DSLR - where to start

To all you Formosan Photo Gurus out there…

I am going to start taking photos again and looking for a DSLR to start. I am a bit out of the topic since a while and try now to get up to date.
Currently I want to start with something not too expensive and fitting for Taiwan which means that I will stick with the system for I while and step by step upgrade, don’t want to change camera plus lenses than.
I am not really sure how it is with availabilaty and prices here, in most shops I saw loads of Canon stuff, a bit Nikon and few Pentax (guess thats the brands I want to stick with).

Main stuff will be landscape and maybe a bit of action fotos from sports (like soccer…). Some night shots from nice scenery would be on the list too.

Budget, well, I guess around 40k depending on how tempting the offer is. The place to go for it is around Taipei main station, right?
Are there reliable 2nd hand markets or is that not really worth considering here. I would like to get a start lens and maybe somthing with up to 200 or 300mm if possible, otherwise will have to wait and safe a bit.

Try the Sony A100 (10 MP), is going down in price at the moment as they bring a replacement very soon. It’s the best camera in it’s range for the given price, it’s the 2006 best camera.
Sony bought Minolta and is building further on the technology and improving on it.
Sony makes the sensors for Nikon, Pentax and Samsung DSLR’s, so there you can’t go wrong.

Canon are by far the market leader in DSLR, with about 50% of the market, with Nikon holding about 33%. Both companies make some cheaper models - Canon with the 400D (known as Rebel in the US, Kiss in Japan) and Nikon with the D40. Either of these should cost around $20-25K, which will probably include a basic kit lens, 18-55mm or so. The Canon 18-55mm is quite good, especially stopped down to f8 or so. I’d guess the Nikon version would be similar.

An essential lens that every photographer should own is a 50mm prime. Canon’s 50mm f1.8 cost a little under $3K in Taiwan, Nikon is about the same. On a DSLR it makes a great portrait lens.

Getting out to 300mm is a bit more expensive. Avoid the superzooms that go from 28-300mm - they aren’t worth it. To get to 300mm, you’ll probably have to spend more than you mentioned. There are a couple of different lens in the 70-300mm range that are fairly cheap (maybe $10K), but image quality is not so good at 300mm. Between 70mm and 200mm they are decent, but things start getting soft from 200-300mm. They’re usuable, but you may not be happy with the image quality, and you’ll definitely want a decent tripod ($5K and up) if you plan to use it at 300mm

If you want any specific advice on Canon lenses, let me know and I’ll make a list of what’s good value for money and what’s best avoided.

As for 2nd hand stuff, if you can read Chinese, you could try Yahoo auctions. I think there’s also another good 2nd hand site in Chinese, but I can’t remember it. Send a PM to alidarbac - I think he’s bought and sold lenses on it.

Oh, Bo-ai Rd and the surrounding cross streets near Taipei main station are the place to go. I’ve bought a few things from Hong Chang (I think that’s the name). They’re at 28 Bo-ai Rd and the phone number is 02 2331 3202.

Thanks for the fast help guys…

Yea I would recommend the Canon 400D as well. It’s a nice camera, I used to use it at work to take photos of products and the results were always pretty good, atleast I thought so… and my boss. :smiley:

If you want any specific advice on Canon lenses, let me know and I’ll make a list of what’s good value for money and what’s best avoided.

As for 2nd hand stuff, if you can read Chinese, you could try Yahoo auctions. I think there’s also another good 2nd hand site in Chinese, but I can’t remember it. Send a PM to alidarbac - I think he’s bought and sold lenses on it.[/quote]

I’m about to put my money down on the 400d too. Planning to get the body along with a Tamron 17-50 or Sigma 18-50 as a start with 4gb Transcend 266x CF + extra battery. Next on the list would be the Canon 50mm 1.8 Prime.

The plan after that I’m still thinking about.
Sigma 10-20 or Tokina 12-24?
Is the Sigma 17-70 worth it? or Tamron 28-75.

In the 70-300 range I got no idea. The Canon L’s are quite expensive. Maybe I’ll just get a cheaper Sigma one since I probably won’t do that much zoom shots.

What about flash?
430EX good enough if wanting to use manual flash adjustments? Or need 580EX?

And not to mention bags? Which bag should I get for just taking the body + 2 lenses… and which one for taking everything?

Oh… is this the website you’re talking about?

Frokky, the 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the 400D is pretty good. There’s probably no need to replicate that zoom length with one of the 3rd party lenses, unless you need one of the f2.8 versions (and unless you’re making a living shooting weddings, you probably won’t need f2.8).

Both the Sigma 10-20 and Tokina 12-24 get good reviews, but I’ve no personal experience with either so can’t really recommend one over the other.

