New Photographer, not sure where to start.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by michaeldogan, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. I was all ready to run out and buy my Canon Digital Rebel XTi after reading Mr.
    Greensupn?s excellent article about ?Building a DSLR System?, the various
    reviews on this (and other) site(s), and lurking in the forums for a while.
    Then I went to a camera shop and held a Canon and a Nikon in my hands. I can?t
    explain it, but the Nikon just felt better. As a ?noob? I?m not sure I?m even
    qualified to say that, or know what one ?should? feel like, but it just did.
    But before doing so, I was ?sold? on the Canon line. Maybe because of what I?ve
    read about the availability of quality lenses, or my happiness with Canon point
    and shoot camera?s, and surely Mr. Greenspun?s glowing recommendations played a
    part in forming my opinion. I?m also a bit concerned about the ?noise? issue I
    seem to always read about with Nikons, even from what appear to be diehard Nikon
    But just holding them? even recognizing that I don?t know what they ?should?
    feel like, I was drawn to the Nikon.
    Can somebody convince me that Nikon is a good choice despite the seemingly
    higher cost, perceived noise issues etc. Also help me understand what model
    might be right for me as a beginner, and what lenses to consider starting out
    with (I definitely would like to buy high quality lenses). I assume buying body
    only and then better glass is a good idea. I am very interested in portrait
    photography, landscape/nature photography and just exploring the medium in
    general. Although I haven?t determined a hard and fast budget yet, I am
    concerned that I need to keep in mind all the little extras I will need? memory
    cards, tripod, bag, lens hoods, filters, etc since I?m starting from scratch in
    the hobby.
    While I feel that Mr. Greenspun?s article was excellent, it also seemed to have
    a very strong Canon slant, and may be slightly outdated (particularly with the
    D3 and D300 due out soon).
    After convincing me that Nikon is a viable choice, can someone kindly help point
    me in the right direction as far as a good starting point. For example, is the
    D300 too high end for a beginner? Should I be looking at a lower end model? I
    know budget plays a lot into it, but truth be told, I COULD buy the most
    expensive camera and glass that are on the market, but I don?t think that is
    very wise for someone who is new to the hobby. While you are at it, can someone
    convince me that all the money I invest in small sensor Nikon lenses won?t be
    obsolete in a couple of years? (not that I think I should really consider the
    expense of a full sensor camera? but if I?ll be ?throwing away? money in the
    long run the lenses will probably be much more expensive than the difference in
    the camera bodies alone.
    Sorry for the long post. I?m terribly excited and interested in getting
    started, but suffering from ?analysis paralysis? and was not at all impressed by
    the ?local experts? at my local camera shop.
    Thanks in advance for all of your input.
  2. If I were starting from scratch right now, and happened to like the feel of a Nikon body (which I do!), and could POSSIBLY wait until the D300 was shipping this fall, that's what I'd do. But, depending on what sort of glass you're thinking of buying, you could also get some killer lenses right now, a D40X, and get your feet wet... and wait out the initial lumps, bumps, and price wildness on the D300. The D40X would still be a great grab-and-go camera for later, regardless.

    Nikon, especially with the two new upcoming bodies, is a very viable choice. That whole how-does-it-feel ergonomics and style issue is not only a reasonable thing to take into account, it's starting to be one of the key distinguishing features that separates the N camp from the C camp. The smaller sensors are going to be with us for a long time, in both lines of cameras. The fantastic lenses made by both companies, as well as by some increasingly high quality third parties mean that the race is close on that end, too. Good luck! Buy what feels right in your hand.
  3. When I was young I was impressed with bells and whistles. In mid - life I became a lens snob. Now that I'm older and wiser, I realize that the camera body is more than just a light tight box. Simply put, if you truly enjoy using your camera then you probably will use it, a lot. If it's a pain in the neck, then it will eventually end up sitting in a closet for years.

    Sure, there are other and perhaps more important considerations. But the ergonomics of actually using your camera (and its "feel" is an important and frequently overlooked part of that) is a very important factor too.
  4. What was the question?
  5. Michael, we understand your excitement totally. Today someone asked me if photography was a hobby of mine, I responded that it's more like an obsession...looks like you might be heading that way. ;-)

    I know what you mean about one camera feeling better than the other. That's what made my decision for me when I got my first DSLR since I didn't have an investment in either Canon or Nikon lenses.

    Noise/less noise is not going to be the only reason to make your decision. If you expose correctly and stay at low ISOs, you're probably not going to see much noise from a Nikon either.

