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Wannabe Photographer

Discussion in 'Photography and Video' started by Zipitidoda, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member

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    I would like to upgrade my little point and shoot to a nice camera. I have been doing a little research but I am still a little clueless. I prefer Nikon and as much as I would like to go with an FX rather than a DX camera the FX is a little out of my price range. Honestly I don't know much more than that. I have found a few bundles on Amazon and Walmart.com for the D7100 and D5500. They come with a few lens and accessories. Is this a good package for a beginner or am I getting sucked into buying more than I need? Or is it not enough? Or not great quality? Any opinions would be great. And @fractal I always love looking at your photos so hopefully you can give your honest opinion.

    The accessories are:
    Nikon Lens 18-55mm
    Nikon Lens 70-300mm
    Vivitar HD 2.2x telephoto lens
    Vivitar HD wide angle lens
    Flash
    Tripod
    Bag
    and a few other items I have no clue what they are.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  2. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Very exciting for you and I'd be more than happy to throw in my 2 cents.

    First a few questions;

    What is your budget? (today and going forward).

    What are you trying to accomplish ( just better vacation photos or that plus start a new hobby)? Tell us what you see "producing" with the new camera and gear on your next trip.

    How much are you willing to carry around with you? Be honest.

    On a scale of 1 -10 what is your overall knowledge level of photography?

    Did you ever use your point & shoot in any mode other than AUTO? If the answer is NO, are you willing to invest the time to learn how to take more control of your camera setting?


    This should get us started. :)
     
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  3. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Budget is $1000 or less
    Definitely better photos, would love some great scenery photos, fast action, and even portraits. :D
    Here's my downfall. I really don't want to carry much, once in awhile is fine but I don't want to carry bags all the time.
    My knowledge level is low, maybe a 3. I don't even know which lens to grab when wanting to take a picture :oops:
    Auto on my point and shoot is all I've ever used (mostly because the kids were little and moved to fast to make any adjustments) but now I'm definitely wanting to slow down and learn features and functions of a camera to get better pictures. Thanks so much for answering my questions.
     
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  4. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    OK. First a disclaimer.

    In the world of interchangeable lens cameras such as the Nikon D5500 and D7100, there are 2 main camps. DSLR & Mirrorless. DSLR cameras have a mirror which is used for autofocus while mirrorless cameras do not. Mirrorless cameras have the AF directly on the sensor (the rectangular blue thing in the lens mount below). The advantage of the mirror (DSLR) is faster and more accurate Autofocus (especially when shooting rapid continuous); the disadvantage is added size and weight.

    [​IMG]


    I was an early adapter of mirrorless APS-C cameras when I bought the Sony NEX-3 in 2011. I did so because I wanted a small easy to carry camera that did not sacrifice image quality. The point of all this is that I do have a bias towards mirrorless cameras. In 2013 I purchased another mirrorless (NEX-7) and just recently I purchased my third (Sony A7rii). I do believe that the future of cameras lies in the mirrorless design. The first few generations still lagged behind DSLRs in terms of Autofocus, but the more recent ones have closed the gap. In fact, unless you are a pro-sports photographer, the differences are negligible. So again, I do have a bias towards Mirrorless cameras.

    Having said that, the Nikon D7100 and D5500 are fantastic cameras. The D5500 is right in your price range and would give you very good image quality, ability to shoot terrific action shots and with the right lens shoot good shots in low light as well as portraits. You could buy the camera with the kit zoom for under $500 and get a solid prime or two and still be at around $1,000. (If you don't know the difference between a zoom and a prime lens, don't panic. Neither did I when I started). I'm not a big fan of the "package" deals you pointed out. It includes a lot of "cheap" throw-ins to make it sound like a good deal. The tripod is likely either very small or not of high quality. You are much better off saving for a good tripod.

