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Camera advice and recomendations for a newbie


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Hello all,

 

After discovering Alamy doesn't like my current camera I am looking to upgrade. I have seen that the Sony RX100-6 seems to get recomended on here a lot but I was unsure about the range of zoom it has and unfortunatly I find all the technical details beyong baffeling. I am particularly interested in wildlife photography so most of the things I photograph are either very small and close up or a long way away. I am very much at the novice level so I dont need anything with too many bells and whistles.

 

Key point

  • Good zoom for distance and macro shots
  • single lens (as its simpler)
  • Price range up to £700 ish
  • Something that will easily pass quality control
  • Some reliable/doesnt break easily

 

Any suggestions?

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Dolorous Dave said:

Hello all,

 

After discovering Alamy doesn't like my current camera I am looking to upgrade. I have seen that the Sony RX100-6 seems to get recomended on here a lot but I was unsure about the range of zoom it has and unfortunatly I find all the technical details beyong baffeling. I am particularly interested in wildlife photography so most of the things I photograph are either very small and close up or a long way away. I am very much at the novice level so I dont need anything with too many bells and whistles.

 

Key point

  • Good zoom for distance and macro shots
  • single lens (as its simpler)
  • Price range up to £700 ish
  • Something that will easily pass quality control
  • Some reliable/doesnt break easily

 

Any suggestions?

Hey, it's annoying your existing gear isn't up to it, but fun to get a new system. Certainly take your time to choose and take information/advice from a variety of sources. It won't be a true macro lens as you can't reproduce at 1:1 on the sensor, but that's a bit academic, you've got an 8cm close focus distance which may be good enough. The specs look very good. Hopefully some actual users can weigh in.

Steve

Edited by Steve F
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Posted (edited)

Well I'll start the ball rolling, I know the Sony RX100 range is excellent from what people say on here but be aware that in the main these are experienced professional photographers who know how to get the best out of it and avoid stretching the boundaries of what it is capable of. Couple that with the fact that wildlife and macro photography are both pretty demanding areas skill-wise and so it's going to be down to you to learn those skills with a camera system that is flexible enough to accommodate them. I think I might be looking at a Micro 4/3 camera system from Olympus or Panasonic, I've seen great wildlife pictures taken with them, but APS-C 'crop' sensor cameras would come a close second. A single lens that is good for long telephoto (bird close-ups?) and macro is asking quite a lot.

Edited by Harry Harrison
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6 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Well I'll start the ball rolling, I know the Sony RX100 range is excellent from what people say on here but be aware that in the main these are experienced professional photographers who know how to get the best out of it and avoid stretching the boundaries of what it is capable of. Couple that with the fact that wildlife and macro photography are both pretty demanding areas skill-wise and so it's going to be down to you to learn those skills with a camera system that is flexible enough to accommodate them. I think I might be looking at a Micro 4/3 camera system from Olympus or Panasonic, I've seen great wildlife pictures taken with them, but APS-C 'crop' sensor cameras would come a close second. A single lens that is good for long telephoto (bird close-ups?) and macro is asking quite a lot.

Without using the system myself, and at the risk of slighly contradicting my earlier post, I would tend to agree with Harry that you would be pushing the limits of an in-built zoom lens if you want to do both macro and wildlife photography. It depends what results you would be happy with. Normally you would have dedicated lenses to do each of these. You will be able to get these shots to an extent, but you will be competing against people with professional lenses that will likely get better shots regardless of what you do. It depends how far you want to take this. I started off with a small basic digital camera years ago, upgraded to a beginner's APS-C camera with interchangeable lenses, upraded again to a higher spec APS-C camera, and now I'm full frame with a 'professional camera' (doesn't mean my images are professional!) There are lots of professionals in the past that have achieved success with very simple equipment - but macro and wildlife photography remain challenging nonetheless.

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I agree with Harry. I use the RX100 for urban subjects but need my Nikon for wildlife. I'm not that familiar with different cameras so I can't help with suggestions.

