Can I shoot professional photos with a small beginner digital camera?

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#1
Hello, I am new to photography. I've taken photos on a smartphone and I've taken photos with a small camera. But I don't have a lot of experience. I don't want to pay more than £100 for a camera right now, as I'm a beginner. I would like a small digital camera that might fit in my pocket for £30 to £50. Can I still shoot professional images with a beginner camera, or will I require a more sophisticated camera?
 
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#2
Welcome to the forum.

The very simple answer is no, but that's more about you as a photographer than the camera. Professional suggests being paid for work, and if you're asking this question then it's unlikely that you are able to consistently and repeatedly produce work of a saleable standard with any camera.

In the longer term, a 'professional' camera and lens would likely start at £250-400 used for the body and around £60+ for a 50mm f1.8 lens.
 
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#3
A camera doesn't necessarily make photos of a 'professional' quality. It's the skill of the photographer that makes photos 'professional'. You can buy the most expensive camera ever but still produce rubbish photos or a skilled photographer could buy the cheapest of cameras and still produce photos to a 'professional' standard. Its the person behind the camera that makes a photo and not the camera. That's probably not what you want to hear but its a questions thats covered quite offer here as too many think a good camera (or not a phone camera) must mean the photographer is amazing (I've heard too many say to me 'your photos must be amazing because of your camera'- those who have seen my photos know thats not the case! Its best to get your head in a book and learn the art of photography as its not just point and click. If you have a budget ask away for ideas of what to look for as there is a wealth of knowledge on here.

By the way I hate the word 'professional' to describe image quality. Professional just means someone makes a living from photography. You can have a professional photographer that produces absolute rubbish or an amateur photographer who produces amazing photos. One is professional and the other not but maybe not in an image quality sense.
 
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#4
Rob-Nikon, you're quite right. I do apologize for using the word 'professional'. And yes, that's what I meant to ask, if you can make your images amazing with just a beginner camera and not a camera that costs over £300.
 
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#5
Google pro photographer cheap camera challenge and watch on youtube
 

simon ess

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It also depends on what you think of when referring to "quality".

Do you mean pixel level technical quality or quality of image?
 
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#7
Rob-Nikon, you're quite right. I do apologize for using the word 'professional'. And yes, that's what I meant to ask, if you can make your images amazing with just a beginner camera and not a camera that costs over £300.
It is possible to create amazing images on a cheaper camera, its just potentially harder to do some. Some features will help you capture an image but depending on genre its depends whether you will need them. If you take landscapes for example you may not need fast auto focus whereas with sports it would likely help quite a bit. Hopefully that makes sense. From a cameras manufacturers marketing department point of view its their job to sell you new models whether you actually need them or not (most photographers, myself included, could probably use any camera from the past 10 years without being too limited. I know I'm the limitation and not the camera :))
 
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#9
A camera doesn't necessarily make photos of a 'professional' quality. It's the skill of the photographer that makes photos 'professional'. You can buy the most expensive camera ever but still produce rubbish photos or a skilled photographer could buy the cheapest of cameras and still produce photos to a 'professional' standard. Its the person behind the camera that makes a photo and not the camera. That's probably not what you want to hear but its a questions thats covered quite offer here as too many think a good camera (or not a phone camera) must mean the photographer is amazing (I've heard too many say to me 'your photos must be amazing because of your camera'- those who have seen my photos know thats not the case! Its best to get your head in a book and learn the art of photography as its not just point and click. If you have a budget ask away for ideas of what to look for as there is a wealth of knowledge on here.

By the way I hate the word 'professional' to describe image quality. Professional just means someone makes a living from photography. You can have a professional photographer that produces absolute rubbish or an amateur photographer who produces amazing photos. One is professional and the other not but maybe not in an image quality sense.
Rob-Nikon, you're quite right. I do apologize for using the word 'professional'. And yes, that's what I meant to ask, if you can make your images amazing with just a beginner camera and not a camera that costs over £300.
Rob makes the point very well!

