Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22

Thread: Digital Camera for Beginner

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    18
    Real Name
    Joy

    Digital Camera for Beginner

    Hello,


    I need some guidance on where to even begin in my search for a digital camera. I would like one for outdoor portraits and scenery with professional quality. Can anyone help get me started on a type of camera that would be a good match? I need something that would be great for a beginner to learn with, but also grow with me as I become more advanced. I am not sold on a particular brand. I have already done some research, but feel overwhelmed with all the choices. I need help narrowing it down to a smaller group of what I specifically need. Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Al

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    Hello,


    I need some guidance on where to even begin in my search for a digital camera. I would like one for outdoor portraits and scenery with professional quality. Can anyone help get me started on a type of camera that would be a good match? I need something that would be great for a beginner to learn with, but also grow with me as I become more advanced. I am not sold on a particular brand. I have already done some research, but feel overwhelmed with all the choices. I need help narrowing it down to a smaller group of what I specifically need. Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Hi J, and welcome to CiC! First, just a suggestion that you might want to add your first name to your profile... we're a friendly and informal group around here, and a name helps.

    For better or worse, "professional quality" is almost entirely up to the photographer, not the camera. As you've already noted, there are lots of cameras available aimed at beginners, and nearly all of them can yield high-quality results, if the photographer knows how to use it.

    You didn't say anything about a price range, but I would suggest a good bridge camera, like the Canon G12, Powershot S100, Nikon P7100, or Panasonic DMC-LX5. All of these cameras can produce great pictures without the additional cost of additional lenses, and bridge cameras are often a better choice for beginners than an SLR. For the interests you mention, I would omit any compact camera with a "super-zoom" lens (4X or 5X zoom should be just fine for your subject matter). And don't be too impressed with the mega-pixel count; 10MP is plenty unless you need to do some extreme cropping or blow up some really, really huge prints.

    Consider visiting a local camera or electronics shop, and get some hands-on time with a camera from each of the major manufacturers. Consider factors like size (do you want it to fit in your pocket?), price, and (especially) how it feels in your hand. Are the controls too small? Do the knobs, wheels and buttons move too easily, or feel too tight? How good is the LCD screen, and do you want a view-finder to look thru, in addition to the LCD? Do you intend to shoot in JPEG or RAW? If you're interested in moving up to a DSLR at some point, have a look at the SLR offerings from the same manufacturers... buying an SLR is a marriage, of sorts, since you'll be locked into a particular set of lenses, so choosing a bridge camera from that manufacturer will acquaint you with that company's way of doing things, and make the transition a little easier (and also gives you a chance to change your mind, if your experience shows their system doesn't suit you for whatever reason).
    Last edited by Snarkbyte; 17th November 2011 at 02:16 AM.

  3. #3
    inkista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    1,413
    Real Name
    Kathy Li

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    There are a few things you can tell us that will help us narrow it down for you.

    1. What's your total budget for the entire camera system? (Body + lenses + other gear)

    2. Can you elaborate a little on "outdoor portraits and scenery with professional quality"? As in examples of what you mean by "outdoor portraits" and the approximate print size you want to be able to deliver.

    3. Approximately how much time are you planning on devoting to studying photography on a weekly basis?

    In general to me, the "grow with me as I advance" thing is kind of a non-issue, unless you're studying and pursuing photography full time. Most hobbyist take at least a year or two to get the hang of shooting with a dSLR (maybe longer), and by the time they actually advance to the point of needing a better-featured camera, a newer model will have already appeared, and they'll be wanting to upgrade anyway. So going with an entry level camera actually isn't that big of a deal for a newbie.

    Paying more for a camera these days doesn't necessarily mean you keep it longer. They're digital electronics. Like cellphones and computers going up a tier doesn't mean you keep it longer--it just means you have more features for the time that you do use it. But you're still likely to be upgrading within 3-5 years.

    Generally, though, the sweet spot for value is going to be a mid-tier camera, one generation back from the latest model, purchased used. In the case of Canon, this would be a used 50D. In the case of Nikon, a used D90 or D300. They will not have the latest/greatest feature set, though, so if you have to keep up with the Joneses, this may not be for you, and the latest entry-level camera might suit you more for the same amount of money.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,312
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Welcome to CIC... I agree with Kathy that probably the best bang for the buck out there is a used Canon 50D or even a 40D. I still shoot with a 40D alongside my 7D and consider it a very capable camera.

    Regarding "new" cameras, I have been very successful in purchasing Canon refurbished units. However, they are not always available.

    Now, for a purely personal opinion, I would opt for a used 40D or 50D rather than a new Rebel of any variety. I like the control system of the xxD cameras a lot better than those on the Rebels (The dual control dials have a lot to do with that but, are certainly not the only reason).

