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Total beginner after DSLR advice please

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by ShaunIOW, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. ShaunIOW

    ShaunIOW Member


    I'm new to the world of DSLR's but want to learn more about photography and move up from a compact so have decided to get one, but here's the tricky bit...which one?

    I want one that'll last me a while and I can grow with, and my budget is up to around £550 - I did consider a Micro 4/3 camera like the Panasonic G2, GF2 or GF3 but the cost of and choice of lenses doesn't seem great, so I thought sod it, I'll go for a full DSLR.

    My main photography interest (at least to start with) will be indoor pictures of a moving subject - namely my pet snakes, so I at least want something good in low light and fast enough for movement, later I intend to move on to wildlife in the countryside and in zoos/wildlife parks and scenery.

    I've been looking at the Nikon D5100, Canon 600D and Sony Alpha A33 (all with an 18-55 kit lense) mainly as I like the idea of the adjustable LCD for awkward shots so I was hoping for advice on the best one for my needs - I'm currently leaning towards the Nikon as dad has a D40X so I can borrow lenses but only if one of the other two isn't a better choice.

    1. From what I've read the Nikon and Canon have anti-shake in their lenses but the Sony has it in the body - which is a better system?

    2. Is having a moveable/adjustable LCD a weak point in that it might break off or are they pretty solid?

    3. Do any of the models I mention allow grabbing stills from a movie?

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  2. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    For low-light the Nikon D5100 is the best. Very new sensor onboard.

    But you could consider a twin lens kit with the Nikon D3100. Although it does not have a moveable backscreen.


    I believe it has the same sensor as the A33 from Sony. But you should be able to consider the A55 really.


    The A55 has the same sensor as the D5100 as well. But because it is a SLT is loses some of the low-light performance. But you get anti-shake with all lenses that fit the Sony.
  3. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    You really need to try and handle the cameras on your shortlist, but Sony stock particularly seems in short supply. The mountings for movable screens are quite solid on the cameras I have looked at or used.

    With regard to image stabilisation, conventional wisdom is that it is more effective when lens based, but clearly you have a restricted choice of lenses, when built into the body every lens is an image stabilisation lens.
  4. wave

    wave Well-Known Member

    Hi theres not a lot between the canon 600d and the nikon d5100, depending on the review you read. you could save some money and get a 550d, it whether the swivel screen and wireless flash is needed.
    Remember when you buy a DSLR you buy into a system so make sure that system suits your needs. nikon and canon have the most lenses to choose from including third party ones from sigma and tamron. try the cameras out if it feels right then that goes a long way to being right, dont settle for i will get used to it. good luck
  5. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    Canon and Nikon undoubtedly offer the widest choice of lenses but all the makers offer a good selection and more are being release quite frequently. The third-party lens makers also offer lenses for all makes. Most makes have a many older, no longer made, lenses which will fit their current models.

    The swivelling LCD screens are usually quite robust - not likely to give a problem with normal usage.

    Nikon dSLRs mainly use Sony sensors.

    The debate over lens or body stabilisation go on but both are good and having all lenses stabilised is handy - particularly with older lenses and when using an adapter to fit lenses with a different mount.
  6. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Hello, Shaun, welcome to the AP forum!

    The main advantage of compact system cameras such as micro 4/3, NEX, and the Samsung systems is that they're smaller and lighter, and so easier to carry around. If you don't mind lugging a bag full of DSLR, lenses, and other bits and pieces about, the established systems will have a far greater choice of lenses and accessories for quite a while to come. I think that especially for outdoor wildlife, the choice of long telephoto lenses, and the optical reflex viefinder makes a DSLR the better choice for you. Adapters are available to mount DSLR lenses on CSCs, but they often have restrictions such as loss of autofocus.

    According to DXOmark, of the 3 cameras you're interested in, the Nikon D5100 has the best low light performance (low noise at high ISO sensitivity), which is what you'll need for pictures of fast movement in low light. It won't be bad for general wildlife either.

    It depends! :) In body stabilisation has the advantage that it's available with all your lenses, and you don't have to pay extra for each lens. Also, some systems, e.g. the ney Olympus E-M5 and I believe the Pentax K-5 can correct for twisting around the lens axis, which isn't possible with an in-lens system. However, I think that the general consensus is that in lens stabilisation works better at long focal lengths, such as you're likely to use for outdoor wildlife shots.

    I haven't heard of anyone having problems with the hinges of a swivelling LCD screen breaking. I have however heard of several people breaking the LCD screen itself - swivelling and non-swivelling - by dropping the camera. I don't think the hinge is the weakest part.

    I don't think any of these DSLRs support this. You can, of course, grab a from from the video with editing software in post production, but it will be limited to video resolution.

    Finally, I'll echo nimbus' point that you should try to get to a camera shop where you can handle the cameras. How it feels in your hands, how easily you can reach the controls, the look through the viewfinder, and how logical the menu layout seems to you are all very personal and important to how you'll enjoy using the camera. And if you don't enjoy using it, you won't want to be taking as many pictures.
  7. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I feel that I should add something new.

