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DSLRs under £300

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Initial post: 23 Jul 2009 00:28:55 BDT
H. Green says:
I love my compact camera and can take some pretty decent shots with it, but I'm going on my first safari in December and I was after a DSLR that can allow me to get some even better shots. I want something with a good optical zoom so that I can get close shots of the far away wildlife, and preferably something with a rechargable battery, as I don't like wasting money on traditional alkaline batteries.

I cannot afford to spend any more than £300 so was wondering what sort of camera I could get for this? Will be wanting to buy at some point nearer to dec, so it doesn't have to be available to buy right now, was just wanting to know how much I'd have to save up!

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Posted on 23 Jul 2009 12:21:12 BDT
Fishman says:
£300 will get you a pretty good second-hand set-up.

New, then you are into Sony A200 / Nikon D40 prices. The problem is that an additional 70-300mm lens for safari will set you back around £130 or so, so you'll already be £100 more than your budget and that's without the Compact Flash card, a camera bag etc.

Look at getting second-hand, the kit is usually in mint condition.

Posted on 27 Jul 2009 15:04:17 BDT
Teresa says:
Roughly same question really but have been told by shops D40 is very "past history" and that Sony A200 was a bad product (by a Sony shop!). General camera shops are saying in unison that the Canon Powershot SX10 IS is excellent, admittedly it is easier to hide away when not in use but I am by now thoroughly confused. An amateur who is not technical at all (automatic must be good!) but would like strong zoom as nature being preferred subject. Any advice much appreciated, thankyou!

Posted on 29 Jul 2009 12:03:18 BDT
Fishman says:
Unfortunately you're average sales assistant doesn't know how to use a dSLR, never mind give advice on their relative performance. The closest they get to one is taking it off the shelf and showing it to you. I was in Jessops the other week buying the Sony A700 and the sales assistant clearly had no idea about dSLRs, and this is a camera shop!

I actually have the Sony A200 too. I can assure you that the person in the Sony shop you talked to has never used one, they are probably used to selling TVs. Whenever I've been into Sony, they don't have a clue about TVs either!

The A200 is an excellent camera, plenty of features, plenty of lenses and superb image quality. I liked it so much, that I upgraded to the A700.

You need to decide on budget as buying a dSLR means buying additional lenses. So on the price of the camera you'll need to add around £130-£150 for the 70-300mm lens (unless you buy it with the camera as a kit).

Only you can decide whether the cost is worth it. But I can HIGHLY recommend the A200, have a look at what people who have bought it say, not some random guy in a shop who has never used one :)

Sony DSLR-A200K 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera + Zoom Lens Kit (18-70 mm F3.5-5.6)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2009 12:58:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Jul 2009 13:01:36 BDT
A. Wilk says:
Fishman is very right, D40 is a very good camera, own one for year, but if you want to have better zoom, you have to add at least 130£ plus other stuff (spare battery, bag,memory cards). I was trying sell my on amazon, but too many fake "" wanted me to dispatch it and took it off market last week. If you decide to get one, can offer 270£ with spare Nikon battery, Lowepro bag and great book how to make most of your D40 by D.Busch. One year old, very good condition.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2009 15:43:33 BDT
Go Go says:
I have just bought myself a Sony DSC-HX1 - having worked in a SA game reserve I know what you need and this will be perfect I paid £295 from simply electronics - you will need to buy memory stick and maybe spare battery but you will be absolutely thrilled with it as I am - pop into a Jessops (if you have one) and try it out guarenteed to blow you away

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2009 22:16:18 BDT
Easy answer from my PoV. If you want to "buy into a system", the Nikon. If you are looking to not grow too much beyond initial purchases or your budget in near future is not likely to increase much, the Sony A200K.

The sale assistent mentioned elsewhere was not a great Sony employee I think! For the price the A200 is excellent and I only missed LiveView which is near enough standard fair even on many non-compact digital cameras.

Posted on 31 Jul 2009 16:53:45 BDT
Klis says:
You could pick up a refurb Canon 1000D for just over £300 and that will come with the kit lens. 18-55m IS.

Its an ok lens for starting off with, but you will likely want more.....

Ebay ID: 220448757047

I bought my 450d from the above seller and it was like buying the camera new, but for £150 less than the high street :)
The only difference is that they are the American models and not UK... Not really a big deal though.

Posted on 31 Jul 2009 17:55:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jul 2009 18:00:17 BDT
stec53 says:
I was looking for my first dslr and had just decided I wanted the D40 as well when I also noticed the insane price hike. Couldn't find one anywhere at the reasonable price it was before. I had been looking at ebay for 2nd hand ones but never felt comfortable with some of them, and I've also had bad luck with a second hand camera before so decided to skip that route. Most of the half way decent sounding ones ended up going for near £300 anyway, and as Jessops had a one day web sale on the D60 kit for £340, I went with that. I haven;t collected it and paid for it yet, as I'm waiting just a few more days in case a D40 does turn up.

I was also waiting to hear about the new D3000 specs and price- but now it's out in the open I'm happy with the D60. The D3000 is well over my budget- much more than I was expecting them to release it at. I'm wondering if the D60's will also go up in price now as a result of perhaps more people being after them.

