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First Time Buyer Getting a Bit Overawed With Choice.

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by VixPeritus, Aug 15, 2021.

  1. VixPeritus

    VixPeritus New Member

    I have been interested in photography for a very long time but have kept putting off getting involved myself. I've got some free time on my hands and I'm finally willing to get stuck in. My budget is fairly limited at around £500 but could push it a little higher if needed. I'm perfectly happy with second-hand and even preferable if it gives me some extra performance and IQ.

    I was set on either a Used D5300 or a Used OM-D E-M5 MKII (w/ Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8) until I went into Jessops and was recommended a new Sony A6000 for £499 with a kit lens. Was also told to stay away from DSLR which I'm happy to do. I understand that the A6000 is a little older but from what I have read it is still a great beginners camera.

    My only worry with the Sony is if I decide later to move to M43, instead of just starting with a M5 MKII. From what I have read the Sony is more intuitive that the M5, however, I'm fine falling on my backside for a while with a more technical product if it is also a superior product.

    The OM-D E-M1 MKII looks great but is a bit out of my price range especially for a first time buy.

    Do you recommend either of the cameras I've mentioned or maybe even have an recommendation of your own?

    I'm also looking for a camera that can do a bit of everything with a focus on Landscape and Portrait photography.

  2. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Don't buy a camera on a recommendation, go find a shop that has both in stock and try them, with the appropriate lenses. My idea of what is good will probably be very different from yours or anybody else's. Either the D5300 or the OM-D E-M5 will produce excellent results but the one that feels right will get more use.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum. Yes it is a minefield. Especially with s/h. It is worth taking your time.

    All cameras do basically the same thing. Older mirrorless were slow at autofocus and the electronic viewfinders weren’t good at following moving subjects but that was fixed ~ 3 years ago.

    The most important thing about a camera is that you like it and find it easy to use. £ for £ the different makes are technically very competent and similar - you can’t look at a pic and tell what it was shot on. But, minor differences in handling can make for love or hate. If you hate your camera you won’t use it. So it is important to test a camera and not be driven by specification

    Portrait and landscape aren’t really demanding of cameras. It is sports/wildlife where split instants are important that performance becomes an issue but that is a top of market discussion.

    Personally I use DSLRs (Canon) and Mirrorless (Fuji). I still prefer to use Canon but favour Fuji when size/weight are an issue. End results are similar in quality.
  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The thing I would stay away from is Jessops!
  5. VixPeritus

    VixPeritus New Member

    How come? They don't have a good reputation?
  6. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    When I bought an interchangeable lens camera, I bought one that could uses the lenses a friend of mine owned. I bought one lens, and then borrowed loads from him over time. I don't regret that decision because as others have said, £ for £ between the major players, you're going to get the shot if you like the camera.

    If you buy second-hand, go through a store which provides it's own warranty (Wex, MPB, London Camera Exchange, etc.)

    You can hire cameras, which might also give you a chance to try one out although it will quickly add up in price and they tend to have only the higher end bodies ( https://rental.wexphotovideo.com/hire-cameras | https://www.hireacamera.com/ | https://www.hireacamera.com/en-gb/cameras/ )

    Some manufacturers used to have events where you could try cameras out, and there is the UK Photography Show coming up (but it'll be the latest releases) - https://www.photographyshow.com/

    No matter what you buy in the ~£500 region, especially if you buy second hand, if it was made in the last 1-3 years it'll take fantastic photos and last you plenty of time.
  7. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Jessops are fine. The people that work there have targets, and are probably incentivised on selling the latest models. However, the cameras work just as well as anyone else's and you can handle them, and try them out.
  8. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Something to consider before you buy a camera body and commit to a particular lens mount: this, in conjunction with your budget, may help you reduce the choice to a more manageable shortlist.

    Will you want to buy any second hand lenses later, presumably on a tight budget? If yes, on your budget, a second hand Canon or Nikon APS-C DSLR body and will offer you the largest choice of more affordable second hand lenses. This is not always true of the M43 lenses, for example. So, from your own list, the Nikon DSLR looks the best long term option if you want more lenses later.

    In another thread recently somebody mentioned buying their first real camera and mentioned an interest in landscape and macro photography. I used the example of the old-model Sigma 10-20 zoom which I have found excellent for landscape work - for an APS-C DSLR body like the Nikon D5300 (or a similar specification Canon body), I've recently seen lenses these at £150 second hand from reputable dealers, whereas (even second hand) the nearest equivalent for M43 is a Panasonic 7-14 which will cost you three times as much (both found on the LCE website now). The LCE website will help you get some idea of prices and what's available.


    If you want to make the most of a camera body that accepts interchangeable lenses, thinking about the cost and availability of such lenses before you buy the camera body may save you a lot of money later.

    Also, if buying second hand, you don't have to buy the standard 18-55 kit lens. You may find that a second hand DSLR body and (for example) a second hand Sigma 17-70 can be found for £500 (perhaps from different retailers). The Sigma will have a larger maximum aperture than the 18-55 kit lens, and also offer a closer focus at the long end of the zoom.

