Photography

Let's say you have $800

...to spend on a new DSLR camera and lens.

I'm new to DSLR, but not to photography completely.  I shot for a long time on a K1000 - but put it down for the last few years.  Now that DH and I are gearing up to start a family I'm ready to buy a new camera and start shooting again.  Keep in mind my needs are based around photographing our family/pets/future kiddos.

 I'm thinking I'll need a 50mm lens - but that's all I've got. 

I read through the FAQs and it was helpful - I'm just wondering with that budget... what would you purchase and think that I would need?

Thanks in advance! 

Re: Let's say you have $800

  • You can get a 50mm 1.8 for about $100 - it would be a great addition to the kit lens, a flattering focal length for portraits (my kit for example is a 14-42mm, and the wide angles are terrible for faces).  Personally, I'd also get a speedlite - wish I had gotten one from the get-go.

    GL!

    I'll let the Canon and Nikon gals recommend which camera body to start with - I shoot Olympus (unfortunately) and don't plug it!


    image
    In my bag: Canon 60D, 50mm 1.4, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 430exii Pregnancy Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • image EMTX:

    You can get a 50mm 1.8 for about $100 - it would be a great addition to the kit lens, a flattering focal length for portraits (my kit for example is a 14-42mm, and the wide angles are terrible for faces).  Personally, I'd also get a speedlite - wish I had gotten one from the get-go.

    GL!

    I'll let the Canon and Nikon gals recommend which camera body to start with - I shoot Olympus (unfortunately) and don't plug it!

    thanks EMTX!  I'm off to research speedlite... 

  • I should clarify that I used the term speedlite generically, and it's not - it's Canon's external flash. Nikon's is called the speedlight.

    The actual term is an external flash :) It allows you to bounce the light off of walls to create a more diffuse light, and avoid using the pop-up flash on your camera, which is never a good thing.


    image
    In my bag: Canon 60D, 50mm 1.4, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 430exii Pregnancy Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Others may disagree, but I would suggest NOT getting the 50mm lens (both Canon and Nikon have an inexpensive version) if it's going to be your only lens for awhile, especially if you are taking a lot of pictures indoors where space is limited.  I have both a 50 and the 18-55 kit lens for my Rebel and I find myself using the kit lens more often indoors.  I did, however, get a 430EX II speedlite - the pop up flash totally blows.  Ideally, I'd have a nice 30 or 35mm prime to use indoors and not need to use the kit.  Maybe Santa will bring me one :)
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  • Canon XSi ($500) with 50mm f/1.8 ($100) and speedlite (Canon 430EX II, $265).  That would put you at $865.  No tax and no shipping from Adorama.  Buy through ebates.com and get 2% cash back. :)

    Edit:  The kit lens is okay with the speedlite, but if you don't have good lighting it's crap.  I shoot 99% of the time with my 50mm.  It can be tight though, so if you have small rooms I would get the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 instead. 

  • so y'all are saying a 30mm will be better for indoor/portraits than 50mm?

    Will the 50mm work better for me outside? 

  • I love my Nikon D5000 and the 35 f/1.8 lens. Not a huge fan of my kit lens, but I don't have a speedlight yet either so it's tough for me to use indoors. Something to keep in mind with the lower end Nikons is that not all their lenses will autofocus on the lower end bodies so you'll want to make sure you look at lenses that will.

    If you haven't already you might want to go into a store and play with them some to see what feels comfortable. Happy shopping!

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  • image shanwalk2:

    so y'all are saying a 30mm will be better for indoor/portraits than 50mm?

    Will the 50mm work better for me outside? 

    A 30 or 35mm would be good indoors but it is not good for portraits. 

     

  • Well, first you have to figure out if you want to go with Nikon or Canon.  Everyone suggests going to a store and holding one of each.  Look thru the menu and controls. 

    I shoot Nikon so I'll give you my advice if you decide to go that route.  It seems like not only do you have an interest in photography but you have some experience as well.  If you are not a complete newbie, it won't take you long to become frustrated with an entry level Nikon.  Higher ISOs tend to be very grainy and you will need to purchase AF-S lenses only.

    Knowing what I know now, if I were you, I would get a D90.  The D90 was just replaced by the D7000 but it is still an excellent camera.  B/c it was replaced, prices have dropped.  Right now, it is listed on Amazon (body only) for $740.  I swear last week, I saw it somewhere for $650 body only. 

    A 50mm 1.8 lens will run you $120. 

    I don't know your financial situation but if you think you can save and spend more money down the road, I would go this route.  The Nikon 35mm 1.8 lens is a great lens that costs about $200.

    I would also add an SB-600 Speedlight to your wish list.  $225 

    Hope this helps

      

  • image shanwalk2:

    so y'all are saying a 30mm will be better for indoor/portraits than 50mm?

    Will the 50mm work better for me outside? 

    30 or 35mm is nice for full body shots (and shooting indoors), but for close-ups you get distortion (think bobble head).    I think the 50mm is a great all-around length and I use it both indoors and outdoors.  I can use it for full body and close-ups.  Really 50-135mm is great for portraits, but I wouldn't go any longer than 50mm for indoors.

