Best Camera for Beginner?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by connorbro, May 12, 2018.

  1. How do I get that daddy?
  2. I tried to get him to adopt me :D

    He owned a photo studio, and shot the student pix for the local high school yearbook.
    I got to know him and his partner quite well.
    I just wish I had the 20/20 sense to get him to teach me studio lighting.
    The studio and flash gear to learn with, and I did not take advantage of it :(
    High school kids sometimes just don't think.
  3. 1-ea. 15-year-old = half a brain. 2-ea. 15-year-olds = no brains whatsoever. (This from the father of 7, youngest now 18 and pending graduation.)
    Vincent Peri likes this.
  4. Has the OP even been back to comment.?

    Anyway.......have you ever used a camera before.?
    Have you been taking lots of pictures with your camera phone and now want a "real camera".?
    What kind of experience do you have that makes you want to pursue "photography".?
    You have asked about the biggest and most general question you could possibly ask.
    Photography is like any other Art/Hobby...LOTS of people want to -
    Play guitar
    Ride a bike
    Snow ski
    Etc etc etc
    There are Hundreds and Hundreds and Hundreds of excellent used cameras for sale.
    Are you talking about 35mm.?
    Do you need to be able to change lens.?
    If yes to those two, i would do some research, watch some Youtube Videos (God Knows there are plenty of them) and read some online reviews. You need to have Some Kind an idea of what you want.
    Maybe come back again, and ask a few questions regarding some specific cameras.
    You should probably buy a Older/Decent used body and a nice lens. As you progress, you can get a "better" body of the same brand and keep the good glass that you already own, and buy some More/Different lens to go with the same brand body.
    I shoot film, so it is a lot easier for me. The stuff is not free, but by comparison to digital, it is way less expensive to get started, and i still use bodies that are 30-40-50 years old. You will not have that luxury with digital.
    Get a body that is good enough, buy the "best" lens you can afford, try to stick with that brand as you move forward so you can keep the glass for (hopefully) many years to come.

    Good Luck (if you are still here) ;)
  5. My feeling with threads like this is that, although we should ensure we answer the OP's question, we're also talking to anyone else who finds the thread. It's interesting to see all the good advice from the forum regulars, too. There's a lot of experience here (and ideas I should take home).

    Just to add to the "spend a long time researching" thing, I always try to do that before any major purchase - it gives me disproportionate selective expertise in a range of weird things from opals (anyone want to give me a harlequin stone?) to flashlights (good tint!) With cameras, it's certainly possible to get overwhelmed with the options, all of which will do a good job. The only common thing I'd suggest someone keen on photography steer clear of is a budget (less than $300 or so) compact camera, since these tend to limit the controls available in order to make the interface "simpler". I have a very cheap compact that I once bought for taking on pub crawls (where bad things might happen to it), and it has fifty different scene modes including three types of fireworks - and I've no idea what any of them actually do. Since a camera is a box with a very limited number of controls, this "simplification" was vastly more complicated than actually learning to use a system with manual controls. Don't be scared by this advice - almost every camera out there has a lot of automation available, this suggestion is about ensuring that you have the control when you need it. (To stretch the car analogy, there's nothing wrong with an automatic gearbox so long as the car comes with paddles that let you change year manually when you want to; being stuck with a basic automatic is very frustrating. I speak as a brit who's hired cars in the US - and in the UK, automatics are rare, so I usually drive stick.)

