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Entry level DSLR - scenic & Birds

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Showing 1-25 of 45 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Jan 2013, 16:51:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2013, 16:53:15 GMT
Mrs H says:
I'd like to buy my husband a DSLR as he recently lost his digital camera and wants 'something' the next step up! I've around £500 to spend and it's come down to the Nikon D3200 or the Canon EOS 1100 D. He's into walking/cycling/rugby so it would be mainly for scenic and birds; as we live on the edge of a wooded common. Any advice would be appreciated..Tks!

Posted on 19 Jan 2013, 18:35:17 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2013, 18:37:50 GMT
Graham H says:
I only know about Nikon, so on that front I'd say the D3200 kit would be a fine choice. Bird stuff gets expensive though. You need a decent long lens for that, ideally with some sort of image stabilisation.
Maybe get a deal on the 'older' D3100 (which is pretty much the same as the newer D3200) and then buy the long lens with the change?
Digital cameras, like computers, are pretty much out of date as soon as you walk out of the shop, so the 'latest' thing will only be the latest thing for a few months anyway, whereas a decent lens will last for decades and make a far bigger difference to your pictures than your choice of body.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

There's no real difference between Nikon and Canon, it's all personal preference. I find Nikons just 'feel' nicer and have a menu system that I find easy to use. It all depends what you're used to. I'm sure you won't go wrong with Canon either.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013, 19:51:40 GMT
Strikes me a tripod might be a follow up pressie - necessary for that big lens.

Posted on 20 Jan 2013, 10:53:36 GMT
J. Appleton says:
I agree with both above also. Bird shots can be set up with food, a tripod or other positioned rest, and an infrared remote - which are very cheap, so less of a need for really large lenses :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jan 2013, 19:28:52 GMT
I've always got on fine with Canon cameras, though I haven't owned an 1100d I'm sure it would be a good choice. I do have a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens which is a good starter for bird photography, though the reach isn't huge - it is image stabilised and in my opinion the image quality is very good for the price. You could get this and an 1100d with a kit lens within budget.

Posted on 24 Jan 2013, 23:07:32 GMT
peter says:
I bought a Leica V-LUX 20 and took a photograph of Scarborough Harbour from the top of Oliver's Mount and you could read the SLOW sign on the Harbour wall. No additional lense was used.

A Panasonic version exists at a much lower price. Worth considering I think and it fits in your pocket.

Posted on 25 Jan 2013, 11:42:32 GMT
Brushie says:
As a Nikon user I would suggest the 3200 as the best sub £500 dslr available.
Nikon D3200 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm VR Lens Kit - Black (24.2MP) 3 inch LCD
with a manfrotto tripod and ball head.
Manfrotto 190 XPROB Tripod Legs Only - Black professional aluminium compact camera tripod
Manfrotto 494RC2 Ball Head with Friction Control

The kit lens with the 3200 if fairly good for lanscapes but for a wider view you cant beat the sigma 10-20
Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon Fit Lens

As far as bird photography goes this is where it gets a bit expensive! The Sigma 150 - 500 with a tripod may be the way to go
Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM for Nikon Digital and Film SLR Cameras

hope this helps

Posted on 25 Jan 2013, 23:55:42 GMT
Zelazowa says:
This could prove useful too!

Posted on 26 Jan 2013, 03:23:49 GMT
Neill says:
If you can push the price limit up a little I would definitely go with the D3200 and a bigger lens because of the 24 megapixels which would give you an image you can crop down but still get amazing resolution. It's under £500 with the basic lens which is very good and would enable some pretty fantastic nature shots, excellent landscape shots, portraits and family gathering shots etc. But it's how you use the camera that truly makes the outstanding images. The 1100d doesn't come close to comparing but is still a very good camera. For me 12Mp is fine but for nature shots 24 is perfect.

Generally I tend towards Canon but I would happily go for the Nikon D3200 with the 18-55mm kit lens. If you can push the budget I would probably go for one of these lenses too, if he's likely to want to sit and lurk for wildlife...maybe even from an upstairs window.

Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro For Nikon Digital & Film Cameras

A lens that goes to 300mm would enable shots from much further away. The 70-300 is not ideal for carrying around constantly but great if you need it. I'm a big believer in budget kit where possible so:

Hama Star 75 Tripod With free Carry Case

As a beginner set up I would buy the D3200, the tripod, a uv filter which protects the lens, a big SDHC card (you won't regret it) and a camera case. Maybe a couple of camping chairs.

Hoya 52 mm HMC Haze UV Screw-in Filter
SanDisk 3A150957 32 GB Extreme HD Video SDHC UHS-I Card - Frustration-Free Packaging (Packaging Varies)

For camera, UV filter, case, sdhc and tripod, you're still under £500...just.

It's useful to have an lcd screen protector too.

My canon 450d is a few years old now but if I was looking to buy the same kind of thing now, I would buy the above. Nikon and Canon were very close in spec a few years ago but the 3200 has taken it much further. That basic kit is fantastic and great if somebody isn't sure what kind of pics they want to take and then they can start buying new lenses specific to their needs.

I would encourage your husband to photograph in the NEF format and learn to use the manual settings rather than just the auto.

Posted on 26 Jan 2013, 15:26:23 GMT
PhilD says:
How about the D3100 with an extra lens. Bargain at the moment and more than enough resolution.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2013, 17:55:58 GMT
Is that Hama tripod man enough for a dSLR?

Posted on 26 Jan 2013, 20:30:06 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jan 2013, 20:31:06 GMT
Graham H says:
I tried the Star 63 and it was... well, 'Not particularly durable' is putting it charitably. Maybe the 75 is better?:


Posted on 26 Jan 2013, 22:16:15 GMT
Could someone please explain the NEF format? Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2013, 22:25:25 GMT
I think its a Nikon Raw file

Posted on 26 Jan 2013, 23:47:43 GMT
chazlondon says:
Have you thought of the Nikon D3100 it is a very good camera and you also get £35 cashback from Nikon.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 00:53:16 GMT
Thank you, Dr Austin but what exactly is a RAW file? I hope the answer to these questions will help Mrs H.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2013, 00:59:58 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2013, 01:00:11 GMT
Hi Pete,
Its the unadulterated digital file without any (or most) of the camera adjustments (like white balance) - often referred to as a digital negative because it needs to be shopped and saved as a Tiff or Jpeg to print.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_image_format for a better explanation than I can give.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 01:58:33 GMT
Thank you for the information, Dr Austin. My grandson, whose computer I'm using at the moment, showed me how to access the link you gave so now I can copy and paste I think he called it! I don't have a computer of my own and I am trying to understand the computer world and digital photography better. I'm now going to try and understand your terms Tiff and Jpeg. I've only ever used 35mm film and still do so this is a whole new world to discover. It was a pity the trials were cancelled but totally understandable given the weather conditions.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 06:34:24 GMT
Neill says:
OK, what RAW and Nef allow you to do is massively alter the shooting style and balance in the image. On Canon's DPP software that comes with the cameras it allows you to shoot in say Black and White but transfer the RAW file to computer the play around with the image because shooting in RAW captures all possible information in one shot. So I can change to b&w with filters, back to colour, change the white balance to give the shot a coloured tinge, change to tungsten equivalent, change from landscape settings to faithful, reduce or increase sharpness, apply noise reduction, increase and reduce saturation, contrast etc.

If you're shooting on DSLR, you should be using RAW/NEF it massively improves your potential shots.

Pixel Pete, those file types, jpeg, tiff, png are basically like a way of encoding a message. A 35mm negative has the image fixed to the film. If you scan that negative in to a computerit will normally be either as a tiff, png or jpeg. Like in ww2 when fairly simple codes were used to change a message in English in to a code in groups of 5 figures, a computer divides an image in to a grid of squares called pixels each of those squares is given a colour value which then reveals a picture when they are all read in sequence, if the coding is damaged the grid is disrupted which you see on digital tv sometimes with squares appearing all over the screen during bad weather.

