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Thread: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

  1. #1

    Default Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Hi fellow CSers,

    I was just wondering what kind of body and lens I should be getting. Also I don't have an extreme budget, below 1000 (further the better), and don't really mind second hand either.

    I know what kind of pictures I want, but don't know what lens/body to get. I've tried looking through the lists and end up a little confused really.

    Body: Seriously I don't understand the different formats, and what differences there are in the body. What is a standard body that accommodates most lens? Not too pricey one too. I assume the sensor affects the ISO? (My current camera ISO noise isnt quite optimal)

    Lens: I love the shallow DoF effect, and a lot of times take low light pictures too. (Not that low, but maybe like a warmly lit hotel lounge at night.) Though the common belief is bigger the better, I understand that too shallow DoF is extremely hard to focus. So how much is enough really? F/2? Is F2.8 too little? As for the focal length... (clueless). Say if I set up an ideal, 28-200mm F/2 Lens. Are there any real lens in the market that comes close to this? How much are they?


    Really really appreciate all the help you can give me! Thanks
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

  2. #2
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Well... in such a case, I'd advise you to go down to the shops and handle the cameras first. Look at all the budget ones such as Canon 450D, Nikon D40X, etc...

    Check out how they feel in your hands, are you comfortable with the grip, weight, etc.

    These days, they are pretty much similar in function and cost. So personal comfort should be your first priority. Next on, consider the amount of accessories they support. Flash, type of memory cards, lenses, etc.

    For low light shooting, most users would reccomend tat you look at the 50mm f1.8. Its the cheapest AF lens u can get (note that D40 and D60 does now allow AF on the Nikon AF lens, it needs AF-S to autofocus)

    I shoot wide open at f1.8 pretty often at night and it's still quite ok, unless you are focusing at something close to you, then you'd get a whole chunk of blur behind the subject...
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Hello,

    for such a budget i recommend canon 1000d kit(about $850). The other 150 should be used to get essential stuffs like tripod, filters, dri-cabi, remotes etc. Different format - are you referring to small, medium and large format? Mamiya is a medium format cam, and horseman for example is a large format cam. Do a search and you will get your results.

    Do note that large aperture lens are costly, and if there is such a 28-200 f2 lens, it would prolly weigh like a huge sack of rice. A 200mm f2 lens cost about $6000. Like what Zac08 has said, u might wanna try out the 50mm f1.8, its the cheapest prime lens you can find. It hunts alot which is irritating. If you are on budget i recommend u get m42-canon adaptor w af chip, then you can mount all sorts of m42 prime lenses onto the body. m42 mount lenses require manual focussing but they are more bang for bucks.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Mm, thanks for the opinions!

    After posting the 28-200 F2 lens thing, and looking around, I felt like a super noob. Haha, it sounded so unrealistic.

    And yea, all the large aperture lens seems to burst my budget. 50mm f1.8 sounds nice actually, and it only costs about 150-190 assuming the forum price lists are close enough. As for the AF, I think I eventually will like to get used to MF. But 50mm, is that good enough for portraits? For the shallow DoF effect? I think you guys call it bokeh if I am not wrong.

    What about 3rd party lenses though? I'm guessing they might be cheaper?
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

  5. #5
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Mm, thanks for the opinions!

    After posting the 28-200 F2 lens thing, and looking around, I felt like a super noob. Haha, it sounded so unrealistic.

    And yea, all the large aperture lens seems to burst my budget. 50mm f1.8 sounds nice actually, and it only costs about 150-190 assuming the forum price lists are close enough. As for the AF, I think I eventually will like to get used to MF. But 50mm, is that good enough for portraits? For the shallow DoF effect? I think you guys call it bokeh if I am not wrong.

    What about 3rd party lenses though? I'm guessing they might be cheaper?
    Yes.. pretty good. trust me for a cheap lens, it's amazing

    For 3rd party, you can look at Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, etc...

    Just check out this shot of a cat at night

    Last edited by zac08; 19th September 2008 at 02:49 PM.
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

  6. #6

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Nice cat, background isn't very blur like those higher lens, but I guess can't expect too much, its very nice already.

