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Recently I've been getting really into photography with my family DSLR but would like to buy a really decent camera and lens for myself. I have no idea where to start! I mostly take portraits, often not staged and in quite dark environments so something less blurry and noisy than the current camera would be great.
My budget for the camera and lens is about £500 but obviously if I an get something good for less than I'm up for that!
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For the money I would recommend a DSLR ( Canon EOS700D or NikonD3200 would do nicely) and a cheap but very decent 50mm f1.8 lens. That will make for a great portrait starter pack just on the money or even a bit below - with spare cash to be spent on a good tripod, spare battery and quality SDHC card.
What is the 'family camera' at the moment - if you let us know that we will have some idea of minimum expectations?
Any new entry level camera will nowadays give you very good picture quality even in dim light. And based on that, I would say think about the lens you need and buy the camera to suit the budget.
Canon and Nikon are the biggest sellers, partly because they also have the widest range of lenses. Pentax are excellent value for money so don't be too swayed by the brand.
If you are not limited to DSLRs, then you can look at the micro four-thirds: Panasonic G5 at £200 plus he Panasonic 14-45 at £230
If you are willing to go second hand then a whole new world opens up...
You don't say what camera you use but it might be worth investing in a good quality, fast (wide maximum aperture), short telephoto lens to fit your current camera.
The OMD EM5 would be a little over your budget, but it does qualify for a free version of the Oly 45 f1.8 [equiv 90mm] - which is a superb lens for portraits. You could even afford to buy one within your budget if you bought a G5 as Mike referenced.
As others said, if you're really mostly interested in portraiture it's probably best to start with the lens and buy a body to suit.
Hi Rebekah, welcome to epz.
adding to above - do pop into a shop or two to hold the camera and try out its menu/buttons - see what feels comfortable.
Shots in darker situations are often tricky, and you compromise quality in poor light so if the camera is for fun family parties etc smaller and more portable may be better than a big SLR?
Quote: the Oly 45 f1.8 [equiv 90mm] - which is a superb lens for portraits
I'll second that in spades - no matter what other lenses they have anyone who used M4/3 should have that lens.
With your small budget I`d probably be looking at the second hand market.
LCE is a good source, they get second hand 45mm averaging at about £140 quid each.
If your happy trying second hand they also have a mint EP3 going.
So a body and portrait lens for about £450.
Or pair it with either an EPL5 or Panasonic G5, but this will more than likely take you over budget.
There are good deals an Olympus bodies at the mo, I believe you can claim a free 17mm f2.8 if buying a Pen.
It is not easy to give good advice because you have not told us what make and model the family DSLR you have used is, or what you mean by a portrait.
The main advice of getting a Canon or Nikon crop sensor DSLR seems sound advice. The 50 mm standard lenses suggested have about the right angle of view for a natural looking head and shoulders portrait which is what most photographers mean by a portrait. A 50 mm f1.8 also doubles up well for group shots of children and has easily the fastest aperture for the money which can be very important in low light work.
Within your budget you get the very best possible for your main needs.
There is no point in suggesting "best" as in a 24x36 body and professional portrait lens because new the entry point is eight times your budget.
If as you indicate you intend to do a lot of low light work IMO the Olympus and any other 4/3 or micro 4/3 cameras eliminate themselves as they are not as good for noise in low light as the Canon and Nikon suggestions which fall within your budget.
Quote: If as you indicate you intend to do a lot of low light work IMO the Olympus and any other 4/3 or micro 4/3 cameras eliminate themselves as they are not as good for noise in low light as the Canon and Nikon suggestions which fall within your budget
With that small budget they would out perform a DSLR if anything, including low light.
EPM2 + kit lens + Free !7mm
Second hand 45mm
All in £500
Given £500 what about a secondhand Canon 5d mk 1 and a 50mm f1.8. Enter the world of full frame .
I wouldnt touch the 5D Mk1 - a modern APS-C will march it for nearly all applications, even ISO performance.
If you can raise enough for a new Olympus EM5 + Kit Lens you can now claim a free battery grip and 45mm portrait lens, its one hell of a deal.
Quote: Given £500 what about a secondhand Canon 5d mk 1 and a 50mm f1.8. Enter the world of full frame .
I do not see the relevance of suggesting a technically outdated camera for the occasional modest benefit of 24x36 format for some types of photography some of the time.
Because digital technology moves so fast the initially suggestions of current Canon and Nikon crop sensor bodies produce better resolution, greater dynamic range, and generally better noise than old technology 24x36.
Looking to the future what brand to suggest is difficult as 4:3 camera sales in the UK fell from 146,000 in 2012 to 100,000 in 2013, Reuters predict companies like Olympus will not survive in the camera market and Ricoh have just abandoned their GRX system.
On the there hand Fuji has just announced the X-TI which appears to have a near instant very high resolution electronic viewfinder to further challenge DSLR's with a mirror.
As Nikon and Canon combined outsell the entire UK 4:3 market by 4 to 1 there is a lot to be said for choosing either Nikon or Canon. Nikon and Canon are likely to continue in the 24-36 format market for those who need it. 24x36 is not an option with the 4:3 system, though 4:3 has other advantages.
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