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DSLR for a complete and utter novice

Discussion in 'photography, graphics & art' started by felixthecat, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. felixthecat

    felixthecat are we there yet?

    I know its been asked before but new models come out all the time yadda yadda.

    I want a camera. I want a camera that I can grow a bit with. I'm prepared to pay up to £400 for something entry level. So new or manufacturer refurbished? Make? I have no idea what I'm talking about but I want to learn a new skill and as I'm fairly arty I'd like to give photography a go.

    All advice welcomed
     
  2. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    You can buy used DSLRs and lenses in pretty good and well-quantified condition from places like MPB.

    My experience is with Nikon so I'm going to answer this on that basis. I'm sure equivalents exist for all of this in the world of Canon, or indeed other makes. There is rough parity between Nikon and Canon.

    As of right now, for example, you could buy an excellent condition D300 for £229, and an 18-70mm lens to go with it for £94. Then you just need a cheap memory card, possibly a spare battery and some other accessories, and you're in business.

    What does that give you? Well, the D300 is about 10 years old. I've had one since about 2009 and I was using it regularly until recently, when I replaced it with a £1700 D500. Of course, the D500 is much better. But really the majority of that 'better' is in reality about how hard you can push it and its images, how well it performs in the dark, etc etc - on a cost basis it's not anyway near proportionately better when it comes to utility, the average image you will take in good conditions, etc.

    The skills and features of the camera largely translate from the old camera to anything new. So does any investment in kit, potentially, although this gets complicated.

    That's what I would do if starting out, and what I recommend you do. It's a solid basis to start with, and once you've got up to speed to some extent, you'll figure out what limits you're hitting and where you might need to spend more money to overcome them. Or, if you hate it and it's the wrong investment, it's not as big a write-off as buying new.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
    Lazy Llama, paolo, Mr Smin and 5 others like this.
  3. felixthecat

    felixthecat are we there yet?

    Thank you - great reply:cool: I have no idea whats 'good' or 'better' - anything is better than a camera phone! THis is one of the cameras I've had a look at so I'm going in the right direction at least.
    Are there any other lenses/accessories that are really useful? What is the best size of memory card?
     
    mauvais likes this.
  4. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Probably the first thing you'll want is more lenses - wide angle, telephoto, maybe some primes for specific purposes. But I think you'll learn those requirements to some extent through use of the variable zoom lens, which covers a fairly broad & relevant range. You know, 'I wish I could zoom in closer here', or, 'I wish I could get more into this frame'. If you buy kit speculatively you might find it works out well or you might find it gathers dust.

    Then there's other stuff like tripods, filters, remote releases etc but this will all come with time, again depending on situations where you wish you could do something better or new with the right kit.

    Memory card requirements will depend what camera you buy. The D300 takes CompactFlash (CF) cards and about 8GB or 16GB would suit it well - a few days of solid shooting in the highest quality format.
     
    felixthecat likes this.
  5. RoyReed

    RoyReed Must fly!

    The only thing I would say about the Nikon D300 (I have one and still use it as a second body - it's a very good camera) is that the CompactFlash memory card is pretty old technology and relatively expensive when compared with an equivalent sized SD card. It's also fairly heavy as it has a metal chassis - 900gm body only (including battery). I actually prefer slightly heavier cameras, so it's not a problem for me, but you might disagree.

    An alternative if you wanted to buy new would be a Canon EOS 1300D which you can get with an 18-55mm lens for £329 from Jessops (possibly a few quid cheaper if you shop around online). Including the lens it weighs about half of the D300 body only.

    The closest equivalent Nikon is the D3400 which is £429 with an 18-55mm lens at Jessops, but you can find it online for under £400. The weight's about 450g. It is a better camera than the Canon (higher resolution, faster focusing, better low light photos), but to learn on you'd be happy with either.

    A spare battery and an extra memory card is always a good idea. Lots of people prefer to have 2 x 16GB cards rather than 1 x 32GB card just in case.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
    Mr Smin likes this.
  6. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    Just to add a note to mauvais's suggestion of buying used from MPB, if you decide to go used they are a good idea because IIRC they offer a 3 month warranty. Sometime soon I will be buying a used camera and I plan to buy from MPB also.
     
