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Durbanite

DSLR for novice

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We recently visited a game park and realised just how inadequate the camera phones are for taking distant shots.   Many animals like Rhino and Hippo can only be seen in the distance.  

We are now thinking of a DSLR camera like the Canon EOS 200D with EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5. 6 IS STM lens for distant shots however my concern is battery life if the camera is left in the vehicle unused for a couple of months.   We have a cheapie Nikon which if left for a week or two required recharging and if this did not happen the battery would not recharge at all and needed to be replaced.  

We do not want an expensive over complicated camera just one that will get us a decent shot of something close up or in the distant however not sure if the camera is auto focus or manual etc. as a total novice and never taken photography seriously.

Any advice or help would be appreciated.   Thanks.

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Get a charger cable for the car then you can keep it charged whilst driving, every week or so.

And from a review:-

Having a camera that provides good battery stamina is hugely important. The EOS 200D’s has an advantage over some of its mirrorless rivals in the way it can shoot up to 650 frames from a single charge when the viewfinder alone is used. This isn’t to be complained at and should suffice most people’s needs on a daily basis. One thing worth noting though is that the battery life does drop to 260 shots per charge when it’s used in Live View. A spare LP-E17 battery for the camera will set you back £43
Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/canon-eos-200d-4#uwDhjkDGdIPemSxw.99

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Ooh where do you start?

 

Before commiting a lot of cash on something you might only use a couple of times a year, I would consider a pre-owned DSLR.
I recently bought a used, bit mint, Nikon D200 with a decent Nikkor 18-70 f2. 8 lump of lens, for less than £200 from a reputable dealer on ebay.
It is unbelievable for the money, then added a decent Nikkor 70-300. Only the f4. 5 but is ED with vibration reduction.
Relatively compact and all the camera and lenses you are likely to ever need.

 

Stay clear of budget DSLR lenses, get the best glass you can afford, but mid ranges usually good (read reviews).

 

Alternative, if you want to travel lighter, it would be a decent travel compact, rather than a bridge camera.

Something like the Sony HX90 with 30x zoom, or Panasonic TZ100 with only 10x zoom but big sensor.
I have both, and they are both very good, but the fantastic lens on the Sony edges it over the big sensor of the Panasonic for wildlife.
But the Panasonic would edge it for pure compact luxury for general stuff.

You will get lots of different opinions

 

Best of luck

PS. I was a professional sports photographer for twenty five years (and a Nikon man)

Edited by kilham5

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Personally I prefer the crossover type of camera such as the Fuji S9600 they give much of the performance of a DSLR at a fraction of the weight and price. Modern optical zoom lenses also give a zoom range that until only a few years ago could only be matched by an SLR with a whole armoury of lenses. Many also take excellent video including image stabilisation.

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Seems I am going to have to do a lot of home work on this as did not think it would be that complicated.   I came across this package from John Lewis which i thought was a good deal as it has two lenses.   As said total novice with cameras and lens.

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I second Kilham5's suggestion of the Panasonic TZ100. I bought one when they were first introduced and it quickly became my 'go-to' camera because of it's size and capabilities.

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The OP mentions only one lens which seems to be a general use zoom range and would think he will need a longer one as well for his distant shots.

Myself I bought a second battery off Ebay for my camera, performs just as well as the original.

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I bought a second hand Canon 1100D camera from a dealer. It came with the standard 18-55mm zoom lens which is fine for general photography. I also purchased a 75-300mm zoom for more distant work and finally I've lashed out on a fixed 50mm f1,8 lens for indoor work. (I try to photograph the inside of large buildings such as churches, cathedrals etc so the larger aperture on the 50mm should help.) I bought two generic back up batteries from Amazon which I keep charged so I've always got the one in the camera and two back ups. (Generic battery pack of two £12:99 compared to a genuine single Canon battery for £44:99. I use the original Canon charger.)

Have a good look around your local specialist camera shop. They should have people who know what they are talking about, plus they will only try to sell you products that you actually need. Explain what you want to use the camera for and a good dealer will show you equipment that you will use, (including second hand units that have been looked after by the original owners and inspected and possibly reconditioned by the dealer.) Generic dealers, (electrical superstores), will only try to get you to buy the most expensive units available with far more features than you will ever need.

Mike.

P. S. Most modern cameras, bridge, DSLR etc have fully auto settings which are fine for beginners. You would only start using things like aperture priority, shutter priority etc IF you became more interested in more advanced photography. Fully auto is fine for beginners.

