So you got fed up with your compact digital camera and its limitations. You’ve seen those breathtaking photos taken with big black cameras. You want to be regarded as a real photographer. You might even want to make some money. Only one question remains: what should you buy? How would you choose? NB: UPDATED in September 2012 with the latest facts and figures.
Do you know what you are getting?
A dSLR is something many hobbyists are secretly lusting for, but they don’t know exactly what it is, except a vague notion similar to “it’s like my compact, only better”.
If I had to describe a dSLR in one word, that would be “versatile“. A dSLR can be used for almost anything you want – from taking pictures of insects to weddings, landscapes or astronomy.
- interchangeable lens – depending on the type of photography you want, you can buy lenses optimized for that task, instead of the one-size-fit-all lens of a compact.
- optical viewfinder that goes through the lens via a mirror or prism – you can look through the camera lens for perfect framing and see much more detail than using the LCD screen.
- faster autofocus – the camera will focus much faster and with better accuracy.
- no shutter lag – there’s no delay in between pressing the shutter release button and taking the actual picture – you won’t miss that perfect moment.
- no delay in between pictures – you can shoot at least 3 frames per second (depending on the camera model it can be even 12 frames per second), perfect for action shots.
- less noise in low light – you can shoot in low light and still get usable image.
- size – you can’t fit a dSLR in your shirt pocket and if you get more than one lens, be prepared for a camera bag or even backpack.
- less beginner-friendly – compacts are designed for simplicity and instant gratification, while dSLR require some learning in order to be used effectively.
- no live view – not all cameras have a live view mode, and even those that do are not optimized for it, resulting in some compromises in terms of autofocus,optical viewfinder size and so on.
- no movie mode – not all cameras have a movie mode, and even those that do have significant limitations.
The disadvantages are getting fewer with each generation as more cameras come with usable live view and movie mode and even built-in help screens. There’s also a whole new class of “bridge” cameras with interchangeable lenses but with the rest similar to the compacts (Sony NEX 5 and 7, Panasonic Lumix, Nikon V1) but here I’ll be discussing “real” DSLR cameras.
Forget about brand
This is something guaranteed to cause controversy. When it comes to camera brands, people get religious. For some reason, people don’t argue loudly about HP vs. Dell or Audi vs. BMW, but when it comes to Canon vs. Nikon, people will defend their favorite brand to the death; if some poor soul dares to suggest another brand, like Sony or Pentax, murder ensures. I heard people saying “Nikons have the best quality“, “I trust Sony to make good electronics“, “I’m a die-hard Oly fan“, “Annie Leibovitz uses Canon“, “Pentax means value for money” and so on.
Choosing a camera based solely on brand is great if you want to show it off, but not if you intend to actually use it
There are five main dSLR manufactures (I list them alphabetically): Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and a few smaller ones of which I will only mention Sigma because of its unique Foveon sensor. I took Olympus off this list because now (autumn 2011) they are in big financial trouble.
Let get this straight: in terms of quality, all of them are great. Sony got into dSLR business by buying everything from Minolta, so all of these brands have a lot of history behind them. Each of these can list innovations, awards and achievements.
When you compare two cameras in the same range (entry-level, advanced amateur, etc.) the differences in terms of quality or features are very small. I won’t attempt to debunk any myths (there are too many of them), but all manufacturers produce cameras with great reliability.
Don’t buy a camera, invest in a system
With compacts, most people would just buy the camera and that’s it. You could buy a Panasonic now and a Fuji two years later.
Choose wisely as you’ll be stuck with it
Remember how I said that the keyword for dSLR is “versatility”? It’s quite possible that in the beginning you won’t even know what type of photography you’ll want to do. As you gain more experience, chances are you’ll want to buy more stuff for it, so the system will grow with you.
A likely scenario: At first you’ll get the camera body and the included kit lens. Then you’ll buy a telephoto lens; then a flash; then a wide-angle zoom; then a polarizing filter; another flash; a remote release; a vertical grip; a prime lens; and so on. Myself, in 8 years I got 7 lenses, 3 filters, 3 flashes and a wireless flash/remote release.
So in time you’ll most likely buy new camera bodies but will want to keep the lenses and other accessories. Because of that, you’ll be less likely to “jump ship” from one brand to the other (technically you can, but you’d be wasting money).
By ecosystem I mean everything that’s available for a brand: camera bodies, lenses, third-party lenses, accessories, stuff you find on eBay, tutorials, seminars, and more.
Canon and Nikon are competitive and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, with Sony being a strong contender
While the brand may not matter, the market share does. Why? If you want just the camera and the kit lens, market share doesn’t affect you. However, if you intend to keep investing, choosing a big brand means that you can easily find all kinds of accessories for it, whereas for a small brand, you’ll have to hunt to find what you need.
Global market share data for 2010 shows Canon at 44.5%, Nikon at 29.8%, Sony at 11.9%. If we take in account all cameras, the order becomes Canon, Sony, Nikon. Read more on Bloomerg’s Sony, Nikon Narrow Gap to Canon With New Digital Camera Models.
In terms of market share, the safest choice would be Canon or Nikon. Both companies are widely supported and have a ton of lenses and all kinds of accessories (including many from third parties) available for them. After buying the business from Konica-Minolta, Sony invested massively, taking some market share from Canon and Nikon and squeezing Pentax and Olympus into a corner. There is very high quality stuff available for Sony (does Zeiss ring any bell?), but you won’t find everything you can think of for them. Olympus is pretty much out of the picture and Pentax’ future is uncertain.
A few quick searches on eBay to illustrate my point:
Pentax lens“: 13,000 results;
Sony lens“: 28,000 results;
Nikon lens“: 45,000 results;
Canon lens“:62,000 results.
What features to look for
Get an entry level camera, save your money for quality glass (lenses)
All cameras boast lots of features; sometimes they offer the same thing under a different name.
Generally speaking, I advise you against buying a high-end camera as your first. The best camera money can buy will not automatically make beautiful pictures for you – if anything, the multitude of options will only confuse you. The forums are filled with people with Sony A900, Canon 5D Mark II or Nikon D3, all complaining that their cameras are “crap” or “broken” because they can’t get a decent picture out of them. Further, an entry level camera with a good lens will produce better images than a high-end camera with a crappy one. I cannot stress this enough: buy a camera body you can easily afford and save money for good lenses.
Megapixels. We all know bigger is better, right? Well, like all things in life, it’s not that simple. Bigger resolution is great, but the final image quality depends a lot on the sensor size. Most dSLR sensors are about 24×16 mm (APS-C size). For them, as resolution increases, noise increases too. I’d say that with the current technology, 16 Mp is the right balance. Of course, the so-called “full-frame” sensors present in high-end cameras, with a size of 36×24 mm can achieve resolutions of 24 Mp – but we’re talking about your first dSLR, right? A 12 Mp sensor can give you a 12″x16″ (approx. A3 size) picture at the highest detail and much more if you don’t need to get very close; I made a 10 feet (3m) billboard from a 6 Mp image. Higher resolutions allow you to crop large parts of the picture, but I believe you’re much better off by learning to frame effectively in the first place.
With compact cameras, you pretty much rely on the back LCD to show what you’re doing in a WYSIWYG fashion, with the optical viewfinder (if it existed at all) being nearly unusable. Until recently, dSLRs did not have a live view on LCD at all.
LCDs can be useful, but they do lead to drawbacks in design and performance; most notably, if you use Live View, the autofocus will be again slow, negating the speed advantages of SLRs over compacts. If you feel you must have it, make sure the LCD can be tilted, so you can look at it with camera over head or very close to the ground. It’d be also worth looking into the a55 and a65 SLT line from Sony, a new breed of cameras that essentially eliminate the problems associated with Live View.
Another feature adopted from compacts, some newer dSLRs have a movie mode, usually HD. Movies on dSLR is a mixed bag. On one hand, it can get you a beautiful, film-like look; on the other hand it’s severely limited in terms of autofocus and exposure, making it useful only for controlled environments with little motion. The only camera I’d use to record fast action would be Sony SLT line. Canon now offers a “hybrid AF” solution but it requires special lenses that are not widely available yet.
Shooting in low light and/or with telephoto lenses can be tricky without a tripod. Almost all dSLR cameras have some sort of stabilization. There is a trick though: Canon and Nikon provide stabilization in their lenses (“IS” lenses for Canon and “VR” lenses for Nikon), while Sony, Pentax and Olympus have the stabilization feature in camera body. The difference is very important because for Canon and Nikon you need to buy IS/VR lenses, which are quite more expensive than ‘normal’ lenses, while with the other manufacturers the stabilization will work with any lens. The effectiveness of stabilization is about the same in both philosophies (3-4 stops); the stabilized lenses have the advantage of you seeing the actual stabilized image in the optical viewfinder, while stabilized bodies enable you to use any lens for the same effect.
Some Nikons do not have an in-body autofocus lens motor. This means that although the camera itself is relatively inexpensive and small, you need to spend extra on lenses with built-in motors.
Hold it in your hand
Actually holding the camera in your hand can help you decide
Even if you plan on buying your camera online, I still recommend you to actually walk into a store and hold the camera in your hand and take a few pictures. All the features in the world don’t matter one bit if you hate the way it looks or it’s not comfortable in your hand or you find the layout of the buttons cumbersome. When I bought my first dSLR (after years of using a film one), I had my eyes on a certain camera based on reviews and pictures, but in my hand it felt cheap and uncomfortable.
Don’t bother asking the salesperson for advice on what to buy; chances are they are either clueless or biased toward a brand or will try to steer you to an expensive model.
I tried to keep this guide as unbiased as possible and provide you with information to help you make a decision, rather than make a decision for you.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NIKON D-90? WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS? AND IS THERE SIMILAR MODEL IN CANON DESIGN?
P.S. ENJOYED READING YOUR UNBIASED NOTE ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DIGITAL CAMERA.
Nikon D90 is a good camera but it’s outside of what I consider entry-level and that’s why I did not include in my recommendations.
D90 sits above D5000 in terms of features – it has a better LCD, in-camera processing, a pentaprism instead of pentamirror for a brighter viewfinder and more;
It looks like this: D60 < D5000 < D90 < D300 < D3 I don't know of an exact Canon equivalent; D90 is better than a Canon 450D but below a 40D or 50D.
I want to get the cheapest Nikon body with a built-in lens motor. The two Nikon models you listed did not have a built in lens motor. How would i go about finding this? Finally – i’m guessing that if i buy the D60 – i won’t be able to use the top range lenses at all. Is this right? I don’t want to have to buy special lenses that i won’t need some time in the future when i buy a better body.
Many thanks for your help.
Well, I’m no expert in lenses for Nikon, but I’ll be doing my best to help you.
According to DPReview, D90 supports most kind of lenses:
• DX AF Nikkor: All functions supported
• Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported (PC Micro-Nikkors do not support some functions)
• Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported.
• AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Non-CPU: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in exposure mode M, but exposure meter does not function. Electronic rangefinder can be used if lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.
As for top-lenses working with D60, you should check on a case-by-case basis – there are so many Nikon and third-party lenses out there!
I’m extremely new to DSLR’s and have only taken one class in photography (photo 101: black and white). we used an old SLR camera. i wanted to continue with taken photographs and was wondering if you can help me find the best camera for a beginner. Realistically i love taken pictures of the city and its surroundings. thank you and hope to hear from you.
Carlos, realistically, what is your budget for the camera+lens?
If you are taking a class, I assume you’re interested in learning artistic photography – am I right?
Very good article. I wanted to see D90 in this article. Anyway it seems D90 is better than D5000.
Armand, just found your site and I must say I love it. Plenty of valuable information.
I have an objection to one of your introductory statements though. People do and WILL fight over everything, not just cameras. This is human nature.
Take a look at the age-old PC vs MAC debate. And let’s not even get into cars… Just join a car discussion forum and you will find it’s the same story all over again.
Thanks for taking the time to write these nice articles and keep up the good work !
What is the lens motor used for? It is very important?
The motor is used by the AF (auto focus) mechanism of the lens.
Many Nikon lenses have a built-in motor, but not all – even pro ones – if you look at http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/lens/af/index.htm, only AF-S ones will work if the camera body doesn’t have a motor. This is even more important if you’re planning on buying third-party lenses, like from Sigma or Tamron – you need to be careful.
If you’re not planning on buying many lenses or have some very specific requirements, you’ll be perfectly safe with a D5000.
Hi Armand, thanks for your help.
Im new to digital photography, although ive done film. I see im going to have to convert . yes i was the last one on my street to get cable, a vcr , dvd, player, computer,etc. Well anyway i need to convert. The question is this. i only have about 300 bucks U. S. Yes i have a wife and kids.Hence the 300 bucks is a stretch. Please hurry with your answer you know how fast money can go . I own a nikon N80, 4 lenses.>50mm/ 17-35mm/ 35-105mm/70-105mm nothing oustanding.2 after market and 2 nikon. Would i be better to buy the older model pro d100x in prime cond or a relatively newer nikon 40 . any other suggestions would be appreciated also. General amateur photography landscape , lightning,nature .
Definitely go with the D40. I think it supports all your lenses (better double-check that if you can).
Thanks for your quick reply , much appreciated!!! what do you think about the Evolt 500 ? I know i have to start over with the lens but the 4/3 system really intrigues me with the focal range . the Evolt 500 with the 75-150mm i can get close to 300$ to start into digital, hope to move up to their 70-300mm eventually. That lens would be the equivilant to 600mm for about300bucks . And their dust sensor sounds good??? I do know ill be limited by the brand but they do seem to have alot of innovations in their camera. Naturally pic quality is foremost , how do you feel about their lens ? Oh the tortue of picking whats best!!!!
The 4/3 system sits somewhere in between the compact cameras and a “real” dslr. There’s definitely interest in compact cameras with interchangeable lenses and all major manufacturers will provide cameras in this segment.
In terms of quality however, the rule is simple – the larger the sensor, the better (it’s actually pixel density but let’s not go into details). That’s why even a 5 Mp cell phone will produce crappy photos and a 6 Mp dSLR will produce better pictures than an 8 Mp compact. Micro 4/3 uses a smaller sensor than the usual size in dSLR, which means it won’t perform as well at high ISO for example.
Personally I’d go with the Nikon as a clear upgrade. You get now an used Nikon but you keep th lenses. In an year you may buy a new lens or a flash or something else, in two years you’d get a new body and so on.
Still, do your homework. Walk into a store and try the Evolt. Try to shoot some samples from both kinds of cameras and make an informed decision based on quality, price, ergonomics and so on.
I’m taking a step up from a compact digital camera to a DSLR. I’m planning on taking pictures of landscape, portraits, and of models that I will be building. With the later, I’m guessing that I might need a macro lens, on top of whatever lens may come with the camera. The later is actually the main reason for the switch due to being unable to take decent close-up photos. I figured that I might be better off with a manual focus. The landscape and portraits portion of my plans come from a upcoming wedding that I’m attending where I’ll be able to see the Rocky Mountains. Alas, I have not taken any phototography classes, but wish to learn to take good photos in this case, probably through experience. If it matters at all, the compact digital camera I currently have is a 7.2 megapixel cybershot camera. The model number escapes me at the moment.
thanks once again for your answer,i had forgot about the 4/3rds system doing that.I guess i new along i would end up with a nikon. Now I have to choose between 11 segment or 3 segment Af metering. D40x with the extra pixels or D50 for more metering and choice of lens ??Etc. etc. etc. But most of all all id really like is to get a shot of an Eagle in flight. something I could hang and frame , you know like the fisherman with his trophy bass. Well ill keep trying. One of these days mabey ill feel that line tugging!!!
Bird in Flight – oh man, that’s a whole genre – like landscape or glamour. I mean, there are people who only do that and nothing else.
The good thing is, Nikon has a very good AF system so you can track moving things with relative ease. For this, the more focus points you have, the better. Then all you’ll need is a long, fast telephoto… too bad those tend to cost a fortune 🙂
i am currently a canon point and shoot user with 2 small children. i want to move up in the camera world so i don’t miss the action and can get more “life” in my pictures. with about a $2000 budget…. what do you recommend? i agree that i’d rather get a lower end slr body and spend the money on a lens/flash… but i don’t even know what all i need to start! i think i’d like to stick with canon, just because that’s what i’ve always had.
i didn’t know if your recs have changed since you wrote this article…
thanks in advance!
Generally speaking, I’d get a Canon 500D for around $800 and spend the rest on lenses and maybe a speedlite. I’d get a fast prime like the 50mm f/1.8 lens; such a lens should be in everyone’s camera bag – small, light and cheap (under $100), it’s well-suited for indoor candids and much more. I’d also get a tele in the 70-200mm range, it’s a good lens to have for sports and more. A mid-range flash like the Speedlite 430EX II should suit you very well.
very much interested in buying my first dlsr with focus on ‘life’ and ‘people’ photography – am at a toss between canon 1000d and sony a 330 – which would you think is better value for money now and in the long run in terms of features, upragde/lens options, accassories etc?
appreciate the advice!! thanks 😀
Hard to give an unbiased answer. I like Sony and they to make some good stuff, with excellent value for money especially in the entry-level area. However, in terms of availability of accessories, you can’t beat Canon.
So, if think photography will be your main source of income in the future, go with Canon. If not, walk into a store that has both cameras, hold each one in your hand and make a few shots, see which one you like best in terms of handling.
What would be your suggestion be for a first-time DSLR-user between the Nikon D5000 and Canon Rebel T2i? I was initially deciding between Nikon D3000 and D5000 and settled upon the 5000 as the general consensus seems to be that it is well worth the added cost.
Now I’m facing the same dilemma, however, between the D5000 and the t2i. Obviously the latter is more expensive…which I can afford, but I would rather not spend the extra money unless it makes sense to and is justified by higher-quality performance. I would be getting a standard lens kit for either, since I don’t want to spend too much money off the bat.
I would appreciate any feedback. Thx!
Canon T2I (or 550D) has a number of advantages over Nikon D5000:
– this is not that much of a big deal, the difference is smaller than you might think, this should not be a selling point
So if money is not an issue, I’d say go with the Canon T2I (550D)
Uhmm… I was thinking about the canons, the Rebel t1i.. is that good. I’ll be new with a DLSR but I’m a fast learner, I like canon for SLRs, but sony for point and shoot.. if there is a better one with a high MP and I like to have large LCD for when I am looking to see if my exposures are right.
Zaya Heap x
Hello, i am new to dslr and i cannot decide between nikon d90 and nikon d200…some help please 😀
Nikon D200 is a really old camera (2005). Unless you intend to buy it at a bottom-bargain price, go with a D90.
Hi Armand , you have documented an unbiased article . Feels good to know the depth of photographic elements . I’m planning to get Canon T2i (550d) with 18-55 EFS lens , do u think its worth , i’m aware of its pros . Could you please enlighten about its cons ??
Tom, it’s good camera and it’s virtually identical to the newer T3i (600D). After you get comfortable with it, I suggest you buy some more lenses. See my article on the subject: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
Great info here. I’m a recent photo enthusiast and have learned quite a bit in a short time. I have no plans to go pro. I enjoy taking landscape and night photography with longer exposures. This will be my first DSLR (currently only have a Canon SX10 IS). I want a quality camera that won’t break the bank yet will grow with me as I improve. A friend highly recommended the Canon 5D Mark II, but isn’t this more firepower than I’ll need as a hobbyist? Or does splurging for it make more sense if I would need to upgrade in 3-5 years anyhow? Within the Canon line, what other model would you suggest? Although, considering what I’m currently using, I guess any of Canon’s DSLRs would be a dramatic upgrade.
I appreciate any feedback/advice you may have.
Yes, any dSLR will be a dramatic change from a compact. Canon 5D is a great camera mainly used by professional photographers, especially for portrait works. The 5D Mark II was introduced in 2008 and the newer models have nicer features already (articulated LCD with more resolution).
I suggest you buy a Canon 60D for $1300 or maybe Canon 600D for $950 if you are on tighter budget. Get a wide-angle lens too!
Mr. Armand i am planning to go for my first DSRL to experience amazing quality of photo for travel and fun. Plz suggest me a best suited DSRL within a budget of Rs 30,000(INR). Plz guide me which brand and which model i should go for? Is it really a worth of going for Canon 1000D
Yes, that camera would just fit within your budget. However, I suggest you get the newer version, the Canon 1100D.
1. Your AI lenses should work on new Nikons, except maybe for some entry-level cameras. I haven’t tested myself, but they should work on a D90 for example.
2. Resell value – depending on what you got, you may get anywhere from $20 to $200 per lens…
3. $300 is very tight for a DSLR. You may try to get a used D40 for this money… it might work with your old lenses, but no guarantees.
Armand, I have two teen-aged girls who are getting into photography. One is in college and is take photography courses the other is in high school and wants DSLR. I too jumped into the hobby as a kid and bought a Nikon FM instead of a car at 16. I have the FM still and about 8 lenses from macro to zoom lenses and all are compatible with the old Nikon AI. I have 3 questions. Are any of these lenses usable with the newer DSLRs? If not, is there any resale value in this stuff, all are Nikkor lenses, that would allow me to sell them to pay for a current DSLR setup. And finally, $500 is a bit much for me to spend on a DSLR for my youngest when it very well may be a passing fad. Do you have any recommendations in the $300 price range?
Dear Armand, Thanks for your valuable suggestion. One more thing want to know as per as the photo quality is concern which brand is more trust-able between Canon and Nikon?
In my budget of Rs 30000(INR) which model should i buy for best quality photo among Canon 1000D, Nikon P500 and Nikon D3000?
As I mentioned in the article, in terms of image quality both manufacturers (as well as Sony, Pentax) can deliver great images with low noise and brilliant colors.
Hello there Armand!
I enjoyed reading this article very much but I will admit, I am still a bit confused. That is because I only had a pocket cheap camera which doesnt quite do what I want.
I admit, I dont want to spend 1000 euros for my first DSRL camera but what I would want to capture are those foggy water scenes and at the same time to frozen in time some splashes, deep backgrounds but at the same time macros…and I dont know what camera can do all I want…
Here are some examples of what I mean.
The Foggy water I would also love to have, it says it has 30 seconds shutter speed (and I would die to know how they get those lovely colors just with the camera, or is it edited?)
*Then the photography that has that infinite focus
*Then with that very fast shutter speed
*And I would also love to make a bit of macros and those lovely bokeh pictures and good portraits with everything around the subject blurred…
Please tell me if I am expecting too much.
Please help me by telling me what kind of camera should I look out for.
Thank you in advance!
Carina, nice art you have there on Deviant!
This flexibility that you want is the very appeal of DSLRs. This is why people love them and why they are prepared to spend some good money.
The first two pics you might be able to achieve with a compact. You’d need a tripod. Foggy water (and waterfalls) can be achieved with long shutter speeds, the longer the better. Colors I’m quite sure they are processed later, it doesn’t really matter, though. I always shoot RAW and I always tweak the colors in Lightroom.
On the second pic, wide angle and an aperture of f/16 should get that DOF (especially if you take the time to learn about hyperfocal distance); I love the light control, with a DSLR you can shoot RAW and adjust the shadow and highlights.
Third pic – no way you can do that with a compact! The light control is very specific, you need some external flashes to do that.
Portraits with tight DOF is a characteristic of DSLRs and good (expensive) lenses.
What kind of camera? Well, even an entry-level DSLR would be enough, but then depending on what you want to do, you’ll have to spend money on portrait lenses, flashes, macro lenses…
Read your article very carefully and the best part it was really unbiased..
I have a small query Canon 600D (t3i) or Nikon D5100, keeping in mind in India keeping in mind Canon T3i is 200$ more expensive than D5100.
Area of interest Landscape and portraits..
Hard to say. Both cameras are similar in terms of features; I’d lean a bit towards the Canon though.
Would you recommend a Nikon D3100 or a Canon EOS600D for a DSLR beginner? What pros and cons would I be looking at this devices? They both seem very good but I need to get 1 item only 😉
Canon EOS 600D (T3i) is a better (and more expensive) camera, with more resolution and a better LCD. On the other hand, the Nikon is smaller and a bit more beginner-friendly. The Nikon D3100 is also less expensive (although in the long run you’ll spend more with Nikno gear).
I’m a total newbie to dslrs…I like to take pictures of sceneries and so during holidays
Wad camera do u think is suitable for me in a max budget of 700-800 dollars?
My personal favorite in this price range would be a Sony DSLT a55, it’s a pretty fancy camera. If you prefer a more “traditional” route, go with a Nikon D3100.
Completely new to the DSLR world and currently struggling on which camera to get. The first decision i need to make is whether to go for an entry level camera and see how much i enjoy it with the view of upgrading it if i get into it, and if so which one the canon 1100 or the nikon 3100? OR spend more now and go for the canon 550 which will give me more scope to develop and learn?
In my personal opinion it’s better to learn on a somewhat more limited camera; it forces you to use it to the best of its abilities and it also lets you focus on the more important stuff. In truth, the differences between an entry-level and a mid-level dsrl are often convenience- (rather than performance-) related. You’d be better off spending the money on lenses. I’d say get a Canon T3i, add a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens and a telephoto and start having fun!
I m starting Professional course for photography. This course includes still and also model shots. I m looking SLR. i have seen and discussed wid couple of professioneries of this field and now want ur advice in buying SLR. I m looking one among Nikon D90 and D7000. In ur opnion which one of these wld be better for me and my work. kindly tell me which lense wld work wid these cameras (in addition) for portrait shots. i’ll wait for ur reply in this regard.
Between the two, definitely a D7000. As for lenses, see my other article: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
I’m writing this only to thank you for all the information you’ve given. I bought my first DSLR only recently after months of research which ended up on your page. I just remembered how your advice on holding the camera and feeling right about it had helped me while buying my DSLR. And also the resolution bit, the part about the brand.. everything. So yeah, thank you.
GREAT article. I’ve been researching dSLR cameras for about 6 months. I have a couple addiitonal questions if you don’t mind:
You mention in your article about tilted-viewfinders. This is a feature that I really like. I will mainly be shooting pics/video of some of my DJ buddies in nightclubs with poor lighting and visibility, and I like the idea of being able to hold the camera at odd angles. I’m torn between the D3100 T2i and the a55. The d3100 is the least expensive choice, but the a55 is the only camera with the tilted viewfinder.
– Is it realistic to add an after-market viewfinder to the D3100, or concentrate on the a55 with this feature built in?
– Amidst the sea of specs for all of these cameras, what should I use as a barometer for good low-light shooting ability?
Thanks in advance for your answers!!!
Personally, I am not fond of after-market solutions. Of the 3 cameras you mentioned, the D3100 is the weakest one so I’d take it out.
In terms of noise, the Sony a55 is on par with the Canon T2i. With Sony you get in-body stabilization so you can use any lens in low light and it has faster autofocus in movie mode (though I don’t have much experience on how it works in low light).
I’d say go with Sony if you want some great features and don’t mind getting some condescending remarks from some Canon/Nikon shooters or go with Canon if you prefer a “safer” (as in more conservative) choice.
Thanks for your efforts in putting this article.
After reading your article and advise from friends, i want to buy Canon, but cant decide between EOS 600D or EOS 60D. I am just moving out of point and shoot [so very much a beginner ] , and photography is more of a hobby. Although i wouldn’t mind it as a source of income if i am too creative….
I am planning to start with 18-200mm and also like to get macro lens one day as i have this crazy desire for shooting tiny things.
Can you please suggest?? Even if there are other models and my budget to start with is max $2000 (incl. of everything).