 

Paulette

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Thanks for the comments so far people. I'm not looking to make a career out of photography, I just like taking wildlife pictues and think it would be nice to get paid to share them and hopfully make it self funding. I see you point about too high an expectation from a single lens camera. I shall have a look at some Nikons, Olympus or Panasonics......

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Dave, I fear you will struggle. Any camera you want to use for macro and wildlife without interchangeable lenses is like a jack of all trades, master of none. Not to say it can’t take suitable pictures for Alamy, but the closest and farthest ends won’t give you what an interchangeable lens camera will. I’ve been shooting with dedicated macro lenses and a zoom with a reach of 400 since the beginning. And the 80-400 I used shooting with a Nikon and the 100-400 I use now with Fuji (Both very good lenses) still has to be used with care.

That said, you can do it with a camera like you want and down the road you’ll know if the learning process is worth it to you before moving up to a more expensive kit. 
I will tell you that shooting for stock isn’t for sissies. You have to be able to fail QC without taking it personally. Fall off the horse and get right back on. That was very hard for me in the beginning because I had a number of failures. There is noise, chromatic aberration, bad color shifts, exposure, dust bunnies, sharpness, so many things to look for.  That’s what I mean by the learning process. Learning to inspect your images before uploading and finally having it become second nature to instinctively spot what will fail, so you don’t upload it.

Good luck.
Betty

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Posted (edited)

Yeah. After a day or two of sulking I'm sure my enthusiasm will be renewed! I have been looking at some of the ones with interchanable lens and its just opened up a whole new world of confusion, which leads me back to the comfort of a simple camera with a single lens. My current one is not anything special and I still enjoy photographing things with it. Maybe just general suggestions for the most appropriate fixed lens camera and I can worry about changing lenses once I get a better understanding with all of the technical sides of things?

 

There are some free photography courses online with the Open University which I am looking to try out. It would be nice to get some good shots to upload while I am working through it. It looks quite good and it is acredited by he Royal Photographic Society who I assume know what they are talking about!

Edited by Dolorous Dave
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33 minutes ago, Dolorous Dave said:

There are some free photography courses online with the Open University which I am looking to try out. It would be nice to get some good shots to upload while I am working through it. It looks quite good and it is acredited by he Royal Photographic Society who I assume know what they are talking about!

Don't be discouraged! That course seems to cover all the right areas and if done well should give you a very good grounding, not too expensive either, some people charge that for 'portfolio reviews'. I can understand that you need a suitable camera to make full use of the course though I'm still not sure that fixed lens is the way to go. I mentioned Micro 4/3 because the cameras and lenses are smaller and lighter than their APS-C equivalents and you wouldn't have to try quite so hard to make sure the images get through QC as you might with the Sony RX-100. See the Alamy page for an idea of sensor sizes, the Sony has the 1" sensor:

 

https://www.alamy.com/blog/alamys-rough-guide-to-digital-cameras

 

I'm hoping that someone that knows and uses the Micro 4/3 system can recommend a camera and suitable macro zoom lens for you. If you don't mind buying secondhand then a camera and lens from a few years back will still be fine for Alamy. If you don't take the lens off then it becomes a fixed lens camera (!) until you accumulate the knowledge and skill to maybe get another lens or two. David Tipling, the illustrious bird photographer, uses Olympus Micro 4/3, at least he does now.

 

https://davidtipling.com/

 

 

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M43 user responding to Harry's request.  I bought into the system a couple of years ago to supplement my Canon DSLR gear and provide a lighter, more portable walk around kit.  Supplement?  It's basically supplanted my DSLR and I now do most of my work with it.

