Suggestions, please

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    After some talk with Hubby, we’re going to spend part of the tax return this year on a new camera for me. Only thing is we don’t have the money for a DSLR nor 1 or 2 lenses to go with it, so for now, I’d like to at least upgrade to a better P&S.

    He was thinking an Olympus model, but I’m not entirely sure. I thought I’d ask you guys for your opinion. In your experience, what’s been a dependable brand/model? I know there’s the big Canon versus Nikon thing. And we don’t have a ton of money to spend so I’m not looking for the most fancy because if that was the case I’d just upgrade to DSLR and call it good. I think the one I have might have retailed for like 200 when it was new so we’re looking higher than that in price, unless it’s a good camera.

    I’m probably speaking blasphemy by going this route, but I think at least this way I could feasibly take better pictures and feel better about them and likely get back into this. Hormones making me crazy lately, plus I’ve been putting energy into work since I’ve sort of been promoted by moving to a harder account and having to learn new things so that had to take priority, especially since a raise comes at the end of my training/transition. But, it’s a night shift (5 p.m. to 1 a.m. EST) so I get to be out during the day and since kiddo is in bed for most of it, I can actually get work done while it’s quiet in the house (who woulda thunk?).

    Anyway, I’d appreciate suggestions, things to look for, what to avoid, etc. I’d like to have something that’s going to survive at least a couple of more years while letting me grow a little bit photography wise. Thanks!


    what’s your price range?

    I think panasonic has some of the best point & shoots, but Olympus is also good. I don’t have any experience with Canon or Nikon point & shoots.

    A used dSLR might be in your price range and be a great value.


    I was impressed with the quality of pictures I got from my Canon at the time I had it compared to other cameras. Even after I dropped it down a 250 ft embankment while rock climbing, it still worked perfectly (it didn’t look so pretty on the outside though).

    I’ve also used a Nikon and it seemed fine.

    I currently use a Samsung SL620 and I like a number of things about it over my previous cameras. It has a 5x zoom lens to do basic telephoto photography but it also handles macro. With a tripod I think it takes great night pictures. The auto focus and color balance in camera results in clear true to life pictures on download which is good if you don’t have an editing program or a lot of time to invest in photo editing. Samsung isn’t a big name in cameras but I don’t see replacing my current one with anything other than a DSLR.

    To compare and contrast a little here are photos with a similar subject from all three cameras:


    If you can find a deal on a used SLR though, I agree it’s worth the investment if you plan to continue pursuing photography as a hobby. I wish I had pushed more forcefully to buy one when we were looking at cameras because now I just bought my camera and can’t really justify spending money on another one especially more money. Its a chicken or the egg dilemma though – without my current camera I wouldn’t have been actively taking pictures for farktography, and thus wanting the new camera.


    The Nikon D50 was my first DSLR. It’s got automatic modes for everything, but as you start learning, you can take things to manual one at a time. I’ve seen used ones on ebay going for $250ish with the basic kit lens. Mine got water-damaged last spring, otherwise, I’d probably still use it. As-is, I’ve been looking at repair/replacement options for it to convert it for digital IR.

    Example shots:


    I would also suggest picking up an entry level dslr. A canon rebel won’t set you back much with the kit lens, even new.
    Even a Nikon D40 can be had new for around $400.

    B&H has a pretty good used camera dept and you are buying from a reputable dealer.


    I do love my Canon Rebel xs. I am also quite happy with my Canon Powershot A560. It does pretty nice macro shots. Canon is the only name brand cameras I have owned.


    I asked Husband about the price range we were looking at and he said $300-400, so I looked at the suggestions. I realized (after it was pointed out) that for another hundred or so we could get the entry level DSLR with a kit lens if we bought a Nikon D40 or an Olympus or something like that. The Canon EOS Rebel starts at like 570, or there’s the used for 250 at B&H, if we get the one with a kit lens and it’s still there when the tax return comes in (filed yesterday and accepted).

    I checked at NewEgg and Canon, Nikon and Olympus are the only brands I really recognize there so I’d be willing to stick with one of those 3. There’s an open box Nikon D3000 for about 400. The D40, however, was out of stock and on auto-notify, not sure when it will be in. A new Canon was still in the 500s for a Rebel, but about 50 or so less than what Canon was offering directly, so I’d probably go there if we chose that. I told my husband to pick what he would be comfortable with (he’s done some photography before, but not since his camera was pawned by his ex for a stupidly little amount of money and he didn’t give permission for that), so he’s left it up to me with the camera we were given at Kiddo #1’s baby shower. He hates that camera, so I’d like this next one to be something we can both use. I guess I figure if we do the DSLR now then we can add lenses later to round it out, not to mention filters which I have thus far been unable to use.

    Thanks for the suggestions. We’ll probably look at the options in closer detail in the next few days to see exactly which one we’d get and have a firmer idea of what to get when the money does come in. I’m excited, but at the same time, I know a couple of things have to happen with the tax return first before the camera can be purchased (like car repair), and I also don’t want to go too wild and crazy (so easy to do).


    If you go the Nikon route, You should be able to use any Nikon lens.

    Not sure about Cannon or Olympus.


    Any Canon lens (at least the digital ones) will work with the Rebels. The high-end bodies aren’t backwards-compatible with the EF-S lenses so if you go Canon and want to go to a full-frame sensor in the future you have to pick your glass or be willing to sell some off… otherwise it’s not a problem. One just needs to remember that EF lenses will have a 1.6 factor on the focal length (so a 50mm lens for example will act as an 80mm lens for example). I think that’s the same as the Nikons, but I’m not sure.