But to over simplify it :-
Think of cookery, be it a good 'home' cook or a professional chef? You don't compliment the person in regard to the quality of the food by telling them they must have a good set of pans, or would you;)
 

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#10
I think something needs s bit of clarification here. It is possible to take great photos with any equipment BUT you either have to adapt your style to your equipment or get the equipment to do the job you want to do.

For example a lot of the excellent wildlife photos you see can only be shot at that standard with very expensive gear. But you can shoot a good portrait with a mobile phone.
 
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#12
You don't compliment the person in regard to the quality of the food by telling them they must have a good set of pans, or would you;)
But could you cook a gourmet steak in a microwave?

I think it's very important to remember that any camera will take any picture, but not every camera will take every picture.

If you want to be taking shots with wide depth of field and super smooth bokeh, or super high shutter speeds to freeze action; rapid busts and high frame rates, and do all that in low light, then you will find your bridge, point and click or phone somewhat lacking.

In the lay population DOF is almost always the first thing anyone expects out of a 'pro' camera, hence why apple and Google phones add that horrendous bokeh mask and multi layered post processing.

If your aiming for general snapshots and memory makind, portraits and scenery then your £50 point and click or phpne will be great.

A 'pro' camera does not have to cost a lot of cash, I would reccomend a 2nd hand Nikon D300 with a Nikon AD-D 50mm 1.8. MPB should sell one with an SD card for less than £300 and that will par most cameras, nasty mid to high ISO range, but a great camera to learn the technicals of photography and HOW to take. WHAT to take, as mentioned; is all down you. Happy shooting.
 
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#14
Hello, I am new to photography. I've taken photos on a smartphone and I've taken photos with a small camera. But I don't have a lot of experience. I don't want to pay more than £100 for a camera right now, as I'm a beginner. I would like a small digital camera that might fit in my pocket for £30 to £50. Can I still shoot professional images with a beginner camera, or will I require a more sophisticated camera?
What's your target market?

GC
 
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#15
£30-£50 is very mean but you can still get something would have been cutting edge 10-15 years ago.
Almost any camera can produce shots which are pleasing and perfectly adequate to use for some purposes e.g online blogging, they could even be saleable if that's what you mean by professional.
It just gets easier with more expensive camera which might have higher resolution so you could crop in more, or make a bigger print at good quality.
A 'better' camera would also help you out in less than ideal conditions e.g. low light.

I play about with stock photos and the best seller was taken some years ago with a Canon S100
Good composition and thoughtful processing are probably more important than a super high quality original file.
 
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#16
>SNIP
A 'pro' camera does not have to cost a lot of cash, I would reccomend a 2nd hand Nikon D300 with a Nikon AD-D 50mm 1.8. MPB should sell one with an SD card for less than £300 and that will par most cameras, nasty mid to high ISO range, but a great camera to learn the technicals of photography and HOW to take. WHAT to take, as mentioned; is all down you. Happy shooting.
To get great image quality etc you dont need a pro camera and certainly not and ancient one. Any modern ILC will outperform the D300 released in 2009 in terms of technical image quality and speed but in my experience there are no corelation between the camera and the great pictures. The ability of the photographer to cope with limitations is more important than having the camera with no limitations.
 
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#17
A professional photographer is someone who earns the bulk of his or her living from photography if you use the accepted definition. The camera is just a tool to achieve that goal.
You can pick up a used Nikon D2x for under £200 if you shop around, these were popular pro cameras in their day. That said you could also get a Nikon D3400 used, miles and miles better for the same money, and thats an entry level camera.
 
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#18
I notice people are still fixated on the “professional” aspect which the OP has already withdrawn at post #4.
It seems to me his/her question is more like “Is there a small digital camera that might fit in my pocket for £30 to £50 that would let me take much better photos than my smartphone. I want to spend less than £100.” That’s quite interesting and must be one that is being posed by a lot of people who have been taking smartphone photos and got more interested in “photography” and want to take it further but don’t (because smartphones are akin to the original Kodak’s “you press the button and we do the rest”) have a clue where to begin.
If this community wants to keep going and attract new recruits it seems to me it should spend some time thinking about this question. Typically, when a new member comes here saying they’ve been doing smartphone photography the advice usually ends up telling them to get the latest greatest dslr/mirrorless — I exaggerate of course.
 
