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DSLR camera recommendations

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Miles Monroe

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OK guys, being I'm no pro here, and a good friend I use to shoot with is finally looking to go digital, I need some help. He's a Nikon guy, and will be shooting cars and bikes to start, but will eventually branch off into portraits as he did in the past.

I have him looking at the D90 as a start up body to get him moving, but wanted suggestions on bodies and lenses for the portrait work, weddings, and such.
 

Dead Money

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EL's a nikon guy.. he gave me a bunch of good tips when I was shopping for a new setup. Unfortunately I went cheap internet site and got hosed on a new D7000, returned it and haven't bought a new rig yet. I'll be interested to see what comes out of this thread!
:munching_out:
 

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James Madison

Pete, we use the D90 at work, and it's a GREAT camera. El should have some more info for you though, more than I can provide. My photographers know lots more than me, I'm just the stupid sales guy...

:)
 

Lanky Livingston

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Costco has a pretty good deal on the Nikon D3200 right now, if you're a member. Not sure how it compares to other Nikons, but you can get it for $730 with a case and two lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm). Its a 24.2MP camera, which seems pretty good.
 

tshile

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my understanding is that those 700$ DLSR's with high megapixels are way too much for the average person, they're just trying to get you buy something you don't need.

maybe El can speak to that?

(this is coming from the guy that bought one of those :( )
 

Miles Monroe

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EL's a nikon guy.. he gave me a bunch of good tips when I was shopping for a new setup. Unfortunately I went cheap internet site and got hosed on a new D7000, returned it and haven't bought a new rig yet. I'll be interested to see what comes out of this thread!
:munching_out:
I mentioned the cheap internet sites to him, and how I learned the hard way. Told him to stick to B&H, Adorama, and Calumet. Ya, I'm hoping to hear what El thinks too.

Pete, we use the D90 at work, and it's a GREAT camera. El should have some more info for you though, more than I can provide. My photographers know lots more than me, I'm just the stupid sales guy...

:)
Hey, all input is good. He was looking at the D90, D200, which is obsolete and nowhere to be found, the D300, and the D3200. If he was going to be shooting video along with stills, I'd have had him go with the D300, but being it's strictly stills, the 90 seems the best starting point.

Costco has a pretty good deal on the Nikon D3200 right now, if you're a member. Not sure how it compares to other Nikons, but you can get it for $730 with a case and two lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm). Its a 24.2MP camera, which seems pretty good.
Thanks Lanky, I've seen them packaged for good prices on the better sites too. I actually steered him away from the D3200 because of the 24.2MP. The perception is more is better, but it's not always the way. You could read for hours on the construction of MP's, the size and depth to go along with the Nikon DX format. It can have your head spining pretty fast. It boils down to actually getter better quality from less MP's on a better sensor.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Thanks Lanky, I've seen them packaged for good prices on the better sites too. I actually steered him away from the D3200 because of the 24.2MP. The perception is more is better, but it's not always the way. You could read for hours on the construction of MP's, the size and depth to go along with the Nikon DX format. It can have your head spining pretty fast. It boils down to actually getter better quality from less MP's on a better sensor.
Interesting...makes sense that a cheap sensor with tons of MPs wouldn't be as good as less MPs with a better sensor. I would just never guess that Nikon would try to get away with crap like that!
 

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Interesting...makes sense that a cheap sensor with tons of MPs wouldn't be as good as less MPs with a better sensor. I would just never guess that Nikon would try to get away with crap like that!
My opinion on this is that Nikon offers enough options to satisfy all out there. Their cameras fall under several categories... entry level, high entry level, professional, full frame professional (I'm prolly missing a couple here) Lots of options there.

Can't really hate on them for offering what the majority of the consumers out there think they want.... MORE MEGAPIXELS!!!@@@@@!@! :D
 

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Nikon has gotten away from the idea that more MP's are better and have dealt with it accordingly, although they created the D800 large format sensor with 36 MP that is friggin amazing! Canon realized this years ago and has produced some great cameras, but I am a Nikon guy and will remain as such with the thousands I have invested in gear.