    Your cat looks like it has some problems though. What happened to the neck area? Looks like it has a blade stuck on its throat or something, the furs unmatch after that line too.

    and thanks again
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

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    Member gymak90's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Seems like you need some reading up
    There are many good deals in the Buy&Sell section in this forum.

    For under $1000, there are many to choose from. Yesterday the Straits Times Digital Life section talked about it and presented a review?

    A camera manufacturer will only manufacture lenses that can fit with it's own camera bodies, obviously it won't makes lenses for it's rival companies. But 3rd party lens makers, as the name suggest, e.g. Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, they produce lenses that can fit too as long as you choose the correct mount.

    Sometimes a 3rd party performs better than a home brand lens.
    The best things in life are free.

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    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    background isn't blur?? how much bokeh you want? I think the bokeh on that shot came out rather nicely. If you ask me, the cat looks fine too. The fur on the chest area is normal. Most young cats look like that.

    anyway, I think there is a huge gap between what you're willing to spend on lenses, and the kind of lenses you expect to own. you know the phrase
    ai pi ai qi, ai tua liap ni ? (maybe my romanized hokkien not so good )
    For a budget of <<< $1000, it's unlikely you can buy anything more than a 2nd hand camera body with its kit lens. So don't expect bokeh like you'd get on a 50mm f1.8 lens, let alone surpassing it.

    The 50mm f1.8 is really good value for money. On a DSLR with a cropped sensor (ie smaller than 35mm film size), the 50mm lens will give you the same field of view as a 75-80mm lens on a 35mm film camera. That should allow half-body portraits from a few metres away. Bear in mind that Nikon's entry-level cameras (D40/D60) do not have an in-built auto-focus motor, so pairing with the 50mm f1.8 will mean you have to use manual focus only.
    Canon's entry level DSLRs can auto-focus with Canon's own 50mm f1.8 (i think).
    Last edited by ZerocoolAstra; 19th September 2008 at 04:23 PM.
    Exploring! :)

  9. #9

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by gymak90 View Post
    Seems like you need some reading up
    For under $1000, there are many to choose from. Yesterday the Straits Times Digital Life section talked about it and presented a review?
    LOL, but I wouldn't trust DL on any camera reviews. (...I trust the hands-on and picts of fellow CSnappers... )


    Pentax offers value for money. The K100D, K10D can be found in the buy/sell section of this forums for good prices.
    Downside is that there are less shops selling Pentax stuff, thought shops that do are common enough (eg. Cathay, OP, MScolor)

  10. #10

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZerocoolAstra View Post
    background isn't blur?? how much bokeh you want? I think the bokeh on that shot came out rather nicely. If you ask me, the cat looks fine too. The fur on the chest area is normal. Most young cats look like that.

    anyway, I think there is a huge gap between what you're willing to spend on lenses, and the kind of lenses you expect to own. you know the phrase
    ai pi ai qi, ai tua liap ni ? (maybe my romanized hokkien not so good )
    For a budget of <<< $1000, it's unlikely you can buy anything more than a 2nd hand camera body with its kit lens. So don't expect bokeh like you'd get on a 50mm f1.8 lens, let alone surpassing it.

    The 50mm f1.8 is really good value for money. On a DSLR with a cropped sensor (ie smaller than 35mm film size), the 50mm lens will give you the same field of view as a 75-80mm lens on a 35mm film camera. That should allow half-body portraits from a few metres away. Bear in mind that Nikon's entry-level cameras (D40/D60) do not have an in-built auto-focus motor, so pairing with the 50mm f1.8 will mean you have to use manual focus only.
    Canon's entry level DSLRs can auto-focus with Canon's own 50mm f1.8 (i think).
    Hey, first thanks for the response, at least I learnt something (about the cropped sensor part). True, it seems like I need to step up my budget, but can't be that much either. Maybe 1500.

    Anyway I didn't say that his cat bokeh was not good enough. Its good for the given lens, I just mentioned that I would like more from a longer lens if I could. Why did I say it wasn't blur enough was because the bicycle behind was still pretty obvious. Maybe it was too near, but I was hoping for just shades and no shapes.
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

  11. #11
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Hey, first thanks for the response, at least I learnt something (about the cropped sensor part). True, it seems like I need to step up my budget, but can't be that much either. Maybe 1500.

