One camera, one lens

by Enche Tjin on April 5, 2010

Many beginners ask for my recommendation if they only want to have one camera and one lens with them. I usually explain that to get the best out of the digital SLR system, you need multiple lenses for different kind of photography or conditions. But many of them insists that they only want to carry one camera, one lens period.

If you are one of the many, I recommend Nikon D90 and Nikon 18-200mm VR II. I think this combination is great because the camera is not too complicated to learn. Nikon D300 or D300s are complicated for beginners because there are so many buttons and options. Also, Nikon D90 is not too heavy (1 lb or 640 g). The price is reasonable too.

Nikon D90 and 18-200mm lens is all-around combo for general photography

Nikon D90 and 18-200mm lens is all-around combo for general photography

The other alternative will be Canon 50D with Canon 18-200mm IS. This combo is around $200-300 more expensive, but Canon 50D has better build quality (magnesium alloy body – weight 730 g) and faster continuous shooting mode. The lens is a bit sharper as well.

Both combination will serve you well.

However, if you don’t mind to carry extra lens with you Pentax kx 18-55mm and 55-300mm combo is hard to reject. It is half the price compare to options above, but it produces better image quality and zoom range.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

tim April 5, 2010 at 6:20 am

Still enjoying your blog, thanks for keeping it going.
I liked that you picked the D90, that’s my camera :P
Just a suggestion: one cheaper option that I feel is actually better for some people is to start with just a portrait lens, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. This is especially true for new parents (I’m finding a lot of my friends are going out to buy a DSLR because they’ve just had a child or are buying a dog). The D90 + 35mm is not only considerably cheaper than the 18-200mm, but it’s also IMO a good way to learn photography – one less control to worry about (zoom), so naturally you beocme inclined to practice composition instead… I only wish the D90 was sold with the 35mm as a kit. I usually recommend people to buy D90 body only, not with the 18-55.

Paul April 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm

As a newbie, I was hesitant to speak up, but tim is talking about people like me, and he’s right on.

New parents looking for a camera intend, of course, to capture images of their baby, most of which will be taken indoors. I wish I was informed earlier that, generally, P&S’s weren’t going to be capable of indoor no-flash shots. (And with flash, they look amateurish.) I’ve only recently learned about the concept of the fast lens and that P&S’s don’t have the max aperture to do the job. (The S90 wasn’t available when my son was born. I might have gotten that one if it was.)

The fast lens (plus the fast continuous shooting of dSLRs generally absent in P&S’s) should be essential information for new parents shopping for a camera. I second tim’s advice.

Enche Tjin April 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Hi Tim, thanks for the support, your idea is very good.

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