Can Has DSLR?

Posted by meronpan on June 9, 2009

Got some gift certificates ready to use, been doing research on and off for many months…  the time to make a purchase is nigh!


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Wanted to share my research and thoughts… perhaps you’ll have some suggestions to fine tune my purchase… or maybe you’ll vehemently disagree and can provide a completely different plan.  Whatever it is, I am, as always, happy to hear your thoughts.  Remember this is all just my current state of research – I haven’t bought anything yet ^^;

First off… Nikon or Canon.  As far as I could tell, the difference between the two isn’t significant enough to truly declare either one superior.  Based on that, I let some superficial reasons sway me towards the Canon camp:

  • Currently using a Canon
  • I understand the Canon lens vocabulary already
  • The Nikon 105mm macro lens is pretty pricey compared to the Canon 100mm macro

So again, I’m definitely not saying that those three reasons totally make Canon the superior camera… rather, for lack of any other meaningful criteria, those were as good a reason as any to go Canon.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

Next up, body.  For the longest time I thought I was going to end up with the 450D.  Yes the 500D is out, but I couldn’t find any features that could persuade me to spend the extra money.

  • Movies?  Not really interested.
  • Increased screen resolution?  Nice but didn’t seem necessary.
  • More megapixels?  Already have quite enough to fill my monitor and don’t plan on printing anything…
  • Larger sensor?  .1mm in either direction didn’t seem like that big a deal.
  • DIGIC IV Processor?  Perhaps this is big, but I haven’t figured it out yet…

…you can see my lukewarm attitude towards shelling out $130 for these features.  On the other hand, at around $700 for the body + kit lens, the 450D seemed to be a decent compromise between the current technology and bang for the buck.  I briefly considered the 40D but it seemed like a lot more money to dish out for a similar set of minor upgrades.  Then, thanks to adorama camera,  I started reconsidering the cost of upgrading to a better walk around zoom.  They’ve got the 40D + 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS at $1,100 USD.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

The 450D kit lens is generally the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, which I’ve read is a definite improvement over the non-IS lens that preceded it.  However, people often cited how you get what you pay for, so though a great deal, it isn’t spectacular glass.  A decent upgrade seemed to be the 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS, which supposedly offers improved image quality, along with more range.  The price is approximately $465.

With that upgrade in mind, it would make sense to skip the kit lens all together and go straight for the 17-85mm lens (or better).  Given the prices I’ve been finding for the 450D body only, that would come out to ~$1050.  And now you see why the 40D + 17-85mm at $1100 is now starting to look very attractive.  I got to play with my uncle’s 40D the other weekend and liked the sturdiness of the body.  The 450D is light weight, which is great for traveling I suppose, but also makes it feel a bit less rugged or sturdy or something.  I think I’d feel more comfortable putting expensive glass on a 40D rather than a 450D.  My general sense from forums and reviews also seemed to be that the 40D was a slightly better camera, but unless the features appealed to you, not worth the extra money over a 450D.  Yet now, looking at only a $50 premium, I think I may have found exactly what I want.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

With the 40D I’ll get goodies like 1/8000 shutter speed, higher ISO, pentaprism (as opposed to mirror) viewfinder, and 9 cross type AF points (instead of the center point being the only cross type) – things that I wouldn’t pay the usual premium for but $50?  Sure!  So that’s where I am.  Barring an end to this awesome kit, 40D + 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS sounds good to me.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

Finally lenses.  As discussed above I had read good things about the improvements of the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens over the non-IS version.  Read some more reviews and ended up with a sort of hierarchy:

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 < 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS < 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS < 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

The 17-55mm was definitely tantalizing with the constant f/2.8 aperture, but the $1,000 price tag was pretty intimidating.  Plus these lenses are all EF-S, so they won’t work on a full frame body.  Not that I plan on changing to a full frame body any time soon, but I kinda had hoped that any lens I paid over $1,000 for would last even in the loooong long run.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

Another consideration was the 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, which I believe is often included in 40D kits.  I couldn’t find anything that said it was much better or worse than the 17-85mm so in the end I figured having the wider lens would be the best for my shooting style.

