Camera recommendations (1 Viewer)

Brennan77

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I wasn't sure if this qualified as tech talk or photography. So if I need to mod myself and any of you care, I'll move my own thread.

Anyway, the wife and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this June with a trip to Paris and Beaune. We are in the market for a camera. A couple of years ago I bought a Nikon s9100 and have been terribly disappointed in it. It can take decent pictures from time to time but is seriously unreliable as to whether it will even work. I should probably send it to Nikon for support as it freezes all the time. A quick search will yield thousands of stories just like mine. It's a terrible camera that wasn't what I would call cheap.

I'm willing to spend a little cash this time. The wife was into photography back in college and was the school's event photographer for a couple of semesters. She used film. She has never warmed up to digital but I think is willing to be open minded about a serious digital camera now that she sees every idiot taking decent shots with a DSLR.

That said, something that big may not be ideal for traveling. But the Mrs. has rightly expressed that she doesn't want to fool around with small sensors this time. We want a legit camera with a large sensor and nice lens. It needs to satisfy her desire to play around with traditional settings, etc but also be automatic enough that an idiot like me can take a decent picture of a wine cellar or church.

I'm thinking we could be happy spending anywhere from $500-1200. We aren't serious enough to invest much more than that and I have an issue with buying a digital device for a ton of money only for it to be obsolete in a couple of years. What say you all?
 

thebutler007

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A full format FX sensor will allows the lens to be used like a 35 mm. I got the Nikon D700...which I like but the body will be out of date in a few years...spend your mother on lenses.

Check out one of these...Think it has a DX size sensor....and let's use different lenses..Canon has them too....
 

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That's a tight budget for a SLR and nice lenses. If you aren't buying used then you're more in the range of an entry level SLR or MILC with a kit lens, tele zoom, and perhaps one extra prime or third party zoom.

Are you mainly looking for a general purpose walkaround and vacation camera or do you have any specialized subjects?

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras like the previously mentioned Nikon 1 V2 are a fast growing segment between compact P&S and SLRs. They use interchangeable lenses like SLRs but are smaller due to the elimination of the mirror based optical viewfinder. The Nikon uses a CX sensor (compare sizes here) which is smaller than the APS-C sensors of some other models, but it's still well regarded. Canon's EOS M has lackluster focus speed and image quality. If I had to pick a current MILC with no concern for lens compatibility with future SLR upgrades I'd probably go with a Sony or Fuji.

You'll definitely want to try a MILC before buying as your wife might dislike the small size and lack of optical viewfinder. My shooting style still requires a DSLR, but I'll probably add a secondary MILC body once Canon moves to 180nm sensors and improves overall performance.

If you want to stick with a DSLR then I'd stay with Canon or Nikon. If you're buying new then the sensor will be APS-C in your price range. Nikon's latest APS-C generation uses newer sensors which outperform Canon's older technology. Hopefully the rumored 70D (March), 700D (June), and 7D II (August) will even the playing field. If I can cheat and use your camera budget separate from lens budget then the newly announced Nikon D7100 comes in just under budget and offers an attractive feature set if it performs as expected.

If you insist on including lenses in the budget then you're looking at a D3200 ($600 with 18-55mm kit lens) or D5200 ($900 with 18-55) if you want the latest generation from Nikon. Adding a 55-200mm or 55-300mm DX tele zoom would keep you under or near budget. The D3200 leaves some room for a fast 50mm or a third party ultra wide DX zoom as well. There are also single lens wide range zoom solutions which offer added convenience at the expense of some quality. Our resident Nikon shooters can give better brand specific advice.

The downside of buying a crop (DX) camera and lenses is that you'll have to liquidate if you decide to move up to full frame later. Lenses hold their value pretty well though so it's less of a hit than you might expect.

Like the MILCs I advise trying DSLRs before buying. You might find that you hate the feel of Nikon DSLRs and love a particular Canon or Sony line. I advise most non 1D/5D Canon shoppers to wait for the next generation models, but a 650D can still take great shots. I shoot with a 50D which uses even older sensor technology and still manage passable results. While I wouldn't sell my mother to buy glass, I echo Butler's suggestion of considering quality glass before the most expensive camera body. My glass/support/lighting/accessory to body investment ratio is greater than 10:1.

