Buying a DSLR: Assistance Needed


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Defklan

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May 28, 2008
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#1
Hello fellow ClubSNAP members

After a period of deliberation, I have decided to venture seriously into the exciting realm of photography. As a newbie without any prior experience in using a DSLR (my main 'camera' being my mobile phone), I humbly seek the informed opinions of the community here. I understand that photography, especially one which employs dear equipment like DSLR cameras, require patience and commitment. It is a hobby that will necessitate high expenditure on my part in the future (lenses, peripherals etc).

My basic requirements for the camera that will help initiate my virginal foray into DSLRs are be as such: rich and accurate reproduction of colours, ease of use for a beginner like me, and reliability. Also an important factor is its performance with regards to capturing macro shots, as I will be involved in taking pictures of watches.

I have recently been watching the news and reviews pertaining to the industry, and have somewhat trimmed my options down to these 3: Sony Alpha 350, Canon EOS 400D, and the Nikon D60. My stated budget is nothing north of $1300, and I am open to any other cameras which the more knowledgable people here might recommend.

I apologise if, as a greenhorn, I have irked some people here with a question that has been asked countless times and thank you with the sincerest gratitude for your help :)
 

dennisc

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2002
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#2
Vivid colors, etc can be tweaked from any cam. Having used nikon and canon I'd say the canon 350D and 400D produce a certain gorgeous hue, I actually downgraded and got that as my 2nd cam. You will get tons of diff views but I'll pm you with some links from 350D-400D (its quite the same anyways).
 

ZerocoolAstra

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2008
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#3
I would just like to comment that you write very well! :)
However, your 'basic requirements' do not help narrow down the choice at all. In fact, any 1 of the 3 cameras you have shortlisted is a good performer in the areas of colour reproduction, east of use, and reliability. I think they are all within the same price bracket too.
Ultimately, your choice would be determined by how comfortable you are with holding the camera for an extended period of time, and operating the controls intuitively. For example, do you find it easy to change aperture, shutter speed, ISO, WhiteBalance, Saturation, Picture Size, etc without having to dig up the manual or spend much time going back and forth in the menus? The menu systems are quite peculiar to each brand. Some you will love. Others you will hate. Same goes for the feel of the grip.

It's hard for CS members to recommend you a particular camera wholeheartedly. Most of us are a bit biased as we only own 1 camera. Unfair comparison! ;)
 

osocan

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Dec 29, 2007
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#4
No comments on cameras because you should be quite safe with any one of the major brands. Just wanna share some personal experience on macro watch photography...I find that no matter what angle I tilt the watch, the dials will always appear "clouded". A polarising filter might help. I was also using a photo editing software to "lift" the dials. BTW, I find pmwf has some very nice photos from the peeps there. In fact the trick in "lifting" the dial was learned from one of the members there.
 

Galdor

Senior Member
Jul 5, 2006
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#6
The cameras which you have shortlisted are pretty good cameras and will be able to produce good pictures. Maybe, you would like to visit a shop to try the feel of the cameras. Afterall you're the one using it, so you have to be comfortable with it. Play with the cameras a bit try to change a bit of settings here and there to see which is easier to use. DO NOT be influenced by the sales person, just listen to your heart. When you do a side by side comparison, make sure the settings are the same.

Personally, I do not like very small and light cameras. Makes me feel like i'm playing with a toy and it sure makes me conclude that it's made of plastic. Well, that's just me. Just pick the one you are most comfortable with. :)
 

grumpy

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Jun 9, 2006
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#7
Agree with Galdor, make sure you try the shortlisted cameras, either in the shops or borrow from your friends. It has to be something that you are comfortable with, both in feel/touch and budget.

It is not just buying a camera and a kit lens, it is an investment in a system, thus consider how that will affect your budget. Your initial budget of $1300 is probably good for a starter system with a kit lens, but considering you want to do macro/product of watches, you should also start to factor in a macro lens, flash and other stuff etc. If those are subsequent investments, no problem, but if you want to have all those with $1300, a bit the tough, even in 2nd hand market.

