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DSLR Camera Reccomendations

Discussion in 'Photo Threads' started by LaCigale, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. LaCigale

    LaCigale 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Some friends of mine asked what was the best camera for them to buy for the catacombs, so I thought I would share my knowledge and advice to all. The request came through so I am going to specifically look at an Entry Level DSLR combination that will work for caving / catacombs exploring / general Urbex. If you want a point and shoot or bridge, mirrorless, film camera or Medium Format, look elsewhere. I am going to be focusing specifically on Nikon. You can get a Canon if you want, but I am not going to get into the Canon / Nikon debate here. There are millions of resources out there that will direct the two different systems and goto town with that all. I have a Nikon and I recommend them as a Pro Photographer, and I've shot both Canon and Nikon extensively.

    For London I suggest shopping at Calumet. www.calphoto.co.uk Pro level quality service and repair. Prices listed below are new from Calumet. Search around. In Paris I recommend Objectif Bastille. The sets I have listed below are for someone with about 1000£ to burn give or take. New will cost you more than if you search around ebay for some deals.

    I won't be looking at full frame cameras as they are all too expensive. 1.5 crop frame is fully functional for entry level.

    Nikon D7000 / 7100 / 7200
    I have the Nikon D7000 and when it came out was the best value for money camera you could buy. The 7100 and 7200 have come out since then. I am considering if I upgrade to a D610 or D810 camera, but I might stay with the 7000 series as I just love them so much. The main difference between 7000 vs 7100/7200 is the megapixels 16/24/24 But I just printed an image over a meter in length from my 16mp camera and it blew up just dandy. You’re only going to notice MP when you start to heavily crop your images. For the video friendly of you 7100/7200 both shoot HD in 25fps, and 60 or 50fps slow motion where as the 7000 is restricted to 1080p in 24 and 720 in 25. (Hint… UK electricity likes you shooting in 25fps). The D7200 has the Expeed 4 sensor as compared to the Expeed 3 sensor in the D7100 - they quash that it has a much better low light, high iso performance, and I dare say that is correct and quite useful for cata/caves.
    All of the D7000 series have due card slots so you can overflow… or immediately back up your images the moment you take them.

    Analysis… D7000 is a hell of a lot cheeper and it still holds up. D7100/7200 do give you extra pixels. And the D7200 working better at low light.

    Nikon D7000 Digital SLR Camera Body only - £ 509.00 < I have this one.
    Nikon D7100 Digital SLR Camera Body only - £ 749.00 < Tinkerbell has this one
    Nikon D7200 Digital SLR Camera Body only - £ 939.00

    2nd hand Nikon D7000+18-105mm ACT 27000 £410.00

    Nikon 5200/5300/5500
    Megapixels 24 < See note in D7000series
    The D5000 series is pretty good and less price.
    Below are a series of the main differences between the two series.

    D7000 series vs D5000 series.
    Similar dynamic range
    Similar MP
    Similar low level of noise at high ISO
    D7000 series wins on battery life and
    D7000 series is WEATHERSEALED - which is important for catas. They’re not weather proof… but it helps. Dust and sand are going to get in… and this function isn’t much, but it is better than nothing.
    D7000 has duel card slots.
    D5000 series is around 40% lighter
    Many old lens won’t autofocus on a D5000 series body, such as the

    Nikon D5200 Digital SLR Camera Body Only - £ 329.00
    Nikon D5300 Digital SLR Camera Body Only - £ 499.00
    Nikon D5500 Digital SLR Camera Body Only - £ 586.00

    I was going to add in the D3000series… but really they’re shit so I don’t think I will.

    http://snapsort.com/compare/ is a great website to see the differences between camera models. Just remember to look at the details of the differences, no one cares about continuous focus in movie mode. And having a touchscreen underground is probably more of a hassle than an advantage.

    When getting lens try not to get DX or crop frame lens. If you upgrade to a full frame camera in the future these will be pointless. They are generally make to a cheaper quality to start. Old 2nd hand lenses can be quite cheap and quite beautiful. Some of them will not autofocus on modern cameras though, although they may. The D7000series will autofocus on more lens than the D5000series. For any stuff you wish to do with a) shallow depth of field, or b) high iso low light lens, you want something super fast. 2.8 is the fastest zoom you will find, or better yet, get a fixed focal “prime” lens. They will teach you better photography, give you sharper images, be cheaper. The downsides to primes are that you need to change them between focal lengths, and it dirty conditions this is nor favourable. Regardless I will recommend them.

    Favourite Cata-friendly toy lens. Sayang f3.5 8mm full frame (on crop lens only) bubble lens. It is ridicuasly wide and often quite silly to use. Can make some beautiful images in the catacombs. The construction of the lens is shit, it has chromatic aberration out of it’s ass, really soft on the edges and just a damn silly lens. Makes funny photos.
    Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye Lens - 275 £ <Garou Garou and I have this lens. Some examples

    AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D - £ 369.00
    Nikon 35mm f/2.0 D AF Lens - 255£
    AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D - 109£
    Good good yes. All full frame, solid build, sharp and fast lens. I used to have all of these but sold them when I got my awesome 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S ED N which takes in the same focal lengths, and it just as sharp… also it cost 2000€ The 28mm is a good mid wide size on a DX camera, 35mm more resembling a what the eye would see and a stop faster. The 50mm is the fastest, cheapest and arguable the best lens Nikon makes, but might be too narrow for caving.