At one point I was considering just starting out with some primes but the more I read and talked to people, the less wise that sounded.  Sure, for figure photography it might work ok since I’m sticking to a fairly standard work space… but overall it just meant taking away flexibility in the name of image quality.  Seemed like I would get much more out of the zoom in the long run.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

That said, I do want to add some sort of prime to my kit.  I’m really looking forward to an increase in image quality, so why not go all the way with a prime?  For that I’m having a hard time deciding between the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro, 60mm f/2.8 macro, and the  50mm f/2.5 macro lenses.  On the one hand the 50mm macro only goes up to 1:2 magnification but is the cheapest and can double as a regular 50mm.  The 60mm goes up to 1:1 but is EF-S and costs a little more.  The 100mm offers the most working distance (though will this potentially hinder me in figure reviews?) and 1:1 magnification and costs the most.  I guess since I’ll be mostly shooting figures for now, the 50/60mm probably make the most sense… the only risk would be once I start venturing outdoors, the lack of working distance may come back to haunt me.  Either way I’d like to add a macro lens to my kit since I love macro shots and would love to be able to start taking my own.

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

The last thing I’m considering is a 50mm prime.  There are just tons of reviews pointing to the image quality to be had from these lenses… the 50mm lenses have been refined so much over the years you should get a huge increase in image quality for a relatively low price.  The cheapest of these lenses is the f/1.8 which clocks in at about $100.  Sounded awesome except for the fact that people say you’ll definitely need to replace it in the long run.  As in, built like a toy and it *will* break.  Once more the middle of the line product stood out – the f/1.4 – one more stop for those low light conditions and $300 or so more in price… seemed worth it to buy 1 better lens than multiple cheap lenses.  There’s the f/1.2… but that takes the price into the $1,000 range, and out of my budget for the time being.  (though the sexiness of being an L lens and having yet another stop to deal with low light would be incredible :P)

click for gelbooru

click for gelbooru

I’ll be holding off on the 50mm prime for now since I think it’ll get the least use out of the three, but in the meantime, I’m hoping to start off with a zoom and macro.  Probably not a very conventional start, but I’m not your conventional photographer :P  The lack of a longer range telephoto lens doesn’t really bother me since I tend to avoid those shots anyway.  I like snapping what’s in front of me and reducing the influence of camera shake as much as possible.  Is it one of those cases where I won’t know what I’m missing out on until I try?  Perhaps.  But at least in the short term, there’s definitely not going to be as much opportunity for me to use a telephoto which is yet another reason I’m holding off for now.

So there you have my planned dslr acquisition.  Going to go over things for a little while longer, but hopefully in the next couple weeks push ahead with a purchase!  Would love to hear thoughts, suggestions, comments, questions, how you went about your own purchase, plans to go about your own purchase, regrets, successes, or whatever else you’ve got for me ^^



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45 Responses to “Can Has DSLR?”

  1. Hm… you seem to have made your mind up to pick Canon already… don’t do ittttttttt!

    Well, the only real reasons I had when picking Nikon over Canon was that the entry level SLR from Nikon is much cheaper than Canon. Nikon cameras are generally cheaper than the Canon ones, and I’m poor. I don’t have the skills or $$ to buy $1K plus camera.

    And the most important reason… Canon cameras pwn Nikon cameras when it comes to ISO sensitivity, but Nikon cameras have far better noise reduction and performance at each comparable level. Nikon DSLR is better than a Canon DSLR any day when it comes to shooting night shots.

