Feel free to add your opinions on this lens in the comments below.
Written Review below the video review if you don't want to watch the video.
I had a shoot just this last weekend. I have not replaced my 50mm f/1.8D with the 50mm f/1.8G and was not wanting to manual focus the D. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I would rent a lens for the shoot and then at the same time I would do a review on it. So I went to lensrentals.com and looked around. I was thinking of renting either the 50-150mm f/2.8 or the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. While I was looking at them I stumbled across the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. I had never seen it in all my browsing of lenses before for some reason. I went over and looked on B&H and discovered that the lens is only $499 brand new. That is why it was so inexpensive to rent compared to the 24-70mm or the 50-150mm lenses. It had great reviews on B&H so I decided to rent it. I also figured it would be interesting to take to the football stadium on Friday night and see how it would rock out for sports. It also happened to go with me to OctoberFest too. So I shot it a lot over the weekend.
Let's start with the price. Most of the time when you find a zoom lens that has a consistent fast aperture through the zoom range you will pay a lot of money for that feature. Most of the time you are looking at well over $1,000 for those lenses. So this lens selling for $499 US is just amazing. If you are not sure what that means, when you look at a zoom lens it will show the maximum aperture either as a single number, like this one at f/2.8, or as a range, like the kit lens at f/3.5-5.6. The kit lens can get to f/3.5 when at 18mm, but when you are zoomed all the way in the best it will do is f/5.6 for the aperture. That is a difference of one and a third stops of light. So this lens lets in a lot of light no matter what focal length you zoom to.
Next, how did it actually perform. Well it is basically very sharp. I am sure if you put it head to head with the Nikon or Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and fully zoomed in you would be able to see the difference. But the lens was incredible. It was so very sharp. The images were stunning. I have used a number of sub $500 lenses, and it is almost impossible to get this sharp of an image in that price range. The things that are out of focus in this football image are either because of motion blur or they are outside of the depth of field area of sharp focus. I was shooting with my minimum shutter speed set to 1/320th of a second in auto ISO and the shot is at ISO 2,200. I could have gotten 1/500th of a second and gotten less motion blur and a sharper image.
Next, the lens focused very fast. It was incredibly responsive. I never had an issue with it struggling to find focus or hunting for the focus. And it grabbed the focus spot on so quick. When I set the focus mode to continuous the lens tracked the moving subject very well. I would not recommend this lens for football, only because the 75mm max focal length is just too short. But I can totally see using this lens for basketball if you are courtside. So that fast autofocus will be very handy shooting that quick action. The lens zoom action was also very smooth. The lens was very lightweight too.
So bottom line, this lens is half the price of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. It is well worth the investment, and a great lens to shoot. I would recommend it for shooting portraits, taking out on family outings, a good general walk around lens, and sports where you are fairly close to the action. If you want something for shooting football or soccer then this is not really your lens, especially if you cannot get right on the sidelines. I would think that if you want to take a single lens for your camera on a day outing or vacation then the best two choices would be either this lens or an 18-200mm lens. This lens does not have the long reach of the 18-200mm lenses, but it has a very fast aperture, sharp images, and it is very lightweight. In my opinion I would recommend this lens to most shooters over the 50mm or 35mm f/1.8 prime lenses. A prime lens will always have a faster aperture and sharper image, but they lack the versatility of a zoom lens. And this one is basically the same cost as the 50mm and the 35mm and covers both focal lengths and more.
Feel free to add your opinions on this lens in the comments below.
I like the look of video out of 8mm because it feels more organic than a lot of digital video. The nostalgia factor helps a lot too. I have some video of my wife and me on our trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It looks like the home movies when we were kids, with the addition of sound. And I have the phone with me all the time to capture the videos. The only challenge is in having enough memory to store the videos. So when I get my 5S eventually I will get either the 32 GB or 64 GB version.
I have also taken a number of photos with my iPhone. As a matter of fact one of the photos I took in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Tequamenon Falls with the iPhone was one of my submissions for our camera club "competition". When I was going through the photos from my DSLR and my iPhone I would have to say that this photo of the falls is all the equal of the ones from the DSLR. I suppose if I were to make a huge print of some photos this one might not look as nice. But as a digital image it is incredible.
