Digital SLR
March 21, 2006 11:27 AM   Subscribe

DigitalSLRFilter: I want to get a good entry level Digital SLR camera. I would like to get the Nikon D200 but its a bit much for me right now. Id like to spend no more than $1000 for camera and lens. What do you recommend? Thanks!!
posted by flipmiester99 to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
D50 with 18-70 lens.
posted by pjern at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2006

Canon Digital Rebel might be just the level you are looking for
posted by joshgray at 11:36 AM on March 21, 2006

I have a Digital Rebel XT, and it's great. The Kit Lens kind of sucks,but beyond that I have no complaints.
posted by chunking express at 12:18 PM on March 21, 2006

You can pick up a new Digital Rebel XT for around $800 (with 18-55 lens), and you can find them used in good condition for around $650. You could probably find a used Digital Rebel (not the XT, but its predecessor) for less than that, again with the 18-55 lens.

I bought a used Digital Rebel a few months ago and I've never had a single complaint about it.

Depending on what you plan on doing with the camera, you may want to go the used route, and put the money saved toward new lenses.
posted by Godbert at 12:30 PM on March 21, 2006

D50, but ditch the low end zoom lenses (they're all rather lousy) and go for a fixed 50mm or 35mm instead.
posted by aladfar at 12:30 PM on March 21, 2006

Rebel XT w/18-55mm lens will far outshine your ability for years to come. Don't be fooled into thinking you have to spend $400+ on your first lens(es). Wait until you figure out what you need that you don't get from it (wide angle, long w/ image stabilization, a nice fast 50mm, etc.) and THEN go crazy with the credit card.
posted by kcm at 12:31 PM on March 21, 2006

Id like to spend no more than $1000 for camera and lens. What do you recommend?

Buy a high end P&S instead.

The D50, D70, and various Digital Rebels are fine cameras. At your budget, you won't have much money to spend on lenses, so your overall image quality won't be much different from a top point and shoot camera.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:31 PM on March 21, 2006

although speaking of that, I'd recommend the Canon 50mm f1.8 for $80 so you have something for low-light/indoors. It's cheap as all hell but it's fast, small, and well worth the money.
posted by kcm at 12:32 PM on March 21, 2006

b1tr0t: "Id like to spend no more than $1000 for camera and lens. What do you recommend?

Buy a high end P&S instead.

The D50, D70, and various Digital Rebels are fine cameras. At your budget, you won't have much money to spend on lenses, so your overall image quality won't be much different from a top point and shoot camera.

People don't buy SLRs for image quality, they buy them for many other reasons including ergonomics, control, interchangability, and much more. Please stick to the question, as he asked what SLR to buy.
posted by kcm at 12:34 PM on March 21, 2006

i have the first generation digital rebel i could sell you with the kit lens for cheap.
posted by joshgray at 12:44 PM on March 21, 2006

P&S - Sony F828
DSLR - Canon or Nikon, your call.

What do I recommend? DP Review.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 12:50 PM on March 21, 2006

Used Rebel or Rebel XT, used Sigma 18-125 or 18-200 zoom lens. These are really quite good lenses considering their range and their size. However, they are best for outdoor work because they have relatively small maximum apertures (i.e. they are "slow" lenses). So if you've got a little extra cash left over, get the 50mm f/1.8 prime. The Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 is also a nice zoom lens to have for indoor shooting.

Sigma and Tamron make the same lenses for Nikon mount if you go with a D50, D70, etc.
posted by kindall at 12:52 PM on March 21, 2006

If you go with a Canon rig, I'm seconding KCM's suggestion of the 50MM F1.8. It's easily the best value in a lens you'll ever find. It's a plastic body, but for the money you'll be hard pressed to find a nicer piece of glass.

The Canon-Nikon debate is almost as fun as the PC-Mac debate. I say that with all the sarcasm I can muster. In the end, it's all about the person behind the camera and what you can do with the tool. Pick a system and go with it and give anyone the finger that gives you grief over your choice.

When you pick your lenses, make sure you won't hamstring yourself with glass that won't upgrade (I seem recall some of the D-Reb specific lenses weren't expected to play well with more advanced cameras).
posted by friezer at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2006

Make sure to take a look at Pentax's line of DSLRs - they're fantastic and affordable - my SO has one that she takes wonderful photos with.
posted by soplerfo at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2006

BH Photo has Nikon D70s (it's a D70++ on features), with 18-70 lens for just $1050. And with SanDisk 1GB card for $1105.

I will highly recommend you to go for D70s. It's a whole "lot of" camera, good for entry level, and it should last you for a long time. I bought mine three months back and I am yet to exhaust the options it provides (I could be a slow learner though). The 18-70mm kit lens is a silent beauty.