Has anyone noticed if the Nikon Prime lens f1.8 has gone up in price as well? I'm sure it was well under £100 a couple of weeks ago- now it's £111 odd.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2009 12:58:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Aug 2009 16:51:06 BDT
The Doc says:
Absolutely agree with Fishman, the Sony a200 is a steal, great ergonomics, excellent build, sensor used by Nikon, and body based image stabilisation. No live view LCD though, but I never use it anyway. My son who is a professional even prefers it to the Canon 40D which he usually uses. Olympus models are worth a look too, often some bargains about and the kit lenses are excellent and (Leica design - see below, probably not).

Posted on 1 Aug 2009 13:51:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Aug 2009 16:13:11 BDT
X says:
There is no point in wasting money on a safari and not taking the right photo kit. Buy a body plus 2 lens Olympus e-420 kit, new. I had a taker for mine so I moved on to an e-620 with more lenses than my wife thinks I've got, (There's a Sigma 18-50mm 3.5-5.6 that cost me about £100 new, on the body permanently, so when my wife asks me to take some pics of the grandsons, out pops a very reasonable looking set-up every time.), but if I still had the e-420 I would have not have reason to complain. Get round to an Olympus dealer and get your paws on any e-series camera except the e-3 and the e-30, (they would really put a hole in your budget), and you will understand...

And the Olympus system with any given lens will produce pictures showing the subject twice the size a 35mm film camera would have produced with the same lens, which saves money and weight when buying and using telephoto lenses. Took some time for an oldie like me to get through all the sales-babble about that, but that is what happens when the Four Thirds sensor crops the images produced by the lens by a factor of 2.

But whatever you do, don't wreck the value-for-money of your holiday by taking inadequate or unreliable photo kit in an attempt to save money. That could turn out to be the most expensive economy you ever made.

A question on a subsidiary question: PG Williams seems to assert that some Olympus lenses were designed by Leica. Are you sure about that, PG?

Posted on 1 Aug 2009 17:58:43 BDT
Hi I have recently been looking at the Panasonic Lumix G1, reason this appeals as it looks good for somenone with little knowledge and also is rather compact. Thoughts or advice anyone?

Thanks in advance


In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2009 19:24:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Aug 2009 19:24:54 BDT
X says:
You'll be disappointed when you discover that it's not a Digital Single Lens Reflex, seeing as 'ow it ain't got no reflex and the range of lenses is really very, very reduced, then you'll be even more disappointed when you discover that it's out-performed by the Panasonic DMC-TZ7, which is cheaper, and then, finally, you'll be very cheered up by the Panasonic DMC-TZ7 when you realise that it's a cracking little camera that has received very, very few negative comments. If I didn't want all the expense and bulk of my DSLR and all its bits, I would definitely buy that Panasonic DMC-TZ7. In fact, I like it so much I might buy one to give to my wife. That way I'll still get to use it...

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2009 20:58:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Aug 2009 21:05:36 BDT
The Doc says:
Re Olympus kit lenses 14-42 and 40-150. These were released initially in 2006 with the Olympus E400 SLR to replace their bulkier predecessors. Leica joined the 4/3 standard in that year and of course designs a lot of the Panasonic lenses. I read at the time that they had helped also with the Olympus Zeiko kit lenses, which are both excellent. I have searched the references today and can't find confirmation of this. If I come across proof I will amend this thread.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2009 00:49:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Aug 2009 13:18:56 BDT
X says:
It's an internet myth launched at the same time as Leica/Panasonic. Olympus and Sigma announced FourThirds. The web makes tales for idle folk to tell. You are prbably the gadzillionth person to fall for itNothing tangible has ever backed it up, and no-one from Leica or Olympus has ever bothered to deny or confirm it; obviously not worth them wasting their time on cyber-geek tittle-tattle. The only co-operation announced was on the bayonet, but, my oh my, that bayonet sure looks like an "adjusted for duty" Olympus.

Here's a question on the time-line of the version of the myth that caught you: How could Leica have designed the earliest Four Thirds Olympus lenses when they only joined Four Thirds several months after the launch of those first two Olympus Four Thirds lenses? Like all myths, when you think about it it pulls itself apart. Anyone involved in the launch of this one must have thought that designing, testing, production engineering and protection testing of a pair of digital camera zooms could be done in a few weeks. Not exactly...

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2009 16:49:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Aug 2009 17:01:42 BDT
The Doc says:
It was not the earliest 4/3 Zuiko lenses (used up to the E500) which Leica were supposed to have helped with but the replacement ones in 2006. As you say I can find no 4/3 official reference to this despite an exhaustive search yesterday. I owned the earlier 14-45 and 40-150, and their currrent equivalents, which are superb kit lenses, but currently the E420 + 14-42 lens is about £295, so probably in the context of the question posed on this thread the Sony a200 is the best buy under £300.