Pete, the first question I always ask is what is he willing to spend? I have a friend who is currently using a Nikon D90 and has branched out into the portrait realm and she loves it. But, she understands that camera is only going to get her so far. Unfortunately, the price range at this time keeps her from going forward with a new body. If your friend is genuinely serious about getting into this business, he should move away from the DX format and go Full Frame (FX). You can still do well enough with the DX...Nikon, Canon and Sony have made cameras that are very user friendly (relative I know) in the DX format and I have made a lot of money with DX format cameras, but they are all beginning to take advantage of the technologies available and making cameras in FX format that are cheaper.

From the info I have gathered from you Pete, I would strongly suggest your friend bite the bullet and get the Nikon D600. While he doesn't need the video, it's there and the camera is pretty nice. I have used one and while it is not quite what I need, it should serve him well. Unfortunately, then the lenses come into play. And that is where they will spend if they really want to go beyond simply being a novice and becoming a pro.

Here are 2 lists that I will suggest in both DX and FX format for your friend to consider if he wants to stay with Nikon. But if he is considering making a move and has to buy camera bodies and lenses, I suggest switching to Canon and going full frame.


DX Format:

Nikon D7100
Nikon 35mm f/1.8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

These 3 items should run about $2500 tops.

Nikon D7100 - It is Nikon's best DX camera right now. The D300s is the last of the DX format "prosumer" cameras Nikon produced and they are nice...I used one for years, but the D7100 is the best DX camera they offer new. If your friend wants to buy used, a D300 is nice but try to find a D300s instead and these should be cheaper than the D7100. Again, it all depends on cost.

And there are at least 2 lenses they should have: Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. I would also suggest a wide angle, but these 2 lenses will provide all they need to get started in portraiture photography. If they want a zoom lens, then I would suggest the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 instead of the 35mm, but for the price, the 35mm is perfect and all you need to do is back up a little or move forward a little. I would still suggest a wide angle lens, but that is not imperative. Group shots will be difficult with the 35 on a DX format because is it really 52mm length. If they want, they can find a prime 20mm for a few hundred bucks instead of spending almost 1000 on the 17-55 f/2.8 they can get 2 prime lenses for far cheaper. Just a matter if they want to switch out lenses.

For the price, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is awesome and affordable. The best part of it is that is also will work on DX and FX format. If he can swing it, the 50mm f/1.4 is super sharp and only a few hundred more! I have this lens and it takes great portraits.

The 70-200mm lens is ideal for getting candid shots and can be used in sports action photography as well. I actually shoot casual family portraits with mine. He should be able to find the VR version of this lens used for about a grand, the VR II is going to run close to a thousand bucks more.


FX Format:

I strongly suggest him moving to FX. Most professionals shoot FX and if he wants to be competitive, he should do the same.

Nikon D600
Nikon 35mm f/2.8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

This should run closer to $3k.

Again, I would suggest that any pro go with either of those setups starting out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people calling themselves pro because of the gear so if you don't keep up with them, you better have some skills.


My friend, I mentioned earlier, started out with the D90 and a 35mm lens. She does a good job and has a great eye for the biz. Your frined can get their start with that setup. I would suggest getting a better rig to start, spend the extra...a few jobs and it will be paid for and they won't need to upgrade again in 6 month or a year... To begin with, the D300s (Used) with a 35mm f/1.8 could be enough if money is tight.

One thing I should mention is that DX gear can be found used right now on the cheap, but stick to the sites you mentioned. I have had great success with Craigslist, but I know exactly what to look for. I would never buy used body on Craigslist...lenses only.
 
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Miles Monroe

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Interesting...makes sense that a cheap sensor with tons of MPs wouldn't be as good as less MPs with a better sensor. I would just never guess that Nikon would try to get away with crap like that!
Everybody does it to be honest. It's not that it's inferior, it's just suited to a different type of shooting. I have no doubt it's a good outfit for somebody just getting to photography.
 

Miles Monroe

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Nikon has gotten away from the idea that more MP's are better and have dealt with it accordingly, although they created the D800 large format sensor with 36 MP that is friggin amazing! Canon realized this years ago and has produced some great cameras, but I am a Nikon guy and will remain as such with the thousands I have invested in gear.

