Welcome back to yashvinblogs.com !
My advice was sought so many times on this particular subject. Just like the article about Ebay shopping in Mauritius, I hope that this article will bring some more light into your lives 🙂
Some months ago, owning a DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera was considered as a privilege, reserved for the rich ones. Mauritians can now acquire the entry level camera D3000 for as low as Rs20, 000 (VAT inclusive). DSLRs are now part of our daily life, they are now everywhere…
Impressed by the wonderful shots captured by Mauritians around us, many among us are tempted to go for a camera but unfortunately, we end up asking ourselves if investing all of our savings in a good camera will really be worth. After all, we are talking about spending over 20k, at least to start with the basic camera and lens.
As a student, it is kindda difficult to go to your parents and convince them by saying “Pa/Ma, mo envie aster 1 camera Rs20, 000” or even as an independent person, spending thousands of bucks on a camera is quite a big deal.
Today, I am writing this article with one main point in mind : A LIMITED BUDGET, putting myself in your shoes.
Features you should look for
Let’s forget about the small compact or the bulky camera for a few minutes…
If you want to step into digital photography, you should start avoiding to switch your camera to the “Automatic” mode. Instead, you should progressively learn how to control the amount of light and the time duration during which the light enters the camera, the sensitivity among others. Technically, you will be playing with the Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO settings. Hopefully, I might come up with detailed articles to demonstrate each of these mentioned words very soon. [Update : It seems that I already wrote something about some of the points above, have a look at this post]
So, while choosing a camera, you should make sure that you can control/have on the camera :
It is a measure for the wideness of the lens opening, thus controlling the amount of light entering the camera.
- Shutter Speed
The amount of time during which light is allow to enter the camera’s sensor. You will need shutter speeds of several seconds in order to be able to shoot trailing lights along roads while you will need extremely short shutter speed if you want to shoot water droplets.
The sensitivity of the camera’s sensor.
The small opening at the back of the camera which allows you to view what you are shooting.
- Built in flash
- Image stabilization/Vibration Reduction.
This one helps in low light conditions.
- Macro mode
This mode allows you to shoot much closer to the object as in normal mode.
A side note : a normal basic camera lens of a DSLR (Nikorr 18-55 VR for example) has a minimum shooting distance of about 0.28m, i.e. the camera will not focus on objects which lie under that distance. My 70-300 Tamron lens allows me to shoot at 1.5m in normal mode while in macro mode, I can be at a nearest distance of 0.9m only from my subject.
- Memory Card and reader
You should get a memory card of a decent size. 2GB might be the minimum nowadays. A memory card reader is optional here but do note that transfer speeds are usually higher if you connect your card to your computer using a reader.
Remember, do not fight over the number of megapixels. I don’t think that most of you will be printing your shots for your family album or even posting billboard-sized printouts.
Optionally, you can go for the following features:
- Recording Movies
You should not forget that you are looking for a camera to make photos. If you really want to shoot video, go for a camcorder instead, it might offer more options for a lower price!
- Live View
The live view allows you to see what you are shooting using the LCD at the back of the camera, just like in compact (point and shoot) cameras. However, do take note that in Live View mode, things turn out to be much slower, focusing can turn out to be a real pain.
Cameras usually save the processed images in JPEG Format. On the other hand, a RAW shot contains all the data captured when the shot was taken. This allows the photographer to access unprocessed values, thus modifying them at his will.
- Time lapse/Interval shooting
This feature allows you to automatically take a shot at a regular interval. You can then turn these sequence of images into a nice movie like the one I have here.
- Continuous shooting
Ever pressed the shutter button 1/2 a second before the actual time? In continuous shooting mode, the camera can take several shots per second when the button is pressed.
- Spare Rechargeable batteries
The recent cameras now come with rechargeable batteries, specifically designed for the camera model. It costs less than AA or AAA alkaline batteries or even, rechargeable AA/AAA batteries and I believe that they might be more effective for camera use.
Should you really wait for the latest model?
Do you (or your parents) wait for the latest BMW or Mercedes model to be announced so that you can go to purchase it?
Unless you already own a camera, I do not advise anyone to wait for some camera model to be announced for a few reasons :
- You do not really need to the latest camera model to learn photography.
- You probably won’t find any difference between a camera offering a video mode of 720p or 1024p, except for the price. As I said, you are most probably looking to buy a camera for still photography not for shooting videos.
- New stuffs usually cost more and the price of previous models will be most probably reviewed.
And finally, by the time this new item is onto the shelves in Mauritius, another model can probably be announced by either the same manufacturer or a competitor.
Will you wait for that new one to be available too?
So, if anyone advises you to wait for a new model to be announced and you are especially tight on budget, you know what you should do.
And what zoom should I go for ?
Everyone dreams of a camera which can shoot as close as a few cms to get the minute details of an insect’s eyes and also, do some paparazzi work in order to grab a nice portrait of a “zoli 35” sitting 500meters away, using the same camera and lens.
Unfortunately, we live in a real world and these are rarely possible with limited budget. Point and shoot cameras usually offer a 3-5x zoom and may additionally offer digital zoom, which is completely useless in a digital camera. On the other hand, zoom on DSLRs depends on the lens attached to it. The most common basic kit lens offered with cameras nowadays are about 3x. You can read more about this in an article in which I demonstrate and talk about the power of lenses.
If you are really planning to invest into a DSLR, I would highly recommend you to spend a few thousand bucks for a higher zoom lens instead of the basic 18-55 lens, just as I did a few months ago.
My 18-55 VR lens for sale As I just mentioned, I went for a 18-105 lens recently. Since then, my kit lens, a nikkor 18-55mm VR lens is carefully packed and stored, waiting for someone to take it away. A similar unused lens usually costs around Rs6k in Mauritius and around $150 on ebay (shipping, customs charge included). I can offer my lens at half the price or even less. It comes together with a free UV Filter and a free lens hood. So, instead of buying a camera with a brand new 18-55 lens, you can go for mine at a much cheaper price. Feel free to contact me.
The last words…
Bridge cameras are usually more interesting. They are available at very affordable prices while offering more or less the same features of a DSLR. The zoom on these cameras can go up to 20x and I can tell you that 20x on a DSLR costs a lot of money, I really mean A LOT!
For info, I previously owned a 5MP second hand bridge camera before I took the decision to invest into my D5000 camera. You should also keep in mind that if you go for a DSLR, that might not be your final purchase. After nearly 1 year, I ended up spending twice the initial amount allocated to photography. Photography is a costly hobby, so be careful in your setting your budget.
To end this article, I will advise you to go for something within your budget because at the end of the day, you are the one paying, not the guy who’s asking you to wait for a model which has not yet been announced.