• RR photos taken with D50, Digital Rebel starter kits?

  • Discussion of photography and videography techniques, equipment and technology, and links to personal railroad-related photo galleries.
Discussion of photography and videography techniques, equipment and technology, and links to personal railroad-related photo galleries.

Moderators: nomis, keeper1616

  by RailBus63
When I make the jump to digital railroad photography, my budget dictates that I would most likely start with an economical camera such as the Nikon D50 or the Canon Digital Rebel. I have two kids approaching college age and realistically cannot think about buying more expensive DSLR outfits or pricey lenses.

Give this, can someone point me to sites showing typical railroad photographs (preferably both roster and action shots) taken with the following 'starter kits' - I'd really like to see what these could do in the field:

- Nikon D50 with 18-55mm DX Zoom Nikkor Lens
- Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (a.k.a. 350D) with Canon 18-55mm EF-S Lens



  by pgengler
Most of my shots (since October) have been with a used Digital Rebel (not the XT). Until December, the only lens I had was the 18-55mm kit lens, so photos between then (like DB Draw, the Farewell to the FL9 trip, NJT at Summit and NJT's PL42AC) are exclusively shot with that lens. They're also some of the first shots I did with a DSLR, so consider that where a shot is bad, it might not be the lens' fault.

I still use the lens when I need a wider angle, but most of the galleries since have been shot with a mix of the 18-55mm, a used 35-80mm, and a used 80-200mm (with a new 100-300mm added recently).

I have no complaints about the 18-55 lens. I'm not shooting professionally, and I'm not a huge photo nerd (yet), but I haven't had any disappointing shots that I can blame on the lens. Depending on where your photo spot and subject are, though, you might find it a bit short.
Last edited by pgengler on Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by RailBus63
Nice shots - thanks for the feedback. My primary concern is the ability of these cameras to produce sharp photographs in a variety of conditions encountered by the typical railfan photographer. I know that these are inexpensive zoom lenses, and such lenses can sometimes produce less than optimal sharpness and clarity in film photography if the light conditions and film speed don't allow use of a high f-stop.


  by Steve F45
the kits lens is a great lens. It can produce incredible images. Just takes some practice. I went from point and shoot to DSLR and was like wtf, why such crappy pics? Huge difference for me. I've since got the hang of it. Got the kit for hte xt, 50mm 1.8, sigma 70-200 F2.8, sigma 24-135 f2.8-4.5 which i use almost all the time.
  by EdM
Often we don't realize the subtile effect of camera shake. A Sharp photo, the goal of all of us, requires a steady camera.
Rule of thumb: if the lens focal length exceeds the shutter speed, the camera belongs on a tripod. ex: if the focal length of the lens is 100mm, the shutterspeed should be 1/100 or faster...
Slight camera shake is often mistakenly seen as poor focus or low pixelcount..

  by pennsy
Hi All,

Interesting ideas of camera shake and its remedies. A photography magazine once had an article, or several articles, on just that subject. The conclusion was one right out of the photography textbooks. Since I was professionally trained in photography, I had a chance to read the textbooks as well. Bottom line is, even with a telephoto lens, hand held is possible using the highest shutter speed possible with the widest F stop opening your lens can give you. So, if you have a 300mm lens that is F-5.6 wide open, you can use the fastest shutter speed your light meter will allow you to use at F-5.6.

Another trick, again out of the Photo text books. Attach a long string to the bottom of your camera, usually using the screw that attaches to the top of a tripod. Drop the string to the ground, hold the camera at a comfortable height, step on the string and pull the camera and the string taut. You now have a stable monopod which is easy to carry around. It is much lighter and more convenient to a tripod. As long as the string is held taut, the camera will not shake. If you attach an empty film cassette holder to the camera strap, usually with Scotch Tape, you now have a nice storage space for that monopod string.

  by Justin P
Hi - hope you don't mind my two cents worth... just joined this forum and your camera decision is something I've just gone through too.

That Canon kit is the best thing you'll ever buy, there it is. I huffed and puffed for a clean year about changing (from a sweet Minolta XD-11 old-school outfit), but I've never looked back.

And I was using SUPERQUICK primes with the minolta system - 50mm 1.2, and 24mm 2.8 being the favourites, and a few good long lenses too.
But these digital zooms? Mindblowing for what they're doing.

