Camera recommendation for a beginner?

Krank

Distinguished Member
Hi, I'm looking to get a better camera. I currently have a Sony P200 cybershot compact which has done and still does a great job. I'm basically after a much better image and a much longer zoom potential. I figured I'd buy a bridge camera but after a bit of research it seems that many DSLRs are not much more.

I've read a lot of reviews and have ended up with a huge list that continual changes so I'm after a bit of advice and direction. I find it difficult to compare to my current Sony to a DSLR or a bridge camera for obvious reasons. Is image quality streets ahead on a DSLR e.g. Would an image on a poorly reviewed DSLR be better than my P200?

Budget is around £300-350 and don't mind second hand. Will be taking pics of family (so decent red eye reduction beneficial), landscapes/buildings and wildlife mainly.

I'm a complete beginner in this field so don't want to be suckered into buying features I'm not going to have a clue how to use but by I don't want a camera that will leave me wanting after a couple of months. I've always been interested in photography so I'm hoping my next purchase will encourage me to become more of an enthusiast.
 

Strobe

Well-known Member
"Would an image on a poorly reviewed DSLR be better than my P200?" IMO, Yes!

All of the budget DSLR's are pretty good these days and will serve you well for starting out. All are capable of producing excellent images (take a look at PDP's recent post with the Loch Lomond photos - all from a Nikon D40). Best bet is to get down to your local shop and have a play. For starters, I would shortlist the Sony A200, Olympus 420 and the Nikon D60, all within our budget with their kit lens and, if you can stretch a tad, the Canon 450D and Sony A350.
www.camerapricebuster.co.uk for prices, but support your local shop if you can.

PS. Don't get too hung up on red eye - it's not the issue with DSLR's that it is with Compacts and, anyway, is easily remedied in software.

Oh and do't forget to budget in for flash cards and a bag.
 
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psenior1

Active Member
I'd recommend going to a high street shop and trying a few models out. Having gone through the same process a few months ago, you won't go far wrong with a Nikon D40 or D60, or if your budget allows a Cannon 450d. Personally I went with a D60 and am very pleased with it...
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
Your P200 has a zoom lens of 38-114mm, so bettering that on a DSLR will be pretty easy. All the entry level DSLRS also outperform standard compacts in low light, focus speed, shutter lag, dynamic range - you name it really.

The usual kit lens on entry level DSLRs is either 18-55mm or 18-70mm, so you get a much wider angle of view at one end. You can then add a second lens (typically a 55-200mm or 70-300mm zoom) for between about £100-£300.

The 3 I'd suggest within your budget would be:

Nikon D40+18-55mm (£220)
Sony A200+18-70 (£254)
Nikon D60+18-55mm VR (£333)


The D40 only has a 6Mp sensor, and lacks image stabilisation, but is stupidly cheap considering the performance. The A200 has in-body image stabilisation, making it amazing value. The D60 includes an image stabilised kit lens. There's also a D60 kit without the stabilised lens, but I'd suggest spending the extra for the VR version.

There are a LOT of very happy D40, D60 and A200 owners on this forum, so buy any one with confidence.

Try them in a shop before you buy, as to be honest it comes down to personal taste.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Thanks guys. Very informative, I had the A200 & D60 on my ever expanding list and at the price point the Sony had the edge. The only worry for me was picture quality and a few reviews said it got 'noisy' at higher ISO levels so I stupidly thought it may not be much of an improvement on the P200 :oops:. It's definitely my intention to try a few out and see how they feel in the hand.

Don't really want to stretch over £350 at the moment but may upgrade in the next 12 months if I get bitten by the photography bug :)
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
Thanks guys. Very informative, I had the A200 & D60 on my ever expanding list and at the price point the Sony had the edge. The only worry for me was picture quality and a few reviews said it got 'noisy' at higher ISO levels so I stupidly thought it may not be much of an improvement on the P200 :oops:. It's definitely my intention to try a few out and see how they feel in the hand.

Don't really want to stretch over £350 at the moment but may upgrade in the next 12 months if I get bitten by the photography bug :)

Heh, here are some studio tests of your old P200 vs the A200 and D60...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 Review: 7. Compared to...: Digital Photography Review
Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 Review: 29. Compared to...(High ISO): Digital Photography Review

Although they don't use the same reference images, I's say 1600 ISO on the DSLRs is as good or better than 400 ISO on your P200.

Please form your own opinions, but I reckon Nikon have an advantage at higher ISOs for sure - the A200 has more multi coloured noise, and is a bit smeary compared to the D60. Both are light years ahead of a 3 yr old compact though!!
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Cheers Yandros, there's a huge amount of difference between the P200 and the DSLRs. I've just read one of your posts in a similar thread where you say the 'D60 will form the basis of a superior camera system', so I'll definitely give this a test run as well. Just got to be careful my budget doesn't run away from me :)
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Are the bundled lenses any good for the a200 and D60 (VR) or should I consider buying 'Body only' and get the lens seperately? I'm hearing the bundled sony lens isn't as good as the Nikon one so this may bring the prices closer together
 
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Krank

Distinguished Member
My last post doesn't seem to show on the forum :confused:

EDIT: looks like it's sorted now :)
 
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Yandros

Well-known Member
I can't comment on the Sony lenses, but the Nikon 18-55 and 18-55VR are rather sharp. The metal mount Nikon 16-85VR or 18-200VR are better build quality, but don't offer a huge optical advantage and are very expensive. The normal step up is something like a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 , but in this case the 18-55VR still has value as the Tamron lacks image stabilisation.

