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 Calling all DSLR owners 
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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 Calling all DSLR owners
This is nothing more than a pipe-dream at this point but it doesn't hurt to ask questions. The clarity of DSLR's with the high mega-pixel numbers is starting to make me think more about getting one. But I'm never going to go pro with this hobby and can't, nor want to spend mega-bucks. After a looking at several, I like the Nikon D3200. It's in the price range of what I'd spend.
Here's just an example. By no means am I looking to pick up this package at this time.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Nikon-D3200 ... 1c31bd2d86

The main questions I have is what differs this form a $1000, $1200, $1500 and so forth camera? Looking at the specs doesn't tell me (uneducated about DSLR's) much. How do I know this would be good for time-lapse or night shots? In that kit it has a doubler. Do they work or are they more of a cheap zoom with poor quality as the end result?

This camera comes with a 18-55 zoom. I think that's a good range for an everyday lens. Thought's? If you were to have one other lens to what would it be? The above kit comes with a 55-200 but you know how I like my zoom shots. :D I suppose taking a picture 6,016 × 4,000 at 24 mega-pixel and cropping it down could give me a pretty zoom, right?

So this is a start. Thoughts?

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Sun May 12, 2013 7:38 am
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I don't know much about Nikons specifically as I've always used Canon cameras but that one looks like it should be excellent for everything you want it to do. Canon uses the same sensors and processors on many of their cameras at different price levels, which means they'll take the same quality pictures and the difference in price is usually things like frames per second, body constuction material, weather proofing, in camera hdr, hd video, flip out screens and a bunch of other bells and whistles that scenic shots don't really use.

I actually avoid the higher priced bodies because like you I'm not going pro with this hobby and they are heavier and more expensive with a million features I would hardly ever use. I want as light as I can and still get good pictres for hiking and travelling so I have put the money into better lenses on lower priced bodies as long as the sensor and processors are top notch, which that one appears to be. That's HUGE megapixels there and would be good for cropping as you said. This is the original 300mm shot with a cropped one and the sensor is only 18 mp so for superzooms that works much better for me than a 10,000 dollar lens. :shock:

Image

Image

I like the highest frames per second I can get too for my kids and wildlife. There's a huge difference to me between 3 and 5. 5 almost never misses the shot, 3 is hit or miss on whether you get the moment you were hoping for.

18 - 55 is a good standard lense but even a 16 or 15 mm wide angle makes a huge difference in those widest angled shots. As would a 55 - 300 on the other end, since there's a 1.7 times crop factor the 300 is like 470 in the old 35mm and those lenses can be had for about 400 bucks slightly used. Couple that with a crop and you can really pull off some nice telephoto shots. So if I could have one different lense it would be an image stabilized 250 or 300 mm zoom on the long end if you love your superzooms. Pretty much has to be image stabilized at the long end though or shot with a really high shutter speed. Personally I shoot with a 15 - 85 on the camera 90% of the time and only pull out the 75 - 300 when I know I'm going to need it so I'd get a little wider angle all purpose lense like that. I also have a 50mm 1.8 which is great for low light and super sharp, but it only gets used about 1% of the time I'd guess.

For night shots, time lapse and stars that would be great too. Although Canon has one camera specifically designed for people who like to do that. Picks up more of those wavelengths of light as well as doing all the normal stuff. You'll want to turn off the image stabilizing for long exposures though or the little gyroscopes inside actually blur things as they spin around trying to steady the image that isn't really moving.

Good luck picking one out. Seeing what you do with the upper level point and shoot I'm sure you'll do some amazing things with a dslr if you go that route.

And fwiw I've found this site to be a huge help when comparing cameras, features and prices.

http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EOS_60D-vs-Nikon-D3200


Sun May 12, 2013 9:58 am
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I shoot Canon, so I can't speak specifically to the Nikon product (though generally speaking they are equally good). For what you shoot the "entry level" DSLR would be perfect, I have Canon's entry level Rebel from 5 years ago and I am still happy with it. As you increase to the mid-level and pro-level cameras you will get better build and a few more features but the basics are all the same. The motors will be built to shoot faster (more frames-per-second) and more total times (a pro will take tens-of-thousands of shots per year, I shoot maybe 3-4k per year). The sensor will be higher quality: more megapixels and less noise in low light. Other stuff like the casing, buttons, interface, etc may be more suited to a professional.

