/ Advice on Camera Type for Ambitious Beginner

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Steff - on 15 Nov 2016

Please help me choose the right type of camera for my intended use. I have budget of around 500 pounds (well Euros in my case, but not much difference now ;-)).
In particular, I am struggling to decide whether to get a decent compact or bridge camera, CSC or DSLR.
I am relatively new to photography, but know the very basics (ISO, exposure time, white balance). The camera will be used for quite varied activities:
I quite like long exposure night photography (currently achieving reasonable results on a GoPro) and daytime landscape photography. But, and this is the reason I am not sure about CSC, I would also like to take action shots of my son's football games.
I understand that in my price range I am looking at an entry level CSC or some sort of DSLR. I have not discarded compact, but think I might like the ability to add lenses later on, so am leaning towards DSLR at the moment.
Any opinions? Any brand / model recommendations? Anything I haven£t thought of?
Thanks in advance.
Post edited at 12:11
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:
Digital photography has come on in leaps and bounds over the last ten years with incremental upgrades year on year. However digital cameras themselves have not correspondingly broken down or died as quickly as upgraded products hit the shelves. In fact if looked after digital cameas can last for 10+ years and work very well.

My first digital compact, a Nikon Coolpix 885 camera, hit the shops in 2001. It only takes 3.5mp images but it still works and takes images perfect for internet viewing. Quite a few of those images are on my UKC gallery. Its just a compact and is light-years behind anything today, even on my phone. But it still works.

Moving away from my example of a simple point and click camera, about five years ago I bought a second-hand dSLR, Nikon D40, off ebay for £99 to give to my climbing partner who studied photography at college and loved his 35mm film SLR. That camera hit the shops in 2006. To this day the camera is my mate's primary camera and is used at every opportunity from family events to climbing to skiing trips.

He has just upgraded the image quality and capabilities of his camera when I sold him my old nikon 18-105mm lens and he is still impressed with the image quality produced by a 10 year old camera with 6mp images and only three focusing points in the view finder. Most importantly his camera can be put into complete manual mode.

The only drawback of a 10 year old camera is the issue of ISO which goes up to 1600. Even that is not the end of the world, as most shots are taken outside where the ISO sticks around 200 to 800 at most. And there is a wonderful invention called a tripod if slower shutter speeds are required rather than chasing higher and higher ISO settings.


If you have a limited budget and you want to get as much technology as possible then I would buy second-hand.

Take my own camera as an example. I have a Nikon D5000 and a sigma 17-70 lens virtually glued to it. The camera was bought brand spanking new when it was released in 2009 and the lens was bought in January this year. The lens was the best that I could afford or more accurately think I could justify without Little Miss Lemming telling me off for being so stupid with spending my money.

My Nikon camera still takes pictures that I am exceptionally proud of. Most importantly there is no sign of that camera showing signs of malfunction or imminent death even with just under a shutter count of 75,000.

The count is quite high as I quite like doing time-lapse photography.

My point is that my camera cost £850 new, with a kit lens, and an extra Sigma lens of £320 bought this year. All this comes to £1,170. That's a lot of moola for a camera that still produces excellent results.

Now if I wanted to buy that setup from a second-hand website such as mpb.com then I would expect to shell out the princely sum of £140 ish for the camera. Now as the lens is so new you'd have to pay full price unless you can find it second-hand. Even still the whole set-up would be under £500 giving you enough cash to buy extra batteries or a filter or two.

You could go all giddy and go for a professional camera like a Nikon D3 with full-frame sensor for £550 body only. That puppy would hold its own quite well.

You can get quite a lot of technology if you go second-hand rather than getting bleeding edge kit.



Edit

I am now experimenting with Micro four thirds. Not because my dSLR is crap but more to do with the fact that I am now enjoying taking videos in 4k.

Post edited at 13:02
mac fae stirling - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

I guess something like the Nikon D3300 will be able to do all you want, and more.
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

You could take a look at Jessops and see their brand new dSLR's + kit lens for £299. There is a £20 cash back with a few hoops to jump through getting the final bill down to £279.

You don't necessarily have to think dSLR's are fookin expensive.

