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Unread 08-31-2005, 10:25 AM   #1
Eriol
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The camera budget

For the current hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals, what is the typical outlay a person new to the field could spend to have a "general-purpose" Digital SLR that can be used in a variety of situations (but may not be able to do specific specialty shots) as well as lenses. Assume the person has already gotten some training on camera terminology and skills and is ready to take the plunge.

(I personally am not ready to do this. I'm curious what the barrier to entry is estimated to be.)
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Unread 08-31-2005, 11:08 AM   #2
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Well, really, you need to split between lenses & bodies. But I'd say as long as you can outlay about $1000-$1200 pre-tax, you can get a decent start (assuming about $700-$800 for the body, and maybe an extra $200-$400 to get one extra lens and basic accessories like a compact flash card). Getting into Digital SLRs is not a cheap proposition. It's meant to be a long term type investment.

If you don't shoot a lot, it might be easier to actually jump into film SLRs instead. While the per shot cost is going to be significantly higher, the equipment is generally going to be significantly cheaper. Inexpensive film SLRs abound at swap meets. And even in retail, film SLR bodies are cheaper than digital SLR bodies.

Frankly, the barrier to entry for digital SLRs is probably going to get a little lower, but not much lower over time. Don't ever expect them to compete in price with compacts. Even though Digital SLRs get a lot of attention, they're mostly used by a relatively small set of individuals compared to people using digital cameras. But assuming the skills are there, the price isn't so bad. Consider it an investment, like investing in a computer.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 11:28 AM   #3
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Be ready to spend at least $700 on a new camera body w/o a lens. You may be able to get a used one for a little less.

Then comes the expense of lenses, and depending on what type of photography (I'm guessing Cosplay photography tho'), will determine what lenses to purchase, and those are an initial expense.

Your friend is looking at spending probably about $1000.00 for the body, a lens, and maybe a camera bag. This price, obviously goes up the higher the camera s/he wants.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 01:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
Well, really, you need to split between lenses & bodies.
I forgot about the lenses. Thanks for bringing that up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
Getting into Digital SLRs is not a cheap proposition. It's meant to be a long term type investment.
I was aware of the hobby being expensive, but I didn't know what the average expenditure was just to get into it.. I appreciate you and other giving some numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
If you don't shoot a lot, it might be easier to actually jump into film SLRs instead.
I completely forgot about film SLRs. Thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jtnishi
Frankly, the barrier to entry for digital SLRs is probably going to get a little lower, but not much lower over time. Don't ever expect them to compete in price with compacts. Even though Digital SLRs get a lot of attention, they're mostly used by a relatively small set of individuals compared to people using digital cameras. But assuming the skills are there, the price isn't so bad. Consider it an investment, like investing in a computer.
Thanks for the assessment. I have never put the point-and-clicks in the same league as the digital SLRs. I am getting annoyed by some lack of control in the point-and-shoot cameras, and some of these compact models go up to $500-$600, so my impression was, "Why would anyone spend that much on a point-and-click when he or she could educate themselves on photography more and buy a modest digital SLR?"


Thanks for your response Jadecat. It looks like the basic barrier of entry is around $700-$1000. I can at least use this information to advise any of my friends or colleagues who might jump into this without thinking.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 01:31 PM   #5
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I gotta tell ya, Switching from the Sony DSC-F817 to the Canon 350D hasn't been the easiest of transitions. With lenses and new media, I've spent about $1500. Is that really necessary? Nah. I wanted jump off the Cybershot because I had outgrown it as a photographer.

Outgrown? I had reached the limitations that camera had and it was time to move on. Mind you I started with no prior photography experience, so it took me the latter part of five years to fully master the Sony. The Majority of my work that people have come to enjoy are the product of a "Lesser" Camera. I say "lesser" because that's what I've been told by my "peers." Nonetheless I am proud of the work I'd produced.

Anyway... That's what it really boils down to. Ultimately it shouldn't matter how much money is spent, but how the tools are used. As much as I love my new D-SLR, it really was my Sony that got me the jobs and respect that I've earned as a photographer.

I say if you can spend less and still get high quality pictures, go for it. Don't mind everyone else.

**edit**
Quote:
Why would anyone spend that much on a point-and-click when he or she could educate themselves on photography more and buy a modest digital SLR?"
The point and click camera I have (Sony DSC-F717) is actually a really good training tool to learn how to shoot. It offers Shutter Priority, Apeture Priority and Full Manual. So you can learn a lot even though it's a point and shoot.

Also the point and clicks offer features most DSLRS can. Like recording Movies in Avi, Mov or Mpg format depending on what manufacturer you go with. The high end Sony's come with NightFraming which for all purposes gives you NightVision for low light or no light settings (like shooting at nightclubs.) This is different than NightShot as that NightFraming shoots in full color. The Higher End Sony's also offer a Laser Assist Focusing system. That in itself is pretty cool. It shoots out a "Laser Grid" and tells the Camera to focus on that area, even in the dark.