There are a number of really cool applications for the iPhone for photography too. Some are just great photo programs. Some are designed for giving either that vintage look, or other crazy and interesting edits. At some point I hope to review some of the different programs and let you know what is out there, and also how well they work. I know there are some for Android too, but I don't know at this point which are good and which are not.
The big thing to remember is that the best camera is the one that you have with you. The iPhone and the Android phones are always with you. Don't be shy in learning how to use them to take photos. It is a shame to miss a photo op just because you don't have your DSLR out with you. Take some time ahead of time to learn the phone camera, and maybe get a couple additional programs. It is worth it.
One final thing for this blog posting. I was on YouTube the other day and I stumbled across a review done by Michael the Mentor that compared the Nikon D7100 and the Canon 70D. I found it to be a very fair review. More importantly it did a great job showing how to compare two different cameras and what to look for when trying to select a camera. It is a little long, but it is very well put together and he does a great job putting together an awesome video. So I decided to share it here for you all to watch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This last week my wife and I made a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I had my nice new D5100 to take with me. But I only had the kit lens, and my 50mm f/1.8 D (that won't autofocus on the D5100), and my LensBaby. This is because the 70-300mm took a swim along with the D80. So it is dead too. Well my good friend Brenda was nice enough to loan me her Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS lens. This was nice for several reasons. First, it gave me a wonderful focal length walkabout lens. Second, it gave me a chance to really run it through it's paces for a review on here. This blog post will mention a few things about this lens. But I am also going to start a whole different section that will be equipment reviews. This lens will be the first in the listings. I will also do a detailed review of the D5100, but I am still learning everything there is to learn about the lens.
So let's talk about the lens first. I love it. But that is with caveats. First the good things. The lens is nice and sharp. I was able to get sharp photos in all focal lengths I shot. It worked very well for that. The lens focused very quickly. This is a very inexpensive lens for the range it shoots. The lens normally sells for $499, but is on sale for $349 right now through September 25th. The Nikon 18-200mm is $849 for the same focal length range. The lens has a very nice lens hood that comes with it. It has optical stabilization (the OS designation... similar to VR on the Nikkor lenses).
I also did some shots where I manually focused the lens. The travel on the focus ring was pretty nice and made manual focusing pretty easy. It feels a touch loose, but worked really well and held the focus well. I felt very comfortable using manual focus on the lens.
The OS seemed to work really well. I did not do any "scientific" tests on the OS to test it in-depth, but it felt like I could hand hold it much slower than I would be able to without it. I had a few times I forgot to turn it off when on the tripod and it did not seem to cause issues. But again this was not in-depth testing of the feature.
The negatives of the lens. First it is heavy!! There is a lot of glass in there. It is also a very wide lens at 72mm, so filters are going to be pricy for it. I was not as bothered by the weight as some, but it did get heavy on the neck over time. This lens convinced me more than ever that I need to get a BlackRapid strap by this fall though!! Second, the lens has a nasty habit of drifting out the focal length if the camera is tipped down. So if I lowered the camera between shots I might find it went from 50mm to 135mm by the time I brought it back to my eye. And if I was bent over shooting down I needed to make sure to keep hold of the zoom ring so it would not drift. This is not a problem most of the time, but can get annoying. Third, I did notice a touch of chromatic aberration. I am not as big of a pixel peeper as a lot of people. And I don't feel that this is a huge issue for most photos. Keep in mind, this is a walkabout lens for vacations, day trips, and other times you are doing more general shooting. It is NOT a professional lens. This is also a DC lens in the Sigma line. This means it only works on crop sensor cameras. So if you have an FX body this is not a lens for you.
All in all I highly recommend the lens for most all shooters for a walkabout lens with a really wide focal range. It shoots well and is inexpensive.
Now for the camera. This is the first time I took it out to shoot on a vacation/day trip situation. Over the course of the week I learned a lot about the camera. The biggest thing I learned is that I have a lot to learn about the camera still. I am rethinking some things in how to use a camera based on this last week.