    Anyway I didn't say that his cat bokeh was not good enough. Its good for the given lens, I just mentioned that I would like more from a longer lens if I could. Why did I say it wasn't blur enough was because the bicycle behind was still pretty obvious. Maybe it was too near, but I was hoping for just shades and no shapes.
    Tat was at f2.8, not wide open....

    Let me find one wide open...

    here's 2



    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

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    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Hey, first thanks for the response, at least I learnt something (about the cropped sensor part). True, it seems like I need to step up my budget, but can't be that much either. Maybe 1500.

    Anyway I didn't say that his cat bokeh was not good enough. Its good for the given lens, I just mentioned that I would like more from a longer lens if I could. Why did I say it wasn't blur enough was because the bicycle behind was still pretty obvious. Maybe it was too near, but I was hoping for just shades and no shapes.
    Bear in mind that to achieve very short DOF, the distance between camera and subject also plays an important part. So for example as zac08 took the latest photo, the cat (subject) is quite close to the camera. Together with the wide-open aperture 1.8, you get significant blurring of the background (bokeh).

    However, if I were to use the 50mm f1.8 wide-open to take landscape, and my subject (eg. tall building) is very far away, 1.8 won't make the surrounding buildings blur at all.

    both aperture and subject distance play a part in depth-of-field.
    Exploring! :)

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    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Hey, first thanks for the response, at least I learnt something (about the cropped sensor part). True, it seems like I need to step up my budget, but can't be that much either. Maybe 1500.
    ....
    Well, if you're mainly into taking portraits, you can consider a 2nd hand camera + kit lens (with a focal range of about 18-55mm) that's about $700-800, and then with the balance, try to get a portrait lens, either 50mm f1.8 (half-body from few metres out) or 85mm f1.8 (head-shot from few metres out). Doesn't have to be exactly that focal length and aperture, but there or thereabouts. If you have still some extra cash, go for dry box/cabinet and maybe even a flash.
    Exploring! :)

  14. #14

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZerocoolAstra View Post
    Well, if you're mainly into taking portraits, you can consider a 2nd hand camera + kit lens (with a focal range of about 18-55mm) that's about $700-800, and then with the balance, try to get a portrait lens, either 50mm f1.8 (half-body from few metres out) or 85mm f1.8 (head-shot from few metres out). Doesn't have to be exactly that focal length and aperture, but there or thereabouts. If you have still some extra cash, go for dry box/cabinet and maybe even a flash.
    Well for me, I'm not really taking portraits 100%, but I usually photograph dance classes, like ballet or modern dance, sometimes rehearsal and stage work. This usually implies bad lighting, dance studios usually use warm lights, normally I have to shoot at F3.2, ISO 400, 1/60s, can't catch fast movements.

    So basically I need fast shutter, top priority. Which I guess implies the aperture. Shooting distance can vary between 1-8 meters. If I can get bokeh (I understand this implies technique), definitely a plus plus.

    Second hand with the 50mm f1.8 actually sounds pretty good for the money. Doesn't seem like I can afford a standard zoom. But I was wondering about the shutter count, what happens when the shutter dies? Can it be replaced? Expensive?



    And thanks everyone for the replies! Really appreciate you pros coming forward with answers.


    And Zac nice cat, a lot of bokeh there, even the body is gone! I viewed your flickr, lots of nice animals... and pretty candids :P
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    perhaps for concert works, you would need a 50mm or 85mm f1.4 for faster shutter speed at iso 800, but that would blow your budget wide open...
    3rd party lens are not cheap as well a sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM would cost 650 onwards.
    Last edited by Simon_84; 20th September 2008 at 02:19 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon_84 View Post
    perhaps for concert works, you would need a 50mm or 85mm f1.4 for faster shutter speed at iso 800, but that would blow your budget wide open...
    3rd party lens are not cheap as well a sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM would cost 650 onwards.
    Actually I'm not that confident of focusing at f1.4, might be too shallow for me to handle. At least I don't trust myself yet.

