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I want to buy a new camera

Posted on February 15th, 2009 by Neil Crosby. Filed under Uncategorized.

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision that come May I would be buying myself a new camera. Then, as if from nowhere, a little bit of extra money fell into my lap that I wasn’t expecting. So, the timeframe got brought forward a little bit.

Now, for too long I’ve been wanting to get myself a DSLR and to start taking decent pictures again, but for one reason or another I’ve never actually done the relevant research. Partly it’s been because I haven’t had the money, and partly it’s been because I’m just plain lazy. That’s where you lovely people come in. I’m looking for some advice on the purchase of my first DSLR, and I know that many of you reading this will already have DSLRs and advice to give a noob.

First off though, I’ve always been a Canon boy. I’ve had three IXUSes of one type or another, and a few years back I had an S1 IS. I’ve always been comfortable with the interface that Canon has provided me in the past, so that’s where I lean to for the future as well. That said, I’m in no way married to the brand.

The budget I’m looking at is about £500. For that I’m wanting a camera and a lens. If I can get a macro lens as well, then so much the better.

Bascally, I’m a little clueless. Give me some advice. Please.

P.S. The reason I’m blogging this rather than just twittering is so that I can collate the answers permanently in one place for my reference. So, please answer here :)

P.P.S. So far my front-runners are the Canon 450D and the Canon 1000D.


I bought the following in the end:

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16 Responses to “I want to buy a new camera”

  1. Canon’s entry level DSLR seems to be the 1000D, which you can get as a bundle with two lenses, giving you 18-55 + 75-300mm for £499 – from Bristol Cameras:

    They also do a bundle with 18-55 + 55-200mm for the same dosh:

    If you want to get a better spec camera to start with, the next model up is the 450D + 18-55mm which will set you back £529:

    One thing I will say is that although the 18-55mm kit lens is good for starters, it doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. You might want to upgrade to a better one at a later date:

    Hope that helps!

  2. One thing that was important to me was the feel of the camera in the hand – the Canon 400D (this was before the 450D was out) didn’t feel right in my hand.

    So go into a shop and hold them – I found the Nikons felt much more natural.

  3. Hi Neil,

    As much as I hate the feel of Canon bodies just like Ash I would recommend you get a Canon EOS 450D. It’s within your budget with the standard kit lens and in my opinion it offers the most value for the budget you have allocated.

    I’m a Nikon boy myself but I hate the low-end Nikons like the D40, D60 which don’t have a built in focus motor and are therefore pretty much crippled (you can only use expensive AF-S lenses on them).

  4. Good advice Ash. As it happens, I was out in town today and did get to handle the 450D for a couple of minutes – it seemed to fit me happily, although I’d need to go back and have more of a play to see if that was actually the case.

    Caz – thanks for the links. Just after you posted your comment, but before I read it, I updated the post to say that those two cameras were my current forerunners.

    Thanks Marco as well. I’m glad to be backed up on my thinking that the 450D was significantly better than the 100D and worth the extra money.

    All in all I’m glad I’m not barking completely up the wrong tree. Of course, that’s until the next comment tells me I’m completely wrong…

  5. Extra note: @Caz, the 450D can be had for less than £500. It’s £469.95 incl. the kitlens at John Lewis for example.

    I wouldn’t worry about the kitlens being not all that great. It’s good enough to get started and keep you busy until you’ve saved some money to buy some better glass. While you could of course go for the 1000D I think the 450D will keep you going for a lot longer until you start feeling the need for an upgrade.

  6. Oh Neil what are you thinking. Once you start down this path I know very few that go back.

    I would go suggest that you go with the Canon 450d with kit lens. Its not am amazing lens but a good starter so you can find your photography style. Considering you can get the 450d kit for £470 on Amazon it leaves you with £30 to get a case/backpack/camera bag, card reader, memory card etc. So you might go slightly over your £500 budget.

    When you get some extra money I would suggest you look at getting a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens to see how you like a narrow depth of field and more importantly prime lenses.

  7. Whatever camera you get, throw away the kit lens, and pick up the 50mm prime lens-of-choice for your brand. Nikon’s new 35mm f/1.8 looks brilliant as a starter (and ends up at about 50mm because of the crop factor), for instance, and both Nikon and Canon have cheap 50mm f/1.8 primes that I’d highly recommend looking into.

