DSLR purchase help

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by benyflyguy, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    I am in need of a new camera. I am probably the last person in the world to purchase a DSLR camera. I have been using Sony HD camera/vid recorder for over 10 years. In its day was a great purchase- great HD 1080i recording. Worked well for awhile. I still think it’s fine but, admittedly, it is showing it’s age and my wife is convinced I need a new one. She was going to just get one- a haunting proposal!
    Problem is that there are so many choices that that it is overwhelming. I am not looking for something big/fancy/state of the art/camera. I don’t really do any photo editing other then cropping once I take a pic (don’t know how to). I thought of taking a class at a local Community college but just no time for that.
    What am I looking for??
    What are the things to watch out for?
    I use a MacBook Air for home cpu use if that makes a difference.
     
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  2. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack Pattern Altitude

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    I'm a Canon guy. Based on what you've said, the Canon 7D is a really nice camera that is expensive, but not as expensive as others. I think I've got over $10K in cameras and $4K in lenses, not to mention batteries, memory cards, etc. I would spend some time on camera reviews and POTN is a great forum where you'll be able to get a lot advice.
     
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  3. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    What is your budget?

    Do you want it primarily for photos or for video work?

    DPReview is a pretty good forum for this type of question. Same with Reddit.

    Panasonic makes some really nice stuff across all price ranges (especially if you want to do video and photo). I thought about a Panasonic GH5 or Sony a7R, but those get fairly pricey.
     
  4. skier

    skier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Why do you want an SLR? What are you looking for it to do that a your phone won’t. What do you like taking photos of? Are you using your current one for the video capabilities?
     
  5. azblackbird

    azblackbird Cleared for Takeoff

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    When I was heavy into photography it was usually the other way around for me. I had about $15k in lens and close to $10k in camera bodies (which are now basically worthless). Still have all my EF lens that will fit most of the new Canon bodies though, so I'll be keeping them.
     
  6. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack Pattern Altitude

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    I think that’s how most photographers are. Since most of my photos are air-to-air or static shots of planes, I got rid of a lot of my lenses that didn’t fit that need and upgraded to the top-of-the line Canon DSLR.
     
  7. azblackbird

    azblackbird Cleared for Takeoff

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    Gotta admit... you definitely have the eye. :thumbsup:
     
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  8. Sinistar

    Sinistar Cleared for Takeoff

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    These are fun, get to spend your money :)

    You've survived a long time with a fixed lens. So you can always buy another fix lens camera. The Canon G series are good. I really like the Sony RX10 series as the Sony's have the best imagers and often use nice lenses. The RX100 is a awesome small pocket camera. All of those options are easy to use and also shoot great video.

    As for SLR's, you can go true DSLR or Mirrorless. I ditched my Canon DSLR and now have a Sony A7RII but I still use my Canon lenses. I love the resolution and dynamic range of the Sony Imagers. The A6xxx series are much smaller and still interchangeable.

    I think you should narrow down the search based on the maximum size/weight you are willing to haul around. And your budget.

    My camera might "Out resolution" @Lowflynjack but his autofocus system and lenses will result in a better picture for his needs and time constraints.

    If you want sharp eyes in focus foregrounds and buttery smooth backgrounds you're gonna want a DSLR or Mirrorless system and a lens or two that are more expensive.

    If you want to take lots of shots of distance objects, just remember that even that huge white 500mm lens from Canon is only like 10x optical zoom. But the fixed lens systems can reach out way farther for less and much, much lighter. That would be the Sony RX10 or its other equivalents.

    My friend really likes his Fuji system. A bit smaller, no mirror, takes great pictures with little need for post processing.

    Good luck. All cameras are darned good right now. Sony owns the imager. Canon owns the lens line-up, good colors and just nailing skin tones. Nikons have great ergonomics, fast focusing systems and a great lens line up. Panasonic's are excellent for being smaller with good image and fantastic video capability.
     
  9. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    I just went through this with our recent college graduate god-niece. IMO DSLRS (and mirrorless) provide no real benefit to a novice photographer. They are complex, heavy and expensive. I once spent cocktail-hour time in the Galapagos with an English doctor who had bought a big Nikon. What I taught him was how depth of field worked. This is kindergarten photographer stuff. The good doctor had never had his camera switched off of fully automatic and was terrified of screwing up if he tried to use any of the features. Basically this big expensive camera was an impediment to his learning photography.

    Good photography is first about light, then about composition. My wife has a Panasonic ZS-50 and it is a fabulous camera. I once had a Canon G10, also fabulous. There are some technical tricks that I can do with my $$$ micro four-thirds equipeent but when we come back from a trip, my wife's pictures and mine are technically almost identical. Yes, my M43 and many DSLRs will have higher image resolution, but this will not show up until one is making enlargements larger than maybe 20 inches on the short side.