    Lenses are the key to image quality (after the capability of the photographer). I would strongly suggest that you buy the best lens that you can afford; even if it means getting an older body.

    Buying online can get you the best price. B&H or Adorama of New York City are two merchants that are honest and reliable. They also have the best prices. If you find a price advertised significantly lower than those charged by these two vendors, I would bet that the ad is a scam.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    18
    Real Name
    Joy

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Thank you everyone for your input. To answer some of your questions:

    Snarkbyte, I have successfully added my name to my profile. Hello I'm Joy, nice to meet you. I would like to shoot in RAW. Correct me if I am wrong but RAW has a bigger file to edit and change? If so, I want RAW. I love editing and enhancing and I know shooting in RAW would be best for that. I like the idea of a bridge camera. I do not want something that fits in my pocket. How important is the view finder? I read bridge cameras don't have them, only SLRs? As far as price range, I would like to stay in $500-$700 range.

    Inkista, I would like to someday evolve this passion into a possible career. I know there is a lot of learning and am in it for the long haul. I guess when I say outdoor portraits I mean engagement photos, family photos, scenery, etc. I am not a studio kind of person and love the natural environment and elements. I plan on spending a couple nights a week studying and researching and most of the weekend actually taking photos and editing.

    Rpcrowe, I am open to the idea of purchasing used or refurbished. I am weary of where to buy such..Craigslist?! Is there websites or companies that offer them?

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    18
    Real Name
    Joy

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Another question is making sure my MacBook is compatible. Have any of you run into viewing your photos with apple products?

  7. #7
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Al

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong but RAW has a bigger file to edit and change? If so, I want RAW. I love editing and enhancing and I know shooting in RAW would be best for that.
    Yes, the RAW file is bigger, but more importantly, it contains ALL the data captured by the camera with no alterations or adjustments. Unlike JPEG, RAW files can be edited non-destructively (without data loss or degradation). In short, RAW is definitely the way to go for people who intend to do any post-processing, and you're clearly in that category.

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    I like the idea of a bridge camera. I do not want something that fits in my pocket.
    Many bridges are small enough to fit in a pocket, but some aren't. Since pocketability isn't an issue for you, you can consider some the larger models. A larger camera can have larger controls, of course, and that makes the camera easier to handle. Again, I would recommend visiting a local outlet and play around with the controls on the various models a bit. There is no one "right camera" for everyone, so just pay attention to how the camera and controls feel to you. If the controls are too sensitive, you will accidently mis-adjust the controls, but if they're too stiff, you'll have difficulty dialing in the settings you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    How important is the view finder? I read bridge cameras don't have them, only SLRs?
    Most compact cameras do not have a viewfinder, but some bridge cameras do (e.g. Nikon P7100 and Canon G12, among others). The viewfinders in bridge cameras are certainly not of the same quality that you would get in an SLR, but some people (myself included) prefer a viewfinder to an LCD screen in many situations. A bridge with a bright, articulated LCD and a decent viewfinder is very versatile. As to the importance of the viewfinder, it's largely a matter of personal preference, but even a bright LCD can be difficult to see in bright sunlight (although an articulated screen can help to avoid this). Holding the camera to your face to use a viewfinder will help steady the camera, and keep the images sharp. And in truth, some of us are just more comfortable with a viewfinder.

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    As far as price range, I would like to stay in $500-$700 range.
    You can definitely get a high-end bridge camera, plus memory card, and a spare battery for that, but you would be pushing to get a new DSLR with a decent lens in that range. Of course, you could consider a used DSLR and lens, and you might squeeze in under budget, but imo, the bridge is the better option. I didn't mention this before, but all of the high-end bridges that I know of allow manual and semi-auto modes (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes), and you will want to learn to use these instead of the fully automatic modes.

    Again, welcome to the group, Joy, and good luck with your search. I look forward to seeing some of your shots in the near future. There are some very talented and knowledgeable people here who will help you get the most out of it. BTW, if you haven't already, you should check out the tutorials here... well worth reading and studying.
    Last edited by Snarkbyte; 18th November 2011 at 02:47 AM.

  8. #8

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    Another question is making sure my MacBook is compatible. Have any of you run into viewing your photos with apple products?
    Never.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    18
    Real Name
    Joy

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Thanks everyone!!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Essex, England
    Posts
    16
    Real Name
    Stephen

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Hi everyone
    I'm new here also and decided to join when I read this post from Joy.

