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What do I need to know before buying a new DSLR or Mirrorless camera for the first time?

 
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It's my habit to prepare for large purchases a year or more in advance.  I avoid debt at all costs.  But my camera is ageing and I estimate I should be able to get away with using it for two more years.  So, I went to the bank today to check the state of my finances.  I'm still spending less than I earn, so I'm good to start saving up for a new camera.  It should take me about 10 months to save enough for a basic DSLR and lenses, but I don't know yet what I want in a camera.  Maybe I want to spend twice that and get a better one.  That's what this thread is about - researching my future camera.  

I want to buy the camera sometime after spring 2020 but before the end of 2021 (finances dependent).  

I estimate it will cost well over 1000 (Canadian) dollars to buy a basic DSLR or mirrorless camera.  Probably closer to $1400 when I include lessons and lenses.  I have a camera bag I can refurbish to meet my needs, so that will save a few dollars.  

The goal: I want to take photos that are good enough to sell as stock on Shutterstock, for blogging, for publishing online and for print publications (magazines, future books, whatnot).  I also want to take photographs in a lightbox of products I sell on Etsy.  I want to become better at photography in general.  I know a camera won't solve my problems, but I need a DSLR to take a class in how to use a DSLR.  Chicken and egg.

What I have now: For the last few years, I've been using the Canon PowerShot SX720HS which has a 40X optical zoom, 20.3 megapixels, and a variation of automatic, semiautomatic and full manual settings. I think this is going to be a great camera for learning how to use the DSLR - mostly because it's the camera I'll be using.  I also have a smaller, lighter, PowerShot for keeping in my handbag for emergency photography.  

What I want in a DSLR or Mirrorless (note, I don't really know the difference yet except the DSLR seems to be like an SLR in the mirror moves to let the light in): I'm leaning towards cannon because the batteries are the same as what I already have.  Already having spare batteries is a huge blessing.  I'm also hugely fond of SD memory cards as that's the reader my computer has.  If it had some other card, then I would have to invest in an external card reader, an added expense.  

I don't need it to be wi-fi or talk to the internet in any way.  It would be best if it didn't.  I don't know that a touchscreen would be useful to me, but I don't know if I can get one without.  

So I want something that is durable.  That will last at least 10 years - 25 years would be idea.  

What else do I want?  
 
r ranson
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I also want to learn about lenses.  

I figure I want an everyday lens (50ml?), a close-up (macro?) lens, and a lens that is good at taking pictures of far away wildlife.   Not sure if these can be combined so I only need to buy two lenses.

I also want to figure out what kind of mount these require?  Are lenses interchangeable between brand?  Can I use my SLR lenses on a DSLR camera?  
 
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Before plopping down $1400 on a camera and lenses, why not spend ~$150 on a used camera set, take the lessons, and then make an informed decision if you want to upgrade to nicer stuff?

Ebay and craigslist are full of people selling their perfectly fine stuff that's a few years old. For example:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-EOS-Rebel-XSi-12-2MP-DSLR-Digital-Camera-w-EF-S-18-55mm-50mm-75-300mm-Lens-/303188695178?hash=item469774588a%3Ag%3AEUQAAOSwnaJdA87c&nma=true&si=yLz9k8ev6QbJj8GIkGT7FrkdzOc%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
 
r ranson
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That's a good idea.  Looking locally, it should only be about $500 for the body and lens.

But what to look for when buying used photography equipment?

If I end up buying broken equipment or scratched lenses I'm going to lose enthusiasm for photography.  To spend that kind of money, I would want something that would last at least five years, preferably ten.  I would want lenses that I could keep using on future camera bodies.  
 
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I bought mine second hand Nikon D3200 a couple of years ago, it only has the 55mm lens with it which is limiting but it cost me the equivalent of $156 USD It came with it's box, instructions, battery charger, memory card and a case.
First search for which camera to buy, literally. Most sites will have a list of cameras in different price brackets, then pick whichever one you like the sound of and research it's BAD points, and decide if they are ones you can live with. Mine for example can have focusing issues, but it is camera specific so some do some don't. Mine does not.  I would say pick a common brand as lenses etc are not interchangable.

When viewing one, take your laptop (if you have one of course) take a couple of photos in different lighting and put them on the laptop, look for oddities, soft areas, lines etc etc. Also look at the condition of the camera has it been bashed about?


One last thing when you get one, go out and buy a polarising filter, screw it onto the end of the lens and LEAVE IT THERE if you drop the camera or poke it into something only the "cheap" filter gets broken.
 
