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Author Topic: Please Advise  (Read 7799 times)
MR.FEESH
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« on: March 27, 2009, 03:07:15 PM »
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Hi all!

I'm a senior in high school now who's starting to get interested in photography.  I have a Nikon basic p&s now, but I've been really feeling the allure of this hobby; I'm getting sucked in.  Because I'm only a student, my budget is extremely tight... I don't have any amount of cash saved up for a DSLR or accessories, but am starting a little fund for it ($0 as of today... Cool )

I've decided to strive towards a Nikon D80 (a good amount of performance, but not too advanced for a total DSLR virgin).  I was told from some one in the hobby, "invest in lenses, bodies come and go with time".  This being said, I was going to get the body only and aim for a very valued lens (meaning low cost but great performance)... a more bang for your buck sort of lens.  

This is where I'm requesting some advice-- I'm fairly certain the D80 body decision won't change, but I know next to nothing about lenses.  I was recommended the Sigma 24-70.. f2.8 Macro.  Could you prescribe an inexpensive lens with good performance?  I'd like one for under $500 if that narrows it down.  (A standard zoom lens, I'm not looking for anything specialized until I have by base lens figured out).


Thanks!
Elby
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 03:18:43 PM »
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www.bythom.com
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 03:36:25 PM »
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Quote from: DarkPenguin


Took me a while but I found some good news,
"However the 24-70mm f2.8 is a remarkably good lens in every respect."


That link is going in my favorites, thanks!!!

Elby
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situgrrl
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2009, 04:17:13 PM »
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That lens isn't the best idea imo - because on any DSLR in your price range uses a cropped sensor and that means that your wide angle isn't....better with an 18-50 ish lens.  I used a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 on my Canon 30D and thought it was a bottle top.  My brother had a more recent version and though it was better, not a lot.  He replaced it with a Tamron (I think) and isn't so impressed with that either.  

Given that all DSLRs at any given price point perform about the same, I suggest that you try them and find which one feels the best for you.  The biggest weakness in the imaging chain for you (like everyone else!) is lens quality.  Buying an Olympus might be worth it as to me, they are hands down the best lenses for the money.  Be aware that the sensor on Olympus's is smaller than Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax and that limits high ISO shooting.  Olympus, Pentax and Sony offer in-body image stabilization - something that to me would be a big deal - big enough to swing me away from the big two.  

One thing that I would seriously recommend - regardless of what you opt for - is to buy second hand from a reputable source.  I understand keh.com is a seriously good source if nothing shows up here.
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 10:40:39 PM »
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Quote from: situgrrl
That lens isn't the best idea imo - because on any DSLR in your price range uses a cropped sensor and that means that your wide angle isn't....better with an 18-50 ish lens.  I used a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 on my Canon 30D and thought it was a bottle top.  My brother had a more recent version and though it was better, not a lot.  He replaced it with a Tamron (I think) and isn't so impressed with that either.  

Given that all DSLRs at any given price point perform about the same, I suggest that you try them and find which one feels the best for you.  The biggest weakness in the imaging chain for you (like everyone else!) is lens quality.  Buying an Olympus might be worth it as to me, they are hands down the best lenses for the money.  Be aware that the sensor on Olympus's is smaller than Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax and that limits high ISO shooting.  Olympus, Pentax and Sony offer in-body image stabilization - something that to me would be a big deal - big enough to swing me away from the big two.  

One thing that I would seriously recommend - regardless of what you opt for - is to buy second hand from a reputable source.  I understand keh.com is a seriously good source if nothing shows up here.



Point taken, and noted.

I realize the bodies in my price range may not be the most pragmatic for this lens (24-70mm), but if I'm ever going to upgrade, it wouldn't hurt to have it around...?  I mean I'm totally new, but I think investing in lenses capable of use on more advanced bodies sounds like a good long term deal.

-------------------------

Any other lenses up for recommendation?

Elby  
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Craig Arnold
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2009, 03:32:54 AM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
Point taken, and noted.

I realize the bodies in my price range may not be the most pragmatic for this lens (24-70mm), but if I'm ever going to upgrade, it wouldn't hurt to have it around...?  I mean I'm totally new, but I think investing in lenses capable of use on more advanced bodies sounds like a good long term deal.

-------------------------

Any other lenses up for recommendation?

Elby  

I don't think you really have understood the point. Why buy a lens that might possibly be useful to you at some point in the distant future, but not right now?

Upgrading to FF is usually an expensive business, and chances are you will want the very best lenses to go with what may well be a 30Mp+ body by that time.

