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which camera?

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mick7028/05/2016 14:16:47
524 forum posts
38 photos

my girlfriend has always been interested in photography.

she has taken some really nice ones with digital camera but has always wanted a proper camera with changeable lenses.

i know a few of you good people are into photography and was wondering if you could recommend a good set up for a beginner and what lenses and bits to get her.


NJH28/05/2016 15:07:37
2314 forum posts
139 photos

First question - are you looking for a film camera here or a digital camera with interchangeable lenses?

How much experience does she have with photography and does she have a particular area of interest ( eg landscape, portraits, still life etc.)

......... then How deep are your pockets?!!

I can point you at a few places with information which may help ..... but, I'm afraid that , like model engineering, a keen interest in photography tends to be expensive.


Thor 🇳🇴28/05/2016 15:12:47
1483 forum posts
41 photos

My preference would be a Digital SLR, if money is no problem, get a camera with a full-frame sensor. As for lenses, that depends on what your girl friend wants to photograph. A wide-angle to small tele lens and may be a telephoto zoom lens (70-210mm) should cover a lot.


Neil Wyatt28/05/2016 15:20:55
18899 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

Canon, Nikon, Sony in that order are what people use for astrophotography.

Full-frame is a large investment for marginal gains, as it only comes with top of the range DSLRs.

Canon, in particular, work well with M42 lenses using an adaptor with a small chip fitted (about £3 off ebay) so if you don't mind manual focus and aperture setting its pretty cheap to build a huge collection of lenses.

My 450D has been astro modded but for £110 second hand it would have been a capable DSLR.

Of course I would claim my Nikon 450D bridge camera (or current equivalent) with unimaginable choice of modes plus full manual control, image stabilisation, GPS and 26 to 1000mm zoom equivalent can equal most DSLRs for ordinary photography for the price of an entry-level DSLR body.

Good (which can mean free - e.g. GIMP) photo-processing software is as much of an investment as the camera itself.


mick7028/05/2016 15:50:03
524 forum posts
38 photos

she wants digital.

hasn't got a particular thing she wants to photo just likes taking pics of what she likes.

where is best place to buy what i need?

thanks for help

NJH28/05/2016 15:58:44
2314 forum posts
139 photos



Quite so Neil ... and then do you want to PRINT the images? - another hobby all of it's own and more expense!

Seriously if she is using a small compact now a step up would be to a bridge camera and ,as Neil says , these often sport a lens with a huge range. The interchangeable lens cameras will allow access to a huge range of high quality (and VERY high priced optics - my favourite lens cost more than the camera) but I suggest that this route be left for later.

I've been taking 'photos for years and have been processing them since making contact prints and developing them in Mum's kitchen to the luxury now of Lightroom and Photoshop plus an A3+ 8 ink inkjet printer.

I should warn you it ain't cheap, it is addictive and it is time consuming!

I suggest that you go and talk to your local camera shop but first buy a copy of "Amateur Photographer" - a weekly publication about half of which is advertising -  this will give you an idea of prices . ( They range from the equivalent of Unimat through to Lorch )  The shops are usually pretty helpful and it is in their interest to sell you something suitable which will ensure that you return for an "upgrade" in due course. ( Believe me there will be an ongoing need for "upgrades" - whether needed or not!  😉

If she is seriously interested it is probably worth seeking out camera clubs in your area. There will be a lot of expertise there and , in my experience, newcomers are helped and encouraged.



Edited By NJH on 28/05/2016 16:31:01

David Hughes 328/05/2016 16:21:04
7 forum posts

Have bought several items from Ffordes secondhand (usual disclaimer) . I purchased for my first starter camera body, a Nikon D70, a great starter camera for less than £80 (used) for the body, and it will accept auto focus lenses with or without built in motors,

Good look in your search.


Clive Hartland28/05/2016 16:24:52
2759 forum posts
40 photos

As a lifelong camera addict and having used 21/4 square Rolleiflex for professional use and LEICA 35 mm I have been spoilt. Darkroom and enlarger very time consuming and the everlasting quest for a standard negative for printing. Come the Digital camera and colour printer and I no longer use film.

Any reasonable Digi camera (See Amatuer Photographer etc) for tests and make a choice, images that do not please you can delete and it is always ready. Canon or Nikon or any easy to carry camera suffices. Always buy extra batteries. and mem. cards. I doubt you will fill a big one so 4 Gb or so is fine. A good lens on a Digi will run to about 30 x optical magnification.

