Taking The Jump From Bridge To DSLR, But Which Camera?

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Katiegan

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I currently own a Nikon Coolpix L120 bridge camera, and have for around 3 years now. It's a great camera, and takes fairly decent photos, but I'm looking to step up to a DSLR now. As much as I love my Nikon, the sport mode leaves a lot to be desired and that's really the thing I use it the most for. I mainly take photos at motorsport events, usually rallies, and in the future I'll be attending a few track days, so obviously I'm wanting to take photos of some fast moving objects. However, for some reason, the Nikon's sport mode leaves my photos coming out very grainy and just spoils them. Here's a few examples:







It struggles to cope with sun glare too, and ends up putting awful lines down my photos:







It's good for macro and still photos, but I use it more for motorsport and just need something with a better quality sport mode. I've been told that Canons are the better cameras, but I'm not all that knowledgeable with all the different brands and which one is best. I've done some research, but to be honest I think it'd be best if I actually spoke to some photographers who can recommend me something. So, basically, I'm looking for a camera that takes good quality action shots as well as stills, and something that preferably doesn't cost more than £200 (£250 at a push), as I need to save my money for driving lessons and a car in the upcoming months. I'd like it to be able to take videos too, preferably with good quality, but obviously the photo taking part is more important. I'm open to any brands, and I'm most familiar with Nikon and Fujifilm, but like I said I've heard Canon is one of the best so I'll be willing to get one of those too. New or used doesn't bother me either. Thanks!
 
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EF-12345678
Canon is one of the best so I'll be willing to get one of those too.
I would suggest Canon. My parents have one and they've let me play with it on trips, it takes really good pictures.

EDIT:

Also, I used one to take pictures for my schools yearbook. They're all stunning.
 
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I use this one and its really good in my opinion for someone who has no knowledge on cameras.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008NENG1A/?tag=gtplanet-20

71fUz0YttGL._SL1500_.jpg
 

35mm

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1. "Canon is better" at what? It is such a complex matter that you shouldn't even consider that as information. In the end, it may even be the better option, but for now just ignore it;
2. Since you're already used to Nikon, you should be inclined to search in that direction. Especially if you're OK with the controls and ergonomics on your camera. Having said that, any of the most known brands should be more than fine. In fact, you shouldn't be very picky because...
3. At £200 you'll have to search for second hand stuff, so you'll be limited in your choice;
4. Lens and focal length: you use a camera right now that covers the focal length of 25-525mm. Covering this much focal length on your dSLR won't come cheap, so you should first try to understand which focal length (i.e. lens) you'll want to cover on your new camera. Oh, and you'll also have to consider image stabilisation (VR for Nikon);
5. Forget "Sports Modes". "Modes" are just combinations of aperture and shutter speed (and ISO). Just understand what they mean and how they affect your results.

This isn't probably the kind of information you were after, but it's the best opinion I can offer.

As a very general direction (and in the Nikon world, which is the one I know better) try looking for a second hand D3xxx with a 55-200mm VR lens.

Lots more people will appear here with many other options, I'm sure.
 

wfooshee

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Your stated budget puts into second-hand gear. If you have the chance, find something better than the "kit" 55-200, which really isn't very sharp, but again, your stated budget will most likely limit you there.
If you could find a D5xxx instead of a D3xxx you'd be happier.

You really won't need much more than 100-130mm for shots like the ones you posted.
 

Azuremen

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SC2: gtAzire.359
I was looking at the EOS M for quite a while, and I really do like it, but pretty much all the reviews I read said it had slow auto focus and wasn't good for action shots which is a shame.

The AF is a bit slow but you can manually focus for a spot on a track, etc. I use the EOS M constantly as a walk around companion and it certainly has draw backs, but it is also easy to pair old manual lenses to which can be had for cheap. It is worth noting that I feel panning is a bit awkward on the EOS M compared to a dSLR.

As others have suggested, you may be inclined to Nikon as you've already worked with their setups a bit. As far as Canon goes, I'm not sure what can be had for the budget you've suggested, maybe a 500D or 600D if you look around. But then you'll also need to find a longer lens to work with and that quickly can escalate beyond your budget.

@EF12345678 - Making sweeping statements about Canon's performance based on a relatively limited run with their entry level models is rather over-the-top.
 