    • meronpan said

      hmmm i was having trouble finding articles that were conclusive one way or another on the iso stuff… you have any references i could read through?

      regardless i must admit, shooting night shots or in general anything requiring high iso isn’t my highest priority ^^;

  2. tj han said

    Your train of thought scares me because you are not considering many factors. Anyway I recommend you getting the 500D over the 40D. I have a 450D, 100mm f2.8, 50 mm f1.4, the 17-55 kit lens, a 55-250 mm, and finally a 200-500 mm Tamron. I’ve been trying to sell my extra lenses to no avail lol. For me, the 50 mm and kit lens are my most used lenses. I’m not sure what you intend to shoot, but the 100 mm is great, but not that great for figures. The 50 mm is far better for figures. You could save money by just getting the 50 mm f2.8 and not getting any other macro lenses or portrait lenses. But macro lenses focus a lot slower than the normal lenses, since they are more precise.

    I’m not sure which country you’re from, but normally we take in the preceived-resale value into consideration. Getting a 40D sucks mainly due to this at the moment. Besides, I assure you that while snooty purist photographers constantly declare that they don’t need movie-taking ability, in actual fact, if a camera sports one, it will come in useful. People tend to dismiss new features because they haven’t incorporated it into their workflow. For amateurs, movie-shooting in addition to regular photos are awesome, especially for EVENTS (anime ones or family ones). 500D is the way to go.

    • meronpan said

      what are these factors that i’m not considering? the main reason i made this post was to get thoughts from more experienced people on what i’ve missed or should do different… so by all means, let me know! (unless you simply referred to the things you discussed in your comment)

      as for the things you did mention… my primary subjects are going to be figures. in that regard and from some responses i’ve got on dc yeah, i think a 50/60mm macro will be best. and i agree i can probably get by without another portrait lens with that focal length macro.

      i live in the us and resale value is a factor for many but not so important for me. i’d rather get a good deal now and use the camera ’till it dies… ideally having multiple bodies in the future (assuming i got to a point where i absolutely had to upgrade before the end of life of my current body).

      i don’t deny that movie taking could be useful/fun or awesome… but given how often i take movies with my current camera, it doesn’t come up as something I would pay significant money for… in the last 1500 shots i’ve taken, i took maybe 2 movies? even in japan… maybe 5 movies? and i deleted them all. i suppose part of that is that, even owning a camera with movie capabilities, yes i haven’t incorporated it into my workflow… but at any rate, that’s why i don’t place significant value on that feature. maybe the moral of the story is that i suck at taking movies ^^;;

      didn’t mean for this to come off as a rebuttal to your perfectly valid opinion, so please don’t take it that way… just trying to explain better how i’m approaching this.

      • tj han said

        Ah but you are not considering that the movie quality of your old camera would be far inferior to the 500D. Many compact cameras have huge limitations on movies. Imagine having SLR lenses options for your video maker, that would be awesome.

        Other factors would be the processor, which you don’t seem to think much of. Btw I forgot to mention that the 18-55 is far better than the other alternatives, like 17-85 or 17-200. So do not get conned into either of them. It’s a myth that the kit lens sucks. It’s actually great value for its price. And yes, as the below guy said, before you get any new lenses, it’s actually far wiser and more useful to get a 580 EX flash. Once you get the flash gun, you’ll start using the kit lens a lot more since you’re no longer limited by apertures and ISOs.

        • meronpan said

          sounds like we’ll have to agree to disagree on the movie issue… having so few opportunities to even take advantage of the movies (and having no motivation to go out and specifically seek them) and just being relatively disinterested, i find it very difficult to justify paying extra for that feature. obviously in the case of the 500D it wouldn’t be the only thing i’m paying for, but the point is that for that particular feature — by itself — i don’t want to be paying extra for it.

