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so i want to jump into the world of DSLR and aside from being a crazy picture taker have no skills as a photographer. i take many shots and delete bad ones in the hopes that some will be really nice.

i do play with iso and shutter speed for night shots and do a little basic config to get some shots but typically shoot in auto mode with my cannon point and shoot.

i tired the D90 6 months ago and in auto mode the pix were amazing. i think with this camera all you need to do is rest the button and it will do the rest and make GREAT shots.

i know the specs on the t2i are better and the D90 is a few years old...

what would you suggest i do in my hunt to buy a great DSLR and get out there shooting???

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Where are you jumping from and why do you think you'll need an DSLR? I know a few friends where buying an DSLR was a bad option –  t3mujin Nov 27 '10 at 16:49

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There is no way to go wrong with ANY modern DSLR, however you should choose the one that best fits your needs.

I don't know why you are comparing these two particular models. Between the 2, the Canon T2i is newer but the Nikon D90 is a more advanced model. In practical terms this means you get higher resolution in images and video with the T2i. But, you get a better user-interface with the D90 including dual-control dials and a larger viewfinder. The D90 also has a faster continuous drive with deeper buffer, but it only matters if those are important to you.

Between those two I'd choose the D90 because controls are more important to photography than megapixels. The most important thing you should consider is that each camera gives you access to a different collection of lenses.

If you prefer Canon lenses go with them. Over time lenses will take on much more value than your camera, so changing brands get harder for most people. You will easily be able to upgrade to a more advanced model later, if you can't do it now. The Canon 60D would be the latest equivalent in the category of the D90, previous models where the 40D and 50D and you may be able to find them at a good price. Of those, only the 60D has a movie-mode, if that matters to you.

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Either one.

Unless you have any specific needs that you haven't mentioned, either one of those camera bodies will take really great photos. If you're wondering more in general about choosing a DSLR brand, hit that question.

You did mention auto mode, if that's what you're really looking for you might look at whether you really need a DSLR. Some of the point/shoots such as the Canon G12 will offer really great photos as well in a smaller/lighter package.

If you do want to get into the options and extensibility of a DSLR, get either one of those cameras, start learning about photography, and as you said at the end of your post... "get out there shooting"

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I'm not going to disagree with the responses, other than to suggest looking at the Pentax K-5 (I'm a Pentax shooter) as well. However, plug aside, if you do look at Nikon, I would suggest skipping the D90 and looking to the D7000 instead. The D7000 is an upgrade for the D90 and, with minor exceptions, carries the same sensor as the K-5, a sensor which is demonstrating remarkable dynamic range and high ISO performance, putting them in reach of full frame and medium format cameras, and some times exceeding them. The Canon 60D is also showing great promise in this arena, which I would choose over the t2i as a result.

So... If I was to break down some suggestions:

High ISO - Nikon. It's a touch better than the Pentax option, but it's almost too close to call. However, for low light high speed photography, it's hard to beat Nikon.

Dynamic Range - Pentax. Pentax, for reasons that they only know, aim to the landscape photographer in a major way, something that dynamic range really helps and the K-5 not only sits on top of the heap for dSLR options, it also exceeds medium format as well. It is more expensive, but also carries some pro features the the D7000 and 60D don't. However, the D7000 is close as well, again just a touch difference.

Resolution - Canon. The 60D is a higher resolution sensor and can capture more detail. It's a hair more detail, but in the right conditions that can mean something. Samples I've seen put it close to the Nikon and the Pentax high ISO and dynamic range, helped by the resolution.

So, if you want to capture action in low light, go Nikon. If you want to capture strong detail and color in landscapes and nature, go Pentax. If you want to capture super-fine detail in controlled light subjects, go Canon. However, whichever you pick, you're only marginally giving up on the other two. Very likely, as it does with most of us, the camera will exceed the photographer anyways. :)

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It really depends on what you want to do. Both brands make superb quality gear, both have broad support, and both have extensive online and offline communities dedicated to them. You can't really go wrong with either. Even though the 550D specs out a bit better than the D90, both are great cameras.

To get a little more personal, I'd cast my vote for Canon. When I went to purchase my first DSLR, I was looking at Nikon, as I'd had some glowing reviews of Nikkor glass from some friends and acquaintances. I would probably be a Nikon user today if it wasn't for the fact that all the Nikon gear I wanted was unavailable, had been, and was for some time before I finally chose Canon. When I started looking at Canon gear, everything I was interested was readily available and quite cheap, and I found that Canon offered some unique things. Nikon seem to suffer a little bit from supply problems.

Second, Canon offers a few fairly unique items in their lines of lenses, which you either have to go third party for with Nikon, or which are not available at all. If you are interested in extreme macro photography, Canon is definitely the choice. Their MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x zoom lens is the ultimate macro photography lens. It can focus about 1/2 of a foot from its subjects, and allows some of the most incredible macro shots possible. Such a lens is not available with Nikon, and the closest you may get is with a 105mm Macro lens and extension tubes. If you are interested in landscapes, portraits, weddings, or creative/journalistic photography, Canon also offers a line of tilt/shift lenses. These lenses offer classical movements originally available on larger format cameras (i.e. 4x5 or 8x10), allowing much greater flexibility and control than lenses that only offer focus control. Canon offers TS-E (electronic tilt/shift) lenses in 17mm, 24mm, 45mm, and 90mm variants. All are prime lenses, manual focus, and offer some of the most astounding optics in all of Canon's lens lineups (the 17mm and 24mm in particular.)

I have been extremely satisfied with my Canon setup. I do not yet own any, however TS-E lenses are the next on my list, starting with the fantastic 24mm TS-E lens. I've had a chance to experiment with it, and it is a truly amazing lens, and it is great fun being able to control your plane of focus and perspective normalization.

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in reply to all the answers: i went out to the store last night and to be honest the canon felt plasticy and not like a real camera. the nikkon felt solid and seemed like you were getting a professional camera. the canon felt more like a toy. the canon kit lens seemed to be a tube of think black plastic with some glass inside... no question the optics and physics are on point - my perception was it was not on the level of the nikkon where the lens felt sturdy, solid and metaly. –  kacalapy Nov 17 '10 at 15:13
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That is because the D90 is a mid-grade camera, while the 550D is an entry-level camera. If you handle a Canon 50D or 7D, it will feel considerably more solid, as they both have metal bodies. The entry level lens on the 550D is a plastic mount, however you often have a choice of kit lens. The Canon 28-135mm is more on par with what you might get with the Nikon D90. Keep in mind, you are really comparing apples and oranges, as the two cameras come from different grades. If you want to feel Canon's D90 competition, you need the xxD line, rather than the xxxD line. –  jrista Nov 17 '10 at 20:33

You might want to add some more detail about your budget, and what you plan to do with the camera. Is video important to you? If so, the T2i is a better choice than the D90.

Got lots of money? The D7000 or 60D are newer, with better specs, but you can get a D90 body for $400 less than the D7000, and spend more money on lenses.

Canon seems to be discounting the 60D a lot right now (in combination with the 17-85mm or 18-200mm lenses). I think that's because the D7000 looks a lot better (on paper at least) for nearly the same list price.

I don't care about video, and would have loved to get a D7000, but my budget was limited, so I ended up buying a D90 recently ($630 CDN for the body), and then bought a nicer lens (Sigma EX 70-200mm F2.8 HSM II) for shooting sports.

I didn't do any research on cameras other than Nikon or Canon, but as John points out there are other cameras you may want to look at too.

Best advice I can give is don't spend all your money on the body, you will want to make sure you get a couple of nice lenses to play with too.

Good luck, and have fun!

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