    The performance of all cameras deteriorates as the light gets dimmer. As has been said some deteriorate less than others.

    Depending on your objectives and standards you may well be dissatisfied with any result obtained in dim light.

    The answer is probably flash - and in particular off camera flash. IMHO you should look at the flash capability and availability as well as the other things mentioned.

    BTW you will get folk who swear that you should never use flash with animals (or reptiles ;)) but those same folk happily flash away at their grandchildren! In my experience it makes no difference and does no harm whatever.

  8. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    That's also been my experience photting wild birds. Movement troubles them and the appearance of a sparrowhawk will certainly drive them away, but, strangely enough, flash they ignore!

    If your are shooting indoors you should be able to set up a multiple flash arrangement bouncing the light so that there are no shadows. You don't need expensive, gear. A few old second hand units along with far east sourced radio receivers and a transmitter will cost less than a single dedicated flash gun.
  9. ShaunIOW

    ShaunIOW Member

    Thank you very much for the replies, very useful and informative.

    Unfortunately going to a camera shop is out at present due to being housebound (hence only indoor photography for now with the rest in the future) so I'll be buying mail-order, but I have used dads Nikon D40X and got on great with that, so coupled with the D5100 being best for low-light and I can use dads Nikon lenses I think the D5100 will probably be my best choice, although I may wait till the 19th and see what the D3200 offers.

    I've used my compact to take shots of the snakes and the flash hasn't bothered them - the hardest part has been getting the buggers to sit still so quite a few blurred head shots as the auto-focus concentrated on a branch or plastic plant.
  10. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    You shouldn't be getting blurred photos from subject movement while using flash. The flash duration is the equivalent of a very fast shutter speed. There are some exceptions to the last statement. For example if the flash is set to 'fill flash' it's possible to get ghost images from the ambient lighting. That's another subject though.

    Then, personally, I wouldn't use auto focus for your sort of work. You will need to carefully control the precise point of focus in order to make best use of the available depth of field. To me that means manual focus.

    It's a big subject so don't be too upset if your first results are not as good as you might want. You will get the hang of it and you will get good results.

  11. ShaunIOW

    ShaunIOW Member

    Having pretty much settled on the Nikon D5100, it now looks like there's now another model to consider - the Nikon D3200, which to me looks a better bet than the D5100 as although it lacks the adjustable LCD, it has some of the internals of the more expensive Nikon's and tbh I think I'd find the built-in a guide a lot of help. Are there other any useful or important differences that makes the D5100 the better buy?
  12. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Well the it is believed it uses the Sony 24MP sensor. Which has a very similar noise ceiling (low light performance) to that of the D5100.

    It does on paper look like a better option than the D5100. You still have 4fps. 24MP does make difference I reckon give it is 50% pixel boost.
  13. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    The 5100 is a good chose but personaly I went wit the eos 600. The built in remote flash control and at the end of the day I simply liked it better than the Nikon.
    My advice is trying few different models at your local camera store to get the feel of the camera and the menues. Youare after all spending lots of hard earnrd cash on a camera that you will be "stuck" with for years to come.
    As for quality both Canon and Nikon make good cameras so with these two you won't go wrong.
  14. ShaunIOW

    ShaunIOW Member

    Thats what I was thinking - handy for croping pictures.

    I've been looking at the Canon 600D and it's very nice, but as Dad has a Nikon I've access to his lenses.
  15. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    One of the things about having 24MP is if you do a 50% crop you still got 12MP which is like have another 1.5x boost to your focal length.

    Let say you put 300mm on the D3200 you get 450mm because of the DX of the sensor. But you do a crop again to 12MP that like getting 675mm of focal length (not the same depth of field of cause).

    12MP is still enough for a nice clean A3 at 300ppi with borders for your wall. :)

    I have to say the D3200 does not make sense, it seems to hurt both the sales of D3100 & D5100.
  16. keeley

    keeley Member

    i just brought a 1100D from PC wordand its fantastic, they had a good deal with 2 lenses. hope this helps
  17. rjbell

    rjbell Well-Known Member

    If your dad has a nikon and you can use his lenses, this is your best option. The d5100 is a cracking camera i use one myself but you might want to consider the d3200 which has already started to ship in America so only a matter of weeks here too. This is bang on your budget at £550. Both are entry level cameras and designed for beginners in mind.
  18. phinster555

    phinster555 Active Member

    I posted a thread like this a while a go as I also upgraded, since buying the camera I chose the 550d it's about you the guy behind the picture your creativity and judgement makes the photos, the 550d, 600, d5100 or even the d3100 are all brilliant cameras each capable of taking fantastic photos I spent ages in my local photo shop trying to decipher Which is best, you won't
    Go wrong with any of them. Then use the time
    To learn about using them and how to take great photos there is some great resources on Internet etc including mags such as AP,

    I am only about 8 weeks into my dslr venture after
    Upgrading from a bridge camera, so just thought I'd share
    My opinion and experience as I think your in a similar place to me.

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