Camera suggestion for newbie | The Boneyard

Camera suggestion for newbie

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Hi, maybe in next year or two, I’d like to get a good but affordable camera (and lens?) for trips including possibly safari. Probably looking at used equipment. Budget would be $500-$1000 including everything. Is this enough?

I know nothing about photography, the only camera I have now is my I-phone and that seems complicated. How does one learn how to operate camera and take good pictures. Do they come with manual? Are there clubs I could join, or do colleges teach it?

Would like to be able to take wide variety of pictures including long range if on travel. Do cameras let you send taken photos via email? Are any good at organizing photos so it’s easy to find particular shots? Are used cameras sometimes too used? How can you tell? Thanks!
 

jleves

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This is one of those topics that you're likely to get responses all over the board. As camera phones have gotten very good, they are good enough for most people. Once you venture beyond that, the options are extensive and expensive. Almost anything beyond a camera on a phone is going to be more complicated in terms of available settings and options. But they can also be used in automatic mode which should be a good starting point and you can expand as you learn the settings.

DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) were the first high end digital options - now pretty much reserved for professional or prosumer photographers. They tend to be larger and heavy but have an extensive number of lenses you can swap out. I would say too high end for what you are looking for.

Mirrorless cameras are quickly replacing anything below professional and some of the professional for people who want to be able to change lenses. They are smaller and lighter and have a solid selection of lenses. But I would suggest only jumping to this level if you really start getting into the hobby. They can also be extremely expensive.

Honestly, for what you are looking to do, I would suggest looking at superzoom cameras (just google superzoom and start from there). The lens is much larger than you can put on a phone, so the quality of the pictures goes up dramatically. They have a wide range of zoom so they are really good for anything from portraits to zooming into wildlife. They also fit much better in your budget - even buying new. You can play with all the settings (fstop, shutter speed, focus, iso, etc.) as you get comfortable with it, but will be fine in automatic mode. They tend to have custom modes like 'night' or 'portrait' or 'sport' that will automatically use the best settings for that particular type of photo. They are also super convenient as you just pick it up and start shooting without having to decide on a lens or carry a huge gear bag with you. If you find yourself out growing it, that's when you start looking into mirrorless systems. If you find you don't want or need to go beyond a point and shoot, you haven't wasted time money and effort on a replaceable lens camera system. Pretty sure current superzooms will automatically upload pictures to the cloud. Just check out the features as you do reviews.

As for learning how to use a camera in terms of controlling settings yourself, just go to amazon and google 'beginning photography' and you'll find tons of good books.

As for organizing photos, I wouldn't rely on the camera but some kind of software. I haven't looked at photo software in a long time. Hopefully someone else here has suggestions for that.


Hope that helps.
 
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Hans Sprungfeld

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This is one of those topics that you're likely to get responses all over the board. As camera phones have gotten very good, they are good enough for most people. Once you venture beyond that, the options are extensive and expensive. Almost anything beyond a camera on a phone is going to be more complicated in terms of available settings and options. But they can also be used in automatic mode which should be a good starting point and you can expand as you learn the settings.

DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) were the first high end digital options - now pretty much reserved for professional or prosumer photographers. They tend to be larger and heavy but have an extensive number of lenses you can swap out. I would say too high end for what you are looking for.

Mirrorless cameras are quickly replacing anything below professional and some of the professional for people who want to be able to change lenses. They are smaller and lighter and have a solid selection of lenses. But I would suggest only jumping to this level if you really start getting into the hobby. They can also be extremely expensive.

Honestly, for what you are looking to do, I would suggest looking at superzoom cameras (just google superzoom and start from there). The lens is much larger than you can put on a phone, so the quality of the pictures goes up dramatically. They have a wide range of zoom so they are really good for anything from portraits to zooming into wildlife. They also fit much better in your budget - even buying new. You can play with all the settings (fstop, shutter speed, focus, iso, etc.) as you get comfortable with it, but will be fine in automatic mode. They tend to have custom modes like 'night' or 'portrait' or 'sport' that will automatically use the best settings for that particular type of photo. They are also super convenient as you just pick it up and start shooting without having to decide on a lens or carry a huge gear bag with you. If you find yourself out growing it, that's when you start looking into mirrorless systems. If you find you don't want or need to go beyond a point and shoot, you haven't wasted time money and effort on a replaceable lens camera system. Pretty sure current superzooms will automatically upload pictures to the cloud. Just check out the features as you do reviews.

As for learning how to use a camera in terms of controlling settings yourself, just go to amazon and google 'beginning photography' and you'll find tons of good books.

As for organizing photos, I wouldn't rely on the camera but some kind of software. I haven't looked at photo software in a long time. Hopefully someone else here has suggestions for that.