    You need to feel comfortable with your camera physically. Plus, the flash systems for Nikon and Canon are different. Most opinions are that Nikon has the better system.

    Yes, Canon has more lens choices than Nikon. But Nikon choices aren't enough? Your goal isn't to buy every lens that the manufacturer makes, is it? I think if you continue to read this forum, most people have two, maybe three lenses that they use most of the time.

    Both Canon and Nikon are excellent products, you will find professionals use both.

    Most of what I'm saying here are bits and pieces I picked up from reading every day. It's full of invaluable information. Most people say if you spend less on the body, you will have more of your budget left over lenses.

    Personally, I think if you buy a body and the kit lens that goes along with it (either Canon or Nikon), then you can slowly see what else you might need rather than buy everything you think you need tomorrow and then never use it. Spend the time with your first lens to get used to your camera and to get better at photography.

    Something I read on stuck with me. Michael Reichmann said it doesn't matter how expensive your lenses are, if you're not using a tripod, you are not going to get the full benefit of the lens. Someone with a tripod and a kit lens will more than likely get better results than someone with an expensive lens and no tripod at a slower shutter speed.

    I don't think someone else can answer for you what body you should begin with. I personally found the D200 just a little too heavy for me, but then I'm a small person. You might not think that. I have a D80, it has more features than a D40X, but do I use them? Yes!

    I think that a full frame sensor is going to be very expensive for some time to come, probably more money than most people are willing to pay. I think the Canon Digital Rebel came out in 2003. I'll bet there are plenty of people who are still using one. Several people on this forum have remarked that you buy for now, not what you think the market will be in the future. I think it's good advice.

    And most importantly, whichever manufacturer you decide on, be happy with your choice, and don't get "buyer remorse." Cameras from either manufacturer are excellent, high tech pieces of equipment. If you're getting bad photographs, it's probably your fault and not that of your equipment. Do your homework, get one or the other, and don't look back.

    Here's a good article by Thom Hogan. I like that he narrowed down lens choices for us. I'm sure you will find somewhere an article written by someone who will recommend two or three favorite Canon lenses as well.

    Oh, I've had too much coffee. Good luck, Michael, and keep reading this Web site.
  6. Welcome to the hobby! What Nikon model did you handle? If you liked how the Nikon body
    felt in your hands, that's the right camera for you. I don't know if you handled the D40x,D80
    or D200. Myself I like how the D80 fits in my hands, also D200 but the D40x is way too
    small. A very good starting glass is the kit lens 28-70 f3.5-4.5. It's not too slow, smooth,
    high quality, well built, good for almost all situations and when you buy it with the body the
    price is really good. If you get a set like that just start shooting as much as you can and after
    you find out what is the field you like most and all the other details then you can start
    looking for the right high end glasses. Good luck and enjoy it!
  7. Periodically, I will have a customer on the phone that just keeps on blabbering. There may be a legitimate question, somewhere,`in it all, but the way to get to it is not by blabbering back. Short direct questions force the other party to settle down, stay focused, and take action.

    "Why, exactly, do you need that?"

    "What precisely do you want to do?"

    "What, specifically, of your needs is not being met now?"

    "How much do you want to spend?"

    You don't summarize "War and Peace" by re-writing it with just as many pages. Feel me?
  8. "I was 'sold' on the Canon line. Maybe because of what I've read about the availability of quality lenses, or my happiness with Canon point and shoot camera's..."

    There are plenty of great Nikon lenses. It is arguable that Nikon has better entry level lenses, Nikon's pro zooms are top shelf, and recent upgrades of the exotic telephotos now puts them on an equal footing with Canon.

    A good P&S camera has almost nothing to do with a good DSLR. The worse DSLR is miles ahead of the best P&S.

    "Can somebody convince me that Nikon is a good choice despite the seemingly higher cost, perceived noise issues etc."

    I think just about everyone here prefers Nikon, I know I do. I could just as easily been a Canon user, but I couldn't afford a 20D and bought a D70 instead. I remember once walking into a Best Buy and picking up a 350D and I was shocked at how cheap it felt. As for needing to be convinced, here's what I did with my Nikon gear last year:

    Noise is one of those issues that gets completely overblown by those enamored of shooting in the dark. Photography is about light and mastering it; well low light photography has its place, it represents a much smaller percentage of photography than the weight given it in internet forums.

    "...what model might be right for me as a beginner"?

    Tough question. My choice would be D200 and brace yourself for a steep learning curve. As I said before, I started with a D70, and when I bought the D200 it took me twenty minutes to figure it out; so I would say it takes twenty minutes longer to figure out a D200 than a D70. It took me about a year to outgrow the D70 and another year to master the D200.

