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Old 2012-12-30, 02:06   Link #1
Suomi
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DSLR camera for a beginner, under $500

I'm looking to step up to a DSLR camera, because I'm tired of my point and shoot--it doesn't give me enough control and it often acts up. I'm a beginning photographer, but I know more than the average person, from being on yearbook staffs. I'm looking for a camera that will give me a good range of control over shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and exposure, with a good zoom. I don't really want to invest in any extra lenses yet. My budget is about $500, ideally. New or used.
What (more specifically) should I look for in a good DSLR, and where is the best place to get one (is ebay a good place to buy?), how much I should expect to buy, and what would be a good camera for me?
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Old 2012-12-30, 03:04   Link #2
Hiroi Sekai
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Usually people look between Canon and Nikon for DSLR cameras. A good zoom will come from buying different lenses (you'll probably get a 50mm or so with the camera), but I find cameras like the Rebel series are at a nice price range for starting off.

Obviously, more megapixels will allow for cleaner pictures, but it's best to go into the store and ask for a few opinions. Now might be a good time during Boxing Week to save, since I saw a few great cameras getting up to $300 off in sales. Unfortunately, zoom on a DSLR is physical, so buying a zoom lens will be necessary for longer distances.

G'luck! ^^
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Old 2012-12-30, 04:33   Link #3
0utf0xZer0
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What country do you live in? If you're in the US or know someone who can take delivery for you in the US (like I do), you can get some amazing deals on Amazon.com - some of which are available at the moment.

All of the full frames and more exotic mirrorless systems are out of your price range so you're essentially looking at a basic APS-C Canon or Nikon or a basic micro-four thirds Panasonic or Olympus (I've occassionally seen Sony NEXs drop into that price but the lens selection isn't great for Sony's E mount).

I considered grabbing a basic micro four thirds kit back on Black Friday (Panasonic G3 + kit zoom for $299) day but ended up buying a Panasonic LX7 for the same price. It's going to be a few years before I can afford good lenses and I figure with a kit zoom the performance difference between a enthusiast point and shoot like the LX7 and a basic DSLR isn't that large.

One other note: remember pretty much all of the good cameras are at their best shooting in RAW format, so you might want to give some consideration to editing software and drive space.
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Old 2012-12-30, 05:15   Link #4
RRW
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Well the latest entry level for 3 major manufacture is

Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i
Nikon D3200
Sony A37

Nothing wrong to buy older model if you think you cannot afford the new one.

I think Sony one have the best quality:cost ratio but it also slighlly different compare to "mainstream" DSLR like Canon & Nikon. mainly because it use digital viewfinder instead optical viewfinder. there is quite debate about that however I dont think it really matter for beginner like you.

alternatively you can go mirroless which offer interchangeable lens and (roughly) similar performance in smaller package. thought it have less manual control.

most of used camera is "good" so i dont think there is lot of problem with that if you want to buy it used

My advice is to go to local shop and try some of them before deciding to buy it. so you can feel stuff like the weight and viewfinder
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Old 2012-12-30, 12:31   Link #5
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Buy a used EOS 500d/550d/600d and spend the rest of your money on a decent lens (that is, buy the "nifty fifty", the 50mm f/1.8 lens; the cheapest lens you will ever buy, and also the most value for your money you will ever find). Having good glass is much more important than having good electronics and Canon and Nikon have significantly bigger second-hand optics markets than any other brands. Nikon is sort of annoying for a beginner though because of the annoying autofocus motor differences.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2012-12-31, 02:52   Link #6
Traece
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Basic Nikon or Canon (or any other particularly common brands) cameras should do you quite nicely as a beginner. I have very basic camera skills myself but I use them from time to time for the newspaper at college. We have a couple older Canon Rebels and they work quite nicely. Our photographers seem to exclusively use Canon as well, but that may be due to pricing. Some of them have also bought used cameras. For your first camera, I would just recommend getting a very entry-level device and a nice set of lenses. When it's time to upgrade you can even sell your old camera. It's the cycle of such hobbies/professions.

