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Durbanite

DSLR for novice

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Over the (too) many years I have had cameras lots of people have asked me what camera they should get and I always give the same advice, very much applicable here too.

First find a decent camera shop. Jessops in the main are still good (some of their outlets are franchises) but there are also slightly more specialist shops too. London Camera Exchange have good ranges of new and used and you have one in Worcester. Toddle along to the shop early/mid morning mid week when they are not busy with a list of cameras and lenses that you might like, ask the shop to get them out, and play with them. A camera is a personal as a pair of headphones or glasses - they all feel slightly different, have different weights and balance, and above all vary in size. The one that feels "right" is the one you should buy, after all if ultimately you don't  like it or cannot get on with it you won't use it - simples.  If you are lucky more than one will have that right feel so then you can dig down into features and price.

 

Others contributing have doubtless made their comments with what they own in mind. The two main dSLR makes are obviously Canon and Nikon and they are by far the commonest used by professionals and the press. In this country Canon seems to have the edge, but in other places Nikon are much more prevalent.

 

There are several sizes of cell in cameras. Full frame is the best and is equivalent to the frame size of 35mm film, 36x24mm. With these cameras the focal length of the lens is what it says it is.  Then comes APS-C which is the most common and here because the cell is smaller you have to multiply the lens focal length by around 1. 6x. Finally some makes - Olympus is one - use a system called four-thirds (4/3) which is a smaller cell again and requires doubling of the focal length. To put these in perspective, for a 35mm film camera a very wide angle lens is around 24mm, a less wide angle is 35mm, a 'normal' lens is 50-55mm, a portrait lens is around 100mm, and then you start going upwards in telephoto lengths - 135mm, 200mm, 300mm, and so on. Nowadays it is all zooms, so if you want to go say 28-100mm (a very common range on a film camera) you would need 28-100 on a full frame, 18-70 on an APS-C, or 14-50 on a 4/3. A 70-300mm zoom was mentioned - this is equivalent to around 100-450mm on a film camera so good IS or a tripod is almost always required - more kit/weight to carry!

 

[A portrait lens: the longer the focal length of a lens the more the perspective is shortened. We have all seen the old cowboy movies where someone is on the track in front of an advancing steam engine. In reality the camera is maybe 100-200m from the person and the train is maybe 300m behind them. By using a long focal length lens the distances appear to be much less. Similarly a very wide angle lens will make something fairly close appear to be a long way away. A portrait lens of around 100mm on a film camera makes the ratio of the size of a persons head look 'right' in comparison to how we see it in 3D with our two eyes. Use a 28mm lens and the nose looks huge and close but the ears look to be miles away!]

 

Three  other makes not to overlook are Sony (as was Minolta,) Olympus and Pentax. Sony are well made and very light; Olympus are very clever, small, and also light; Pentax has the advantage that the image stabilisation system is in the body of the camera not the lens, so any lens that you select will be able to use that facility. Indeed it also means that almost any Pentax fit lens made in the last 20-30 years will work with it.

 

BUT, and it is a big but, if you want range (i. e. very wide angle to very long telephoto) you will be looking at two or even three lenses. That means quite a bit of kit - some of it heavy and all of it relatively fragile - to have to carry around. An alternative is a so-called 'bridge' camera - a camera about the size of a small dSLR but with a fixed lens of wide adjustment. Here you are looking at Sony, Fuji, Panasonic (Lumix), and similar machines by the regular manufacturers like Canon and Nikon. Of these the toss up realistically is between Fuji and Panasonic, the latter having the advantage of a Leica branded lens. My wife has a FZ100 which has a lens that goes from very wide to long zoom over a 24x range. The camera has a viewfinder and a flip-out rear screen so that you can hold the camera low down or high up to gain positional advantage, and it has internal optical image stabilisation. The newer models are FZ200, FZ300, and FZ330 and you would expect to be paying something south of £500 so it is comparable with a dSLR and lens or two. There is one downside of these cameras: they come with what is known as a 'petal' lens hood and spares are not available if it gets broken or you loose it. (A lens hood is that thing that varies from a small 'dish' to a longish tube that attaches to the front of the lens and stops the sun shining on the lens glass.)

 

Small compacts - the Lumix TZ100 was mentioned (I have a TZ80) and such as the Sony HX90 - are very good and capable cameras and most of them have the advantage of a viewfinder. However they are on the small side and if you have big hands they can be awkward to use. They have internal image stabilisation (IS) and digital as well as optical zoom. I used to have a Sony HX5 which did have IS but in a slightly different form. If you tried to take a picture in low light where IS comes into play it actually took six shots rapidly one after the other at a shutter speed that was high enough that user shake would not be an issue, and then knitted these pictures into one - and it worked surprisingly well. The main disadvantage of such compact cameras against all others is that you cannot (usually) fit a filter on the lens for colouring or focusing effects.

