Camera for a Beginner

ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
1,112
385
ethanzentz.com
Hello, I have a friend who asked me to recommend a camera for her. She is young and interested in photography. My first question was what is your budget. "$150." I don't know anything about cameras in this price range... Obviously I want to recommend Canon, but what is there? Are Powershots actually good or should she just stick with her phone and save up from there?
Thanks!
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,742
601
Germany
Are Powershots actually good or should she just stick with her phone and save up from there?
P&S cameras in this price range are not much better than phone cams - if the phone is relatively new.
IMO it begins to become interesting with 1" sensors, so north of $600, used maybe cheaper.

Maybe she should spend $20 of her budget for a good book about composing and photo technique.
And then she should make up her mind, what she wants to shoot.
Then we can start talking about gear. (mm FL for wildlife versus f/x aperture for available light and portrait)
 

Czardoom

EOS M50
Jan 27, 2020
43
92
They might not get it for $150, but used Canon SL1 cameras are priced pretty low on ebay and the various 18-55mm kit lenses are really inexpensive. There are a couple on sale now (body plus lens) for around $200.
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,338
252
53
Isle of Wight
Hi Ethanz.
In the UK there are some pretty good slightly older bodies, M and EF-S mount (some with a lens) available for the sub £150 mark in excellent to mint condition through vendors that offer a warranty, some quite long warranties!
As Maximilian points out, her budget pretty much rules out new, but second hand (or previously loved) can be excellent value if you are not of the “has to be new“ mindset (generation?).

Cheers, Graham.
 

YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,828
1,055
Southeastern USA
I'd agree with suggestions about books, maybe add some online tutorials (the best ones)...But advise saving up a bit to get a better camera & lens. Maybe $300 is a bit more realistic these days? Because for the $150 range, even used, I'd question if it is any better than a decent smart-phone. Of course some buyers can get lucky, especially from a local seller, maybe somebody older who hasn't used gear in a long time, or a college student who just wasn't into photography as hoped, etc.
 

Quirkz

EOS RP
Oct 30, 2014
227
165
P&S cameras in this price range are not much better than phone cams - if the phone is relatively new.
IMO it begins to become interesting with 1" sensors, so north of $600, used maybe cheaper.

Maybe she should spend $20 of her budget for a good book about composing and photo technique.
And then she should make up her mind, what she wants to shoot.
Then we can start talking about gear. (mm FL for wildlife versus f/x aperture for available light and portrait)
This is great advice. Books first + cell phone (if it has decent camera)

Photography is not gear, it’s technique (though I often forget)

After those first few weeks, she’ll know where she’s having fun, and feeling the phone holding her back ( wildlife? Night? Speed?)

When I first bought a fancy DSLR, my photos were worse than my p&s, and I didn’t understand why till I started reading. It took practice till my shots were consistently better.

Also feeling that even second hand, unless she gets lucky, a 150$ budget might be on the low side.
 
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Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,699
874
I've bought some used point and shoot cameras that were pretty good in the $100 range, but truthfully, a phone camera of decent quality will get used more. The low cost cameras have pretty much gone away, but there are used ones.

Here is a link to refurbished point and shoot cameras. Several are under $150. The SX420 is at the top of her price range (add in sales tax). It has a 24-1000mm equivalent zoom (42X), so it does something a phone can't do.

Obviously, you get what you pay for, and the camera is bulky.

 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,338
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Isle of Wight
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ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
1,112
385
ethanzentz.com
Thanks for the replies guys! Assuming she saves up some money, what should I recommend then? Maybe something in the lower M range or SL3 or one of the G series?
 

ildyria

I'm New Here
Mar 5, 2020
12
11
The M are really useful to quickly see the impact of the triad settings ISO - Shutter Speed - Aperture instead of taking pictures and chipping. When I learned, I found the exposure simulation in the view finder (or live screen as matter for the low m) really useful.

I would recommend either lower M or SL3 over the G series for the ability to change lens and get to play with a nifty-fifty later, try nice big EF lenses. When I see people taking pictures with crappy lens, I tend to propose them to use some of my primes like the 85mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4.

One other advantage of the M line (over the SL line) is that there are adapter EF to EF-M which include a speed booster (e.g. Viltrox EF-EOS M2). This will allow you to get more light from an EF mount and get results closer to FF camera. I have one for my m50, it is life changing. :)
 
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Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,338
252
53
Isle of Wight
Hi Ethanz.
You ask, “Assuming she saves up some money, what should I recommend then?”