          For the processor I was trying to convey that I didn’t know much about it and was hoping someone might fill me in ^^;; Obviously the IV is the successor to the III but how much does that actually matter? Hopefully I’ll get around to reading up on that soon or someone will have some insight…

          When you say the 18-55 is better – is that based on the value alone? Or are you saying that the image quality is superior? Or… ? I wasn’t trying to say that the kit lens sucks, but rather the image quality wasn’t as good as the other zooms I listed. (based off reading a number of reviews and checking sample images) I would never even think to suggest that the kit lens isn’t a good value, but I’m looking to make as big a leap in IQ as my wallet will allow — which, as far as I can tell, generally means paying more to get less.

          My review setup right now is based on continuous lighting so I was going to hold off on flash equipment for awhile… though I have seen some great stuff lately and perhaps I will investigate my options there further…

          Thanks for the feedback!

  3. sonic_ver2 said

    Depending on how’s your budget condition, throwing out that zoom lenses and picking 28-105L F4 IS or 24-70L F2.8 could be a great decision, i mean in Indonesia, most of Canon owners’s goal is getting L lenses to replace their standard lens, so why don’t you start directly with better preparation.

    It’s pretty annoying if you have to throw your old lens when you get a new lens with the same range. In my collection, my final lenses (i’ll keep it until i die, or the lens broke) are Canon 100mm macro and Canon 50mm. Maybe, if i have money, i think i’ll change my 18-55mm with something else like 24-70L.

    I also heard that a 28-75 Tamron lens has a better quality that even better than Canon’s 24-70L.

    That’s regarding lens… Have you ever consider getting flash? If you’re into indoor shot, you mgiht want to get a flash or even 2, with wireless system. But if you’re still planning on using the same settings, i guess a tripod is enough, but it’s very annoying and will be a hindrance from getting some nice dynamic angle shot.

    Body is up to you, i won’t say much about that.

    Oh, and after you bought a DSLR, don’t forget to check the disc and install some nice softwares from it.

    • meronpan said

      those L zoom lenses are way out of my price range ^^;; i agree it sucks having to sell of your old lenses that have overlapping range but i guess i’m too impatient to wait until i have the capital to go in and buy all L stuff ^^;;

      i had the 100mm macro at the top of my macro list for a while but more and more i’m leaning towards the shorter focal length so as not to run into space issues in my room. also, as tj han mentioned, it should double as a portrait lens (well, though if i read correctly the 100mm macro does fine with portraits also… ^^;)

      i have been giving a bit more thought to going flash… though that means buying more equipment ^^;; historically i’ve been pretty slow to evolve my lighting setup and i’ll probably continue that trend. i.e. yes i’d love to try, but it will likely be a slow process acquiring the equipment ^^;

      definitely am curious about the software. will i be able to set it up such that the pics go directly to my computer? would be lovely to look at my results on a full size monitor rather than the camera screen.

      • tj han said

        Oh 100mm is ok for portrait but that means you have to stand really far away from your subject, like at least 10 metres or more. And still can’t get a full body shot. Even 50 mm is difficult for full body shots in tight spaces.

      • sonic_ver2 said

        That’s what i’m doing while taking indoor figure shot. Using EOS utility to get the result directly to computer and full screen.

        Anyway, just as Tj Han said, 100mm is still nice for portrait, but you need to be a little further from the object.

        Anyway, i forgot about the macro. Get 100mm, it’s wicked sharp. If you’re talking about getting details, 100mm gives a good zoom. Except, if you’re trying to get a full body view of 1/8 figure, you have to get away from the figure at least 2 meters.

        • meronpan said

          ah nice. sounds like that software will be perfect then

          2 meters seems a bit far for my setup… are you aware of any significant difference of image quality between the 60mm and 100mm macro lenses?

          • sonic_ver2 said

            Never know about the quality between 60mm and 100mm. But another consideration for 100mm is if you want to upgrade to full framed body like 1D or 5D. 60mm macro is EF-S can only be mounted on non full framed body.

