Question Camera recommendations for new starters - budget £400

jdevil

Distinguished Member
Hello all,

Partner and I are expecting our first child in April 2021, we've decided to purchase a camera to take snaps of our little ones. While the phones are great for every day photos, sometimes we just want memorable photo for the special occasions and I'm always stunned seeing pictures taken on DSLR cameras and such.

Both my wife and I are on the iPhone XS, the iPhone 12 camera does look stunning but it's also a costly upgrade for the both of us. Can people recommend a good value for money camera up to around £400?

For me the picture quality is very important as well as being simple to use, automatic features will be highly appreciated. Not fussed about low batteries or lack of wifi/bluetooth etc;. I don't mind comprising on those features to ensure I get a camera that whilst basic offers good photo quality.

Is the Sony A6000 any good?

Thanks
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
The A6000 is a good camera - in fact it's fair to say that almost all modern cameras are pretty good, which makes choosing one hard.
The good news is with Black Friday sales there are some deals to be had

I use a Micro 4/3rds system (lenses and body) which for me makes the best balance between compact to carry, affordable and high quality. The entry level bodies and lenses are simple to use but flexible enough to grow with if you get more interested in photography.
I'd suggest looking at the Olympus PEN E-PL9 or Panasonic DMC-GX80 if you don't need a viewfinder.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is the first Olympus camera in that price range that has an Electronic View Finder (EVF) as well as a screen.

There are a selection in that price range from several manufacturers.

My thoughts as a parent with a kid that's almost grown :eek:
- make sure there are decent video modes
I used a friend's VHS-C camcorder when ours was very small, the quality of that leaves a lot to be desired.
then bought a MiniDV camcorder and that looks a great deal better but in comparison to today's 4K the SD footage isn't.
The 2MP images I took at the beginning still hold up on an HD screen, the video less so.
Obviously you don't get to go back and reshoot their first steps!

- portability
When your baby is new you'll be stunned by the amount of stuff you need just to leave the house.
If you end up with a massive camera and bag then you may leave it at home.
The best camera is the one you have with you.

- time
If you aren't really into photography now or you don't want to be in future then you may not want to invest energy in learning photography and post processing etc.

You might want to consider a compact camera with a 1" sensor - the Sony RX100 series is often recommended but I've never used one myself.


You will get a lot more for your money with system cameras if you buy used. My main camera and most of my lenses were all bought used from second hand dealers and through forums.
If you buy carefully there's nothing wrong with them
e.g.

This site indexes lots of respectable used camera sites - if you know what you want it's very useful
This will search on the A6000 body only - don't forget you'll need a lens.
 

eduk

Distinguished Member
Hello all,

Partner and I are expecting our first child in April 2021, we've decided to purchase a camera to take snaps of our little ones. While the phones are great for every day photos, sometimes we just want memorable photo for the special occasions and I'm always stunned seeing pictures taken on DSLR cameras and such.

Both my wife and I are on the iPhone XS, the iPhone 12 camera does look stunning but it's also a costly upgrade for the both of us. Can people recommend a good value for money camera up to around £400?

For me the picture quality is very important as well as being simple to use, automatic features will be highly appreciated. Not fussed about low batteries or lack of wifi/bluetooth etc;. I don't mind comprising on those features to ensure I get a camera that whilst basic offers good photo quality.

Is the Sony A6000 any good?

Thanks

My guess is that you'll never take a lens system camera like the A6000 with you, you'll already have enough to carry, leaving it at home gathering dust. The old saying goes, the best camera is the one that you have with you. That is your iPhone XS.

If you want something with a good zoom that slips into your pants pocket, then the RX100 has that advantage over your iPhone XS. But is it a £400 advantage? Will you *need* that zoom for the first year or two? Will you see a 400 quid difference in image quality? Hmmm, not so sure about all that.

Before springing the cash, download the Snapseed app. Take some headshot pics of your wife or borrow a relatives baby. Learn how to process portrait images in Snapseed and then see what you think of your iPhone XS pictures after processing them.