    28mm examples - https://www.flickr.com/groups/75844019@N00/
    35mm examples - https://www.flickr.com/groups/480431@N24/
    50mm examples - https://www.flickr.com/groups/79414467@N00/

    Or get the DX version AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G 139£… I wouldn’t normally suggest it… but I am trying to keep the total cost down and it is a quality DX lens (unlike their 18-105 or 55-300 which are horse)

    You might find the difference between the 35mm and the 50mm are the space of a few steps in either direction, so I wouldn’t necessarily suggest getting them both. Where you can get the better glass for your camera. I would recommend getter glass and a cheaper camera. Cameras will need to be replaces and updates, a good lens will give you better images, and stay with you for life. Your lens selection is going to be the hardest part of choosing what to buy. Prime lens will limit the range you can shoot and you might find yourself frustrated if you only start of with one. But you can buy more as time goes along and build them up. If you do this, at the end you will have a beautiful collection of very fast, very sharp lens. Yet if you get a DX zoom, it will likely be of poor quality construction, poor speeds, most being f3.5-5.6 that will vignette, and blur edges, and be very soft at the fast settings. Once you buy another lens down the track you will ultimately end up throwing away the original lens and would have wasted your money. Go for good primes and build you collection. If anything, being forces to see things with one one or two perspectives will ultimately make you a better photographer as you start choosing frames instead of shooting anything.

    Buy a good tripod and it will last a decade, but a shity one and it will break in your bag, and become loose to the point where you can’t get a stable shot, which renders it useless. You want it durable as it will get dirty, muddy and sandy. You don’t need a large tripod as the catas / caves are quite low most of the time. I own four tripods (Studio photo, Studio Video, Compact and old). Of these one is the
    -Manfrotto BeFree : £ 149.00
    I own one and would recommend it.

    - Manfrotto Compact Action - £ 59.95
    A third of the price, but it won’t be that good when you start putting heavier lens onto the top. Still a solid and secure tripod for medium weight SLR / lens combinations.

    SanDisk 32GB SDHC Extreme 80MB/s UHS-I Memory Card - £ 46.00
    SanDisk 16GB SDHC Extreme 80MB/s UHS-I Memory Card - £ 26.00
    The card holds your precious images. Bust your camera by dropping it and you can get it replaced. Have the card die half way through your trip because of impact / moisture / sand / etc… you will loose your irreplaceable photos. So go pro and get the SanDisk cards. I have the Pro cards myself, but I think you should be fine with just the Extreme cards. The main difference is speed, and you’re not likely to be doing too many burst photos in the catas or high bitrate video filming.

    To shoot anything longer than 30sec you will need a bulb mode. To activate this you need a cable release. Whilst there a millions out there you don’t need anything more than the most absolute basic one.
    Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Control - £ 24.95

    SB-R200 Wireless Speedlight - 145 £
    Won’t work with the D5000series. Use off camera with the D7000series and control the flash through the camera. Very useful to light scenes and people in the catas. Use with a long exposure to burn in sharp crisp images of people and then slowly burn in the background.
    Cata flash and cancel combination example - https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexa...ZnB-khxhxH-kva62o-khz48y-si2Az7-kumdM7-c6wAr1

    From everything I have said above, here is what I would do for under 900£
    Nikon D7100 Digital SLR Camera Body only - £449.99 (eBay)
    AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8D - £88.00 (eBay)
    Nikon Nikkor 50 mm F/1.8 D AF Lens - 65£ (eBay)
    Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod 59.95£ (new)
    SanDisk 16GB SDHC Extreme 80MB/s UHS-I Memory Card - £ 26.00 (new)
    SanDisk 16GB SDHC Extreme 80MB/s UHS-I Memory Card - £ 26.00 (new)
    Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Control - 5£ (eBay)
    SB-R200 Wireless Speedlight - 145 £ (new)

    This is all just a suggestion, and the list is by no means extensive. It is something I prepared for a friend, but though I would share it here to all in case others were reaching for themselves, or wanted to upgrade to a prosumer DSLR. just remember, at the end of the day, a good camera doesn't take a good photo. A good photographer know how to get the best out of any camera. Hope it is of some small assistance to thee.

    Check out my own work at www.alexanderjebradley.com and I have lost more Catacombs / Urbex stuff on my flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderjebradley/albums

    Peace Out
    La Cigale
    #1 LaCigale, Jun 3, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
    Derailed and Palisade like this.

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  2. Palisade

    Palisade 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 8, 2015
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    As a total novice it's going to take me a while to study this. But it looks very helpful. Thanks for posting!
    LaCigale likes this.
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