what to buy?

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hakeae
hakeae's picture
what to buy?

I'm trying to decide which DSLR to buy but there are so many models and so many options. 

The most recommended seems to be Canon EOS-D series but there is so many of them! What is the relationship between the 60, 650, 70, 700 etc etc?? Is it just a chronological progression or is it related to options/capability? I have tried to do some web searches but just seem to end up more confused as it all seems a bit short on the logical relationships. 

Is the Bird Photography 101 course being presened again in 2014?

Joanne

Annie W
Annie W's picture

Hi Joanne

I used to use Canon, they make beautiful gear. Yes, it is a chronological progression of sorts, the lower the number, the more bells & whistles, & higher price too naturally. 

i.e. With the current range, entry level are say an 1100D up to a 700D, Enthusiast level 70D to 7D, then you move into the bigger bikkies with the semi pro/pro range of EOS 5d Mark II & III & 1D - at least I think that is right, it's been a while laugh, am sure someone will correct me if I have the model names wrong.

Then you have the confusing aspect of the new 70D a really nice mid-range camera, being an update if you like to the 60D - a so called older model now but still a really nice camera too.

It will all boil down I guess to, what features are important for you to have on your camera (or what do you want to upgrade to if that's applicable), or what do you want it to do/use it for mainly?

NW Tasmania

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

Just to put my 10c worth in; Pentax has a very capable system for good prices which is well worth looking at. 

Here's a link to a user website: http://www.pentaxforums.com

They just recently posted a comprehensive review for the K-3, Pentax's newest camera. If you have a look in the databases and reviews sections, they have info about other current and past Pentax cameras as well. 

Really, it all depends on what you want, as Ruby said. It seems to me that the array of different models and make from half a dozen different manufacturers seems to simply exist to stop people from realising that all the brands are mostly the same. I have heard good things about the 7D, though. It seems to be perenially popular amongst the prosumer base. 

richman

It is worth looking at the Sony stuff too if you want innovative technology. I have old Canon equipment but Canon seems to have fallen behind in the race lately. You have the option of going mirrorless too if you enjoy using the LCD screens as viewfinder for image capture. You can adapt Canon lenses to Sony's mirrorless NEX series. I wouldn't go Canon at the moment myself but as I have access to lots of Canon lens' and cameras It is problematic for me to jump ship. I need to update too and was looking at 650D It has the newest sensor (digic 5) which is still only 18 megapixels compared to most decent cameras that have 24. it has all the features you would need but is still considered an entry level DSLR and you can get them quite cheap as they will be dicontinued. I read quite a few comparitives and the 650 comes out on top of the 700 and 600 but there is not much in it. The 650 performs better in low light than the older sensor in the other two mentioned. 

Annie W
Annie W's picture

Oooh yes, Pentax & Sony have very much levelled up with the "big two" in recent times imo.  I don't know enough about Pentax to comment, but Sony have quality gear for sure.  Definitely as Lachlan has said too, you just need to browse a few sites to see how many (bird) photographers use a 7D - beautiful stuff out there.  

I totally agree richman!  Canon seem to be a little slow updating their lenses particularly.  When I was looking to upgrade my Canon gear, and as all I really had was a couple of kit lenses & a basic DSLR, I was fortunate it was actually more beneficial at the time for me to jump ship as Nikon had the lens I wanted.  Sounds crazy, but on paper (once old gear was sold), it was.  Actually I have read, that Nikon lenses now house Sony components, the difference in price being Nikon add some weather proofing etc.  So Nikon lenses are actually Sony, if you get my drift laugh.  And just to put another oar in the water for the other big name, I couldn't be happier with my Nikon gear. cheeky

Anyway, getting off track now.  The only other thing I thought of to add Joanne is to not get too hung up on the body you choose.  Far better to go with a recently superseded entry level body for example (650D, 60D etc) and save big $$'s - then, with the money you save, you can get some really good glass (lens) to play with. winklaugh

NW Tasmania

sparrow
sparrow's picture

I use Nikon, but if I was looking for a camera for bird photography I would go with Canon mainly because of the better range of lenses in the right lengths for birding .

