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Camera Advice

Nick Williams

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So, the fiancé and I are looking into investing in a DSLR to document the memories, the trips, the fun, and THE FISH (however she doesn't know about that part yet!). But the market for DSLR's is HUGE, so I'm curious as to what cameras, set ups, lenses, etc you guys are using, and also why. Both of her sisters and a friend all have Nikons. While they take great pictures and are relatively simple to use, I've heard that Nikon isn't the way to go. And we would also rather be different. Also, another question is editing aoftware and who actually uses it. So... GO.

- Nick

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You really can't go wrong with either Nikon or Canon. Nikon definitely has the better glass, while Canon has the better cameras, although my sister has a Nikon D3100 and that thing can take some darn nice pictures, and it has a lot of cool add on photo editing tools built right into the camera. We have a Canon T2i and it works fine for what we do with it, but it could be a little faster and we've had to step up to a few better lenses than the stock 17-55mm one to really get good pictures. A nice speedflash has helped tremendously too...

The lenses we have added are a 50mm prime Canon lens and a 18-270mm Tamron all-in-one lens (which we use 90% of the time now)

-- Jim

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. -- Doug Larson

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I agree, I have always shot nikons, and the d3100 is all the camera anyone really needs,

Stick with nikon or canon,you wont go wrong. I wont even get into glass, lol, I am saveing for a 10,000 dollar lens right now, I have 45.14.

FYI, I saw a d3100 body only, go on ebay for 223.50. It had a shutter count of 372! That was 2 days ago.

Adorama has them with the kit lens 18-55 VR for $349 refurbished right now.

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The 18-55 and the 55-200 lens' cover most shots for most people, probably 99%.

I take a lot of bird pictures, wish i had that $12,000 600mm, but that will never happen!

Also i would stick with the canon or nikon lens' ,, the resale value is much greater, you wont need up grade lens' in the future.

There are a couple of guys on the forums that know a lot about photography, they should have some good advice when they show up.

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If you're interested in family snapshots and fishing pictures, a DSLR is probably more that you need. If you've got a larger body and a couple lenses you'll have some stuff to lug around, and you'll probably find you're leaving it behind and using a point and shoot or phone a lot of the time.

That said, there are huge advantages to a DSLR. They're sturdier, feel better in your hand and offer a lot of features only available on higher-end point and shoots. (BTW, there are very nice point and shoots, like the Canon G-series, Olympus Pen, etc.) SLRs have the interchangeable lenses that will focus faster and CAN be sharper than P&S lenses. But the 'kit' lenses are often pretty mediocre.

If you're serious about the best quality photos, a DSLR is the way to go. As far as brand, don't believe your source that said stay away from Nikon. Nikon and Canon are the big two. Canon is a much larger company and markets a lot more. They took a lot of Nikon's market share in the early digital years through rapid product development and slick marketing. Nikon took a more measured approach, and made fewer but better and more advanced and better built products than Canon. A typical example was when Canon rushed out video capability while Nikon was working on high ISO (low-light) sensors. Video's cool, high ISO was a photographer's dream though. Think gym photos. They also made big steps in autofocus technology and metering, while Canon spent most of their effort building sensors with more and more megapixels.

I shoot Nikon -- with a 8-year old D200. The thing is built like a tank, and I've got over 15,000 shots out of it so far. It doesn't shoot video, but I've never been big into video anyway. It was a fairly expensive body, but I tend to buy quality that lasts. I really like that camera, and it's gonna be around for a while. My son has a 3100, and it's a fine camera too. He can use my lenses, but he's usually got the 18-55 kit lens on it.

Now, for lenses. No matter what DSLR you buy, more of the equipment-related picture quality will ultimately depend on the lens. (The MOST picture quality will depend on YOU). I would always recommend you spend more on the lenses if you can swing it. Last I looked, Canon had a wider selection of lenses in the low-mid priced area than Nikon. But Nikon covers all the bases too. Both have excellent glass. I popped for a now-discontinued 18-70, and an 80-200 f/2.8. It really covers the range for me. The 80-200 is especially sharp, but heavy. The 2.8 allows for nice sharp portaits with a nicely blurred background ("bokeh"). I've done a few senior pictures, and mainly use that lens. Subjects can be more at ease if you're farther away.