    Lets compare the D5500 to the mirrorless Sony A6000 (btw, Fuji also makes great mirrorless cameras). For under $500 you can get the A6000 with the kit 16-50mm collapsible zoom. Image quality and all the other things are basically equal to the D5500. But the camera is significantly smaller. This is a top view - note that the A6000 has the kit lens attached while the D5500 is just the camera body.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a good comparison of all the camera's features and specs...

    http://cameradecision.com/compare/Sony-Alpha-a6000-vs-Nikon-D5500


    Another big difference between a DSLR and mirrorless is the Viewfinder. DSLR use "optical" viewfinders which use a prism to show you a view close to what you see with the naked eye. Mirrorless uses an Electronic View Finder (EVF) which is a digital screen image of the view. Optical viewfinders (OVF) are generally brighter and easier to view details, Electronic Viewfinders however give you a "WYSIWYG" type image. If you make changes with your camera controls, the EVF view will also change. This is very helpful when you are shooting in different and changing conditions and for me is another reason I prefer mirrorless. At Disney you can go from very bright sunshine to a dark ride quickly. Other appreciate the advantages of an OVF. I think as someone coming up from point & shoot an EVF would be more comfortable and easier. Plus is a great training tool. When I started I would look through the EVF and observe how changing Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO changed my exposure in real time.

    Back to our comparisons. After you buy the camera and kit lens, differences in cost of other lenses start to become noticeable. In general, mirrorless lenses do cost more than their DSLR counterparts. A Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX lens will run you less than $200 while the Sony SEL 35mm 1.8 costs about $450. The Sony lens does have stabilization ( keeps the lens stable which is helpful in low light) but cost difference is still significant. It really comes down to Nikon (and Canon) have sold many more lenses than Sony and they currently have economies of scale. A DSLR 50mm 1.8 lens can probably be had for $175 vs. $250 for the stabilized Sony SEL 50mm 1.8. Something to consider.

    In addition, the size difference advantage doesn't really carry forward to the lenses. With some exceptions, a mirrorless lens will be roughly the same size as it's DSLR counterpart all things considered ( although mirrorless lenses can be designed smaller but that's a whole other discussion ). But - the A6000 with the kit lens is almost pocketable. The D5500 is not, even with it's smallest available lens. Mirrorless is much easier to carry around and a great option as you run through the parks.

    Confused yet?

    Another major difference. Because a mirrorless has to power an EVF, battery life is lower than an DSLR. I usually carried an extra battery when I hit the parks - the good news is they are the size of a box of tic-tacks, but the difference is worth noting.


    So let's now compare costs for a good "starter kit"

    For $1,000 you could get

    Nikon D5500, 18-55 zoom lens (good for daytime shots), 35mm 1.8 prime lens (good for low light), 50mm 1.8 prime ( low light and good for portraits), a decent tripod or detachable flash.

    or

    Sony A6000, 16-50 power zoom lens (daytime), 35mm 1.8 prime lens.

    or

    Sony A6000, 16-50 power zoom lens, 50mm 1.8 prime, decent tripod and detachable flash.


    Now that we said all that, it's important to mention a few other options.

    1) Canon entry level DSLR and lenses ( similar in cost and quality to Nikon).

    2) Advanced/premium "point & shoot" cameras. There are high end point & shoot cameras that in many cases will perform just as well as a DSLR or mirrorless with a kit lens. It would be a disservice not to mention those and explain them which I'll have to do later (or others may chime in). It also may be a solid option if you are not sure about expanding your photography past getting better family pictures and travel photos.

    3) Micro 4/3 cameras. Also mirrorless but with a smaller sensor. They are known for being responsive and easy to use, good image quality and small and light body and lenses. I'm not an expert in those but can get into comparing.

    Last and not least - Education. There are a lot of resources online. Check "digital photography school" for one. Also some good books. I read "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson but there are others. What you want to understand first is the "Exposure Triangle". This is the relationship between the 3 variable you can control to manipulate your exposure (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and how they interact with each other. After that, you'll learn how to use those variables in a creative way.

    More to come. I do hope others also answer. There are some great photographers on this site that can offer different perspectives (even some that don't like mirrorless cameras :eek: ). Not just camera commercials, but also how to use a better tool to become a better photographer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  5. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    LOL... Confused? Very. But I was able to understand a good portion. I will have to re read this..maybe more than a few times before I fully understand.

    I didn't know about mirrorless cameras but i do like the pros that you mentioned.

    I realize I really need to learn about the different lens before I buy so I'm very glad your giving me info. I will read the link tomorrow when I have more time.

    One thing I love is pictures in low light. What do you suggest to use in those situations?