Hope that helps.
This is such a thorough answer that you might as well lock the thread.;)
 

Dove

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My first camera was a Kodak Tele Instamatic. Loved that thing. Do they still exist?
 
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Good answers above. I've been into photography for decades, and do some paid work. The camera industry has gone through major changes for many reasons, the main one being how good camera phones are now. There used to be a whole middle market of smaller cameras (including the superzoom category mentioned previously). This market is almost completely gone now.

With your budget of $500 - $1000, I would suggest looking for used equipment. I have bought most of my equipment used over the years. I would also suggest that you stick to interchangeable lens cameras. This market used to be dominated by Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. Now, this tech is dying and the world is moving to mirrorless. Because of this, the used market has a lot more affordable gear that is DSLR gear, the mirrorless stuff is still more expensive.

What your main uses for the camera will be is the main driver as to what camera best fits it. You mentioned travel. Most travel photography isn't too demanding equipment wise. An newer iphone will give you really good results, rivaling more expensive gear in most conditions. You also have to keep in mind your tolerance for lugging around gear on vacation. As far as a safari goes, don't try and own a lens for that, too expensive. Rent one for the trip. Lenses are the expensive part of photography equipment. If you wind up really getting into photography, you buy lenses once and they last many many years. Camera bodies advance quickly and wind up being replaced for something better quickly.

Don't worry too much about brands yet, but here is some info. The market used to be dominated by Nikon and Canon. In the past decade, Sony invested heavily into mirrorless, and now is a major player. Canon is still a leader, and Nikon has been declining. If you are getting in, I would stick to one of these 3 brands.

Some cameras are better than others at getting the pics off of them to your phone. If that interests you, make sure you look into that, it's a nice thing to have.

So, for a quick recommendation for an actual camera? I suggest a used Sony A6100. You can get one used with the small kit lens for $500-600. This leaves a few hundred dollars for a higher quality lens. This is a high quality mirrorless camera. Sony's autofocus system is incredible. The form factor is very small which is great for travel, but don't let that look fool you, the guts inside rival any DSLR for ability and quality. But do your research to see what really matches what YOU need. Good luck.

If you have more questions let us know, and come back and update us on what you wind up doing!
 

tykurez

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Where do you live? There’s some remaining local camera stores in the state that do classes. Milford Photo is one of them and they’re excellent … you could probably walk in there with the same question and get someone to actually walk you through your options.
 

McLovin

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The Canon M50 is a great starting DSLR camera in that range (5 years ago I bought it for like $800 new).

There are a number of auto settings if you don’t want to do anything manual, just point, focus and shoot.

But also easy enough to mess around with the manual settings if you get a little bit more into photography and want to play around with ISO, f-stop and shutter speeds or shooting in RAW.

As a bonus it also does decent video as well (4K is an option but it sucks up memory cards super fast).

If you’re going to be out shooting all day, definitely get a spare battery or 2.

Edit: if you’re shooting long range you may want to consider a second lens.
 
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... How does one learn how to operate camera and take good pictures. Do they come with manual? Are there clubs I could join, or do colleges teach it?
...
As far as the answer to this, the easiest place to gain knowledge quickly is youtube. You can search for topics that fit your knowledge level. There is a ton of great information there.
 
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I agree with everything jleves said.

I took two classes to help me learn because I confuse easily...One at Manchester Community College and one a the Vernon Region Adult Based Education (VRABE...essentially, evening classes at Rockville High School). Classes met once/week for like 2 or 3 weeks. Cheap but priceless. Everything started making sense when I could ask a question to a human
 
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The Canon M50 is a great starting DSLR camera in that range (5 years ago I bought it for like $800 new).
The M50 sounds like a good suggestion, but just to be clear, it's a mirrorless camera and not a DSLR if I'm not mistaken?
 
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So, for a quick recommendation for an actual camera? I suggest a used Sony A6100. You can get one used with the small kit lens for $500-600. This leaves a few hundred dollars for a higher quality lens. This is a high quality mirrorless camera. Sony's autofocus system is incredible. The form factor is very small which is great for travel, but don't let that look fool you, the guts inside rival any DSLR for ability and quality. But do your research to see what really matches what YOU need. Good luck.
Thanks for the recommendation, I checked the A6100 just now and a couple of reviews mentioned the batteries not lasting too long. Not sure what those folks were doing with the camera, maybe taking videos runs down the batteries fast? I guess being able to hold onto battery charge would be good thing to ensure and maybe the A6100 is just fine.
 
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Thanks for the recommendation, I checked the A6100 just now and a couple of reviews mentioned the batteries not lasting too long. Not sure what those folks were doing with the camera, maybe taking videos runs down the batteries fast? I guess being able to hold onto battery charge would be good thing to ensure and maybe the A6100 is just fine.