So yeah, while the D-SLR has superior qualities, some point and clicks have features that cater to the casual to the "Semi-Pro" Photographer. (where I am sitting at currently)
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Unread 08-31-2005, 01:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
Also the point and clicks offer features most DSLRS can. Like recording Movies in Avi, Mov or Mpg format depending on what manufacturer you go with. The high end Sony's come with NightFraming which for all purposes gives you NightVision for low light or no light settings (like shooting at nightclubs.) This is different than NightShot as that NightFraming shoots in full color. The Higher End Sony's also offer a Laser Assist Focusing system. That in itself is pretty cool. It shoots out a "Laser Grid" and tells the Camera to focus on that area, even in the dark.
For me, I can do without movie capability. I don't see how useful it is as compared with a digital camcorder, which is designed for video. I consider the movie features of a camera much like some features of a cell phone: extraneous.

I'm not yet competent on photography, but my biggest gripe with my current point-and-click (Olympus D560 Zoom) is the shutter lag. I can't always keep a steady hand, and it would be nice for the shot to finish within a fraction of a second after I snap the shot. I've had issues where I must have moved during that time frame, creating a blurred image.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 02:12 PM   #7
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Shutter Lag plagued me for a while. One thing that's good about Shutter Lag, you end up choosing each of your shots carefully.

I am going to sound like a Sony Rep again, but hey that's all I shot with up until now.

One thing that the Higher End Sony encorporated was their "SteadyCam" Technology in their Point and Shoot Camera. The F828 also has a shutter lag of .086 or something, easiest one of the quickest non-DSLR cameras out there.

As for video feature? Yah... I hardly used it. Some people like to record clips of stuff on the go without switching to another device. My Camcorder has a "Still Shot" mode and the pictures are awful... HA HA

The Best advice I can give anyone to improve: Shoot Everything. Play with your camera and shoot everything.

I practice at home with those Foam Backboards you get for reports and two lamps. I then use PVC Statues or Action Figures. This creates a scale studio. You can move the lights for different situations, play with your apeture and shutter controls... and if they're not pure white lights, you can adjust your white balance. Since it's scale, it's a pretty much contolled environment.

Then when you shoot in real world settings, use what you learned from the "Studio" to real life application.

Plus since it's a figure and not a live model you get less lip if you leave them under a lamp. LOL. But whatever you do, Shoot, shoot, shoot!
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Unread 08-31-2005, 02:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
I practice at home with those Foam Backboards you get for reports and two lamps. I then use PVC Statues or Action Figures. This creates a scale studio. You can move the lights for different situations, play with your apeture and shutter controls... and if they're not pure white lights, you can adjust your white balance. Since it's scale, it's a pretty much contolled environment.

Then when you shoot in real world settings, use what you learned from the "Studio" to real life application.
That is a nice idea for practicing. Thanks for that idea.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 03:29 PM   #9
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If you're on a budget, something else to consider are SLR-like cameras. They are still really good digital cameras and most have amazing lens (fixed, but still really good). They use an EVF (electronic view finder) to get that "looking through the lens" feel, so you get the feel of an SLR camera but not nessessarily the price.

The camera I used for the longest time, the Minolta DiMage A1 really got me used to going to a full DSLR like the Canon 350D/Rebel XT. But it's only about $600 now and that gives you the body and lens.

There are other cameras in the class such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828.

Yes, you're stuck with the built in lens, but you save a ton of money as well. But quality wise you do get much sharper and more control with a true SLR. But my Minolta was pretty close.

Last edited by ZiggyB : 08-31-2005 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Fixing typos
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Unread 08-31-2005, 03:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriol
Thanks for the assessment. I have never put the point-and-clicks in the same league as the digital SLRs. I am getting annoyed by some lack of control in the point-and-shoot cameras, and some of these compact models go up to $500-$600, so my impression was, "Why would anyone spend that much on a point-and-click when he or she could educate themselves on photography more and buy a modest digital SLR?"
There are actually still a few good reasons to spend that much on a point-and-click style camera. Remember that point-and-shoots don't have that investment expense afterward of buying a big pile of glass. Also, in general, some of the lens choices on point-and-shoots just don't have an equivalent on SLRs. The one reason I got the F707 over 3 years ago [$1000] was because the lens was the 35mm equivalent of a 38-190/f2-2.4 lens (doable because the sensor is smaller). Of course, the DRebel wasn't out then, so I suppose one could argue my hand was forced a little bit. :P

But the key thing is that point-and-shoots are generally simpler to use. The more complex the camera, the steeper the learning curve is going to be. I'm still learning a lot trying to handle my DSLR, even though I've used fully manual film SLRs in the past. It's significantly easier to get reasonable results from any point-and-shoot. The advantage is that when I do get good results from a DSLR, I _really_ get good results.

However, granted, it does seem that there's a more than competent set of point-and-shoots in the lower $150-$400 range that can easily create good pictures without that extra expense. I think at this point, the only really reasonable choices up in that $500-$600 range are the mega-zooms.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 04:12 PM   #11
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ZiggyB and jtnishi, both of you raise good points about the expensive point-and-clicks that I have not realized. I agree that for the average person, most cameras will deliver the "good shot."

