Beginner Absolute beginner .... Looking at getting a DSLR but not sure which to get and why.

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Tony
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#2
Hi, It is too much of an open question, maybe a bit of background may help...

what photography experience have you had up until now, what equipment have you used before, what budget do you have, what type of photos do you want to take.

T
 
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Ben Factor
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#3
The only photography experience I have is with a mobile phone. I do try play around as much as I can but I want to enhance what I can do. I will also be travelling a lot over the next year or so and would like to document my travels properly.
 
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Steve
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#4
You know that quest about the length of a bit of string?......

What do you intend to take images of?
What sort of budget do you have?
Does it need to be weatherproof (is it likely to get wet? I was shooting at Castle Combe on Saturday and I got drenched, the camera however was fine)
What are the images for?
How much space do you have, if you're taking it travelling?
Do you understand the exposure triangle?

Sorry for all the questions, but there are so many cameras out there, we really need something a little more specific.
 
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Ben Factor
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#5
Dont apologise for the questions. This is all very helpful.

What do you intend to take images of? Landscapes, wildlife.
What sort of budget do you have? up to about £700
Does it need to be weatherproof (is it likely to get wet? I was shooting at Castle Combe on Saturday and I got drenched, the camera however was fine). This would be useful
What are the images for? Documenting travel.
How much space do you have, if you're taking it travelling? I will be buying a new backpack that can fit a DSLR and lenses.
Do you understand the exposure triangle? Not really. Can you explain it?
 
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#6
You have mentioned wildlife elsewhere so I assume this DSLR is for wildlife photography. As a beginner, I would not worry too much about the camera body - even the lower range bodies perform rather well. But you will need a longer focal length lens - I would say that you would struggle with a focal length below 400 mm and the longer length the better.

When you have some practice under your belt, you can think about a 'better' body by which time you will know what you need.
 
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Steve
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#9
Right then.

If you're going travelling I would look for a good used mirrorless camera (rather than a DSLR) as it's smaller, with a "kit" style zoom lens. I'm not up on other makes these days but something like a Fuji X-T1 (or X-T2 if you can stretch the budget) with the std 18-55mm lens. You can always add a longer lens for wildlife when you have the budget (you'll struggle to get a long enough lens on its own for that budget).

I asked about the exposure triangle as that gives us some idea of your knowledge. So I suggest before you do anything, read up about this part of the photographic technique as it's fairly essential. It's about the relationship between the shutter speed in the body, how much light the lens lets through, and the sensitivity of the sensor that captures the image.

Hope that helps somewhat.
 
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#10
Perhaps consider buying used rather than new? You'll get more for your money that way. I think MPB, WEX and Ffordes are worth checking out, they have a good reputation and offer a warranty/guarantee with all cameras sold (unless it states otherwise for 'bargain basement/clearance stuff).

If so, something like a Canon 7D Mk1 might fit the bill, it's not the best in low light compared with the latest cameras, but you'd probably find one in nice condition with warranty for around £300, and that's a camera that sold for over £1000 when new (not sure if it's water resistant though - but be careful as 'water resistant' tends to mean light showerproof for non-pro spec cameras - and sometimes not even that!). That would leave you the rest of your budget for a couple of good quality memory cards and one or two Canon EF-S lenses.

However, that's just one suggestion! Don't rush in, do some research, perhaps consider some other suggestions on this thread, then work out what you think will be right for you and give you the best bang for buck, and remember, people tend to upgrade their camera bodies more regularly than they upgrade their lens collection... so buy the best lenses you can reasonably afford, and if you need to save money then buy a slightly lower spec camera (within reason), as you can upgrade that once you've saved some more money.
 
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Rich
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#11
I would look at mirrorless cameras rather than a standard DSLR
Lighter, smaller and easier to use especially for the first time buyer.
Wish they had been around when I started out, plenty to choose from so find a shop and have a look
Just out of interest where are you based Ben?
 