    Another thing I have learned is that the first thing I buy often just teaches me what I really wanted. So, @benyflyguy, I would suggest buying a fairly basic camera, taking some classes, and most importantly look at photographs. The other thing is this: The best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you want to take the picture. You will not be carrying a large and heavy SLR nearly as often as you will carry a smaller, simpler one.
     
  10. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    Kids, family, usual stuff I guess. Nothing terribly fancy. I have an iPhone X. Takes great pics until
    It’s time to print them or crop and zoom a bit.we like printing our pics and iPhone pics just don’t print great. I still use the video for video but for whatever reason it is not taking great pics anymore.
     
  11. Sinistar

    Sinistar Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm leaning towards a Sony RX100, there are several variants. About the size of a deck of cards, fantastic image and great video. That later models even have pop up viewfinder so you can actually see what you are doing in bright light. Non-photographer-spouses (wives) don't usually want to grab the husbands DSLR. But if its a tiny point and shoot like size she'll probably use it a lot. My Nikon buddy probably takes 90% of his pictures with this and he always has it on him when out and about doing stuff that might be photo worthy.

    Second vote would be for a Fuji (not the highest model) but with a interchangeable lens that is like 24-70. If you are having fun with it then get a prime lens (35mm or 50mm) for some fun shallow depth of field people pics. Great pics right out the camera and prints well up to 8x10 at the minimum.

    I don't use 4/3 or micro 4/3 so someone else should chime in there.
     
  12. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think the others hit many of the points. From my perspective....

    1) plan on spending more on the glass (lenses) than the camera body. I've probably got 3x the value of the body in glass.
    2) you will get locked into a system (Canon, Nikon, etc) because of lens compatibility. I'm locked to Canon.
    3) the photographer is the biggest part of the equation - do you know how to compose, handle light, depth of field and other things? A good photographer with "inferior" gear will outperform an amateur with the most expensive gear most all the time.
    4) mirror less is a good option these days, especially if you travel. Great photos are possible, it's lighter, and most have interchangeable lenses.
    5) if you go the DSLR route, consider a full-frame camera, like the Canon 6D. Yes, a smaller sensor will work, but the full frames have gotten to the point where it's not outrageous. The lower magnification if you want to print the picture (or crop or edit it) is worthwhile. Mirror less are generally small sensor frames.
    6) if going for long lenses, get a camera and lens capable of image stabilization. All the difference in the world. Also worthwhile for short lenses at wide aperture.
    7) wifi and remote shooting capability are good. Some cameras have it built in or you can use something like Camranger.
     
  13. keen9

    keen9 Pre-Flight

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    If you just want nice photos from the automatic settings, buy a good point and shoot camera.
     
  14. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Lots of variables. I use both Canon and Nikon products in my line of work. A LOT depends on what you want to use it for.
     
  15. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Since you already have an iPhone X and its camera is already quite good, make sure you buy something that can do what the iPhone X cannot. To me, the biggest thing that speaks to that point is long range zoom.
     
  16. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I was SLR for a lot of years (Nikon film). Then I went digital with a compact Nikon PHD (push here, dummy). It's been good for a long time, but I miss the ability to get any priority settings. A few weeks ago I was trying to get a night shot of something, but I don't have the ability to set the shutter speed or set it for any kind of manual exposure configuration. All I get are "auto" or "scene" and none of those always do what I want. As long as I stay inside the design limitations of that camera I can get a lot of good images. There are ways to get into the settings so I can force a shallow depth of field, but a better camera would have those settings easier to get to. I went to the wedding of a friend's daughter and got a lot of good low-light pictures but I had to spend a lot of time tweaking camera settings and a better camera would have the dials, knobs, and buttons right there. I don't have the eye for being a good photographer, I'm just not artistic enough for that, but I do want to be able to make the technical adjustments. Cell phone cameras can take nice pictures, but they don't have the same configurations that a dedicated camera will have.

    I've been looking at either a small DSLR instead of a full frame, mainly for price. But those mirrorless cameras are really nice and compact.
     
  17. simtech

    simtech Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    About 6ish years ago I thought I needed a new camera. I didnt need a full frame camera so I saved there but what I got was the Canon T1i when it first came out. Then I got a macro lens, telephoto, and a general walk around lens. Then it became apparent....I do not like lugging all that crap around for a general daily use camera. I was not getting into photography but was rather just using it when we went on trips and what not.

