Giving "Entry DSLR" buying advice

JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
edited October 2014 in D3x00
Hello everyone,

This weekend I was confronted with the age old “help me choose a camera”-question.
Well, that’s easy…
If you’re a sports shooter then you buy the D4s, if you’re more a landscape shooter or like to print really big then you go for a D810 and if you just want a very good all-round camera then you buy the D750.
Next, you add a 24-70 f2.8 and maybe even the two other trinity lenses.
And to round it all you buy a SB-910, a pile of batteries and even more memory cards.
Done…
At least that would be my advice to someone who is very serious about the hobby and has the skill, time and dedication to make the most out of his equipment as well as the money required.
But as so often this is not the case here.
The person asking the question is currently using a point and shoot but has the ambition to learn how to take better pictures.
His main motivations for upgrading are the better image quality that a DSLR offers as well as improved indoor (low light) photography capability. He also wants to learn how to properly use a camera (aperture, time, iso,…).
And finally… His budget would be around 500€.

Given this last piece of information my choices are suddenly quite limited.
I was thinking about the D3300 with a 18-55 or 18-105 kit lens.
The problem is that I’ve only used the Nikon D800 myself and have no experience with the entry level DX cameras and lenses.

So that’s why I’m hoping you will be able to provide some insights.
- Is the D3300 a good (enough) camera? The DXOmark sensor analysis shows that it’s still a capable sensor and the pictures that I saw seem to be of a respectable quality.
What scares me a bit is the 11 focus points. Ok, I had a less on my first AF Film SLR. But it’s still a lot less than the 39 of the D5300.
And what about high ISO performance. I’m not talking about shooting a black bear at night in the woods using only starlight. But when shooting indoors with a kit lens it’s still quite easy to end up with high iso numbers.
- What about the lenses? I can get the 18-55 kit or 18-105 kit and remain approximately within budget. On the one hand I would go for the larger range and longer reach of the 18-105 (combined with that fact that it will offer a wider aperture around 50mm). On the other hand the range looks like a bit of a “superzoom” with all the associated optical compromises. Then again, I’m not really impressed with the resolution results from the 18-55. They actually look about equally (un)sharp to me. (I guess I’m spoiled with my D800 and lenses)
Another advantage would be that there is less need to swap lenses with the 18-105 so less likelihood of dust entering the mirrorbox.

Right now I would suggest a Nikon D3300 with the 18-105 kit lens and a SB-300 as a follow up purchase if he’s actually doing a lot of indoor shooting.
But I have absolutely no experience with this “entry level” equipment so I would appreciate all possible feedback.

Thanks,
John
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Comments

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2014
    Big question DX or FX
    if you friend wants improved indoor (low light) photography capability
    then they really need FX and a wide aperture prime
    if the budget can be stretched how about a second hand D700 and 50mm f 1.4


    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    Are we limited to only considering Nikon cameras?
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    @sevencrossing:
    I would agree that FX is the way to go for low light work. But the prices for new FX gear are beyond my friends budget and I don't have any reputable, local 2nd hand sellers.
    Ok, there's E-Bay but then you never know what you'll get.
    I also think that he would prefer a new camera but I'll ask him to make sure.

    @ThomasHorton:
    I looked at the Nikon range because I currently use Nikon myself and so might be able to help him more often with the camera controls. I also believe that, in terms of entry level DSLRs, there is virtually no difference between Canon and Nikon in terms of image quality and cost.
    I still plan on having him hold and try both a Nikon suggestion and the Canon counterpart. It is important that a camera feels right and is user friendly so some hands on interactions are called for.
    I would limit my suggestions to Nikon and Canon. They'll still be around during the next decade and their lensens and equipment will still be compatible. The also have the widest range of lenses and accessories.
    Sony has gone through a bunch of different lens mounts.
    I'm not a fan of mirrorless.
    Fuji makes good pocket camera's but I don't really think that they make a good entry level camera. Rangefinders are just not the same as reflex camera's and have some limitations.
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,298Member
    I'd say just go ahead and get the best entry level body and general purpose lens they can afford. Don't fret over it a lot. And then go out and just start shooting. Learn the gear and the limits of the gear. Start playing with PP. Can't learn much about photography by just waiting or wishing for the "best" camera. If they plan to get a bit more serious than the average user, they'll be getting more gear later, depend on what they find out they really want to shoot and what'll make the best image.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    Well said Pitchblack, I feel like that a lot. But then again, we are here to dispense advise.

    I would tell your friend to get the cheapest possible D3xxx, the kit lens and the 35 mm 1.8 for low light. If it stretches their budget, tell them if they are truly serious they should find a way to make that happen and that this is a good start to learning more.

