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BRULEDRIFTER

Getting into a Digital SLR

24 posts in this topic

I'm looking to get out of the point and shoot world and into a SLR. Looking for a fairly low cost option with additional 200 - 300 mm lens.

I'm sure there isn't but is their a stand out "starter" camera?

I've seen the Nikon D40 with additional 200mm for about $550.

Also the Cannon Rebels....XS and XSI. A little more but have seen w/ a 300mm for about $750.

With regaurds to the lens, what will a 200 mm get me -vs- a 300 mm. Is there a HSOforum out there that shows examples of zoom? Say I've got a mallard at 100 yards, would a 200 or even 300 mm lense give me enough zoom to get a fairly close shot?

I know that their is so much more that goes into good photography and their is no simple answer but am just looking to get in to the SLR world and learn from their.

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Anything less than 300mm for birds of any size, will be disappointing. As far as starter cameras, I don't think you can go wrong with the Canon Xti. Also, do not buy the cheapest lens you can find. That would be a big mistake. Be prepared to spend in the neighborhood of a grand or more for the camera and lens. You can get the Xti for a little over $500, with a decent kit lens, and a 70-300mm USM IS lens, for a little under $500. Throw in a couple memory cards and an extra battery, and you're ready to shoot.

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Many of the manufacturer's are making nice starter cameras now. Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, etc. Its not easy but it helps if you have an idea on how you will use the camera. You mentioned ducks and wildlife shooting do you have any kids? Will you be taking shots of them, are they involved or will be involved in sporting events.

From there you can start to narrow your "focus" down to which camera and lens will work for you. If you have the chance go to a local store where you can put the camera in your hand, use the menu system, see how it feels. Are the controls easy to reach and use, layed out logically for you?

Take a look at this sticky at the top of the photo board as well. Photography Basics It has a discussion on lenses for a starter set up as well.

Good luck with your choice, there should be some great deals coming up this holiday season on cameras. Please ask if you have more questions or are looking for more detail.

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Dan,

Wildlife, some motion but more still.

Kids, all three in sports or always in motion!

Those are really the only two things that I really shoot now.

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That helps SideLake. Three kids in sports...ouch, you are a busy person! Now if I might ask, which sports? Indoors or outdoors? Field sports or court sports?

The reason I am asking if you want to take action shots of your kids playing sports the equipment choices will get a bit more specific. If they are indoors instead of outdoors it will get more expensive! frown Most of the equipment that would be used for sports will also work well for wildlife.

The reason I asked is many folks plan on shooting sports photos of their kids and usually end up a bit disappointed with the results from some lower priced equipment. You don't have to have top of the line equipment but something a bit better than lower grade consumer equipment. I am not trying to get you into high priced equipment, just trying to get some reasonable recommendations on something that may work well for you but not break the bank.

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I would invest the money in a good lens. The Canon Rebel XT is a very fine camera that will get you spectacular images and it's compatable with all of Canon's lenses. I have seen them new for under $300 on evilbay. By spending only $300 on a camera body,that frees you up to order a 400mm 2.8L lens for around $8000.00 grin

p.s.,I would tell my wife what I spent on the camera.....uhhh,the lens? ya,maybe not.

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Now if I might ask, which sports? Indoors or outdoors? Field sports or court sports?

Right now it's all outdoor field sports (Not this time of year of course). Other than Hockey, as if that doesn't cost me enough already! I have a feeling you're going to tell me I'll need a specific lens just for the rink!

On another note only 2 of the 3 are old enough for sports but the little one keeps me the most busy.

Thanks for all the help. Dave

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I will tell you that for the outdoor work you can get by with daylight shooting with a cheaper zoom. A 70-300 as long as you have good light will be OK as a starter. Focus speed along with the focus speed of an entry level body will result in so-so performance, but you can make up for that by shooting more shots! smile

Eventually if you keep shooting those sports you will likely move up to better glass and a better performing body.

Hockey.....well you don't want the answer on that one. Here is one thing I've suggested to a number of people just starting out with an interest in shooting action (birds or kids). If you are going the Canon route, spend the money on a 70-200/f4 lens. Very light-weight, good focus speed, one of Canon's cheaper jewels.

It will be short for field sports and wildlife, but it is a good focal length for hockey, basketball. The f4 will be limiting for indoor work, but I've shot in many rinks where you can get by at that aperture, especially with youth leagues.

Now for the bad news, the prices. Again I will use Canon because that is what I shoot, Nikon has similar lenses might be a tad more expensive.

Canon 70-300/f4-5.6 IS around $475-$500 Slower focus, not good in poor light. Has image stabilization. Can go cheaper with no IS and aftermarket brand.