The lenses will be the big investment and where it is more worthwhile to spend money to increase image quality. You can always upgrade the camera body down the road, but you'll keep the same lenses. The kit lenses for both Nikon and Canon are the 18-55mm and are both surprisingly good lenses. I have a 70-300mm zoom, but in truth I rarely use it. I got a 24-70mm professional lens for my birthday a few years ago and I use that all the time now. I'd say in addition to the kit lens, you'll want something a bit more telephoto (especially for what you shoot)... a 55-200 or 70-300 would be good. You can also get 1.5x or 2x extenders which go on WITH the lens to push the range even further. Here is a shot of Washington from Lafayette at 300mm:
Image

And yes, you can crop in the images to zoom further (equivalent of a digital zoom). In fact the entry level DSLRs have a "built in sensor crop" of 1.4 or 1.6 which effectively zooms the lens from the get-go. "Full frame" sensors are relegated to the pro cameras.

All that said, I'd avoid those ebay/amazon kits. Most of the extra stuff (flash, tripod, filters, etc) that makes it a "deal" is crap and you'll end up buying better stuff anyway. Two good dealers that I'd recommend are B&H Photo and Adorama on Amazon. I'd buy the body with kit lens which you can probably find bundled with a decent telephoto zoom and then a couple memory cards if you need them. All the other stuff can be gotten as you need it.

Sorry for rambling a bit, it's a lot of stuff. That said, Nikon sucks, you should get Canon :lol: :wink: This is basically the Tubbs-vs-MSR debate of the camera world.


Sun May 12, 2013 10:16 am
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Any thoughts on a Pentax?


Sun May 12, 2013 8:16 pm
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Pentax are big heavy and sturdy. Not particularly great for travel and hiking but decent cameras. Not feature laden and lenses are very good but not great. Not a lot of bang for the buck though I don't believe.

Canon and Nikon are 1 and 1a pretty much because of their lense lineups. Camera bodies come and go but you keep the same lenses so the highest quality lense you can afford can stick with you for the best image quality in the long run as you switch and/or upgrade bodies over the years. The number of choices and price ranges they offer are unmatched. Canon has the most but not by much and the quality of Canons "L" lenses as well as Nikons Nikkor ones can't be beat, both image wise or build wise. Of course its also hard to top their price tags. A good all purpose wide angle and a good zoom plus a relatively cheap 1.8 or 1.4 normal prime are probably all the lenses most amatures would ever have to buy. But lenses are kind of like hiking gear. There's always one that does this or that a little bit better. Razor sharpness, bigger aperatures for low light or high shutter speeds, macro, long telephotos for zooms, better image stabilization etc etc.

Sony also makes good cameras, usually with more features and newer features first. But I don't think they make their own lenses so your stuck with aftermarket stuff, but I think you can chose different lense mounts for the same body including canon and nikon but I'm not positive. I also think they make Nikons sensors so there's no reason their images should be anything less than top notch if they use the same technology and lenses.


Sun May 12, 2013 10:07 pm
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I use a Nikon D3100 (similar to the D3200) and have been happy with it. Like you Just Joe, I will probably never advance beyond that body because of cost factor. I have the 18-55mm kit lens and use it for most of my hiking shots. I also have the 55-300mm a 35mm prime lens and use them from time to time as well, but the 18-55 is my widest lens, so it goes with me the most.
If you are going to do it, you might want to play with the lenses it comes with for a bit to learn the camera, find what focal length and aperture you use the most etc, and then make a decision on what to do for better glass if you should desire. Glass can get super expensive and although I would love to have a super fast 24-70mm, it just isn't going to happen and I make do with what I have.
I have noticed a huge difference in the photos I take though and the ability to change aperture was the reason I switched over. I still carry the point and shoot though, nothing beats it for the quick snapshots where I don't have time to pull out the DSLR from the pack.
Good luck if you do get it, judging from some of your pictures on here, I think you would enjoy it.


Mon May 13, 2013 5:14 am
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I use a Nikon D3100 (similar to the D3200) and have been happy with it. Like you Just Joe, I will probably never advance beyond that body because of cost factor. I have the 18-55mm kit lens and use it for most of my hiking shots. I also have the 55-300mm a 35mm prime lens and use them from time to time as well, but the 18-55 is my widest lens, so it goes with me the most.
If you are going to do it, you might want to play with the lenses it comes with for a bit to learn the camera, find what focal length and aperture you use the most etc, and then make a decision on what to do for better glass if you should desire. Glass can get super expensive and although I would love to have a super fast 24-70mm, it just isn't going to happen and I make do with what I have.
I have noticed a huge difference in the photos I take though and the ability to change aperture was the reason I switched over. I still carry the point and shoot though, nothing beats it for the quick snapshots where I don't have time to pull out the DSLR from the pack.
Good luck if you do get it, judging from some of your pictures on here, I think you would enjoy it.


Mon May 13, 2013 5:15 am
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Thanks for the info. so far. I know cannon is good as I owned a Cannon SLR. I like the 24 mega-pixel idea of the Nikon though. Another question about these cameras. Does the auto-focus on a large lens work well or do you tend to manually focus more. That's one thing I didn't like about my SLR. Missed many a shot trying to focus.

