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desiree333's avatar

I want to buy a professional camera, any suggestions?

Asked by desiree333 (3195 points ) February 14th, 2010

I was thinking about getting into photography, since I already really like it. I was thinking either a canon, or a nikon. What do you guys find works the best? How expensive?

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9 Answers

Sampson's avatar

If “you’re thinking about getting into it”, I would not recommend a pro camera. Even a simple point-and-shoot can make awesome photos. If you go for one of those, you can get a top-notch for less than 300$. If you want to go big and get an SLR, you’ll probably be paying around 600$ for a starter model. Nikons and Canons are the 2 big guys, but there are many more brands that make high-quality cameras. My point-and-shoot is a Fujifilm and I’m very happy with it. My SLR is a Pentax and it’s a great camera.

If you don’t need a new camera, you can find some on Craigslist or E-bay for pretty good prices. I’ve found my film and digital SLR’s on Craigslist and got them for great prices. And with Craigslist, you can negotiate the price.

Shae's avatar

I have worked on and off as Photographer and I prefer the Canon. They are much more user friendly to me. A Canon Rebel would be a good camera to start with. It is not too exspensive and gives you good quality pics in a light weight camera. When you want to start expanding and spending the big money, lenses are where you want to go. The better your lens the better your pics. And really don’t worry about going for more than 10 mpix. Unless you are planning to print poster size pics 8 to 10 will do you great.

josie's avatar

I do architecture photography and I like Canon. If you want an SLR, go for the less expensive body and invest in good lenses. Lens quality matters.
300 ppi is high resolution. That means 90000 pixels per sq inch which means 7.5 megapixels will get you a high resolution 8×10. That is all the capture you need.

desiree333's avatar

@Shae Thank you! Your answer was very helpful. I’ve seen the commercials for the Canon Rebel and I thought it was nice.

lilikoi's avatar

I am a Canon supporter, purely because that’s what I bought first and I have no gripes about them. Nikon is probably equally good. If you have absolutely no experience with photography, I would suggest a high-end point and shoot – there are a number of different ones on the market for under $500. Once you get into the $600 and up range, you might as well get an SLR.

I have been using a high-end point and shoot for many years now (I originally paid about $350), and it has served me well (see some of my photos w/ this camera here). I don’t like to buy brand new technology. Rather, I prefer to wait until at least the second generation to buy. Canon just came out with a mid-range SLR that also has video capability. I’m waiting for that to age, and then I’ll upgrade to SLR. It is hard to recommend a camera without knowing your skill level or what you want to shoot. If/when I upgrade to SLR, I will still want to have a very compact and/or high-end point and shoot as well, to use when I don’t want to (or it is impractical to) lug all the lenses and larger SLR body around.

lilikoi's avatar

@Shae I’ve printed larger than poster size (3 feet by 5 feet) with 8 MP and some post-processing in GIMP. Quality was good enough for viewing image at a short distance or more, but not good enough if you are looking for super crisp lines. So yeah, I agree with you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’ve been a professional photographer for 35 years. I’ve used every type of equipment you can imagine. For the 35mm format system cameras, Canon is probably the “safest” bet for new shooters. However… there is more to consider in this modern age. Canon is not without it’s problems. I sold all my Canon gear about a year ago and jumped head first into the Sony lineup. For those who don’t know, Sony has revived the Minolta system and brought it into the digital age.

I was a huge fan of Minolta gear 20 years ago, preferring it over the best Canon, Leica, and Nikon. But I couldn’t continue with it because it took Minolta a very long time to release a decent digital body. That’s all changed now. Sony has a full line of very professional cameras, and they have some major differences that are worth considering.

For my pro work, I use the a900.

All Sony/Minolta cameras have three features that the others don’t. #1-In Body Image Stabilization. #2-Locking Spot Meter. #3-All cameras take the same batteries throughout the entire lineup.

Both Nikon and Canon must have special lenses for image stabilization. All Sony’s have it built into the body, so every lens is stabilized. That means wide angle too! And Nikon/Canon only holds the meter reading as long as you press your finger down on the shutter half way. That’s great for one picture, but not for an entire series. The Sony/Minolta have always locked it with a toggle switch. It will hold the reading forever until you clear it. That means an entire shoot with the same light will be much more consistent shot to shot. Both Canon and Nikon have 3 different battery systems depending upon the camera you choose. They use a small battery for the amateur systems, an little different one for pro/semi pro cams, and a big fat one for their premium cameras. What a hassle! Every Sony uses the same batteries since the a200 all the way to the a900. And Sony has some of the best battery life in the business.

For quick grab shots I have an a200. It is a fabulous camera. Very durable little camera and much more sturdy build and better quality than any Canon Rebel I’ve ever seen. Hold the a200 and weigh it against a Rebel, and the Rebel feels cheap. 10mp will suit most start up photographers just fine.

The beauty of the a200 is that it is discontinued and can be found cheap. They are well built and not heavily used by the previous owners. The camera is a real pleasure to use and I often find myself reaching for it over the a900.