    I noticed that you said you would be doing a lot of outdoor portrait shots? if that is the case, I would not recommend a bridge camera because of the difficulty in creating a DOF (depth of field) which is probably the most used creative element of portrait shots.
    A used entry level DSLR could be purchased for around the same cost as a high end bridge camera. If you look at the Sony Alpha A range, there are a lot of second hand Minolta lenses which use the same mount (Sony took over Minolta/Konica) so you can keep the cost down.
    For the record, I have 4 cameras;
    Minolta SLR (Yes, I still use film occasionally)
    Sony Cybershot HX9V (Good for video and keeping in your pocket)
    Fuji HS10 (Bridge camera with fantastic zoom but hard to create DOF)
    Sony A500 DSLR (A good mid level camera especially in low light plus the benefit of being able to use my old Minolta lenses )

  11. #11
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Al

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Steveuk View Post
    Hi everyone
    I'm new here also and decided to join when I read this post from Joy.

    I noticed that you said you would be doing a lot of outdoor portrait shots? if that is the case, I would not recommend a bridge camera because of the difficulty in creating a DOF (depth of field) which is probably the most used creative element of portrait shots.
    Hi, Stephen, and welcome to CiC. Could you explain a bit more about your problems with DoF? (Specifically, what focal length and apertures you're using). I ask because I own Canon G12 and I have no problems at all with DoF, so I'm wondering if your super-zoom lens is tempting you into shooting at long focal length and greater range. With an aperture of f/8 to f/11 and focal length in the neighborhood of 100mm, you shouldn't have any problems getting DoF comparable to that from an SLR.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Essex, England
    Posts
    16
    Real Name
    Stephen

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    Hi, Stephen, and welcome to CiC. Could you explain a bit more about your problems with DoF? (Specifically, what focal length and apertures you're using). I ask because I own Canon G12 and I have no problems at all with DoF, so I'm wondering if your super-zoom lens is tempting you into shooting at long focal length and greater range. With an aperture of f/8 to f/11 and focal length in the neighborhood of 100mm, you shouldn't have any problems getting DoF comparable to that from an SLR.
    Hi Snarkbyte....thanks for the welcome

    In retrospect, I think I should have added the words "In my experience/opinion" to the above post as I am certainly no expert so I do apologise.
    I can not give you specifics as my testing with DOF (to create the bokeh effect for portrait shots) on the HS10 was over a year ago and I have long since given up. I did have some success but it was patchy at best and found that the background needed to be a good distance from the subject. On my A500 or Minolta, the subject can be standing/sitting etc just in front of say a bush and the bokeh effect is great at low f numbers.
    The following is a quote from a professional photographer; "HS10 is not a camera for serious protrait shots although it can zoom to 720mm because the min. focus distance is 2m. The DoF and bokeh effect could not be comparable to DSLR. In my experience, for head shot or half body shot, 300mm is desirable because the min. focus distance could be shorter, thus resulting in a blurrer background. Despite this, DoF and bokeh effect in macro or super macro shots are quite impressive because you can get closer to the subject to create an even blurrer background".

    Obviously their first language is not English but you see the point
    As for your G12, I guess the shorter focal length available may have some bearing on DOF compared to the HS10 humongous lens but over here, the G12 is quite an expensive piece of kit

  13. #13
    Benjy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Loch Lomond Scotland
    Posts
    880
    Real Name
    Bernard Boyle

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    hi Steveuk,complete beginner here could you tell me what is a bridge camera? Cheers

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Essex, England
    Posts
    16
    Real Name
    Stephen

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjy View Post
    hi Steveuk,complete beginner here could you tell me what is a bridge camera? Cheers
    Hi Benjy and welcome,

    As I said in my post above, I am no expert but a bridge camera is a go between a compact camera and a DSLR (digital lens single reflex). A bridge camera has a fixed lens and normally (depending on brand/cost) some degree of manual control.

  15. #15
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Al

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Thanks for the reply, Steve.

    I ran the numbers for the Fuji HS-10 focus limits (nearest distance, farthest distance, and depth of field) at various focal lengths (35mm equivalent). The results are shown in the table below, for aperture f/11, at a primary focus range of 4.0 meters. All distances in the chart (including focal length) are in meters. I confess I'm not a portrait photographer, but from what I've read, these are typical values, and a DOF in the range 0.3 - 0.4 meters is generally desired. As it happens, the small circle of confusion for the HS-10 sensor compresses the DOF from what would be obtained from most dSLRS, but an acceptable DOF would be obtained at an equivalent focal length of about 70mm, though the field of view would be rather wide, so as it turns out, there is some trade here. I haven't juggled the numbers to try to find "SLR equivalent" values for FoV, DoF, and ISO/shutter speed, but it's clear enough that the "textbook values" for portraiture need to be reconsidered, due to the small circle of confusion associated with the sensors typical of bridge cameras. Even so, the numbers aren't completely out of the ball park, if one is willing to do a bit of cropping for Fov in post-processing. I do agree that the bokeh from a bridge camera is unlikely to match the higher-quality (and more specialized) lenses available for dSLRs, but the price difference has to cut somewhere.