The first thing that I have changed my opinion on is the whole auto ISO thing. I will write this up more later, but the auto ISO is awesome when on a day trip. You need to determine what the highest ISO is that you are happy with. But if you are moving in and out of buildings and getting drastic changes in light the auto ISO is a great feature. I found that using aperture priority along with auto ISO worked very well! The photo of my wife was taken at ISO 6400 and looks really good. It is going to be printed and displayed on the wall. Before I succumbed to turning on auto ISO I missed a lot of pics as I kept having to change settings back and forth. Now I can let the camera deal with that automatically and I can know I will get the picture.
The second thing I learned is that I love the video feature, but have some things to learn on how to set up the camera for that. It was wonderful to be able to quickly flip to video mode though and grab video clips. And the video looks much better than from my Canon Vixia. There are some limitations on the DSLR that I don't have on the Vixia, but I don't know if I will get the camcorder out very often anymore. One thing that is awesome about video on the D5100 is it is mov files that I just simply have to copy over to the computer and I am done. On the Vixia I need to do a log and transfer of all the videos so they are converted to something that the computer can actually use.
Something else interesting is that sometimes I am willing to put up with noise to get a shot. This shot is of a huge fire we made in the campground in Fayette. We sort of got into a competition with the site next to us with some wonderful people from Jenison, MI. I just had to get the shot to show the fire. This is a natural light shot that shows the fire and my lovely wife. Sure there is visible chromatic noise, but it is a great shot of a wonderful memory. I am more than willing to have the noise in the shot to have the picture. I might try some noise reduction software on it, but it is good as is IMHO.
So the camera performed wonderfully, the lens was incredible, the trip was great. And it all has given me a lot more to write on this site going forward. So look forward to a lot more articles on here soon. BTW I have included a few more shots below for you to enjoy also. :-)
So in my last blog post I mentioned that I dropped my trusty Nikon D80 in the lake. She never ever came back. I even put her in a bag of rice, but no luck. OK, maybe my wife was right that waiting a week before I put her in the rice was a bit long. I suppose also that it was just beyond hopeful thinking that I could ever see her come back from the photography afterlife. And I had actually been drooling over a new camera for a while. Maybe she just decided to head to the Nikon Pearly Gates because she knew my eyes were drifting on to others. But she was my first serious DSLR. Well I did have a D40.... for about 4 weeks... before I sold her to my son-in-law so I could get the D80. But she had a special place in my heart. I took a load of great photos with her. I learned so much about advanced photography with her. She had been reliable and durable, and should have had a lot of life left still.
Well enough of pining for the past. I borrowed a camera a couple times for some shoots I had. But I had a lot more and this was going to start to really crimp my style. It was also going to impact building up this site and my other photography ventures too. For a very long time I had been looking at the Nikon D7000. Basically shortly after that little gal came out I was lusting after her. I had numerous chances to get her in my hands, and she was a delight. So you would think that I would just run out and get one, or her younger sister, the D7100. It should have been a match made in heaven. But alas, I did not have the money at the moment for that investment. That is why I had still been shooting the D80. What to do???
Well I had been looking some at the Sony Alpha DSLR cameras. I first saw those while watching Matthew Jordan Smith. Then later I found out that Nigel Barker shot Sony too. I am interested in DSLR video, and the Sony has by far the best follow focus of any of the DSLR cameras out there. So I stopped by Marks Photo in Grand Rapids, MI and looked at them. They are very nice. And I could get one with a second lens for just $600 because of a sale they were currently running. I went back home and did a bit more research. I made a list of what I felt were the important things a camera should have. As I went down the list I found two that suddenly were a problem. The first one was the live view in the camera would be a struggle in a studio with strobe lighting. It can be worked around, but it is a struggle. Then I discovered that the Sony could not be shot tethered to my Mac. Well that was it. I shoot tethered in the studio and would never want to give that up!!!! So now I had to refocus again and figure out a solution.