    Then we went to the grand canyon and said no way am I talking it down below the rim for 3 days, it will break and its all heavy. So..enter my camera phone, and back then they weren't as good as they are now. But unless your zooming in on some good detail there was not alot of difference to be honest. So now a days my wife an I always have our phones and that is our camera. I have a new T1i set up and all the lenses sitting around doing nada. Oh well I like to travel lite and a DSLR is anything but. But that's just my opinion.
     
  18. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    Pretty much any modern camera will work fine for most people whether from Canon or Nikon. I have a 7D2 and an older Rebel XSi that I still use sometimes. The XSi still gives nice images. The person using the camera makes more of a difference than the camera itself. The different SLR cameras have features which some optimization for different types of photography- landscapes, wildlife, sports with a great deal of overlap.

    In the quoted information below, POTN = https://photography-on-the.net/forum/
    They have good information overload, and real-world images for the different cameras and lenses.

    I'm pretty sure you mean 7D2 as that is one of the current Canon lineup; second iteration of the 7D.
     
  19. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    All great advice, but I'll offer a counterpoint to #5 regarding full frame sensors. The smaller sensors also have excellent quality these days and unless you're enlarging to poster size, the magnification isn't really an issue. The kicker is that the smaller sensors can offer an advantage when buying glass. If you use a sub-frame camera but buy glass for a full frame camera, you can get outstanding lens performance.

    Much of the distortion and artifacts from a lens appears on the edges of the image. Using a smaller sensor with full frame glass crops out the distortion on the edges; you're always using the sweet part of the glass.

    For example, I have a Canon with an APS-C sensor, but almost all of my glass is EF, not EF-S. Used Canon EF glass can be picked up for a song, since it's been around since film days, and those older lenses do a beautiful job on a cropped sensor. One of my favorite older lenses is the Canon EF 70-210mm f4 zoom. It can be picked up cheap ( https://www.ebay.com/i/392148724083?chn=ps ) and does a superb job on a cropped sensor.

    I have several of the lenses reviewed here https://petapixel.com/2014/09/18/ol...sharp-canons-best-lenses-you-dont-know-about/ and I've been very happy with them. You can get some great glass without spending a fortune and a cropped sensor eliminates some of the remaining flaws.
     
  20. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I've got a Canon T5i that I've had for a few years now. I think they're up to the T7i now. My everyday carry lens is the 18-135mm. The kit lenses that came with it are an 18-50 mm and a 55-250 mm. Or is that an 18-70 and 75-250? I can't remember, it's been so long since I used them, especially the short one. The nice thing about the T5i (and, I assume, the T7i) is that they also shoot 1080p video. This is their entry level camera.

    The T5i replaced my first DSLRs, a Sony A100 and A200. I got the A100 so early in it's run that I had Sony engineers looking carefully at it in an EMC standards committee meeting in Paris in January 2007. It was my first camera with image stabilization and that feature worked great. The Sonys had the stabilization in the camera body, Canon puts it in the lens. Their kit lenses were plastic, and the focus mechanism in the short one died in 2009 while we were in Israel. Fortunately, I had an old Olympus C-740 point and shoot with a built in 10x optical zoom lens as a backup for that trip. Bought the A200 as soon as we got home to overcome a problem in the A100 body (due to me dropping it) and to get a new lens (they were just phasing out the A200 and the lenses weren't available anymore). The A200 still works, but why shoot with a 10.1 Mpixel body when you can shoot with an 18 Mpixel one instead? :D

    Happy choosing. There are plenty of options to look at (as you have noticed).
     
  21. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    If it looks good on screen but bad in print then perhaps there's some cleanup in software you can do before sending it to the printer? Or maybe it's the printer?

    Is the lens clean?
     
  22. chartbundle

    chartbundle Line Up and Wait

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    These days if I didn't have a glass investment, I'd be looking at the mirrorless stuff rather than SLRs, smaller, lighter, sometimes cheaper. Sony is probably by far the leader, but the others are coming up.
     
  23. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    I've read the Canon EOS R mirrorless takes EFS lenses with an adapter, and they are reported to work very well on that camera.
    As I don't know what mount you already own, that may not be very useful information to you.
     
  24. chartbundle

    chartbundle Line Up and Wait

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    I have Nikon, and they did just release their new full frame mirrorless line and adapter, it's a bit out of budget for right now.
     
  25. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I've been an SLR then DSLR owner for 35 years and what I tell most of my friends is not to buy a SLR unless they like lugging around a backpack full of stuff and having to change lenses at awkward times while always being seen as being the guy with the expensive camera (i.e. a target for criminals). All the while annoying your friends when you repeatedly slow them down to change lenses...