M

Edited by Townie
Adding PS.

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1 minute ago, Townie said:

I bought a second hand Canon 1100D camera from a dealer. It came with the standard 18-55mm zoom lens which is fine for general photography. I also purchased a 75-300mm zoom for more distant work and finally I've lashed out on a fixed 50mm f1,8 lens for indoor work. (I try to photograph the inside of large buildings such as churches, cathedrals etc so the larger aperture on the 50mm should help.) I bought two generic back up batteries from Amazon which I keep charged so I've always got the one in the camera and two back ups. (Generic battery pack of two £12:99 compared to a genuine single Canon battery for £44:99. I use the original Canon charger.)

Have a good look around your local specialist camera shop. They should have people who know what they are talking about, plus they will only try to sell you products that you actually need. Explain what you want to use the camera for and a good dealer will show you equipment that you will use, (including second hand units that have been looked after by the original owners and inspected and possibly reconditioned by the dealer.) Generic dealers, (electrical superstores), will only try to get you to buy the most expensive units available with far more features than you will ever need.

Mike.

Specialist camera shops are few and far between these days! Last time I looked, for the same camera, I could pay £700 from a specialist camera shop, £600 from an electrical superstore or £450 from Amazon, not a difficult decision.

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2 hours ago, Durbanite said:

We recently visited a game park and realised just how inadequate the camera phones are for taking distant shots.   Many animals like Rhino and Hippo can only be seen in the distance.  

We are now thinking of a DSLR camera like the Canon EOS 200D with EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5. 6 IS STM lens for distant shots however my concern is battery life if the camera is left in the vehicle unused for a couple of months.   We have a cheapie Nikon which if left for a week or two required recharging and if this did not happen the battery would not recharge at all and needed to be replaced.  

We do not want an expensive over complicated camera just one that will get us a decent shot of something close up or in the distant however not sure if the camera is auto focus or manual etc. as a total novice and never taken photography seriously.

Any advice or help would be appreciated.   Thanks.

 

An 18-55mm lens will not be much use for distant shots, even allowing for the fact that on a 200D it will be equivalent to a 28. 8- 88mm since the 200D is not a full frame digital.  

I mainly use a 28-105mm L series Canon lens, and that is not regarded as a long distance lens.

A 75-200mm may suit you, which would be equivalent to  120- 320mm on a 200D.

A 75-300mm would give a top end focal length equivalent of 480mm, but that might prove difficult to hand hold, especially if the lens does not have the image stabilzer.

Edited by hp100425ev

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I don't think there are any specialist camera shops near us which is why I need to rely on advice from people in the know.   BTW the one from John Lewis is as follows; Canon EOS 200D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3. 5-5. 6 III & EF 75-300mm f/4-5. 6 III Lenses, 1080p Full HD, 24. 2MP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, Optical Viewfinder, 3" Vari-angle Touch Screen, Double Zoom Kit for £599.   Two lens include in the price.   One seems to be for general photography and the other for wildlife shots.   The Canon seems to have good reviews for a budget DSLR.   The Nikon we have gave us issues since day one, but then it was a Coolpix camera.

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5 minutes ago, Stevan said:

Specialist camera shops are few and far between these days! Last time I looked, for the same camera, I could pay £700 from a specialist camera shop, £600 from an electrical superstore or £450 from Amazon, not a difficult decision.

I'm trying to explain to Durbanite that he has no real need to spend that kind of money when he intends to just use it occasionally. He talks about "leaving it in the vehicle unused for a couple of months." A fair chunk of cash for that kind of use! A Google search for specialist camera shops should show a few locally, or more specialist shops who are prepared to talk over the phone and advise on suitable kit for your needs. Just trying to save the guy some pennies. As us more hardened camera buffs know, it CAN be a very expensive hobby, even when you know what you're talking about.

 

Mike.

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The thing is, up until your recent trip to South Africa, has the quality of your current camera(s) really bothered you,  are you planning a return trip to the game park anytime soon and are you intending to take up photography as a serious hobby to justify an expensive camera purchase such as you describe? In other words, would it be more practical to lower your sights and reserve the money you save for more caravan time?!

