Monday, February 28, 2011

Buying Your First dSLR

Some of my friends asked me about what dSLR to start with, and my short answer is:
Canon EOS 550D with the twin lens kit: 18-55 IS and 55-250 IS.

This is of course not for everybody. Also this is written in the first quarter of 2011, and sure it is not right answer for all the time. So here is the long version to help friends make sure they are choosing the right camera and the right lenses.

I am a Canon user, so I will only discuss Canon cameras here, though Nikon has camera systems that is not second to Canon's. I believe that other systems like Sony, etc are seconds.

Later, I will be adding some articles to discuss the differences between 550D and 1000D. May be also some articles to discuss available entry level lenses for Canon EOS cameras.

Table of content: Cameras, Lenses, Where to buy, Where to learn photography.

Let's first check the different Canon dSLR cameras lineups:

1- Entry Level Cameras:
These are cheaper, lighter, and plastic bodies cameras. Their names are three or four digits
a - Basic Cameras: 1000D and the new 1100D
b- More featured Cameras: 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, and the new 600D

2- Enthusiastic Amateur Cameras:
More advanced cameras for series amateurs, bigger size and environment sealed. Names are of two digits: 30D, 40D, 50D, and 60D

3- Prosumer Cameras:
Used by a lot of professionals, body similar to enthusiastic amateur cameras. Names are of one digit: 5D, 5D Make II, 7D

4- Professional Cameras:
Body is bigger, very pricey, got the latest technology from Canon. Names got the digit "1": 1D Make III, 1D Make IV, and 1Ds Make III.

My Suggestion is: start with 1000D for a very basic camera, or move to 550D if the price gap is not that big, avoid 1100D and 600D because they are so new in market and will be very pricey.

Review for 1000D:
Review for 550D:
Use this site (
dpreview) to see review for all types of cameras and some types of lenses. It is also a good opportunity to know about various features of cameras and how do they compare.

About lenses:

First thing to think about is range, it is designated in millimeters, to shoot group of people you should use 17 or 18 mm lens, to shot one's head, you can use 100mm, to shoot one's head with shoulders, 50mm is great, to shoot a bird on a tree you may need 250 mm or even more.
So the best suggestion for starting is the twin kit lenses, the 18-55mm and the 55-250mm.
For other details about lenses specification, you can learn on going, and if you like to move to more cool lenses, you could do this afterwards, but in terms of range only, those two lenses are more than enough. If you are coming from the point and shoot world, you already know the range property of a lens but in the term of "x". So if your P&S camera is 10x, this may mean you've got a lens that has the range from 28mm to 280mm (notice how 10 is calculated as 280/28). So you can assume that the twin kit lens is about a 14x (that is 250/18) range compared to your P&S. I am using "assume", "about", and "may" because there is far more details about this and it is not time for this now.

Sample photos taken by 18-55:
Sample photos taken by 55-250:
Use this forum (
photography on the net) to learn a lot about photography, some very professional people are there.

Buying and prices:

From stores in Sydney:
- Dirt Cheap
This is the cheapest shop I know. The link below is for 550D with the twin kit lenses

Unfortunately I couldn't find 1000D on their site, you can call and ask. Check their address on their website.

- George
1000D and twin kit: $828

From Stores in Egypt:

El King: 15 borg salma roushdy Street, Abdeen, Cairo, Tel: 23925140 [Recommended]
El 7ofy: 15 borg salma roushdy Street, Abdeen, Cairo, Tel: 23955245
Shams: 5 el batal ahmed abdelaziz from sabry abo alam street- bab el loook Tel: 23929204
Lucky Stores: 11 sherif street ,downtown, Tel: 23929136/ 23923697
El-Khaled: 19 B Adly street, second floor, apartment number 58, Tel: 23927507
El-Akhdar: Tel: 23927852
Nikon Official Dealer( Fuji film) : El Haram Street, Tel: 35842378
Mo2asaset el Basha for lighting equipment: 26 July street, Tel: 25918535
Hensel Egypt lighting equipment (The Agent) New Maddi autstrad street Tel:251609148

Click for an example for buying online from inside AU: not much cheaper
Click for an example for buying online from Asia: That's cheaper

If you are in Egypt the only solution to buy online, is to have some friend coming back from USA. You can buy everything online and send it to his address at USA but you must do this before his flight by two to three weeks.

When buying from USA, notice that the entry level cameras have different names than other places in the world. For example the 550D is called Rebel T2i and the 1000D is called Rebel XS.

Adorama is one of the good stores: This is an example (550D with 18-55 kit lens)
Amazon is a very good source too.
And there is always B&H, a very famous online store for photography equipment.

Learn Photography:

- Since we are here, just try my blog sometimes. It is simple:
- Photography School: Subscripe for their daily email with nice tips and tricks, also browse their articles.
- Try the photography on the net forum, ask questions search for information. It is a great forum.

This is a very great opportunity to meet elders and learn from them. And also to keep practicing and the learning curve up. In Sydney I didn't join a photography group yet, but in Egypt, there is the famous group "InFocus". They are getting bigger and I heard they have their own place now. Start from their group on Facebook and try to get onto their infamous Saturdays photo-walks. Contribute by sharing your photos and listen to the members comments and learn from them.

In Sydney? Just go the TAFE
In Egypt, try the Gawanian School. It has a group on the Facebook with all details, search for it.

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