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Author Topic: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations  (Read 7998 times)

Josh

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Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« on: January 31, 2013, 10:34:07 AM »
My family is looking to replace our small digital camera with something more robust. We were previously the owners of a Canon EOS 50d but found that to be overkill for our needs. We are looking for a good mid-range DSLR camera. We are not very picky on what features it has, just that pictures are of decent quality and there is a good lens selection available should our needs change as we progress. Additionally, we would like to see an HD movie recording mode for short snippets while out and about.

Oh donationcoder gurus, we reach out to you!

wraith808

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2013, 10:56:20 AM »
The Nikon D80 is really good- this from my wife, who is a photographer.  However, what you might want to look into, especially if you tried the 50D already is an interchangeable lens camera.  A good write up on what they are, and why they're a good alternative to DSLRs for non-pros can be found here.  I bought one for myself when I first started (and I'm no where near pro), and my wife was surprised at the quality of the images, and the range of features available.  Another good article on some of the best is at Cnet, though they don't mention the Nikon 1, which is the one I'd recommend.

40hz

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2013, 11:15:17 AM »
My GF, being a photo buff, uses a variety of traditional and digital cameras including some high-end Canons.

Maybe not exactly what you've specc'ed, but her current favorite go-to camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40. It takes superb pictures and extremely good videos with very decent sound. It doesn't have interchangeable lenses. But the lens that's in it is a 25mm wide-angle (24x optical) zoom made by Leica. The camera has something like 14MP resolution so the images are particularly crisp. Don't know what your budget is, but it went for $400 and change IIRC.

It's also simple enough to operate that even I can use it and get very good results. Which is more than I can say for some of her other opto-technical marvels. (I'm strictly an Instamatic point-and-shoot type when it comes to photography.)

Note: There's a review on YouTube if you're interested. Watch it here. FWIW, the reviewer didn't like the image quality and cited high noise levels in dim or low light. It's not something I've seen with any of the indoor pictures she taken with it so far, but there you go. Like everything YMMV. She primarily does outdoor and equestrian sports photography/videos so maybe it wouldn't be an issue for her either way with the lighting conditions she generally shoots under.

 :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 11:35:38 AM by 40hz »

tomos

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 04:24:30 PM »
The Nikon D80 is really good- this from my wife, who is a photographer.  However, what you might want to look into, especially if you tried the 50D already is an interchangeable lens camera.  A good write up on what they are, and why they're a good alternative to DSLRs for non-pros can be found here.  I bought one for myself when I first started (and I'm no where near pro), and my wife was surprised at the quality of the images, and the range of features available.  Another good article on some of the best is at Cnet, though they don't mention the Nikon 1, which is the one I'd recommend.

I got one of those compact system cameras in 2011 (Olympus PEN E-PL2). I love the small size; I love the images (colour and quality); the few lens are very good quality; but the low-light/high-asa quality is not as good as an SLR. (The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has a very good reputation but that's @ $999 for the body only). That camera and the Olympus PEN series has in-camera image stabilisation - but I dont know if that makes the lenses any cheaper (than e.g. the Sony NEX below).

The Sony NEX series has a much better low light performance. Their lenses were not as good quality as Olympus's (last year anyway) - but I'm not sure us mortals would really notice much :-) These reviews arent as in-depth but sound very positive:
NEX 6 (preview) - expensive: similar to the Oly above ($1000 for body, $1250 with kit lens)
NEX 5R (overview) $700 with kit lens (sounds very good - also mentioned in the NEX 6 preview)

(Dont know anything about the Nikons that wraith recommends.)
Tom

wraith808

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 05:51:39 PM »
One thing I did notice with these systems- you're getting it for the features and simplicity- not as a cheaper alternative, as Tomos rightly points out above.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 06:07:48 PM »
Canon EOS 600D suits my needs and also records full HD video if you need it (though you do have to add a decent microphone).

Renegade

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 06:47:26 PM »
We have a Nikon D5000 and it's quite capable. I suppose that it's at the lower end of the DSLR range though - the entry level. It shoots 720p HD video as well.

I'm not really all that up on specific cameras, but I know a bit about semiconductors... There's a semiconductor technology called "BSI" - Back Side Illumination (also called BI or BIS). It essentially flips the camera sensor backwards so that you get more light into it. It is used in security cameras and for low-light applications, but I'm not sure if it's made its way into DSLR applications yet.

https://en.wikipedia...k-illuminated_sensor

The results you get from it are pretty darn impressive.