    I do have a few more questions but have a busy night so I will ask more tomorrow. I really do appreciate you taking the time to help me out.
     
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  6. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Mirrorless vs. DSLR

    here's a good article comparing the two.

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/dslr-vs-mirrorless-cameras,news-17736.html





    High-end premium "Point&Shoot". These are cameras that look like a P&S but have a significantly larger sensor and much better lens; 2 of the biggest factors in determining image quality.
    These cameras sport a 1 inch sensor which while smaller than the Nikon and Sony above, is much larger than a smart phone camera, or "common" P&S. The Panasonic Lumix LX10 combines that sensor with a crazy good Leica 24-72 zoom lens with a very fast aperture range of f/1.4 to f/2.8. "Fast" or large apertures give you better performance in low light and also allow you to take those photos with a sharp subject but blurry backgrounds. ( "f" is a measure of aperture with the lower "f" number being a bigger aperture since it's a ratio. An f/1.4 lens has a bigger/faster aperture than an f/3.5 lens).

    So the LX10 will likely be as good if not better than either the Nikon or Sony when combined with their respective kit lenses (but not if you buy a better prime lens).

    Here's a good write up on the LX10.

    http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-point-and-shoot-camera/

    These camera can be shot in Auto to full Manual (if you want to have more control). They are small yet pack a big punch. The disadvantages; the lens is fixed so you can't buy another lens. Flash system is limited to the camera's. In short, there is no room to expand it's current capabilities. I do know many pro photographers that use these very cameras on day trips and vacations because they are that good. It's a viable option for what you are looking for. The LX10 costs around $600.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  7. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Here is the difference a "fast/large aperture lens" can make in low light shots such as dark rides.

    These were shot with basically the same type of camera (NEX-3 and NEX-7 which are comparable to the Nikon D7100 and D5500).

    shot at f/3.5

    [​IMG]

    shot at f/1.8. The "faster" aperture allowed me to shoot at a faster shutter speed to avoid blur. Crucial for dark ride shots.

    [​IMG]

    The point being - A Nikon D5500 with a kit lens won't give you great dark ride shots (same with the Sony A6000 with kit). You'll need to buy another "fast" lens such as the 35mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.8. The Lumix's built in lens is fast enough for dark rides.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  8. Tiggerish

    Tiggerish Resident Redhead Premium Member

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    Wow. I feel like I should offer to pay you a tuition fee after reading that post. What an astounding amount of information in plain English, and how generous of you to take the time to type it all up.

    I'm amazed at the difference in size between mirrored and mirrorless cameras!
     
  9. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Forget what I said about mirroless cameras and shooting Pro-Sports. Sony just announced a new beast of a camera (A9) aimed directly at Pro-Sports photographers and Wildlife.

    It will set you back $4,500 however.

    Groundbreaking Full-frame Mirrorless Camera Delivers Unmatched Speed, Versatility and Usability
    • World’s first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP[ii] resolution
      [*]Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting[iii] at up to 20fps[iv] for up to 241 RAW[v]/ 362 JPEG[vi] images
      [*]Silent[vii], Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec[viii]
      [*]693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
      [*]Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life
      [*]5-axis in-body image stabilisation with a 5.0 step[ix]shutter speed advantage

    Sony today introduced its new revolutionary digital camera, the α9 (model ILCE-9).

    The most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that Sony has ever created, the new α9 offers a level of imaging performance that is simply unmatched by any camera ever created – mirrorless, SLR or otherwise.
     
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  10. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Whoa!! $4500.00 for a beginner like me that's pretty steep :hilarious:.

    I still need to read the links...I plan on that in just a little bit. Your great for all this information!!
     
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  11. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    And @fractal your pictures of Splash are exactly what I'm talking about!! I want great clear pictures. It seems unless I'm in daylight everything else is just fuzzy or "off".

    Ok I'm off to go read your posts and links!!
     
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  12. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Lol! Yeah, unless you just got hired by National Geographic or Sports Illustrated it may be just a bit over the top.
     