Well as I thought more I remembered that the Nikon D5100 has the same image sensor and processor as my love the D7000. I have also told my students in class that the camera does not make the photographer. And ever since the D5200 came out the D5100 was on a pretty amazing sale. Then Meijer had a special mperks deal for 15% off any general merchandise purchase, including things already on sale. So that would give me another $90 off the already incredibly low price of $599 for the camera with the kit lens. So I hinted (pretty strongly) to my wife about the camera. Well I am now the proud owner of the D5100, and I LOVE it already.
Sure, it is not the D7000, but it performs magnificently. The shots in this blog post were all taken in studio with the camera. They are the first studio shoot since I have gotten the camera. It worked better than my best hopes. The camera is a little small in my huge hands, but it is solid and responsive. Oh, and the shots were taken with the kit lens too. I did that in part to really give the whole kit a good run, and in part because the 50mm that I have is the D model and will not autofocus on the camera. So that will be going on eBay this week so I can get the G version of the lens.
I have been out shooting the high school band in summer band camp this week too. The high ISO performance on the camera is wonderful!! I am able to shoot indoors with the kit lens and get good to great shutter speed. And the VR is letting me shoot so incredibly slow handheld without even working hard at it. This is why I have recently said that the D5100 is probably the best entry level beginner DSLR on the market. You can easily get two to four full stops more light in ISO compared to most other low end cameras out there. That is so important if you don't have the money, or don't want the super shallow depth of field of an f/1.8 or f/2.8 lens.
I have done some video on the camera too. The flip out screen makes it so easy to do video. Sure the follow focus is not all that great. But as long as I plan my shots accordingly then that is not so much of a worry. The files are so easy to pull off the camera. Way easier than getting them off my dedicated camcorder. The only thing now is that I need to build a DIY steadycam for the video work.
I don't particularly consider myself a nature photographer. I much prefer shooting people. I love portrait and fashion shooting. I am really growing to like street photography. I like the idea that I am shooting something that tells a story about people. But sometimes I do get the urge to shoot nature. This last week was one of those times. We were out on family vacation at a lake house in southwestern Michigan. I love the lake. It is very relaxing. I love swimming, and boating, and sitting on the shore watching the sunset. The one thing I did not like about the lake this last week was dropping my camera in the lake and losing both the camera and the lens to the effects of water with electronics. But that is a totally different story.
Well earlier in the day that my trusty Nikon D80 died I was out in a boat with my son. He was trying to fish, and I was playing boatsman for him. I don't particularly care for fishing, or for eating them for all that. But I was being a good dad and helping out first thing in the morning. We got to the far end of the lake where there was a lot of lily pads, and I was hoping a lot of fish too. As I was rowing around I noticed that there were a ton of dragon flies, and birds, and other wonderful nature things in that part of the lake, besides the beautiful lily pads. Right then and there I got hit with the bug (haha) to shoot some nature shots.
So after we got back to shore I trotted up to the house, mounted my Sigma 70-300mm macro lens on the D80, and headed back out. Well maybe not quite that fast. Seems people made an awesome breakfast while we were out. So I ate first. I was worried that the moment would be lost, but all the bugs were there still, and in even greater numbers. The lilies were open even more too. So I rowed around and shot loads of images. I struggled a bit with some of it, not being so experienced with nature shooting. But when I got back to the house and loaded the images on the Macbook I was pleased with what I saw.
Of course as I was looking at the images I saw a number of things I could do better. I was still feeling very energetic and decided that I really needed to go out and try to get a few more shots. I might get lucky at finding some different things later in the day too. This is where the poor D80 was about to meet it's death. The kids and wife were also out in some other boats. They were in kayaks. I figured I would never be able to be fast enough to get good positioning for shots in a rowboat. So I decided to take the canoe that was left on the shore.
