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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> To SLR or not to SLR...that is the question
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08/08/2003 02:03:01 AM · #1
Here's my dilemma:

In September I'll be getting a bonus that I'm planning on putting toward a digital camera. I'm looking at two choices:

1. Save money for now, get a Canon G3 and move from novice to amateur photographer. Learn the basics first, then I'll better know what features are really important to me and can buy (say in a year or two) a nice SLR.

2. Buy an SLR now and just work through the learning curve.

I'm having a hard time deciding and would love to get some input or opinions. What would you do? :)

Some Background: I'm a novice photographer who has no training in photography but I really want to take excellent photographs. I've just begun to play with my brother's G5 and really can't wait to get a digital camera of my own to play with. I own a film SLR camera and I can take some decent shots with it, but only from some trial and error. I don't know much about cameras or all the different settings you can use.

I want to be able to photograph typical things (family outings, birthdays etc.). At some point in the near future I'd like to be able to use my cameras for taking wildlife pictures (especially birds and butterflys) as well as sports, especially horse racing, rodeo, baseball, and water skiing. For this I know I'll need to invest in a good telephoto lens.

To get some idea of what I'm shooting now feel free to take a look at some pics I took two days ago with my brother's G5 at:

//www.pbase.com/ttreit/pike_place2
(note: I did some basic PS touchup to these, but I did it really quickly, and it was the second time I'd ever used PS. -- I downloaded the 30 day trial on Monday)

When I buy the SLR (whether now or in a year or two) I'm looking at spending $2000-$3000 to start (body, lens, accessories) and then $1500ish for a good telephoto lens at some point after that.

My mission, again, is to take excellent pictures. There are two parts to that equation. 1. The human has to know how to get everything possible out of the hardware. 2. The hardware has to have the capability to get the shot. I know that eventually I'll have to move to an SLR but is that where I should start?
08/08/2003 02:10:22 AM · #2
Took me 3 months to master my Fuji3800,I have Olympus C5050 for 2 months and still trying to figure it out,that thing have countless tricks and options,don't even want to think about SLR yet! LOL
08/08/2003 02:38:21 AM · #3
You don't need and SLR to take good pictures in general, but since you have plans to do sports photography you might be better of with an SLR anyway. Have a look at a site like www.dpreview.com and you will see that most people who have made the switch will mention the reduced (or absence of) shutter lag as one very big advantage.

All prosumer digital cameras from Sony, Canon , Minolta (have a look at their new announcement!!!) offer full manual controls so you can learn by using those.

Willem

08/08/2003 02:45:18 AM · #4
Olympus C740,C750 fully manual cameras with huge ZOOM 10X are perfect for mastering!
08/08/2003 03:01:17 AM · #5
I feel confident that I'll be getting a digital SLR within 2-3 years in part, as Willem mentions, due to reading dpreview.com and realizing that for my long term needs there are some distinct advantages.

The question still is that where I should start. I see pros and cons to either side. I don't want my first camera to be so difficult that I can't get the basics down within a week or so. I also would love to have all the capabilities to grow into right from the start.
08/08/2003 03:08:01 AM · #6
There are some beautiful photos taken with Canon Eos 10D and some awful ones,at the begining will be like driving 18 wheeler truck to do grocery shopping!
08/08/2003 03:11:45 AM · #7
I purchased a Nikon 4500 a couple of months ago as a "practical " first step for getting back into photography, but I still ended up buying a 10D just a couple of days ago. The reduced shutter lag and joy of looking through a real view finder again where key decision points for me. After a week of playing with the 10D, I find it simpler to operate than the prosumer models. Shutter speed and apeture are visable in view finder and easily adjusted with index finger or thumb. Focus is fast (just the center spot for me) and the shutter goes as soon as I press the release.
08/08/2003 03:17:39 AM · #8
Originally posted by Nusbaum:

I purchased a Nikon 4500 a couple of months ago as a "practical " first step for getting back into photography, but I still ended up buying a 10D just a couple of days ago. The reduced shutter lag and joy of looking through a real view finder again where key decision points for me. After a week of playing with the 10D, I find it simpler to operate than the prosumer models. Shutter speed and apeture are visable in view finder and easily adjusted with index finger or thumb. Focus is fast (just the center spot for me) and the shutter goes as soon as I press the release.