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  13. NeedMoreMickey

    NeedMoreMickey Well-Known Member

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    There are so many books and websites on how to get the perfect picture you will l need to go out and take pictures, a lot of pictures. If you are used to a point & shoot all the different settings you can have on your new camera will be a little intimidating at first. I found the best way for me was to take several pictures while changing the settings and seeing what worked. I'm a need to see how in order to learn person. At least now everything is digital so it is so much easy and cheaper to take many, many pictures for practice. I took a non-credit course at the local community college when I bought my first DSLR and kept a photo diary. Whatever you get you will have a great time taking pictures.
     
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  14. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Most blurry photos are a result of wrong shutter speed (how long you are holding open the shutter). In a dark ride you are moving as well as your subject so your shutter speed has to be pretty fast to "freeze" all that action - and that's even assuming you are holding the camera correctly (which most people don't).

    On a chinsy point & shoot you could set the camera to "Sports" with a high shutter speed and hope for the best, but the small sensor and "slow" lens just cannot bring in enough light to make a quality shot. An I-phone has no shot at it. One thing to remember about photography - it starts and ends with light.

    You can bring in enough light by slowing down the shutter speed but alas, that's when all that movement causes blurriness.

    With a better sensor (the bigger the sensor the more light can be captured) and a "fast" lens with a wide aperture (opening) your shutter speed can be fast enough to freeze your movement and the subject's movement without sacrificing much image quality.

    The lesson is, by having they correct tools and learning how to use them properly you can take much better photos.

    Some people will buy a DSLR with a kit zoom and get mad when their "low light" shots still sux. Their problem is the 18-55mm kit zoom is not too good for low light with the widest aperture being f/3.5 (vs. f/1.8) and on top of that they keep the camera in AUTO expecting somehow that the camera knows you're on a rocking moving log in Splash Mountain trying to take a photo of Brier Rabbit hopping around. In AUTO the camera will sense the low light and "automatically" use a slower shutter speed. Failure all around.

    But we are smarter than that. You will buy the correct tools for the job and learn the correct technique; and you will take dark ride shots that will look great!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  15. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I just got done reading about ISO!! The site digitalphotographyschool.com has a lot of great info! Now i'm on to the link of DSLR vs mirrorless. My head is starting to hurt.:happy: I still like some of what I'm reading about DSLR but you almost have me sold on the size of the Sony A6000. That is very important to me.

    I'm still a little confused about the low light situation, when I think I understand i read another sentence then get confused again. I'll catch on but I agree with @NeedMoreMickey that it will help once i play around with settings and practice shooting.

    One thing I should say is that this is strictly for taking photos of family, vacations, portraits of the kids. I'm not interested in making money or a career.

    Thanks again @fractal! All this information is really helping and I know I'll be happier with the camera I purchase now that I'm learning a few things first.
     
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  16. drizgirl

    drizgirl Well-Known Member

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    I recommend reading Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" as a first step.
     
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  17. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody Well-Known Member

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    I'll put a plug in for the fuji mirrorless system :D. The XT-1 (the 2 is out now) is my travel camera of choice.

    Like fractal said, a fast lens is your best bet. I keep a 35mm 1.2 on mine.
     
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  18. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    With all this reading I actually understood what you said!!! I'll check out the Fuji too! Thanks

    Will do!
     
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  19. Jahona

    Jahona Well-Known Member

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    Wow Fractal really went all out with his explanation. You're probably realizing that photography is complex. My old teacher used to have a quote written above the door when you exited the class room. "Light is law, master it." This is the truth of photography.

    I want to drop a few things in here as well in terms of lenses and settings. Having a fast lens is great but there are some things to take note about wide open apertures and that's depth of field. Depth of field is what makes DSLR and Mirrorless cameras stand out against point and shoots and cell phones. Having your subject in focus while your background has a nice blur is the hallmark of large aperture (Lower F-stop number) lenses. The lower your F-stop the shorter the range of what will be in focus. This is all a bit dynamic based off of distance to camera and what not. If your subject is close to the camera and you are using a large aperture you could potentially have part of your subject out of focus. The farther away your target the wider your depth of field and therefore not as much of a problem.

    This is a great simulation of how focal point, F-stop, and lens focal length (mm) effects whats in focus.
    http://dofsimulator.net/en/
     
  20. Zipitidoda

    Zipitidoda Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Wow... I understood none of that.:hilarious: But I'm looking it up. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I've added depth of field and f-stop to my list to google along with exposure triangle. Thanks for the link also. I'm off to go read some more.
     
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