Sunday, November 25, 2007

Which DSLR should I get?

Well... that depends on what you want to do and what you already have. If you already have a Digital Single Lense Reflex (DSLR) , and a group of lenses for it, then you'll probably want the next generation from the same company. For example, I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT, a few nice lenses for it, batteries and the 430ex Canon Flash. If I bought a Nikon as an upgrade, none of my current lenses (or glass as we photo heads say) would work on the Nikons, so, I'd have to start all over getting new glass and accessories. Until Canon makes me really mad, or Nikon comes out with some over the top technology, I'm pretty much married to Canon.

If you don't already have a DSLR then it's wide open for you. This is a great time to be buying a DSLR ! The technology rocks and the prices are great! For some folks, the choice between brands can take on religous overtones, similar to the Mac vs PC world. For me, I'm in the "see which one you like the most today" camp. While there are minor technical differences between Canon and Nikon, they don't really make a whole lot of difference for most folks as long as you are comparing similar price points. The $600 dollar Canon is going to give you about the same quality image as the $600 Nikon. Ditto at the $1000 units and the $2000... When folks ask me what to get, I tell them to go to the store and handle both the Canon and the Nikon units. Buy the one that fits their hands best. See if one has a better eyepiece than the other. I've not mentioned the other brands because I'm not that familiar with them, and they are playing catch up to the leaders. Most of the pros I know of use the Nikon and Canon lines.

Don't get caught up in the megapixel race! If most of your prints are going to be 4x6s, 5x7s and occasional 8x10s, then, anything over 5 megapixel is going to suit you just fine. If you are frequently going to be shooting for 16x20s then 8 or 10 megapixels is going to work well for you too.

I said it was important to know what kind of photography you're going to be doing. If you are interested in action photography like football and soccer games then you'll want to take into account the number of frames per second (FPS) and the number of shots that the camera can store in a burst of shots. My Digital Rebel is good for ~3.5 fps. I'm interested in getting the new Rebel 40 D because it can shoot ~6 fps when I'm photographing horses and riders. The extra FPS help to be sure to catch all the action and expressions.
If you're mainly interested in shooting snapshots of friends, landscapes and some nature shots, then maybe you don't need the additional frames per second. There may be some other features that would drive me to the 40 D over the Rebel, Rebel XT, Rebel XTi, 5D, 20 D, and 30D, leaving the Mark cameras out because they are high end pro cameras costing $3-8K.

I'd say if this is your first DSLR, then it's probably a good idea to spend $800 to $1000 for the kit and see how much you are really going to get into it. After a while with the kit, you add some decent lenses and then work your way up the camera ladder, using the high end lenses I'll recommend later!

Next time... Books!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where To Buy Your Next Camera

My first tip for you!

This is going to be a U.S. specific tip for now. International readers can chime in in the comments if they know of reputable dealers in their part of the world.

Having been in retail for a while in my past life, I have no problem recommending making a purchase at your local store, especially if it is staffed by knowledgeable sales staff. If they don't know a thing about the cameras and lenses and can't give you good advice, then I'd certainly not feel bad about going in and looking at the camera you might be interested in and seeing how it looks and feels. Don't string the clerk along though and waste their time if you have no intention of purchasing there. I'd be willing to pay a premium to make the purchase at the local store if they
1) give good service
2) Stand behind the purchase (really a subset of the service qualifier)
3) Are willing to work with you to hold your hand for the purchase.

How much of a premium is up to you, but 10-20 percent seems fair. If you are pretty sure you want a certain model, it can't hurt to ask them to price match the price you found on the net, including the shipping. Even if they can't match the price, they may throw in some valuable extras. You've got nothing to lose...

Lets say you can't find a local shop worth a darn though. Which Internet store should you consider. Well, princess, you have to remember what your mom always told you "If it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true". I highly recommend,, and B&H Photo for new purchases. You can use to look for lower prices, but, it's very much a buyer beware world out there, especially for sites for stores in Brooklyn New York. No one seems to know why Brooklyn is a center for sleazy photography suppliers, but it's just a fact of life. I know that not all Brooklyn stores are bad, it's just a red flag....

I like the recommended sites because they have been around for a while, they have a reputation for taking decent care of most of their customers (no store is going to please every single customer) and fair prices.
They are NOT known for scams like selling you a camera then calling you "to verify the order" and trying to "sell" you things that should already be in the kit that they've stripped out. I've heard of some of the scammers actually cursing out the customers for failing to purchase the add ons, then cancelling the order if the sale doesn't include overpriced add ons. If you do some price searches and find a camera that sells for $800 at all three recommended sites on sale for only $379, that should set off some alarms. Before making the purchase, check for the company in questions reputation. Be skeptical... that $379 bargain may be a big nightmare.

What about Ebay? Ebay has some awesome bargains. It's also full of scam artists if you aren't careful. It's truly caveat emptor on Ebay. All the usual Ebay precautions are in place. Check the sellers reputation. I wouldn't buy from any store that has less than 500 or so ratings, a couple of thousand is better! If it's an individual, use good judgement, but look for a bunch of good ratings, hopefully by different buyers. Read the description. Make sure you know what's in the package, and how that compares to what's in the Amazon package. Don't forget to check shipping! $49.95 to ship by mail for a 99 cent purchase kind of kills the pleasure. In the end, you have to weigh whether the money you save buying on Ebay is worth the agitation/risk... If it's your first Ebay purchase, I think I'd stick to the recommended sites above.

I don't have any connection to any of the companies I listed above, they're just companies I know of that I can recommend.

The New Blog

Those of you that know me, know I'm way into photography. I've learned a few things that I'd like to pass on, to benefit both of us. I'll try to show examples if the tip is mine. I'll be updating the blog frequently with new stuff from me, or links to other sites of interest. Leave your comments so we can do this photo thing together. Onwards!