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/ The best low budget SLR
Ok, I have a 15 yr old who wants to get a good camera and not just a point and shoot. What might be the best value camera for her to buy? I don't want to set a budget on this yet as I have no idea what is a reasonable range.
New or used? Used has a lot to recommend it for someone starting out in that it lets them learn what they really want without costing a lot; the risk is that you don't get the bargain you craved as what you get isn't what you thought was offered.
Look at second hand stuff too.
Consider whether video is important some dslrs are better than others for video shooting (and some won't do it)
DSLRs are big and heavy so maybe consider a 4/3 mirror less or similar - it may get used more simply because of its size (but range of lenses a bit more restricted)
I'm not sure brand is really important other than range of lenses available, but it's absolutely key if you already have lenses or access to a friend's lenses.
Canon and Nikon are the big players in the SLR market (and have the best ranges of lenses available), but some of the newer brands e.g. Sony get a lot of positive owners.
As I own canon stuff I would look at the Eos 200D or the 1300D either would be a great camera to learn how to control light, shutter speed, aperture etc.
I'm a bit out of date, but the thing that makes my "entry level" (Canon description) 700D DSLR superb value is the fact I chose a kit lens different to the standard that has, more by luck than judgment, turned out to be fantastic. Its a Canon EFS18-135mm IS so quite a wide range, but the quality of image I get is very satisfactory, and it performs very well indeed, with good and fast focus too. It also helped me "re-learn" using a DSLR as it gives me a focal length that works for various types of photography without lugging around lots of lenses. The body that came with it is only ordinary, but does the job well. You'll have noticed a few of my blogs over on SOTP no doubt, 90% of the images are with that lens.
I guess what I'm saying is look for something where the lens is getting good reviews, as much as the typical DSLR entry package.
Used makes a LOT of sense, as long as the body hasn't had masses of use, and an entry level one will often have had little use. Dunno what the market's like over you way though...
All good advice above. It's actually hard to go wrong here. A fully capable camera and lens can be had for £200-300
One of the reasons I originally went with Canon is that their entry level stuff is cheap and works. Almost all my ukc pics were taken on a 550D or its predecessor, and these are £100 second hand on ebay.
You can also get the biggest range of cheaper lenses. The 18-135 as Mal says, is good. But the £50> 18-55 is fine, as is the 50mm f/1.8 lens which is really good for learning about aperture.
It is worth looking at the mirrorless cameras out there. All the brands have them now. You can get APS-C and full-frame mirrorless cameras that will compete on image quality will a DSLR. But the mirrorless cameras will be smaller.
Look at reviews on
This link is good as gives mirrorless alternatives
Also worth looking at
Personally I like Sony and would seriously look at an APS-C mirrorless Sony, something in the A6000 series. But Olympus and Fujifilm also get lots of excellent reviews.
Thanks for the advice Mal. I do like your photos so would be very happy with something that could produce that quality.
Thanks for all of the advice so far. It gives me something to go on and somewhere to start.
Used cameras are superb value. Check out MPB or Wex, both excellent with a huge range of used stuff. Oops. Just seen your location!
Thanks, but I'm sure there will be some good used stuff over here also.
Which ever camera you choose I would suggest choosing a lens with a larger focal length than the standard zoom lens, for example canon 18-135 or Nikon 18-140 or the mirrorless equivalent. It just makes the setup alot more interesting to use especially for a beginner. More expensive unfortunately. I've always bought secondhand or grey import with no issues.
edit : there's a mint one on ebay for £145 with the Nikon Lens it came with, apparently the lens is so good people often keep them when they upgrade.
One thing I would be wary of, and it's partly the reason I suggested looking for a used camera, is spending significant cash on a hobby that may turn out to be a, ahem, flash interest for your teenage daughter. For that reason I'd probably stay clear of mirrorless cameras unless you come across an obvious bargain (and even then, suspicious cove that I am, I'd be asking why it was so and what I wasn't being told).
Stick to one of the major brands and look for a low shutter count with a good lens (plenty fine suggestions so far) and you shouldn't go wrong.
Agree with you (and everyone else re second hand) but why steer clear of used mirrorless?
