New Camera Thread v3.0

Since I’ve been doing research on this more than I realized I had, time to share what I’ve learned so far. And as a result of typing in a topic title of “Buying a new camera?”, I see this has come up before. So, here’s what the discussions were years ago:

The landscape of cameras has changed a lot over the last decade. You still have point-and-shoot cameras that come with optical zoom capabilities of anywhere from about 3x to 25x, with the higher-end and more expensive cameras have a larger sensor closer to what you’d get the DSLR and Mirrorless fields. I still have the one I bought years ago, but don’t know which box it is in and it didn’t have that great of zoom or picture quality anyway. I think the lens didn’t do well with anything that had straight edges, like a taking a picture of a sign.

Above that are bridge cameras. Convenience of point-and-shoot coupled with a better sensor, a zoom lens and more adjustment settings. For when you need more than point-and-shoot or your smartphone, but you’re not quite ready to go whole hog, and on some, the zoom doesn’t zoom very much. The one I was looking at was a Canon PowerShot SX540 that has a 50x zoom lens and was priced at $330, but the only places I can find on Amazon that have it are selling renewed/refurbished cameras for a minimum of $50 more.

With some of these, if you’re looking for new instead of used, you’re at or almost at the cost of a DSLR or Mirrorless camera and you should take a serious look at those instead because of the flexibility you get.

DSLR = Digital Single Lens Reflex. A mirror in front of the sensor (or film if you’re using that) bounces what the lens is seeing up to the viewfinder so you can see it. You press the button and the mirror moves out of the way for the picture.

Mirrorless: No mirror to move, so what the lens sees is shown on a mini-monitor in the viewfinder or on a bigger monitor on the back of the camera. Without a mirror having to be moved for every picture, the camera is quieter, making it better for weddings and so forth. These are thinner from front to back than a DSLR, and therefore lighter and less expensive.

Cameras with a viewfinder should be better for outdoor photography because you don’t have sunlight shining on an external monitor. But if the monitor swings out and/or pivots, you could find an angle where you can see what you’re taking a picture of pretty easily even in sunlight. If the camera has a viewfinder and a monitor, it may default to using the monitor until you put your eye on the viewfinder and switch to displaying there.

Cost of both DSLR and Mirrorless goes up because you start off by buying the camera (“camera body”) and then you buy the lenses you want. A kit will usually come with a non-zoom lens, so you get some discount off the cost of the initial lens. Other kits might swap out the non-zoom for a zoom.
 

As a rough guide, expect to pay a minimum of $1000 for either kind if buying new.

That’s what I’ve been kind of choking on for the past week. A $330 camera + bag + tripod + some accessories was easily doable. I didn’t need sophistication, as evidenced by my “making do with 3 seconds for a flash photo from my smartphone” comment. Finding out it wasn’t available at that store and seeing what I’d have to go through to get it online made me reconsider whether the extra cost was worth it. (Time is also a factor in this decision.)

If, like me, you might be balking at paying double or even higher than what you planned on, what do you get? Flexibility and features that let you take the kinds of pictures @Viking, @Road_Rash and @Ook have been posting in the Post your photos here! topic.

Flexibility comes from being able to put different lenses on the camera, whether it be zoom, wide-angle or even full-sensor lenses on a camera that has a cropped sensor (how much area of the sensor is devoted to getting an image). Add filters for different effects. Put a lens hood on the end to block out some of the light coming in from an angle. As long as you stick with the same lens mounting type, you can move a lens from one camera to another.

Big note here. There are different lens mount types and you can get adapters that will make a lens with mount type A fit on a camera with mount type B. I’ve seen videos on YouTube saying “Don’t buy adapter X. It will ruin your camera.”

Think about it. You’ve got a lot of weight attaching at a specific point on a camera that’s very expensive that gravity is going to want to make bend downward. I wouldn’t risk any using kind of adapter. If you can afford to buy lots of different lenses and some have a different mount type, get another camera that they can be attached to un-adapted.

Back to features as I wrap this up. These cameras have a lot of settings and features, including some cinema-grade settings. Firmware updates can add features and fix bugs and performance issues.

There’s even cameras that come in two flavors: fine-tuned for photography and fine-tuned for vlogging and streaming, but are very close in performance otherwise.

If you find a camera that interests you, you’ll find lots of review and comparison videos on YouTube.

Just to add to what has been said, both Nikon and Canon have stopped making entry-level DSLRs (and maybe even mid-level ones as well) because that end of the market has been destroyed by mirror-less cameras.

So if you have your heart set on a DSLR, it’s either going to be at the ‘Pro’ end of the market (and hence have a big price tag) or second-hand.