Pete, the first question I always ask is what is he willing to spend? I have a friend who is currently using a Nikon D90 and has branched out into the portrait realm and she loves it. But, she understands that camera is only going to get her so far. Unfortunately, the price range at this time keeps her from going forward with a new body. If your friend is genuinely serious about getting into this business, he should move away from the DX format and go Full Frame (FX). You can still do well enough with the DX...Nikon, Canon and Sony have made cameras that are very user friendly (relative I know) in the DX format and I have made a lot of money with DX format cameras, but they are all beginning to take advantage of the technologies available and making cameras in FX format that are cheaper.

From the info I have gathered from you Pete, I would strongly suggest your friend bite the bullet and get the Nikon D600. While he doesn't need the video, it's there and the camera is pretty nice. I have used one and while it is not quite what I need, it should serve him well. Unfortunately, then the lenses come into play. And that is where they will spend if they really want to go beyond simply being a novice and becoming a pro.

Here are 2 lists that I will suggest in both DX and FX format for your friend to consider if he wants to stay with Nikon. But if he is considering making a move and has to buy camera bodies and lenses, I suggest switching to Canon and going full frame.


DX Format:

Nikon D7100
Nikon 35mm f/1.8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

These 3 items should run about $2500 tops.

Nikon D7100 - It is Nikon's best DX camera right now. The D300s is the last of the DX format "prosumer" cameras Nikon produced and they are nice...I used one for years, but the D7100 is the best DX camera they offer new. If your friend wants to buy used, a D300 is nice but try to find a D300s instead and these should be cheaper than the D7100. Again, it all depends on cost.

And there are at least 2 lenses they should have: Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. I would also suggest a wide angle, but these 2 lenses will provide all they need to get started in portraiture photography. If they want a zoom lens, then I would suggest the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 instead of the 35mm, but for the price, the 35mm is perfect and all you need to do is back up a little or move forward a little. I would still suggest a wide angle lens, but that is not imperative. Group shots will be difficult with the 35 on a DX format because is it really 52mm length. If they want, they can find a prime 20mm for a few hundred bucks instead of spending almost 1000 on the 17-55 f/2.8 they can get 2 prime lenses for far cheaper. Just a matter if they want to switch out lenses.

For the price, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is awesome and affordable. The best part of it is that is also will work on DX and FX format. If he can swing it, the 50mm f/1.4 is super sharp and only a few hundred more! I have this lens and it takes great portraits.

The 70-200mm lens is ideal for getting candid shots and can be used in sports action photography as well. I actually shoot casual family portraits with mine. He should be able to find the VR version of this lens used for about a grand, the VR II is going to run close to a thousand bucks more.


FX Format:

I strongly suggest him moving to FX. Most professionals shoot FX and if he wants to be competitive, he should do the same.

Nikon D600
Nikon 35mm f/2.8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

This should run closer to $3k.

Again, I would suggest that any pro go with either of those setups starting out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people calling themselves pro because of the gear so if you don't keep up with them, you better have some skills.


My friend, I mentioned earlier, started out with the D90 and a 35mm lens. She does a good job and has a great eye for the biz. Your frined can get their start with that setup. I would suggest getting a better rig to start, spend the extra...a few jobs and it will be paid for and they won't need to upgrade again in 6 month or a year... To begin with, the D300s (Used) with a 35mm f/1.8 could be enough if money is tight.

One thing I should mention is that DX gear can be found used right now on the cheap, but stick to the sites you mentioned. I have had great success with Craigslist, but I know exactly what to look for. I would never buy used body on Craigslist...lenses only.
Thanks E. He's very limited with Funds, and having to stay with DX format, I looked at the sensors and processors, and the D90 was as close to the D300 as you could find in a lesser body. I already sent him some info on the differences of the DX and FX format. He'd love the Fx, but it's not going to happen due to price. He seems apprehensive to go with something used or refurbished, but I'll bring it up again. He was in the business back in the 70's and 80's, and is looking to get back in slowly. I also touched on the lenses with him. I told him while the body I shoot with isn't top shelf, my money was spent on the best lenses I could afford. I'll be chatting with him in a bit, and will pass along the info.