If it is purely photography then any 10 year old camera from any of the main players will be good, I would also highly recommend a 35mm or 50mm prime as it is a great tool for learning depth of field etc. and also allows top quality pics above what you can get from a kit lens.
my daughter got an old Canon from her grandad which she has enjoyed, the only problem being no filming option
if filming is something to consider then you’ll have to get something newer (also look for external mic connection as you can pic up a cheap external mic off amazon and quality of sound will improve) Sony or Panasonic.
Expense. Someone starting out can learn a lot, a lot more cheaply with a conventional DSLR. Apart from that I've nothing against mirrorless.
I'm more in the line with Kiernan...
Instead of the superzoom, how about get a few primes (nifty-fifty, so f1.8 50mm and perhaps something a tad wider). Sure, it won't be as easy as with superzoom (or zoom for that matter), but you'll get better at framing the pics and planning. Which might pay off in the end.
And as numerous others have said, gettin' a 2nd hand dSLR or perhaps mirrorless is the way to go. I would actually suggest a crop mirrorless (MFT from either Panasonic or Olympus, or Sony's A????), as they are generally a tad lighter than dSLRs and have less things to break (the mirror mechanism on dSLRs). That being said, with mirrorless ones, you'll loose the optical view finder (and get an electric one instead), but that hasn't bothered my at all.
I still own an older Pentax K10d dSLR (since I haven't yet managed to offload it) with a few lenses. But mostly we use MFTs nowadays. Panasonic GH4 for stills & video and either Pany GX800 or Oly E-PL7 (or 8, can't remember) for snapping stills...
I’d agree, go secondhand but also splash out on a prime lens, makes you think harder about composition
We went through this process with a friends 15 yo recently and they ended up with a Canon 100D with 18-55mm lens for £220 (Harrisons Camera, Sheffield). The camera had only taken 135 shots!
2nd hand from Canon/Nikon will give the most bang-for-buck, there are just much more of them out there.
While I would agree that an SLR is still the best way for a budding photographer to learn the craft, I can't help thinking the situation has parallels with that of film cameras in the early days of digital. How many of us will still be carrying around SLRs in ten years time?
Although a used DSLR as suggested is the obvious choice, I would argue it might not be the best way to encourage an enthusiast. The cheap lens choices are mostly crappy zooms, and most folk I know who take this route never get out of manual mode. Very few decent primes were made for these cameras.
I'd suggest a used Sony A7 (original model, ~£400 on ebay) - the smallest full-frame, interchangeable lens digital camera ever made. Not only is the body smaller than a crop-sensor DSLR, the 24mp full frame sensor will absolutely blow them away in quality (and it needs to, because phones have caught up). I suspect the (very good) electronic viewfinder will be much preferred by a modern teen to the tunnel-like focusing screen of a cheap DSLR, and it has modern features like wifi pairing with your phone.
But the main benefit is the short distance mount which means you can mount pretty much any lens ever made via cheap adapters. That means you can have play with a prime lens kit and manual control of aperture and focus, experiment with classic lenses from ebay - and get pics that look appreciably different from phone shots. But decent AF zooms are still available as an option, and the Sony's aggressive release schedule means there's a surprisingly broad upgrade path. If you want to track focus on flying birds or racing cars you'll need a pricey lens, but that's the same for any camera.
The issue with the Sony and mirrorless is the price of 2nd hand lenses.
If you are after a quick and cheap 'in' to digital, then it's tough to beat a low use 2nd hand Canon/Nikon DSLR body & kit-lens for £200 for a teenager. And its always going to be easy to sell on with little/no loss.
(I say this as a Fuji X convert from Canon).
Thanks to everyone for the replies. I'll give it some thought and see what is available over here.
look for a used 70d canon.
go for one with 2 numbers in the name as they will be better quality than the 3x or 4x number range
>The issue with the Sony and mirrorless is the price of 2nd hand lenses
Well no, that was kind of my main point. I had my A7 a year before I owned any lenses that would communicate with the camera. £15 for an adaptor and you can use almost any lens ever made. Ebay and shops like Harrisons are full of nice prime lenses from the 70's and 80's for less than £50 - a typical good 50/1.8, for example, would be £20. Or £120 would get you a very nice 3 lens prime kit - 24, 50, 85. All handle far better than a cheap crop-sensor zoom, are a stop or two faster and likely sharper.