When you do get a FF body you will either sell or keep the crop body. If you keep it you will still need an appropriate lens, so no harm in getting a crop lens. If you sell the body you can sell the lens at the same time.

A 24-70 is just not a very useful focal range for most people (especially beginners) on a crop body. You want the crop equivalent of 24-70. There are many lenses which are useful on both crop and FF bodies; 100mm macro, 50mm prime, 28mm prime, 100-400 zoom, etc. But the 24-70 is a very awkward range when cropped and not great for most people.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 03:33:20 AM by peripatetic » Logged

situgrrl
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2009, 05:34:54 AM »
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^^What they said!  24mm on a 1.6 body is 38.4mm and I defy you to ever do anything but swear that it's not wide enough.  There is somehow a very big difference between 35mm and 38 mm.  Added to which, from my experience with Sigma lenses (I've had a number of others through the years) it will not cut it on a full frame body.

Someone here is going to recommend you buy a Nikon and their new 30mm 1.8 or whatever it is.  There is good sense to this at the discipline of shooting with one focal length is good for your photography.  I just personally cannot use a 50mm (equiv)  lens for the life of me.  Someone will probably come along and tell you to get a Pentax because they have a fine range of prime lenses in useful focal lengths.
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harlemshooter
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2009, 07:42:27 AM »
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elby,

for around the same price, you could just get a used medium format film rangefinder like the mamiya 7 and scan the negatives...

if you are set on digital, what about going with a used canon 5d?  they have dropped significantly in price and are decent bodies.  you might also consider simply buying a prime lens like the voigtlander 40mm (w/nikon to eos canon mount) - you can purchase direct through cameraquest.com for $375 new + $50-175 for adapter
 
this manual lens can be used with canon (with adapter) or nikon (w/o adapter).  it is important for young people to learn basics manually before delving into world of digital.  whether you go with a canon or nikon digital doesn't really matter (d80 isn't bad), but i highly suggest starting with a simple prime lens to develop your compositional skill set.  if you are shooting landscape, you won't need or want an aperture wider than f4.

cheers
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 05:31:39 PM by harlemshooter » Logged
Mosccol
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2009, 08:09:36 AM »
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I would concur with going the prime lens way:

- MUCH better quality for the money than any mainstream zoom
- A proper education in seeing images and choosing your focal length

If I were you I would go for the following:

- Body as you described. Anything above 8 Megapixels with decent metering is going to be fine
- A wide angle appropriate for a 1.6x crop factor body: anything under 20mm
- A general shooting lens: on this type of body I would go for a 35mm although a 50mm would also work (although not as well)
- A short tele: either a true portrait lens (e.g. 85mm) or something like a 100 or 135mm macro
- A proper tele lens, but that can be later. At that stage you will probably be aiming for a good quality 70-200 zoom

If your budget is super tight, pick up a dirt cheap plastic 50mm f1.8 with the body. Amazing value for money and absolutely decent quality. If you can stretch a bit more, forget the 50mm and pick up the <20mm and the 85mm: great landscapes and great portraits...

Good luck
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graeme
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2009, 09:17:20 AM »
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Hi Elby

I've got the sigma 24 - 70 2.8 ( Canon mount ). I've tried two copies and I don't think it's anything special - it's no sharper than my efs 17-85 ( thankfully there's less distortion though ). It's useful for my particular needs but I wouldn't want it as my only lens on a crop frame camera.

A second hand camera might be a good idea if you're on a tight budget. I'm using a 4 year old 20D and it takes perfectly good pictures. You can pick them up for just over £200 in the UK ( about 280 dollars I think ). I'm not a pro photographer but photography is part of my work. I've had images taken with the 20D published in magazines and they look OK. ( I should mention that I'm not necessarily recommending that you buy a second hand canon 20D - the shutter on mine self destructed after two and a half years, a common fault with this model I believe ).

If I was buying a system from scratch today I'd be taking a very good look at a Sony DSLR and some used Minolta lenses.

I really wouldn't want to get into film scanning on a budget. I did this for four years before going fully digital and I reckon it's a serious waste of lifetime.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Graeme
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2009, 10:33:29 AM »
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Quote from: situgrrl
Someone here is going to recommend you buy a Nikon and their new 30mm 1.8 or whatever it is.  There is good sense to this at the discipline of shooting with one focal length is good for your photography.