I'm sure if you shop around, buy the card from somewhere else where you might get a deal(rebate etc) you should be able to $ave $ome, and then some on shipping etc. When I bought mine it was less than BH by $35. Though I selected the cheapest shipping option.

Beware that in your quest for getting D70s at a sub-$1000 price, you might become a victim to one of those bait-n-switch NY cheaters if you are ordering online.

Happy clicking!
posted by forwebsites at 1:01 PM on March 21, 2006

Also agreed with the 50mm prime comments, that's a cheap fun fast lens.

I love my sigma fisheye also. My zoom is a very cheap sigma (and the pictures show it). Saving up for the Canon 70-200/4L
posted by joshgray at 1:02 PM on March 21, 2006

friezer : I seem recall some of the D-Reb specific lenses weren't expected to play well with more advanced cameras

EF-S (not plain EF) lenses are indeed something to be wary of. They're designed specifically for Canon's SLR cameras that don't have full-frame sensors. They won't work on Canon 35mm cameras, and they won't work with full-frame dSLRs (which at this time are insanely expensive, but the price will almost certainly come down).
posted by Godbert at 1:03 PM on March 21, 2006

My Canon Digital Rebel XT makes photos that look just plain fabulous, even with my meager attempts to fiddle with the different settings and do something "arty." You can go a lot further than I manage to and if you're inclined, lens kits aren't the worst in price and there's several options out there.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2006

I would pick up a used D30 or D60 on eBay (couple hundred bucks) and spend the rest on a good lens or two. I'm still really impressed with the quality of shots I get out of my D30. It's only 3 megapixels but with a good lens every one shines. It's head and shoulders over even a good point and shoot.

If you can post what kind of photography you think you'll be doing, I can give you some lens recommendations.
posted by ny_scotsman at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2006

I would seriously consider either the Nikon D50 or a Digital rebel; both are around $600.00 at B&H right now. You really want to look at your overall budget before making your decision, because these cameras can eat up a lot of money on accessories. You will need all the memory you can afford, lenses can get expensive really quick (but what's the point of buying an SLR if you can't change lenses). Then there are things you might not have thought of such as an external flash (or 2 or 3), a tripod (necessary to get the most out of your camera; a nice one can easily go for $500-$1000, although you gan get by for much less) carrying cases (especially if you plan to fly with your gear). If you plan to print your own photos do you have the software and hardware to do so? Of course, you don't need to get all of this at once. I recently had to send my Canon 20D in for some warranty work and have gone back to using my Nikon Coolpix 5700: the difference is night and day in terms of speed of focusing and powering up, the ability to control all the parameters of the exposure, and so forth. The differences between d-SLRs from any major supplier (but especially Canon and Nikon) are slight compared to the jump in quality you get by going to an SLR in the first place, so don't fret too much over exactly which model to get; look at the overal product line to see if it has the things you want to expand with. Finally, go to your local camera store and try the cameras you are considering. Ergonomics makes a big difference to some people, and you want to be able to use every function as easily as possible.
posted by TedW at 1:39 PM on March 21, 2006

I have a Digital Rebel (original). Two years on, I'm still pleased with it. I got the Sigma 18-50 and 55-200 lens set with the camera, and I've bought some additional lenses (75-300mm IS, 100mm macro) since then. The only thing accessory I really regret buying is a 2x teleconverter.

A friend has D70, and he's also happy with his camera.

Unless you're going to go "full frame" (which you won't on a $1000 budget), the previous-generation cameras are just fine on image quality--6 megapixels to 8 megapixels is not that big a difference.

When buying a camera, stick with reputable dealers. This guy brought the story of shady camera dealers to the big time, but on sites like "epinions" and in digital photo message boards this kind of thing has been talked about for years.

If you do go with smaller sellers, find out if you're getting a grey market camera, and if they try to upsell you or tack on extras, be very wary.
posted by jepler at 1:56 PM on March 21, 2006

I would go with the D50 since a) you expressed an interest in the D200 (possibly somewhere down the line) so you'll probably want to invest in Nikon to begin with; and b) it's currently better priced and featured than the DRebel XT, IMO. Nikon's 18-70 is a great medium zoom lens masquerading as a kit lens (avoid the D50's own kit lens, the 18-55), but if you care about available light photography at all, I'd go with the Sigma 30/1.4 instead for a very versatile 45mm equivalent FOV. The difference in FOV between a 30mm and 50mm on a crop camera is huge, especially indoors.
posted by DaShiv at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2006

Curious, why did you pick the D200?