Jpeg files are then compressed to make the file smaller meaning the individual squares are grouped together in to patterns and the whole pattern is given a number to describe it which you never see, you just see the compressed image.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 09:16:24 GMT
Neill says:
G E Hearn I still have an archaic tripod, lol. It's a Bilora Stabilo1115....the height of retro cold war fashion. It's heavy enough to be a potential murder weapon in Cluedo. But it's pretty solid till you really extend the legs.

Dr G, I don't think the Hama tripods would struggle with a DSLR and at £10 they're a good beginners thing to help you understand what you need and if you need it at all....but I'm all ears...I take GEHs experiences on board.

Phil D, only reason I didn't recommend the d3100 is that the d3200 appears to be a much higher level of kit and until the recipient of the gift is involved, it's impossible to say what his needs might be. It could well be that he would tend toward landscapes and prefer an 10-20mm that somebody suggested earlier rather than a 300mm lens. So the best basic is the best starting place if he's a beginner. The D3100 is still quite an expensive item for a lot less capability. ie only £90 less and the d3200 is one of the best sensors Nikon has, the 18-55 kit is well worth it.


Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 12:25:17 GMT
Graham H says:

My issue with the Hama tripods is the stays that extend from the central post out to the legs. They're aluminium, which is fine, but the ends of them (where the rivets go through to secure them) are made from very brittle ABS plastic. Mine broke as soon as I opened it and I've read other reviews where the same thing's happened.
It seems to be a problem with all the 'Star' range. I'd buy a decent one secondhand if I was after a tripod on a budget now. Charity shops are full of good 'uns from the 70's for peanuts.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 17:27:00 GMT
Thank you Neal for your helpful advice.
I know it is well intentioned but you have lost me with that paragraph about WW2?
For 50 years I've just been popping a roll of 35mm in to my Nikons and taking some lovely photographs. My first SLR was the Nikon F that I bought in 1960.

On the subject of WW2, my father's brother, they are French, worked as a cryptographer at Bletchley Park until the fall of France.

Is the ability to shoot RAW available on all digital cameras?
My grandson who is in to music said that RAW would be like the equivalent to a WAV? which is the format on the average compact disc player. He explained that you can further compress the music to fit in to more space by making it an mp3 of various qualities but the average human ear is unlikely to notice the difference as only the important bits are kept.

If a JPEG and a RAW file were shown side by side is the difference obvious?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2013, 17:41:43 GMT
Neill says:
Yeah, I've read a few bad reviews and they do seem a bit hit and miss, I got my bilora from a bootsale about 20 years ago for about £3....and it's all metal.

I'd be tempted to try one of the hama ones though, do you think you might have been unlucky? The 62 has 307 reviews, over 250 are 4 and 5 stars.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013, 18:08:10 GMT
Neill says:
RAW/NEF is available on all digital SLRs and some high end compacts. Yes, that's kind of it with the audio files but WAV was invented much later than the CD. CDs have a PCM file which id headed by a .cda file. There are several lossless file types including .wav.

With RAW you still have to convert it to jpg but while it's RAW you can play around with it more. Think of the other file types as printed images and RAW as a very flexible negative. Once it's a black and white jpeg, you can't convert that back to colour. RAW can always be changed around. All my RAWs are kept, just like negs.

So my process begins with uploading RAW files on to my PC and "developing" them there....sometimes it just means converting and saving to jpg, other times I switch to colour and play with the white balance etc then convert it. Then I open the converted file in Gimp and play around with it, flip the image around maybe cut bits out to use in compositions or just as an experiment to see if the light looks right when combining it with another image...I take a car from one image and put it on top of a hat in another.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2013, 18:40:58 GMT
Brushie says:
I must be honest why would anyone want to put their expensive camera and lens at risk by trusting a poor quality cheap tripod! Good camera gear doesn't lose a fortune. If you find you don't need something sell it via a photography forum and it won't have cost the eart to try it!
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Initial post:  19 Jan 2013
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