There are basically 3 differences between the two cameras:
– the 60D has a better viewfinder
– the 60D can shoot more images in a burst (5 fps as opposed to 3 fps)
– the 60D is advertised as dust and water resistant.
The price is not that different either ($840 vs. $1200), so I’d say get the 60D. If you intend to buy from Amazon.com, please use this link, so I get something out of it too 🙂 Canon EOS 60D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS UD Standard Zoom Lens
I am looking for a dSLR for sport pictures – in particular swimming, volleyball and basketball. What is your opinion between the Canon T3i, Nikon 5100 or the Sony a55? Or is there another camera in that price range you would recommend? Thank you for all of your good information.
Lauren, what you want is a very demanding kind of photography. Truly professional results are difficult in that price range. Fast autofocus, good predictive autofocus, many frames per second and high ISO performance are a must. In addition, fast telephoto lenses are required – and they are more expensive than the camera. Of the 3 cameras, I’m torn between the Nikon and the Sony. On paper, Sony a55 has the advantage (15 focus points vs. 11 points; 10 fps vs. 4 fps, built-in stabilization, however Nikon has better focus tracking for action shots. So what can I say — try both cameras in a store and choose the one you prefer in terms of ergonomics. You’ll need a 70-200 f/2.8 lens too…
Hi Armand, I’ve been struggling with the propositions u made on the DSLR for beginners. So here is my situation (although i’m aware that you get the same Q&A all the time :P) : I had my eye on a Canon 550d. Compared to the 600d, it’s cheaper with almost the same functionality. But what troubles me is the unavailability of a built-in IS; which leads me to my 2nd choice -> the Sony alpha55, which is a little bit less expensiv than 550d too.
My questions are:
1) how do you rate both DSLR? are they on the same level?
2) Which DSLR will imply a bigger cost of maintenance in terms of lenses? I mean the cost to buy new lenses or their resell values.
3) Any other advise would be a welcome
Thanks in advance!!
I’d say they’re about the same. In terms of costs, in theory, Sony lenses should be cheaper, in reality they’re not.
My suggestion: get into a store that carries a Sony a55 and play for 2 minutes with it – check the electronic viewfinder, size/weight, ergonomics. Repeat for Canon. Buy the one you liked most!
what do you think about Nikon D3100 compared to Sony a55 ou Canon 550d? Is it worth the consideration?
If money is important, the Nikon D3100 will do. In terms of features, the Sony a55 and the Canon 550D are better cameras.
Thank you for your article. It’s very useful for beginners like me. What do you think about Pentax KX? What should I buy If I have 600-800$ for the first DSLR?
It’s a pretty good camera. The only problem is finding lenses and other accessories for it, plus Petax’ future is uncertain. So if you think you’ll want to buy more lenses and accessories and then in a few years buy a new camera body and keep doing it, Pentax is a bit risky.
However, for $750, you could get a Sony A560, with a 3″ articulated, higher quality LCD, more megapixels and a more solid upgrade path.
Personally I love diversity in cameras, because diversity mean competition and competition means that we (the buyers) win.
Thank you very much. I think I will get a Sony A560 🙂
Hello, very useful article. I’m in love with the Pentax K-5 and the Nikon D7000 but go beyond my budget. So my first choice now is the Nikon D5100 that I hear it’s a good camera for DSLR beginners. But I’m exploring other options like the Canon 60d and T3i, Sony A55 and even Pentax Kr I would like your opinion on the D5100 and these alternatives. Thank you.
Greetings from Venezuela.
Luis, based on features, my top would be 1. Canon D60, 2. Sony a55, 3. Nikon D5100, 4. Pentax K-r
Hey Mr. Armad, your article is amazing. I’m new to photography, i had a point and shoot canon, and i also shoot HDR using my iphone 4. I grew a passion for photography recently. I like to do HDR, street photography, and i also like to shot videos. I did a lot of comparisons, and i’m confused between Canon 60D and Lumix GH2. The Lumix video quality looks promising, but since it’s my first dslr the canon feels more serious in terms of design, and also the LCD screen is way better, although it lacks the auto focus during recording videos, but i donno if that option will be a problem or not. Also i read about the moire and aliasing problem in the canon 60D. Can you help me to decide please?
If you’re moving from iPhone to dslr and you’re worrying about autofocus during video, you may find the Sony a55 more to your taste.
Hey Armand, Just wanted to say thanks for the article, it is very informative for us beginners! Also wanted to say, I think it’s pretty cool that you’ve been here replying to posts, helping people pick a camera for over 2 years now! You don’t come across that very much, so just thought you deserved some appreciation! Thanks again for your help!
Thank you for your incredibly helpful article and replies to comments. I’ve been googling this subject for days, and yours is the best resource I’ve found yet.
I’ve been a point and click user for years and like a lot of people I’m not taking the plunge and buying my first DSLR. My sister and I are going to do this at the same time, and we’d like to buy the same brand so that we can share lenses and other accessories eventually. We both plan on taking a class.
Primarily we will use our cameras for taking shots of kids and family. I’d also like to use it for travel and maybe some scenic photography of our family farm.
I went to my local store and liked the feel of both the Sonys and the Cannons (the Nikons were a tad too big for my small hands).
I really like the speed of the Sonys and what you said about image stabilization in the camera appealed to me. However, I think this might turn into a decent hobby for me and I worry there might be advantages to being with an established brand like Canon.
Basically, it feels like Sony would be a good camera to buy. Canon might be a good investment.
My preferences at the moment are the Sony A55, Canon T3i and possibly the Canon 60D if I decided to make a big splurge.
If anyone has any advice I’d appreciate it.
Thanks again for a great article.
For anything short of full-time professional work, the Sony will do fine. Still, Canon is the safest choice. Get the T3i as it’s a good camera and save money for good lenses. Good luck!
Hello Armand, thank you for your article it was very helpful to me, i went to the local store as you suggested to see the cameras, i liked the canon d600 and the nikon d5100, would you help me decide please? I’m mainly going to take pics of friends, kids, parties.. I’m going to carry it around insead of my point and shoot canon.
I read that nikon d5100 does not have autofocus, should that affect my decision at all? will it limit my lens options to ones with autfocus? Are they more expensive? If not, which of these two better as my first DSLR? P.S. I’m a fast learner..Thanks a lot
Nikon D5100 does not have an Autofocus motor, so you can only use lenses which have their own AF motor; which shouldn’t be a problem unless you intend to get some older lenses from eBay. I’d say you get a bit more bang for the buck by going with the Canon.
Hi, I am new to photography and I am looking for a good DSLR camera for beginners. I have Sony a55 and Canon t2i in my mind. but I am unable to decide which one to go with. I see that Canon has better resolution but Sony has lot many other features. I saw a link for comparing these two http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EOS_Rebel_T2i-vs-Sony_SLT-A55 . Can you tell me personally which one you feel is better for still photography?
If you envision a professional career in photography, Canon is a safer bet for the future. Otherwise, especially if you have prior experience with compact cameras only, I think you’ll like the a55.
well i am new to DSLRs i have been using nikon coolpix..my budget is around 30000 rupees i.e. $650 im thinking on sony a390 or sony slt a33…please suggest me one. I doubt whether sony has equivalent image quality to nikon canon please suggest…
Nikon uses sensors made by Sony. In terms of image quality they are all pretty much the same. Nikon hi-end lenses tend to be better quality and the focusing is a bit faster and better in terms of tracking, but it’s nothing you should be worried about unless you want to work for National Geographic 🙂
As for a390 vs a33, I’d say a33 but you should try both cameras in your hand. The Sony a33 uses an electronic viewfinder, which some prefer and others despise.
Hi, I am new to photography and I am looking for a good DSLR camera for beginners. I am confused with the veriety of cameras available in the market. The purpose of buying camera is landscape and potrait. please suggest me some models in canon for me.
There are plenty of suggestions at the bottom of the article and in the comments.
Such an informative article, thanks heaps. I’ve been using bridge cameras full manual control for some time, and I feel that I’m ready to make the big move. So it’s time to invest in a system. It will most likely be Sony SLT, as my dad is a long-time Konica-Minolta owner and has heaps of quality lenses that I can borrow. So the question is whether I should get A-65 or its older brother A-77, when they will be released in donw under around Nov. Both seems to be impressive cameras at least in specs-wise, but A-65 is substantially cheaper than A-77 that comes with a high quality kit lens. I appreciate if you can share your view on why or why not one should choose A-65 over A-77.
(p.s. I usually shoot macro (especially insects), urban. portraits, and increasingly HDR landscapes and panoramas)
Kuti, generally the Sony system is solid and using your dad’s lenses makes sense. However, I would wait for a month or two before getting the a65 or a77. The specs for a77 (24 Mp, 12 fps, great focus tracking) are excellent but Photoshop ACR does not support its RAW files yet, the image quality at high ISO is still in question and a few early users are reporting strange lockups. Some/most of the issues will be fixed in a firmware update but today I can’twholeheartedly recommend it.
Both cameras have sweeping panoramas mode, HDR functions and at least the A77 detachable screen would let you shoot insects at weird angles.
Just try to wait a little…
im planning on buying a nikon D3100 and i dont know what im going to focus on just yet but i think till i do im going to use it for just life and what goes on around me. your thoughts on the nikon D3100? pros? cons? im very new and would love your help.
Danny, Nikon D3100 is a good entry-level DSLR. There’s nothing really to comment, it’s a good camera to start with, especially when you don’t know what you’ll shoot most.
I am a Fine Arts student and a professor has suggested that I buy a DSLR for documenting my work, which is becoming increasingly site-specific where documentation is a must. I am far behind my coevals in the realm of photography (I just have a nikon coolpix)–What would you suggest for a beginner like me who needs to grow/gain experience, and will need to produce larger prints (16×20 and probably larger)? Megapixels?
I’ve been looking at Nikon D3100 and Canon EOS T3, are these suitable for my needs?
If you need to produce large prints, the more resolution, the better. I would not recommend Canon EOS T3 but the newer Canon EOS T3i, at 18 Mp it should be OK.
So glad I came across your article. Thank you so much for emphasizing that the lens is key because I knew it made a difference I just didn’t know how much. Anyways I have a price point of around 1,000 (with lens). I also know that I want to grow with my Camera and maybe make some money on the side. I see you lean towards Canon’s and I am leaning that way as well I just don’t know about slr enough cameras yet. I want to get the best out of my $1000. I would like to stay with Canon’s or Nikon’s. Can you suggest some Canons and Nikons that are great cameras and work within my budget. Also suggestions for Lens (I would be doing mostly portraits). Thank you soooo much!
Some I have been looking at is the Nikon d5000 or d3000 and I really don’t understand the price points of canon and which ones are better.
i want to buy an entry-level cam. my options are Canon 550D and Nikon D3100. which do you think is better for a budding photographer like me?
Between the two of them, the Canon 550D is better.
I did some more research….I am looking into the Canon 60d, Canon T2I (550d), Nikon D90,….I am so confused. I want to spend a little more the camera body (knowing that it will probably be the only one i ever buy). I also want to buy a decent lens. Again I would like to keep it around 1,000 (I found a site that sells them new for dirt cheap 🙂 ). Let me know your suggestions. Again I will be doing mostly portrait work, and photojournalism style photos.
Anxious to hear from you.
The Canon 60D is definitely better and start saving for some lenses 🙂 Lenses suitable for portraits tend to be quite expensive.
Thanks so much for your response!! With some more research and looking at many sample pictures my husband and I are now seriously considering the nikon d7000 (an upgrade) with either a 50 mm f/1.8 or 50 mm f/1.4. The 1.4 is quite a bit more expensive than the 1.8 do you think it is worth 200$ more??? I hear very good things about this nikon. Do have any experience with this camera and which lens is more suitable for indoor portraits??
The Nikon D7000 is a great camera, but it’s a semi-pro and it’s double your original budget! Nikons are like the Apple or Armani of DSLR world. They are very good but you pay a brand premium. With Nikon D7000 vs. Canon 60D you pay at least $700 more (~60% more) to get 5-10% more/better features.
Personally I’d invest that difference in good glass (lenses).
Regarding lenses, a 50mm f/1.8 is a good lens to have in your kit but for portraiture you may want an 85mm f/1.8 (both Nikon and Canon have such a lens for their own system)
Great summarization…loved your piece!!!
I have being using a Sony Cyber Shot, 12.1 MP and a Cannon digi cam for about 3 years now and have been able to get the most out of them. However I would now want to expand my horizons and am looking for DSLR for the past couple of months.
The purpose of my photography would be to capture some to the best moments life has to offer with my family (kids and pet in particular) and do some amateur level landscape and wild life work as well.
So far I have been able to short list two cameras, Canon 600D and Nikon D 5100 and shall seek your opinion in making my decision. Basis the requirement I have mentioned above would you help me with:
-Chose between the two, 600D or D 5100
-Chose the right Lens Kit, both come with their own 18-55 mm lenses and would need your suggestions
-As I’m used to the Auto mode(letting the technology do its bit ) , which Camera & Lens work best?
I’m looking to spend till about $1200 and have so far short listed two deals off Amazon; I know…too much choice isn’t always a good thing.
Looking forward to your views!!
They both seem like good deals, however I’m a bit reluctant to recommend them because all the included accessories are not that great. I’d rather buy the accessories one at a time as needed.
For family and vacation, you may want to look at Sony a55, it’s a good camera, at least try to find a store that carries it and try it in your hand. If not, the Canon 600D will be all you’ll ever need 🙂
First up…thank you for edging me in the right direction and making me steer away from all in one deals!!!
I have decided to go for Canon over both Nikon or Sony because of the availability of accessories, lenses and after sales support in India. After about a month of looking have shortlisted two lenses to begin with and then may be graduating to better lenses (a.k.a costlier lenses). I would also agree 100% to your point about Nikon vs. Canon…it is all the same with Canon being a touch less expensive
Prime: EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Zoom: EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
The predicament is with Body to chose and it boils down to either 550D or 600D. The internet is ripe with comments around how they are same or different and what makes a really compelling case for 550D is the $200 price difference with 600D 🙁
Let me know what you feel so that I can hit the payment button 🙂
The 600D doesn’t bring much in addition to the 550D (articulated screen, some “creative” effects). If $200 is important to you, get the 550D!
which is better for a beginner, nikon d90 or canon 600d? which one is easier to learn how to use, on manual etc? and easier to learn different techniques? also which one has better picure quality? unsure which one to invest in? many thanks
It’s an unfair comparison, as Nikon D90 was released in 2008 and Canon 600D was released in 2011, so you can expect the Canon to be better in almost every way – especially higher resolution and full HD video recording. Nikon D90 is more refined, has more fps, more AF points…
For a beginner, I’d say get the Canon.
Deep gratitude towards your efforts.
currently using point and shoot canon sx210
going for dslr: confused between NIKON D5100 and canon 600D
will be using for nature photography and landscapes.
also tell me about in-body autofocus lens motor, whether they have or not.
i want my camera should have image stabilization.
if you have any other camera, pl do suggest
pl suggest. very very thanks for taking time to help us simply expecting nothing.
Neither Canon nor Nikon have image-stabilized bodies; they rely on in-lens stabilization, which is more expensive. Sony and Pentax offer image stabilization in body. Pentax K5 is a wonderful camera, but you might have problems finding lenses and other accessories locally, so do a little research.
Can you please suggest me a camera between sonly slt A33 and nikon d31000 ?? this is my first dslr buy..
Depends on what you’re planning on using it for. For families and vacations and maybe some paid work here and there, go Sony. If you see yourself going semi-pro or pro, go Nikon.
I have a Pentax slr with a few lenses and am looking to get into a dslr, what would you suggest? I know the future is not certain for Pentax but since I already have the accessories I need would it be an ok option, or should I just start over with a different brand?
Considering that you already have the lenses, I say stick with Pentax. Pentax K-5 is a wonderful camera, on par with (if not better than) Nikon D7000 and Canon 7D. If you don’t have the budget for a K-5, even a K-r is pretty good.
Hello sir, i’m planning to buy my first dlsr camera but i’m confused between canon eos 1100d and nikon d5000. So please suggest me the best one.
Nikon D5000 is superior in all respects but also 30% more expensive. It’s difficult to say more unless you provide more detail. If you’re unsure, I’d say get the Canon, it’s a good entry-level camera.
hi, am comparing between 60d and d7000. which is beeter in terms of value and quality. what is the difference between 18-55 and 18-200 lens?
They are both great cameras. Canon 60D has higher resolution, but Nikon D7000 can shoot at higher fps; it’s also much more expensive. So if you want best-in-class and money is no problem, the Nikon will have a small edge. For the most bang for the buck, get the Canon.
what is diff between DX, FX and CX in NIkkor lenses?
I have a whole article dedicated to lenses.
Hey! First off Thanks for writing this very informative guide 🙂
I’m in the market for a DSLR. I mainly photgraph concerts, and I’ve stubbornly been holding on to my canon powershot sx10. But after many frustrating shoots where out of 400 photos I had 25 usable ones (editing and all) I know its time to move on. I am a bit unsure of what I would need! I think a pro camera is maybe unnecessary, but because I am publishing these photos; I am not sure going entry level is the best idea either. I’ll be dealing with low light, and fast moving subjects. What can you suggest for me? At the moment I’m thinking Canon 550 D, with the kit lens and a Tamron 17 50mm f2.8 lens. Or a Nikon D 5100 with a kit lens, also includes a Sigma 70-300 mm dg macro lens, and at some point I’d invest in more glass. Or is it suggested to go for a gently used model like a Canon 40D? Help. I want to make an informed purchase, and I’ve read just about all the literature on the subject.
Rachel, your case is more special, you need to shoot at high speed in low light. You did not specify what kind of concerts you shoot. Some band in a club is different than a stage performance with lots of motion. If it’s something on stage, you’ll probably need some zoom (how far will you be away from the stage?) and fast focusing in addition to low-light performance.
The camera brand doesn’t matter that much. Personally I am a bit biased toward Canon as I believe they have a better performance/price ratio, with Nikon being the Apple of the DSLR world: great quality at a premium price. So, I would start by picking a fast lens. 50mm may not be enough,depending or your usual distance you need to cover you can get a 85mm f/1.8 or maybe a Tamron70-200mm f/2.8. The Tamron lens is not quite as good as the Canon/Nikon equivalent, but it’s 1/3 of the price. The 85mm lens has the advantage of fast focusing (the Tamron may be a little slow, again, it depends on the find of concert).
As for camera, a Cano 5D Mark II would be the pro choice, with the best noise performance ant high ISO, but if you don’t have $2400 to spare, I’d go for a Canon 60D or Nikon D5100
Armand, thanks for your reply! Typically I’m at smaller venues, these are metal shows, so it could be a well known band at a small club. I usually have a press pass for first three songs and can be in the photo pit at the foot of the stage. From there its to the back to try and capture stolen moments 🙂 In the summer there are the larger festivals with much bigger stages.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZuAEKSwlDE think this. This venue did not have a photo pit here, I was near the front trying to get a shot.
In the other venues, there re pits; but this show was a perfect example of every brick wall I hit with the canon powershot. Fast movement, low light but with bright tungsten stage lights, and a need for zoom. Would have been a better scenario to be at the back of the club, away from the audience, but didn’t have a camera that could handle it. This is what I ended up with https://www.metalunderground.com/photo_gallery/127/Korpikaani-Helsinki-Finland/.
Composition is fine, but the actual mechanics of the shot sucked. And this is not how I want to be known as a photographer. After your reply, Im thinking the 40d (semi pro cam in my price range) or the Nikon D5100. Between these two a preference?
The Canon 40D is 4 years older than the Nikon D5100. With the Nikon you get better hi-ISO performance, video recording (which may come in handy for concerts) and higher resolution (16Mp vs. 10 Mp).
So I’d say get the Nikon D5100 and a good zoom (I don’t have first-hand experience with the Sigma 70-300mm but f/5.6 is not going to work; get something with f/2.8 constant aperture).
Wow, what great advice so far! I am *finally* taking the plunge into the DSLR world after too many years of companies discontinuing my favourite films and now being unsatisfied with what’s left on the market… it’s just not cutting it any more. I have a set of lenses for my Canon Rebel 2000 and another set of lenses for my Yashica FX-2 dinosaur. Sure, my old 35mm cameras aren’t fancy but back then the body wasn’t as important as the film and lens. I’m hoping that the old Canon lenses will be compatible with the new digital cameras.
Now I’m stuck trying to figure out why the Canon 60D is so much ‘better’ than the T3i. The digital world is very overwhelming. I don’t want all the fancy schmancy features many of these cameras come with (scene settings, 6400 ISO, video, etc.), as I mostly shoot in full manual or aperture priority. Subject matter is mainly kids, outdoors, travel, or nature (with the occasional macro.) All I am looking for is a Canon with a good sensor, simple features, and high quality. Money isn’t an object, as I’m only looking at one EF-S lens (17-55 f/2.8) to accompany the lenses I already have.
What would you suggest?
Well, with the 60D you get a bigger, brighter viewfinder, more fps, better battery life and a more solid body with environmental sealing. So it’s basically refinements rather than big features. Think of two cars with similar torque, top speed and mileage, but one of them with leather seats and DVD screens. My advice is usually get a cheaper body and use the saved money for good glass (lenses). The reason is mainly that you’ll want a new camera body in 3-4 years, but a good lens will be working fine in 15+ years.
Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for, as both cameras seem nearly identical on paper. I went to an electronics store yesterday to see the size comparison and get a feel for each camera in my hands. The T3i is closer in size and shape to my Rebel 2000 and felt more natural whereas the 60D felt too big for my fingers to wrap around. With your comments and the comfort test, I’ll be going with the T3i. Thanks again. 🙂
i am planning to get a dslr soon.i am confused between canon 1100d and nikon 3100d…
can u suggest which one would be better???
They are pretty much the same; the Nikon D3100 has a very slight edge. My advice is to go in a camera shop, try both of them and get the one you find more ergonomic.
Very good article, thank you. What do you make of Sony Alpha a35 as first dSLR? There seems to be a good deal for one with twin lens (18-55 mm + 55-200 mm) for 520 GBP. It is an SLT camera, is there any significant difference except the lack of optical view? I am also considering Sony Alpha a55, Nikon D5100 or Canon EOS 550D. Any advice would be welcome, many thanks.
The EVF (electronic viewfinder) in Sony a35 and a55 are very good, but EVF vs. OVF (optical viewfinder) is a matter of taste. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. As with other cases, you have to try it for yourself. Go to a camera shop, pick an a33/a35/a55 and try it (do some panning motion, try it in a darker area and ramp up the ISO, see how you like it). You did not say what you intend to use your camera for, so I can’t make any other recommendation.
Thanks for your reply. After having read some more comparisons now I am hesitating between Canon 500D or 550D vs Sony Alpha A35 or A55. My main focal points are landscape and city, in low light too. It seems that the older versions (500D and A35) come in better deals (with teleobjectove lens). I cannot decide whether to go for better camera body with 18-55mm lens and buy the teleobjective later on or to invest in an older version with 18-55mm + 55-200mm lens and upgrade for a better camera in a couple of years. Also, which one would you recommend, the Sony or the Canon?
If you’re doing urban and landscape stuff, you may be better off with a wide-angle lens rather than a telephoto. So I won’t be using the bundled telephoto (which is not a great lens btw) as an advantage.
The 500D is a pretty old camera, I’d take it out of the equation.
Canon vs. Sony boils down to whether or not you like the EVF – you have to try it yourself. Sony a35 vs. Sony a55 – they are both within the same price range, but the a55 has some nice advantages – fully articulated screen and built-in GPS, which will come in handy for city/landscape.
In terms of noise, up to ISO1600 the Sony is about the same as Canon, then it gets somewhat worse. I’d also suggest shooting RAW instead of JPEG and use ACR/Lightroom/Aperture/whatever to extract the most detail.
So, if you like the EVF, the articulated screen and GPS, get the Sony a55, otherwise Canon 550D.
Either way, save money for a wide-angle lens, you’ll love it.
I found your article very helpful but I still have a few questions. I am asking for a DSLR camera for christmas. I am a college student, and I will be studying abroad for a semester and I really enjoy photography. I have been very interested in owning my own DSLR for some time now. I just don’t know which one is best. What would you recommend for me? I don’t want to break the bank for my parents but they expect to spend under 700$ I suppose. What would you recommend is the best camera for the money that will give me the best shots? I was leaning toward the nikon D3100, or the cannon rebel t3 but I feel that the t3 might be not as good of quality as the nikon. I would ultimately I think prefer the cannon rebel t3i but its so expensive. What do you think? What would you do?
Canon vs. Nikon is like Coca Cola vs. Pepsi, only worse. Heaven forbid you get between a group on fanboys. In terms of “giving the best shots” either brand will do that.
Anyway with a $700 budget, you can get a Canon T2i (550D) for $685 from Amazon. The advantages over the Nikon D3100 would be a better LCD (articulated and with higher resolution) and more megapixels (18Mp vs. 14Mp). A Nikon D3100 is $550. It really depends on how much money are you willing to spend. If you have the budget ready, go for the Canon. However, if the $135 difference is important to you, get the Nikon with no regrets.
Re-reading your comment, as a student studying abroad, $135 will come in handy sooner than you think 🙂 My advice is for the Nikon D3100.
Rather useful advice, much appreciated. I’ll go for the 550D with 18-135mm IS lens and ask for wide-angle lens for my birthday 🙂 I look forward to further interesting articles.
First of all, thank you for such a great article and all the answers you’ve already given. I hope you don’t mind giving yet more advice.
I currently use a bridge camera (finepix s9600) which is getting a bit frustrating (full manual doesn’t give me the same range of settings as the camera uses itself in auto mode!) so I’m looking at moving to a DSLR.
I take a fair range of pictures. I like to do a lot of landscape and macros but I also do quite a bit of photography for Guiding UK which can be just about anything (campfire shots, events in low-lit halls and theatres, kids mountain-biking / abseiling / grass-sledging. You name it, they do it and mostly in crappy lighting conditions or at speed – or both!) Ideally those should be good enough to use in publicity materials, from website thumnails to big posters. Like anyone else, I take family and holiday shots as well, and since I recently had a baby I’d like to be able to make those better in future.
I know it might be more difficult initially to go straight to a mid-level DSLR, but the camera body will ideally be a one-off purchase, with any future money going on lenses, so I think it could be worth the pain in the long-run.
Can you make any recommendations that cover that lot?
Oh, I don’t always have the steadiest hands (but I do have a good tripod) and also I’m right-handed but left-eyed if that makes a difference. And before the finepix I had a canon PowerShot S1 IS and I did love the articulated screen on it but not sure that an articulated screen alone would be reason to choose one camera over another.
I need help!
Tough. Based on what you’re saying, a mid-range / semi-pro DSLR, ideally with in-body stabilization and high-ISO performance would be best. A Pentax K-5 might be nice for you. Right now it’s $1350 (see the link) on Amazon.com. It’s a very versatile camera with in-body stabilization (so any lens will be stabilized) and good high-ISO performance. The LCD is fixed though. My only concern is in finding more lenses and other accessories for it. Pentax doesn’t have the marketshare of Canon/Nikon.
Alternatively, consider a Canon 60D, $1200 at Amazon. They have the biggest marketshare so you can find lots of new and used lenses and upgrade paths in the future.
Thank you for that, I really appreciate it. I’ll take every opportunity to play with both in camera shops. I like the idea of in-body stabilisation, I imagine that could save me a lot on lenses in the long run.