As for editing software, I really like Adobe Lightroom. I really hate Photoshop Elements. Lightroom is more intuitive and easier to use. It does non-destructive editing, i.e. it saves your edits without changing the original or making a copy. It has excellent key wording and organization tools, which is HUGE once you start accumulating photos. It interfaces with Facebook, Smugmug and other photo-sharing applications. There are cheap and free editing packages out there. If you're serious, buy Lightroom.

Finally, take a look at B&H Photo/Video. They're an excellent web source for all things camera, computer.


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I agree with Ness. Nothing wrong with either Nikon or Canon. Their competiveness has created some great products for both.

I have a D90 with around 50,000 clicks on it. It goes everywhere I go.

Spend the most you can on glass. Don't overlook Tamron or Sigma lenses.

Get Lightroom. It's the best there is.



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I agree with everything Ness said.

Especially the part where he questioned whether you really need a DSLR. I own a bunch of DSLRs and expensive lenses, which I use in gathering reference material for my paintings for the most part. But I ALWAYS carry a waterproof point and shoot anytime there's the slightest chance I might see something I want to photograph, while the big guns only go along when I'm seriously seeking reference material as my major goal. They are simply too bulky and too fragile to take along on the average fishing or hunting trip.

I started out shooting Nikons back in the pre-digital days, and continued with Nikon in the changeover to digital. I still shoot a D200 and a D100, but I now also own a Canon (can't remember the model right now). Reason I got it was partly because I'd heard great things about Canon's 500 mm f 4 image stabilized lens for wildlife, as being better than anything Nikon had in the same price range. The other reason I got it was because it had more megapixels (higher resolution) than anything Nikon was offering at the time, and I needed a high resolution camera to take publication quality photos of my smaller paintings (the big ones I have professionally photographed).

Basically, I use the Nikon D100 with a Nikon 28-85 zoom lens for landscape photography, the D200 with a Sigma 150-500 zoom (and sometimes a doubler, which takes it out to a maximum of 1000 mm) for down and dirty wildlife photography when I know I won't have time to set up a tripod, or when I'm leaving the car to do some serious hiking to where I might see some critter, since the Sigma lens is a whole lot less bulky and heavy than the Canon lens. I use the Canon when I can set up a tripod, and I have a 1.4 X extender for the 500 mm lens, giving me the capability of a 700 mm lens.

One note about high resolution...the more megapixels, the better it is for wildlife photography because you can still take pictures of distant animals and enlarge and crop them and get good results. For instance, say you see a grizzly that's so far off that it only fills up 10% of your frame. The photo as taken won't show a lot of detail in the griz, but the detail is still there if your lens is sharp enough and you have enough resolution, so you enlarge the photo and crop it so the griz fills up 50% of the photo.

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They are simply too bulky and too fragile to take along on the average fishing or hunting trip.

Well this is totally wrong. :D

Like I said I carry my gear everywhere. Wading, floating, everywhere. It does take a commitment to use it though. It takes time to pull it out of a waterproof bag/case and take a picture. It's not quick and easy like a point and shoot, but you can get some amazing pictures from a DSLR that you just won't get from a point and shoot. If you are just looking for snapshots then a p&s is perfect and the best option. If you want to make art then you need a DSLR. Al makes some amazing art on canvas, I like to try to make it with a camera. Last float I had the body, 3 lenses, external flash, wireless remotes and a tripod. It's something I love to do.



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Oh, I agree with you, Flysmallie...perhaps I shouldn't have said bulky and fragile, but instead should have said, "requires a commitment to carrying them, protecting them, and actually using them." I used to carry my SLRs and lenses in a huge waterproof, padded Army surplus ammo box. Never got one wet that way, but digging it out of the box every time I wanted to take a picture on a float trip was surely a pain, and I missed some shots that I would have gotten with a point and shoot. It's just a question of whether you are going out with the full intention of taking as perfect photos as possible, or if the camera is just for snapping photos to show to friends and family.

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