Even though some of the package deals I see on eBay for both the Nikon's and Cannon's are pretty good, not sure I'll be able to pull the trigger. I still have that weight and bulk factor to think about. Can't see having a good camera and not taking it where I get my best photo opts.

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Mon May 13, 2013 5:25 am
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The auto focus on my 55-300 is a bit slower than the 35mm and 18-55mm, but havent missed anything yet with it. Thats kind of the beauty of it too, you can take over if the camera locks in on something else or just tell the camera to focus elsewhere. I dont shoot sports, etc, so I usually have the time to compose my shots.

As far as weight goes, It will be heavier obviously, but I can weigh mine at lunch and post later what it is with the various lenses I have to give you an idea.


Mon May 13, 2013 5:50 am
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I never manually focus with my Nikon D300. The auto-focus is fast enough for me, but then again, I'm not trying to capture fast action.

Weight ... Yes, DSLRs are going to be heavier to lug around, especially with larger lenses. But I believe that's a trade-off for the image quality you are going to get. I sometimes moan about carrying my 12-24mm wide angle around, which is big and heavy, but once I look at the shots, I'm glad I have it. :)


Mon May 13, 2013 6:46 am
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I have the lens set to autofocus on my Nikon d50. However, I use the spot focus feature also. This makes it very easy to have the different layers of the photo in and out of focus. Just use the d pad and select where I want the camera to focus. The reticle will highlight what where it should be in focus, continue to hold the first detent down and the lens will auomagically do it.

I do have a 55-200mm lens that will not autofocus anymore ;/. I can hear the motor trying but no dice. I could either try and take it apart and risk destroying it to relube the gearing or pay a good amount to have it repaired by a pro. There, of course is the problem. When something breaks, it just stinks. So many precision parts, repairing is expensive. With a PnS if it breaks its not the biggest deal to get another. Having said that, the d50 I use is a tank. Its been banged off rocks, dropped on a tile floor. Hangs off my pack. And got smashed around when I slipped down the ammo a few weeks back. No damage to any parts aside from cosmetics. I do keep the camera in a padded bag when iI'm not using it though.


Mon May 13, 2013 7:12 am
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Autofocus 99% of the time. Like thegibba I usually use the spot-focus feature; you can choose use the full autofocus (9-points in my case) and let the camera decide which ones should be in/out of focus. I prefer to focus using the center point (by pressing the shutter halfway) and then re-frame the shot. If I were shooting action (a bird flying for example), I'd use all 9 autofocus points in the "servo focus" mode which continuously adjusts the focus to keep your subject sharp.

Both Nikon and Canon focus motors are in the lenses. Higher end lenses will focus faster and more quietly. My pro lens focuses incredibly quickly. My lower end Tamron (3rd party lens) focuses a lot slower and can miss sometimes (but not as often as a PnS in my opinion).


Mon May 13, 2013 7:25 am
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krpayer wrote:
Autofocus 99% of the time. Like thegibba I usually use the spot-focus feature; you can choose use the full autofocus (9-points in my case) and let the camera decide which ones should be in/out of focus.

My D300 has 51-point auto-focus capability, but I don't think I've ever used it. Like you, I prefer to use center point focus and recompose.


Mon May 13, 2013 7:57 am
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I also usually let autofocus do its thing and just worry about the aperature and shutter speed myself. For scenic shots I do what Chris said and usually focus on what I want to be in the sharpest focus and then switch off the af and recompose the scene. For anything you'd call action I just trust the af and have had really good sucess with it, but if you are really worried about that look for a camera with more cross focus sensors and you'll have a better chance of getting the focus right on moving objects or quick shots, although I've used both and for Canons I find it good with either type.

If you get a canon look for lenses with their ultrasonic motors. Very sharp and great at fast adjustments. Less expensive lenses might have trouble following a bird or car or whatever moving fast. I got the canon 75 - 300 for the ultrasonic motor. It costs about double the 55 - 250 I had before it, doesn't have much better reach and image quality is almost identical but the focusing is much faster and that seems to matter with what I use that lense for. Not so much/important with a wide angle scenic shot. The scene usually isn't changing that fast! :D

One other feature I like and forgot to mention is the preview button that stops down to shooting aperature so you can see what is and isnt in focus in the final image. Most cameras probably have this but not all.


Mon May 13, 2013 7:58 am
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JustJoe- Weighed my camera and a D3100...
... with 55-300mm lens is 2lbs. 8ozs.
... with a 18-55mm kit lens it was 1lb. 15ozs.

subtract a couple of ozs. for my quick release plate and whatever filter(s) were on there and you get a rough idea of the D3200 weight.

By comparison, my P&S is 7 ozs. so at least 4x the weight.


Mon May 13, 2013 12:19 pm
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