Good cameras for beginners?

The_Train

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Pretty much what the title says. I've been using my phone camera to take photos on my outings but I'd quite like to upgrade to a proper camera soon.

Are there any reasonably priced (cheap ;)) cameras that are suitable for a beginner to photography with very little knowledge of any of the intricacies of the hobby?

Would I be better off looking into the 2nd hand market as a starting point instead of buying brand new?

Thanks guys
 
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Bevan Price

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Pretty much what the title says. I've been using my phone camera to take photos on my outings but I'd quite like to upgrade to a proper camera soon.

Are there any reasonably priced (cheap ;)) cameras that are suitable for a beginner to photography with very little knowledge of any of the intricacies of the hobby?

Would I be better off looking into the 2nd hand market as a starting point instead of buying brand new?

Thanks guys
You can get some 2nd hand bargains, but beware of buying from "dodgy / dubious sources". It probably helps if you know the previous owner, or buy from a reputable dealer. Buying from an unknown seller on the internet always carries a risk - you may be lucky, but equally it may be an unreliable performer.

Personally I prefer to "handle" a camera before purchase, to see if it is easy to use and comfortable to hold, so I don't mind paying a little extra to buy from a shop. Only you can decide what feels "comfortable" for you to use; for rail photography, I find it easier to hold a "SLR-size" camera steady when photographing moving trains - I seem to get more "camera shake" if I try small (pocket-sized) cameras.

Good camera makes have been discussed in other threads, but Canon & Nikon are amongst the best.
 

cactustwirly

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Go for a Nikon D3xxx! They're really good DSLRs for beginners!
I personally bought my D3200 off eBay, but make sure it's in good condition and has a low ish shutter count!
 

The_Train

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Thanks for the info guys.

@cactustwirly, when you say make sure it has a low shutter count are there any figures I should be looking for or will it simply be advertised as 'a low shutter count'?
 

a_c_skinner

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Low shutter count is below 10k. In truth it probably isn't that important as the shutters are expected to last 100k actuations.

The low end Nikon and Canon DSLRs are bargains, in practice not much to choose between them. You can make arguments both ways and arguments for avoiding them too but image quality for money spent cannot be beaten. Do buy a book that covers the very basics of photos (and work through it too) as without knowing a reasonable amount you'll find the whole thing disappointing (there is one on digital railway photography which covers the basics).
 

cactustwirly

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Thanks for the info guys.

@cactustwirly, when you say make sure it has a low shutter count are there any figures I should be looking for or will it simply be advertised as 'a low shutter count'?
Less than 20k, a shutter has a life of 75k - 100k exposures, so you want to make sure it's got plenty of life left in it!

I would recommend doing some sort of photography course, so you know what each setting does, or else if you just use Auto mode, then you won't be using the camera to its full potential!
 

Peter Mugridge

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Hmmm... is there any way I can look on my camera menus anywhere to see how many times the shutter has been fired?

It's a Nikon D40.
 

The_Train

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Less than 20k, a shutter has a life of 75k - 100k exposures, so you want to make sure it's got plenty of life left in it!

I would recommend doing some sort of photography course, so you know what each setting does, or else if you just use Auto mode, then you won't be using the camera to its full potential!
A photography course will be a must for me as I know literally nothing about it barring getting what you want in shot and ensure its not blurry. There is a free basic photography course at a local college near me so I will look to get on to that once I have a camera sorted
 

The_Train

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I popped into an independent photography store yesterday and they advised me to consider something from the range of 'new' mirrorless cameras. He pointed me towards a Sony A6000 which was touching £500 (closer to £400 with some offers they had on). That said it did feel like he was doing a 'sales job' on me as he was reluctant to discuss their range of cheaper 2nd hand cameras (one of which was an A6000 for nearly £200 less than their price for a brand new one) and kept taking me back to the mirrorless range so not sure I should read too much into him telling me mirrorless is the only way forward now.

Thought I'd share this though to see if anyone can add anything to what he was saying from their own experiences
 

cactustwirly

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I popped into an independent photography store yesterday and they advised me to consider something from the range of 'new' mirrorless cameras. He pointed me towards a Sony A6000 which was touching £500 (closer to £400 with some offers they had on). That said it did feel like he was doing a 'sales job' on me as he was reluctant to discuss their range of cheaper 2nd hand cameras (one of which was an A6000 for nearly £200 less than their price for a brand new one) and kept taking me back to the mirrorless range so not sure I should read too much into him telling me mirrorless is the only way forward now.

Thought I'd share this though to see if anyone can add anything to what he was saying from their own experiences
Yeah mirrorless is a new thing atm, but you won't be gaining anything as a beginner.
I'd stick with a traditional DSLR for now.
If you're looking round the £200 mark then that buys you a decent Nikon D3200, maybe even a D3300.
 

krus_aragon

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not sure I should read too much into him telling me mirrorless is the only way forward now.
For the manufacturers, mirrorless is the way forward. Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm have been been producing mirrorless systems with (relatively) small sensors for several years, and now Canon and Nikon are starting to introduce large-sensor mirrorless systems. In five years or so, all their professional or prosumer cameras will be mirrorless.

