ignoramus seeks advice


You don’t need to feel to worried about being out of your depth with the camera you are considering (or indeed any low to mid spec DSLR these days) as it (they) have modes and settings which basically turn them into high quality compacts (whilst not being very compact ;)).
This means you can start off with everything set to Auto and gradually learn about the functions and bring them in a bit at a tiem until you have full control. This makes them ideal learning tools if you’ve a mind to.

The lens issue is a bit more difficult. Lens quality is an important factor in the resultant image and the more you can spend on your lenses the better usually. However, you may find that the standard kit lens is perfectly adequate and gives satisfactory results, especially to start with, you can then upgrade at a later date. But, if you have the money then you might want to think about a higher quality lens to start with, I believe with Canon you want to be looking at L-series lenses. But a more experienced Canon user may be able to point you more specifically in the right direction than I.

You could also consider teh 400D, it’ll be cheaper and you wont loose much (Mpixels aren’t everything) and it might make getting a better lens more affordable.

On a budget for all round use I’d say the kit lens isn’t too bad.

Maybe have a look at the 450D with kit lens and a 70-200 F4L.

You can always upgrade the kit lens at a later date and sell the kit lens

Hi, I have tried the 400D, 450D and 40D, and pound for pound I think the 40D is the best value - if you go for 40D and the 17 - 85 kit Image stabilsed lens you can claim £140 cashback from Canon, works out to £719.00. Granted the 40D is a ‘pro - sumer’ product, but it’s better made and outperforms the 450 everywhere except in pixel count ( which shouldn’t be confused with picture quality). There isn’t a huge difference in cost between the 450 and the 40. The 450 uses SD cards not compact flash, so if you have any existing memory bear that in mind.Only downside I can think of is that the 40D’s bigger and heavier. Go to Jessops and handle a few, see what feels right in your hand - it does make a difference.

All of the above are good cameras - the 40D can, of course be left on auto too, but for me the 40D is a camera that i can grow into - it has plenty of features that i might not need right now, but if you’re becoming an enthusiast ( which you will, as you’ve thought about DSLR’s) then it’s a good long term bet.

I’m a Canon man so I don’t have experience of the other brands, I don’t think there’s a huge difference in the entry level kit, they’re all good quality.

This is a good point, it’s tuff to buy a bad camera these days so go have a look at a camera store, see how they apeal in the hand… Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and Sony all good enough to warrant a look…

You might feel particularly comfrotable with one over the others… For me it was Nikon, just felt right, but each to their own, try them out and see what appeals to you.


10Mp will be plenty for printing out that size.
Any of the current Nikons - D40x D60, D80 or Canons 400D, 450D or 40D would be fine so yeah, go have a play and see what’s best for you.

RAW is the best way to go but don’t dismiss JPG in the right circumstances.

One lens for all occaisions is alovely idea but as you say, the better quality ones cost!! You may be beter off with a couple of decent lenses that cover the 18 - 300 rang instead, an 18-70 and 70-300 say.

Best editing suite for PC is Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop PS3 is the daddy but costs a bomb but Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 will do everything you require and can be had for £50-60. Or consider Adobe Lightroom which provides much photoediting functionality and photo organisation.

Blimey man, that’s a toughie.

Yeah the 40D would be my choice every time over the 400/450D tbh simply because it’s better built. We’re blokes and therefore clumsy so the camera will be abused, so the metal body of the **D range is always better than the ***D range.

The 450D may offer slightly better quality than the 40D according to magazines who doubtless Canon have ‘suggested’ would be the case with their newly launched model.

Put it this way Pups, some of the Brands and Oulton shots were taken on a £270 second hand 20D (so two versions behind the current 40D) which is 8.2mp and the rest on a £2500 1D Mark III 10.2 mp pro camera. Can you tell which ones - even at Hi-Def?


Thought not.

So mate, you’ll get a camera that can deliver photos that will blow your socks off no matter which you choose.

Now, to the lens issue. Very important it’s true, but not as much as it used to be with 35mm cameras where pressing the button meant the light passed throught the lens and straight through to the film itself (ie the camera actually made no difference to image quality at all). Nowadays of course the light goes onto to a sensor and the image is created there, so the camera plays a very important part in shaping the image. Nikon produce sharper images generally but Canon do better colours and work better in lower light (so that’s most of the year in UK eh?)

Oh, lens, got distracted… So yeah, it is important - a crap lens means the camera, the best camera ever, can only produce a 100% copy of that crapness. Hence all this talk of ‘L’ series Canon glass which is their pro range of lenses but unless you are going to regularly produce full (30inch by 20inch) images and then compare to something else, it’s not relevant.

What’s gonna be more relevant is ease of use. Assuming you’ll probably not print much more that 12inch prints, and if you did would be less than critical anyway, convenience is more important in your lens choice. So it’s been suggested that an 18-70mm lens (usually the ‘kit’ lens what does medium wide to the sort of perspective the human eye offers) would be complimented by a 70-200 or 300mm to take you closer to the subject, known as a telephoto zoom. And there’s nowt wrong with that idea but it means carrying two lenses, changing them when needed and therefore a bag and suddenly you are into carrying a load of stuff.