If you narrow your selection down to a few models I can give more detailed pros and cons. Some useful sites for researching are DP Review (and forums), Imaging Resource, Snapsort, Fred Miranda (reviews and forum), Nikonians (Nikon forum), and POTN (Canon forum). If you buy online avoid the cut rate NY retailers and go with a place like B&H, Adorama, Amazon, BuyDig, etc.
 

SaintSpyNDallas

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T3i can be had for around $600 depending on where you shop and it takes great stills and video. I Am graduating this month from film school and have used them on several pieces. Good quality for very little money.
 

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Consider buying used. You can get pretty good deals on cameras with just a little use on them. The Canon forum (POTN) Severum mentioned has a classified section with lots of traffic. I've purchased a couple items from there with success....
 
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Brennan77

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Thanks for the responses. Here's what will seem like a really stupid question, but it may tell you exactly where I am with this. For something like this Canon in the link, what is the compatibility of the lenses? Will a lens for that camera work on another DSLR down the road?

Also, if I want something a little easier to travel with, what do you all think of something like this? Sony NEX-6 review: it's the whole package, for just shy of a grand

The best camera I've ever owned was a 5mp Sony point and shoot. It wiped the floor with this last Nikon that I bought. And because of the latter I am quite hesitant to ever buy a Nikon again.
 

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Lens mounts are brand and sensor specific. In Canon's case they have EF (full frame), EF-S (crop/APS-C), and EF-M (MILC) lenses. An EF lens works on all of Canon's DSLR and MILC (with adapter) camera bodies, EF-S only works on APS-C DSLRs and MILCs (with adapter), and EF-M only works on MILC. The same applies to Nikon lenses but their crop lenses are denoted with DX and MILC with 1. There are also third party lens manufacturers like Sigma, Tokina, and Tamron make full frame and crop lenses in different versions for Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. There are converters and vintage lenses which are universal, but you won't be dealing with that.

Most entry level kit lenses (included at purchase) are designed for crop sensors because they are cheaper to make and more compact. That doesn't mean they aren't decent performers for the price however. While usually cheaper ($1,000 or less for Canon), high end crop lenses can offer excellent image quality and decent build quality. I wouldn't worry about starting with a cheap but decent kit lens as you can always sell it if you move up to full frame. You'll likely have replaced it with a better possibly non-crop lens before then anyway.

The Sony NEX-6 is among the best MILC/mirrorless cameras. I would choose between the Sony NEX-6/NEX-7, Fuji XE-1/X-Pro1, and Olympus OM-D E-M5. The Sony and Fuji use APS-C sensors (1.6x crop) while the Olympus uses a smaller 4/3 sensor (2x crop). Of the three Olympus has the most lenses available and Fuji the least. There are MILC specific sites like Sans Mirror and Steve Huff which can give added info. Again, be sure to try one first to make sure your wife doesn't mind the electronic viewfinder and small size. None will have the focus speed, quality, or versatility of the top DSLRs, but they all make great compact travel setups.
 
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Brennan77

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I think we're leaning toward a MILC, probably the NEX 6 unless Sony releases the next model before our trip. We just can't get over the size of a DSLR for travelling purposes. We went through my wife's old equipment and she has several Canon lenses that can be fit to the NEX 6 with adapters. So it looks like we could buy the camera with the kit lens for every day type function and still be able to use her lenses when she wants absolute manual focus, zoom, and aperture, which she says is the way she was used to working.

It's really crazy. She stopped taking pictures because the digital world was such a change and she can't get past her irritation to see the capabilities of a digital camera. She is absolutely against editing a photo after taking it, for example. She thinks it ruins the spirit of the thing. I think she's nuts. :)

We aren't sold just yet, but it seems like the MILC is the way to go for our purposes. Next is a trip to a store to hold and mess with cameras.
 

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I went through the same process as your wife, but it was about 10 years ago. Got my then wife a Sony Digital, but still shot slides with a film SLR. I think it took me about two years to break down and get a dSLR (the old Pentax *ist, had been hooked on/stuck on K-Mount lenses from a K1000 in the 80s up through the ZX-5). I haven't been seriously taking pictures for the last 5-6 years, but used to shoot a lot. I'd never recommend anyone go Pentax, though I've always been satisfied with the quality. It's just once you're locked in, it's better to be locked into the big 2 for lenses. BTW, definitely budget/plan for something like Lightroom, even if it's a cheap version. A little touch-up can really help out w/digital.
 

