I need DSLR advice

Discuss cameras, settings, composition, software, and anything related to photography as it pertains to our plants, gardens, and landscapes.
Post Reply
KLC
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:30 am
Location: Phoenix, Az.

I need DSLR advice

#1

Post by KLC »

Good morning all, my spouse was asking me the other night what I wanted for xmas this year and I said I didn't know. Then after a day went by I realized I have been wanting a new camera. I know a lot of you use some nice equipment to photograph your plants so I thought I would ask around here.

The Canon Rebel is popular but which model? Or if there is something else better? I'm not looking for the "best" but rather good features to take good photos.

I am also interested in a macro lens from the get-go, and eventually a zoom.

I presently use a very old Sony Cybershot 3.1, it works good but nowadays the HD computer monitors reveal far too many limitations with the images.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Keith
Don't California my Arizona!
User avatar
mcvansoest
Moderator
Posts: 3003
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:22 pm
Location: Tempe, Arizona, USA ie. Low Desert & Urban Heat Island
USDA Zone: 9a/b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#2

Post by mcvansoest »

Hi Keith,

I think this is something where you can get a lot of different answers. I work with someone who has to take high quality photos often at macro settings of meteorites. He swears by Nikon. Any time I talk to him about cameras his main point always is: more megapixels is better - in a way his application will be pretty similar to what you or I would want: high detail pictures of some times pretty small objects. Excess resolution can then be used to crop in even further.
Then again I have a friend who on occasion works as a freelance photographer who swears by the Canon EOS line.
I think it is hard to go wrong with either brand.

Looking at Consumer reports. The Canon Eos is best in class (the Rebel T5i), but the difference in ratings with the highest rated Nikons is minimal. Consumer reports recommends both the top Canon and Nikon models and also has several models of each brand as 'Best Buys'.

I am at the moment looking at upgrading my very decent, but old Fuji film camera to a DSLR and I am looking very hard at the Nikon D3300 over the Canon Rebel T5 models because of the difference in mega pixels, but for the rest things appear to be pretty similar.
I guess one thing to take into account is the price and availability of different lenses, which I have not yet looked into.

This is just my 2 cents worth. I am sure there are people here who actually have some of these cameras and hopefully they can share their experience and advice.

Thijs
It is what it is!
User avatar
Arizona Agave
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 637
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:23 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona

Re: I need DSLR advice

#3

Post by Arizona Agave »

Hey Keith, I use a Nikon P510, with a 42 zoom lens, Great Camera. Martin
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#4

Post by Gee.S »

I wouldn't sweat the details. Just buy the best SLR bargain you can find, be it Nikon or Canon. Either way, you'll immediately need a lens upgrade. Start with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 or the Nikon equivalent, should run about $100. As you say, you'll also want a decent fast lens with a zoom. That may cost considerably more than the camera body. Fixed lenses are great for around the house and yard, not so much in the great outdoors or even at the DBG.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#5

Post by Gee.S »

How does $359 sound?

Canon EOS SL1
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
KLC
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:30 am
Location: Phoenix, Az.

Re: I need DSLR advice

#6

Post by KLC »

Thanks for the replies, we ended up going to Target Thursday evening (Ugh!) for the early Black Friday sale and picked up a Nikon D3200. Now the learning curve with the DSLR begins. I am very familiar with SLR in general, the aperture vs ISO settings and what not, but with the digital side of things you can manually set for color correction and white balance. Although at first I probably need to let the "auto" functions do the math.

And oh boy the Nikkor macro lenses are spendy.

And now for some useless tidbits not relevant to anything...I was playing with my 70's vintage Pentax SLR film camera and low and behold the batteries for the electronic shutter speed control are still in working condition. I know for certain they were last changed around 1990. I bought this camera in 1984 second hand at the pawn shop on the corner of Commonwealth Ave and Harbor Blvd in Fullerton, Ca. to use in my high school photography class. Back in the 70's camera equipment was a lot different than that of today, the Japanese camera bodies and workings were made of metal and of VERY high quality. After playing around with both the new lenses and the old one from the Pentax, it is quite clear in another 30 years which one will still be around. :8:
Don't California my Arizona!
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#7

Post by Gee.S »

Congratulations! You're going to have lots of fun with that bad boy. Assuming the stock Nikon lens is as crappy as the stock Canon lens, and assuming you may not want to break the bank in one fell swoop, this is the lens I would recommend for immediate procurement.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

It's cheap, but produces the kind of quality results you need to accustom yourself to before dropping big bucks on a more versatile lens in the future. Also, I don't know how handy you are with photo editors, but I strongly recommend you pick up and learn a good one, if you haven't already. Photoshop is the undisputed king, but big $$$$. OTOH, I'll give GIMP two solid thumbs up as the finest freeware application I've ever seen. This is a quality photo editor, and as indicated, it's free! You'll find a download link in this very Photo section.

