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New camera for beginner

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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Feb 2013, 00:01:04 GMT
Hello!! I am studying architecture and I want to buy a dslr camera. I don't need something professional because I am a beginner, but I can take the decision in which camera I have to buy. Too many cameras and few the things that I know. The budget for the camera is up to 500 pounds. I searched and I found interesting the nikon d5100 and the nikon d7000 but it's more than 500 pounds. Also someone suggested me the canon 650d. I really don't know what to do. I feel so confused. I will appreciate if you could give some of your time to advice me. Thanks a lot

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 00:06:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 00:11:03 GMT
Graham H says:
Read this page first:


I'd have the Nikon, others would go for the Canon. They're both equally capable, and no matter what the fanboys say, there's minimal difference. Lenses make a far bigger difference to your pics than the bodies, and both Canon and Nikon have been around long enough for there to be a huge choice and sensible used prices when it comes to glass.
Try them both and see which one you get on better with. Your camera needs to be quick to use and easy to adjust, otherwise you're going to miss shots because you're faffing about getting into menus.

I would suggest that as a bare minimum you need an easily accessible dedicated knob for exposure compensation, a dedicated button for switching metering mode and one more for switching AF zones. If you're not sure whether your intended camera has those, then ask the salesman. If he doesn't know either, then walk away and buy in a specialist shop.

The golden rule to remember is that more expensive bodies don't necessarily mean better results. Picture quality is at least 80% down to the lens. Professional cameras are simply more solid, better built, have a faster rate of fire and have individual knobs and buttons for common adjustments rather than making you faff about in menus and sub-menus.

Any camera is only as good as your ability to learn it and to use it instinctively. I've always found Nikons more logically laid out than Canons, but again, it's personal preference. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

Good luck!


In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 00:17:41 GMT
Graham, thanks a lot for your help. That was very helpful.

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 00:24:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 00:38:33 GMT
Graham H says:
Very welcome Christiana.
It would probably help to have a browse around this forum and a read of anything you think might be useful. People have asked the exact same question as you many times, and often there's some useful points to consider from other contributors. I'll always help if I can and I'm sure many other 'regulars' will too.


Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 07:12:33 GMT
ChrisJ says:
The www.dpreview.com has some very good reviews of the different cameras. But the final choice should be by you holding them in your hand and deciding which is more comfortable.
You may find a second hand camera (there are a number of specialist shops in the UK, not eBay for something like this) offers better value.

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 13:39:38 GMT
T.J.Byford says:

I'm guessing the camera is to be used in furtherance of your architecture studies, and this will be your first consideration, although it will, I am sure, be used for social photography as well.

Graham has posted some useful general pointers to check out when looking to buy a dslr, but you should be aware that there is no bespoke digital slr camera body that is particularly suited to all forms of architecture photography. By buying a dslr, or indeed some of the mirrorless cameras that take interchangeable lenses, you will be buying into APS-C sensors which will yield very high quality images providing you invest in quality optics as well. Just bear in mind that you are not strictly limited to a dslr, unless you have your mind set on one, then follow Graham's advice.

Sadly, there is no digital equivalent of the best camera type for architecture, what are called "technical" cameras, and these use film. The sheer size of these cameras, nor the fact they use film, is not what sets them apart and makes them ideal for architecture; it is the fact that they incorporate movements of the lens panel and film plane to achieve more accurate renditions by eliminating such things as converging verticals (the illusion that tall buildings are falling backwards) and offering much greater control over depth of field along planes, and various other distortions inherent with cameras that have a fixed relationship between the lens and digital sensor/film.

The closest you will achieve with a dslr is to use a shift lens and which, if it is adjustable in the horizontal and vertical planes, will help with converging verticals (vertical shift) or by helping to exclude objects within the normal field of view, and which by positioning the camera to the left or right of normal, and using the horizontal shift you can capture a building, say, minus the object that was in front of it.

Unfortunately, these "shift" lenses are not cheap, but they do represent one means to correct a limited range of distortions in the captured image when photographing buildings with conventional cameras.

I appreciate this is technical, and may be a little daunting to take in. But, if accuracy of the image as far as correcting for distortions is concerned, is not part of your brief, then you may happily shoot with any camera that takes your fancy.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 14:34:27 GMT
Hi TJ,
As long as you aren't trying to get rid of extremes of converging verticals you can of course Photoshop them away. By the way you can download Photoshop CS 2 free as well as GIMP.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 15:26:49 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Dr. A.

I've never used Photoshop, but the programmes I've used that do attempt to eliminate converging verticals do so at the expense of other geometric distortions, so the resultant image is itself not accurate; the proportions and scale of the building are all wrong. What tends to happen as the converging vertical is corrected, the image dimensions in the vertical plane get elongated so the length of the top portion of the image is greater than it should be relative to the bottom. What tends to happen is the width at top of the image is matched to the width at the bottom. Now, I don't deny that the result may be more pleasing to the eye than the original converging vertical, but it certainly is not accurate, and for the purposes of genuine architectural records is useless. A technical cameras with its movements better controls these distortions. It is accomplished entirely using rising front and, if necessary, in conjunction with falling back for greater range. Incidentally, I'm not simply relating what I've read about these cameras, I've used them, and indeed still have my MPP Mk VIII rangefinder, and a studio based Toyo monorail.

