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Entry Level DSLR

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by Louise7, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Louise7

    Louise7 Member

    I'm looking for advice on a DSLR entry level camera. I'm looking to get into photography as a hobby and will be booking myself on a photography which will cover all aspects of photography from the camera itself to landscapes, portraits, street photography etc, looking to spend up to £500.00. Although I have been doing some research mainly around Nikon and Cannon cameras, ant guidance would be much appreciated.
  2. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Well you said DSLR and if you are looking at new Canon do a very capable entry level model
    https://www.wexphotovideo.com/canon-eos-4000d-digital-slr-camera-body-1655054/ Personally I would start with that plus a kit lens and only add additional lenses as I progressed.
    I gave my daughter one of its predecessors a couple of years ago and she takes some very good pictures with it. You might consider second hand but at these prices it seems hardly worth the trouble, although it might be worth considering SH for important but rarely used lenses

    If you had listed birds in flight or majoring on sports photography I would have suggested something rather higher up the scale - as they tend to need some specialised capabilities.

    Finally Nikon also do very good entry cameras but I am not familiar with that range.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I'd say the same. People have quite distinct likes and dislikes over quite small differences in the way cameras look and feel so make sure you take the opportunity to see before you buy. In the first issue of each month AP does a buyers guide which lists the interchangeable lens camera, both CSC and DSLR, and their prices.
  4. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    Well Canon, Nikon... The thing is that both do excellent entry level cameras, the thing is that what is important is to get one that you like to use. Go to a store and try few models out, get the feel for the ergonomics and play with the settings/menus. Take the camera that feels right, the one that you will actually carry with you and feel confident in using.
    One thing to keep in mind is that you want the lenses to have optical stabilization called IS for Canon and VR for Nikon, there are few third party brands and at least Tamron uses VC. Another advice is that if they offer you the dreadful EF 75-300 lens from Canon you are better of with out it.
    ChrisNewman likes this.
  5. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    The very first thing to do is to handle some DSLR camera bodies and find out if you are a 'big hands' or 'small hands' person, and also if you are a 'I want a DSLR' person or really a 'I want something small and light' person. If after doing this you decide to buy a DSLR, only then start looking in detail at the 'entry level' DSLR cameras on the market.

    I say this because a retailer that has some nice mint-condition secondhand stuff told me that much of it comes from people who purchased a DSLR and after a few weeks decided it wasn't for them. Some of the camera bodies only had a few hundred shutter 'activations' and were like new. I have been a film SLR and then digital SLR user for about 45 years and would never consider another type of camera, so I'm not trying to put you off . These type of camera bodies are very versatile, and buying one from Canon on Nikon will mean there lots of mint-condition secondhand lenses are available. And note that you don't have to buy the camera body with its 18-55 kit lens. A Sigma 17-70 is better (but more expensive) , or you may prefer a 18-200 lens. So if you decide to buy a DSLR, think about your first lens too.
    Lindsay Pennell likes this.
  6. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    From Nikon I would consider the D3300, D3400 and new D3500 all suitable entry level cameras. The D3300 is now only available second hand but may be very good value. You should be able to find a low shutter count, near mint example with a 6 month guarantee. If buying a camera with a basic kit 18-55mm lens then make sure that you get the VR version. Don't forget to budget for at least one memory card and one extra battery.
    At least with Nikon you can use the free downloadable software for editing your images. The latest version is now acceptable for what I would call basic editing. For creative editing such as what I would call' faking it', then you would need to purchase software. Your course tutor might give advice on that.
    All my comments above refer to still photography. I know nothing about video.
  7. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    In addition to selling budget zooms without image stabilization, some manufactures sell budget lenses without lens hoods, although the cost of including one in the package would be trivial. If whatever lens you choose is supplied without a lens hood, I recommend you buy one, although you might be able to get a third-party one to fit at far less than the manufacturer’s list price.

    As well as its principal task of cutting down lighting from the side, which might cause problems with flare, a hood is extremely useful for protecting the front element of your lens from physical damage and dirt.