If you do any shooting in low-light, it might be something to look into more. Things could have advanced there.
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

tomos

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 06:59:28 PM »
Personally I'd be slow to buy a camera with a non-metal body - I'd guess that most lower end slr's would be plastic.
But I tend to drag cameras through the dirt.
And drop them occasionally :-[
Tom

wraith808

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2013, 07:19:18 PM »
Actually, it's not so much the body to worry about (though that too).  It's the lenses.  If you drop one of those, you'll be crying.  (Whether from your own loss, or the pain of getting hit from someone else's... well, that's a different story  ;D)

CWuestefeld

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2013, 01:11:45 PM »
First, let me echo Wraith's suggestion that you consider the new form factor of "mirrorless" cameras. They also sport interchangeable lenses, and are far smaller than DSLRs, making it easier to have them with you wherever you go. That said, my approach is tiered: I've got my phone if I just happen to spot something; I've got a ruggedized compact for active stuff, and I've got a DSLR for when I want to do real photography.

Also, two tips on what to look for regardless of the form factor. First, don't get caught up in the megapixel count. Pretty much anything you'll find is going to have more than enough resolution for you. Second, the big leaps in technology in the last couple of years have been in handling low lighting gracefully: today's cameras can deliver clear, sharp pictures at ISO numbers that, a couple of years ago, would have made a noisy mess. So if you decide to save money on a used camera, be sure to evaluate this feature of the camera carefully.

If you decide that a DSLR is really where you want to go, let me suggest a dark horse candidate: the Pentax K-30.

Much of the photography debate is monopolized by Canon and Nikon, but there's really no good reason for that. Olympus is still out there; Sony is resurgent (although Sony products aren't allowed in my house, but that's a different story). And Pentax has historically been one of the leading camera and optics makers.

One reason that Pentax gets left out of many discussions is that their line-up doesn't fit neatly into the same slots created by "the big two". In particular, the K-30 is clearly a very strong mid-range contender, but its pricing gives a lot of bang for the buck.

There are a couple of attributes to the Pentax line that make it stand out from other competitors:
  • Backwards compatibility - any Pentax SLR lens ever made can be used on current Pentax cameras (in a few cases a cheap adapter is required). That means you can get cheap, good-quality used optics off of Craig's list, or use your dad's old lenses from the closet.
  • Sensor-based image stabilization - the image stabilization function is achieved by mounting the sensor itself on a movable platform (Sony does the same). This has a couple of great effects. First, those old backwards-compatible lenses automatically benefit from the image stabilization, and you don't need to pay more for the feature on new lenses you buy. Second, the way it's mounted allows for additional degrees of movement that lens-based stabilization can't achieve.
  • Rugged usage - All current Pentax DSLRs are designed to be used in unfriendly conditions (rain, beach, very cold weather). You wouldn't want to take your Canon or Nikon out in the pouring rain, but my Pentax doesn't care (so long as I'm using a water-resistant lens as well)

Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. I've found a couple of down sides as well. First, because the Pentax market is smaller, lens manufacturers don't cater to it as much. That means that there's a somewhat smaller selection of available lenses, and they tend to be more expensive (this is greatly mitigated by the fact that you can buy cheaply all that old used glass). Second, also because their market share is smaller, there are fewer people around that you can go to for help, or to test out other products (lenses, flash, etc.).

If you're willing to consider it, I'll leave you with pointers to some reviews. These sites should be good resources for reviews of other cameras as well:


wraith808

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2013, 01:23:35 PM »
Good info there CWuestefeld.  I'd say one more reason that Canon and Nikon dominate the conversation- lens compatibility.  This lets you get better deals on the lenses, which as I've found out from my wife's purchases are the big investment.

Mark0

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2013, 08:17:51 AM »
I too am partial to the "new" mirrorless, specifically M43. I find it's a great compromise between size, weight, speed and image quality. It's also the more mature of the mirrorless standards, and that mean a great selection of quality lens, plus the ability to reuse old lens from just about any manifacturers with cheap adapters.
I like some NEX a lot, and especially the focus peaking feature, but having a large APS-C sensor also mean large lens. So that usually endup with a very small body + a large lens.

