Digital SLR

Pompeii fence I was lucky enough to have a few things to help me in my decision not just whether or not to buy a Digital SLR camera, but also which.

One is the Internet. There’s a lot of useful information if you just go reading. Another is an old friend of mine, for whom photography runs in the blood. And lastly, and possibly holding the most weight, is that I had a three week trial.

My other half’s brother was nice enough to lend me his latest toy: a Canon EOS 400D. I used it whilst on holiday in Italy & Malaysia. He had bought a two-lens kit, which contains the Canon EF-S 18–55mm lens, as well as the Canon EF 70–300mm III telephoto lens.

After one day I was hooked.

Over the next couple of weeks, I had had enough. The photos the camera garnered even on the most basic of settings had me enthralled. The picture quality, the ability to capture helicopters in mid-flight where they looked as if they were dropping out of the sky, the zoom, oh the zoom.

Talking over the pros and cons with my friend, I decided to get my very own Canon EOS 400D. Ever since coming home, I’ve spent a long while looking at review sites and bugging him to find out what I should get.

At nearly the same time, I bought a compact digital camera for my parents’ trip, and, with extensive review-site trawling, settled on one. I decided to write a (albeit much smaller) list for that too.

I want a Digital SLR

If anybody agrees or disagrees with my list, or has a thought to put in, go ahead, write a comment :)

(All links either from or the DigitalRev eBay store. Neither of these are sponsoring me to link to them; I simply have heard good things, and have purchased from both myself because of it.)

Canon EOS 400D body only (also known as the Rebel XTi)
I picked this because it was a good entry-level Digital SLR, complete with a 10.1 megapixel sensor inside. It uses compact flash cards, which have faster write speeds than the SD cards that this camera’s main competition uses (Nikon D40, though I think more closely aligned is the newer model D40X.) The Nikon D40X has a 10.2 megapixel CCD sensor inside, whereas the D40 only has a 6.1 megapixel CCD sensor. Other than the card type, I think the Nikon D40X is pretty damned good, but I don’t have one so can’t really know for sure.
Sigma 17–70mm f/2.8–4.5 Macro Lens for Canon Mount
This lens, for the price, is a great. Not true Macro (1:1) but 1:2.3, it can still take some nice Macro shots, as well as landscapes, as well as doing most other things nicely. Good build quality. Some vignetting at the wide end, no worse (maybe even better) than its competition. This makes it a great walking around lens. Also recommended by my photo-friend, that gives it thumbs up for me :)
Sigma 70–300mm f/4–5.6 DG APO Macro Lens for Canon Mount
around 150$AU
This lens cops a little bit of criticism for not being that great, but it does come in handy when you want to take telephoto shots. Make sure it’s the APO version, as the cheaper non-APO version is very deserving of its bad review, whereas the APO version is pretty good, especially for the price. As far as I can see, something that would do the job distinguishably better would be the Canon EF 75–300 IS USM. I believe it weighs in at 900$AU. For something that you’ll only take the odd photo with, it’s not that worth it. If you can find good reasons to use a telephoto lens much more often, go for it.
Hoya Pro1D Super HMC UV Filter (72mm)
around 32$AU
UV Filters are great to protect not only the sensor & lens from scratching and over-exposure to sunlight, they also make the photo look better. This one is for the Sigma 17–70mm.
Hoya Pro1D Super HMC UV Filter (58mm)
around 30$AU
As above, but for the Sigma 70–300mm.
Hoya Pro1D Circular Polarizing Filter (72mm)
around 65$AU
Polarising filters give richer blues and generally look better for nature-y sorts of stuff. This is for the Sigma 17–70mm, since that’s the one you’d be using to take the landscape shots.
Canon NB-2LH Battery
A spare battery is good. You never know when you’ll be out and wanting to take a photo, only to have your camera die on you.
Sandisk Extreme IV 4GB Compact Flash card
The Sandisk Extreme IV CF cards have a read and write speed of 40mb/s. A 4 GB card should get you around 400 shots when shooting in RAW format. The fastest SD I’ve found manages 20mb/s.
Lowepro Nova 1 AW camera bag
Lowepro make good quality, very padded bags. If only they made one that didn’t look like it was full of expensive camera equipment, just waiting to be stolen.
eBay item (large) = 50$, eBay items (small) x 3 = 30$, = 16$AU for all items
Total price

I want something smaller

I just like the happysnaps, and don’t understand what you’re talking about when you say “f-stop” and “ISO speed.”

Canon IXUS 75
This is a great little camera for the price. It is a 7.1 megapixel mini camera, under 2cm thick and (with card & battery) under 150gm. This makes it super easy if you just wanted to chuck it in your pocket and go. The operating system I find is great—you can use it simply (on all its auto settings,) or just an unobtrusive click away you can start playing with all sorts of settings, to get the shot you want. It also takes video, for as long as you have available space on your SD card (not clipped at 30 seconds like some cameras do. Quality’s pretty good, too.) Has 3x optical zoom.
Canon NB-4L Battery
A spare battery is always good. You never know when you’ll be out and wanting to take a photo, only to have your camera die on you.
Sandisk Extreme III 2 GB SD card
This is the fastest SD card I’ve found, with a read/write of 20mb/s. a 2 GB card should garner you just over 1000 shots, at maximum quality setting.
Lowepro Rezo 15 camera bag
This camera bag is really small. Then again, so is the camera. It will fit a spare battery and extra memory card.
Or the Lowepro D-Pods 20 camera bag
As above.
481.95$AU or 488$AU
Shipping = 16$AU for all items
Total price
497.95$AU or 504$AU

Coming up on my personal list of things to spoil myself with: Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom flexible tripod, 65.95$AU, a Manfrotto 460 MG tripod head, 149$AU, and perhaps a nice set of Tripod legs (I’m undecided on that right now.)

No doubt there will be more to come :)

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