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Thread: DSLR & Lens advice required for a beginner

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    DSLR & Lens advice required for a beginner

    Hi all. I’ve been a member of this site for about a week or so now, and I must say, the amount of information here for the complete novice is overwhelming!! In addition, the quality of photos posted is amazing and inspiring.

    I don’t currently have a DSLR, but I have begun saving towards one, so now is the time to ask that dreaded question – what do I need??

    The types of photography that I am particularly interested in are:
    Landscapes – particularly sunrises & sunsets
    Streetscapes
    Birds
    Aeroplanes
    Travel – again, landscapes & streetscapes, scenery wildlife (Africa).

    For the camera itself, I was thinking something along the lines of the Nikon D5100, or its Canon equivalent, EOS 600D. I think any higher than that would be a bit of overkill at this stage.

    But as for the lenses, I am pretty much confused. I have read here that it would be best to invest in a good Tamron or Sigma lens, rather than the kit lenses that come with the camera as a package deal. Budget will probably have a say here. A D5100 with 18-55mm + 55-200mm lenses would cost approx. $850, where the same camera with a Tamron 18-270mm costs over $1,000.

    All advice will be very much appreciated. If I need to add any other details, please let me know.

    Regards

    Neil
    Last edited by Doc63; 10-03-2013 at 8:13pm.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    You seem to have which body already sorted, as in what level of camera you want.

    I would say considering your penchant for a variety of genre at this stage, my suggestion would be an 18-200. That gives you a reasonably wide 18mm for the landscapes, and the 200 end will give you a reasonable zoom length for starting out with birding, planes etc.

    Just getting the body and one lens will allow you to experiment, learn and have fun while doing so. Then once you have all the camera functions down pat, and start to advance your photography, you can then look at specific lenses for the differing genre, and expect to pay top $ for good quality pro-level lenses. In the meantime an 18-200 will let you enjoy the genre you want to, and learn. Using one lens, that stays on the camera body also lessens your need to do sensor cleans etc (another thing to learn as your photography advances).
    Last edited by ricktas; 10-03-2013 at 7:54pm.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Ah, this common theme: beginner (if you will excuse my presumption) seeks advice on advancement of gear.

    Well, you did well to explain your shooting preferences. Your cameras of example are pretty good choices. I think that you won't get a definitive answer because there would be none. A good amount of research is evident, too, and in fact, you've almost supplied the answer yourself, the remainder being to make the choice.

    Only general guidance would be: get the system that would (seem) to cover all or most of your photographic interests, according to your affordability. That may just come down to a standard, typical "twin-lens kit". But it would be a valuable starting point. It would get you learning the camera system and its capabilities. Soon enough you'd learn its limitations and then... - the next question along these lines.

    Almost anything along the lines of what you have indicated would be a mean system.
    Am.

    (PS: Cripes: beaten again)
    Last edited by ameerat42; 10-03-2013 at 8:00pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    The Nikon D5100 and 18-200mm combo will serve you very well. You will be covered for almost every situation with that lens.

    To break it down as a generalisation for your needs...

    Want to shoot landscape? Shoot at 18mm-35mm
    Street? 35mm-50mm
    Portrait? 50mm-105mm
    Birds? 200mm
    Planes? 200mm

    Especially for travel, this means less camera gear for you to lug around...

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    I would suggest the body of your choice without kit lenses, and choose a 18-200 as suggested. Buying from our sponsors, stock ex-china will save you probably 30% on aussie retail as well.
    CC allways appreciated!
    My gear Canon 1100D, Tamron SP70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens, and Canon 18-55 EFS lens.

