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Easiest DSLR for Beginner?
I'm trying to purchase a DSLR for my father. He's an outdoor writer, who goes on adventures and sells his stories to various publications. He has used a standard film SLR for years, but he generally uses the auto settings. He likes SLR's because he needs to be able to change lenses, occasionally use the manual controls, and get better than average quality shots for publication. I must admit, for a guy that is not very technical with his equipment, he has taken some great shots (a couple have even won awards)..

Many of the publishers are now insisting on digital images. He wants a DSLR, but his budget and technical expertise with modern electronics are issues. He needs something with good automatic settings, image stabilization, and the ability to attach a 300 mm telephoto zoom (for wildlife)..

What should be on my shortlist? So far, I have looked at the Canon Rebel XTI and the Pentax K100D. The Canon looks like a great camera, but I will probably end up spending a small fortune for special digital and image stabilizing lenses. What I like about the Pentax is that it has IS built into the camera body and can use any Pentax lens ever made. It also uses regular AA batteries, and rechargeables are a lot cheaper than most proprietary ones..

Any suggestions?..

Comments (9)

There's a pretty decent chance that sticking with the same manufacturer would ensure a pretty similar interface granted, WB, ISO and image processing parameters are adjustable in-body now. Exposure latitude's also closer to slide film....

In addition, might be that he'll be able to use the same lenses with at least some automation although any wide-angle will likely need replacement...

Comment #1

Nikon D40 with 18-200 IS.A good all around camera with a great lens.A member of the rabble in good standing...

Comment #2

The Pentax K100d or K100d Super works because:.

-great ergonomics & logical controls, not gonna annoy him with hundreds of buttons.

-shake reduction means all lenses, new or old, AF or MF, benefit from stabilization-less $ for body & lenses-use Lithium-AAs for long life & availability-great lightweight wide-angle primes & zooms for landscape stuff.

-Look at lenses like the (upcoming) 60-250 f/4 or (now) 50-135 f/2.8 if he wants some telephoto reach, or get a third-party long zoom (Sigma, Tamron) for less $, or a used Pentax telephoto prime or zoom..

Comment #3

Thank you everyone for your helpful comments..

I thought about getting him the same brand of camera, to make the transition easier and so that he could use his lenses. He currently uses a Nikon N55. So I checked out the D40. Supposedly, it's one of the easiest DSLR's to use for beginners. But then I read that you have to use special lenses in order to have autofocus. Is that right? If I have to buy new lenses anyway, I might as well shop other brands..

The K100D is starting to look better all the time based on price and lens selection. He told me his first REAL camera was a Pentax back in the 60's that he traveled the world with. And the camera body is for sale online for about $360 right now..

As a side note, what about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 or the Canon Powershot S5 IS. They both have manual controls, and a built in zoom with well over 400 mm of range. How would the quality of one of these compare to the K100D? If these aren't close to the same quality for my father's purposes, maybe I should get one for my wife...

Comment #4

The guy who told you the D40 requires "special lenses" does not want to sell you one because he can make more money selling something else: Any Nikon fit lens with a motor in the lens will work. There are about 50 such lenses.

1) Any Nikon AF-S lens will fit the D40. All new lenses since 2003 have been AF-S.

2) Most Sigma lenses will fit the D40 in particular any HSM lens (All their new lenses are HSM and clearly listed as such3) There are three Nikon kit AF-S lenses - 18-55, 18-70 & 18-135.

4) The number of lenses that will fit the D40 exceeds the total of all current Pentax, Sony and Olympus lenses combined..

Here is a current list of Nikon AF-S lenses (just scroll down to it):http://www.nikonusa.com/template.php?cat=1&grp=5Here is a list of Sigma lenses:http://www.sigmaphoto.com/news/news.asp?nID=3356.

The D40 with an 18-135mm lens ought to make your father very happy..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #5

If your father is used to a film SLR, the Canon S5IS would irritate him with it's comparatively slow autofocus and shutter lag..

I'm pro-Pentax SLRs (at this point in time), but the Nikon D40 is a good quality camera too, perhaps a bit better in construction quality..

But - check the price of the Pentax K100 or K100-Super with a Tamron 18-250 lens versus a Nikon D40 and any VR lens for it..

Remember the 1.5x lens factor comparison vs. 35mm. The Tamron 18-250 lens images like a 27-375 would on 35mm..

I believe the K100 or K100-Super is a much better value. Having shake reduction in the body is a huge advantage..

The new type of NiMH Rechargeable AAs are cheap but slightly difficult to find. Get only Rayovac Hybrid or Sanyo Eneloop, as these hold their charge much longer (when not used) than the older typeweeks or months compared to days. Kodak also is slowly slipping this new type out, without a new name, but claiming "lasts 4x longer" on the package..

Even more importantly, these two cameras have quite different "feels". Unless this is a surprise for him, your father should try each for himself. The overall size and feel of the camera may make the choice clear to him, regardless of cost...

Comment #6

I endorse the last paragraph of the previous post. I would love someone to buy me a new DSLR but I would hate for them to chose it for me..

Maybe you can make a short list of alternatives you are prepared to fund:D40K100DEOs 350Dor whatever..

If it is a surprise but you leave him to choose he might feel pressured to decide quickly. Perhaps he would enjoy the search? Perhaps he would like to put some of his own money to a better system..

It would be a lovely idea to surprise someone but not wholly pratical. How about gift wrapping a memory card then letting him choose? Even that will be complicated by memory types..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #7

Thanks again for everyone's useful feedback..

After reading more last night on the ultra zooms, I came to the same conclusion. I think these are infinitely better than the ultra portable point-and-shoot cameras, but not what he is looking for..

I really like what I have read about the Nikon and the Pentax. And I completely agree about buying someone else a gift that they should have chosen on their own. I don't think I've ever kept a gift like that...I always end up trading it in for something that I've researched. In my father's case, he stopped looking for a DSLR because he just couldn't afford anything in the $500+ range. He did not know about the Pentax K100D or the Nikon D40..

As for the lenses, he would like to use his 100-300mm zoom by Quantaray. I don't know if this lens has the motor in it or not. He will most likely try to find lenses used on ebay, craigslist, or b&h. Older lenses might be more affordable for him. Also, since he will need to take a lot of handheld zoom pictures, image stabilization will be important. Does the D40 have image stabilization in the body, or just in certain lenses? If it's just the lenses, then that feature will surely add to the costs...

Comment #8

In that range, a good Nikon lense is the 70-300mm. Another thing to consider in choosing a camera in terms of ease of use is the best out of the camera images that don't need post processing to be aceptable and a large dynamic range so that the photos don't have blownout areas or noise in the dark areas. The Fuji S3 or S5 (a bit more expensive but worth it) could be looked at. One example of straight out of the camera shots:http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1020&message=24967221.

Will..

Comment #9

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