Something that enables her to purchase a lens for her chosen subject, does she even know what she is interested in?
My first digital camera was a 300D with 18-55 which was an upgrade to my 1000FN, I kept the same additional lenses, a Cosina 100-300 5.6-6.3 and the 35-70 or similar film kit lens, I then upgraded to a 40D with 17-85 (which had a front or back focus issue from new) in the quest for better images, this was followed by a 7D which finally enabled me to make use of the 17-85, but my main interest was always further away, wildlife and aircraft, and I still had that Cosina!
I then got some slightly better Σ glass, and then the better images arrived, then I got my first L glass and even better images! My 40D is still in regular use with the better glass and a better matched 17-85 lens that hits focus more often, it gives good images.
Tell her to get a reasonable body and then get on the lens train.

Cheers, Graham.
 
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SteveC

M6 mk II
Sep 3, 2019
551
382
It's a bit greater than your stated budget, and not a mirrorless, but B&H is offering a T6 plus two kit lenses for $400. I took similar gear on an overseas trip with a large group, and apparently took better photos than the other person there with an ILC who was supposed to be the "official" photographer. The organizer wasn't happy with her pics at all, thought mine were better (and they were no great shakes). The point being, totally adequate for a beginner, and perhaps enough to see if she has, or can develop, the eye.
 

Czardoom

EOS M50
Jan 27, 2020
43
92
Thanks for the replies guys! Assuming she saves up some money, what should I recommend then? Maybe something in the lower M range or SL3 or one of the G series?
What does she want to photograph? Is she interested in the advantage of ILC's in that she might want the versatility of changing lenses - going from wide angle to telezoom? Or is she interested in the convenience of using either a built in lens or a lens with a wide range? Asking her is far more important than asking us. Especially on a gear head forum.

If I were to look for an inexpensive camera for not just a beginner, but a combination that I found most useful myself, it would be a used Canon EOS M5 with a used 18-150mm lens. Small, compact, and really good IQ.
 
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Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
Thinking about this it rather depends on how old the budding young photographer is, but for a budget of $150 I'd recommend a good, mint-in-box Canon G1X - $130, and a used hand held light meter, $20, and as others have said, a good book on basic photographic technique, $10. OK so that's $160 :unsure:

The G1X is capable of very good flexibility and IQ in a very small, albeit complicated package - hence me asking the age of the individual.

The light meter is essential IMO for someone to learn what is actually happening with exposure, and therefor how to light and expose something to get the effect you envisage. Real photography is about visualising the picture as you want it be and then placing the image on the sensor to achieve that. Of course this isn't just about exposure, it is also lighting and subject, angle, framing etc etc. The G1X has basically the same sensor as a 7D but chopped off at the ends, giving more of a 7x5 format, and as with all those Canon 18mp sensors it doesn't like either over or under exposure. Expose correctly on that sensor and it is really very good, and I can remember the comments on DRP saving that the Sony Exmor 1" sensor was better and it drove me mad because I have both ( actually sold the G3X now) and it just isn't in the same league IMO. Pictures from the 1" sensor look like they have come from a small sensor, the "1.5" sensor in the G1X doesn't.

A failing of this camera is that it tends to over expose, and this spoils the quality so a separate light meter will give the person an opportunity to understand the differences. It also allows someone to find out that accurate exposure in constant light outside is easy to judge very accurately by eye - starting from the "sunny 16" rule. In time the hand held meter won't be used anymore but it will have done it's work of education.

When the G1X was introduced Lens Rentals did a test on it and were surprised to find it's IQ was roughly similar to a 7D with 17-55 f/2.8 lens. Not bad for $130 used now.

The only caveats are that as with all these Canon cameras up until the latest models, if your budding photographer's tastes are towards cartoon-like, tone mapped type images then the any of those Canons are not for them. Also make sure that the used light meter is actually still accurate. This could be tested on a Grey Card and compared to your camera. Bear in mind that digital camera ISO are often not the real ones ! For instance 100 ISO on a G1X is really about 80, so for 100 on the camera set 80 on the light meter. ( My 5DS is really about 70 ISO at 100). There are new light meters available on eBay for about $13 but I have no idea how accurate or reliable they would be.

A good grounding in the basic and important principles of photography will allow someone to develop with a solid foundation