I suspect- and those of you that have far more knowledge about photography than myself can feel free to correct me, that you'll want to focus more effort on good lenses since those aren't exactly picky about the camera you put them on.
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Old 2012-12-31, 16:31   Link #7
Suomi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traece View Post
Basic Nikon or Canon (or any other particularly common brands) cameras should do you quite nicely as a beginner. I have very basic camera skills myself but I use them from time to time for the newspaper at college. We have a couple older Canon Rebels and they work quite nicely. Our photographers seem to exclusively use Canon as well, but that may be due to pricing. Some of them have also bought used cameras. For your first camera, I would just recommend getting a very entry-level device and a nice set of lenses. When it's time to upgrade you can even sell your old camera. It's the cycle of such hobbies/professions.

I suspect- and those of you that have far more knowledge about photography than myself can feel free to correct me, that you'll want to focus more effort on good lenses since those aren't exactly picky about the camera you put them on.
That makes sense. Lenses themselves are often almost as expensive as the cameras themselves, however, so I'm not sure I can afford them, at least not right away.
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Old 2013-01-02, 17:07   Link #8
Hiroi Sekai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traece View Post
I suspect- and those of you that have far more knowledge about photography than myself can feel free to correct me, that you'll want to focus more effort on good lenses since those aren't exactly picky about the camera you put them on.
It's agreed that a better lens will provide people with the features they're looking for, but I feel the need to stress that on a camera that has less compatibility and resolution, it will end up looking grainy. What you'd want is a well-rounded camera that saves in a good format whilst being compatible with many types of lenses. Cameras also differ in how much aperture, shutter speed and ISO can be adjusted, so a wider range is naturally better.

That's why I'd suggest from the Canon Rebel series. An EOS would be undeniably better, but the price range for those tend to get rather high. Rebel cameras also take any EF lens and can do full 1080p video, so they're rather nice for the price (which had even been reduced, last I saw, to around $300-600).
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Old 2013-01-02, 18:12   Link #9
Suomi
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I think I've chosen a Nikon D3100. I compared it with the D3000, the Canon Rebel T3, and the T2i, and it seemed to win out over the former two and tie with the latter. The T3i was a bit out of the price range. I can get this one for up to $479 and all signs point to it being a good camera.
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Old 2013-01-03, 02:06   Link #10
Afternoon Tea
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Nikon is good! They have really durable cameras. Based off experience I say, save up just a bit more, and go for the Canon 60D. The Camera is a good beginner-intermediate camera for photographers, and filmographers alike. Spec Compassion The 60D is superior in terms of speed, and overall build (good weather sealed). Even some pros use it! The Camera promotes the use of manual settings, and offers more features then the T3i. I say its a good investment since there wont be a need to upgrade to a different body for years to come. Price has dropped dramatically, and if anything I would just buy the Body instead ($600). Kit lenses are not very good in my opinion. Sure its nice at first, but when I switched to Prime it just was better! Sharpness, and speed! The 60D is almost in par with the 7D for just the fraction of the price!
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Old 2013-01-03, 12:09   Link #11
TheFluff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Illusore View Post
I think I've chosen a Nikon D3100. I compared it with the D3000, the Canon Rebel T3, and the T2i, and it seemed to win out over the former two and tie with the latter. The T3i was a bit out of the price range. I can get this one for up to $479 and all signs point to it being a good camera.
The T2i is quite a bit better than the D3100, just saying. The viewfinder is bigger, it shoots faster, and it performs better in bad light. Those three things right there are pretty much the most important things to look for when shopping for a camera body.

Also, keep in mind that if you buy an entry level Nikon camera there are a lot of lenses you can't autofocus with (because the entry level Nikons don't have an autofocus motor in the camera body; they require it to be built into the lens).

The 60D (as suggested above) is way overkill for a beginner.