    Once I'm down to a few options that reviews say will do the things I want, I'd download some manuals and leaf through them. You don't have to memorise them, but they'll tell you what the device can do and how easy it is to do it much more effectively than marketing blurb. That advice has worked for cameras (I actually have quite a lot of manuals downloaded so I can try to answer questions on this forum), for dish washers, for a boiler and for a car. But especially cameras. :)

    Once you've some idea how the basics are likely to work, go to a store and try them out - if not your camera, at least one near it in the same range (maybe the store only has the predecessor in the same line, for example). Handling changes slowly between iterations of a camera, and if one feels good in your hand, the others probably will too. I love the idea of the Canon rear spinny dial, but when I try to use it I find it stretches my thumb uncomfortably, for example - the Nikon rear dial, while it can't turn infinitely like an old iPod, fits better under my thumb - and I can turn it a long way by running it down the inside of my thumb. I found that my right eye, which benefits from a diopter adjustment, is out of range of the viewfinder adjustment of some Fuji cameras, which put me off buying one (though you can get adaptors) - I'm actually right on the limit of the D850, and seem to have less trouble with the D810, which nearly shocked me when I upgraded. There's no substitute for a physical hands-on. I find that's especially true of camera bags and tripods, for what it's worth.

    On film cameras.... Honestly, in this day and age, to a novice, I'd just say "don't". Obviously if you like the look and enjoy the experience, or especially like vintage cameras, or like developing your own stock, go for it - and it's more appealing in larger formats which are harder to use. But when learning, film is very expensive to buy and develop - let's say about £10 in UK terms to buy, develop and scan film (prints are similar), and that's probably an underestimate. Call it 28p/shot; there may be cheaper sources in the US, but that's something like 35-40 cents. My D810, when I recently checked, was on about 25,000 images after about three years - if I'd done that with film, that would come to appreciably more than the cost of Nikon's top end camera, and I don't shoot that much by some standards. The images would be grainy, low-resolution, hard to handle, unusable if light had been bad, and (most important for a beginner learning how to control the camera) you won't see the results of the change you made to the settings until you get the film developed. I have several film cameras, and still occasionally use them, but there's no way I'd recommend one to a beginner, even if there were a film body on the market that's as refined as the latest DSLRs (and even the Eos-1v and F6 aren't). The only beginner benefit I'd claim to film is that having the cost of an exposure hanging over your head will slow you down and make you think about the photo you're going to take - but it can also scare you off taking anything at all. I still have a load of unexposed film in my fridge for this reason.

    Finally, regarding online advice. Bear in mind that even sites which contain good information are sometimes expressing it in a way intended to get clicks. That might mean they'll deliberately say something controversial, they might "review" something without actually seeing it so that their "review" is out first, or they might make sweeping statements about what's good and bad when it's actually down to opinion. Everyone has their own preferences and ways of shooting, and this will colour their opinions. Some do this more knowingly and blatantly than others - and the danger is that the most opinionated and assertive statements make for the simplest reading. Advice also gets stale quickly - there's plenty of content out there saying how wonderful the Nikon D1 is, for example - but it was released in 1999, and by modern standards it's an awful camera. The same applies to lenses - something that had a stellar reputation for sharpness fifteen years ago might now look soft on a modern camera which can capture more detail; bear this in mind especially for anyone claiming that an 18-200 zoom is "sharp". Comments are often even more biased than main reviews. This site is remarkably restrained in what people say, in part because anything outlandish will typically get called out quickly and the moderators stop us descending into name-calling, but we'll still often disagree with each other. Check everything in several sources, check reputations (I'll refrain from naming and shaming here), and if in doubt, here is a good place to ask - but only for another opinion. Also bear in mind that the experience of staff in camera stores (and especially department stores selling cameras) varies widely and is often limited, and that just because someone got a book printed, that doesn't mean everything I wrote about web sites and reviews doesn't apply to them. The best way to spot bad advice is to check in lots of places.

    Okay, that's another essay for the mix, which I'm sure will have helped to scare off any more purchasers!
    DavidTriplett and Gary Naka like this.
  6. Oh, one more thing about lens kits...