When it comes to actually buying the camera, make a short list of 4 or 5, based on the features you need. Have 2 in your price range, 2 that are a stretch, and 1 rando-just-for-fun to compare with.

Then go to a good camera store (or two, or three) and test drive them ALL. Are the buttons easy to reach? What is the menu system like to drive? How heavy is it to hold in your hand?

If the shop tries to sell you something else, turn around and walk out. I did this to a camera store - the guy tried to sell me an Olympus (something) which I had already investigated and discounted during my research. I have never been back to that store again.

For me, I worked my my short-list down to 2 - a Canon (something) and the Nikon D7100. I went with the Nikon because it fitted into my hands better and has 2 memory card slots.

When it comes to lenses, the body may come with 2 ‘kit’ lenses. Usually a short-range zoom (say 15-75mm) and a longer-range zoom (55-250mm). These lenses won’t be spectacular, but will be more than enough to get you up and running.

If you go for non-kit lenses, be prepared to spend money. Do your research very carefully. If you can, take your camera body into the shop and test the lens you are wanting to buy.

Accessories? You don’t need a tripod straight away. Get spare memory cards (but not from the camera store - they will rip you off) and maybe a spare battery. Maybe a small bag to carry everything in. You do not need every single gadget from day one.

Do your research.
Spend big on good lenses right from the start.
Upgrade equipment slowly as you need to.
Get out and take lots of photos
Have fun!

EDIT - realised that Mike was right. Spend big on getting good lenses first, rather than a really good body with an amazing sensor / functionality.

On the subject of DSLR vs mirrorless, unless you have a large investment in DSLR lenses (as I do), go mirrorless. There is no good argument for DSLR any more other than that.

Personally, I would love to go mirrorless (the Nikon Z8 is a phenomenal camera), but I can’t afford to replace all my lenses, and the D780 I have is actually a very good camera as well.

Edit: my 2c on where to spend your money.
Get a camera with a good sensor, but not necessarily the best.
Get good lenses.

With an okay sensor and a good lens you are likely to get good photos.
With the best sensor on the world and an okay lens, you will likely only get okay photos. With a crappy lens you will always get crappy photos.

Just to echo what is said here, your best investment is the glass you attach to the camera body. I’m drooling all over the new Nikon Z8, which would solve a lot of minor issues, increase my focus accuracy, take photos at stupid fast frame rates, and take 8K 60hz video, but it costs over 3 times what my Z5 cost, which is the cheapest mirrorless full-frame body Nikon makes. Not to mention that to take advantage of that speed, the memory card alone is going to cost over $1000.

But I have far more money invested in the 4 lenses I own for the system and 2 of them are older Nikon DSLR lenses that I use via a Nikon adaptor. My most expensive lens (500mm f/5.6 F-mount) is one of those lenses I use adapted and the results are fantastic. I bought the Z5 two years ago instead of a Z6II because it allowed me to buy a Z-mount 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens that is worth every penny I spent on it. I also have the one holdover from my old DSLR, a variable aperture 70-300mm lens that I forget I own at times plus a Z-mount 105mm f/2.8 macro lens which is even sharper than my 500mm telephoto lens. All told I have over $7000 invested in my 4 pieces of glass. Add the camera body, a tripod, and my filter kit, I’m in over $10K over the past 5 years or so.

But it is a love of mine and helps keep my sanity in check. So I consider it money well spent. Plus I have made a few bucks selling my work commercially. Here’s my lighthouse photo on a beer can:

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Round 2, part 1 of what I learned. I’ll list accessory info in another response.

First off, no matter how much you think you’re going to spend, it will be more. Very likely, a LOT more. Sticker shock is real. I find it helps to crank the rationalization and justification up to 11. “Well, I need it for this trip and I’d have it for a once-in-a-lifetime trip in a few years and I’m always grousing that the smartphone isn’t good enough for pictures of anything that isn’t within 20 feet of me and …”

Second, there is one setting in the camera that you need to change immediately, regardless of which brand it is. It’s the setting that’s used for demonstration mode so you can try out the camera without a memory card plugged in. Avoid the age old cliche of forgetting to put film in the camera by changing this. Other settings are covered here.

Third, printed manuals are very rare these days. Download the manual and put it on your smartphone or tablet so you can look things up as you need to. I have an older tablet I can use for this and keep it in my camera bag.
 