Something to consider is that mirrorless lenses are pretty expensive. If you want to get that telephoto lens for travel, it might get steep.
 
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Thanks for the recommendation, I checked the A6100 just now and a couple of reviews mentioned the batteries not lasting too long. Not sure what those folks were doing with the camera, maybe taking videos runs down the batteries fast? I guess being able to hold onto battery charge would be good thing to ensure and maybe the A6100 is just fine.
Good job with the research! Yes, that is correct, I think the biggest negative of that line of Sony cameras is the low battery life. The one good thing with that is that the batteries are very small, making them easy to carry spares. The later versions of this line of cameras, the A6600 I think, transitioned to the bigger batteries, but that model may be out of your budget, being around $900 to $1000 used.
 
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Good answers above. I've been into photography for decades, and do some paid work. The camera industry has gone through major changes for many reasons, the main one being how good camera phones are now. There used to be a whole middle market of smaller cameras (including the superzoom category mentioned previously). This market is almost completely gone now.

With your budget of $500 - $1000, I would suggest looking for used equipment. I have bought most of my equipment used over the years. I would also suggest that you stick to interchangeable lens cameras. This market used to be dominated by Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. Now, this tech is dying and the world is moving to mirrorless. Because of this, the used market has a lot more affordable gear that is DSLR gear, the mirrorless stuff is still more expensive.

What your main uses for the camera will be is the main driver as to what camera best fits it. You mentioned travel. Most travel photography isn't too demanding equipment wise. An newer iphone will give you really good results, rivaling more expensive gear in most conditions. You also have to keep in mind your tolerance for lugging around gear on vacation. As far as a safari goes, don't try and own a lens for that, too expensive. Rent one for the trip. Lenses are the expensive part of photography equipment. If you wind up really getting into photography, you buy lenses once and they last many many years. Camera bodies advance quickly and wind up being replaced for something better quickly.

Don't worry too much about brands yet, but here is some info. The market used to be dominated by Nikon and Canon. In the past decade, Sony invested heavily into mirrorless, and now is a major player. Canon is still a leader, and Nikon has been declining. If you are getting in, I would stick to one of these 3 brands.

Some cameras are better than others at getting the pics off of them to your phone. If that interests you, make sure you look into that, it's a nice thing to have.

So, for a quick recommendation for an actual camera? I suggest a used Sony A6100. You can get one used with the small kit lens for $500-600. This leaves a few hundred dollars for a higher quality lens. This is a high quality mirrorless camera. Sony's autofocus system is incredible. The form factor is very small which is great for travel, but don't let that look fool you, the guts inside rival any DSLR for ability and quality. But do your research to see what really matches what YOU need. Good luck.

If you have more questions let us know, and come back and update us on what you wind up doing!
Excellent advice. If you do go on a safari, I also strongly recommend you rent a high end zoom lens (minimum 300X) for whatever camera you end up getting in that price range. Not sure if you've been on one before but it's an incredible experience and your photos will suffer with inexpensive glass. I made the mistake of cheaping out on my first one camera-wise and the difference between my photos for that and my second one are night and day.
 
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Excellent advice. If you do go on a safari, I also strongly recommend you rent a high end zoom lens (minimum 300X) for whatever camera you end up getting in that price range. Not sure if you've been on one before but it's an incredible experience and your photos will suffer with inexpensive glass. I made the mistake of cheaping out on my first one camera-wise and the difference between my photos for that and my second one are night and day.

I was in Kruger for 3 weeks-ish 2 summers ago. Rentals of a quality zoom lens were not even expensive with the exchange rate.
 
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Something to consider is that mirrorless lenses are pretty expensive. If you want to get that telephoto lens for travel, it might get steep.
This is a very good point. There is a huge amount of used lenses on the market for DSLRs, which drives the price down significantly. Only thing that kept me from going mirrorless.
 
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You can rent lenses in Africa? At the parks?

Not in the parks, right outside where you'd meet a guide or rent your car. The general stores in Kruger are quite basic. There's a town called Nelspruit that most people seem to rent from. I rented a $3,000 Canon lens for something like 20 bucks a day.

I lived in Tanzania as a kid in a town called Arusha within a few hours of the main safari spots (it's at the base of Kilamanjaro)--plenty of camera and lens rental spots there too.
 
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Where is Fishy’s input? He is/was big into photography.

I still have my 40+yo Pentax with 3 lenses, standard ~50mm, a wideangle (variable 24-75), and a zoom (100-300). Don’t use them since iphones.
 
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...

I still have my 40+yo Pentax with 3 lenses, standard ~50mm, a wideangle (variable 24-75), and a zoom (100-300). Don’t use them since iphones.
I used Pentax for most of my life. They were slow with the transition to autofocus and again to digital, and that doomed them.
 

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