    "I am very interested in portrait photography, landscape/nature photography and just exploring the medium in general."

    Start with the 18-70 kit lens. Consider also getting a Tamron 90mm macro. It won't be long before you find those lenses don't do something you want to explore -- that's when you will know what lens to buy next.

    "I am concerned that I need to keep in mind all the little extras I will need? memory cards, tripod, bag, lens hoods, filters, etc."

    A good tripod and ballhead are not little extras, they are important purchases. Read this: The other things you mention are minuscule; but software, a photo quality printer, and computer upgrades are what's really going to cost you.

    "...can someone convince me that all the money I invest in small sensor Nikon lenses won't be obsolete in a couple of years?"

    There are only three significant Nikkor DX lenses to consider:

    10.5 fisheye



    None of those are going to lose any of their value and they all are highly regarded lenses. DX format is here to stay, and I would go so far as to say pro DX format DSLRs will remain in the Nikon line-up for many years to come.
  9. The D200 or D300 would be a total waste of resources. Putting lots of cash into a camera body is a beginner's mistake. First buy the lenses. The lens is what actaully takes the photo. Good lenses you keep for years and years. Cameras come and go. Also, depending on what you want to photo, I'd suggest a good, make that excellent, tripod and first class ballhead (AcraTech, Kirk, etc.) Put most of your $$ on good lenses and what is left on a camera. The D80 is essentially the same camera as the D200--same sensor, same AF system, same meter, same pop flash, same viewfinder, same same same. Save your money. The D40x is an excellent buy too, although you will be limited to buying only AFS lenses with that. Most new Nikon lenses are AFS.

    I have used both, and honestly think Nikons are easier to handle and use in the field. They seem a little better thought out as far as menus etc. The meters on the inexpensive Nikons are better than those on the inexpensive Canons, I think. Canon really has nothing to compete with the D80. You would be better off with even the D40x if that means you can then afford better lenses. Go cheap on the camera. Too many people tie up WAY too much in a stupid camera and the camera matters the least. They also drop in value very, very fast. I see them as money down the toilet. Lenses, tripods are a different story.

    Kent in SD
  10. Last year I am also suffering of want to choose Canon Digital Rebel 350D and the Nikon D70s. Let me tell my feeling that time.
    There is no argue of this two brand DSLR can produce great picture, the reason that produce great photo most of the time is because of how you use the camera.
    So only left three main factor that need to consider before buying it(for my case).1. Feel 2. Noise 3. Batteries 4. Kit Lens
    1. Feel? When I hold the Rabel, my last finger is hanging, feel not comfortable, but D70s allow me hold well. Control wise, Rebel more to use the LCD menu to change setting, but D70s allow direct adjust by press some button.
    2. Noise? Rabel is good. D70s produce noise in high ISO. But this only happen when in low light condition, I seldom shoot in low light, if really need so, I use flash or use the cheap 50mm 1.8 to do so. even now, sometime I even use ISO 800 to shoot wedding photography, it is noise, but 4R printing doesn't give much trouble on it.
    3. Batteries? Oh, yeah, there is a big gab between Rabel and Nikon. I like travel, any trip that less than 5 days, I do not need to bring my charger along with my D70s, for more secure purpose, I prepare on more battery for my camera.
    4. Kit Lens? no matter the focal length or quality wise, the nikkor 18-70mm is the winner.
    Anyway, the final decision should make by you, I choose nikon D70s as my first DSLR is more consider of the control and the battery life(No more struggle of not enough battery).
    Welcome to the would of DSLR!
  11. I was in your shoes 6 months ago. I bought nearly complete Nikon and Canon systems and used both extensively. I sold off the Canon stuff for about what I paid for it and kept the Nikon. I find Nikon to be more user friendly, and afterall getting the shot in real life is 100% of it, not shooting targets in labs after an hour of set up. Here's what I've learned:

    1. Equipment doesn't really matter that much once you have an adequate system that you can use with your eyes closed in the dark, and nearly any baseline model is adequate. You can take great photos with a bottom line DSLR. Look at the cameras used in the top photos section of this website, many D40s, Digital Rebels etc.

    2. Learning composition and digital darkroom skills, which is a life long deal, is by far the most important way to become a better photography.

