I had been a photo enthusiast in 80s but lost touch. I used and still have a Canon FT with three lenses - a 50 mm F 1.4, a 28 mm F 2.5 and a telephoto 135 mm F 2.8. Now I wish to restart with a interchangeable lens camera - a DSLR or a mirror less option. I have some preferences - an aperture priority is a must (I find that most of the Nikon mid-range do not have aperture priority especially in live view) as it allows for greater control of depth of field especially for portraits.

Having advanced in years (I am nearing 60 now) and eye sight is getting to be some problem, I feel good live view is also essential but I do not wish to give up on a good viewfinder. I also see shutter speed now going up to 1/8000, that would be good but 1/4000 is the least I can expect.

My budget is limited - to begin with in the range of $1000 to $1500.

My shortlist as of now consists of Canon 60D, 70D, 7D. I have toyed with the idea of Nikon D5200/5300, D7000/7100. But considering lack of aperture priority especially in live view, I am now veering around to canon system.

I would like to also have at least two lenses - a F1.8/1.4 and a telephoto or a modest zoom in that budget. What are the recommendations and how good are the kit lenses. Low level light, low image noise is also important- PD

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    Ive never really used/had interest in Live View, but I can tell you that Nikons most definitely have an aperture-priority shooting mode. – Dan Wolfgang Mar 9 '14 at 19:54
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    The options you are looking at will all be fine and will easily meet or exceed your requirements. – Please Read My Profile Mar 9 '14 at 20:00
  • canon 7d + canon 50mm F1.4 + canon 17-55mm F2.8 + Canon 70-200mm F4 should satisfy your needs. – Michael Nielsen Mar 9 '14 at 20:58
  • @MichaelNielsen And at $3260 is about $1760-2260 over his stated budget of $1000-1500. – Michael C Mar 10 '14 at 2:32
  • To reiterate Dan - EVERY Nikon DSLR has aperture-priority mode. – rfusca Mar 10 '14 at 3:44

If you're just getting back into this, to be honest, the 7D is overkill. it's also an aging body due to be replaced in the next year or so (unofficially).

The 70D kicks butt. It's a great body. But you can get most of the performance of the 70D with a T5i for $400 less, giving you more money for lenses. The TxI line is really where I point most people starting out so they don't overbuy gear early in their getting going with photography.

A really good starter combo is the T5i ($600 body only) and the Sigma 18-250 zoom ($350).Under $1000, and buy yourself some memory cards, a copy of Adobe Lightroom, an extra battery and a bag to carry it in. That'll take you a long way into the hobby and let you figure out what you really want to do and then you can consider adding more gear or upgrading things once you know more about your goals.

Or consider the Tamron 18-270. It's a bit more at $450 (all prices at amazon this evening). Either the Tamron or Sigma are much better lenses than the Canon kit lens.

I rarely think it's a good idea for someone who says "I'm getting back into" or "I'm starting in photography" to buy beyond a good starter kit, and the entry level bodies and lenses kick some serious butt over the cameras we had back in the film days.

My general philosophy: spend less money on the camera body so you can spend more money on the lenses, but don't overbuy either until you know you want to get serious and you know what you want to do with the camera. The first camera is to figure all that out.

I also strongly believe you shouldn't overbuy on gear, because that way you have money to spend on going places to take pictures. The point is pictures, not gear.

So starting out -- entry level body and good third party zoom that covers 35-200, give or take. Under a grand, easy. Really good pictures, easy. And then let your interests tell you when and how to upgrade. Buying a high end body or expensive lenses to start is about and smart as getting your driver's license test in a Ferrari. Start sensible and don't buy the Ferrari until you know you aren't going to blow out the clutch...

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  • Thanks a lot for your advise. I understand, it doesn't make sense to overbuy at this stage. But what are your views on Canon 60D. It's about $100 cheaper here in India - $685 to be precise. It comes with a kit lens EF-S 18-55 mm. Body only is same price, in fact $5/10 more. Canon EOS EF 50mm f/1.8 II USM Lens with In-Built Motor is about $120 here and Tamron Canon AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF Macro Zoom Lens is a little less than $200. Your views on this combination – PD Singh Mar 10 '14 at 10:34
  • The two bodies I recommend to folks right now: 5Ti for entry level and 70D for higher end APS sensor. The 7D is an older body due for retirment, the 60D is a good, solid camera, but the 70D is enough better that it's worth buying instead because the cost difference isn't big. – chuqui Mar 10 '14 at 14:52
  • Cost differential between 60D & 70D is 80% here (amazon.in) - $685 against $1233! – PD Singh Mar 10 '14 at 19:05
  • that's a big difference. For that much more, I'd go iwth the 60D. – chuqui Mar 10 '14 at 19:15
  • The 70D and the 70D have very similar sensors, regardless of the age difference. The 70D does have the modifications to some photosites for the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View, but the RAW performance of the two is very close. They also share the same PDAF system. In some ways the 70D is a step up from the 7D, but in other ways it is a step back (much like a few years ago when the 7D was a step up from the 50D and the 60D was a step down at some points). – Michael C Mar 11 '14 at 0:21

Zooms have come a LONG way in the past 30 years. Lenses such as the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II ($2300) are just as good as many of the prime lenses in the 70-200mm focal length range when comparing them at the same apertures. The kit lenses now are also considerably better than the cheap zooms from back in the 1980s when you were shooting film. That said, primes are still a more cost effective way to get top optical quality. The EF 50mm f/1.4 ($340) and EF 50mm f/1.8 II ($100) both are as good optically as the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II ($2300) at 50mm when each lens is set at the same aperture. The 24-70 is built much tougher and the f/1.4 has features that make the manual focus much more usable than the f/1.8.

With an APS-C camera such as the 60D, 70D, or 7D bodies you are considering the focal lengths you would need to give the same Field of View that you got using 35mm film with the 28, 50, and 135mm lemses are 17, 31, and 85mm. A combination of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 (or the Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II), and the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 would give you much of the same coverage, but your longer lens would be a stop or so slower at 85mm f/4.5 than your old 135mm f/2.8 was. Having the ability to change the ISO on the fly with your digital camera and get image quality comparable to ISO 400/800/1000 film at much higher ISO settings would make up a lot of that lost ground.

Due to the "sweet spot" between cost and large apertures that exists at around 50mm, you should probably also consider a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 prime lens. I own both of the Canon versions of those lenses and find that I use the f/1.4 more now that it is in my bag than I did when the f/1.8 was a part of my kit. It auto focuses faster and has more usable manual focus than the f/1.8 II does.

I would also urge you to consider the Canon 6D or the Nikon D600. They cost about the same as the 7D, but use a full frame, rather than APS-C sensor. This will be particularly advantageous if you plan to shoot a lot in low light settings. In that case Field of View would be the same for a particular focal length lens as was the case with 35mm film. The 6D or D600 options would eat all of your budget on the body, however, and leave nothing for lenses... the 7D and 70D would also come close to that but with some of the kit lenses they are currently almost the same price as the body only.

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