20 May, 2008

Dear Natalie: Gear.

Hi Natalie,

I am interested in buying my first DSLR camera. Do you have any recommendations for a beginning photographer? I don't have a ton of money to spend, so I'm trying to find something around $500.

I also would like to get a camera that has a removable lens. I'd like to try out some of the compositional tips you've been posting lately. I'd also be interested in any lens suggestions you'd have as well.

Thanks, Natalie! I hope you're having a great week!

Well, this is SUCH a loaded question. The Canon vs. Nikon duel to the death is never ending. I own both a full Nikon set up and (as of recently) a Canon set up as well. Here are my feelings on camera selection:

You've got to begin by defining your goal as a photographer:

If you are planning on "just" being a hobbyist or even "just" moving toward semi-pro, and particularly since you said that you don't have a lot to spend, I'd point you toward Nikon. Maybe a D40. . . . HERE'S WHY: they have an 18-200mm Nikkor lens! With a range like that, particularly as a hobbyist who doesn't really plan to invest a whole lot of money into camera gear, you really can't go wrong with just the one lens. That will save you oodles down the road.

That said, if you do have even an inkling toward going pro at some point. . . I'd have to say go with Canon. . . the Rebel series is a great place to start. The reason I say this is that at this point, though I am feeling the winds of change, Canon's lens selection is just off the chart in comparison, and if you're really planning to go all the way you're going to want/need a good brotherhood of lenses to back you up and at this point, Canon's where it's at. THOUGH I WILL NEVER DENY MY NIKON HERITAGE NOR PUT IT TO SHAME! I LOVE MY NIKON!!!


The number one piece of advice I have when buying starter gear is this: don't worry so much about the camera body. . . invest in the glass. . . buy lenses that rock.

Hope that brief answer is helpful Jesse!
I could go on and on and on AND ON about this,
but I'm packing up for my trip to the Mainland and I'm goin' nuts.
Let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy Shopping!




Deanna said...

I am an amateur/hobbyist who occasionally (re: once or twice in my life!) gets paid to take photos. Mostly my friends accept my amateur status and ask me to do shots for free, which I accept to build my portfolio and because they don't mind if a few shots come out wonky. From that perspective, I cannot say enough nice things about my Digital Rebel. It is light and perfect for my teeny hands. I also shot this entire album with just the Rebel and the Rebel's kit lens: http://monkeyseemedia.smugmug.com/gallery/3721097_mhkEx#213491757_CoWvb. I upgraded to the Canon 24-70L and it almost never comes off my camera, but it goes to show that the basic package Canon provides goes a long way. I've never used a Nikon, but that's because my photographer friend who got me into this is a Canon gal and I accept her word as gospel. Sorry for the long comment--happy camera hunting!

Heather said...

CANON, CANON, CANON. A bunch of my sister-in-laws have canon Rebels and they LOVE them! Their photos are AMAZING and it has interchangeable lenses. Canons are a bit more expensive than Nikons, but there's a reason why (sorry NAT!..I still love you!). Nikons are really good cameras though, but I'm just a Canon person. Anyway, I would look into getting maybe a used Rebel XTi for your budget. They're really really excellent first-time (and really nice) cameras.

Tammie said...

I am a new looker to your blog and I love it. I live in Utah and wish I could afford you. But our Graduate family income will not allow. But I can garuntee that when my husband becomes the lawyer he is wanting to be and has enough money to fly me to Hawaii, I will be making an appointment with you. Back to this post; I had the same question. So Thanks for all of the advice and knowledge you are so freely sharing!

kanaboke said...

I love perusing your Blog too!! Your photos are so very beautiful! As a hobbyist never hoping to become pro, just enjoy shooting for the love of taking pictures of my family, I own a Nikon D50 (D40 has since replaced the 50) and also own that very lens you mentioned (it was hard to come by though and cost more than the camera..I had no idea that'd it be like that). I am soooo happy with the pictures they take and absolutely love this multi-purpose lens! It's great for shooting pics for my family and friends that are too poor to afford an actual pro shoot (because I have no real skillz I do pics for free) and have felt so proud when my shots are actually used for Christmas Cards and Wedding Announcements. Canons are amazing I'm sure, but Nikon is great for just starting out.

Natalie. said...

I have to add one more thing here. . . I know Nikon often gets a bad wrap. . . but often the hating comes from people who have never shot a Nikon DSLR. . . I have shot BOTH. . . so far the speed of Canon's lenses is exquisite. . . however their autofocus, well it's poo. Nikon kicks Canon's autofocus to the curb twice over. . . at least that's what I've noticed with my 5d. When you spend close to 3k for a camera body, the auto focus should be superb. When it comes down to it a fast lens isn't worth much with out a rockin' autofocus system. I've had to focus manually FAR more often and with worse results than I ever had to do with Nikon. So there Heather Mildenstein, eat that. :)

Heather is my sister everyone. I don't say stuff like that to my "regular" readers.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I can't say it enough. I was leaning toward a Canon in the first place because my dad is a Canon-lover, but I wanted to get your opinion first.

Again, thanks for taking time out of your busy life to help me! You are wonderful, Natalie! Enjoy your vacation.

Angie said...

Thanks for this post! I just got my first DSLR...a Canon. I am going to invest in some nice lenses next. I'm new to your blog and when I came across it, I noticed we both have little boys named Cardon (it's my maiden name.) Your photography is gorgeous.

Natalie. said...

Angie! We must be related! I named Cardon what I did to honor my Grandmother. . . as it was HER maiden name! Ha ha!! We'll have to talk about our geneology sometime cousin!

Unknown said...

Truthfully, at that level it doesn't really matter. I prefer the Nikkor glass, but you won't see a difference at a hobbyist level. The most important aspect is what feels good and fits you. Go to several stores and try different bodies with different lenses. I know in SLC we have a great store that will rent equipment for you to try. If you can find one in your area that will do the same, I would recommend spending a couple days with both systems and see what fits you the best.

I started with a Nikon D80 with th e 18-135mm and LOVE IT!

Natalie - did you post this just to hear the roar of the neverending debate ?????

Angie said...

Natalie-- I bet we are related. I'm from Utah...now living in Idaho and my grandpa was Joseph Phillip Cardon...from the mexican colonies and they're ultimately from Italy. You don't hear that name too often. My husband served a mission in Hawaii. You're so lucky to live there! Have a nice trip to the mainland:) ~Angie

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear all of the comments because I am dealing with the same choices right now. I've been going between a Nikon D80 w/ 18-200mm VR lens and a Canon 40D with 28-135mm IS lens for weeks now. It's my first DSLR but I have the intentions of getting into wedding photography. Any suggestions between the two... or something else?