Hi Armand, Your guide is very unbiased and shed some lights. Thank you for the great write-up. I am struggling between Sony SLT-A55, Canon EOS 600D and Nikon D5100. My use in photography is shooting family, outdoor trips with family, my newborn baby. I will also be shooting videos at times. Apart from that depends on how fast I am learning DSLR photography, I will start shooting landscapes, portraits, etc. Oh and this is gonna be my first DSLR. I spent lot of time in snapsort and dpreview. I have almost finalized Sony SLT-A55, but it doesn’t have that 24p and the availability of lenses. Canon EOS 600D doesn’t have inbody Image stabilizer. Nikon looks great but the lenses [am planning to buy them later] costs a premium, doesn’t have stereo sound recording option, no Image stabilizer, etc. I am really confused. I have seen and held the mentioned cameras in hand and as this is my first DSLR, I felt comfortable with all the 3 cameras. Please suggest me one.
Saleem, I am not a dedicated videographer, but why would you require 24p mode? Granted, it would give you 20% (or less) more recording time than 30p since fewer frames will be recorded, but other than that? I mean, your video will end up on TV/DVD anyway, not in cinemas. For consumer stuff, 24p is little more than a gimmick in my opinion. I mean, Peter Jackson is shooting The Hobbit at 48 fps.
So unless you need 24p for a very specific reason, you shouldn’t rule out Sony a55 for something as trivial. If you like it, go for it!
Thanks for the suggestion, Armand. Apart from the video mode, which will be your suggestion? Sony SLT-A55 or Canon EOS 600D? Gonna make the purchase today 🙂
If you’re not planning a professional career and if you don’t need exotic accessories and lenses, the Sony will get the job done nicely. It has 2 advantages over Canon: in-body stabilization and the ability to shoot at 10fps (which may be fun/useful when photographing kids running around). On the other hand for Canon you’ll find more accessories and lenses. I’d lean toward the Sony, but the final decision is yours.
Thank you for the in-depth article: most useful! I think the Canon Rebel T3 will meet my needs. However, the only thing about it that worries me is that it doesn’t have a sensor cleaning function like the T3i. Also, in reading about Canon’s EF-S 55-250mm lens, one reviewer writes that the lens is “known as the “dust-sucker” because the zoom mechanism isn’t sealed and it sucks dust into the internal parts of the lens.”
With these concerns in mind, how difficult is it to keep dust out of the camera body and lenses? Is it worth the substantial extra cost to purchase the T3i just for the sensor cleaning function? And do you have any tips that will help a beginner to keep her lenses and camera clean?
Thanks in advance!
My first dSRL din not have a sensor cleaning function either. I took that camera to vacations and I cleaned it every 6 months or so. It’s difficult to assess your situation though, it depends on the environment you live in. People who go on safari have major dust problems, even with sealing.
T3i (600D) also has a higher resolution over the T3 (1100D), a better LCD and a few other niceties. Overall, if you can afford the T3i, it would be a better investment. Regarding cleaning sensors, there are websites selling various products and specialized shops. If you live in a big city, I’m sure there’s at least one place where they clean sensors.
Hello! So I’m new to the DSLR world, but I’ve had an advanced point-and-shoot for a while that I’ve gotten a lot of use out of. I’m ready to purchase a DSLR (or ask for one as a gift) and I think I will go for a Canon, because I feel like it will have more options for me if I want to become even more advanced and I trust that the reason more people buy Canon is because it is generally better overall quality. I was thinking about a budget around $500 or so and the T3 fit there, so I figured it would be my best bet. But I saw that the T2i is going for about $600 on Amazon and I’m considering spending a little more if it is worth it. I enjoy landscape photography a lot, but I generally do some of everything. I do travel a fair amount also. How do these two compare? Money is important and I’d prefer getting the best price I can. But would the T2i truly be a better investment? And also, I don’t plan on buying extra lenses too soon, but I’d appreciate an explanation on the different types because eventually I’ll probably get into that area. I’m confused about the numbers of the lenses and such.
The T2i is worth the extra $100. It has higher resolution, it has a better LCD and has other minor features. At $600 is a good deal.
If you decide to buy from Amazon, it would be really helpful if you do so by clicking on this direct link to Amazon: Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18 MP CMOS APS-C Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens – this way I get a small comission for writing all this 🙂
As for lenses, I have a separate article that explains everything you need to know: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
Thank you Armand for all the information you have posted. The information is very helpful and professional. I had narrowed my decision to a Canon EOS Rebel T3i w/EF-S Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens; however, I have taken note of the Sony A33 & A55. I found the Canon setup new for $799.00, which I think is a great price.
When I was in college, I bought a 35mm Minolta Maxxum 300si w/AF 65-70 Minolta lens. I later purchased a Sigma 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 DL Macro lens and a Minolta Program 2000xi flash. It’s been a paper weight since the digital camera was introduced. I can’t decide whether to go with a brand new system or try to recycle the lenses and the flash on a new A55 or A33 body. What would you do? Is the hot shoe compatible? Thanks again, for your great work.
The hot shoe is compatible but although the Sony a55 is a solid camera, the old Minolta stuff you have is really obsolete so you shouldn’t count on it.
hi it its nice to read the article on how to buy an entry level dslr. how do you think about canon t3(1100d) ? i read that it doesnt have built in motor but in most article i googled said it have built in motor. and what do you think about image quality as an entry level dslr? i just bought it and just confused with it
It does have a motor – it’s some of the Nikons that don’t.
Canon T3 is THE entry-level dSLR. It has just the basic stuff that’s needed. In a way, it’s a good thing because it forces you to learn the basics and how to use them effectively. You can obtain great results with it, but if you’re serious about photography you’ll probably outgrow it in a couple of years and you’ll get a mid-range dSLR.
so for learning basics of photography which is better for improving skills? canon T3 or nikon d3100?
Toss a coin 🙂
I’d say get the Canon T3. Save money for lenses. Buy a new Canon in 2 years.
Hello Armand. It was great to read your highly informative article.
I have worked with the Canon EOS 500D and NIKON D3100 for a few months(they belonged to my cousin and friend resp.)
Now that I’m going to buy a dslr for myself, I wanted your opinion. Since i do have the basic starter knowledge of using dslrs and their functioning, I was planning on skipping the entry level models and goin for a step higher one.
Here are the 4 main models I’m considering- Canon 600D, 60D. Nikon D5100, D7000.
Could you suggest which one should I go for? Or if you would recommend any other?
Just so you know, I’m more into nature photography, including macros, landscapes and creatures(need good fps).
Thanks. Appreciate your help.
You say “creatures” is an interest… well, why kind of creatures? Birds in flight require a different kind of gear than snails 🙂
Anyway, Nikon D7000 is definitely the most advanced. I’d say it’s a semi-pro camera. I would recommend it if you do lots of sports, nature or birds – areas where you need to track the subject a lot.
However, if you do a lot of macro and landscape, Canon 60D gives you a bit better resolution and an articulated screen, which come in handy for macro.
Bottom line: get the Nikon D7000 if you have the money and you’ll be photographing a lot of fast action; Canon 60D otherwise.
Hi Armand….your article is very good. i am new in photographing….i learn quick and i will go for a dslr but the problem is that there are to many stuf out there…i like nature and landscape and i travel a lot . my budget is around 700 euros…can you tell me 2 or 3 models for me…thank’s in advance…and sorry for my english!!xaxaaa
Kostas, try a Canon T3i (600D) or a Sony a65. Start saving money for lenses. For landscape you’ll need an UWA (ultra wide angle) lens and for travelling probably a “super-zoom” in the range 18-270mm (see https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/ to learn more about lenses)
Dear Armand, I wish to buy a camera just for taking pictures for travelling which can do more than ordinary digital camera. But I am not planning to buy a DSLR with lenses because it need a lot of money. I saw my cousin using Canon G11 2 years before which it took pictures with nice colour and it have more funtions than normal digital camera. And I think it do not need any lenses as well. I wish to buy a camera but there are too many camersa out there which really confuse me. I hope you can help me by giving me some suggestion about the camera I wish to buy.
My requirements as below:
-Wide angle without extra lense.
-Prefer easy to use and not too complicated.
-Budget below £350.
Is it the Canon G11 still the best choice for this type of camera although it is nearly 2 years ago? What are the differences between G11 and G12. Is it any others choices from different brand with similiar specifications?
Really hope to hear from you. Thank you very much.
Crystal, sorry, I am not familiar with the latest compact cameras. G12 seems like a nice camera, but I can’t comment anything more. The dSLR market is big enough as it is and I can’t keep up with everything.
i’m joane. 20 years old…still a student….i love taking pictures. I have a Canon IXUS 115 HS for a camera. I use it when i travel because it’s lite. But i’m planning to buy a DSLR camera. I love to take “up close” shots but also love to take landscape shots. But most of all, i’m looking for a DSLR camera where i can use in taking shots during a photoshoot “with models and etc.” like in a studio… i’m looking for a light camera so can bring it with me anywhere…
i hope you could suggest some….
there is no such camera that’s great for landscape, perfect for studio, light and affordable 🙂
Anyway, I suggest you get a Canon T3i with 18-135mm lens from Amazon. It’s a pretty versatile camera, relatively affordable and the lens is good to get you started with portraiture.
hi armand it’s me again…i went to a store to see for the canonT3i 600D and the sony a65 and they both feel fantastic especially the 600d has very good video rec……but in the store i saw the nikon D3100 and since i am new i think of try the nikon(it’s half the money!) and spent the extra money to good lense…is the nikon D3100 value for money…what’s your opinion?? thank’s once again!!!
In terms of specs, Nikon D3100 is below Canon 600D – it’s basically Nikon’s entry level dSLR, but it will work fine for landscapes. So yeah, Nikon D3100 + an UWA might be good.
Just be aware that Nikon lenses are very expensive (they’re good but very expensive).
A Nikon 10-24mm lens is $900, whereas a Simga 10-20mm is half of that, at $470. Tamron has a similar lens.
thank you very much for this article. foremost, it helped me tremendously in narrowing down the model type as well as giving me a broad perspective into the world of dslr.
i’m very much a starter and have no idea what photography is all about. but i would like to take pictures that are able to give me more than what my current compact does. hence, my adventure into this realm. therefore, it’s gonna either be the nikon d3100 or the canon 1100d. i believe after studying both features, they are about the same (to an amateur like me that is). i’m sure there are vast difference in their specs, but what would i know right?
anyway, my question is, if i’m just using it as a hobby, taking it around for trips, taking shots of food i like and mainly everyday life…what’s your recommendation on either beauty? would it be the canon or nikon that fits my requirement?
thanks heaps for taking time to read and response.
Yes, your choices are sensible especially since you don’t know yet what your focus will be. Anyway, generally speaking, in the mid-range and top models, the Nikons have a slight quality advantage and higher prices. For most people these differences are too small to matter and there are top photographers using either brands.
I would say get the Canon 1100D because if you’ll upgrade the body later or get some extra lenses, you’ll get somewhat better prices.
thank you very much for this article. It helped me tremendously in narrowing down the model type as well as giving me a broad perspective into the world of dslr.
am a begginner and a student..and i wont be able to change my camera once i buy it for another atleast 3yrs(if the need arises so, which i ll probably like to avoid )
i need a camera which can be used in all terrains and weathers..in short which is an all-rounder..light on the wallet too..
plz suggest me which to buy and why with possible all details between nikon 3100 vs canon 1100D vs Canon 600d…i know a lot of ppl hav asked the same question and u hav answered them as well ..but cud u take some time out and come out with the best possible answer in order to convince me to buy which one which ll be highly appreciated…somethin and cheap on price but best also in all technical terms and wer i wudnt be asked to keep on buyin new lenses now n then..(tell me a lense which can be used for wide angle and loong zooming purposes also)..i hop u understand wat my requirements are..sorry for the trouble..plz do help me in this..
Canon 600D if you can afford it; 1100D otherwise. Please note that entry-level cameras are not weather-proof. Rugged cameras that care dust/water-proof (weather-sealed) are more expensive.
sir, wud u plz explain why 1100D and not 3100nikon ??
and plz do mention abt the lenses which i cud use for almost all purposes?? plz
Because it’s less expensive, both the body and any additional lenses. I thought it would suit you better as a student.
As for lenses, I have a full article about them: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
My daughter is entering high school next year. She is very passionate about photography and video. She will be taking photography courses. I would like to purchase a dslr for her. The only class requirements for her camera are that it has auto and manual focus as well as the ability to change lenses. I predict that her passion for photography will only grow so I would like a camera that can grow with her through high school. Is there a good quality camera/kit for under $1000.00 that she can start out with?
I would say get an entry-level dSLR – no bells and whistles. Canon 1100D or Nikon D3100. I’d say get the Canon, it’s just $450 on Amazon. The rest of the money to $1000 keep separate. If you see that she really develops passion and talent for photography, you can buy her a nice lens later.
Hi and thanks for the great website!
I am a total newbie when it comes to DSLR, but i’m fed up with my low-quality compact so I decided to go one step further:). I am mainly interested in low light/nights shots (i am craving to have a flash strong enough to capture the background as well..), landscapes but also motion photos. And maybe also portraits and macros, but that’s less important. ALso, i’d like to be able to record decent videos (don’t have to be the absolute highest quality) and not to spend a fortune on accesories in the future:).
I have a buidget of 400-450 eur, what would you suggest? I’ve seen that these sony NEX hybrid DSLR’s are qutie cheap – but are they any good for what I want? or should i just stick to one of the suggestions you’d made?
Thanks for your time!!
yes, the Sony NEX 5N is a pretty good camera. It uses the same sensor found in their new dSLRs, has good hi-ISO performance (a lot better than Nikon’s V1 hybrid). The problem is it’s above your budget even without any lens, and the lens selection is limited.
A Canon 600D would be a nice ‘real’ dSLR but a little overbudget. If you want to stay within your budget, Nokon d3100 is a nice entry-level camera.
Thanks! Well, it seems that they are below 4000 with lenses included..anyway, here’s the list: https://www.elgiganten.se/catalog/foto-video/se_systemkamera/systemkamera
, just to understand exactly the models I’m talking about. Seems that the hybrid ones are also smaller, which is an advantage for me, butif the lens choice is extremely limited i’d rather go for others. Which ones from those models (taking also into account the lens coming with it) would you recommend? Sorry for being so annoying, but i’m sure the guys in the store have no clue abt it:D
This would be nice: https://www.elgiganten.se/product/foto-video/systemkamera/D31001855KTVR/nikon-d3100-18-55mm-vr-objektiv
4500 SEK is 497 EUR.
There is another Nikon D3100 that comes with a non-stabilized lens (doesn’t have the ‘VR’ designation), that one is about 250 SEK cheaper but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I am just got interested in Photography but the sad thing is i have only Mobile with camera, But i took lots of Photos with my mobile please take a look in to my webpage https://www.vigneshphotography.co.in , All my friends are advising me to buy a DSLR so that i wont waste my skills in Mobile , would you please recommend me a Camera where i can Start with. By the way recommend me a cheap and best camera body but it has to be well and good to improve my system in future , I am really looking forward for your advice .
(P.S dont forget to view my website and give some advice )
Very nice pics. Indeed, they don’t look like they were taken with a mobile. Well done.
What camera you should buy depends on what money you have.
I’s say start with a Canon 1100D, it’ll help you get to the next level. Good luck!
Thanks Armand ,
Yeah My Budget is Nearly to Canon EOS 1100D , thanks for viewing My Website , this really makes to Concentrate more on My Photography, and When i Buy a Camera Definitely You will be the First person That imna Intimate < Thanks Once again
Hi Armand 🙂
I’m looking to invest in a DSLR although in the past i have only used digital compacts i am a v.v.budding photographer and looking to develop it more throughly as a hobby & learn lots!
However i don’t know what camera to get. I would like to use it to take stunning photo’s and to learn and grow with in the future mainly using it when travelling and for scenic shots or in contrast to this i’d like to be able to use it for family and friends parties and social events too!
I have read many of the forums and posts and I’m quite set on getting a Canon but i would be very grateful if you could suggest a few that you think would be most appropriate for me too research
So you wanna take over the world! I get it.
You should be aware that learning photography to take “stunning photos” takes years of practice and your camera is not as important as your skills.
Having said that, both Canon and Nikon have cameras for up to the very top.
Canon T3i with 18-135mm lens is a very capable camera.
thank you for your feedback Armand.
I am aware that my current lack of skills won’t automatically produce great results, but im joining my universitys photographic society so that i can learn along with others and hopefully progress in the future.
I’m looking at the Canon 550D or 1100D, would these be good starting points? Also i see many of them come with 18-55m lenses, will this be adequate to begin with as i get to grips with the basics of my camera?
Many thanks 🙂
If you have the money for a 550D, it better than a 1100D, I’d say is excellent for starting serious photography. The lens the cameras come with, usually called “kit lens”, is adequate (like you said) to get the grip of the basics. Wait a few months before buying any additional lenses, in 6 months you’ll have a better idea of what you need.
Great article. Thanks! I’m interested in investing in a camera that I can grow into. I was considering the Nikon D5100 because of the image quality but feel like I may be shutting myself off to other great features. I’m interested in street photography, portraits and family photography. Any recommendations?
It’s a good mid-range camera, nothing wrong with it. It’s perfectly capable of photojournalism, portraits and so on – just learn about the lenses.
I need some help. I have been looking at the canon 60D, Nikon D5100 and the Sony a55. I like the 60D but it maybe to big for the person I am giving it to as a Christmas present. Sony a55 has some great pros like the 10 fps, image stabilization in body, in camera HDR, in camera panorama’s which is pretty neat how it works. I could go on and on about this camera but I am worried about the phrase “what you see when looking thru the viewfinder on the a55 is just another lcd screen so you cant see what your actually pointing at”. Does this take away from the actual quality and detail of the pictures? Basically I understand that the peep hole you look thru works on mirrors with a true DSLR like the 60D, but with the a55 its an translucent mirrior. Does this take away from the ending picture result? The reason I ask is my G.F. whom Im buying this for is just a hobby photographer, but giving the correct DSLR would either grow to an advanced amateur or become a professional maybe. She has taken pictures for family and friends weddings, parties, fundraising events for work. She basically carries her Coolpix L120 or whatever the # of it is everywhere we go. So I dont mind buying the correct camera for someone that will grow to maybe taking pro like pics. Thats not to say that I havent read your entire article up there and everyone else’s questions, so I know she will have to learn how to crawl before she can run with this thing. But I want the camera I buy to be able to be used in the future and not just a REBEL T3 and then its time to buy a better one two years down the road. I am getting her private lessons as well so it can be a moderately user unfriendly if you will. Kinda of like the 60D has so many manual sttings that I have learned aobut in the past couple months she may never grow out of that camera if its the one I buy. But for a camera such as the a55 which has the same settings you just have to go to a certain setting on the dial to get into them, can take 10 fps is awesome for 799$. Just wanting to get a pro’s opionion and not a pro at the store that Im buying it from who probably could care less as long as I buy it. Now I do understand that ultimatley she will have to make the decision on does it feel good in her hands but thats a big reason Im so interested in the a55 too, its very small compared to the others. The good thing is she will have a couple days to play with it then I will take her up to the store to see if she wants another choice givin she doesnt like the one I choose.
Canon 60D is a different level compared to Nikon D5100 and Sony a55, so it’s a hands-down win.
Now, instead of Sony a55, I’d consider the new Sony a65, which is the best camera in its class.
So, Canon 60D vs. Nikon D5100 – Canon 60D wins.
Canon 60D vs. Sony a65 – it becomes difficult to judge because I don’t have a crystal ball.
Sony a65 is a great camera but I would hesitate recommending it for someone looking for a full time professional photographic career.
So if she wants to become a pro, as in having photography as the main source of income, Canon 60D is the way to go.
For hobby up to semi-pro work (occasional paid jobs), I think Sony could handle it and if you get her to the store I’m pretty sure she’ll prefer the Sony look and feel.
I WANT TO BUY MY 1ST DSLR. I HAVE TRIED A SUPERZOOM – NIKON L20.
THE PICTURES ARE VERY GOOD, BUT THE FACES ARE BLURRED MOST OF TIME.
WOULD DSLR SOLVE THAT PROBLEM.I WILL USE MOSTLY FOR SCHOOL FUNCTIONS &
OUTDOOR. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF PENTAX K-X WITH 18-200 MM SIGMA LENS.
IS IT A GOOD VERSATILE LENS ?
I WOULD APPPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS.
Pentax K-x is a good camera, albeit a little dated. Pentax K-r is newer. You may also want to look into Sony a65, it’s a fantastic camera in its category, although I think it’s more expensive.
I’m not a big fan of super-zooms like the 18-200mm, but it’s a decent travel lens.
Thank you very much Armand.
What canon DLSR equipment do you reccomend for a indoor “rodeo” arena enviroment. I am trying to get good pictures of my children showing their show pigs for FFA. The lighting is horrible in the arena’s, my point and shoot canon does have some manual settings, but it isn’t cutting it! Another mom has a Xti, but I’m not liking the photo’s she has either, I don’t know if it’s a user error, or maybe a lens problem.
Ouch! Now that’s a demanding environment. Simply put, you need (near) professional-grade camera and lenses.
The least expensive setup I can think of is this:
– Sony a55 = $800
– Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 lens = $800
– (getting good photos of your kids = priceless) 🙂
Seriously, that would be the bare minimum. Professionals use $10K+ equipment for that.
Sony a55 is a nice camera that uses an electronic viewfinder or LCD at all times unlike traditional dSLRs and has the ability to shoot at up to 10 frames per second, which is great for fast action. You can push the ISO to 1600 and still get usable pics. The Tamron is a telephoto lens that you’ll need to photograph from a distance and its maximum f/2.8 aperture will help greatly in low light. Its autofocus speed is not great in low light though so I can’t tell for sure how it’ll perform in your exact situation.
Now please be aware that this setup is also pretty heavy! From a compact, it will seem like a monster to you, although professional sports shooters will find it small and light 🙂 There’s also a learning curve involved.
Anyway, try before you buy if you can, or have a plan to return it if the camera+lens still does not perform satisfactory in that lighting conditions.
which is the entry level good dslr nikon d5100 or canon 600d.
They are not quite entry-level. True entry-level cameras are Nikon D3100 and Canon 1100D.
Personally, I’d go for Canon 600D but it’s a matter of taste.
I really appreciate your site and all the comments and information you have provided. I’ve decided to go with a Canon over Nikon based on the pricing and I was hoping you could explain to me the difference between the Canon Rebel T3i and the 60D. I’ve been able to find a few differences in the focusing and that the 60D has M-RAW and S-RAW resolutions available. It also has a 1/8000 shutter speed vs the 1/4000. I’d like something a little better than entry-level, and don’t want to have to buy a new camera in 2 years. At some point I’d like to do more than just hobby pictures, and was hoping that one of these cameras would fit the bill. If not, could you suggest one that might? My focus is mainly on landscape, nature, and urban environments, as well as some macro. Not a lot of portraits though.
Thanks for anything you can give me!
Basically, that’s it, as well as slightly better build quality in 60D and some small things. A canon 60D will serve you well for the type of photography you want, but you will have to invest in some good lenses.
Would the Olympus E-pl1 image quality compete with that of an amateur’s dslr – a Canon 1100d for example?
I want something that will take very high quality photos but am put off by the cumbersome nature of slrs, and there seems to be little difference other than price between the epl1 and later pen models.
Is the difference in quality/control worth sacrificing for the improved portability?
My subjects are general – mainly people and scenery, looking to step up to a decent camera.
Thank you so much, Happy Christmas
Olympus uses the Micro 4/3 format, which is smaller than the sensor used by dSLRs; this means that even an entry-level dSLR will produce a higher-quality image.
If you’re unsure about a dSLR, then most probably you shouldn’t buy one.
Olympus is in deep trouble – fraud at the CEO-level, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they go titsup so to say.
Instead, if you’re looking at dSLR quality in a smaller camera, have a look at Sony NEX 5. Same sensor as dSLR, touch screen, interchangeable lenses, compact body.
I am a beginner in the field of photography, but at the same time very passionate about it. I was planning to buy my first DSLR, so could you suggest me any good model and the lens for the same???
For the time being, i am not actually focussed to any particular section of photography, but my current first motive behind it being to capture my vacation trips. LANDSCAPES and NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY has always been the most influential topic for almost everyone and even i am not an exception to it. My budget is limited to 600 euros maximum. Waiting for your reply……
Try a Canon 600D with the kit lens. It should be just fine to get you started and fits your budget.
Thanks so much for sharing your expertise – one of the best resources I’ve found on this subject. I would like to ask a few specific questions regarding my own impending first DSLR purchase.
I produce small, independent theater in New York City as a passion/second career and need a better camera for shooting when the pro isn’t around — rehearsals, workshops, staged readings, etc. Shots of the entire creative process are very important nowadays for social web marketing etc. and the point-and-shoot just isn’t cutting it.
In addition, my wife and I enjoy nature/eco-tourism and she is becoming a passionate wildlife photographer. Her subjects vary widely, from insects on flowers to larger, more distant subjects. Her instincts are remarkably good and she’s definitely bumping up against the limits of what she can do with a point-and-shoot.
I like the Canon T2i a.k.a 550D as a body choice, but I am unsure of what to start with for lenses – we don’t need everything right away, but I do want to get enough to get us going. There are a lot of offers right now to get the T2i with both the 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 IS and EF-S 55-250mm/f4.0-5.6 IS kit lenses at a very low price. I’ve read a lot of lens reviews, and the 18-55mm seems to get passable marks from most as kit lenses go. Besides, they nearly give this lens to you when you buy the body so there’s not much point in turning it down. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll want something higher quality for my indoor, often low-light theater situations, but this should at least get me started.
My wife’s wildlife photography definitely calls for a telephoto zoom, but the reviews I have read of the 55-250mm lens aren’t as strong. Low price is always nice, but I don’t want to put $170 into a lens that we’re just going to ditch for a better one in short order; I’d rather put off other discretionary purchases and spend more on something that we’ll be able to use for a while. The most obvious options from Canon would seem to be the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM or possibly the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, both of which stretch the budget a bit but are doable.
Or, I suppose we could get the camera with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens instead; there is something to be said for having a single, lightweight “go anywhere” lens for casual shooting. Then we could buy a better quality, longer range telephoto zoom before our next big trip, once we’re more familiar with the camera. And I’m sure there are options from Sigma or Tacron or other lens manufacturers which I haven’t read up on yet.
Sorry to be so long-winded… I’ve done a fair amount of research but it’s a lot of new information to assimilate — thanks in advance for any insight you can offer!
your plan is very sensible.
basically you need a camera that’s good in low light to capture the stage performance and some fast telephoto lenses.
First, get the 600D, which is a bit newer and the price difference is very small.
As for lenses, you can spend a small fortune on them. I’d say start with the 18-135 kit lens. It’s not stellar but it’s stabilized and should get you started. Also buy an inexpensive Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, it’s a must-have for low-light and general photography.
