Choosing a DSLR - novice, old lenses plus a vision problem!
My daughter took my old OM10 away with her on a trip and now has seriously got the SLR bug. It’s her 21st birthday soon and this is all she wants. She would probably want to shoot scenes, portraits, arty stuff and night/low light – but not sports or action shots.
She has small hands, loves the feel of the old OM10 as it’s “not plasticy”, and also a sight problem (relies on peripheral vision) – despite this she takes sharp, well composed pictures but does welcome anything that gives a good view and does not have indicators which are very faint or subtle. We have up to £600.
Is it worthwhile thinking about our OM fitting lenses (a Helios 35mm, Olympus 50mm & a Hanimex 75-300mm) and only looking at buying an Olympus or, say, Canon so that these could be used at some point with an adaptor? Or are modern lenses much superior (I know they’re a lot more expensive!) and lighter?
Should we aim for a twin lens package, bearing in mind the cost of buying extra lenses or concentrate on a camera with all the above requirements plus the usual like image stabilisation etc.? Would appreciate all advice before we start shopping , thank you.
Choosing a DSLR-novice.............................
Hi there. First of all, does your daughter really intend to use film, or has she considered going digital?. I went digital in 2006 because of being let down by poor processing and have considered it the best thing I ever did because I have total control from exposure to print, it's just brilliant. If she looks at the huge range of digital cameras there are some fine ones which will satisfy all her needs. Is she ok using a viewfinder or would she benefit from looking at a 3inch screen at the rear of the camera when composing her image?. Many cameras are lightweight yet have amazing zoom lenses that cover 28-616mm for example,(Olympus SP-610UZ) £179. Another model,Olympus XZ-1 scored a 90% in the test last month in the WDC magazine and costs £400 (RRP). There are so many questions that need answers, and each person that replies to you will probably give their opinion which is what you seek and the more answers you get the better placed you will be to make an informed decision. In my own humble opinion, I would leave film and go digital, it's much more rewarding I find, but then again that's all it is, my opinion. The OM10 is a beautiful camera, and so are my Pentax film cameras, but now they are mothballed because in effect they're worthless. I thought my images on film were the best, but compared to my current images in digital, they are pretty inferior. I do hope that you find a successful result in your quest for your daughter, perhaps at some point you would tell the forum users how you fared, we'd love to know of your findings. All the best to you both. Mike.
Many thanks for your reply Mike. Yes, she wants digital - as much as she loves the handling and feel of the the old 35mm, she can't be doing with film due to cost. In the olden days, I had a darkroom - she just looks at me mystified when I describe the hours I spent in it
I have been looking at the Oly E450, 510 & 520 and also at Canon E400D & 450D. I briefly considered the Nikon D3100 too although this may be a little out of reach. Online prices seem to be complicated by either being out of stock, not with a well reviewed supplier or I find it but the kit lens hasn't been that highly rated. Not finished searching yet though - takes ages flicking from research/reviews to finding a stockist!
If I'm chasing the wrong ones, or if I've missed a good 'un, let me know folks.
The Nikon D3100 has a RRP of £570 with a kit lens, but if you shop around on say Amazon you will get it cheaper. As a Nikon owner I have bought 3 lenses by Sigma as they are much cheaper and still offer great image quality. Another way is to look at the used lenses from dealers like Mifsuds or Park Cameras, great bargains there!. In the WDC review, Xmas 2010, it says it is 'a high-spec DSLR aimed at the beginners, which includes some highly impressive features such as a HD movie mode'. Choice is a personal thing and I hope that you make a successful choice which your daughter will be happy with. All the best, Mike.
Originally Posted by 17SAR
Hi. I had a similar problem a few years ago. My son is downs syndrome and he caught the photo bug. He also has small hands. We tried him with a few compacts and settled on a fuji s1500 bridge camera which he uses abundantly . Before we got the fuji, we considered an olympus e410 as they were at the time the smallest dslr on the market.
Regarding the nikon d3100 this is quite a new model and you can still get a good deal on the older d3000... good luck graham
Oh how the choosing changes I've "abandoned" Olympus and now agonising between a Canon 550D with twin lens kit, 18-55mm and 55-200mm, and a Nikon D90 with a VR 18-105mm. I've read many similar dilemmas re choosing between these two and understand that the 550D has better video but for still photography the D90 has the edge.
Pro the D90 - My daughter isn't (yet) fussed about video. She likes the feel of solid build and I believe the Nikon has that over the Canon. I also believe that 2nd hand Nikon lenses could be employed on the D90. It also has oher qualities which seem to favour a top position, even ignoring it's age. She is keen to learn how to photograph, not just point & shoot and although the D90 may be a tad more intricate to follow, maybe this is a good thing?
Con the D90 - no image stabilisation. Which the Canon has. I read that the 550D is pretty excellent all round ......but it is "plasticy".
Prices are similar but what girl wouldn't enjoy finding TWO lenses for her to play with rather than one (regardless of the potential for dust bits, carrying it all around) ? But are those Canon kit lenses worth the bonus of being a bundle - or would we do the right thing by opting for the Nikon with a view to later on buying a good telescopic when she has progressed?
My choice would be the D90 - but it's not my birthday and I'm not 21.
Mike has made some good points but one question he asked but you didn't answer was regarding her eyesight. Can she view an LCD screen okay? Does she find a viewfinder easier or more difficult, and has she tried an electronic one?
You originally said she wanted a small camera but I wouldn't describe the D90 as that, though its a great camera. The D3100 is very good, well made AND small, and the Nikon kit lens is one of the best of any brand (though by no means perfect). The D3100 is ideal for novices due to its built in user guide, but its main drawback is its over-reliance on the menu to change settings, which for more advanced photographers is less preferable than having quick access dedicated buttons on the outside of the body. You should easily be able to find the D3100 and kit lens within your budget.
The Canon twin lens kit is a good option, and the 550D is a very good camera. But you're right about build quality, the lower end Canons feel a bit more plasticky than Nikons do, though you can't fault the image quality.
Have you looked at compact system cameras, because on the face of it these could be ideal. They offer DSLR quality and features but in a smaller body. The SLR-style ones like the Samsung NX11 and Panasonic G2 and G10 have electronic viewfinders. I think she might like the Samsung NX11 in particular which is lovely to use (though not easy to find). The Panasonic and Olympus cameras can accept old Olympus OM lenses with an adaptor, if that appeals. Though the lenses you mention (apart from the 50mm) are not the highest quality and any modern lens should trounce them, quality wise.
If you buy the Nikon or Canon she can save money on lenses by buying Sigma or Tamron, or one of thousands of used lenses. This is less the case with compact sstem cameras as they're newer.
What's your deadline – ie, when is her birthday? Also, whereabouts in the country do you live? If you want to call me on 0203 148 4790 during office hours I can talk you though the options in a bit more detail, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details.