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Looking for a Digital SLR

MetroStyles

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Inspired by the recent "Used 35mm SLR" thread.

I want to purchase a digital SLR but have a few general questions.

1) Is it a really good idea to buy one new? Are used digital SLRs a bad deal? Or are they actually a steal because they lose a lot of value once purchased, but not a lot of functionality/reliability?

2) I'm looking to spend around $1000 or less for a camera and basic lens. This should be fine I assume, as I am not a professional photographer. I need something that has very good image quality and obviously, completely flexible manual settings. If I did go up with my price, would I be getting something way better?

3) Are there any really compact SLRs available? I love portable, pocket-sized cameras (most digital cameras that are not SLRs). But the lack of manual functionality and quality always leaves me wanting more. I am guessing no progress has been made in the miniaturization of SLR cameras recently. But let me know if there has been.

4) Finally, any recommendations in my price range? My folks have a Canon EOS (not sure which model), which I really enjoyed using and tinkering with on a recent vacation. The images were good enough. Not sure if there is something superior out there in the range I'm looking for.

Thanks in advance, boys.
 

GQgeek

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I suggest doing more reading on your own. Everyone has their preferences and their own reasons for choosing the gear they own. I like Olympus because of the crop factor, awesomely consistent lens line-up, the fact that with 2 very good lenses and a teleconverter i can get 24-560mm equivalent, etc. For me the e-3 is a rugged travel camera with great performance. Someone from canon or nikon will say that the crop factor makes small DoF harder (true) and that high iso performance will be lower (true, but look at my zoo pics shot at 1600 iso and tell me if IQ looks bad to you). They might prefer the menus in one system vs. another. If you liked the Canon, get a Canon. It's hard to go wrong these days. A DSLR will never be compact (well, maybe m4/3 in a couple years when they haev better glass), but I once found a site that enabled you to graphically put lenses on bodies and see the size difference. For the same amount of telephoto reach, my e-3 was significantly smaller to a 35mm with 35mm glass. In the end, it's totally personal. I started casually before my trip to peru and then last year after i got back i blew 6k on upgraded gear. Think carefully about where you want to go with this as it can get expensive quickly. edit: and don't be lazy like gdl.
laugh.gif
 

Huntsman

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I bought a used D200 off eBay shortly after the D300 became generally available -- it put a $1800 camera in my hands for $800, and the real depreciation of relative features I felt was less than the monetary depreciation. Go to DPR, find a camera that does what you need it to do and buy that one. No recommendation will replace research.

I pretty much agree with GQ that DSLRs will never become 'miniaturized' -- perhaps the featters you require will become incorporated in smaller units, but the highend cameras will pretty much always be larger affairs. Again, I suggest going to DPreview.com and using their 'compare' feature to sort cameras based on the features you want -- I'm sure manual control is a searchable field -- and you will perhaps find a smaller form factor camera that suits you expressly.

~ H
 

Tokyo Slim

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Maybe look at the Panasonic DMC G-1?
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by Tokyo Slim
Maybe look at the Panasonic DMC G-1?
Whoa. Cool. Interesting in that it invalidates much of what I just said!
 

DNW

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There are some good deals to be had right now. If I were you, I'd go to a Ritz or Best Buy and handle the different cameras first. Each brand feels differently in your hands. If you don't like how a camera feels in your hand, you won't like shooting with it. For me, Nikons feel the best as compared to Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, etc. So, I ended up buying D60 a while back. After a few months, my skills got better, so I upgraded to a used D80. I suspect I'll be using this for a little while, as it is a highly capable camera. My cousin was looking for a DSLR a while back and I steered him toward a used D80 from ebay. Look for something with low shutter actuations, i.e. <5,000. You can probably pick one up for around $500 (see here). Invest the rest of your money on a couple of good starter lens, like a 18-105mm VR (around $250) and a 50mm f1.4 (about $250). This system will probably satisfy your needs for a little while, until you get better at shooting. Then you can decide where to go from there. P.S. the D200 is available from Amazon for under $800, but I suspect it might be a bit too much to start with. P.S. II Since you're in NYC, go to the photo superstore B&H. They have everything you could possibly need or want.
 

Tokyo Slim

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
Whoa. Cool. Interesting in that it invalidates much of what I just said!

Yeah, i like doing that.
smile.gif
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
Whoa. Cool. Interesting in that it invalidates much of what I just said!

Yes and no. This was what I was talking about (micro 4/3). However, they don't have a real viewfinder and that may be a dealbreaker for some. At this point they don't have fast glass, which is definitely a problem for many. It's also first-gen of a lot of new tech. That's generally a bad idea. In the next couple of years I expect that the standard will mature and that it will fare quite well.
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by GQgeek
Yes and no. This was what I was talking about (micro 4/3). However, they don't have a real viewfinder and that may be a dealbreaker for some. At this point they don't have fast glass, which is definitely a problem for many. It's also first-gen of a lot of new tech. That's generally a bad idea. In the next couple of years I expect that the standard will mature and that it will fare quite well.

I hate looking through a digital viewfinder, but it's an interesting idea what they're doing. DPR gives the DMC-G1 pretty good reviews here.
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by DarkNWorn
I hate looking through a digital viewfinder, but it's an interesting idea what they're doing. DPR gives the DMC-G1 pretty good reviews here.

Ya, I can't imagine ever wanting to switch to something with an EVF. The VF on my e-3 is big and bright.
 

MetroStyles

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It's just such a giant hassle to carry around a large camera unless you are on a mission to take shots. For example, I wouldn't be able to carry one around NY on a daily basis. On vacation I guess it doesn't matter, but the size is a bit prohibitive in terms of having it on you when you don't expect to need it.
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
It's just such a giant hassle to carry around a large camera unless you are on a mission to take shots. For example, I wouldn't be able to carry one around NY on a daily basis. On vacation I guess it doesn't matter, but the size is a bit prohibitive in terms of having it on you when you don't expect to need it.
Then you should just go for a high end Canon Powershot or Panasonic Lumix camera and be done with it. They take very good photos, and you don't have to carry around a large DSLR while looking like a clueless tourist. This Panasonic DMC-LX3 is a very good, pocketable camera. Review here.
 

michaeljkrell

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I will second Olympus. I only have an E-300, but I have their prosumer 14mm-54mm glass and it is lovely. From the reviews I have read, it is very tough to beat for the price.
 

MetroStyles

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Originally Posted by DarkNWorn
Then you should just go for a high end Canon Powershot or Panasonic Lumix camera and be done with it. They take very good photos, and you don't have to carry around a large DSLR while looking like a clueless tourist. This Panasonic DMC-LX3 is a very good, pocketable camera. Review here.
I have a Lumix, DMC TZ3 and the image quality and flexibility of features (manual) pales in comparison to SLRs I have used. I know you can't have it all, I was just pointing out how that is unfortunate.
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
I have a Lumix, DMC TZ3 and the image quality and flexibility of features (manual) pales in comparison to SLRs I have used. I know you can't have it all, I was just pointing out how that is unfortunate.
You should look at the camera I included in my post. It's probably the closest you can get to a DSLR in terms of control and functionality without going full DSLR.
 

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