Here is an interesting youtube which talks about professional lenses on cheap dSLR's and cheap kit lenses on expensive dSLR's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk5IMmEDWH4
Steff - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to mac fae stirling:

> I guess something like the Nikon D3300 will be able to do all you want, and more.

Thanks. Yes, the D3300 is a camera I am considering.

Maybe I phrased my original question badly. My main doubt is whether for my intended use and budget a DSLR, such as the Nikon mentioned, is best, or a CSC, or maybe even a decent compact.
How about something like a Sonu A5000 in comparison for example.
Steff - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to The Lemming:


> You don't necessarily have to think dSLR's are fookin expensive.

Thanks for both of your detailed and informative answers.
Considering my budget, I was actually under the impression that I could get a fairly decent DSRL, but would have to pay more for a comparable CSC. But I donít know enough to know for sure. Internet advice seems to be conflicting (not surprisingly ;-)).

mac fae stirling - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

Up to you ultimately of course, but you didn't stipulate that it had to be small in size so, for £379 {Amazon} the Nikon D3300 would seem to meet all of your needs. And it is actually quite a compact camera anyway - depends what lens you put on it of course. But, yes, there are lots of great cameras out there for up to £500.
As it happens, I had a Sony A5000 which I just sold recently. Very nice wee camera too, but personally I think the lack of viewfinder makes it less useful for the list of things you wanted to do with a camera, e.g. I wouldn't fancy taking action shots of football games with the Sony, I would find it much easier looking through the lens of the Nikon.
PS - I don't have a Nikon, my mate does and it serves him very well. I am sure the Canon 1300D, or the 700d for a bit more cash, would also be great. Along with numerous other cameras/brands.. but for one reasonably priced and positively reviewed package the Nikon D3300 would take some beating.
rallymania on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:
I have the a6000, i'd say the main "issue" with the Sony CSC vs budget dslr is lens availability and cost.

a budget DSLR from canon or nikon have loads of oem and third party lenses for them tokina, sigma and tamron. some of these are available for mirror-less CSC's but there's still not quite the range yet.

a DSLR also generally has a larger battery and better third party accessories for it. eg a cable release for a budget dslr can be about £15

however (and here's the main reason i switched from a canon 600d to a sony a6000), the sony is much smaller and so consumes less space in my bag when travelling... and the camera and kit lens fit in a jacket pocket, no way my dslr would ever do that.

(edit to add)
and remember you also need a computer and some software to manage and process your photos, at least one spare battery is a good idea and make sure you buy a sensible speed memory card(s), the cheapest of the cheap from a supermarket often will be very slow to write the images onto the card, so you may lose potential shots waiting for the previous shot to save.
Post edited at 16:24
Dan Arkle - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to mac fae stirling:

Some good advice here.
dSLRs are a cheaper package when you add in a lens or two.

I've not used one but think the D3300 would be a great choice, get that.
Sony A6000 series is excellent and small, but with a poor and expensive lens selection.

If you are ambitious and like night photography then I would avoid the 18mp Canons, as the sensor isn't as good. I use these, and although I like to feel I get the best out of them, it does annoy me.
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:


> Considering my budget, I was actually under the impression that I could get a fairly decent DSRL, but would have to pay more for a comparable CSC. But I donít know enough to know for sure.

Just taken my new Micro four thirds camera out to play for the first time this afternoon which I think is the same sort of technical babble-speak as CSC.

And my first impressions were agggg. The screen/display goes blank/freezes between shots and I have to wait an eternity before I can press the shutter again. My dSLR was up and ready the instant the mirror popped back down for another shot.

Saying all that, I have a huge learning curve ahead of me and probably messed up the settings somewhere along the line. I have just taken a quick look at my first images and video taken with my new camera and I have to say that the photos are jaw-droppingly pin-sharp and the video is far superior to anything I own.

I'm now torn between my love of the dSLR and its lightning fast reaction times to what is going on before my eyes and the mirror-less camera which produces almost flawless images.
rallymania on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to The Lemming:

> And my first impressions were agggg. The screen/display goes blank/freezes between shots and I have to wait an eternity before I can press the shutter again.

memory card "issue"?
keith-ratcliffe on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to The Lemming:
This may be fairly obvious so ignore it if it is.
When I moved up a spec in my DSLR I had to buy a new set of SD cards with much faster write speeds to overcome exactly this problem.
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to rallymania:

> memory card "issue"?