Okay, I'll be that person.  Or the second person anyway.  If you want to learn about photography and you want to teach yourself, buy one lens like the one recommended above and work with that one lens only.  Also get the best tripod you can afford.  If you want to zoom, get closer.  If you want wide angle, back up.  Learn how to 'see' through your viewfinder.  Pick up a copy of 'Photography and the Art of Seeing' and do some of the exercises in there.  Learn to understand how f/stops relate to depth of field, and how shutter speeds translate into freezing movement or allowing it, and how and when that can be a good thing.  Understand perspective in terms of mapping three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional image.  Make lots of mistakes.  At least with digital you don't have to pay for film and processing of the images you throw out!  Be ruthless in your assessment of your work but be gentle with yourself.  Once you understand the fundamentals of photography and you're making good images with that one lens, you can add to it and discover new perspectives.

Mike.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2009, 10:46:41 AM »
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Quote from: situgrrl
^^What they said!  24mm on a 1.6 body is 38.4mm and I defy you to ever do anything but swear that it's not wide enough.  There is somehow a very big difference between 35mm and 38 mm.  Added to which, from my experience with Sigma lenses (I've had a number of others through the years) it will not cut it on a full frame body.
*Chomp*

I quite like 40mm equivalent as a focal length.  I could be happy with a 24mm prime on a crop body.  But I'm also more inclined to want to go wider than longer when I shooting in that range so a 24-70 is just a lot of extra weight for a lot of focal lengths I'm not that interested in.  But I could be happy with a 24mm.

I think they should get a 16-whatever lens designed for a crop body.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 11:05:00 AM by DarkPenguin » Logged
MR.FEESH
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2009, 02:36:26 PM »
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      X a million

Okay, well I probably should have mentioned that I like landscape and nature photography.  I'm not saying this is ALL I will be doing (which is why I would like a good all around lens), but for instance I know I hate taking pictures with people in them (such as portraits).  I really, really don't know anything about lenses, this is all a bit intimidating.  The similar...thrashing... seems to be that the 24-70mm won't give me a decently wide angle.  

So I might benefit from a lens with a lower number mm?
(I'd like f2.8 or bigger...or at least I think I do....)

It would also help me if your suggestions included manufacturer name and a specific model so I can actually compare things like prices and performance in reviews.

Sorry I'm not 'getting' this, but I'm learning, cut me a lil slack-- just being a little more specific would help.

Elby  
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2009, 04:45:19 PM »
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One of the camera bodies that stands out from the crowd is the Nikon D90, you might consider a little more money for better IQ.
lenses, I would go for an 18-200 as a first general purpose lens, either the Nikkor VR or the Sigma OS
Just my 2 cents
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2009, 04:47:11 PM »
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Today you are where I was two years ago.  Except I was a little older with a little more cash.

My photography interest is shooting my friends climbing and kayaking so I bought a Canon Xti and the 17-55 F2.8 IS lens.  The next year I picked up a 75-300 IS lens, Lightroom and Photoshop.  This year I have acquired a tripod (Gitzo 1541) and a ballhead (RSS BH40 w/panning clamp).  My next purchase will be the 24-105 F4 lens (I want a little more zoom for whitewater kayaking).

Here is my two cents...

If your interest is in landscape and nature photography the F2.8 lens is probably not good value for your money.   F2.8 is great value for my money because I need fast shutter speeds to freeze the action.  For landscape & nature shooting a good tripod & ballhead will probably be of more use than a F2.8 lens.  When I do shoot landscapes I am glad that I have the 17-24 range in my wide angle lens.  It is easier to crop & zoom photos than it is too stitch them.
If you were Canon shopping I would suggest your priorities be...

XS or XSI body
Canon EF-S 17-55 IS F4-5.6 or Canon 17-85 EF-S IS F4-5.6 lens
Clear filter to protect the lens
Lightroom
Good tripod & good ballhead

These lenses aren’t going to get great reviews but a cheap lens with a good tripod will probably be better for you than an expensive lens with no tripod.

Another tip...  Go into a camera store on a weekday morning when business is slow.  The staff will probably have more time and patience for you at that time than they would on a Saturday afternoon when the store is full of people spending money.  Learn a lot before you spend anything.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2009, 05:18:57 PM »
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If you are not shooting people, you have no real need for an f2.8 lens....I'm no climate change denier but it doesn't change that fast you need to freeze the action!  Get into animals and that might well change but I seriously recommend you stay away from them until you are earning some serious money....go check the price on a 500mm f4 and you'll see why!

