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DSLR or bridge camera?

elmacdee 7 8
11 Jan 2011 11:37AM
Hi Everyone
I was wondering if anyone could give me advice about what camera I should go for? I have always enjoyed taking photographs but would like to extend my abilities a bit. At the moment I just have a wee kodak compact but I would like something a bit more 'serious'. I don't have a big budget to work with (prob around 350 ish) so I know that will limit what I can have. I started out looking at DSLR cameras but then discovered that you can get these 'bridge' cameras so now I am thoroughly confused.

My main interest is photographing people, I would like to do portraits and also more candid shots. I want something that can take a series of rapid shots and be adjustable in different lighting and situations. I had a 35mm Nikon a few years ago which was stolen when we were on holiday but it took the most amazing quality photos so I am kind of leaning towards Nikon if I can get something in my price range but I am willing to be persuaded to another make.

I would really appreciate any advice you could give me as am a bit bamboozled now with the choices, I wouldn't mind buying something second hand as a starter but again I don't know what would be the best thing to look for and whether that would be a good option. Any help and advice you can offer would be gratefully received.

Thank you.


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strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 11:49AM
Linda, to be honest if you want to get into photography then it is best to skip past the bridge camera. As for which one, to be honest there are no bad ones, and there are no obvious winners either. Do a search on this site and you will see it discussed endlessly.

My own view is that if you want a general camera with general lenses (lets say wide angle up to @ 300mm) then any of them will do it, and if you are buying standard lenses then you are going to struggle to split them in the real world. Nikon and Canon have the biggest range of lenses, so if you fancy professional path or getting into niche activities like wildlife there is a logic for picking one of the big two. But from what you say I would look at Sony, Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Pentax. Have a look at what suits your budget and what feels good in your hands.

I would urge caution on certain Sony models (just check you are getting a CMOS not CCD sensor) and on Olympus cameras the 4/3 lens mount may have reached the end of its path, so the m4/3 cameras may be a better long term pick from them.

If going 2nd hand, look for a CMOS sensor (tends to work better at higher ISO) and again you will probably find more Canon and Nikon cameras.

I use a Canon but could be at home with Nikon, Panasonic or Pentax, but I stick Canon more because of the lenses than anything else. Once you have couple of lenses there is often no sense in switching systems. And having been part of a camera club and helped put exhibitions and competitions on, I can honestly say that for most photographers brand is the least influence on the image produced and for lots of prints you would struggle to tell what brand was used.
11 Jan 2011 12:12PM
A DSLR will have no or very little shutter lag, very important with candids, my suggestion would be to go into a camera shop, jessops, PC world, Currys etc and handle a few to see which you are happy with, and if you can afford to buy new, then check this site out for the cheapest uk prices.

The epz classifieds section may have older cheaper second hand models available as will ebay, it is more sensible if buying new to buy bodies from the UK if UK based, because of potential warranty issues.

I suppose any kit lens would do for starters but most makes do a cheap fast 50mm prime lens which would be good for portraits
pluffy 11 167 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 12:12PM
Jessops have the Pentax Kx with 18 55 lens at 349.

This camera has a good reputation and falls within your budget and there is a large range of lenses available on ebay at good prices.

JamesGarfield 9 915 4 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 12:19PM

Quote:Linda, to be honest if you want to get into photography then it is best to skip past the bridge camera. As for which one, to be honest there are no bad ones, and there are no obvious winners either. Do a search on this site and you will see it discussed endlessly.

That's good advice.
elmacdee 7 8
11 Jan 2011 12:38PM
Thank you so much for you input, it is really helpful. After reading your replies I think I am definately going to stick to my original idea of going for a DSLR. Will take a trip into some of the camera shops as you suggest and have a chance to handle them. I had been told by a friend that you get a lot of Sony for your money, but have since heard that you can't get the same range of lenses and your other comments about Sony make me think I will stick to Canon or Nikon if I can. Thank you, this is really helpful advice.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 1:21PM
We all love SLR's because we have SLR's and don't mind carrying around 5KG's of associated Kit. Do you want a big camera - less good for candids. Or a smaller more portable camera?

Unless you kept the other Nikon bits you did not have on holiday then any brand is likely to be good.
Your budget is tight and will perhaps just get you going with a basic short zoom lens, you'll need to spend another 150 for a longer reach zoom lens soon no doubt.

"want something that can take a series of rapid shots and be adjustable in different lighting and situations"

Sony's NEX3 and NEX5 are good portable solutions with interchangable lenses, and Sony's alpha a55 is fantastic for lowlight fast shooting - although again just a bit out of budget.
I'm a canon man at the moment but can't think what to reccomend in the canon range for that budget and requirement.

p.s. don't forget most new camera's DON'T come with memory cards. Another 10-30 for your budget.

pabloisme 7 566 England
11 Jan 2011 1:45PM
go into a camera shop and have a play, use a shop with cameras on display,
look at a lot,

then make a list of what you want to take pix of!

like birds, dogs fast cars, then when you know what YOU want its easier
I used to sell cameras in bond street, the quickest way for me to find what will be the "type" of camera to go for ws to ask "what do you want to tak pix OF" once found it's fairly easy, then its easy to suggest which way to go.

so do a list and post it here and lets have a look
add all the wants ie. like hill walking etc.

remember you wont get the perfect camera in a first off buy!
elmacdee 7 8
11 Jan 2011 2:06PM
OK! Stuart: I don't have any Nikon kit left so am starting afresh. TBH I don't want a massive really heavy camera but would like something out of the compact range. I know initially I will need to go with the kit lens but maybe could add something better in time. At the moment I don't foresee wanting loads of lenses, a good zoom and a wide angle at some point perhaps but who knows. I wasn't sure about the memory cards so I'll keep that in mind too. Also I don't want anything too complicated as I don't really understand speed and aperture control yet so if you can recommend something idiot-proof that would be great!!

