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  1.  (10068.1)
    Hey guys,
    my Dad has come into a bit of money and wants to buy me a SLR camera for my birthday.
    He told me tonight he wants us to go get it tomorrow, which doesn't leave me a huge amount of time to seek sage advice, so I'm hoping for a swift response if you can.

    The one I've taken a shine to when out before is the Sony a33 SLT. I'm checking prices now and it looks like I can get one for about the same as a Nikon D3100 or a Canon 500D.

    So, what I'm asking is, am I making a good choice here? I'm going to be teaching myself how to take better pictures with this and I'm only going to be getting one chance to buy a camera this expensive, so I'd appreciate any opinions or advice you have to offer.
    • CommentAuthorbadbear
    • CommentTimeJul 22nd 2011
     (10068.2)
    Canon and Nikon are both equally as good as each other and both universally acknowledged as better than any other technology out there.

    That said, I think you have to go with something that you like holding and feel comfortable with. I bought a canon 500d because my dad always had canon cameras, i grew up using them and I have some wierd brand loyalty going on. I also wanted to be able to use the camera professionally so I needed to get a camera body that will get me to a certain level and will take professional quality lenses should I ever be able to afford any.

    When I was first researching I found a wicked article (which I now cannot find again) saying that it's more important to spend your money on a decent lens than it is to spend it on a decent camera body. I bought the 500d because I live in the UK and the light here is terrible so I needed a camera with a decent ISO and it seemed like the best balance of features for the price. I also went into a shop and handled it, felt comfortable with it, liked the user interface etc.

    Soooo I think if you love the sony and you don't ever plan on taking things further then you should go for it, but if you think your hobby might develop a bit then you should take a serious look at nikon and canon.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeJul 22nd 2011
     (10068.3)
    If at all possible, without jeopardizing the generosity, I'd see if you can get some more time to think about it. Choosing cameras is really fucking hard.

    That said, however long you take in choosing it, the camera you end up with will always be a bit of a "screw it, I'll have that one" decision. And part of the fun of getting into photography is learning and working with the bundle of limitations and advantages that each camera represents.

    The only objective thing that I can think of is that if you're planning on using lots of old/second-hand/dodgy/improvised lenses, Canon will be easier than Nikon. (I discovered this because I bought a Nikon, then discovered that I wanted to use a lot of non-Nikon lenses, and it's a bitch).

    In the end, though, it's not the camera that takes the pictures; it's you. So as long as it takes pictures, you'll be fine.

    Sorry if this doesn't help much, I just got back from the pub.
  2.  (10068.4)
    I think you should save the DSLRs for when you're confident in your skills, and have the money to spare for tech that becomes obsolete in five years, and have decided 100% that photography is a hobby you want to pursue.

    IF your goal is to improve your skills at photography, then you should get a fully manual film camera. You will not be able to look at your mistakes and delete them, and you will be forced to learn how photography actually works because a roll full of bad shots is a waste of money. Money is a good motivator to not screw up. But if you just want to take pretty holiday snaps, any point and shoot camera will do you. They're pretty good these days.

    Since you can normally get decent quality second hand gear and lenses for probably less than the cost of a new DSLR and lenses, the hit to your dad's wallet may be less as well. Depends on the gear though. Even an old Leica will hurt.
  3.  (10068.5)
    Most of the cameras out now have similar features, the main difference in my opinion is the mount and thus the lenses that you can use. As pointed above, the Canon mount makes it pretty easy to use adapters for old manual focus lenses if that's something you might be interested in (M42, etc., excellent way to get good quality manual lenses for cheap). Apart from that, both Canon and Nikon mounts have a huge range of available lenses, either directly or with cheap adapters. You can even use recent Voigtlander or Zeiss lenses on these cameras...

    So, well, go to a store and try the cameras to see if there's anything you don't like about one of them. And ask your friends what systems they have if you think they could lend you lenses sometimes.
    Check dpreview.com for long reviews on the cameras too...
  4.  (10068.6)
    By the way, I completely disagree with William George. A decent entry-level DSLR body with a basic lens + perhaps some cheap older manual focus lenses is a much better thing now than a film camera. Convenience is not necessarily a bad thing, and it's nice to live in the digital age and be able to have pictures on your computer without needing to develop and scan the film, too :).
  5.  (10068.7)
    Unfortunately my Dad is very much in the "We must do this NOW!" frame of mind and is liable to get a bit testy if I try to back out of it.

    Much of what I do will be match day photography for a local football team. And now I look at the specs, I don't remember why I was so taken with the Sony.
    The D3100 looks fine to me, if he will stretch to a 550 Canon I may go that route.
    But I will definitely get them in my hands and see how they feel.

    I have a film SLR, but it costs £5 a throw to develop the film, and I don't have that kind of money to learn on.

    Thanks for the insight guys, and if anyone else has more, I have about 12 hours from now before he's going to expect me to pick one - so again, all advice is welcome.
  6.  (10068.8)
    I know a few professional photographers all but one of them swear by their Canon's. (The other one loves Nikon). As others have said, pick one of those two brands and then decided which camera you like overall between them. (I'd go for a Canon, but that's because what I've always liked and when I got one that wasn't -- it was a Pentax -- I didn't like it and it's ended up sitting on the shelf collecting dust.)
  7.  (10068.9)
    By the way, I completely disagree with William George


    May science one day find the cure
  8.  (10068.10)
    I think you'll find that at this level, the capabilities and features of the different cameras are going to be nearly identical. I would say stick with Nikon or Cannon simply because more people use those and you're going to find a wider variety of lenses, both from the manufacturer and third party. Personally I prefer Nikon due to design and ergonomic preferences. Also, Nikon hasn't changed their lens mount system basically since forever, so if you feel like it you can pick up manual lenses on the cheap and clip them right on.

