75 — How to buy your first DSLR

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #75 is geared toward pho­tog­ra­phy enthu­si­asts that have not yet pur­chased their first DSLR cam­era. It encour­ages you to save money on your first DSLR cam­era body because you’ll need it for the lenses and acces­sories as you improve.

Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Canon 50D at B&H (Dis­clo­sure — Aff links — helps sup­port our site)
Eos Rebel XSI (450D) at B&H
Nikon D3000 at B&H
Pho­tog­ra­phy forum dis­cus­sion on buy­ing your first DSLR

December’s night pho­tog­ra­phy assign­ment on the Photography.ca forum

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Thanks to Greg Nus­pel, Benny, jack­la­bel, Jimmy Brown, Michael Van der Tol, Aaron Hock­ley, raiven, Antz, Dominic, Bambi, Fortytwo, Crys­talb, Yise­haq and Kent Wil­son‚ who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

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You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.


  1. admin says:

    Very good point about the crop fac­tor and lenses Gerry! Thanks for tak­ing the time to post this here :)

  2. Gerry says:

    First — I agree with Jack­la­bel — If you are start­ing to seri­ously think about pho­tog­ra­phy and want to learn then I think the G11 is the route to go. Has aper­ture and shut­ter pri­or­ity and man­ual modes so you can start you adven­ture there. Worst case sce­nario and you find you do not enjoy the hobby then you end up with an excel­lent point-n-shoot that should last you for years to come. I am not affil­i­ated with Canon, BTW, just a fan­boy. I am sure Nikon has their equivalents.

    But if you do go the DSLR route then you will find the biggest shock will be lens prices as com­pared to cam­era body prices. It is not uncom­mon for any given lens to be worth more than the cam­era body, and I agree with Marko — you want to get good glass. But one issue that wasn’t raised in this dis­cus­sion was crop fac­tor and lenses. Using Canon as an exam­ple, if you do go with a crop fac­tor cam­era i.e. 10-50D, Rebels etc, then you want to make sure you go with lenses that work on both crop & full frame cam­eras. Avoid the EF-S lenses as they are restricted to crop fac­tor cam­eras. Save for the EF. Good glass and if you do catch the bug and you do upgrade down the road to full frame, then the lenses will work (there may be an excep­tion or 2 but check with your cam­era mon­ger). Higher re-sale value too over EF-S.

    Just another consideration.

  3. lauren says:

    ive been linked here by Fortytwo and i enjoyed lis­ten­ing to your pod­cast.
    i tot­taly get what your say­ing that it is not worth spend­ing way to much money on your first cam­era if you are just doing it for a hob­bie etc.. issue is, i am cur­rently doing year 12 and i intend to do pho­tog­ra­phy stud­ies at uni­ver­sity. so i have down­loaded there mate­r­ial lists and they are request­ing cam­eras that are on aver­age $2000AUD. im cur­rently sav­ing up for one and im half way there so price is not really a con­cern if it is a max of say, $2500AUD. So issue is i dont know what to look for in a cam­era see­ing i do not know func­tions etc, but i would like to buy one asap as i am doing 3 pho­tog­ra­phy folios at school this year and im using a dig­i­tal still, quite sad. So which cam­eras do you rec­om­mend for my sit­u­a­tion? I can put up the list of the cam­eras that the unis i have researched on here to help… Also, if i buy a cam­era now, will there be new ones that would be bet­ter by next year?
    hope you can help :) thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Lau­ren!
      I must say…that is a ridicu­lous request on the part of your school and frankly, i would COMPLETELY ignore it. The HARD truth is that 75% of peo­ple that grad­u­ate from photo school will not sup­port them­selves from pho­tog­ra­phy. If you put up the list your school sug­gests, it’s my plea­sure to give an opinion.

      I would spend 500 of that 2000. on the body and spend 1500. on a lens. TRUST ME, that 2000.00 cam­era that you are just learn­ing how to use will be worth maybe 400 in three years.…and by then you’ll want another cam­era. THAT’S THE TIME TO SHELL OUT 2 GRAND. The lens will retain 80% or more of its value if it’s a good lens in good shape. Which lens depends on what you want to shoot and RESEARCH that lens if you take my advice.

      Just so you know.….2500 is not even close to what you’ll need to spend to be a pro.
      A higher end body and group of lenses will cost close to 10 grand USD (3 high end lenses, 1 high end portable flash, 1 high end body fil­ters and a tri­pod). Much more if you’re into acces­sories. And what about a good mon­i­tor, com­puter, printer, soft­ware, cal­i­bra­tion equip­ment.…. see what i mean? That pre­cious 2000–2500 is wasted on an expen­sive body at this point.

      Hope that helps — Marko

  4. luckystar8 says:

    me and my bf have a Canon 500D for the begin­ing of our pho­tog­ra­phy course,but it is too heavy for me„i want to buy a caoon G9

  5. Yisehaq says:

    Hi Marko,
    I have found this pod­cast really on time as I am con­tem­plat­ing in buy­ing new DSLR. The rea­son I need new DSLR than the one I have 350D is that it lacks some func­tion­al­i­ties like spot meter­ing, more aut­o­fo­cus points, higher ISO etc. I wish this pod­cast was about buy­ing your sec­ond DSLR :) .

    My ques­tion is, what about buy­ing a sec­ond hand cam­era like 5D rather than buy­ing new 50D (if their prices are com­pa­ra­ble). Of course, I am think­ing of for my sec­ond DSLR.