    Here's an example of distortion and then compression too:

    http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2010/07/21/the-ideal-focal-length-for-portraiture-a-photographers-experiment/ ;

  • I'll ditto Grins on the 50mm being a great focal length.   I kind of come from this place where I was told (moons ago) that "well, you HAVE to get a 50mm".  50mm is basically equivalent to how we see things in real life, meaning by perspective.  In other words, think of what things look like in the side mirrors of your car, how they say "things may be closer than they appear".  That's kind of equivalent to a wide angle...basically it makes things behind the subject seem WAY farther behind than they actually are, called "forced perspective".


    In turn, if you use a *longer* focal length, like 85mm or 100mm for example, things behind your subject seem *much* closer.  This in turn can make for very lovely portraits.  

    50mm is right in the middle.  If you look through the viewfinder while having your 50mm on (or your zoom set to 50mm focal length), and open up your other eye, you'll see what you see through the view finder looks pretty much the same distance away as it does through your eye, in "real life".  This is why I *personally* recommend 50mm as a GREAT first starter lens...because it "feels" natural, it's how we actually see the world!

     HOWEVER, I will disagree that 30mm or 35mm CAN make a great portrait lens.  It's just that distortion can be a BAD thing if you don't use it right...I think using wider angles is just a bit more difficult.  There are many, many MANY wonderful photographers who live off of using wide angles, like 24mm, and use that "forced perspective" to their advantage!  It's just that the more traditional portraits are often 50mm on up, yes.  But don't discount wide angles for the fun they can be.

    AND, I don't think of 35mm as a *wide angle*.  35mm is NOT wide-angle, it's average.  35mm does *not* provide nearly as much distortion as 24mm, even close up.  30mm does, as well as 28mm does (the widest end of my Tamron), and personally I prefer the look of 24mm if I'm going to exploit that fun distortion.  I was *just* talking to someone about all this today, and will give examples.  Here's a 28mm shot, where I got in SUPER close and I was playing w/ the distortion:

    image

    So you can see how HUGE the sippy cup looks?  Everything closest to the lens is going to look bigger while things behind it are going to look MUCH smaller to extend that "forced perspective" look.  However, this can be FUN!!!  Maybe not flattering, though.

     

    In turn, here's a close-up 35mm shot:

    image

    Maybe there's some distortion of her head, but really, Piper has a HUGE noggin'.  35mm is actually not THAT huge of a difference from 50mm...I mean, there IS a difference, and I did a big focal length comparison on my blog.

    So, in summary, I think 35mm or 50mm are great starter lenses.  In my oh so humble opinion, I do think 50mm is best, because it is "natural" to our eye.  However, in reality, 35mm fits a LOT more in the frame, so it is the next best thing when you are stuck shooting indoors.  But NO MATTER WHAT...do NOT forget how important focal length really is to how your image looks.  So just because you can fit more in the frame doesn't mean you'll get a better image.  And, in turn, don't be scared to have fun with wider angles, too, but don't think just 'cause they aren't "flattering" that they can't work...they can, it just takes some panache & practice. =D

  • Have you thought about buying a used camera body so your money will go farther? Here are a few reputable websites you can buy used gear from...

    adorama.com, bhphoto.com and keh.com. 


  • Oh yes, I personally love the distortion (and like AF said, it's all about how you use the lens and how close you are! :)  And I would definitely go with the 30mm over a 50mm if you don't have the space.  I'd rather have some distortion with a 30mm than to have the 50mm and have no full body shots.  Does that makes sense?
  • image grinsandgiggles:
    image shanwalk2:

    so y'all are saying a 30mm will be better for indoor/portraits than 50mm?

    Will the 50mm work better for me outside? 

    30 or 35mm is nice for full body shots (and shooting indoors), but for close-ups you get distortion (think bobble head).    I think the 50mm is a great all-around length and I use it both indoors and outdoors.  I can use it for full body and close-ups.  Really 50-135mm is great for portraits, but I wouldn't go any longer than 50mm for indoors.

    Here's an example of distortion and then compression too:

    http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2010/07/21/the-ideal-focal-length-for-portraiture-a-photographers-experiment/ ;

    I read through the article and it said that those distortions and focal lengths apply to a full frame camera. Don't most of the cheaper cameras (that most DSLR owners have) have a crop sensor so you might not get the severity of distortion that is being shown?

  • image Faren77:

    Have you thought about buying a used camera body so your money will go farther? Here are a few reputable websites you can buy used gear from...

    adorama.com, bhphoto.com and keh.com. 


    I will ditto this. I buy almost all of my gear used, however, I use Ebay.

  • image grinsandgiggles:

    Canon XSi ($500) with 50mm f/1.8 ($100) and speedlite (Canon 430EX II, $265).  That would put you at $865.  No tax and no shipping from Adorama.  Buy through ebates.com and get 2% cash back. :)

    Edit:  The kit lens is okay with the speedlite, but if you don't have good lighting it's crap.  I shoot 99% of the time with my 50mm.  It can be tight though, so if you have small rooms I would get the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 instead. 

    This, word for word. My kit is fine for inside if I'm using the external flash and I need to go wider to fit full bodies, but my 50mm 1.4 is still on my camera almost all the time. It is excellent in low light.


    image
    In my bag: Canon 60D, 50mm 1.4, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 430exii Pregnancy Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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