    Just wondering, are all the ISOs (and corresponding noise issues) equally good on all the different cameras? Assuming they are of the same brand that is. Or maybe I should ask it in another way, are the budget dSLR's high ISO noise bad?
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

  17. #17

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    If you are considering getting a Nikon, a D80 would be quite good. Do note that Nikon's 50mm F/1.8 does not come with a built in focusing motor, thus you cannot auto focus on the lower end Nikon D-series bodies(D40,D40x,D60). On D80 onwards, there is a focusing motor built into the camera body, therefore able to focus the 50mm F/1.8 lens.

    Also now that the Nikon D90 has came out, you would see plummeting D80 prices.
    Cheers!

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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Actually I'm not that confident of focusing at f1.4, might be too shallow for me to handle. At least I don't trust myself yet.

    Just wondering, are all the ISOs (and corresponding noise issues) equally good on all the different cameras? Assuming they are of the same brand that is. Or maybe I should ask it in another way, are the budget dSLR's high ISO noise bad?
    practice makes perfect, if you don't have the time to practice, just get the f1.8 will do.

    so far having seen canon performance at iso 1600 for 10mp bodies at dcresource.com, i could say they are still slightly better than nikon 10mp counterparts.
    but i cannot say the same for canon 12mp 450d, iso 1600 is a no go, same goes for the new nikon d90.
    Last edited by Simon_84; 21st September 2008 at 02:08 AM.

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    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ombre View Post
    Hi fellow CSers,

    I was just wondering what kind of body and lens I should be getting. Also I don't have an extreme budget, below 1000 (further the better), and don't really mind second hand either.

    I know what kind of pictures I want, but don't know what lens/body to get. I've tried looking through the lists and end up a little confused really.

    Body: Seriously I don't understand the different formats, and what differences there are in the body. What is a standard body that accommodates most lens? Not too pricey one too. I assume the sensor affects the ISO? (My current camera ISO noise isnt quite optimal)

    Lens: I love the shallow DoF effect, and a lot of times take low light pictures too. (Not that low, but maybe like a warmly lit hotel lounge at night.) Though the common belief is bigger the better, I understand that too shallow DoF is extremely hard to focus. So how much is enough really? F/2? Is F2.8 too little? As for the focal length... (clueless). Say if I set up an ideal, 28-200mm F/2 Lens. Are there any real lens in the market that comes close to this? How much are they?


    Really really appreciate all the help you can give me! Thanks

    Greetings ombre,

    Like yourself I'm also a non-DSLR user looking to upgrade to a DSLR, you should try out a few DSLR models first (I recommend Courts Tampines) and see how you like the feel, grip, handling, controls, etc. Don't blindly follow others opinions, stick with your gut feel about what you want and what you need and remember the following:

    1) Most people get fed-up with DSLRs because either they don't like having too many manual controls or they don't use the camera that often, hence they feel forking out a few thousand on an expensive camera and lens is not worth it and some seek to downgrade to a prosumer after a few months. Please don't buy a DSLR unless you really sure you'll be satisfied with it

    2) There is a HUGE difference in sensor size between compact cameras/prosumers and DSLRs. In other words, it doesn't matter which DSLR you buy, you'll always have much better low-light photographs as long as you use proper basic techniques like holding the camera still or remembering to open the aperture bigger

    3) Remember that though what camera brand you buy will dictate what accessories and lens you buy in the future, note that almost everyone (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc) mimics each other in terms of lens range, camera size, etc, hence their product range is mostly similar. I.e buying one camera brand doesn't NOT mean you'll lose out on anything. The only difference is that each camera brand has its own characteristics, but to a FIRST-TIME DSLR USER these characteristics mean NOTHING because NO MATTER WHICH BRAND YOU BUY, ONCE YOU'VE GOTTEN USED TO YOUR DSLR THE PHOTOS YOU TAKE WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER THAN YOUR COMPACT CAMERA. Frankly those charateristics only really matter to professional photographers whose livehood depends on how their photos turn out compared to all the other professional photographer
    (P.S: Pardon my outburst but I've been bombarded by other forumers saying how Canon colours are better, Nikon more pro, Sony best liveview, etc, etc.............and all because I said I was eyeing an Olympus )