Canon 70-200/f4 between $500-$600 All around good lens, marginal in low light.

Canon 70-200/f2.8 about $1100 All around great lens, good in low light.

Sigma 70-200/f2.8 around $700-$800 Good lens, fairly new to the market don't know much about it.

At some point down the road you can add a 1.4 tele-converter to get a bit more reach with your lens. It will only be usable during the daylight in good light. Because of the extra glass you will lose one stop of aperture with the lens so a f2.8 will now be an f4. An f4 lens now will be a f5.6. The tele-converter is not really an option with the 70-300 lens because you will lose your autofocus ability.

This all is a bit confusing isn't it. What you want to try and avoid is spending $200 or $300 on a cheap entry level zoom that will not give you great results. It is easy to get frustrated because you have an awful lot of throw-away shots because of equipment limitations. You will quickly find yourself wanting something faster and better. Nothing new here is there? In the end it will cost more money to move up to a lens you might have had first time through.

You of course will have a very hard time convincing a significant other that you need to spend more money to get great shots of the kids...riiiiggghhhttt! It really is tough trying to get started on a limited budget. You will make due with what you can afford.

This may be a bit over your head right now, don't worry you will get up to speed. There are great folks here that can answer most any question you might have. We can't tell you what to do but we can help you through many of the mistakes we have made!

So go ahead and ask away, we can help you with answers!

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Great primer on the lens topic, Dan. Having ISO 3200 available helps. Steve did a lot of his indoor work with his 100-400 4.5/5.6 but added the flash. If you can use a flash, that helps a lot with a slow lens. Bottom line, if you're going to get serious, eventually need some faster glass. With younger kids it would be an investment you'd appreciate for many years. Maybe a Christmas/birthday/anniversary present!

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I'm looking to get out of the point and shoot world and into a SLR. Looking for a fairly low cost option with additional 200 - 300 mm lens.

I'm sure there isn't but is their a stand out "starter" camera?

I've seen the Nikon D40 with additional 200mm for about $550.

Also the Cannon Rebels....XS and XSI. A little more but have seen w/ a 300mm for about $750.

With regaurds to the lens, what will a 200 mm get me -vs- a 300 mm. Is there a HSOforum out there that shows examples of zoom? Say I've got a mallard at 100 yards, would a 200 or even 300 mm lense give me enough zoom to get a fairly close shot?

I know that their is so much more that goes into good photography and their is no simple answer but am just looking to get in to the SLR world and learn from their.

I was in your boat a couple of years ago and I have already upgraded to a better camera. One thing to look at as well is if the camera will work with mechanical focusing lenses or not. The Nikon D40 does not and I'm not sure about the D60. I did see a D60 kit somewhere the other day that had the 18-55vr and the 55-200vr for $730. The great news is that with the recent introduction of the D90 $1000 body only the prices of the D80 ($650 new- $499 used body only) have dropped significantly. One jewel in the Nikon line up is the 70-300VR it is only a f4.5-5.6. But, it is a full frame lens with vibration reduction and in good light it is a great lens for about $475 new.

Having a camera that can use the older mechanical focus motors gives you many more possibilities when looking at older used lenses to save some cash. Good luck in your decision.

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I would also add that if you do the flash route as I did, keep your iso up to 1600 or 3200. The flash will help saturate color and nicely expose the kids, and by keeping iso high, you tend to avoid the flash having to do a lot of work to do that. And that means your backgrounds will be very close to the same exposure as your subjects. If you're at iso200 or 400, your flash will have to hit the subjects harder to expose them properly, and that tends to deliver very dark backgrounds.

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I would also add that if you do the flash route as I did, keep your iso up to 1600 or 3200. The flash will help saturate color and nicely expose the kids, and by keeping iso high, you tend to avoid the flash having to do a lot of work to do that. And that means your backgrounds will be very close to the same exposure as your subjects. If you're at iso200 or 400, your flash will have to hit the subjects harder to expose them properly, and that tends to deliver very dark backgrounds.

Steve, are you referring to using flash with sports? If so that may not be the best overall option for action work. I think you are using the flash as fill which really doesn't help with stopping motion. In order for flash to stop motion it needs to be the main light source, not fill and it needs a faster flash duration.

You need to get at least a 2 to 3 stop difference between your ambient and your flash settings, more if you can but without an actual strobe, not flash that will likely not happen. If you don't you can end up with ghosting issues and some motion blur because your flash is not the main light and it allows the ambient to also expose. That is what ghosting is, flash combined with slower shutter speeds and ambient light spill over. So the key is to get your flash to be the dominant light source. Remember with a flash the lower the power output the faster the flash duration, with strobes it is the opposite. With strobes the fastest duration is at higher power so the set up is a bit different depending on what you are using for a light source. Faster flash duration = ability to stop motion.