    They’re better quality glass than the kit lenses, and less flexible than the cheap zooms (which is a benefit, trust me… there are enough knobs and buttons to play with on an SLR without worrying about zooming in and out).

  8. +1 on the 50mm f1.8. Besides the awesome shallow DOF it makes an amazing portrait lens (put it at 2.2-2.8 though unless you want only the nose of your subject in focus)

  9. Once you’ve decided what to go for, a really handy site to keep an eye on is

  10. What Mike says is what I was expecting to do with whatever camera I do get (it’s looking like the 450D now). The problem is I don’t know what the 50mm prime lens of choice is. And all these numbers confuse me. With my amazing reading skills it looks like this is what I should be buying as a lens. Is that correct or am I being supremely stupid?

    Thanks for the link Drew – that looks superbly helpful.

  11. Best advice I ever got was: buy lenses, not cameras. Cameras get better/cheaper all the time, so buy a body that suits your needs now, and then invest the real money in lenses. Lenses tend to last much longer, but be sure to check out what kind of lenses every body takes and what the opportunities there are.

    In the end, if the photography bug really bites you, you are bound to want to change body in a few years anyway, at which moment you’re glad you invested in the lenses anyway ;)

  12. Neil that 50mm is great. You can’t go wrong with any fast prime really. Go for it. I have the Nikon equivalent. It’s plasticy, flimsy and cheap but it takes razor sharp beautiful photos.

  13. @Cristiano and others are right – it’s all about the glass you put on the front, more than the camera.

    I still have (and regularly use) my original Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens which I got with my first 35mm film body in 1990. Still works a treat and although its focussing can be a little slow compared to my newer USM lenses, it still cuts the mustard where image quality is concerned.

    @Neil – yes, the link to that 50mm lens seems to be the most recent incarnation of it.

    @Marco – sure you can get it cheaper, it was just an example to show what was in the kit ;-)

    450D is a great body to start with, and I’m sure you will get a load of use out of it. Handling is also an issue – if it feels comfortable for you, then go for it. That’s one reason I chose Canon all those years ago – I didn’t like the feel of other comparable models (Minolta was one of the main rivals at the time) – I have quite small hands and the others were just too chunky.

  14. I’d also recommend the Canon 50mm f/1.8 as a great basic lens.

    You’re right, the numbers are confusing. In really rough terms, each lens has a focal length number and an aperture number. These are sometimes a range.

    The focal length is in millimetres and is how zoomy the lens is. The small the number, the wider the view. So something like 17mm is pretty wide, 35-85mm is sort of a middle range and then 100mm+ starts getting pretty close in. When the focal length isn’t expressed as a range, the lens doesn’t zoom at all.

    The other figure (the f/x.y one) is the aperture, or how much light the camera lets in. A low aperture number means the lens lets in more light, enabling you to get photos in darker conditions.

    The other thing a low aperture number (actually a ‘wide’ aperture, as the hole opens wider to get in more light) does is enable you to get that effect where something in the shot is in focus and the rest is pleasantly blurred out (shallow depth of field or DoF).

    Where the aperture is given in a range, it usually means that you get the widest aperture available at the widest angle. The narrow aperture is usually available throughout the zoom range.

    As a rough guide, 50mm is good for portrait shots, but you’ll find it’s zoomed in closer than a standard compact camera would be. To get that wider view (for e.g. a group shot) you’ll need something closer to 20mm (the standard 17-55mm lens would do). If you want to zoom in close on things that are further away, you’ll need something that goes up above 100mm. (70-200mm is a popular range.)

    As for aperture, to get anything decent in the pub (which is lower light than you might think) you need something that goes down to f/1.8. Out and about in daylight, f/4+ should be plenty.

    Hope that helps with the numbers a bit!

  15. Thanks Drew, and everyone else.

    After careful consideration I’d decided to go for the Canon 450D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens. For memory, I got a SanDisk Extreme III SDHC 4GB Card. Hopefully they’ll arrive in the next few days – I’m looking forward to it.

  16. Neil you made a great choice with the Canon equipment. You certainly can’t go wrong with that brand!

    In the future if you are looking to sell your old equipment or buy any more you should check out the new marketplace dedicated to cameras and video equipment.

    It is: – The best part is it is FREE! Absolutely NO FEES! All the features of that other auction site but it is FREE!

    If you like the site please spread the word as the more people who use it the more equipment available without added fees!

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