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Recommendations for a new DSLR

Discussion in 'Animal Photography' started by devilfish, 3 Nov 2013.

  1. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    I've put aside a fair amount of money to finally buy myself a good camera. I'm after my first DSLR - I've been repeatedly recommended the Canon 600D, is it a good model for someone who hopes to be taking very good (&fancy) photos within a years' time?

    I'm after something quite versatile, which I can soon use as a more advanced camera, and which will last me several years. I'm also intending to buy a good lens separately (most likely an extra zoom lens) but it depends on the model and what comes included.

    Any tips for an imminent newcomer to the world of big cameras?
     
  2. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    You can`t really do wrong with neither of the current models. They are all very good. Even the cheaper, smaller models like the Canon 600d and 650d have pretty much everything you need, I am still using a 550d myself and I see no reason to upgrade, there is no difference in pictures quality with much more expensive new 70d.

    What is actually way more important then the body is what lens you are going to use. You can spend a *fortune* on lenses. It`s very easy to become addicted. I recommend you to seriously look into the lens lineup of the brand you are considering before buying a body. Canon is a good choice there, though - plenty of lenses of all price classes to choose from. A lot of animal/wildlife fotographer use Canon because Canon has a HUGE choice of excellent tele lenses, more so then Nikon and certainly much more then Pentax and Sony.

    How much money do you intend to spend?
     
  3. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much.
    In total I don't really want to go far over £1000. What would you suggest, lens-wise?
     
  4. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    A bit late at night for me to make a proper response but I wouldn't consider a 600D when there is a more up to date and presumably better 700D available.
     
  5. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    As a Canon owner I can only comment on Canon products and based on a £1000 budget and assuming you are buying new then you are really looking at the Canon xxxD series the latest of which is the 700D. However you should really try handling these camera bodies as they are quite small and you may not find them comfortable to hold. Do you want one lens or two, i.e., a kit lens for general photography (e.g., Canon 18-55) and then a longer lens specifically for zoo work (e.g., Canon 55-250, 70-200, 70-300) or just a longer lens?
     
  6. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    My advice is to buy Canon 650D or 700D, EF-S 18-55 IS STM and EF-S 55-250 IS STM. These latest versions of xxxD cameras are better for video recording than previous. If you don't want to use camera in this way than 600D is also suitable. STM versions/revisions of mentioned lenses were improved optically (and they have stepping motors - also specially for video), so don't look at their previous revisions.
     
  7. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    That's a decent combo and currently at WEX would set you back £885 (although may be available cheaper elsewhere) leaving money for memory cards, bag, cleaning kit, etc. And if you wanted a bit more reach (you can never have too much!) you could get the EF 70-300 IS lens instead of the EFS 50-250 for another £50.

    However I reiterate that you should handle the 700D first as the xxxD bodies are quite small and you may not like the feel (I wouldn't).

    Of course you should also try handling other makes such as Nikon and Sony as you may find that one of them suits you better in terms of feel and button layout, as in terms of performance at this price level all the cameras will produce similar and very acceptable images.
     
  8. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    The 700D combo seems great - thanks guys!

    Although it's a 700D (good video); I can't imagine I'll be using the excellent video capabilities much. Why do you recommend the STM over the USM? (just for video advantages?)
    Also, Jackwow, is the EF 70-300 lens you recommend not STM either? I imagine image stability will be a big deal for me.

    I've held the 600D and it felt ok; I'd like to get a feel for the 700D too before ordering it.

    Is there not a single lens which will cover that focal length - equivalent to Nikon's AF-S 18-300mm?
     
  9. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    USM stands for ultrasonic motor which is quiet and fast. But cheap lenses (including recommended by me) usually equipped with conventional motors which are loud and relatively slow. Stepping motor is innovation specially for video capturing as it provide silent and very smooth moving during focusing.

    Full name of this lens: CANON EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. IS stands for Image Stabilizer so you will get stabilized picture with well reduced impact of camera shaking.

    These models are quite similar in this sense. Many people praise and recommend Canon 100D, they say it is small but convenient camera. But as for me it is pricey yet.

