Canon or Nikon? (For Macro and Wildlife shots)

Started Aug 7, 2013 | Questions thread
Nick Desai
Junior MemberPosts: 28
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Re: Canon or Nikon? (For Macro and Wildlife shots)
In reply to Gerry Winterbourne, Aug 7, 2013

Gerry Winterbourne wrote:

Nick Desai wrote:

Chris R-UK wrote:

Nick Desai wrote:

As my first DSLr camera I thought about going with a Nikon D3100 because it's not that expensive and it seems to have gotten great reviews. However, after talking to a couple of people they said that Canon is better for macro and wildlife shots because of the amount and variety of lenses. Is this true? If so, I could probably get a Canon T3i. My main purpose for the camera is to take photos of insects, flowers/plants, and wildlife. If anyone would be able to give me some insight to this topic and appreciate it!
Also, does anyone know of a good camera guide that takes about all the basics of camera function and use (ISO, aperture, etc.) along with how tot take macro and wildlife shots? Thanks!

There is no significant difference between the lens ranges of Nikon and Canon. There are plenty of lenses available for both macro and wildlife photography.

Exactly what wildlife do you want to photograph? Lenses suitable for macros of insects and lenses for wildlife photography are not cheap and the kit lenses that normally come with the camera will not be suitable for either.

What is your budget?

As of right now, it is around $1,000 give or take. I don't plan on buying all the lenses right away, right now I've been thinking of either getting a D3100 or T3i and then later on getting a macro lens, Tokina 100mm. Also going to get a flash, DIY flash diffuser or buying a cheap one,

Cut from the side of an antifreeze bottle; one per lens to fit the barrel or hood; zero cost. Great for macro because it brigs the light right up to the subject and stops the lens casting a shadow.

Thanks for the idea, I'll try that out in the future!

extension tubes, and maybe a tripod but I've heard for macro shots most people just use it handheld.

As for the wildlife, birds, small mammals, basically anything aha.

It seems as if you are taking a serious interest in photography and intend to spend quite a lot on it in due course. The "variety of lenses available" point shows you understand there's more to it than just picking a body. In fact, the body is almost the least important consideration.

I am, the field I'm pursuing will sometimes call for photography and learning how to use a DSLR properly right now will greatly help out in the future. I always used to think that the camera made a difference, but now I'm learning otherwise haha.

However, there are some important things to know about bodies. First there's the basic style of controls: simple ("entry level") bodies usually have a single control dial and make you go into menus to change a lot of shooting parameters; higher-level bodies usually have twin dials and a suite of buttons that give much easier access to changing things. Plenty of accomplished photographers use the simpler bodies but it's worth your while thinking about whether a twin-dial body might be better for you.

I think right now with the budget I have at hand, and since I'm a beginner, a entry level one, such as the Nikon D3100 or Canon T3i will be better for me currently. Whenever I become a good photographer, I'll switch over to a advanced model. But thanks for the info!

I'm not trying to convert you to Pentax (see below) but it is worth pointing out that even at the entry level Pentax bodies have twin dials. Their higher-level cameras have more functions so it's not just a case of "Pentax bodies are a better buy".

I was actually looking into getting a Pentax in the beginning, a K200D, since one of my favorite macro photographers used one and had a relatively cheap setup.

Auto focus drive. Many old cameras didn't have AF so neither did their lenses. For a long time after AF came in the drive motor was in the body, with a screw drive to the lens. Modern AF lenses tend to have the drive motor in the lens itself. Some entry-level cameras no longer have the screw-drive motor, which means that if you subsequently buy what is called an AF lens that is the screw-drive type, it won't work in AF. So you may be forced into buying more expensive lenses. I believe (but you'd need to check) that this applies to the bottom Nikon bodies; I don't know about Canon or other makes; Pentax bodies all still have screw-drive.

So if a camera already has AF built in, like an advanced Nikon, you wouldn't need an AF lens right? AF lens are only for cameras, like the D3100, who lack the AF motor, like you said.

Image stabilisation. You can't do anything about subject motion but stabilisation helps when you need to shoot at slow speeds (perhaps because of bad light). Canon and Nikon started providing stabilisation before digital, so they put it into their lenses. Most other makers provide it by stabilising the sensor instead.

You often read that in-lens stabilisation is more effective than in-body (IBIS - in body image stabilisation). However, I have often asked for evidence of this and no one has ever provided any. There are some lenses, especially of shorter focal lengths, where Canon and Nikon either don't provide stabilisation at all or charge more for it: the IBIS cameras stabilise every lens you use, including old MF lenses from years ago that you can buy cheaply. There are a lot of macro lenses like this.

So IS is VR in Nikon, right? If I get the D3100 along with the Tokina AF 100mm f/2.8 AT-X M100 Pro D Macro Lens, it won't have the VR or AF? Or will it? Sorry about this question aha.

Reading so far you'd be forgiven for thinking that I have a down on Nikon and Canon and to a limited extent it's true. But if we move on to accessories things change. If you want to use flash - especially multiple off-camera units - the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) is the best of the bunch, Canon isn't far behind (but some Canon bodies need quite an expensive adaptor to do what Nikon and Pentax build in), while Pentax system is more expensive and less accomplished. That's not to say it's poor - I've used it happily for years - but it is a downside to throw into the balance.

You're very knowledgeable, and I thank you a lot for this response as it has taught me many key points and basic information when it comes to DSLRs! Do you know if the Yongnuo 560II flash is any good?

Extension tubes. These come as very cheap (virtually free apart from postage) manual tubes and quite expensive auto tubes. If you use older lenses that have aperture rings the manual tubes are fine; if you want to use modern lenses without aperture rings you have to get auto tubes. These are easy enough to find for Canon and Nikon (and probably other makes); for Pentax they are virtually unobtainable.

So tubes like Kenko, http://www.amazon.com/Kenko-Extension-Tubes-Digital-Cameras/dp/B000JG88JU/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1375908347&sr=1-2&keywords=extension+tubes+kenko , would be the best option for a model like D3100? Would I need aperture rings or any of the sort if I have the Kenko ones?

So there's quite a lot to think about beyond the headline price of the basic offerings. I've tried to explain the things that matter without trying to steer you (it's obvious what my choice would be but I promise I'm not trying to do more than suggest what you consider: how you balance those things is your affair).

You can never predict everything you're going to need, but if possible make list of your medium term equipment and price the whole bundle (including third party lenses, perhaps) to see how the prices stack up. Then review features and controls. And, if possible, get to handle the various bodies. And then, finally, make your choice.

You are a great help! I can't thank you enough for your response!

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Gerry
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First camera 1953, first Pentax 1985, first DSLR 2006
http://www.pbase.com/gerrywinterbourne
gerry.winterbourne@ntlworld.com

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