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#19
I exaggerate of course.
but not much in my opinion.

In fact there are plenty of good secondhand pocketable cameras to be found for around £50. 2 examples that I've used are the Panasonic FX series and the Canon Ixus series. Here's an example from a Panasonic FX55...

Panasonic FX55 1020095.jpg

and an example from a Canon Ixus 70...

Canon Ixus 70 0606.jpg

Just to show how really small the Ixus is...

Olympus SP570uz5020014.JPG

The other camera is the Minox B which produces almost microscopic 8mm x 11mm film frames.
 
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#20
The first digicam I bought was a Canon Powershot A70, 3MP I think, from time to time I come across photos I took with it and am struck by how good their ‘quality’ is. It is of course all relative and depends what you want to achieve. I bought the Canon after avfreind showed me A4 inkjet prints (on ordinary paper) of his family taken with a Casio (1.3 MP , I think) which I thought were surprisingly good.
 
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#21
A good pro can get great images from a beginners camera, but a beginner can't reliably get 'pro' images even if using a top quality camera (they may get lucky once or twice).
 
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#22
A good pro can get great images from a beginners camera, but a beginner can't reliably get 'pro' images even if using a top quality camera (they may get lucky once or twice).
But he has explained he’s just using ‘pro’ to mean ‘good’, for some value of ‘good’, see #4.
 
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#24
But he has explained he’s just using ‘pro’ to mean ‘good’, for some value of ‘good’, see #4.
My comment still stands with 'amazing' (as in post 4) or even just good, and this was the reason I originally put pro in quotes, knowing it wasn't being used for professional as the dictionary defines it.

To take good photographs reliably you need to be a experienced photographer. Even after many years of trying some of us produce a LOT of dross. :(
A beginner is unlikely to get significantly better results with a top of the range camera than they will with a beginners model. They may even get worse results as many top cameras have less automation - no 'scene modes' for example.
Top models expect the photographer to know enough to control the important basics, and will not hold their hand to guide them through the process.
Many phones these days take amazing snaps, but they often don't have the ability to override the automation it's the programming in the phone that's doing half the work which just doesn't happen with 'pro' cameras.
 
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#25
A skilled photographer can get stunning photographs from lowly equipment if challenged, in the same was a skilled chef can make a lovely meal from leftovers. It doesn't mean they can do that all the time or want to, and if given the option would prefer a better set of equipment, or in the case of the chef, a fully stocked larder and fridge.
 
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#26
My comment still stands with 'amazing' (as in post 4) or even just good, and this was the reason I originally put pro in quotes, knowing it wasn't being used for professional as the dictionary defines it.
Yes, I’m not saying you or anyone else is posting inaccurate information just that it doesn’t really help the OP, as in so many similar posts I have seen here :(.
To take good photographs reliably you need to be a experienced photographer. Even after many years of trying some of us produce a LOT of dross. :(
A beginner is unlikely to get significantly better results with a top of the range camera than they will with a beginners model. They may even get worse results as many top cameras have less automation - no 'scene modes' for example.
Top models expect the photographer to know enough to control the important basics, and will not hold their hand to guide them through the process.
Many phones these days take amazing snaps, but they often don't have the ability to override the automation it's the programming in the phone that's doing half the work which just doesn't happen with 'pro' cameras.
As I wrote at #18, smartphones are in some ways like the early box camera - “you press the button and we do the rest” as Kodak said. BUT, when the first camera you knew was the family box camera it had an obvious lens, shutter, viewfinder(s) and removable interchangeable sensor and when you bought your first (large format ha ha!) camera, say a folding Kodak Brownie 620 (as I did) then all the bits and processes were similar and the transition was straightforward and logical. What I am saying is that it isn’t like that for young people nowadays who have perhaps only known smartphone cameras which are just ‘black boxes’ to them — funny really that we’ve gone from physical Kodak black boxes to figurative ones ;). So I’m saying we ought to think about that.
 