  8. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    There's nothing wrong with a budget zoom without image stabilisation if you know how to work with its limitations (i.e. the way everybody had to work before image stabilisation was available). This usually means using a suitable shutter speed for the focal length of the lens when the shot is taken. Given the price of modern lenses with this 'essential' feature, perhaps learning to work without it is the only way that many of us are likely to afford the lens anyway.

    People once managed to take excellent photographs without autofocus, automated exposure and image stabilisation.
    And some still do.

    But a decent lens hood is still vital in bright light. On my ancient Tokina 80-400 zoom, the hood I use is about half the length of the lens when extended to its 400 mm setting. Without it the image contrast is lower.
  9. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    True, but it’s much easier to take a good photo in poor light and without a tripod if you have contemporary digital high-ISO performance and image stabilization.

    I think it’s only the cheapest kit zooms that are available in alternative versions with or without image stabilization, with little extra cost for the stabilized version. Those lenses have small maximum apertures at the tele end, and I suspect many of their customers are likely to be those least aware of how to work with the resulting limitations. I suspect manufacturers only go to the complication of offering the non-stabilized versions of kit lenses so that the likes of Argos can offer camera and lens kits at striking prices to punters who have little understanding of what would suit them best.

    EightBitTony likes this.
  10. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    'I think it’s only the cheapest kit zooms that are available in alternative versions with or without image stabilization' - but this is only relevant if looking for a new lens. The best bargains are, as always, secondhand. And since so many people with deep pockets have replaced mint condition non-stabilised lenses with new stabilised ones, there are lots of nice secondhand non-stabilised ones available.

    Re. buying a DSLR and kit lens from a store like Argos and knowing nothing about cameras.
    Perhaps this explains the regular 'I've got a decent camera and don't understand how to use it' queries we see on the AP Forum.
  11. Louise7

    Louise7 Member

    Thank you all for your advice, it is much appreciated. I will be going out this week to "test drive" some cameras and will take all your advice on board and hopefully make the right choice for me.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Louise,

    The "test drive" is REALLY important.


  13. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    As Roger says, a "test drive" is REALLY important, but it may not be as decisive as you’d hope. When I went to replace my manual focus system based on a Pentax Super A (pretty advanced for a pre-autofocus SLR) with a digital outfit based on a Nikon D90 or a Canon 550D, I found both cameras so alien and complicated compared to my film SLR that I’d probably have needed to hire them both, each with a top spec mid-range zoom, for several days of shooting to make a fully informed decision. As it was, I didn’t notice anything particularly awkward about either, and chose Nikon because their APS-C system uses very slightly larger sensors that would give me slightly wider angles with my choice of ultra-wide angle zoom (available in either mount), and could gather slightly more light for potentially marginally better performance, expecting that I would be upgrading to new bodies as the technology was still advancing fast.

    With hindsight, I’m sure that Nikon was the better system for me, because when they introduced the D800, with enough pixels to take good APS-C photos, I was able to buy one with a 24-70mm full frame lens for superb image quality for the majority of shots, while carrying lightweight APS-C wide-angle, tele and macro lenses for less frequent use. (Canon’s EF-S mount APS-C lenses can’t be mounted on full-frame bodies). And the D90 was definitely the best Nikon for me, because I could set up the two command dials so that one changed the balance between shutter speed and aperture, and the other adjusted exposure compensation. But I never found out whether the Canon 550D offered that option, which turned out to be so handy!

    Conversely, a hands-on in the shop was decisive when I wanted to upgrade from my Fujifilm X10 compact (because its OVF didn’t show where the focal point was). I decided that an EVF was preferable to the X20’s OVF, which could show where the focal point was, but not during the process of moving it, and didn’t indicate the field of view accurately. I then eliminated the X30, despite liking its manual zoom, and its high-quality viewfinder, because its sensor was unacceptably small and noisy for the size of camera. The remaining cameras on my short-list were the Panasonic LX100 and the conveniently small Sony RX100 Mk III. But after a few attempts to move the focal point on the RX100, trying to hold its slippery-shaped body and press the correct tiny, closely-spaced buttons in the right order, I decided that I’d never enjoy using that camera, and bought the LX100 - again with no subsequent regrets.