My friends are all Nikon users so I was kind of influenced by them, and what made up my mind was the "convenience" of being able to borrow different lenses and accessories from them. After 2 years, I am still borrowing stuff from them! haha

Have fun in your foray.
 

Defklan

New Member
May 28, 2008
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#8
@ dennisc: Thanks for the link :D I have browsed through the pghotographs, and can only hope for the day when I will be able to utilise my camera as masterfully as the photographer of those photos!

@ ZerocoolAstra: I have personally handled the Sony unit in person, but as a beginner, I did not attempt to navigate through the menus and tweak the settings. I feel I do not have enough experience to be able to distinguish between "user-friendly" and "complicated". Thanks for the helpful advise :D

@ osocan: Thanks for the tip, I'm sure it'll stand me in good stead in the future! I do believe that setting up a lightbox is the first step to capturing the fine details on a watch :D

@ labla: Thanks for the useful link!

@ Galdor & Grumpy: I have not been able to personally view the other cameras save for the A350, though my friend has a Nikon D40X which I have been buadgering him to show me. That's one benefit if I do decide to go with the Nikon unit, we'll be able to switch lenses. I know that in order to go far, I have to spend much more than the $1300 now. One of my priority is getting a macro lens immediately.

Thanks for the assistance guys :)
 

calebk

Senior Member
Jul 25, 2006
10,594
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Clementi
#9
Do note a very significant point with the Nikon camera - you can only get autofocus with AF-S lenses; that would mean the venerable 60mm Micro can only be used in manual focus mode on the D60, and would also mean you have to spend more on getting an AF-S macro lens, such as the pricey 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro
 

Rashkae

Senior Member
Nov 28, 2005
19,105
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#10
One of my priority is getting a macro lens immediately.
Do note that the Sony/Minolta 100mm macro is considered one of the best/sharpest macro lenses ever. Also, for the Sony A350, you can use all the old Minolta AF lenses (many 100mm Macro are available on keh.com and other online shops). Also, there's a good-sized Minolta/Sony user community here where you can meet up and try out lenses, etc over some kopi or sushi. :)
 

huipiiing

New Member
Apr 3, 2007
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#11
You know, you could also rent a camera + macro lens for a day or two to try them out.
It doesn't cost that much and you can get plenty of alone time with the camera and your watches.
There are some links in CS where u can find camera rentals.

Good luck with your camera search, hope you'll be satisfied with whichever camera you end up getting.
 

ZerocoolAstra

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2008
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#12
Is it that critical to auto-focus with a macro shot of a watch? The darn thing is stationary after all. You can take all day to focus and it wouldn't move! ;)

maybe if you photograph insects... that's a different story.


Do note a very significant point with the Nikon camera - you can only get autofocus with AF-S lenses; that would mean the venerable 60mm Micro can only be used in manual focus mode on the D60, and would also mean you have to spend more on getting an AF-S macro lens, such as the pricey 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro
 

ZerocoolAstra

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2008
9,522
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#13
Good idea... for a small fraction of the cost of DSLR ownership, you can try out the different cameras + their systems over a few days, to really get the feel of photographing with them.


You know, you could also rent a camera + macro lens for a day or two to try them out.
It doesn't cost that much and you can get plenty of alone time with the camera and your watches.
There are some links in CS where u can find camera rentals.

Good luck with your camera search, hope you'll be satisfied with whichever camera you end up getting.
 

seefei

New Member
Mar 7, 2008
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#14
if you wanna try a pentax entry level camera, you can pm me. i use a pentax model k100D.

disclaimer: i am not a camera salesman hahaha....
 

calebk

Senior Member
Jul 25, 2006
10,594
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Clementi
#15
Is it that critical to auto-focus with a macro shot of a watch? The darn thing is stationary after all. You can take all day to focus and it wouldn't move! ;)

maybe if you photograph insects... that's a different story.
Not strictly pertaining to macro photography, but do note that many value-for-money prime lenses such as the 85 f/1.8, 35 f/2, 50 f/1.8 and such cannot be used, with autofocus, on the D60. If you want to get a Nikon body, go for the D80 at the very least.
 