A few years ago I was in Brussels and in the famous square. Now with my conventional digital camera, there was no way of avoiding converging verticals and I did use the tool to eradicate them. But the result looked decidedly odd, with the various floors of the buildings getting more elongated the further up the image they appeared and much worse, in my opinion, than the original with the converging verticals. Maybe Photoshop can do a better job of this, I don't know, but if it can, it could certainly be the answer.

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 15:43:18 GMT
Graham H says:
Assuming of course that Christiana needs to photograph whole buildings. Maybe she's doing a thesis on gargoyles and window frames? ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 16:08:23 GMT
T.J.Byford says:

This is very true, but I did cover this in my last comment in the reply to Christiana. If accuracy wasn't important, then it really didn't matter what sort of camera was used.

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 16:24:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 16:27:54 GMT
Graham H says:
Oh, I know. I was only messing about. You made another very good point though that I completely overlooked - Why a DSLR particularly? Even on the Norfolk coastline, buildings don't generally move quickly enough to require the fast AF speed of a DSLR.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 17:08:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 17:09:49 GMT
Hi TJ,
Well I did qualify my remark by saying if the verticals don't converge too much. If the verticals are really converging then it may be better to leave them for effect since the perspective can look wrong if you overdo the straightening - as you point out. I doubt anyone will buy a view camera as a first camera though - not should they. I must say I'd quite like to have a go with a shift lens on the dSLR - no doubt they cost ££££s though.
I suppose you cab frame accordingly and crop the bottom of the pic?

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 17:50:22 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 17:51:43 GMT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Dr. A.

Your comment wasn't overlooked. Perhaps I was approaching it too much from a purist point of view introducing view camera technique, without knowing exactly what Christiana's actual requirements are for her studies. There is a distinct difference in studying architecture and being a photographer of the subject. And I full agree, it is very unlikely someone is going to jump in with both feet and get a view camera, unless it is absolutely essential. I came to acquire and use my 5x4's only because I had a need for the work I was doing at the time and which simply could not be done with any other camera. As I also did my own d&p, even my enlarger had an adjustable axis which could be used with some effect to correct the verticals in conjunction with the adjustable paper easel, but always there were still geometric distortions introduced.

Generally speaking, architectural photography usually demands accurate reproduction with the minimum of distortions and which only view cameras can fully explore. Conventional cameras can satisfy the requirements, but only up to a point. For example, if it is possible to stand back and use a tele lens, the impact of converging verticals can be eliminated, but then perspective distortions can set in and the image may of itself not be very pleasing as a result. And of course, the shooting distance isn't always under the control of the photographer. Converging verticals, whilst one can generally accept these with outdoor shots, because this is what we are used to, what would one say to converging verticals inside, say, a hotel foyer? This is not what one is used to seeing and the hotel is unlikely to thank a photographer for them.

PC, aka shift, lenses are expensive but for photographers who need them, they do what no other lens can do on conventional cameras, and pay for themselves.

Interestingly, I have in my collection a set of 35mm adjustable bellows that has lens and film (camera) movements that tries to emulate most of those found on a view camera. The only problem is because of the thickness of the bellow, the lens panel, and camera lens mount, the unit can only be used with process lenses of 90mm and upwards to maintain infinity focus. So not very practical, but good for macro.

I'm not familiar with the term cab, but if this refers to the trapezoid shapes formed when setting the correction points, then yes, this is how I do it.

Posted on 17 Feb 2013, 18:30:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Feb 2013, 18:30:54 GMT
Graham H says:
I think 'Cab' is more to do with the 'N' and the 'B' being in close proximity on a computer keyboard. ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2013, 19:45:28 GMT
Graham got it - fat finger syndrome!

Posted on 24 Feb 2013, 00:55:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Feb 2013, 00:57:01 GMT
Zelazowa says:
Close proximity? Mr Hearn to the back of the English class...

There's a tower in Pisa that might benefit from a spot of photo shopping should anyone have any images.
Good job that pixels are generally square or rectangular... that should generally, although not always, help where architecture is concerned.

Christiana I'm sure any of the cameras you mention will be more than capable but your knowledge and the lens used will be the most important.
If you are combining your architectural studies with photography then experience will help you to decide which lens to use for different purposes.

Camera choice.....? Nikon.

Posted on 24 Feb 2013, 10:30:10 GMT
bodhid_harma says:
"I searched and I found interesting the nikon d5100 and the nikon d7000 but it's more than 500 pounds"

Why do these ones interest you? I assume you are looking at the higher entry level cameras as you want to max. out your budget? This is a common theme I find amongst new users to photography, an "arms race" whereby more importance is given to the cost and specs of the body than the lenses. The number of people I meet on my travels carrying round full-frame cameras and D7000 etc who admit in shame that they only ever use the Auto function!!

Go for the D3100. It is very cheap at present due to the various upgraded models ahead of it. You have no need to "start" with a D5100, D7000 or better. The difference to a beginner is negligible. Within your 500 quid have you factored in lenses? You will want more than the kit lens the minute you begin learning more about the subject. These cost more than the body, significantly so, and they dictate the quality of the photo far more than the body will. Pixel count etc. is meaningless at the entry-level.

I researched the subject A LOT when I invested in one (DSLR). I was a newbie, still am! Just a LITTLE bit more knowledgeable than I was when I bought 2 years ago. I went through the whole marathon of learning about cameras, what it all means, learning about taking pics with the new camera etc. To this day I still come across people every day on my global travels who carry round top TOP range DSLR and yet admit they cannot operate the thing, or use it beyond snapping images on auto. Sledgehammer to crack a walnut springs to mind.
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