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R ranson,

It has been a while since I went looking for a DSLR, and I only just heard about mirrorless cameras, but I would think that you could get a very good DSLR for much less than $1k.  Don’t get caught up in megapixels as the very fewest available are likely to be more than you will ever actually need.  I bought a canon xsi with 12 megapixels many years ago (earlier than 2010).  

More important is the lense.  Mine came with a zoom lens 18-135 which has proven to be a great all-around lens good for decent wide angle while still retaining a respectable telephoto capability.  I have from time to time thought about getting a different lense (I have considered both wider angle and better telephoto options) but the original is so good that I never really care.

Today’s worst DSLR’s have far better specs and features than my DSLR, but I love mine and have no desire to replace it.  If money is as serious a restriction as you indicate, and if you are set on Canon (and why not canon?  They made the original DSLR and still make great cameras) I would go with the lowest model canon DSLR I could find.

These are just my thoughts and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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BTW,

I just did a quick google search and found a canon eos t7 rebel with two lenses and a case for $500 USD.  This has 24 megapixels (which I think is staggering, almost ridiculous.  I mean just how many megapixels does anyone possibly need, but that is just me).  The lenses are 18-55, and 75-300 which is a great wide angle/telephoto combination.  I know that you are not buying right now, I am just looking for an option for you that costs less than $1400.  

Again, just my thoughts,

Eric
 
r ranson
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I do feel I want to get something professional grade eventually.  Since I'm doing more with my photographs than most people - printing books, writing for magazines, calendars soon, and other things.  I think it would do well to save up until I can invest in the best possible machine for my needs.    While I wait, get a second-hand camera to learn on.  

 
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I can only agree with buying a used DLSR. It will give you a much better camera than buying a new one for the same price.

My Nikon D7000 has 16MP, and while I would like more pixels, I would need better lenses to back it up. Speaking of lenses… the standard 18-105mm Kit lens is pretty good (but requires software correction in the camera or on the computer). I love my Tamron 180mm macro lens, but it was as expensive as the camera itself and is definitely not an "easy" lens to use. It makes really good photos though. I also have a 50mm F1.4 for low light photography. It is not the sharpest lens, but it allows me to take pictures and even video in a moonless night (with a tripod).
The D7000 is fairly decent, but only up to ISO 400.

Definitely get a tripod!
 
r ranson
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Talking with my printer and some people in the printing industry, it looks like 20 megapixels is the lowest I want to go. My current camera is 20.3 and they suggest I don't go any less than what this one can do.  

One of the things I really like about this camera is how quickly it's ready for the next picture.  I take the picture and it's almost instantaneous.  The other cameras I've had I have to count two or three seconds, plus the three seconds I count before I move (like archery).  

I had a look on usedAnywhere and the DSLR people are selling used are a couple hundred more than the price for a new one on amazon.  I'm going to keep looking to see if I can find a deal.  Buying used could get something amazing, but it could also get something poorly cared for.  Left in the hot sun.  Pointed at the sun.  Scratched...  Some of the lenses look like a good deal.  Not sure what I want in a lens yet.

What lenses do I want to start with?  Is it better to get several specific lenses or one that can do most things?  
 
Eric Hanson
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R ranson,

I am just curious here, but I am wondering why all the concern about 20 megapixels.  I have had my DSLR for about a decade and love using it with photoshop and Lightroom, but my 12mp have been more than adequate, almost excessive.  Again, in my experience the lens is much more important than extremely high megapixel ratings.

And again, just as a question, you stated that you were looking at something in the professional category.  Could you explain to me what a professional camera is to you?  What ratings or features would you need?

The camera that I looked up for you would have 24mp.  Would that not be sufficient?  Is there something specific about that camera that did not meet your requirements?  I hope you don’t take this as sarcastic, but I was thinking that camera with two lenses for about $500 met your requirements while being just a bit more more than a third of your price limit.

Again, I truly am not trying to be rude, but as I understand you at present have no DSLR but are wanting to expand into one for sort of prosumer reasons.  To me, the miracle of the DSLR is that you can swap out lenses.  I personally find that one can have excellent photography with even 5mp and today’s cameras are vastly better rated than that.

I am just trying to get a grasp of what your particular needs/requirements are.  I am fairly experienced in photography & DSLR’s and my experience is that anything over 10mp is really just a luxury, but if your requirements are different, I am just curious as to why.

