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DSLR Camera for Beginners?

  1. Geoff

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Is there a DSLR camera out there that is good for beginners? Or any kind of camera set-up that is easy to figure out and takes great pictures, especially closeups of fish, shrimp, etc?

    Slug - thought you might have some ideas.
  2. SmilingJocker

    SmilingJocker Valued Member Member

    Pick one that is affordable. The for close ups get macro lens. The rest is just playing around with the camera until you get the hang of it.
    Or so I've heard. Haha
  3. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Yeah will definitely have to be an affordable one. Just curious which brands/models are better or easier for beginners.
  4. Slug

    Slug Well Known Member Member

    Let me preface this by saying I'm a Canon brand guy. I'm pretty loyal to them. Doesn't mean Nikon, Sony, etc are worse....I just don't have the experience to recommend a similar product to the Canon.

    The best advice is once you've narrowed the search down, go to a store and put them in your hands. The grips can feel different for each brand, so getting something that is comfortable may be what it comes down to as they aren't heads and shoulders above each other (Canon vs Nikon image quality).

    -The Canon Rebel line is the general starting place Canon promotes as it's begginner DSLRs. Doesn't mean you can't look past it though, the basics are all the same no matter what camera you get. The money you put into lenses is where you will see the most improvement on image quality.
    -Don't be afraid to shop used or refurbished. Both Canon and Nikon have official refurbished stores, cameras that are put through a rigorious process when they come back to them and sold working like new. Some are even store display models that are as good as new and are put through the paces just because of standard procedure. https://www.keh.com/ is also another good place to look for used lesnes and camera bodies.
    -Along with the point of buying used, it's not always bad to look at an older body. These cameras are made with lens mounts so that newer lenses will never NOT fit older bodies. So you can continue to upgrade. I shoot with an 8 year old body to give you an idea. Not sure I would buy THAT old right now just because there is some good stuff out there more current....but you wouldn't be totally up the creek without the paddle if you did.
    -Buying a kit (lens and body) can be useful to start, but they generally offer one of their lower priced/quality lenses in the kits. Still viable, I still shoot with mine a good bit....but they are just a tier down from really good lenses type of thing. But like I said, pretty good to get you started.

    Do you have a budget in mind? For the closeups your would be looking at macro lenses more or less. With DSLR there is no real "macro mode", at least thats of any use. The glass will do the work. Of course this adds cost as you wouldn't want to shoot other stuff like any landscapes, people, etc with your macro lens. If you have any interest in doing that stuff.

    I would honestly give the Canon 6D a good look, as well as the 7D Mk II. Especially if you think you might go further than just tinkering around with some fish photos now and then. 7DII will offer faster top end shutter ranges and faster fps, 6D gives you more ISO range. 7DII has the newest Canon autofocus. 6D is a bit smaller and lighter. 6D is full frame vs 7DII crop sensor. So both have the ups and downs, both are good cameras and just barely edge each other in different scenarios. 6D is a popular low light camera, 7DII is a popular birding camera because it can track it's subjects faster. Generally the 7DII is branded a "sports and wildlife" type of camera, while the 6D caters to the everything else type of crowd.

    I shoot full frame, I like shooting full frame, and I struggle to go back to a crop camera for still photography. It's really a personal preference as neither has an edge in image quality, I just personally prefer to do my own cropping. This will give you an idea of the difference between full frame and crop sensor. 7DII is the crop sensor, 6D is a full frame camera that is another difference. APS-C is crop sensor area.

    If you don't know if you will be pushing further into Photography, I'd look also at either the Canon T6i or 80D. With the 80D winning if you can spend a bit more money.

    Kind of comes down to how much you want, or are willing to spend on this and how much further you want to take this past the aquarium. Hope I didn't confuse you to much. If you are researching something and don't understand what you are reading let me know and I'll try to help out!
  5. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Well that works out great, because Canon is what I've been looking at!

    I've been looking on Amazon and found a couple bundles for the Canon EOS 70D. (Is that the same as the 7D you mentioned?) It comes with an 18-55mm lens, a 55-250mm lens, a telephoto lens (58mm 2x), a .43x super wide angle lens with macro (adapter), 58mm UV protector filter, auto power slave flash, 8GB & 16GB SDHC cards, tripod & table top tripod, 3-piece filter kit (UV,CPL, FLD), camera case and a backpack, memory card wallet, USB card reader, and LCD screen protector. It costs a total of $1249. I'm willing to pay that. It seems to be only a couple hundred or so more than just the body + one lens, yeah? So I thought maybe spend a little bit more to get all those extras, and then down the road buy the more specialized equipment if I succeed at this endeavor.