  14. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Louise - we still don't know if you have any experience with cameras, or are about to jump from a mobile telephone directly to a complex camera.
    Any advice offered might depend on that.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  15. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    How did the 'test drive' go?
  16. Louise7

    Louise7 Member

    Hi Chester,
    I'm still in the process of purchasing a camera. I did go out last weekend to have a look around, but only went to Curry's and did not find the sales assistants that informative and they could not answer my questions, so I came away empty handed. I did find though that I preferred the feel of the Nikon over the Cannon, specifically the Nikon D5600, which is not the cheapest Nikon, but t was the one I felt most comfortable holding. With regard to Canon, the one I was drawn to was the EOS 200D. Both over £500.00 and there are obviously cheaper options, but do I spend a little bit more for a camera I feel comfortable with?. Is this too much for someone just getting into photography?

    In answer to your other question, I don't have any experiences with DSLR cameras, but I do have a Fujifilm Digital Camera which I use quite a bit, especially when travelling. I will use this over my camera phone. One of the main reason for buying a DSLR and enrolling on a beginners photography course is because I want to take my holiday pictures to the next level. I'm luckily enough to get to travel a fair bit, and when I see pictures in travel magazines, I want to be able to take similar pictures, so having a decent camera and learning about all the aspects of taking a good photo is really what I'm looking for. Majority of the photos I take are of landscapes, or objects, buildings etc.
  17. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Currys for a camera? You will do much better at real photographic shop rather than somebody who sells cameras as a sideline because they are seen as devices you can use with a PC. Look to see if any of the regular advertisers in AP are in your area, or one of their branches in they have any. If you go to somebody like Currys, do your homework first and watch out for their lack of knowledge about the product - you will be very lucky is somebody who sells washing machines and televisions knows much about real cameras. Try asking the salesperson some technical questions, and be very wary of simple and evasive answers because they don't know the correct answer. The same applies if buying audio equipment, in case you enjoy music too...

    Have a look at some of the regular advertisers in AP. It is very unlikely you will have problems with any of them, and if you buy from one of them you can always go back if you do have any problems. Any decent salesperson will ask you what you want to do with the camera. For example, if you never plan to get big prints for your wall and only want to look at the images on your PC, there is no point in spending a fortune on a 30 or 40 megapixel camera body because even the biggest and most expensive screens are only about 8 megapixels. And a properly exposed and in focus image from a 16 megapixel camera body used with a decent lens should give you decent prints at 40 x 60 cm or even 50 x 75 cm. I use a 16 megapixel APC-C DSLR and have prints this size on my wall.
    So perhaps a 16-20 megapixel body with a decent lens (which could be second hand if you went to shops like those below) is a better investment than a 24-30 megapixel body with the 18-55 made-down-to-a-price kit lens. You don't have to buy the standard kit lens when you buy a camera body For example, if you purchased an APS-C camera body, a used Sigma 17-70 would be more versatile than the 18-55 kit lens usually supplied with the camera body (bigger maximum aperture and very close 'macro' focus at the 70 mm end of the zoom).

    You could start with London Camera Exchange and WEX who have branches in various parts of the UK:
  18. Louise7

    Louise7 Member

  19. Louise7

    Louise7 Member

    Thanks Chester. Yes, I did look at specialist camera shops and as I'm just outside London I'm planning a visit to the London Camera Exchange this week. I will let you know what I end up purchasing.
  20. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Currys and the other box shifters have done a great service by keeping downwards pressure on camera prices. If you compare current prices with those of the early 1960s and adjust for inflation you'll see that cameras are much cheaper even before you allow for all the new technology that's been added to them. As to whether you'll get better service at a "real" camera shop that will depend on which shop you compare with which branch of Currys (or their fellow box shifters).

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