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EF-12345678
@EF12345678 - Making sweeping statements about Canon's performance based on a relatively limited run with their entry level models is rather over-the-top.
What? I used one every day last year I was on my schools yearbook team. It's not like I burst into here not even knowing what a camera is...

And yes, it's an entry level model, but why does that matter?
 
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wfooshee

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What? I used one every day last year I was on my schools yearbook team. It's not like I burst into here not even knowing what a camera is...

And yes, it's an entry level model, but why does that matter?

Your post contains no information other than "I used it and liked it." And the self-promotion of "My pictures were stunning." That's the one single most-overused word describing pictures that I've ever seen.

There is fundamentally no difference between what can be done with a Canon vs with a Nikon when looking at comparable cameras. Each brand has nearly identical feature sets within a given price point. Lately, some Canons are better with video, while Nikon's D800 and D810 are VERY good cameras, even though a bit over the budget being discussed. Canon's pro cameras tend to have higher frame rates, which sports shooters like, but go to a studio and you're more likely to find Nikons.

At the budget given, it's a coin toss. The OP should be aware that starting with either one, you'll eventually buy better lenses, then someday a better body, and you'll eventually get lenses you expect to have forever, while treating bodies as 3- or 4-year appliances. In other words, whichever brand you decide, it will end up being a commitment. Look at what's out there, even though it's beyond reach at the moment, because you'll get there eventually, and you won't want to scrap everything for a brand switch anywhere along the line.

But "Get a Canon because I used one" has no useful information for the OP whatsoever.
 

Lion-Face

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1. "Canon is better" at what? It is such a complex matter that you shouldn't even consider that as information. In the end, it may even be the better option, but for now just ignore it;
2. Since you're already used to Nikon, you should be inclined to search in that direction. Especially if you're OK with the controls and ergonomics on your camera. Having said that, any of the most known brands should be more than fine. In fact, you shouldn't be very picky because...
3. At £200 you'll have to search for second hand stuff, so you'll be limited in your choice;
4. Lens and focal length: you use a camera right now that covers the focal length of 25-525mm. Covering this much focal length on your dSLR won't come cheap, so you should first try to understand which focal length (i.e. lens) you'll want to cover on your new camera. Oh, and you'll also have to consider image stabilisation (VR for Nikon);
5. Forget "Sports Modes". "Modes" are just combinations of aperture and shutter speed (and ISO). Just understand what they mean and how they affect your results.

This isn't probably the kind of information you were after, but it's the best opinion I can offer.

As a very general direction (and in the Nikon world, which is the one I know better) try looking for a second hand D3xxx with a 55-200mm VR lens.

Lots more people will appear here with many other options, I'm sure.


^^^^That is some good advice.

Based on budget, I would have ran to the D3100 or D3200 from Nikon.

Then I thought your primarily looking for sports shooting, and on a budget, so I would also look at one of the Sony SLT series of cameras. The reason being is because the SLT cameras from Sony have better and faster autofocus as well as faster frames per second in burst modes, roughly double that of the D3100/D3200 from Nikon.

About the only one in that sort of budget I can see would be a 2nd hand Sony Alpha SLT-A55, and much like @35mm said, picking up a body and a 55-200mm lens will be a great starting point for the type of photography you are after. Also a nice point with the Sony range of SLT cameras is in body image stabilization. Which means the lenses you buy don't have to have image stabilization as it is built into the sensor in the body of the camera. So you can pick up older cheaper lenses and still retain image stabilization.
 

Mike Rotch

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About the only one in that sort of budget I can see would be a 2nd hand Sony Alpha
A word of caution....

I bought into the Alpha system and to tell the truth, would not if I had a second opportunity. On the face if it, it is a decent path as, you point out, they have fast AF systems these days and in body stabilisation, but the flip side is that it also has fewer lens options than Canon/ Nikon. With Sony throwing all their effort into the E-mount, it really leaves A-mount owners scratching around for lens alternatives. Minolta lenses are the obvious go to, but the 'quality' ones are few and there is a lot of chaff out there.
 
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Katiegan

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Thanks for all the replies, guys. I've been looking at the Nikons a lot, and I've actually found a few D5xxx cameras within my budget. I've been looking at a lot of reviews on YouTube and I really like the D5100, and secondhand ones are going for under £200 on eBay. I presume a D5100 would be better than the D3xxx series? I've looked at some action shots taken on D5100s and, with the right lens and panning of course, they seem like really good shots and plenty better than the ones my L120 currently takes. Is something from the D5xxx series too technical for a DSLR newbie like myself, or should it be a good entry-level starting point?
 

