Best dslr below £300 for beginner?

TAPEDECK

Standard Member
As the title suggests really.i have been using an old sony cybershot (one of the highly rated bulkier ones)for the last 4 or 5 years.

I feel generally I got the best out of it as i have a natural ability for taking shots.unfortunately she struggled to do low light levels,action shots and things at a distance.everything else it was great at,normal day shots and holiday pictures etc.

So ive asked for a dslr for xmas, as i understand the sensors and processors on these will supersede those of most compacts substantially.ive looked at reviews and threads on here but seem to be going around in circles!

So i need whatever camera i chose to significantly improve the areas of weakness i highlighted from the last one.i also need it to have good auto type settings as im not one for fiddling around too much.

Finally,I do a lot of fishing so need it to be fairly robust/atmosphere resistant and also have IR so i can buy a remote to do self takes.this is where i want the low light level shots to be really good so i can at least capture the scene when i don't catch :D

I will be using the sports mode at football matches and capturing wild life,for which the zoom will be needed quite a bit.

The last requirement is that it has real time display on the lcd as i feel being restricted to a viewfinder may be a bit much after making the step up from a standard digi.An auto lens is obviously preferable too.

Im not too fussed about hd video,face recognition and fancy stuff like that.Ideally I dont want to compromise the things i DO need from the camera for things i don't because I know my budget is going to limit me.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.hope i havnt waffled too much,thought more info is better than not enough.

many thanks
:thumbsup:
 

Darthchaffinch

Well-known Member
Go into Jessops or another camera shop and ask to look at there begineer range, hold them and get a feel for what feels best in your hands. I started with a Nikon D60 which was smashing - and will be putting on classifieds shortly if no takers from my work (£200 for the body).
 

mark1000

Distinguished Member
On your budget i think you will need to look to the used market with the lens requirements you will need.

Mark.
 

sconie

Active Member
You could do a search here for the Sony A450, I bought one a while back, lots of help on the forum and plenty of decent price lenses to add (Minolta), comet and a few others had them on special, I am just learning the basics, you should have seen me last night, farting about with my redsnapper tripod and camera getting moon shots..LOL, by the time I set it up it had become overcast.....the air was blue !.

Great new hobby for me, and once you start buying you can't stop adding bits, problem is, before long I will no doubt end up "Upgrading" and selling it all to fund a new camera.

Best of luck.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
You can't really go wrong IMO these days with any of the main brands for a beginners DSLR.

Whether you can get everything you need on your budget straight away is another matter, however you can extend well beyond most budgets if required. ;)

You will need a tripod if you don't already have one. Whether you need IR I don't know, most have a timer release where it will wait 2 or 10 seconds before taking the shot, that ought to work for you.

If you're using a tripod to take pics of yourself with your catch, then IS won't really matter for such shots.

If you want the camera to display the picture live on the LCD, and perform like a DSLR, then that limits you currently to 2 cameras, the Sony alpha 33 or 55. Live view, as it's called, doesn't use the normal AF mechanism on most DSLRs and is slow and unreliable. However, a DSLR viewfinder is nothing like any you will have used on a compact and is not at all limiting.

The best thing you can do is go somewhere like Jessops and try a few in your hand. When starting, I think it's far more important to have a camera that feels right. If it feels awkward, or too small, you're less likely to use it.

Then keep your eyes peeled for good deals, this is the time of year when you can get some really good ones.
 

Clownfish

Active Member
If you want the camera to display the picture live on the LCD, and perform like a DSLR, then that limits you currently to 2 cameras, the Sony alpha 33 or 55. Live view, as it's called, doesn't use the normal AF mechanism on most DSLRs and is slow and unreliable. However, a DSLR viewfinder is nothing like any you will have used on a compact and is not at all limiting.

Not sure what you mean by this. Plenty of cameras have live view but Sonys (that have live view) can continuously auto focus during live view. I have never found it to be unreliable or particularly slow (not that I use it much) The a33 & a55 can auto focus during video.
 
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shotokan101

Banned
Not sure what you mean by this. Plenty of cameras have live view but Sonys (that have live view) can continuously auto focus during live view. I have never found it to be unreliable or particularly slow (not that I use it much) The a33 & a55 can auto focus during video.

+1

...also lots of other Sony Alpha models have Liveview not just the newer A33/55 models it's just that these are the first Sony Alpha models to have Video :)

Jim
 

Pirate!!

