Advice for new photographer: Which camera should I buy?


Hetch

New Member
Apr 19, 2018
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#1
Hey guys I've recently started taking photos ever since I took a photography course in NTU (still studying now) and I'm looking to get my first camera. Could I get recommendations as to which mirrorless camera/DSLR would be a good start for me please?

I have been looking at Fuji X-T2/T20, Sony Alpha a6300, and I have been using a Nikon D610 rented from the school.
Also, what are your thoughts on Pentax cameras?

Really appreciate any advice! Thank you!
 

thoongeng

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2010
1,306
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#2
Welcome to Clubsnap and the world of photography :)

Those cameras you mentioned are pretty good starters, though also remember that the camera is a system and there are many components other than the camera body. All the major manufacturers have good systems, some have more established systems. So when you choose a camera body, do remember you're buying into a system.

Asking which brand is better will inevitably start a brand war, as each brand has it's pros and cons. I'll suggest you start with a list of things you prefer, eg cost, weight, ergonomics, lens range that you use. You can use your experience with the Nikon D610 as a guide, are you comfortable with the controls, weight etc? What are the cons you have identified and does other brands address those better?

Good luck :)
 

one eye jack

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2011
877
22
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#3
Hey guys I've recently started taking photos ever since I took a photography course in NTU (still studying now) and I'm looking to get my first camera. Could I get recommendations as to which mirrorless camera/DSLR would be a good start for me please?

I have been looking at Fuji X-T2/T20, Sony Alpha a6300, and I have been using a Nikon D610 rented from the school.
Also, what are your thoughts on Pentax cameras?

Really appreciate any advice! Thank you!
People will give you diplomatic answers which I think is not helpful at all. You will know what you need when you know what you intend to shoot.Of course people will say all cameras can do what you want that is if your subjects are static or still life and in bright lighting. There are situations or genres like sports,wildlife/birding where there are quick movements and low light in night scenes or indoors.Yes the cameras can take the photos but how many of them are keepers? Don't let the common advice of using a shutter speed double of the lens' focal lenght.Yes you can freeze the moment but is it in focus?

Many new photographers naively think autofocus,auto exposure will produce the photos they want,that is technology will help make better photos which is true to a certain extent but if everyone is using the same technology what differentiates you from the others? This is not competition but making the photographs you want ,not snapshots which everyone makes with their mobile phone camera.

Yes you are buying into a system but frankly most brands in terms of lenses already cover what most people will want that is wide angle to telephoto.So what or which to choose? This is where what you learn in photography course will help you to know what you need to have to shoot the genres you want...a camera body with kit lens will cover wide angle to short telephoto which is sufficent
for most photographic situations. So that one camera body and lens if you have a small budget.whether you want another lens or an external flash unit as most cameras have on board flash or a tripod is another matter. Don't forget to get a dry cabinet to store your equipment to prevent fungus on lenses.

As you are still a student so you should consider carefully unless you have generous parents. It's the person behind the camera with the skills rather than the fancy latest model that matters meaning any camera in the hands of the skillful can make photographs that stands out from the rest all things taken into consideration. In the end I may also be giving a diplomatic answer...ask the right questions to get the right answers. ;) By the way most people here have at least 2 or more cameras...like me plus an assortment of
lenses and flashes/speedlites so what..haha.
 

Feb 26, 2014
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#4
There was a sticky here with this question

I think the best advice was ergonomics

Feel them in your hand and choose the one you feel most comfortable with

All are good
 

Hetch

New Member
Apr 19, 2018
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#5
Thank you all for your responses!

Yes sorry I didn't mean to ask which was the best brand but just wanted to gather opinion on what the photographers here are using. I shoot mostly portraits, outdoor portraits and environmental street shots, as I do not have access to a studio. I have developed a liking to taking nights shots as well. I have played around with a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lens and I understand some cameras take better shots in low-light conditions or have more lens options for certain genre of photography?

I've been looking to get a mirrorless camera for a while, I think not every system has the same range of prime lenses and portrait lenses (if there even is such a term/thing) so I wanted to ask for opinions here, like what do portrait photographers here prefer to use and why, so that I can make a more informed decision among the cameras and lenses available.

Please excuse my ignorance as I am pretty new to the world and gadgets of photography so correct me if I'm wrong!
Thanks for your input and help!
 

