Another beginner camera purchase thread...
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Thread: Another beginner camera purchase thread...

  1. #1
    Newbie, please be gentle cbag71's Avatar
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    Default Another beginner camera purchase thread...

    I have been painting for almost 20 years, and I have finally decided to get off my butt and put some time and money into learning how to take good photos of my miniatures. I've read several tutorials online, and downloaded the Felix Wedgewood tutorial from Miniature Mentor - but as I have never really worried about photography in the past (which is ironic, because I have been a photo retoucher for 20 years...) I am a bit over-whelmed. Obviously, getting a good camera is the place to start - and as I am learning, I would rather spend a bit more money now and get the right tool for the job, instead of getting a cheaper camera which is destined to be replaced in 6 months.

    I am leaning towards the Nikon D3100 (http://www.henrys.com/61710-NIKON-D3...-SLR-BODY.aspx) but after reading several of the camera threads here, it appears most people use Canon camera's... is there any reason to choose Canon over Nikon? or another brand?

    Also, I've read that a good 50mm f1.8 lens is where to start - I have been considering http://www.henrys.com/139-NIKON-50MM-1-8-AF-D.aspx - however, the D3100 also comes in a bundle with a DX AF-S 18-55 VR F3.5-5.6 Lens... would this lens be just as good as a 50mm prime lens?

    Lastly, in the Miniature Mentor tutorial, the photographer recommends getting a 100mm Macro lens... which are shockingly expensive (I dont mind spending $500 to get camera equipment to take decent photos... I am a bit hesitant to spend over $1000 for something that is an add-on to my hobby). I've read that Sigma makes good, affordable lens, and they have this telephoto zoom lens with a macro feature (http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/70-30...otorized-nikon)... would this be as good as a 100mm prime macro lens?

    Thanks!
    Chris

  2. #2

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    When I was looking at dSLR cameras a couple years ago my impression was that the Nikon's generally had more favorable reviews than the Canons did. I think the Canons were still very good products, it just looked to me like the Nikon was a little bit better. I ended up picking a Pentax but that was due in large part having lenses that were compatible with that one (and it also had good reviews). I think the Nikon D3100 would be an excellent choice.

    I use the starter bundle 18-55 lens for photographing my minis. While I assume the 100mm macro lens would improve my results, I find the basic 18-55 lens works very well for what I want (I use it at full zoom btw). My suggestion is to hold off on the specialized lenses for now. You can always get them later if you decide it's worth it. You can take a look at some of the more recent pictures in my WIP thread and see if the results are at the level you're looking for (as someone who does photo retouching your standards may be a lot different than mine). Everything from post #29 on was done with a 5 year old dSLR, the 18-55 lens, a homemade light box, and a couple lamps with daylight bulbs. If you like the results then get the basic lens and save yourself some $.

    Of course others with more camera experience may disagree. I do not claim to be an expert so feel free to take their advice over mine.

  3. #3

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    If you're only going to be photographing miniatures, a DSLR is much more power than you'd require. Any half decent digital camera with a macro mode will do everything you need. Well, that and a light box.

    Canon PowerShot in the "A" series (not sure about the others, you'd have to check the reviews), Nikon Coolpix, etc, they'd all take stellar pics for $100-$250 and would never need to be replaced. Assuming you'll never need to blow up and print out poster sized (or larger) images of your miniatures...even then, I think the current cameras in that price range are all in the 10-16MP range, not sure how large that can be printed but, pretty large I reckon.

  4. #4
    Newbie, please be gentle cbag71's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your replies.

    Bailey03: That is exactly what I have needed to see - a camera/lens combination and the results achieved. The quality of the shots (and painting workmanship, of course ) are excellent. Whether I go with Nikon or Canon, I'll just get the basic bundle as I am starting out. As my painting skills and photography skills advance to the point where I need something more, I can invest in a dedicated macro lens then.

    QuietiManes: I'm not 100% certain where the photography road will take me - in a few years I might want to do more than just shoot miniatures. Also, at least part of the cost of the camera is being subsidized as a Christmas gift...

  5. #5

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    Glad I could help.

    QuietManes is right, you don't need a DSLR... but that doesn't mean it isn't nice to have one. Aside from pictures of my minis, it's nice to have for vacation photos, family photos, or if you just like taking pictures. If you just want to take pictures of a couple minis, yes, you could find a cheaper way. But, if you're into photography or would like to get more into it, I don't see anything wrong with the investment.

    (I subsidized mine as a birthday gift by the way)

  6. #6

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    One other thing you should look at is the crop factor of your sensor. It may sound overly technical, but it's not bad at all (I just finished a semester of intro digital photography). 1.6 is the crop factor for most entry level DSLR's (you can look it up on the manufacturers technical details for the camera on their website). This is due to them having a smaller than full-size sensor. If you want the effect of a 50mm lens you divide that by your crop factor (50/1.6= 31.25). You would need a 31.25mm lens on a sensor with a crop factor of 1.6 to equal a 50mm lens's effect. The kit lens that comes with most beginner bundles is 17mm or 18mm to 50mm or 55mm. Mine is 17-55mm and I just rotated mine to be about 31.25mm as best I could figure it.

    Also the macro feature on the camera body is going to be more than enough. Macro lenses are for serious hobbyists or professionals. They require extra gear to be used properly (lighting and a tripod to start).


    Take care!

  7. #7

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    Any current DSLR will be more than enough camera for most people. Nikon and Canon are the biggest systems so easy to find lenses of the type you need at the price you want to pay. Crop factor is largely irrelevant - you will only get a cropper for what you want to spend. The difference between Nikon and Canon in terms of quality is so negligible it's not even worth worrying about.

    18-55 kit lenses are pretty decent these days. Nikon's 50 1.8 is excellent. Sigma 70-300 is utter shit and not a macro lens. You can buy adapters that allow you to reverse lenses effectively turning them into macro lenses. They cost next to nothing.

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