My Beginner Photographer Starter Kit

by Eyre Austero 10. December 2009 06:47

     Inspired by the creative controls for taking photos available in my Canon PowerShot G9, an advanced point and shoot camera, I am now finally completely decided in moving a notch higher.  I am now going into the DSLR plunge and the biggest question now is: What camera  should I get and what accessories at a budget of only around Php 50k (~1000 USD)?

     If only the Canon 40D, a semi-pro (prosumer) camera, were still available in the Philippine market, I would have gone for it considering the steep drop in prices (for even as low as PHP 45k with the kit lens and a local Canon warranty) before it got phased out. As for its successor, the Canon 50D, the camera body alone already exceeds PHP 50K so I'm  removing it out of the picture. With the prosumer model out of my budget's reach, this now leaves me with the next best thing (or should we say cheaper alternative): the latest models in the mid-range segment namely the Canon 500D and the Nikon D5000.

Photos of the D5000 and the 500D

     In terms of performance and features, these two models are in a tight neck-to-neck battle. In the 500D's favor, it sports a 15.1 MP sensor as opposed to the D5000's 12.9 MP; a 920,000 dots LCD monitor resolution as opposed to Nikon's 230,000 dots; a 1080p movie mode as opposed to Nikon's 720p; a maximum sensitivity of 12800 ISO compared to the D5000's 6400 ISO; a greater tonal depth (14 bits vs 12bit); a slightly larger viewfinder; a live histogram in live view; an autofocus motor built into the body; and an optional battery grip.  In D5000's favor on the other hand is its slightly more sophisticated AF system (11-point vs. 9-point); its quicker continuous shooting (4 fps vs 3.4 fps); its on demand grid lines in the optical viewfinder; its fully articulated screen; its lower noise level at higher sensitivities; its time-lapse movie mode; interval shooting; and a more user-friendly interface for beginners.  For a more detailed comparison between these two models, please refer to this article. Over-all, these cameras are very decent performers at their price points.

     For my first DSLR camera then, it would be either of the two. To complete my "starter kit", i'll be needing the kit lens as my temporary walkaround lens (if budget were not an issue, I would go for the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens); a cheap prime lens; and a tripod. Other accessories such as filters, battery grips, external flashes, etc. will have to follow after I fully learned the basics of photography.

     For a preview of how much my  planned "starter kit" (camera+kit lens+accessories) will cost, summarized below are the components plus the corresponding prices (as of Dec 10, 2009).

Item Canon Nikon Notes
Canon 500D kit (EF-S 18-55mm IS Lens) 42,500   3 yrs. Canon Warranty (parts and service)
Nikon D5000 kit (Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR)   45,800 2 yrs. Columbia Warranty (parts and service)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II 4,000   1 yr. Canon Warranty
Nikkor 50mm 1.8   8000 1 yr. Warranty
Velbon Sherpa 435 5,100 5,100  
Total 51,600  58,900  

     Given the PHP 7k difference between "my" Nikon and Canon "starter kits", I'll go for the Canon 500D,hopefully, within January of next year. 


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