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very new to photography... need advice!

MrGoatsmilk 12 1.5k England
9 Aug 2011 11:39PM
Where are you? Maybe one or two of us could take you out with a camera for a taster
davewaine 14 141 3 England
10 Aug 2011 6:53AM
You can pick yourself up a perfectly acceptable compact for 100 (or less if you find an undamaged second-hand one). I would look for the established brand names (Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus , Panasonic - AKA Lumix - and Sony) as they have reputations to defend. These are their entry level models, so they do not have the flexibility and performance of their more expensive siblings, but they should all be capable of taking quality photographs. Use this to get yourself started. Read a few photography books (library is cheapest), magazines, get yourself on a course if you can - but more than any of this, take pictures, lots of them. Many will be rubbish, but that is true of everybody's photographs and digital cameras do not waste film. The important thing is that you will learn from the experience and your knowledge and skills will increase. Sooner or later they will reach a point where you want to do things beyond the capability of your little compact. Assuming your purse is up to it, that is the time to go for a more sophisticated camera, such as an SLR.

Quick glossary. A compact is a small camera with a fixed lens (usually a zoom, which can make things appear closer or further away). You normally use them by holding them in front of you and framing the picture on the LCD panel on the back - just like a phone. SLR stand for Single Lens Reflex. These are bigger and a lot more expensive. A combination of mirrors and prisms in the body lets you look straight through the lens, so you see exactly what you are taking. Usually you hold an SLR to your eye when shooting. SLRs also have interchangeable lenses, so there really is nothing that they cannot do. There is a third type, called a 'bridge' camera, which is a hybrid of the two. It is basically a larger compact with some of the characteristics of an SLR.
indemnity 12 334
10 Aug 2011 10:56AM
Compacts are very handy, however limiting, stick to a modern quality camera phone, its with you all the time. To get started on a low budget, might be worth looking at a second hand bridge camera which has a hot shoe and shoots raw. Very reasonably priced on ebay. I personally like Panasonic as you don't need hot shoe adapter, and they very often have Leica optics. At least this will provide an introduction to manual settings etc should you go on to a dslr. The other advantage being it makes a very handy lightweight go anywhere/travel camera for the future, and theres no need to invest in costly lenses and accessories until you know what you really want. HTH.
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2011 1:17PM
I hate to add to lots of conflicting advice, but I'd say if you're really serious about taking photography up as a hobby, go for a cheap, entry level DSLR [other people have provided explanations of what this is]. This is what most enthusiasts would call a 'real' camera. Lots of Pros carry compacts around with them for convenience [I do too], but for 'serious' work they get out the SLR.

Compacts have their place but an SLR gives much more control, are better in most awkward circumstances [like low light, fast moving objects and so on] they're generally faster and more responsive.

Moreover once you learn how to use them they allow you to be more creative and capture the best possible quality [although they won't give you any extra talent!] To start with you can set them to full auto and concentrate on your composition - once you become more familiar/braver you start to experiment with setting the shutter speeds and/or aperture [that's the 'hole' that lets in the light through the lens]. You'll see what difference this makes to depth of field [that's which bit and how much of the image is in focus] and how moving images are frozen or blurred through motion. It's great fun and you can experiment away without wasting film.

Going in this way will allow you to learn how the fundamentals of photography work and get you used to the way serious imagemakers go about the job.

You can pick up a cheap second hand SLR with a 'kit lens' [usually a 'zoom' that goes from being able to frame a medium sized room to filling the frame with just a portrait from a few feet away] for under 200. Something like a Nikon D60 or a Canon 350D might be a good start. Most Pros still go for Canon or Nikon and these are probably about the best second hand that are a few years old, although if you can afford something new, the other manufacturers have made ground at the lower end and all modern DSLRs are pretty good.

I hope this doesn't sound daunting - the good thing is that having a full auto means you can start shooting without knowing anything at all about the technical side. If you read up and learn by experience about the relationship between shutter and aperture and the possibilities you have with whatever light's available it will give you years of pleasure and creativity. Good luck!
10 Aug 2011 5:30PM
I wish I had won the Euro Millions, but no its money my Gran left me. I always pick something and then wish I had gotten something else... think im going to go for the Cannon EOS 550D as I like the look of it and the reviews I have read sound really good, I already have a compact which I HATE!
CathyT 15 7.3k 18 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2011 7:31PM
OOhhhh.....some would say get a Nikon perhaps a D90.......but that's another story.

So come on , give us a clue...what do you think your budget will be...

100 - 500

500 - 1000

Personally I wouldn't bother with a compact...throw yourself in the deep end......enjoy the steep learning curve. Buy the best camera you can afford and to start with an all-round lens.
10 Aug 2011 8:56PM
Im looking at between 500 - 1000. Thats what I was going to do, not bother with a compact and just learn very quickly how to use the SLR. Smile
Alandyv8 9 2 1
10 Aug 2011 11:28PM
Don't want to throw any more confusion in but the idea of jumping straight in with a dslr is a bit dangerous unless you know what you want to do with it as you will be faced with many more choices of lenses flashes and accesories before you even start. I would look at the bridge cameras out there that start at below 200 you have more versatility than a straightforward compact but you still have the wide range built in zoom and macro facility without spending extra money. If you take to photography then great you can move on to a dslr when you feel the need and if you never feel the need you've still got a great lightweight little camera that you can use for holiday snaps etc. I've had a little fuji s1000fd for a while and I still keep it as sometimes it's just the job if I don't want to lug all my dslr stuff around with me and tbh it will do probably 90% of what my dslr will do most of the time. The controls on the fuji are very similar to a dslr too so when you've mastered that you'll feel comfortable moving on. Hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you decide to do.
davewaine 14 141 3 England
11 Aug 2011 5:10AM
My son recently bought himself a Canon 550D and he absolutely loves it. I have tried it out and I can see why. Enjoy.
Debbiee 14 136 6 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2011 8:20AM
An excellent book if you do decide to get a DSLR is Michael Langfords Basic Photography, I picked up a second hand copy from a charity shop whilst at college and it turned out to be my bible of photography, its quite easy to follow and has eveything you need to know about photography, camera settings etc.
gingerdelight 14 298 11 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2011 9:30AM
I see that you have uploaded a new image to your portfolio and have used a different camera. Is this a new one?
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2011 11:43AM
I've got a 550D as a backup body and I'd say if that's your price bracket that that, or a Nikon D5100 are excellent picks. They both have enough automated options for the novice and will enable you to grow into them as you become more confident.

There are more capable cameras only slightly more expensive, but none of these would be as easy to use.

I don't know how much research you've done, but I reckon you've hit on just about a perfect choice for your budget and situation. You should enjoy your purchase!
11 Aug 2011 7:26PM
Yeah Carol, that was taken on my compact camera that I have that I dislike very much but I love that picture!

Thanks sophis for the tip on the book, I will be looking out for it!

Also luckily there is a guy at my work who has done a degree in photography and has a selection of cameras, and to my luck he is going to lend me his Nikon for a week to play about with, which he said is the closest one he has to the 550D. And to be honest I like to throw myself in the deep end as I find that I learn quicker that way and I like a good challenge Smile

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