I got a Sony ZV-E10, which is the fine-tuned for vlogging/streaming camera with an articulating monitor on the back, but I will be using it primarily for photography. For comparison, Sony’s fine-tuned for photography sister cameras with a viewfinder are the α6x00 series. Those are a little more expensive (add ~$200) and the monitor position can’t be adjusted as much as the E10’s. The soon-to-be released α6700 may have better picture quality than the E10.

If you want to see a side-by-side comparison of an E10 and an α6400, here you go.

The E10 is lighter than the α6400, which is partly because the camera casing is more plastic-like than metal, it does not have a built-in flash or viewfinder and it’s not weather-sealed. I will be adding some quart-sized plastic bags to my bag in case I need to fashion a poncho for the camera if it’s raining or misting. Some of the items we get at work come with dessicant packs, so I’ll be using those in the camera bag to help absorb moisture.

Kind of a related note. The weather-sealed cameras may build up more heat while taking a lot of videos, limiting how long of a video you can shoot. That’s one the ways the E10 has the advantage for vlogging and streaming. It runs cooler longer.
 

When it comes to lenses, there’s a plethora of choices that will help you when you photograph piñatas. If the camera has a smaller APS-C sensor like the E10, you can still use full-frame lenses on it. If you graduate to a camera with that sensor, the lens can come with you, provided the mounting type is the same.

Cameras will have image stabilization settings. Lenses can have mechanical image stabilization, boosting what you get in the camera.

A lot of recommendations are to get a “Prime” lens and one that can zoom in. Primes are non-adjustable and pretty short, so it keeps the camera small. In simplest terms, it’s a 1x lens.

At the recommendation of the store employee, I skipped that and got one that has a 17-70mm range. At the 17mm setting, it’s almost the same as a Prime lens, though image quality might be slightly different. I thought this lens would be enough for zoom photos, but after trying to take a picture of a squirrel in the back yard about 40 feet away and not being able to enlarge the image as much as I wanted, I dug back into the product description on the store’s website.

There’s probably a formula that tells you how to convert the millimeters into a zoom factor and there’s a whole lot more too it than just that. For a beginner, the zoom factor is easier to deal with.

70mm is about 4.1x zoom for this lens. I need more than that, and there’s two ways to get it. The first is to exchange the lens for one with a wider range, like 18-300mm (about 16.6x zoom). The drawbacks to this are there’s trade-offs in image quality for that wide of a range, especially if the lens isn’t physically bigger to house the extra components needed.

The second way is keeping that one and getting a second lens that starts its range higher, like 70-300mm. So, it starts at 4.1x and goes up to 16.6x. Making a lens this way is supposed to make the image quality a little better because of less parts in the lens than trying to cover 18-300mm. You use lens 1 for close-ups and lens 2 for telephoto shots. I opted to go for this.
 

On to part 2.

Round 2, part 2 of learning about cameras.

First and foremost, you will need more batteries. The one the ZV-E10 uses isn’t that large, so while I was checking settings, I noticed the monitor showed it had 35 minutes of runtime. There’s energy saver features that extend it, but I think you’ll find you’ll go through a charge pretty quick no matter what you do.

Extra batteries and an external charger are mandatory. Two more batteries at a minimum. If you’re going to be shooting a lot of video, you can get higher-capacity batteries, or if you have access to an AC outlet, you can get a “dummy” battery kit to convert wall voltage into DC and feed it to the camera through the battery-shaped adapter.
 

Next is memory cards. If you’re shooting video, you need more than capacity. The read and write speeds need to be higher to keep up. I have a lot of microSD cards I can use with an SD card adapter that will be fine for taking photos. For videos, I’ll buy a memory card that is SD card-sized with the necessary capacity and performance.

Speaking of capacity, the file size of pictures in RAW format will be much larger than JPEG, though compressed RAW helps. Some cameras have what the iPhone calls “live” photos. It’s a mini movie that records a second or two of video before and after the actual picture. It has its uses, but for me, if I want a video, I’ll take a video. If I want a picture, I’ll take a single picture and avoid filling up the memory card faster than expected.
 

The Sony ZV-E10 has a couple of drawbacks that the α6x00 cameras don’t: the plasticky body and the bulge on the right side you hold the camera with is smaller. It may not be as comfortable or as reassuring holding it when you have large hands. If you drop the camera, the camera case isn’t going to be as durable.

Both of these are solved by adding a camera cage. You buy a cellphone case and screen covers to protect your smartphone. A camera cage does the same thing, typically protecting the corners and edges. If you’re wondering about the monitor on the back, the weight of the lens will often be more than the camera, especially the E10 compared to the α6x00, so if you drop it, it’s going to drop lens first unless it has enough momentum to tumble while falling. You should have a good camera strap to keep it from falling, but consider adding a screen protector for the monitor. Just like with cell phones, none will last forever, no matter how expensive they are. Consider these to be disposable and buy a multi-pack.

