Beginner Canon DSLR: Which is the most user friendly to learn on?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by catherine_grant, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. I am looking to buy a Canon DSLR to take pictures of my 8 month old. I have never used a DSLR before, but have been doing a lot of research about the best to buy to learn on. I have features spinning in my head and am now more confused than ever. I am not opposed to buying used and just dont want to spend money on features I wont likely use until I gain some experience shooting with a DSLR. I also dont want to spend a chunk of cash on a camera that is "out of date" or doesn't have key features that are helpful to a beginner using a DSLR. I do not care much about video as I dont envision using that feature since we have another video camera. Which one should I start with? A used XS, XSi, XTi, T1i? HELP! I also heard that a 28-135mm lens with USM and IS would be the most versatile lens. Agree? Any advice is appreciated!
  2. I wouldn't recommend someone with no background knowledge of cameras to buy a used camera, due to the fact that you may overlook some important things to check before you buy it.
    I would also assume that the rebels such as the T1i T2i etc would be probably the most user friendly.
    However I did completely the opposite. I bought everything used, and went with a 20D instead of a rebel.
  3. The 28-135 isn't a bad lens for your stated purpose but it doesn't offer any wide angle capability when mounted on a Rebel. You might want both that and an 18-55 IS kit lens. Alternatively, the 18-55 VR kit lens + a EF 55-250 IS.
    I don't think general usability and features are all that different between these models, possibly the biggest things you might notice is that the later models offer Live View (can compose on the LCD) and possibly can shoot HD video. Your instinct to use a dedicated video camera is probably right for general-purpose use. And live view on digital SLRs is kind of so-so for a few reasons, most notably because AF is so slow that it's really best used for non-moving subjects, perhaps when mounted on a tripod. So all that said, one of the more notable differences as you compare these models is that the later ones will generally have higher resolution (less important) and improved low-light, high-ISO capability (more important).
  4. I don't have any experience with the Rebel bodies, but would assume that all that you indicate would be fine.
    Which one do you like the best? "That's the one I'd get!"
    Canon's User Manuals that are supplied with the Camera will describe many of the "photography basics," (i.e., Aperture, Shutter speed, Depth of Field, etc., etc..) and how to obtain them and which controls to use.
    No DSLR is so "User Friendly" that the User's Manual can be ignored!
    Lenses . . . for wanting to take photo's of the 8 month old, I expect the 28-135mm will be too long a Focal Length, and most Kit Lenses are not fast enough for "low or natural lit" photos of the "soon to be very active toddler."
    A Zoom lens will be very useful however. Something with a focal length of 15mm on the lower end. There are some kit lenses that may be better candidates than the 28-135.
    IS is very useful for Handheld shots. You will be taking alot of them.
    A zoom lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or larger would be ideal, but unfortunately are expensive. For the money, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 would be good for the type of shooting you describe. But you are looking at near $500.00 for this lens.
    Although I think still a little long, and not a zoom, the Canon EF 50mm, f/1.8 (around $100.00 New) may be your best bet.
    Are you currently using a digital camera of any sort?
    What Camera types and experience's do you already have?
    I'll beat someone else . . . It's often said here . . . "It's not the Camera equipment that makes the photograph, it's the person behind the Camera!"
  5. A secondary thought might be Canon's "superzoom" camera, the SX20 IS. I have its predecessor, the SX10 IS and use it all the time to photograph our 1 year old grandson. I do have a Canon XSi and seven lenses, but the SX10 is the one I use all the time, usually with my Canon 430EX flash mounted and a diffuser. The lens gives the equivalent of a 28-570mm range on 35mm, so I can shoot wide or zoom in as needed. With the diffuser on the flash, my around the house photos do not look like flash shots.
    The camera has the ability to "face detect", meaning I can point the camera in the grandson's general direction, and the focus follows his face. I often use the camera with "live view", that is with the rear LCD screen visible. This means I don't need to have it up to my eye all the time. I can hold the camera down, with the LCD swiveled so I can see what's going on. It has mostly the same controls and capabilities of my DSLR, (Auto, Program, Tv, Av, Manual, etc.) in a smaller package. And the silent shutter is a real bonus lots of times. I have used my DSLR to photograph the little person, but I always seemed to need a shorter or longer lens. And it's so BIG!