The other beautiful thing about the Sony brand is that it will accept all the old vintage Minolta Maxxum pro lenses. So there is a lot of quality glass to choose from the old days. The Minolta G series was as good or better than anything I’ve ever used from Nikon or Canon. A lot of Leica camera/lens design was shared with Minolta.

On the cheap, here’s the start up system I would recommend.

Sony a200 used from eBay is cheap. Usually selling for less than $300. Check the sellers feedback before buying.

a200 search page will show you what they’re selling for. Don’t get any lenses or accessories. Just get the body only, nothing else. Extra batteries might help. Definitely DONT get the “kit lens”.

The stores like B&H, Adorama, KEH will usually have the a200 as a “kit” with a really crappy lens. If you want a retail seller, see if they will just sell the camera only… but DONT get the lens. Body only is what you want.

Add a 3rd Party Vertical Grip for portraits. It makes the camera look more pro and helps greatly for vert shots. Get one for around $70. The Sony model sells for $200 and there is no real difference.

Then, get the lenses. I’ll recommend some vintage Minolta glass that is affordable and very pro quality.

Minolta 35–70 f4 macro zoom between $35—$125. A great quality lightweight lens. It is constant aperture which is a huge benefit. Lens Test Here. 98 user reviews and sample pictures Here

Minolta 28–85 f3.5–4.5 for around $75. Another great quality forgotten lens from the old days. Review Here. A little more range but loose the constant aperture and small size.

Minolta 35–105 f3.5–4.5 for under $100. Don’t get the new style with rubber focus ring. It’s made of plastic like all modern lenses, and you loose the macro. The old style metal lens is much harder to find on Ebay listing, so look carefully to ensure you get the right one. 63 user reviews and sample pictures are all very positive. This lens is often considered The Perfect Portrait Zoom

Minolta 28–135 f/4–4.5 could possibly be the very best zoom lens ever created by any manufacturer in history. 25 years old and has earned “Cult Status” among professional photographers. A fantastic Art and Landscape lens built in the same factory as the famous Minolta G series glass. Sells on Ebay between $200—$400 and consistently tests better than the old 28–70 f/2.8 Minolta G for $1000, and even better than the newest Carl Zeiss 24–70 f/2.8 SSM for $1600. No lie! It beats the best glass in the world. View comparison test Here. Check out the 116 user reviews and sample images that rank this lens top of the top.

Of course you get constant f/2.8 with both the Zeiss and the Minolta G lens. So go with one of them if you need the bright f-stop.

But for low light, consider just adding a 50mm f/1.4 for around $200. It’s the same thing as the newer Sony model and much much cheaper. It’s sharpness is rated better than modern Canon or Nikon equivalents. 70 user reviews and sample photos Here. Again, keep it cool with the old style metal ring and look for the original “XX” model if you plan on collecting.

Or get the Minolta 50 f/2.8 macro for around $250. The best 50mm Macro lens in the world… ever! Period! It will also make a fine portrait and landscape lens. Nobody builds a better macro than the old Minolta Maxxum metal ring original. View samples, tests, and reviews Here. No need for the newer rubber plastic version or the latest Sony model. Many of the new Sony lenses are just rebranded vintage Minolta’s.

View all Minolta lens reviews, samples, and tests Here at Dyxum. You’ll find the Minolta/Sony user has many options to distinguish their photography from the cattle call of every day Canon/Nikon users. Your pictures will actually have a different character (not better, not worse), but different than the traditional mainstream imaging tools. I love modern cameras with vintage glass. The Minolta/Sony combo is fabulous for Art and Portraiture.

If you need something more than the a200, then check out the greatest camera ever created by mankind… The Sony a700. Yes it’s discontinued, but there has never been anything like it. Pick one up all day long for around $700. Full review Here. Notice it is a half frame 12MP chip. But there is more to the story. Notice this resolution test against Canon, Nikon, and Olympus gives the Sony a700 a much higher extinction resolution than the others. This is especially important for fine detail in fabric for fashion photography. Moire’ is the enemy of fashion shoots, and the Sony a700 has less than the others. The Sony a700 was tested as the fastest auto focus camera against the highest priced Canon’s and Nikon’s. Read reviews all over the net

Or you could always go full frame with the new, under $2000 Sony a850. It’s like an a900 with a slower motor drive. Stay away from the a300, a230, a100, a330, a380. If you want more current than the a200 or a700, then consider the a450, a500, or a550. I personally think the a200, a700, a900 combo is the best in the business.

The Sony/Minolta crowd is a slightly different breed of photographer. You may or may not appreciate the nuances. But they are there, and they satisfy a unique family of artists in ways that Canon and Nikon cannot provide.

Good luck!

desiree333's avatar

@lilikoi I plan to use it for landscape photos, and basically for everything. I won’t really be using the video option as much though. I like your pictures a lot! This is my flickr. If you want to look at my photos so you can see what I usually take photos of. These were all shot with my little Panasonic Lumix. I really want those HD, professinal results though.

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