Good luck!
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
KLC
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:30 am
Location: Phoenix, Az.

Re: I need DSLR advice

#8

Post by KLC »

Do you use the 50mm for most of your habitat shots?

After a quick return and repurchase of the most current model,I settled on a Nikon D3300. The 18-55mm kit lens it was supplied with is crap at best. I bypassed the kits with 2 zoom lenses, both are crap. A 50mm f1.8 is in the mail as we speak.

I wanted to start a discussion regarding some of the camera equipment available these days at seemingly impossible prices on the web. I have spent hours upon hours investigating all of the "good" deals out there and have been reading about the grey market products for sale everywhere.

I ended up with the D3300, primarily based on price and it's reputation for taking extraordinary pictures with a good lens. The D5300 does have a much better auto-focus, the same used on the 7000 series, and would have been my first choice if it were affordable enough for my budget. I began tossing around the idea of buying a D5300 camera body from one of the many web retailers for the same price as I paid for my D3300 locally. Well as it turns out, the almost impossible low prices on them are due to them being grey market cameras imported into the USA from non-licensed dealers and bypassing Nikon USA completely. These are brand new cameras identical in every respect to legitimate ones purchased at a much higher price through the proper channels but with one hitch...they have no USA warranty and Nikon DOES REFUSE to service them even if you are willing to pay for service. So it looks like you would have an expensive paperweight should it ever stop working on you. A DSLR does have many moving parts so the likelyhood it will need service at some point in time is high.

The Nikkor lenses can be bought grey market also, less the 5yr warranty for the USA model so do your research on their origin before you buy. The modern auto-focus lenses have quite a bit of things going on inside of them when they work so in my opinion this would be important to have the warranty coverage.

I have discovered that legitimate Nikon camera products have a "U" in front of the UPC code on the box, just an easy way of identifying the origin.

But gosh darn it, some of the grey market cameras have such good prices it is very tempting to pull the trigger on some of them. There are always third party repair shops who will still service them though, if they have the know how.

I hope I can stop looking at them on eBay at least until the return period on the one I have has expired. LOL

Anyone ever bought these grey market cameras or lenses? Experience with it?
Don't California my Arizona!
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#9

Post by Gee.S »

Keith, I primarily use an f2.8 17-55mm zoom lens in the great outdoors. I do have a very fast 50mm lens, and I used to take it on our excursions, but found it unwieldy at times, because slope, undergrowth, and other habitat conditions aren't always conducive toward the best shots at any fixed lens length. I wish that weren't the case, because the fixed lens' small size makes it very attractive to tote around, when compared to the much bulkier and heavier zoom. I do find the fixed lens extremely useful around the house and garden, and quality is outstanding. Obviously, this little cheapie lens isn't what you're going to wind up with as your primary, but it's so inexpensive and offers a great starting point, while producing results I believe you'll be extremely pleased with. I'm confident you'll always be glad to have it in your arsenal.

I have no experience with gray market camera products, but there are some quality aftermarket lens manufacturers that run rings around the likes of Nikon and Canon price-wise.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
KLC
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:30 am
Location: Phoenix, Az.

Re: I need DSLR advice

#10

Post by KLC »

Hey GeeS and anyone who is interested in photography, do you prefer to put all of your eggs in one basket with one card or do you use a few smaller ones? I got a few quality 16g UHS cards a few weeks ago, I think it's best not to rely on just one card in case of a card failure in the field, it does happen from time to time. Memory is so inexpensive these days, the 16g I got were less than $10. The 32g were actually what I wanted but were not as cost effective as the 16g. The way things go they will be in 6 months though.
Don't California my Arizona!
KLC
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:30 am
Location: Phoenix, Az.

Re: I need DSLR advice

#11

Post by KLC »

Wow things went kind of off kilter for me in the last 30 days. I have tried out no fewer than 4 cameras only to discover something about them I didn't like and returned them for something else. No harm done, the retailer was as happy as can be to take them back so that I could get one I would be happy with (thanks Adorama), I sort of knew this was going to occur so I discussed it with them before I made the purchases.

I am now the proud owner of a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 18-200 F3.5-5.6G AF-II. This camera is Nikon's best offering in the DX lineup. An FX, or full frame 35mm sensor, camera would have been nice to use but the lenses required for the FX cameras are several thousand dollars each, no thanks. I sure did get quite an education about DSLRs lately. I have spoken to every camera shop in Phoenix and some on the East coast too.