    As a bonus to me, the camera does shoot video, easy to do with the one button feature. I've shot the grandson babbling away to himself with video, and it sure was nice to be able to!
    Something to thing about!
  6. Starting out I would buy new - XSi (450D), T1i (500D) or the newer T2i (550D). I would not buy the 28-135 lens, consider the 18-55IS and 55-250IS combination for better image quality and focal range.
  7. Wow! Thanks for all of the advice. I am currently using a point and shoot Canon PowerShot SD630 6.0 MP is old, but I have been putting it in manual mode and playing with all of the different settings you can is limited though, to say the least! I am just not happy with the quality images I am getting. I am a good self-study but am also looking at some private photography lessions to really get me going. I also think this may be a cool hobby to get into as it really intrigues me. One person mentioned the Canon SX20 IS may be good? Do you think that would be a better "next step" for me? Or, do you think the DSLR with ability to use auto settings is a better next step? Can you change lenses on that one? Can you "soften" the background and sharp focus up close with that one like a SLR? or do the telescopic thing, bringing the background in closer while keeping the subject in the same place?
  8. One of the Canon X series, with just the 18-55 kit lens for starters, is likely the best approach, about the most economical entry into Canon dslr.
    I'd also consider the 7D body (or an older version in that series, if you can find it), with the same 18-55 lens. Compared to the X series, the 7D body is a bit bigger, easier to hold, and the build quality is better. Also, the controls and menus are a little different. Not necessarily better, just different. There are pros/cons to the controls/menus with each body type. It's worth considering which style you want to get accustomed to, upfront. It's not a big deal relearning, though. My main quible with X series is they are so small it's almost hard to hold them: your hands end up like crab pincers clustered on the edges. I would check out both styles in a store, see how they feel.
    One caveat with the 18-55 "kit" lens, it's quite slow, with variable max aperture. I would consider getting something like the Canon 35mm f2.0. I would still get the 18-55, for the versatility of the zoom, but the 35mm f2.0 will work better for interior, low light shots.
    Here's a good reference site:
  9. Catharine: The SX20 IS is a fixed lens superzoom as I mentioned. The lens starts at a wide angle of a 28mm, and can zoom out to an extreme telephoto of 570 equivalent. This is a range of 20X. It has full Auto, and Program, which will do the settings for you. It is no where as large as a DSLR, making it much more convenient to carry around and always have it ready. They sell for around $400.00 here in Canada, I assume they would be cheaper elsewhere. Combined with a Canon flash such as the 430EX II, it is a great combo for shooting children.
    Here's a shot of my wife's fuchias I took recently with my SX10 IS at a zoom setting, making the background out of focus:

  10. Great picture! Is that an external flash you are referring to, 430 EX II? What is the advantage to using that as opposed to the built in flash? Does it attach to the camera?
  11. Oh, and the diffuser...does that come with the flash? Or another purchase?
  12. I think the X0D series cameras are more user friendly than the Rebel series. The controls and menus are much easier to use and the camera itself is more solid. I saw a couple 20D's on Craigslist for $200. This would be a good camera to familiarize yourself wih the DSLR world without dropping a lot of cash. When you decide you've outgrown it, you can keep all your lenses and upgrade the camera.
  13. Bob's probably writing his response, but just in case he's not. I'll chime in a bit.
    Yes the 430EX is an external flash and the SX10 has a hot shoe for external flash mounting. The biggest advantage to the 430 compared to the built in will be the "effective distance."
    I can't find any immediate information as to whether you will get some "TTL metering" capabilities or not. "TTL" is Through The Lens and is more desirable to most.
    I don't know if the 430EX is supplied with a diffuser, but I do think the flash head will rotate and tilt allowing for "bounced flash" which will also diffuse the flash.