Banned
Plenty of choice in the classifieds of AVF, but anyone who's never handled a DSLR will no doubt be confused with it all and somewhat apprehensive about using it. There are a couple of models I wouldn't go for, but on the whole they're much the same. It's when you start chucking money at your 'hobby' it can get very expensive depending what brand you've bought into.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
Not sure what you mean by this. Plenty of cameras have live view but Sonys (that have live view) can continuously auto focus during live view. I have never found it to be unreliable or particularly slow (not that I use it much) The a33 & a55 can auto focus during video.
It's simple,

Live-view on all but the new Alpha 33/55 with their translucent mirrors uses a completely different focus method to the one DSLR's are optimised for. They all use contrast detection AF in software (just like non-DSLRs) rather than the dedicated AF sensor. It's not as fast and not as accurate, especially for sports and wildlife.

If you want to use the LCD, and have DSLR style AF performance, only the new Sony's deliver that.
 

Jammyb

Well-known Member
What he said

If I wanted to only use liveview on my Canon 500D I'd have given up on it as a piece of junk long ago.

With a real viewfinder though why would you want to, it's harder to hold the camera still.

I only use liveview if the camera is on a tripod and I'm zooming in on the screen to check focus for product shots.

I'm not sure the OP wouldn't be happier with a bridge camera like a Fuji HS10.
 

shotokan101

Banned
I thought that even the "older" alphas used a dedicated AF sensor for liveview :confused:

Jim
 

David_e

Standard Member
Which magazine rates Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 at 86% - the top score for a DSLR, above the Canon EOS 7D at nearly £1,200. They quote £329 as the best price for the Lumix.
 

mark1000

Distinguished Member
David_e said:
Which magazine rates Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 at 86% - the top score for a DSLR, above the Canon EOS 7D at nearly £1,200. They quote £329 as the best price for the Lumix.

Glad someone else mentioned the panny, I would of but I,m sure you guys get sick of me promoting G systems :D
 

TAPEDECK

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies everyone,some useful pointers.

I know the requirements ive asked for may seem a bit much for the budget,but remember im only after a significant improvement from what ive been use to,not by comparison to the standard dslr market.

So yes,i have also been considering a bridge camera,mainly for ease of use and price.but my understanding is the sensors in these are the same sort of spec as compact digi's which is why im being put off.

When i initially searched on here i came across a thread which included pictures from a canon 10d,an older standard slr.now to me,the pictures from it looked stunning.unfortunately i didnt realise it wasn't a digital at the time.but thats the sort of pictures id like from a camera and i am swaying towards canon as my preferable brand.

Play are doing the body only of the eos 1000d for £235 and i have found a standard lense for £90.now considering pixmania,the company who are doing the lense say the rrp of the body only is £400(they have it for £295)id say this looks a pretty good deal.

Second canon to consider is the eos rebel xs.cheapest price is £335 so works out a similar price.

Third choice from my other preferred brand is the sony alpha a290 for £300(rrp £400 although no live view).

The guys in the shop seemed to think that the Pannys had the edge but i bought a Panny tv last year and i find the functionality of it absolutely terrible and childlike.a quick play with one of there camera's and it seemed the same(silly little pixley motion avatars indicating shoot modes).but then ive always been a sony man.

From the sounds of it i may have to swallow my pride and atleast consider the g10 above.

Question is,is there really much difference between these 4 camera's and is any one of them particularly more suited to my requirements?

many thanks again
:thumbsup:
 

David_e

Standard Member
Question is, is there really much difference between these 4 camera's and is any one of them particularly more suited to my requirements?

That's a very good question and I suspect that the answer is it comes down to a mater of preference unless there is a really "must have" feature that one has and the others don't. (The 1000D doesn't have movie mode, apparently, for example.)

I wonder whether a Canon would have a better resale value than the Panasonic, just because of the name, if you later decided to trade up?
 

Jammyb

Well-known Member
1000D and XS is the same camera AFAIK

I love my canon, but in the current market at the entry level I fimd the Nikon models better value.

That cheap 1000d on play is a refurb from someone with a 95% rating, be a little wary.

Which magazine rates Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 at 86% - the top score for a DSLR, above the Canon EOS 7D at nearly £1,200. They quote £329 as the best price for the Lumix.

The Good Housekeeping Institute rated the 7D higher than the G10 in a head2 head.

They drilled a hole through them, threaded some string through and then bashed them together until the panasonic fell to bits.

The 7D was physically unharmed, but no longer worked due to the aforementioned drill hole.
 

David_e

Standard Member
They drilled a hole through them, threaded some string through and then bashed them together until the panasonic fell to bits.

The 7D was physically unharmed, but no longer worked due to the aforementioned drill hole.

LOL! Well, got to be the Canon if you want to play conkers with your camera! Friend of mine has a 35mm Canon F1 years ago. It was bomb-proof but weighed a ton.
 

shotokan101

Banned

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
It's certainly a different take, but is still flawed, especially for Sports as it does get blacked out when you actually take a shot, hence burst mode really is crippled.

