Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thinking of Getting Started?

I get asked a question often and it usually goes something like this:

“Hey Jason, I have been thinking about upgrading to a better camera. Do you have any suggestions?”

Most always say that they want a really good camera that will not break the bank… In photography there is always a trade off. Really good simply costs more of money. There is a bright side with the camera bodies though. The image quality from your entry level DSLRs all the way to the professional “crop” sensor cameras is pretty much the same. When you get into the full frame sensors the image quality does increase slightly due to the larger sensor size. However, most people (including me) would not be able to tell you what type of camera took a specific image. See my previous post on the Equipment Caveat. What you get for more money in the camera body is more options (bells and whistles).

The lenses on the other hand are a different story and when you go to upgrade them you should save your money and get the best/fastest you can afford. The lenses will out last any camera body you buy and are the largest contributors to image quality that you have. For example, all of my pro grade lenses were bought about 11 years ago when I first really got into photography. I still have and use these lenses for my work today. Since then I have changed cameras three times. There have been updates to the ones that I own with a few tweaks but the glass is still of the highest quality.

I would recommend staying with Canon or Nikon when purchasing DSLR equipment. The reasons are simple… They have been around for a very long time and have a complete system. Some of the other manufactures have great cameras but limit the options that you have for advancement. Personally, I am a Nikonian but Canon can produce images of equal quality (yes that was hard to say). This does not hold true with point and shoots because you buy the camera and there are no accessories to add. (pst….I would still stay with Nikon or Canon).

Here are 8 suggestions when thinking of an upgrade or initial purchase.

*It is just a tool.  If I buy the best scalpel made I don't think it would make me a good surgeon.*

1. Simple Point and Shoot

     o Nikon: CoolPix S5100 - $154.95
     o Canon: PowerShot A3100 - $139.95

2. Advanced Point and Shoot (hybrids)

     o Nikon: P7000 - $499.95
     o Canon: G12 - $434.95

3. Entry Level DSLR Kit (includes 18-55 lens)

     o Nikon: D3100 - $644.95
     o Canon: Rebel T1i - $649.00

4. Intermediate DSLR Kit (includes 18-55 lens) – Amateur

     o Nikon: D5000 - $629.00 (discontinued…expected replacement  Feb. 2011)
     o Canon: Rebel T2i - $799.95

5. Intermediate DSLR body only – Semi-Professional to Professional
     o Nikon: D7000 - $1,199.95
                   D300s - $1,449.00
     o Canon: 60D - $969.00
                    7D - $1,479.00

6. Professional body only DSLR

     o Nikon: D700 - $2,349.00
                   D3s - $5,199.95

     o Canon: 5Dmk II - $2,499.00
                    1Dmk IV - $4,699.00

Below are the lens suggestions. Keep in mind that the focal lengths you really need to cover are from 24mm to 300mm if possible. The suggestions are zoom lenses because they give you that coverage.

7. Lens Suggestions – General

     o Nikon: 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 - $759.95
                   70-300mm f3.5-5.6 - $519.95

     o Canon: 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 - $595.00
                    70-300mm f3.5-5.6 - $529.00

8. Lens Suggestions - Professional

     o Nikon: 24-70mm f2.8 - $1,699.95
                   70-200mm f2.8 - $2,159.00
                   300mm f4.0 - $1,344.95

     o Canon: 24-70mm f2.8 - $1,329.00
                   70-200mm f2.8 - $2,374.00
                   300mm f4.0 - $1,376.00

There are far more expensive lenses than the ones I mentioned. Some even reaching as high as $15,000.00. I didn’t really see the point in listing those. For reference all the prices listed were taken from  I buy most of my gear from them but I am in no way associated with the company.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post. I know it was a bit longer than normal but there is so much to cover. This is by no means a comprehensive list but rather a starting point should you decide to upgrade or make an initial purchase.

If you are intersted there is a tab at the top of the blog page that links to the equipment that I use.  Take a look and ask any questions you would like.

Thanks for reading!!!


  1. Excellent post and a good summary of the options. I will forward a link to my artist friend who is looking to upgrade her photo equipment.

  2. WOW! If I ever get ready to buy a "real" camera, must remember to stop here!!!!!