Friday, April 6, 2012

Camera Help, Please!

I've been thinking about getting a new digital camera. I have been borrowing my mother-in-law's DSLR since 2007 (seriously! She is so kind). It's great, but I think the time has come for me to get my own.

I'm hoping some of you photog buffs out there can help me?? Pretty please? I am clueless.

My digital camera needs: I really don't need something fancy or high tech, but the biggest importance for me is WIDE ANGLE LENS. 98% of the time I photograph spaces, so a wide angle is a must.

I'm considering two options. LOW and HIGH.

LOW: Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 35x Wide Angle Optical Image

This is basically a point and shoot, but says it has a wide angle. I played with it at Best Buy and from what I can it seems good, but other than that I'm clueless. This would be so easy to bring around with me and the price is great ($370). But this would be just a "cheap and simple" option.

HIGH: Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens

I don't know anything about cameras, but I have heard amazing things about this lens. It's also what Erika from Urban Grace uses and her pictures are amazing. It's wide angle.

EDIT: I knew you guys would be SO HELPFUL!! I've already learned that a 10-22mm would be better for my needs. Now I'm thinking this would be a good one?

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens

& Canon EOS Rebel T3

I've heard this is a good, basic starter camera, but would it even be compatible with the lens I want??? I have no idea! Please help!

My husband thinks I should get the lens & body because it's better for the long haul.

For those of you who know cameras, what are your thoughts?


  1. I vote for a DSLR and lens, maybe not that specific option, but in the long run that type of setup would be the better investment.  Then you can invest in GOOD lenses, and then upgrade bodies when and if you need them. 

    The thing to keep in mind about any of the entry level DLSRs is that they are crop sensors, so while that lens will work on the T3 (just make sure you buy the correct mount, Canon, nikon etc depending on the body you settle on), the focal length is going to feel longer (ie not as wide) on that body as it would on a film body.  It's going to feel more like 27-80mm.  27mm is still wide, but not super wide.  What lens are you using on the body (and which body) you are borrowing now?  What focal length range is it?  Is that wide enough for you? 

    I find that I like to use my 16-35 the most for interoir shots of my house, such as in this post
    if you click on the photos it will take you to flickr and you can see the focal length I used (click on actions, view EXIF data), but I have a full frame camera (sensor size = 35mm film size) so 16mm is really 16mm.  (the first image in that blog post was taken at 16mm for reference). 

    You might end up considering an ultra wide angle (11-16mm or 8-16mm for example) if you find that the 17-50 isn't wide enough on the crop body, but with a DSLR you at least have that option right!

    I would try out the focal lengths you have right now with the camera you are borrow and see if that helps you decide what you need to have when you buy your own. 

    As for the body, I would consider, depending on how much you plan to get into photography, looking for a slightly better body.  The T3 is the absolute bottom end of the Canon line,  You might be better off looking at a used higher end body (40D or 50D for example), it will be more ergonomic, give you more room to grow into it, have more features etc.  Did you have a set budget in mind? 

  2. 17mm isn't really that wide.  Definitely not wide enough to shoot a small room IMO. 

    I would say go with the DSLR but a true wide angle lens might set you back a bit.

  3. Bryn,

    I'll start by noting that I'm not an expert but a novice with an intense desire to learn, grow and express through photography.  I got my DSLR this past Christmas so I've been shooting with it for a little over 90 days {told you, no expert here}.  In the short time I've had my camera I've come to fully appreciate the value of great optics and the amazing range of shots I can capture with different lenses.  I'm not certain you could experience that with a fixed lens camera.  Even if you purchased a camera body + 1 lens to start, I think for a professional in a creative field such as yourself, you'll find this better suited to the needs you know today and the desire that could develop tomorrow.  

    My camera came in a kit with 2 adjustable zoom lens {that are loads of fun} ... the lens I feel I'm missing is a 50mm lens that has been described to me as "the perfect portrait lens, the perfect lens for the Bokeh effect, and the perfect lens if you always have to back out of a room to get a wide-angle shot".  I hope that little lens is tied up with a bow for me this weekend (my b-day) and then I could let you know how well it does all those things.  As I understand it, with a 50 mm lens on the camera it could be the default lens that does what you've described but you'd still have the option of adding to your lens wardrobe over time.  BTW, my camera is a Nikon D5100.  Don't know if this helps ... good luck!

  4. Find a local camera shop (that is reputable) and talk to them.  Even if you buy it on Amazon in the end, they are REALLY helpful (and chances are you will use them for stuff in the future).  Lots of them have sell refurbished stuff which they will warantee, which is a nice option when you are starting out and unsure how much to invest in extra lenses, etc.  But if Michele's super helpful post below made you feel dizzy, have someone walk you through the info with the cameras and lenses out on the counter.  It really will make more sense.

    I do think you should go with the DSLR...just b/c while $370 is cheap, it is a lot for a temporary camera.  I say temporary b/c it seems like eventually you might want to do more with your camera than what the canon SX40 offers (and it isn't small so you can't use it as your back-up, drop-in-your-bag like other point-and-shoots.  After you take a class, you may get "into" photography (or even if you have kids) such that you have different lens needs (as well as all the different settings)...a DSLR that allows different lenses seems like a better use of funds. 

