favorite activities is hiking. I have hiked the Grand Canyon North Rim to South Rim the previous four years and always find new and incredible things to shoot. I have also found southern Oklahoma to be a great place to shoot.

As for a price limit for lenses, I have not really established a limit. To be honest I am a bit out of touch with the cost of good glass, as every lens I bought I had owned since at least 1995. I figure when I start to physically look at cameras I will start to get an idea of what lenses are going to cost. This of course will be a factor in what camera I buy. Since I do this as a hobby, I have always held myself to a rule, if you want it, be able to pay cash for it. This of course means it sometimes takes a while to get the accessory I want or feel I need. My plan is to get a basic lens, such as the 18-55 with the XTi, and learn digital photography's nuances with it before I move on to additional lenses, although the variety and quality of lenses available is a factor in my choosing a camera.

I have read a few things on the XSi and it looks promising to say the least. it also does not come out until April which is right around my time to buy.:D

I will be checking out as many cameras as I can before I purchase.

Computers have taught me quite well about obsolescence.

The additional expenses are always a killer, fortunately some of the expenses have already been taken care of. I have Photoshop CS2 from when I was archiving my parents and grandparents old photos and have experimented with GIMP in Linux, CS2 is superior in my opinion. As for a high quality monitor, I was looking at the Samsung XL20 to replace my Dell 20" LCD before I was hospitalized and will most likely pull the trigger this week.

My girlfriend has given me her Nikon Coolpix S51 to play with. I will use it to shoot photos of the birds, squirrels, and rabbits along the nearby walking trail. I figure it will serve the purpose of helping me to learn some aspects of digital photography. In addition, I have been browsing the net for books on the subject as well.

The AE-1 is a great camera when I got my F3 it was between it and the AE-1. Ultimately, in came down to the F3 felt more comfortable in my hands.

As for storing photos, I built a Linux file server out of an old computer to store music and videos last summer, I am sure it won't mind photos as well and cataloguing photos will just give me a chance to put my database skills to good use.

Once again thanks for the responses.

02-03-2008, 11:07 AM
At first I wasn't going to post anything because your budget and experience appear much higher than mine. Now, I see you are looking for a camera for the same types of uses as I am. If you are hiking, you might prefer a small light camera and lenses with only a few lenses to cover both wide and telephoto. Generally, smaller and lighter mean less expensive, so when you said $2000 you were going to get a lot of suggestions for large, heavy cameras.

After much research, I decided that Olympus is a great brand for your (our) application. Their cameras are fairly small, with built in image stabilization. They don't have many lenses, but the ones they do are small, light, and high quality and cover an excellent range with just a few. They tend to be weather sealed. An E-3 or E-510 with a 12-60mm f2.8-4 lens and 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens would cover from panoramic 24mm to superzoom 600mm with just two small, light, high quality lenses. Stabilized all the way, that's almost impossible to beat for the size and weight.

My other suggestion is a Sony a700.

02-03-2008, 12:16 PM
Thanks for the reply,

I will be the first to admit my budget is a bit on the high side for the first purchase of a hobby camera. Since, I am just starting to search for cameras, I figure it is better to give myself a wider budgetary range and later narrow it down as I figure out what cameras meet my needs. I have no real intention of spending that much unless only a camera it that range will meet my needs. If an $800 camera will do the job I need it to do, by all means I will buy it and use the savings on better glass and accessories.

You make an excellent point on size and weight. Given my interests, it is definitely a significant factor to take under consideration.

I am checking out a local shop tomorrow to get a hands-on look at some cameras. I called them up yesterday afternoon to inquire as to what cameras they have. I was told that they have the Olympus E-510 but not the E-3, although I have read some very good reviews of the Olympus E-3. I will also be paying special attention to the Sony's due to the fact I have never even seen a Sony photo camera outside of a cellphone. This should give me a great chance to compare them side by side with the Canon and Nikon offerings.

I will be making a trip to Fort Worth for the NASCAR race and will check out the DFW shops to fill in the blanks.

02-03-2008, 12:35 PM

This is a review I just found. The reviewer uses and compares an Olympus E-510, Sony A700, and Canon D20 (with passing reference to an XTI) at the same event. It was actually very interesting.

02-03-2008, 03:50 PM
Do you have any glass for your F3?

The d300 seems like it would be an amazing body for you. It's on the pricier side but it does offer the best AF system and body design in the sub 2K market.

The 40D is also a nice camera but it really depends on your invested glass. If you have some nice nikon glass I'd say the D300 would be an idiot proof buy.


02-05-2008, 12:37 AM
A very good review you found there Raven.

Tim, I have no glass from the F3, all of my F3 gear was in a travel/storage case.

I checked out a local camera shop today and managed to get my hands on the Sony offerings. My initial impression of the A100 was that it almost feels like a toy, the A700 on the other had had a great feel to it with a excellent layout of the controls in my opinion.

I had a chance to play with Canon's as well. The XTi is a very nice camera for the price, I can see why it is so popular. The 40D was also a very good camera in my opinion with a very solid feel to it. Although it is outside my price limit, I took a look at the 5D was simply amazed, then again at the local shops price of $2500, I should be amazed.

As for the Nikon offerings, the D40x had a similar toy-like feel that the A100 previously had. The D80 was just a notch below the XTi, either camera would be a great choice for an entry level camera. The D200 and D300 were great cameras as well and physically I did not notice much of a difference.

I also got to play with the Olympus E-510, it felt better than the A100 but not nearly as good as the A700. The salesman was also trying to steer me away from the E-510, he claimed that they have more E-510s returned than any other DSLR in the store.

I asked the salesman what he shoots and he shoots an E-3 with his old XT as a backup. He offered to bring his E-3 in later in the week for me to check it out, he also said they can order one for me if needed. I also asked for recommendation for me and he suggested if I waiting for the XSi if available lenses and other accessories is a priority. I could then either purchase an XSi or an XTi which should drop in price. If I am looking for the best camera in my price range, he suggested the E-3.

All in all, I was very impressed with the DSLRs that are out there. I think I am going to really enjoy the hunt.

Once again thanks for the replies.