I hope you understand the thrust of my question,

Eric
 
r ranson
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Eric Hanson wrote:R ranson,

I am just curious here, but I am wondering why all the concern about 20 megapixels.  I have had my DSLR for about a decade and love using it with photoshop and Lightroom, but my 12mp have been more than adequate, almost excessive.  Again, in my experience the lens is much more important than extremely high megapixel ratings.

And again, just as a question, you stated that you were looking at something in the professional category.  Could you explain to me what a professional camera is to you?  What ratings or features would you need?



A few years before that, when we printed the calendar for a friend, the pictures had a lot of issues - partly because this was done at a drugstore kiosk, but partly because of the image quality.  

When I submit photos for a magazine, they often have to fix "camera issues" in the editing stage.  

When I printed my book, I couldn't use all the pictures I wanted because they were too small.  I went through the book with the printer guru guy (he's amazing!) and we looked at each image chosen for the book.  He told me a lot about vectoring (which I think has something to do with the illustration) and other things I didn't understand fully.  But the general idea was the photographs chosen were very much on the lower scale of what they could print.  If I had a better camera, the technical details they needed would be there.  When I get my next camera, don't get anything less than I have already.  The megapixel number was one of those things we talked about.  I don't fully understand why they are important yet.  

I want to produce a calendar for friends and family - and maybe even sell some through Kickstarter to cover the cost of the printing. This means the image quality needs to be outstanding as these images are quite a bit larger than the ones in my book.  

By professional I mean, images that are more than print ready.  High enough numbers to make the printer (big building full of people who print books and other printing things) happy.  


A big problem is that the numbers are just soup in my head.  I think I need a camera body that can match these things the printer requires.  The lenses will help me take better quality pictures but I don't know if they can change the way the computer inside the camera works.  

 
Eric Hanson
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R ranson,

Sounds to me like you are really looking at a more serious camera and not a low end one.  If 20mp is the very bottom level for what will suffice for you then this might well rule out many/most used cameras.

But just for comparison purposes, back in 2003 I bought my first ever digital camera (not a DSLR).  It was a paltry 3mp model, but that was considered sufficient for printing an 8x10 image on photo quality paper with no pixelation.  I have an 8x10 hanging on my wall taken with that 3mp camera and it is as good an image as one can find.  I am not certain what the size of a calendar image is in relation to an 8x10, but I would think that tripling or quadrupling that 3mp would be sufficient.  20mp sounds like overkill to me but the camera I spec’d for you had 24mp which should make for a really big, beautiful picture.  And that camera with a case and two lenses was only around $500USD.

You are not buying right now and I understand that.  You are not going into debt and I completely respect that ethic.  I am not trying to push you into buying something you don’t want.  But given your budget concerns and timeline for purchases, I think you can buy an excellent camera for far under the $1400 you mentioned earlier.

Again, I really am not wanting to sound pushy (and I hope I don’t get flagged for overusing the word “you” too much), I just would not want you to spend more money than you need.

Actually I am glad I found this thread.  I am something of a shutterbug and love photography.  Personally I love sunrises and sunsets.  I love talking photography specifics.  I really hope that this helps you out and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Eric
 
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I've got 2 Canon film SLR cameras and several lenses for them.  I'm planning to purchase a DSLR in the future and will buy a Canon because it uses the same lens mount as my 30 year old lenses.  Like you, I didn't think I wanted or needed the WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.  I have a friend with a Canon DSLR with both, and she loves it.  She is able to send pics to her TV, computer, and printer without needing a cable.

My 18-55mm zoom is great for wide and normal range portrait shots.  I also have 50mm "regular" lens, and 80-200 and 75-300 zoom lens.  The zoom lenses are nice because you can crop and fine tune live, the down side is that they have a larger minimum aperture than a fixed length lens.  That can cause issues under some lighting conditions.  A plus is that you aren't limited to only the camera manufacturer's lenses.  Companies like Tamron and Sigma make some beautiful lenses that are less expensive than Canon or Nikon.

I've got a website and am blogging about our homestead build.  I have an iPhone 8 that I use to take pics that I include in articles for my blog.  It has been surprisingly good for my purposes, but not something I would try using for professional photos.

Knowledge is key, and developing and training an artist's eye is important to advancing photography beyond basic snapshots.  The beauty of digital versus film is the cost and immediacy of seeing your results.  SD Micro cards are a lot cheaper than having film developed and having to wait for the results.  The screen on back of the camera is great for previewing pics and deciding what to keep and what to discard.  Pretty big advantage to be able to look at a pic and decide if it is a keeper or if you need to take another shot without having to wait a week for film to come back.  I also applaud you planning ahead instead of using credit or putting yourself in a bind.
 