Show me the photos?!
08/08/2003 03:23:32 AM · #9
What exactly is prosumer?
08/08/2003 03:29:17 AM · #10
Originally posted by ttreit:

What exactly is prosumer?


I had the same question :) Funny jargon! I presume its the opposite of CONsumer (otherwise known as the gullible masses?)
08/08/2003 03:31:53 AM · #11
Roughly, it a term applied to that range of cameras that lie between the straightforward compacts and the SLR's: the Sony 717, Fuji 602, Minolta 7, Nikon 5700, Oly 5050 and so on. They have pretty much all the controls, but they are fixed lens and have smaller than full-frame sensors.

My advice would be, given where you want to end up, to get something like the 10D and just start with one very good, very simple lens and take it out and shoot everything through it. Learning'll take time, but when it creeps up on you that you've masterd it it'll have been worth it.

ed
08/08/2003 03:34:48 AM · #12
Large majority of SLR owners are not even participating in the challenge because don't know how to use them, LOL!
Show off owners!Guys who are using them like Kiwiness and Carsten use to play with Olympus 5050 before!
08/08/2003 03:43:29 AM · #13
Originally posted by e301:

the Sony 717, Fuji 602, Minolta 7, Nikon 5700, Oly 5050 and so on ... have pretty much all the controls, but they are fixed lens and have smaller than full-frame sensors.


Full-frame here means as compared to a 35mm film, that is. But even the Nikon D100 and the Canon 10D don't have full-frame sensors. Only the Kodak 14n and a few other really expensive ones have that. You can check out the Leaf Valeo 22 for a huge sensor if you like.

Originally posted by e301:

My advice would be, given where you want to end up, to get something like the 10D and just start with one very good, very simple lens and take it out and shoot everything through it. Learning'll take time, but when it creeps up on you that you've masterd it it'll have been worth it.


I agree totally. The real difference between the pros and the rest of us isn't in the equipment, it's in how they use it. Get an SLR from the start.
08/08/2003 03:50:03 AM · #14
Yes - perhaps I meant smaller sensors. :-)

Ed
08/08/2003 05:47:51 AM · #15
Since posting I decided to go back and take a good look at the prosumer cameras.

The Nikon 5700 has a $100 rebate right now which makes my total initial investment around the $850 mark. (camera, case, extra battery, 256 high speed flash card)

I'd be well over double that to get into an SLR and I'm not sure I feel comfortable choosing the SLR that's best for my needs until I know more about the various features and the conditions where I find myself shooting a lot of pics.

I also don't mind the idea of letting the SLRs price and technology improve with age. The Nikon would make a fine back up camera or loaner so it wouldn't be a waste of money when I switched.

There's still some pro's to getting the SLR to start with, but I am leaning toward the 5700 now.

Thanks for letting me think outloud. :) If anyone has an opinion (good, bad, or ugly) about the 5700 let me know. I read the entire review on dpreview and compared to the Canon G3/G5 which I played with all last week and am familiar with it.

Oh one final question...is RGB better than CYGM? or is it the other way around? Or are they just differnt?

And I haven't made up my mind yet so I could still go SLR. One problem is that I can afford the Nikon now but would have to wait about 1.5 months to get the SLR. And patience might be a virtue but its not one of my virtues, thats for sure. Also my brother took his G5 back and I'm having withdrawls. :)

Message edited by author 2003-08-08 05:52:10.
08/08/2003 10:13:25 AM · #16
Some remarks:

I did the 'prosumer' thing with a G2 for a year. Great pictures, learned loads about exposure, camera settings and stuff that really stood me in good stead for stepping up to a D60. Developed a workflow and an approach that let me make good pictures and really pushed the limits of what that camera could do. Only went for a SLR when I really understood the things I wanted to do that I couldn't.

It really is a 'step up' in difficulty to get good pictures from an SLR compared to a smaller sensor camera like the G2. The D60 has much improved performance (response time) and much more creative control (really variable Depth of Field), lens choices etc - but with more control comes more responsibility to use that control. It is much easier to screw a shot up with the D60 than it is with the G2.