 

With a budget of under £700 you'll need to hit the second hand market to get anything decent.  I started with the original 16Mp Olympus OM=D EM1 and the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom and 60mm f2.8 macro lens (double the focal lengths to get the 35mm equivelent).  Total cost at todays 2/hand prices would be under your £700 budget.  Frankly the 12-50mm, though nice and light, weathersealed to match the EM-1 body, and having a good macro facility which can be switched in on the lens simply didn't have good enough image quality for my needs so I soon replaced it with the admittedly more expensive 12-40mm f2.8 Pro.  Again, a decent close up ability and weather sealing but this time matched with with far superior image quality.  I've since added an EM-5 Mk II and the tiny little Panasonic 35-100mm f4.5-5.6 - ridiculously good optics in a minute little body which can be picked up for about £150.

 

The advantages to me of using M43 gear is the lighter weight,,very effective IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation), Focus bracketing for generating extra depth of field for both macro and landscape shots, and image quality that is more than good enough for stock usage provided I don't try shooting at too high an ISO.

 

Most of the last 1600 shots in my portfolio - https://www.alamy.com/portfolio/372836.html - have been taken with these cameras and lenses.  I have never had a QC failure but I've always been very careful in my post processing and culling of any images that don't match high quality standards - no matter how much I might like them.  Do the images sell?  Yes - but that's not down to the equipment.

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The above is all good advice. IMHO aps-c is a sweet spot for quality, adaptability, lens range. and price. Bodies can be picked up second hand at reasonable prices and you can add what you need as you go along. More important than the body or brand is lens and I would advise to buy the best and fastest you can. The RX100 series you mention is used by many here including myself (Mk 2) in specific environments but would not be my first choice for macro or wildlife; the new Z-V, I think, looks interesting with ND filter. Some here use the RX10 which may be a better choice for wildlife but I'm doubtful of it's macro capabilities. For lightness I have recently been using the micro 4/3 system with mixed results, it allows me to carry two bodies (Panasonic GX85 with 45-175 (90-350) and GX9 with Leica/Pana 12-60 (24- 120) in a small bag. My keeper rate with M4/3 is less than with the Canon aps-c system but that could be down to user error. When deciding on a system it is probably wise to decide which lenses are available and at what cost. I would rather have gone down the Sony alpha 6xxx route than M4/3 but lens range and price put me off. Also bear in mind that most kit lenses are not that great (I buy most cameras body only) and the 12-32 that comes with the Panasonic is IMO simply crap. There are also other considerations for stock such as software, monitor, monitor calibration etc. Hope this has helped and not confused you more.

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Hi Dave,

 

Remember that whatever system you start with, you have the option of beginning in auto mode and sticking with that until you want to branch out in manually controlling different parameters on the camera. So while it may all seem a bit overwhelming to begin with, it is possible to start out simply and then build your knowledge from there. I borrowed a number of library books when I began in digital photography as well as learning from the internet, and did some workshops too. It does all increasingly make sense as you go along.

 

As far as having a single lens for macro and distance subjects, I agree with the above comments that this will be difficult with a single lens. When I started out in digital photography in 2010 I bought Nikon's entry level DSLR (D3000) with the twin lens kit (18-55mm and 55-200mm) and the cost at the time fitted within your budget above. I agree with Joe's comment above that kit lenses are not the best, but Nikon's ones are actually not too bad and were great for learning with. The 18-55mm was actually very good for close-up flower shots, though not true macro, while the 55-200mm enabled me to begin doing some wildlife shots of subjects that were not too far away, such as birds down at the local lake. After a couple of years, I started to invest in some new lenses, including macro and a long range telephoto for wildlife. I've managed to keep costs down by buying mostly third party lenses (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina) which have still been excellent and an improvement on the kit lenses. I now have a Nikon D5200 which is still fairly compact (thought not with the telephoto attached!). Entry level DSLRs are fairly small, but the micro 4/3 will be more compact again, and may be quite sufficient for what you want to do. So you could start with one lens and use that all the time, and then when you feel comfortable and can afford it get a second one with a different range. John's info above on the micro 4/3 system sounds very helpful in this regard.

 

All the best!

