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Best beginner DSLR for landscape/wildlife photography

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by annecv, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. annecv

    annecv Member

    Hi -I am new to this Forum/site ,am hoping to move to an SLR ,have researched online but really need more advice before I purchase.Reviews seem to go on about video quality but I rarely take any.I don't like looking at images on LCD screens,yet this is something else reviews seem to rate as important.I have no interest in taking sports action shots either.Few reviews ever mention what I'm most interested in,apart from one - I read the K50 wasn't so good for wildlife(not sure why).

    I have had my Lumix DMC FZ18 for about 6 years,great camera(for me) but want to move onto an SLR as I am really interested in photography and want something that gives me more scope to develop skills/improve photo quality/use filters/get good panorama shots.

    I spend a lot of time walking (Scottish Highlands,sometimes abroad) and love landscape and wildlife photography.I have a birdwatching scope but would need an SLR to connect to it for photos(though that's not really essential).
    The Canon 600D and Nikon D3100 are coming out strong but I've also read the Nikon lens kit isn't great and you need to purchase something separate.I want a camera that offers superb quality images/colour/definition (who doesn't I suppose!),isn't too bulky and heavy and has image stabilisation(though it sounds like its the lens that has this ,not the SLR camera?)
    What I loved about my current camera is the Leica lens.I'm also assuming that most/all DSLRs have got an 'Auto' mode to just let you point and shoot until you get to grips with the technology?
    So - I'd really appreciate your views....many thanks for reading![​IMG]
  2. LesleySM

    LesleySM Well-Known Member

    I also never use the video function and rarely if ever use the liveview display. Can vouch for the D3100- I used mine for 2+ years and it's a lovely entry level camera and doesn't weigh much at all (My partner who has less than half a hand now uses it and doesn't notice the weight but couldn't handle my D7000). Not sure about the lens I used the kit lens for a very short time and don't really do much wildlife and landscape work but someone here will be along shortly with experienced advice
  3. chrisjbsc

    chrisjbsc Member

    Moving to an D-SLR does seem to be very "last decade" at the moment.
    I would look VERY strongly at the mirrorless cameras, and especially the Olympus OM-D E-M1. With its micro-four-thirds lenses, you can get a great 70-300 (which becomes 140-600mm equivalent) in a size that is still carryable while you are walking, yet gives perfect pictures.

    A D-SLR can become very big, and the lenses needed to do wild-life photography will be bigger and heavier still. Not a good idea if you are doing lots of walking...
  4. LesleySM

    LesleySM Well-Known Member

    Yep all entry level (and higher DSLR's) have an "auto" mode - think of it as being like the stabilisers on a kids bike- it means you can get some decent shots while you're learning until the day comes when you daringly take the stabilisers off and switch to AP or SP. One useful feature is getting a shot you like or don't like in auto then being able to look at the data and find out what the settings were so yes you get to grips with the complicated stuff...when I first went onto AP if I thought the picture was one I'd want to keep I confess I slipped back into auto for one or two shots so I'd at least have something saved to keep.

    Also look for various "scene" settings where you're telling the camera to do say a landscape shot in auto mode so it can adjust better for that photo than if you just took an auto shot
  5. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    And I can vouch for the 600D.
    I don't think that the VR version of the Nikkor lens would be to bad, true it is a kit lens that comes as a "bonus" but I would think that it should be capable of most normal situations. The EF-S 18-55 IS II that usually comes with the 600D is actually rather good so no complaints there.
    As for which is best it is basically down to what you feel is right. The logic, layout and having confidence in the camera will go a long way and remember if you won't take it with you hiking it is useless so think about that as well while trying them out.
    The fact is that more or less every DSLR that has been made in the last 5 years or so is more than enough for most of us and you will be hard pressed to actually find a bad one.

    My choice, a eos 600D with the excellent EF-S 15-85mm from Canon. I can recommend it and it feels right to me. your preferences may or may not be the same
  6. LesleySM

    LesleySM Well-Known Member

    That's when you invest in a very good camera bag- when I did the London Zoo shoot I walked round for about 5 hours carrying a D7000 body with a 18*55 f2.8 DX on, a Sigma 50-300 lens, a Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens and my faithful Nikkor 50mm f1.8 and a few odds and ends like wallet, phone, water etc.....and my feet hurt at the end of the day but my back and shoulder didn't and I have shoulder and back problems. In fact my handbag feels heavier because it doesn't have a decent shoulder strap
  7. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    Yup, mirrorless is the way to go.