I'd have to research cameras some more, but as I was telling AgentSakura9, the shutter lag on my Olympus 560D zoom is beginning to bug me. At least at my current skill level, I would be fine with a point-and-click camera, if I can get that shutter lag to an absolute minimum, like a film camera. I do use my digital camera's "pre-focusing" now, i.e. hold the button down halfway to allow the camera to focus, but the time frame between when I fully press the button to when the camera registers the shot is still a bit long.
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Unread 08-31-2005, 07:04 PM   #12
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the moment as soon as you step into photography, you are saying that you are willing to spend large sums of money (assuming you are getting a SLR instead of small chessy cams)
as you get more interested, you will want to buy new equipments suited for different situitations (filters, lenses, remote cord, tripod, external flash, what not)

heres my suggestion for a good start (affordable + quality)
Nikon D50 Body (dont get the kit, 18-55mm is not so useful all the time and its apprature is really low F3.5-5.6)
if you have more budget simply get the D70s Kit (comes with the 18-70mm F3.5-4.5, its also an improved version of the award winning D70)

get the AF-S Zoom Nikkor 24~85mm F3.5~4.5G(IF)or the AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor ED 18~70mm F/3.5~4.5G (IF) as a startup and a good lens for general and protrait photography
(I am not going to suggest SIGMA lens because I have not yet used one and do not know how good they are. One thing I know, they are cheap)

get a tripod, at this point you may not think you need one, but when the time comes, it is handy to have one. Get a cheap one, since you are not likely to look forward to spend thousands with reduced vibration, and one that would support the weight of your camera!

get UV filters or protector filters for protecting your lens.

get a simple cleaning set with cloth, cleaning liquid and a small sprayer.

as you get more gears, suggest to buy a camera bag that can fit all your gears, now just get a small bad that will fit your camera.

get a Sandisk UltraII 1GB for storage (if u think its too expensive its on sale on amazon)

other than this, with those i think you are all set for some general photography, if u want more suggestion u can always ask me
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Unread 08-31-2005, 07:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
I gotta tell ya, Switching from the Sony DSC-F817 to the Canon 350D hasn't been the easiest of transitions. With lenses and new media, I've spent about $1500. Is that really necessary? Nah. I wanted jump off the Cybershot because I had outgrown it as a photographer.
I had a transition from a Cybershot D10 to a Nikon D70s.
It was hard in the beginning to learn all the basic ideas (apprature, shutter speed, flash, color balance, white balance, etc.)
but after you play with it for a month (actually had around 4000 shots the first month XD) you will learn quickly and get on to it quickly

Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
The point and click camera I have (Sony DSC-F717) is actually a really good training tool to learn how to shoot. It offers Shutter Priority, Apeture Priority and Full Manual. So you can learn a lot even though it's a point and shoot.
D10 only had Auto XD, but it was good to learn how to reduce vibration and to learn some basic compositions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
One thing that the Higher End Sony encorporated was their "SteadyCam" Technology in their Point and Shoot Camera. The F828 also has a shutter lag of .086 or something, easiest one of the quickest non-DSLR cameras out there.
ok dood in japan they have all the newest sony toys.
but even the newest sony toys can not avoid vibrations.
T7, compact, but really horrible. D10, a old model i had, is even worse...

once u get hold onto a SLR, try ways of holding the cam and fine a way that suits you the best. with the way SLRs are generally hold, there shouldnt be much vibration unless you are using a big telephoto lens withour tripod
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Unread 08-31-2005, 07:21 PM   #14
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i have some suggestions for point and shoot digicams

aside from my Nikon D70s, i also have a casio exilim ex-z500 and is it a good point and shoot that has good anti-vibration, color balance and sharpness. The best thing about it is its really large LCD.
i also strongly suggest panasonic lumix cameras. they have the best anti-vibration system out of all point and shoot cams. i would of gotten it if i was given the choice. the ex-z500 was given to me as a gift.

One more tip
do not get a Samsung or a SONY!
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Unread 08-31-2005, 08:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentSakur9
I gotta tell ya, Switching from the Sony DSC-F817 to the Canon 350D hasn't been the easiest of transitions. With lenses and new media, I've spent about $1500. Is that really necessary? Nah. I wanted jump off the Cybershot because I had outgrown it as a photographer.

Outgrown? I had reached the limitations that camera had and it was time to move on. Mind you I started with no prior photography experience, so it took me the latter part of five years to fully master the Sony. The Majority of my work that people have come to enjoy are the product of a "Lesser" Camera. I say "lesser" because that's what I've been told by my "peers." Nonetheless I am proud of the work I'd produced.

Anyway... That's what it really boils down to. Ultimately it shouldn't matter how much money is spent, but how the tools are used. As much as I love my new D-SLR, it really was my Sony that got me the jobs and respect that I've earned as a photographer.

I say if you can spend less and still get high quality pictures, go for it. Don't mind everyone else.
Amen.

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the true heartbreak of owning a DSLR...
Dust on the sensor (followed by schreeching music from Psycho")

Yeah, there are a few models that address this.
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