    If you’re looking at getting a DSLR (which I recommend, even if it is used) my suggestion is to go to a camera shop and look at/hold both a Canon and a Nikon. IMHO they’re pretty equivalent, but they’ll feel different, and the buttons and such aren’t the same. And, once you pick a path it’s a big deal to change down the road.


    We did get a chance to hold some at Best Buy I think it was some time ago. We didn’t find an Olympus, but there were some Canons and Nikons. I forget which one, but Hubby said one looked better or felt better in my hand, and it was different for him because his hands are bigger. I have small hands (for anyone who gets this reference, I can only reach an octave on a piano), so for me buttons closer together isn’t a big deal. They both felt similar to me so I guess it doesn’t matter. I will see if we can pop in at a photo place or something when we’re next down in Bangor to get a better feel for them. That’s the best I’m going to be able to do (Bangor).

    I made sure to check it would seem all EF and EF-S lenses work with the Rebel, and all Olympus lenses work with any Olympus model, so it seems to be the same for any brand like that. I also noticed on NewEgg there’s a Tamron brand of lenses, and some are compatible with Nikon, others with Canon, so we’ll see.

    I made Hubby look at this earlier: (the open box one) and he said we’ll consider it. He worried about the 18-55 mm lens, something about it being more of a macro lens than anything, so I’ll see if we can’t squeeze a lens to go with it, but I’m not counting on it. About that type of lens seems to be what’s in the kits that I looked at.


    18-55 will give you a nice range of wide-angle to portrait (~50mm). You would find that stuff that’s a bit farther away can get frustrating, but I don’t think the ‘zoom’ will be much worse than a P&S.

    I got a 28-135 with my first Canon, and it’s not a bad walkaround lens. Likewise the 17-85 that Kat has.


    On the nikon side of the house, there are two main series of lenses you’ll have to keep an eye out for (unless you start looking at older lenses as well). The AF and AF-D lenses use a motor in the camera body, which makes the camera a little heavier and bulkier. The AF-S lenses use a motor in the lens, allowing for smaller and lighter cameras. The tradeoff is that AF-S lenses tend to be a little heavier and more expensive.

    The vast majority of the new (non-pro) lenses are AF-S.

    The D-40, D-40X, D-3000, D-5000, and D-60 do not have the motor in the camera, and can only autofocus with AF-S. They can still use AF-D lenses, but they’ll be manual-focus only.

    The D-50 (discontinued, therefore used/refurb only) and D-70/80/90 (all out of your price range) can use both styles of lenses with no issues.

    The 18-55 lens is a good walkaround lens that can get some serious wide-angle to a moderate zoom, but as olavf said, it can get frustrating with stuff that’s further away.


    I will agree with the wide angle thing with the 18-55 lens. That surprises me every time and yes the lack of long range sucks. I am pretty sure my powershot did as well with zoomed in pictures.


    The only thing I’m worried about as far as distance shooting is concerned, is sitting back and watching my kid(s) play in the yard, or trying to get a shot of Mt. Katahdin (we have a couple of GORGEOUS spots to shoot from). I like taking closer shots myself (close-ups of flowers, mostly) and I figure being in the house should be fine (small house anyway). I noticed on my current crappy Kodak, it says the lens is 34-102mm, so with an 18-55 will I be able to shoot out in the yard as well, or will I have to get into the action and/or buy another lens to capture that stuff better? If yes on a second lens, that will be a later purchase (perhaps birthday if I’m lucky).

    We discovered that Olympus has a propriety storage system thing, so we couldn’t use the SD cards we have (a HUGE downside) so it’s apparently up to Nikon and Canon. I wish Minolta still made cameras because my Dad’s done some really cool stuff with his camera, and it’s been around for a WHILE. I almost want to steal his, but long-term use of film is out of the question.

    A while back when I surfed NewEgg for cameras there was a pretty good combo deal on a couple of Canon cameras I think that included another lens for a decent discount, but I knew it wouldn’t last long. I’m hoping there will be something else soon. That open box Nikon is looking pretty good. I’ll keep in mind about the auto focus versus manual focus with the different Nikon lenses. It looks like Amazon might have some good deals, too, or at least some good discounts. We’ll see how it plays out.


    There’s a new Canon Rebel out that is pretty fantastic. It’s a bit out of your price range but it also does HD video, if that might sway you. It’s a good $1000 less than any other body that Canon has that does similar stuff.

    You can’t really compare the numbers on your Kodak, because different sensor sizes cause the perspective to be different when compared to focal length.

    Tamron makes some great lenses that are a lot cheaper than Canon or Nikon, as does Tokina. I highly recommend looking at them.

    Think of a dSLR system as a work in progress. Buy something to start, and then add lenses as you find yourself hitting the limits of what you have. Keep in mind that you can get adapters, too, for old manual focus lenses that can be picked up really cheaply. I have adapters for my Canon EOS bodies that let me use old Pentax screwmount, and also Yashica/Contax mounts. With that, I have shopped around and found things like old primes for as little as $5 in pawn shops or used camera stores that produce great results. That is one way you can get into telephoto for landscapes, for instance, relatively cheaply.

    There are a lot of lower-value/quality lenses that are less expensive, but the image quality they give is really not worth the savings. Lots of lenses are designed for people who aren’t all that exacting about their work and don’t want to ever have to switch the lens off the camera. Sites like are full of nit-picking discussions of lens quality that can be a whole fetish unto itself, but you can also find a lot of good information there about what lenses are the winners and which ones to avoid. Look also at used shops like or watch craigslist for people offloading things.

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