Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buying a dSLR part two

This image was taken with the Nikon D50 using the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. Settings: f/2.8, ISO 1600, 1/40 second

In part one we discussed two important concepts when purchasing your dSLR. 1 How much do you have to spend and 2. What do you intend to do with the camera. If you decided you have $1000 to spend for everything including the lens purchase but do not want to buy a used camera then I suggest a different route.

  • Buy a new camera body but not the 'latest' body. For example the Nikon D200 is a tremendous camera and many online stores still sell it new. However, buying it new plus a lens will take us over the $1000 budget we decided to stick to.
  • Both Canon and Nikon continue to sell new entry level cameras that do not have the 'latest' features but most folks will never 'miss' the features. For example, a Nikon D40 is less than $500 new and will meet the needs of most photographers. [Keep in mind that many of Nikon's entry level cameras do not have a motor drive in them and only the 'newest lens models work on these bodies. (e.g. the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 will not work on many of the entry level bodies.) More on this subject later] If you like Canon over Nikon then look at purchasing a Rebel [earlier version] or a 30D. (If you want an 'older' body that works with the cost effective 50mm f/1.8 then I suggest the Nikon D50.
  • If you decide to purchase a Nikon D40 for less than $500 you will have $500 to spend on lens, bag and storage. (Adorama is selling this camera used for less than $400) If you want a good walk around lens [although it is not fast] you can purchase the Nikkor 18-200 VR used for $500. The problem with this lens is it is not fast to focus and it is not a 'fast' lens. e.g. at 200 mm the aperature wide open is f/5.6 which is not good in low light situations. Both Sigma and Tamron make an affordable 18-200mm lens but they do not have vibration reduction. However, they can be bought for $200 or less and will fit the needs of many photographers. The 18-200vr will make a tremendous travel lens or general all-purpose lens.
  • Another alternative if you want a good wide to medium zoom is the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. [This is my standard walk-around lens.] It is a constant aperture lens and produces tremendous results. It is not a long lens and you will need to add a telephoto if you want to shoot anything from a distance.
  • Back to the camera body. If you have smaller hands then these entry level cameras could be your answer. The bodies are smaller and they are not a beast to carry around all day. My wife uses the D50 for general day to day shooting and does not like the size and weight of my D200. [If you add the 17-50, a SB600 or Sb800 to the D200, you have a large heavy camera.] Select a D50 combined with the lightweight 18-200mm lens and the camera is not much bigger than many higher end point and shoot cameras.
  • Finally for today: You might be thinking; 'don't I need the latest and greatest camera so I have 12, 15, 20+ megapixels? No. Do not get caught up in the megapixel hype. The D50 and D40 have 6 megapixels but produce very nice prints. How large do you plan to print your images? I have very nice 11x14 and 12x18 prints from ny D50. If you only shoot for the web or nothing larger than 11x14, you do not need all those megapixels. Check out this article about the megapixel myth. From my experience, most folks print nothing larger than 8x10 and many only post to the net. A 6 megapixel D50 will produce much better images at 800-1600 ISO than a small point and shoot with more megapixels. My D50 produces tremendous images at 800-1600 ISO.
Nikon D40 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm II AF-S DX Lens + 16GB SD Card + Case + Cameta Bonus Accessory Kit

Have a great Thanksgiving!

This image was also taken with the D50. Settings: ISO 1600, f/2.8, shutter speed f/2.5. Lens: 50mm f/1.8

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