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Hi everyone,

I hope this forum can help me, as I saw so many great pictures here!

I will be buying a new camera in the coming weeks and I don't want to mess up. My goals are:
-to be able to take excellent pictures of my fish
-to be able to take good pictures of birds in flight
-to make good quality videos
-a good zoom would be appreciated

I know zilch when it comes to cameras, I've only had point and shoot types (nikon coolpix in the 600$ range, which was doing a good job 6 years ago, but not satisfying anymore). I don't want to become an expert and don't have access to photos classes.

My budget is in the 700-1000$ range, not a penny higher. The reflex cameras have been suggested to me, especially the canon rebel T2i and the nikon D3000 or D3100. Apparently some "hybrids" cameras are good, namely the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2K. What do you think? Would I have to take months studying before being in control of these machines? Would I need to buy extra lenses?

Thanks!
 

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My 2 cents: Go dSLR. Don't skimp on the body, but save money for good glass (lenses). Quality of your photos will ultimately be limited by your lenses, although your skill will have a LOT to do with it.
 

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A better idea is to go out and try the cameras in the store, pick the one that feels comfortable, controls and menus are both important. The entry level bodies in pretty much all of the brands (Olympus, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony etc.) are pretty much all on the same level, Nikon and Canon have the widest variety of lenses and accesories, but, don't let that hold you back. All of the brands have some great lenses for when you want to upgrade down the road. I shoot Nikon, but, very seriously considered Canon when I decided to upgrade from my Olympus E-500, it was a great camera to learn on.

Good luck with the shopping.
 

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I'm currently using a digital SLR Canon Rebel T2i and love it. I think the T3i just got released, so you may find good deals on the T2i. To get good close up pictures of your fish, I recommend a macro lens. Something like a 100mm macro or 60mm macro should be great. Unfortuantely, the camera body and a macro lens will cost over $1000 new. Look for second hand if you want to spend less.

As far as taking photos of birds in flight... a lens with a range of 200mm plus should do it. I dream of owning a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM some day.

Before you go and spend big money on camera's and lens. Find a shop that will let you rent. Take photos and see if you like it before you buy it.
 

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You have picked 2 extremes of photography that you want good results from. Obviously your definition of good will dictate what kit will do for you. You can do macro on the 'cheap' with adapters / extension tubes and get good results. Capturing birds in flight will be more tricky. Budget zooms may give acceptable results but I often find the pictures come out soft. I could only afford a 300mm F4 zoom and some pics are great but you really need more reach. I would suggest joining a few photography forums and asking their opinion. I have linked a couple that I have had good advice from.

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/

http://www.dpreview.com/

http://www.dyxum.com/dforum/

I also like to look at samples from particular lenses on the following site. They also have cichlid groups etc, which you can search for.

http://www.flickr.com/

All the best.
 

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Unfortunately, once you have the camera, adding lenses is where it gets very costly. A Canon macro lens is in the $600 range whether you go with the 60mm or 100mm. The kit lens, 18 to 55, is a decent lens and focuses down to 10 inches, and will allow you decent closeup shots, but not as good as the 100mm macro. It seems that any of the faster lenses, in medium zoom are over $1000, with slower lenses for less than half that.
The reason I went with Canon (XSi) was that most of the people I know shoot Canon , which allows for opportunities to audition lenses.
 
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