This is pretty much true with all mirrorless cameras.
So the guestion boils down to Full Frame vs. Crop frame ("effective focal length" and "effective aperture"), namely what kind of pictures are mainly being produced. If wideangle is main use, FF is the way to go (but it'll take a bit more from the editing computer, A7 24Mpix RAWs are quite large). If Tele, then Crop frame cameras have the edge (also generally less pixels, so easier to edit in post).
This is also true for storage media (both used in the camera and library size on the computer).
As for handling the actual camera, this is also a thing to consider. If you ahve big hands, then bigger cameras are the way to go (A7, EOS 60D etc.)... if smaller hands, then crop frame bodies might suit ya better (like Panasonic G7 or Olympus E-M10).
Why does she want a 'good' camera? What can't she do with her phone camera? Once you know her answers we can help you better.
> Why does she want a 'good' camera? What can't she do with her phone camera? Once you know her answers we can help you better.
The OP says she wants to do more than point and shoot.
I would have thought the learning curve would be to start on more or less auto and progress in steps towards fully manual. So it makes sense to have lenses which communicate with the camera. So I agree with others that a basic DSLR with kit lenses is the best starting point
> Panasonic GH4 for stills & video
I have one of these, and they can still keep up with the big boy's. Not bad for a camera that came out in to 2014.
To the OP, I'd go mirrorless. And you can't beat a flagship camera that your daughter won't outgrow any time soon.
And for a general feel of the prices of used Panasonic cameras
This was filmed on my GH4
>This is pretty much true with all mirrorless cameras
Well not really, most are crop sensors so pretty much all lenses become teles.
>bigger cameras are the way to go (A7, EOS 60D etc.)... if smaller hands, then crop frame bodies might suit ya better (like Panasonic G7
A Sony A7 is very close in size to a Panasonic G7. It's way smaller than a 60D. Not a 'big' camera. I do think it's quite a unique camera - a future classic - and a real steal at current used prices. Although I now also have an A7Rii there's a lot to prefer about the original A7.
>I would have thought the learning curve would be to start on more or less auto and progress in steps towards fully manual.
OTOH I was bunged in the deep end with an OM-1. I think a lot of courses do the same even now - you get your head round the three basic controls very quickly.
I have that 18-135 as my "kit" lens, I kidded myself that it's "only about 1.3 inches longer than the 18-55mm" but I concede that it's a bit of a beast. It's good though and if I were to be doing "general purpose" photography with only one lens, I think this is the one I'd stick with. They are around £200 used though aren't they. Add on £150-200 for a decent used body, and we are into £350-400 for a system.
Personally I'd budget £330-£400 for second hand dSLR with two lenses - one a zoom (could even be a kit zoom 18-55 despite my not really liking them that much - usually a used dSLR with an 18-55 doesn't cost much different to a body-only), and one a prime (not necessarily the ubiquitous 50mm f/1.8 which is a little bit on the long side for a crop sensor).
Just to throw another option in to the mix... don't discount a well-specced bridge camera. Despite still doing the odd bit of commercial photography I haven't used my Nikon DSLR in years.
For guidebook work most of the time I just carry a Sony RX10. 20mp, 24-200mm equiv image-stabilised constant f/2.8 Zeiss lens - an astonishing spec for a camera you can pick up for less than £250 used. The 1" sensor is a little smaller than m4/3 but not noticeably worse quality. A smaller sensor means more depth of field, which is good for landscapes but less good for differentiating your output from a phone via shallow depth of field. Having a long, fast zoom lens gives some of that back. The video output is also highly praised and superior to any DSLR of similar price.
Another benefit of these Sony cameras is you can charge the batteries in the body via USB. Again, that's something I imagine a modern teenager is going to expect, but isn't offered by a cheap DSLR.
you could get a reasonable mirrorless combo for ~£350 eg oly em-5 body(150) 12-50 macro+40-150 (~100 each)..
That would tick many boxes if a compact kit is required.
> a great thread thread all , I'm intrested to know what you made of it and if you came to a decision on budget and a camera ? I also wonder if one of the camera photography buffs above would summarise the options in an article .....something like : buying a new/ second hand camera camera ., up to £200, £200 - £400 , options from ebay , mcp ( and the like ) , new ? I know ts comes up alot.
