Advice for someone looking to get into photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by piethief, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. piethief macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2009
    Hey everyone!

    I have been looking at taking up photography as a hobby recently, and I was hoping to get some much needed advice from some knowledgeable folks :)

    The main question is obvious. If you had to suggest a camera for a total novice, then what would it be?

    Price is an issue, but I am willing to dish a little extra for a solid piece of equipment.

    Any other friendly advice for a starter would be very appreciated !

    edit: digital cameras :)
  2. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    I would suggest getting the Canon A2e with a VG10 vertical grip. That was the camera I learned on and I just purchased a used one for my nephew as he is taking his first photo class this year in high school. Its a fantastic camera. It was actually aimed at the consumer market yet quickly became a favorite for a lot of professionals back in the day.

    Its an amazing camera. Simply google some reviews of it and you will get all the details about it. You can find a great condition A2e for around a hundred bucks with the grip costing around 15-20 bucks.

    My single piece of advice is start with film and move up to digital. I cannot stress this point enough!!
  3. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
    Err why?

    I know we all like to think how macho we were when learning on film by having to wait to have the film developed to see how we did on a particular shoot and having to carry around a notepad to record what settings we used etc etc but don't you think it is a heck of a lot easier to learn on digital or is that your reasoning that a harder earned lesson will sink in better?

    To the original poster, you really haven't given us enough information to be able to provide you with recommendations, you mentioned budget as a concern but how much is your budget? Different people have different ideas on what budget means. ;)

    What kind of photography do you think you will get into? Do you want to get seriously into photography? Just give us a little more to go on and we can provide better advice for you! :)
  4. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Hmm, not to bash you or anything, why ask him to start with film? With film he cannot make mistake on his shots cause film = money, wastes/ruined shots = wasted film = waste more money. And the time taken to process his films will even waste more time.

    My suggestions would be get a beginner DSLR, a Nikon D40 or Canon EOS1000D would be great to start with, if budget is a real concern get a used DSLR. With DSLR you can afford to make mistakes and dont need to worry about films or the cost of processing ur film to photo.

    Seriously, why would any beginner want to use film anymore? Of course the feeling of satisfactory when developing your own photos is fun and all but its not worth the cost and time unless he is seriously into photography which means more then simply a hobby.

    My other advice is, if budget is really tight is to get a Point and Shoot which has the basic Aperture and Shutter Speed control but dont expect and good quality photos at higher ISO (400 and above). or PASM as some called it?
  5. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    D40 for sure. Nikon seems to have jumped into the lead regarding the big 2. I'd scoop one up on eBay.
  6. piethief thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2009
    more information

    As far as budget goes, no more than 500, less would be great.

    I would like to get serious into photography in the long run yes.

    I won't be doing much inside photography, it will mainly be for outside shots.

    Thanks for the replies so far! Any other specifics you need to, just let me know!
  7. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Hmm, interesting. I only have my own experience to draw upon. I have never taught anyone how to take photographs, or use a camera particularly but suppose you do have a few options.

    As suggested above you could get something like the EOS-5 (A2E) which will be a solid (if somewhat odd looking!) high-quality film camera with both manual and automatic options. My only concern is, I suppose, that you could easily just leave the camera in automatic and so not really learn about aperture and shutter speed, and metering etc. But equally, you might find the array of options really helps you and draws you in. Excellent all-round camera though.

    I myself started with a Pentax ME, which at least gets you into thinking about shutter and aperture because you have at least to turn the aperture ring and read the shutter speed. Oh, and focus too. Any AE or manual SLR would do, and these are also cheap now. As a starting point almost any of them would do, and some of the pentax/OM olympus/FD canon are now very cheap for exceptional potential.

    The third option is to start with digital, and by their nature there are no nikon FM/Pentax K1000 style digital cameras. They all have automatic settings, and some (all SLRs) have manual settings too. You could learn with one of these, and you do get instant feedback. Because the shots are so easy-come easy-go it is all too easy to just snap away without really thinking about the photograph, and it's the thinking which makes you learn.