    If they are willing to spend more, then it is a truly interesting conversation.

    Cheaper than that, they should go to the drug store and buy whatever feels right.

    I sleep well at night dispensing this advise.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    the D3300 will be better than any P&S by a ton! the main problem for him will not be the gear but the skill and experience... .. A kit lens with VR at 18mm will be better than a F2.8 zoom in low light if the object does not move. otherwise its the 35 1.8.
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2014
    John
    I would agree that FX is the way to go for low light work. But the prices for new FX gear are beyond my friends budget and I don't have any reputable, local 2nd hand sellers.
    Ok, there's E-Bay but then you never know what you'll get.
    I also think that he would prefer a new camera but I'll ask him to make sure.
    -
    As other have said - Nikon D3300 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm VR II Lens Kit
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,987Member
    I have recommended the D3000, D3100, D3200 with the kit lens to a lot of relatives and friends. No complaints. Yes some have come back and bought the 55-200/55-300mm lens for reach. For this case that is also my recommendation.

    Alternatives:
    Re manufactured D5200 or D5300. The price of a new D5300 is above budget so the remanufactured model is a good choice.
    @John - remember KISS applies here. Otherwise, you could wind up with someone like PitchBlack has encountered. Assume you know what KISS stands for.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited October 2014
    John,

    Getting your friend a D-SLR is not the issue, what he or she needs to become educated in is: photography itself. Moreover, as it relates to understanding exposure; hence, ISO, shutter speed and aperture setting...how each work, their pro's & con's. Their is much, much, much more, but lets keep it simple.

    The method that I would chose to do this is by you taking out your camera, and spend a few hours showing your friend how to take a pictures with a D-SLR. This will not only open up new doors for conversation and also educated your friend in knowing if this is the path he or she wants to take and what is involved in doing so. The experience will answer many of the question you have thought about and those you have not. Let the experience guide you in which direction to go.

    Lastly, have he or she join us here in NRF and read our forums...it will help in more ways than one.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    edited October 2014
    ^^ I feel the same when doing IT work on the side. I'm not up for it unless it is a close friend or family. I get frustrated with my father not because he won't understand the tech but because he is impatient and expects me to know what is going on in his head and his computer. Same with my sisters.

    Ok, back to photography. If asked what camera to get, I do ask what are their goals and suggest the high end dx (d7100) or if they really want to be serious the d610 to start out. If I'm asked about canon I say that I have no knowledge and my comments would be useless. I did tell my friend to invest in the 50mm 1.8 over his kit lens if he plans to get serious with photography.

    My cousin wanted to do video and beauty shots and her budget was 2k. I managed to get her a shopping cart at BnH and went over budget by 200-300.00 dollars but she has a DSLR with video, lens, flash, video light, mic and reflector with a wish list for a ring light. 2 months later she is still saving for it.
    Post edited by Vipmediastar_JZ on
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,148Member
    edited October 2014
    I've mentioned this in the past, that we should make a sticky thread on camera buying advice. That way we're not creating new threads daily but keep it all in the same thread. There really aren't that many options if you're sticking to DSLRs.

    Big budget? Go FX.

    Small budget? Go DX.
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • manhattanboymanhattanboy Posts: 1,000Member
    There is a LOT to learn when going from a P&S to a DSLR.
    One does not need to learn to drive on a Ferrari.

    Get a refurbished D3000 series and a refurb 1.8 35 or 50 prime.
    The prime will allow for learning about framing and also about wide apertures (which can't be done on a cheap zoom). After the person has mastered what a cheap refurb DSLR can do, then they will have enough info to make their own buying decisions according to their needs/likes.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 394Member
    D3300 with base lens. I find the 18-105 is a bit big for the body. +SB-500.

    Then read, shoot, read, shoot, read, shoot, read, post on NR forum ;-)
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    I have gone the d5xxx route as I feel like it offers the best bang for the buck. It is semi advanced but still has the question mark button that will explain features. The d3xxx is probably sufficient for most but if someone wanted to grow into a camera the d5xxx gives them more room. That being said every person that asked me to take a picture of them at Niagara falls all had their camera on auto. I even put one guys camera on A mode took the picture and switched it back before handing it back to him because the flash kept opening and firing in auto.

    I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the kit lenses and the body is just a matter of cost. Worst thing is people will get it put in on auto with the kit lens and wonder why they aren't turning out like yours. I had this experience with a point and shoot next to me at the falls.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    Well said Pitchblack, I feel like that a lot. But then again, we are here to dispense advise..
    She said she could buy the same camera as the photographer had for what he charged, take the pictures herself and get to keep a free camera. Then she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions that clearly demonstrated her utter cluelessness.