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49 minutes ago, Townie said:

I'm trying to explain to Durbanite that he has no real need to spend that kind of money when he intends to just use it occasionally. He talks about "leaving it in the vehicle unused for a couple of months." A fair chunk of cash for that kind of use! A Google search for specialist camera shops should show a few locally, or more specialist shops who are prepared to talk over the phone and advise on suitable kit for your needs. Just trying to save the guy some pennies. As us more hardened camera buffs know, it CAN be a very expensive hobby, even when you know what you're talking about.

 

Mike.

Yes, that was just an example, in fact it was the last time I seriously looked in a specialist camera shop. Its replacement and upgrade actually cost nearer to £250 and the nearest current equivalent costs around £150. Times and prices change, but specialist shops still tend to be expensive.  

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54 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

I don't think there are any specialist camera shops near us which is why I need to rely on advice from people in the know.   BTW the one from John Lewis is as follows; Canon EOS 200D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3. 5-5. 6 III & EF 75-300mm f/4-5. 6 III Lenses, 1080p Full HD, 24. 2MP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, Optical Viewfinder, 3" Vari-angle Touch Screen, Double Zoom Kit for £599.   Two lens include in the price.   One seems to be for general photography and the other for wildlife shots.   The Canon seems to have good reviews for a budget DSLR.   The Nikon we have gave us issues since day one, but then it was a Coolpix camera.

 

If you are not going back to SA on any more safaris, and if your future needs are going to be very infrequent use taking shots of people and landscapes, a point and shoot digital with a good range fixed zoom lens might suit your needs better than an SLR.

Unless you plan to take some photography courses, your use of a DSLR sounds as though it might be little more than point and shoot anyway.

 

Edited by hp100425ev

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My suggestion, based on my own experience, would be to go for a pocket-able compact. I use a Panasonic TZ60 it has a 30X optical zoom and a decent stabilization system  making the long end of the zoom usable. I also have a Nikon DSLR and Fuji bridge but since getting the TZ60 they get very little use. The main issue with the Nikon and Fuji is simply carrying them, the TZ60 sits in a case on my belt so its no hassle to carry and its always there when I want it. Many people are happy to carry something larger around their neck but depending on what activity you're involved with that may not suit everyone.

 

Another point I would make about DSLR is choice of lens, they're often sold in 'kits' which contain two lenses, both zooms but a smaller one for everyday use and a separate one for those long distant subjects requiring a longer lens. Personally I'm not a big fan of changing lenses out doors, yes it is perfectly do-able but there is always the worry of dust ingress whenever the lens mount is open. One thing that would make my DSLR (I have two zooms already) more usable is to get a single lens with a wider range zoom. The thing is I get the results I want form the TZ60 so there is no incentive to pay out for a more versatile lens for the DSLR.  

 

There are so many variables when making a choice around cameras, the most important thing is to try and decide what you it to be able to do and work back from there. Funny how things have changed over the years, I have a 35mm Canon EOS outfit with a typical twin zoom set up, bought many years ago at a cost of over £1100 and today it probably would not even make £100, digital has been a game changer which I've been happy to use.    

 

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Why not just go for a Sony cybershot 63X Optical Zoom DSC-H400 20. 1 Mega Pixel bridge camera an immaculate 2nd hand one with all the bits will cost you between £150-200 small light and easy to use, to get a dslr system with the lenses you want to reach wildlife you are going to have to go 10x  that price, I still have nightmares when I remember how much my 70-200 lens cost me and I'm an enthusiast!

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3 hours ago, flashgordon said:

Why not just go for a Sony cybershot 63X Optical Zoom DSC-H400 20. 1 Mega Pixel bridge camera an immaculate 2nd hand one with all the bits will cost you between £150-200

 

I have never been a fan of bridge cameras, but that H400 is very good shout, I know it was very highly rated and a great used bargain.

But adding to my earlier post, travel compacts like the Sony HX90 and Panasonic-Lumix TZ100 are so good for their convenience, I rarely get the DSLR out.

My eight year old took this on my TZ100

5acd4047a7fa9_Asmallsample.thumb.jpg.979781f581a50d862a09afa417850557.jpg

Edited by kilham5
I need to talk to her about rule of thirds...

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1 hour ago, kilham5 said:

 

I have never been a fan of bridge cameras, but that H400 is very good shout, I know it was very highly rated and a great used bargain.

But adding to my earlier post, travel compacts like the Sony HX90 and Panasonic-Lumix TZ100 are so good for their convenience, I rarely get the DSLR out.