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Brennan, just curious why you said you would not go with anything but full frame? Is it because your wife wants the focal range to be the same as her film shooting or something else. I myself have a "crop factor" sensor and it takes great pictures. It allows me to buy lenses fairly cheep. Of course since those lenses don't have to have good optics at the outer edges, I can't easily move up to a full frame, but really the only reason I really desire to do so is when I would like to shoot some very wide angle shots. Going that route allowed me to stay in that price range you gave and still step up above entry level to get additional features such as bracketing and faster firing speeds.

Not advising you to go that route, just curious why you shut it out so fast.

edit: nevermind, I just saw that last post. The auto focus wouldn't work on most of the cameras I am talking about with her older lenses.

I am curious about the mirrorless myself. I have a lot of unanswered questions like how close is the viewfinder to what I am shooting. Anyone know a really good place to rent one before making the purchase?
 

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Philosophically there's no difference. When shooting with film, the photographer should be thinking about what's needed to get the print they want - the combination of film, exposure, developing parameters, paper, and printing parameters are all just steps to the final print. The only difference with digital is the tool kit.

Where the line is drawn is up to the individual - I do what I think is about the equivalent of film processing - including exposure adjustment, colour balance, and cropping, but not what's generally considered to be 'photoshopping' - building a new image from components that never existed in the real world (but in the pre-digital world that was still done - with hard copy and a razor blade ...).

I can always point to a single RAW file as the equivalent of a negative from which the image came - but that's just my choice.
Yep, while I agree they can be overdone, Photoshop/Lightroom are just an evolution of earlier processes. Digital post processing actually gives the average photographer more control since the print lab isn't the one making final tweaks to the shot.

Almost all digital output needs some minor adjustment if you're shooting in RAW. That isn't cheating, it's just getting the optimal output and tailoring it to the desired display media. I find that preferable to shooting hands off with JPG and letting the camera do all the processing.

Extreme macros are a good example of shots that would be impossible without editing and multiple shots. At high magnifications my depth of field is less than the width of a human hair so only a tiny portion of the frame is in focus. Multiple shots have to be stacked to capture anything larger than a speck of dust. Since dust, wayward hairs, and other contaminants are so noticeable at that magnification a dirty subject requires lots of cloning to be presentable. Even though that can require hundreds of images and hours of post processing the final goal is still to capture an accurate representation of the subject.
 
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Brennan77

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So do guys think the NEX sounds like the way to go for our purposes? I feel like my wife has all the warm and fuzzies of older methods of photography with little of the technical knowledge. I would never say that to her face! But I have to make her at least marginally in acceptance of our camera choice. She seemed happy enough with being able to manually adjust focus, aperture, and zoom with actual rings/dials. She was turned off by the amount of buttons on the Rebel SLR's.

As you can tell, this is a touchy subject. It's expensive too. So I want moderately good results.
 

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I am curious about the mirrorless myself. I have a lot of unanswered questions like how close is the viewfinder to what I am shooting. Anyone know a really good place to rent one before making the purchase?
I think a lot of DSLR shooters will eventually end up with a mirrorless body as a second/third camera. Viewfinders have been improving and are better than a typical rear LCD. The technology has lots of room to improve and there are some fundamental advantages over a big mechanical mirror/shutter. They still aren't optimal for fast moving subjects though.


So do guys think the NEX sounds like the way to go for our purposes? I feel like my wife has all the warm and fuzzies of older methods of photography with little of the technical knowledge. I would never say that to her face! But I have to make her at least marginally in acceptance of our camera choice. She seemed happy enough with being able to manually adjust focus, aperture, and zoom with actual rings/dials. She was turned off by the amount of buttons on the Rebel SLR's.

As you can tell, this is a touchy subject. It's expensive too. So I want moderately good results.
The number of buttons and dials on DSLRs is one reason I and most old school shooters prefer them to MILCs. That makes easier to quickly change settings when shooting in manual modes.

As long as you aren't doing many action shots then any of the MILCs I mentioned should work for you. If you prefer a smaller camera and she prefers the interface then it seems like a segment tailored to your needs.
 

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