  4. James said

    100 F2.8 all the way , don’t even make the error hesitating …

    Best lens for figure pictures , by far . So sharp that it’s scary ^^

    • meronpan said

      but i don’t want to be in the hallway to take my pics ^^;; asked sonic above, but will repeat here… do you know of any difference in image quality between the 60mm and 100mm macro?

      • nanu said

        I have the 60mm and only rather casually use it, so take my response with salt, and probably I can’t say more than what you already know –;

        They are both sharp when used correctly. From what I’ve researched a year ago, the 60mm is more convenient for a crop-body. Less heavy, less distance from subject required. If you do want to use it for “real macro” you’ll want the 100mm. I feel the working distance with the 60mm limits it for general use (it barely passes as a portrait lense), so the 100mm on a crop body would be even more limited for general use. But I do concede that the 100mm gives better figurine pictures because figures are small and on a cropped-sensor it gives more zoom (but is why you have to be farther away). For the 100mm, what comes to mind is valho’s figure pictures. I don’t know of other 60mm figure-shooters except Danny, but it does bother me when there is excess blur/very low depth of field on a picture when I feel it shouldn’t be there. In that regard the zoomier lense wins. In your case, I would want to try before buying :X

        The 60mm shows slight vignetting at wide open, but for figures you would lave light and use a smaller aperture anyway The most cited bad point about the 60mm is its poor AF hunting but for lighted figures that’s a non-issue.

        Both lenses have reasonable resale value, so I wouldn’t base the purchase on that in case you do go full-frame later. Regarding general use, point and shoots are getting better every year so I imagine that’s just more convenient if you don’t want to become a big-lense wielder in public.

        • meronpan said

          ah, excellent info on the 60mm and 100mm! thanks!

          yet more to consider… hopefully i’ll be able to make a decision soon ^^;;

          i should do some measurements and see how much space i’ll have to work with in my room…

          • James said

            the 60 is an EFS lens when the 100 is an EF , if i’m not wrong . If someday you buy a full frame , you will be able to use one of the best lens on it . and , my opinion only , the 100 is a little sharper .

            and you’re saying about going in the halway , you’ll be fine with a 100 , don’t forget that i take pics with a telezoom !

  5. alafista said

    I would recommend investing in a flash as well. One of the most important thing besides lenses.

    • meronpan said

      but the majority of my shots will be under continuous lighting ^^;; though as mentioned above, i’m not against it and have seen some lovely results from flash users. it’s just that it’s more investment in lighting equipment that i’d rather defer if possible ^^;

  6. I currently own a 40D and would recommend it or the 50D over any of the Rebel/xxxD bodies. The Rebel cameras are decent but they’re not built to the same caliber that xxD cameras are. Plus, they’re small. Almost too small if you plan on putting any decent lens on it. The lens will far outweigh the camera and makes it awkward to hold. Also, I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of a high resolution LCD. If you like to review your images in camera right after shooting, this is absolutely necessary. After having used a 5DII, I can tell you that the 640×480 LCDs in the newer Canon models are infinitely more useful than the 320×240 LCDs. I wish my 40D had that :(

    As for lenses, I have the 50mm 1.8, 17-55mm 2.8, and 100mm 2.8 macro. They are all great lenses. I actually just bought the 100mm about a month ago (and posted about it last night). I love this lens. You should definitely get it.
    The 17-55mm is my general, all-purpose lens. The image quality is great and the focal range covers most of what you need for everyday shooting. The constant 2.8 aperture is nice and the IS helps quite a bit with slow shutter speeds. Probably the best zoom lens for a 1.6x sensor camera.
    The 50mm is kind of my backup lens. It has nice image quality and the 1.8 aperture is great but the AF is not so good. It’s loud and often searches quite a bit before focusing (even worse in low light).

    Anyway, my advice is to just get the body you think you need. Most camera bodies depreciate in value rapidly so I wouldn’t place much consideration on resale value. As for lens, if you buy quality lens, you should have no problem reselling them with little loss. In fact, I could sell my 17-55mm for more than I paid for it :D Good glass does not depreciate much in value ^^ If you like an EF-S lens, buy it. If you decide to go to FF, you should be able to sell it when the time comes.