Octarine

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
12,635
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Pasir Ris
#6
Genre of photography does not automatically equal to any lens (neither prime nor zoom, nor any focal length). Genre is what and how you shoot (content). The focal length you use depends on what you want to achieve. There are certain focal length used more often for certain topics, but that does not rule out all the other ranges. So just stay open minded on that topic.
If you feel that your portraits come out best at 50mm and the working distance is what you like then just go ahead. No hard and fast rule (and you should be careful if someone tells you that portraits must be done with a certain focal length, see my initial words). If you want to explore other focal length ranges you can still just rent a lens and play for a weekend.
For low light conditions and ISO capabilities you can check the extensive test series they do on www.dpreview.com. That will tell you how much noise the camera produces and can handle internally (for JPG output). If you work with RAW and external editor then only the RAW results are meaningful. Secondly: downsizing images is one of the best noise-reduction tools ;) - unless you need to print in poster size.
For now I would suggest leaving the wallet at home and heading down to some shops for hands-on feeling. See how you like the camera, the ergonomics, weight, menu style and the many other things you will only notice once you have it in your hands. Once you like one or two, check the specs online, do your price comparison. Get one that you can safely afford to keep money for the other items (mentioned already above). Don't get fooled by marketing (amateur, semi-pro range etc bla-bla), even the entry level range cameras are capable of taking beautiful pictures - if you know how to handle it.
That brings you to the next topic: your skills. Skills make the largest part of any image, starting with composition. No camera will do that for you. So keep some money aside for some good books, or spend time watching YouTube videos, visit some art galleries to see pictures, analyse them, think about what you perceive from the picture etc.. That's a huge field for you, and it's not related to any camera brand or focal length.
 

one eye jack

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2011
877
22
18
#7
Thank you all for your responses!

Yes sorry I didn't mean to ask which was the best brand but just wanted to gather opinion on what the photographers here are using. I shoot mostly portraits, outdoor portraits and environmental street shots, as I do not have access to a studio. I have developed a liking to taking nights shots as well. I have played around with a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lens and I understand some cameras take better shots in low-light conditions or have more lens options for certain genre of photography?

I've been looking to get a mirrorless camera for a while, I think not every system has the same range of prime lenses and portrait lenses (if there even is such a term/thing) so I wanted to ask for opinions here, like what do portrait photographers here prefer to use and why, so that I can make a more informed decision among the cameras and lenses available.

Please excuse my ignorance as I am pretty new to the world and gadgets of photography so correct me if I'm wrong!
Thanks for your input and help!
Hi, you are ignorant only because you have yet to know. Wrong sounds negative, I would prefer inexperienced.Everyone has to start from somewhere right? :)

This is going to be technical as there is no other way to explain the things you need to know but I'll make it simple.So you want to shoot portraits which means you must know the hardware and lighting methods because ultimately this will have a large influence on the output or look of the photo if in jpeg output or format.

As portrait photography in which the subject/human is largely static/stationary unless they are performing an action eg. jumping,running or dancing all cameras are viable or suitable.Most people will care about the
colours and contrast of the jpeg output but the size of the image sensor whether small or big also have an influence namely the depth of field in front and back of the subject.In simple terms it's the isolation of the subject from the background that allows the human eye to gaze or concentrate on the face or body of the person without the distraction of other details in the photo unless it adds to it.Humans are narcissistic..haha.In otherwords vain.It's how to take advantage and use of the environment.

Which camera?
You have shortlisted fuji..XT2 is top of the line model and XT20 entry level.
Of course one is more expensive than the other.It's claim to fame is the colour rendering in other words it's image processor is tweaked and can also simulate the colour and look of Fuji's popular film medium products of the film camera era. Digital have it's own look whether you like it or not! Young people like Fuji as you don't have to use photo editing to get the look.So OOC (out of camera) it's convenient. Lenses are not cheap though.

Sony A6300: Just another mirrorless model superceded by A6500 a low light
capable and 4K video model and pricey.


The above models have APSC sensors and you played with Nikon 610 which is a full frame 35mm film equivalent. Have you noticed the difference in output between them? It may be subtle but there is a difference.

If I really have the budget,for portrait shoot and if it was me I would
go straight to a full frame camera.Most people will play with the various formats and ultimately end up full frame.Why not save time and money?