  6. JuiCe says:

    Hi there. This is the first time I’m com­ment­ing but I’ve been lis­ten­ing to your pod­casts for a while.

    I have you haven’t dis­cussed a very impor­tant topic in this podcast.

    I’m think­ing about the gen­eral “feel­ing” of a cam­era — is it com­fort­able to hold, is the shut­ter release placed accord­ing to your needs, is the viewfinder suf­fi­cient for good com­po­si­tion (cov­er­age and so on) or does you have a “light in a tun­nel” effect (like in D40s). Nowa­days when some­body asks me which DSLR to buy i tell them to go to a shop and to grab every cam­era and fine the one that just feels good, is not to heavy not to small — then look at the specs and the price.

    You’ve also talked about kit lenses and the need for replac­ing them. If some­body is just an enthu­si­ast that kit lens will be his only one for a long time (in my case 3 years now) so it’d bet­ter be good.

    When I was choos­ing my dslr in 2007 kit lens of Pen­tax K100D was the best in it’s price range — that was one of the rea­sons why I’ve cho­sen a Pentax.

    The other rea­son is sup­port and I don’t mean the offi­cial one.

    For shure Canon and Nikon user base is huge so find­ing a help­ing hand in the inter­net shouldn’t be a prob­lem. But since you’re just one of 10000 ppl who has just got a d80 and don’t know how to use auto­brack­et­ing etc. you cry for help might just be ignored (depends on the forum).

    Dur­ing my research back in 2007 i came the pol­ish unof­fi­cial pen­tax forum which is quite small, but full of sup­port­ive indi­vid­u­als — that was also one of the rea­sons for choos­ing a K100D.

    Buy­ing a Nikon or Canon as your first cam­era doesn’t nec­es­sary mean you’re sign­ing a pact. For sure (as you have pointed it out) one will find his first dslr insuf­fi­cient after some period of time. If this moment comes before buy­ing addi­tional lenses, flashes an so one there is no need to stay with a par­tic­u­lar brand. Hope­fully one will be aware of his needs after the “ini­tial phase” and it is even bet­ter for him not to be bound to one brand but to con­sciously choose the fea­tures he needs and if it means jump­ing the ships.… well.… so long Pentax!

    But this moment hasn’t com yet for me… :)

  7. admin says:

    Sure Bambi — Glad you dug it and of course, by now you’ve (and many oth­ers have) likely learned many of the basics already…
    — Many lis­ten­ers might already be famil­iar with basic pho­tog­ra­phy tech­nique through the use of an SLR or other cam­eras or prac­tice. Advanced shoot­ers can absolutely choose what­ever DSLR makes sense to them because they know what they are inter­ested in through prac­tice.
    — Thx again for the sug­ges­tion! Marko

  8. Bambi says:

    Hi Marko

    thanks for doing this podcast.I really appre­ci­ate it. I am going to add your advice into the hop­per and let you know what I end up getting!

  9. admin says:

    Thanks for the com­ments Glen, 42 and crys­talb.
    I’m afraid I do not agree with you jack­la­bel. I would NEVER rec­om­mend any point and shoot (and i have the G11)as a first dig­i­tal camera.

    Learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy on a point and shoot is like learn­ing to drive a car on a bike. It’s sim­ply the wrong tool for learn­ing and is miss­ing all kinds of essen­tial fea­tures (like chang­ing lenses and easy man­ual focus just to name 2)

    Get a point and shoot AFTER you know some pho­tog­ra­phy so you don’t shoot your­self in the head won­der­ing why your shots aren’t com­ing out.

    Peo­ple need to know when NOT to use a point and shoot and they will learn this best by learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy on a DSLR and get­ting one as a first cam­era in my opinion.

  10. jacklabel says:

    Hello again Marko, actu­ally when some­one asks me which cam­era to buy is first what you want to do with your cam­era, usu­ally an SLR cam­era is bulky enough to keep at home when you go to a show or some party, so I dont recomend buy­ing an SLR when you can buy a canon G11 or some man­ual oper­ated Lumix or Sigma, now with the new dig­i­tal Olym­pus pen you can carry a light, fash­ion and can change lenses. Now if you REALLY want an SLR no mat­ter what, well, I rec­comend you choos­ing a sys­tem your friends have so you can switch lenses and buy a mid­dle cam­era, not all top not all consumer.

  11. Crystalb says:

    Thanks for not hold­ing back and being very hon­est.
    Def­i­nitely a good way to look at it. Thanks.

  12. Fortytwo says:

    Tnx for doing this Marko. It’s a great pod­cast. I of course I agree with it com­pletely. I’m pretty sure a lot of peo­ple will find this very enlight­ing. :)

  13. Hey, Marko. Great point about not break­ing the bank on your first DSLR. I was sav­ing for the Canon T1i when the XSi went on sale. $500 cheaper. I decided I’d rather be shoot­ing now and start sav­ing for the all impor­tant lens than wait­ing until I saved up more money for the more expen­sive cam­era. After I pick up a cou­ple of decent lenses I will prob­a­bly move on to what­ever replaces the T1i keep­ing the cam­era body “fresh”.


  1. […] recently did a pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast on buy­ing your first DSLR. In that pod­cast I sug­gested NOT spend­ing a whack of cash on your first cam­era body, and sav­ing it […]

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