    I am a complete newbie when it comes to cameras. I do have a digital point and shoot somewhere that I haven't used in 8 years. I use my iPhone camera and there are serious limitations with that. I hardly ever take pictures of people. If I do, the iPhone is more than sufficient. I take a lot of pictures of my dog actually. And wildlife, nature shots, my fish, fish in a creek, etc. Those shots are almost always terrible with the iPhone. If I can figure this photography thing out and not get frustrated, I might delve further into it. But for now, I think something that is easy to learn and use and that takes good pictures, including fish and tanks, would be good for me.

    And thanks for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate the help!
  6. Slug

    Slug Well Known Member Member

    The 70D is the model before the 80D I mentioned late in the post. To my knowledge not a LOT was upgraded. I know some video FPS options, 4 more megapixels (negligible), new battery, a headphone jack, and some better autofocus in video mode. You'll also get higher ISO range in the 80D but I'd be tempted to say that's negligible as well because I just never see a real need to go that high anyway for everyday stuff. I don't even think I've come close on anything I've done. The one thing the 80D does better is the autofocus points. Is it worth paying ~$400 more for it? Ehhhh. So let me correct my original post, unless you find a good deal for the 80, look at the 70D.

    For what you said in your second paragraph I think that kit you are talking about could work out well. I see it on Amazon. Looks to have everything you need to get started. If you knew you wanted to really jump into photography I'd stear you to the body only and buy a separate lens or two, little bit more expensive but it sets you up better going forward for upgrade sake. You will be covered from 18-250mm with that package. I can't speak for how those lenses do in a macro capacity though, I'd have to research it. Generally true macros are fixed focal lengths rather than zooms and give 1:1 ratios while a lot of zooms will do 1:2 (1:1 life size, 1:2 half life size). Not terrible, but not true macro, just close focus. A good quality 100mm macro lens will run you anywhere from $300-600 depending on brand and new/used. If you do want to explore this option, getting a dedicated macro lens look at the Canon, Sigma, Tokina, Samyang, Rokinon brands (Samyang/Rokinon are essentially the exact same lens with different branding)....no shame in looking at these, some even beat out Canon branded lenses and they can be half the price at times.

    Would have to see the flash to know what you need exactly, but for under $20 you could get a small cable to run from the hotshoe of your camera to the flash which would allow it to still function as normal flash, but put it over the aquarium which would benefit fish/shirmp/etc photos a lot IMO.

    The most important thing is not just gear, but you gotta sit down and learn a little about manual mode. If you are stuck using Auto on a DSLR it's really wasting your money and potential of the camera. It's really nothing to advanced, just start learning about ISO, Fstop, and shutter speeds, what influences them and what happens when you change each. It's all about finding the balance between them to properly expose an image. Once you start getting those basics down the rest really seems to fly by and you won't think about switching out of M mode. Over on SimplyDiscus we've kind of established a club of us photographers. One of them didn't know much at all coming in, she was a newbie if you will and just ran with Auto. Started learning, going out with the camera shooting, learning the basics and it's one of the most inspiring transformations I've seen. Her photos are absolutely amazing, she loves to shoot birds. So don't get discouraged, just a small learning curve. And a lot of times a little bit of post work and correction is needed to bring out the true potential in a photo.

    Keep in mind, it looks like 2 of those lenses screw onto the ends of the two other lenses. Only 2 actually attach to the body itself, the others are just kind of extensions if you will. Just didn't want you to be confused if you went for it lol.
  7. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Yep, 2 big ones and then 2 little ones that go on the big ones, haha.

    On The Planted Tank, there is a Beginner's Guide to Aquarium Photography that I looked at earlier. It explained a little bit about some of the terms you mentioned. I kind of get it, but I definitely need to really sit down and learn it. For that 70D on Amazon, the "Frequently Bought Together" suggestion included the Canon EOS 70D for Dummies book. I should get it haha. I looked at a preview of it and it seems to include examples of what things mean. For instance, a picture has a lot of noise. I say, huh? Then it shows two pictures, one with noise and one with little noise. Or something. So maybe they do a lot of visual explaining throughout.

