DLSR Noob Question


Feet on the ground, head in the clouds
Apr 11, 2012
Hey there,

I hate jumping on the forum and asking for advice without offering my own, and I have been pretty inactive on here over the last year or so. Luckily this is because work has taken off again and we don't have enough time in the year to fill all our orders. Wind Energy is blowing up and the line for new turbines is long, despite what the news media or big oil would have you believe. If you know anyone looking for a job around Denver send them my way.

Anyways, I have finally decided to make the jump to a DSLR type camera from a point and shoot in order to get some better landscape shots, and to keep myself busy with something that pulls me to the back country. I am a total noob with most of my experience being cell phone shots and some point and shoot shots but, I want to buy into a camera setup that will grow with me and allow me to continue to use any lenses I have acquired with a new camera body.

I have two camera setups in mind:

Nikon D3100 in the kit with the 18-55mm lense included + purchasing the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens

I have no idea what all of that means other then it appears the D3100 is comparable to the Rebel but cheaper and many people love the Nikon. I had the lens recommended to me as one that will work good in low light situations and with the colors of Southern Utah.

The other is the Canon Rebel T3i

Not sure about much here as well other then it is a bit more expensive.

Basically I am looking for a DLSR camera and lens combination that will allow me to get killer landscape shots that I can enjoy for years to come, not require me to carry 5 lenses, and that can grow with me. Cost is not to much of an issue but I obviously don't want to invest to heavily in something that I might end up not enjoying.
The one thing that led me to Canon over NIkkon is lens selection-at a lower price point.

For what you want to do, is basically what I do, I'd get the t3i, body only. Start with the cheap "nifty fifty" prime 50mm, and get the 10-22 or something else wide. This is my whole kit (except that I have a t2i), and I don't use the 50mm a whole lot.
Dan has a good point there. Look less at the camera body and more at your potential lens options. For landscape stuff, an ultra-wide like the Canon 10-22 is awesome and will give you the kind of photos that you simply can't get out of even the nicest point and shoots. While a really wide shot isn't always the best thing for the situation, it does tend to stand out, especially to non-photogs and in landscape situations.

As far as brand, I'm biased, but I say Canon for sure. They both make great cameras and lenses but from my perspective, Canon generally does a better job of adapting new technologies into their gear sooner. I'm sure there are countless examples of that not being the case, it's just how it has seemed to me in my little experience comparing the two. I did try shooting a Nikon D300 for a while and hated it, but I was used to the canon. Perhaps I just don't like Nikon. :)
Thanks for the advice guys. I was thinking I might be better served to just purchase the body and pick up lenses to match what I need. I seriously doubt that I will be taking anything more then landscapes so I do need a good wide-angle lens. Have you guys had good experiences buying used lenses? They seem like they would be very sensitive and not easy to tell if they had problems.
I like to buy my lenses new. I find that the price savings buying them used usually isn't worth it to me. With that said, I think used is not a bad idea at all, if you can get a good price. Take a lens like the Canon 10-22. You could buy one used and send it in for a factory service for like $100. Then you'd have basically a refurbished lens. But if you can only get it for $150-$200 off regular price, maybe not worth it.
I started where @slc_dan did but recently upgraded to full-frame. That said, my T2i + Canon 10-22mm combo was an excellent kit that served me well for several years and even continued to work after being fully submersed.

Be aware that if you're buying a crop-frame camera and lenses, you might be frustrated at having to upgrade both body and lens collection if you later decide to go full-frame.

And if you decide to go Canon, start haunting http://www.canonpricewatch.com.
I have a t3i and I've loved it. But I'm a crappy photographer and I don't know any better. :)

One other thing I love about canons is the free magic lantern software and how it adds all sorts of features to your camera.
Thanks for all of the great advice. I am leaning toward the Cannon at this point, they do seem to have a better selection of lower cost lenses.
Be sure to also consider third party lenses such as Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. There are pros and cons but in some cases the value is phenomenal.
My vote is for Canon, but I'm biased.:) I have a Canon T2i and T4i, both great cameras, but I much prefer the articulating screen of the T4i. I have 5 lenses, but 2 of them aren't going to get used much now that I have replaced them with better lenses. The three I primarily use now are the 10-22, the 18-135, and the 100-400. I absolutely love my wide angle lens, but since I got the 18-135, I use it most often because it fits a wider range of situations. My recommendation would be to get a T3i bundled with the 18-135, and buy the 10-22. Those two lenses will cover most of the landscape shots you want to take. I picked up both my wide and my long lens used on Ebay. I kept looking until I found the right deal from the right seller. I wanted to make sure I was getting lenses that were well taken care of, and in like new condition. I'm glad I went used, as it saved me $200 on my wide lens and $400 on my long lens. If you have deep pockets, it may not be a big deal to you to spend the extra money for new lenses. Good luck!
Thanks for all of the great advice. I am leaning toward the Cannon at this point, they do seem to have a better selection of lower cost lenses.

You get what you pay for IMO when it comes to lenses. I admit to being a complete gear snob, so my $.02 would be to purchase the finest lens or lenses now, then get your FF camera body. All of your body choices in the FF Canon line are good, so you can upgrade as needed. I also have purchased most of my equipment used, especially my camera bodies, with great success. I think the Canon 17-40L is a great all around lens, but expensive. One of the reasons the L series lenses are expensive is that they are weather and dust sealed, a must IMO in the desert. You can also find some older non IS L series telephotos for pretty cheap.
I love my 50mm Canon f2.0 lens for $99. It's plastic and delicate, but it takes great pictures.
One of the reasons the L series lenses are expensive is that they are weather and dust sealed, a must IMO in the desert.

It's worth noting that even some L lenses require a filter before they're really considered weather/dust-sealed.
I just purchased the Canon T5i with the 18-135 kit lens and am loving it. This is my first DLSR. Total noob , but soaking up all of the info I can. I want to take some classes as well.
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