Thanks again
 

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Pete,

I'm not a Nikon guy but my advice is brand independent. Go with an APSC sensor to start (the D90 is a great choice) but make sure that glass he buys now for that camera is full frame capable so that later on if he decides he needs more real estate at the sensor end he won't have to upgrade his glass at the same time. In fact, I tell my friends that are getting in that if they are really serious about it they should go with the cheapest body they can stand to buy (every DSLR from the big 3 takes a better photo than even the best DSLRs from just a few years ago) and then get the best glass their money can get. The glass will last a long, long time but body technology is turning over according to Moore's Law.
 

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Pete,

I'm not a Nikon guy but my advice is brand independent. Go with an APSC sensor to start (the D90 is a great choice) but make sure that glass he buys now for that camera is full frame capable so that later on if he decides he needs more real estate at the sensor end he won't have to upgrade his glass at the same time. In fact, I tell my friends that are getting in that if they are really serious about it they should go with the cheapest body they can stand to buy (every DSLR from the big 3 takes a better photo than even the best DSLRs from just a few years ago) and then get the best glass their money can get. The glass will last a long, long time but body technology is turning over according to Moore's Law.
Seems that's the point we're all high on, the lens quality. Hadn't thought about the interchangeability, and will mention it to him.
 

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Well thanks Pete, this thread reminded me I needed to stop procrastinating and get my damn camera before I ride up into the mountains this weekend on the new bike. :D

I had a coupon for buydig.com I have used them before for some stuff on the boats and it only seemed right to use it. You know since my "company" needed a new DSLR. :D

I bought a d5200 bundle with nikkor 18-55 and 55-300 vr lenses.. Maybe not applicable to your buddy but I got the 2 lenses, the body (in burgundy), a few filters, a bag, a tripod, a 32gb card, and a wireless remote for less that $1k. I think its listed on their site for $1046 with free overnight shipping. I had the coupon from a previous purchase so there's that.

BuyDig.com - Nikon D5200 DX-Format Red 32 GB SLR Camera with 18-55mm and 55-300mm VR Lens Bundle

View attachment 745
View attachment 746
 
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Miles Monroe

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Well thanks Pete, this thread reminded me I needed to stop procrastinating and get my damn camera before I ride up into the mountains this weekend on the new bike. :D

I had a coupon for buydig.com I have used them before for some stuff on the boats and it only seemed right to use it. You know since my "company" needed a new DSLR. :D

I bought a d5200 bundle with nikkor 18-55 and 55-300 vr lenses.. Maybe not applicable to your buddy but I got the 2 lenses, the body (in burgundy), a few filters, a bag, a tripod, a 32gb card, and a wireless remote for less that $1k. I think its listed on their site for $1046 with free overnight shipping. I had the coupon from a previous purchase so there's that.

BuyDig.com - Nikon D5200 DX-Format Red 32 GB SLR Camera with 18-55mm and 55-300mm VR Lens Bundle

View attachment 745
View attachment 746
Tough deal to pass up for sure. So, hows the bike ? Where's the pics ?
 

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Tough deal to pass up for sure. So, hows the bike ? Where's the pics ?
The bike is great, Pete - thanks.... I bit off a little more than I could chew with that mountain ride, we ended up going damn near 400 miles in a day, lots of twisties. I need to get a custom seat! I didn't take too many pics honestly because the ride was kind of intense; it was a saturday so there was more traffic and little rockslides on some of the hairpins and switchbacks to keep you on your toes, we even got a little drizzle!

here's a link to my photobucket, its got some bike pics and some new pics from playing with the new camera. I'm very happy with my purchase, getting good results already and I don't have a clue what I'm doing yet.

kevinbel's Library | Photobucket
 

Miles Monroe

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The bike is great, Pete - thanks.... I bit off a little more than I could chew with that mountain ride, we ended up going damn near 400 miles in a day, lots of twisties. I need to get a custom seat! I didn't take too many pics honestly because the ride was kind of intense; it was a saturday so there was more traffic and little rockslides on some of the hairpins and switchbacks to keep you on your toes, we even got a little drizzle!

here's a link to my photobucket, its got some bike pics and some new pics from playing with the new camera. I'm very happy with my purchase, getting good results already and I don't have a clue what I'm doing yet.

kevinbel's Library | Photobucket
Lookin good. Like I told my buddy, these days, the camera is smarter then us. Before you drop the money on a custom seat, you might want to try an airhawk, or gel pad. I have a bunch of customers that use the airhawks. If ya go for a seat, Sargent is the way to go for comfort nless you have somebody local who re-molds seats. We have a guy here that you actually go for fitting for the seat. Seats are pricy, so you may want to ride a few months and let your body get use to the bike. Even slightly changing you handle bar position a tiny bit will change your seating. Don't drop the money till you try all the simple solutions.
 