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Try visiting dpreview. Lots of great info about cameras and photography.
 
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Fred Norman wrote:Try visiting dpreview. Lots of great info about cameras and photography.


I agree. That site is really helpful.

I think there is a way of searching Flickr by camera or lens used, so that can be useful for finding more sample images.
 
Kate Downham
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My thoughts on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras… Mirrorless is not worth thinking about. I consider them to be toys for people that want the novelty of changing lenses. They don’t have the same quality as DSLRs. Other photographers I’ve spoken to about them have the same opinion.

For DSLRs I have lots of thoughts…

My opinion on camera bodies is that they all basically do the same thing. My deciding factor on which body to get is on which lenses I’d like to use. When I was first getting started out with a DLSR in 2007 and taking my camera out hiking more often, another thing I thought about was the lower weight of the system I chose - less weight to carry in the pack. The camera I use now also has some waterproofing, so if it gets accidentally rained on or splashed, it will easily survive. I like to have this feature for peace of mind, but this is a pretty rare thing for a DSLR to have. Other than these things, I don’t think that the megapixels and bells and whistles of each particular camera are worth comparing. One thing that might be good to look into is how many photos a camera is expected to take before it dies - the pro DSLR I use has 10 times the limit that my first DSLR had.

Prime lenses generally take better quality photos than zoom lenses, if you’d prefer to use prime lenses, it’s worth looking at the different camera brands and finding one that has the lenses in the focal lengths and apertures you’re after. If you’re after a zoom lens with a particular aperture range or focal length, it’s might be a good idea to look around also to see which systems have what you’re after.

The kit lenses that come with most entry-level cameras are terrible. There are some good zoom lenses around, but the cheap ones that come as a standard with an entry-level camera body in a kit are not worth it. Pro DLSRs will come with a good lens in a kit though.

The focal length of the lens will change depending on the DSLR sensor size - some lenses are designed for full frame cameras, others for smaller sensors. It’s worth finding out the 35mm equivalent size for a lens rather than the actual size of it, and possibly also deciding early on whether you’re likely to get a full frame camera, or to use one with a smaller sensor.

Most professional photographers use cameras with full frame (35mm) sensors, but these (and the lenses for them) are much more expensive than cameras with smaller sensors, and it’s also much harder to find good full-frame stuff second hand, because often that is what people are upgrading to.

I bought my camera (Olympus E-5) and my 11-22mm (22-44mm equivalent) lens second hand. With bodies, you can look up how many photos it’s expected to take before it dies, and can find out on the camera you’re looking at how many photos it has taken. For lenses, it’s easy to see if they’re scratched or have fungus, and if you’re buying on ebay or paypal, you have some protection against being ripped off with a dodgy lens or camera. When I bought these, I also found out why the person was selling - if they had a genuine reason (e.g. changing DSLR system or upgrading to a full frame camera) then it’s unlikely they’ll sell you something bad.
 
Skandi Rogers
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I don't think you'll find a relatively new DSLR with less than 20mp anyway. even mine which is 7 years old has 24.  



A quick idea on how many MP one needs to print posters etc, it's in inches
 
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I have the cheapest Nikon Body the D3300 24 MP.  I'd find a basic body that does what you want, as cheap as you can get it, and then spend your money on lenses.  Figure out what kind of pictures you want to take and research the best lenses.  I think you will find that there is no perfect answer to "which lens is best."

I have a used 50mm Nikkor lens that I use for product photography but I have to manually focus.  

If you are doing stills I'd suggest a solid tripod and a remote release.  You can set the timer on the camera but a remote release is really cheap and improves your work-flow.   Look at the Nikkor lenses on eBay.  If you are willing to manually focus you can get an older lens that is magnificent.   You might pay $200.00 for a lens that

was $1200.00 new.  You can set yourself up to shoot like a pro, on a budget.   Cannon's are great cameras but I don't know anything about the cost of the bodies or the lenses.

 
r ranson
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What kind of lenses fit these things?

1. I anticipate that I will mostly be using lenses as I have on my Powershot.  I'm guessing this is like a kit lens.

2. I also like taking macro shots.  Maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of my photos are macro.  I remember someone saying there are special lenses for this.

3. I also love playing with limited depth of field.  Two reasons for this.  I want to capture what my eyes see and they generally only focus on one depth at a time.  Also, the background is often quite messy so I want to blur it beyond recognition.  Something with a big aperture (small F number)?