If you can do without the zoom and are able to capture sharp enough shots (use GOOD light), you may find that it is about composition and post processing rather than the XS camera. Then spend 100 quid on the Tommee Tippee Prep Day and Night instead (not the cheaper version). You will thank me later!
 

palace

Active Member
If you can afford an extra £50 I would give this deal a consideration as the free extra lens you get with it is a very good portrait lens.Not used it to its full potential but plenty of good reviews and forums to have a look at.
I find the menus a little confusing but do not get many bad photos from it.

 

12harry

Distinguished Member
I guess it depends on your skill-level . . . those DSLR pics you admire might have been just as good in the right hands as a modern phone, now that they often offer defocussed background effects.

Having some practice with a doll is probably good photo-advice -but may not go down well - be careful.
If you are willing to spend the time getting the picture "right" then a proper camera is likely better than a phone..... but the difference is increasingly different to spot.... in the right hands, I mean. That's down to learning . . . when Covid19 is over you could join a Camera Club . . . plenty of possibilities/suggestions there . . . .
+ Bear in mind that these pictures won't sit well with the child - when grown-up... They should be for you, alone.

Good Luck.
 

Johnmcl7

Distinguished Member
I agree with Eddie, I think the A6000 is a great camera with a relatively small body and lens but a large and very capable APS-C sensor and have recommended it for those reasons I find people end up not using it and sticking with their phone. To add a qualifier to that I'm meaning specifically buying the camera and the kit lens with no plans to add primes or telephoto lenses, just using it for general shooting with the kit lens. Phones have the advantage of convenience and speed plus with increasingly clever software tricks they're getting very good automatic results which are mostly only viewed on small phone screens or tablet screens where the limitations in the IQ don't really show.

I was a big fan of the RX100 series and used to carry a mkIV with me but I found with a phone upgrade a couple of years ago the phone had closed the gap enough I just wasn't using the RX100 any more and it's been pretty much retired since. Personally I do still primarily use dedicated cameras but looking at others wanting to do general photography without investing in a wider range or better kit end up just using their phone.
 

jdevil

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the comments all, after much think I decided to hold out and just upgrade my phone around Oct 2021 when the iPhone 13 releases. You simply cannot beat the convenience of the phone and at the end of the day that's all it really boils down to.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
In this situation the old adage of the best camera is the one with you is very true, even more so with great cameras on phones now. That said I’d highly recommend a Sony RX100. I’ve had several and they really are fabulous. Tiny but very versatile with superb photo and video. Also a lovely thing, very well built. If you buy too big you just won’t use it.
 

snerkler

Member
Firstly congratulations.

One thing no-one seems to have mentioned (at least that I've seen) is the autofocus system. It won't be an issue in the early stages when the baby is pretty still, but as soon as they're crawling around, and even more so running around a good autofocus can be worth it's weight in gold. Some modern cameras also have something called eye AF, where the camera automatically focuses on, and tracks the eye taking all the hassle out of focussing and freeing you up to just take the shot.

I'm not sure whether you'll find cameras with such tech within budget yet, but if willing to buy used I doubt you'll have to wait long.

With regards to camera phones, the 'fake' blurring can look OK at times but there are many times that it's not great and shows artefacts. This tech will only get better though.
 

Johnmcl7

Distinguished Member
Firstly congratulations.

One thing no-one seems to have mentioned (at least that I've seen) is the autofocus system. It won't be an issue in the early stages when the baby is pretty still, but as soon as they're crawling around, and even more so running around a good autofocus can be worth it's weight in gold. Some modern cameras also have something called eye AF, where the camera automatically focuses on, and tracks the eye taking all the hassle out of focussing and freeing you up to just take the shot.

I'm not sure whether you'll find cameras with such tech within budget yet, but if willing to buy used I doubt you'll have to wait long.

With regards to camera phones, the 'fake' blurring can look OK at times but there are many times that it's not great and shows artefacts. This tech will only get better though.