The best telephoto lens you can buy without mortgaging your house is Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L. At $2000 it’s not cheap, but it’s the kind of lens you’ll use 10-15 years from now. An alternative would be Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 for $700; its image quality is very good but has slow AF and doesn’t have image stabilization. Finally, there’s the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 at $1400 with stabilization and faster AF but lower image quality…
Thanks for the information, Armand. Very useful. I’ll get the 18-135 kit lens to start. The 50mm prime lens looks perfect for most of my production shooting needs and certainly won’t break the bank. As for the telephoto, I’ll have to see what we can afford… $2000 is a lot to pay for a piece of hobby equipment, but then again it’s worth it if it will give us quality photos for 10+ years. Since our next big nature trip isn’t until August, I’ll save my pennies for now and keep my eye out for a good deal — I suppose I might even be able to find a quality used or refurbished one if I’m patient.
Like a lot of people here, I would like to take the next step to taking great pictures with a dslr but, like you say, your skill is more important than the camera itself. So, once we have a decent dlsr in hand, what is the next step? Would you recommend taking a class? Is there a good online resource? Book we should read? Thank you in advance.
Taking a class is a good way to get up to speed faster, but ultimately you still need to read and practice a lot.
You can learn the basics of photography (controlling exposure, basic framing) over a weekend or a week at most. The rest is years of practice. Portrait lighting is more complicated, but ultimately it still boils down to practice, practice…
Your next article should be “So, you bought your first DSLR… now what?”
It would be cool to see you highlight some good online resources, books, and newbie practice techniques. Cheers!
Hai Armand! Thanks for this good article. I’m now planning to get may own dslr. But I quit confuse to choose between D5100 and eos600d. Can you suggest me one of this two model? I dont know much on dslr.
And I found on internet that d5100 doesnt have built in motor and eos600 have it. Is it important to get a built in motor dslr?
Another one, i found that autofocus on eos600d is much slower than d5100. Is this a really big difference?
Thank you very much. I hope to get your best answer 😀
As I mentioned before Nikon D5100 and Canon 600D are within the same features/price segment. The differences are only in details. Nikon offers small refinements but also has a higher price.
As for the AF motor, having it helps if you’re planning on using old lenses bought from eBay. For new lenses it’s not that important, you need to look for Nikon lenses that have the AF-I or AF-S designation.
Finally, the AF speed, it’s more than adequate in 600D.
Hi, Armand! Happy New Year, and thanks for the great info. I am frustrated with the lack of speed of my compact cameras and am ready to graduate to an slr. My main subjects are my 9 and 11 year old kids. I want to go beyond the cute birthday picture and capture their expressions when she is ready to kick that penalty shot or right after he hits a home run. More the kid, the emotion, less the actual action… although I’d like to get a little of the action. I also want the photos we take during our awesome trips to reflect the beauty of the scenery around us (although, most of these shots will also include people). My husband is impressed with the Sony Alpha NEX 3 and thinks I’ll enjoy the portability of it. When I checked it out, it felt a little awkward, and I didn’t like the fact that it didn’t have a viewfinder. It’s really hard to see the screen when it’s bright out… I tried out the Nikon 3100 and it felt easy and natural. I haven’t looked at the entry level Canon (most of my friends have Nikon’s so just going by their recommendations). I’ve also been told that it’s nice to own a body that can take more lens options and that with the Sony one is limited. I’m thinking I should get the Nikon and as I become more comfortable and daring with my photos, I can invest in a really top notch lens? Would love your advice. Thanks so much.
Erika, Nikon D3100 is a nice dSLR to start with. It’s true that they have a wider lens selection, although this is nothing to worry about unless you want to become a full-time photographer.
Before you get the D3100, try to get your hands on a Sony a55; it’s basically a dSLR but with an electronic viewfinder, which makes it easier to see the actual result before you take the picture, as well as faster autofocus in movies and 10 fps shooting mode. If the a55 still doesn’t satisfy you, get the Nikon.
Thank you, Armand, so much! Is it worth spending the extra $200 and getting the D5100? I plan on keeping this for a looong time.
LOL, looks like they dropped the price. Yes, it’s a good price for the D5100, get it if you can.
Hello. I loved reading this. You mentioned that buying a cheaper body and purchase lenses. I have a Canon Rebel t3. Im a beginner. I have been shooting for a year of family & nature. I want to start practicing on models & weddings. What lens do you think will do the job? Right now i have the kit lens and i purchased a 70-300 mm 1:4-5.6. It takes wonder photos but it has to be taken a distance. Is there any lens that can be taking more closer and takes woderful photos? Please let me know. Thankyou:)
Definitely get a cheap ($100) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. It’s good for portraits and all sorts of low-light situations. If you have the money, for portraits only this is a good lens: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Generally portraits are done with “long” lenses, usually from 70mm, 85mm, 135mm or even more. This is not the place to discuss photography technique, but longer focal lengths tend to flatten the perspective and make the subjects look thinner, plus they capture very little background.
I don’t do weddings, so I can’t give you competent advice on that.
I have D90.I am thinking of upgrading my kit, I already have 70-200mm 2.8 18-70mm and 50mm 1.8.What Dx body should i upgrade to.Keeping in mind am into street-photography and portraits.
You don’t mention the available budget. I’d say get the Nikon D5100 (body only). I don’t think you need the 7000.
i have ~1500$.
OK. Since you already have the awesome 70-200 f/2.8, you could either get the Nikon D7000 (Body Only) for $1500 or get the Nikon D5100 (body only) for $800 + a wide angle lens (I couldn’t find something from Nikon to fit within your $700 remaining budget, maybe this: Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5). I found wide-angles very useful for street photography (and architecture of course). Then you’d have all focal ranges from 11mm to 200mm.
hi Armand. thanks for the article on buying the first DSLR. i am currently considering the canon rebel T3i and the sony SLT a55. i am finding it very difficult to decide. i am leaning towards the sony since it has 10Fps and provides AF during liveview and during movie mode. However when i tries both the cams, i liked the hand fit of the canon better because it is slightly larger while the sony grip leaves the pinky finger free. additionally the sony has image stabilisation builit while canon has image stabilisation in the lens. so i am very confused and really need some advice from an expert like you to help decide. can you please give me your opinion on this vexing issue. regards, Sai
Hi, what will you use the camera for?
i will be using the camera for vacations,family pics, primarily amateur use.
In that case, I would recommend Sony a55, assuming you don’t find it (too) uncomfortable.
Hi Armand, I think your article is very helpful and unbiased, thank you. I have never owned or used a dslr camera before. I take pictures during my trips (can be urban or nature photos), concerts, people, celebrations, etc., and I want more than what I can achieve with a regular point and shoot type of camera. I am not looking for something professional, yet I also want better, sharper images with less distortion/noise and I love the professional look of the photos taken with dslr cameras.
I am on a limited budget and I am looking for a relatively less costly (compared to even the ones listed on this page) entry level dslr camera with built-in IS. I got the impression that this is less costly than obtaining a Canon or Nikon with no built-in IS and then having to look for a specialized lens. Am I thinking right?
Consequently, my main question is, then, which dslr cameras (including lens) would you recommend for me in this case? I would really appreciate if you could provide some other alternative dslr cameras with built-in IS that are cheaper than the ones mentioned on this page. Thank you very much 🙂
Sony a33 is $550 on Amazon, I wouldn’t recommend anything less or older from Sony. The absolute cheapest entry-level dSLR is the Canon T3. If money is an issue, I think you should go with Canon. You can get the T3 now and maybe buy some lenses from eBay or Craiglist later, there are tons of Canon lenses.
Hi Armand, I will look into the alternatives you suggested. Once again, thank you for this great guide that helped me understand somethings even with no experience or knowledge and thank you for your reply. 🙂
Hi Armand! you are doing a great job and your patience and knowledge in answering is just great:) I think i have same options like Seshai and as i understood from youir answers that built in image stabilisation can save some expenses later when is about buying lenses.
as i will use camera more into amateur way even if it turns on a light as a challenge to make better and better pics , landscaping, live concerts etc. it will be a good choise for me sony a55? or should i go for t3i?
live at pompei :D,
If you have the budget, you may consider Sony A65, it’s the best in its class. If not, the a55. For amateur photography I think it would suit you better than the T3i.
Great article, just a question about the Cannon 60D & 600D, which one do you think is better for a person purchasing their first dslr, I will be mainly using it for taking photos on a holiday overseas ? Also it is wise to get a 18-55mm & 55-250mm lens kit or a 18-135mm lens, because I’m not sure it would be convenient changing lenses etc whilst doing day tours etc. Thanks.
Andrew, definitely get the 600D. It’s smaller and it’ll be easier to learn. As for lenses, the 18-135mm is a fine lens. The only thing I’m worried about it is that for a travel lens it may not be long enough. I’m not a fan of superzooms as their quality is usually not that great but for travel you may want to consider something like Tamron AF 18-270mm. Personally I take 3 lenses with me when travelling – a 10-20mm ultrawide, a 50mm for lowlight and a 70-200, however switching lenses can be inconvenient, especially when in a hurry.
i got canon kiss x3…the kit lens 18-35 and a 50 mm and also 70-200….what lens would recommend should i buy next, that will produce crisper picture with just the same ( a bit longer or shorter is ok ) than the size of the 18-35…changing lenses is ok with me..m just a frequent traveller, doctor and mom of 3 kids
Doc Angel, please tell me the exact specs of the lenses (what it says on the box, e.g. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM). What exactly are you looking for? Please repost the question in the article dedicated to lenses: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
Hello Armand, first of all thanksa lot for such useful article. I would like to know as the beginner, did you recomend me to buy Canon 60D you mentioned that it is difficult. I would like to study photography and just know I started browsing and reading articles. I consider to have the good zoom, however 60D has only 3x… I don’t know is it possible to increase the zoom size by the lenses and how to calculate the lens size for example 18-135 and 17-85 what are their zooms?
Beka, please read this https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
and repost the question in that article if you still have questions. Thank you.
Hi There! Thanks for the article. I need an SLR that can take pictures like this :
can you please recommend the proper equipment? Thanks!
Not exceptionally challenging, any modern dSLR would handle those, although you might need an assortment of lenses.
However, it depends on whether or not you want to use it professionally – to shoot gigs and events, or just for you.
Let me know and I’ll try to make some suggestions.
I am a first time DSLR buyer and am confused in selecting either of Sony NEX 5N / Nikon D5100 / Sony SLT 55 (especially after reading a lot of reviews and looking at a lot of snapshots). I need the camera for
a) Taking snaps (low light as well as landscapes) : 80 -90% of the time
b) Videos: 10% of the time.
Which one would you recommend?
Thanks and regards
Each camera is intended for a different segment:
– Sony NEX 5N is very nice as a casual camera, especially with a small “pancake” lens it would fit in your packet. I’d describe it as “dslr-like quality in a compact camera”. However there are not many lenses and upgrade paths for it, so it’s strictly for amateur use.
– Sony SLT 55 is for photography enthusiasts. A proper DSLR but with an EVF. You have upgrade paths and lenses.
– Nikon D5100 – midrange DSLR with upgrade options to professional level.
So it depends on how you see your future in photography.
really helpful article Armand, I’m (as many others here), trying to decide which DSRL camera buy.. I really enjoy the photography, I’ve doing so with a lumix (because of the leica lens) point and shoot, want to do a step ahead, most commonly use for my babies, family travels, and sports…. I looked at the Nikon 1 V1, looks small and easy to use and has interchangeable lenses… what do you think??? another option for me is the one you mention D5100 looks functional enough to start…. Unless, i can not stop thinking on D7000…. thanks for your comments..
If you’re looking at better quality in a compact camera, Nikon V1 is nothing to write home about, I would get a Sony NEX-5N. Otherwise, Nikon D5100 is a perfectly adequate DSLR for everything, no need to buy the more expensive D7000.
Wonderful article, Armand.. Please help me out in this.
I would like to have a DSLR camera for travel shooting (as I am a big travel freak). However it should not be expensive, as I am just a beginner. Among Canon 1100D, 550D and Sony SLT a35, which one would you recommend? Do they all fall in basically the same bracket, or is one far superior to another in terms of image/video quality, light sensitivity etc.
If I had to order them from worst to best, it would be Canon 1100D, Sony a35 and Canon 550D. If you have the budget, go for the 550D.
Can you please tell me where Canon 550D scores over Sony a35? Apart from the optical viewfinder, that is. Which would give me better pics?
Are Sony/minolta lenses more expensive?
Should I invest in Sony as a long-term system?
I liked the Sony SLT a35, but worried about using it as a long-term arrangement? I would basically need a macro lens and a 55-200/70-300mm lens (along with the 18-55 that came with the kit). Would investing in Sony on a long term be wrong?
Basically, what would I miss out if I take Sony a35 instead of Canon 550d
The Canon 550D is better, it has higher resolution (18 vs 16 Mb), a better LCD and some small things.
Sony lenses should be cheaper actually because they don’t need the image stabilization but in reality they are about the same.
As for Sony as a long-term investment, depends on whether or not you see yourself becoming a dedicated/professional photographer. Sony is ok for amateurs and maybe even semi-pro but they lack the high-end features and logistics needed by those who earn a living from photography.
Hello. I plan on getting my first DSLR after a year experiencing how compact camera is not very versatile and not really works on my conceptual photography needs. I’m quite of beginner in photography, so I tend to experiment. I like shooting in natural light, but I hate the fact I can not try new things in lighting, because my camera is horrid in lowlight. Any tips on choosing new one?
Get an entry level Canon 1100D and a 50mm f/1.8 lens for it (in addition to the kit lens). It should be enough to get you started and with that 50mm inexpensive lens you’ll be able to take good pictures in low light.
Thank you for your article, it has helped clear up things for me. I’m trying to decide between a Nikon or Canon, but I have no idea as to which one or version. This will be my first DSLR and I have no desire to do anything professional; this will be purely hobby. I’m a mom of three and the camera will mostly be used to take pictures of my family, vacations, etc. My husband and I are ready to upgrade because we want better picture quality especially when our kids are in motion (sports, etc). I know both brands are good, but as your article mentions you are investing in a family. I might upgrade the body later as I get better and learn more about photography, but right now I have no plans to take a class or anything. I just want great family pics. Thanks.
For high-quality family photos, I would suggest a different route:
Sony NEX-5N – at $700 it has interchangeable lenses, a touch screen and it’s compact and easy to use. It’s not a “true” DSLR and the selection of lenses is not very wide but the image quality is very good.
If you’re sure you want a DSLR, I suggest you try Nikon D3100, it’s an entry-level but capable camera.
Hi Armand, I am looking at getting a dslr for both my wife and I to use. We will mainly use it for landscapes and animals (game reserves in Africa etc) but would also like to be able to take macro and photos of the family. I am looking at the d7000 and also the big jump to the d800e what would you suggest? Also what would be the best two lenses to get?
The D7000 is perfectly capable for almost anything. Don’t think about D800 until you have 1-2 years of experience at least, as you won’t even appreciate all its power.
As for lenses – you have very diverse requirements: from wide angle for landscapes to medium telephoto for portraits to big telephoto for animals and let’s not forget macro. Read this first: https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/ and then comment on it if you have any questions.
Hey Armand, nice article man! I want your opinion. Now the problem is that i had been researching and still confused, what to choose between d5100 and 600d? Both are good and price slightly differ. It will be my first dslr but im somewhat aware of photography and using the equipment. My filed will be portraits,street, macro and concert (night shots as well). I want to know the technical advantages in both. Also added feature like selective color mode is interesting. Your help will be appreciated.
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. In terms of high-ISO noise they are virtually the same. Canon 600D has a slight resolution advantage (18Mb vs. 16 Mp) and a better LCD so I’d choose it.
Thanks for such a great article. I already had it down to Nikon or Canon – now I just have to decide. I am buying a camera for my sister who is currently in school studying photography – I just don’t know what would be best for her. I want to get “the best” but it just doesn’t seem that easy. She doesn’t need to be able to shoot video at all, what would you recommend?
“The Best” is very subjective (and very expensive!). People who shoot sports professionally have different needs than those who do portraits in a studio. A Canon 600D + 18-135mm lens should be everything she needs for studying photography.
Hi! I know you’ve answered alot of questions for camera recommendations but I was hoping you can help me too. I am looking for a DSLR to help me get better action shots of my son and sporting events. I also like to photography our travels, cityscapes, things of that nature. I would love to build my skills and also turn my hobby into an extra source of income for my family. I have been looking into several cameras but am having a difficult time choosing. Right now I am looking into Canon t3i, 60d and 7d and Nikon d5100 and d7000. Since I want action shots of my child I wasn’t sure if the t3i could keep up even with a good lens. What would you recommend me looking into?
Leigh, you did not specify a budget. If money is no object, get the Canon 7D. Otherwise get the 60D. In either case you’ll need to buy some good lenses, which can be expensive (see my article about lenses).
Thank you so much. The 7d and 60d would both fall in line with my budget. I want to get the best camera for my money and for my needs. I appreciate the help.
Hi Armand. Your site has some of the best info. I’ve seen. My friend & I are considering starting a business and getting into children’s portrait photography including on location indoor & outdoor shots. I also am a Realtor and need to take good house pics (interested in HDR software etc. for that), AND I will be doing Rock Concert photography as well dealing with high contrast lighting and fast subject movement. In addition to that, I would like to be able to do event photography such as weddings, receptions, charity events etc. My friend is also interested in capturing children’s action shots – eventually sports. I have had some limited experience in the past, but we are both starting from scratch here, and would like to be on the same system to be able to exchange lenses. We are looking at the Canon 60D, Nikon d7000, & the Canon 7D. I have concerns about both of the Canons’ low noise at high ISOs vs. the Nikon from what I’ve read, but I haven’t seen test shots (I expect to go to 1600 ISO for concerts). Also, I have concerns about the white balance system on the Canons and true color – I’ve read the Canon’s color tends to run warm. I know those things aren’t the only things to consider though. I also know that lenses make a huge difference, and lens pricing for Canon vs. Nikon is something to consider as well. We want to invest in a system over the long term. What would you recommend?
Danielle, your business is very diverse and ambitious – I wish you luck.
It will require some serious investment. I would consider a full-frame Canon 5D Mark II for this, maybe with a 7D as a backup. Excellent noise performance, great quality for portraits, the only downside is that’s “only” 3.7 fps or so. Your friend could get the Canon 7D.
As for color balance, each camera has a different “look”. Personally I don’t care because I shoot RAW. It’s not always a solution, especially when you need a very fast turnaround, but I prefer to have full control over my pictures.
For the longest time I have used Pentax film slr. Recently moved to digital slr. Have Pentax K200D and K20D. Flashes AF540FGZ for each. Decent lens collection, not extensive. I find Pentax flash pttl difficult to live with, very inconsistent, lets you down in crucial moments. Mainly shoot family events, and vactions outdoor. Reliable flash is critical for me. What brand and model do you suggest. Thanks for the website.
Both Canon and Nikon have reliable flashes and a lot of third-party solutions for wireless control. A Canon 600D would be a nice upgrade from the K20.
Hi Armand, i had a hard time choosing my first dslr. Or maybe u can help me out, my choice is canon 600D, nikon 5100D and sony a65. btw it is necessary to have stabilization feature in camera body as the sony ? please help me out. thank you very much.
James, the choice of camera depends largely on what you intend to use it for and on the available budget. Please give me some details.
As to in-body stabilization, it’s not required, but it’s nice to have. Optical stabilization (in-lens or in-body) allows you to shoot hand-held with longer exposures, which is important in low light and when using telephoto lenses. The advantage of in-body stabilization is that you can pick any old lens for the respective mount (Sony, Pentax) and you’ll have a stabilized photo. The advantage of in-lens stabilization (Canon, Nikon) is that the image appears stabilized as you look through the lens (not a very important advantage unless you shoot with a 500mm lens).
Armand, im sorry for so less info i give, actually i just want a dslr for taking picture of my kids while their playing and of course on a vacation.( not professional ) And i thought canon 600d , nikon D5100 and sony a65 price are slightly different a bit, these 3 seems like competitors to each others, the features look just all the same and because of that it making me hard to choose either 1 of them. I don’t want to get those entry-level such as canon 1100D or nikon D3100. thank you.
For your use, I can recommend the Sony A65 – it’s $1000 at Amazon, about $200 more expensive than the competition, but it has a number of features that makes it more attractive that the alternatives: higher resolution, the EVF useful for beginners, 12 frames per second (even though you can capture only about 1.5 seconds in a burst) means that you can capture everything your kids do, fast AF during movie mode, integrated GPS. The camera has won several awards and has a Gold Award on DpReview (Canon 600D and Nokon D5100 have Silver Awards).
I would not recommend Sony for someone pursuing a professional photography career due to other factors, including availability of accessories, rental options, support for business use and advanced features, but home use is very good.
I’m a semi-professional photographer (I may become the official photographer for a band under a major record label, and I’ve done engagement photos, and senior portraits) I also do a lot of architecture and landscape photography, both for realistic images and for my artistic creative side. I currently am running with a Nikon D3000 which was my first DSLR that I received for my 18th birthday a few years ago. I have the kit lens, a 70-200mm telephoto lens, and a 62mm wide angle lens with a macro lens as well. While I love my camera, I am still not able to attain that crystal clear image that I see when I stumbleupon to photography pages. Some of my influences include Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Annie Leibovitz, to give you an idea of what I’m working towards.
I shoot in manual mode, know how to adjust my shutter speed, aperture, and I pretty much always keep my ISO at 100 as I hate noise, and that was one thing my senior photog. teacher preached. I understand all my settings and when to use a tripod, but I’m still not getting that crystal clear super sharp image. I shoot in RAW, and edit through Photoshop CS5. I feel that at this point, I need to be (besides continually learning photoshop better) looking at a new body as that’s the only thing I’ve yet to upgrade.
That being said, I feel you have a better grasp of what I’m looking for.
Because I already have the Nikon lenses, I’d like to maintain that brand, but if you feel that that might not be the way to go, I’m open to re-building my collection.
What would you recommend I do from here?
I really dig how you answer each individual inquiry.
If what I’m asking is answered in another post you’ve written, by all means, direct me to that instead of taking time out of your day to write it all up again.
Cheers, and thanks ahead of time for the advice.
you should get clear and sharp images with the current camera. I would suggest NOT to upgrade to another body yet. I can’t comment on pictures until I see them, but here are some pointers:
– use good lenses. You mention a 70-200mm. Is it the F/2.8? Which brand? Sigmas are a bit soft, Tamron is better, Nikon is best. If you have the 70-200mm F/2.8 Nikon, you should get razor-sharp images, no excuses.
– step down the aperture 2-3 stops from wide open for maximum sharpness. An F/5.6 lens will be sharpest at F/16. A F/2.8 lens at F/8 (of course, you lose shallow DOF, but try it just to see if the sharpness improves)
– The photos you see on sites have been processed to death. For starters, download the trial version of Lightroom 4 or update the PS Camera RAW and try the Clarity slider. You can further do this is PS with unsharp mask (with big radii) or via plugins to increase local contrast for a “gritty” look especially on portraits.
In conclusion, let me make this: a newer body will bring you more resolution, more AF points, more FPS and a number of conveniences, but not extra sharpness.
Thank you for the article. I know you have answered a ton of questions but I am still confused on what I should purchase! I currently have a Sony Cyber Shot and want to upgrade to a DSLR. I love photography but have always been intimidated to buy a nice camera becasue I never knew how to decide. I will be using this camera mostly for family photos and taking pictures of my toddler! We also travel and I will be using the camera for those pictures as well! What would you suggest? Thank you!
Lauren, I think you’d be happy with the Sony a55 or, if you can wait a little, Sony has just announced the a57 camera, should be in stores in about a month.
Thank you for such a quick response. I’ll keep that in mind, and keep working in photoshop and such. I probably will take the route of working with Lightroom, as I read your article on RAW Processors after I read this last night. Your articles have provided more help than I’ve been able to find via countless google searches and youtube videos.
Which leads me to one other question (for now…;] ) I skimmed some of the articles on brushes and editing specific things in photoshop as well, and while I am able to perform my basic go to functions of editing the levels, exposure, and contrast, I feel that some of the tools I use are simply the easy way out. I am still a bit unclear on the whole HDR thing. I also want to do some more creative photoshop work such as simply putting things into the picture that aren’t actually there, and removing the color from everything in a shot except say for example, the eyes of a portrait subject. Without asking for specific advice on each little thing, are there any articles or books or any form of media that you would recommend I tap into?
Overall, I’d say the stuff from Lynda.com is among the best, you may want to get their Photoshop CS5: Portrait Retouching DVD or Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual.
thank you very much for helping us out with choosing a dSLR. In the replies, I couldn’t exactly find someone who had the same questions as I have, so I’d better ask them myself ;).
At the moment I am shooting film with an Olympus OM-2n. I am using it mostly for some studio-photography (like table top) and outdoor-scenes (flowers and things like that, but also landscapes). I’m also interested in portrait-photography.
I am now orientating in the world of digital SLRs. I’m still quite open to everything, because all the features to take in mind are a little confusing. I’m not specifically interested in lcd-screens and video-options, I just want to have as many control over the camera as possible (and shoot RAW like you said), because that’s what I like most about SLR photography. I also hava a compact digital camera, but I don’t use it at all, because of the lack of manual control. Reasons for me to shift to digital SLR would be: lower costs in prints/films and being able to change ISO-values, the ability to see what you are doing, the control you gain with shooting RAW images and editing white-balance etc. later on, etc. etc.
Is there something you would advice in cases like mine?
Thank you in advance.
Nina, you’re photographing mainly static subjects in controlled environments, so it should’t be difficult to find a camera for your needs. Get a Canon 600D, it’s a pretty versatile camera. You may want to invest in some additional lenses afterwards, maybe a macro for flowers and bugs, a wide-angle for landscapes…
Hi, I wonder if you could give me some advice. Im looking to buy the canon eso 1100D kit and it has two choices of a lens. Ive never had a DSLR camera and im not sure which lens to go for. The two choices are either Canon 50mm f/1.8 Lens or Tamron 70-300mm Lens. I take mainly portrait and thought the Canon 50mm would be best but im unsure. Any advice would be great ???
Many thanks Julie Brown
I assume the lens in question is in addition to the “kit” lens – the lens that comes with the camera. Please read my article about lenses. It’s a long read but it will help you understand and make the best choice.
I am a beginner and want to buy an entry level SLR camera. I have no expert on photography, but keen to learn to become a good photographer.
Please can you suggest me some option. I have Canon EOS 1100D as a choice, but not sure if it is the best one. I also need good HD video recording feature and I was too attracted to Sony HX100 which is not a SLR, but gives you a feeling of it.
Arun, unfortunately I am not a video expert and I cannot give you a pertinent advice on video support in DSLRs. Canon 1100D is an entry level camera, its video support is not top-notch. There are autofocus limitations in DSLRs (Canon and Nikon have slow AF, Sony is better but you need dedicated lenses with supersonic motors to avoid the lenses making noises when focusing). So I think you should start by deciding if you want primarily photography and also video as a bonus, or the other way around. You’ll never get both with the same quality and features.
Which DSLR you would suggest for a beginner if I keep the primary photography as main objective. DSLR which can offer quality pics with features one can expect from a DSLR.
Armand, most information in little amount of technical jargon i have read on cameras. I am starting a graphic design consulting firm. I have years of experience using all major graphic design software and specialize in print media from business cards to full ad campaigns. I have always worked solely with other peoples work but would like to be able to take my own images (my ideas don’t always work with the photos that are supplied even when specific). I used a Canon EOS D30 for a couple of years when it first came out, but no experience taking photos since then (long term investment but have budgeted $2500 for camera and accessories over the first two years) any suggestions. P.s. can you point me in the direction of some online training for some off the more advance photo tutorials.