It all depends on how much you want to spend , The 5D mark III is without doubt the best DSLR I have ever used IMO ,but I couldn't justify the price to buy one of my own (my wife would skin me ) you might want to have a look at  dpreview or ken Rockwell .com to help narrow the field a bit.

Headsie
Headsie's picture

I have had the canon 300D, 30D, 50D and now the 7D cameras but I'm still using the same 400mm prime lens. ( tried sigma and other focal lengths but the 400 does it all).

Dont get to concerned about the camera and start with something in your price range with the intention of upgrading 2-3 years down the track. At around $2000 the 400mm prime seems to be the ultimate birding lens, fast focus, light, sturdy and excellent glass. But you need to be sure you are going to be a birder before spending your hard earned on this. Most serious birders end up with the 400 prime and some (rich ones) even move onto the 500 F/4.

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

I agree with Headsie, the lens is the most important thing, and amongst Canon branded lenses, the 400mm f5.6 lens is really good quality and and at an optimal focal length for most stuff. But, depending on circumstances, the lack of IS might be significant for you, Hakeae. 

hakeae
hakeae's picture

Thanks for all the valuable information; I really appreciate it!

I've just had my NATA Regulatory Assessment yesterday so am recovering from that, but on holidays after this week & will go through all your links and advice.

Joanne

hakeae
hakeae's picture

OK, I have been reading up on APS-C and Full Screen, and EF and EF-S, etc. 

I have resurrected my old camera gear from BK (before kids) and had a look at what I've got - 3 Tokina lenses (28mm, 50-105mm, 100-300mm), a variety of filters. 

Q1 - how do I tell whether these lenses are still any good after being stored for so long? then if they are any good ...

Q2 - which type of camera do they fit? I used them on a Pentax MX. (I'm going to take a look at the Pentax K-3, thanks Lachlan)

If they're no good, I can freely choose what type of body to get because I have to get new lenses anyway, but if they are OK I may as well get a body that will take them ...

Q3 - I also like macro work, so I need a body that has a macro setting. Is this an optional thing, or do all cameras have the capability with a macro lens?

Q4 - some cameras now don't have a viewfinder as richman said above - if you enjoy using the LCD screens as viewfinder for image capture. In my experience, LCD screens have so much glare outdoors that I can never see anything but myself, which is not good. I was inclined towards a camera that has a proper viewfinder as well as an LCD swivel-out screen. Maybe the better cameras have overcome the glare issue?

Lastly, for those kind stalwarts who have made it this far, I have muscle tremor so I need someting wih good stabilisers ...

Many thanks for helping me get going again ...

joanne

hakeae
hakeae's picture

oh yeah! just checked the price ... blush

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

The price of what? Out of curiosity, how much do you want to spend on a new camera (and/or lenses)? 

If the lenses were used on an old K-mount (ie. Pentax) film camera like the MX, the should still work with any modern DSLR. 

I say should because when I bought my K-5 II I had an old 400mm lens that I was itching to try on it. It jammed, forcing a unfortunate trip to a camera repair shop.frown Still have nightmares about it... I think I just screwed it on badly though, so don't let that dissuade you from Pentax. The potential back- compatibility is great! Decades worth of cheap(er) (and, frequently, very good) lenses!

So, you should probably do some research on the internet about your specific lenses to see if they are fine. Some more details would be useful though (ie., Aperture, pictures). Some old lenses age better than others... Also, when using film stuff on DSLRs, you have to input the focal length of the lens when you turn the camera on. No problem with prime lenses, annoying with zooms (you don't have to be super accurate, but you loose much of the lens data (so you can't trawl it later for fun!) and have to stay sort of close to the inputted value or the lens doesn't work so well).

As for telling if the lenses are any good still, you can probably pinch many of the suggestions from this guide:

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/59245-pawnshop-lenses-other-used-lenses-buyers-guide.html

Don't forget to remove/replace any old filters! If you're looking closely at Pentax cameras, you could possibly convince the sales people to let you try your old lenses... But it might need a bit of arm pulling, and you would need to buy a SD card already. The only other thing you could do would be to go to someone who specialises in film cameras/camera repairs and ask for an opinion. Dunno how that would go though... Evaluating lens quality is really difficult!