Pabloisme: I will definately take your advice of going into a camera shop to have a look. I love taking pics of my family and pets. My daughter is getting married in about a year so I would love to be familiar enough with a new camera to get some good shots at the wedding. I would like to be able to capture those special moments so maybe something that doesn't take half an hour to set up if I don't want it to if we are at various family events and outings like the beach or a walk in the park. I would also love to have a go at some portrait type pics.

Thanks for your comments guys I look forward to reading your responses.
pabloisme 7 566 England
11 Jan 2011 3:00PM
the good thing about a camera shop is

ITS free as long as you say NO..... and warm especially this time of year.......
and most of the staff aint that keen, so ask a question and see (rather talk to their mates by the till tut tut!)

the trouble with forums and clubs IS ask for advice and they will try to convince you to get kit like theirs, not always the best idea?

as a tiny lady wont want to carry the same kit as me, me being a 6'1" lump and a good few pies & pints ahead
(possibly needing some exercise well, mmmmm maybe!)

I have had or used most of the top kit at some time or another, and IF YOU choose well and learn the camera, there is nothing you cant take a GOOD picture of, I was told by a photo legend "you dont need a camera to take pictures" his practice was, even without a camera to get to the exact moment and by blinking an eye remembers an image (OK it's only for him, but try it (it's blinking good practice)) and b4 I am shot down he was THE man

so as long as you can use it well (and take it with you!) and get to the position, place, moment it (a picture) should be taken.

any camera will do, some provisios, daughters wedding look for something with RAW images and as a mum at a wedding, something smaller?

so dont listen to the use this one or that one, or you may be the salesmans dream when you PX it they usually are!

Pablo Wink
elmacdee 7 8
11 Jan 2011 9:17PM
Thanks Pablo, that sounds like good advice. Had a wee look in Curry's this afternoon, not a proper camera shop I know but it let me get my hands on some of the DSLR's. My hubby has suggested I look at the nikon coopix or the fuji funpix (prob cos they are cheaper!!!) but I don't want to settle for something and regret it five minutes later.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 9:25PM
don't forget your key requirements - a series of rapid shots and be adjustable in different lighting and situations.

Also April and September are rumour dates for new camera's - but then rumours are just that and i've previously been let down waiting for something that did not then meet my hopes. (every other month is a rumour too, maybe sony 24Mp camera soon or Canon 600D)
So that's one possible reason to wait for a bit longer?
elmacdee 7 8
11 Jan 2011 10:01PM
Oh my goodness, I think I might be just confusing myself now. Just searching around on the net and (trying to keep in hubby's good books by at least looking!!) I have come accross the Fuji finepix HS10... the sales blurb makes it look very appealing to a simple soul like me... any comments on this model?
strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 11:03PM

Quote:The Fuji finepix HS10... the sales blurb makes it look very appealing to a simple soul like me... any comments on this model?
Personally I would not touch it with a barge pole because the people I know who have become interested in photography and bought one of those super zooms have all sold them on after 6 months because they are just too compromised. In its favour, it offers a massive zoom range and looks to be capable of everything, and it looks to be at a low price. And in the old words, if it looks to be too good to be true it usualy is.

First off it has a massive zoom range 30x. This means it is a massively compromised bit of optics, so you have issues of barrel distortion, corner softness and chromatic aberration plus it will be optically slow. This then leads to hesitant autofocus and a camera that it will be hard to get low depth of field. And it has a small sensor so light gathering can be a problem, mix that in with the lens and it has a limited range of operation. Plus its not that compact, compared to an SLR yes it is but not that compact.

So if a very compact camera is your desire, then I would say Panasonic LX3/5, Canon S90/S95, Nikon P7000, Canon G10/11/12. They have more modest zoom ranges but also faster lenses etc.

OK you want something you can change lenses on that is portable, I would advise Panasonic G1 or G10, you can get them with 14-45 type kit lenses for 300 to 350. The sensor and lens design is a step on from the compacts. An Olympus EP1 is your with kit lens for the same price, but personally I prefer the design and grip/viewfinder etc of the Panasonic.

Next stage some entry SLRs. Again for your budget I would say look at
Canon 1000D plus kit lens
Nikon D3000 plus kit lens
Pentax K-x plus kit lens

All should be your for under 350, and all are capable. I skipped the Sony's because they are still flogging CCD sensors at the entry price points but will get there some time, and while the Nikon also has CCD you mention you like them. In a year or so all entry cameras will have CMOS sensors, and when you get to D90 and above the Nikon cameras have a lot to recommend. At that price point new I would be weighing up the 1000D, K-x and G1/G10 myself. for what you do, the Pentax would be very tempting.

second hand, well you can get cameras like Canons 20D/30D (I would not go older) and they are good but the weight may put you off. Canon also has 400D/450D that may well tempt 2nd hand.

Oh and the topic of pixel count came up. To be honest at A3 print sizes there is little advantage in going past 12mp. A 10 or 12mp SLR will have no problems producing a good A3 print. So unless you intend to print above A3, I would stick to a 10 to 12mp camera.

All of the above is of course my opinion and subjective. Wink
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
11 Jan 2011 11:49PM
Canon G12 is excellent

You could always get an older DSLR camera, Canon 30D/40D if you're off on that route. I'd prefer a well built magnesium body and all the dials of a 10/20/30/40/50D than the plastic 300/400/500

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