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SMNYCruise

Advice for first "real" camera.

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I have been using my iPhone for photos. Looking to buy a SLR that is very easy to use, with a decent zoom lens (going to South Africa on a safari soon), and since I like to upload to social media, I need wi-fi. I know very little about cameras and I am not that tech savvy. Something light and not too expensive would be great. 🙂

Any recommendations?

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You have a few layers of options that might work well - depending on how much you want to spend on lenses...

The cheapest option would be to go with a basic, entry-level DSLR, such as the Nikon D3300 or 3500 or Canon EOS Rebel T6i or SL2.  These are small DSLRs, basic and capable, work fine with just a kit lens or cheap consumer zoom, but allow room to expand up to better lenses (heavier and more expensive lenses too) if the bug really bites and you want to improve.  DSLRs are not the smallest or lightest options with large sensors anymore, but they are the cheapest overall.  DSLRs are similar in feel and operation to old film SLRs - you look through a glass viewfinder to focus and frame the shot, but don't see an electronic simulation of what the shot will look like until after you take it.  They have an optional mode called 'live view' that can let you use the LCD panel on the back to see the electronic shot, but often function much more slowly in these modes.

 

The next option would be to look at some 'mirrorless' options.  Mirrorless cameras are very similar to DSLRs in that they use the same large sensors, and use interchangeable lenses...but they are slimmer, often lighter and smaller, and work a bit more 'modern' for those without a film camera history in that they use electronic screens and/or LCD panels to see what you're shooting - much like a phone or P&S digital camera would.  Since these cameras are designed to operate this way, they perform very quickly, similar to how the DSLRs would when using optical finders.  Some of these mirrorless bodies can be quite slim and small - look at Sony's A6000/6300/6500 series, Fuji's XE series, Olympus' Pen series for the slimmer, lighter bodies.  The Sony and Fuji models have the same APS-C sensors as the DSLRs above do...the Olympus Pen series use a slightly smaller sensor called M4:3, which is still significantly larger than the ones in P&S cameras - not to mention phones.  Mirrorless cameras, and lenses, often cost just a bit more than DSLRs - they're newer, and fairly popular, so pricing hasn't settled down as low as with DSLRs.

 

The third option would be to consider a larger-sensor point-and-shoot camera.  Certain models with non-interchangeable lenses have sensors that are quite a bit bigger than phone sensors or pocket P&S sensors, but smaller than the ones in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.  They can be a good middle ground, because you can get cameras with good optical zoom lenses with much better range, sensors that can handle lower light and indoor situations better, and yet still small and even pocketable.  The so-called 1" sensor cameras are a good example - look at Sony's RX100 series, Panasonic's LX100 series, or Canon's GX series, as examples of these types of cameras.

 

Most or all of these cameras will have some wifi capability, or the ability to transfer photos to computers reasonably easily.  Remember, these cameras shoot onto memory cards, which usually can be easily taken out of the camera, plugged into a laptop or computer, and all photos transferred quickly and securely that way...so you don't have to use the wifi functionality or even have it if you're bringing a computer or laptop along.

 

Edited by zackiedawg

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On 10/19/2018 at 10:12 AM, SMNYCruise said:

Looking to buy a SLR that is very easy to use, with a decent zoom lens...

As a rule, an actual separate telephoto lens would be needed. Do some research as to the actual distance you will be viewing from. Make your purchase several months ahead of time and PRACTICE. By the time you take your trip you should know the camera.

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I have been reading about the Nikon D3400 vs the Canon Powershot SX730HS.  Leaning toward the Canon. Having a light camera with a great zoom, all in one piece, is appealing to me. 

 

Anyone have the Canon?

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5 hours ago, GomezAddams said:

Head over to dpreview.com. They have a nice section for helping you pick a camera.

 

Just beware of some of the 'helpful' folks there seem to think everyone needs their favorite brand's top of the line camera - and nothing lesser can ever be useful to anyone. [If you see arguments about 'equivalence' back carefully away from that thread.]

 

You may want to investigate some of the long zoom 'bridge' cameras like the Panasonic FZ 1000 or 2500, or Sony RX10.  See if you can locate a local camera store and see how it fits your hands and eyes. 

 

Another one to consider is Nikon's P1000 small sensor camera with a totally ludicrous zoom range [review over on dpreview discusses both the strengths and weaknesses]. At extreme zoom, it shows every bit of distortion in the air column between you and the subject - but you can be quite a ways away from the subject.

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Got a mailing from Panasonic today - bring direct from them [shop.panasonic.com] they show the FZ-1000 bridge camera for $599

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Thanks everyone for your continued help!