By the way, if you can, buy used. Camera bodies don't exactly get worn out (at least not when used by ordinary amateurs, you need some serious dedication to wear out a shutter). Lenses don't exactly wear out, either.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read

Last edited by TheFluff; 2013-01-03 at 12:20.
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Old 2013-01-03, 16:03   Link #12
Afternoon Tea
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The 60D is not at all overkill. Its a good level-entry Camera, for starters. It includes many 'beginner features', and if you feel like upgrading the transition to a bigger model (MrkII etc) would be very smooth. When I picked up my first SLR it was the 60D, the build felt so much more durable. The grip had that Pro-feel, and the last thing in my mind was breaking it since I was new to the scene..
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Old 2013-01-03, 20:44   Link #13
Suomi
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I'm going to wait a while and save some more money, but the D3100 looks like a good option. I'd love to shoot with both that and the T2i and compare...I am DEFINITELY not in the 600$ price range though...not yet, anyway. I can barely afford the $400-$479 I intend to pay >_< as for lenses...I can't really afford them. No yet anyway.
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Old 2013-01-04, 00:06   Link #14
cyberbeing
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Back in 2008, I was in a similar $500 budget range and dilemma about the best upgrade path for beginner DSLR.

There were two options:

A) Buy a more expensive DSLR kit, and be stuck with a sub-par kit lens for a year or so. Upgrade path: Lens-only short-term. Plan to keep the camera body for many many years without upgrading, in order to maximize value. Potential for large economical loss if I bought any lens new, and decided to move to a different brand (lens mount) in the future.

B) Buy whatever DSLR would allow me to buy a quality prime & telephoto while still staying within budget. No immediate lens needs short-term, and I could use the DSLR to near full potential right away. Potential in the future to sell everything as a set for minimal loss, and potentially move to another brand when I could afford a $1000 (-$ from selling old stuff) budget.

If you have a steady income, and are willing to allocate your disposable income to buying camera gear over a number of years, going the route of A) is probably the best value.

If you have unreliable long-term disposable income (i.e. student), going with route of B) can be more favorable.


I was a student at the time, so after scouring Craigslist and Ebay and review sites for a few weeks, I ultimately decided to go the route of B). I had found a like-new Sony A350 kit locally off Craigslist for $350 (vs. $699 MSRP new), as well as a set of some classic high-quality Minolta 50mm f/1.7, 70-210mm f/4 (beercan) lens with a great quality:value, a carrying case, as well an unknown Minolta 35-70mm lens, all for an additional $200. While this particular Sony did have some noteworthy disadvantages, it also had a few features which made it more friendly as a beginner DSLR. Unfortunately, my interest and time for frequent photography waned after a couple years, but I'm sure I'll have the itch to do a major upgrade if I ever get serious again.


Lessons learned:
1) It can be economically advantageous to bide your time until you find a great deals on the used DSLR and Lens market.
2) At the bare minimum you'll want a fast ~50mm Prime, general-purpose Zoom, and a Telephoto lens to get the most out of your DSLR. I would recommend holding off buying anything until your budget allows buying all these basic lenses within 6 months -> 12 months of buying your DSLR.
3) Most higher-end gear is priced in such a way to only be economically viable value to semi-pros->pros who make a profit off their photography. If you only plan to use your DSLR for casual photography, you'll need to live to accept that the majority of semi-pro -> pro grade cameras and lens will always have a horrible price:performance value for your use-case.
4) Before you lock yourself into any particular brand / lens-mount, it's a good idea to map out your future budget, lens purchases, and well as potential upgrade path, so you don't regret your decision years down the line.
5) If you never taken a photography class before, consider looking for an affordable Beginner Digital Photography class at a local community college or similar.
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Old 2013-01-05, 03:30   Link #15
TheFluff
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consider this:
- electronics are developed amazingly quickly. if you buy a top-end body today it will almost certainly be pretty much obsolete (or at least quite dated) in 3-4 years from now.
- the laws of optics are not developed much, if at all, and if you buy a good lens now it will almost certainly still be good in 10 or even 20 years (one of my favorite lenses is well over 15 years old; I bought it used, of course)