SillyOldDuffer28/05/2016 16:33:13
7921 forum posts
1725 photos

It depends rather on budget and what you intend to photograph.

I take macro photographs, wildlife, family portraits, mount the camera on a microscope, and do flash based high speed photography of things like water droplets splashing. It's not a hobby I throw money at though.

I use a Canon EOS 640. This is a mid-range half-frame digital camera with all the basic controls you are likely to need. I bought it when prices dropped just after Canon brought out its replacement. Like laptops you can save a lot of money by buying last years model. Photographic Magazines will often say what the latest wonder-camera is replacing, and then I looked up what people said on the web about the previous models.

The camera came as a kit with a fairly ordinary 18 to 55mm lens, which goes from a limited wide-angle view to a slight zoom, It's good for general purpose and 'get you started' photography. Because I needed one for a family occasion at the same time I also bought a mid-range flash which is perhaps half as useful as the Canon equivalent for a lot less money. Good enough for me though.

Later on I added a Sigma 70-300mm zoom / macro lens that goes from "wasp inside flower" to "bird on a chimney" type shots. The Sigma is an affordable lens. The image quality is good but more money will get you something that gathers more light, allowing sharper photos of fast moving objects like racing cars. Not important to me so I got the cheaper lens.

Then I bought a 50mm lens. These see the world much like the human eye. The optics are cheap to produce, so you get a very affordable high quality lens good, but not ideal, for portraits. I use mine with a set of macro rings to do extreme close ups of coins. Some kit cameras come with a 50mm lens. I don't think this is a good idea because the range of photo types you can take with it is quite disappointing.

I hanker after a real wide-angle lens, (less than 18mm), but don't really need one. Lots of fun to be had with them though!

If your girlfriend is likely to get seriously serious about photography, a full frame camera is a better bet. This is because full-frame cameras need full-frame lenses. Moving later from half-frame to full frame can be expensive if you have to upgrade a lot of lenses as well.

Photography is another hobby that can get you spending loads of money. A decent camera needs a decent tripod; perhaps a printer, with own-brand ink and good quality paper; slave flashes; lights; books; black cloth; stands; filters; camera axe; nude models; colour corrected monitor; exotic locations, software. (I use gimp rather than Photoshop for photo-editing. Whilst not quite as good as Photoshop it does most things. )

Might be best to start with a basic outfit and then expand it as your interests take you.

Some people get excited about Canon vs Nikon, vs Olympus. My experience is that there isn't much to separate them, at least at my level of interest. Lenses aren't interchangeable between different makes so choose one and stick with 'em.



norman valentine28/05/2016 16:42:11
280 forum posts
40 photos

These days digital compact cameras are so good that I think that it is unnecessary to bother with a big cumbersome SLR. Any of the big names produce cameras that will fulfil 99% of most peoples needs. Plus they are tiny and you can keep them in your pocket and still walk straight.

As an example of how good they can be I have a family snap printed to A3 from less than half of the frame of a cheapo Casio digital compact and it can be viewed from 2 feet and still look sharp.

Further to Dave's comment in the previous post, if you want to print your images you will appreciate the gain in quality from using a good printer and ink. I use an Epson R2880, fantastic quality but the ink is pricey. It is pointless buying a good printer and then using cheap ink. 

Edited By norman valentine on 28/05/2016 16:47:11

Mike28/05/2016 16:51:29
713 forum posts
6 photos

One of my duties is to edit our village community newspaper, and we have recently bought a Nikon 3200 with an 18-55mm lens, and a Sigma 70-300mm telephoto. Totally satisfactory, and it can be set on auto for inexperienced members of the community who can use it in "point it and pull the trigger" mode and produce photographs good enough for publication.. I am envious of Clive's experience with Rollei and Leica - for film cameras I was limited to the cheaper Nikons. The favourite was a Nikkormat, which I used so much that the brass of the body is showing through the black in many places. Happy memories of using it, coupled with a 135mm tele, taking rifle shooting pictures for shooting magazines at Bisley in the early 1980s.

NJH28/05/2016 16:52:09
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Ah Norman

".....can be viewed from 2 feet and still look sharp" Obviously not a camera club member then. Judges examine prints from about 2 inches! 😧

Norman (!)

Nick_G28/05/2016 17:08:39
1808 forum posts
744 photos
Posted by naughtyboy on 28/05/2016 14:16:47:

but has always wanted a proper camera with changeable lenses.