Hope not as the card used was a 64Gb capacity with a 95MB/s write speed.

Got a feeling this card is fast enough. More like user stupidity with a camera that just came out of the box.

richlan - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to The Lemming:

Which M4/3 is it ?
lordyosch - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

I bought my first 'grown up' camera last summer before a month long trip to Ecuador.

I wanted lightweight, good photo quality and functionality (up to manual control).

I opted for a Sony A6000 (Partly because backpacking guru Chris Townsend rated the model it replaced so highly).
I only have the stock 16-50mm lens but the resolution is so good you can crop viciously and pretend it was a tele!

The camera is perfect for my needs. Considerably smaller than SLR's. 24mpx. More functions and cleverness than I could possible fathom!

It also takes great photos. Though some of them have wonky horizons...


A quick google tells me they're now £420 up.
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to The Lemming:


> And my first impressions were agggg. The screen/display goes blank/freezes between shots and I have to wait an eternity before I can press the shutter again. My dSLR was up and ready the instant the mirror popped back down for another shot.



Yep user stupidity on my part. The camera was set for a 2 second view of each image shot. This is now disabled and there is no delay what so ever.

In fact I discovered that I had taken countless bursts of images while the screen was displaying an image.

Doh!

I have a suspicion that I will become a four thirds fanboy soon.

ChrisJD on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

As you were after other suggestions and others you've not thought of ....

For under £500 (with cashback deals), you could join the Fuji-X crowd with an X-T10 with XC-16-50mm kit lens. A lot of Fuji fans on UKC now.

I've been through high end to mid range Canon DSLR and a fair few CSC cameras, and the newer Fuji-X cameras just do it all right for me.
The Lemming - on 15 Nov 2016
In reply to ChrisJD:


> I've been through high end to mid range Canon DSLR and a fair few CSC cameras, and the newer Fuji-X cameras just do it all right for me.

dSLR's may have had their heyday six years ago and, along with every other camera they are dying out in favour of phones.

Maybe the mirrorless camera will rise from the ashes of people abandoning cameras for instant fixes of social media selfies?

Now seems to be the perfect moment to bag a bargain either brand new or second-hand.



Steff - on 16 Nov 2016
In reply to all:

Thanks for all good advice. Plenty to think about.

I hadn't thought about size of the camera, but suppose the small size of a CSC would make me carry it with me more often. The main reason I take a lot of photos on my GoPro these days, is that it's samll enough to always be in my pocket.

The Lemming - on 16 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

> Thanks for all good advice. Plenty to think about.

> I hadn't thought about size of the camera, but suppose the small size of a CSC would make me carry it with me more often. The main reason I take a lot of photos on my GoPro these days, is that it's samll enough to always be in my pocket.

If you are after a good compact that will fit in your pocket then I've got a Canon Powershot S90, which I bought off this very site, sitting in a drawer. You are more than welcome to buy it off me. I have not used it for a year or so but it still works fine.

malk - on 16 Nov 2016
In reply to lordyosch:

i got the sony 5100 a few years ago- a more recent model than the 6000 with better video for the bargain price of 299 new with kit lens (cheaper than the inferior 5000 now is). prices for 5100 are now ~500 - wtf?
the 6000 replacements are also overpriced imo

i've turned to m43 recently with the olympus e-m5 and 12-50- a good combo for ambitious beginner imo - and cheap (150-200 for used body and less for new lens)
Steff - on 25 Nov 2016
In reply to all:

Just thought I should report back with my final decision. I have come to realize that I really want two cameras for different uses, a small mirrorless for traveling and a Nikon style DSLR for other uses (as described above).
So I have got myself an Olympus E-PL7 with two lenses in a Black Friday deal and will probably get a Nikon DSLR in couple of monthsí time (unless I really donít see the need after using the Olympus for a while)
I have only done some test shooting with the Olympus, but seems very comfortable to use so far.
Thanks again for all the useful advice. Has definitely helped me decide.


