aswim in knits

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I want a new camera!

In 10 days, I will be done grad school. I cannot wait!!!

Last night, I hinted to Thom that I would like a new camera as a graduation present. If by hint, you understand this to mean "I told him that I would send him an email with links to the camera he should buy me," then you would be correct.

Right now, I am using a three+ year old Nikon Coolpix E5600 point and shoot camera. I'm ready to play with the big kids, though, and get something with more capability and versatility. I'm thinking a DSLR, or as I still think of them "a big black camera with cool accessories."

So, since you, my fair readers, tend towards the opinionated side (yes, you! ... and you ... you too!), I thought I'd ask what you think of your DSLR camera(s). What camera do you have? What features do you like? What do you find irksome about your model? What do you wish your camera could do that it doesn't do?

I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for in a camera, but here are a few things that I know I want to do with it:
  • I want a camera that I can use indoors without a flash.
  • When I do use the flash, I want it to recharge quickly. (Right now, it takes my camera 3 seconds to save an image and 5 seconds to recharge the flash, so I miss lots of good photos.)
  • I'd like to be able to add a lens that I can use to take decent photos at a distance. Not really far, but maybe 100 meters? (Like, say, taking photos of my swimmers at meets!)
  • I want to take candid photos of kids (like this one or this one), so I want to be able to use an auto mode, or have a manual mode that is pretty easy to set up/adjust so that I don't miss the good photos!

I'm not afraid to read a manual, or buy a book, or take a class, or ask advice, in order to learn how to get a camera to do what I want it to. That said, I'm not looking to be a super highly technical photographer, so I don't need the fanciest or best possible camera out there.

Really, what do I want to do? I want to learn to take beautiful pictures like Ashley, Maryse, Caro, PumpkinMama, Phoe, Cheryl, Maritza, Adrian, and Tiennie. (And, umm, like lots more of you talented peeps out there. I'd link to all of you, but I do need to return to my paid employment momentarily.) Clearly, these individuals all have an artistic eye, which is the biggest part of their photo-taking ability. But I bet a good camera helps too :)

What cameras should I be looking at? What kind of questions do I need to think about? What features will I want?

Opinions, please. Bring it.
(And, umm, if you have other friends who like to take photos with their DSLRs, send 'em this way to share their thoughts!)

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  • What? My photos aren't good enough to link? ;-)
    Okay, I have a Canon Digital Rebel xTi. Caro and Cheryl both have the same camera. I love mine but I should have paid more attention to the lens options before I bought it. If I had I wouldn't have gotten the stock lens and would have spent the extra money on other lens. Now I've got a wide angle, a 50mm and a telephoto. I haven't used the lens it came with in ages. Oh, and I'd also like to get a macro lens.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 11:54 AM  

  • I'm flattered you have me on your list. I have a Sony A100 - sony's 1st offering in the DSLR range. While I love my camera, I'd rather have Nikon then Canon would be next on my list. B/c its so new, there are fewer "options" available for it. Technically, I have no issues with it though.

    By Anonymous PumpkinMama, at 12:20 PM  

  • Congrats on almost being done with grad school! My pics aren't spectacular, but I think that's more me than the camera so I'm going to chime in on the Digital Rebel XTi. I love how easy it is to use, but I second what Carole says about the kit lens. The 50mm is excellent, and I've found macro filters to be pretty handy too.

    By Anonymous Kate, at 12:28 PM  

  • We just got a Sony DSC-H50, which is an ultrazoom but not a DSLR. It's great for outdoor pix (see my flowers set on Flickr), but so far I've had less success indoors. I haven't had a chance to play with all the settings yet, though.

    By Blogger Lucia, at 12:35 PM  

  • Oh - I "hinted" to Mike that I wanted a DSLR for my 34th birthday this year, so I am really looking forward to reading all of the comments you'll get!

    By Anonymous elisa, at 12:43 PM  

  • Wow, thanks! I have the ubiquitous Canon Rebel XTi and am currently lusting after a Canon D40. See Lolly Knits for awesome pictures taken on that camera.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

  • I have a Nikon D-40 DSLR. I love the camera itself. It's fairly compact as far as DSLRs go (though I am in the market for a teeny point and shoot for when I don't feel like lugging the big one around), the flash recharges quickly, manual mode is easy to use, you can get decent indoor flashless photos as long as there is some natural light and you're not trying to take a picture of a crazy toddler...but I don't love the kit lens that comes with the camera. I mean, it's fine for everyday use I guess, but sometimes it's impossible to get the pictures I want with it. I'd love to have a macro lens or a 50mm or a zoom, but I haven't been able to justify the expense of other lenses when I'm only taking pictures of yarn and June. That being said, it's a fine all around lens for basic stuff and you can always get more lenses. I really like the camera itself and I think it's come down in price since I bought it...I paid about $600 right before June was born but I think you can find it for under $500 now.

    By Blogger Bertha, at 1:23 PM  

  • I find most folks fall into either the Nikon camp or the Canon camp. I'm squarely in the Canon camp, but that's because I was raised in a Canon family. If you pick up a Rebel XTi, you'll definitely have a bunch of us to hit up for advice once you have it. Right off the bat I'd say grab a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 lens. They run about $75 on Amazon and are worth every penny. It's a faster lens than the kit lens (meaning better in low light) and perfect for portraits and fast moving subjects.

    If you're looking to get into the SLR world, the Rebel is a nice way to ease into it. You can use the program modes or the manual modes and both will yield great results.
    (Oh, and go pick up a copy of Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop while you still get a student discount. CHEAP!)

