I haven't been on here in a looong time, but I always got good info, ideas and opinions from the other forums I frequented on here, so I'm back from some help, lol. More or less, I'm looking at getting a new camera. At the moment, I do everything with my Nikon Coolpix camera I bought back in 2007, which has worked fine in getting great and clear pictures, but there are times when it just doesn't cut it for some of the scenery and conditions I come across out in the middle of nowhere.
I've done some research and pretty much have decided that either Nikon or Canon is the way to go, leaning more towards Nikon as my current camera is a Nikon and I really like it. I've even kind of narrowed it down for the Nikons to the D3200 package with the 18-55mm lense. It doesn't seem outrageously expensive but will allow me the play in a camera that I need, However, any other recommendations for stuff to look at would be great.
I think for your everyday normal pictures the camera will do fine, but I'm more concerned about overcast days and the dawn/dusk time frames where light is changing. Any recommendations for extra lenses or gear that might work better in these conditions than the lense most cameras come with?
Also, any other helpful hints to get great pictures? I'm confident that I'll figure most of what I need out, but any help fast tracking to that point would be awesome, lol. Thanks!
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle
Since it's a lightweight board can I ask if you've considered something other than a DSLR? There are several "mirrorless" system options that will outperform the Nikon at a fraction of the weight and bulk.
Since you're starting from scratch, that is where I'd suggest you look first and see if such a system meets your needs.
Low light conditions are the most challenging conditions for any photographer. That is were the pros earn there salary. Equipment alone won't solve all of your problems. You need the corresponding skill to go along with it.
That being said, a large aperture prime lens is what you want. Variable zoom lenses are great for versatility, but will never produce as nice as a picture as a high quality fixed length prime lens. You probably want a 35mm f/2.0 lens.
Also, as Rick mentioned, since this is lightweight backpacking forum I would be remiss not too mention hybrid systems like the Nikon 1 and Panasonic micro 4/3rds. These are made for people who are novices that want to get more out of there cameras. They offer interchangeable lenses but without the mirror of a dslr. So they are smaller, lighter, and cheaper, but still offer the ability to put great glass in front of your camera. It is an emerging market, so the offerings are still pretty slim, but it is likely this area will take over entry level dslr market in the coming years.
Do take a look at the Pana G /Sony NEX and Olympus Pen cameras but maybe something like the Sony RX 100 could be considered. Have a look here : http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-cybershot-dsc-rx100/ Probably nearly 3x bigger sensor than your Nikon Coolpix, and at least at the wide end (28mm) a much faster (brighter) lens F 1.8 lets in more than twice the light as F 2.8 and more than 4x 3.7 or thereabout .. The RX has a 28-100mm equivalent lens, the 18-55 kit lens is a 27-82mm equivalent. Of course the Nikon DSL still has a much bigger sensor again but the Sony is pocket able. Franco Some more backpacking comments on the RX 100 here : http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/...thread_id=64849
BZH and Franco had great suggestions. When looking for equipment for outdoors, you want the fastest lens. My most frequently used lens is my 50mm 1.8 because of it's ability to put more light into a scene than there really is. It works perfectly for indoor, low light, or in the woods where there is tree cover.
The problem with looking at mirror-less cameras is that their prices are going to be close to an entry-level DSLR. Right now you can get into a Nikon D7000 for less than $1,000 with a decent kit lens. If you go with something like that, try to find one that doesn't come with the 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens. That's what came with my D80 and it's terrible. Before I got the 50mm, I had to shoot everything in RAW so that I could fix the white balance and saturation to look realistic. With a faster lens, something like a 1.8 or 1.4, you will almost eliminate the need to carry a flash as well.
And whatever you buy, get a polarizer filter for every lens and practice with it.