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#13
I would look at mirrorless cameras rather than a standard DSLR
Lighter, smaller and easier to use especially for the first time buyer.
Wish they had been around when I started out, plenty to choose from so find a shop and have a look
Just out of interest where are you based Ben?
Based in London
 
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Nick
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#15
Right then.

If you're going travelling I would look for a good used mirrorless camera (rather than a DSLR) as it's smaller, with a "kit" style zoom lens. I'm not up on other makes these days but something like a Fuji X-T1 (or X-T2 if you can stretch the budget) with the std 18-55mm lens. You can always add a longer lens for wildlife when you have the budget (you'll struggle to get a long enough lens on its own for that budget).
Good call... I find myself using the 18-55 an awful lot, it's a lovely, versatile bit of kit. In terms of reach on a budget, the XC50-230 can be had new from E-Infinity for £145, which is stupid money. It's not too large either, making it great for travel. I reckon an X-T1, XF18-55 and XC50-230 would come in under budget.
 
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Lindsay
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#16
I can't help wondering if, despite having specifically asked about a DSLR, a bridge camera like the Nikon P900 might be more suited to the travel brief. I do agree that the XT-1 outfit would hit the spot, but as an absolute beginner maybe an interim step would be worthwhile?
 
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Joan
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#17
I would second the bridge camera route like the p900. Whenever I have been travelling, when travel is the priority rather than photography, I find a bridge camera with an optical zoom, so much easier to carry/use. Easy to pack, can go into a large pocket. easy to whip out to take the shot, very versatile. And if you are in some dodgy areas, it doesn't scream 'money, steal me'. Different if it is photography that is the main aim of the trip but just as a documentary tool, I think it would be my first choice and it would still take some very good pictures.
 
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Andrew Cliffe
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#18
A beginner who has identified that a dSLR is what they want as opposed to a mirrorless or high end compact should look to purchase a twin lens package (sometimes there are deals) - something with an 18-55 and a 55-250 / 70-300 or similar as is gives them a fighting chance of having a go at most subjects and coming away with something they can be pleased with. From there they can have a go at everything, and once they figure out where their interests lie, can adjust their kit accordingly.

Mirrorless and bridge cameras are less good at sports than dSLRs, although are more compact which may be preferred if travelling.
 
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#19
Lots of people here suggest buying a new camera, but I might pitch in and say that it might be good to buy second hand. With a limited budget you can get much more value for money. I think (especially for beginners) camera technology hasnt changed very much since about 2012, and you will get the same quality pictures out of most of those, than a modern one in a lot of cases. Also, if you are serious about being in photography you could get an older semi-pro body for the price of a new entry level DSLR. The increase that you get in control and robustness is well worth giving up any possible increase in quality in my opinion.
I myself was in a very similar position as yourself 3 or so years ago and have chosen the second hand route for the reasons mentioned above, and I do not regret doing it.

For me I bought a DSLR since I dont mind the weight so much, but there's plenty of terrific mirrorless options out there too. If you have smaller hands, I'd definitely recommend the Fuji XT100, I have seen them for bargain prices second hand.

If you do decide to buy a new camera, I second what andrewc posted in that I would get a package with lens included. Some of the 18-55 lenses are very good out of the box. Then analyze your shots after using it for a bit, and determine what your next lens purchase should be (if most of your shots are 55mm and you want more reach, get a tele, if most are 18 then maybe a wide angle is nice, if you'd like a bigger aperture, get a 17-50 2.8 or a fast prime)
I definitely wouldn't buy a whole arsenal of lenses to take with you traveling, first of all because you have no clue what they are, how they act and how to use them. But more importantly, you'd probably not use them at all. On my APSC camera during traveling, I pretty much solely use the 17-50 with the exception of night pictures for which I use a 35mm prime. Only for special occasions like going to a zoo do I bother to pack a zoom.
 