Skippy has some good advice there, I would check for Benro and Feisol tripods - they are chinese rip offs of Gitzos and frankly I get the impression that you don't have the money to get caught up in the ethics of patents.  Besides, Gitzo legs are way over priced!  I would try to go for a carbon fibre one despite the price differential - the things are so heavy and offer precisely no additional stability when left at the back of a cupboard....where mine lives!

The only lens that I can categorically and thoroughly recommend that may be within your budget is the Olympus 14-54mm 2.8-3.5.  It's the BEST standard lens I've ever used on an SLR and excellent value for money - pin sharp and pretty rendering.  I was not impressed with the Canon system I used to shoot until I was using long lenses (85mm 1.8, 80-200 2.Cool.
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2009, 08:53:03 PM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
Point taken, and noted.

I realize the bodies in my price range may not be the most pragmatic for this lens (24-70mm), but if I'm ever going to upgrade, it wouldn't hurt to have it around...?  I mean I'm totally new, but I think investing in lenses capable of use on more advanced bodies sounds like a good long term deal.

-------------------------

Any other lenses up for recommendation?

Elby  

I have been extremely impressed with the performance of the Nikkor  18-135mm DX zoom that came with my D80. While "kit lenses" sometimes get a bad rap, this one is surprisingly good.

Peter
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Peter
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MR.FEESH
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« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2009, 11:45:39 PM »
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Quote from: PeterAit
I have been extremely impressed with the performance of the Nikkor  18-135mm DX zoom that came with my D80. While "kit lenses" sometimes get a bad rap, this one is surprisingly good.

Peter


A good kit lens would save me a whole world of trouble.  Problem is, you're the first person I've ever heard say that about the kit lens...not that I don't trust you...it just seems like you're vastly outnumbered.

Can you post any pics?

---------------------------------------
Okay so now I'm looking at a decent speed (maybe like 3.5 or so) with a lower range mm to compensate for the 1.6x crop... still no unanimous decision though...from you other posters I mean-- this is making it quite the challenge!


Elby

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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2009, 12:05:42 AM »
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Quote
A good kit lens would save me a whole world of trouble. Problem is, you're the first person I've ever heard say that about the kit lens...not that I don't trust you...it just seems like you're vastly outnumbered.

I haven't used that particular Nikon kit lens, but I got the Nikon 18-70 DX  kit lens when I first went digital with a Nikon D70, some years back, and it was a darn fine lens for something so dirt cheap.  Heck, it was much better than any of the mid-price Canon lenses I was using with my Canon film camera previously.  Kit lenses tend to get a bad rap around here because the DSLR shooters here seem to be predominantly Canon, and Canon's kit lenses are said to be poor, but at least some of Nikon's are much better.

For Nikon lenses, Bjorn Rorslett's lens reviews are great.  Look for the "Lenses" link near the upper left on the following web page:
http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html

I just checked it, and unfortunately I can't find the 18-135 lens there among the ones he's reviewed.  You might find some other good inexpensive lenses there, though.  (I can personally vouch for the 18-70 DX, which BR liked a great deal too.)

Lisa
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2009, 01:36:27 AM »
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Quote from: MR.FEESH
     X a million

It would also help me if your suggestions included manufacturer name and a specific model so I can actually compare things like prices and performance in reviews.

Sorry I'm not 'getting' this, but I'm learning, cut me a lil slack-- just being a little more specific would help.

Elby  

All of the major manufacturers - Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax for example make good cameras and accessories.  Reviews and the like will take you so far, but the first thing you need to do is define a budget.  What kind of money do you have to spend?  You don't have to tell us, but you do need to know for yourself.

I've written this before for others, but here is my suggestion.  With budget in mind, find a local camera store that carries the major brands and go there.  Find a clerk and tell him/ her that you're looking for a DSLR and that you're new to photography.  If he or she takes one camera off the shelf and says, "This is the one for you!", leave.  Say thanks, have a nice day or whatever, but walk out.

Find a clerk who will be willing to invest as much time in you as you need.  Handle different cameras and see how they feel to you.  Since you're starting out you'll be building a system from the ground up and you don't have to buy X camera from Y manufacturer because you already have lenses and accessories for that line.  How do the different cameras fit in your hands?  Do the menus and features make sense?  Is the size right for you?  Are the controls in places that make sense to you?  By the end of the day, whether it takes you 1/2 hour or 2 hours, you'll have sorted it down to two or three cameras that you really like.  Now, take the clerk's business card and go home.  Run through your experience in your mind and see if one of those cameras stood out for you above the others.  This one has this but not that, etc. but THIS one is perfect for me.  Tomorrow go back to the store, find the clerk who served you before and make your purchase.

Mike.
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