I have a Canon 70-200 L lens and it’s an amazing lens, but with the cheapest of the 4 versions being about $22K that might be more than you want to spend. Although, any decent quality Sigma, Tamron etc will probably cost between $15-20K, so you might want to save a little extra and get one of the L’s. I’d actually recommend doing that - save an extra $5-10K and go with the 70-200 f4L.

Flash, the 430ex should be good enough. I have a 420ex, which was the model before the 430, and it does the job for me, but then I shoot with available light 90% of the time. You may need to check that you can set the flash in the camera - the film camera equivalent of the 400D doesn’t allow flash settings to be made in the camera. If the 400D/430ex doesn’t, you’ll need to either buy a 30D or a 580ex.

Also consider the Sigma DG500 flash. It has all the same features as a 580ex, but costs the same as a 430ex.

Bags - I have a couple. My main bag is a Lowepro Computrekker AW, in which I carry my 20D, 4 lenses (50mm, 17-40mm f4L, 70-200mm L, 100mm f2.8 macro), flash (420ex), 2 portable hard drives, various cables etc. It also has a padded space for a laptop, and an inbuilt tripod carrying system. I got it on sale for about $3500, but they normally cost around $7000.

Another bag I put together myself came from an outdoors/camping store. A small waist pack, which fits the 50mm and 100mm macro, plus batteries, CF cards, maps etc. Attached to that is a padded bottle bag which is the perfect size for the 70-200mm, and the camera with 17-40mm goes over my shoulder (if I’m walking around with my camera, it’s always out, turned on and with the lens cap removed so that I’m ready for anything). This setup cost me about $700, and is great for summer as it saves a sweaty back.

I also have a smaller, camera store branded backpack from a store in Bangkok. Good for short trips.

And yeah, I think that website is the one I was thinking of.

Thanks a lot for all the help here guys. I spend a night on reviews and still don’t know exactly what I will end up with.
Will travel up to Taipei today and check the stores, try the two models I am considering now (D40X and the EOS 400D) and will end up with which I feel better and get a good deal with I guess.

So nothing decided on “which side of the force” I will end, Nikon or Canon. :wink:

I have already dropped my cash on the Cannon 400D. I’m happy I did. One reason I did was the shear number of Canon lenses (new and used), and accessories on the market for canon products.

My thought was if I’m traveling somewhere, and I lose a lens cap, my battery dies, or need some small part replaced, which brands will be the most convenient to deal with.

The only quibble I have with the cannon is that the stabalization is in the lens. This makes them expensive and good or cheep and not so good. I wishes I had bought the Sony now.

But the Nicon is a good choice too, as it has many SCUBA atachements.

I wouldn’t say that a lens without image stabilization (IS) is not so good. Following the basic rule of 1/focal length (x1.6 if it’s a APS-C sized sensor), or using a tripod will mean that you don’t need to use IS.

IS is mainly useful in gaining an extra 20-30 mins of handheld shooting time at the end of the day, or used by wedding photographers in a dimly lit church that doesn’t allow tripods, or sports photogs shooting fast action in a mixture of sunlight and deep shadows.

That’s not to say IS isn’t a good thing to have - it’s just not really necessary for the average person.

And there is some specific reason why Canon has IS in the lens, not the body, but I can’t remember it. If anyone’s interested in knowing, I can look it up.

Sorry for the late answer but I was down south to visit family and make a short trip with them to Ali Shan.

So I ended up with a Canon EOS 400D now with a 4GB chip, a good and stable tripod, a bag for camera and another lens plus equipment (ironically they gave me a Pentax bag) and a Zoom lens (not a very good one, but for my purposes fine). All for 40k.

The reasons why I ended up with the Canon:

Technicaly almost the same as the Nikon, just slightly differences here and there but nothing really reasonable for one or the other.
I wanted to have both in hand and get a bit a feeling for them but strangly the shops with Nikon didn’t allow me. I mentioned why I shouldn’t hold the camera (well some had one completly wrapped in plastic) when I want to spend 40k right here, if they would buy a car without a test ride? I didn’t like that attitude, I mean, I want to spend money, so I want to get a bit more not just the drop-in-your-money-and-get-out-fast thing.
I went to the shop which was recomended, they just had the Canon but I liked how they dealt with me. Let you feel better for an possible service.
They let me play with the camera and I liked the handling of the Canon. I also read about the sensor cleaning before and for Taiwans clean air and taking photos mostly outside I thought it might be not bad.
They made me a nice set and a good price, with a bid talking made it down to 40k than.

Guess I will need to get some more batteries and maybe a pol-filter or so. I will see. Guess there are always ways to spend money on stuff now.

Thanks for all the help.

Oh, the shop is called Horng Chang Photo Supplies, No. 26, Bo-Ai Rd., some nice people there.