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I am a beginner in photography and have only quite recently made it more of a focus in my life. I started snapshooting about 2 years ago with a Konica MInolta Dimage Z2 and find that I have learned some basic techniques and kind of defined my interests with it.
Now I am looking into buying an SLR, and would most probalby decide for a digital camara again. Before spending lots on a new dSLR though, I thought it might be a good idea to get a slightly older,used model first and see how I get on with it for a few thousand pics or so.
what do you think? and any suggestions on what camara to look for?

thanks in advance,

Rather than buying a used camera, which in my mind is risky unless the person you buy it from has purchased an extended warranty, I think you would be better off to look at a model that is close to being discontinued for a new model. Have a look at http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs.asp and read up on some of the models you are interested in. Remember that megapixels is NOT the only specification that is important. There are many cameras out there that take better pictures than others with a higher MP sensor. In a DSLR, I would look for one that shoots at the highers ISO ratings with the least amount of noise, interchangeability with your current lenses/lens selection. It seems there are currently quite a few DSLR cameras out there that have been rushed to the market in order to grab a piece of the market. Some of these cameras are having problems. A DSLR and all the glass for it are a major investment, even used, so take some time and look at all of the pro and cons of each model you are interested in.
Hi Uli,

Welcome to Shuttertalk! Smile

That's good advice that Stargazer mentions.

As far as the Film vs Digital issue goes, I have no problem at all with film and support anyone who uses it, but I doubt anybody could argue with me when I say that Digital is the best way to *learn* photography. The instant feedback, the embedded EXIF data, the endless shots you can take, and the "digital darkroom" make it an ideal way to experiment and grow.

I would also suggest looking at the lower-end or superceded (but new) DSLR's rather than a 2nd-hand but higher-end one. A low-end DSLR available today will possibly be better performing than a high-end DSLR from 2 years ago anyway, its the nature of this technology. But there are many things to consider apart from simple image quality and price. I would cosider second-hand lenses however, as long as they are in great condition and have no signs of mould.

If you are planning on building a kit you can expand upon over time, then I'd say the most important choice is NOT the camera at all, but the lens system (ie lens Brand). All the major DSLR manufacturers are currently producing good cameras at competitive prices... and they all leap-frog each other with advances every few months.
But its the lenses that will be the long-term investment, long after you've upgraded your camera body to whatever might be available next year or the year after or the year after that, you will (hopefully) still be using the same glass. Are there many lenses available for your brand? How expensive/cheap are they? What kind of lenses are they? Will they still be around in 5 years time? (I doubt the "four thirds" DSLR format will still be around in 5 years time unfortunately).. Is there much of a 2nd-hand market? etc etc..

Also, because digital cameras do tend to have a shorter usable lifespan than their film counterparts, I'm inclined to try to avoid spending loads on the camera body anyway as it will be obsolete soon. I'd prefer to have the 2nd-best model and afford to upgrade it every 2 years than have the top model and only afford to upgrade it every 5 years. (actually I don't even have the 2nd-best model, but you get my point).

But don't skimp on glass! That doesn't mean only the expensive lenses are good and the cheap ones are bad... but if you want a particular lens and can't afford it, be patient and save up for it rather than looking for a cheaper alternative that looks like it might be "almost" as good (but never is). And keep an eye out for those gems that are both cheap and top quality (like the 50mm f/1.8). Every lens needs to be judged on its merits - there are some real suprises out there both good and bad.

Hope that can help!
Hi Uli, having just bought a Nikon D50, I tend to agree with the others -- prices are so low at the moment, that it's not worth getting a 2nd hand one. Even with the Nikon D50 (entry level), test reports show a better image quality than the previous generation Nikon D70 (mid level), which has been replaced by the D70s.

But anyway, good luck with your search...

Here's a thread from a bout a month ago when I was looking:

Hi Uli,

Great to see you here at Shuttertalk - have a look at Canon and Nikon. They both have great entry level cameras and great glass. You will also retain your best resale value with these bodies and lenses.

Perhaps you could post some of the areas you would use the camera in to give us an idea what to recommend.


thank you guys for your precious advice, links, and warm welcome!

the lenses are definitely a whole new world I'll have to get into, so any advice is definitely welcome.

As for the digital vs. film, I found exactly like Adrian said, that the instant results and endless shots facilitated a relatively steep learning curve. Also, I had been working with Photoshop even before I started getting into photography and I enjoy working with my pictures. And I find that the relative ease (and the costless-ness) allow me to make the best of my pictures even if they weren't perfect shots to start with. So that's why I thought to go for a dSLR, even though I believe conventional film can give you still nicer results - at the price of a higher level of expertise and commitment than I have right now.

The areas I have so far enjoyed most are definitely outdoor things. I found taking close-ups of small plants or the like really exciting and the results rewarding. Generally I have a harder time getting decent shots of moving subjects (animal or human) than things that I can take my time with. I put a few pictures up in an album on shuttertalk ("mixed", wulinka77).
One of the major disadvantages of my current camera I found was the limited aperture range, so that I could often not get as shallow depth of field as I would have liked. actually, that by itself would almost make me consider going into conventional film. Or do you think full-frame sensors are a solution, and is it worth waiting for them to get technically sophisticated, and cheaper?