Monday, April 12, 2010

A bleg for camera geeks
Tom Smith

Suppose I want to take photos of my third son who is rowing in an eight  maybe 100 or 150 yards away. What sort of digital SLR should I get?  What sort of lens?  Assume I like spending money like I like getting gobbets of flesh extracted from my person with a dull knife.  Is it possible/wise to buy this sort of thing used?

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Tom Smith



I would recommend that you purchase a Nikon or Canon DSLR. For Nikon, my recommendation would be the D90. For Canon, my recommendation would be the Rebel T2i. These are both very capable cameras. Canon & Nikon have the best system of lenses and other accessories & you are unlikely to regret committing to either of their two systems.

I think you want a zoom lens with at least 200mm on the far end. Much depends on what you want to spend & how important very high quality images are for you.

For Nikon, a basic choice would be there 18-200mm VRII zoom. For a high end choice, their new 70mm-200mm zoom. The 18-200mm is a superzoom, useable in almost any situation. The 70-200mm is a professional zoon, but it has no wide angle capacity.

I am not as familiar with Canon, but the Canon EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS & the Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM are the approximate equivalent of the similar Nikons.

You can't really go wrong. I shoot Nikon. My sister is a professional photographer & shoots Canon.


Posted by: Lawrence Solum | Apr 12, 2010 11:12:46 AM

Larry gives sound advice. I would add two thoughts, First, you will need more than 200 mm for what you want to do. 300 + mm is expensive. Second, there are suppliers of quality lens systems that are Nikon/Canon compatible, that are a less expensive option. Also converters/adapters are available to increase the focal length of lenses. You can save $$ if you sacrifice autofocus if you go with a used or a non/Canon/Nikon lens. But at distances of 100 + yards, autofocus is less useful. I hear all the time that the non-affiliated lenses aren't as good, but I still see lots of budget-minded but expert photographers using them.

Posted by: Greg | Apr 12, 2010 12:22:56 PM

There is this link you could look at (thanks Glenn Reynolds)

Posted by: Curt | Apr 12, 2010 12:24:56 PM

thanks a lot!

Posted by: Tom Smith | Apr 12, 2010 1:27:28 PM

Wanted to second the Nikon D90. My dad, an amateur, just bought one and he loves it.

Posted by: Bryan | Apr 12, 2010 7:49:09 PM

This is all good advice. I would add that lens quality is paramount. One strategy that you might consider is buying a very high-end lens with an eye to selling it when your needs change. A pro lens should hold most of its value. You might even consider a used lens from a reputable store ( has a good rep). However, I would only buy a current-production new DSLR body. Also consider buying a tripod and tripod head.

Buy new equipment from Amazon, B&H, Adorama. Beware online dealers that offer significantly lower prices than these places.

Posted by: Jonathan | Apr 13, 2010 9:01:20 AM

1st of all: Are you a professional or an amateur with deep pockets? The reason I'm asking this is that you don't need a pro lens if you're just shooting the occasional photos just because you want a record of your family doing "things". If you're not shooting for a newspaper or anything like that, blowing $1700-$2000 on a pro-grade lens is just a waste of money.

I got this shot with my Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G.

The subject was over 100-150 feet away. The fact of the matter is you can get into tech-geekery and spend big money out your nose. What's the point of getting into a pro-quality lens unless you're deeply addicted to photography or you're shooting professionally.

I'm upgrading to a semi-pro camera and a 70-200mm lens, not because I want the equipment, but because I'm shooting weddings professionally.

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