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Help me pick a camera

(28 Posts)
covetingthepreciousthings Wed 20-Jan-21 17:05:09

Can anyone give me some advice on choosing a camera? I've decided to treat myself to a camera after wanting one for years, I've decided to finally go for it and learn how to take better pictures.. but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the choice out there.

At the moment I'm leaning more towards Nikon - possibly the Bridge P900.

Can anyone whose into photography tell me which would be best?

I'm fairly ok with tech, but haven't used a digital camera for years.. would be mainly used for nature / people / objects I think.

Anything I should avoid?

Budget around £1,000 unless I should go for a much cheaper one to start with!

OP’s posts: |
tommika Wed 20-Jan-21 18:10:07

A ‘bridge’ camera is a compromise bridging the gap between a compact camera and a ‘full’ camera with the ability to switch lenses.

With a compact camera, or a mobile phone you are limited in the scope of what their smaller integrated lenses are capable of doing. The software in modern ones makes up for some of the limitations.
You can learn photography principles but are limited on the real control that you get over the settings to take the photo

With a bridge camera it still has a fixed lens that cannot be changed but the lens does extend out properly giving ‘real’ optical zoom etc and more flexibility in the ‘real’ changes you can make, but in learning you will still progress beyond the cameras capabilities
(That doesn’t mean you can’t take great photos)

Personally I would recommend going to an entry level ‘proper’ camera - ideally DSLR but ‘mirrorless’ measures up with them

Mirrorless and DSLR both take interchangeable lenses. These allow you to choose the lens that suit the photo you want to take

I recommend DSLR as you look through the viewfinder with a mirror reflecting the lens view to your eye, then as you click the button the mirror flips up exposing the sensor and the photo is taken. You could use the display, but by holding the camera out to see the display you have a less steady hold. Put the viewfinder to your eye and you can get both stability of your elbows on your chest and a third point of contact on your face
With mirrorless you’re looking at the sensors image on either the display or the viewfinder

As you go through the manufacturers ranges of cameras in DSLRs they all take great photos and give you the ability to manually change any setting or choose a mode to help you, but the difference between an entry level and a professional is the number of buttons giving access to the controls

An entry level DSLR has the most important controls at your fingertip and the rest within a menu, a professional DLSR has buttons and dials around giving direct access to all of the settings you need for full control of a photo

Nikon and Canon are the most common that owners will argue as the best, but their like for like models in the range can match each other
If possible pick one up and see which feels right in your hand and has a button arrangement that suits you

I use Nikon because that was the one I picked, and it has an ‘advantage’ that their lens mount type remained unchanged for years. Except for a new lens mount for mirrorless I can pretty much use any Nikon lens made for decades

My first DSLR was the Nikon D7200 and now I have the D610.
None of them were new

Crocky Wed 20-Jan-21 18:18:40

Tommika has given some really good advice but I would also throw in mirrorless. The ability to change lenses and full manual control is still there but usually in a smaller and lighter body. I have a canon Dslr that I use as a portrait camera in a studio setting but it’s a big heavy beast and I wanted something more lightweight for landscapes so I went for the Fujifilm mirrorless. Sony and Canon I believe also have some very good mirrorless options.
You need to have a think about what you actually want. A camera with full manual settings and interchangeable lenses is something you can learn and grow with. A bridge is more limiting.

NotMeNoNo Wed 20-Jan-21 18:25:38

I would just go for a DSLR. Once you've made the decision to take your camera somewhere I think the size of it is less of a thing. I have a Nikon D3000 one of the lower spec ones (10 years ago) but still really versatile. Its good to have the choice of interchangeable lenses.

Crocky Wed 20-Jan-21 18:32:46

A lot of photographers I know have made a move over to mirrorless. Things really have changed over the past ten years.

covetingthepreciousthings Thu 21-Jan-21 11:47:20

Thank you so much for all of this help, really appreciate it.