The D7100 won't necessarily take better photos than an entry level D3300 because both use the same sensor, the differences are in the other features. I primarily liked the D7100 due to it's ability to fine tune the auto-focus to an individual lens to get the sharpest photo possible. The lesser cameras in Nikon's lineup can't do this. The auto-focus system on the D7100 is also shared with Nikon's flagship D4. The body is cast magnesium and is weather tight, it uses dual data cards and has a huge lithium-ion battery. Other nice touches include an internal autofocus motor so any Nikkor lenses made since about 1986 can be used, and a big, bright 'Pentaprism' viewfinder and ridiculous 1.2 million pixel screen, which I rarely even look at though. An SLR was meant to be used through the viewfinder, it is in my opinion that if you want to take pictures while looking at the screen you should just use your phone instead.

It is a bit big and definitely a bit heavy especialy with the 18-200 lens (about a pound and a half) but that is something I will have to get over. I am quite excited to learn how to use it. And best of all, I got in on some very special last minute New Years deals and rebates from Nikon. This D7100 ended up only a few more dollars more than the D5300 (all legit USA equipment too). If anyone is shopping for a camera or equipment, I will recommend Adorama in NY, they are the best, friendliest people to deal with.

Keep it real agave peoples. :U
Don't California my Arizona!
User avatar
mcvansoest
Moderator
Posts: 3003
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:22 pm
Location: Tempe, Arizona, USA ie. Low Desert & Urban Heat Island
USDA Zone: 9a/b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#12

Post by mcvansoest »

Hi Keith,

Congrats! I came away from Christmas with a D5200 as we discussed previously. I am pretty happy with it so far. It unfortunately does not have the on-board AF motor, which means I can only buy AF-S lenses, unless I want to manually focus - which I have been doing with a nikkor 50mm F1:1.4 lens I borrowed from a friend - it is not the AF-S model, so manual focus - but the aperture and everything else is camera controlled and the camera still provides you with a indication when it detects the lens to be in focus so it is not such a big deal. I am trying to test this lens to see if I want to get the current generation of nikkor 50mm 1.4 AF-S lens which is somewhat affordable only ~$400, or go for the 35mm 1.8 DX (which is a lens that would not work on a full sensor body if I ever upgrade), which comes in at around $200 (then I could even get the nikkor 50mm 1.8 for another $200 if for some reason the need arose).

Last weekend I got to test drive the micro-nikkor 105mm F2.8 macro lens, which is a beast, with an aperture range from F2.8 to 36, and my does that help with depth of field and taking pictures of such 3D objects like Agaves. Requires a tripod when the F numbers start getting large, but I was surprised at the quality of the photos I managed to produce without too much hassle - I used remote shutter release as well.
A. applanata 'Cream Spike'
A. applanata 'Cream Spike'
DSC_0302.JPG (63 KiB) Viewed 15021 times
This was taken with F36 and a shutter speed of 1/2. Because of all the down sampling of the image I am sure a lot of the details gets lost, but that picture has excellent focus, sharpness and contrast throughout.
It is what it is!
User avatar
Melt in the Sun
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 2093
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:41 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b

Re: I need DSLR advice

#13

Post by Melt in the Sun »

Well, just ordered a D3300 for my wife's birthday. I got the kit with the two zoom lenses...I now see Keith called them crap above, so we'll see :) Reviews I read seemed to suggest that they are perfectly adequate for the average chump. Bingo. I picked up a basic UV filter and the wifi adapter, since SD cards seem to disappear between the camera and computer. I half suspect the toddler is eating them.

She has several friends who run half-serious part-time photography businesses (mainly baby/kid photos) and has become dissatisfied with our current stuff. Her older brother gave us a 10-year-old Nikon D50 with some broken buttons, and she was blown away, especially with the indoor flash pictures as compared to our old camera.
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#14

Post by Gee.S »

All I can tell you is that the stock Canon lenses will give you no better pics than you could probably manage with your phone. And I would argue that the average chump needs a better lens than more learned folks, to help compensate for his lack of skill and experience. You can buy an inexpensive ($100?) fast (f1.8) fixed (50mm) lens after a spell, and see if you notice the difference in pic quality. I believe you will. My experience with cheap, slow lenses in regard to plant pics, is that I found it nearly impossible to bring an entire plant or group of plants into sharp focus. Instead, I would get a generally blurry shot with only a single small foreground point in sharp focus.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
User avatar
Melt in the Sun
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 2093
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:41 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b

Re: I need DSLR advice

#15

Post by Melt in the Sun »

Even with a small aperture, you couldn't get a whole plant in focus? I thought those type of things (depth of field given a focal length and aperture size) were governed by physics, not lens quality...I guess we'll see.
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#16

Post by Gee.S »

Enjoy your camera. :))
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
User avatar
Melt in the Sun
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 2093
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:41 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b

Re: I need DSLR advice

#17

Post by Melt in the Sun »

Well, that actually was a question, not me saying you don't know what you're doing. How small an aperture was it capable of, and how close to the plant were you typically standing? Are your new lenses able to stop down further?