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On 29/05/2020 at 09:11, Dolorous Dave said:

Thanks for the comments so far people. I'm not looking to make a career out of photography, I just like taking wildlife pictues and think it would be nice to get paid to share them and hopfully make it self funding. I see you point about too high an expectation from a single lens camera. I shall have a look at some Nikons, Olympus or Panasonics......

 

I have a Sony a6000 as do a couple of other people.  It's ASP-C format, and can accept FE and E mount lenses.  There's a cheap 30mm f/3.5 macro for the system, a 50mm macro for both APSC and full frame if I'm remembering correctly, and a very well respected 90mm f/2.8 that's not cheap.  For wild life larger than birds, there's a cheap and not brilliant 55-210 (seems to be sharpest at closer focusing distances) and some FE zooms that are not cheap.  If you get one of Sony's a 6### series cameras, a number of us have them.  Start with the kit lens and the 55-210mm.

 

Advantage of either Canon or Nikon are the range of older lenses available used. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, MizBrown said:

 

Advantage of either Canon or Nikon are the range of older lenses available used. 

 

Definitely and at very good prices. Most older Nikon F lenses will work on any of the new DSLRs and mirrorless. There is also a very wide range of accessories available secondhand. Something to keep in mind as well is the wish or need to go full frame down the line which means Nikon, Canon or Sony.

 

Knowing what I know now and if I was starting again, then I would still go Nikon and take the path that Sally talks about - the Nikon entry level DSLRs are superb (now the D3500) and their investment in mirrorless is guaranteeing long term survival of the company. Sony would be my second choice, not least because of the superb sensors (as with Nikon).

Edited by MDM
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Thanks for all the input guys, it's appriciated! So you all have convinced me to go for one with interchangable lenses. I will try to get the camara itself new as I would feel more comfortable in taking in back/complaining if something went wrong with it. I think I will leave the fancier lenses (like the macro stuff) until I have improved my craft (and saved up some more money!). So the two candiates I am looking at so far are: 

  • Nikon D5600
  • Sony Alpha 6100

These seem to fit the bill don't they? As Nikon seems to have a great reputation here I am leaning towards that one.

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For what it's worth, out of the two I would go for the Nikon for the reasons MDM mentioned above. I studied photography when the change to digital was occurring and used the college Nikons which were excellent. I went with the Canon system as they had lenses available at the time which were not available for Nikon, this is not now the case, and couldn't live with that red flash on the side; funny why we choose cameras.

 

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23 minutes ago, Joe Gaul said:

couldn't live with that red flash on the side

Yes, that would be a huge obstacle for me as well, I suppose you could tape it over. :)

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8 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Yes, that would be a huge obstacle for me as well, I suppose you could tape it over. :)

But Harry that red flash would coordinate well with your avatar, win win.

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Posted (edited)

Another big plus for Nikon is the Nikon School in London. They run several very good courses for beginners and currently these are all free as far as I can gather. I have a friend who has been doing a number of these courses during lockdown and he is raving about how good they are. I notice there is an extensive one on macro photography as well. Their courses will be focused around using Nikon cameras which can be very beneficial.

 

 

 

 

Edited by MDM
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22 minutes ago, MDM said:

But if you wanted to capture wildlife on Earth from space, what camera would you choose? 

It's a testament to their quality for sure, don't know how that Sony crept in. Weightlessness would be a big  advantage with the D5.

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32 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

It's a testament to their quality for sure, don't know how that Sony crept in. Weightlessness would be a big  advantage with the D5.

 

😀. Never held a D5. The Sony was for 4K video I think according to the blurb. Video is an area where Sony has led along with Canon but Nikon is catching up fast with the Z series and doing  deals with Apple to make raw video affordable. 

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2 hours ago, MDM said:

 

But if you wanted to capture wildlife on Earth from space, what camera would you choose? 

The one on the Hubble telescope.  

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I bet Wildlife photograpy from space needs an expensive lens!

 

I think I have settled on a D5600, hopefully I wont have any issue wityh QC with that! Next decision - which lens? Will 18-55mm be ok or is it worth splashing out the extra for a 18-140mm?

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