For a DSLR the cost of the body (e.g, $1500 for the 10D) is only part of the cost. If you put a cheap lens on that (say a $100 zoom lens) then you've basically thrown away a good chunk of what the camera can actually do. I'm not trying to say that the most expensive lenses are required, but a modest outlay (say about $400 for a mid range zoom) gives stunningly better results than the cheaper end lenses. Up to a certain point you really get what you pay for in terms of image sharpness and quality. You need to take this cost into account for buying a DLSR or it will be dissappointing at best. I've spent about $1700 on lenses for my D60 and I have a modest range (24mm to 380mm focal lengths) and certainly not what would be considered high end or high performance lenses.

Message edited by author 2003-08-08 11:14:28.
08/08/2003 10:54:38 AM · #17
I agree with everything Gordon said in his post and...

If you already own an SLR, you could definitely consider going straight to an slr instead of starting out with the G3. The SLR digital cams have point and shoot modes just like your film slr does. If your ultimate goal is to have a digital SLR, is it really a good idea to start with less?

Maybe so... Learning WHY you need an SLR is an important step, in my opinion. If you buy the G3 or any other consumer grade digital camera, you are gonna get good photos.

One of the things that I often ask myself is... If I started out with an SLR as a beginning photographer, would I ever really learn what its capabilities are and would I use them? I think that 'outgrowing' a camera is a very good experience in learning photography. When you can honestly say 'this camera won't do what I need it to do', you will KNOW that you are learning and progressing in your hobby.

As a beginner, I would suggest starting with the G3 or any other digital camera that gives you SLR like controls. Learn your way around the camera and then decide when you NEED to upgrade to the SLR.

I hope that makes sense???


08/08/2003 11:29:12 AM · #18
Good advice all around. I just thought I'd offer another option. You could try looking for a used Canon D30. They seem to be going for about the same price as a good prosumer camera. Add in a mid-priced 28-300 Zoom lens and you have the same range as the 10X fixed lens cameras. Then when you decide you need a better camera the lenses could be used with a D60 or 10D.

Mark

Message edited by author 2003-08-08 11:30:32.
08/08/2003 12:48:50 PM · #19
I had two Nikon 5700s and both of them broke after less than a month. Fortunately I bought them at Costco and they have a great return policy so I finally got all of my money back. I loved the camera, truthfully, but it's reliability leaves something to be desired. I have heard of other similar problems with the 5700. After that, I stepped up to a Canon 10D and have had a bit of a learning curve. I thought with a better camera I would immediately take better photos, and certainly that is not the case. To me (as a relative beginner) the Nikon 5700 was easier to use initially and I had sharper, images right out of the camera. But I am very excited about learning to master the 10D and when I do I know it will be well worth it. It is a lot more expensive though. A fellow dpcer gave me good advice and told me my satisfaction with the camera would greatly depend on the quality of the lenses, so I have followed his advice. Good luck with whatever you decide!
08/08/2003 12:54:48 PM · #20
One other thing I forgot to mention is portability. If size is a consideration the 10D is enormous in comparison to the smaller prosumer camera. When I go out with my 10D with my 70-200mm zoom lens I feel like I am carrying a lead weight with a tree trunk attached. My camera is no longer something I can fit in my purse and pull out whenever I have the urge. I started with a Fuji 5700 and always had it with me so I never missed a shot. Bringing my camera along is a much bigger consideration now. Just one more think to think about. As if you didn't already have enough to consider...
08/08/2003 12:59:42 PM · #21
Originally posted by pitsaman:

There are some beautiful photos taken with Canon Eos 10D and some awful ones,at the begining will be like driving 18 wheeler truck to do grocery shopping!


Like i said,it's bulky unpractical thing to carry arround, plus you need a whole bag of lenses filters battery pacs ETC...
08/08/2003 01:20:04 PM · #22
TtreitÖ
I have another option for youÖone that Iím considering for myself, being that Iím in a similar situation to you (that is, considering a move up to a DSLR). My option is more economical than buying a true DSLR, but will give you a DSLR-like experience. Iím sure some people here will disagree with me on this...but, look into purchasing an Olympus E10 or E20. They both take stunning pics, given the ability of the photograher, they are 4 and 5 megapixel cams respectively, and they have come down in price considerably, and will probably continue drop in price, given that the new Olympus DSLR (E1) will be coming out in the next month or two. I have found the E10 for $800 online and the E20 is about $1500 (and possibly cheaper) elsewhere.