Now leaning toward a DSLR because I am worried, if I catch the photography bug, I will want a more flexible camera. 

Costco has a very well priced bundle: Nikon D3500 with 2 lens, case, extra battery and 32GB memory card for $599.

My concern is that it doesn't have Wifi, only Bluetooth tooth app called snap bridge. 

Thoughts?

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38 minutes ago, SMNYCruise said:

Thanks everyone for your continued help!

Now leaning toward a DSLR because I am worried, if I catch the photography bug, I will want a more flexible camera. 

Costco has a very well priced bundle: Nikon D3500 with 2 lens, case, extra battery and 32GB memory card for $599.

My concern is that it doesn't have Wifi, only Bluetooth tooth app called snap bridge. 

Thoughts?

 

I still would recommend a fixed lens 'bridge' camera - duplicating the lens range on an interchangeable lens camera would cost thousands. If the goal is safari photos, your subjects will be much further away than people or architectural centric shots. You also have the advantage of not needing to change lenses in rain or dust.

 

Looking at the lenses included in the bundle, the 70-300 is not image stabilized (Nikon tags this with VR in the lens name) - and the longer lenses is where stabilization is more important. The 300mm on the zoom may be long enough - if possible find folks (on the port of call board or here) who have done similar safaris (same season and nearby) and see what they used to take satisfactory photos).

 

My standard recommendation is to bring multiple memory cards and batteries - as well as polarizing filters. The on camera wifi (I have this on my Olympus) is much slower than direct transfer from a memory card. 

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1 hour ago, SMNYCruise said:

 Thanks everyone for your continued help!

Now leaning toward a DSLR because I am worried, if I catch the photography bug, I will want a more flexible camera. 

Costco has a very well priced bundle: Nikon D3500 with 2 lens, case, extra battery and 32GB memory card for $599.

My concern is that it doesn't have Wifi, only Bluetooth tooth app called snap bridge. 

Thoughts?

Almost 5 years with a wifi-enabled camera and transferred maybe 15 pictures. Your mileage may vary.

 

If you are looking at DSLR is, take a look at the Sony A6000. A 2 lens kit is about $100-ish but the D3500 is a very entry-level model with the autofocus and overall speed of the Sony camera being significantly better (double the burst rate for the Sony). Plus, they both have the same sized 24MP sensor and as you can see in the clip below, with a 16-50mm zoom on the Sony and an 18-55 on the Nikon, your travel kit will be very under-seat friendly.

image.png.ed50892a3c85383d39a74a6f6bfa0f26.png

 

image.png.504dcf9370f93bb6e33eefd5bc440d07.png

 

I've been shooting with an A6000 and A6300 for years and never missed the extra size and weight.

 

Too many good choices.

 

Dave

Edited by pierces

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33 minutes ago, SMNYCruise said:

Thanks everyone for your continued help!

Now leaning toward a DSLR because I am worried, if I catch the photography bug, I will want a more flexible camera. 

Costco has a very well priced bundle: Nikon D3500 with 2 lens, case, extra battery and 32GB memory card for $599.

My concern is that it doesn't have Wifi, only Bluetooth tooth app called snap bridge. 

Thoughts?

 

Nikon kit lenses tend to be meh at best. The longer lens in that kit is non VR (no image stabilization), which is a questionable choice because long zooms are *precisely* where you need image stabilization. I've no direct experience with the lenses in the D3500 kit, but of the two lenses that came in my D3200 kit, one is mediocre at best, the other little better than trash.

 

If it were me, I'd put $150 with your $599 and go for Best Buy's Sony A6000 two lens package. You'll get a more capable camera and better glass. In fact, I'm doing just that - I'm replacing a Nikon D3200 with the A6000 (but I am waiting for black Friday to see if the price drops).

 

The A6000 has wifi.

 

Why the A6000? The biggest point is that it is small - the A6000 and 16-50mm lens fits in a jacket pocket or fanny pack. 

 

What's wrong with the D3200? There's nothing particularly wrong with the camera body itself. But like I said earlier, the lenses are lacking. I could go buy new glass for $500-$600, but I'd still have a bulky camera that doesn't work with Nikon's latest lenses. I'd prefer to go the mirrorless route.

 

On the other hand, if you go the Nikon route, I think you'd be happy with the D3500 body. But I also think you'll be looking for new glass pretty quickly.

 

And before anyone feels the need to point out that the A6000 is three generations old, yes, I know that. If the prices drop enough on black Friday, I may go for an A6300 or even an A6500.