My eight year old took this on my TZ100

5acd4047a7fa9_Asmallsample.thumb.jpg.979781f581a50d862a09afa417850557.jpg

Yep but its not a Lion 800 yards away is it, 10x is fine for things that don't eat you, 63x is far enough away to shoot and not be noticed (eaten) :-)

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13 hours ago, Legal Eagle said:

The thing is, up until your recent trip to South Africa, has the quality of your current camera(s) really bothered you,  are you planning a return trip to the game park anytime soon and are you intending to take up photography as a serious hobby to justify an expensive camera purchase such as you describe? In other words, would it be more practical to lower your sights and reserve the money you save for more caravan time?!

On occasions it has bothered us, but we lived with the issues.   The wife tries to go back every two years as the kids still live there.   She has taken some great landscape shots in the past although she is also a novice with cameras.

We have had point and shoot cameras in the past, but they have not been suitable for some occasions.   When I mentioned it being in the vehicle unused for maybe a month or more was probably not true, but may happen so it needed to be considered.   I think it was because we had issues with our Nikon Coolpix that we hardly used it as every time you went to use it the battery had gone flat.

Thinking of doing one of those photography courses offered by colleges.

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I wish you well with it. Those adult learning photography classes can also give good advice on what equipment will suit your needs without spending a fortune.

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55 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

 

Thinking of doing one of those photography courses offered by colleges.

I've recently returned to DSLR after may years away. I used to use a 35mm film SLR so the idea of using digital appealed to me. As I said, I bought a second hand Canon, (via Amazon) and have bought a couple of lenses etc to go with it. I know the basics of photography from my 35mm film days. In order to get the best from my camera, I've enrolled in a digital camera course with the Open University and have learned a great deal already.

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Unless you are really into photography the DSLRs are a lot of unnecessary faff and clutter. The bridge (or crossover) cameras  offer much of the versatility without the cost, weight or bits and pieces. What you lose in very long lenses you gain in ease of use and portability.

You are therefore much more likely to carry it with you and actually get the shots!

Personally I have 3 cameras:-

One in my phone : Almost always with me but limited.

A cheap compact (£50 or so): Much more versatile, with a better zoom. Fits in a shirt pocket for when I am going somewhere that is likely to present good photo opportunities but I am not specifically going to take pictures and do not want to carry anything bigger.

A bridge camera for when I expect to be taking pictures and/or video.  

 

All three get used. Before digital became affordable I used an SLR, but the full kit was so heavy, nearly 7Kg, that it usually got left behind and I missed the shots!

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I use a DSLR and have 5 lenses for it, ranging from a 10-22mm up to a 75-300mm. The whole kit probably has a RRP of over £5000, and that is not a top range full frame body.

My wife has a simple point and shoot.

For most occasions outdoors the photos on my wifes p&s are perfectly adequate, and you would be hard pushed to pick them out from identical photos taken on my DSLR unless you wanted to blow them up to A3 size or above.

In simple terms, where the DSLR scores is in low light, moving subjects and long distance.

These days, my wifes p&s goes with us most days out, especially when away in the van.

My DSLR kit, either in full form or just camera body and one or two lenses, only goes out with me when I know I am going to need a lens range beyond the p&s (eg, wide angle when we visit NT or HHA properties), or when the subject matter might demand it (eg shooting steam trains).

Many times recently I have seriously considered whether the DSLR kit is really worth having with the less and less use it gets each year and as the weight gets harder to cope with.

One of our Daughter-in-laws decided a few years ago that a DSLR might be a good idea, and she bought a body and two lens kit and enroled on local digital photography courses. Didn’t last long.

 

Edited by hp100425ev

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Were are in no way camera experts but do quite a lot of traveling and treated ourselves to a Nikon D400 with a Nikkor 55-300, fantastic DSLR but found that it becomes a tad tiresome taking it out with for the day as its quite a lump hanging around your neck plus a big lump to pack when you have baggage restrictions. We were looking for something smaller and lighter but still be able to have full control over the settings.

 

A friend let us try his Panasonic Lumix G1 series (micro four thirds) I was impressed with the image quality and compact size for such a fully featured camera. We ended up trading our D400 for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 with a G Vario 14-42 lens. The camera is so small and light in comparison that it’s no chore to take it out with you for the day. We have taken far more pictures with the Lumix because of this and I have just treated myself to a new lens (G Vario 45-200)

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