Without further info, I'm with the people suggesting you go with a D50 or a RebelXT and put your money into lenses. At some point, you might feel limited by your body, in which case you can trade up to a higher end body that works with your lenses.

As some have noted, canon's EF-S line of lenses isn't suitable for body's with full-frame (35mm equivalent) sensors. The thing is those cameras start at $3K and given Canon's market segmentation, its questionable whether they'll ever sell for much less than that.

Also be aware, nikon has its own line of crop-frame sensor only lenses. Of course, its probably less of an issue with Nikon beacause no one is expecting them to get into the market for full-frame bodies.
posted by Good Brain at 2:19 PM on March 21, 2006

I love my Pentax DL. I looked at the Canon and Nikon options, and they all felt unwieldy to me. The Pentax has well designed controls and takes lovely pictures.
posted by zadcat at 2:35 PM on March 21, 2006

I just got my D200 after years of using a Minolta point-and-shoot. I also bought a very expensive lens to go with it.

I'm tellling you this because the quality of the lens makes a HUGE difference. HUGE, as in HUGE. I also bought a 20mm Nikon prime, and my 17-55 is WAY sharper at 20mm wide open (2.8), about the same at f/8. I'm going to keep the 20mm but only to use with film (I shoot 3200 ISO so I'm usually stopped down).

Spend as much as you possibly can on the lens. Don't automatically assume that the zooms are inferior. I've always assumed that, until yesterday! But the kit lenses (zooms with variable maximum apertures) generally suck. At 6mp, the camera will notice the difference between a good lens and a sucky lens. If you can swing it, get a zoom with a fixed aperture (hopefully 2.8).

My D200 is fucking fantastic. But it will also be outmoded in two to three years when new sensors come out with much higher dynamic range. Spend your money on a good lens and get a body you can afford. You can upgrade the body later, but the lens will make the camera better now.

PS, everyone I know with a D70 LOVES it. I don't think there's a huge difference between 6mp and 10mp. You won't go wrong with good Nikon or Canon glass.
posted by johngumbo at 7:47 PM on March 21, 2006

Canon Digital Rebel XT with a Sigma lens. Which Sigma lens is up to you, I would look at the new 17-75, though that pushes the total to around $1100.

Rationale: the Rebel is the cheapest, most compact full-featured DSLR on the market, and is beautifully built. Sigma makes lenses of varying quality which all beat Canon for price/performance. You can get a Sigma lens for < $150 that is already a lot better than the kit (not hard to beat that i agree that you should add a 50/1.8 to your purchase ($75) just to see what a sharp fast lens means. the rebel kit lens cripples the camera with softness, so i would not recommend buying the kit.

EF-S lenses are nothing to worry about since Canon's entry-level DSLRs and support for them will remain APS-C for the foreseeable future.
posted by azazello at 7:51 PM on March 21, 2006

When choosing a lens, you may want to check these sites:
the-digital-picture reviews
posted by azazello at 7:53 PM on March 21, 2006

Get the camera that feels happy in your hands. Personally I feel you get more features for your money in a Canon (which I use for work) or a Pentax but I love the Nikons and I'm happy with them. Once you start buying lenses you're stuck and couple hundred bucks is no big deal so make sure you like the way it feels and the controls are intuitive to you.

My SO is a pro photographer and swears by Canon, I find them irritating to use and prefer Nikon.
posted by fshgrl at 10:40 PM on March 21, 2006

Nobody mentioned the amazing deals you can get on the Minolta 5D. So here you go, it's end-of-the-line (Sony taking over Konika-Minolta photography assets) but for €550 you get a DSLR+kit lens and Anti-Shake on every lens you use.

Anyone considering a DSLR should also have a look at the Sony DSC-R1. If you can live with the range of the 24-120mm fixed lens, the "special" shape of the camera, it's size&weight, slower than DSLR responsiveness and Electronic ViewFinder instead of Optical ViewFinder this camera offers exceptional image quality, unattainable by any DSLR.

If you do not need low-light capabilities, prosumers (Minolta A200, Panasonic DSC-FZ30, Samsung Pro815, Fuji S9000/9500) could be of interest. Anyone of these could be complemented with a low-light compact (Fuji F10 or F30) and you'ld still get change from $1000 and save space in your camera bag.
posted by Akeem at 2:11 AM on March 22, 2006

I'm also thinking about getting a dSLR. The Olympus E-500 looks good, but like b1tr0t says, high-end point-and-shoot might be better value for money. For about half the price of the Olympus, you can get the Canon S80.