If that isn't correct, someone please tell me so!
User avatar
Gee.S
Site Admin
Posts: 9764
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#18

Post by Gee.S »

Here is a similar lens for Nikon: Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Auto Focus Lens

Looks like it stops down to f/22. It's a small investment, and will let you know with certainty whether you'll benefit from better lenses. As far as the kind of blurry shots I'm referring to, you may recall some of the closeup photos posted by BooHollow. Similar result here.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, others walk the walk, but I stalk the stalk"
User avatar
mcvansoest
Moderator
Posts: 3003
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:22 pm
Location: Tempe, Arizona, USA ie. Low Desert & Urban Heat Island
USDA Zone: 9a/b
Contact:

Re: I need DSLR advice

#19

Post by mcvansoest »

Just to quickly weigh in the lens discussion: since the nikon the MitS is talking about is not a full sensor camera, the 50mm lens is more like a 75mm lens so still with a pretty narrow field of view.
I'd recommend the 35 mm version of more or less the same lens, which will give you the effect of using a ~50mm lens with a similar f-stop range.

I have a Nikon D5200, and aside from the 2 kit lenses, I ended up with the 60 mm micro-nikkor macro lens, which took some getting used to but I am starting to get the hang of it. Its f-stop range is all the way up to 32/36, but for the real close in stuff it means that I need a tri pod or AZ sunshine! It does not quite have the low end f-stop range of the 35 and 50 mm lenses, but I have not really had any issues with that.
It does reasonably well as a point a shoot lens as long as you can step a way from your subject a bit, or quite a bit :))

My experience with the kit lenses is that with some experimenting you can get pretty good pictures out of them, but it will all depend on your application and how critical you are of what a <$200 zoom lens should get you. I realized that with me tending to want to be close up to flowers and what not that I needed something better for the macro stuff and because I got sick and tired of constantly switching lenses (and getting a dust particle on the sensor during my first day of taking pictures with the camera out in the boonies) I have since then adjusted my behavior to accommodate taking pictures with what is effectively a 90 mm lens for my camera.

I have one of the higher end zoom lenses on my wish list, but it is a whole lot of money...
It is what it is!
User avatar
Melt in the Sun
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 2093
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:41 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b

Re: I need DSLR advice

#20

Post by Melt in the Sun »

Thanks for the input! The kit comes with both an 18-55 and a 55-200, not including the crop factor. We'll see how they do...it's supposed to arrive Tuesday.
User avatar
Melt in the Sun
Ready to Bolt
Posts: 2093
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:41 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
USDA Zone: 9b

Re: I need DSLR advice

#21

Post by Melt in the Sun »

Figured I'd follow up on this a little bit. In short, it's pretty nice! Far better than even the fanciest point and shoot. Since the kit lens has a max aperture of 3.5, we picked up a 35mm 1.8 prime for the indoor pictures.

I don't have any trouble getting a whole plant in focus. Makes me suspect that GS had a defective kit lens on his Canon...maybe a decentered/tilted element or something.
User avatar
Neomexicana
Bulbil
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:57 pm
Location: At the foot of the Berchtesgaden Alps

Re: I need DSLR advice

#22

Post by Neomexicana »

Well, I didn't read the whole thread, but my general advice is, first check the lenses and then choose the camera. I have been told this and I didn't believe it. Sometimes you cannot imagine, that a certain focal-length doesn't exist, because there are so much lenses on the market. In the meantime I know, that they were right. The lens is lot more important than the camera. Personally I don't buy lenses which are slower than f2.8 as long they are available. All the cheap lenses are lying around, if you have used a better lens. The camera is important, when you have noise problems, eg taking flowers in the wind, which means short exposure time and acceptable dof. I use Pentax, which offers TAv. Check if your brand supports a similar setting in manual mode, I mean you choose the speed and the aperture and the camera sets the ISO. I use this TAv-mode with 90% of my photos. ISO is not so important with good dslrs of today. Maybe a firmware update is needed for this option.
Post Reply