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Ben Factor
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#20
Thanks for all the advice. I hadnt even thought of a mirrorless camera previously so will seriously look into them
 
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Phil
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#21
I’d second the notion for second hand.
No matter what happens next, unless money really is no object, a ‘first’ camera is exactly that... the first.
It’ll either be worn out and replaced with something ‘better’ in 12 months when the bugs bitten, or it’ll languish unused, buying decent quality s/h cameras and lenses means not losing a fortune when you sell them on.

There’s the other matter that often the ‘beginner’ cameras often sold by the likes of Canon and Nikon are designed to provide an upgrade path to benefit the manufacturer rather than the user. A higher spec camera is often easier to use than the ‘entry level’ models.
 
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#22
Thanks for all the advice. I hadnt even thought of a mirrorless camera previously so will seriously look into them
Well it's where the market is going. Just drop your head into the Fuji thread (for instance) to see what people are achieving. The other option (just to complicate things) is a Micro Four Thirds set up, which is even smaller.

Are you in the UK and if so where abouts? One of our users maybe local and can offer some advice.

You need to get yourself a book that allows you to understand the basics of light, and how changing things like aperture and shutter speed affect the image. Some of the images you see on here (and other places) will use this basic rule to change how your picture looks. I've attached a file that gives you some very basic guidance.

Screenshot 2019-10-03 at 09.42.44.png

Whilst a "bridge" camera will be easier to use, it may slow down your development of the hobby. A camera with interchangeable lenses will be a better longer term option.
 
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Ben Factor
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#23
Thanks for the guidance image. Iv earmarked some books on Amazon to look at getting.

Based in London
 
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Steve
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#24
Thanks for the guidance image. Iv earmarked some books on Amazon to look at getting.

Based in London
There is a London meet being organised, have a search on the forum. I'm sure the guys won't mind you joining them so you can take in some information.
 
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Soeren
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#26
A beginner who has identified that a dSLR is what they want as opposed to a mirrorless or high end compact should look to purchase a twin lens package (sometimes there are deals) - something with an 18-55 and a 55-250 / 70-300 or similar as is gives them a fighting chance of having a go at most subjects and coming away with something they can be pleased with. From there they can have a go at everything, and once they figure out where their interests lie, can adjust their kit accordingly.

Mirrorless and bridge cameras are less good at sports than dSLRs, although are more compact which may be preferred if travelling.
For a beginner who's only photographic experience comes from the smartphone looking for a system camera at a £700 budget the tech is hardly relevant
Mirrorless cameras today are as good as the equivalent priced dslr's in fact Id say the A6000 is better than the D5200.
 
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David
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#30
Do you have any friends who have a decent camera whose advice you could ask? Looking at another person's camera could be much better than asking here.
 
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#31
How strict is your budget? If you can save a bit more and go to £1000 or so without overstretching yourself then buying 'right' second hand could get you a Canon 6D Mk1, a Canon EF 24-105 L Mk 1 and a Canon EF 40mm STM pancake lens.

The 6D is a full frame camera (so wont take the EF-S range of lenses) which has good low light performance even by today's standards, it's also about the smallest and lightest full-frame DSLR you can get, so good for travel. The 24-105 zoom (on a full frame camera) will give you good flexibility for travel shots, and the 40mm STM is about the smallest and lightest DSLR lens around; it's also sharp and, with a full frame DSLR, it will give you a field of view almost equivalent to the human eye, which makes it good for street shots, etc. When fitted to the 6D it makes for a very compact set up. NB crop sensor cameras will give a magnification factor of around 1.4x, so the above lenses won't be the best choice for a crop sensor camera!

The 6D also has a habit of producing very nice looking photos, ask Phil V, as that's what he uses (unless he's upgraded recently). For the price they're selling for on the used market I doubt there's much DSLR wise that can touch them at the moment for travel and landscape photography. It'll be OK for wildlife too, as long as it's not birds in flight or fast moving stuff.
 