    Bottom line:

    What's right for you depends on your aims, your budget and your will. You can learn with anything, some tools make it a bit easier. Maybe you already have, or know someone who has, a disused film SLR you could fool around on?

    People are right, film does cost money, but I've worked out how much money I would spend on film (even at today's prices) plus how much I would spend on film gear, and the comparable digital equipment costs, and there's not that much in it (mainly because I know I take less photographs when I use film, I'm not sure more photographs always means more learning). Plus I've got real slides (or negatives/prints) to look at. For every shot!

    [In the UK it's possible to get the Pentax K100 D Super for only £220 with the lens, if I was buying again, I'd get one of those - so cheap!]
  8. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
  9. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    How macho we were? Sorry but I dont follow your line of thinking at all.
    I never once felt what your describing.

    As for the reasons on why people should learn on film, first and foremost is because it is harder. It forces you to learn about exposure and latitude and you have a limited number of shots and the film costs money so it slows you down and makes you much more selective about what you shoot. This is why the majority of beginner photography classes still start with film.

    Plus there are still a lot of things you can do with film that simply cant be replicated with digital, at least not with the same quality. I shoot digital for my clients but I still shoot 100% film for my personal work.

    If he wants to jump right into digital then that is his decision. I dont recommend it.
  10. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    I'll say get DSLR and forget bout Film SLR, its not worth it!!!! and judging from your budget, I strongly say forget film, I dont know why people are asking him to get film while he can get a beginner DSLR within his budget.

    Rebel XS
    A bit old but still great beginner DSLR
    Nikon D40

    I would go for the Rebel XS cause it has dedicated buttons for most commonly change function unlike its competitor (D40, D40x, D60). Both the above DSLR fits below your budget.

    Well to me, I prefer to shoot more photos, make more mistakes, have people comment it quickly, rather then wait to take photo, make mistakes (oops more money to burn), scan to computer, have people comment. Doing all that would burn a couple of days (min 2 days) and burn time and money which could be spend taking more photos!!! which is more important.
  11. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    as someone

    as someone who recently (a year) took up photography, I have this advice: look for a camera that feels comfortable to you. everyone tells you brands and numbers.. great but without knowing what you want to shoot etc. you won't get far. For example, I would get a KIT first with a solid lens. So you need to check a package that contains a solid and GOOD lens. Believe me I have a "crappy" one and you can tell!.
    Someone suggested the Nikon D40 nd I have to agree, its a really good camera but with no auto focus in the body, you need to get lenses with auto focus engines (more expensive).

    I started with the KIT olympus E-510 (i know i know!! olympus oh my god!!!) and the reason I went with it was that the lens had stellar reviews and the camera had a good solid FEEL when I tried it.

    My suggestion go to a store and TRY a few, then, if its too expensive, get that model with a good lens from ebay.

    The reason I suggest a kit lens is because usually kit lenses are good all-rounders.

    Of course those are just my comments, what do I know :)
  12. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Agreed. All of the entry level DSLRs are capable of great photographs, I personally would look at all of the available brands (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax). Feel is surprisingly important, viewfinder too. My first DSLR was a Nikon D70, but I went into the shop to buy a Canon EOS 300D...
  13. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    Which is more important? If your serious about photography than truly learning photographic technique is what is more important and film simply offers a much better arena for learning photographic technique. Again this is why the vast majority of beginner photography programs still use film.

    These types of arguments always degrade into a digital vs film argument and wind up going nowhere. Again if he wants to start on digital then that is his choice. I recommend starting on film.
  14. piethief thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2009

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I now have some research to do and some choices to make.

  15. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    Best of luck to ya with whatever route you choose.
  16. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    First and foremost...go digital over film. The greatest advantage of digital is precisely in the learning process. Immediate feedback with tons of metadata...not to mention the huge $$ savings in development costs.

    Go Canon or Nikon. I actually agree the Olympus is cool (so is Pentax) BUT...long term investment wise...not such a good idea imo.

    Both Canon and Nikon produce great gear. If I were you, I'd buy used gear. Head over to"I want to sell" forum...and start looking for a Nikon D70, D50 or D80(!). Get a Nikkor 18-70 ($175) or Tamron 17-50(!!) ($300) or Nikkor 50mm 1.8 ($85). You will find a LOT of mint condition used gear there.