Michael, for professional work, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens is about the best you can get, albeit for a price of $3000…. any you’ll probably need some flashes as well. The alternative would be a Canon EOS 7D with a 18-135mm lens; not as awesome but it would be $1900. You will need some flashes, wireless triggers and at least some umbrellas anyway, whether you do product photography, portraits or fashion. As for some advanced tutorials, here’s a list of tutorials specifically about working with flashes (strobes): http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
hi Armand! I have a great passion for photography and had been experimenting with sony cybershot. I love to take portraits, landscape, architectural, macro,wildlife, etc but now I feel that I need to have DSLR for the results that cannot be achieved in the previous one. I am comparatively new to DSLR keeping my budget open to get the best camera at this point of time. I am little confused amongst Nikon 5100, Cannon 550 D, Cannon 60 D and Cannon 600D. Please could you suggest me which one can i go in for?
Between these, you should go with either Nikon D5100 or Canon 600D. Canon vs. Nikon is a matter of preference more than anything else, but if I’d have to choose, I’d go with the Canon 600D.
I have been considering buying a DSLR camera for a while, but I am still unsure which one to get. I have been looking at the Nikon D5100 and the D7000. I have used both a D70 and a D300 before with a variety of lenses, but never actually owned one. The D7000 definitely has more detail and options when it comes to different camera options. I have looked at some Canon cameras as well, but I feel like I am used to Nikon cameras a lot more. Do you have any advice? Would the D7000 or the D5100 be a good long-term investment (say 4-5yrs?) or is there another DSLR that you recommend? It doesn’t have to be a Nikon. Thanks
Josh, I agree that if you’re used with Nikon, there’s no need for you to switch brands. If you have the money, D7000 is definitely a better investment, although it’s hard to say how the market will evolve in 5 years (or 2 years for that matter). D7000 was introduced in 2010 and there are rumors among Nikonians that a replacement will arrive sometime this year. You could buy the D5100, introduced in 2011, and save money for lenses. Usually bodies become obsolete in 5 years, but a good lens will work a lifetime (I have 2 lenses from the ’80s).
Thank you for the wonderful article. I am very confused on wanting the best combination for what I want/need out if a camera. I have always been captivated by the beautiful images captured by many DSLR cameras and know my point and shoot does not even compare. I am just hesitant because of their huge size. I have a love / hate relationship with the many choices and lenses available. The more I read the more confused I get. I have three very active kids so I want something that can take good pictures for portraits. (I hang my own photos on the wall) as well as be useful for sports. I miss a lot of shots because of shutter lag with my current camera or they come out blurry while my kids are running and playing. I shoot indoors and out as well as want to have the option to shoot in low light. I also enjoy nature pictures. I am not a professional and won’t enlarge past a 11 x 14. I am looking at the Sony nex 5n but know that cannon also has a great selection of cameras. I need portability as well as functionality.
Lindsey, yes the Sony Nex 5N would be a good choice for you – same sensor found in DSLRs for the same image quality coupled with a nimble and stylish body. However you will have to attach lenses anyway to it so it will never fit in a pocket. Also, the range of compatible lenses is smaller and you won’t find many used lenses on ebay and other sites. An alternative would be Sony a35, a more traditional camera, but still with full-time live view. I’d say go to your nearest “big camera store” and try them both, see which one fits best in your hand. The Sony line of cameras have many nice features for casual photographers (not so many for pro’s though).
For low light and sports you will need additional lenses too, read my article about lenses and if you have any questions, post them there.
Hi Armand,iam new to dslr’s.i would like to take a new dslr and my choices are canon 550D and nikon 5100D.i wont shoot videos much.i would like to take many pictures.right now iam confused between these two cams.i need a better image quality.will it be good if i buy a 550D with kit kens and a Tamron – AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6Di LD lens or should i buy a nikon 5100D with Tamron above lens…which one would be a good choice..and which one would be good value for the money i spend i cant extend my budget anymore..plz help…:[ (i never consider sony)
Between these two, Nikon D5100 is the better camera.
servus armand, vroiam sa-ti zic ca sunt nou in domeniul asta, si ca eu mi-am luat in vara lui 2011 un nikon d3000, crezi ca am facut o alegere buna?! (fiind primul meu DSLR, trecand de la o pocket camera – Panasonic FX-10) Am vrut sa imi iau ceva, entry-level ca sa pot invata mai multe chestii intai. am avut de ales intre D3000 si D3100, tu crezi ca merita mai mult sa dau pt D3100 si sa`l iau pe asta? Daca as vrea acum sa trec la un pas urmator in ceea ce priveste o noua camera (sa zic intai ce caut, la ce vreau sa avansez: o imagine mult mai clara/fina si linii&contrast mai bine definite (crystal clear-specific pozelor profi, de studio ma refer, sper sa intelegi la ce ma refer) a pozelor care le trag, inca direct din aparat, pana sa ajung cu ele in photoshop; apoi un zoom (obiectiv) mai bun care sa ma ajute sa creez mai bine anumite efecte de la o distanta mai mare, nu atat de aproape de un anumit subiect (gen: background blur) si….cred in final cateva optiuni/setari in plus pt modurile S, A, M, P…tu ce mi-ai recomanda? Eu unul m-am oprit momentan cu vederea asupra unui D90, tu ce zici? Asa, si inca un aspect…momentan vreau sa imi achizitionez un nou obiectiv …am de ales intre nikon 55-200mm si 70-300mm, ma intereseaza ce imi recomanzi tu aici, pt ca eu am in vedere ca obiectivul sa imi dea o imagine a pozelor asa putin mai ridicata spre latura profi, sa iasa mai clare, bine conturate, mai “profi”adica …sa atinga oarecum asa cate ceva din elementele zise mai sus despre ce caut eu la un viitor aparat. Am vazut ca obiectivul de 200mm se invarte pe la 7-8 mil, iar cel de 300mm pe la 19-20 mil, sincer parca totusi mi se par prea multi bani pt cel de 300mm. Tu ce zici, merita investitia…pt ce am eu nevoie acum si caut, pt nivelul meu? (eu fac poze amator, in excursii, la momente ale familiei momentan) Merci mult pt timpul acordat si scuze cumva de deranj. astept un raspuns de la tine. numai bine.
Salut. Nu are rost sa discutăm între D3000 și D3100. Nu trebuie să-ți faci griji și să te întrebi dacă puteai face o alegere mai bună. Toate DSLR-urile sunt foarte bune, e ca și cum am discuta virtuțile unui Ferrari față de Lamborghini.
Acum, despre obiective. Nu mi-ai zis exact numele obiectivului; există 2 obiective 55-200 si anume Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED și Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR. Cel de-al doilea e VR, oferă stabilizare optică. Celălalt obiectiv presupun că e Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR – are și el stabilizare și mai important, e un obiectiv full-frame, adică pe Nikon-ul tău se va comporta ca un 105-450!
În general un obiectiv bun, de care ai grijă în mod rezonabil, te va ține 20-30 de ani, spre deosebire de un body pe care îl schimbi probabil după 5 ani. Deci, dacă ai bani, mai bine ia 70-300, dacă nu, ia-l pe cel 55-200, dar varianta VR. Eu zic deocamdată să nu iei un alt body, folosește-l pe ăsta câțiva ani.
For English speakers:
The poster asks if he made a good choice by getting a Nikon D3000 instead of the D3100. I reply that there’s no point in worrying about the past and that all DSLRs are very good nowadays. In a way it’s as discussing Ferrari vs. Lamborghini.
Next, there’s a question about lenses, between 55-200 and 70-300. There are two 55-200 Nikon lenses: the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED and Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR. The second one offers optical stabilization (the VR designation). The 70-300 is 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, it’s a full-frame lens, on APS-C cameras it is the equivalent of a 105-450mm lens!
A good lens will last 20-30 years (and you can resell it), whereas people usually change the camera bodies after 3-5 years, so investing in a good lens is always the better choice.
Servus din nou Armand, ms mult de informatiile date, si da…ma refeream la obiectivul Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR si Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, in postarea anterioara. Oricum, tind sa gasesc solutii financiare pt a putea investi in obiectivul de 300mm, pt ca eu unul, chiar observ o diferenta substantiala in ceea ce priveste calitatea pozelor (nu zoom) trase cu obiectiv de 300mm, in comparatie cu unul de 200mm, sau ma insel cumva?! Oricum, am o nedumerire acum, nu stiu cat te pricepi sa lucrezi in photoshop, dar eu am gasit la cineva o poza, trasa cu un D3000 in care se vede o calitate a pozei incredibila, pe timp de noapte, adica parca ar fi trasa cu un D700 spre exemplu…si nu ma refer la setarile pt poze pe timp de noapte sau la momentul de “blue hour”, ci la finetea detaliilor din poza, calitatea, claritatea ei, ca e foarte curata si celelalte elemente care o fac sa para destul de profi poza (aici e linkul unde am vazut: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6403978337/in/photostream/ )…tu ce crezi? cunosti cumva din intamplare vreo optiune in photoshop care sa creeze o asa poza foarte profi in raport calitate-aspect? pt ca eu unul nu am descoperit asa ceva in photoshop, nici alte persoane nu au putut sa imi ofere detalii concludente in ceea ce priveste trucurile de photoshop. Unele persoane mi-au zis, si tind sa cred si eu ca, persoana a mai folosit eventual si un obiectiv bunicel, si cred ca si ceva filtre. Parerea ta care ar fi?! Chiar crezi ca niste filtre si un obiectiv de 300mm spre exemplu, ar face o diferente destul de considerabila intr-o poza trasa cu un D3000, ca in linkul de mai sus; si sa ajunga sa aiba o calitatea si sa iasa niste poze aproape echivalente cu cele ale unui D90 sau chiar D700?! o seara faina si astept un raspuns de la tine. numai bine.
Cyp, poza arata intr-adevar foarte bine, insa te asigur ca nu are nimic de a face cu aparatul de fotografiat, ci cu calitatile fotografului 🙂
Nu stiu cum sa te conving, mai ales ca nu am ceva similar, decat https://www.armandniculescu.ro/abandoned-boat/ – poza asta am facut-o acum 3 ani cu un KM 5D de 6 Mp (l-am luat in vacanta ca era mic si nu-mi pasa daca pateste ceva). Pozele astea (https://www.armandniculescu.ro/wp-content/uploads/20090915-Paris-030.jpg si https://www.armandniculescu.ro/milan-dome/) au fost facute cu un compact Panasonic FZ18.
Poza aceea pe care mi-ai aratat-o nu e facuta nici la 200mm nici la 300mm, ci e wide, probabil la 18-20mm. E posibil sa aiba ceva Photoshop in ea, dar nimic deosebit.
Poza e facuta cel mai probabil pe un trepied, la F/16, cu un timp de expunere de cateva secunde.
Ce vreau eu sa zic nu e ca poza aia nu e cu adevarat super, ci ca poti obtine asa ceva cu orice DSLR, trebuie doar talent, cunostiinte si multa truda :), lucru valabil si daca ai un Nikon D800.
I’ve been into photography for a few years now and have a Lumix FZ38, Im looking for a DLSR preferably below £650 ish.
I’ve been recommended the Canon 550D and Nikon D3100 but I really cant seem to decide, too much competition!
Which one would you say is of better quality for taking photos, (not fussed about video)? Or would you recommend something else? 🙂 Thankyou in advance.
Bronte, what will you be photographing? Family, travel? Landscapes, architecture, portraits? Sports? Macro? Studio? Paid stuff? Concerts? It kinda depends on your interests so I hesitate to recommend anything until I know more.
Hey, I’m looking to buy my first DSLR in September for my University course. I will need it for filming and in my spare time for amateur photography.
My budget is pretty tight and I can’t spend over £700. I’ve been looking at the Canon 600d, is that a wise choice?
Thanks for your time.
Jay, yes, it’s a great camera to learn on.
I’m interested in purchasing my first DSLR camera. I was looking at the Sony Alpha SLTA33L because of the in-body stabilization, but had a few concerns. I saw in your article about a 16Mp-sized sensor being the right balance, however this one is 14. Will that still be satisfactory? To make it easier, I am looking to photograph sports such as snowboarding, animals, and some closups of nature such as flowers, ice, leaves. Portraits won’t be a main focus but I will be taking some.
I may have a few more questions depending on the reply so do you think you would be able to reply in an email? My email is [email protected]
if you have the budget, I would go for a Sony a57 (not released yet, should arrive in a few weeks).
My one concern is about sports. Sony’s aXX (a33, a35, a55, a57, a65, a77) line of cameras are capable of very high frame per second rates (7 fps of a33, 10 fps on a55/a57, 12 fps on a77) because there’s no mirror to flip up. The downside is that because they use an EVF, it can’t show the live view in between shots. So basically during shooting at 10 fps, you don’t see in the viewfinder what’s happening right now, but the image just taken… sorry if it sounds confusing. This makes tracking more difficult. Some people have used these cameras for sports from soccer to Formula 1 with great results, others struggle. Personally I’m not big into sports so I haven’t used the a77 for fast action yet and I can’t comment. The best thing would be to try the camera before you buy it.
That sounds like a great camera, but it is far out of my budget unfortunately. What about the Sony Alpha SLTA33L DSLR makes it below par for sports? Or are there any other cameras in the $600 price range that would suit my needs?
Thank you for the quick reply.
sorry for the delay, I actually had to do some more research to answer your question properly. I own the Sony a77, btw, but my first hand experience with the a33 is somewhat limited.
Try to get into a camera store and test Sony a33 vs. Nikon D3100, personally I like the a33 more – better LCD, in-body stabilization, more fps, but you may prefer Nikon’s optical viewfinder.
No problem on the delay, I want to thank you for putting your time into my questions. I’m looking into them both now. I’m getting results for Sony Alpha SLT-A33, is this the correct one?
Yes, this is the camera: Sony Alpha SLTA33L
Hello. I currently use a Sony Cybershot DSC H3 and would like my first DSLR. I cannot spend more than $600.00, so I often look for used cameras on EBay.
My best photos, my gift, is macro nature photography. Though an older model, my Sony Cybershot DSC H3 yields gorgeous macro insect/flower shots, I think due to the Carl Zeiss lens.
My goal is to acquire a mid-level DSLR with a macro lens capable of 1 cm or closer, with a 3-inch LCD screen if I can get it. I would like to copyright and sell my macro nature photographs, both online and/or prints. Therefore, the camera has to be minimally able to produce a product that people would be interested in buying. This means the highest shutter speed I can find in a modestly-priced camera.
At first I was interested only in Sony, but I believe their newer models no longer utilize Carl Zeiss lenses, and from what I am reading on your site, Sony is great for point-and-shoot purposes but might be limited in lens/equipment options if I stick with this brand in a DSLR.
After reading everything posted here, I will research both the Nikon D5100 and the Canon 600D as my first DSLR; however, I need a camera that I won’t outgrow quickly and that would be adequate. I would like to jump right into a mid-level DSLR. I believe a beginner’s DSLR would be too basic for me.
In addition, just to mention, I have three old but very nice manual lenses that I cannot find a use for. They are telephoto (135 mm, f:2.8), wide angle (28 mm, f:2.8), and close-focus zoom (35-70 mm, f:2.8-3.8), sold by Sears (manufactured in Korea) in the 1960’s or ’70’s and could fit the older Pentax K100 film camera, so I am told. Is there a current DSLR camera body I could buy that might possibly utilize these old-fashioned lenses? So far, no one seems to think that I could use them.
One more thing: I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 7, another item I found on EBay. I am happy with it but would like to move up to Adobe CS5 without breaking the bank. If I never get the “real” Photoshop, will I still be able to pursue the next level of photography? For my macro nature shots, I do almost no retouching, but for “people” shots, I spend hours retouching. Any thoughts?
Thanks so much for your advice.
You heard it wrong that Sony no longer uses Zeiss lenses. There are some great Carl Zeiss lenses for Sony, in fact they’re the only one with AF. Coupled with its in-body stabilization, you get incredible optical quality, AF and stabilization this way. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T 135mm f/1.8 is probably the best portrait lens I’ve seen. However I don’t know if they have any macro lenses.
Now, regarding macro. I don’t think there are any true macro lenses in the DSLR world with a minimum focus distance of 1cm. They are all in the 30cm range. For example the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM has a MFD of 33cm. A Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro has a MFD of 20cm.
The main problem is the budget. The macro lens itself would be around $600 and I doubt you can find one much cheaper on eBay.
So I hesitate in recommending and brand & model for you as I can’t find anything that would fit your criteria.
Hey there. I’am super confused as to which dslr to buy. I want a camera that can click amazing photos in various different conditions specially poster sized and also HD videos. I was thinking either the Nikon 7000d or in Canon i was thinking either the 60D or the 7D and recently someone recommend the Sony A55 SLT so things keep getting more and more confusing. I dont wanna go beyond 1000 $ period.
Please suggest me the right camera and end my confusion.
If you want the best camera under $1000, you may want to try Sony Sony A65.
Its SLT design has its strengths and weaknesses though. If you want a “safer” choice, go for Nikon D5100.
multam’ de lamuriri armand, pana la urma mi-a raspuns persoana respectiva intr-un pm, cum a realizat poza respecitva. a folosit un obiectiv de 18-105mm VR Nikkor, setari de noapte, cu F9 (are lasat la poza si EXIF-ul) iar post-procesare a facut cu programelul celor de la nikon NX2 putin la colour curve si sharpening. vroaim sa te intreg inca ceva, daca se poate: ce parere ai despre obiectivele celor de la Tamrom? (am gasit un tamrom 70-300mm DI LD Macro la vreo 5-6mil, si inca unul la fel, mai nou dar cu VR la vreo 16 mil; tu ce crezi…merita?! dar in legatura cu nikkor 18-105mm VR si nikkor 70-300mm VR II tu ce ai alege?! eu unul caut ceva ce sa imi aduca o calitate a poze mai superioara fata de obiectivul meu de acum de 18-55mm de la D3000, dar sa se si deprinda usor de fundal pt crearea mai rapida a efectului de “background blur” atunci cand in poza am mai multe persoane sau o persoana incadrata din cap pana in picioare; pt ca la 18-55mm nu prea am spatiu de manevra cu efectul respectiv decat numai in zona umeri-cap (deci foarte aproape de subiect trebuie sa fiu). deasemenea am gasit mai nou azi si obiectivul celor de la nikon de 55-300mm VR, relativ in comparatie cu 70-300mm Nikkor VR II, care e mai ok? sau in acest ultim caz am discuta despre o eventuala egalitate?! 🙂 ms pt timpul acordat.
cyp, da, precum spuneam poza era facuta wide cu un “F” mare… 9 sau 16 nu mai e atat de important.
Oricum, eu zic ca legat de obiective in primul rand sa citesti articolul meu dedicat – https://www.media-division.com/the-definitive-lens-buyers-guide/
Eu am un Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 pe care il folosesc pentru portrete si imi place f.mult (ultima poza din articolul mentionat e facuta cu el).
Dupa ce-l citesti, mai povestim (poti sa-mi scrii folosind formularul de contact)
hi Armand. thanks for such an informative article.. I am a beginner in terms of DSLRs and want to buy one; the price range in India and my budget makes me choose between nikon d 3100 and canon eos 1100d.. which one would you recommend? i am getting thoroughly confused between different suggestions of people here.
Between the two, I would choose the Nikon D3100, it’s a slightly better camera.
I am planning to buy my 1st SLR. I have narrowed down my list to 2 – Nikon D3100 & D5100. I am an amateur photographer who would love to take photography as a serious hobby-.I want an alround camera that can be used for wildlife, scenery, portraits ,sports,etcJust wanted to know if you think its worth buying the D5100 over the D3100 since its quite expensive.Or should i just buy the D3100 body only & spend money on buying high quality lens? Thank you
Anthony, my advice is always to get a simpler camera body so the amount of options and features don’t overwhelm you at first and invest in lenses. You will change your camera body in 3-5 years anyway, but a good lens can work flawlessly for 20 years. So yes, get the D3100 and save for some good lenses.
Thanks for the great article and being willing to offer some great advice to the newbies out here. I’ve been wading through reviews and articles trying to figure out whether to jump on the Canon, Nikon, or Sony bandwagon. I’m aiming for upper entry-level. Primarily I’ll be taking travel photos, photos of my dog/playdates at the dog park, and some lower light stuff (more casual get-togethers and things). This will be my first DSLR, but I’m definitely going to enroll in classes and try to make it a more serious hobby. Right now I’ve been between the Canon t3i, the Nikon D5100 and the Sony A55 (or A57, once it comes out). I’ve sort of been leaning toward the Sony because of the in-camera panoramic features and the faster shutter speed (I’m imagining being able to take fast pics of my dog mid-run), but I don’t want to back myself into a corner with limited opportunities for classes, accessories, lenses, etc. Also, I don’t want to sacrifice image quality for some new bells and whistles, and technically a camera that isn’t a true DSLR. Any advice?
You bring up some good points. Sony A55 is technically not a true DSLR but this is largely just that, a technicality. I would say get the Sony a55 (no need to wait for A57, A55 has built-in GPS whereas A57 doesn’t) except if you take classes, the others may look down on you as Sony is a more ‘exotic’ choice. Camera users are VERY vocal about their brands. A “safer” choice is Nikon D5100.
I was just looking on a website where I am thinking of purchasing a D3100, If you remember my post earlier this month. I saw something that surprised me, it looks like now there’s a D3200 model. What is your take on this model, it says theres a 24mp CMOS sensor in it. Is it worth the cost increase on the D3100 and how does this compare to the D5100 since they’re both the same price?
Nick, I heard about the D3200 but didn’t have the chance to test it yet, so I can’t make any recommendations. Based on experience and whatever images have surfaced, high-ISO performance is expected to be less than stellar, due to higher sensor photo-elements density.
Anyway, if I were you, I’d delay my decision by a couple of weeks, hopefully by then the choice will become clearer.
Your article is great! I would really appreciate if you could help me suggesting a camera. I am looking for a DSLR. I am a mom of 2 kids. With my present camera, there is a time lag from the time I click to the picture taken missing the precious moments. Also I get blurry pictures when they are in action. The pictures are not that great during the night. I am looking to have video shots too, but they don’t have to be perfect. I am big picture person but like to capture moments in a video. I am looking to get some nice shots of the family during vacations, school activities, birthdays. Thanks
Hi, why don’t you try a Sony a55? Easy to use, high resolution, full-HD movie mode, built-in image stabilization and GPS.
Great aticle …I have read many articles concerning “the 1st SLR” and yours is the best.
I have a bridge camera, Panasonic FZ8, which help me to do very good pictures, mainly landscapes and portrets, sometimes actions and 1% to 5% videos.
Now I’m willing to step further into the photographic world and to buy a DSLR, but I wouldn’t spend alot of money on the body because the lens are more important. So in my list there are mainly two models: Nikon D90 (which is a little bit older but still a good camera, a better feeling in the hands) and the newer D5100. The D5100 is slidly cheeper and has the better sensor (as the more expensive cousin D7000). Which camera would be better for:
– Landscape 50%
– Portrets 25%
– Street 10%
– Video 1-5%
I’ve shut with a D80 which is close to D90 (as design) and the shutting and D5000 and is not the same feeling. D90 feels better.
You can suggest any other model if you think that will be better for me, I’m not a Nikon addicted yet 🙂
Nikon D90 was a great camera at its time, but it’s rather outdated now. It has one big advantage over the newer D5100: a better viewfinder (larger, with a prism instead of a mirror). Other than that, the D5100 improves in all areas: resolution, fps, LCD, full HD recording. The worst part is that the D90 is still relatively expensive. For landscape and portraits, the added resolution in D5100 always helps.
Personally I would pick the D5100, but if you prefer the D90 handling, which I agree it’s superior, my advice is – get the D90 ONLY if you can get it at a great price.
Hi, thank you for writing this article, I found it very useful as I have only used compact cameras before and I am interested in taking up animal/wildlife photography.
I had already decided on getting a Canon EOS 1100d as it was at a price I can afford (ebay £330) and it seemed to be a good beginner dslr.
However, a friend is looking for a new dslr and is selling his Nikon D3000 (body only) for £100. The LCD screen is a bit cracked but he assured me it would not effect photo quality.
I would be extremely grateful if you could give me your expert opinion on which is the better camera. As I am interested in animal photography, would shutter delay be something I should be thinking about when deciding between the two? Also, if the Nikon D3000 is a good choice, what would be an ideal first lens to purchase?
I am aware that the Nikon D3000 cannot record movies. Having that option would be a bonus but if it is a better camera than the Canon EOS 1100d, I’m willing to make that sacrifice.
Mei, how’s the LCD cracked? I mean, is it just a scratch on the surface, or is the LCD actually shattered? Is it still usable? I had a cracked LCD once, it drove me nuts after a while, even though it was still more or less usable. After a week or so I sent the camera in to replace it…
Shutter lag is no issue with DSLRs, but fps (frames per second) is when shooting animals or kids.
So, a D3000 at £100 vs 1100D at £330 both new or in great condition, I’d say D3000 wins, provided you can live without movie recording (I can). But when you add the broken LCD into equation, I don’t know. I’d had to see it. Ask your friend to borrow you the camera for a day and use it. If you can live the LCD, buy it.
Thank you for your advice. I have contacted my friend and will be going to have a look at his D3000 tomorrow.
Hi Armand…what a great site 🙂 I am a beginner to photography but wanted to know which is better the EOS600D or NIkon 5100 for general photography including, taking photos of kids, portraits etc but with more photography being done indoors and also in low light situations…camera out of those 2 would you recommend? I have previously been using point and shooter pocket cameras on auto but want to learn about the manual functions and advantages of a DSLR… so ?
Both are good cameras, but I think in your case the D5100 has an edge.
Hi Armand 🙂 , Can you tell me which DSLR is good for Shoot Model portfolio ? & i ve work on low ISO.
Depends on the budget. Canon 5D Mark III with 24-105mm f/4 lens is a very nice combination to start doing professional portraits. You will of course need additional lenses and lights, but the camera is great, I recommend it. With 2-3 studio strobes and umbrellas, you can do almost anything.
Actually i m a Beginner , it’s better to me if i start some thing low budget 🙁 …. my budget is around 2000$… So which one i should get ? & Thanks for your reply.
A Canon 60D should be enough to start with and will leave you enough money to get a basic lighting kit. Best of luck!
Hi I am really new in this field which do think should I buy Canon 60D or the Nikon D3200? I am a greenhorn to this. Which of the two has wider available lenses? Thank you so much 😉 God Speed
Jeffrey, you’ll find plenty of lenses for both brands, both new and used. Nikon D3200 is newer but the Canon 60D is more advanced, different segments really. If you’re a beginner, I would recommend the Nikon D3200, it should be more than adequate for you.
Thank you Armand for your response. Canon T3i is certainly a solid camera, how does it compare with the Nikon 5100? I am following your advice(a huge help) to buy the body only and add the lenses separately. Which lens would you recommend to start with for a person who is new to dslr? Thank you so much in advance.
The Canon T3i and Nikon D5100 are within the same generation and feature range. For someone careful about their budget, I’d say the T3i delivers more bang for the buck. You get a bit better resolution and a bit better screen for a little less money.
