Buying a Camera

Which camera (and lens) should I buy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best camera is the one you have with you.

Before you read this, you should probably read basics of photography so you can get a good idea on what each term means.


So on to the main bit, to answer which camera to buy (in early 2020). The answer is dependent on mostly 1 thing and all the other factors are afterthoughts - how much money you want to spend. 

Also at this stage I would say the lens is probably more important than the camera, and often more expensive, so you have to factor that into account. Probably the biggest difference in photos is made by basic photo editing in programmes such as Adobe Lightroom, nearly any photo you see is edited, just like back in the film days, they had to process it and so had control over how light/dark the end result was and whether they wanted to lighten (dodge) or darken (burn) different aspects of the picture. 

 

If you are money-conscious I would generally buy second hand from a used retailer with a guarantee (and there are many) unless you know what you are doing and then eBay or facebook marketplace are fine. I would generally avoid new products unless you are particularly flush with cash or a professional with specific requirements. Otherwise I'll do it by price:

~£100 - £200

All that talking about equipment doesn't matter - you would struggle a little to get something under £100 including lens that performs well all around. You could get something that does reasonably in good lighting along the lines of  the Canon EOS M  with the 15-45mm lens , or a Canon EOS 600D. If you are really after absolute minimum, I would say go for the Nikon D60. The 18-55 is the reasonable (and probably cheapest) option for both the 600D and D60.

£300

Now you can definitely get a good camera that outperforms any camera phone in this bracket. Camera phones often fake their images anyway by combing multiples, but that's a topic for another day. 

I would stay away from the kit zoom lenses, and go to fixed focus prime (non-zoom) lenses. They generally have much better image quality and background blur (~bokeh) and will significantly improve your photography. I mean one good thing about camera phones is that they have taught people not to be too reliant on zoom. 

If you want mirrorless I would go for a Fujifilm XT-10 with the Fuji 35mm F/2 XC lens or a Sony A6000 with 16mm F/2.8 (although this may be a bit wide for some).

 

If you're after a dSLR - Nikon D5300 with the Nikon 35mm F/1.8 dx or Canon EOS 60D with the 40mm F/2.8 (or 24mm F/2.8 if you want something wider)  are probably the best bet. 

If you are desperate for a zoom lens I would go for the Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 for either the Canon or the Nikon, but make sure it has the right fit (the Nikon version won't go on the Canon and vice versa).

At this stage, avoid telephoto lenses or ultra wide angle lenses unless you have a specific need for wildlife/sports/indoor architectural or astrophotography.

There cameras have great sensors that take in loads of information and can produce stunning pictures. Don't believe me - just go on Flickr and look in the camera groups. 

£400

Yet another step up, you could do this one of two ways. Buy the above cameras with the Tamron 17-50 zoom lens and then additionally a 50mm 1.8 (all 4 brands do them), this would give you a decent lens for learning how to do portraits and practising the use of depth of field.

 

The other option would be buying newer versions of the cameras listed above. Substitude the Fujifilm X-T10 for X-T20, The Sony A6000 for A6300, the Nikon D5300 for the 5500 or even 5600 if you can find it. 

 

 

 

£500

At this point the possibilities start to balloon a bit. You have the option of buying cameras new,and used full frame cameras such as the Nikon D600 that I'm pictured with above. The downsides of new is that generally they are not as good value and full frame is that they are a lot bigger (but robust).

 

 So if you are going to the full frame market Nikon D600 with a Nikon 50mm 1.8G would be the best in my opinion. If you are really desperate for a zoom lens, maybe try the Nikon 28-80mm (both versions are good). Even better if you can pick up a Tamron 24-135mm. Nikon's backward compatibility gives you a whole host of lenses that autofocussed on their film cameras.

If you want Canon - the 5D mk II is your best bet, similarly with the Canon 50mm 1.8 or  for the zoom, the same Tamron 24-135mm. 

Or you could get the upgraded cameras in the £400 category and get both sets of lenses mentioned.

Here you can also start buying telephoto and ultra wides - but again this should go on a needs basis.

 

 £600+

I'm going to stop here because the possibilities become huge here, and no 1-page guide is going to tell you what to do. If you spend this much money on a camera, changes are either, you have a lot of money to spend or you take photography quite seriously. If either is the case, there are hundreds of websites that offer many in depth reviews of all cameras. Generally I would say for dSLRs stick to Nikon and Canon (possibly Pentax) and if so, go for full frame and start with a prime f/1.8 lens (either the 50mm or 35mm). In you're less inclined towards mirrors go for Fujifilm or Sony (and sony has full frame mirrorless as well the A7 II is a good option. Canon and Nikon do Mirrorless as well but they've not been around as long and generally are more expensive. 

Other Review Sites

For more camera and lens related advice I would say the best websites for reviews are:​

Ken Rockwell - has been around for a very long time and has a lot of general photography tips

The Digital Picture - probably  my favourite 

DP review - although this is a little more on the forum side

Optical Limits - a solid contender

There are hundreds of youtube channels dedicated to them as well, so just search it. Kaiman Wong is perhaps one of the most famous although some people find him grating, but no where as much so as some of his american counterparts. 

For used real world reviews of used items and aesthetically recorded videos I would probably go for Mattias Burling's channel.

If you're struggling to choose between cameras, aside from the obvious step of going into shops and feeling them, Camera Decision and Apotelyt are helpful.

Final Thoughts

Despite all the information above - I would spent as little time on these websites and thinking about what camera to buy. Get whatever looks and feels nicest to you and go out and start taking photos. 

Reviewing the days images
Zain Sheikh
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