    Avoid Nikon D40 / D60 and the Canon entry level cams...unless you want a p&s with good IQ. Want to develop photography skills? The cameras I recommended above, such as the D80, will serve you much better long term. If you prefer Canon, get a 20D.

    Good luck!

    Edit: There's a D80 at nikonians right now for $475. Offer $450 and Grab it.
  17. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    Perhaps you'd like to provide a reason?


    Let's get one thing straight here so that an informed decision can be made -- any DSLR will provide the user with all required features to "develop photography skills". But of course, more expensive cameras have more features that may or may not really matter.

    With that said, as much as I enjoy working with film, I agree that it's by no mean necessary to work with before getting into digital. As pointed out already, it is a superior platform with which to learn due to the instant feedback, allowing the photographer to concentrate on more important things like composition and exposure.
  18. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
  19. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Don't listen to the people who say only get Nikon or canon, that's dumb. You get what feels best to you and the one with the features and price you want. I have a sony and that doesn't limit me one bit.

    Actually I would recommend Sony perhaps the A-200, I have it and it's great, can be had for very cheap too.
  20. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    Aquajet...could you be anymore antagonistic? Geez.

    Pentax and Olympus are in SERIOUS financial trouble for starters. Sony as an alternative...*I* sure wouldn't want to be stuck with third party lens solutions and absolutely crap for flash systems. I could go on...if you wish?
  21. Martster macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2008
    Van Diemen's Land
    learning is about feedback

    Having qualified as a photographic technician in the 'wet' era (early 80s) and having then moved to digital about five years ago, I can say that in my personal experience, the low cost and rapid feedback available from digital cameras will have you learning faster. There is simply less time between exposure and viewing.

    In addition I do not miss the darkroom or working with chemicals; this is an entire technical discipline that demands accurate measurement and consistent handling in order to produce repeatable results.

    Shooting film does motivate a photographer to concentrate and consider every shot prior to exposure due to the one-off nature of each frame and the cost of its development and printing. Working in the field with a 5x4 and half a dozen sheets of film really makes you work hard to ensure composition, exposure and focus are spot on before each frame is exposed.

    Every photographer can benefit from such working with such restrictions, and users of digital cameras can simply restrict themselves to such limits if they wish to pursue that approach.

    It is my observation that the key to learning is remaining excited about what you are doing; if an approach gets boring or tedious try another approach and come back to the problem later. I love film, but working with wet processes may actually put the OP off making photographs due to the laborious nature of the work.

  22. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Hmm, well I got nothing against your recommendations, why avoid Canon or Nikon entry levels? The 1000D and 450D is considered as very good starter DSLR (the 1000D is just a stripped down version of 450D, slower FPS, 7AF instead 9, lower megapixel) but by no means doesn't produce great image qualities, the D40 and D60 also produce excellent images, the only downside is the no build in AF motor (shame on you Nikon!)
  23. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    I don't know what you mean by your first statement, Maybe you read it wrong? I wasn't being like that!

    Yeah, maybe they are in trouble but that doesn't mean there won't be any lenses or accessories. if they *did* go down someone would take over because they know there are millions of people that need more lenses and accessories.

    Your now relying on 3rd party at all Sony pentax and Olympus make their own stuff just like Nikon and Canon. BTW who do you think makes Nikon's sensors? yeah sony does.
  24. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Skip the SLR, go Canon G9 or G10 since they each give you a manual digital body that you can learn manual exposure on, at the price you are looking for as well.

    Next, I would suggest you shoot and never stop. Compare compositions to other photogs that you admire. Keep learning, and find someone NOT on this site to critique your work in person.
  25. latchy078 macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2009
    Eos 400d

    Hello m8 i'm new to this forum, as for a good camera the EOS 400D is the best camera IMHO, if you look at reviews on amazon, its only £350 or near that or theres a 450D out for about £430 they have really good features for a novice, also i have taken some great shots with mine and can not tell the difference with top end camera's, its only in the features that they are better.

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