    I'm not familiar with the SX10, and I am a SLR/DSLR/P&S user and for the $500-700.00 you could probably set this up for . . . I don't think you will get even an entry level DSLR with a lens & features that this SX10 appears to have from the quick search I did.
    In the very long run . . . yes, I'm all for the DSLR, but to find time currently with the "toddler" and over the next few years to get the same results you probably will with the SX10 or something very similiar . . . well . . . I don't think so!
    Something like the SX10 or similiar may not be a bad idea at this time for some immediate good to excellent results.
  14. The SX20's (or any cameras') built in flash doesn't produce very good photos, bright light shining on the subject with dark shadows behind. And they don't have very much range. The add-on 430EX (or others) sits above the camera, and with it swiveled upwards, bounces light off the ceiling and does not resemble a flash shot.
    Even better is a small frosted plastic diffuser box that fits over the front of the flash. This sends the light upward and around the camera, resulting in very nice lighting with minimal shadows. Diffusers are made by Sto-Fen, but I found a similar new one on eBay for around $6.00, postage included . It stays on my flash most of the time these days.
  15. No such thing as an "out of date" camera. Thats camera company marketing limbo. Put an equal instance on learning true photography, as well as the gadgetry of your camera and you'll be good. Some of the best photographs of all time, were taken with completely manual cameras. Don't let the bells and whistles substitute your knowledge.
    When that said, look for and compare DSLRs that have great quality pixels. In the end, thats all that matters. In the pixel world, you DO get what you pay for.
  16. I started the way you did. I have a new daughter and she was my inspiration. I did great with a T1i, but the T2i is probably a better choice now. Stick with the kit lens, but put some money into a decent hot shoe flash and a diffuser. You'll do much better with that then the in-camera flash, and then you won't have to worry about buying a faster lens or jacking up the ISO to stop motion.
    I would suggest moving beyond the automatic settings if you can, though...if you're looking to take better pictures than snapshots, the creative zone is the way to go.
  17. I also have a Canon SX20 IS. It is basically a high end Point and Shoot. To a certain extent, I agree with Bob. It is very handy, has a great zoom range and has been good as a travel camera. It has allowed me to learn about exposure, work out what I'm interested in shooting, and what focal lengths are important to me. However, now that I've been using it for six months, I'm starting to find its limitations.
    * Image quality is nowhere near as good as a DSLR due to its tiny sensor, but it's fine for taking pics for the web or small prints.
    * The f/2.8 aperture is only available when you are shooting at short focal lengths (at the wide end). This is from the Camera Labs Review for this camera.
    The SX20 IS's aperture slows down quite quickly, only offering its brightest f2.8 between 28 and 34mm. F3.2 is between 34 and 50mm, followed by f3.5 between 50 and 67mm. F4 kicks-in between 67 and 112mm, and f4.5 between 112 and 168mm. Then it's f5.0 for a large portion of the range between 168 and 460mm, with f5.7 for the remaining 100mm of the range.​
    * At the other end of the aperture range, this will only shoot to f/8, whereas most DSLRs and associated lenses will get at least as small as f/22.
    * There is no Full Time Manual focus. You can focus manually, but it requires pressing a button on the rear and then using the rear wheel to focus, which is not particularly easy to use.
    * You are unable attach filters to the front of the lens (although there are work-arounds to this).
    Catherine, I think you need to ask yourself this: "Is photography going to become a serious hobby for me?" If the answer is yes, then I would forget the SX20 as you will outgrow it quickly and find yourself wishing for a DSLR within a year. In this case, you might as well buy an entry level DSLR (T1i or T2i) and start your lens collection now. This is where I find myself at the moment, and I'm trying to justify buying a DSLR... still not quite justified it yet. ;-)
    If, however, you are looking for a good camera to take photos of family, special occasions, holidays etc., then the SX20 is an excellent buy, and a lot cheaper than investing in a DSLR and lenses. For example, I used mine to capture this Proboscis Monkey whilst on holiday in Malaysia. This was shot from a boat on the river (so unstable shooting platform and where the Image Stabilisation came in handy) at around the equivalent 35mm focal length of 420mm at f/6.3 and ISO400. Although this won't be picked up by National Geographic, it is a good enough picture for me.