While I agree AF can make a big difference I think the reason it's not been mentioned is that in the £400 class of cameras it's not anything special. I find phone camera's autofocus pretty good even on my older model (I note the newer ones have dedicated AF modules now) and can quickly focus on faces which I find is good enough with their much greater depth of field whereas on larger sensors eye AF is useful with the paper thin depth of field. I do have cameras with incredible AF but I find for the type of shots I need that for it's not something I'd use the phone for anyway and definitely not the camera in automatic as the OP requested.

I agree with you about the fake DoF effects which often have errors in separating the background but also it's usually way over the top for the type of shot which just looks wrong to me. Having said that though it's a popular type of shot with a lot of my friends and while I dislike recommending sticking with a phone on a camera forum, that's based on my experiences with friends and acquaintances with cameras.
 

eduk

Distinguished Member
While I agree AF can make a big difference I think the reason it's not been mentioned is that in the £400 class of cameras it's not anything special. I find phone camera's autofocus pretty good even on my older model (I note the newer ones have dedicated AF modules now) and can quickly focus on faces which I find is good enough with their much greater depth of field whereas on larger sensors eye AF is useful with the paper thin depth of field. I do have cameras with incredible AF but I find for the type of shots I need that for it's not something I'd use the phone for anyway and definitely not the camera in automatic as the OP requested.

I agree with you about the fake DoF effects which often have errors in separating the background but also it's usually way over the top for the type of shot which just looks wrong to me. Having said that though it's a popular type of shot with a lot of my friends and while I dislike recommending sticking with a phone on a camera forum, that's based on my experiences with friends and acquaintances with cameras.

Indeed, a phone camera that can't AF fast enough for a babe in arms needs binning, assuming you are half-competent about using available light.

However, no AF system known to man will help snerker get a sharp shot :p we'll have to wait for in-camera AI to take over the shooting before witnessing that. That being said, I had a Motorola G5 and the AF was utter 💩 in good light, but it wasn't me, honest!

This thread is quite revealing as a few years ago I'd be scoffing at recommending a phone camera and software over the RX100, this is the mobile phone forum, yes? :confused:

Phone cameras are getting quite a number of mpix and can use those to digitally zoom, AF keeps getting better. Outside of natural bokeh there isn't much left. Ultra fast AF, big glass and handling is for us snobs.

What's telling is that when choosing a mirrorless camera, the excellent jpeg output and wi-fi appeared on my priority list for quick transfer to phone and then Facebook (the X-E3 has low power Bluetooth for a constant connection). No more waiting for me to get around to editing images on my PC, people want the pics now. I've even considered the Instax SP-3 SQ printer for giving snaps out at parties.

For the times they are a-changin' I can't recall the last time that I saw a budget compact camera in use, just the occasional mirrorless like the NEX. In 2021 there may even be some public events to use it at!
 

snerkler

Member
Indeed, a phone camera that can't AF fast enough for a babe in arms needs binning, assuming you are half-competent about using available light.

However, no AF system known to man will help snerker get a sharp shot :p we'll have to wait for in-camera AI to take over the shooting before witnessing that. That being said, I had a Motorola G5 and the AF was utter 💩 in good light, but it wasn't me, honest!

This thread is quite revealing as a few years ago I'd be scoffing at recommending a phone camera and software over the RX100, this is the mobile phone forum, yes? :confused:

Phone cameras are getting quite a number of mpix and can use those to digitally zoom, AF keeps getting better. Outside of natural bokeh there isn't much left. Ultra fast AF, big glass and handling is for us snobs.

What's telling is that when choosing a mirrorless camera, the excellent jpeg output and wi-fi appeared on my priority list for quick transfer to phone and then Facebook (the X-E3 has low power Bluetooth for a constant connection). No more waiting for me to get around to editing images on my PC, people want the pics now. I've even considered the Instax SP-3 SQ printer for giving snaps out at parties.

For the times they are a-changin' I can't recall the last time that I saw a budget compact camera in use, just the occasional mirrorless like the NEX. In 2021 there may even be some public events to use it at!
How very dare you :nono::mad::laugh:

With regards to the bit I’ve highlighted there’s still the IQ of the small sensor to consider. How phones will manage to overcome this I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure they will one day:smashin:
 

shotokan101

Banned
You can't really get around low light issues without a decent size sensor - at least for now.....
 

