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Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:06 pm
Carol, before you decide which camera to put on your Christmas list, make sure it has everything you need and want. I don't really keep up on the differences in features from camera to camera but here are some things to keep in mind. Your new camera absolutely must be able to display a histogram for each shot. The histogram will show you graphically whether your whites are blown out or your blacks have unrecoverable data. You need a decent size LCD screen on it. I think most of the new ones now do but on my old 10D, it is tiny, barely adequate. Noise should be supressed at high ISO levels. If you shoot slow shutter speed stuff you want a low ISO setting. In my film days, I would shoot waterfalls using Kodachrome 25. I wish my Canon 40D has an ISO setting less than 100.
Next, consider the lens. Most of the Canon and Nikon cameras come with satisfactory kit lenses but, expensive lenses are expensive for a reason. When I bought my first "L" glass from Canon (17-40) I couldn't believe the difference. I was so impressed that I sold all my old lenses and bought "L" lenses. In addition to the 17-40 I have the 24-70, 70-200 and the 180mm macro and 400 telephoto. I took me a long time to get this collection but it is worth every penny. The 17-40 and 70 - 200 cost between $500 and $700. So, consider buying the body only without the kit lens and buy the best lens you can afford.
Accessories. There are two indispensable accessories in my view. First, you absolutely have to get a hot shoe mounted bubble level. I've seen lots of otherwise excellent photos with slanted horizons. If they aren't straight when you make the exposure, you have to straighten them in Photoshop and that may cause you to have to remove important parts of the shot. You also need a shutter release cable. I use a tripod for about 99% of my photos. I don't want to risk camera shake because I have my hand on the camera.
If you don't have a tripod, you must get a reasonably good one. You don't have to pay the big bucks for a Gitzo. I have a Manfrotto and I'm very happy with it. I also recommend a Swiss Arca stype ball head and an L bracket that lets you switch from landscape to portrait without having to recompose the shot. My is from Kirk but Really Right Stuff has good ones too.
The trouble with photography is that it isn't cheap but maybe Santa Claus thinks you've been a really good girl this year. : )
Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:43 am
When you go into the DSLR world, don't skimp on the price. It's like buying a corvette with a v-6 engine. Don't buy the base model of camera. Jump up a couple of models above the base. A tipod is a must. Don't count on image stabilizers too much. In fact when I use the tripod, I turn the stabilizer off. I also use the timer to take the shot. You may want to switch to de-cafe coffee.
Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:58 pm
Carol and I have spoken about the model(s) she is currently looking at. She is definitely not looking at the bargain basement models. Most of the newer mid-level bodies from Ford and Chevy are such a vast improvement we old-timers would hardly recognize them. The LCDs are much higher. They all have histograms. Importantly, the sensor technology has improved incredibly. So much so that I am going to have to start thinking about how I can "justify" a D300 purchase. The main improvement will be the newer model's ability to resolve low-light with almost no noise up to at least 800 iso. I believe the D300 has a 50 iso setting, also. I don't pay a lot of attention to the "other" manufacturer, but I have to believe that are as good--if not better. We have also discussed lenses. Al's advice here is good. Before digital, the lens was definitely the main factor in image quality. It is still A main factor, with the digital sensors now being perhaps equally important.
I have "harped" on this many times. USE A TRIPOD. I couldn't agree with Al more here. The only time I do not use a tripod is when there is some reason that I cannot. And, as Al says, IF you are going to the trouble to use a Tripod, use a cable or electronic remote release. What is the point of "bracing" the camera with a tripod and then introducing your shaky hands to the shutter?
I also agree with Al that perhaps the most useful accessory I have besides the tripod and release, is an L-bracket.
$1000-2000 for a body. Up to $1000 for a lens (more for several). L bracket $150-300. Tripod, about $300. Cable release $75-100. I have "minimum" equipment - one body, 4 lenses, flash, etc. My Inland Marine Insurance rider lists their replacement cost at North of $5000. Not for the faint hearted!!
Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:12 pm
Thank you so very much for your response. You made some wonderful points and I really appreciate all of your thoughts and advice. I have to research cable release and L bracket. I use the self timer on my current camera and my current tripod. Looks like things will be changing a lot for me!
The problem with using the self-timer is that your frame rate is, at best, one shot per ten seconds. With a cable release you can get ten shots per second so you don't miss anything. Of course you need the 1D to get that rate. My 40D will only do 6.5 frames per second.
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:19 pm
Another problem with the self-timer is that you are beholden to the timer on the camera. Sometimes you want to trip the shutter at a particular moment (e.g., when the wind dies down) and having to deal with the self timer doesn't always fit that.
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:36 pm
Andy wrote:Another problem with the self-timer is that you are beholden to the timer on the camera. Sometimes you want to trip the shutter at a particular moment (e.g., when the wind dies down) and having to deal with the self timer doesn't always fit that.
Andy, between the two of us, I think our arguments for a cable release fall into the "slam dunk" category.
Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:35 pm
Al, I agree about the "slam dunk." I have been using a cable release for over 30 years -- since I first started using 35mm. Tripod and cable release both.