 


 

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, GomezAddams said:

 

And before anyone feels the need to point out that the A6000 is three generations old, yes, I know that. If the prices drop enough on black Friday, I may go for an A6300 or even an A6500

 

 

 

I'll mention the old model issue, but probably not as you were expecting

 

Three generations old and still in production as the "entry" level mirrorless for Sony. Largest selling single model interchangeable lens camera in history for a reason. Even with a 4-year-old design, it outperforms pretty much everything in it's price range...some by a significant amount.

 

Since you warned about the old model naysayers, I'll head off the whining about the 16-50 PZ lens. I really like the little thing. It may not be as sharp or fast at the $1000 competition, but I've shot thousands of images with one and never had anyone say, "Ewwwwww. that must have been shot with a compact zoom!" :classic_biggrin:

 

A6000 with 16-50:

p1347503696-5.jpg

 

p1556568076-5.jpg

 

p1395426929-5.jpg

 

I still use the A6000 regularly. It will be obsolete when it will no longer take pictures.

 

Dave

 

Edited by pierces

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The Nikon 18-55 VR kit lens is not bad either actually.  Super light.

 

Still, if I had to choose btw the a6000 and d3500, I'd take the Sony.  I say that as a long time Nikon user who's only just switched to Sony.

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6 hours ago, SMNYCruise said:

Thanks everyone for your continued help!

Now leaning toward a DSLR because I am worried, if I catch the photography bug, I will want a more flexible camera. 

Costco has a very well priced bundle: Nikon D3500 with 2 lens, case, extra battery and 32GB memory card for $599.

My concern is that it doesn't have Wifi, only Bluetooth tooth app called snap bridge. 

Thoughts?

1. There are many ways to extract images from your camera. WiFi is one (limited)approach.

2. More important is the quality of the images you can capture, and the flexibility to take the particular images you want to share.

3. And do not, repeat not, treat this as a life-time decision. Buy something. Use it. If it fits your needs, you hit a hole-in-one! But more realistically, as you learn and gain experience your needs may change. So sell the first camera, buy a second. Repeat until you find your perfect camera.

 

Have fun!

 

Stan

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I recently upgraded to a body with wifi (Fuji X-E1 to X-E2) and after spending a morning arguing with it without getting it to work, I realized I could have popped the card out for the rest of my life and spent less time than I'd already invested. I really wouldn't worry about it.

 

Given that this is for a safari (jealous BTW), you're going to want a lens that goes out to at least 300mm for wildlife and another that goes down to at least 18mm for landscape shots, so the Costco bundle above would get the job done nicely. If you go for something else, make sure there's a lens that range that doesn't cost an arm or leg--which it would for my Fuji. I'd consider grabbing another SD card and second battery--though the picture on the costco site seems to show two batteries. The other thing is to learn how to use it. I really liked the free reddit photo course as an introduction. 

 

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If you can swing it, I would recommend the A6300 & the 15-135 lens package.  While I love my A6000 and have used it for 3 years, I recently upgraded to the 6300 and am blown away by the improved focusing. I still use the 6000 as my second body, usually with the 35mm prime or wide lens.  

 

Then, you can rent any big lens you need for your trip.

 

 

_DSC8086.thumb.JPG.8ae97ea102d2d8ad78656c650ab040e3.JPG

This is with the 6000 and prime lens.

D6308242.thumb.JPG.f675b31c26d062c118dd89f872b575a0.JPG

 

This is the 6300 15-135

 

Vic

 

Edited by Victress2007

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31 minutes ago, Victress2007 said:

If you can swing it, I would recommend the A6300 & the 15-135 lens package.  While I love my A6000 and have used it for 3 years, I recently upgraded to the 6300 and am blown away by the improved focusing. I still use the 6000 as my second body, usually with the 35mm prime or wide lens.  

 

Then, you can rent any big lens you need for your trip.

 

D6308242.thumb.JPG.f675b31c26d062c118dd89f872b575a0.JPG

 

This is the 6300 15-135

 

Vic

 

 

That's  18-135.

 

You were soooo close. :classic_biggrin:

 

 

Dave

Edited by pierces

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I had skipped by the fact that this is for a safari in Africa.

It is important to note that different cameras have different size sensors. This makes a difference because smaller sensors result in a compression effect. What this means is that, a fixed or zoom lens at 300mm on a full frame sensor will give you a view similar to what you would have had with a 35mm camera back in the day. If you put that same lens on a camera with APS-C sensor, it will give you a field of view similar to what you would have with a 450mm lens on the full frame. With smaller sensors, the compression is even more extreme.