There are a lot of 28-200 type lenses, Jay has a Sigma one, that seem pretty decent bets for the non-too discerning snapper. There are many times I wish I had one, and the fact that Canon do an pro level one (I played with Double Red’s one at the weekend by coincidence) shows that they are very useful lenses to have. You take one lens and the camera, and can shoot pretty much anything.

Ok it’s not gonna fit everything in when you are in a bar or a small room, but use your compact for that - they often have wide angle lenses by default. And you can always add an extreme wide (I have a 10-20mm) should you need to. Otherwise just step back a bit and reshoot for a wider view hehe.

And to go for a 300mm end? Wouldn’t bother man. With 10+mp you have a lot of cropping potential without reducing the image quality and that will be better than buying a more compromised lens for the occasional need to shoot with 300mm (which isn’t that easy anyway as any movement from you is magnified so you get blurred shots).

So a decent 28-200 (Canon do one for £270 or thereabouts) would be fine I think, to start you off. That’s the beauty of the SLR thing, you just add lenses as and when, change the body as and when. Don’t go mad to start with, So my choice would be the 40D and a Canon 28-200. But the 450D is a great image producer but is smaller and lighter, and I prefer something heavier and more solid feeling. You’re no nancy so I think you’d find the 450D a bit light and flimsy tbh. But as mentioned, go and try.

Oh, and the memory thing? Compact Flash is the industry standard and so isn’t gonna go away. The rest are for compact cameras etc and the card’s physical size must come with a penalty. The 40D uses CF cards and these are available anywhere for low low prices.

Get to a shop - down Oxford St, over Tott Ct Rd onto Oxford Rd, opp the big Jessops (never use as they are generally full of clots) is another shop whose name escapes me. It’s on a corner of an ally. They know what they are doing in there. Check warehouseexpress.co.uk and Bristolcameras.co.uk for prices too. Also Calumet and Fixation are pro shops whose opinion will always be good.

But Canon v nikon v anything else? Well that’s down to personal preference once you pick the thing up as previously stated. The D80 is a great cam, every inch the 40D’s competitor. I wouldn’t want to try another brand but I need a system camera, where as you don’t. So try Pentax (great traditional name, and the maker of the first film SLR incidentally) and Olympus although the choice of lenses and accessories for the future will be limited in comparison.

So G, I owe you some favours, so drop me a PM and ask me owt man. Be good to catch up anyway.


Battery Life? No probs man. Buy a spare (preferrably a genuine Canon one as they hold charge better and last longer in terms of years of use) and so you take two fresh ones every time you go out. The battery grip only allows for two batteries to be used so yes, it’s twice as long before you need to change but ultimately you still only get the same life before needing 3 or 4 batteries see? No gain really. Otherwise you get the vertical release button and associated controls so if shooting in portrait orientation (tall and skinny) it’s much more comfortable, but people managed for years before such options so again, no big deal.

To me, and I had the equivalent for my 10D, they are not worth the £150 or so you’ll pay. But again, worth trying to see if it makes the camera better to handle.

Mem cards? The 40D is Compact Flash, like mine, and I use 2Gb cards on which you’ll get about 400 max size Jpegs or prob 150-180 RAW files. Pick up a couple of cards and you are set. I don’t believe in 4 or 8 gig cards - too much like putting all your eggs in one basket when the card is lost or fails.

They do come in different write speeds but frankly you won’t need to worry about that. Sandisk Extreme IIIs or similar, 133x speed is more than fast enough to store what the 40D can throw at them.

And yeah if I ever get out to shoot some stuff that isn’t motorbikes hehe it would be cool for you to tag along.


a mate at work just bought the Nikon D80 with an 18-200mm lens for £970 i think, seems very good value considering the range and quality of the lens

A quick googel shows that combo available fro £915. Good choice though if you want a camera and a sinlge lens, it’s supposed ot be a good un.

The 24-105 (I’m guessing it’s the F4L IS) is certainly no slouch as a lens and you really should have no real need to upgrade it unless you’re doing low light photography and need the extra stop of light.

The only thing there is that you will find 105mm to be quite short, especially for motorsports. You may find you are better off with the kit lens and a longer telephoto initially.

The other option of course would be a long zoom, I had a Tamron 28-300 F3.5-5.6 which gives a large range of focal distances and is quite light, but unless it was stopped down to F8 or smaller was quite soft.

Sounds good, yeah it’s a great lens range for sure. Less convinced about going any higher that 200mm though W, quality has to be an issue on a lens with that range.

If Guy wants to go into long lens territory then there is a huge choice of telephoto zooms and fixed lenses to pick from.



Nice one man. That lens is a cracker, an absolute peach.

Now practice man, practice.

Hi, I have a Canon EOS 30D and I LOVE it!! I havent read all the replies you have received so you may already know this but… Canon run camera specific courses which are open to anyone with a Canon camera! You start with, for example, ‘Understanding your EOS’, then on to ’ Making the most of your EOS’, and so on… they do flash courses, wildlife days etc… they are really easy to understand and very informative. So if you opt for Canon, which I hope you do (I found the Nikon D40 too bulky for my silly girlie hands!;)) you will be undertsanding everything about your camera for a the price of a night down the pub! Hurrah! Good luck!

another Canon’ista :slight_smile:

My brothers and sisters… hehe