    • meronpan said

      yeah, regarding the construction of the body, that was what i was kinda trying to allude to when i mentioned having used my uncle’s. i also like the solid feel, and prefer it to the rebel bodies.

      i guess the problem with the resolution is that to get up to the next tier i need to get a 50D or 500D… and so far i haven’t come up with a plan that i’m happy with that fits in my budget. on the bright side it looks like the software will let me view pics directly on my pc so that will at least be a moot point for my figure reviews.

      awesome get on the 17-55 ^^ from the review shots i’ve seen the results looked really spectacular. out of my budget range for now but maybe someday… will have to stop by to see your 100mm macro results ^^

      thanks for all the thoughts, tips and comments!

  7. Tier said

    Yay for new toys! I use a Rebel XS (EOS 1000D to European people, I think) with the kit lens and even though it’s one of the cheapest DSLR cameras available, it’s way more powerful than what I need. I only shoot indoor figure pictures so I have complete control over lighting, and since my figures aren’t likely to move I don’t think I need an elaborate collection of lenses. I was thinking of getting the 50mm f/1.8 lens just because it was so cheap, but the price has jumped to over a hundred bucks; I could buy another figure with that money. (I’ve heard the same stories about how it’s not all that durable but that doesn’t bother me; I figure the people who break their lenses are probably traveling with them outdoors. I’d just keep it in a drawer inside, and I doubt it’s going to fall apart by itself.)

    I’m not a very good photographer but I’d estimate that my pictures are about 1/3 camera, 1/3 lighting, and 1/3 Photoshop.

    • meronpan said

      everywhere i went i read about the cheap construction of the 50mm f/1.8 and thought it wasn’t just affecting people who were traveling/outdoors/etc… hmmm gah, well nm i can’t remember what review i was reading so that just may be my imagination. if nothing else, i’m sure you’ll get your money’s worth even if it does quit on you after extensive use.

      i don’t have any qualms with photoshop but try to avoid it… just to save time though ^^;; if i did have the time and patience i’d probably go over each of my photos individually for touch up work, white balance, etc ^^;;

  8. phossil said

    ~quite an extensive research you did. Well, I practically dont know too much about lenses so I wont be in there. I have been used my mom’s camera. It was a Canon G3 and the quality of the pictures where good (for that time) – but no support for interchangeable lenses. With that in mind I bougth my own camera, the Canon 570IS, and for being a pointand shoot camera with manual controls I like it a lot. (At least I use it as a way to learn about ISO, Apertures, speeds, and so on). But keeping my experience with Canon I think I would keep with Canon.

    Probably if Im more adventurous i will pick up Nikon, since I see a lot of movies and cameramens with Nikon in the lap (remember Jurassik park?) but you know about lenses and some other features, so I think that you know what to choose. ^^

    • meronpan said

      i wish the point and shoots would accept dslr compatible lenses ^^; then i could’ve skipped this whole process and just tried out lenses on my current camera. unfortunately that’s quite a dream, isn’t it…

      so many different choices it starts to feel like maybe they’re just all about the same and it doesn’t matter which one you pick ^^;;

  9. Persocom said

    I must be the Yui Hirasawa of figure photography, ok not that good but definitely uneducated XD. I really don’t understand all the mess with numbers lenses and all that stuff, I just play around with things until they work, and I picked up basic knowledge here and there. I don’t own a fancy camera of course, I do everything with a little digital camera that need not even be mentioned. My dreams of owning a DSLR are pretty much invalid at this point, though with as much as I spend on batteries maybe it’s not so bad having a thousand dollar camera. My mom was a photographer for years, using Canon and Nikon’s and the like, but even she suggested I don’t buy something so expensive (not that I’ll listen forever). I do love the pictures the cameras take, and would love to one day be able to purchase one (layaway plan maybe?), but right now I can’t afford to spend that much on a camera. So all in all I have no advice for you, gomen ne. I do commend you for doing your research and hope you get a camera that does everything you want it to do. You’re definitely on your way to some professional photography with your current lighting and now this future DSLR purchase ^^