With repect to Panasonic I would go for the DMC-FZ28 at about £240 or less, supposed to be the current state of the art bridge camera and despite it's rather small sensor the noise levels seem quite low up to ISO 400, even 800. The camera is small, neat, great for travel photography and has very good image stabilisation. It uses a lithium battery. BUT, nothing except a dSLR will shoot frames quickly enough to capture wildlife action well.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2009 17:44:39 BDT
X says:
PG: this is where marketing doesn't always work! Our fortunate friend with the photo trip to end all photo trips needs a bundle with the body and the long zoom. The short zoom will just be a weight to carry around; offering it in a bundle-on-a-budget is no help for a safari-bound client.

What about some lateral thinking? Contact a really reliable used equipment outfit like ffordes and ask for a good package with an as new body, plus two good secondhand lenses. I was advised to get in touch with ffordes by one of their rivals, (!) when I was adding a few bits to my Olympus film camera kit, and they have not disappointed me in any manner, either selling to me, buying from me or selling on my behalf. Actually, they do have one niggly bit: they can get into a bit of an "over-worked tizz" from time to time, but they always get things right in the end. You are not an Olympus-maniac, I am, (in case you hadn't noticed...), but if I were to contact ffordes in HG's situation, I would tell them what I wanted to do with the kit, and trust them to offer the best solution across the whole offering of brands they get their hands on. Oh yes, HG, one thing: if you go to ffordes, make sure you have the time to really test out all the kit well before the start of your safari, detecting and dealing with weaknesses here when they can still be sorted out. (Come to think of it, I'd do that with new kit if reliability was going to be that critical...) That could be quite a pleasant experience with £300.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Aug 2009 11:02:41 BDT
ambermarie says:
Hi, are you still trying to sell your D40? I'm interested if so! Please get in touch.

Posted on 6 Aug 2009 04:56:54 BDT
E. H. Evans says:
You need the new Panasonic DMC-FZ 38.

Posted on 6 Aug 2009 04:56:58 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 6 Aug 2009 04:58:53 BDT]

Posted on 31 Aug 2009 21:43:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Aug 2009 21:57:43 BDT
Chloe says:
Hello I h ave recently got a Sony A200 and I have found it to be a fine camera, I don't know much about photography but I've been able to get some good photos with it and it is easy to use and comfortable to hold - however if you were taking it on Safari you would have to buy another lense because it simply doesn't zoom far enough for you to get good close ups of animals and so on; I found th is when trying to take photos of birds in my garden

I'm now saving up for another lense to be able to do that so bear that in mind


I'll try and give you an example of how far it zooms incase the nu mbers don't mean much to you because they didn't mean very much to me before I got the camera
on this one I am in flower mode, fully zoomed in, and sat right next to the moth holding it as close as you can before it won't let you take a photo

so you can see you have to get quite close to take small things

and then here I am probably about 5 metres away* with the camera fully zoomed in on this bird
*sorry I put 10 before but I realised it was much less than that having thought about it

I'm standing behind some glass and it isn't on a tripod though which is why the quality isn't really that great but that will show you that you can't really zoom in THAT close on animals and such with it it certainly wouldn't go far enoguh if you were on safari in my opinion

anyway hope that helps you know how far the lense can zoom xD
You probably knew all that already sorry if you did but still

oh and that bird photo is cropped

Posted on 3 Sep 2009 23:35:06 BDT
psn: tqfan says:
Chloe, your picture of the moth is pretty! quite crisp and clear. poor moth has bits missing, though, lol!!

i got my sony alpha 200 back in july, and enjoyed taking pictures with the lens it came with (18-70). i've been impressed by the quality of the pictures and am glad i got this camera. i purchased a new lens last month (with help from fishman, lol!) and am enjoying the camera even more. i got the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO Macro DG lens, from one stop digital website, and it cost me £140. notice the macro option. i wanted upto a 300mm lens, but i also wanted a macro lens. the compromise was to go for this. like fishman said, if i didn't like the macro on this lens, i could then buy a dedicated, yet more expensive, macro lens.
at this precise moment i am happy with the macro on this lens, and my dad, who has a nikon d60, is also impressed with the lens and is thinking of getting one too. my sister is that jealous of the pics i've taken, she's all set for a dslr before the year is out!!

we're assuming the camera is good, but maybe it's just my skill, lmao!! seriously, though, i'd recommend this lens, especially if you want the macro side. using the macro is easy, you just flick the switch. there's been a few people on the lens reviews complaining of the switch sticking, but i've not had a problem with it. definitely recommend

Posted on 4 Sep 2009 11:29:50 BDT
Stan Fraser says:
Does anyone take any notice of what the "box shifters" ie salesmen say in any store such as PC World Currys etc. Even my wife is more tech savvy than most of these people whose job it is, is to sell the store's old unmovable stock.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Sep 2009 11:38:13 BDT
Fishman says:
The worrying thing is, yes they do take notice!

To be fair, the sales staff in PCW/Currys are given minimal, if any, training and are usually responsible for selling a hundred different makes/models of product. Knowing the ins and outs of every product would be impossible and being on poor wages doesn't give any incentive to learn to sell them properly.

Having said that, when I bought my Sony A700 from Jessops, the guy clearly didn't have a clue about dSLRs!

Posted on 4 Sep 2009 13:03:37 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 10 Sep 2009 15:23:16 BDT]
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