    By Blogger caro, at 1:54 PM  

  • thanks for including me on the list! i'm all nikon all of the time. like caro, mostly because i started out way back when with a nikon film camera and my old lenses work with my nikon D80. (i also happen to think that nikon SLRs are better too). nikon's latest is the D60. it's small and compact and it has the advantage of having a self-cleaning sensor (i learned later on that the sensor can get dust on it and you shouldn't try to clean it yourself). but you should definitely go to a reputable camera store and try cameras out because if you don't like how the camera feels in your hands, you'll hate it. is the menu intuitive for you? are the controls easy to get to.

    as for lenses. for those portraits of mine that you like, i use a 55mm-200mm zoom lens. it's not as fast as i'd like (i can't use it in super low light situations) but it was reasonably priced. (faster lenses are typically more expensive) and it allows you to put a nice amount of distance between you and your subject's face without distortion. like the others have remarked, i rarely use the kit lens. so maybe you could just buy a camera body. i also have the 50mm 1.8 lens for the nikon. a 70mm-300mm zoom which i use for my bunny hunting photos and a wide angle 11-18mm. along with some macro filters.

    the SLRs out today have fast enough flash time. but honestly in camera flash is so yucky that you'll end up rarely using it.

    if you're serious about investing the money into a DSLR do your homework (duh, as if you woulnd't). because once you commit to a brand be it canon, nikon, pentax or whatever, you'll probably want to stay with that brand in the long run, updating the camera body over time, but keeping the lenses.

    By Anonymous maryse, at 2:38 PM  

  • I have a Canon, but not a DSLR yet! My dad just bought a Canon Rebel though and I got to play with it at his house and it's quite nice. If I'm going to spend that much on a camera though, go with a company that makes cameras like Canon or Nikon....theirs are always slightly better.

    By Blogger Meghann, at 2:41 PM  

  • Go with a Nikon or Canon. Both systems are so well established that it will be easy to 'grow' with them. I'm in the Nikon camp. I've had a D70 for years and am looking for a new body (aren't we all!) and have my eye on the D60 or the D80 or the D300 if I win the lottery. This site is a great spot to start your research -

    By Blogger Kat, at 3:01 PM  

  • I went with the Canon and I've been happy with it. When it comes right down to it though, I think I would have been just as happy with the Nikon. They're both great DSLRs and it's just a matter of which you like better. I basically flipped a coin and ended up with Canon.

    It's too bad Konica Minolta sold out to Sony, because their DSLR was awesome (the maxxum) and if I find one for a good price somewhere I'd snap it up for sure.

    By Anonymous Cheryl, at 3:23 PM  

  • I'm squarely in the Nikon camp. I got a D50 because we already had some Nikon lenses and I think that I prefer the results of Nikons just a teensy bit over Canon's.

    That said, the newer entry level Nikons (D40 and 60) require lenses that have their own autofocus motors if you want autofocus. That really limits your lens choices. Like, that sweet 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 that everyone loves won't autofocus on them. The lenses that will work with them are also more expensive because they have autofocus motors. You can use the old lenses, but you'll need to focus, yourself.

    Be sure to search about lens compatibility on any camera. Chances are you'll like a "normal" lens that works in low light conditions (like the 50mm 1/4 or 1.8), a telephoto, a macro, and a wide angle. The lower the f-stop (that number like 1.4 or 5.5), the more the lens opens, allowing you to photograph in low light. I totally ignore the lens that came with my D50 and use the 50mm and a wide angle Sigma the most because they have low f-stops.

    By Blogger Adrian, at 4:15 PM  

  • I'm a point'n'shoot girl at heart myself. :)

    By Blogger Chris, at 10:10 PM  

  • I have an instant gratification camera. But the Mister is a pro so he has rescued me many times with real photos to send, share and play with. His suggestion is because you can research all your favorite bells and whistles and compare cameras. Lots of input from the peanut gallery as well. And the best part is Sunday Cat! Whoops, wandering off behind the little people again. Good luck with the hints and congrats on grad school!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:57 PM  

  • I just got a Nikon D60 for my 30th. It was the one thing I asked for. I love it. I haven't ventured off the automatic setting yet, but I've already taken some great pics. Do you read Pioneer Woman? If not, I suggest her photography section. Lots of info on cameras, settings, tricks.

    By Blogger haddy, at 11:22 AM  

  • I am in love with the Canon Digital Rebel XTI. We have two lenses - a standard one (18-55mm) and one with a huuuuuge zoom (75-300mm). It's the most amazing camera I've ever used, takes these pictures that are absolutely perfect, absolutely amazing. Totally worth the purchase price and you can often find a good deal on the whole package by watching the sales fliers.
    I've photographed weddings with it, fast-action stuff, still shots and everything comes out amazing. You can seriously snap a shot off I'd say at least once a second. It's basically a professional camera and it has changed my whole thinking about photography. :)

    By Blogger Jena the yarn harpy, at 12:00 PM  

  • Congrats on finishing Grad school - I finished in May and these past months of not having to worry about a paper or a class has been heaven! You will really enjoy the rest of the summer!

    By Blogger Deidre, at 8:14 AM  

  • Aww thanks!

    We have a Nikon D200 and D300 but you can't go wrong with either Nikon or Canon. A secret for all the above photographers - I think most of us use a 50 mm lens - great for blogging. You'll need a different zoom lens for taking those pictures of your kiddos at meets.

    By Anonymous tiennie, at 3:33 AM  

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