 
Kate Downham
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Small F numbers are good both for reduced depth of field, and for getting fast shutter speeds in low light. I have an F 2.0, 100mm equivalent macro lens, and I like this aperture a lot, I probably use it with F2.5 and F2.8 more often though. My other lens starts at F 2.8 which is acceptable, but I wish I had this lens in F 2.0, and might get an F2.0 50mm equivalent for my food and family photography one day.

I find my 100mm equivalent lens a bit limiting for food photography in small spaces, but for macro outdoors it is perfect. For the best macro I think some lenses are labelled as macro lenses, or you can look at any lens, and the closest focusing distance of it, and choose one that will do close up photos.

For everyday homestead and family photography I use the 44mm/F3.5 end of my zoom lens a lot, but I also like to have my 22mm/F2.8 wide angle on the lens, which I use a lot for landscape scenes. If I could use a smaller F number than F3.5 at the 44mm length then I would. The different F numbers on a zoom lens mean the smallest F number it will go at each extreme of focal length.

It sounds like it would be good for you to have a macro lens. If you search by brand and 'macro' then you'll be able to find out the specifications and prices of the different ones available. Before doing this it might be a good idea to decide whether you're getting a pro full frame camera (e.g. canon 5D) or a cheaper model, as it will be much easier to picture the focal length of each lens once you know the sensor size.

If you get started with a 50mm equivalent/F2.0 or F1.something macro lens, you can use this for most purposes - you'll just need to learn to zoom with your feet rather than the camera. You might get more out of photography lessons and more flexibility by also having a basic good quality zoom lens as well - something starting at around 24mm equivalent and maybe going up to around 105mm is generally the basic pro camera zoom lens. The lower the F number you can get for this, the more useful it will be - F2.8 seems to be around the best it's usually possible to get.
 
r ranson
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The more I read about cameras, the more drawn I am to mirrorless.

It kind of scares me when someone says "a camera can only take so many pictures" meaning that the mechanical element in the DSLR is expected to break after so many thousand pictures.  I would be worried about this and take fewer photos because I'm frugal.  As it is, I already take 50 to 150 photos a day.  I want a camera that can take at least 500,000 photos before breaking.  

Another advantage of mirrorless is the hardware updates can improve the processing power and speed whereas a mechanical system like a SLR or DSLR is only as quick as the mirror can move.  

But, as far as I can tell, these are limited to APS sized sensors.

...

but

...

I'm not sure yet about the mirrorless.  The lenses seem expensive.  I could get a converter thingy and use older lenses.  It's something I don't know enough about yet.

Speaking about lenses, how many would I really need?

A kit lens would do suit most of my photography style.  

A macro is a must.

Later on I could see wanting a nice zoom for wildlife and farm animal photography.  

I only really need to buy a lens once - unless I break it.  

...

I found out that canon mirrorless and dslr don't take the same battery as my current canon cameras.  It's less motivation for me to go with this brand except it's what I'm used to.  

Whatever camera I go with, I'll have to get a second battery and memory card.  

...

Used cameras - I've been looking at these a lot.  The weird thing is, the prices people are asking locally are more than the same model new on amazon.  

...

While I'm saving up for my new camera I started a photography project where I go out at least once a week, often several times, and take pictures of an object in different places.  The one thing I find most frustrating is the automatic focus on my point and shoot.  It refuses to 'see' what I'm trying to make the focal point of the picture.  When I put it on manual, I have even less option on what to focus on.  I can sometimes get the subject in focus by putting the item in the centre, lock the focus, then move the camera to compose the shot.  but this is hit and miss.  It also only wants to focus on one small part of the object.  The item is two feet deep but the focus is only on three inches worth of the item.  

...

I don't really know.  I'm just jotting down today's thoughts in hopes that when I reread this thread closer to buying time I'll remember something about myself and how I use my camera
 
r ranson
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here's a limiting factor - these are the types of card my computer can eat.  
computer-eat-card.jpg
computer eat card
computer eat card
 
r ranson
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Something I don't get on well in a camera is the little viewfinder where I put one eye up and try to squint without being able to really see what I'm looking at.  I know it saves battery, but it has always made me dizzy and sick to my stomach to see the world through this kind of monocular view.  It's also hard to use when the camera is on the ground or as high as I can reach while on tippy toes.  

I really want a camera that has a simple screen on the back.  

... but today, I had trouble seeing the screen because the lighting was difficult so I had to take one hand off the camera to compose the shot then put it back to steady the camera which wasn't a great success.  
 
Kate Downham
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My computer started acting up and ate my reply right as I was talking about the life expectancy of electronic gadgets being too short... I will try and remember what I was going to say!