The OP's main point was that he didn't like (yet) an optical viewfinder. Now, two things could happen here:

  1. He uses an optical viewfinder and loves it
  2. He uses Liveview and finds it hugely disappointing and thinks DSLRs are a waste of time
The only DSLR at present that may not lead to 2 happening are the new Alpha 33/55 where there is no blackout and no real mirror movement so no crippled Live view mode.

So, if using the LCD really is that important, and so is shooting sports and wildlife where burst rate can matter, they may need to save up for a 33/55, else they need to understand that the LCD + Live view really isn't the way to get the best out of nearly all the DSLR's out there so that they aren't hugely disappointed with what they buy.

Alternatively you go for one of the newer systems that are OVF and mirrorless, but then lens choices etc get more restricted.

In short, buying a DSLR for use primarily with Live-view doesn't get the best out of the vast majority of DSLR's on the market. It's a useful tool, and some are better than others (take a bow Sony) but isn't yet at the heart of how a DSLR works.
 

arthurdentpc

Active Member
My advice would be to get the loan of a friends DSLR (any DSLR) for an hour or 2, and try it out. Your original post suggests that (not surprisingly) you don't really know what to expect from a DSLR, you're thinking of it as a bigger and better Compact. If you try one out, you might then find that the Liveview requirement doesn't really matter to you. Or maybe it does. But for the money you want to spend, and the fact that your budget is obviously tight, I would definitely recommend a trial first.
 

Clownfish

Active Member
It's simple,

Live-view on all but the new Alpha 33/55 with their translucent mirrors uses a completely different focus method to the one DSLR's are optimised for. They all use contrast detection AF in software (just like non-DSLRs) rather than the dedicated AF sensor. It's not as fast and not as accurate, especially for sports and wildlife.

If you want to use the LCD, and have DSLR style AF performance, only the new Sony's deliver that.

The Sony Alphas that have live view (but not a33/55) use a second (separate) AF sensor near the viewfinder and uses phase detection unlike other manufacturers who do use contract detection via the main sensor. The downside for the alphas is a smaller viewfinder.
 

Faldrax

Well-known Member
It's simple,

Live-view on all but the new Alpha 33/55 with their translucent mirrors uses a completely different focus method to the one DSLR's are optimised for. They all use contrast detection AF in software (just like non-DSLRs) rather than the dedicated AF sensor. It's not as fast and not as accurate, especially for sports and wildlife.

If you want to use the LCD, and have DSLR style AF performance, only the new Sony's deliver that.

Actually, it is simple, just not in the way Ian claims.

There are 3 types of Liveview / AF in DSLR

1) Contrast Detect - this is the most common system, used by all but Sony AFAIK, and is the same system as used on compacts - slow.
2) Phase Detect with secondary LV Sensor - as used on the Sony A300, A330, A350, A390, A500, A550. This features a secondary sensor for live view (rather than the main sensor) which allows the normal phase detect AF sensors to be used while LV is active - much faster than Contrast detect, but the OVF is smaller than comparable DSLR as a result.
3) Phase Detect with Pelicle mirror - as used on the new Sony A33/A55, here a special mirror is used to allow the main sensor to be used for LV, and the Phase detect sensors, which allows video as well. Downside is an EVF (but a very good one).
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
Yes, I hadn't realised the Sony's had the second sensor. So thanks all for that. :blush:

However, in the general context, apart from the 33/55, Live-view doesn't allow a DSLR to work at it's best, so if that's a key factor, the OP really needs to try it out for themselves before buying as it could be a big factor in what they want to buy.

If you want digicam handling with DSLR performance then the choice is very limited.

And for sports action where DSLR performance is pretty much unmatched, then it could be a key buying decision. The reason was just slightly wrong for certain Sony models, and maybe some 4/3rds models? :oops:
 

TAPEDECK

Standard Member
Cheers for the advice guys.

As far as the live view thing goes im willing to get over that if need be(i don't want to compromise performance)but at the level of camera im looking at and from where i've come from,will what you more experienced describe as a performance handicap due to liveview,really be noticed by someone in my situation?or are you saying the difference between them will be that much more noticeable for what i want to use it for that im going to have to either a)save more b)find one with a viewfinder i like or are you infact just making the point that dslr's were never really designed to be used this way?

What would be really handy is if anyone on here,preferably someone who's made a similar step up after sorting similar requirements(as in not looking to necessarily become a full time enthusiast)could either give a bit of general advice on the spec of the forementioned shortlist(or any other models).also any sample pictures would be fantastic.i saw a thread on here with pics from an older canon 10d (standard slr) and for me,the pictures looked stunning.this camera was in the 3-400 pound bracket i believe,so im presuming i should be able to get what i want for my budget.

I think i may have to go back to the shop and have a play and hopefully speak to someone a bit more clued up.

Sincere thanks to you kind people,all your contributions have been either interesting to read or directly helpful.

:thumbsup:
 

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