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I’ve been interested in photography at various levels for some time.  I dabbled a bit in college with 35mm film but never really got into it, mainly due to cost.  Without access to your own darkroom developing film can be an expensive proposition.

I’ve been doing a lot of research about dSLR’s lately in prep to buy myself a dSLR.  I figured I’d detail my thoughts from a relative newbie’s perspective.  First a little bit on my parameters and intentions.

My budget is roughly $1000, I’m looking for a reasonable advanced camera that I can use as a learning tool.  The goal is to learn more about the technology of photography (hopefully dragging the art out of me kicking and screaming) as well as taking better pictures.  I’ll mostly be shooting sporting event type activities, (disc golf, kids in the backyard, etc) family stuff, but I do want to do a little bit of artistic photography.  Several of the new cameras have HD video as a feature.  While this isn’t real important to me, it’s a fun thing to play with.

The two front runners are the Nikon D5000 and the Canon Rebel EOS T1i.

I spend a bit of time at Best Buy today playing with each camera.  There’s no chance I’ll buy from there since their prices are around $150 over what you can find online.  It’s really good to get some hands on time with any piece of technology you’ll end up using a lot and the brick and mortar stores provide a good avenue to do that in a largely sales free environment.


Camera feels good, nice and solid but not too heavy either.  I was luckier with the Nikon in that I had them it it out of the case so it didn’t have the security clamp attached.  I found button layout to be ok but not terrible intuitive.  The interface was more of the same, it has a really nifty aperture display that opens and closes as you change settings.  It’s a really nice way to provide feedback to those of us that can’t do aperture, exposure, and ISO calculations in our heads :).  The feedback is very intuitive actually changing things, not so much.  Shutter speed is changed with the click dial, pretty simple.  Aperture is modified by a button press combined with the command wheel.  ISO was nearly impossible to find, after doing some reading you have to dig through a menu or remap a button to have quick access to it.

The flip down LCD screen was neat, but it also seemed kinda gimmicky.  I shudder (har har) to think what happens if you break it off one day.  The 11 point auto-focus is nice and responsive.

While I liked the aperture graphic as a feedback/learning tool, the whole interface felt very wizard-like and over simplified.

Canon D500/T1i

Not quite as solid as the Nikon but certainly not cheap feeling either.  This display on the T1i is a thing of beauty.  The button interface was very intuitive, changing ISO, aperture and shutter speed were very easy to find and change in manual mode.  Mode feedback was very easy to read without being pedantic.

The T1i has a 9 point auto-focus system which a lot of reviews have characterized as slow, I didn’t really notice anything playing in the store but that’s a odd environment.

All in all I’m still a bit undecided as the two models are so close.  Now I’m on to more in depth lens research.

Stay tuned….

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