Most cameras will use either SD or CF cards, so you're probably OK for card reading. External card readers are easily found too.

It's good you're thinking about optical viewfinder vs LCD, as some cameras will only have one of these rather than both. I use both on mine, depending on what I am doing, but find that as well as reduced battery life from live view, there is a lag between pressing the button and the photo being taken when I'm using the LCD screen, but this is from a 2010 camera, so there might have been improvements since then.

I found this database, where you can find out about shutter life expectancy of particular cameras: http://www.olegkikin.com/shutterlife/

Another site I read said that the shutter can be replaced, so it may not be so much to worry about. Other things can go wrong with cameras too, so it might be worth looking into this, and whether mirrorless or DLSR is going to have better life expectancy.
 
r ranson
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Here's a question:

Do I want a touch screen or not?

It looks like with a touch screen I can tell the camera what to focus on.  This seems nice.  
 
Kate Downham
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My DSLR doesn't have a touch screen. To focus, there are buttons which direct a square of the photo to be selected, then I use the focus ring on the lens to get the right focus.
 
r ranson
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These are some of the canon cameras I like the look of - in order of preference.

  • EOS M6: Mirrorless (the others are DSLR).  even with the lenses being more expensive than normal, this comes in under budget.  But there are fewer opportunities for accessories.  But it does have most of the features I want, is lightweight, small, and stylish.  
  • Rebel SL2(EOS 200D / Kiss X9): pretty basic and in many ways isn't as good as my current point and shoot.  I think it has the same processor but fewer frames per second in burst (which is great for chicken pictures)
  • Canon EOS 77D / EOS 9000D: Going up in price, but a lot more features.
  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II: this one has a full-frame sensor but is out of my price range.  It also looks pretty bulky/heavy.  


  • Some are more expensive than I want to go. But it's a starting place.


    There are better cameras at better prices, but I chucked them because the buttons are in the wrong place.  I had a camera where the delete button was next to the thumb grip.  I would go out and shoot 50 or 100 pictures at an event and come home to discover that there were only four saved on my memory card.  Since I was supposed to be providing photos for a newsletter, it was embarrassing. NEVER AGAIN!  

    There are a lot of other cameras I like the look of by other makes, but the ones I can find in my price range have the same button location issue.
     
    r ranson
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    As a thought experiment, I want to pretend to choose one camera and find out the price of all the goodies I need to get started taking good photos with it.

    My choice, the Canon EOS M6 https://www.amazon.ca/Canon-15-45-Black-15-45mm-3-5-6-3/dp/B06WP2GZY7/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Canon+EOS+M6&qid=1564251533&s=gateway&sr=8-3

    (note this isn't my final choice)

    What do I need with this?
    extra battery!  (maybe two as this only shoots about 300 pictures on one charge)
    2 SD cards that are nice and big

    lenses - do I go with the converter ring or do I go with the lenses that match this camera?
    the one I'm thinking comes with a kit lens.
    So I'm, thinking I need some sort of macro.

    Then filters.  
    Amazonbasics has some filters https://www.amazon.ca/AmazonBasics-UV-Protection-Lens-Filter/dp/B00XNMWU78/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=camera+filter&qid=1564251748&s=electronics&sr=1-4
    but I don't know what size fits these lenses and/or if they will fit.

    Want list:
    a remote
    do I need photo editing software?  
    yarn and stuff to build a bag and strap with
    hardware to build the camera strap.
    wait?  do lenses still come with their own case?


    Now I'm feeling overwhelmed and I want to go play in the garden to calm down.

    BUT, if I can figure out some of this before Black Friday, then I can be ready to snap up any parts that go on sale.   I also want a clearer idea of how much to budget.  

    but, yeh, overwhelmed.
     
    r ranson
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    I went to a shop today to hold some of the cameras.  I had it narrowed down to about 10 that I like but the option to go in a different direction if that turned out to be what I needed.

    It was a great thing to pick up the different cameras and hold them in my hand.  I picked up all the cameras on display - regardless of price - to see what they felt like.  I picked them up as I would naturally, then looked at where I put my fingers and thumb.  If my thumb landed on a bad button (like delete) then I knew the camera and I would not get along well.  

    Almost all of the DSLR cameras in that shop made my hand cramp.  Many of the bigger fixed lens cameras also had this problem.  These seem to be designed for man-hands.  Mine are not, and to use the 'easy access' buttons, I have to shift my grip.  I don't like shifting my grip while trying to hold something as still as possible.  

