Friday, December 28, 2012

Wanted: Camera Advice! NOW!

I've been mulling purchasing a digital SLR for some time now.  My son got his Nikon D90 about 3 years back, and I've been a bit jealous. But I felt it was too heavy a camera for me.

My photo history: from 1976-1984 I taught a high school photo class. This was, of course, long before digital photography. When my beloved Minolta XG7 died, I bought a Canon Rebel. While I liked it, I was never 'in love'.

Fast forward to the digital camera takeover.  In the past couple of years I've been using a Canon PowerShot, co-owned by me and hubby. It has good picture quality (you've seen my photos on the blog) but we SHARE the camera, and anyhow, I'm a little frustrated that this former photo teacher (me) now runs around taking snapshots with a camera set on 'automatic' or 'portrait' etc without knowing what those settings actually mean or do. So I've been wanting something I can really sink my teeth into.

My hubby must have noticed. He surprised me (seriously, I was REALLY SURPRISED) with a gift certificate to the local camera store, with enough $$ on it to make a fair dent in the cost of a new camera. So off to the store I went, to look at the options.

Here's the camera I am considering, and I intend to make the purchase FAST, so if you can offer any advice, please do it now. My son was suggesting I buy a Nikon, but on the top of my list is the SONY a57 with an 28-55mm lens. For an additional $100, I could instead opt for the 18-135mm lens, though I'm not prone to want to make the camera bigger/heavier.  As a little bonus surprise, I was told that SONY had bought out Minolta, which makes me feel like I'm sort of returning to an old friend if I purchase the SONY. 

I am also considering an additional lens for macro (I love macro pics) - the choice would be a 30mm f2.8 macro; but @ almost $200 on top of the camera purchase, I will probably have to put that off for the future. By the time I pay for the camera, a memory card, a case, and a polarizing filter (a personal favorite), and the extra warranty, I will have plunked down a sizable chunk of money well beyond my gift certificate. Plus the store offers a getting to know your digital camera class that I will pay for and take, because I am terrible at figuring things out for myself, and I want to really understand the new camera.

Anyhow, advice? Is this camera a good choice for me? I trust your opinions!

18 comments:

  1. My daughter swears by her Canon T2i but says any of the Canons are great. Her dream camera is a Canon 40D

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  2. The Sony you chose is probably very nice, but I'm a Nikon girl through-and-through. Personally, in the digital camera world, Nikon and Canon are the top players. I prefer Nikon because they're a little more user-friendly and they're super easy and relatively cheap to get fixed if need be. And I hear you on hanging out in "Auto" or "Portrait" mode. In fact, it was only a few summers ago I finally sat down and taught myself how to use my Nikon D90 on Manual mode. The link to the video below helped a lot- I play it for all my kids in school and they always let out a big, "Ooooooooooh!" when they realize what the letters on the dial mode really mean!

    http://www.videojug.com/interview/adjusting-your-digital-cameras-exposure

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    1. Thanks, PWB. My son loves his Nikon D90, and really has a knack for understanding and usurping all the features. He's not an auto exposure sort of guy at all. But it is quite heavy for me, and a little big for my hands. I am very petite. Re:getting it fixed, we've had the opposite problem with the Nikon. Early on, a plastic ring on the lens where it attaches to the camera chipped. He was leaving for Africa in 2 days, and called everywhere trying to find help. He finally drove to Rutland Vt, about an hour and a half away, and a repair place was able to sort of fix the broken thing. But over time, the repair job. Broke off, and it caused some damage to to prong thing in the camera that hooks to the lens. All of which means that the camera and lens BOTH now need repair, because the electronics don't contact properly, meaning he has to take off and put the lens back on between every couple of shots, or they are all out of focus. So now my local camera dealer is sending it off to Nikon for us, and who knows what the repair will cost. He had an extended warrantee that runs out in a month, but of course it won't cover this physical damage, which we believe is basically the result of a very cheap plastic part on a very expensive lens. So...I don't know.

      Anyhow, if I buy the SONY, I'll let you know what I think!

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    2. Damn autocorrect. Usurping features? No, I meant USING the features.

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    3. Gah! I'm so sorry that was his/your experience with Nikon. That's terrible. Please do let me know what you think, if you end up with the Sony. Choose the camera that feels best!

