Need recommendation for SLR replacement

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by alan_varga, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. After 9 years away from the forum, I'm back and ready to take on retirement with a new camera. I have a Minolta X700, and am having difficulty finding a DSLR replacement after several searches. Can anyone recommend a body/lens combination that will give me the following (new or very-good used condition)?

    f/1.8 max aperture
    ~50mm focal length
    52mm-55mm threading for accessory lenses/filters (I have 55mm, expect a 52 > 55 step-up ring, would prefer not to go 49 > 55)

    ISO 100-6400 speeds
    ability to shoot in RAW or JPG

    cost all-in: $600

    I know there won't be very many options, but I am not a professional. I am only looking to take vacation photos and explore low-lighting, both of which my X700 could handle easily.
  2. So you want a DSLR. Right, that should be easy! There are pretty much only two choices IMHO. Nikon and Pentax. Pentax doesn't have a camera that can shoot sports/action/wildlife, but their cameras do offer features that you won't necessarily get in a Nikon.


    Now, if you want a 36mm sensor, there are some good options at different price points. I don't believe that the D700 can compete with modern cameras, but given its age and price point on the secondhand market, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I have taken it up to ISO 6400 although I'd recommend keeping it below that. The other option could be a D600. It is more modern but not necessarily that much more expensive.


    There are lots of DX Nikon bodies that I could recommend, as many of them are great. Just avoid the cheapies like the D3200 etc.

    The Nikkor 50/1.8 D is pretty good, too.

  3. Thanks Karim, I'll check these out.

    The main problem right now isn't so much the camera as the lens. A lot of what I am finding in the lowest price range typically have a range of f/3.5 - 5.6, which I think would only be good for daylight snapshots, but not for more serious work.
  4. AJG


    You should be able to find a used DSLR with 50 mm f/1.8 or so for the $600 that you want to spend. Be aware that in this price range you will probably find APS-C size chip cameras so the 50 mm lens you are specifying will actually cover the narrower angle of a 75 mm lens on 35 mm film, so if you want the angle of view of a 50 mm lens you actually want something more like a 35 mm lens to go on the DSLR. The kit lenses (18-55, f/3.5-5.6) are mostly a good value but lack the wide aperture that you're seeking. Nikon makes a 35 f/1.8 that would meet your needs; Pentax makes a 35 f/2.4 that would come close. I've had good luck with Pentax DSLRs and prefer them to the lower end Nikon DSLR bodies that you are likely to find in that rice range, but ideally you should handle anything to see if you like it before you buy.
    alan_varga and mikemorrell like this.
  5. If APSc sized sensors are acceptable, you should also be able to find quite a few mirrorless outfits in that price range, Sony or Fuji, maybe Canon EF-M. There are a good selection of fast 35mm (50 equivalent) lenses for the mirrorless mounts and you could use your existing Minolta lenses with an adaptor (and a 1.5x apparent focal length increase).
  6. You're not taking account of the fact that most of these kit lenses have VR (Vibration Reduction, Optical Stabilisation - call it what you will) and this effectively increases the range of lighting you can work with.

    A modern DSLR and kit lens can easily cope with snapshots in normal artificial lighting conditions and edging toward dim light that you can hardly see by! Handheld city night shots would be no problem at all.

    However, a fast aperture lens gives you even wider options, and also offers a thin depth-of-field for portraits, etc.

    I really don't see why a DX camera wouldn't fit the bill, with an f/1.8 35mm lens to give you the same field of view as a 'normal' 50mm lens on full-frame.

    Nikon's 35mm f/1.8 DX AF-S lens is sharp and cheap. Couple it with a 5000 or 7000 series body and, within the limitations of a fixed focal length, it'll tackle almost anything.

    Nikon's D7200 body is excellent, and you should be able to find one used within your budget. It may even come with a kit zoom, which may surprise you with its versatility.