Is she sure she does. Or just think that is what she needs.? ........... It's a common mistake.

My job is a photographer and what I call my main camera is a Canon 1Ds Mk3. It's great and does what it is designed to do flawlessly. It's a few years old now and does not have features that some of the latest cameras a quarter of it's price has. But it is a very rugged high quality picture taking machine. - Which is all I want it to be really.!

But mostly if I am 'out and about' and think I may need a camera I have a Canon G16 in my jacket pocket. - It's small, reasonably well made, has a half reasonable sensor and lens, will shoot RAW data images and is able to be driven manually when required. There are others similar made by most of the mainstream makers. They are what I would call a 'photographers compact.'

Don't get me wrong there are times when there is no substitute for an SLR and a range of lenses. And if something is ones job that is very often. But taking an SLR kit for the day can often overtake and dominate the whole day to the detriment of the days original purpose. ............ But maybe that days whole purpose is taking photographs. Then that is different. Remember the best camera in the world is the camera that you have with you.! Not the super kit you have left at home because it's too big and bulky.

Considerable thought, control and a reality check needs to be taken when venturing into photography otherwise you will become a salesmans dream customer for kit that will seldom be used. Photography magazines. ....... Ignore them.! 75% of what is printed in them is total garbage.

Sensor quality (don't confuse this with a high pixel count) and the lens quality are everything. Fancy seldom or never used features are worthless and just a selling point.

If I were you and your lady I would step into this and don't jump into this. smiley

As it happens when doing a shoot last week I picked up the G16 compact a couple of times for a few frames to see out of total curiosity how it faired against the SLR. Was it as good.? ......... No.! But we are not in a like-for-like type contest are we between the two. It however did give (IMHO) a good account of it's self.

Here are 2 images taken with the G16 :-

And before anyone squeaks about a bit of skin more is visible by walking through any town on a summers afternoon.


Chris Evans 628/05/2016 18:18:27
2008 forum posts

Neil mentioned M42 lenses. I have a small selection here free if you cover the postage. Chris.

norman valentine28/05/2016 18:19:22
280 forum posts
40 photos

Norman!!! I would never dream of joining a CAMERA club. I enjoy "photography". Back in the 60s I went to a local camera club meeting as they had a famous "art" photographer giving a talk. I was bemused by all the questions about his camera and technique and nothing about the pictures. I never went there again.


roy entwistle28/05/2016 18:31:27
1459 forum posts

It's not the camera that takes good photographs It's the photographer Also if you like the photograph that's OK If somebody else likes it that's a bonus

Vic28/05/2016 18:35:29
3017 forum posts
8 photos

Having a DSLR doesn't mean you have to buy loads of lenses but does of course give you the flexibility if you want to buy them. Sony represent far better value than both Canon and Nikon and have in-body stabilisation like all the other brands (except canon and nikon) which could come in very handy for a newbie. I've got a Pentax but would almost certainly buy Sony next time. Sony are one of the biggest sensor manufacturers so will always be on the cutting edge of sensor design IMO. If you can afford it Sony's mirror less cameras have been getting rave reviews lately. This shows you how good their sensors are.


Enough!28/05/2016 18:57:49
1719 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 28/05/2016 16:33:13:

I use a Canon EOS 640. This is a mid-range half-frame digital camera .....

What does "half frame" mean in relation to a digital camera, Dave? I mean I'm familiar with the term in 35mm film cameras (had a few of those) but I'm having trouble picturing (sorry!) it in digital terms.

roy entwistle28/05/2016 19:53:44
1459 forum posts

It's the physical size of the sensor Full size is similar to 35mm   The Canon is about 2/3rds full size

Edited By roy entwistle on 28/05/2016 20:04:33

Clive Hartland28/05/2016 20:46:18
2759 forum posts
40 photos

Hello Mike, i still have the Rollei 2.8F with all the accessories, also a Leica M6 with a selection of lenses and an R6 with a selection as well. Currently my carry about camera is a Panasonic of the DMC series. Perfectly adequate for my everyday purposes. I also have several canon film cameras and various lenses, not used much now.

At one place I had a Hassleblad but i found the ergonomics awkward and returned to the Rollei which was not so heavy.

My other pastime was 8mm Cine using Bolex cameras but now after 50 years all the colour film is turning black and is not vewable anymore, lost all those memories now. Then of course Video cameras, been through about 3 of them. Current one is a canon. 306 which is good for weddings etc. The only thing with video is editing which takes quite a time.


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