birthday wish

T-minus nine days until my 30th birthday, people. NINE DAYS. Excuse me while I observe a moment of silence for my twenties.

*there they go…sniff, sniff*

Anyway, onto the more important issues: what I want for my birthday. Yes, I’m approaching 30 and I still make a birthday list. What? I’m not greedy — I just don’t want my loved ones to waste their money on things I won’t like! I’m being a courteous gift recipient by making a list.

In reality, there is really only one thing I want. And I can tell you now that it’s not gonna happen, but it’s the first thing I think of when I start dreaming of birthdayland.

image source

I really, really, really want a digital SLR camera.

I love my Panasonic Lumix TZ-5, but I want a “real” camera. One that I won’t feel the need to replace in two years; one that I can build on and improve with lenses, that I can use to learn to be a better photographer. I’ll never be Annie Liebovitz, but I’ve always liked photography and I’m dying to learn more.

It’s not going to happen for my birthday, which is okay, and I’ll be saving up my own pennies to buy one eventually… so when that day comes, what should I get? So many choices! Tell me what you recommend and why!


  1. I’m sure you’ll be overrun by “Canon!” and “Nikon!” -backers soon, so I thought I’d better sneak in my piece. We shoot with Olympus. The bodies are well-made, but inexpensive. Whereas some people will say Canon is better for live subject/animal/people photos versus Nikon for Nature/landscapes, Olympus seems to have no boundary. No extra soft edges or blown out reds [canon], to jagged edges or oversharpness (Nikon). A few months ago, we were considering buying more lenses and seriously took a look at all the dSLR brands out there. We could not find a good reason to switch to either of the big 2. In our opinions, we could not find the same quality, wide aperture lenses for Canon or Nikon that we could for our Olys. I was honestly very surprised at the lack of variety of good quality Canon lenses (and the unfathomable price of the ones that were out there). Additionally, Olympus dSLRs cameras (along with Pentax K series dSLRs) have in-body anti-shake/image stabilization. (You see this on most point-and-shoots nowadays – helps you take a clearer picture in lower light.) Like I said, it’s *in the body* of our Olympuses. Most of the other dSLR cameras out there do not have it, or it’s in the individual LENSES (which then cost $$$$$$ because of that feature). Anyway, I love our olympuses (enough that we have TWO) and would recommend!

  2. I too am saving for a “real” camera. And I hope you will get one for your birthday;) pretty sure I know even less about photography than you, so quite appreciative of the comment above! Good luck!

  3. I have a Canon Digital Rebel. I like it! But I have a feeling I wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference between a Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony or whatever. How are you feeling about the whole “30” thing?? I have 26 days left. :)

  4. Yay birthday!! I have a Canon Rebel, but honestly I don’t think it matters. People I know who have Nikon cameras love theirs as well. One piece of advice that was helpful when I was shopping was that the lens you choose is just as important (or more) as the body. I bought mine separately, but the lens that comes bundled with the body is a good jumping off point too. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions at all! And happy almost birthday!

  5. I bought my husband a nikon d5000 for his birthday this year. From my research, it was a good camera for a more beginner level that would allow upgrades in lenses to match improving skill levels. I’ve tried it too, and I really like it! User friendly and not too hard for me to figure out. Costco usually has these on sale, but I got ours from for way cheaper.

  6. We recently caved and bought a Nikon D5000, and it was SO worth it! We looked at the D90 but felt the 5000 was better for our novice selves. I highly recommend it! ;)

  7. I’ve had a great time with my D90—pretty happy with the pictures I’ve taken, even despite not having taken a class yet (it’s on my list!!!). My dad gave me a few quickie tutorials (he’s been into photography since he was in college) but even just shooting on auto with the included kit lens gives you pretty great pics.

  8. I don’t have much experience with other brands, but I do know that both Canon and Nikon are solid, reliable brands. After narrowing down your choices online ( is a GREAT resource), go to a camera store — not a general electronics store but a camera store so you’ll have very knowledgeable salespeople helping you out — and try them out in person. I really loved the Nikon D90 but it just didn’t feel natural on my hands, and that’s what made me choose the Canon T1i instead.

    If you can make it out to NYC sometime I highly recommend that you visit B&H (…the salespeople really know their stuff and will help you choose the best camera for your needs.

    And I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but don’t get the kit lens! It’s sooo worth the extra money to spend a bit more on a good, reliable lens.

  9. I bought a D90 off of craigslist from a guy who was upgrading to a D300. I specifically bought it because I wanted some room to grow into it (I could have bought the 5000 at a beginner level, but I’m expecting to have this camera for the long haul – I inherited a film FG from an Aunt who had used it for 25 years). I also had several lenses from my FG that would still fit with the D90. One more plug for Nikon, the parts are available worldwide, so if you travel a lot, you’ll have access to parts/repairs (came in handy for me when I studied abroad).

  10. I can only speak from a week of experience, but we just bought the Canon Rebel kit and I definitely recommend it. We got it on the rec of two good friends who have been using it for a couple of years and, like us, are pretty novice photographers who wanted a quality DSLR that takes great photos but doesn’t have too many bells and whistles. You can’t really beat the price ($529 from B&H with a lens) and it’s relatively easy to use. This coming from me, who does not enjoy learning to do new things with technology. I’ll bring it out next time I see you so that you can check it out and take a few pics… But come to think of it I think this is the same camera MMM has and I’m sure you’ve seen hers. But maybe hers is a Nikon. I can’t remember. Okay, now I’m rambling….

  11. I bought a Canon Rebel T1i in May for my law school graduation and I love love love it. However, I can’t say that it would be better than a Nikon. I have both the kit lens (which is actually a great lens) and a 50mm lens, which was about $100 and is fantastic. However, with Canon and Nikon, if you want multiple lenses, you end up spending a TON of money on the lenses. I thought all I wanted was a standard zoom and a 50mm, but now I’m itching for a telephoto too. My cousin advised me that if I wanted multiple lenses, I should go for a Pentax camera, because the IS system is built into the camera, not the lens. When the IS is on the lens, the lenses are so much more expensive. I ultimately went for Canon because I trusted the brand more and I didn’t find a Pentax I could hold and play with.
    Really it will come down to how the camera feels in your hand. The rebels were so intuitive when I held them and the Nikons didn’t feel right.

  12. I really really really want a dSLR also. I’m faving this post so I have it for future reference whenever that day comes I can get one.

    Happy early birthday :)

  13. For our wedding hubs bought me a Pentax K20D (from love!) and so far I am enjoying it. The model is about 2 yrs old so he got a hella deal on it- all the reviews I have read are good and I can’t complain.

  14. I’m sure either way you can’t go wrong. We read up on Consumer Reports and we went with the Canon Rebel T1i because it had slightly better overall reviews than the Nikon D90. I have LOVED it so far! :)

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