    The suggestion of a mirrorless camera is also worth considering. An EVF (Electronic View Finder) often gives you a brighter view than a DSLR screen, especially with DX format cameras.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
    Ken Katz likes this.
  7. I agree with rodeo_joe. A Nikon 5000 or 7000 series camera with its VR kit lens would be a very capable image maker, and should be available within your price range. The high ISO capabilities of these cameras are far better than any film alternative, and the VR system will buy you at least 3 stops of slow shutter hand holding ability (with static subjects of course). Canon also made similarly capable and priced DSLRs, but did not make an inexpensive, fast 35mm lens for their APSC cameras as did Nikon. Personally I would only look at mirrorless options, but I have been swimming in the EVF pond for 10 years already. For a person who currently uses a manual focus SLR, an EVF adds an additional layer of tech complexity over and above a modern DSLR.
  8. Nah! You just look through it like any other viewfinder. The 'techy' bit has been done by the designer and maker.

    There's focus-peaking, which will be a novelty, but that takes all of 5 minutes to get your head around.

    FWIW. The EVF on my Sony is the first viewfinder I've had that offers sufficient dioptre correction for me to use without my spectacles. What a breakthrough! Brilliant! And it can literally see in the dark. It's like having night-vision goggles in full colour.
  9. "Nah! You just look through it like any other viewfinder"

    You don't need to sell me on a EVF and I will never go back to an OLV, but with an EVF you need to choose (or have the option to choose); what info is in the EVF and EVF Style, how long you want the taken image to remain frozen in your EVF (or finding the setting in the menu to eliminate that "feature"), how many AF points you want to use and where they are located in the vf, EVF white balance and brightness, high hz setting for reducing VF lag shooting moving subjects, and finding the EVF boost option (or OVF simulation option) when you are purposely underexposing ambient exposure (like when using flash in certain circumstances).

    Perhaps I am just tainted by the overly complex and unintuitive Olympus menu system I have been using for 10 years (and 3 camera bodies).
  10. I've looked at the Pentax K-70, the Nikon D-700 and the article on the Nikkor AF lens, and gotten up to speed on APS-C and FX vs. DX. Also, after skimming some comparison reviews, what caught my eye was that Canon does very well on color rendering.

    I found a Canon EOS 70D in very good condition at reputable online dealer for $399, and a EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens kit at Amazon for $155. (I now know the difference between Canon EF and EF-S lenses). What are your thoughts on this camera?

    Also, how good is battery life on these models?
  11. BTW, I'm staying away from any lens kits labeled "international version"; I don't know what that means, but I don't want something that may be intended for another audience (like regions when buying DVD's).
  12. If you're in the US, "international version" probably means gray market--equipment that wasn't sent from the manufacturer to a US authorized dealer. These sometimes lack warranties.
  13. AJG


    Color rendering with raw files should be good with any DSLR; JPEG output is subjective and I think you will find partisans for any brand on the market who will insist that their brand is the best. The Canon you mention is certainly a competent camera and should work well for you, but I would still encourage you to go to a brick and mortar store to try different cameras to see if they fit your needs if you possibly can. There are lots of good quality DSLRs on the market that will give you good results, but not all of the will feel right in your hands or have menus that make sense to you.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  14. That would be ideal, and I'll check one more time for a brick and mortar store, but the one I visited yesterday is only taking special orders; they "haven't had any cameras in stock for several months due to Covid". Thanks for letting me know that the Canon wouldn't be a bad choice. I was expecting to shoot mostly in RAW. I've spent a LOT of time in post-processing the last couple of years to get some old scanned photos/slides to look their best (including Kodak photo CD's). I'm pleased, but have definitely had mixed results.
  15. A nice 35mm lens, of which Nikon and Canon have made a few, is especially nice as a general, normal lens for APS-C, smaller sensor cameras. A 50mm on such a camera makes an good short-telephoto for things like portrait work, if it has pleasing out-of-focus characteristics.

    Any digital camera with more than 10 megapixels should work fine and will be relatively inexpensive to find. For a "full-frame" camera, Nikon users (when that was all they had in FF) used to say that 6 MP was good. They were right, by the way. More pixels are nice, particularly if you are doing mural size prints, but for ordinary images can be overkill,, unless you do lots of cropping.