    Some of the more expensive Mirrorless cameras also had this problem.  Again, they are designed for bigger hands.

    This problem excluded all DSLR in my price range.  So I focused on the mirrorless cameras.  Many of the mirrorless cameras were too small for my hands.  Like a point and shoot, the buttons were too close together.  I also didn't like how the light body actually made it hard to balance the lens... if that makes sense.  The camera was too front-heavy with a simple kit lens.  I didn't like this.

    For my hand shape and price range, Canon won.  There were some nice cameras by other makes, but the ones that fit my hand were way over budget.  

    There was one other problem: When I looked in the viewfinder, my nose touches the touchscreen.  I suppose this could be useful in some situations... What eye do you look through when composing a shot?  

    Now I've narrowed it down to three camears that fit my hands.  One is way beyond my budget, the other two are intersting.  The older one, built in 2016 hasn't gone down in price.  Both modles, the used cameras sell for higher than new - which is weird.  
     
    Eric Hanson
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    R Ranson,

    I recently looked into mirrorless cameras with your thoughts in mind.  From what I could find, the most significant difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless was that the mirrorless focuses faster than a DSLR, but does not necessarily focus as well.

    The other difference was that the camera body was smaller.

    I was about to recommend a DSLR over the mirrorless as they are the newer and more expensive.  But you seem to like the idea of the mirrorless so if that works for you, then by all means, go that route.

    Good that you went and actually physically handled the camera though,  Something I personally don’t like about the trend in cameras is the trend to make them smaller.  I have pretty big hands and the larger camera bodies just fit me better.  But as you have smaller hands, then by all means, do what works for you.  Ergonomics are important so it is good that you tried to find what works best for you.

    Good luck in your camera quest and I am curious as to what you eventually find.

    Eric
     
    r ranson
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    One of the things that are good about the mirrorless cameras is that I won't have to use mirrorless lenses.  The adapters are pretty cheap and have good reviews.  So if I go this path (which I may not - if I can find a DSLR that works for me), then I can invest in better lenses for the future possibility of upgrading to a DSLR.

    Talking with the guy in the shop, I asked him if he thought mirrorless are the Betamax of the camera world.  He seems to be one of those 'professional, art photographers' (which is a good thing), so he's pretty biased in favour of DSLR.  But he said mirrorless technology is very close to being the DVD of the camera world (with the DSLR being the VHS).  But it's at a tipping point right now.  At the moment, he suggested there are one or two mirrorless cameras that are equal to a high-end DSLR.  If the makers can keep this up and bring the price down, they may surpass DSLR in popularity in about 10 years... maybe.  
     
    r ranson
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    I've been reading up on megapixels and what they mean in real-life.  

    If a camera has 24 megapixels, that's it's a maximum capacity of the kind of data the sensor can absorb (I think - I'm oversimplifying out of kindness to my brain).  More megapixels, the more image detail and quality the sensor can process.  This is good.

    However, a 24-megapixel camera with a kit (low grade) lens, will capture an image about the same as an 8-megapixel camera with the best lense in the world.  But put this lens on a 24-megapixel body and it will capture much closer to 24 megapixels.  

    However, an 8-megapixel body cannot capture more than 8.  

    For me, it looks like I want to invest in the camera body first.  I want it to process a high-quality image so that when I get better lenses, the quality of the image will improve more drastically.  

    The full-frame cameras (that have the buttons in the right place) are out of my price range.  Their lenses seem more expensive too.  So I'm going to focus on the next sensor size down.

    Once I get a body and a kit lens, I can choose which path I want to go with the lenses.  I'll choose a body that has a converter.  I'm also going to look into the price of used lenses.  The guy at the shop mentioned that with my photography needs, I might want to start investing in 'red ring' canon lenses sooner so that when I upgrade to a full-frame camera, I'll already have the best lenses for it.  I don't know what 'red ring' lenses are, but the one he pointed to had a red line on it, so I guess that's something to learn about.  
     
    r ranson
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    I'm putting together a list of stuff to track the sales.  Black Friday and boxing day are nearly here.  I gotta get my research in before they arrive.  


    More questions:

    What do I need to know about camera bags?

    What do I want to know about camera straps?

    What should my first filter be for practising with outdoor garden photography?

    What do you think about gobe filters?  They have plastic-free packaging and claim to plant trees for each purchase.  But they are a bit more expensive than the other brands on Amazon.

    Weird question: I suspect it is good to change my lenses at home, in an air-filtered room whenever possible.  Is it okay to have the ionize on to reduce the dust or would this mess up the camera?  
     