Headshotzx

Senior Member
Dec 14, 2007
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#16
Hey, first off, I must say that you present yourself pretty well with good language. We generally don't get these kinds of well written replies much around here.

About your choice of dslr, any camera body will do really. It's the lens that's important. As this is your first dslr, you'll want a 'walkaround' lens for capturing what's around you and stuff (a 18-55mm kit lens would do for this). However, you also talked about watches. In that case, you'd need to get a macro lens. So it's like this: lets say you buy a camera body. You'll have to choose between a lens you can use for everyday purposes and a specific lens for macro-photography with your budget. Now, if you extend your budget a bit, you can probably get a Canon 400D + 18-55mm IS kit and try to sneak in a Tamron 90mm macro.

A dslr isn't like a normal point and shoot camera where there is a 'macro' button to it. It all depends on the lens.
 

Simon_84

New Member
Mar 18, 2004
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bukit batok
#17
take the sony A350.
with IS (image stablizer) build in, all your non-IS lens will auto have IS effect due to the cam body.
helps to save a bit of money by not having IS in lens instead.

downside is sony lens is a bit rare and quite pricy and sony mounts for third party is not that easy to find as well.
but do take a look in the sony sub-forum to find out more.
 

Galdor

Senior Member
Jul 5, 2006
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#18
take the sony A350.
with IS (image stablizer) build in, all your non-IS lens will auto have IS effect due to the cam body.
helps to save a bit of money by not having IS in lens instead.

downside is sony lens is a bit rare and quite pricy and sony mounts for third party is not that easy to find as well.
but do take a look in the sony sub-forum to find out more.
Not that difficult bro. Sony users have their ways to get those lenses that they want and it is definitely a plus point to have IS on all lenses mounted. ;)
 

Galdor

Senior Member
Jul 5, 2006
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#19
So the critical is a flash and a macro lens now. Maybe you can consider getting a 2nd hand body and have a bigger budget for the lens and flash. Do set aside a sum for the dry cabinet too bro Defklan.
 

night86mare

Deregistered
Aug 25, 2006
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#20
yes, i think it is only fair to tell you that photography is not a cheap hobby. it can remain relatively cheap but still, costs of 1K +/- a few hundreds are definitely significant to the less well-off. how rewarding photography will be also depends on your mindset - what you expect to gain from shooting, what sort of shots you want to produce and how you take the path to produce those shots.

if you wish to capture macro shots, then i would think that essentially you would not be able to capture these right away unless you have significant cash - most macro lenses start from $700 and beyond if i am not wrong.. and i am not sure what sort of macro shots of watches you wish to take, how close up, you may require other tools as well, like extension tubes or macro close up filters.

all the cameras you have mentioned are able cameras, the market is very very competitive today so with regards to color reproduction and performance i would think that all are equal in the tools of someone with the know-how. what differs is the handling, first and foremost - i.e. how the camera feels in your hand, the amount of ease you feel when using the cameraś functions. other options include olympus e-410/420, e-510/520, pentax k200d (weather sealed). other than canon or nikon do take note that most other brands DO offer shake reduction in-body for their entry level models. this is a good-to-have but not must-have function, but i think most non-C/N users will swear by it. another point to note is that if you buy a lens, it can only be mounted on to a particular brandś body. so do take note of the lenses that each company has to offer, as well as the third-party options available for them. last but not least, also take note of a minor point called the crop factor.

if you want more information on the technical jargon, i trust that you are familiar with google, just search for shake reduction or crop factor and you should get answers pretty quickly and assimilate it your own personal way.

for your budget, getting all these with a kit lens should be more than sufficient - if you wish to get a macro lens as well, my suggestion is to either buy first and familiarise yourself with the body, then get the macro lens.. or save up more. also be sure to try out the camera in the shops before you buy them. it is not fun using a camera that you do not like using.

cheers and good luck.
 

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