 

So there you are - go play, get the right kit, and you will have years of pleasure. Incidently in addition to LCE, Wex Photographic in Norwich also do secondhand kit.

 

Edited by Woodentop
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I would also suggest any local branch of John Lewis who seem to have an increasing range of cameras of all types both in branch and online.

 

David

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2 hours ago, klyne said:

I would also suggest any local branch of John Lewis who seem to have an increasing range of cameras of all types both in branch and online.

 

David

 

Yes but not always the best price although they will price match.

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Woodentop an excellent reply in a previous post which has given us a lot to think about taking into consideration other helpful posts.   However a quick question.   Are lenses interchangeable and can one that is used on a Nikon or other make used on for instance a Canon?

Edited by Durbanite

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24 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

Woodentop an excellent reply in a previous post which has given us a lot to think about taking into consideration other helpful posts.   However a quick question.   Are lenses interchangeable and can one that is used on a Nikon or other make used on for instance a Canon?

No, all the top brands each have their own unique fittings.

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Durbanite.

My wife wanted to get into DSLR photography last year, we did a lot of research and settled with the Nikon D5300. She was a novice and has taken some stunning photos.

From experience lenses are not interchangeable between brands but others will know better. Most none manufacturers lenses are made for X brand in X size.

We got a package deal at Jessops with the accessory pack that was as good online deals.

If you are a Costco member they sometimes have some good starter kits.

So far we only have the lens it came with and haven't felt the need to buy another.

The Nikon software is really good as it will blue tooth pictures to a phone or tablet as you take them amongst other things.  

Edited by Jiffy176

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23 hours ago, Woodentop said:

 

Yes but not always the best price although they will price match.

The point I was making was that it was an opportunity to see and feel the cameras as photographic shops are getting pretty rare these days. 

 

David

 

 

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2 hours ago, klyne said:

The point I was making was that it was an opportunity to see and feel the cameras as photographic shops are getting pretty rare these days.  

 

David

 

 

 

That's fair enough but that implies a look and see and purchase elsewhere.   I just feel that our general approach to do this is the end of the 'shop' as we now know it.

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22 hours ago, Jiffy176 said:

Durbanite.

My wife wanted to get into DSLR photography last year, we did a lot of research and settled with the Nikon D5300. She was a novice and has taken some stunning photos.

From experience lenses are not interchangeable between brands but others will know better. Most none manufacturers lenses are made for X brand in X size.

We got a package deal at Jessops with the accessory pack that was as good online deals.

If you are a Costco member they sometimes have some good starter kits.

So far we only have the lens it came with and haven't felt the need to buy another.

The Nikon software is really good as it will blue tooth pictures to a phone or tablet as you take them amongst other things.  

 

I would guess you have the 18-55mm VR lens?

 

If you want to go wider angle look at the Sigma 10-20 which is probably the best super wide on the market. At that length you don't need image stabilisation.

If you want a longer lens go for the Nikon 55-200 VR - note NOT the 55-300 which is not as good.

 

I trust there is a skylight filter on the existing lens to protect it?

 

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34 minutes ago, Woodentop said:

 

I would guess you have the 18-55mm VR lens?

 

If you want to go wider angle look at the Sigma 10-20 which is probably the best super wide on the market. At that length you don't need image stabilisation.

If you want a longer lens go for the Nikon 55-200 VR - note NOT the 55-300 which is not as good.

 

I trust there is a skylight filter on the existing lens to protect it?

 

Must admit never hear of a skylight filter until I looked it up.   Do you need to remove the skylight filter before taking a picture?  Is this better than using a hood? 

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1 hour ago, Woodentop said:

I trust there is a skylight filter on the existing lens to protect it?

 

 

I never bother and it's not that straightforward - from Amateur Photographer

 

Skylight and UV filters are often used to protect the front of a lens, the logic being that any damage  caused to a filter is preferable to any damage to the front element of a lens.

Both filter ultraviolet light, although skylight filters are slightly pink in order to compensate for the blue casts sometimes present when shooting landscapes and other outdoor scenes. This was a popular choice with film photography, although they are required to a lesser extent today thanks to the auto white balance systems found in all digital cameras.

As the sensors inside digital cameras are sensitive to some UV light, there remains a case for the use of these filters, although the idea of keeping one permanently mounted on a lens is a contentious issue. This is largely because the extra element through which light has to pass will always decrease light transmission and can degrade image quality through creating reflections.