So I got the paddle, put a life jacket in the canoe, pulled it most of the way into the water, and climbed in. Well I tried to climb in. This was the most unstable canoe ever made I think. It was also small and hard to get into. Before I knew it I was tipping to the side and ready to go over completely. I was not worried about drowning. I am a very strong swimmer, and besides that I was in just over a foot of water probably. But I did not want to see my trusty camera die. I started hollering to the others to grab the camera. They grabbed the boat thinking I did not want to fall in. I had one hand on the canoe and the other on the bottom of the lake trying to hold myself up high enough to keep the camera out of the water. I saw the lens go in first. Then as the canoe was drifting farther out deeper the lens got deeper and deeper in the water. It did not take long before even my long arms could not keep the trusty camera body out of the water, and it was camera death by water induced electrocution. Well at least I have some really nice nature shots as a final farewell to remember the camera by. Early this next week the photo poll will be between two of the dragon fly photos.
Well the holidays were fun. We had some challenges in our household too, which is why the posts have been a bit dry recently. But that is over now too. I hope I don't see a hospital for a while now. I did have fun at a few family gatherings getting some photos of kids and grandkids though. I also am loving looking at the photos on a 39" LCD television with an Apple TV hooked to it. It is pretty amazing seeing photos cycle through on a very large screen. It has given me an idea to put like a 32" TV on one wall that will cycle through current photos. Then get some smaller digital photo frames and dedicate one each for each of my kids and their families. I will put these around the larger screen. That way I can share a lot of my family photos with people that visit the house.
I also got a nice new tripod as a gift from my wife. I have used the same tripod for over 25 years and it has been about 12 inches too short for me (I am 6'6" tall). Now I can take photos without having to bend in half. It is a Sunpak Ultra 7000. Expect to see it in a video in the near future. And on the gift front I got one of my daughters a used Nikon D40 from eBay. I think it is so important to encourage our children to pursue their dreams. She was shooting really good on my D80 so I felt it was time she had her own camera. BTW she is 11 years old. You can find some awesome deals on a generation or two older models of DSLR cameras on eBay with plenty of life in them.
On the video front I have a lot of plans for this site for 2013. I am opening a studio in here in Sparta Michigan and so will have a place to easily shoot video. I am hoping to have the first video posted by mid January. It will be a review of a very inexpensive studio strobe I found. I have a whole list of other videos that will be coming shortly after that. I am not sure if this is a mid-life crisis or simply my artistic side finally bursting out, but this site and the studio will be getting major attention this year. Please let me know what you think as things get posted on the site by visiting the comments and suggestions section of the site.
So the last blog post was on the copper elf, the photos that created a story for my kids. While we were walking around more we decided to wander to Rosa Park Circle (remember... we were at ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids, MI). When we got there we found some kids skateboarding. I find skateboarding very fascinating, maybe in part because I have little chance of ever mastering the sport. It might also be because kids do things that we never would have thought of when I was a kid. For me and my friends a skateboard was something you rode down a hill at breakneck speed hoping not to face plant half way down the hill. Pete was the only one that would regularly get down the hill unscathed. But he had a tremendous sense of balance. He could even unicycle while juggling. We were all so envious.
I had my trusty 50mm f/1.8 lens on the camera. So I was loaded for bear, so to speak. It was late in the day. The sun was behind the tall buildings to the west of us. So I went with ISO 400 on aperture priority. I went with f/1.8 for my aperture. I did that for two reasons. First, I wanted a lot of light so I would get a good shutter speed. Second, I wanted a very short depth of field so that the background was less distracting. I was getting right around 1/1600th of a second shutter speed. A very nice shutter speed to stop action. I could have gone with shutter priority and set for a fast shutter and let the camera handle the aperture. But in a situation like this I want to control my depth of field more than anything else. It is the way to really make my subject stand out.
I am still shooting with my Nikon D80. I know, I keep saying I am getting the D7000, but the funds have not been there yet for it. Soon though, very soon. Either that or the D600. I am still in a quandry. I might have to rent both of them for a weekend to see if the full frame is worth it. At any rate, the D80 is an awesome camera. But for continuous frames per second it is pretty slow. The D80 clocks in at 3 frames per second. Well it is a lot better than the Pentax K1000 or Canon FTB QL that I shot with in high school. It was one frame per... well as fast as I could cock the lever. At any rate, when you cannot shoot off like a machine gun you need to take time to really judge when the action will be at it's peak.So the first thing I did was just sit for about 5 minutes watching them. I was looking for the tells (a great poker term eh?). Each person would do something just before they were going to do one of their leaps or stunts. So I just had to pick up on the cues to know when I would need to shoot. Get the timing right and you can get shots using single shot instead of continuous. All these shots were taken single shot.
