Important decisions

I am coming close to the precipice of my first DSLR camera purchase. Currently, I am considering a couple mid to upper-entry level cameras from Cannon and Nikon. The hope is to get a decent body with the kit lens to practice with for now, and then start trying to save for better glass. The three top contenders at the moment are:

Mostly, people have told me that I can’t go wrong with most Cannon and Nikon bodies within a similar price range. With that in mind, I am leaning heavily towards the 550D which has the added perk of 30fps 1080p video recording. I also really like the menu layout and controls on this camera. Is there any serious photography drawback to the 550D versus the Nikon, which does not have the 1080p video recording?

Also, I know a lot of my readers are spectacular macro photographers, and that is something I really want to get into at some point when I can afford the right lens and flash. Any advice you can offer would be massively appreciated.

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12 Responses to “Important decisions”


  1. 1 GregoryWilder April 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Hi 🙂
    Just a thought..

    Both Canon and Nikon are excellent camera’s, but if you consider to do a lot of macro later, I will recommend the Canon.
    The choises you have in macro lenses are much bigger. Also you have the Canon MP-E65 lens that can give you up to 5x magnification. This lens is just superior then it come’s to the realy small things 🙂
    I just love it.

  2. 2 Adrian Thysse April 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I am locked into the Nikon system myself for now, but I would definitely concur with Gregory Wilder above. The Canon MP-E65 just can’t be equaled.

    I think Nikon’s D5000 is a good entry level camera, particularly because it has a fold-down viewing screen – very helpful for macro. But if you are interested in the potential of the system, Canon looks best.

  3. 3 Ted C. MacRae April 9, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    As Gregory says, if you decide you really want to get into insect macro at some point, you will SO want that 65mm 1-5X from Canon – Nikon just doesn’t have an equivalent.

    I don’t have any experience with these particular cameras, but it seems like a reasonable approach to me if you’re funding is limited. Adrian Thysse wrote a nice article on “macro on a budget” on his Voyages Around My Camera site – you should look it up and see what he has to say. From my limited experience, flash is going the most important upgrade you can make, and you can’t really practice macro until you do have a good flash unit. If you do go with Canon, I’d try to get that MT-24EX twin flash as soon as possible so you can at least start learning while you save up for better glass.

  4. 4 Mike Bok April 11, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks all for the excellent input.

    I went to Best Buy again today and played with the contenders. Looks like I just need to decide between the Cannons.

  5. 5 myrmecos April 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    If you don’t mind some blunt advice, I think you’re doing this backwards. Whatever your budget is, you’re better off scrimping on the camera and putting money into lenses and flash units. Cameras depreciate like you wouldn’t believe (a $1000 camera back now will be worth only $600 next year, and near worthless after that). In spite of this trend, most improvements in dSLR technology over the past few years have been marginal- the camera back is the least important part of the equation.

    You may as well pick up an old Canon 20D or Rebel for a couple hundred bucks and use the savings to get some better glass that you’ll keep for years.

  6. 7 Mike Bok April 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    How should one go about purchasing a used camera body? Are there reputable online refurbishes, or should I try and find a local shop? Buying any used tech item inherently makes me nervous.

  7. 10 myrmecos April 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I’ll second the Adorama suggestion. They’re a reliable company and I’ve never had any problems with them.

  8. 11 Helen Oster April 15, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Thanks for the recommendation, myrmecos!

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    helen.oster[AT]adoramacamera.com

    • 12 Mike Bok May 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      I am still agonizing about this decision. I see the wisdom of getting a 20D (a spectacular camera) with money left over for nice glass. However, that is tempered by being uncomfortable with getting a used camera and losing HD video (which I am very excited by).


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I have moved.
Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

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