My first DSLR

Well, I did it. I ordered a new camera. This will be my first DSLR, though I have been wanting one for close to 20 years. Even though it is my first, I am no stranger to using and understanding SLR cameras. I started using SLRs in college some 20 years ago and spent A LOT of time in the dark room and understanding the use of a manual camera. I still admit to being a pure amateur, but I am a competent amateur.

My Choice

I went with the Nikon D5300. I did a fair amount of research on this. I tried to find a Canon that would work for me, but at under $2000 I could not find a Canon with acceptable low-light performance, which was one of my deciding factors.

In Canon's I looked at the T5i, the EOS 60D, and even the 7D (which was out of my price range).


Mary Jo's Gravatar I recently moved from my favorite DSLR to one of the new mirrorless systems, I went with the Fujifilm X-T1, the quality of the pictures and features of the camera in such a small package is truly amazing! We have a FB page for fans of this line of cameras and it's amazing to see the number of pros now looking into these new systems. I particularly appreciate them when I travel, although sports shooting is still sub-par compared to my DSLR system...but getting better!
# Posted By Mary Jo | 4/22/14 6:53 PM
TomasF's Gravatar Congrats. The D5300 is supposed to be an excellent camera, and I'm sure you'll be really happy with it, though in truth I think you'd be happy with pretty much any camera in that segment. Scott Bourne used to write in his gear recommendations that 99% of today's cameras are better than 99% of the photographers, and I think he might be right :)
I would have liked to hear a bit more about your choice on lenses though, as good lenses is usually something you have for longer than even good cameras, so that's usually where the focus ought to be.
Enjoy your new gear!
# Posted By TomasF | 4/22/14 10:56 PM
Jared's Gravatar Congrats dude!

Like I said on FB... these days a body's a body. Everything's a trade off... if you're happy with your choice, AWESOME!

The Nikon is a fine camera... though I fear you may eventually wish you got the weatherproofed body with the longer battery life. That said, rarely do people only ever buy one camera. ;)

The thing I really wanted to mention is the lenses... 5.6 is not a good low-light lense. 3.5 isn't bad, but you're going to find that your high ISO is offset somewhat by the max aperture size on your lens at full telephoto. And in cases when you're shooting at the max of your telephoto lens (in low light, anyway)that in low light, even with high ISO you're going to lose a lot of detail. At least that's what I found with my rebel XTi.

Just some thoughts from the field. The most important part? Go have fun with it! :)
# Posted By Jared | 4/23/14 7:39 AM
Jason Dean's Gravatar Thanks for the comments.

Lens choice was definitely a difficult one. I looked at a lot of them.

I know that the f/3.5-5.6 is not great for low-light. f/2.8 or even a fixed f/4 would be better, but those were beyond my budget right now.

When it comes to shooting the important events (hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, etc) I fully intend to rent an appropriate lens.

Recently my daughter had a figure skating competition, I borrowed a Canon t3i and took it to the arena with the stock lens and took several hundred test shots at different ISO and aperture settings. What I found, obviously, was that the pictures ALL sucked.

So I went to West Photo in Minneapolis and rented the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. That was an AMAZING experience. I was able to shoot my daughters competition and get some amazing shots using a $2400 lens. The cost for the rental was $30.

I appreciate the need, and desire, for super-high quality glass, but that needs to be combined with a high-quality body with the features I want. It is more economical for me to buy the body with some pretty-good lenses and then to rent the $$$$ lenses when I need them.

The Nikkor 18-140 lens is a pretty good lens in its class. Note, I said "in its class". Please don't try to compare it to a $2000+ lens and say how much it sucks, I know that much. But in its class it has good clarity, decent focal length, and "Ok" aperture range for a sub-$1000 lens.

It's retail price is $599, it was included in the bundle I purchased for $250. If I had purchased the body alone and tried to find a comparable telephoto lens, I would have far exceeded my starting budget.

I know that there are better telephoto lenses available for my low-light needs, but they start at $1100-$1400 and go up drastically from there. For now, I'd rather rent those when I need them. If my rental costs start getting to high too often, I will consider the investment in an higher quality lens.

The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 (which I just realized I mistyped as f/18 above, I purchased just as a good, low-light portrait / general purpose lens. For family reunions, pictures if the kids and the pets, and general walking-around-the-town photos. My daughter has her figure skating club banquet this weekend, I will likely use it for that.
# Posted By Jason Dean | 4/23/14 9:19 AM
Eric Cobb's Gravatar I got a Nikon a few years ago (D3000) and I love it! Having no experience whatsoever with a DSLR, it was a great entry level camera for me. While I don't use it nearly a much as I would like to anymore, I'm already looking forward to the day that I decide to upgrade.

I originally looked at Canon as well, and their cameras actually seemed to fit my hands better and were a little more comfortable to hold. But, I eventually went with the Nikon because it was on sale and I got it a few hundred dollars cheaper. :)
# Posted By Eric Cobb | 4/23/14 9:43 AM
Mary Jo's Gravatar Jason - I actually own the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens and you are right, there are very few lenses that can match it for sports shooting (I also used a 135mm f/2.0 indoors which was fantastic as well, and the 50mm f/1.8 even would come out for certain situations). You can sometimes find these lenses used, the one I have was without the IS which added considerably to the price but is of little use for sports shooting, so that might be a consideration if you do get to a point of wanting to own one yourself (or the Nikon equivalent). The 35mm prime (or 50mm) is definitely always one of the best lenses anyone can get for the price, particularly for indoor shooting. Consider also getting a decent bounce flash for indoor family shots, best investment you can make for improving your indoor non-sports photos.
# Posted By Mary Jo | 4/23/14 12:03 PM
Jason Dean's Gravatar @Mary Jo,

Thanks for the advice. I am very much looking forward to getting the 35mm lens. I actually have never owned a prime lens like that, so I am excited to see how well it works.
# Posted By Jason Dean | 4/23/14 2:37 PM
Jason Dean's Gravatar @Eric,

The Canons did have a nice feel, I won't deny it. But that was not as important to me.

My camera should be waiting for me when I get home today. w00t! *giggle*
# Posted By Jason Dean | 4/23/14 2:39 PM
Vicky's Gravatar Have you been posting your photography? I got my first DSLR last Summer. I have a couple photo sets posted on Behance but haven't had much time to devote to learning proper settings, etc. Most of my studies have gone into post, as the majority of assets I work with are gathered. I plan to get back to it. I can tell you Lightroom was a game changer for me on both ends, especially with the mobile components that let me sift my photo libraries.

LMK if you have pics up. :)
# Posted By Vicky | 1/5/15 11:50 PM
Jason Dean's Gravatar Behance (not much there):

Flickr (Need to add most recent photos):

Yeah, Lightroom is pretty awesome.
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