    I saw a Canon 100mm macro lens for over $800 on Amazon. Yikes. So yeah, I'd definitely be open to different brands. I checked on BestBuy.com and they have the 70D in stock (as well as others), so I can go up and get my hands on it and see how it feels. It's almost as expensive as that bundle on Amazon! Like $1100 or something. And it's just the body and a lens, I think an 18-55mm. I definitely won't be buying it there!
  8. Slug

    Slug Well Known Member Member

    There are a few versions to that 100mm. The newer one obviously is more expensive, it's probably the "IS" (Image Stabilization) L (red ring prime) version. It's nice, but the normal 100mm 2.8 works just fine which is what I use. I think it runs $500-600 new but can be had cheaper used. Other brands I mentioned make similar lenses as well.
  9. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    I'm finishing up my water changes for the week and then heading up to BestBuy to feel up some cameras. Then maybe go next door to PetSmart...for no reason whatsoever.
  10. Junne

    Junne Fishlore Legend Member

    Well I was going to suggest Nikon but since you are a "canon" type of guy, I will refrain. LOL
    But seriously, whatever camera you get, most of the commercial use DSLR's have an automatic mode with various settings to make taking pictures very easy. On my Nikon, there are a few auto modes such as shooting in candlelight, bright light, sports and motion, etc.
    I have gotten a few lenses ( telephoto and Macro ) but have not really done too much close up stuff. I've had my camera for about 5 years and am learning stuff everyday.

    Good luck and have fun!

    the gear.jpg
  11. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    I have no real affinity to one brand or another. It was just what I happened to be looking at. Slug on the other hand is definitely a Canon guy haha.

    Who knows, maybe the Nikon will feel better in my hands than the Canon!

    I really hope I can figure all this out, especially since it's not cheap! I might be bugging the heck out of you guys for help haha.
  12. Junne

    Junne Fishlore Legend Member

    Have you tried Costco? Thats where I got my DSLR from and they have some great prices and they usually give you extras.

    I use Nikon because well.... I am Japanese and we Asian's for some reason prefer it! :;laughing:;laughing
  13. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    What's the Nikon equivalent to the Canon 70D? They had a Nikon 5500 that felt nice.
  14. Junne

    Junne Fishlore Legend Member

    Here's a website with reviews on each camera, etc


    As for me, I've only tried the Nikons so no idea about Canons but if you want an objective pros and cons, this is a good place to start. Then also, how it feels TO YOU! :)

    I have the D5100
  15. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Which model is your Nikon?
  16. Junne

    Junne Fishlore Legend Member

    Its about 5 years old. The newer ones keep getting better and better like the built in wifi, etc.
  17. Junne

    Junne Fishlore Legend Member

    Ah man, you're a BAD INFLUENCE PONGO!
    NOW I WANT a new camera with the built in wifi, time lapse feature ( D7200 )
  18. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

  19. OP

    Geoff Well Known Member Member

    Slug - What are your thoughts on the Canon Rebel T6i? Especially for a total beginner like me. While I can afford $1200 for the 70D bundle, my biggest concern is if I fail miserably at trying to learn it and get frustrated and then just give up. I'd end up having bought a $1200 dust collector. I could get a similar bundle with the Rebel for under $800. While still not small change, it's still $400 cheaper. If I do succeed, I could use the $400 difference towards a macro lens.

    So basically, as a newbie just starting out and trying to learn DSLRs, would this camera be suitable?
  20. Slug

    Slug Well Known Member Member

    I've been looking at new camera bodies myself actually lol. I'm holding out until August, a new Canon is rumored to be dropping then. The 5D Mark IV. If that doesn't excite me I plan to go with a 5DSR (first choice) or a cheap 5D III and some lenses to hold me over.

    I think the T6i would be a good learner. Any camera body will have the same basics attached to it for Manual mode. ISO, Shutter, and fstop doesn't change from camera to camera, but some cameras do handle each one better than others. Still, the basics are the same.

    Keep in mind though the T6i is at the bottom and basically considered entry level. Which is perfectly fine, you can get fine images out of that camera. I'm just acting as a salesman and photography nut and wanting to put you in the best camera for what you can spend. Doesn't mean my choice is the best, I just am trying to play a card of maybe you will catch the photography bug and I don't want you feeling like you have to upgrade the body immediately so I was looking at semi mid range cameras.

    I think generally now all of them can be similar to learn on. Could very well come down to ergonomics. Like I don't like the location of the T6i power switch, and I don't like that it doesn't have a wheel on the backside. Why? Because my other cameras aren't setup like that. Nothing at all to do with image quality lol.

    Whatever you do, if you get any of these cameras and do end up getting hooked, don't get used to the touch screen, pop out LCD, or certain buttons in certain places like the power or wheel listed above lol. Most of the time you won't find these features at all on higher end DSLRs.

    So in conclusions, yes I think the T6i could be a fine camera and do what you want it to do provided you have the glass to get you there.

    I like to use Flickr, they have galleries where it puts the photos taken with each camera into one place. Gives you good samples to look at. Of course these could have some post work done or different lenses used but it's a pretty good visual reference. Here is the one for the T6i. At the bottom you can pretty much search anything taken with this camera. Search macro, landscape, birds, aquarium whatever it may be to see a sample. I don't THINK you have to have an account but I could be wrong.