A camera cage will do more than just protect the camera. It adds mounting points for other attachments like a carrying handle, and ones like the SmallRig ZV-E10 cage #ZV-E10-3533 use a quick-release plate for tripods that use an Arca-Swiss plate.

One other thing this updated SmallRig cage has going for it is the a silicone handle for the point your right hand grips the camera. That fixes the slippery feel of the plasticky body and adds extra mass for larger hands to work with. The silicone handle is detachable on this model, and a different model of the same cage leaves out the silicone handle if you don’t need it.

The SmallRig cage is secured only on the right side of the camera, which means the camera may move a little inside the frame on the left side. I checked it and it doesn’t look like it can move enough to slip out of the cage.
 

Other accessories to get include sensor wipes. Make sure they are the right size for your camera’s sensor. (Tip: don’t use too much of the cleaning fluid.) A dust blower like a “Rocket air blower” will get specs of dust off the lens and sensor. (Tip: when changing lenses, point the camera down so dust isn’t as likely to get on the sensor, but may on the lens.)

For the camera bag and camera strap, consider getting ones with reinforced straps. A common technique by thieves is to slash the strap with a knife and grab the camera or bag. There can be teams where one will do the cutting and another will grab.

The camera may come with a wrist strap, but ones like the Peak Design cuff strap have an anchor that attaches to the security point on the camera, and then you dock the wrist strap with the anchor, which then locks in place. If someone pulls on your camera, the strap will tighten around your wrist, making it harder to steal the camera.
 

I’ll have more later, but this is definitely enough for now.

On raw vs jpeg, if you have the capability to take raw photos it’s better to do so. Even better still is if you can have 2 cards and write raw to one & jpg to the other.

The reason to use raw over jpg is that there is a lot more information available in the raw file for editing software to use. The new AI de-noise function in Lightroom only works with raw files. I think the super resolution only works with raw files too, but I may be mistaken there. Also, if you are doing panorama shots and stitching them in lightroom it does a much better job with raw files than with jpgs - due to the extra information available.

Mine (Canon d2000) is currently doing both but to the same card, guessing if it supported 2 cards it’d be faster,

I need to see if my iPad software to connect to the camera can do raw conversion. iIf so I might turn off the jpg as even my a Synology can import raw and give me thumbnails. The only real use for jpgs out of the camera for me is sharing vacation snaps on social media and similar.

I’ve even gotten my wife to accept the extra complexity of raw. We did a few of artwork for her and the extra options ‘developing’ do helps make the pics look better,

I just picked up a Canon EOS 40D for $120. No lenses or other accessories, but extra batteries. Then, I got a Canon EF-S 15-85mm image stabilized lens with the ultrasonic motor for another $125. I got that lens specifically because it gives a bit of stretch, doesn’t have any hotspots, and has very clear definition all through the range. They’re very expensive, but I found one at a good price that is a bit wonky in the autofocus. I can work around that. #manualfocus
When all the pieces get here, I’ll play with it for a bit before sending both off to get converted for infrared photography. The body will have he focus altered to match the lens so I don’t have to mess around with it. IR focus is different from visible light. If you have an old telephoto lens, you might see a red graph line on it. You focus what you can see, then move the focus ring over from the white line to the red.
I’m going with the 590nm conversion which should give me more room for creativity.
It’ll cost another $250 plus shipping both ways to get this done.
The 40D is a tank and still pretty good technology, even being almost 20 years old. I don’t need anything ultra fast as I imagine I’ll mostly be taking landscape shots. I hope to have it ready to shoot by the time the foliage starts to come out.
Now, I have to put some thought into learning post-processing techniques.
I hope to be able to take some decent shots that I can sell locally as aluminum sublimation prints.

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What do you use infrared photography for?

Do an image search for infrared photos to see what is possible.

My camera club had a guest presentation on IR photography a couple of years ago - very cool.

OO! I should see if there is a camera club around here. There has to be.
I remember teaching myself how to use the new 35mm film camera I got for Christmas 40+ years ago, but could probably use a refresher and some inspiration.

The Oshawa Camera Club (my club) does hybrid meetings, so you could join that and attend virtually. I think there’s a waiting list, though.

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There’s a photography thread in the “literacy” category here, which is hidden unless @Nabiki gives you access to that category.

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The few samples I’ve seen just looks awesome.

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So … I need to request access to something I don’t know exists? Where am I, at work?

If one were to check “all categories” on the left, you can see the locked categories.