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Budget digital Camera with changable lenses

PerfectBlue97

Active Member
I suspect that this may be the wrong place to ask but I thought that it might be worth a try.

I used to do studio photography, I was professionally trained and had access to high end cameras and equipment: Far beyond the level that I could actually afford to own myself.

But that was a long time ago, and since then I've been mostly using a variety of compact digital cameras for "holiday snap" type pictures for Facebook type uses.

I've recently been asked to document some artifacts for a family history project. Medals, small antiques, that kind of thing. I've got most of what I need to do it in terms of lights, reflectors and backgrounds, but my trusty compact digital just isn't up to it when it comes to taking detailed pictures up close because it has a macro setting rather than a macro lens. And it's manual adjustment is rather limited. It's a challenge to get the shots that I want, and I'm spending more time in Photoshop correcting things than I am taking the pictures right now. Which is getting frustrating as it used to be so easy to do with the right equipment.

Can anybody recommend an affordable digital camera that has changeable lenses (Preferably compatible with old school Pentax lenses, as I actually have some of those, but this isn't essential), and a good range of manual settings.

I don't have a set budget, as I've been out of the loop for so long I don't know what a modern camera should cost.

I'm not planning to go back into studio photography, so after this it's going to spend 99% of its time in a draw and will only come out occasionally, so I don't want to spend a lot of money on something that is going to gather dust.

I'll take a Chinese no-brand if it gets what I want, I'm not precious about that kind of thing.

Mostly I'm going to be taking pictures of items less than 6" across against a white background with diffused white light, and a sharp focus on the object (Which my compact digital can't do very well as it has limited manual focusing and white balance settings).
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
A second hand DSLR or mirrorless sounds like it fits your requirements.

I picked up a Canon Eos 600d for £150 plus a lens - another £120 for a Tamron with macro facility for my "run and gun" rig.

I would suggest a white box to photograph the items in would work well, as it will improve the lighting and a tripod to hold the camera still allowing longer exposure at higher F-stops to improve the focal range.

Depending on the quality you are trying to achieve, a lot of mobile phone cameras can also take decent macro shots when used with some good lighting. My daughter photographs model trains for a large eBay seller as a part time job using her iPhone 11 pro. The shots look superb!
 

[email protected]

Well-known Member
I suppose the big question is budget.
I've taken the plunge into playing with cameras in the last week.
My last DSLR was a Nikon D80 that I sold about 10 years ago. Why not look for something like that or D90 on eBay? Have the body motors that Nikon removed from the D3xxx and D5xxx series and play nicely with older non motor F mount lenses.
Depending on your Pentax lens mounts there's a possibility of getting an adapter, presumably that will require full manual control.
Virtually everyone on the forum will be better informed and able to advise on this than me
But there are some bargains to be had.
I've just picked up a mint Nikon D7100 with only 2800 actuations for 210 pounds, got a 50mm F1.8d being delivered today for 45 pounds. Will pick up a walkabout superzoom this week for not much.
There are bargains out there but like above, it really depends on budget.
 

PerfectBlue97

Active Member
"I would suggest a white box to photograph the items in would work well, as it will improve the lighting and a tripod to hold the camera still allowing longer exposure at higher F-stops to improve the focal range. "

I've still got things like a tripod and camera mounts left over from when I did studio photography, and from various other things that I've done over the years, and I picked up a good quality white box on sales (Seriously, these are fantastic), so that's not a problem.

I tried using my phone (Moto G7) but I had similar problems with the manual settings. Some things came out really well, but others looked terrible. It really varied depending on the material that they were made of and if it had a mat or a reflective surface. My phone doesn't cope well with extreme variations when using macro settings.

I've got some after market lens attachments on order for my phone to see if that helps.
 

icemanonline

Distinguished Member
I got this for everything I do. I have medical issues and don't have the time to get out (not my choice) but when I do get out, or in the house shots....I have this setup!

IMG_20200206_172854.jpg


Panasonic GX1 plus Sigma Art 19mm F2.8. set between f4 and f5.6 and you can shoot anything.... Even up to iso 1600..... Brilliant results. And this little baby shots raw!

Cost? £125 total.

Ice
 

PerfectBlue97

Active Member
I got this for everything I do. I have medical issues and don't have the time to get out (not my choice) but when I do get out, or in the house shots....I have this setup!

View attachment 1261113

Panasonic GX1 plus Sigma Art 19mm F2.8. set between f4 and f5.6 and you can shoot anything.... Even up to iso 1600..... Brilliant results. And this little baby shots raw!

Cost? £125 total.

Ice
Can you still get the batteries for it?
 
What about a second hand Pentax digital SLR? You could use your old lenses, and with some macro tube extensions, you can do some awesome macro photography if you aren't afraid of the manual modes which considering your background you shouldn't be.

Especially as your subjects are static you can have a lot of control.
 

PerfectBlue97

Active Member
What about a second hand Pentax digital SLR? You could use your old lenses, and with some macro tube extensions, you can do some awesome macro photography if you aren't afraid of the manual modes which considering your background you shouldn't be.

Especially as your subjects are static you can have a lot of control.
I'm not really sure which ones represent good value as I've been out of it for so long.
 
I'm not really sure which ones represent good value as I've been out of it for so long.
With respect than neither do we ;)

It all depends what you want, what size sensor, how many mega pixels, what lens mount, what kind of controls you favour etc.

But most of all what budget you’ve set yourself.
 

PerfectBlue97

Active Member
With respect than neither do we ;)

It all depends what you want, what size sensor, how many mega pixels, what lens mount, what kind of controls you favour etc.

But most of all what budget you’ve set yourself.
Under £300. As much under as possible.
 
What about something like a Pentax K-50? At less than half you budget. It was pretty good with high ISO and in the controlled environments that you have it should give you plenty of flexibility.

For example from a shop.

Or from eBay
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
I used to own a Pentax K100D as my first DSLR. It was limited 6Mp and ran off AA batteries but it took a good picture. That was 10 yrs ago and it wasn't new when I got it.
Older Pentax fit lenses just connected - no adapters required - and shooting in Aperture priority, manually adjusting focus and aperture on the lens it adjusted ISO and shutter by itself.

All these were taken with it the day I got it before I knew anything about how to use it :)

This was the only close up shot I remember sharing - taken with the kit 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens

Don't mess with the bride!
by AMc UK, on Flickr

Pentax are a bit of a niche brand these days but you can pick them up used from some of the main used camera retailers

CEX will sell you a K-m for £65 which is an upgrade on my old K100D - they give you a 2 yr warranty.
There are probably more there that might suit,.
 

12harry

Well-known Member
May I?
If you have a compact with poor close-up and colour balance then "just maybe" you can fix this for a fraction of the cost of other Options:-
Buy a close-up filter ( you may have to jury-rig some frame to hold it square-on to the compact - a camera/tripod bush will help as it means the set-up is fixed.
Next the lighting . . . you could use RGB mini-flood ( about £20), but their colour-rendering is "suspect" IMHO - better to go for one intended for photography, with a "variable" colour-temperature capability. Probably towards £50.
However, if your existing lighting is good, then almost all colour-balance faults can be fixed in the Editor.... Photoshop being the most expensive, with Paint-Shop Pro about 1/10th that price . . .
It is almost impossible to judge the picture on a small screen, so you'll have to wait until the Edit-stage anyway.
Include a colour-chart at the edge of the frame - very useful if the camera has a mind-of-its-own. If your camera allows 16x9 aspect, then the excess can be trimmed-off.

Perhaps you have already taken the plunge . . . tell us how it works out, for the different types of objects . . . .
Good Luck.
 

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