    Such lenses often have not so good optical quality. You can choose Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, but I think that Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is better choise.

    I have never had camera of manufacturer other than Canon so I cannot advice you nothing more. If you really need something like 18-300 mm so try it and Sony 18-250. Compare pictures on you own PC, not on camera screens :)
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2013
  10. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much callorhinus. I think I'll go with your suggestion of the 700D package with an extra lens. I've been reading reviews & watching videos and would appreciate suggestions; the 70-300mm USM lens is about 6 years older than the 55-250 STM you first mentioned but I've found them for a similar price. Given that you initially suggested the latest model, what would you recommend? Would I lose much by missing out the 55-70 range? I'm trying to think which one I'd prefer but from my point of view there are pros and cons to both, but I'd be grateful for knowledgeable opinions. :)
    Thanks again guys.
     
  11. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    I have a 600D with the 18-200mm and I have no complaints for what I want to do, which is to take wild animal ID shots and the occasional social shot. For my needs, the 18-200mm lens is the perfect all round travel companion. Months after buying the camera and lens, I bought another lens (a 60mm macro) which I have used a total of two times.

    If you don't like the idea of having to carry around two lenses and switch them out according to the situation, then the 18-200mm will cover the entire range of landscape wide-angle shots (18mm) to zoomed in shots (200mm). If you are new to DSLR photography as I was, then this lens is a great starter lens to help you get the hang of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed etc.

    I agree with the other posters that if you can afford it, then get the newer EOS model (700D?).
     
  12. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    As for me missing of 55-70 mm and 250-300 mm are identically unpleasant or identically indifferent. If I were you my choice is 55-250 AND additional telephoto lens later and for other money. But I don't want to affect on your decision, it's up to you. This is only considering focus range. But 70-300 has USM, it is faster almost for sure, and maybe you will like this feature. On the other side I've heard several times that resolving power of this lens (I hope it is right word) is not enough for modern cameras with 15 Mpix and more.
    If you will record video with you new camera (think about it now) so I recommend STM lenses and last camera models.
    Please read my next post too!
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2013
  13. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    I think that almost any camera, except cheapest and simplest point-and-shoot models, allow you to learn and understand the technical basics of photography (ISO etc.). DSLR have ability to work with exchangeable lenses, it is very important feature. If you use it with single lens just like cheap point-and-shoot camera (note: I have nothing against these cameras and against such use of any camera), so maybe you don't need relatively expensive DSLR? devilfish gets pretty good pictures with Panasonic TZ20. Maybe ultrazoom like Panasonic FZ200 with it's large range (25-600mm in 35 mm equivalent) of fast zoom (constant 2.8 across the zoom range) will be enough?

    To devilfish: what advantages (comparing with yours actual camera) do you want to see in you new DSLR? Do not hurry with your new purchase! Remember: you are choosing friend for years! :)
     
  14. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks callorhinus, some very good suggestions.

    There are a number of reasons I'd like to step up my camera:
    My current cameras are very poor in low-light conditions, with iPhones often taking better photos
    I'd like the ability to zoom further and still get high quality images, hence my focus on lenses.
    Manual options on my camera are quite limited. I'd like to start playing with features a bit more.
    I'd like higher quality images - only a small percentage of those I currently take are satisfying; I'd like to increase the proportion.
    My current camera has limited ability to focus beyond fencing or dirty windows, and when it does they tend to dirty the image anyway. I think the TZ6 may have been better, but I'd like to step that up too.

    Although the majority of my photography would probably still be more 'point-and-shoot', I'd still like the chance to sit down and take my time with very nice outcomes.

    I think the ideal camera would be something like the FZ200 with higher quality images and better low-light function.
     
  15. Jackwow

    Jackwow Well-Known Member

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    If you want to improve your photography then a DSLR is the way to go, super-zoom bridge cameras are not.

