Can anyone recommend an affordable digital SLR?

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Can anyone recommend an affordable digital SLR?
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 2:23 PM

Hi folks!  I railfanned for many years with my trusty Minolta X570 and X700 SLRs (and now I've got a few thousand slides to scan Dead [xx(]).  I've been using point-and-shoot digital cameras trackside for the past couple of years, and I've finally decided to "take the plunge" and buy my first digital SLR.  Can any of you dSLR veterans recommend a quality, affordable (under $1000) dSLR for railfanning?  Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance! 


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Posted by dmoore74 on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 7:52 PM

You should take a look at the Nikon D40.  Camera with the 18-55mm lens should run around $600.  Another $200 should get you the 55-200mm zoom.  That would leave you with $200 for a memory card (at least 1GB), spare battery, protective filters for the lenses and possibly a new bag.

Some people will complain that the D40 is ONLY 6MP but that should be more than adequate for most people as long as you shoot in the best resolution.  In best resolution each file should be between 3 and 4MB.  Be sure to check the speed on the card as you do want high-speed reading and writing.

I'm sure there will be other recommendations but at least I'll start the ball rolling.

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Posted by G Mack on Thursday, July 19, 2007 7:33 PM


I've been using the Canon Rebel XTi for about 6 to 8 months now and absolutely love it. It is a very fast camera allowing you to take multiple shots of moving objects with ease. And at 10 megapixels the images are sharp, even when expanded and printed. It has a ton of functions that allow you to do just about anything with your photography, or, it can be set for fully automatic "point and shoot". Another benefit is that is will accept the full line of Canon EF lenses of which there are many. The price depends on whether you want just the camera body or the "kit" that comes with a lens ( a 50 - 105mm I believe). I think the body only goes for around $700 and the "kit" for about $800 - $850. But the prices could have changed a lot since I bought mine. The cost of the digital SLRs are dropping. The thing you will like about the digital SLR is the ability to change the lenses and thus the range of shots you can take as opposed to the little point and shoot cameras.



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Posted by gewald on Monday, July 23, 2007 2:55 PM
The Rebel and the D40 are both good starting points. I will chime in with some thoughts on making the choice of which brand to start investing in, and how to rationalize the expense.

I shot Nikon for almost 20 years, but when it came time to upgrade my first digital body Nikon didn't have a good option for me. I had a D1X but couldn't swallow the price for the D2 at the time. I'm not shooting for a living the way I used to.

I switched to Canon and a 20D on the recommendation of some people I keep in touch with who still shoot for a living. Canon has been pulling ahead on the image chips, especially for low light (high ISO settings). Also, Canon has not limited themselves to smaller imaging chips (the APS sized chips that effectively make every lens 50% longer than it would have been on a 35mm camera). They have models that have no magnification (the 5D, and one of the EOS 1 models), have 30% magnification ( the EOS 1D mk 2 or 3), and a bunch in the 50-60% range like the Rebel and 30D.

Both Nikon and Canon have made lenses to over come the magnification factor, Usually targeted at the wide angle and Macro users. Those of us who like telephotos don't mind the extra reach the magnifications give.

That said I would suggest you look at the range of lenses you might want to invest in, and buy your body accordingly. You'll find both brands offer fairly similar lenses, and all the energy is on zooms these days. Where the comparison really kicks in is when you factor in cameras by Pentax, Olympus and Minolta/Sony. The Minolta lenses you have might work on the newer Sony cameras, but generally this brands don't have as many lense choices, but they do make good cameras. Fuji also makes cameras that work with Nikon lenses.

I also found some solace in spending a little more than I had originally planned in looking at the cost differently. A digital camera body purchase is like buying your film and processing in advance. If you shoot 100 rolls of slide film a year that will set you back more than $1000. Do the math based on your shooting amounts and see if you can justify a little more camera than you thought. You might be able to afford a D200, or a used Canon EOS 1D Mk 2. I bought mine used on eBay, and with the Mk3 out now there might be some good used bodies to buy. You won't be as likely to outgrow the camera, and you can overcome the megapixel envy you might have.

I know some would argue that MP don't matter, but they do give you some cropping options that still enable a larger print size if that is your goal.

If you want to dive deep into the technical merits of one camera over another I recommend the reviews on They were bought by Amazon a little while ago so they must be doing something right.
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Posted by TimChgo9 on Monday, July 23, 2007 4:34 PM

Take a look at Fuji's line of cameras....

I have been using a Fuji S5000 for the last 4 years and it's a good camera.  I am able to shoot at 6MP with good resolution.  Fuji no longer makes the S5000 but they have similar models that shoot up to 10MP at this point.  My camera, for lack of a better explanation is part "point and shoot" and part "SLR".  It can be full auto for point and shoot, or I can make all of settings manual to take the picture like a SLR. Most Fuji cameras come in at under $1000.

I like the quality of the Fuji products, so look them up and check out what they have.

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