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    If you want to shoot Birds/Aircraft you will need a much longer lens than a 200mm at the least 400mm Canon make a 100-400mm and 400mm.
    More expensive than the Tamron you are looking at.. Don't know what Nikon has though I am sure they would have identical ones.
    Sigma make one that is 50-500mm I think, though to me long angle is one area where I prefer to keep to the camera brand name.
    I also agree about not getting the kit lens/lenses. Photography is not a cheap hobby and its worth it to keep saving for better lenses.
    Last edited by Mary Anne; 11-03-2013 at 11:00am. Reason: typo

    I shoot with Canon And Olympus Cameras



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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Anne View Post
    If you want to shoot Birds/Aircraft you will need a much longer lens than a 200mm at the least 400mm Canon make a 100-400mm and 400mm.
    More expensive than the Tamron you are looking at.. Don't know what Nikon has though I am sure they would have identical ones.
    Sigma make one that is 50-500mm I think, though to me long angle is one area where I prefer to keep to the camera brand name.
    I also agree about not getting the kit lens/lenses. Photography is not a cheap hobby and its worth it to keep saving for better lenses.
    The Canon 100-400 is around $1500
    The Sigma 50-500 is around $1200

    The 18-200 is Nikon $600 Canon $500 Sigma $350.

    Yes you will not get the reach of the 100-400 etc BUT as a beginner, investing in gear the $ is often a major factor. Once someone learns and discovers what genre they really like, then they can invest in better glass, if they want to pursue genre that need the reach of 400mm etc. I do get where you are coming from, but I think as an absolute beginner buying their first DSLR, $ might sway them away from a longer lens to begin with. The OP mentions the $1000 mark with the Tamron lens, so I took that to mean they don't want to spend to much, just yet!

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    ^^Those lenses are hefty pieces of kit - hardly the stuff of a beginner. And as a beginner, do you want to be lugging around ~2Kg of kit for the odd angry shot?
    OK, now the 18-200 is starting to sound like a goer for what you do and the stage you're at.
    Advice (Oh perish the thought!): keep it simple and modest and feel your way into photography. DON'T think that "GEAR!-GEAR!-GEAR!" will solve all your
    problems.
    Am.

    Edit: Just thought of something, Neil. Have you had/do you have any old film SLR gear. There may be some lenses you can use from that. I have used heaps
    of older legacy lenses, and some have been really good. I have recently stopped using an old 75-205 manual lens because of other stuff I have (finally!!!) got.
    That old lens was really good for definition and lack of (too many) aberrations.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 11-03-2013 at 11:30am.

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    I agree with you Rick about Neil not wanting to spend that kind of money most beginners don't.
    All I was trying to point out was if Neil wants to shoot birds then to keep saving for a better lens, Neil also mentioned Africa Wildlife
    It will probably take some time and by then Neil should know more about photography and be happy to buy a longer lens if he still wants to shoot that genre.

    And as a beginner, do you want to be lugging around ~2Kg of kit for the odd angry shot?
    Am I cart more than that around most mornings for a couple of hours as my macro gear weighs 2398 gms and I think nothing of it even at my age, and its keeping me fit.
    What has being a beginner got to do with how much you can carry around, and most people go out to shoot more than the odd angry shot as you put it.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Anne View Post
    ...
    Am I cart more than that around most mornings for a couple of hours as my macro gear weighs 2398 gms and I think nothing of it even at my age, and its keeping me fit.
    What has being a beginner got to do with how much you can carry around, and most people go out to shoot more than the odd angry shot as you put it...
    You have said it, M A - you are not Neil. You carry that weight of specialised gear for a purpose you have set yourself.
    Neil is starting out, and I am sure he appreciates your advice as well as mine.
    Am.

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    Wow!! Thanks for all the advice everyone.

    And yes, budget is an issue. I think starting off with a 18-200 lens sounds like a good idea, especially as I feel my way around. Then take it from there. The more I look into it, the more I appreciate just how expensive photography can be. So I think small steps to start off with as I learn.

    Went for a walk along The Strand in Williamstown this morning, there were people everywhere with DSLRs taking pictures of the city at sunrise - it really made me want to pull the trigger!! The views were great, so they would have got some very nice photos.