Read more at http://www. amateurphotographer. co. uk/technique/filters-explained-2538#XYMQfvAwp2qOKBC8. 99

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31 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

Must admit never hear of a skylight filter until I looked it up.   Do you need to remove the skylight filter before taking a picture?  Is this better than using a hood? 

Now you are getting into more technical details!

Skylight filters remove a little of the haze from outdoor shots. Many photographers used to leave on in place permanently to protect the lens from dirt and grit, and I guess some still do, particularly DSLR users whose lenses can each cost more than my cameras.

Totally different to a hood, which shields the lens from direct sunlight when taking a shot, which can cause flare. Again, some people leave a shallow hood on permanently to protect the lens from knocks.  

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21 minutes ago, Woodentop said:

If you want a longer lens go for the Nikon 55-200 VR - note NOT the 55-300 which is not as good.

 

 

Concur, the budget 55-300 is not good.
I have it's predecessor, the AF-S 70-300 VR  which is in a different league and a very versatile bit of kit for it's size and weight.
You can pick them up on ebay.

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Just as a follow on to my suggestion  of buying a new older model, re Canon 350d. Here is an example of the quality of picture.  

I took this shot Saturday gone, I think it's quite funny, the little man on the sign looks like he's struck the at the time flying buzzy bee.  

 

Look close.

 

bee.thumb.JPG.7f81adb31f557066fc56030bd52744dd.JPG

 

 

Edited by Simple Life

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BTW can you get original or compatible 12v chargers for the Canon or Nikon batteries so you cna charge them in the car?

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On 16/04/2018 at 10:10, kilham5 said:

 

Concur, the budget 55-300 is not good.
I have it's predecessor, the AF-S 70-300 VR  which is in a different league and a very versatile bit of kit for it's size and weight.
You can pick them up on ebay.

 

I got one of those s/h from Wex in Norwich. What a corker - absolutely brilliant lens.

 

Per other comments, UV filters do not cause flare and other issues provided you get one of good quality that has multi-coating on it just like the lens. Hoya have always been a good make - available at both Expensive World and Jessops. All my lenses have and have had at least a UV filter permanently fitted: in film days I used to use a Skylight 1A which was very very slightly pink or straw coloured - it took out that horrible blue cast that films like Ektachrome used to have on pictures taken on a sunny day. For the record I have owned an SLR camera of some sort since the early 70's so I think can can class myself as experienced?

 

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Woodentop has given you some excellent advice but I would like to add something to think about. I've had SLRs and DSLRs for many years and was mad keen at some points in my life and invested many thousands of pounds. More recently however I've found it more of a pain carrying all the kit around and would often find I didn't have anything other than my phone to hand when an opportunity presented. A couple of years ago I bought a Lumix FZ1000 bridge camera with a zoom to 400mm/800mm that has proved quite capable and produces some great shots. But even that is the size of a DSLR and doesn't have exchangeable lenses.

Then my wife wanted a better camera of her own to use and I bought her a Canon G16 compact. Now I'm finding that because that's so easy to carry around we nearly always have it with us so it gets used more often. It doesn't have the light capturing capability of the Lumix nor of course that of our Canon 5D, but does take good shots and is easy to use if set to auto.

Both of these designs are a couple of years old now but still very good.

My main point is to suggest you ask yourselves honestly whether you are prepared to carry something the size and weight of either a bridge type or a DSLR and lenses. If not it will only get used rarely. As Woodentop suggests a good camera shop should help you to answer those questions.

Good luck!

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A number of points.

1) The DSLR was the only way to be able to change lenses, then came the micro 4/3 camera, today you don't need a DSLR to be able to swap the lens.  

2) When you remove a lens you have the chance of dust getting in, if you don't need to change lens, then better to use a compact.

3) Quality of picture is dependent on many factors, but forget pixels,  if you have a bucket out in a rain storm and you measure how many inches of water, or you have a test tube and measure how many inches of water, the bucket is more accurate. The same applies to a camera, sensor size is important likely more important than how many pixels on the sensor.   So a full frame DSLR at 12 MP is better than a camera phone at 12 MP. However size also matters in other ways, I feel standing around with my DSLR is like hanging a sign on my chest saying mug me. Often the discrete camera is better, I stopped and took a picture of the woodland, while doing this I was accosted saying I had taken pictures of children scantly dressed, (I did not see any nor did I find any latter on images) but at the same time a guy rode by with a helmet camera, he was not stopped or questioned, although if there were children scantly dressed he would have clearly also have captured them.   Some times better if your camera is smaller, no one even notices you have used it.