    • meronpan said

      was the best thing when i finally got some high capacity rechargeable batteries. think i made it through most of my japan trip on one set ^^;

      no chance of borrowing something from your mom? perhaps a 1D or something? :P

      if nothing else i’ll be able to die knowing i spent more than enough money on my hobbies ^^;;

  10. tj han said

    17-55 is a huge waste of money, for what is a somewhat significant yet not so enough upgrade of IQ over the kit lens. For that 1000 dollars you could’ve bought a PS3 and a giant TV! Not worth it. The 100 mm is awesome of course but it does have issues if you dont have space indoors. It’s easy to get 2nd hand as well since most people think they need a macro lens, but when they do get it, realise that macro is one of the hardest things to do. Getting yourself up at 5 am to catch insects is hard work. Anyway, for decent figure pictures, the kit lens is actually superior to most other lenses due to the short minimum focusing distance. For outdoor figure photography, it does the job well. I would say better than 17-55 even.

    As for size, yeah that was one of the factors you didn’t really consider in the original article. I use my 450 with a bat grip, but I find that despite my large hand size, sometimes, the large size of cameras is little than a lion’s mane. Just for showing off that you have c-penis. It’s cumbersome when your camera is large but it also helps to have a good grip. Pros and cons. The usual advice is to head down to a brick and mortar store and test out the feel yourself. 40D is really old now, as the above guys said, it’s LCD and other features may be considered shit by today’s standards. 500D, you can take a video of yourself playing with the figures!

    It’s good not to be caught up in the buy buy buy syndrome that most budding photogs have, including myself. I’ve since outgrown it and am trying to sell the extra gear I collected.

    • Having previously owned the 18-55mm kit lens, there is no contest at all. The 17-55mm produces noticeably superior images. The 18-55mm is a good starter’s lens but gives blurry images when compared to the sharpness of the 17-55mm. Also, you can find it for less than $1000, even lower if you buy second hand.

      Good lens are not cheap. Buying a $800-1000+ body and then putting a $100 lens on it is a waste ;) I wouldn’t recommend the 17-55mm as a first lens, but when you outgrow the kit lens, it’s the perfect upgrade.

      Yeah, I’d agree that 100mm is the better lens for figure photography due to its ability to get closer shots. Some people like to photograph subjects other than figures though ^^

      • meronpan said

        when it comes to good lenses the way i see it is that it’s not about how much more iq or aperture or whatever else you’re getting per dollar… it’s about whether or not you can get the desired results for cheaper. compared to the cheaper lenses, they’ll always win in a bang for the buck comparison. as such you have to look at whether or not you can achieve your desired results with a cheaper lens, not whether or not you can get more for your money.

        or rather another way to put is that the question changes from, ‘what’s the best that i can do on this budget,’ to, ‘how can i achieve this high level of quality/performance/etc’

    • meronpan said

      obviously i don’t have any experience using these lenses, but from what i can gleam from reviews it appears that practically all of the professional lenses are attached to huge price tags with significantly reduced value gains for the buck. so yes, it may not be anywhere near the equivalent gain in value compared to the more moderately priced stuff but if you need that extra stop or weather sealing or what have you, what other options do you have? now in my case i don’t see myself needing any of that nor the hefty price tag, so L & $1000 lenses are off the buy list for now.

      hmmm think i failed to write out my thoughts completely… but i actually have handled both bodies and the result of that comparison was that i preferred the 40D. i like the sturdiness of it and the feel of the build.

      actually the fact that the 40d is old is one of the things i think it has going for it. i still see lots of people recommending it which means it’s been holding its own against the newer products. there will always be a better body out there and lagging just 1 model behind the bleeding edge doesn’t seem so bad.