As for lens, hard to say. Since you want to be able to photograph all sorts of subjects, I’d say get a 18-135 lens, which should be versatile enough. You could get even a 18-200 or a 18-270 superzoom but the image quality is not so great in those.
this question must have been asked many times…..but please do answer it once more. i am going to buy my first dslr. i have no idea. i looked into nikon but did not explore canon. amongst nikon….i realised there is d3100 and then d5100 for begginers. now new one is nikon d3200. i find d3200 has better video capabilities and its better than d3100…..so i guess d3100 is out of my list….shud i go for new nikon d3200. its in my budget….i also wonder…soon there will be d5200…and then 5100 will appear dated…..i wish to invest near 700usd and not more than 1000usd…..u know the entire spectrum across brands…..suggest me a beginner dslr near 700usd cost. i am a doc and will use camera for hobby pics…family pics etc…..i neither have time nor interest to go deep into photography….i need something light in weight and cost…..easy to use…..but quality of dslr and not point and shoot. thanks for ur time. k
Hi, a Nikon D3200 will be great for you. No need to invest in a a D5100. Best of luck!
but how to do HDR with n3200. isnt lack of auto bracketing a big handicap with d3200. kindly comment.
Personally I never used auto bracketing for HDR. Auto-bracketing is for convenience only and you don’t know anyway in advance how many frames you’ll need. For example this HDR, I made it from 8 frames, one stop apart. Exposure was manual.
So yeah, you could set bracketing to 5 shots in 0.7 stops increment and hope the resulting dynamic range will be enough; heck, the new Sony cameras will do the HDR for you, but I prefer (and recommend) the manual approach, where you have full control.
which camera has more advanced technology. d3200 coz it has expeed 3 or d5100 coz it has auto bracketing.
Dr. Kshitij, in your first comment, you said “will use camera for hobby pics…family pics etc…..i neither have time nor interest to go deep into photography“, so I assumed you won’t be needing advanced features like HDR. For family pics, a D3200 will be great. However, if you are actually interested in more in-depth stuff, then yes, D5100 is better, not just because of auto bracketing.
suppose i go with d5100, what lens shud i get. shud i get the kit lens. what other lens shud i get…i am looking for casual photography of family etc….no wild life etc.
Definitely get an inexpensive prime, either a Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S (great for portraits in low light) or a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX (more general-purpose low-light). Personally I prefer the 50mm but I’m more into portraits.
Then, if you travel a lot, you may want to consider a super-zoom, like 18-200, or maybe just a zoom like 55-200…
hand held HDR – is this a good idea – If you are hand holding the camera why not take one RAW file and produce three jpgs one EV apart either side of the corectly exposed photo and merge those ? Saves space on the camera and prevents blurred unaligned shots , or motion within the shot. Also stops a lot of worry about holding the camera still enough. besides this my photography expert friend says – You dont require auto bracketing and it is not worth it.You should learn to take one stop up and down manually. What is important you should go for a camera which can take raw also with fine. Then you can create things. R these sensible ideas to take good hand hdr?
If you use RAW, you don’t even need to produce different JPEGs from it. In Lightroom 4 you can just use the Whites, Highlights, Shadows and Blacks sliders to make an HDR-like image – see for example here: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1154286. It works nicely as long as you don’t have huge dynamic ranges.
If you want the best quality (no noise) and you have a higher dynamic range (really bright areas and really dark areas), then you’ll still need a tripod and taking multiple images.
Hi Armand, thanks for the great article and the wonderful website in general. I need a little help deciding which DSLR to get [a question you’ve been asked several times! :)]. This will be my first DSLR, and after doing some research and going into a store to play with the cameras, I am only interested in Nikon. I am deciding between D5100, D7000, and D90. I will mostly be shooting landscape, city scenes, and my friends (casual stuff, not to make $$). I had the D40 for about a month, so I know the basics of shooting with a DSLR. I originally wanted the D90, but since the new line came out I’ve been debating which camera to get.
I’ve been the most attracted to the D7000 because it’s got a ton of functions and is at a level of complexity that will keep me learning for the next 5-6 years! However, its $1500-2000 price point is over my desired budget of ~$1000 for both a body and lens. Should I splurge on it anyways (I can afford it, but it must be worth it!)? Or, will the D5100 be a good ‘investment’ for 5-6 years (if I buy the D5100 I’ll get the body only and buy the 18-105 VR lens)? My final option is to find a D90 w/ the 18-105VR lens, and then in 2-3 years get a new body, maybe the D7000 or its upgraded model. I’m leaning towards this because it costs the least and through my research it appears that it’s better to invest in quality lenses.
Please let me know what you think! Thank you in advance!
I always recommend a lower-end camera as your first. Main reason is that you can’t fully appreciate the advanced options at first. It takes years get to the point where you actually need and know how to use the advanced features and at that time the camera would be obsolete already. Lenses last a lifetime and accessories (filters, flashes, triggers, tripods and so on) work across camera models and very often across brands as well.
So I would advise against the D7000. On the other hand the D90 is a bit dated now, especially if you’re planning on shooting video as well. This leaves us with D5100m which is a fine camera, although it’s expected than Nikon will announce its D5200 successor soon. Have you had the chance to look at D3200? It’s an entry-level but it has very high resolution, for your type of photography it should be good.
Hi Armand, thank you so much for the quick and informative reply!
Do you think the D90 being outdated is that big of a drawback? (I am interested in shooting video.) The issue is I’m planning on making a purchase within the next 2-3 weeks, rather than wait until ~August when the new line is rumoured to come out (thus lowering the prices of the current line). I want to be able to use my summer break learning how to use the DSLR rather than wait until just before school starts. And I have looked at the D3100, though I feel the D5100 seems like a much better match for me in terms of the “long” run (5-7 years). The D90 and D5100 w/ the 18-105VR lens costs about the same so if I’m not going to buy a new body for another 5-6 years, and will have four full 4-month blocks (my summer breaks) as well as throughout the years to learn how to use the camera, do you think the 5100’s “complexity” is good enough for that long of a period?
As well, do you think the 18-105VR is a solid first lens to choose?
Thanks again in advance!
Yes, I think D90 is not a good investment, especially for video. If you want something more advanced than the D3100 and D3200, get D5100 now. The 18-105 is a nice lens to have, versatile and with reasonable image quality.
Apologies on the d90 part. Ignore it. But d3200. Whats the point???
I am not a computer doing match-making. For everyone who asks, I do my best to give the best advice based on the intended use, budget, prior experience and so on. For some, an entry-level DSLR might be enough; for others I recommend a more advanced camera. There’s no contradiction, otherwise I’d be recommending everyone to buy a Nikon D800 and be done with it. I am not affiliated with any camera manufacturer and I do my best not to promote any brand in particular.
This article along with others like “depth-of-field-a-guide-for-beginners” and “photography-understand-exposure” were great. It gave me a good insight and how to play with your camera.
I have a Canon SX200 IS. But now I want to move on to dSLRS. Since I am just a beginner, I don’t want to invest a lot of money. I was looking at Canon 550D and Sony SLT A57. I don’t want to change lens to often. Normally I use my camera while on travel and like to shoot every thing from land scapes to flowers (in SMacro mode), kids in front of some buildings etc. So I am looking for 18-200mm lens.
Please sugest which one shouild I go for. If you have any other model in mind for my type of photography, please suggest.
Thanks and regards,
Can’t say I’m a big fan of the A57, for travel you might be better off if you can find an A55, which has GPS built-in.
Compared to the Canon D550, I think the Sony would be better for you.
As for lenses, Tamron has a nice 18-270 lens with a good price. It’s available for both Canon and Sony mounts, and on Sony you don’t have to worry about stabilization since the camera will take care of it.
Hi Armand,(hope you wont mind this lengthy post. Your response would mean a lot me) looks like this thread would settle my R&D I guess. You have been very helpful for all the beginners. thumbs up for that.
I have used a old film Slr(Yashica) for sometime. Decided to enter into DSLRs. Did crazy searches, and finally I’ve almost zeroed in on going for Nikon D3200 with 35mm AF-s 1.8g lens instead of kit lens. Still I have few unsettled concerns.
I love shooting day to day stuff, landscapes, portrait, flowers, travel, experimental. I’ve always dreamed of capturing things better than my own eyes. Thats what photography means to me. My top priorities are
Image quality(D3200/D5100???),Budget(<700 USD), best lens options.
Pls suggest- In my budget is there a better dslr which can give better image quality and lens options??? I prefer canon/Nikon.
Main concern of mine is the absence of AF motor in D3200. Will this affect me with lens choices in future. As of now i'll pick up 35mm prime. my future wishlist would be a 24-70mm f/2.8, 70/300 f/2.8… but it might take more than 5 , 6 years for me to buy 1 of them/both9In btw I might pick up a cheap zoom lens). by choosing Nikon will I be loosing out anything??? I don't think I will change the body for a long long time, unless you offer me a job ;), I believe in optics than camera features.
Shall I buy D3200 or should I think of something like 550D? Thanks for reading. Appreciate your time and effort.
About the lenses, the 35mm f/1.8 it’s a nice lens but limited if you want to do both landscapes and portraits. Then again, since you’ve used the film Yashica in the past, you probably know how to work around the limitations. Just so you know, zooms nowadays give pretty much the same quality as primes, I’d consider primes only for specialized cases, like the incredible 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T. Sadly it’s for Sony only, but the results are gorgeous. Very expensive though.
If you’re planning on keeping the body for a long time, then you will definitely outgrow the D3200 in a couple of years at most, especially given your previous experience. So let’s see – you can get a Nikon D5100 for $600. I’d pair it with a Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 but it’s expensive, so yeah, maybe Nikon 35mm f/1.8 it’s more within your budget.
Hello I really want to take photography as a hobbie. However I have always had a compact camera and I would like to buy a camera with better specifications. I enjoy taking pictures of family & Friends, Landscape shots also. As I am a total amatuer I would really like your advice on what camera would be great for my first. thank you for your time.
Canon just announced the 650D / T4i camera. It should be released in a month or so. If you can wait, this is the camera I’d recommend for you.
I’m shopping for my first SLR camera. I have narrowed my search to the D5100 and the a57. It will primarily be used for sports, family, animals, and travel.. but I also love to get artsy and creative with photography. I do a lot of cropping and resizing as well. Which camera would best fit my needs now and as I gain experience? Thanks in advance!
Tough call. I like Sony’s ability to do lots of things in-camera (panoramas, HDR, creative filters, etc.), higher fps and the ability to see everything in real-time in the EVF but on the other hand I think the Nikon D5100 will give you more freedom to expand. If you prefer to get artsy on a computer rather than in-camera, get the D5100.
Good Day Armand,
Your website is full of information and this article is very well written. I really appreciate that you not biased towards any make or model and helping here at your best. Well I ‘ve started photography few years back. Recently I brought Sony HX200v Bridge camera and use to mostly capture kids, landscapes and insects. Now I ‘m planning to buy my first DSLR and finally shortlisted Canon 600D and Nikon D5100. I have found that both of these cameras are capable of doing many similar things. Would you be able to advise which one is better? by the way I ‘m not interested in HD videos option but in portraits and landscapes.
They are about the same in terms of features. Slightly better specs in 600D, slightly better quality in D5100. My advice – get D5100 now or wait a bit for the new 650D.
Thanks Armand. I ‘m not sure but major difference between 600D and 650D are probably a touch screen (with gestures), Increased ISO, DIGIC 5, HD movies with manual controls and hopefully price tag would be higher if compared to D5100.
Well, the price shouldn’t be above D5100, but we’ll see. The only ‘problem’ with 650D is that in order to take advantage of their hybrid AF for video, you need a new STM lens. You mentioned that you’re not interested in video and in truth we don’t know yet how the 650D will perform so maybe it’s better to get a D5100 now.
Lots and lots of great info here. I am buying my first DSLR very soon. I am hoping to use it mostly for outdoor family/children photography as an ameture to help support my family as I am a stay at home mom. Until I read your very helpful article, I was only looking at canon and nikon. I do not know much about using a DSLR and this is going to be a HUGE learning experience for me. My budget for now is a lot less than most of the others’ in the comments. I am looking to spend around $500. I have been looking at Nikon D3100, Canon Rebel T3, and a Sony A NEX-C3K as they are in my budget. I am wondering which might be best for me. I want something I can learn on without getting too discouraged. I also want great photo quality so my “clients” can enlarge the photos for hanging on their walls and such. I am liking the sonys as you mentioned they have an IS in the body rather than the lens. It gets so confusing trying to compare these cameras when I don’t know much about DSLRs. Can you help?
Thanks so much!
Sony NEX line is nice because the camera bodies are very slim, although by the time you add lenses, it becomes as bulky as the others. Also, the NEX is not a real DSLR, although the lines are blurring fast.
So with the NEX I’m undecided what to tell you: It’s a very nice family camera in terms of features and very easy to use, but it doesn’t give you a lot of room to upgrade because the lens selection is limited.
So, for your budget I’d say get the Nikon D3100.
I have pretty much the same interests as Jamie here does, I have settled on a Nikon and am trying to decide between the D3100 and the D3200. From what I can tell in comparing the two they are nearly identical except the D3100 is 14.2 MP and the D3200 is 24.2 MP. My question is, in your opinion would it be a smarter idea for me to go with the D3200 for the extra 10 MP for roughly $120 more?
Kim, if the budget allows, yes, it’s worth getting the D3200 over the D3100. There are other subtle improvements other than the increased resolution.
My dad (now in his 80’s and not knowledgeable in the dslr market) used to be a professional photographer and had a Nikon N90S with 6 lenses. The lenses are most f2.8 and probably circa 1995. Are these lenses still useable with currently dslr bodies and should I be leaning toward a body that can accomodate these lenses? Or, are these lenses basically obsolete at this point? I was leaning toward the D7000. Any guidance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Eric, a lens from 1995 is practically new 🙂 I have two lenses from the ’80s and they still work great. People have been using lenses from the ’70s or even older. As long as a lens does not develop fungus inside and oil does not appear on the aperture blades, it’ll work fine.
Now, in your specific case, entry-level Nikons work only with the newer AF-I and AF-S lenses, but a D7000 (great camera, btw) will work with virtually any Nikon lens.
So, you’re a very lucky man. 6 fast lenses you get for free, that’s something!
Best of luck.
Armand, you’ve been so great with helping everyone that I decided to ask for your opinion. I’ve been saving up for my first dSLR which I want to buy within the next few weeks, but have been up in the air about what brand to even start my system. I’m in dental school and will be practicing soon, so I need a camera that can do some decent macro work to take pictures of my work and restorations in and outside of the mouth. In addition, I take pictures of my art/craft work for my blog, which is another main aspect of my photos. Besides those specialty subjects, I mainly like to photograph family / friend casual pictures. Travel photography is not currently a big subject of mine, but once I’m out of school, I wouldn’t mind having the capability to do some decent travel shooting. I don’t need any video capabilities whatsoever (I never ever shoot video), and I don’t shoot any sort of action photography – so older model cameras are definitely an option for me, especially in light of my budget. I definitely don’t need the newest camera out there with all of the bells and whistles like HD video.
I guess it seems to me like I need a good prime and then a few other specialty lenses , so I understand if I buy into a system for the lenses (also, I’d appreciate a suggestion for a lens for my dental work photos). But what camera would be good enough for what I need, especially considering my budget constraints? I understand photo basics, so I’m not going into the SLR realm blindly, but I haven’t looked further than a Canon T2i or Nikon D5100. My blog has some examples of my subject matter if you need further ideas (I shot all my photos with the compact Canon ELPH 310 with some basic Photoshop CS4 manipulation for vintage effect). I really appreciate your opinion, Armand – thank you!
Stephanie, what would your budget be?
A dedicated macro lens might be quite expensive, how large are the objects you’re photographing? (It it one tooth mostly, or larger?)
Give me some details and I’ll try to think of something.
Hi Armand, thank you for such a wonderful article. I am looking at my first DSLR. I was debating between the Canon SX40 or the Nikon 5100, can you provide me with your thoughts on either one. I would like to take photos of my son playing baseball / basketball and I need a better zoom for videos and photos in dark light when my daughter’s perform recitals on stage. I won’t be changing out lens and don’t want to carry anything too bulky. Any comments, advice and recommendations are appreciated.
Well, A Nikon D5100 will definitely provide significantly better quality, especially with spots and in low light.
Looking at the prices, a Canon SX40 – 12MP with 35x zoom and image stabilization is $375, whereas a Nikon D5100 body is $550 and if you don’t want to change lenses, you’ll need a ‘superzoom’, which can go from $300 for a Tamron 18-200mm to $850 for a Nikon 18-200mm.
In terms of image quality, responsiveness, speed and overall quality, if you have the money, get the Nikon D5100 + Nikon 18-200 lens. Second best is D5100 + Tamron 18-200 lens.
I feel bad being yet another amateur asking for advice on my first purchase but your advice seems so thoughtful that I couldn’t resist. So sorry in advance!
Anyway, I’m upgrading from a compact camera and would like to find a camera that is compatible with as many lenses as possible as I’ll most likely buy quite a few. I have heard plenty of glowing reviews of the EOS 5D Mark II but I’m not sure I really want to throw down that much money straight away. What I’ve seen of the video recording and low light performance from the camera really tempts me though.
My budget will definitely be below $2000 but how much depends on how great the camera is. The 5D already falls within that here (in Australia) but is body only. As for the kind of photos I’ll be taking, I tend to take a lot of photos with shallow depth of field but will also be using the camera when I go to Japan in November so will probably be taking some wider shots as well. Video is also a huge plus.
Thanks for any recommendations!
Thanks for the kind words.
The Canon 5D Mark II is probably the best affordable professional camera, but if you get it as your first camera, it will only confuse you.
My advice is always save on body, spend on glass. A good lens even on a modest body will do more than a the best body with a mediocre lens.
So, considering that you have some bugdet available, I’d say start with a Canon 60D + 18-135mm lens for $1200. The rest of the $800 you can use to get a nice lens – you didn’t mention what type of photography you’re into but you should be able to get something nice.
Thanks for the recommendation, Armand.
The 60D looks like it might suit me nicely. I’ve also been looking at the Sony Nex-7, which is in a similar price range. I’ve heard good things about it. Do you have any experience with it? I quite like macro photography as well as landscape (love wide-angle shots!).
The NEX line of cameras are nice but they’re aimed at a different segment. It’s for people who want DSLR-like results in a small body. In addition, the lens selection is pretty limited. I would not recommend it for a ‘true’ photo enthusiast.
You finally told me something useful after the six pages of google hits that just didn’t address what I wanted. This said, I see you have been very lovely and answered other peoples requests, and I thought I’d jump on the band wagon!
I’m not a novice as such, I have had my Nikon D40 for years and I have learnt the basics with it coupled with my AF 18-55 and Tamron 70-300, though I’m now wanting more from my hobby and it’s not quite up to scratch (I love macro!). Video is not very important for me. Even though I have some of the more basic equipment for Nikon, I have still being considering Canon, I am just in a bit of a rut and am struggling to narrow down my selection from these; Canon EOS 1000, 450, 500, 550 and 1100 and Nikon D90, D3100, D5000 and D5100. If you could thin out the selection and give me a couple of pointers, I would be hugely greatful!
I don’t really see the need to switch brands. Each camera maker has a different design philosophy and you’d have to relearn it (not a big deal, but if you can avoid it…) Plus, you’d have to see the Tamron lens.
So my advice would be for you to get a Nikon D5100 body for $500.
Nikon has a wide selection of macro lenses, from $200 to $1800. You may want to get the Nikon 40mm f/2.8, a steal at $280 or its bigger brother, Nikon 60mm f/2.8 for about $480 on Amazon.com (MSRP price is $520). Both of them are true macro lenses capable of 1:1 magnification, meaning you’ll be able to capture an area the size of the camera sensor, roughly 1″x1″.
Great website – you write well and have posted very good information here. I shall recommend this site to my friends.
I am looking to purchase my first DSLR. I do not have much photography experience prior to this but I am very interested in pursuing this as a new hobby. Initially I will use the camera to take nicer pics during holidays. But I also intend to attend some basic photography courses to learn more about this craft. I eventually would like to be able to take great shots of beautiful scenery/nature and maybe some cool artsy shots of city life, people, etc and play around with them on photoshop to create some nice big wall pictures.
While budget is not a concern, I also want to heed your advice about getting a basic one as a first DSLR so as not to be confused by the myraid of functions. But considering I want to develop this into a serious hobby (strictly recreational; won’t be making $ out of this), I also do not want to get too basic a model which would be inadequate once I become better. Could you recommend me a good DSLR (Canon or Nikon) body and an appropriate starting lens that I should get based on the information above?
Thanks in advance for your guidance.
Kevin, how about the Canon EOS 60D with 18-135mm lens for about $1200. It’s a mid-level very capable camera and the lens is versatile. This should keep you busy 🙂
Thanks for your reply, Armand.
While I was waiting for your reply, I did some reading on the different models and narrowed down to 2 models – the Nikon D5100 and the Canon EOS 650D. Are these 2 suitable for me, from what I described? And how does these 2 cameras compare with one another, and with the one you recommended, the Canon EOS 60D?
Kevin, the 60D is a better, albeit more expensive, camera. I picked it based on your comment that you want a camera to keep for a longer time and that budget is not a concern. The Canon 650D is not released yet so I cannot make a real-life comparison, but based on the specs I would choose it over Nikon D5100.
Really great article. I am looking into purchasing my first DSLR having only ever used compacts previously. I am looking at purchasing the Nikon D5100 which comes with a 18 – 105mm VR lens, and am thinking about purchasing 1 or 2 additional lenses to go with it. I am confused with all the different categories though so was wondering if you could offer me some advice? I will mainly be using the Camera to take general family photos, but will also be looking to take some landscape and wildlife shots. I would have around £1000 to spend on lenses. Could you please advise on which lenses would be suitable? Thanks
Hi Phil, please read my very long article on lenses to get started. Then post any questions you may have on that article. Thanks!
Thanks for that link it was really useful. I have a couple of questions arising from it, for the Prime lens you recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF lens. Would it be worth the additional $100 to get the Nikon AF-S 50mm f1.8G lens? Also for a fisheye lens (which I know you’re not a fan of) I’m thinking it would be best to go for the Full Frame lens even though I will have a APS-C body as I would not have to replace the lens if I bought a Full Frame body in the future, is there a particular reason why I should buy the APS-C version instead? Thanks for your help.
Phil, yes, definitely go for the G version of the 50mm lens, it’s optically better. In fact I changed my recommendation in the article.
As for the fisheye, if you mount a full-frame (FX) lens on a an APS-C body, the field of view would be different so the lens will no longer be a real fisheye anymore.
A very nice fisheye lens for APS-C cameras is the Samyang 8mm f/3.5. The name may not seem trustworthy but it’s actually a very good lens and relatively inexpensive ($330). It’s manual focus only but I’ve seen very good results.
Thanks for the wonderful article, it provided me with some very useful information. I’m looking to purchase my very first DSLR. I don’t have much experience with photography prior to this. I’ve only taken photos for fun when I’m out with friends and family either travelling, special occasions or just casually hanging out. I’m definitely looking to pursue photography as a hobby and willing to learn the more advanced functions over time, (but won’t be making $ out of it). Right now, I’m not sure of what type of photography i want to pursue, whether it’s portraits, scenery, sports etc.(sort of leaning towards scenery) well mainly just casual photos, but I would like to experiment first.
I’ve read many comments and see that many people were deciding between the Sony A37 / A57 and Nikon D3200/5100. Other DSLRs that I’ve looked into are Canon T3i or T4i. Which would you suggest for me? I know one feature that’s new to the Canon T4i is the auto-focus for shooting videos, but that doesn’t really play a big factor in my case because I typically don’t shoot videos unless it’s for school projects.
My budget around and below $1200 CDN. Since it is my first DSLR, I don’t really want to spend too much.
Also, what are some suggestions and key features to look for when purchasing a DSLR?
Sorry for the long comment, but it would be a great help to read your response.
Thanks so much!
Emily, I suggest you start with an entry-level, no point in spending a lot of money at this stage. The Sony a37 can do AF in videos too but with a different technology.
In terms of prices, the T4i is the most expensive and I’d rule it out for now. That leaves the Sony a37 vs. Nikon D3200. Each one has different strenghts and weaknesses. I’d lean toward the a37 because it can do lots of things in-camera and the EVF makes it easy to see how the different settings affect the image – you see it live before taking the shot.
However, it’s best for you to walk in a camera store (even if you plan to buy online) and test both cameras for a minute, see which one you like best in terms of handling.
Nice bolg. I also read your blog about lens to buy. I am on my way to by my first DSLR camera. But I have some budget constraint. I can spend around 450 euros. I am living in Paris. Within this budget I find Canon 1100D+18-55mm IS II, or Pentax KR NOIR+18-55.
Can you please suggest me one or anything else in this range? I would be very grateful.
Thank you so much.
Pentax K-r is the better camera between the two of them but you won’t have as many upgrade options in the future. If you intend to purchase more lenses, flashes and accessories, Canon may be a safer choice.
Nice blog 🙂
I am new to SLR thing. I am planning to purchase a dslr & am confused between canon 550d, nikon d5100 & sony a57. Although, sony a57 is great on features, but other people i have consulted have advised me for either NIKON or CANON. Can sony be a problem at time of upgrade?
Thanks in advance.
Nim, as I mentioned elsewhere, in photography brand loyalty approaches religious levels. No Toyota owner would ridicule you if you bought a Honda but Canon and Nikon owner do like to engage in lengthy debates over minute camera features. And if some poor Sony, Pentax or Olympus owner gets in the mix, the’ll drop everything to berate that user. I think this attitude speaks more about the owner than about their cameras.
Anyway – it’s true that with Nikon and Canon there are more accessories available, more rental options and more lenses. This won’t really matter unless you’re pursuing a pro or semi-pro career. For casual photographers and hobbyists I often recommend the Sony A57 – it’s a very nice camera with many features – in-camera HDR, in-camera panoramas, 10 fps, in-camera stabilization and more.
Sooo, if you want to take photos for your family, travel, hobby, etc., a Sony will will be nice. If you want to take photography classes the Sony will be fine but watch our for weird comments from the other students. If you intend to start a business around photography, then a Canon or Nikon will offer you more flexibility and support.
Great advice you are offering and wonder if you may help me. I am looking to purchase my first DLSR. I would like to have a hobby once my degree has finished( next year) but am looking to purchase a DLSR this year.
I am interestedin pictures of all sorts.not necessarily sports but who knows. But I also would like to utilsie the video option .I was thinking of buy the best I can so i dont feel i have outgrown it in a couple of years and the Nikon D7000 was top of my list.However you have stated buying a slighter cheaper camera and have the extra money for lenses etc which i may need if shooting videos as I beleive i would need an external mic?Woudl the d5100 be a good choice with the flip screen option or do you think the D5200 might be better to wait for.I cant find any info on this so not sure when it will be released or if it is worth waiting for!
I hope this isnt too much of a rambling message but would appreciate your advice as the forums I have trawled through all have so much information it is beyond me as the very basics of photography are beyond me at this stage but am a quick learner!
I picked nikon rather than cannon as .w.ell it seemed to look a little nicer but could go for either to be honest!So if its a cannon dont be afraid to tell me
better camera bodies are released every couple of years and in 3 years a D7000 body will seem so old to you… In contrast, if you buy a good lens, you’ll use it forever (or until you can afford an even better one, and then you can sell the old one on eBay; lenses tend to preserve their worth, especially if they’re well taken care of).
The Nikon D5100 is a fine camera. If you could wait until Photokina, it would be even better. New cameras are announced there.