    Also...I agree with the tripods if you want to shoot your own portfolio.  For a blog and family, it is nice but definitely an "extra" (that takes up some storage space, I might add...).

  5. Hi Bryn! I work for a photographer. I second shoot & do all the designing. I would go with a lens & body. Definitely better for the long run. I have the rebel t2i (at work we use the 5d mark II - awesome but pricey). I LOVE it. It is easy to use. You are going to have so much more flexibility with your DSLR.

    I saw this wide angle lens on amazon : Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS SLR Lens  for $126. Which is a good deal & will work with the t3i. The F is the name how much bokeh you will get, aka the "blurrly background". The lower the number the more bokeh. But they all can go all the way up to 22 - meaning everything will be in focus.

    One thing to know about the t3i is it's not a full sensor, so there is a "zoom factor" with all lenses. Pretty much the lens length x's 1.6 = the actually focal length your going to get. So you might want to go with an even wider lens. At 35mm it will be more like a 50mm - what your eye sees. Great for portraits but for a small room could be tight. I think a t3i is a perfect place to start for a dslr. But I suggest reading the whole manual.

    Good luck! Hope this helps & didn't confuse you more!


  6. Carrie @ brick city loveApril 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    I'm not sure 17mm is going to be wide enough for you. It isn't for me, at least. Like Stefanie said, look at a 10-20mm.

  7. Im in desperate need of a good one, as well. Ive bought too many Cyber shot, sure shot, etc. pieces of #^%$* and they won't hold a charge, so Im into an investment piece, so I"ll keep following to see what you decide..Your comments have been most informative!

  8. I would get a SLR vs. good point and shoot. Yes, that lens is compatible with the body you are looking at.  You just want to make sure whatever lens you buy is made with a canon mount.  I would also get something wider that 17mm if you are looking to use your wide angle for shooting rooms you have designed. The T3 is a great entry level body.  If you are looking for something a bit nicer but not crazy expensive I would look at the 60D.  It is still part of their "amateur" SLR line but the reviews show it is comparable to their entry level "professional" cameras.  I am actually looking at getting one myself.  I also agree that you need a tripod.  I would also suggest you to get a remote or to shoot using your timer to reduce shake when taking your design photos. I also encourage you to take a class to teach you how to shoot on more than automatic settings. They will teach you how to capture great light in a room.

  9. I recently asked a family friend photog ( for advice on buying a camera, and she suggested stretching my budget by buying a used camera from B&H: 

  10. i bought my rebel eos at bh photo online. call them and tell me what you need. i'm sure they can recommend the proper lens. 

  11. I have the rebel with the sigma ex 10-20.  Love them both and they really get the whole room in.  Sometimes you need to take a few pics and choose the best one, as the angles of the walls can get a little wonky (you can also fix this with photoshop if you have that).  Our Camera store rep said it was worth it to get the Canon body and to get the sigma lens (not worth it to spend the extra money on the Canon lenses).  Enjoy your new camera!   

  12. I don't know much about cameras (I have a Canon Rebel) so I'm taking notes from others - what you might try is getting the camera below with a basic lens, then try renting different lenses until you know what one you like and will use the most. Plus you'll like having a basic lens for regular use. Google for camera rental places near you.

  13. I actually just upgraded from my Canon Rebel Xs to a 60D and obviously am a huge fan of Canon DSLR's. Actually if you are interested, I am willing to sell my Rebel. Definitely invest in a good wide angle lens...I would rent a few from Bigg's to get a feel for what you like. They have pretty reasonable prices for lens rentals. Hope that helps!

  14. I recently bought a Canon T3i package with two lenses.  Love it so much.  I think it's better to start out with a great camera and the lenses you can upgrade later.

  15. I did the exact same thing! I bought the T3i, and I love it. I recently purchased a 75-300mm lens, and I love it! I'm in the market for a wide angle as well, and I have heard great things about the Sigma lens too.

  16. I am, by no means a professional photographer, but I did just rent a 10-22mm lens to take interior shots of my house. It's an amazing range for interior shots but be warned that you may also need to buy a speedlight (external flash that you use instead of the small popup flash on most cameras). Without a speedlight, the large size of the lens creates a noticeable shadow in the lower portion of shots taken in 10-14mm least one my camera. More the reason to test out a purchase in person, if possible.

  17. Which did you end up with?  I am looking to make this investment as well and am so overwhelmed.  

  18. I vote for the lens/body option, too.  A few years ago I got a camera similar to your "low" choice, thinking I could get beautiful pics without all of the fuss of a DSLR.  I was wrong.  I was never really happy with it, and recently upgraded to a Nikon D3100.   Go ahead and invest.

  19. Bryn - There are some great recommendations in the comments below.  Last year I upgraded to the T2i + Tamron 17-50 (your first lens listed) and LOVE it.  Definitely take a class and learn to use all the manual options - it makes a world of difference in the quality of your pictures.  I am now going to look into the wider angle lens... looks like it would be a fun addition to the arsenal!


THANK YOU for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate each and every comment.

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