If ambient is say 3200 ISO, f2.8. 1/320s which is pretty standard in most gyms I shoot in, you most likely will use ISO 640-800 and f4.0 at 1/250s. I like to be off wide open so I can reach a bit further down the court by dialing my aperture to f2.8 to get proper exposure when the play moves away from me. When the action gets closer to me I can go back to f4.0. If you recall overall aperture controls subject exposure, not shutter speed.

The easy way to do this is to take shots of your ambient until you get a fairly dark photo. I do this by dropping my ISO because I am already at f4.0, and 1/250s my max sync speed. Then add your flash/strobe and adjust its power to get proper exposure on your subject. This will give you some light fall off on your backgrounds which many prefer. Most gym backgrounds are not all that nice to look at so a little darker keeps the eye from straying from the subject. This also helps insure that you are getting enough seperation between ambient and your flash to prevent ghosting.

In most cases your flash will be working at well under full power doing it this way depending on how you aim it (bounce or direct), with a 580EX I normally see about 1/4 to 1/2 power, with a 430 I would guess you would need 1/2 or a bit more power. This decreases recycle time as well allowing you to fire your flash every second or so. You cannot shoot with a burst with flash so your timing must be a little better.

Steve not to detract from what you did, or question your methods it must have worked for you but using flash in an action situation really is most effective following the above procedure to stop action and prevent ghosting.

Now we return you to our regular topic of a new DSLR, sorry we got off track a bit.

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No prob, Dan. I didn't get any ghosting. It wasn't the way I preferred to shoot indoor sports, simply what I was able to accomplish within the limitations of my equipment (20D/30D, 100-400 and 17-40, old EX380 flash). I never approached the level you work on indoor sports/flash. I just experimented until I found something that was effective for me. smilesmile

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My bride is in the market...she has been told an image stabilizing lens is needed. Help?

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The better question might be, how are you using the camera, what are you going to be taking photos of? If you will hand hold the camera, shoot in lower light conditions, portrait photos with no lights that type of thing IS is a very nice feature.

IS is helpful in many circumstances, do you have to have it? I guess that depends. If your bride is just starting out and seeing what her interest level is you may be better off shooting for a bit and see what develops. As others here can tell you most likely the lens you started with normally ends up being upgraded as you find out what your needs are.

Unless she is coming from a photographic background and knows what her specific needs are...well you might just take it a bit slow and see what she may want later.

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Thanks for the quick responses.

She is just starting, will most likely be taking pictures of the kids (at the rink, in the house, and where she feels they are being cute) She wants the Rebel xsi with a 55-250 lens f/4-5.6. From what I have read it seems like an good place to start. I was hoping to get at least a up to a 300mm but not sure if image stabilizing is available or neccesary, or if the 250mm would be fine.

Regardless it will be nice to move into SLR.

Thanks BL

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I think that set up would be good start. It covers a lot of ground focal length wise and should fit just fine for your use. If you look up the thread a few posts you will see a few lens selections. Canon does make a 70-300 with IS but the 70 part of that lens might not be the best for indoors shooting. You may not be able to get wide enough to include your kids. The 55-250 will do a better job of that.

As you said I'm sure you will enjoy the jump to the DSLR. Good luck and if you have further questions ask away. Most folks here have owned or shot much of the equipment out there today.

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I'm by no means a techno guy when it comes to equipment. However, rwecently I did some reading up on Sigma's "new" 20-300mm lens and I have to say that this is a very impressive starter lens for just about anyone. The 28-300mm just about covers all situations. The 28mm is plenty short enough for close up or indoor work and the its 300mm capacity ofers some decent reach.

What do you some of you more techno guys think?

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There is almost always as compromise when it comes to a large focal range. A one lens fits all rarely gives you the high quality results we all look for. I am more a fan of two lenses, one on the wider end and one at the longer end.

Often times you can buy two quality lenses for the price of one lens that has the large focal range. I have no idea about the price on the Sigma though.

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I recently sold an Nikkor 18-200VR that I wasn't happy with. I now have an 18-105VR and a 70-300VR. I like this match. It gives me a little focal length overlap but it is a nice travel pack that will allow me to capture most things while carrying low weight. Would I have stuck with the 18-200 as a pure travel lens had I not upgraded to the D90? Yes, it is compact and the problem I had was the vignetting at wide open apertures zoomed to 200mm. It was still Nikon glass, but the 2 lenses I kept cost about the same amount of money as the 18-200VR.

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