While they are not DSLRís in the true sense of the term (they only have a fixed zoom and donít have interchangeable lenses), you can purchase teleconverter lenses and for me, have a big advantage over many of the better prosumer cams, like the sony 717, Nikon 5700 and Minolta 7 seriesÖthat is, the E10/20 cams have a true optical viewfinder and the other prosumers have EVF viewfinders, which Iíve found to be a big disadvantage in composing. They may not be as responsive as the other DSLRís and they can be pretty slow in recording images, but for the price, I think itís a good way to get your feet wet with DSLRís.

I would like to hear what others feel about thisÖ

jeff
08/08/2003 01:23:35 PM · #23
Originally posted by ttreit:

Since posting I decided to go back and take a good look at the prosumer cameras.

The Nikon 5700 has a $100 rebate right now which makes my total initial investment around the $850 mark. (camera, case, extra battery, 256 high speed flash card)

I'd be well over double that to get into an SLR and I'm not sure I feel comfortable choosing the SLR that's best for my needs until I know more about the various features and the conditions where I find myself shooting a lot of pics.

I also don't mind the idea of letting the SLRs price and technology improve with age. The Nikon would make a fine back up camera or loaner so it wouldn't be a waste of money when I switched.

There's still some pro's to getting the SLR to start with, but I am leaning toward the 5700 now.

Thanks for letting me think outloud. :) If anyone has an opinion (good, bad, or ugly) about the 5700 let me know. I read the entire review on dpreview and compared to the Canon G3/G5 which I played with all last week and am familiar with it.

Oh one final question...is RGB better than CYGM? or is it the other way around? Or are they just differnt?

And I haven't made up my mind yet so I could still go SLR. One problem is that I can afford the Nikon now but would have to wait about 1.5 months to get the SLR. And patience might be a virtue but its not one of my virtues, thats for sure. Also my brother took his G5 back and I'm having withdrawls. :)


Another possibility would be to buy the Olympus E-10. It's a true SLR and everything that you learned using it would feed forward to a removable lens SLR. Itís built like a tank and it takes great pictures. You can get one for around $800, less than the Nikon 5700.
08/08/2003 02:16:34 PM · #24
Treitt, 3-4 months ago i was in the same boat as you are now. I didn't feel worthy of a D10. Since i knew that that would be my ultimate choice i settled for the G3 to learn photography. Settled on the G3 (G5 not available then) because of the portability of some accessories. I also figured the G3 would remain my backup camera when upgrading. Just spent $200 on a flash and it will work fine too on a D10.

I haven't outgrown my G3 by a long shot but since having it i discovered i really like to photograph wildlife and my teleconverter doesn't give me enough. The fixed zoom is frustrating as well. I also discovered i like to do candids; again a good telelens would be helpful there. If it weren't for those things i would still be extremely pleased with the G3.


My suggestion would be to shoot with the G5 as much as you can for another month or so and gauge your interest in subject matter. Based on that, you could decide whether the G3 would be fine or whether to go for a DSLR right away. If you decide on a prosumer camera for now then make it as compatible with your ultimate DSLR choice to at least avoid duplicating some accessories down the road.
08/08/2003 02:50:03 PM · #25
Well after a lot of thought and some good advice I decided to get a camera I could "outgrow" and learn on. Thanks, everyone, for all the great advice.

I decided to go with the 5700 although I am a little leery of the reliability issue mentioned it got good reviews and has all the features I want in a prosumer. The telephoto lens was what put it over the top of some other fine cameras for my needs. I also looked through DPC photos taken from all the cameras I was looking at, and I felt it was as good or better than any of the other cameras I wanted.

Also my brother (who lives 2 miles from me) has a G5. I thought it would be good to branch out so we can compare notes and we can always share with each other if we know we'll be shooting in conditions that favor one camera over the other.

I should be getting it next week and I look forward to submitting to my first challenge with my very own camera. :)

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