      • 0rion said

        If I can give one recommendation regarding this, it’s that going with a better lens and cheaper body will pretty much always produce better results than using cheap glass with an expensive body. I’ve seen guys with a bottom of the barrel Rebel use an L series lens and produce some amazing results.

        Obviously you still have to live within the constraints of your budget, but you can’t underestimate the value of using quality glass in the final product. I often look back over some of my older shots before I really invested money in my hobby, and while I like the way the shots turned out I still regret using cheap lenses, because there’s a very noticeable difference in quality and it limits what I can do in post processing and printing.

        With a good lens, not only will your camera body be able to focus faster and more accurately, but you’ll also produce images that you can look at and still be proud of 20 years from now. Plus there’s the bonus that quality lenses have great resale value, so if you’re ever in a pinch you can still sell them off and get at least 75% of their value back.

        • meronpan said

          ah definitely… that was the main motivation i had for upgrading from the kit lens. if i wasn’t so intent on getting a prime for figure reviews, i probably woulda went for something like the 450D + an L (or equivalent) zoom.

          i guess if i was really crazy i could assign some quantitative values to all the lenses and bodies and them optimize some sort of system for iq with budget as a constraint… well… actually then i’d probably spend on all my time second guess my math and the values i assigned ^^;

          anyhow, thanks for all the input! hopefully i’ll be able to make a decision soon…

  11. robostrike said

    When you make the purchase, make sure you do not hesitate on your final decision. That’s all my 2 cents I can give you. After you get one, go wild and enjoy ^_^

  12. Been somewhat lazy to follow up on my blogroll lately, good luck in your hunt for a DLSR, I am spent way too much money recently to consider that right now. I can’t even bring myself to get new lights ^^;

  13. Smithy said

    I have the 450D and I’m very happy with it, since I’m just starting out and have much to learn, I think a more expensive body would be wasted on me at this stage. The 18-55mm kit lens is quite nice, though either my skills are still sorely lacking or it just doesn’t get up to the performance of some other lenses.

    About the 450D being smaller and feeling light, well I have small hands so it fits me just perfectly but true that the body dwarfs compared to big lenses.

    As for advice, well I’m currently pondering the same choice about macro lenses for figure and outdoor photography so it’s great to read different opinions and experiences.

    For figure shooting, once you get a DSLR (any of your choice) make sure to use a tripod, remote and mirror lockup for even sharper results. You’ll notice the difference.

    • meronpan said

      doing a bit more research and pouring over image after image i think i may actually end up with the 18-55mm kit after all ^^; would let me save some money since i’m really most interested in that prime glass anyway.

      hopefully i’ll remember that tidbit about the mirror lockup… didn’t know that was issue ^^; wish the stupid remote wasn’t so expensive. ;_;

      • Smithy said

        Mirror lockup is a setting you can activate through the menu I read about and helps to get even sharper photos, mostly recommended for landscape and other still object photography where you already use a tripod.

        The remote isn’t expensive, get Canon’s wired remote trigger version, probably 10-15$ only, that way you don’t have to depress the trigger on the camera which can cause lass sharp images. Plus it is more convenient. For figure shoots, the wired one is plenty, I use it and it’s quite practical and the cable is long enough.

  14. Blowfish said

    Woah all that tech talk is scary.
    Luckily itll be quite some time until ill be able to snag a DSLR but ill guess ill do a similar post like you since there seems to be alot things youll have to consider before your purchase

    • meronpan said

      the joys of photography ^^;; the worst part is that all the canon specific lens vocabulary is just that – canon specific. when you’re trying to compare across brands you need to learn how the other manufacturers do things… i.e. do they give pro-grade lenses special designations, what do they call their image stabilization/vibration reduction feature, etc. it’s tiring -_-

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