The camera press and magazines tend to make everything too complex and try to get us all to worry - keeps 'em in business. Get the Canon, period. If you don't love it I'll post you your money back :wink:

...btw, if you follow my other 2 postings you'll find a picture I took with the canon - that's a picture of a 76 year old 2x3" print, which was well out of focus to start with; the new image was photoshopped only for autolevels. That's the standard kit lens doing that, under a 60w bulb in the dark. Nice :-)

  by MEC407
In terms of final output, I really think you'd be hard pressed to see any major differences between the D50 and the Digital Rebel. They're both capable of producing stunning photos when used properly and to their fullest potential. They have many more similarities than dissimilarities.

If you already own a selection of Nikon or Canon autofocus lenses, then just choose whichever camera will work with your existing lenses. Otherwise, it really comes down to which camera feels better in your hands, which camera's controls you find easier to use and more intuitive, and which one you can get the best price on. Seriously, you're not going to be able to look at a pair of 16"x20" prints and say "oh yeah, the one on the left was definitely taken with the D50 and the one on the right with the Rebel."

  by EdM
having been "stuck ' with tons of Canon lenses, I bought the Canon Rebel equl (D20). Having used the D30 (a loser) & D10, it looks like the D20 is about as far as necessary. The supplied lens and a 100-300 zoom is all I find myself carrying, or needing. With "tons" (yeh) of my childrens' inheritance yet to spend, I see no need to "advance" to the next step.. Ed
  by march hare
From an old-time (30+ years) Nikon addict, who converted to digital about 18 months ago:

The Digital Rebel is the most versatile camera I've ever used, and I absolutely love it.

That said, the kit lens that comes with the camera really doesn't do it justice. Yeah, I have one too (and still use it, since it's the only thing I own that approximates a real wide angle). But it has some serious limitations.

You won't notice those limitations on blue-sky days. But at low light levels, when the lens is open beyond f5.6, there is a noticeable loss of sharpness, especially when you have the lens zoomed back to wide angle.

There's a way around this, though--simply set the ISO speed (equivalent of film speed) higher. This will allow the metering system to set a higher f-stop and control the loss of sharpness.

Obviously, there's a tradeoff here--just like film, higher speed translates to a somewhat noisier/grainier image. But the sensor on that camera is incredibly good at speeds up to ISO 400--so good that i can hardly tell a blue-sky image shot at ISO 100 from one shot at ISO 400.

Once you get the chance (and once the used-lens market has had a chance to develop a bit more) consider replacing the kit lens. You may have worn it out by then anyway--the helical focusing gears in there are all plastic, and probably won't last forever. I picked up a Tamron that covers nearly the same range (not quite as wide, and a little more tele power) and goes to f2.8 throughout the zoom range. Now THAT's a nice lens for an off brand. Gutsy little bugger, too.

  by GP40MC 1116
Nearly all of my railroad photography has been shot using my first and only camera I have owned, my Canon Power Shot A60. It is small and works well, though I am considering strongly to move up. A friend of mine uses the Canon EOS 20D and I am VERY impressed with his shots. Well, since I am a broke student working my way through college, I am considering once I have the money this comming fall/ winter to invest in the Digital Rebel XT. Currently my Power Shot A60 is OOS (out of service) as ive been having problems, which Canon seems to think is the Defective CCD. Not sure if anyone has had experience dealing with their costomer service, but I must say it is wonderful. I e-maield them told them about my problem, as I have had my camera since April 2004. They e-mailed me back telling me the issue, and said i could send it to their Repair center, along with that came free shipping labels already addressed to them. All i need now is to put it in a box and they said it would be taken care of! Not bad at all! Wink
  by Terrapin Station
Let me be the first to praise the Nikon D50. I purchased one in December 2005 after owning a Canon G3 and then a G5 since 2003. I chose the D50 because my wife had recently purchased a D70 and a ton of lenses. I love the D50! I mainly take subway photos, but I also photograph MNCR, LIRR, etc.

For examples of my D50 photos, go to the following link and look at the photos taken after December 12, 2005.


Let me know if you have any questions!

edit: I should add that I purchased only the D50 body. I did not get the 18-55mm lens. Instead my primary lenses are a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for the subway and the D70 kit lens (Nikkor 18-70mm) for everything else. My full roster of lenses includes:

sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM
tokina 12-24mm AT-X 124 AF PRO DX f/4
nikkor 18-70mm AF-S DX f/3.5-4.5
sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom macro super II
nikkor 50mm f/1.8
nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D autofocus lens