ChrisJD on 25 Nov 2016
Steff - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to ChrisJD:
> Will you be using it as Oly intended though?


hahaha, I doubt that. Actually, I think they are underselling it marketing it like this. I went for the Olympus after comparing it to the Sony models in the same price range and similar black friday deals, because the Olympus, because it has slightly better features for the night photography and light painting I do.

Tried it on the football pitch during my son's game yesterday and am quite pleased with the outcome, also it took me a while to figure out how to set the different auto focus options, so that the camera focused quickly on the player I actually want in focus.
Post edited at 09:21
malk - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

good choice with your camera. they do have a rather complicated menu system tho - have you discovered the super control panel yet?;)
i think you need C-AF TR mode for tracking moving subjects
there's also a 0 sec anti-shock option that you can turn on to stop shutter-shock..
SebCa - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

I used a D3/D3s/D4 in work and they were big pieces of kit but very good. The 700 and subsequent 800 are full frame cameras and you can pick up bargains on evilbay. Both pro spec cameras. The 700 became my go to camera in work. Really liked it with the 70-200 2.8 lens. I personally went for the 7000 which has since been upgraded and whilst it isn't full frame it still produces great results. I bought my wife the 3000 and I get frustrated by its 'basic' level. You will have so much more control over the bigger boys if you're willing to spend the time learning how to use them properly. It sounds like you do though!

Never put it on P mode and enjoy!
The Lemming - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to SebCa:


> Never put it on P mode and enjoy!

Why not?

Some times when I want to capture something that is happening very quickly around me, and I don't have time to faff, then I dial in P mode to be on the safe side.

L TheAtrociousSnowman on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to SebCa:

Programme shift, which they seem to be calling 'flexible program', is very handy on the Nikons: just move the rear command dial for the preferred aperture/shutter combination while in 'P' mode.
Steff - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to malk:

> good choice with your camera. they do have a rather complicated menu system tho - have you discovered the super control panel yet?;)

Yes. Took a while to find it though ;-)

The naming of some of the function and options in the menu is a bit frustrating.
ads.ukclimbing.com
malk - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:
have you named your camera yet?;)
i found dpreview useful when setting up my e-m5 eg: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/41411509
this maybe more useful for your e-pl7 : http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3842102
Post edited at 15:34
Steff - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to malk:

> this maybe more useful for your e-pl7 : http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3842102

Thanks! Usefull resource!
Sean Bell - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to ChrisJD:

Another vote for Fuji X System

Finally dumped my clunky Nikon SLR's in favour of the Xt2 and Xpro2 for all of my Wedding/Commercial work and haven't looked back. Great system with World class lenses.

To the OP, as Chris has said , jump into the system with an Xt-10 or similar...

ChrisJD on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to Sean Bell:

Too late Sean - she's has a nice Oly already.


(good to hear the X's are doing it for you - I'm still waiting for my X-T2 to arrive...)
olliehales - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Steff:

I'm lusting after a Fuji X100T, I'm into high quality point and shoots with prime lenses. Currently have a Ricoh GR but miss having a viewfinder and think would prefer 35mm focal length.

Fraser on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to Sean Bell:

> Finally dumped my clunky Nikon SLR's in favour of the Xt2 and Xpro2 for all of my Wedding/Commercial work and haven't looked back.

Burn the witch! ;)
ChrisJD on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to olliehales:

I've got a X100T and its been great. Interestingly though, I ended up not using the optical viewfinder for landscape type shots as the EVF-via viewfinder gave much/easier better exposure control in manual - way better to control blowing the highlights. And you see exactly what is in the shot, rather than an estimate.
Sean Bell - on 30 Nov 2016
In reply to olliehales:

X100T is a great wee camera, the WCL and TCL convertors are surprisingly good aswell..

I sold mine on to fund another lens for the XT2 but it was a capable performer, I used it for holidays aswell as for paid work, certainly for fast moving subjects its not as strong as its bigger brothers/sisters but for a pocketable landscape/climbing tool pretty awesome..

I shot about 25% of these images with the X100T and think the results sit in there nicely with the top end Nikon's I was using at the time..! https://seanbellphotography.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/steve-lauren/

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