For the customer, mirrorless isn't mandatory (yet). It's more important to get a camera that you can use, that you can afford, and that works well.

For the retailer, the way forward is to sell the camera that will net the greatest profit.

The step from Digital SLR to mirrorless is far less revolutionary than that from film to digital was. Nikon's recent announcement of their first (large sensor) mirrorless cameras didn't make all their existing DSLRs obsolete overnight. In fact, they will still be selling DSLRs for years (as they transition from one technology to the other), and the benefits of their mirrorless bodies won't come to fruition properly until they have a broad range of lenses that make use of their new mirrorless mount.

Don't feel that you have to get the latest and greatest. Any DSLR or mirrorless camera manufactured in the last few years will be a perfectly capable camera, and will let you learn about the camera controls and techniques that aren't easily usable on a mobile phone. (Aperture control, focus and metering, tripod work, flash options, etc.) Go for something you can afford, and that you will hopefully enjoy. Having used your new camera for a few years, you'll have a far better idea of wheter you need the added features of a more expensive camera or not.

(I bought a manufacturer-refurbished Nikon over seven years ago, and am still happy with its performance. There's nothing on the market that makes me want to spend money replacing it yet.)
 

Islineclear3_1

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@The_Train

At the very least, you will need to study exposure and the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Any beginner's photography book will explain this to you

Also to consider when buying a camera (especially dSLR); you are not just buying 'the camera' but you're buying into a 'system' that include "add-ons" like lenses, filters, flashguns, batteries, memory cards etc, most of which are made specifically for that camera.

Some lenses/batteries/flashes etc are interchangable between bodies but not always between brands. For example, you cannot "usually" mount a Nikon lens on a Canon or Olympus camera without some serious hacking and compromise on autofocus etc - not a job for the novice or faint-hearted!

You can buy a cheap one for now and "upgrade" later when you get more proficient
 

E_Reeves

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I'd recommend a Nikon D3200. It is fairly cheap to buy and also has a menu to help you select the best option for taking your photos, so it's also good for beginners with DSLRs. Of course, it also works great as a normal DSLR and has all of the functions you expect.
 

krus_aragon

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I'd recommend a Nikon D3200. It is fairly cheap to buy and also has a menu to help you select the best option for taking your photos, so it's also good for beginners with DSLRs. Of course, it also works great as a normal DSLR and has all of the functions you expect.
If I may take the liberty, you can expand that recommendation to the whole Nikon 3x00 line. They're a series of iterative improvements to a very good beginner camera.
 

vidal

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Rather than blindly saying buy Nikon or Canon (both are excellent) ensure you actually handle both, can navigate quickly through the menus and change settings accurately. Also see which actually feels better in the hand. No point in buying one system and then having to adapt to it - find one that works for you. Any reputable camera shop will allow you to do this.

Otherwise visit a camera club, ask for advice. Handle the equipment (oooer Missus) and make an informed choice yourself, rather than what a salesman is getting most commision on.

James
 

bieomax

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Some slight mis information on mirrorless like grouping Sony with Fuji/Panasonic.

Sony produce either aps-c or full frame sensors as opposed to the m43 system Panasonic/Fuji produces. So they are comparable to any sensor Nikon/Canon produce (infact nikon for the last few years have been putting sony sensors in their full frame dslrs, plus have been getting a little better Iso performance out of them).

Sony have currently been pushing the envelope in the full frame mirrorless arena since the original A7 5-6years ago and the current third versions of the A7 family are v.hard to beat. Which is why Canon and Nikon are now trying to tap into that market segment as Sony have proven that you don't need the mirror to drive the autofocus sensor which is what the dlsr's would always beat the early mirrorless camera's on (thus the a6300 comment below)

The A6000 is ok, if you had the funds i'd try and push for the a6300 or above as they have the far greater AF tech in them. Your not losing or gaining anything between mirrorless and mirrored(dlsr) as for learning you have all the same controls, its just the interface which is different you have more external controls on the dslr, where as the mirrorless is more on screen/menu driven (dependant on body) one thing with the smaller mirrorless camera's is that they are pocketable and less obtrusive when out and about.

I'd echo the above comments go out and try as many camera's as you can and find the best fit. And look at the body features, things like an flip out LCD screen is a god send when going for low or over peoples heads shots. Its nice to avoid having to lay in the dirt trying to compose looking through the eye piece or an fixed rear screen. Other items like wifi is handy for instance transfer to a phone app, most also have a live view remote phone app too which can be handy.

A work mate has just got the Nikon d5300 i think and its a great piece of kit.

But a word of warning all kit lenses you get with camera's aren't brilliant, they'll get you through the learning stage but if you can pick up a 35mm f1.8 (most of the big brands have 1 for about 150, or less if you go 2nd hand) but they are well worth the increased sharpness and depth of field options they give you, and it would give a 50mm equivalent degree of view which is nice for a general walk about lens)


Anyhow my apologies rant/spouting over.
 