    That is when I say, "Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out."
  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    @John - You have many of the best concerns about entry level bodies. To be honest, I think they are a waste of money and catch people in the very antiquated idea that DSLRs bodies are needed for "better images." I continually get a hair brain idea to get a D3xxx to just keep in my car, and everytime I look at one, I realize a good point and shoot is a far better option.

    The thing that runs most off this forum for asking "which body" and many serious photographers just don't get is that the vast majority of people don't want the size (even how small they are) of a DSLR (then they never take it with them which defeats the purpose) and the rather large learning curve to get the settings right. I have found the "auto" modes on point and shoots (most recent ones) are better than DSLRs automatic modes. That means that to get the best photos, one has to choose to learn the camera, and few ever do.

    This is what I would focus on from what you said:
    1) "And finally… His budget would be around 500€." This should be the first point, not the final one. That pretty much knocks out every DSLR to get a good zoom range.
    2) "Take better pictures" That means, "my cell phone blobs everyone out." The newest advanced compacts should be considered.
    3) Q: Do they want to or asking you where to sign up for photo classes? If not, than don't go towards a DSLR.

    Basically if you are getting the theme - suggesting a DSLR to someone who isn't or doesn't want to have photography as a major hobby, will probably just frustrate them. It has always been written it takes 10,000 hours to master any skill. If they are not going to even spend 40 hours learning, then there isn't much of a point for people to be pushed into a more advanced direction.

    500€ (or $630) is not enough to properly, (hell even partially get going) into any real DSLR system. It is not even enough to get into any higher end interchangeable system and even most advanced compacts. I have done the math 6-ways to Sunday and I have never found a way to get a basic kit (zoom equiv 24-300mm, prime, 3 batteries, protective filters, & accessories) for under $1,200 (950€). We all know how neutered one feels without a filled out system.

    I push most into the "advanced" compact systems, High-end super zooms, or the low m4/3rds system and the Nikon One system.

    Advanced compacts: (These are at the 500€ or higher)
    Sony RX100iii, PowerShot G7 X, PowerShot G1 X Mark II, LUMIX LX100

    Super Zoom: (Close to 500€ - adds the long range)
    Sony DSC-RX10, LUMIX FZ1000K 4K QFHD/HD, Olympus Stylus 1

    Small interchangeable systems: (all above 500€ unless went for a closeout model)
    Sony Alpha series (they are really good), Olympus Pen series, Nikon One

    My go to always compact: Olympus TG-2 (now TG-3) 350€. On 1080 TVs I have a hard time picking it's files out over my D800 (shot in good light). It is probably one of the best "digi" cams I have seen.
    •Formerly TTJ•
  • GreenwiseGreenwise Posts: 34Member
    I'd say just go ahead and get the best entry level body and general purpose lens they can afford. Don't fret over it a lot. And then go out and just start shooting. Learn the gear and the limits of the gear. Start playing with PP. Can't learn much about photography by just waiting or wishing for the "best" camera. If they plan to get a bit more serious than the average user, they'll be getting more gear later, depend on what they find out they really want to shoot and what'll make the best image.
    +1

    i agree not much difference in gear at this level, get any entry level body n start shooting !!!
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    Thanks everyone.
    Lot's of good feedback.

    I'll first start off with a long talk with my friend to find out what he really wants to do and to explain to him the different options with their advantages and disadvantages (including associated cost as well as complexity of use).
    Then I'll take him to the shop to get a feel of the camera (and lens) that matches his requirements best.
    And if he still likes is then he can buy it.

    I will of course help him get to get started by explaining the technical aspects of photography and by showing him how to use his camera.
    I guess we'll be spending at least a few days shooting together to get him on track. :-)
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited October 2014
    The question has changed

    New answer

    Buy a Nikon
    1) If buying second hand, avoid old generation sensors such as the (D90)
    2) Get the best camera you can afford with a kit lens or the best mid range zoom you can afford
    3) if you want to do landscapes and can afford Fx go full frame
    4) Otherwise the best Dx you can afford
    5) choose from what is in the shops , not what might come out next month
    6) learn the how to do a two button reset
    7) RTFM (You can do this on line before you buy the camera)
    8) Set it to Auto or P ( P for Professional)
    9)Take lots and lot of photographs in different light condition
    10) look carefully at the results and learn from your mistakes
    11) If you are happy with the results, continue as you are
    12) If you not happy; you have to find out what you are doing wrong, before buying more gear or using Manual settings
    13) Photography ( painting with light ) is about lighting and composition. It about being in the right place at the right time and capturing the decisive moment. NOT apertures, shutter speeds, ISO, lenses and filters
    14) Only get more lenses and gear, when you cannot get the results you want, from your current camera and lens and you know what you want and why