So, I think that's (sort of) 1 + 2 covered. 

All (that I'm aware of) DSLRs can do macro; the function is not in the body though. So unlike with bridge cameras (where you can't remove the lens), you have to buy a lens with a dedicated macro function. Most manufacturers have these, and they're usually very good lenses. I don't own any, but I have read good things about the macro lenses in Pentax's lineup. 

But you have to pay for another lens... At which point, if you don't mind manual focus, Pentax's backwards compatibility comes in handy again...

As for Q4, most DSLRs still have optical viewfinders, and the LCD screens are getting much better with coatings and airtightness and other stuff that makes them nicer to use. Again, for it's price, Pentax is godd in this department. Dunno about Sony though, I don't know much about their system, but I thought they still had an electronic viewfinder as well as the LCD screen as the stream of light was split?

Hope this all helps!

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

Ooops, I missed the last bit!

All the major manufacturers offer some sort of stabilisation. 

Usually, it is in lens (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Nikon, Canon), but there is also in-body as well (Pentax, Sony). 

As I understand it, the former isn't usually offered in all lenses, and when it is it makes the lens significantly more expensive. 

The latter is available with all lenses (at least with Pentax, I don't know about Sony), and only adds a little to camera price. 

OTOH, in-body stabilisation generally isn't quite as effective as in-lens stabilisation, as in-lens has been optimised for that particular lens. In lens stabilisation is also more effective at longer focal lengths, but both significantly improve the quailty of your images (and the rate of keepers). So, I guess, it doesn't really matter what you have, as they are both useful. 

One thing you should keep in mind is the weight of the lens and camera. I have pretty weak wrists, and can't use the Sigma 50-500 and 150-500 lenses, but compromised with a 300mm lens that weight much less... SR is nice, but buying lightweight gear is probably (in my opinion) a much better way to counter shake. 

sparrow
sparrow's picture

The Pentax MX was manual focus so your lenses will most likely be the same and although some older lenses are optically brilliant  manual focus is a pain in the ------,trying to track birds with auto focus is hard enough ,sell them on Ebay and put the money towards what you really want .

I started with Pentax many years ago and their new DSLRs have some great features the only down side is at the moment they dont make any long lenses so you would have to go with third party lenses.

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

Two of the three lenses aren't exactly for birding anyway... And Pentax has recently released a rehashed 55-300mm- with a snazzy new red stripe... frown
I don't really think Pentax is as disadvantaged in the log lens department as people think.. there is a 300mm f4, 560mm f5.6 (although, it's über expensive), and several editions of a 55-300mm lens in the lineup. On top of this there is a comprehensive range of autofocus legacy lenses that would be good birding but aren't in production any more (hence, they can be a bit had to find). There is are F* 250-600mm, F 100-300, F*300, F*600, FA J 75-300, FA 80-320, two FA 100-300s, FA* 250-600, FA* 600, FA* 400, FA* 300 f4.5 and FA* f2.8 lenses out there if you look for them. Many people still use these instead of the current DA* 300mm. 

But nothing as affordable (in the supertele version of the wordcrying) and accessable as the Canon 400mm f5.6. 

Admittedly, there aren't any new teleconverters, but Pentax is planning to release a 1.4x TC sometime soon (it's on their roadmap, along with a supertelezoom which would be of use birding). 

Oh, and there's nothing wrong with third party stuff either.

It all just seems to have some sort of Sigma attached to it! smiley

hakeae
hakeae's picture

I really appreciae how much feedback you have all given.

After much reading and deliberation, I have decided to go with Canon 60D twin lens pack (18-55 and 75-300) for $874 - big compromise on cost and capability but will cover general photography interests, starting anew rather than trying to patch old with new, commonly used equipment so lots of expertise around, good value for money for me to get started, lots of compatible lenses I can add in later ... but I can't think too long about all the great gear out there ...but I know I'm not alone there laugh !

joanne

Lachlan
Lachlan's picture

Good luck with your purchasing, then!