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Andrew Cliffe
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#32
For a beginner who's only photographic experience comes from the smartphone looking for a system camera at a £700 budget the tech is hardly relevant
Mirrorless cameras today are as good as the equivalent priced dslr's in fact Id say the A6000 is better than the D5200.
I phrased it like that in case the OP hadn't considered the other options, and assumed that a dSLR package was the only option. There are some good high end compacts which would make great travel cameras, although compromised in other areas. I know a couple of people who went mirrorless but have gone back to a dSLR for sports.
 
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#33
Just buy this kit from here.

https://www.hdewcameras.co.uk/olympus-e-m10-iii-twin-kit-14-42-ez40-150-black-8058-p.asp

Great lenses and money left for a bag and tripod.

be stupid not to.
Just to point out, as far as I know I believe that may be what some people describe as a 'grey importer' (someone please correct me if I'm wrong)? Do a quick search on this forum for further info. I believe people have been pleased with the service they've had from this and some other such importers, but I think it's best to understand the concept if you didn't know beforehand.
 
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Steve
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#36
I know a couple of people who went mirrorless but have gone back to a dSLR for sports.
I'm trying to see the connection with sports when the OP mentioned travel & wildlife? And a popular & long time member here runs his whole F1 photography business (multiple photographers) on mirrorless, so I think you may be a bit behind the times.....
 
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Mike
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#38
Like many others I'd definitely suggest buying used.
Your title includes the question why, which we stand a chance of answering without knowing too much about the budget or specific uses.

DSLRs and for that matter mirrorless cameras have interchangeable lenses & reasonably big sensors.
This means you can select a lens that gives the best possible compromise for a shot, then if necessary change for a different compromise for the next shot. All lenses are compromises of factors such as focal length, aperture, focusing speed , weight, cost, 'image quality' (actually a whole series of different factors)
Big sensors help handle dynamic range/noise & give more control of depth of field...

In my experience beginners often use DSLR to mean any digital camera with changeable lenses, but this isn't actually the case.
A DSLR has a moving mirror that has to flip out of the way when a shot is taken, while a 'mirrorless' camera will have an EVF - an electronic viewfinder - (or sometimes just the rear screen) which gets it's image from the sensor. Originally there was noticeable lag between the EVF & what the sensor was seeing at that exact moment, while the optical viewfinder of a DSLR gets the image at the speed of light.

For at least the last 5 years the lag of mirrorless cameras has been much improved, it certainly won't be noticeable for someone used to a phone cam (which also provides the viewfinder in the same way) Many mirrorless cameras can shoot bursts at much higher rates than a DSLR my 5 year old G5 manages up to 20 frames a second - better than any modern DSLR I can think of, and a friend has one that manages 60 frames a second. For some action subjects this can be far more important than the minimal viewfinder lag.
 
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#40
Thanks! Will look now.
I'd just like to point out a couple of things...
  • Modern digital cameras of all types are so much better than their predecessors. Even relatively cheap ones can provide very satisfying results.
  • It has been said many, many times that it is the person behind the camera that makes the picture. This is the unvarnished truth.
  • If you're travelling, a big dSLR has many drawbacks including (but not limited to) weight, bulk and its attraction to thieves.
  • Cameras go wrong. That's bad enough when it spoils a day's outing. When you're on a long trip it can ruin the whole project. Seriously consider buying 2 cameras so you have a spare.
  • Digital storage can go wrong. Consider how you're going to back up those images.
  • Above all: base your buying decision on who you are, what you want to bring back from your trip and how high your expectations of image quality are.
  • Finally: remember that random people on a web site telling you to spend a ton of money on equipment are not going to have to live with that decision. You will.
I hope you really have a great time and bring home some very satisfying pictures. Here are some of my shots taken with a "travel zoom" camera: the Panasonic TZ70 (which you can buy for under £300)...

Panasonic TZ70 8GB H06 P1030070.JPG

Panasonic TZ70 8GB H05 P1030278.JPG

Panasonic TZ70 8GB H05 P1030119.JPG
 
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