    Totally personal subjective opinion: Go with the Nikon.

    and get with DpReview
  9.  (10068.11)
    I bought the Canon EOS 500D in the end.
    Was all set to get the Nikon, and then I rtied out the Canon and as you guys said, it just felt more comfortable in my hand.
    Got a twin lens kit too, so have the standard 18-55mm and a 75-300mm.

    Thanks for all your advice guys. I'll see you in the photography thread.
  10.  (10068.12)
    Good choice. I work freelance for a magazine. They didn't mind me using film, but it was costing me £40 to get the shots developed after covering a bikeshow, which was eating into my profit. Asked my editor for soe advice and what camera she used.
    She said buy the best camera you can afford, and she used a Canon EOS500D.If it was good enough for her articles and features, in an international magazine, two page spreads etc it would do everything I wanted. I was fortunate enough to get a good deal on a 550D and am now using it all the time.
    You've made a good call there mate
  11.  (10068.13)
    William George's idea seems a good one, but in my personal experience it doesn't work. The path I chose, buying a full manual Pentax K1000 from a friend, seemed a good one. It was driven mostly in the interest of night time photography and learning to apply aperture, shutter and ISO speed. It is has its place but in the interest of learning it was very limited, expensive and I had no interest in learning to develop film. So I bought a good digital. I currently I have an Canon S95 (compact, yes) that has expansive manual control; Quick, easy access to apeture, ISO and shutter speeds. I love shooting with it and perhaps will go DSLR to play with different lenses if it keeps me engaged in creativity. $700-1000 is a bit to spend for something that may not get used to its fullest.

    So I watch videos on Youtube and look at the photography thread on WC, which is absolutely filled with Awesome. Right now I'm thinking one of these two...

    • CommentAuthorbadbear
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2011
     (10068.14)
    Hey cool! The manual that comes with the camera is actually surprisingly good at giving you the basics of how to handle it but I also have to reccommend this website:

    http://photonotes.org/articles/beginner-faq/

    I go back to it over and over again, it's wicked useful. Have fun with it!
  12.  (10068.15)
    William George's idea seems a good one, but in my personal experience it doesn't work.

    And in mine it worked perfectly. But the OP is really just looking for a cool DSLR to have around their neck. The "learning" is pretty secondary.

    Regardless: Get the Canon. They have a lot of decent lenses at relatively affordable prices.
  13.  (10068.16)
    Got to say I've been using, and as an archaeologist working with, SLRs for 16 years. Part of me hates making the transition to digital, but just couldn't afford not to. Still got three minolta bodies, and all the kit. These days you can pick up a good manual Minolta for between £5-£25 but developing is getting astronomical. Course developing kit is going down in price as film goes out of favour.
  14.  (10068.17)
    The thing is, you can learn as much about photography using a modern DSLR body and a manual focus lens as with a film SLR. The main difference is that the DSLR will not be full frame. Buying a DSLR does not mean you just want a cool camera and that you're not going to learn anything...

    Rob : whenever you want to spend some money on lenses, either get the Canon 50mm 1.8 (looks like a plastic toy but it's a good lens and it's cheap) if you want autofocus or get an EOS to M42 adapter on ebay and find something like a pentacon 50mm. There are lots of old manual lenses that you can use on the Canon with an adapter. And they're cheap. I bought an excellent 30 years old Voigtlander 55mm 1.4 in QBM mount for about 30 euros a couple of years ago for example.
  15.  (10068.18)
    Do keep in mind that Sony makes the sensors.

    As an avid Sony user (a200 and now a33), I highly recommend buying into the company.

    You have all the range you need with the Sigma and Konica Minolta lenses that fit.

    That's my two pennies.
  16.  (10068.19)
    @oscillateur - I have a load of Canon lenses without the autofocus features, but when I was looking online it sounded tremendously expensive and complicated to buy the adaptor that would fit them to the new AF mounts.
    Could you tell me what adaptor I need and roughly how much I should be looking at paying for it? Is EOS to M42 what it would be called?
    A quick check says the lenses I have are an FD mount.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroscillateur
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011 edited
     (10068.20)
    Ach, FD lenses can't easily be used on cameras with EF mount (all Canons for the past 20-25 years). That's because the distance between the film/sensor and the mount is smaller for FD lenses than for EF lenses. Of all the current digital SLRs, only micro 4/3rd cameras (and the new Sony NEX range) can use FD lenses with an adapter without losing image quality...

    That was the bad news. The good news is that you can use manual lenses made for M42, PK (pentax), Olympus OM, Nikon F, etc. mounts.

    This page has a list of all the lens mount types :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lens_mount

    The big table listing all of them is ordered by flange focal distance. You can use with an adapter anything that has a distance greater than EF lenses. You can get adapters on ebay for 10-20$ that include a little chip that enables focus confirmation from the camera. This means that you still focus manually but the little red dots used for autofocus still light up when the camera thinks a point is in focus. This can be useful if you decide to try manual focus lenses.