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First Camera.
Old 04-17-2009, 01:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey,

Great forum. I've been reading for a while now!

I have a few questions if you don't mind, but first, a few things about me:

- I have absolutely no experience taking photographs, other than with my Point-and-click.

- I'm very impulsive, but equally creative and absolutely fascinated by art.

- I'm very very willing to learn.

That said, I've decided I might like to pursue photography as a creative outlet, possibly leading to more in the future (who knows). I've spent about.. 10 hours over the past few days skimming through ModelMayhem portfolios (whilst I'm not at work negiotating contracts, that is) and I've come to the conclusion there's WAY too many 'ordinary' photo's out there, and the world needs more INTERESTING things to look at. Your site has more examples of that, than any other I've found.

Anyway, my questions?

Basically.. I have no freaking idea which camera to buy. Everywhere I go, conflicting advice:

"DEFINITELY buy second hand.." --- "DEFINITELY buy new.."

"DEFINITELY go for Nikon..." -- "DEFINITELY go for Sony/Nikon/Canon.."

and so on. Today I went into the camera store, and the sales person seemed to think my best bet was a Sony a300 which is £400 for the body alone. That's about $600. Plus I'd need a lense, etc. Luckily, I have a friend that works there, and she can get me the camera for cost-price, and a lot of the essential equipment at an extremely discounted price. This should help.

Is that REALLY the best way to go? I particularly like the live-view, and feature set, although I really have no experience actually shooting with any Digital SLR, so I could be way off. Out of all the camera's I've "held and played with" it's my fav so far.

I'm interested in doing some alternative glamour, etc at some point.. so do I really need to be worried about buying new, expensive lenses, or how many MP the camera actually is? (10mp compared to, say, 14mp)

ALSO..

My plan, currently, is to get a camera.. purchase some magazines, buy some books, and get super-creative with my silky photoshop skillz. I've booked an "introduction to Digital SLR photography" course for may. Again, dumb move? What would you advise?

I know you're all busy so thanks for even reading this.. I'm too embarrassed to go back and check how long my message is.. I have a feeling it's.. long. =(

Thanks.

James
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-17-2009, 09:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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James,
The skill is in the photographer, not the camera. On the other hand, an awkward or hard-to-use camera is a pain. Pick one that feels good in your hand - if you can rent before purchase, do so. A few minutes playing in the camera shop can't compare to a day of shooting.

Used vs. new? In the digital world cameras get old fast, so last year's model can be a very good buy if you don't need newest and best, and the pix will be fine. However, if you want to shoot under trying conditions, e.g., in low light, the newest cameras often perform better at high ISO settings, etc.

Megapixels are less important than how the camera feels. 10 MP is plenty -- actually, 6 is plenty 95% of the time -- so don't sweat that.

I am old, so I use fixed-focal-length lenses much of the time, but non-Luddites will be happy with a medium zoom, even the 18-55 or thereabouts model that is standard for many DSLRs. If you are new to this, a lens like this will get you started, and is least expensive. Once you get the hang of it, you'll want to invest in professional glass.

It's easier to rent lenses for major brands like Nikon and Canon when you need/want them, rather than buying.

If I were starting out, I'd buy a Nikon D90 or the Canon equivalent and the kit lens, figuring on adding a second lens quite soon. If money is tight, even a now-discounted Nikon D40 will get you going for under $500 US, and provide excellent results, albeit with restrictions on performance with older lenses.

Warning: This advice comes from a man still shooting digital with a Nikon D200, and film with a bunch of 1970s and 80s SLRs, so take it from whence it comes. High-tech guys will tell you something completely different, and they'll be right, too.

Best,
Mike
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-17-2009, 01:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you SO much for the reply!

I'm considering the Canon EOS 450 D now.
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-20-2009, 10:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Right now, I would recommend a Canon 5D as they are down in price due to the introduction of the 5D Mark II and both new and used can be found for a very good price.

Less than that, if you are not sure, then I would recommend a Canon G9 or G-10 Both of these are point and shoots that can take off camera flash and shoot in RAW. New they are only about $500. They have a good zoom range and you can get some experience and then buy the system camera of your dreams.

Being a fixed lens with a zoom means you won't be having to remove a lens in the field and deal with dirt inside your camera too.
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-20-2009, 06:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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There is nothing wrong with shooting with a film camera. The problem is the results and the learning curve are greatly slowed down. Digital has the right now factor.

Check out Ebay, kehcamera.com and bhphotovideo.com for information and websites.
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-21-2009, 07:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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A nice write up by MIKE and possibly the best advice as well.
And I would have to say the same thing......buy an outdated Model for now.
And/or buy the Camera that suits you........and not the one that suits the Camera Store.


Cheers,
Joseph
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Re: First Camera.
Old 04-21-2009, 10:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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James,

I'd focus on which lens system you want to set yourself up in. Cameras are like a PC - you have to upgrade every 4 years or so. However, you don't want to re-purchase your lenses because you decided to switch cameras. Spend the money on lenses, and the camera body will come later. (Canon 'L' glass is my personal preference - but you'll find other opinions here too). Once you pick a platform...stick with it.

Good Luck!
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