    There is a lot of stuff out there in the $300-$500 range that will do 99.5% of what most people want their DSLR to do, but at a fraction of the price and with a lot more convenience. The one feature I look for in any point and shoot or superzoom/bridge camera (that's BHphotovideo.com's name for the category) is shutter lag. There is nothing worse than missing action shots because the camera doesn't respond fast enough to capture the correct moment...
     
  26. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    If it will take EFS lenses, it probably should work with EF as well, shouldn't it? Generally better glass, more choices, and more used lenses available.
     
  27. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes, the crop sensors have good quality, but full still offers a bit more quality. But I would agree that most won't notice the difference. I'm working on some stuff where hi-Rez film quality is needed. And I do own both a crop sensor (7D) and full frame (5D Mark III). Thee difference is noticeable, even on smaller screen. I do shoot in raw.

    There is some debate as to whether full-frame (EF) glass is appropriately optimized for small sensor as it is for full frame. The biggest difference I notice is in autofocus. I have set the micro adjustment for each lens in the camera. I shoot L glass and was surprised to see the amount of micro adjustment was required for one lens. I tried one of the lenses in the petapixel article and it doesn't even come close... That said, if one never shoots L glass, one will not seethe comparison. Again, one really needs to compare the two to really notice.

    Some of the shortcomings can be adjusted out with post processing software, like DXO optics.

    All that said, for the casual photographer what I have is overkill. I'd be thinking a mirror less if I were the OP.
     
  28. atbroome

    atbroome Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yep, EF and EF-S. When an EF-S is mounted, the camera automatically goes into crop mode. The new crop mirrorless lenses (EF-M) are not supported.
     
  29. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    @benyflyguy

    Go here: https://www.dpreview.com/buying-guides

    They ask you the basic questions, and step you through it. Based on your comments so far; get a point and shoot. No need to get big and heavy gear that you will not lug around. Based on the subtle comments that you are not really using your old video system, I am willing to bet the size and weight come into play a lot.

    Oh, this is fun. I never knew there are so many photo nuts in aviation. I am on a few photo forums (dpreview.com, thephotoforum.com and www.lightroomqueen.com/community)

    Tim
     
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  30. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    Small point for the OP: I could agree with calling a cell phone camera "point and shoot" but most of the small cameras these days include advanced features, are quite capable of manual operation and may even include special features like automatic panoramas. The ZS50 and G10 that I mentioned are far beyond "point and shoot" and I'd bet that the cameras that @tspear has in mind are too despite his using the term. If you get one of those smaller cameras you will have plenty of advanced features to play with and confuse yourself, probably too many.
     
  31. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The very best camera is the one you have with you when you want to take a picture. I used a Minolta SLR for years but it wasn't something I carried with me so there were lots of shots I missed. I got tired of lugging around 15 lbs of camera, lenses, filters, film, and tripods so I finally got rid of the camera. I switched to small point and shoot cameras but they, also, stayed home most of the time. Enter the smart phone and now I always have a camera with me. My Samsung S8+ includes some advanced features (ISO, 'shutter' speed, white balance, and focus priority mode along with HDR, slo-mo, super slo-mo, hyperlaps, virtual 3D and panorama. Image sizes are about 2 megs so they should blow up relatively well. I have been very happy with this as my primary camera. I think there are other cameras that have higher res and you can buy after market stick on lenses that should provide different focal lengths (and better pics).
    Cameras are like planes...there is no 'best' camera. If you really want to go DSLR, think about buying used (cheap) and see if you really like/need/want all the settings, lenses, and stuff.
    Side note: My Minolta was the easiest thing in the world to use. Set if for full manual, aperture priority, or shutter priority and the camera handled most of the rest; one switch, one knob, focus, click. It even had lines on the lenses that helped you see the depth of field based on Fstop. Simple, elegant, intuitive. When I worked with a Nikon DSLR...so...many...menus...deal lord, just give me a knob that has one function! I understand why so many people just put them into auto mode and never look back.
     
  32. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    I don't know about Nikons, but one thing I love about my Canon is that the controls are very customizable. Yes, there are menus and nested menus galore, but for those things I actually need and use the camera is set up so I can access them with a single button click, and I have a customized user menu that contains other functions I use from time to time.

    My point-and-shoot camera (a Kodak), on the other hand, is a PITA when I need to access functions. It has almost as many options as my DSLR, but it has very few external controls so it uses deeply nested menus. Yes, you can change the color balance, but you won't do it quickly and will spend time searching through menus. But for quick photos of decent quality using auto mode, it does great and I can drop it into my pocket. It's terrific when working on some project for documenting something quickly.

    I suppose it all comes down to how much effort someone is willing to put into photography. It takes time and practice to make good use of a complex camera, and with modern automated cameras that effort is really not necessary for the casual shooter who just wants decent pictures of his kid's ballgame or birthday party.