The responses have been great but I haven't had time to process all of the info and come to a decision. I'm also in Canada so some of the options might not be available.
I don’t doubt it and to be honest I think that would be better, but I didn’t want to comment as I don’t know much about the mirrorless stuff (I have an old Sony NEX F3 which I do use from time to time, mainly as a lightweight travel camera, and I like it, but just have the kit lens on it)
I was thinking along similar lines but as per my reply to malk about mirrorless, I just don’t know enough. My sister used to have a nice Sony thing, bit bulky and frankly with a ridiculously ambitious long end of the zoom (900mm “equivalent” I think!) but I thought it was pretty good. I forget the model and it got lost, left behind on a holiday. But yes Bridge May be handy for not getting too caught up with lens faff.
Is the charging-in-body a good thing? I’ve known cameras where it’s the only option and that is a pain; I’ve also known cameras where it is AN option but seemed very slow.
Yes, you have to be careful with bridge cameras as a lot of them are cheap crap with absolutely tiny sensors, and the good ones like the RX10 series tend to get overlooked by the serious review sites. The RX10iii and iv have a zoom which goes to 600mm and is a reputedly very competent for wildlife photography.
The haters would say Sonys need in camera charging because the battery life is so poor. Coming from A Nikon D300 it was a bit if a shock at first but the upside is you can charge anywhere. With all mine you can also charge from 240v out of camera, just like a DSLR, which is quicker obviously and what I use most of the time.
But I've been on a few camping trips now where USB charge has been invaluable - take a powerbank (for short trips), plus a solar panel which trickle charges during the day, then top the camera up at night (and phone and headtorch). Even in Scotland I go home with fully charged batteries. Likewise when photographing walking guides I have a USB lead in the car and just top up occasionally driving between locations. It's never struck me as slow tbh, I usually carry one spare but rarely use it. Whereas a guy I was with on one conservation trip was using a Canon DSLR and had flattened all his batteries after ten days, and was sending them off on the helicopter for charging to be returned four days later.
Just getting away from the "gear recommendations" side slightly, what does this 15-year-old really mean by "a good camera and not just a point and shoot"? Or is it a more general "wants to learn more about it all but no specific aims as yet"? If the latter, then I'd still think dSLR is the way to go. If the former, then bridge or mirrorless.
FWIW I class all my photography as "point and shoot" as I don't play with astrophotography or macro or external flash or lighting, etc. The occasional long exposure to blur the water on a waterfall but that's pretty easy. Using dSLR, mirrorless, compact, 35mm film, iPhone....
It keeps it fun and vivacious for me.
Me doing point-and-click with dSLR and a cheap-and-cheerful single-focal-length (prime) lens
Probably the picture of the microscopes in the Galileo museum, with the shallow depth of field, is the only one here that an iPhone probably couldn't replicate well (and even then, a twin-lens iPhone probably could!)
Not entirely sure what my point is here Perhaps it's that on similar whistle-stop trips through Italy I've enjoyed my little mirrorless a bit more.
i guess the good/best cameras are the ones you use the most. i still have my first Pentax kx dslar with multiple oddball lenses gathering dust (maybe should sell-ideal for OP?) as well as a compact sony a5100 but i just prefer using the olympus and it has that retro-cool factor that young hipsters love;)
> Another benefit of these Sony cameras is you can charge the batteries in the body via USB. Again, that's something I imagine a modern teenager is going to expect, but isn't offered by a cheap DSLR.
My Fuji X also allows in-camera USB charging
pretty much all modern dSLRs accept also in body charging via USB... But some models might not allow the camera to be on during the charging, others do.
My experience of it being slow to USB-charge in camera is based on a sample of Sony NEX F3 which is entry level and quite old, and some other Sony bridge thing that I bought by accident which is below entry-level IMHO. Still, when it's the only option, it does tie up the camera even if you have some spares to charge using the camera as the charger. In fact I think my NEX F3 came without an external charger and the first thing I did upon discovering this, was to buy a third-party external charger. Am I stuck in the past?
> i guess the good/best cameras are the ones you use the most.
Have I bored everyone to death yet?