*My first DSLR was the Nikon D7200 and now I have the D610.
None of them were new*

Where is the best place to get secondhand cameras? I think local indie camera shop might be the best bet, but I was concerned how quickly camera tech might go out of date? Or is that not so much of an issue? Just worried about forking out for a used camera and it getting dated quite quickly.

Then again I'm not sure how long a camera should / could be used for?

OP’s posts: |
covetingthepreciousthings Thu 21-Jan-21 11:47:52

Bold fail in the middle there about secondhand cameras trying to quote @tommika .

OP’s posts: |
EspressoExpresso Thu 21-Jan-21 11:53:04

I'm in a similar position (although slightly smaller budget) and have decided on a Nikon D3500 as a starter camera to learn functions and play around with. With your extra budget you may decide that you want to look at additional kit depending on what you're wanting to achieve.

NotMeNoNo Thu 21-Jan-21 13:02:38

Somewhere like London Camera Exchange sell warrantied secondhand cameras and accessories, I got a new Nikon lens in our local branch recently.

NotMeNoNo Thu 21-Jan-21 13:06:08

My Nikon D3000 has lasted pretty well but the cheap standard lens packed up and I now have a Nikkor AF-S 18-105 DX lens which is Very Nice. (if you have a choice of lenses).
Nikon's seem to be pretty good for ongoing compatibility, DH is still using his NIkon D70 from 12/13 years ago.

TalbotAMan Thu 21-Jan-21 13:13:44

With a Bridge camera, you buy a set package. With (D)SLR and mirrorless, there's always something more to buy, mainly lenses but there's always a very extensive range of accessories from the manufacturer and from third parties. Ultimately, it's easier to get just what suits you with interchangeable lens cameras but it can be very expensive over time.

Somewhere in the loft I still have my film SLR with its four lenses, flash, motor winder, filters, cable release etc etc.

NotMeNoNo Thu 21-Jan-21 15:01:40

N.B. don't be fooled by the name, London Camera Exchange have branches all over the country.

tommika Thu 21-Jan-21 15:39:22

covetingthepreciousthings

Thank you so much for all of this help, really appreciate it.

*My first DSLR was the Nikon D7200 and now I have the D610.
None of them were new*

Where is the best place to get secondhand cameras? I think local indie camera shop might be the best bet, but I was concerned how quickly camera tech might go out of date? Or is that not so much of an issue? Just worried about forking out for a used camera and it getting dated quite quickly.

Then again I'm not sure how long a camera should / could be used for?

Looking at some of the other posters cameras reminds me that I did have a D3000 or 3000 series back in time as well

I’m no expert, nor professional. But for a while I was acting as one of the ‘official’ media at some paintball tournaments.
Looking at one of my Facebook galleries theres over 5000 for a weekends event. I will have taken more, and slightly filtered those down.
I take photos in bursts to get either the right moment of a piece of action or a sequence. A couple of teams used me to aid their post game analysis / training, so would be after a lot of fast burst sequences of their ‘breakout’ starting move of each game
I probably took 7500+ in a major tournament weekend, and around 5 of those a year
The thing that matters with DSLRs etc for their longevity is shutter count. But even with that number of photos for me I’ve never had a problem with second hand cameras.

A good local specialist camera shop would be best to check out secondhand cameras, and they will have the knowledge to advise you on what would suit you and give some form of guarantee/support.

eBay works, but you’re putting yourself in the hands of the seller as to how good that person is

MPB is a good online shop for second hand cameras etc
www.mpb.com/en-uk/

CEX is handy too, with a basic level of service, they check it all works, grade it based (based on general condition, how complete it is etc) and you can come back if there’s a problem with it
(I did buy lens from CEX online which turned out to be mis-described and returned it to my local CEX, it was supposed to be a Nikon fit lens but was Olympus. When processing the return she asked me how you tell the difference, and as I was telling her about different mounts she pulled the lens out and said that perhaps the word Olympus around the edge of the lens could be a clue !)