And yes, an external mic is always recommended.
Thanks a ton for your article. it is extremely useful. Like others this is going to be my first DSLR and so many options have really confused me.
I am a wildlife and nature enthusiast and have been an avid bird watcher since the last 10 years. While following birds I have developed a keen interest in Bird Photography. I am primarily interested in Birds (both in flight and still), flowers and butterflies and landscapes.
I have used a Canon Compact Camera before and now would like to own an advanced entry level DSLR. After an extensive research I have narrowed down to Nokia D5100 (with AF-S 18-55mm VR Kit Lens) , Canon Rebel T3i and T2i (with EF S18-55IS). My budget is around $800 including the lenses.
I would like to have your opinion on these options and if you have any other suggestions.
Looking forward to your reply.
Bird photography is hard and expensive. In fact, it’s about the hardest subject – especially birds in flight. Personally, after 11 years of doing photography, I still find it difficult.
You need a camera that allows for high fps and then you’ll have to spend a lot of money on really long lenses. Something like the Canon 60D or better. Birds are small and usually you can’t get near them. A 200mm lens is an absolute minimum. a 500mm reflex lens or a 400mm + 1.4x teleconverter are usual. 600mm lenses are used often.
I can’t think of anything that would fit your budget.
Here’s a forum of dedicated bird photographers, they may have additional tips for you: https://www.naturephotographers.net/imagecritique/bbs.cgi?a=vf32&ns=1
Thanks for your reply.. I really appreciate your help.
I am not a professional photographer and bird photography is more of a hobby. I intend to buy a DSLR for better photography experience. I am a complete novice in the DSLR field, hence I initially intend to use the basic 18-55mm lens. After learning the basic functionality of the camera I wish to upgrade to 200mm lens. Since I plan to use the camera for a fairly long time I had zeroed down to these entry level models. Please suggest.
For you, I think a T3i would work best to start learning.
You’re by far the best when it comes to dslr’s so I was wondering if you could help me out here. I’ve always been fascinated by photographers and photography in general and I’m finally ready to get started. I’ve never owned a dsrl before so this will be my first. It won’t be used professionally but I’m going to put a lot of free time into it and make it my main hobby (while persuing my studying). I would like to be able to take a varied range of pictures, from portraits, casual family and friends pictures, but mainly landscapes and street photography and at the same time be able to snap away at day as well as night time (please keep in mind that it’s always dull and cloudy here in London!). I’m really not interested in taking videos but it may come handy at some point I guess. A flip out screen would be very useful eventhough I’m most likely to be taking stills. I’m also not interested in taking sporty pictures. I don’t edit pictures from my mac, I’d like to be able to customize pictures using either my iphone or straight from the camera; not really for cropping but I’d love for the camera to have built in effects like fish eye, panorama and selective colour mode in particular, it’s not a big deal but it would be nice. I’m looking for something with £650 all together including body and lense. I have small hands so I’d like something with a good grip and not big to the extreme. I just can’t decide between the following (I’m more into Nikons to be honest):
Nikon D3200 (lovely, especially it’a guide mode but I think 24mp is a bit too much), Nikon D5100 (not robust and slightly outdated but I’ve heard tremendously great stuff about it and also has a flippy), Canon 600D (didn’t really like it’s size but loved it’s display and flippy) or Canon 550D (no flippy and a bit big but read good reviews about it)?
If not are there any others you’d advise? I’ve still got around two to three months to decide so do you think I should wait for that Photokina event to go by and then decide? Thank you so much in advance!
actually for your style I would recommend a Sony a57 rather than a Nikon. Sony is a SLT camera, meaning that it has full time live view with fast autofocus. It has a high quality EVF (electronic viewfinder), which means that you always see what the camera sees; this comes in handy because you see the effects live. Sony a57 has quite a lot of effects, including sweep panorama (and even a 3D panorama that you can see on 3D TV sets), in-camera HDR, selective colour and more (about 15 effects) and other nice features and a few gimmicks (it even autocrops portraits).
So my advice is – go to the nearest Jessops and try one, you might like it. If you don’t want Sony, then get the Nikon D3200.
Hey, I read your threads and I really like it. I felt this is an one stop place for my questions to decide my DSLR. Though you would have answered these kind of questions in this thread many times, I felt your reply depends what people actually need. So I thought I will put this question with my specifications. I have been using the point and shoot all these years. I’m now planning to step in to the DSLR world after looking in to the pictures taken by my friends who have become professional photographers now. So I’m a beginner. I’m not planning to be a professional photographer any time. My photography will be limited to my family especially to capture the beatiful moments of my baby. I will also use it to take pictures of indoor family events and would also use it ocassionally for travel. I prefer Canon/Nikon and my budget is <1000$. Please recommend me a good DSLR as per my requirements above.
I’d say get the new Canon T4i ($900 on Amazon.com). I think it will keep you happy 🙂
Hey Armand, thanks much! I will keep reading this forum as it gives me more exposure in to the DSLR world. Maybe I will get interested and become a professional photographer in the future and will come to you seeking advise 🙂 Just one last thing, can you please suggest me a website/online classes to learn the basic DSLR photography?
Kodak used to have a great resource, nowadays they are more geared to beginners: https://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/Home_Main/Tips_Projects_Exchange/Learn/Photo_Tips.htm
I don’t know about online classes, you may try on Lynda.com
I’m looking to buy my first DSLR camera, and, like a few people’s comments above me, was wondering if you’d be able to guide me specifically in the right direction 🙂
I’ve had a little Canon IXUS 80 which I must have bought in 2008 or so for the past 4 years. I also recently bought an iPhone 4S which takes great pictures, so I’m quite pleased with that. I love to take photos, especially on the streets or while on holiday. However, I would really like to step it up a bit in terms of a proper camera. I’ve read about these almost cross-breed cameras that are almost compact-size but DSLR-quality. Can you recommend something relatively inexpensive (under $800) that would satisfy my needs? Thank you 🙂
I think Sony NEX-5N was designed just for you 🙂
Seriously, it’s a nice small & stylish camera with touch-screen controls but with a high quality sensor and interchangeable lenses. It’s $600 on Amazon.com so it fits the budget too (you can buy more lenses later).
Im looking to upgrade to a DSLR but unsure what to get i like taking photos like macro, landscape, sunsets, outdoor photography more, im not into portraits as much. I would like to try and spend no more than $1500.
In your case the camera doesn’t matter as much, what you need is good lenses. You could get a Nikon D3200, which has the advantage of 24Mp resolution (important for landscapes and macro, even though it lacks in other areas) and save the money for lenses. I suggest an ultra-wide angle lens (I suggest the Tamron AF 11-18mm, the Nikon equivalent is twice as expensive) and maybe a dedicated macro lens (they are quite expensive, but in the beginning you could use a close-up adaptor/filter). Best of luck!
Ok that was one of the cameras my friend suggested i should get. Is it better to get a 18-105mm lens with it then buy a wide angle and macro lens or get a 18-55mm and 55-300mm lens ? i have been told zoomy lens dont produce a very good photo ?
Reuben, there are good telephoto lenses but they’re expensive, the 55-300 is passable but not something I’d recommed. So yeah, an 18-105mm would give you some more flexibility.
ok thanks heaps for the info it has really helped.
Thanks for the info above. I am currently looking into starting my own photography business. I am going to start with maternity/newborns/children/family photos (some in studio, some on scene). Once I get more practice and become 100% comfortable with a camera, I want to move to weddings and special events. I have children and also enjoy taking pictures of landscape and “in the moment” shots at home… and other personal shots, etc. Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated! I am a very fast learner with lots of artistic ability. I am just unsure what I need to spend to make amazing pictures for my future business! I want to invest now and not later on a great camera.Thanks SO much!
For a business you’ll have to spend some real money. I recommend this combo: Canon 5D Mk III + 24-105mm f/4 L lens. It has a quite a price tag – $4K, but it’s the cheapest pro package. Then you’d need some lights but that’s another story. If your budget is lower, I can try to help if you tell me how much money you can spend.
Thanks for the advice! I was really hoping not to spend THAT much… Does a person need such a good camera? Would the pictures not be good enough with good lenses with say a Ti4? I am just not sure how good of a camera a person needs. I will spend the money now, if need be though. If I was sticking to family, newborn, maternity, engagement, would I still need a Canon 5D? Is it because of the future wedding shots or do you just recommend a really good camera for any business? Again, shots will be taken from a home studio and on location.
Thank you again for your time to respond! I really appreciate it!
Marianne, generally speaking you have to take into account not only what you can do with the camera, but also what the competition can do. I don’t know how things are in your area.
A full-frame camera has number of advantages – high resolution, better performance in low light, a more shallow depth of field and some other ‘pro’ features. If you want to start small, the lowest I can recommend is a Canon 60D but you still need a good lens for it (the one that comes with it is not good enough). So let’s see, about $900 for the camera and $650 for a Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8. The Tamron is a decent lens and the constant F/2.8 aperture will help you in low light and to achieve shallow DOF, but you won’t be able to use it if you upgrade to a full-frame camera later.
sorry just one more thing could you recommend a few good macro lens, ones not overly expensive but some that produce good photos. 🙂
This is a pretty good lens – Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro, $500 on Amazon.com
thank you so much for your advice and resources. i appreciate your patience with us amateur photographers and your answering the same questions so kindly!
i am ready to purchase my first DSLR. i love to shoot animals–wildlife, domestic and landscapes. also travel photography as i am moving to japan. i am often frustrated by my compact camera’s slowness when i shoot in the infinity (or contant shooting) mode. there is a lag time when the camera has to save the photos to the card that means i have to stop shooting. (i have a point and shoot sony cybershot–i think it’s the DSC-H9V). i have an older panasonic lumix camera that shoots consecutive shots without that lag time-in fact i can shoot til i’m out of memory card.
i’ve been looking at the canon T3i but have found reviews stating that it’s not great for shooting fast moving subjects. also, i’ve thought about the nikon D3100 or D3200. (costco has bundle packages that come with lenses. https://www.costco.com/digital-slr-cameras.html . i thought this might be a good more economical way to get started with my first DSLR. could you tell me if this is a good investment? and which of these models you’d recommend to best shoot nature and fast moving subjects?
thank you so much! your advice is most appreciated.
No entry-level DSLR is particularly suited for wildlife, although they are much much better than compacts anyway. So the practical difference between a T3i and a D3200 is minimal – the T3i shoots at 3.5 fps, the D3200 shoots at 4 fps.I would give the T3i a slight edge in LCD (it’s articulated and with higher res) but the D3200 has more resolution. In your case the advice is to go to a camera store and try both cameras in your hand, see which one fits better.
thanks so much for your advice! when i went to the store to try them, i actually ended up purchasing a cannon EOS 60D. it came with a 18-200mm lens which the attendant convinced me was worth the purchase right there (paid $1250 for the body, lens, accessories.) now i’m starting to compare the nikon D7000 because i see that it’s got a faster burst speed…6 vs. my 5.3 in cannon. do you think this is really that big a difference? i also saw that the nikon has weather proofing and a dbl. SD card slot. nice features, but i’ve in the past been predisposed to canon. any thoughts?
thanks again for all your help and advice!
Katie, I’m sorry to see you have the symptoms of buyer’s remorse. The 60D is a very good camera; the 18-200 lens not so much. The fps difference doesn’t matter. Weather proofing might come in handy although as long as you don’t shoot in the desert on in heavy rain if won’t make a difference. The super-zoom lens is okay but it doesn’t have the optical quality of good lenses; it is a nice lens to get with you when you want to travel light.
I appreciate your advice so much! Thank you!
If I went with a Canon 5D, do I only need the one lens for the time being (24-105mm)? How do you feel about buying used cameras?
I am going to go look at a Canon 5D on Monday and see how it feels and go from there. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to help me out!
Thanks so much! Your knowledge is so helpful!
Marianne, the 24-105 is a pretty versatile lens, I’d say you can do a lot of work with it. You WILL buy more lenses eventually but you can get the job nicely with it. To be perfectly honest, a 24-70 F/2.8 lens would be better but it’s also more expensive, hence my recommendation.
Used equipment are hit & miss. I never bought used cameras but I did buy used lenses off eBay without any issues. I did buy a flash once (from Adorama no less) and although they listed it as being in great condition it came without the case and the stand. Oh well. You should be able to find used Canon 5D MkII cameras, if possible try someone from your area and test it before you buy.
I need some advice. I’m also thinking of buying my first dslr. I’m new to still photography (which I hope to learn properly after getting a dslr) but I’ve been a small scale movie maker for a little while now. Up to now I’ve been using a 3ccd video cam for my movie stuff but I thought I might buy a dslr with HD movie capabilities so that I can cover both still photography and movie making with the same cam. I’ve been looking into this and I thought that Canon EOS 5D Mark II would suit me best. But I read that the Mark III has a better autofocusing system but Mark III is rather out of my budget range. But still if it’s worth it I could think about going for a Mark III.
So I just want to know your idea of what would suit best for me. Should I go for a Mark II or is it worth spending about $1000 more for a Mark III? Or should I forget about the “Mark”s and go for a cam at a lower price range? I’d really appreciate it if you can share your thoughts about this. Thanks.
Canon 5D is popular for video but you are expected to buy some rigs in order to use it properly; yeah, autofocus is pretty slow in both, you’re better off with manual focusing. In the end, you’ll have to decide which area is more important to you – video or photography – and make a compromise.
hi…I am sarvesh from india. The article is very informative. i have a regular camera and i love photography. after taking pics i edit them in picasa and people have appreciated them a lot. Now, planning to buy DSLR first time. Pics what i take are more of nature, family , close up of facses , running water and so on. suggest me some thing in range of $1000. also while suggesting do keep in mind that there should be room for upgradation by way of accessories (lenses) . thanks a ton in advance.
Try a Canon T4i with the kit lens. It’s a nice basic setup you can grow from. Good luck!
I’m looking to buy my first DSLR camera, and like others I am also confused on which one to select. Earlier I was confused between Nikon D5100 and Canon T3i. But now the launch of Canon T4i made it difficult for me to select one.
I have a plan to use it for family photos as well as landscape, portrait etc.
I wish to explore my new camera and learn photography. I am planning to get Tamron 10-270 lense along with the kit lense of 18-55(if required).
Can you please suggest me whether to opt for Canon T4i. And as Canon has introduced touchscreen(for changing the settings) into this does that mean we wont be able to change the settings by using buttons.
The T4i (650D) is a better camera, but not so much because of thouch-screen (personally I prefer to have dedicated buttons that I can use while looking through the viewfinder) but because it introduces a new hybrid AF that should make autofocusing faster in movies (if you have the right lens). So yes, go for the T4i. As for lens, the 18-270 lens from Tamron is not the best around. As I mentioned before, super-zooms have to make compromises in image quality, get one only if you intend to travel a lot and don’t want to carry 2-3 lenses with you.
I am planning to get a telephoto lense which i can use while travelling, so i thought of going for a third party lense(Tamron). Apart from that i was planning to get some Prime lense. I was planning to get a Portrait lense and was confused between
1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
2. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
Can you please suggest which one shoud i go for, can you please suggest some for prime lenses which could be used for nature and family photos.
The 85mm lens is suitable for portraits only. The 50mm lens is more versatile (not wide enough for landscape though). So it depends on what you want more. For portraits only, I’d get the 85mm one.
Can you please suggest some prime lenses for Portrait, Ladnscape and family photographs.
As I mentioned in my earlier reply to you, the 85mm F/1.8 is a good one.
First of all, congratulations for posting such a fabulous and helping article and then meeting everyone’s expectations with variety of questions. Like many of us here I am also entering DSLR photography from a compact world. I am in Japan these days and I have only been focussing on Canon in my window shop. What do you think would be better for me to choose from the following options?
1. Canon EOS Kiss X6i with 18-135 mm lens (I think Japanese EOS kiss x6i is American rebel T4i)
2. Canon EOS 60D with 18-55 and 55-250 lenses
3. First option (x6i) with 18-55 and 55-250 lenses
4. Canon 60D with 18-135mm lens
so basically want to know whether purchasing a single of 18-135mm will be good or 2 separate lenses (18-55 and 55-250) will be better since 55-250 has better range.
As I said I am just entering the SLR world so I won’t even hesitate to say that I am not sure how far I will go in SLR photography being an IT professional, but certainly I want some far better and professional looking shots next time I go on a Japanese beach or working with buildings, lights trails, mountains at nights or taking pictures of my kid and wife at home.
Budget: approx USD 1000 (JPY 78000 approx)
Thanks a lot!
Hi, the 18-135mm lens has the advantage that you don’t have to switch lenses, this is handy especially when travelling. On the other hand, the 18-55 and the 55-250 are somewhat better in quality, although they are all entry-level lenses (really good lenses are very very expensive). Based on what you’ve written, I’d say get the Canon EOS 60D with 18-55 and 55-250 lenses.
Thanks a lot for the suggestion. One last question for 60D vs T4i – 60D has DIGIC 4 and T4i has DIGIC 5 image processor. I don’t know major difference between Digic 4 and 5 but I have heard that Digic 5 has much better quality than 4. Is that correct and I should value it, or should it not impact my decision to purchase 60D?
Thank you again!
The impact of the image processor is far smaller than other considerations. DIGIC5 may produce somewhat better JPEGs but my advice is that whenever possible to shoot in RAW anyway and process the images later in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.
Armand, I have come to know that lenses of either of these models (60D and t4i) do not come with Made in Japan. Is it ok to go for Made in Taiwan or Malaysia or China etc? Body is still Made in Japan.
Yes, don’t worry.
I have finally bought 60d with 18-135 lens. Now I have a question re lens hood. How much is it needed in photography? Is it just used to beautify camera’s front or does it help in many scenes like if the lens is facing sun and etc. Also, at the moment I am keeping my lens cover on when I am not using the camera. With the hood, I would need to keep the lens cover permanently aside since I don’t think it would be good idea to take the hood off and on regularly. I am confused whether I should purchase lens hood or not and if yes, then what KIND or type of hood should I purchase?
Again, thanks I advance.
The hood is useful when the sun (or some other bright light) shines from a side and would cast some nasty reflections in the lens. I don’t use them too much, but it depends on the situation. You can take them off whenever you want. You don’t need to purchase a lens hood, they’re just replacements in the case yours breaks. (btw, given they’re essentially some stupid pieces of plastic, they’re horribly overpriced; most photo accessories are).
Mr Armand, I want to buy an entry level Nikon camera body and lenses to take pictures in extreme low light settings.
Which Nikon camera I must choose among the D 5100, D 3000, D 3100, D3200. I ruled out the D 3 S because it is too expensive.
What are the best lenses for extremely low light conditions?
Last question: Can I use Lytro camera for night photography
It depends on what kind of photography you’re doing in low light. Generally speaking, D3200 is out due to high noise in low light, so I’d say get a D5100. As for lens, without knowing what you’ll be photographing, I’d say get a 50mm F/1.4 prime.
I don’t have first-hand experience with Lytro so I can’t comment.
I thought that I knew what I wanted for my first DSLR but after reading all of the post and exploring your very informative article I am afraid that I have no clue what I want. Most all of my photos will be out door usually during the day. A little bit of sports, traveling and family. I have only ever used point and shoot cameras in the past and I am just looking to hold on the some better quality pictures. I have though that I wanted a Nikon as that is what my father and his father used, then I read a little further and thought I wanted a Canon 650D. Then went a little further then thought I wanted a Sony A57. What would you recomend.
Do you still have Nikon lenses used by your father? If they are AF (autofocus) and especially AF-I / AF-S lenses, they may still be valuable so it makes sense to get a Nikon. If not, the Canon 650D is a safe choice, especially if you’re unsure.
I have found your thorough article, and patient responses to be quite impressive. I am sorry to trouble you with yet another question, but I fear buyers remorse due to my limited resources. I am a post-graduate Studio Art major who has taken college level beginners photography, but has yet to venture into the DSLR realm. My film camera is a Konica Minolta and has served me beautifully. I still intend to use it, but I find the limits of film to be prohibitive in some ways and wish to purchase a DSLR within the next few weeks. I am seeking your advice and will be as specific as possible to aid you.
My Purpose: I am an artist and familiar with SLR, but I also take a lot of family photography. My main interests include landscape and portrait.
Video is not desired. LCD would be nice, but if it requires a large deficit in performance than I can do without it and simply review my images on the computer.
I also do not require all the semi-auto modes of the casual photographer. They might be nice for the family photos I take, but I can certainly do without them. I do sell photography on a commission basis, but I am not planning to start a large business so I prefer to stay on the low budget end, while still achieving the best quality I can buy.
My budget: $700.00 or less, I would prefer $500 or less (Body only or Body+First lens).
*A few years down the road, I would be willing to upgrade body as I can afford.
*I plan to add lenses gradually to my system. Which would you recommend to start?
My brand: Although I understand that Sony bought out Konica Minolta, I don’t feel inclined to go there. I am leaning towards Nikon, but am open to Canon.
I appreciate your time assiting myself and those who came before me. I hope I have given you enough pertinent information.
Thank you again, Amanda
Amanda, you can get a Nikon D3100 for $500, it will be within your budget and intended use. Best of luck!
Thank you so much Armand. I’ve been debating between the Nikon 3200 and 5100 since I wrote that message. I’m not sure yet if I need the 5100, but I actually found a situation where the 5100 was cheaper from adorama at $616 in a bundle than the 3200 at $646 on most sites I checked. I did see the cheaper 3100 at $499. Is it a compromise I shouldn’t make just to keep the price a bit lower? $650 is the top of my budget so I could go for any of the three, but that actually makes it harder to decide. Thanks again for your help. This is my last question I promise. – Amanda
Don’t spend your money on the D5100, especially if there is a budget constraint. You will want eventually to buy other accessories anyway – a bag, a larger memory card, maybe a flash, fiters, lenses… not right away of course, but in time. The camera body is just a part of the equation, so don’t blow all your money on it.
First of all, Armand, I want to say that you are wonderful for offering all this expert advice to so many strangers around the world. You have truly done all of us a service by sharing your expertise through your wonderful articles and unbiased opinions. I would be a fool not be in on the action, so here’s my question: I spent some years shooting with a Yashica Electro 35 rangefinder. Moving into the digital age, I’ve mostly stuck by point and shoots. Most recently I’ve been using a Canon S90. I think I’m ready to move up a level and am torn vacillating between the Sony A37 and the Canon T2i. With the Sony, I like the idea of all that Minolta glass out there; it appeals to my sense of adventure. Being used to the Rangefinder, I think I’d really like the SLT system. On the other hand, I like how the Rebel series is specifically positioned as a learning tool. I do know the Rebel EOS line is now up to the T4i, but I think I’d be fine with the older incarnation. As far as what I shoot: urban architecture, urban landscapes, nature photography, experimental. I don’t shoot much portraiture, but I do like candid shots, including action shots, but mostly I do stills. I don’t think I would be in the market or need for another body for a few years. I would want to simply concentrate on lenses, filters, and honing my skills. My starting budget is $600ish. Your thoughts will be deeply appreciated : )
Personally I like the Sony alpha range because of the many in-camera effects and features, so given your ‘adventurous’ nature, I’d say give it a shot. The Rebel is the ‘safe’ choice. I’m not sure you can find a T2i in stores to try out, but if you can, try both cameras, see which one you prefer in your hand.
Hi Armand, I’m looking to buy my first dslr and cant decide between the canon 600d or 650d. I’m pretty confused about what lens to get though, as I mostly want it for photographing my travels overseas and would like to only have to carry one. What do you think of the 18-135mm? My budget is around $1000. You’re help would be much appreciated!
I say get the 650D if the budget allows. The 18-135 is OK too, I prefer it over the superzooms, which are pretty poor at the long end anyway.
Great articles and a very good resource. Many thanks for the compilation on DSLRs and lenses.
Want your recommendation for a DSLR.
Purpose: I want to use the camera to take good family pictures, a lot of it will be indoor. Have a baby on the way so want to be able to take good pics and videos (short 5-10min) and the occasional sightseeing, vacation photos. Not sure if I will take photography as hobby. My budget is around $1000, prefer to be within $1000 but flexible if there is value addition.
Cameras I am considering: Cannon T3i, T4i, 60d: Nikon D5100, D7000: Sony A57, A65
1. Would you recommend I get a T3i or D5100 or A57 w extra prime lens and/or telephoto lens OR should I get a 60d or D7000 or A65 with just kit lens? Please also suggest which one?
2. In low light, indoor, night what would give better images if my hand is less steady – Cannon IS/Nikon VR or Sony sensor stabilization?
A Sony Alpha SLT-A57 + Sony 50mm f/1.8 would fit in your budget. For family & vacations I like really like Sony especially if you’re considering it.
So I’m also looking around to buy my first dslr, and I’m not really looking for anything too advanced. I’m looking for a basic dslr, and I was wondering which would be better, a Canon rebel T2i or a Nikon d3100. If I get these would they be to out dated? I just want to explore photography as a hobby, so nothing serious. I don’t really have a big budget, but I do understand the other costs that would come with buying a dslr besides the body and a lens.
So which would be a better entry level dslr? Thank you very much.
IF you don’t intend to pursue more advanced photography, what would you think about a Sony NEX? Same sensor style as the DSLRs, electronic viewfinder, small compact body and interchangeable lenses. It might be a better option for you. What’s your budget?
d90 or d3200. will take pictures and videos mostly for sports, portraits and for traveling as we do a lot of diving. my buddies, they are insisting d90 but the online reviews and polls suggests d3200 is better…i am planning to purchase as soon as possible, your input willl be my final choice. please help me on this. thanks and more power to you!!!
Sorry for the late reply, I’d say go with the D3200.
As with the others confused and found your thread much more informative then other sites on internet. Looking for a dslr for family pics but also needed for them with indoor sports, soccer volleyball basketball etc as kids are going into these. point and shoot dont cut it indoors yellow and blury. Budget around 600. You mentioned in previous for family stuff sony but indoor Nikon D5100 for my purposes what would be your recommendation. Thanks in advance. really loved this site.
Indoor sports is tough. Sony has the advantage of high fps and in-body stabilization. Nikon has slightly better build quality. Either way you should consider a fast telephoto lens, but even the least expensive one – Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 is almost $800. A total budget of $600 is too low for really good results, unless you are very close to the action.
I don’t know what to suggest you for good results…
Great article, and even better conversations in the comments section!
I have a question, which you may have answered several times. I would like to buy a DSLR and pursue photography as a hobby. I would primarily be using it during family functions, vacations, portraits, etc. (non-commercial use)
I am confused between:
1. Sony a37 / a57
2. Nikon D3200 / D5100
I am preferring the sony because of the in-camera features which you have been mentioning in the posts.
Also, should I get with 18-55mm lens or 18-135mm lens? Do you recommend anyother lens which I would need with immediate effect for vacation/portrait photography?
My total budget as of now is around $800-$1000, but can be increased later to buy new lens and other accessories.
I too recommend Sony for hobby (not that it can’t be used for semi-pro or even pro work but it’s more difficult to find accessories, service, rental).
If budget allows, go for the Sony a57. A 18-135mm lens is nice for vacations but not as good as a dedicated telephoto.
Thanks for your reply. Based on peer pressure and general assumption, Cannon and Nikon are better known for pro cameras than sony. So shouldn’t we picking up one of those than Sony, keeping in mind that I won’t be purchasing another camera (body) for atleast 5-6 years or more. What do you suggest between a57, D3200, D5100? D5200 is pretty expensive currently. Or anyother Cannon model?