    Just to muddy the waters, someone has offered me a second hand D60, with a new Nikon 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 lens & a spare battery for $350. Is that a good deal, or should I wait until I have enough for the D5100 & a 18-200mm?

    Thanks again.

    Neil

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Have a bit of a look at this review by DPR

    It's a 2008 model camera, so a bit old in technology... (like, no Live View and no Video mode, to state the obvious)...

    It may well be worth the money, but how useful will it be to you is the Q.

    You haven't muddied the waters so much, just that I don't know enough about the setup.
    Am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Have a bit of a look at this review by DPR

    It's a 2008 model camera, so a bit old in technology... (like, no Live View and no Video mode, to state the obvious)...

    It may well be worth the money, but how useful will it be to you is the Q.

    You haven't muddied the waters so much, just that I don't know enough about the setup.
    Am.
    Yeah, I noticed that it is an old model. I'm probably better off being patient & saving up for the D5100 & 18-200 lens, as was suggested. I'm getting itchy feet though!!!

    - - - Updated - - -

    ....and speaking of lenses, I found the following Sigma & Tamron 18-200mm lenses. Is there much difference between the ones I have listed here? The only Nikon 18-200mm I could find was twice the price!!

    Also, would a 18-270mm, like the Tamron below, give me more options than a 18-200?

    Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC
    Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM
    Sigma 18-200mm f/.3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM
    Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II

    Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

    Regards

    Neil

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc63 View Post
    .....

    Just to muddy the waters, someone has offered me a second hand D60, with a new Nikon 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 lens & a spare battery for $350. Is that a good deal, or should I wait until I have enough for the D5100 & a 18-200mm?

    ......
    Not particularly! D60 is old hat tech, with many serious limitations from the camera body.

    For that combo, I'd pay no more than $300, but realistically $250.

    A quick spot check will find that a D60 with the twin lens kit may or may not sell for appox: $150 on ebay.

    I say geddit!(at $300 or less) .. I know what it cost this person, and while the 18-105VR is a great kit lens, they're a dime'a'dozen product ... and ebay would net you those items for about $300 or so.

    I wouldn't place too much emphasis at this stage on the currency of the technology, and those two items will give some good results to begin with.

    If you get more interested in photography, the basic feature set of the D60 will be the perfect camera to weed out deficiencies of the camera body for your intended use.

    That is, if you don't want or need compatibility with non CPU lenses, then why get a camera that gives you this feature. If you want(or need) a camera with mirror lockup, or an exposure delay feature, then look for that in the next camera purchase.

    So at $300(hopefully less) ... then you should have some left over money to acquire a good tripod for landscape work, a wireless remote for controlling the camera, and a few other accessories to assist you in getting the exposures right from the camera.


    How the future pans out beyond this point will become more clear as you understand more about how you end up using the camera.


    my advice would be to get it.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Yes, Kym's POV has some merit, but, the main Q would still have to be: How good is the 2nd hand equipment? Will it cark it after a week?

    Now, to the lenses.

    I see from the Tamron site - http://www.tamron.com.au/di-ii18-270_b008.html - that the 18-270 has some impressive specs.
    It will give you that little extra zoom over the others (1.35 larger maximum image, in fact, or about a third bigger). Its "macro" capability is 1:3.8 - modest!
    But it does have image stabilisation. (Sometimes I wonder if it's a good or bad thing for "learning" to take steady pics, but now I would not go w/o it.)
    AND, it is compact. I do not know about its IQ, but usually T has a good name there.

    On this page - http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/multi-purpose - note that Sigma also makes an 18-250.
    Yes, a tad less max. mag. than the Tamron, but slightly better "macro" at 1:2.9.

    Again, no idea of IQ, but usually not too bad.

    Am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Yes, Kym's POV has some merit, but, the main Q would still have to be: How good is the 2nd hand equipment? Will it cark it after a week?

    Now, to the lenses.