    From personal experience, for second hand stuff I would recommend London Camera Exchange and Ffordes, both of whom regularly advertise in AP. Other members will recommend other retailers, and I think you would be safely buy from the websites of any of the reputable retailers who regularly advertise in AP.

    If you are lucky enough to live with travelling distance of a real camera shop (like a branch of LCE), you may find what you want and have the benefit of 'hands on' time with the camera body and an attached lens. The one you wanted to but may be too big or too small for your hands, for example.

    Finally, if buying a second hand camera body, make sure you get the USB cable (for downloading images to a PC), charger and battery. Hopefully the user manual too, but if this is missing you can often find a free copy online from the manufacturer's website.
  9. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    It is likely they will not be around much longer for a start, a number of branches have already closed. They never really attempt to sell the buyer what they need. As a retailer certainly there are better, LCE and Wilkinsons for a start, clearly it depends on where you live. John Lewis do carry cameras, although they are not specialists, at least their after sales is good.
  10. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Jessops are fine, if you know what you want and they have it in stock. If you don't know what you want they will try to sell you what they want you to buy. They also don't sell used equipment in store. Personally, I wouldn't use them under the circumstances where the prospective customer doesn't know what is wanted and is considering a second hand product.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    All generalisations fail to account for individual cases but .... Jessops were very good. The company was bought out by a private equity firm, loaded with debt and moved into a box shifting mode to increase turnover. It was then sold to the management but carried too much debt to go back to the old camera shop ways and went bust. The brand, and a few shops with promise, were bought out of the wreckage, again by private equity, with the intent to reestablish the company. There have been mixed messages about how successful this has been. We haven’t had “a new Jessops” near us so I can’t say. My son worked for old Jessops after he left school and into the period where staff were not encouraged to spend hours helping customers. It is fair to say that many folk who took such advice then walked out of the door and bought off the internet. No surprise then that helpfulness went out of the window. This is still a problem for shops though people are more used now to buying online without asking for any advice. Broadly shops will price match Wex who have a large online presence but now also have several retail stores.
  12. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Everytime someone brings up LCE I'm duty bound to mention,
    • the staff in my two local stores are terrible
    • I stood in one of the stores and listened to them massively upsell a customer to a camera they clearly didn't need but didn't understand, so in that regard, they're no better than any other retail outlet
  13. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    To which I can only reply that, after many decades of dealing with several of their branches, I've never had cause for complaint.
  14. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The branch in The Strand have always been fine in my, limited, experience but that is only one branch.
    Jessops, in the past, had some very helpful staff but on more recent visits I haven't got that far because the display wasn't conducive to browsing. However, as Jessops don't sell used equipment in store, the OP might be well advised to avoid them.
    Park Cameras have delivered good service previously as have Aperture Cameras but without knowing where he lives it is difficult to recommend specific stores as they might be too far away.

    I too have heard customers given bad advice; in Currys "you don't need more pixels than your screen can display", this in the days of VGA and XGA. Quite what that particular sales man would say to a 45MP camera I don't know.

    It is very difficult to know how best to advise a complete beginner on camera stores, mainly because they may not have enough knowledge to spot when they are being played. In this case, with two specific cameras being mentioned, it is probably safe to say that trying not to be distracted by other makes and models would be a good start. The specific budget also helps.
  15. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Clearly we must speak as we find. I have always been happy with LCE, both at local branch level and when I have spoken to and ordered from their more distant shops.
  16. MJB

    MJB Well-Known Member

    Salisbury branch was similar. Now closed.
    EightBitTony likes this.
  17. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Indeed and all it proves is that branding aside, shops are defined by their staff, so saying avoid Jessops isn't helpful if the Jessops in question does have a couple of photographers working there happy to share their knowledge. Anyway, caveat emptor in any retail establishment.
  18. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Find a camera that feels right in the hands.
    Find a camera you can borrow lenses for from friends or a local club.
    Find a local club and try out different cameras.
    Take the plunge from somewhere with a good returns policy.
    But whatever you do - buy a camera and get out and take photographs because there's no way of knowing until you do it.

    Good luck, and I hope you have fun!
    IvorETower and GeoffR like this.
  19. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    What sort of photography are you interested in? What controls are you likely to alter the most (ISO, focus point, exposure compensation etc)?
    There is no substitute for trying out a potential purchase in your own hands to see if you can grip it comfortable; for £500 if you are prepared to buy used there will be a vast choice.

    Whilst the future does appear to be mirrorless, there are still plenty of DLSRs out there and millions of lenses available to satisfy almost every hobby use of the camera.
    Do you value small size and low weight above performance?

    As to Sony being more intuitive than anything.... as a photographer I'd say the opposite ! Many people moan about how complex the menu system is on Olympus E-M cameras for example, but I find it quite straightforward and easier to navigate than Panasonic's menus on their Lumix offerings. There is no substitute for trying out in your own hands; not sure how close you are to the NEC or how cheap it is for you to get there but in September there should be the much-delayed Photography Show where you should be able to try out many new and used cameras in one place, if you're not near a large photographic store.
  20. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    I would actually be more concerned about them as a company, one that will tend to sell you what they have rather than what you really need.

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