The lens:

In formal portrait photography there are technical reasons to use a certain focal length because of lens distortion.A lens simply renders or form an image onto a flat sensor/surface but because of physics or science of optics (lens)the curvature of lens elements in a given lens of focal length does not form an image which is proportional as in the real object/subject. An example is if you use phone camera and take a selfie you can see the nose and eyes are distorted.So the guideline is:

35mm: Because of wider angle of view it's used for environmental portraits,
eg. an artist in his studio or a craftmans in his workshop,a CEO in his office or factory in otherwords the background details reveals something more about the person.

50mm: the same angle of view as the human eye so gives it a natural perspective and for full length, 3/4 to half body shots. There will be distortion if you shoot closer like a head and shoulder shot.

85mm: A focal length that allows subject to be photographed from a further distance so that gives a feeling of comfort and personal space which the subject/human will not feel self conscious and more likely to give a natural expression of the face,eyes and body.Also give the least distortion.

Longer focal lengths give better subject isolation and you can even use a supertelephoto lens if that's your vision.

Ultra wide angle lens: Subject will mostly be in the center of frame for minimum distortion, more environment!

A favourite all-in one lens is the 70-200mm F2.8 which is the workhorse of wedding and portrait shooters.

On lens' sharpness, it's not neccessary because you only need sharp enough
as there is also a technical reason...because digital lens and sensor has high resolution showing the full glory of a women's time ravaged face is simply cruel however photo editing can do wonders to make women happy. :)
That's why you seldom see head shots in the portrait gallery here! Again technical expertise.The use of light modifiers help here.

As an aside, larger image sensors always look sharper! It's the physics.

Lighting: It's either natural available/existing light mostly outdoors or indoors or full controlled studio lighting.Of course you can supplement with artificial or flash lighting as fill light for natural lighting.Basically you need to be able to visualise and see the direction of light as the sun is the only light source.Lighting is a subject in itself so much to learn. So is exposure and metering both are crucial to successful photos.

Clothing/colour coordination and makeup and hair style if for females, depending on body types and skin colour, this will affect the subjects self confidence and self esteem that can prevent or thwart a successful shoot. Don't forget the location!

Oh a forgoten but also crucial element is the rapport between photographer and subject. The friendliness, trust and professional conduct which will result in subject being/looking natural as opposed to awkward or nervous. A preshoot meeting to gage and let subject and photographer get to know each other.These are some of the things to think about.

Posing, this largely stumps most photographers...the trick is to pose subject so as to not look posed, an art in itself! There is also corrective posing to minimise or hide subject's physical imperfections by using subject's body parts like hair,arms,hands,legs,objects to cover or block from camera view. The last trick is selective lighting to show or not show like in outdoors to use the shade.

Hope this helps.

Ps. A good book to read is Neil Van Niekerk's Direction and quality of light. You can also visit his website for more tips.

https://neilvn.com/tangents/photography-book-direction-quality-of-light/
 

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Likes: Hetch

hantu123

New Member
Apr 27, 2018
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#8
Just giving an opinion from Sony perspective. You can get a Sony A6000 ($849) or A6300 (not sure of the price).

For a student, I can recommend some best bang for buck lens, the sharpest primes are Sigma 30mm F1.4 and Sigma 16mm F1.4 that cost $399 and $535 brand new. If you want landscape/night shoot, it will be Samyang 12mm F2 for $370 brand new. If you need zoom, a underated 55-210mm at $300 is available as compared to all time favourite 18-105mm F4 and new kid on the block 18-135mm costing around $800 brand new.

Hopefully the above with prices can let u decide as a student. I'm curious to how camera lens cost for other mirrorless models.
 

Likes: Hetch
Aug 15, 2014
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#9
just my 2 cents worth...Are you looking at this as a hobby or to turn pro in the near future? I started on film eons ago, but stopped during the digital age, only to pick it up again a few years back with an OMD EM10, then a Pen-F. I hate to lug heavy equipments around (does not want to repeat the film days again) and do not wish to spend too much, thus DSLR, APS, eg. Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm is out. And discovered that M43 is the best solution for me, as I am no pro, so no need to print huge prints (mind you, even M43 can print good quality large poster size prints and more pros are changing their huge cams for them); also I want to travel light, so M43 presents the best solution for me.