  7. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Definitely old, but in terms of money they're cheap compared to the latest (XQD or whatever). We're talking maybe £25 for a 16GB CF and £15 for an SD card now. Splitting photos across two cards is definitely good, just in case you or the camera messes up.

    It is fairly heavy, too - agreed. The D500 weighs about the same, as do other pro/am cameras in that class, I'm just used to it. It becomes an issue if it will deter you from taking the camera out on a trip when something lighter wouldn't have - but also bear in mind that weight isn't all about the camera body. Never really been a problem for me but may be for some.
     
  8. Mr Smin

    Mr Smin Registered Luser

    Yes, but get an app that lets you put your phone cam on manual mode so you can start learning the effects of shutter speed and aperture. It's fiddly compared with the physical controls of a DSLR but you'll learn quite a bit just messing about for 20 minutes.
     
  9. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    Might be worth looking at something like a fujifilm x-pro1 as an alternative to the slr.
     
  10. cybershot

    cybershot Well-Known Member

    Can you recommend such an app for iPhone?
     
  11. Mr Smin

    Mr Smin Registered Luser

    Sorry, I've only got android and not tried any iOS ones to be able to recommend.
     
  12. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Important starter questions:

    Do you prefer a smaller camera or is size not important?
    What kind of photos do you think you'll be mainly taking?
     
    toblerone3 likes this.
  13. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    My 2p - get yourself a bridge dslr with an 18-55mm kit lens & take it from there ;)
     
  14. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    A bridge camera usually doesn't have interchangeable lens so it's a bit of a rubbish suggestion :D
     
    mauvais likes this.
  15. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    If you buy something like a bridge or a posh compact, and don't absolutely love it, then one of two things will happen: its limits will put you off the whole activity, or you'll have to buy a proper DSLR when you hit them anyway.

    If you want a means of scoping out whether you're going to enjoy photography, and don't want the steeper learning curve, it might be useful for a while, but it sounds like OP might be sure enough to skip that interim stage.
     
  16. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  17. friedaweed

    friedaweed Branded as a fool

    Buy my D90. :thumbs:
     
  18. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    A bridge dslr.
     
  19. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    A what?

    It's either a dSLR or a bridge camera!

     
  20. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    A dslr with interchangable lens capacity. What's so hard to comprehend?
     
  21. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    That's a dSLR, not a bridge camera.
     
  22. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    Yeah but bridge can mean blah blah..notably a jump from a point n shoot to an interchangable.
     
  23. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    Does it really fucking matter?
     
  24. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    The thread title asks for advice on buying a dSLR. A bridge camera really is an entirely different thing and while some are very capable, they are not the same thing, mainly because you can not change the lenses. There is no such thing commonly described as a 'bridge dSLR' so I'm not sure why you mentioned it.
    There's no need to get stroppy, but you were giving out confusing advice!
     
  25. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Sorry Bish, but that manky FEB has addled your brain. "Bridge camera" specifically describes a camera styled as an SLR, but which has a fixed lens. It's a "bridge" between compacts and SLRs.
     
    editor likes this.
  26. toblerone3

    toblerone3 Grrrrr

    Get a top end compact and learn all about it and the photos you are able to take with it. The instruction manual will blow you away I promise. The limitations of it will teach you more than failing because of your own personal limitations with a DSLR.
     
  27. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie In solidarity with the people of Catalonia

    Yes, apologies, long day! :rolleyes:@self
     
  28. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    I'll let you off. It's obviously incorrect nutrition causing these brain-farts! :p
     
  29. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    ^^^^This. There are quite a few decent compacts that allow manual aperture and shutter setting, etc.
     
  30. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    The trouble with these questions is that we are all tempted to recommend routes that we ourselves have gone down. felixthecat did mention in the title of her post "DSLR" so I would start with that in mind. And a DSLR does give the maximum flexibility for whatever comes next.
     
    mauvais likes this.

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