The other thing you need to remember too is that the camera is going to have a bit of lag from the time you push the shutter until the camera takes the actual photo. On fast DSLRs it is roughly a half a second. This is one of the biggest advantages of a DSLR over a point and shoot. The P&S cameras seem to take a decade to take the photo after you depress the shutter. So along with figuring out the tell you also need to be able to judge your shutter delay. Over time you will get familiar enough with the camera that it will become second nature. You will naturally judge the shutter delay properly.
One other thing you will notice is that even though I was at f/1.8 the background is fairly definable. It is blurry enough that the subject stands out. But it is not as fuzzy as I would actually like. This is where the more expensive f/1.4 lens would be even nicer. I would have two thirds of a stop more light and also a shallower depth of field. So the background would have blurred out even more. I was about 20 feet from the skateboarders, maybe a little more. So the depth of field at f/1.8 was about three and a half feet. If I had been using the f/1.4 lens (which I don't currently have BTW... it is too expensive for me) then the depth of field would have been about two and three quarters feet. Doable, but it is getting a touch shallow at that point. So you would really need to get your focus point spot on. That is one of the reasons I prefer the f/1.8 lens.
As we were leaving Rosa Parks Circle that night I suddenly noticed a man sitting at the side watching the skateboarders too. I thought he had a very interesting face. It had a lot of character. It is all that whole story telling thing. And I felt it would be incredible as a black and white photo. So I walked up and asked him if I could take his picture. He was amused by the request but more than willing to pose for me. So I was able to get this shot that same night right along with the skateboarders. So I guess you really don't know what you will find when you are walking about. So make sure to have your camera with you and ready for the photo op. Sometimes my at the ready camera is my iPhone, sometimes it is my D80. I have thought about getting something like the Fuji x10 or a Nikon V1 as a walk around camera to have when I don't want to lug the D80 around. But you will regularly run into photo ops. And if you don't have a camera with you at least look the place over and imagine in your minds eye what the photo would look like. That way the next time you have a camera you will more easily spot the photo op.
I regularly get asked what is the best camera to buy. Or I will be reading different internet posts talking about the same thing. Most of the time when other people answer they simply will say whatever camera they use. Either that, or they will say some expensive camera. Usually their reasoning for the expensive cameras is some take on one of the popular photography cliches. You know them... "oh you need lots of megapixels for a large print"... or "you need the DSLR so you don't get noise in the photo" etc. They fail to do the most important thing that needs to happen before answering the question. They don't ask what you want to do with your camera. So this post will actually break down why you would want different types of cameras.
Point and shoot and camera phones
The least expensive cameras are the point and shoot cameras and the camera phones. These are really good to have tucked in a pocket or purse and have available for those quick shots when you are just out and about. These are also the cameras to get if you simply want nice snapshot photos of family and friends. Camera phones have gotten quite good, and for many people will be good enough. Any of the name brand point and shoots will work pretty much just fine. So something from Nikon or Fujifilm or Canon are great choices. Kodak are pretty nice, but with the future of the company up in the air are hard to recommend at the moment. There are some really cool point and shoots that will have features like being waterproof (to like 10 or 20 feet), or shooting in 3D. So you can get some fun additional features.
The bridge cameras (also known now as superzoom) are some of the most overlooked options. Most people don't even know the term bridge or superzoom. These are the cameras that at first glance look like a DSLR, but the lens does not come off the camera. The camera will run between like $200 and $500. The biggest feature is that they can zoom to extreme telephoto lengths. You will see stickers on them showing values like 20x or 35x zoom. The Fujifilm HS20 will zoom all the way to 720mm equivalent. The cameras will also do macro, and wide angle focal lengths. Most of them will allow you to shoot full manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program mode, along with full auto. Many will also save the image in either RAW or JPG format. Pretty much any of them now will do full HD video too.