4) As said 18 - 55 mm with a cut down sensor is not really going to capture distance objects, my Pentax has a range of lenses 18 - 55 mm is the standard but do have a 400 mm which is like a 600 mm with full frame. Rarely used as it is for most things OTT, but the Nikon with a Tamron 18 - 270 mm lens I do seem to hit the 270 mm limit. However not a good lens, my daughter also has a Nikon and Tamron lens, but around 90 to 300 mm and what is very evident is the speed at which it focuses. Mine is really slow compared with hers. She can follow a bird and take a photo with automatic focus, I would need to use manual focus as lens too slow.

5) One of the main advantages of the DSLR is recording the picture as a RAW file. The cheaper camera records a picture as 8 bit using automatic conversion so the user has to cross fingers that camera gets it right, which to be fair 9 times out of 10 it does, but my Pentax records as 12 bit, the Nikon records at 14 bit so I can personally decide what to do with the photo. So I decide if the shadows are black, or if shadows show detail, and I decide if sky shows clouds or just a bleached out white.

 

So a top of the range compact camera can record as RAW and can have a fantastic zoom lens, and since you can't remove the lens no chance of dust getting in, and it is a really good camera, likely the equivalent of a 28 to 350 mm lens on a full frame DSLR. But likely the DSLR will work with lower light levels, and also allow special lenses like 18 mm or 600 mm or special close up lenses, or be connected to a microscope or telescope, however so will a micro 4/3 camera.

 

The mirror of a DSLR forces the lens to be further away from the sensor, this means you need a larger lens to do same job, today there is really no need for the mirror, my Nikon D7000 will actually work with the mirror locked up, using the rear screen to view with. There is a problem in bright light when for stills the view finder works better, but with a micro 4/3 rds you can get an electronic view finder so even with bright sun light you can view what the camera is recording not what it sees.

 

Knowing what I do now I would not buy a DSLR even if I do own two, it would either be a micro 4/3 rds or a compact with a good zoom, the only thing I would insist on is the ability to record in RAW.

 

Of course if recording in RAW you need to be able to handle RAW files, I have three programs plus the in camera conversion, Photoshop CS5, RawTherapee, and Photomatrix the latter is likely the best, so simple around 35 thumbnails and I simply click on the one I think in the best, RawTherapee is free and seems to cover the latest cameras, when running CS4 I needed it with the Nikon D7000, but the RAW handling with CS5 also works with main program and allows bulk conversion, so is likely most used by me.

 

I feel the monthly charge for the cloud is OTT, so don't have the new Photoshop, if I change camera likely I will not have an option.  

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We swapped from Canon to full frame Sony mirror-less, due to the bosses Carpel tunnel problems and heavy camera's, but that's probably overkill for you, there are many compact super zoom camera's available and a lot second hand at very reasonable prices, but remember the longer the lens the greater the shake so look for some in camera stabilization to help you with it, people who object to paying the monthly fee for adobe photoshop should take a look at the Affinity photo software package, a one off fee for the software with regular updates and improvements for both Mac and Windows versions and lots of youtube tutorials free of charge. A good local camera club will help you improve your photography and helpful members will allow you to try different makes before you buy.  

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We eventually bought the Canon 200D and it takes excellent photos.   A bit of an overkill for us however next time if we are lucky enough to visit again we will leave the camera with the daughter or son as they will have more opportunity to sue it in game parks than us.   It has a telephoto lens with it so a bit of a bonus.

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On 12/04/2018 at 02:24, flashgordon said:

Handy hint for shooting out of vehicles, buy or make your self a small bean bag using polystyrene beads, and use it to brace your camera when shooting long zooms it will steady everything up nicely and get rid of the dreaded shutter click shake mind you Sony has seen fit to supply the hx400 with image stabilization on the 63x zoom which is roughly 24-1550mm in the 35 mm camera world just how much zoom do you need?

 

I have the Sony cybershot DSCH400 20 megapixels bridge camera with 63 zoom more than double that zoom using the menu

https://www. photographyblog. com/reviews/sony_cybershot_dsc_h400_review

It is a proper point and shoot camera with a stunning capability thanks to its Carl Zeus’s lens.

All for £250.

It weighs in at a hefty 665 grams and like all these cameras the battery life runs down if you leave the battery in.

I bought two spare batteries and a portable USB charger for under £15 plus a compact shoulder carrier case-camera bag far to bulky for me.

With this kit the camera is always ready for use just fit a battery and its ready.

Charge the batteries from the car or anywhere you get a USB power supply take movies or stills automatic focus for camera idiots like me I use the viewfinder for the zoom-no light fogging the big digital screen.

I use a micro SD card and just put it in my phone to upload to what’s app etc.

 

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