TB

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Is something from the D5xxx series too technical for a DSLR newbie like myself, or should it be a good entry-level starting point?
That's the beauty of a DSLR. They are as simple or as difficult as you want to make them. If you don't feel comfortable going full manual right away, use Auto while you learn the settings and features. Same goes for shooting in RAW (which you'll grow to love) versus JPG.
 

35mm

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I presume a D5100 would be better than the D3xxx series?
Not necessarily. For example, the D3200's sensor (also in the D5200 and D7100) is a nice step forward over the one in the D5100/D3100/D7000.

But, of course, there are many other factors to evaluate in the final mix.
 

Katiegan

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Not necessarily. For example, the D3200's sensor (also in the D5200 and D7100) is a nice step forward over the one in the D5100/D3100/D7000.

But, of course, there are many other factors to evaluate in the final mix.

Ah, I see. I've just looked at this comparison of the D3200 and D5100, and overall it looks like the D3200 is slightly better and actually cheaper. However, the D5100 has a flip screen that I really like that I don't think the D3200 has... gah, so many choices! :lol:
 

Carlos

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Ah, I see. I've just looked at this comparison of the D3200 and D5100, and overall it looks like the D3200 is slightly better and actually cheaper. However, the D5100 has a flip screen that I really like that I don't think the D3200 has... gah, so many choices! :lol:

Keep in mind they both don't have an autofocus motor. Every lens you buy needs an autofocus motor, in the end more expensive. I think this is too low level for what you want. If you wouldn't mind second hand cameras and lenses, that's where I would look.
 

KiroKai

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If you don't plan to take photos or film from extreme angles (very low to the ground or very high above you) then you won't find much use for that type of screen.

Also, the viewfinder matters much more than the liveview screen on a DSLR. My Panasonic bridge camera has a terrible digitally emulated viewfinder so I end up using the liveview screen most of the time, but I've worked with various Nikon D3000 models and a Canon EOS 500D and found myself using the viewfinder all the time.
 

Katiegan

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Keep in mind they both don't have an autofocus motor. Every lens you buy needs an autofocus motor, in the end more expensive. I think this is too low level for what you want. If you wouldn't mind second hand cameras and lenses, that's where I would look.

Oh, don't worry, it's mainly secondhand I'm looking at. I didn't realise they didn't have an autofocus motor. How can I tell if a lens has an auto focus motor then?

If you don't plan to take photos or film from extreme angles (very low to the ground or very high above you) then you won't find much use for that type of screen.

When I'm at car shows or taking photos of my own car, I do normally like to take photos from angles like that. As a person that only stands 5 feet tall, holding the camera high up to take a photo looking down on something I can't see for myself would benefit greatly from a flip screen :lol:. I know the main use will be for motorsport, I'll also be using it a bit for stills too.

KiroKai
Also, the viewfinder matters much more than the liveview screen on a DSLR. My Panasonic bridge camera has a terrible digitally emulated viewfinder so I end up using the liveview screen most of the time, but I've worked with various Nikon D3000 models and a Canon EOS 500D and found myself using the viewfinder all the time.

My current L120 doesn't have a viewfinder so I'm used to not having one, but I can imagine it's quite important with a DSLR. I'm not sure how easy it is to use the viewfinder when taking a photo of a fast moving object though.
 

KiroKai

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When I'm at car shows or taking photos of my own car, I do normally like to take photos from angles like that. As a person that only stands 5 feet tall, holding the camera high up to take a photo looking down on something I can't see for myself would benefit greatly from a flip screen :lol:. I know the main use will be for motorsport, I'll also be using it a bit for stills too.

Well it's nice to have and it sounds like you'll make use of it. :)

My current L120 doesn't have a viewfinder so I'm used to not having one, but I can imagine it's quite important with a DSLR. I'm not sure how easy it is to use the viewfinder when taking a photo of a fast moving object though.

That's a good question, I'm not sure if there's much difference. I haven't been photographing at a track with a DSLR yet but I had no issues with moving objects (or cars) using the viewfinder. I was surprised myself as I was very used to composing my photos on a screen too, but when I started using those DSLRs it became natural to use the viewfinder most of the time.
 

Carlos

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Oh, don't worry, it's mainly secondhand I'm looking at. I didn't realise they didn't have an autofocus motor. How can I tell if a lens has an auto focus motor then?