However, 2 weeks ago, I sold away all my M43 gears and bought a Panasonic TZ220; and I have been taking more photos in the past 2 week than the past year with my M43. I enjoy taking photos again and I always have it with me wherever I go, cause its so small and light, and most importantly a view finder, something left over from my film days.

some advice would be,

a. you don't need to have big bombastic gears to take good photos or to show off that you are a photographer. its the person behind it that determines the quality of the photo taken.

b. the best camera is the one always with you.

c. enjoy taking photos, don't be burdened by heavy gears, that you might end up not using it as much, as its a hassle to take it out from the bag, changing lens...etc. especially after a whole day out walking.

why don't you look at high end compacts with a 1 inch sensor, such as Sony RX100 series or Panasonic LX10? they are capable of taking stunning photos and with enough manual control for you to practice on before deciding on a camera system. they are also cheaper and if you decide to upgrade to a system, you can still keep them as a backup or 2nd camera.

also, I have seen too many people buying DSLR or mirrorless systems that end up spending more time in the dry cabinet than out of the house.
 

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pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,997
114
63
#10
Hey guys I've recently started taking photos ever since I took a photography course in NTU (still studying now) and I'm looking to get my first camera. Could I get recommendations as to which mirrorless camera/DSLR would be a good start for me please?

I have been looking at Fuji X-T2/T20, Sony Alpha a6300, and I have been using a Nikon D610 rented from the school.
Also, what are your thoughts on Pentax cameras?

Really appreciate any advice! Thank you!
The Nikon D610 is a full frame camera and it does have an advantage to get this shallow DOF (depth of field) look that some prefer.
However, you can basically do a fair bit with apsc sensor cameras too with the right lenses, and not all photos are for this shallow DOF look.

The truth is that cameras have all gotten more than decent for most uses since 5 or more years back.
Be it decent AF, dynamic range, etc.
There have been some incremental improvements between model to model, but they don't make anyone a better photographer just by having a model that is newer by 1-5yrs.
As long as you consciously learn about photography, its generally ok to use any camera of whichever brand, even if its an older model going at a cheaper price.

Pentax cameras are generally good value for money and usually have some unique features built into them.
1. Weather sealing
2. Generally 100% viewfinder for the newer models.
3. Sensor shift for shake reduction
4. Shift feature using the moving sensor
5. Astro tracer on some models or with an added GPS module.
6. Small for a DSLR of its class with small lens
7. Good handling and interface, usually with a button/knob for the controls and less menu digging.
8. Usually having a line of lenses that are very small but slower f-stop
 

Likes: Hetch
Aug 15, 2014
103
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Singapore
#12
Easy for this guy to say any cheap camera will do because he's a pro so is it chicken or egg first?
Skills or camera you be the judge. :)

https://petapixel.com/2017/07/03/swapped-pro-dslr-cheapest-one-available/
its still a DSLR, not a $200 compact, and did editing as well...but, I agree with him. met a guy once, whose not a pro and never use SLR/DSLR/CSC before, just a casual snapper, with a simple digicam, but his photos are pretty awesome. I had friends who started photography a bit later than me, and their gears put mine to shame...but when they proudly show me their photos, I was like...hmm...ok

so...guess don't get too caught up on gears, or worse acquired the GAS...just use whatever feels good and comfortable and just enjoy doing it...
 

Apr 19, 2011
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#13
Can you wait a few months to purchase your system?

From the list of cameras you looked at, I'd vote for the Fuji system because of their IQ and the overall cost of the system (ie. lens are decently priced). However, the X-T3 will be announced some time in September and should be out by December according to the many rumors. In that case, I'd say wait for it to be announced. You might opt to get a 2nd hand set, which would be even better since X-T2 prices should decrease even more.

I'd stay away from the Sony APCS systems since Sony is more invested in their FF range.

That's my opinion at least. I find Fuji lenses to be more affordable and their film simulations are just awesome.
 

hantu123

New Member
Apr 27, 2018
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#14
Can you wait a few months to purchase your system?

From the list of cameras you looked at, I'd vote for the Fuji system because of their IQ and the overall cost of the system (ie. lens are decently priced). However, the X-T3 will be announced some time in September and should be out by December according to the many rumors. In that case, I'd say wait for it to be announced. You might opt to get a 2nd hand set, which would be even better since X-T2 prices should decrease even more.