    The Sony NEX models have the same sensors are are fitted to Sony, Nikon and Pentax DSLRs but don't have that great vibrating mirror.

    Excellent for backpacking because they are small and light.

    I suspect that you will have little difficulty in sourcing an adapter for your scope, while there is a now a good selection of wide angle lenses for these cameras to handle landscape work. The only drawback that I can see is that you will not have autofocus when using the scope. The alternative of a whopping great telephoto is both expensive and heavy/bulky. It depends upon what you want to shoot, and how close your can get, but I would imagine that 300 mm would be a minimum.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2013
  8. wave

    wave Well-Known Member

    as you have have said wildlife is what you want to take then i would look at at the 650d or 700d as they have a higher frame rate. also looking at the how quickly they focus, quick focus is a must for wildlife
  9. annecv

    annecv Member

    Many thanks to you all for such helpful replies, so quickly! Will check out the 650D and 700D as well as keeping in my 2 original choices until I try them all out in the shop.[​IMG]

    Mirrorless/micro-four-thirds - I did do some reading up on this but got a bit lost about whether they were worth choosing,beyond being lighter.I worried a bit, if they are relatively small and light, that they might be more easily damaged.I have to admit, I'm a bit rough with cameras, never had any bother with the Lumix,quite robust and seemed to suit its owner.But I take the point about big lenses.I know I'm missing something here, but do these cameras not need lenses too or are the lenses designed for them also small and light?Probably a stupid question.
    I also notice some of the cameras have more limited AF (some in single figures others in the 30s).Should I consider this also?
  10. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The major downside of mirrorless cameras is the evf. They are poor compared with the lifelike image on a dslr. And yes I have used cameras with both types of system.
  11. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I'm not clear what the OP means by wildlife photography. To me it means capturing pictures in the bush. In that case you might not be interested in fast frame rates or auto focus. Your chances of auto focus latching onto the subject rather than stray grasses in the forground are pretty small. Manual focus is more reliable IMO. As for fast frame rates wildlife isn't too keen on the sound of machine gun fire and after the first crack of the shutter they are on their way.

    I don't know about every mirrorless camera on the market but the reviews indicate that the Sony A7r has a very noisy shutter and that matters with wildlife photography as the smallest noise will make animals scarper. Compacts can be pretty quiet.
  12. annecv

    annecv Member

    Ah, thanks.I will probably stick with a DSLR .From what LesleySM says, the weight is very manageable.Any wildlife shots tend to be when I'm not up in the hills to be honest,when I'm much more likely to get good sightings at shore level /by the coast on fairly easy walks.I'm more interested in getting great panorama shots when on the hills for which I assume I wont need bigger lenses.
  13. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Not necessarily. A lot of people engaging with photography have an idea of what they want a 'better' camera for but may suddenly find their interests widened. An SLR is probably the most versatile of cameras and will cope with any expansion of photographic interest.

    The advent of digital and, more particularly, rear viewing screens & inexpensive re-shooting brings macro within the scope of any digital camera but - as you demonstrate by suggesting possible use of long teles (btw, the number of times I have shot successful landscapes with anything longer than 210mm can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand), the DSLR scores well with lens interchangeability, hand-holding and other control versatility while possibly adding weight & bulk, especially the higher up the equipment ladder you go.

    As brand offers no quality differentiation, I agree with your suggestion that the OP should consider Olympus & other makers EVSLRs. A recommendation from you that rather undermines your opening sentence! ;) An EVSLR is a DSLR merely without a mirror or prism. :)
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Well now that probably takes the prize as the silliest thing said yet - fine if all you're bothered about is fashion, but idiotic in terms of helping someone choose the right equipment for their requirements. And utterly untrue, given DSLRs outsell mirrorless models 5 to 1... and if you look at Japanese sales, often a sign of future trends, the increase in DSLR sales is much bigger thn the increase in mirrorless sales. Mirrorless cameras are here to stay, but in a niche - the death of the DSLR has been much exaggerated, but either way, it makes no difference to the question of choosing the right camera for an individual if they want to actually take photos rather than just be a poseur.