Peer pressure should not come up when discussing the best camera for you. I’m trying to make my suggestions based on objective factors.
Thanks for the great article! I’m definitely bookmarking it for once I go out to buy a camera pretty soon here.
I consider the lack of a live view to be an advantage, always hated those things…
I’ve worked in a studio setting before – one of those “ye olde style” photography studios in a historical park for two summers – so I know how to frame and some photoshop basics, but some of the technical stuff is still as much a mystery to me as the darkroom was in highschool… needless to say, any camera I get will have to come with a good manual!
My boyfriend bought me a canon powershot 5 is a few years ago. I started to really explore my camera this year. I love to take photos of everything. Now he wants to buy me either accessories for it or to buy me a dslr. Do I go with accessories for my current camera or will it be a waste as I will eventually go with a dslr. Or do I need accessories for both?
The accessories for DSLRs are usually different than those for compacts. Flashes should be compatible, but lenses, filters, remote releases are different.
Please help me choose – Canon 600d 650d or 60d. It will be my frist DSLR and I’d like to pursue more advanced photography (as a hobby). I like to take photos of everything: street life, city at night, landscapes, sunsets, moving objects (animals), family. I’ve got Canon powershot and last time I wanted to take photos of the monkeys in the zoo jumping between the trees I had to take a video and cut the stills after that.. I travel a lot so was thinking of Canon 18-200 or Tamron 18-270 lens (which is better??) My budget ilimit is about $1000. Can I go by 600d +plus any of thiese lens? Please advise.
Sveta, Canon 60D is the best body of the three you mentioned. You can get a Canon 60D + 18-200mm lens for $1100 on Amazon. If it’s over budget, I’d suggest Cano 650D + 18-135mm lens for less than $900. In fact I think this second option would be better for you (the lens is better).
I am looking to buy my first DSLR – I will only be using it to take photos of my kids, pets, family holidays etc. I just want something basic and easy to use and not too bulky – I don’t think I will want to get more involved at theis stage other than taking photos for fun.
Someone at the camera shop recommended I get a Canon EOS M (EF-M 18-55 IS STM, EF-M 22 STM KIT, SPEEDLITE 90EX)
What would you suggest?
Thank you 🙂
The EOS M is not really a DSLR, it’s a “mirrorless” (there’s no clear name for this range of cameras; they use DSLR sensors and interchangeable lenses in a smaller body without the optical viewfinder). In this segment I really like Sony NEX-5R. Have a look at it before getting the Canon.
Im wanting to buy my first DSLR, I recived an old Minolta film camera a while ago. Becuase of this it has made me want to buy a DLSR. As a 14 year old my budget isnt too high, around $800 (because i work)
Im looking to use it to take photos of the pets. family etc. but to also start exploring more creative possiblilies with it, as in using it as a hobby. If you get what I mean?
I was hoping you could recomend a DLSR that would be suited for my needs
Victoria, do you have some lenses with the old Minolta camera? If so, it may be worth getting a Sony DSLR since the lenses will work fine.
I was interested to see your comment about using old Minolta lenses with a Sony DSLR. I was an avid photographer and bought a Minolta X-700 in the early 80s. I used to do all kinds of photography (outdoor, vacation, family, pets, creative, etc) and enjoyed the manual aspect of my X-700.
If I were to leverage my Minolta lenses, which Sony DSLR would you recommend?
Any Sony alpha would work, so it’s more a matter of budget. Since you are already a photographer and don’t need to learn the basics, I’d suggest Sony A58 or Sony A77. The full-frame A99 is their top of the line camera, but it’s $2800…
Hi Armand, great article and site!
I recently lost my Nikon D90, and now that I need to replace it I don’t know if I should get the D90 again or upgrade. I am of medium skill level now that I have learned the ropes of photography, and I mostly shoot outdoors, some still some motion, but also need to use the camera for product photos for my business. Any suggestions, or should I just stick with what I know in the D90? Great advice to go into a store and actually hold the cameras, I will definitely be trying that:)
Kerry, the D90 used to be a great camera, but it’s several generations behind. You’d benefit from a new body. The current best replacement would be a Nikon D7000 or maybe the upcoming D5200 (although personally I’d choose the D7000). Best of luck!
I am looking to purchase my first dSLR. I read what you said, but confess I am stuck on Canon in my head. That being said, I am open. I have three kids that I take pictures of at dance, baseball, basketball and soccer. I want the camera for vacation and holiday photos. Your suggestions for brand and model would be appreciated.
Ron, regardless of the camera, indoor sports is a difficult subject. What you need first is a camera capable of high fps and second a good lens.
I’d recommend a Canon T4i body ($650 on Amazon) and a Canon 18-200mm lens.
The camera allows 5 fps and it’s quite capable and you can use the lens both for travel and for sports. It’s not a great lens but it’s versatile and fits your interests. When travelling it’s great to have one lens for a variety of situations rather than 3-4 different lenses. If you’re serious about photography, I recommend you buying some better / more dedicated lenses, but only later (A Canon 70-200 F/2.8 is great for low-light sports but it’s over $1700!)
I am still in the market and I feel somethings have changed in the marketplace. I am between the t5i with 18-135 kit lens or the 60d with 18-200 kit lens. I can get either for roughly the same cost. Which is the better buy?
Hard to say without knowing your interests. Personally, given the choice, I’d go for the 60D + 18-200 lens.
I have used a sony compact for all my photography hobbies and needs,am planning to buy a DSLR…..i havent used one as such and i want to use it to develop my skill in photography.My budget for the camera is roughly 500$,so that i can spend a few more on lens…….Can u please suggest a few camera bodies and lenses.I have interest in macro photography and landscape .i will also be using it for family moments……
Not sure about prices in your region, but you should look into a Canon T2i (550D).
If it were a NIKON, what would u suggest ?
I’m a photography beginner and would like to invest in a DSLR.
My requirements are as follows:
– can take good/excellent quality of photos/videos;
– optical zoom as big as possible (X21 is already good?);
– more interested in sunset/night/winter/waterfall/rainbows sceneries pictures/videos;
– not too heavy/big camera, more convenient to take during travels;
– any touch-screen interface for settings ? (something like Galaxy Camera)
Can you pls recommend me which DSLR camera ? (I don’t really care of the brand).
Jean-Louis, DSLRS don’t come with built-in lenses, you have to purchase them separately.
Based on your comment, I suggest you have a look at the Sony NEX line of cameras, specifically the NEX 5R.
Hi, I want to buy my first DSLR, but I am still confused on how to choose the one right for me. I want a DSLR that can take good quality photos of landscape, pets, portraits and family. Photography is my hobby and I want to be able to be creative and explore different options/possibilities with settings. As a 16 year old I can’t afford to spend more than $1,000. Could you recommend some DSLR, different brands (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.)? Thanks!
given your age, interests and budget, I would suggest the Canon Rebel T4i + 18-135mm lens. It’s $860 on Amazon. This setup gives you a lot a flexibility and room to grow. If you’re serious about your hobby, you’ll be able to get filters, flashes and more specialized lenses. Best of luck!
I’m interested in buying my first DSLR camera and have been doing research on several different sites. I still don’t know what I really need to look for. The camera I need will have to work well in low light settings. I am the owner of a lounge and want to use the camera for taking pictures of our customers having a good time. I have no experience with DSLR cameras but am a pretty fast learner with most things so I don’t want to buy one that I will outgrow too quickly. Neither my husband or I have brand loyalties, we just want a camera that works better than our Sony point and shoot. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks in advance!
For your low-light use I recommend a simple camera with 14-16 Mp like the Nikon D3100. It has the advantage of less noise than a 18-24 Mp camera, and not as expensive as a “full frame” camera.
You’ll most likely need a fast lens – one that allows for wide apertures so you can use it in low light properly. These lenses are usually fixed (primes) as opposed to “zoom” lenses so you’ll have to pick one depending on the type of shots you usually do – if you want wider shots, choose a Nikon 35mm F/1.8 or if you prefer closeups, a 50mm F/1.8 or even a 85mm F/1.8
as everybody, I want to buy my first DSLR camera. I am a master biology student so my main interest in photography is about nature. I have been using a Canon Powershot sx100 IS for some years but I want to get it to the next step. One of my first objective is to make birds photographies (so I am looking for a good lens with stabilization as well). I also take a lot of picture of plants/lichens/insects (so I might want a macro lens as well). Of course I will make landscape photos and I would like to be able to take decent shots at the comet Ison in the end of 2013 (so night photos without too much noise).
I have read a couple of reviews, jumped from a forum to another, and I would most likely go with Nikon or Canon (I may want to upgrade the camera in the futur but keep my lens). However, I don’t know what to choose between the Nikon D3100, D3200, D5100 or the Canon rebel T4i or T2i. Canon seems a little bit overprice for the quality you get with Nikon…
One of my friend has a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED and she’s making very nice photos of birds! Any reasons I should go with the D3200, D5100 or T4i instead?
Thanks in advance!
Laurent, I recommend the Nikon D5200 or D3200 for you. The 24 Mp sensor will come in handy for you because it will allow you to crop the image nicely (think of it as a digital zoom), important when doing both macro photography and small birds.
I’m looking to buy my first DSLR camera, I’ve narrowed my choices down to two: the canon 650d and the nikon d5200. They are being sold for exactly the same price at a local store and I’m trying to figure out which is best for me. I mostly take macro shots and pictures of my family (vacations, younger siblings etc.) I am a student, so I won’t be able to upgrade for a few years at least, I don’t want to outgrow the camera very soon. Any advice? Thank you in advance 🙂
There’s very little practical difference between the two cameras given your interests, although I’d give the Nikon D5200 a very slight edge. My advice, go to the local shop, try both cameras, choose the one it feels better in your hand. If you still can’t decide, get the D5200.
I am an Architecture student. I need to take photos for my Architecture projects, for my portfolio etc. I will be taking photos of landscapes, buildings, interiors, streets and my Architecture models. I would like to buy a DSLR camera . I have never handled one before. My friends suggest canon 650D, but, I am quite confused as to what is camera body & then camera kit.I do not know the difference. Kindly advise which camera would be suitable for me. Also I intend using it at least for the next 4 years. Thanks
Rivi, DSRLs have interchangeable lenses. You can buy just the camera body (without any lens) or as a “kit” – the body and a lens.
For architecture a Canon 650D will suffice, but you will definitely need an ultra-wide lens. A Sigma 10-20mm should be fine. There’s also the Canon 10-22, but it’s 50% more expensive.
Im a beginner and i want to take pictures/videos of my family and pets. what can you suggest on this. i have a budget of around $700. thanks
Get a Sony a57 or the new Sony a58. You’ll like it.
I am a travel enthusiast and also a sports fan. I now have a nikon d3200 with 18-55mm lens. I am not thoroughly satisfied with the result. I am looking for a cam that has great picture quality and resolution. Is nikon d800E a good choice. I haven’t worked with that piece yet. I also make short documentaries. What would you suggest?
For travel I recommend a superzoom, something in the 18-200 range. I hate bringing lots of lenses with me when I travel and switching them in the middle of the street.
The Nikon D3200 is OK for travel but not ideal for sports. The D800 is Nikon’s flagship and the best DSLR you can buy at this moment, but it’s a full-frame and I can’t recommend it unless you’re very serious about photography and/or its hefty price won’t impact your finances. You’ll need a good zoom lens for sports too, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.
I want to purchase a dslr and searching for a good one,I Iike to do conceptual photography mostly and it varies a lot depend what I want to capture. That’s why I’m hell confused which one I should buy, first I was interested in D7000 but than I move to D600 or D800. My intention to hold a good camera for long run. I have two manual lense and both are tokina which was fitted on minolta film camera, can I use those lense on any Sony dslr?
Yep, old Minolta lenses work on all new Sony cameras.
Nikon D800 is the top of the line but I would advise you to start with something smaller. You don’t get a Ferarri as your first car, right? The D5200 is an excellent camera to start with.
Hello, Armand –
I’ve been using a Sony HX1 for a couple of years. I like it, but I have Parkinson’s, so need a camera that will support remote shutter release. I do a lot of document photography, but my real interests are macro (snowflakes, water drops, flower depths, caterpillars, etc) and close-in shots of flying birds. Two opposite ends of the spectrum! I’d like to stay in the $500-$800 range, though I know deals can be had if one searches. I’m also comfortable with an older generation camera if it fits. Suggestions? Thanks!
Sali, all DLSR cameras support remote shutter release, usually via cable. The fancy models support wireless remotes. Although it may be outside your price range, I like Sony A77 for its 3-way swivel LCD. You can mount the camera on a tripod, rotate the LCD the way you like (it’s really very flexible), see and adjust the shot live, with the ability to magnify the view and mark the focus edgeson screen for focus fine-tuning and finally use a remote to take the shot. The Sony SLT-A77 body only is almost $1000 on Amazon.com, I think you’ll also need a specialized lens for nice macros.
Thanks for the article. I’m interested in investing in a “system,” starting with a MILC, the included zoom lens and 50mm f/1.4. I’ve been considering the Sony NEX series as you recommended to others, but I’m concerned about whether or not the lenses are actually compatible with Sony’s Alpha DSLRs. It seems that the the NEX line uses E-mount lenses while the DSLRs use A-mounts, and so the lenses are not compatible. Is this correct? Is there a MILC camera you would recommend which shares lenses with the larger DSLRs?
Indeed, the E-mount is not 100% compatible with A-mount. There are adapters but AF won’t work. E-mount lenses also have a slightly different design, so they look better on NEX cameras.
I don’t see this as a big disadvantage though. People who usually invest in mirroless (MILC) usually don’t want/need so many lenses. If you see yourself having more than, say, 3 lenses, it’s better to get a DSLR directly.
Armand? I narrowed it down to two. Which is better choice? Nikon D5200 or Canon Rebel T5i? Thanks
Personally I’d go with the Canon T5i (700D). The resolution is a just a bit smaller and has less focus points but it’s a newer design and several small advantages that make the difference (like 5fps instead of 3.5)
I really appreciate this post and all of your replies. I’m looking for a great upgrade from my very old point and shoot. I will use the camera for an upcoming three month backpacking trip (portraits, food, etc.) and eventually for taking photos of handmade products (for my online store)… I’m leaning towards the Canon t4i with the 18-135 lens. It’s definitely the most recommended to me when I ask for opinions.
That said, I’m having a hard time with the cost. After purchasing a protection plan/tax/camera case, I’m looking at $1000. I was hoping to spend $600. Do you think it’s worth the extra $400 to have a newer model? or should I take a look at older models (like the Canon t3 with a 18-55), refurbished/used cameras or even a really good point and shoot? Thanks!
Shana, if budget is a constraint, definitely look for a T3i instead. You can find a Canon EOS Rebel T3i for $580 on Amazon.com, and it will be just great for your purposes.
I planning to buy my first DSLR but don’t know what to buy. I will be using it to our town vacation, family gathering what do you prefer ?
If it’s for family and you are not attached to a specific brand, I’d recommend the Sony a58.
I’m at a standstill in selecting a DSLR and looking for another “opinion.” Had a Canon AE-1 for years (always shot on manual). Used it for travel, landscapes, weddings, portraits, mostly. 1.4 55 mm prime and 3.5 35-105 zoom (always wanted a bit more in zoom and greater aperture though). Looking to replace my set up (finally). I’ve looked at the T4i with the 18-135 STM and the 60D (which even without the AF on video, thought of still getting the 18-135 STM. Then they threw in the SL-1 and I thought maybe I should just forget about a better camera and go for convenience. I hate all the dialing in/menu searching for all the photo settings on digital (point and shoots) and so would also want something easy.
Hear there are downsides to ease of use on both the 60D (with the wheel and the need to hold in the locking mechanism to change back and forth from video to still), and on the T4i having no wheel and needing to “find” the manual settings for aperture and shutter speed.
Would love another perspective.
Carla, unfortunately there’s no “right” answer for you, especially since you have plenty of previous experience with the cameras.
My advice: walk into the biggest camera store in your area and try both cameras for a few minutes. Using a camera you’re comfortable with (size weight, buttons and dials positioning) can make all the difference.
Hi, first of all great article, very useful for ppl like me, who are absolute beginners. I have a question, it would be great if u could help me. I’m thinking of buying my first DSLR and my2 final choices are Canon 650D and Sony A57K – can’t decide which one to choose. What would you recommend? 650 or 57, or to wait a little more and get the new Canon 700D. I also want to shoot video with it (music videos). Thanks in advance!
If you are a hobbist and don’t care about the brand, go Sony. If you intend to buy lots of lenses, maybe earn some money in the future and/or care about the brand, go Canon. (Canon and Nikon shooters tend to look down on Sony and others, even though there’re no good reason to). Canon & Nikon are more pro-friendly (priority repair, more repair centers, more lens rental opportunities). If you’re not pursuing a professional career, none of these matter to you and the A57 is a very fun camera to work with.
I need a camera for my kids, family and Travel Photography. I need the following key features, Articulate Screen, large Sensor, Fast lens f2.8 . I do not mind going for SLR, but I am bogged with Canon vs Nikon as Nikon as least f2.8 or faster lens variety. Please suggest which System to invest. Could I go for Four Third Camera, do they have future. Does DSLR has future or it is end of life.
It’s not as much DSRL vs. Four Thirds as is DSLR vs. mirrorless. The jury is still out, but my feeling is that in the long run all cameras will be mirrorless (like the Sony DSLT cameras – AXX or their NEX line).
You can get a fast F/2.8 lens for either system.
Sony A77 comes with the best articulated screen out there and a 16-50mm F2.8 lens.
I read all your reviews , you are doing a fantastic job. Your dedication amazes me.
I love photography and finally i’ll be getting my 1st DSLR. The confusion remains hence bothering you. I don’t know whether to buy Nikon 5200 or Canon 650D.
I like abstract photography [object and places] , nature and food. Family n friends will always be there. But i would also make small movies like the ones in you tube.
I dont want 18 55mm so what should i buy as a 1st good lense .
* I love the macro effect, is that possible without a macro lens to a certain extent or do i need to get it to have a picture with a blurry back ground’*
Either camera will do the job. As you say, a better lens will make more difference than the camera brand. Personally I like the Nikon D5200 but it’s just a personal preference.
As for the “macro effect”, if you mean the effect where you make a city look like a miniature, it’s something done in Photoshop.
Hi, I’m deciding on my first DSLR after years of shooting with a Canon Powershot A650 IS. I used to shoot 35mm film so I know about manual settings and am so ready for a camera that can do more. I’m looking to spend about $500–$600 on the body, and I will use it mainly for macro (especially flowers), family, pets, landscapes and occasionally wildlife. I also love using Photoshop to make more artistic images.
I have an old Canon EF zoom lens which is about 25–200mm, I think, so wondering if it would work ok with a Canon APS-C DSLR. I also have a good friend who uses a Nikon D3100 as a hobbyist, so we may be able to share lenses at times. I’ve narrowed it down to the Canon T3i or Nikon 3200 or 5100. With either, not sure if I should get the kit lens or another one to start, based on my needs. I tend to be a bit shaky sometimes so would definitely need to invest in the lenses with stabilization.
I’d appreciate any advice or thoughts you may have. This is a big investment for me that I plan on using and adding to for years to come!
Thanks in advance!
Yes, APS-C Canon cameras support EF lenses (although their focal range gets multiplied by x1.5 or x1.6, so the 25-200 becomes 40-320mm). So if you’re satisfied the lens you have, it’d be smart to stick with Canon. Best of luck!
Hi Armand! Great article, very helpful. I am going to be traveling heavily soon and having some experience with DSLR cameras and an older Pentax film SLR camera, I would like to transition to a DSLR. What camera would lend itself to being very versatile but also very travel friendly (I.e. light, weather-durable, long lasting so I will not have to buy a new body very soon)? I am looking to photograph people and scenery from my travels.
If you still have lenses from the film Pentax, it might be worth getting a Pentax DSLR, like the K-5 II. These are nice, solid cameras but unfortunately outside your budget. Within your budget you could get a Canon 650D (T4i), but it’s not rugged. Usually solid, rugged cameras with metal bodies and some level of dust/water protection are more expensive…
Hi.. i am very much interested in photography and so now i am planning to buy a DSLR but dont know much about the features and models… Ive seen people fighting over nikon vs canon but i didnt find much of a difference in picture quality.so i decided to buy canon D650.. i used nikon D3100 once and the picture colours came outbrilliant …then i used my friends D650 and i dont know why i wasnt very satisfied with the result…now i dont know was it because i didnt know about the proper settings or realy theres a difference between both the brands?… Please suggest me a camera .. i just want to click pictures everywhere and they should look like the ones taken somewhat professionaly!… thank you so much for the article and your help.. 🙂
Really any camera will do, you just need to learn the basics (like proper white balance) and color settings. If you like the D3100, go for it!
Is the sensor size going to create any problem? I am confused between canon 60D and the Nikon D5200. the sensor size of the nikon is more along with more focus points. other features are better at the canon. what shall i go for? I have been confused for a long time.
I recommend Nikon D5200, newer, better resolution.
Resolution is not a big factor for me. coz i won’t be printing the pictures. The canon’s sensor size is smaller (canon 60D vs Nikon D5200). But according to brands which one is better in terms of image quality, body ergonomics, availability of lenses, fast focussing. I am also looking just for still photos not videos. If in the future i go for full frame cameras like canon 5D mk3 and Nikon D800. coz i won’t be changing brands after the first camera i buy. It will be difficult to but a whole new lenses of same kind for that brand. Again canon 60D is semi-pro, wheather sealed, better fps, 9 cross points. But the nikon D5200 has mainly 39 focus points, in-HDR.
Or shall i start with nikon D5100 or Canon 600D? (though nikon D5100 is a lot better).
The sensor size difference between 60D and D5200 is insignificant. They are both “APS-C size sensors” even though Canon’s focal multiplier is 1.6 vs Nikon’s 1.5
Anyway,if you have the money, go for D5200 and in the future you can get a D600 or D800.
great work Armand,Unbelievable passion
i take your advise of not to bother too much about the camera ,pls advise the best versatile lense i can get for my first dslr
In the beginning the kit lens should suffice, or maybe something in the 18-135 range. Start with a simple lens and get a better one after you reach its limits. In the meantime you can discover what type of photography you enjoy the most and the lenses best suited for it.
I have posted earlier but it seems like not displaying..I just wanted to know the best lenses i should have for my alpha 57 professional shoots. its more for wedding, travel and portfolio. kindly advice.
For travel, get a Tamron18-270mm. For wedding I like the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8, which great for video too.
thank you Armand
I am looking to purchase my first DSLR Camera. I am a beginner looking to learn. I will mainly be taking baby pictures but would like to use it for travel and sports once in a while. I have been looking at the Canon T3i and Sony A58 or A57. What would you suggest between these two brands and what type of lenses should I start with and what could be bought later down the road.
Personally I’m fond of Sony a58. Between it and T3i, I’d get the a58. As for lenses, for travel a superzoom like the Tamron 18-270 is a good deal. It’ll work for sports too (in good light), but if you’re planning on shooting indoor sports, you’ll need a much more expensive lens.
Armand, I’m going to be taking a photography class in the fall and wish to upgrade from point and shoot to a dlsr. I mostly enjoy nature and pet photography, as well as extreme closeups. I am leaning towards a nikon but have no idea what to start with or what lens to look for. Can you recommend something with a budget of about a grand? Quality is important to me.
Sara, this would be a good deal: Nikon D5200 + 18-105mm
Basically you get a very nice camera and a zoom with a pretty good range, that will enable you to make some closeups. It’ll be perfect for photography classes.
Armand, what is your take on compact system digital cameras? This one for example? https://www.walmart.com/ip/Nikon-NIkon1-J3/23115659
Sera, it’s nice camera but in its class I prefer Sony NEX range.
Hello Armand, thank you so much for this article. I’ve been rather interested in photography for awhile now. I mostly take indoor pictures in low light but I enjoy taking photos of nature when I get the chance. I also love to take macro pictures. It is rather bright and sunny where I live so I was thinking I would need a DSLR that can handle both low light and bright light. I know little of photography terms (such as noise and exposure) but I will be reading up soon… I’m what you would call a beginner. My budget is about $1500, could you please recommend a DSLR for me? From your article I’ve narrowed down my choices to Nikon and Canon because I want to be able to easily get lenses on the market. I’m crazily obsessed with HD photos and wish to have close to the best quality there is.
Hmmm, Nikon D5200 is a good camera for you.
Hello 😀 I’m about to buy my first dslr in a few days, and after months of reading articles reviews and comparisons, i still cant choose. I have stopped to 2 cameras, Nikon d5100 and Canon 600d . I can get both of them for about the same price ( the canon is like 50$ more), i have tried both in a shop and both felt the same. Both are perfectly comfortable in the hand and i don’t care that much for buttons positioning because since its my first dslr, i will get used to the layout i have. I don’t care about the brand, and i just don’t know which one should i get. They are pretty much the same in specs, feeling good enough in my hands, and both brands have great lenses. Its a pretty tough choice for me. And i will be using it for everything, as i want to get into photography a lot. I will use it even for video, and i know the 600d has a better video, but the d5100 is a bit better in low light situations. So i can’t really choose… 😀
I doubt your reply will make me go directly for one of them, but it will be an useful advice for sure. I hope u can help me at least a bit.
P.S. The 600D is at my maximum budget, i cant spend even 50$ more than that.
Dilian, get the Canon 600D. If you have budget constraints now, you’ll have them in the future too and Nikon lenses and accessories tend to be more expensive. Other than that, the cameras are very similar indeed.
Hi armand i recently found out my parents hav gotten me a canon t2i with the 18-55mmlens kit for m y bithday.i actually wasent suppose yo know but i fiured out because it was in a closet.im only 11 turning 12 in december and im very interested inphotography.but my parentsecided to get the camera early.so since I diint choose the camera ( and im the one who hasbeen searching about everything on dslr)and they dont jknow very mucmore than i do.i was wondering if that was good caera that they bought for me.i would mostly be using the camera on photography of almost anything.but specifically with when we are travelling because my family loves to trael, and for family moments and vacatiins together and stuff like that.i read your answers to otherr people on this blog and it seems to uvery usefull to them so i wss hoping if you could nswer my question.also i would like to know what tellephoto snd macro lens are and coyld you suggest hood lens under 300$ just incase i wanto be another one.a thanks if yiu anwrmer, it would be alot of help.and excuse thae messed up typi g i am typing on myreader a it doesnt type very good since its touchscreen.
Hi, the T2i is a cool camera and I’m sure you’ll have tons of fun using it. If you practice, you’ll get some amazing results.
Telephoto lenses tend to be more expensive, but are useful when travelling. If you get good results with the camera, maybe you’ll convince your parents to buy you a 18-200mm or 18-250mm super-zoom.
Macro lenses tend to be even more expensive – however you could buy a closeup filter for your 18-55 lens (see Hoya 58mm Close-Up Filter Set). If you buy it from somewhere else, make sure it’s 58mm so it fits on the 18-55mm kit lens, that it’s at least “+3” and it’s a good brand – Hoya and Tiffen are OK.
A closeup filter allows you to get very close to the object and you can get pictures of bees and other insects.
Hi armand thanks for he great response!one more question thoug,eince the t2i was released 3 years ago, do you think that s a problem?
It’s an older camera but it’s good for learning and since it’s not so expensive you’ll feel more comfortable playing with it and experimenting.