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    Don't worry about dust, just change lenses whenever, wherever. Unless there is so much dust, pollen, spray from waves of the sea crashing that you can see the particles in the air. Even in those situations, I've taken the risk in swapping lenses, because I wanted the shot.
    It takes a LOT of dust in the camera body to gum up the works, or be visible in prints. My first DSLR made it to 80k before the mirror wouldn't reset. My second got ran over. I'm on my third DSLR living by the camera philosophy of Ken Rockwell: don't baby your gear, get out there and wear it out. You will miss opportunities if you carry too much or are too protective.
    I recommend the Eyelead Germany sensor cleaner, but wait until you actually have a dirty sensor before buying, took me years.  

    Camera bags: Again Ken Rockwell has great advice, ThinkTank pro camera bags if you want to spend money, a kids diper bag, cloth grocery sack, or whatever is comfortable and blends in if you don't want people to know you are carrying $5-20k in camera gear. If your favorite bag lacks padding, a t-shirt is enough.

    Straps: if the one that comes with it isn't comfortable, there are a zillion padded ones out there with all kinds of buckles and slides. Some people like to replace flashy camera logo straps with plain ones. The only thing I would watch out for is a rubbery foam strap that lacks a tougher layer it is sewn to. I had a rifle strap break while hiking, and realized it was just a strip of neoprene.

    Filters: Hoya HMC triple coated. Very expensive and hard to clean. But I found dirty filters rarely effects photos. If you are out in the field and you filter is too dirty, you can just take it off for a shot. The expensive coatings take out the lens flares, cheap filters add a few more flares. I try to always have a filter on, I have broken several dropping cameras and they protected the lens from damage.

    Sunshades on lenses: There are almost no situations where they block the sun from causing lens flares. You can use your hand or hat on those occasions. They offer a bit of scratch&bump protection, at the cost of another bulky fiddly bit. Not worth it for me.

    Tripods: I never could justify the expense of solid, lightweight, easy to adjust tripods. You can easily spend $1000+ on a good tripod setup, and its absolutely worth it for some photographers. I went with a flimsy light tripod that is mostly plastic, and a heavy one with a dozen thumb screws and just worked within those limitations.

    Software: gimp.org is the standard free photo editor, does great, works on slow computers.  Faststone image viewer is the best photo viewer/sorter, its free but only on Windows.

    Its easy to for people of a certain type to become gearheads, I lost count of how many cameras and lenses I have once I got into film and old people started giving me their unused cameras. Obsessing over the technical details can get in the way of getting out there and finding interesting places and situations. Getting used to your lenses and the lighting conditions / focal ranges they work best in will have more results than someone with better gear and less experience. At the end of the day its about looking at a scene and knowing how the camera will see it, not how you see it. Just takes practice and that artistic spark of perseverance towards an inner vision.
     
    r ranson
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    I made the plunge!

    I bought a Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera.  

    here are my first photos with my new camera!

    I went with this camera for several reasons.  The biggest one being that it fit my hand.  It was also the highest value for my price range.  There are a lot of buttons and dials on the outside, so I don't have to navigate through the touchscreen to get to the different settings like I would on the M100.  

    Why not a DSLR - well, I do think they are lovely and I may go this way in future.  The biggest reasons why I didn't go this path is the value for money.  For the money, the M5 seems to have a much faster processor that only gets better with each firmware upgrade.  My hand size was also unexpectedly influential in this decision - the DSLR I tried required I shift my grip while working the buttons which increase my chance of camera shake.  Of the 3 DSLR I liked best, all of them had the delete button where I instinctively put my fingers for taking the picture.  

    What about not-canon?  I looked at a lot of other makes.  They are lovely!  They are also very pricy for the value.  I stuck with canon for two main reasons: comfort (it's what I know) and universality (many shops don't support the other makes so repairs and extras might not be affordable).  The third reason is canon comes with free workflow and imaging editing software which does the job of Lightbox.  I hate subscription software so I didn't want to get lightbox until I am good enough at photography to need it.  

    I waffled a lot between the M5 and the M6.  here's a way to see the two cameras side by side. The M5 is older and a bit more expensive.  They are almost the same except the M5 has more buttons and a viewfinder.  I didn't think I would use the viewfinder, as I never did as a kid with my film camera.  But on this camera, I find I'm using it a lot more than I expected.

    There's a lot to learn.  I'm focusing on composition and depth of field at the moment.  The goal is to get out and shoot photos every day and delete the crappy ones.  
     
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