So a friend of mine decided to buy a DSLR for a now aborted trip to Peru. This spiked my ancient, yet rarely touched on, desire to take up some sort of photography. Even if just better snapshots of my social life (of which there is little to speak). And of course as I’m wont to do, I went a bit overboard. Because let’s be honest here, I go big or I don’t go at all. I probably could’ve accomplished 100% of what I wanted with a nicer P&S camera. And don’t get me wrong, while there’s nothing wrong with it beyond a cracked viewfinder (but LCD works fine), I do want to replace my P&S with something smaller and more portable (which isn’t to say my current P&S isn’t tiny). Regardless, I decided to curb my “go big” desire and limit myself to an entry level DSLR.
This of course led to my standard research as much as you can til the decision has been distilled to the last bit and choose. Of course I thankfully also had at my disposal my good friend AYN, who’s something of an excellent amateur photographer. So I grilled him too. I checked out DPReview.com; I checked out photo.net; hell I checked out the notoriously stupid user reviews at Cnet and Amazon. I read random reviews culled from Google searches.
I narrowed my choices to the Canon 400d (or XTi as it’s known here; so I guess I should’ve reversed the names, but whatevs), the new Nikon D40 (and then RIGHT before I made my decision Nikon dropped the D40x which made it that much harder to choose), the Nikon D50. This pretty much kept my initial gear, including a lens because as I was to learn kit lenses are shit, under $1k. After all the research and much soul searching, the differences in tech and features was not all that different. There wasn’t one thing that made the one stand out above the others (save that the D40 was “only” 6MP). So it was a hand test. Went to some stores and handled the cameras.
Now to many people, the newest entry DSLRs are tiny. They will be unbalanced with bigger, badder-ass lenses. This wasn’t a true concern of mine as I doubt I’d ever get to the level where I was going to use real bad-ass glass. And (not to imply anything about the rest of my anatomy) I have somewhat short fingers (though a normal sized palm). So while the D50 was a close contender, I settled on the 400d. It just felt right in my hands. Though it is a tiny camera.
Upon recommendation, I got a prime lens instead of the crap kit lens (which I would’ve gotten if it made the kit less than $10 more, which I’ve seen happend). AYN suggested a Canon 50mm/1.8. It is highly recommended as a starter lens (along with a Sigma 30mm/1.4). The 50 is a great lens that is UBER affordable. Of course since I “skimped” on the camera I opted for the Canon 50/1.4 (with USM), which is more expensive of course.
So I was set. Body + glass = completion. Then of course ancillary costs. I bought a bag (a Crumpler 4 million dollar home). I bought another case so I could toss my camera in my regular bag (a Zing neoprene cover). I bought a tripod (Manfrotto/Bogen 190xProB) and head (M/B 322RC2). I bought a tripod strap (M/B lightweight strap). I bought 2 high capacity non-OEM batteries. I also got a Hoya Super HMC Pro 1 UV filter and a Canon lens hood. And while I don’t need it because I still need to develop my photographic eye and just learn to shoot, I want another lens (something wide, Canon 28mm/2.8 (non-USM) is my current choice because it’s cheap cheap cheap. Though the Canon 28/1.8 USM is nice too, but more than double the price or the Canon 20/2.8 USM or perhaps more “grail” the L, Canon 24/1.4L USM). So it adds up.
I also picked up on the recommendation of AYN, Understanding Exposure. A great book about photography.
I was going to write this post to explain my decision making process. But that’s highly individual and I’m not the most normal person when it comes to things like this. So this post is basically a list of what I ended up getting. Recap (links in the post man!):
Hoya Super HMC Pro 1 UV filter
Canon ES71II Lens Hood
Manfrotto-Bogen 322RCR, 190xProB, lightweight strap
Crumpler 4 million dollar home
Zing neoprene case
High capacity non-OEM batteries