    3. Both Canon and Nikon have weaknesses. On the whole, they're about the same.

    So what would I recommend: A Nikon D40x with an 18-200mm, a SB-600 flash, a cheap macro lens, and photoshop CS3. With this setup you can do 99% of what any "pro" can do and it will only set you back $2000 or so. And, once you upgrade, and you will if you stick with it, you'll keep the 18-200 as a travel lens, slave the SB-600, use the D40x as your "in the trunk" camera, and sell the cheap macro. I recommend Nikon only because Canon doesn't really have a comparable 18-200 VR type lens, otherwise it's a wash and personal preference is the only differentiator.

    So what's in my kit now:

    Nikon D200 (the camera I started with) soon to be 2 D300s
    10.5 Nikkor Fisheye
    10-20 Sigma
    17-55 Nikkor
    18-200 Nikkor VR
    70-200 Nikkor VR
    200-400 Nikkor VR
    105 Nikkor Macro VR
    Lensbaby 3G
    1.7 Nikkor Teleconverter
    2 SB 800s
    20 GB of Transcend Memory
    Gitzo Tripod
    Gitzo Monopod
    Various Filters
    Lowe Pro MicroTrekker 200 Bag
  12. Michael, you'll get a wealth of advice here (and indeed, you already are). But this is what I

    a) good photographers can & are taking stunning images using cameras & lenses from any
    of the major manufacturers - Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Pentax, maybe Samsung;

    b) you need to start taking pictures.

    Don't agonise so much. Go and buy something - anything, almost - but don't spend too
    much on it. The kit lenses are limited, sure, but at the same time photographers are using
    those same lenses to take great pictures. Use what you buy intensively for 6 or 9 months.
    Then have a rethink.
  13. Many of the recommendations listed would be great if you were a wedding photographer.

    I suggest you start with a D40 (not the D40x). You can now get it with the fabulous 18-55 lens for about $500.

    Charge the battery, put the lens on the camera, set the camera to the 'green' setting (fully automatic), go take a few hundred pictures (indoors and outdoors) with it and then carefully examine them on your computer or print them out. If you don't feel you have the sharpest, brightest, best exposed, colorful, best looking pictures you have ever taken, take the camera back and look at something else (make sure you buy it from one of the major chains that accepts returns without restocking fees).

    I am certain you will be thrilled with the results.
  14. SCL


    Either should do just fine for you. The important thing is for you to do some reading on basic photography and then get whichever outfit is more ergonomically comfortable for you to use. At the pro-sumer level quality is generally consistent across lines. Then start taking pictures, reading more, take more pictures, read your manual, etc, etc.
  15. Practice makes perfect- and to practice long and often one must enjoy the whole operation. I loved Sony fixed lens didgicams many years ago and I bought three of them in succession - they made my heart sing when I used them and I used them so often that I was interested enough to move to SLR photography units and as it happened, the Nikon cameras made sense to me and I loved my first D-SLR D70 model - a classic camera as it was really the first digital SLR body which the geberal public could really fork out for en-mass. I had the kit lens 18-70 DX AF-S G lens with the D70 and it was a fabulous combination to learn with - it was limited- granted - but I learned it's limits, got plenty of consitant good results with it and then moved on to a D200.

    My point is that if you can afford it - the general rule (and I do stress 'general rule' as there is always exceptions) is that you get what you pay for. With time and experience one can appreciate the better build, performance, speed etc of more expensive gear - I know this myself from my own experience. I suggest you do as many on this forum will tell you to do - that is to buy high quality, fast lenses which you will keep for their working lives and update your camera body if and when it suits you. Maybe try the D40x with a 17-55 f/2.8 DX lens for starters. It has an easy to operate full auto mode that is excellent to start with which will build your confidence to try the program mode functions and later to set your own exposures in full manual mode. Go to a store which will allow you to test in store many models and lens combinations - go away if need be and come back after thinking it out but always make sure it's a pleasure to use before buying or else you might begin to find lots of excuses to keep the equipment in the bag and not in your hand.
  16. Someone just starting out should not get the top of the line camera. The D300 or D200 has a much higher learning curve and is likely to frustrate a novice. If you are sure you want to go Nikon start with something like the D40X or D80.
  17. >DX format is here to stay

    I remember when that sentiment was uttered in support of the cassette tape. The fact is, when consumer-level FF sensors hit the market, the value of DX cameras and lenses will plummet. Given the presence of the D3 in the market, DX has already been demoted to the ranks of non-professional Nikon gear.
  18. "The fact is, when consumer-level FF sensors hit the market, the value of DX cameras and lenses will plummet."

    That is your opinion, it is not a fact -- there is a difference. All cameras lose value as they are replaced by newer better featured models. However, quality lenses tend to retain their value, and I'm reasonably certain that the lenses I listed will retain their value for many years to come.