A tool you may find useful to compare different photocams, is Camera Size. For example:
Nikon D3200 vs Olympus E-PL5

If you compare body + lens at equivalent focal lenghts, a M43 is easily half the size & weight. That's not a small difference. In practice it mean you'll have the small camera with you a lot more times.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 08:24:59 AM by Mark0 »

Renegade

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2013, 08:47:12 AM »
Good info there CWuestefeld.  I'd say one more reason that Canon and Nikon dominate the conversation- lens compatibility.  This lets you get better deals on the lenses, which as I've found out from my wife's purchases are the big investment.

May I stir up some gear-lust?

http://www.bhphotovi...0mm_f_2_8_EX_DG.html

Sigma lens 551436.jpg

Don't care if I need it.
Don't care if I'd ever use it.
It looks cool.
I want one.

:P
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Mark0

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2013, 08:49:44 AM »
What about this?  ;D


Renegade

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2013, 09:17:47 AM »
What about this?  ;D



Good grief!

But, I really have no desire to be a peeping Tom spying on ants mating on the next continent over... or Venutians or Martians for that matter~! :D

Well, that and I don't have a gantry crane and 40-wheeler to transport/use it!

And I have a Nikon... :P ;D

That's one BIG lens! ;D
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2013, 11:22:29 AM »
What about this?  ;D



Hey I want one! Be really good for astronomy, but you'd need a hell of a telescope to mount it!!!

tomos

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2013, 09:50:58 AM »
So, what did you go for Josh?

FWIW there's a new mini dslr from Canon due in April:
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (EOS 100D)
Preview here:
http://www.imaging-r...n-sl1/canon-sl1A.HTM
~ $800 with kit lens
 
Tom

Renegade

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2013, 10:11:04 AM »
So, what did you go for Josh?

Yes! Very curious here! :)
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Lutz_

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2013, 10:39:26 AM »
Just one more very late opinion. If you are into sports photography or birding a DSLR is still required.  
If not, than DSLRs are outdated.  Mirrorless is the way to go.  Even there, the autofocus of the olympus and panasonic top models is almost, almost already equaling the phase detection based AF systems of DSLRs.
I would suggest to dump the annoying mirror, for usable autofocus in video, real live view, focus peaking, and much better portability, touchscreen UI, etc. There is no way I would want to go back to mirror flapping systems.  The sony alpha DSLT cameras (working with minolta and sony lenses; they have a non-moving mirror) is a great compromise, though for sports and birding like demands.
Sure, most people are still buying CaNikons DSLRs, because of the deeply ingrained image and their marketing big bucks - but innovation is happening elsewhere.  Please note that the mirrorless offerings from Canon and Nikon themselves are carefully designed so that they can't compete with DSLRs (thus they can't compete with the mirrorless systems from Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Fujifilm, or Samsung either).
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 10:29:41 AM by Lutz_ »

tomos

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2013, 11:14:47 AM »
Mirrorless is the way to go.  Even there, the autofocus of the olympus and panasonic top models is almost, almost already equaling the phase detection based AF systems of DSLRs.
I would suggest to dump the annoying mirror, for usable autofocus in video, real live view, focus peaking, and much better portability, touchscreen UI, etc. There is no way I would want to go back to mirror flapping systems.  The sony alpha DSLT cameras (working with minolta and sony lenses; they have a non-moving mirror) is a great compromise, though for sports and birding like demands.
(my emphasis)

The Sony (Alpha) AR7 gets best camera 2013 from Imaging Resource's Best Cameras 2013 (dc link).
The Sony A7 shares second place with the Olympus E-M1.

Of course there are cheaper recommendations.
Thankfully ;)
Tom

xtabber

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2013, 10:07:55 AM »
If you decide that a DSLR is really where you want to go, let me suggest a dark horse candidate: the Pentax K-30.

+1 to everything in CWuesterfeld's post, but the K-30 has been superseded by the K-50, which is the same camera with slightly different styling (Pentax took some flack for the K-30's "aggressive"appearance) and updated electronics. Same great value though.


Mark0

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2013, 10:23:42 AM »
I got myself a used but in perfect condition Olympus OM-D E-M5, and I'm very happy with it. The in body stabilization is fantastic. I have done some shots with a 90mm equivalent lens, free hand, with 1" exposure, and the results are very nice.

IainB

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Re: Mid-range DSLR Camera Recommendations
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2013, 02:27:35 AM »
I always thought of DSLRs as having been designed "for taking still pictures".
Changed my thinking a bit after reading this and looking at some of the videos:
More Than Just Photography: 10 Videos Shot With DSLR Cameras

The one on "Stone lithography" was pretty interesting.