  18. I forgot to add, the SX20 doesn't shoot RAW, which if can be a downside if you want to get into post processing.
  19. Any of the cameras you listed have a full set of P&S controls so you can use them as a simple point and shoot camera and learn the advance DSLR features at your own pace. All of them have the same DSLR advance features except for the T1i and T2i. Those also have a video feature. However in my experience, if you expect to do a lot of video with your kid, it is better to get a separate dedicated video camera. The video on DSLR cameras are rather basic. I have bought half my camera gear used and that is a good route to go but I would try to get the most recent model you can, if you decide to go the used camera route.
    My recommendation for an all around lens is the Canon 15-85mm but the Sigma 17-70mm is also very good. At the 15-17mm range, you can shoot a family size group around the dinner table without having to step outside the room. The 70-85mm range is good for portrait closeups without being so close that you are almost shoving the lens up someone's nose.
    Once you get the camera, you have to decide whether to shoot in RAW or jpeg mode. jpeg gives you usable images immediately. RAW requires post shooting work on your part and some expertise in adjusting RAW images to produce good photos. You can also shoot RAW+jpeg with the cameras you are looking at. It uses more space in the memory card but you can get some very large cards cheaply nowadays. The point of getting a DSLR over a P&S is the better quality images. To get the maximum quality, you should be shooting RAW so I recommend learning how to process RAW images as soon as possible.
  20. A Canon DSLR to learn on?
    Definitely, get an original EOS 1D. That's the best to learn on. Well, the picture quality is not the best (neither from any Rebel camera!) but it's the best to learn on. You may want to hold on to it longer than any Rebel you are planning to buy. And when it's time to upgrade, you wont lose much value with the 1D, definitely not as much as with a Rebel
  21. Which photo editing software do you recommend that is most user friendly (not mac)?
  22. Ok, I borrowed my sisters camera this weekend to see what I like and what I don't. It is a Canon Eos 20D. I really think I would like live view and a lens with IS. Which of the Canon Rebels has live view but not necessarily video? Maybe a step down for T1i and T2i? Does the 15-85mm lens have IS?
  23. Rebel XSi has live view but no video. Some of the 2-lens kits available (saw one at Costco) give you the Rebel body, the 18-55 IS and the 55-250 IS. Both are surprisingly good lenses.
    Be careful, you'll be looking toward a 5D Mark II after that, it's infectious....
  24. Catherine,
    If you're thinking about using Live View in a way similar to how you use your point and shoot, I would encourage you to re-examine this choice, especially when photographing your growing child.
    Operating the camera while looking through the viewfinder has some very distinct advantages that will become apparent as you learn more and more about photography. This is not to say that live-view doesn't have its place or value, but IMHO, you'll be better off in the long run if you work from the ground up with the camera and its viewfinder.
  25. I found a used XSi with a premium lens, Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Image Stabilized USM SLR Lens on ebay for a good price. Is this going to be a good all around lens for me to use with me almost 9 mo old? Is it better than the kit 18-55mm one? Is it fast enough to stop motion? Thanks!
  26. [[ Is it fast enough to stop motion?]]
    Well, this is sort of a complex question, because shutter speeds are what you use to stop motion, not lenses.
    The aperture range of the 17-85 is such that, left on auto settings, the shutter speeds may be slow enough to not stop motion with lower light levels. But how much light and how much motion you're talking about will vary and so it's not really possible to talk about these things in absolute terms, just relative ones. What is true is that lens with a larger aperture (smaller f/ #'s) allows you to gather more light and thus increase your shutter speed, which in turn will freeze more motion.
    This is where you, as the photographer, will begin to take control. By adjusting the ISO, by adding light (flash), etc.
    All that said, the camera and lens you've listed is a good place to start. It's something that will allow you to grow. I would make sure you double and triple check the "good deal" though. Those "too good to be true" deals almost always are scams.

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