in other words, the camera body is the least important part of a dslr system. it's what you'll end up replacing anyway, so don't bother with investing too much money in it now. it is, however, important to pick the correct camera brand, because which brand you choose affects which lenses you will use, and some brands have either generally better lenses or a bigger second-hand market (again: BUY USED). hence my Canon recommendation.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2013-01-05, 03:58   Link #16
0utf0xZer0
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Illusore View Post
I'm going to wait a while and save some more money, but the D3100 looks like a good option. I'd love to shoot with both that and the T2i and compare...I am DEFINITELY not in the 600$ price range though...not yet, anyway. I can barely afford the $400-$479 I intend to pay >_< as for lenses...I can't really afford them. No yet anyway.
I would advise looking at the pricing of lenses you want to get when deciding too - I can't speak to used prices, but from what I've seen the Canon 50mm f/1.8 tends to be much cheaper than the Nikon equivalent on Amazon, for example. As in, like $107 versus $170. (That said, I do feel obliged to point out that 50mm on APS-C is like 80mm equivalent due to the 1.6 crop factor - great for some things, but certainly not a situation in which you plan to do any wideangle shots as I frequently do.)
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Old 2013-01-05, 10:32   Link #17
Cosmic Eagle
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Just wondering...what do people here think of Nikon D7000 and Sony NEX-7? Am considering Olympus E-5 as well...
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Old 2013-01-05, 15:12   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Eagle View Post
Just wondering...what do people here think of Nikon D7000 and Sony NEX-7? Am considering Olympus E-5 as well...
2 completely different camera. one is for semi-pro (Useful for special event, wedding ceremony, etc) because of feature and lens selection and other is for street/every-day photography because of size and weight.

If you planing to make photography more than just hobby. then buy D7000

If think photography is just casual hobby (but you want to take better photo compare to P&S). then buy NEX-7

Thought i suggest buy NEX-6 instead NEX-7 since it cheaper and have better sensor and still have EVF

Not sure about Olympus E-5 except it have smaller sensor compare to other 2 so i am not really recommended it
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Old 2013-01-05, 15:28   Link #19
TheFluff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmic Eagle View Post
Just wondering...what do people here think of Nikon D7000 and Sony NEX-7? Am considering Olympus E-5 as well...
D7000 is a very high-end "prosumer" camera, basically the very top end of the normal consumer market.

Sony NEX-7 is a mirrorless thing, i.e. it's not a DSLR at all because it doesn't have the "R" part of "DSLR". It's small, it's pretty expensive, it can take a ton of photos in a short time (10 pictures/s or something?), it has a bizarrely high resolution (= huge raw images), and the lens options for it all stink (well, okay, not all). Also, it's a Sony, and fuck Sony forever.

I think mirrorless cameras are probably where the future is heading, but the current ones are mostly expensive toys and there's like one or two good lenses total per brand right now.
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17:43:13 <~deculture> Also, TheFluff, you are so fucking slowpoke.jpg that people think we dropped the DVD's.
17:43:16 <~deculture> nice job, fag!

01:04:41 < Plorkyeran> it was annoying to typeset so it should be annoying to read
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Old 2013-01-05, 15:41   Link #20
RRW
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Originally Posted by TheFluff View Post
D7000 is a very high-end "prosumer" camera, basically the very top end of the normal consumer market.

Sony NEX-7 is a mirrorless thing, i.e. it's not a DSLR at all because it doesn't have the "R" part of "DSLR". It's small, it's pretty expensive, it can take a ton of photos in a short time (10 pictures/s or something?), it has a bizarrely high resolution (= huge raw images), and the lens options for it all stink (well, okay, not all). Also, it's a Sony, and fuck Sony forever.

I think mirrorless cameras are probably where the future is heading, but the current ones are mostly expensive toys and there's like one or two good lenses total per brand right now.
actually it's not a DSLR at all because it doesn't have the "SLR" part of "DSLR".
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