So short answer is - for Nikon, get a kit lens.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
I've just received some pics from a mate who I thought had a D80. The pics were excellent and was shocked to find he's actually got a D40. I'm really impressed by the pics so it's thrown another spanner in the works. I'm off up town tomorrow so I'll have a little play with a few cameras
 

booyaka

Moderator
very happy with my D40 - kit lense is excellent and very crisp - got a 70-300mm VR on route tomorrow for a play!!!:D:D
 

Strobe

Well-known Member
The kit lens was the first thing I changed on my Sony. It's not that bad and will do you fine for starters. The Canon/Nikon kit lenses are said to be better though. However, if you go body only and add an after market lens you will go over budget. On the Sony mount a popular upgrade to the kit lens is the Sigma 17-70 (which I use) which retails at £220 odd. The Tamron 17-50 F2.8 is also another good pick but costs a tad more, slightly shorter focal length but with constant aperture through the range.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Had a little go with the A200 and the D60 today. The A200 had no charge so couldn't do much with it but it felt a bit bulkier to hold, I definitely prefer the feel of the Nikon in my hand. Unfortunately the camera shop I wanted to visit has now closed down which is a sad sign of the times so I had to make do with Jessops. Didn't get any advice and I even felt like I knew a little more, the girl said that both camera's had live view!

I also had a look at the Canon 400D which also felt nice to handle and I liked the multi point focus, does anyone have any views on this one?

At Jessops the D60 lens kit was £349 and with an extra Sigma 70-200 lens was £399 - any views on the sigma or should I get a Nikon VR?

I'm getting closer toa decision :)
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
Had a little go with the A200 and the D60 today. The A200 had no charge so couldn't do much with it but it felt a bit bulkier to hold, I definitely prefer the feel of the Nikon in my hand. Unfortunately the camera shop I wanted to visit has now closed down which is a sad sign of the times so I had to make do with Jessops. Didn't get any advice and I even felt like I knew a little more, the girl said that both camera's had live view!

I also had a look at the Canon 400D which also felt nice to handle and I liked the multi point focus, does anyone have any views on this one?

At Jessops the D60 lens kit was £349 and with an extra Sigma 70-200 lens was £399 - any views on the sigma or should I get a Nikon VR?

I'm getting closer toa decision :)

I'd skip the cheap zooms. The £120 Nikon 55-200VR or £275 Nikon 70-300VR are the pair to look at. Sigma do a rather good 70-300mm APO DG Macro though for £150, (but not stabilised).

The 400D is pretty much obsolete, as the 1000D slotted in below, and the 450D above, but it's still a good camera. The onboard image processsing on the D60 is better than a 400D though, but the you do get things like more focus points. Canon, like Nikon, use in-lens image stabilisation. The 1000D has an IS kit lens option, but the 400D would need the £90 Canon 18-55 IS lens to match the Sony feature for feature.

Any D40/D60 owners have an opinion on the 3 focus points? The A200 has 9 AF points btw.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
R

ryanyboy

Guest
You might want to check the newsagent. There's at least 2 current mags which have the 5 cheapest DSLR's reviewed and compared.

The Canon 1000D was highest rated in one mag and I think it was the Canon 450D in the other.

Good luck whatever you decide. :)
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Does anyone know how often Nikon do their cashback deals and if there's one coming along soon?
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
very happy with my D40 - kit lense is excellent and very crisp - got a 70-300mm VR on route tomorrow for a play!!!:D:D

Where did you order the lens from?
 

Garf

Well-known Member
Hi,

I have a D40, and the 3 point AF hasn't been an issue for me as yet, although it's the first DSLR I've had, so I don't know any better.

I guess more AF points is a good thing, but as I say, only having 3 hasn't really caused me any problems...
 

Garf

Well-known Member
Also, I would imagine it depends as to what you want to take photos of, as to how many AF points you will find useful ?
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
That's good to know. I'm sure a multi point AF is better but whether I'd notice the difference is another thing. I'll be mostly taking pics of my daughter (she can move about quicker than an F1 car :D) and our impending new arrival, wildlife, landscapes and close ups, probably what the majority of folk photograph.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
I was convinced a couple of hours ago on the D60 now I'm back thinking about the D40 and A200 again, mainly due to budget constraints (could see this running away from me).

I wish I'd seen the A200 working as I'm unlikely to use the higher ISO settings and I know the D40's imaging is good just wondering if old shaky hands mcshakey can get the best out of it without image stabilisation.
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
Hrmm, it's a tricky one. Putting it bluntly, you can get a Sony A200 two lens kit that covers 18-300 with image stabilisation for £380...

Sony Alpha A200 + 18-70 + 75-300mm Double Lens Kit at UK Camera Price Buster

The best way of getting the same spec from Nikon is D60+Nikon 18-55VR+Nikon 70-300VR. That'll set you back £608

The D60 has slightly better high ISO performance, has a very good processing engine, and the two lenses are better than the Sony ones. HOWEVER it's £228 more.

The D40+18-55+Nikon 70-300VR is a halfway house, giving you VR on your wildlife lens (where it's most useful) for £495. Ebaying the kit lens and upgrading to the VR version later will probably add another £50.

So there's the economics. Nikon fanboy that I am, I'd say if you can't afford a 70-300VR, and handheld wildlife is a priority, then the A200 makes more sense, as it stabilises any long lens you choose.
 

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