    Definitely changing lenses is a pain but for general zoo shots (shots of the entrance and enclosures, etc) and when an animal gets very close the short end of a long zoom lens, e.g., 55mm or 70mm is going to be too long necessitating a lens change. For a while I was carrying two DSLR's, one with 70-300mm lens and one with 24-105mm lens so I could swap quickly depending on the need. This was heavy and a bit cumbersome and as 95% of my zoo shots are taken in the 70-300mm range I stopped carrying the DSLR with 24-105mm and now use a point and shoot camera for these wider pictures.

    Regarding zoom lenses that cover a large range of focal lengths, e.g., Canon 18-200, Nikon 18-300, these are a compromise in optical quality however I doubt that most people would notice any difference between these types of lenses and the other budget lenses that have been mentioned. On this subject I saw an add in the this weeks Sunday Times for a Tamron 18-270mm which comes in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. I've no idea what it is like but no doubt there are reviews on the net. Alternatively Canon do have a 28-300L lens for about £2200!

    Re, missing 55-70mm or 250-300mm focal lengths, when it comes to wildlife you will definitely miss 250-300mm the most,
     
  16. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    In other words, you want modern camera with large enough sensor, with full manual control and with possibility of using (zoom) lenses with large range. You have options: expensive ultrazooms (but almost all of them are not so good in low-light conditions, and honestly, such camera is usually the dead-end in the sense of photography learning), mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (most of them have different problems at this moment) and DSLR. Last option will give you “free hand” and very good quality of photos. 250 mm of EF-S 55-250 are very close to 69 mm of TZ20 (400 mm vs 384 mm in 35 mm equivalent). Is it enough for you? If yes, I can only repeat my recommendations.

    If you want to blur fencing then you should use fast lens (with big aperture, e.g. 1.8 ) and/or use lens with large focal length to get small depth of field. Anyway, DSLR gives you more freedom – for additional money usually, of course.
    Modern automatic programs are quite good, so you will get good pictures with you new camera in point-and-shoot mode. But prepare to learn many things and try much to get a really exciting photos.
     
  17. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    An update: No purchase yet - I wasn't as financially stable as I'd hoped previously. I'm still in two minds between a DSLR and superzoom. I'll wait to see what superzooms come out of CES 2014 this week and then I'll make a decision. :)
     
  18. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Everything said so far is right on the money. For general photography, a superzoom (or bridge) camera can be a good way to go. For zoos, however, there is one major problem which makes an SLR preferable. Cameras that are all in one (built in lens) are meant to be used in autofocus mode only. Although some offer manual focus, it is so difficult to judge that it is really a useless feature. When shooting through fences, the autofocus will invariably lock on the fence. The only way to shoot through a fence (blur it out) and focus on the animal is to switch to manual focus. (You can sometimes use autofocus if you have a lens with a focus limiter switch, but these are only available on expensive professional SLR lenses).

    So if you want clear pictures of an animal through a fence, an SLR is unquestionably the way to go. If you only want record shots and do not mind the fence showing up, then a superzoom may be ok. The one advantage to an all in one superzoom is that they can have telephoto lengths that far exceed the standard 300mm you would get in an affordable SLR lens.

    As for brand, it does not really matter. Camera technology has advanced to the point that it is next to impossible to buy a bad camera. If you have a photographer friend you sometimes travel with, my advice would be to buy their brand so they can give you on the spot help and perhaps let you occasionally borrow a lens. Otherwise, Canon/Nikon/Sony/Pentax are all excellent for DSLR's, although the widest lens choice will be with Canon and Nikon.
     
  19. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. I finally bought the Canon 750D this week with an 18-135mm IS STM lens (probably to soon be joined by the 55-250mm lens). It seems brilliant so far.

    I had bought the Canon SX50 last year (bridge with 50x optical zoom) but it was poor in low light/high speed. Limited focussing ability was frustrating, with a large proportion of photos slightly out of focus. The shutter stopped working a couple of weeks ago whilst on a zoo weekend in Yorkshire and my insurance company will reimburse me 75% of the original cost. So I have taken this opportunity to fix that mistake. :)
     
  20. callorhinus

    callorhinus Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations! I wish you good luck with your new friend, and a great number of a great photos of course! :)