    "Given the presence of the D3 in the market, DX has already been demoted to the ranks of non-professional Nikon gear."

    The D2xs and the D300 are not demoted to non-pro; in fact, the D300 in particular shows that Nikon is still committed to DX as a pro format.
  19. "I remember when that sentiment was uttered in support of the cassette tape. The fact is, when consumer-level FF sensors hit the market, the value of DX cameras and lenses will plummet. Given the presence of the D3 in the market, DX has already been demoted to the ranks of non-professional Nikon gear."

    This is nonsense and a bad analogy....This assume bigger sensor = better, which is not the case. The fact is, DX has many advantages over FF. You could make the reverse argument, that as photosite technology improves, sensors will become smaller than DX....
  20. hi michael,
    first question: where to start? i'd start with a d80, body only, and a 50/ 1.8 prime lens, which you should be able to get for less than 1k put together. the d80 has a learning curve, but it's less steep than the d200 or the not-yet-available d300 (also, the d80, being an "advanced amateur" camera, has some useful in-camera tweak modes, like crop and color balancing, that the higher-end cameras don't). start out on "auto," progress to "P," then get bryan petersen's "understanding exposure." soon you'll be shooting all the time in A,S, and M modes, just like a pro.

    as you learn technique, using the 50 prime will force you to develop your sense of composition, rather than rely on a zoom range to do eveything for you. also, you'll be able to shoot in low-light situations without flash.

    once you feel like you're up to speed, you can start looking at lenses. with a d80, you're not as limited as with a d40 in terms of lens selection, so it's easier to take the next step.

    what lenses you pick should depend on your shooting style. for all-around versatility, get the $750 18-200 vr. also, the 18-70 and 70-300 is a versatile starter kit that will cost between $450 and $800, depending on whether you go for the vr option (which you might find more useful at 300mm than at 200mm). if you don't mind changing lenses, you get more reach on the long end and lenses without the image quality compromises that go into an 11x zoom (though an 11x zoom is pretty convenient for everyday shooting and snapshots).

    with this as your basic kit, you can then expand to fit specific needs as they develop.

    *want to shoot landscapes? get a wide angle lens like the nikon or tokina 12-24s or the sigma 10-20.

    *want something fast for low-light? get the sigma 30/1.4 or the nikkor 85/1.8.

    *want a macro lens you can also use for portraits? take a look at the tamron 90, the tokina 100, the nikon 60 and the sigma 105. got a little more cash? get the nikon 105 vr.

    *interested in wildlife and telephoto? perhaps there's an 80-400 and a carbon fiber tripod with your name on it somewhere.

    *want to blow your retirement on pro lenses? get the $1200 nikkor 17-55 and the $1600 70-200. if you can afford it, you can save time later by purchasing these now, since you'll undoubtedly want them eventually.

    it's good to know what options are out there in terms of glass, but most shooters seem to think it's better to start with a basic kit and refine your technique (which can save you money later, unless you like using expensive lenses as paperweights).

    of course, if money is no object, get a d200 now (and a d300 when it comes out), outfit it with some pro lenses, a top of the line gitzo or manfrotto tripod, a battery grip, and an sb-800 flash, and be prepared to slog through thousands of less than perfect photos while struggling to understand what all the buttons on your camera do. or you could just get the d80 and the 50/1.8 now and upgrade as necessary, as i suggested.
  21. I also recommend the D80. I have one and love it. I also have both the 18-70mm kit lens and the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens. I don't use the kit lens anymore, and the Tamron is only a little more expensive, so I would recommend that lens over the kit lens. It's sharper, works better in low light, and focuses much closer than the kit lens.

    I would definitely keep it simple to start out until you have some experience and know what you really want to do.
  22. WOW!

    Thank you all so very much for your advice! I really feel much more comfortable now NOT buying the latest and greatest best/most expensive system out there (which probably would have been a mistake). I think the D80 is probably a good starting point for me, and that _IS_ actually the one I held in the store that felt "right" in my hands.

    I still haven't decided on lenses, or kit lens, or body only and a prime, or what combination yet. I will probably go ahead and get a nice tripod and ball head to start with as well, and I'll read back over recommendations on lenses. It's a lot to take in. Thanks so much for all of your input! WOW. I'm overwhelmed and very encouraged by the support and encouragement I found here!!!


  23. I would recommend you buy:

    35-f2 & 85-f1.4 lenses,
    SB800 & SB600,
    Light Stand w/Umbrella,
    Camera Bag

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