    4) Do make sure you're using proper basic techniques like holding the camera from the base, positioning yourself properly in relation to your subject and the light, etc. Why? Because I've seen a lady using a Canon 40D who took blurred photos..........all because she held the heavy DSLR from the sides like you would with a compact camera instead of supporting from the base or the lens. I.e. the photos she took were blurred because she couldn't hold the camera steady due to the way she was holding it. Even an outdated DSLR with basic features (compared to current models) will take sharp, clear photos in the hands of a moderately experienced photographer

    5) For lens range, I recommend your first lens to be something like 12-50 or 14-70. You won't get a long zoom range but frankly, who uses such a long zoom unless they're shooting birds or planes all the time? If you really need the long zoom then a single lens like 18-200 should suit you nicely though that range means you'll lose the wide-angle. Most pro photographers will advise you that there is an effect called barrel distortion that affects lens that cover long zooms like the 18-200, but frankly those effects are hardly noticeable if your photos are printed at 4R or 5R. Only if you're shooting 7R and larger will those effects become glaringly obvious (which is why pro photographers are so kiasu about it as their livehood depends on the quality of their photos which are usually printed to A4 sizes or bigger)


    For myself I'm upgrading from my Canon G7 because I want better low-light performance, RAW support and an adjustable wide-angle lens. At the same time I don't want the extra-complicated controls from a high-end DSLR and I want my new camera to be as portable as my current G7. In case you're curious my choices for my next camera are:
    1) Panasonic LX3
    2) Olympus E420 w/ Zuiko 12-60mm lens or Leica R 14-150mm
    3) Panasonic DMC-G1

    BTW the G1 is based on the new Micro Four Thirds format which promises cameras smaller than current DSLRs. Olympus is also a supporter of this format though they haven't announced a camera using it yet. IMHO this new Micro Four Thirds format seems to be targeted at prosumers and entry-level DSLR owners as the camera apparently offers DSLR image quality but with a compact camera feel. I'm waiting for a review on this camera before I buy my new camera (hopefully by October).

  20. #20

    Default Re: Non-dSLR user Considering a switch. Any pointers on what to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Greetings ombre,
    ...etc
    Wow Geez! thats a really long post! Thanks for all the in-depth information!

    Actually looking at what everyone has been saying, the prices and all that, I've pretty much keyed in that my lens should be a 50mm F1.8, most probably nikon? Maybe a D80. I won't be buying now, probably late next year but I thought its good to keep in touch with the circle much much earlier so that I'll have a good background when I actually get to buying it.

    I'm not worried about manual controls, in fact I really hate auto most of the times. No matter how intelligent they say the system is, I find them quite screwed up. You pretty much can only shoot stationary objects with auto. Using my PNS, I'm always on manual mode, I can't understand why the camera will give me settings like F5.6, 1/8s when I'm 9X zoomed in ... must have assumed I have rock steady hands.

    Blurred images, I learnt this the harder way, for the first two days, I thought that with dual IS I can be quite careless with how I held the camera. But at least I fixed it, I learnt how to hold a camera right now.

    You recommended me to get a 12-50 or 14-70 for my first lens, but I've pretty much decided on the 50mm F1.8, what would I be missing out that I have not already noticed?

    I guess I would never buy a zoom lens. One decent lens could afford me to buy the next 3 generations of my superzoom prosumer... I don't think the IQ could be that much different at full zoom under favorable lighting. And I doubt I'd use full zoom in the dark anyway. Shall stick to my FZ18 with TCON, 800mm equiv and no problem for standard monitor displays.

    I guess everyone here pretty much got my drift, I'm really after low light and bokeh only. If say, 800 ISO at F1.8 or F2.8 (closing it abit), can get me a shutter speed of 1/200 or 1/250 in room light, with minimal noise, I should be quite happy.

    How is it that you have LX3 in your choice? Is it all that great? I know its WA is like awesome at F2, but for that price, I'd rather have gotten a dSLR.

    Actually I'm considering a D80 body, anyone has anything to say about that? Or is Canon better? O.o



    To Simon_84,
    "but i cannot say the same for canon 12mp 450d, iso 1600 is a no go, same goes for the new nikon d90."
    I may not know much but this is not what I hear; Over at the Nikon thread, D90 was being compared with D300 in terms of ISO performance, it was a pretty tough one. Are you sure the new D90 has bad ISO performance?
    Looking for Canon 100mm F2 USM :)

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