My only question would be that I have read that the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III is a bit on the soft side. Would you perhaps be better off just buying the 60D with the one lens and then buying a seperate telephoto zoom for a bit extra (although, I don't really know what's out there as a replacement, and have no experience with the lens in question)? 

It's Thanksgiving sometime this week in the US, and many retailers temporarily lower their prices for the holiday. I dunno where you'd go for Canon deals, but if you were confident with ordering stuff on-line, you could shop around for some better prices.

I've never bought camera gear from overseas, so I don't realy know what the pros and cons would be though.

Barney

hakeae wrote:

I really appreciae how much feedback you have all given.

After much reading and deliberation, I have decided to go with Canon 60D twin lens pack (18-55 and 75-300) for $874 - big compromise on cost and capability but will cover general photography interests, starting anew rather than trying to patch old with new, commonly used equipment so lots of expertise around, good value for money for me to get started, lots of compatible lenses I can add in later ... but I can't think too long about all the great gear out there ...but I know I'm not alone there laugh !

joanne

Hi Joanne , good on you for getting a new outfit :)

would love to see how photos of little birds in grass/leafy shots come out at full zoom 300mm.?

Barney.

Canonguy
Canonguy's picture

Headsie wrote:

 some (rich ones) even move onto the 500 F/4.

I have that lens. Wow, I wish I were rich though. It depends on what people's priorities are. I spend my money wisely and really, $7,000 for a second hand 500/4L IS is not something that you need to be rich to be able to afford. My mate has the newer version and he took out a two or three year bank loan to buy it for $11,000. They are not that expensive if you really want one. Then again, we are both very passionate about our photography and want to be able to improve our photographic opportunities, which the big guns allow us to do.

:)

Canonguy
Canonguy's picture

hakeae wrote:

Is the Bird Photography 101 course being presened again in 2014?

Joanne

No, I doubt it highly.

Galah

Headsie wrote:

Most serious birders end up with the 400 prime and some (rich ones) even move onto the 500 F/4.

I used to think you had to be rich to own one too. But no. Rich in passion yes, the dollars are just the means to an end.

Some people spend $30k on a brand new Commodore and no one says they're rich (waste of money if you ask me but each to their own!).

$8k - $12k is a lot of money for most people but it's all about priority. If you really love something, you will make sacrifices to obtain what you really want/need to get the most enjoyment out of your passion.

timrob
timrob's picture

I'm somewhat reluctant to give advice on what to buy - make wise.  I'm a Canon kind of person since the days of film and sweating over developing trays in my darkroom.  So, I cannot comment on the advantages or otherwise of other makes and associated models.

I am very happy to say this however, that a lot of "low level" bodies will give very good results providing that you feed them with the right glass.  Choose a body that you can afford, then buy the best glass that you can afford to go with that body.  The glass will not age as fast as the body, and as your interests develop and skills mature, you will then be able to decide on a new body to suit your needs.

However, if you choose to go with Canon, be aware that there are two lens types - EFS and EF.  EFS lenses only work with crop frame cameras, EF lenses work with both. To put it simply, the main physical difference is how far back the rear lens element projects - EFS lenses project further into the camera body and will interfere with the mirror of full frame cameras.

So, my only advice is to whenever possible, choose EF lenses if you are going down the Canon path.  Then, when you decide to go full frame, your lenses will go with you.

Tim

bungy
bungy's picture

timrob wrote:

Choose a body that you can afford, then buy the best glass that you can afford to go with that body.  The glass will not age as fast as the body, and as your interests develop and skills mature, you will then be able to decide on a new body to suit your needs.

+1

Good glass is never a waste of money.

The body is just a box with the sensor where the film would normally sit.

Over the years I have used a few different brands, Contax, Practika, Pentax, Olympus, Canon & Nikon

I currently own Nikon gear.

But at the end of the day, brand is a personal choice.

And today, there is not a lot between the majors in regards to quality of image achieved.

The most important piece of equipment to me is my eye.

To achieve the best image is ultimately down to the experience of the person pressing the shutter release and a bit of luck :)

Having the best gear in the world will not suddenly make you a better photographer.

Steve

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