    as ever, the above is just MHO others will disagree
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Not sure I agree with Bokeh_Hunter, but then again it is hard to offer advice from what we know to where we were in the past. I came to Nikon Rumors and my first post was what should I get and my next post was I am disappointed with what I got is doing. I kept shooting, advancing and was finally happier with my results. I also figured out that in most cases my pictures weren't going to look exactly like pictures taken with a $5000 camera and $10000+ lens. However experience has played a large role in how my pictures turned out. I almost laugh as I go back in my flickr page and look at when I first got my camera. All that being said...the newer generation dSLRs are far ahead of point and shoots. And even on auto can give you good results...why would something with an inferior sensor and lens give better...or be recommended? Even if you never change lenses or shoot RAW? Side by side the dSLR is going to give you better ISO performance and overall be sharper. Auto or scene modes on the dSLR are going to be as good or better than those of a P&S (which I have found in my use of P&S compared to auto mode on dslr...unlike Bokeh_Hunter). I have also seen lately that you can get the D5200 or D3300 for not much or equal cost of P&S cameras...no real cost savings. It just has to be explained that dslr isn't automatically going to equate to pictures you yourself have taken. DSLR means the possibility of taking higher quality pictures with the right amount of knowledge and can in the future be upgraded with even better lenses. One problem is what people have now as their cameras. I have seen users on the forum go from D40's, D90's, D300's to D4s, D800s and such. The new FX bodies seem to have blinded some that FX or die and that the entry level DX or even the D7100 aren't that useful/great anymore. They really are tons better than what people were using before they got their D4 or D800. So I think the view of those are a bit jaded...not saying the FX bodies aren't great or worth it or much better, but the fact that the new DX bodies are as good or better than the old pro bodies used to be.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    @sevencrossing:
    @ThomasHorton:
    I would limit my suggestions to Nikon and Canon. .
    No love for Pentax?

    To me, if some one were truly just starting out, the Pentax K5 family, or even the K3 is an excellent value.

    There is more to the photography world than CaNikSony. :)

    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    Re Brands
    I would buy the same brand as your friends
    It will be easier for them to give you advice and you might be able to borrow their lenses
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    There is more to the photography world than CaNikSony.
    I would give the Fuji X series another try or recommend depending on budget and photography goals. Maybe the x-Pro 2 or Fuji x100T.
  • henrik1963henrik1963 Posts: 561Member
    It is not that hard to take a picture. All you need to do is remove the lens cap, turn the camera on, put it in P mode and press the shutter. Thats it.

    If you make it to complicated he will never take he's first picture. Maybe we are overthinking it?

    Nikon D3300 is a very fine camera - there is very little that camera can't do that is worth doing. If he really likes taking pictures he will soon put it in A mode. Come x-mas he will want a 35 1.8 :-)
  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    Not sure I agree with Bokeh_Hunter, but then again it is hard to offer advice from what we know to where we were in the past. I came to Nikon Rumors and my first post was what should I get and my next post was I am disappointed with what I got is doing. I kept shooting, advancing and was finally happier with my results. I also figured out that in most cases my pictures weren't going to look exactly like pictures taken with a $5000 camera and $10000+ lens.
    Your experience is hardly the norm. Most people when they hit the "I am disappointed with what I got is doing." put the thing back in a bag and shelve it until they give it to someone. Most people don't want to learn photography, they just want something that looks good whenever and wherever they pull a camera out and take a shot. And when they spend all of their budget on a camera like that, I just feel bad for them as I want people to find enjoyment out of photography, not frustration. If people want to learn photography like all of us at some point did, then a DSLR is a good suggestion. It is just not the only suggestion for everyone.

    There is nothing wrong with the DX format at all. A camera's sensor is only part of the story though. The features, build quality, easily accessible buttons, ergonomics, interval timer, bracketing, etc. is the rest. The further down from the top you go, the more options drop off. And those options can lead to more creative freedom. With the absence of a pro DX now, DX bodies (and now the D610 and we will see on the D750) are neutered with less options. The thing is, advanced compacts, various mirrorless bodies, have many of these options included at a far lesser price. Also the Nikon 1 V3 is said to focus faster than the D3300, and D5300. I think the real culprit is not that believing FX is always better, but believing DSLRs are always better for everyone and have to be used to get good photos.
    •Formerly TTJ•
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