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Lookin good. Like I told my buddy, these days, the camera is smarter then us. Before you drop the money on a custom seat, you might want to try an airhawk, or gel pad. I have a bunch of customers that use the airhawks. If ya go for a seat, Sargent is the way to go for comfort nless you have somebody local who re-molds seats. We have a guy here that you actually go for fitting for the seat. Seats are pricy, so you may want to ride a few months and let your body get use to the bike. Even slightly changing you handle bar position a tiny bit will change your seating. Don't drop the money till you try all the simple solutions.
Yeah this camera is awesome, when I actually learn some of the settings its gonna be a lot of fun. I was amazed with some of the pics I got just walking around. I'm already looking for a wide angle lens to add to my bag.

Thanks for the advice on the seat Pete! I found 2 rather large web forums that deal just with my model of bike (crazy right?) It seems to be the biggest common problem everyone has with this bike. There's a member at one of the sites that has redone like 200 seats for other members. He's rather cheap too maybe even less than a new airhawk. Its a hot bike, yami sells a gel comfort seat but you'll see tons of them for second hand sale because supposedly, they are like sitting on hot coals in warmer climates. I agree with the handle bar setup affecting the seating pos, I have already played with it and think I'm gonna put a set of risers on it that bring them up and back a bit.

I love this bike for where I'm at right now but I'm not sure its what I wanna ride cross country. I'm now struggling with the decisions to put any more into it eyeing something a little more geared toward long distance touring.
 

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Kevin, been perusing your images...good job.

2 Suggestions:

1.) If you want a wide angle lens go w/ Tokina 11-16 or their older model 12-24. The 12-24 is a previous generation but if you can find a used one you should be able to get it for less than the 11-16. I had the 11-16 for years and it is a great wide angle lens...probably the best for Nikon. You can find either of these in Used Good condition on Amazon.

2.) Purchase Image Editing software. Lightroom 5 by Adobe has been released and it is AWESOME!!! you can get a 30 free trial to learn a little about it to see if you want to spend the $150. It can be overwhelming when you first look at it, but with trial and error, it will make you understand your camera settings much better...not to mention you will be able to have fun with the images. It is not photoshop which runs 5 times as much for something you'll probably never use, unless you are more artist that I believe you to be.
 

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Yeah this camera is awesome, when I actually learn some of the settings its gonna be a lot of fun. I was amazed with some of the pics I got just walking around. I'm already looking for a wide angle lens to add to my bag.

Thanks for the advice on the seat Pete! I found 2 rather large web forums that deal just with my model of bike (crazy right?) It seems to be the biggest common problem everyone has with this bike. There's a member at one of the sites that has redone like 200 seats for other members. He's rather cheap too maybe even less than a new airhawk. Its a hot bike, yami sells a gel comfort seat but you'll see tons of them for second hand sale because supposedly, they are like sitting on hot coals in warmer climates. I agree with the handle bar setup affecting the seating pos, I have already played with it and think I'm gonna put a set of risers on it that bring them up and back a bit.

I love this bike for where I'm at right now but I'm not sure its what I wanna ride cross country. I'm now struggling with the decisions to put any more into it eyeing something a little more geared toward long distance touring.
Ya gel seats are bad with extreme temps in either direction. They hold the heat, and cold more then standard seats. I took a reading with the inferred thermometer on a black seat at noon one day. 146 degrees, and the ambient temp was 89. I like seats done with atomic foam. We do lots of riser sets, and peg lowering kits. Just be careful with cable and break line routing with risers. Most common thing we see is cables too tight, and causing the throttle to be pulled when you turn the bars hard or to the stop. Sucks when you go to swing into a parking space, and turn the bars and have the bike take off on ya.

I'm not a fan of peg lowering. Makes things awkward IMO.
 

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