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  1. #1

    Default help needed - newbie!

    I'm looking to buy a new DSLR but have absolutely no clue as to where to begin looking!!

    I'm looking for something that is really good for zooming and the differences in light (day to dusk to dark). A friend mentioned that to get good picture quality it's more to do with the lens rather than what megapixel the camera this true? If so, what is a decent lense spec etc because I have numbers being thrown at me left right and centre when it comes to searching for cameras!

    I'm willing to spend hours and hours and hours on getting used to the camera and playing around with the settings to get the "perfect picture" - my little project with the max price being 500 (all I've saved being a student!) However, I have noticed that some of the 600-700 price range go for 500ish on ebay and theyre from companies rather some dodgy individual etc and they seem to come in good packages (with 2-3 years warranty) eg: including tripod, extra lense, memory card etc - are these any good or am I better off buying direct say from nikon or canon or high street shop etc?

    please help because I haven't a clue what to look for and I'm absolutely dying to buy one!

    Thank you!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010


    Hi Gemma,

    you've come to the right place! There's a number of different avenues you can go down as far as the DSLRs are concerned, but 500 should buy you a pretty decent model. Which one you go for comes down to your personal preference to a certain extent, but here's a few pointers worth considering before spending the cash;

    Don't feel like you have to stick with Canon and Nikon, as Pentax and Sony make some decent DSLRs as well. At the 500 price range the Pentax K-m is expecially impressive, although the AA batteries do make it a touch heavy.

    In terms of good zooming you'll get around an 18-55mm lens, which is the equivalent of a 3x zoom, with the camera as standard. A longer zoom lens can cost anything from 150-1,000, but if you aim for the likes of Sigma and Tamron you'll get a cheaper lens which will stand you in good stead for action photography. Something along the lines of a 55-200mm is worth getting to start with.

    Your friend is right on the optics front, as megapixels are at a stage where it's difficult to get any model which would print to less than A4 comfortably. Because of this it's worth picking your lenses carefully and buying a UV filter with the lens to protect the glass, as well as cleaning it regularly.

    When buying your camera a tripod, bag and decent sized memory card are highly recommended. Warrantees are always worth investigating further to find out what they cover, as some won't offer a replacement model etc.

    Buying on eBay can be a touch unpredictable, especially from private sellers, so if you feel uncomfortable there are some respectable internet retailers out there as well as the usual high street stores. Decide on a model and package, as well as a rough budget, before investing though as otherwise you may be given extras you don't want.

    By all means post a link if you find a package you're after and we'll do our best to help you out

  3. #3



    Firstly, your friend is partially right. Although the number of megapixels does influence the resolution and detail in an image, and affect how big you can enlarge it, in reality most DSLRs have more than enough for most people (unless you're planning to produce billboards). The lens has at least as a big an influence on image quality. The kit lenses supplied with most cameras are reasonable but when you put on a fast prime (non-zoom) lens you really see a difference.

    But (and its a big but) some of these premium lenses can cost way more than your entire budget for both camera and lens combined. On the other hand, whether you'd get much benefit from these lenses even if you could aford them depends on what your own quality expectations are, and what you consider acceptable.

    There are those who spend ages scrutinising their pictures at individual pixel level, agonising over the shortcomings in their equipment, while most of us would rather get with with enjoying taking pictures. The fact is that while some gear is better than others, almost none of it is terrible and you can get awesome A3 prints with pretty much any current DSLR and kit lens.

    You don't mention what kind of photography you do and so i can't advise at all on which, if any, additional lenses you might need. If you have the money you could pass on the kit lens and get higher spec version. Sigma's 17-70mm f/2.8-4 and tamron's 17-50 f/2.8 are two independent examples that offer a wider maximum aperture, which will give you a brighter viewfinder and superior low light performance as well as probably sharper images generally. Both cost between 300-400 though.

    As for bargains, I'd be careful of some eBay retailers, some are based in the far east and i'm not sure what comeback you'd have if something went wrong. But Canon has an where they dispose of display samples, ex demo and end of line stock, and you can get some good bargains there. As I write there's an EOS 1000D auction ending in 3 hours and the high bid is currently at 275 which is a very good price.

  4. #4

    Default re:

    Thank you so much for the responses and the advice, it's very much appreciated!

    In regards to what photography I do, it's mainly landscapes when I go hiking, sunsets, still photography, etc in addition, my boyfriend goes surfing a lot and I take photos of the beach and him surfing but with only having a small kodak standard digital camera, although the shots are good they're not very clear but would look amazing with a DSLR! Are there any specific makes/models which are suited more to this area of photography?

    thank you once again!

  5. #5


    It was all going great till you mentioned surfing! You'll definitely need a telephoto lens for that, as I asume he'll be some distance away. That means you need a twin lens kit which includes a tele-zoom that can go up to 200mm or 300mm. Here are a few that I have just found.

    All of these will produce good results for you, so a lot depends on which ones you like the look and feel of. Go to a shop and try them out, eliminate the ones you don't like.

    For a beginner who doesn't understand too much about f.stops and so forth and wants something small the Nikon D3000 is hard to beat. The E520 with 70-300mm gives you the longest telephoto reach (its smaller sensor makes the lens equivalent to 600mm on a 35mm camera) but the lens will be relatively big and heavy.

  6. #6


    thank you for the response! it's really really appreciated. At the moment I have found a used (only a couple of times) Pentax K-m camera including everything (inc the box it came in) a bag for it and 2 lenses 18-55mm & 50-200mm which is being sold for 300, is this worth it having been used a few times before? as I am struggling to find a Pentax K-x with a 50-200mm lens (which is what I really want) for under my budget

    What do you think? Is it a good buy?



  7. #7


    300 is not a bad price for a K-m twin lens kit. Park Cameras are selling one for 450 and the cheapest I've seen the K-x with this lens is 550 (Bristol Cameras) though most kits I saw are with the 75-300mm.
    The fact that its only been used a few times should not be an issue as long as you trust that the person you're buying it from is telling the truth and the camera seems in generally good condition.
    If you buy it I'd give it a thorough test to check its working properly as soon as you can.

  8. #8

    Default got my camera!

    just to let you know, i've bought a camera - went for the canon eos 400d with 18-55mm lens, 70-300mm lens, bag, accessories etc just waiting for delivery now should be here tomorrow so i can get playing about with it VERY excited!!! xxx


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