Which entry-level DSLR to get?

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by dmel, Oct 25, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    I'm currently leaning towards Nikon over Canon... only because most of my friends have Nikons and say they're great.

    I think I'll end up with the D3100, as the extra features of the D5100 don't seem worth the price for a non-photog like me. There are a lot of different packages out there, most of them come with single Nikkor 18-55mm lens, or that lens with an additional Nikkor 55-200mm lens.

    However, there are some packages (I haven't really price shopped these yet) with the Nikkor 18-55mm lens and a 55-300mm or 70-300mm lens... some are off-brand (Sigma? Tamron?) but I do see at least one Nikkor (listed as Nikon on buy.com).

    So, here are my questions:

    1. Does anyone have a reason not to choose the Nikon D3100?

    2. What do people think about the -200mm lens vs the -300mm lens? As I said- I don't know the first thing about non-point-and-shoot photography, but I'd like to learn, and I'd like to get something that will last me a while. If the -300 lens will be better than the -200 lens in a few years once my son starts playing soccer and I'm taking pics from the sidelines, then I'd rather spend the extra money now.

    3. What do people think about Nikkor vs off-brand lenses? From the little research I've done so far, most things I read say "only get Nikkor."

    and, nothing to do with the purchase itself, but:

    4. How do people generally carry DSLRs when flying? In a camera bag separate from a laptop bag/backpack? What about when you already have a carryon + laptop?

    TIA!
     
  2. ssedha

    ssedha Silver Member

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    I might be spoiling your decision, or in fact confusing heck out of you. But have you considered a Canon at all? I have a Canon T2i but have since upgraded the lenses. Others might disagree with me here, but I think that your hard earned $$$ should be spent on quality glass, not the body. Yes, you get plenty of added features as you go up the dSLR chain; however if you aren't a professional who needs to print MASSIVE posters, the MP range & features might not be driving your purchase. (Again just my personal opinion).

    I started with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with the T2i and was fairly happy. I then got a Canon 50mm lens to learn portrait photography. After I get better, I ended up purchasing the Canon 15-85mm lens (which now sits on my camera for EVERYDAY usage). Wanting to learn even more about photography, I picked up a Sears branded 55mm MANUAL lens. With this lens, you learn a LOT about photography as the computer cannot do anything for you.

    Anyways, sorry if I confused you. But i'll try to answer a couple questions (as I have no experience with Nikon's)

    3) Nikkor vs. Off-Brand lens. Honestly speaking, brand names matter only to a certain extent. Like I said, I have purchased Canon's; however the Sears brand I got (it's actually a re-branded Tokina lens) has better optics than the Canon 50mm.

    Therefore, my suggestion to you, consider what type of photographs do you intend to take. Are you going to use A LOT of Zoom? if you can go by 200mm then go with that, otherwise go with the 300mm. If you like taking wide angle pictures, then you should consider a wide angle lens; however for starters, you should be just fine with your kit lens. I've heard that Nikon's kit lens is quite nice.

    4) I carry my dSLR in the same laptop backpack. Front pocket is for the dSLR and the back pocket is my macbook pro. Keeps my hands free to take pictures & spot while I'm on the go ;)

    I hope this helps you.
    Cheers :)
     
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  3. cliburn
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    cliburn Gold Member

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    Well I got a D5000 a few years ago and wish I had gotten a D90. Now I am thinking about a D7000.
    I know that you don't think you will use the features of a higher end prosumer camera, but I think in the end you might miss them. It depends what you can afford. Nikons are great (and I guess so are Canons) -- I don' think you can go wrong either way. I am happy with Nikon.
    Nikon has some rebates now on lenses purchased with a body (different bodies have different eligible lenses). This creates some good deals as you can buy multiple lenses (and Nikon lenses rarely go on sale). I know Amazon showing the instant cash rebates on their website. So, buy your Nikon lenses in one transaction with the body. The 55-200 VR is a nice lens for the price, but the longer the lens, the better it would be for sports. The 18-55 is a good everyday lens. There are plenty on lens reviews online from guys that know a lot more than I. Sigma and Tamron make some good lenses in Nikon mount. I have one of each. Again, i would check out reviews as some are better thought of than others. I have a smaller Lowepro Slingshot 100 bag that I can put inside of a larger backpack.
    I have a larger dslr backpack for when I take more lenses.
     
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  4. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    Helps tremendously- thanks!

    Point taken.

    Thanks to both of you for the insights!
     
  5. Valentine

    Valentine Silver Member

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    Instead of looking at features, you should consider heading down to a camera shop and trying out the controls and interfaces of both systems. I'm a Nikon user myself, and I continue to find Nikon cameras to have highly intuitive controls on the body. My Canon-owning friends beg to differ.


    One of my primary lenses is a Sigma 50mm f/1.4, which I love very much and wouldn't trade for an actual Nikon (it is also more expensive). Off-brand lenses aren't bad, but some of them have shoddy QC.