This is good news and bad news. The good news is that you will more easily get shots of those far-away animals. The bad news comes in three batches. First, smaller sensors tend to yield lower picture quality. One implication is that you are not going to be able to do as much cropping and editing after the fact - what you take is what you get. Second, that 450mm-equivelant lens, as with a 450mm lens on a full frame, will be extremely difficult to hold steadily for any period of time. The old rule of thumb is that the shutter speed needs to be at least 1/focal length. I.e., with a 300mm on full frame, 1/300 is the slowest you would want to go, 1/500 is safer. With that lens on an APS-C, 1/500 would be the slowest, 1/750 would be safer. This all means that you need to be shooting in very good light or you need to have the aperture wide open (not recommended due to image quality issues) or you need to use a tripod or bean bag or other device to help you hold the camera steadily. Third, with an APS-C or smaller sensor, you will not be able to find an inexpensive lens that will allow wide angle views. So a typical 18-55mm zoom on an APS-C camera will act like a 28-80mm on a full frame sensor. 28mm is wide, but it is not wide.

 

The above is TMI, but my recommendation for how to process all of this is as follows: spend some time looking on the web or in book stores or libraries. Look at others' images from African safaris. Try to pre-visualize what you would like to shoot when you get there. Is it those extreme close-ups? Is it those broad views of the savanna? If you can't photograph everything you would like to, what would you most regret having missed? Then look for equipment that will give you a good chance to shoot those images you now are seeing in your mind's eye.

 

Stan

20160902-K3M_0903.thumb.jpg.b7fc05355b5f119937a5cad43bb91e93.jpg

 

 

Edited by GottaKnowWhen

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5 hours ago, GottaKnowWhen said:

. Third, with an APS-C or smaller sensor, you will not be able to find an inexpensive lens that will allow wide angle views. 

 

 

 

The Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 is very sharp (even wide open) and can often be found for around $300. It is manual focus only but very solid and compact.

 

For about $500, you can pick up the Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D lens for Sony E and other APS-C or M4/3 cameras. Also manual focusing but is very sharp and offers exceptional control over distortion.

 

Not sure what you consider inexpensive but with quality 14mm Canon or Nikon lenses hovering around the $1500 mark, these are quite the bargain if you really need wider than 24mm equivalent.

 

Dave

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I recently upgraded to a body with wifi (Fuji X-E1 to X-E2) and after spending a morning arguing with it without getting it to work, I realized I could have popped the card out for the rest of my life and spent less time than I'd already invested. I really wouldn't worry about it.
 
I recently upgraded from a Fuji X-T1 to an X-H1 and had no trouble using the WiFi on either. There are many other advantages to WiFi, such as remote control of the camera via a tablet or smartphone, eg when on a tripod, and using a tablet to review/email the photos on site without lugging around a laptop. The X-H1 also has Bluetooth connectivity.
 

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On ‎10‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 5:30 PM, pierces said:

I'll mention the old model issue, but probably not as you were expecting

 

Three generations old and still in production as the "entry" level mirrorless for Sony. Largest selling single model interchangeable lens camera in history for a reason. Even with a 4-year-old design, it outperforms pretty much everything in it's price range...some by a significant amount.

 

Since you warned about the old model naysayers, I'll head off the whining about the 16-50 PZ lens. I really like the little thing. It may not be as sharp or fast at the $1000 competition, but I've shot thousands of images with one and never had anyone say, "Ewwwwww. that must have been shot with a compact zoom!" :classic_biggrin:

 

I still use the A6000 regularly. It will be obsolete when it will no longer take pictures.

 

Dave

 

 

The A5100, which is one generation back from the A6000 is also still a very capable mirrorless.  It doesn't have an EVF but it does have a touchscreen.  Otherwise it has a lot of the same features as the A6000.  Its also still listed on Sony's website so it must still be in production and  doesn't look like it will be phased out all that soon.

 

DSLR's are nice but there is a bit of a learning curve from an iPhone to a DSLR.  I am another that thinks a bridge camera might be a better fit given that the OP wants something light, with a decent zoom, not too expensive and possibly doesn't have the time to familiarize themselves with what a DSLR can do .  The Panasonic FZ200/300, although it has a 1/2.3" sensor, is still a very capable camera especially as it shoots at a constant f2.8.  The 24X (25-600mm equivalent) lens means you won't be buying, and more importantly, lugging around glass, either.  Just something to consider...….

Edited by Herfnerd

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Wow...you are all so helpful and have given me a lot to think about. I recently went to Best Buy just to hold and handle a few different kinds of cameras. I know I am all over the place, but after thinking about how I travel and my ability to navigate electronics, I have decided that a bridge camera makes sense for me. The good news is that my DH said "get whatever you want".  So...thoughts on which bridge camera I should get?

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