My current thinking is you need to spend lots (like Canon EOS 20D with good lens lots) for it to be really worth it.
posted by ciaron at 3:13 AM on March 22, 2006

Akeem: "Unattainable by any DSLR"? Nothing against the DSC-R1, but I'm sure a crop DSLR with an L lens will easily beat it

Here is why high-end point-and-shoots may not cut it (and why I switched to DSLR):
-Their AF performance does not begin to approach that of a good DSLR with a fast lens
-They can't shoot in low light nearly as well (lower sensor sensitivity)
-They generally have longer time to turn on and lower response speeds than DSLRs
-Their resolution in anything but the best lighting conditions can't match that of a DSLR with a prime
-As you amass a lens collection, the flexibility of your camera far surpasses that of a P+S, even one with a 24-200mm lens. You can cover the range from 16 to 300mm uncropped for under $1000 with 3 reasonable quality lenses now, and put on a superfast prime if you need more speed indoors. If you're into macro photography, the integrated lens can't match the affordable 1:1 macro lenses available for DSLRs. Your lens collection won't be very portable, but you can usually anticipate what you'll be shooting on any particular day and take that lens.
posted by azazello at 8:07 AM on March 22, 2006

Oh, and also:
-Viewfinder lag (or a non-TTL viewfinder) severely limits the ability to shoot sports and fast-moving objects
posted by azazello at 8:12 AM on March 22, 2006

Get the Nikon D50.

You can get it with the (quite capable) 18-55mm kit lens for less than $600 -- just search PriceGrabber or the like. You can find it even cheaper with a 28-80 lens, but this lens doesn't do the camera justice and doesn't provide a wide-enough angle -- avoid it.

Spend another $20 on a clear filter to protect the lens and $50-100 on a high-performance SD card (Sandisk Ultra II or similar). That brings you in under $700 with a VERY nice camera kit.

If you use the camera a while and decide you want a bigger zoom, you can purchase the Nikon 55-200 lens for under $200 or the 70-300 lens for under $300. You'll still be under your $1000 budget and will have a camera that does nearly everything a $4000 pro model will do.

Here's a very good review of the D50 from a professional photog if you need more convincing.
posted by DeeJayK at 8:12 AM on March 22, 2006

Akeem: "Unattainable by any DSLR"? Nothing against the DSC-R1, but I'm sure a crop DSLR with an L lens will easily beat it

You can't obtain the same image quality in a one-lens-package , for under $3000 and certainly not under $1000.

"Even a cursory comparison will reveal that you'd easily have to spend several thousand dollars on lenses alone to get this kind of optical performance with a conventional digital SLR."
posted by Akeem at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2006

People don't buy SLRs for image quality, they buy them for many other reasons including ergonomics, control, interchangability, and much more. Please stick to the question, as he asked what SLR to buy.

1. dSLRs are generally bigger than P&S models, so the carry-ergonomics suffer. The high end P&S models offer similar controls, so usability ergonomics are typically a wash.

2. The gap in image control between dSLRs and digital P&S cameras is much smaller than the gap between MF film SLRs and non-rangefinder film P&S cameras. You can achieve just as much focus and exposure control in a high end P&S camera as you can in a dSLR.

3. flipmiester99 has a very limited budget, and says nothing about needing additional lenses.

4. Just because the poster wants a dSLR doesn't mean that a dSLR is needed. Everyone else has already suggested the obvious solutions, I'm suggesting that the best solution may not actually be a dSLR.

FWIW, I bought my d70s with the Tokina 12-24 ultrawide zoom. With a 2GB memory card, I paid a bit over $1600 for everything. I have since added a Sigma 30mm 1.4. I already had the f/2.8 80-200 and a collection of MF primes. Every lens I own for my dSLR does something that a P&S can't. The P&S is far more practical, but the dSLR is critical for photos that a P&S camera is not capable of taking. Until you find that you are bumping into the limits of your P&S camera, there is little need to get a dSLR.

The 50mm 1.8 lenses are nice and cheap, but on a digital body, they are effectively 75mm. That means that the lens is transformed from a normal lens (on a 35mm body) to a moderate telephoto. For the APS-C sensor, 30mm is the "normal" focal length.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2006

I've had my D70 for over a year now (with the 18-70 kit lens) and love it. I used to shoot professionally for a living (portraits and weddings mostly). I take this camera out all the time and still marvel at the quality of images, battery life, and durability of the unit. I strongly suggest you hold several of these 'pro-sumer' cameras mentioned in your own hands for a few minutes before spending your money. The kit zoom lens is fine and will do 90% of what you want it to. Enjoy!
posted by bytemover at 7:55 PM on March 22, 2006

« Older Too many microcontroller to choose from! HELP!   |   You know those "wonder-products" you see on... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.