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  3. My mom is a professional photographer; I grew up with her in my face. She was slow to accept digital cameras, but now really loves them. She is a Nikon gilt through and through. . .so of course I am too. She currently shoots with a Nikon dslr D3100. I bought myself the same model . . .but got it 1/2 off since I bought a (barely) used one. Oh my gosh, I love it do much! I don't always use it for my blg photos b/c I don't like taking it too school everyday (not safe!!). . .which is my way of saying that my blog doesn't speak to the awesome capabilities of the d3100. I think your son is giving you great advice! My bestie shoots w/ a similar to te d3100 canon, and I lie it too.

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  4. Mmkay. iPad wasn't letting me edit my post! I like Canon dslr cameras as well (that's what my bestie has). And, I grew up w/ my mom shooting w/ a hassleblad

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  5. Also, you can hold out on another lens , but you'll e jonesing for it soon enough (that is what I I'd and man am I craving lenses!). Also, sorry um coming off illiterate. Not sure why iPad isn't letting me edit!

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    1. Amy, I've had the iPad since June, and I've learned how to deal with it, though I still put some crazy autocorrections out there. What you need to do, when it won't let you correct comments that you are writing, is to close and reopen the keyboard, each time with the desired insertion point. It works.

      By the way, my college camera was 2-1/4" format Yashica. LOVE.

      I know everyone likes Canon, but I just never quite warmed to them, even though I do like the PowerShot Ok.

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  6. When I was deciding on which camera to purchase after Thanksgiving, I asked a friend for advice about which camera to buy...I was looking at a Canon and a Nikon. Her advice to me was that a Nikon is a little easier to understand and work, but with the Canon, it would be easier to interchange lenses and such. I ended up going with the Canon only because at the time, I found a sweet deal on it compared to the Nikon. It's been 6 years since I took a photography class and it's definitely taking me some time to remember how to do all of the manual stuff with this digital Canon camera! Either way, it's fun!

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  7. You know I'm head over heels about my eos 5D Mark3 canon but I like to take my little rebel to school. I had a nifty fifty lens on it that I bought for $100. and is misplaced right now. I have a feeling I'll find it bundled in one of my boxes as I unload them into my craft room. I'll be using my little rebel and 50 mm lens in my classroom for blog stuff. It has manual settings and does the job without me remortgaging the house if it walks. I keep it locked up but still.

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  8. It's more about being able to get fun lenses I think to make your photos look special

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  9. Hiya Phyl! Here's my advice, straight from my camera shop guy, and I have to agree with him. Take the time to hold the different cameras and work with them a bit. You'll discover that you like the "feel" of one over the other. Some just fit your hands better, some are slightly heavier or seem off-balance to me, with buttons in unhandy places. Such a small thing, but it really makes a difference with a big purchase that you'll hopefully keep for a long time. Good luck, I'll be interested to see what you choose!

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  10. Phyl- you've gotten a lot of great advice. But Joesy had a great point. It doesn't necessarily matter the brand spend time trying it out. I can't tell you which to chose because when I pick up my camera it fits me. Yours will fit you. Take time to try it out. Maybe the camera shop can help with that?
    Good luck and keep us posted on how it is going with your choice.

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  11. Thanks, everyone; your comments really helped - I guess. They helped make me realize this is not a purchase to rush! I've also solicited advice from some Facebook friends and at this point am pretty confused. Probably tomorrow I'll go back to the camera store and really examine my options. In the meantime, my big brother (astrologer Rick Merlin Levine) is a fairly avid and accomplished photographer (though the fact that he spends substantial time every year in Bali, which is a photographic wonderland, certainly can't hurt his photo quality) has offered some time on the phone helping his baby sister (me) wade through the confusion. I'll keep you posted in my outcome!

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  12. Spent an hour at the camera store today. Eenie-meanie-minie-mo...

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  13. I just got back from a small trip and was catching up on e-mails and blogs, so I may be too late to throw in my 2 cents. I got a Nikon 5100 last year. It came with an 18-55 lens and an extra 55-200 lens for maybe $150 (or something too good to pass up. I was going to get the macro, too, but it was as expensive as the whole camera, so I decided to hold off. I still haven't bought it -- the 18-55 lens on macro setting gets pretty close, so haven't felt the need to splurge yet. I don't do a lot of distance shots, so I pretty much stick with the 18-55 lens most of the time. Whatever you choose, you are going to LOVE it!! You just have to use it a lot so that everything becomes automatic and you're not trying to remember how to change things!!!! Have fun!

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    1. Thanks Christie - bought the D5100 today with the 18-55mm lens! Yahooey!!

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