156443

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Got my first DSLR from Argos just after Christmas for about £300. Produces some good photos. It’s a Canon EOS 4000D.
 

palmersears

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Could I revive this thread to ask for an updated answer to the same question?

My Grandad, a railway worker for 60 years, and a keen photographer, has left me some money to begin exploring the hobby a bit more, so I'm looking for my first DSLR camera now. I've got £600 to play with but would like to get a lens included for that kind of price. I'm happy to buy second hand.

Also, good resources on improving my photography skills (books, websites etc) would be much appreciated.

My thanks in advance :)
 

cactustwirly

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Could I revive this thread to ask for an updated answer to the same question?

My Grandad, a railway worker for 60 years, and a keen photographer, has left me some money to begin exploring the hobby a bit more, so I'm looking for my first DSLR camera now. I've got £600 to play with but would like to get a lens included for that kind of price. I'm happy to buy second hand.

Also, good resources on improving my photography skills (books, websites etc) would be much appreciated.

My thanks in advance :)
For an entry level camera, I'd definitely go with a Nikon D3xxx. Personally I have a D3200 which is quite old now, but you may wish to go for a newer 34/3500.
You also get a 18-55mm lense, which is suitable for most pictures.

The best way to improve your skills is to practice, just go out at different times of day, take pictures and have a play with the settings.
Obviously I'd watch some videos on YouTube first, so you have an idea about what each setting does and how it affects the picture.

Essentially it's like filling a bucket of water, the shutter speed is basically how long the 'tap' is on for, and the aperture is how much flow is coming out of the 'tap'.
 
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JonasB

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Could I revive this thread to ask for an updated answer to the same question?

My Grandad, a railway worker for 60 years, and a keen photographer, has left me some money to begin exploring the hobby a bit more, so I'm looking for my first DSLR camera now. I've got £600 to play with but would like to get a lens included for that kind of price. I'm happy to buy second hand.

Also, good resources on improving my photography skills (books, websites etc) would be much appreciated.

My thanks in advance :)
Don't just think about the camera, think about the lens as well. As a Canon user myself I suggest you take a look at EOS 250D or something similar. And also think about whether you need a DSLR or if a mirrorless camera would suit you better.

And if you have any friends of family with a DSLR it might be a good idea to buy the same brand as them so that you can use each other's lenses and other equipment.

Essentially it's like filling a bucket of water, the shutter speed is basically how long the 'tap' is on for, and the aperture is how much flow is coming out of the 'tap'.
And the sensor's sensitivity (ISO) is the size of the bucket.
 

Islineclear3_1

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Remember, think about what you want to be photographing and what (if anything) you want to be doing with the photographs you take.

In my personal opinion, I would consider the lens quality to be more important than the camera body, and for some lenses, they hold their value better in case you want to sell and upgrade in the coming years. Digital camera bodies go out of fashion quickly as they get updated but you can use the same lens (on compatible bodies) for years and years.

Always buy the best you can afford

Read up on exposure and the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture
 

palmersears

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Many thanks all, I've taken the plunge and got a Canon EOS 250D plus 18-55mm lens for just under £400, which seems to be a solid price. Ventured out today and took a few shots, most of which won't see the light of day, but that's all part of the learning process I suppose.

For those that do want to follow my initial foray into photography my Flickr is here:


Any advice would be greatly received!
 

cactustwirly

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Many thanks all, I've taken the plunge and got a Canon EOS 250D plus 18-55mm lens for just under £400, which seems to be a solid price. Ventured out today and took a few shots, most of which won't see the light of day, but that's all part of the learning process I suppose.

For those that do want to follow my initial foray into photography my Flickr is here:


Any advice would be greatly received!
Well done, they look like good photos.

A few things I would say, if I'm being really picky, is drop the ISO to 200. And if you're going to use such a wide aperture as f/8, I would make sure the camera is focusing on the front of the loco, in the 66 example I would have moved the point of focus towards the right.
 

palmersears

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Well done, they look like good photos.

A few things I would say, if I'm being really picky, is drop the ISO to 200. And if you're going to use such a wide aperture as f/8, I would make sure the camera is focusing on the front of the loco, in the 66 example I would have moved the point of focus towards the right.
All very sound advice, thank you. I did wonder about whether the aperture should perhaps have been slightly narrower, I shall try that next time.
 

Islineclear3_1

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Well done, they look like good photos.

A few things I would say, if I'm being really picky, is drop the ISO to 200. And if you're going to use such a wide aperture as f/8, I would make sure the camera is focusing on the front of the loco, in the 66 example I would have moved the point of focus towards the right.

Good photos but assuming the Class 60 was moving at a specified speed; a shutter speed of 1/100 is too slow and would blur the engine. I don't know the location, nor the rough speed of the tug but if you are looking to freeze its movement, then I would suggest upwards of 1/250
 

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