    I don't know about UK prices, but the Canon G12 is available from B&H for about $430USD. Toss in a couple of 16GB memory cards and a spare battery, and the whole package is still under $600. The Nikon P7000 and P7100 are slightly more, but still well within Joy's stated budget.

    Digital Camera for Beginner


    Digital Camera for Beginner

  16. #16
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    India
    Posts
    1
    Real Name
    Monish

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Heyy...Nikon camera is very good.

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    18
    Real Name
    Joy

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    What is everyone's thoughts on the Cannon T2i? I know someone who is looking to sell theirs and thought i would get some feed back. I have read reviews, but trust the opinions on this forum more. I know it is not a bridge camera, but still a camera for a beginner. Also, is there any tutorials on this website for DOF. I got just a little lost and would like a little more understanding on how it works, why it's important, how to figure it out. etc. Thanks!

  18. #18
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    20,025
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    What is everyone's thoughts on the Cannon T2i? I know someone who is looking to sell theirs and thought i would get some feed back. I have read reviews, but trust the opinions on this forum more. I know it is not a bridge camera, but still a camera for a beginner. Also, is there any tutorials on this website for DOF. I got just a little lost and would like a little more understanding on how it works, why it's important, how to figure it out. etc. Thanks!
    Joy

    The link for the DoF tutorial you're looking for is here.

    As for the camera. I assume you're meaning that you are looking to buy it from the person selling it. If that is correct, the question is not only how good a camera is it, but is it in good condition. You need to check it thoroughly. For example, if you're buying it with a lens, make sure there are no scratches on the glass. Check the body for signs of abnormal wear and tear. Do all the controls on teh camera work okay?

    Buying used is fine, so long as you know what you need to be looking out for.

  19. #19
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Al

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JLarocky View Post
    What is everyone's thoughts on the Cannon T2i? I know someone who is looking to sell theirs and thought i would get some feed back. I have read reviews, but trust the opinions on this forum more. I know it is not a bridge camera, but still a camera for a beginner. Also, is there any tutorials on this website for DOF. I got just a little lost and would like a little more understanding on how it works, why it's important, how to figure it out. etc. Thanks!
    Personally, I think the T2i (or 550D, as it is also known) is a excellent choice for a beginner, particularly for the types of photos you've expressed interest in. It's a great all-around camera with excellent image quality when paired with a good lens.

    Now for a few nit-picks (and every camera has them): The frame rate and auto-focus system in this camera will give you headaches if you try to shoot sports/action, but learn to select your AF point, and you should have absolutely no problems with portraits or landscape/scenery shots. Low light performance is only middle-of-the-road. The controls are a bit clumsy compared to the higher-end model cameras, but that's a universal feature of entry-level DSLRs. Unfortunately, the T2i does not offer "custom setting" modes, but it does have all the necessary manual and semi-auto modes, and you probably won't miss the custom setting modes if you've never used them. It does have a steel chassis, but the body is still mostly plastic, which means it's light-weight, and not overly fragile, but you don't want to bang it around carelessly. Weather sealing is fairly typical for this class of camera... meaning you don't want to carry it around in the rain without some protection.

    One additional point: This camera mates very well with Canon's 15-85mm IS lens. Or more accurately, all Canon 1.6x crop factor cameras love this lens. The 15-85mm zoom spans the entire range of focal lengths most useful for portraits and landscape, and although it isn't "fast", the f/3.5-5.6 aperture range is probably all you will need for your interests. This lens isn't cheap, but it will it hold it's own against a number of much more expensive lenses. If the camera is in good condition, and you can talk your friend into a bundle deal that includes this lens (assuming the lens is also in good condition), jump on it.

  20. #20

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Essex, England
    Posts
    16
    Real Name
    Stephen

    Re: Digital Camera for Beginner

    Hi Al

    Many thanks for the above graphs and explanations on DOF/focal length/distance on the HS10. I must confess I'm not really into figures (except female) but have probably tried the above last year during my attempts to get more 'bokeh' effect. I normally shoot about 8' away depending on what I want. At the end of the day, it's much easier using my A500 to get the desired result although my camera of choice for a day trip is still the HS10 if I'm feeling lazy.
    Canon G12 355.00 at Amazon UK

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •