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Old 02-23-2013, 04:51 PM   #1
MommaBerd
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First time entry-level DSLR buyer

I am trying to decide on an entry-level DSLR camera, and I *think* I've narrowed it down to Nikon D5100 or Canon Rebel T2i. One piece of advice I read on here was to go and see how they feel in my hands, so I'm going to try them out. I read a couple of reviews (although I didn't really understand most of it!), and unless y'all tell me otherwise, it seems that the step up to the T3i or T4i offers only incremental differences. I don't know that I would be able to appreciate them, much less be willing to pay the difference in price. Also, as info, I don't anticipate taking a lot of video with the camera. However, if you have any words of wisdom on this line of thought, I'd love to hear them! I'll take all the advice I can get.

One thing I'd love to hear from you is about the pros and cons of buying a refurbished camera from a reputable camera shop?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:25 PM   #2
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The T2i has been discontinued. The T3i uses the same sensor as the T2i but has a few new features. The T4i is a good step up from the T2i in features and a has a newer sensor and image processor. If you want to do any video the T4i with STM lenses will be the way to go, if you go Canon. It can be found as low as $650 w/ the 18-55 kit lens at B&H right now (put it in the cart to see the lowest price) which IMO is a really great price for what you're getting. The T3i is only like $20 cheaper there. There is also a newer model of the Nikon (D5200) but I'm not sure on the pricing there. Nikons have lots of great features too and I'm sure a Nikonian will come along and fill you in there on the different models.

If I buy refurbished I make sure it is factory refurbished and not store or repair center refurbished. There is a difference.

Now all of that aside.... when you get similarly spec'd models (like the Nikon D5200 and the Canon T4i) these cameras get really close. One may be a little better in one area, the other a little better in another. What it comes down to is the specific features you want (one may have something you can't live without) and the way they feel in your hands. Shooting with a Nikon feels very different than shooting with a Canon and it's largely personal preference which you like better. So my advice is to go to a store and play.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:09 PM   #3
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Oops! I guess I just assumed the T2i would still be available, but we all know what happens when we assume things...

I will definitely check out the sale at B&H; it seems to be a great price. I just went to Costco and did a limited test drive of both the Canon and Nikon. But, I definitely need to look at them again when I'm not in such a rush. :-)

Thanks for your input!
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MommaBerd View Post
Oops! I guess I just assumed the T2i would still be available, but we all know what happens when we assume things...

I will definitely check out the sale at B&H; it seems to be a great price. I just went to Costco and did a limited test drive of both the Canon and Nikon. But, I definitely need to look at them again when I'm not in such a rush. :-)

Thanks for your input!
You can probably still find some T2i's out there. They are collecting dust on a shelf because there are two new iterations since it was introduced in 2010. I would recommend the latest version (T4i or D5200) because it will keep you from upgrading sooner.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:28 PM   #5
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OK, doing some more research... Decided to go with lastest models (it does make more sense). I've been to cnet, snapsort, dpreview for comparisons and ratings. Any other sites you'd recommend to read reviews? Now, I'm throwing the Pentax K-30 into the mix, though it is definitely on the high end of what I want to spend. AND I'm considering the Nikon D3200.

Is this really going to boil down to just how I like the look and feel? It does seem that there's a lot of personal preference involved in photography.
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:39 PM   #6
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You may want to also consider the Sony A37-- basically on clearance at great prices... The Sony A57.. A mid level model also being cleared out. And a new a58 model which is basically a high performing entry level.

Each brand brings some distinct advantages and disadvtanges. Which feels best in your hands is very important. But you will see each brand/model also has some distinct differences in features.
For example, the Canon t4i has a touchscreen people are raving about. The Sonys have electronic viewfinders which some people love and some people hate. But also has the best video autofocus, best live view, and faster burst shooting than other entry levels. Nikons have the reputation of best image quality, performing slightly better at high ISO.
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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Any camera you consider should have a return policy. I recommend going to a best buy or equivelant and purchase or bring and sd card. Go with someone and take their picture with all the brands your considering. Go home and look at the jpg's since your starting out your camera will most likely be making those decisions for you and you may like the way canon, nikon, pentax or sony processes the final image. After that its an uphill battle then just selecting the model, feature and price combination that work for you. When I did that process I found canon's processing the most appealing to me. You may like nikon's more neutral style. Good luck. In any event since camera's are so much cheaper these days I would get new and get a warranty.
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MommaBerd View Post
OK, doing some more research... Decided to go with lastest models (it does make more sense). I've been to cnet, snapsort, dpreview for comparisons and ratings. Any other sites you'd recommend to read reviews? Now, I'm throwing the Pentax K-30 into the mix, though it is definitely on the high end of what I want to spend. AND I'm considering the Nikon D3200.

Is this really going to boil down to just how I like the look and feel? It does seem that there's a lot of personal preference involved in photography.
dpreview.com has the most unbiased reviews I've found online.

Will it come down to look and feel.... Pretty much yes... Unless one camera just has a feature you really feel like you just have to have that the other doesn't. People try to make it more complicated, and you can really nit pick those specs, but when you're comparing similar models to similar models it really is mostly about preference.

Pentax is a great brand to consider and there have been many times I wonder if I should have gone that way instead of with Canon. I'm not a fan of the Sony SLT cameras that were mentioned myself, simply because I don't care for the EVF. I know a lot of people love them but I don't.. again, it comes down to personal preference.
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:57 PM   #9
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I am a first time DSLR buyer. I git a Canon T3i in Dec and love it but I need to dedicate more time to learning all its features! I just love how fast it is!
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:43 AM   #10
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As others have said, go for the one that feels right for you.

Any of the dslrs mentioned will provide an excellent photography experience.

Since you mentioned the Pentax K30 though, I can tell you a bit about it. Although it is priced at the higher end of the entry level camera price range. the K30 is more of a mid range photographer camera and has some features that the others do not have that might not be important to a first time buyer.
- 100% viewfinder
- pentaprism viewfinder
- slightly better viewfinder magnification
- weather sealing
- slightly faster fames per second
- two dials for changing settings quickly

However buying a Pentax does have its negatives
- not many shops stock them therefore finding one to hold maybe tricky
- therefore difficult to buy lens / accessories unless you go online
- if you bought a Canon / Nikon you would most likely know someone who also has a Canon / Nikon and therefore could borrow lenses etc
- a smaller range of lens / accessories are a available]
- it is most likely the weakest for video

I love my K30, especially the feel of it. The grip is very good and I can carry the thing around one handed very easily without the need for a strap. The two dials are a huge deal for me I can quickly change aperture (or shutter speed depending on shooting mode) and ISO very quickly without removing the camera from my eye. The viewfinder is bright and easy to see through (especially for me with my poor eye sight!) And I have it in a glorious blue that stands out from the drab blacks!
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:03 AM   #11
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However buying a Pentax does have its negatives

- a smaller range of lens / accessories are a available]
I always thought that at least with the Pentax, you could use any Pentax lens ever made? Is this true? If so, there are a lot out there in yard sales every Summer.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:11 AM   #12
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I always thought that at least with the Pentax, you could use any Pentax lens ever made? Is this true? If so, there are a lot out there in yard sales every Summer.

Yes this is true and is a bonus, as as you point out, they can be picked up cheap. With a bit of research you can pick up some excellent quality lenses. Just be prepared that some of these will be manual focus only.

I was referring to the stuff you can currently buy in shops. Compared to Canon / Nikon, the Pentax line up looks rather small (although because of in camera stabilisation, they don't need to offer IS and non-IS versions of the same lens). But there is enough in their range to cover everyone's needs.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:38 PM   #13
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I always thought that at least with the Pentax, you could use any Pentax lens ever made? Is this true? If so, there are a lot out there in yard sales every Summer.
Some need an adapter, like the old M42 mount.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:48 PM   #14
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Being a long time Pentax user, I am a fan of the brand. Like all camera systems there are upsides and down. There is not a perfect system out there. The K30 is an upscale entry level camera. Pentax' DSLR current lineup consists of the K30, K5 II and the K5 IIs. The K5 is also still available at a reasonable price. The main difference between the the K5 and K5 II is a slightly better lowlight AF. The K5 IIs is unique for an enthusiast/lowend professional camera in that it does not have an Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter. The professional Nikon D800E also does not use the AA filter. I won't go into a long technical talk about that, other than to say, you get better resolution at the "possible" expense of something that is called moire (you can google it if you want). I use the K5 with no complaints. I recently had the AF repaired, but I can't blame the camera because I am not gentle with my equipment. I take them to places that others shudder when they learn what I do. As has been stated, there is not another entry level camera that has the Pentax weathersealing and the in-body stabilization together. Because my shooting style, I absolutely need the ability to change settings without going into the menu. Maybe someone can correct me, but I don't know of another entry level camera with dual wheels like the K30. As far as the lenses, yes all Pentax lenses ever made can be used on the current lineup of cameras. Although the ones with the M-42 screwmount will need an adaptor. Some of the lenses will be full manual and others may be semi-manual with some auto features. The good thing about the system is that all your lenses will be stabilized. Another strength is the size and the ergonomics of the camera bodies. They have traditionally been slightly smaller than their conterparts. I have found that my fingers intuitively rest where all the buttons and dials are.

The lens weakness of the system is the sport fast zooms. The strength is the primes. There are enough third party lenses that will fit the bill. I have four Sigma lenses that I use extensively, 28-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 100-300 f4 and the 30 f1.4. Another weakness is the external flash system. While it is ok, its not up the sophistication of the, arguably, industry leading Nikon system.

The Pentax rumor mill is going full blast with an anticipated release of the K3 allegedly in April. It is supposed to be either the Sony 24mp or the new 20mp sensor. Pentax has also announced a full frame camera to be released in 2014. Since Ricoh has purchased Pentax, there is a positive feel to the brand. We will have to see how everything pans out, but we are positive about the direction of the company.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:14 PM   #15
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Thanks for all of the insights, advice, and suggestions!

Quote:
if you bought a Canon / Nikon you would most likely know someone who also has a Canon / Nikon and therefore could borrow lenses etc...
nigelp - This morning I thought of this very thing. So, I've asked my mom, sister, and SIL what cameras they have.

Quote:
And I have it in a glorious blue that stands out from the drab blacks!
I must admit, I LOVE the blue. It is a definite "pro" for the Pentax! And, the weathersealing and in-body stabilization are too.

So, here's another question: As a beginner, do I really *need* to purchase a bundle that has two lenses?
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