    I have a Crumpler laptop+camera backpack for whatever I'll be using on the plane, and pack my other lenses in my rollaboard (I wrap clothes around them).
     
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  6. ACMM
    Original Member

    ACMM Gold Member

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    Just came across this. Maybe you will find it of use?



    The 10 Best Digital Cameras
    PCMAG.COM | 26 OCTOBER, 2011
    http://pulse.me/s/2yB4X

    [From my milePoint enabled iPhone]
     
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  7. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    I definitely will.

    That's great to know - thanks.
     
  8. edog22
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    edog22 Silver Member

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    In my (limited) experience both Canon and Nikon make great camera bodies, so I don't think you'd go far wrong with either. My Canon Rebel that has been through rain, snow, beaches, boat trips, etc., over the past 5 years and is still going strong.

    My 'personal item' for carry-on is a Lowepro backpack- it's got room for the camera and 2-3 extra lenses, plus a side slot that fits a notebook computer. I like that I've got all my camera extras (lens cleaner, charger, polarizer) in one spot for travel. This backpack has seen thousands of miles and is still in good shape -- I highly recommend them.
     
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  9. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Ive been taking pictures for over 25 years now, and while Ive always used Nikon, I have to say that the discussion between Nikon or Canon is a sterile one. Both are amazing systems with great gear in all price points.... sure, each team has its fans but both are top of the line brands. I say just go for one, and then stick to it.... it can be costly to switch teams once you have already invested in one system....
     
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  10. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    We bought a D5100 kit from costco a few months ago for about $900 and it included body, 18-55mm and 55-300mm nikkor lenses, nikon bag (ok, nothing special), and measly 4GB SD card. I felt like it was worth it just for the additional lens, which can cost $300 +/-. Biggest gaps in the kit are better bag, stand, lens filters, and bigger card. Otherwise, we've been using it quite a bit and are very happy with it. Still learning the terminology, features, techniques, etc, but feel like this is a camera we can grow into and use for many years.

    I do want to find a more compact carrying option than the stock Nikon bag, though.

    edit: We bought the nikon vs. canon because most of our friends/family have nikons and seem to really like them. All the P&S cameras we've had in the past are canons.
     
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  11. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    That was my original reasoning, too. And same with my P&S cameras to date, too.

    Unless I can find a good deal online that will net me some aadvantageeshopping miles, I will likely get the camera at Costco. I've been debating the D5100 vs D3100 and was going to go with the D3100 to save some money.

    But after all the great responses in this thread, I think I'll go to a camera shop (probably Adorama, J&R or B&H next time I'm in Manhattan) and play with these two Nikons and a(some) Canon(s) as well.
     
  12. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    I have a Canon T1i from Costco and love it.
     
  13. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    I've been exceedingly happy with Canon, starting with the EOS-3 film camera and progressing through 2 digital bodies to the 7D. That said, both Canon and Nikon make excellent cameras and lenses.

    I'll second the recommendation to get the best glass you can. You can take great pictures even with a less-feature-laden body, but you can't make up for bad glass.

    Given that your friends have Nikon, if there's any chance that you can borrow lenses - or work out a "lens club" - it could work to your advantage to own the same brand as they. Even better, if one of them has a rig similar to what you're considering, perhaps you can borrow it and take some "typical" pictures and get a feel for what you like or don't like.

    You should also be aware that Canon also periodically offers rebates on their lenses & bodies, which can save a few bucks (Nikon does the same).
     
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  14. Tivoboy
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    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

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    Both make excellent cameras. At this level there aren't a LOT of differences. That said, I think the T2i and definitely the T3i will offer a bit better image quality, especially in low light or higher ISOs than the comparable nikons. If swing out LCD is of no use to you, then just get the canon T2i, it is a great camera especially for an entry model - I think it represents the best value/price/quality at this level.

    The one real advantage that something like the nikon d5100 (and maybe the d3100) has over ALL other models in the entry model or even just a notch above is REAL TIME VIDEO AUTOFOCUS. you cannot imagine yet how important this is. If you have ANY interest in using this camera to capture HD video at times, this feature will be a huge value to you and makes this camera then the one I would recommend.

    Personally, I think the ergonomics of the D3100 eliminate it from any recommendation I could make. It represents good value, but doesn't offer IMHO the quality performance that even the T2i offers.
     
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  15. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    Thanks all for the great advice.

    I'm in a contest to win a D3100 now... ends in a few days. If I win it, the decision has been made ;-)
    If not, I'll definitely go and try out the D3100 and D5100, as well as the Canons.
     
  16. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    To close the loop...

    I ended up getting a D3100 and have been using it for a few days. I love it so far, and am very happy with the photos. Still haven't gotten a bag yet, but I plan to this week.

    I decided to not buy a bundle that came with a second lens (to save money), so I only have the 18-55mm lens. I can always purchase another in the future.

    Thanks everyone for the fantastic input!
     

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