I'd stay away from the Sony APCS systems since Sony is more invested in their FF range.

That's my opinion at least. I find Fuji lenses to be more affordable and their film simulations are just awesome.
What are some of the popular Fuji lens used? Just would like to know the price range (brand new) as compared to Sony APS-C lens.
 

Apr 19, 2011
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#15
What are some of the popular Fuji lens used? Just would like to know the price range (brand new) as compared to Sony APS-C lens.
Personally for me, this is my dream list.
Primes: 16mm f/1.4, 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, 90mm f/2

Zooms: 16-55mm f/2.8, 50-140mm f/2.8

You could save cost by buying them 2nd hand too in the marketplace. More value since the lenses are usually still in great condition.
 

Ah Keong

Senior Member
Dec 3, 2014
576
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North
#16
Looking at the X-T2, the X-T3 would be awesome!~
 

daredevil123

Moderator
Staff member
Oct 25, 2005
21,671
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lil red dot
#17
Getting a camera is a very personal choice because any system/model has its own sets of strengths and weaknesses. You have to gauge what matters to you more and find the best fit for your preferences. A good way to start is to start reading/watching reviews available on the models interested and go from there. Seriously there are so many choices now in the market and you have to take your time to do your own research. Also take your time to test out these cameras, go to showrooms, or even rent some cameras and lenses out to try. For example for Fuji, you can rent cameras and lenses from the Fuji showroom at Suntec, and for short periods, some of the equipment are available for free rental as well. Use these opportunity to test out the equipment you might be interested in.

Personally, I have been using both the Nikon FF plus APSC and Fuji X systems. Leaning more towards mirrorless nowadays, to my XT1 and XT2.
 

Likes: Hetch
Jan 9, 2011
125
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Singapore
www.flickr.com
#18
Yeah, I agree with daredevil123 that getting a camera is a very personal choice. For many beginners, they just get one of the popular brands like Canon or Nikon just because they see everyone else using those brands.

I started with the Sony A33 (a DSLT) back then, and tried many kinds of photography. Getting lenses like 70-210 mm zoom and even rented a macro lens to see what kind of photography I really like. In the end, I'm happy with landscape photography, which leads me to using wide angle lenses.

Now I'm using the Sony A7ii with 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens. I only bring this lens for my travels, though there are times where I wish I have a bit more of zoom.

I would say get a camera system that you like best, in terms of pricing, portability, and its availability. Hope you like photography :)
 

Likes: Hetch

Hetch

New Member
Apr 19, 2018
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#19
Can you wait a few months to purchase your system?

From the list of cameras you looked at, I'd vote for the Fuji system because of their IQ and the overall cost of the system (ie. lens are decently priced). However, the X-T3 will be announced some time in September and should be out by December according to the many rumors. In that case, I'd say wait for it to be announced. You might opt to get a 2nd hand set, which would be even better since X-T2 prices should decrease even more.

I'd stay away from the Sony APCS systems since Sony is more invested in their FF range.

That's my opinion at least. I find Fuji lenses to be more affordable and their film simulations are just awesome.
Oh yes I went to the recent CEE show at Suntec and found out that Sony lenses are quite expensive. I actually found an old Nex-3N with a dented lens and wanted to get a new piece of glass for it but they were 500 and up (at least for faster lenses because I was mainly looking at 24mm/35mm f/1.8 lenses).
Decided to put that on hold.
 

Hetch

New Member
Apr 19, 2018
6
0
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#20
Getting a camera is a very personal choice because any system/model has its own sets of strengths and weaknesses. You have to gauge what matters to you more and find the best fit for your preferences. A good way to start is to start reading/watching reviews available on the models interested and go from there. Seriously there are so many choices now in the market and you have to take your time to do your own research. Also take your time to test out these cameras, go to showrooms, or even rent some cameras and lenses out to try. For example for Fuji, you can rent cameras and lenses from the Fuji showroom at Suntec, and for short periods, some of the equipment are available for free rental as well. Use these opportunity to test out the equipment you might be interested in.

Personally, I have been using both the Nikon FF plus APSC and Fuji X systems. Leaning more towards mirrorless nowadays, to my XT1 and XT2.
Oh wow I never knew bout the Fuji showroom and rental services there at Suntec! Thanks for the tip!
 

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