Johnmcl7

Distinguished Member
You can't really get around low light issues without a decent size sensor - at least for now.....

For static shots computational tricks with image stacking work pretty well and I've a few friends who really like those low light shots. In standard shots the aggressive image processing and the fact the images are normally viewed at small sizes or on small screens means the high iso noise isn't that noticeable and 'good enough' for most it seems. When the Note 8/9 were launched I spent a while in subreddits and there were a fair number of posts with people showing off the low light performance such as shots indoors at a theatre which to me were underexposed and I know a decent camera would have been much better but I find that's quite typical of how people view these photos.

Personally I do agree with you and still carry a little Sony RX1R with me when out doing night time mountain bike rides, it may be ancient technology these days but it has a sharp lens and usable iso 6400 so at F2 it can produce really impressive images compared to phone cameras. Not just for how clean they are but also the dynamic range so I can balance the image a bit with the super bright bike lights and dark environment. However amongst a large pool of riders and many photos taken I'm the only one using a dedicated camera.

This thread is quite revealing as a few years ago I'd be scoffing at recommending a phone camera and software over the RX100, this is the mobile phone forum, yes? :confused:

Phone cameras are getting quite a number of mpix and can use those to digitally zoom, AF keeps getting better. Outside of natural bokeh there isn't much left. Ultra fast AF, big glass and handling is for us snobs.

What's telling is that when choosing a mirrorless camera, the excellent jpeg output and wi-fi appeared on my priority list for quick transfer to phone and then Facebook (the X-E3 has low power Bluetooth for a constant connection). No more waiting for me to get around to editing images on my PC, people want the pics now. I've even considered the Instax SP-3 SQ printer for giving snaps out at parties.

For the times they are a-changin' I can't recall the last time that I saw a budget compact camera in use, just the occasional mirrorless like the NEX. In 2021 there may even be some public events to use it at!

Phone cameras have certainly proceeded further than I thought they would and it makes me wonder at what point would I stop using better cameras. Maybe I'm being optimistic about cameras but I can't see that happening, many of the improvements in phone cameras are coming from very good image processing and any sensor improvements can scale up to bigger sensors to keep their advantage. While the computational techniques are impressive there's many occasions where stacking images for better noise control or better DR isn't viable.

I also rarely ever see dedicated cameras out and about but the flip side is on occasions a dedicated camera is needed then it gives those of us sticking them a significant advantage. An NHS Spitfire flew up here (I'm not sure how much of the UK if was flying over) so I headed out with a FF mirrorless camera and a 100-400mm lens, there were a large number of people at the spot I chose all with phone cameras out. My camera absolutely nailed the shots although even at 400mm I had to do a lot of cropping but I managed to get very clear, detailed shots of the plane while the plane looked like a spec of dirt or a bird even from the very best phone cameras.

I was out with a friend and her young children down at a beach, my friends took some pictures on their phones which were fine but with a 28-200mm lens and decent high iso I was able to get some pretty decent close up shots of the children splashing through the water and playing on a rope swing.

I realise that seems to totally contradict what I've just been saying but I'm using some fairly expensive camera equipment and not in automatic, if the OP's question had been asking for recommendations with a much higher budget and wanting to learn the settings my answer would have been different.

Wireless transfer is definitely really handy and something I really miss on the RX1R, on my other cameras it's great to be able to quickly transfer the files to my phone and then can send them on if people need them fast.
 

snerkler

Member
You can't really get around low light issues without a decent size sensor - at least for now.....
Or the fact that you view it on something larger than a phone the quality starts to deteriorate. Of course, that only tends to be noticeable to us camera snobs ;)
 

eduk

Distinguished Member
Or the fact that you view it on something larger than a phone the quality starts to deteriorate. Of course, that only tends to be noticeable to us camera snobs ;)

Are you suggesting that people like Jim would not notice? :devil:
 

shotokan101

Banned

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