My advice is that if you want something better than a point and shoot, want a lot of different features like extreme telephoto, and like the idea of the control of manual mode or aperture priority etc. but don't want to invest a small fortune in camera equipment, then the bridge camera is totally the choice for you. I definitely like both the Nikon and Fujifilm bridge cameras. I have not had a chance to play with any of the Canon, Panasonic, or Sony versions. I would assume they would be good too.
A year ago I had a friend that asked my advice. I told him to get the Fujifilm HS10. He was going on a trip to Alaska. When he got back he said that it was the best camera he could ever have imagined getting for the trip. His photos were stunning, and he did not get sore muscles from lugging lots of equipment around. And yes, you can make huge prints from any of those bridge cameras. I will write in a later blog post about printing and some of the stupid stuff you will hear a lot of people say. But that is way beyond this blog post.
Digital SLR (DSLR)
The DSLR is that fancy camera that a lot of people buy. They are most notable for having interchangeable lenses. The biggest name brands are Canon and Nikon. Sony has a really nice lineup now with their Alphas. Panasonic and Pentax both have some really nice cameras, but you don't see them nearly as often. Personally I shoot Nikon. I love my Nikon. I almost went Pentax, but no local retailers carried them. That was probably the biggest reason I went Nikon instead of Pentax. It was like my second choice. Nikon does have a lot of options in lenses and other accessories that Pentax won't have because of more market share.
When trying to figure out which manufacturer to go with consider a few different things. First, do you have other family that uses a DSLR and whom you will want to share equipment back and forth with? This is a good way to save some money on equipment purchases. Second, see if you can find a camera store that carries the ones you are considering. Take some photos with them. Change the settings. Which feels natural to you? Are the buttons in places that seem to make sense? Third, what type of shooting are you going to do most? If you are going to do a lot of sports then you want a camera with fast frames per second. If you are doing sports inside then you want something that will do great high ISO. For most beginners pretty much any of the name brands will work well other than those stipulations for sports. If you want to do video also then it is really important to have an external mic jack on the camera (vital!).
I find that the Nikon and Pentax have the best high ISO results of any of the cameras. The Canon low end have a mic jack on them where on the Nikon you need to be in at least the D7000. The Sony Alpha do the best for frames per second for continuous shooting. Personally I like the menuing and button arrangement of the Nikon by far the best. The other thing with the Nikon that I have seen is that they tend to keep the controls in the same places on all models, so moving up to higher models later is easier to do.
Keep in mind with the DSLR cameras that once you pick a manufacturer you will pretty much stick with them throughout. The reason is that lenses and many accessories are specific to a particular manufacturer. So you get a Nikon and some lenses that fit Nikon, if you switch you need to buy all new lenses too. So take some time with picking your first DSLR body. One nice thing though is that if you decide after 6 months you want to go a different way then usually you can get most of your investment back from a DSLR and equipment on eBay to make the switch. So it is not all money lost.
Other types of cameras and final notes
There are some other types of cameras coming out now. The Nikon V1 is a good example. It has removable lenses on a camera body that is more like a point and shoot (but not really like it either). There are some cameras that are going back to the old rangefinder cameras for construction and styling. There are a number of mirrorless cameras out now. Sounds like some future blog posts to talk about those eh?
I have not gone into lenses and such for DSLRs. That is a fairly involved discussion that will probably be a number of different blog posts in the future. In future posts I will also cover things like filters, straps, tripods, and other accessories. Feel free to tweet me @onewithcamera or post comments below if you have specific things you would like me to write about. I also plan to have a number of additional video postings soon on all of this.
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My name is Rusty, and I am on a journey, almost more of an awakening, to really learn photography. Years ago I did a lot of photography in high school. After raising a family I find I have time once again to pick up the camera. The art form has changed a lot since my high school days. I am also finding that I desire to take my art to the next level. This site is a combination of documenting my journey and teaching you things that I am learning. So in the process of my becoming one with the camera I am hoping to also help you find that inner artist that is inside you as well.