    BTW, people are always saying my pictures are croppy, but I'm not sure why.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  16. An additional note on the Canon vs. Nikon choice.

    Canon APS-C cameras will take 'full-frame' Canon EOS lenses as well as the special lenses made for the smaller format. The full-frame Canons, will not work well, if at all, with the smaller format lenses.

    In the case of Nikon, there have been a number of changes in things like the AF system, so check compatibility of the particular lenses with the particular camera body model. [LINK to pdf file in jpg below] The "F-mount" is not nearly so unchanged over the years as some Nikonistas claim.

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
    mikemorrell likes this.
  17. I don't have any specific recommendations, but perhaps some general points.

    First off, I wonder - if you're looking to buy a new 50 mm lens - why being able to use your 'old' 55 mm lens (with an adjustment ring) on your new camera is a priority. Up to you of course, but IMHO you might find that this restricts your options with relatively little practical advantage.It might make sense if you were to buy a 35mm prime lens with an APC camera.

    My two 2.8 (max) zoom lenses cover 99.9 % of all my 'low-light' hand-held shots, in combination with a higher ISO (up to 128.000 is sometimes still usable, 256.000 usually not) and noise reduction in PP. As has been pointed out, modern digital camera/lens 'anti-shake' technologies probably allow 'usable' hand-held photos to be taken at lower shutter speeds and/or with smaller apertures compared to film. PP techniques can 'sharpen' images to some extent.

    I still have a Canon 1.8 50 mm 'nifty thrifty' prime (now retailing about $125, more than twice as much as when I bought mine!). Nikon has an equivalent. But in more than 10 years, I've only ever used my 1.8 lens one or twice when there's been almost no light. When shooting people/subjects within flash range, the 1.8 lens has no real practical advantages over my 2.8 zoom lens. Bottom line: think about how and when a 1.8 max aperture lens would really add to your photography in practice.

    The main choice is between a new 'budget' camera and/or lens and ones sold second-hand that originally had a higher retail price.You can find some good second-hand deals on-line but the choice might be more limited. Unless you're buying 2nd hand (or refurbished) from a reputable store, 'try before you buy' is a good motto.

    You've probably already scanned lists of 'best budget cameras' but here are a couple I came across:
    - techradar
    - creativebloq
    - digitalcameraworld

    I don't know much about the range of lenses that are compatible with brands other than Canon and Nikon. Browsing the 'used product' sections of on-line shops like KEH, Adorama and usedphotopro might help you get a ball-park idea of the used camera and lens models that together match your budget. My guess is that APC/Dx models that came onto the market in the 2012-2016 period might fit your budget.

    Happy hunting!
  18. That's a 2013 camera, and 7 or 8 years is a long time in digital camera evolution. The performance at 6400 ISO definitely isn't going to be as good as something more recent. $399 body only, also doesn't seem that much of a bargain for a camera of that age and specification. And while Canon's 'plastic fantastic' EFS 50mm f/1.8 lens is optically excellent, that's probably a bit overpriced too. Also bear in mind that it gives a 75 ~ 80mm equivalent angle-of-view on the Eos 70D.

    Don't be too quick to jump! Take your time until a good deal comes along.
  19. Get a Nikon D700 and a 50mm f/1.8. The D700 would work fine at ISO 6400, has about the same resolution as 35mm film.
  20. Based on a 5 minute google search, $400 for a 70D in good conditions seems about right today. Obviously, a more modern sensor will perform better, but it should be OK at ISO 6400. The 50mm f1.8 STM sells for $125 at Amazon, B&H, ect. Not sure what lens kit you mean but with a deep recessed front element, a filter for just protection is really not needed. Effective 80mm FF equivalent field of view of view. Another model to consider would be the Canon 6D selling at around $600. The FF sensor will easily give you another stop of high ISO performance over a 70D and the 50mm lens provides a 50mm field of view. I would agree to take your time to decide.

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