    On here, we have an honourable history of not trying to ram our own choices or prejudices down the throats of others looking for purchase advice, but to try to help people get what suits them, not what suits us.
    There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of camera, but in terms of the sort of price range the OP appears to be looking at, the advantages for landscapes and wildlife are heavily stacked in favour of DSLRs. The OM-D EM-1 with lens is about five times the price of the Canon, Nikon and Pentax cameras and lenses mentioned, so is unlikely to be a serious competitor for the OP's money
  15. 2lude

    2lude Well-Known Member

    I have been researching for a while know looking at buying my first dslr also. i have many ideas i want to try and i wont bother blagging your head with model numbers etc... what i would say is look into a bridge camera they have the look and feel of a dslr and a very large range from wildlife with super zoom lense and the broader landscape photography.

    They can offer huge mega pixle choices great zoom ease of use and light for carrying over long distance with the minimum of equipment to take and never having to change the lense getting a dslr with similar specs could take you into thousands of pound range. So there worth looking at and re-searching the only reason i'm going dlsr is im hoping to try and make a bit of a living out of it in the future so want to start collecting lenses for the future
  16. annecv

    annecv Member

    Re taking shots in the bush - I have been to Southern Africa twice,on safaris and am likely to go again.Some of the equipment people had with them...well, I would have liked to see the results.Certainly it was huge and extremely noisy as you have pointed out . I presume there must be some significant anti-shake in that enormous hand held stuff?? (only option in a vehicle) I'd be worried I would come out with a whole series of blurred results.
    My camera did very well overall, but of course the AF took ages to focus on moving objects.That's why I'm interested in the capability of the different cameras re focus,although I understand about having to go onto manual.

    2lude - Yes, I did wonder whether a bridge camera might be worthwhile but thought it might not satisfy me once I got a bit more up on the technical side of things.I am looking at around £500-£800;although I'd go higher if I could pay it up.Definitely not thousands,I'm not ready for that by a long way.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2013
  17. annecv

    annecv Member

    I used SLRs about 2 -3 decades ago or more, so feel I have some very,very basic knowledge,though it needs seriously brushed up.I'm a bit of a Luddite and am too nervous about buying such relatively new technology - moving onto DSLR is about enough for me!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2013
  18. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    Strange; most reviews put the Nikon kit lenses (in VR or non-VR forms) as some of the best kit lenses around.

    I'll support what some others have said above about a decent neck-strap; I've recently acquired a D7000 to work alongside my D5100; it's a much heavier camera especially with an upgraded lens on it (im my case, a second-hand Sigma 17-70 most of the time) but by using a padded-extra-wide neck strap, it appears to weigh very little when I am walking around with it; it's only when I grab it with my hands to rasie it up to eye-level that I really notice those kilogrammes! Ditto a shoulder bag - wide strap an essential
  19. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    The problem with a bridge camera is usually the size of the sensor. Funny enough it is also there biggest advantage...
    The problem with the small sensor is that it struggles with light as the pixels are very small and lower the light the more it struggles. This usually affects Image quality so you will get noise at almost any light level.
    On the other hand as the sensor is so small it is easy to make a long lens and as such they are light and easy to use for wildlife given that you are shooting on a bright day. They usually do not go wide enough fro landscapes.
    Personally I would not buy one, but again many have learned to work around there weaknesses and have taken some really great photos with them.
    I still feel that the image quality, non existing shutter-lag and the optical viewfinder make SLR cameras the best choice.
  20. AlanClifford

    AlanClifford Well-Known Member

    I took this with the Fuji X-S1 at 625 mm (equivalent) in a place and time where I didn't want to lug my heavier (and much more expensive) 400 mm (600 mm equivalent) lens and dslr. The X-S1 is quite big but, because of the smaller sensor, a lot lighter. The sensor is twice the area of point-and-shoot. The electronic viewfinder is a "1440k-dot color LCD" and actually very nice to use because of that.


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