    I see from the Tamron site - http://www.tamron.com.au/di-ii18-270_b008.html - that the 18-270 has some impressive specs.
    It will give you that little extra zoom over the others (1.35 larger maximum image, in fact, or about a third bigger). Its "macro" capability is 1:3.8 - modest!
    But it does have image stabilisation. (Sometimes I wonder if it's a good or bad thing for "learning" to take steady pics, but now I would not go w/o it.)
    AND, it is compact. I do not know about its IQ, but usually T has a good name there.

    On this page - http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/multi-purpose - note that Sigma also makes an 18-250.
    Yes, a tad less max. mag. than the Tamron, but slightly better "macro" at 1:2.9.

    Again, no idea of IQ, but usually not too bad.

    Am.
    Yes, its always a bit of a risk buying something 2nd hand from someone you know - if it carks it, it can end up causing more problems than its worth. It may be a good deal, but I might err on the side of caution.

    As for the Tamron 18-270 & Sigma 18-250, they are both just within my price range, so they are worth considering.

    Neil

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    At this point I'll leave it to you ("Beaver!"). I can't say there is any real right or (w)rong.
    Cheers, and let us know how you go. Both options are creditable.
    When you consider it, (something less than) $350 these days... (I'll say no more!)
    Am.

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    When I bought my first DSLR I only knew of a rough price range I was comfortable with spending, went into a camera shop and asked a few questions without really knowing anything at all. Forgetting the debate about which brand. I purchased A kit of 1 camera body & 2 kit Lenses had I spent the time researching as you are doing I probably would not have bought a 2 lens kit. the combination I now in Heine site purchased, would have been a body & a better quality lens EG. something in the 90mm or 105mm f/2.8 macro. $900- $1300 approx depending where you buy and what make. There are a number of excellent lenses around in this class which are great general lenses that will last a life time if well looked after. All though you can still get some good shots from the kit lenses you would probably soon be wondering what lens to get next. If you want to extend the range of the lens you can then go to a TC lens without burn the pocket to much. Something like a good 90mm, 105mm f/2.8 are great for parties, scenic shots, portraits & holidays and in lower light conditions. This will give you time to practice & save for other equipment you may want to research & purchase later. Also look for lenses that can work on crop and full size sensor cameras so that you are not having to re buy later because you decide to change cameras. these are my thoughts looking back on what I now know. Hope this helps.

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    Thanks for all the help & advice everyone. There are just so many choices & things to consider. I think I'll save my pennies & buy a new D5100 & 18-200mm or 18-250mm lens. It might take me a while longer to get there, but I think I'll be better off in the long run. And it will give me more time to research (and change my mind again!!).

    Thanks

    Neil
    Last edited by Doc63; 11-03-2013 at 9:45pm.

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    Perpetually Bewildered
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    Doc you don't mention if you are willing to buy grey market (Hong Kong, etc), which (as extraball already mentioned) will generally be considerably cheaper than buying locally. If it was going to take me a while to save the money for what I wanted (eg 18-200mm), what I'd do is get the D5100 and 18-55mm kit lens as soon as I had the funds. (For example ~$490 including insured shipping from eGlobal). Yes the 18-55 will be redundant if you later get the 18-200, but it's not a huge investment over the price of the body alone (~$70 if buying grey). What it does do is allow you to get out and shooting much sooner. It also gives you a chance to give further thought to your full setup (for example once you get a bit of experience you might decide that the 70-300VR is a better option for you telephoto needs).

    [This is Nikon-specific as that's all I know, but there should be similar options in the Canon camp. Also I've only checked eGlobal prices as they are usually very competitive, but do "shop" around].

    I'm a fan of buying used to get started (that's what I did) but I think the D60 is too far behind the D5100 for the few hundred dollars you would save (for example the D5100 + 18-105mm is $670 including insured shipping from eGlobal). That extra $320 gets you a hell of a lot more camera (and warranty).


    Good luck with it...


    Cheers.
    Phil.

    Some Nikon stuff. I shoot Mirrorless and Mirrorlessless.


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