For technology changes on cameras it does change quickly, so the newest today will be out of date before a year passes. But they already far exceed what we would normally notice or be able to show on screen or when printed

A ‘proper’ camera that’s a few years old will be better at performing then a new compact even when a new compact has more pixels/mega pixels.
The sensor is what matters most as that governs what detail can be captured. The pixels just describe how big the photo will be

More pixels are better then less in principle, but you would have to find a very old camera that can’t have its photos printed on A4 or A3. (If you go and take a close look at an advertising hoarding then you’ll spot that even though photos on a big advert look good at normal viewing distance they are printed with not that many dots/pixels —- the professional who took the photo probably used a very high end professional camera with the final product far below the quality taken

The thing that I would miss from newer camera technology is WiFi capability, to zap photos straight to my phone then to Facebook. However I can use two memory cards, so I have a higher capacity fast card in one slot and a lower capacity WiFi card in the other. My camera is set to save RAW format to the large card (allowing for full editing later) and JPEG to the smaller card
During the day I would pick out particular shots and WiFi them to my phone and Facebook, then later go through the full set on computer.

My last ‘upgrade’ was from a DX sensor to an FX sensor. The FX is a larger ‘full frame’ sensor and the DX is a ‘crop’ sensor (its like cropping the image down)
So I’m getting a ‘bigger’ picture each time as if I’m closer to the subject.
An advantage is that my camera can use both DX and FX lenses. I was already using some FX lenses on the last camera, but not getting their full benefit, and I could still use all the lenses I already had when I upgraded. For some cameras this would result in a dark edge as it would try to take full frame images, but mine can be set to detect and adjust for the lens.
I’ve since sold all my DX lenses and replaced them with FX, but due to the compatibility I didnt have to do that in one go

tommika Thu 21-Jan-21 15:45:13

Unless you have specific plans for a type of photography then I would recommend a DSLR as a ‘kit’
This is the camera body, general purpose lens, and the battery, charger, cables, strap etc. You probably need to get a memory card

If you know what you want then opt for a ‘body only’ DSLR. This is still the camera, battery, charger, cables etc but without a lens. You buy the lens you want

Then in the future you might buy a body upgrade and keep your lenses - but it’s common to stick to the body and keep getting lenses - the two main factors for a photo are the lens to pull the light onto the sensor and you behind the camera looking through the viewfinder and pressing the buttons

EspressoExpresso Fri 22-Jan-21 14:14:34

@tommika since you clearly know your stuff...any advice on not feeling intimidated by a camera?! I've just received an incredibly generous birthday gift from a keen amateur photographer relative and I can't even bring myself to take it out the box!

tommika Fri 22-Jan-21 14:32:44

EspressoExpresso

*@tommika* since you clearly know your stuff...any advice on not feeling intimidated by a camera?! I've just received an incredibly generous birthday gift from a keen amateur photographer relative and I can't even bring myself to take it out the box!

Get it out of the box!!!!
Just take a photo - then another and another

If you’re scared of it then click on the automatic settings, point and shoot
Then click away from automatic - change a setting and see what happens

Go for a walk and look around where you don’t normaly look:
up buildings - is there a sundial, date stone, bit of graffiti, interesting crack
On the ground - is there a funny looking plant, a spiders web etc
I always like trees, they mix light and dark, make neat shapes or odd shapes etc

Or if you aren’t going out or don’t fancy people looking at you taking photos then wander around the house
Photograph pets, paparazzi the family, wallpaper / fabric patterns etc
See how close you can get to an object, and then zoom in

Macro photography the extreme closeup. But it’s not just being close, a lens has a minimum distance and won’t work too close, but if you hold the camera at the minimum distance and then zoom you could get a closeup
Some long zoom lenses have a macro switch - flick that and see what happens

When you are in auto mode the camera may refuse to take the photo. Flick off auto to a different setting and try again. You will end up with a lot of rubbish photos - but you can decide why they are rubbish. Delete it if you don’t like it, keep it if you have broken a rule but produced something pretty

tommika Fri 22-Jan-21 14:37:08

EspressoExpresso

*@tommika* since you clearly know your stuff...any advice on not feeling intimidated by a camera?! I've just received an incredibly generous birthday gift from a keen amateur photographer relative and I can't even bring myself to take it out the box!