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#27
Rob-Nikon, you're quite right. I do apologize for using the word 'professional'. And yes, that's what I meant to ask, if you can make your images amazing with just a beginner camera and not a camera that costs over £300.
Thanks for clarifying.

Your question is interesting because it's moderately hard to answer. Compared to a GOOD phone camera, an older compact camera has little to offer other than a true optical zoom and better handling. The photos this (xaiomi) phone takes are as good as the Panasonic TZ10 my wife used until a couple of years ago in terms of basic image quality. In fact they often need less manipulation to look good.

I used to use a Samsung S850 and that produced some nice pictures, mostly thanks to a larger than usual sensor - got the last one for £35 on eBay.

As for 'amazing' pictures, most of us struggle to make those with several thousand pounds worth of kit.
 
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#28
For you £100 budget you could buy a used older DSLR or mirrorless including kit lens that has a 10-12MP sensor. This setup is the best bang for buck at your price point and you will with practice get some great pictures.

Ebay DSLR Under £100
 
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#31
True, true, but will it fit in his pocket? :cool:
Best option (as I see it and from the original question) is a pocketable camera that could take decent images automatically in P mode but would give the OP the opportunity to learn (if they wish) how to use a DSLR without lugging one around. In other words, begin to understand composition, exposure, light, it's relationship to the finished image and still have the ability to control and manipulate it in camera. With that criteria, a great little sub £100 camera is the Canon G series which are pocketable but allow total control of all settings and have a fully dedicated Canon Hotshoe and ports for accessories etc. I took an old used G7 to Canada years ago in lieu of my DSLR and got fab shots throughout the whole trip.

This link as a starting point maybe ?


.....
 
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#32
Well yes, you can get any professional photo with any camera.

Except if one is asking that question then he is not good enough to pull that off (generally speaking).
 
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#35
I notice people are still fixated on the “professional” aspect which the OP has already withdrawn at post #4.
It seems to me his/her question is more like “Is there a small digital camera that might fit in my pocket for £30 to £50 that would let me take much better photos than my smartphone. I want to spend less than £100.” That’s quite interesting and must be one that is being posed by a lot of people who have been taking smartphone photos and got more interested in “photography” and want to take it further but don’t (because smartphones are akin to the original Kodak’s “you press the button and we do the rest”) have a clue where to begin.
If this community wants to keep going and attract new recruits it seems to me it should spend some time thinking about this question. Typically, when a new member comes here saying they’ve been doing smartphone photography the advice usually ends up telling them to get the latest greatest dslr/mirrorless — I exaggerate of course.
Generally I recommend people just keep taking photos on their phone and buy a few monographs from a photographer in a genre they like.

Some people don't like this answer though, and they're generally the ones who have the beginnings of photography GAS more so than any actual interest in improving their photography.
 
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#36
A good pro can get great images from a beginners camera, but a beginner can't reliably get 'pro' images even if using a top quality camera (they may get lucky once or twice).
I think this is the key here. I've a done a few jobs for clients with same (or better) level of gear on the shelf but no idea. This speaks volumes. The problem starts that most people only perceive the view in contours and 12 basic colours at most. You can't do anything with that until you train yourself to see beyond.
I would however expect a skilled paint artist to pick up photography very quickly...
 
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#38
Generally I recommend people just keep taking photos on their phone and buy a few monographs from a photographer in a genre they like.
Yes, reading this thread I’ve come to conclusion that the best solution for the OP is to keep on with his phone and/or get a better one — though good luck with that for less than £100. It seems the best bang for £ in phone camera line currently is the Google Pixel 3a for about £300.
Some people don't like this answer though, and they're generally the ones who have the beginnings of photography GAS more so than any actual interest in improving their photography.
The OP didn’t give enough information (as usual) to enable anyone to give realistic advice.
 
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#39
The OP didn’t give enough information (as usual) to enable anyone to give realistic advice.
It did bring out how some people see themselves relative to others. :sulk:
 
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