When I'm at car shows or taking photos of my own car, I do normally like to take photos from angles like that. As a person that only stands 5 feet tall, holding the camera high up to take a photo looking down on something I can't see for myself would benefit greatly from a flip screen :lol:. I know the main use will be for motorsport, I'll also be using it a bit for stills too.



My current L120 doesn't have a viewfinder so I'm used to not having one, but I can imagine it's quite important with a DSLR. I'm not sure how easy it is to use the viewfinder when taking a photo of a fast moving object though.

Look up the specs of the body and see if there is an auto focus motor. A give away most of the times is that lenses with AF motor are a lot thicker than lenses without. And for example, when I'm with friends at an event we sometimes use each other lenses. So if you are the only one without AF motor in the body, you would have to manually focus everything.

A flip screen is maybe a problem since most of the cameras don't have them yet. The camera I want to show you doesn't have it..

Viewfinder is everything you want after you get used to it. With a screen there is always some sort of lag, and in the viewfinder you have a lot of information.

ZD40VF.gif


d70s_viewfinder.jpg


Usually, the better the body the more focus brackets you have. If you want to photograph moving objects you can use the brackets to focus. In the camera menu you could change behavior of the brackets. One focus point, wide, multiple or let the camera sort out it self what you are focusing on. On the bottom you side for example shutter speed and aperture, you could change those settings with the little wheel on the body when you are looking through the viewfinder so you can quickly adjust to the moment.

If you are interested in that ^ then please look into Nikon D80 or maybe even D90 if those are affordable.
 

Katiegan

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Look up the specs of the body and see if there is an auto focus motor. A give away most of the times is that lenses with AF motor are a lot thicker than lenses without. And for example, when I'm with friends at an event we sometimes use each other lenses. So if you are the only one without AF motor in the body, you would have to manually focus everything.

A flip screen is maybe a problem since most of the cameras don't have them yet. The camera I want to show you doesn't have it..

Viewfinder is everything you want after you get used to it. With a screen there is always some sort of lag, and in the viewfinder you have a lot of information.

ZD40VF.gif


d70s_viewfinder.jpg


Usually, the better the body the more focus brackets you have. If you want to photograph moving objects you can use the brackets to focus. In the camera menu you could change behavior of the brackets. One focus point, wide, multiple or let the camera sort out it self what you are focusing on. On the bottom you side for example shutter speed and aperture, you could change those settings with the little wheel on the body when you are looking through the viewfinder so you can quickly adjust to the moment.

If you are interested in that ^ then please look into Nikon D80 or maybe even D90 if those are affordable.

Ooh, I see. So essentially, the camera in GT is just a giant viewfinder? I know how to use GT's camera and change the shutter speed, exposure, aperture etc., so I gather something like that would be more beneficial? I'll look into D80s and D90s. 👍
 

KiroKai

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Yes, GT's photomode is made to be like real photography. Shutter speed and aperture work pretty much the same. There are some key differences though, in GT your EV setting sets the amount of light in your photo while in reality the combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO determine how much light your final result gets.
 
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I dunno if you picked something yet but try to look at anything that is mirrorless- it's essentially the image quality of a DSLR but in the compact size.
 
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I dunno if you picked something yet but try to look at anything that is mirrorless- it's essentially the image quality of a DSLR but in the compact size.
Mirrorless cameras have their own problems that one would have to keep in mind if cross-shopping them with DSLRs, mostly the problems many of them have with the electronic viewfinder in dark places.

Then again, that's just what I hear a lot of owners of mirrorless cameras compaining about, I've never even used one myself.
 

Lion-Face

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Mirrorless cameras have their own problems that one would have to keep in mind if cross-shopping them with DSLRs, mostly the problems many of them have with the electronic viewfinder in dark places.

Now I thought the EVF was better in low light situations compared with OVF (Optical View Finder) but I don't have any experience with EVF in low light so I can't really comment.

I am a big fan of Mirrorless and honestly think Mirrorless will see the end of DSLR as we currently know it. Not overnight, but eventually. But currently Mirrorless's biggest weakness is sport photography. The autofocus isn't as fast as DSLR. Mirrorless has trouble tracking moving targets and holding a focus of a subject moving through a frame (from back to front or vice versa), even one of the best tracking system in Mirrorless at the moment (Sony's A6000) can't quite match that of a DSLR, although not far off, let alone an older mirrorless camera. Considering the budget and what the OP wants a camera for, the mirrorless isn't a good match at this stage.