Join GuruShots
gurushots.com/

They set themed challenges, look at what other people have taken and do your own
A challenge typically needs 4 photos that meet the theme
Also upload random photos into your guru gallery - the app/webpage will then suggest challenges that your photos will fit in, then take 3 more to make a set

Guru is used by anyone from just happy snaps, amateurs, professionals etc

tommika Fri 22-Jan-21 14:41:02

With Guru I’m still an amateur, even though according to points I’m at ‘champion’ level
That took a lot of challenges and voting to get to, and you’ve sparked me to get back on.
As an example of suggested challenges I have a whole list of suggestions ....

NotMeNoNo Fri 22-Jan-21 14:41:29

I happened to find, a user friendly guide book for the Nikon D5000, whilst not the exact model of mine it was hugely useful in learning how to use the different modes, shoot at night etc. A few £ on Amazon might be well spent.

EspressoExpresso Fri 22-Jan-21 14:46:32

Thank you @tommika, some really good suggestions. It's a shame today is the last day of a week of annual leave whilst DC is at nursery really!

EspressoExpresso Fri 22-Jan-21 14:47:19

NotMeNoNo

I happened to find, a user friendly guide book for the Nikon D5000, whilst not the exact model of mine it was hugely useful in learning how to use the different modes, shoot at night etc. A few £ on Amazon might be well spent.

I have a book for my old (old, old!) Which sounds similar, I'll have to dig it out

DanFmDorking Fri 22-Jan-21 16:51:26

@tommika your posts are clear and helpful - thank you smile

BarbarAnna Fri 22-Jan-21 17:37:10

I am not sure if you have decided but I switched from a 10 year old DSLR to a mirrorless. I have been very pleased so far. The weight and size difference is a big plus for me, particularly when you are using a telephoto lens. The WiFi capability is very handy as is the touch screen. It has a really good sensor (I am told by an expert, as I don’t really understand!) and is very customisable so you can make all the most handy buttons relate to the settings you play with the most.

ColinKnocksTwoPence Thu 28-Jan-21 11:00:04

It would be helpful to know what your budget is (£500 ish?) and your intended style of photography.
If you want to take a large variety of photos whilst out on a walk (birds, macro flowers and insects, landscape etc) without constantly changing (or carrying) lenses then a good Bridge camera can't be beaten. With the best will in the world an SLR can't do this. It also means you aren't having to buy more lenses either.
If you are only into portrait family photos or landscape photos then yes, an SLR will get you better results.

I own the Nikon P900 (had it for 18 months) and it's a great camera with a brilliant zoom. If you want to take a photo of a bird on a branch 3 miles away then it's fantastic!! Only bettered by the newer model P950 (much improved viewfinder, and smoother zoom action) or the bigger zoom P1000.
It does have its drawbacks though.
It's not very good at "bird in flight" photos. It's slow to focus on moving targets and has a rubbish "memory buffer". if you are taking continuous shots it will take about 5 photos and then freeze for over 7 seconds while it saves them to its memory. By which time your bird/animal is long gone.
It's also difficult to see the view finder in bright sunshine with very little light shielding around the eye. That part is badly designed in my opinion.
If you don't need quite such a big zoom but are still interested in Bridge cameras then I would also consider looking at Panasonic models. In the past I have owned the Panasonic FZ150 and it took fantastic photos for many years. It was much better at focusing on moving targets and they are a bit smaller to carry than the Nikon.
The Panasonic FZ300 is a great camera and is still out there at a good price.

I now own a Sony mirrorless camera with a 600mm lens.
It's a whole different ballgame!!!!

Good luck in your photography.

Some good comparison reviews here.

https://m.dpreview.com/reviews/buying-guide-best-enthusiast-long-zoom-cameras/8

https://m.dpreview.com/reviews/2017-roundup-consumer-long-zoom-compacts

ColinKnocksTwoPence Thu 28-Jan-21 11:02:25

https://m.dpreview.com/reviews/buying-guide-best-enthusiast-long-zoom-cameras/8

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