    For cameras that support interchangeable lenses, the kit lens that the manufacturer provides with the camera will very much be designed to a budget, but is usually the target of an awful lot of development effort - because every non-expert review will test the camera with that lens. You can improve it with a lot more money, but don't dismiss it out of hand. For example, the latest 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR which have historically been a Nikon kit are very good for the money. To be honest, the latest 70-300mm being used in kits is apparently very good too - but it would be better to spend a little more money on the VR version, both to handle less than ideal light and so you can see where you're pointing it (VR stops the view bobbing around so much). It's easy to spend more money for a little more capability (particularly on zoom range) and end up with something that's actually worse optically. There's usually something more important to buy than "a better version" of the kit lens - indeed, a 24-70 f/2.8 (the "pro version" of the 18-55, but on a bigger camera) was one of the last things I bought.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  7. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    Thats interesting.... 15 pictures from a professional top quality 645 costing a mere $250 that once sold new for $3000 seems like a real deal. Also a great way to start a new hobby on a shoestring budget. Imagine what you can buy in a film camera for $1000.. and that budget can also include enough equipment to process his own film? Id say that's more than he wished for nad should be someting to consider.

    I also see the OP hasn't been around to elaborate on his feeling towards one or another.

    as always, just a suggestion, not an argument.
  8. I find if you ask them if they have a ‘faster’ lens, that tells you all you need to know
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  9. Tell us more please.
  10. If the clerk knows what an f number is and how it impacts an image (DoF, exposure, usage), then there's a fair chance he/she might know something else useful, particularly for the beginner.
  11. Yeh, exactly. You can’t expect kids with Saturday jobs to have the knowledge of someone who’s seen 40 years of camera retail experience (although many have more than their fair share of digital knowledge), but you can get an idea if they have grasped the fundamentals with this kind of question.
  12. On the contrary I think most of them know about fast vs slow lenses but not much about photography.
  13. The D3400 with 18-55 kit lens would be the best option while starting out. Since you're a beginner, you have a lot to learn about exposure, techniques and strategies. The D3400 in my opinion would be the best one to learn ins and outs of photography. It even has a Menu mode that'll help you take pictures according to the environment. Start taking online tutorials and courses and shift to manual mode as soon as possible.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  14. It may be the best camera for the OP but it could be a bad one as well. If I were a beginner and bought the D3400 I wouldn't be happy.
  15. I'm not sure why. It shows up in multiple reviews as a highly recommended starting place for someone who wants to learn photography with a highly flexible, expandable, and interactive platform. I'm sure there are other viable options, but I believe the D3100/3200/3300/3400 is one very good place to start without making an inordinate dollar investment.
  16. Only the OP can know but for me it would be a bad camera to start. It has only 1 wheel and make it's difficult to use in manual mode. It has scenes modes which only confuse the matter rather than help.
  17. At least in Nikon land, two dials carries quite a premium. The menus aren't that irritating. And lots of relatively high-end cameras have scene modes - you can learn to ignore them. I'd be more concerned about buying a camera without the "creative" SPAM modes. So I don't object to the D3400 as a suggestion, but I do think it's only one option, and the OP has to make that choice personally.
  18. Like i said earlier that the best course would be for the OP to learn about cameras then decide for himself. I don't think anyone of us can really recommend what's best for the OP. I know because in my experience if I took any of the recommendation given to me when I were buying my first camera I wouldn't be happy.
  19. From a practical standpoint this is very difficult to do without some hands-on experience. That's why it's important for a beginner to get something that is not an extraordinary expense, but will allow him/her to explore as many aspects of photography as possible with the lowest entry cost threshold. For me, I learned on my dad's old Nikkormat EL (circa 1969), and he paid for the film. A beginner in the DSLR age can get a very flexible and capable system in D3XXX, discover 80-90% of photographic skills and techniques, and then make a very informed decision on spending a lot more money to pursue a discovered passion or specialty. Book learning will only take one so far, and hands-on learning is needed to really move forward.
    Gary Naka and Johnadamsportrait like this.
  20. This laughable saw may have made sense back in film days when all the body had to do was hold the film flat.

    In today's cameras the sensor, autofocus, and many other "body and lens functions" are at least as important as the lens itself.

    Fortunately, the basic, entry-level dSLRs of today are all more than good enough, and even the inexpensive kit lenses are amazingly good.

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