But in saying that, that is why I suggested the Sony Alpha in the first place. I don't feel everyone looking into a DSLR system is looking at starting small and going big, so the 'lack of lenses' (I'm unsure exactly what is lacking @Mike Rotch although I don't have first hand experience with the system) is a limiting factor.
But if @Katiegan did want to expand in the future, then sticking with Sony gives two viable options, either continuing with A-Mount and classic DSLR style cameras, or moving to E-Mount with Mirrorless and adapting any existing A-Mount lenses with full functionality.
 

Mike Rotch

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I don't feel everyone looking into a DSLR system is looking at starting small and going big, so the 'lack of lenses' (I'm unsure exactly what is lacking @Mike Rotch although I don't have first hand experience with the system) is a limiting factor.
So you don't own an Alpha but don't think "lack of lenses" as you put it from my comment, is an issue.
 
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Swagger897

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As someone who just purchased the D3200 less than four months ago, and with just over 3,000 pictures taken, I'd have to say that it is probably the best starter camera, with the kit lenses I received as well. I looked at the D5200 when comparing the two and the main reason I chose the 3200 was price. I don't think I'd ever use the tilty-flipy screen, even at 5'5", I can still see the screen above some cross-overs (small SUV's) just to put that into perspective.

The kit lenses that you will get won't be anything to brag about. Auto focus is okay, but I feel it will be much better with better lenses. I'm more into landscape than I am with motorsports, but I did use the camera for the first month or so for car-spotting while driving. Pretty simple stuff, all in manual mode, and some of the shots turned out good.

Cameras are made now where you choose what you don't want almost, or rather don't need. Like I said, I'm more into landscape so I don't need a super high fps rate, but rather say when I go shooting at night for star trails, I need a bit of a faster processor/sensor/whatever to take the next photo without such a long delay in the middle. Don't look into the megapixels either with full intention the more the better. The tiny little details won't turn out well if you are not stable so don't expect to read the SN of the brake calipers.

If you want some good reviews, look at the people on youtube. Those are the one's who put their faces on the Internet, rather than Web articles with biased reviews. I spent almost all of June watching DigitalRevTV on youtube, and although they are a tad-overboard with some of their "tests", if you look what they are actually telling you it all makes sense. It's even a bit of fun too.

Good pictures are gonna come down to post-processing too if you like to edit the imperfections. Otherwise, don't stress out too much.
 

daan

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I'm relatively new to the whole DSLR scene too. I got my Nikon D3200 at Christmas and have been getting used to using it since. I got it with the 18-55 kit lens and the Nikon 55-300 zoom. I've since got a 50mm F1.8 prime lens and a Tamron 70-200 F2.8. The Tamron has pretty much made the 55-300 redundant...

The D3200 is a pretty good choice for a DSLR beginner as it goes from fully automatic to fully manual with loads of steps in between including a handy guide mode where you tell the camera what type of shots you want to take, and the camera tells you what settings to use, so it's a great introduction to the DSLR in my view.

For motorsports photos, the kit 18-55 will not get you close enough. I used the 55-300 at 2 events, but at the 2nd one (BGT round at Oulton) I was there with Jessops on a motorsport photography course and the tutor let me use his Tamron 70-200 which was the best/worst thing he did as I then had to go and buy one... The Tamron is a great lens for the price, once you get used to the weight of the lens and panning with it. 200mm gets you close enough so you don't really need more than that in most cases. That was also the first time I'd properly used the full manual mode* which is tricky to get used to, but it will give you the best results once you get used to using it.

These were taken with the Tamron.
Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 by GTdaan, on Flickr

Lotus Cortina @ HSCC Croft by GTdaan, on Flickr

But the 55-300 can still cut it for motorsports, but as the Tamron is a faster lens you get more options in choosing the right settings.
Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 by GTdaan, on Flickr

I went to the DSLR from a point'n'shoot Panasonic and the thing that got me the most is the speed that it does things at. You cannot hope to equal the speed of the zoom, or speed of the focus, or the clickclickclickclick continuous shooting, that the DSLR gives you with something less. You'll notice a huge difference for fast moving action photography.


* I took 1700 photos at the BGT event. When I deleted the blurry/out of focus/over or underexposed, I was left with 72... But I have a better ratio now.