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help finding a low budget camera please.


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I need a new camera, but my price range is low. Anything $500 or less. I really know nothing about cameras and don't know anything about if I need a lens or not. Please help me!!

Thanks!

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I have officially chosen! All suggestions were nice and great! In the end, for a lot of reasons, I chose the panasonic fz80. Coming Sunday!

I've been using both a point and shoot, My Nikon Coolpix P900, and my uncle's DSLR, a Nikon d5100 with a 55-300 mm lens, on and off for about a month. Here's my experiences, and the comparison both ty

Awesome! That is a great improvement over your previous camera. Can't wait to see your pictures...

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You need a lens. I'll let you know that. For the under 500 ranger, there are some good point and shoot cameras that other members here could talk about. I'm sure you could also get a older used DSLR with a low powered lens in that price range as well.

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1 hour ago, Connor Cochrane said:

You need a lens. I'll let you know that. For the under 500 ranger, there are some good point and shoot cameras that other members here could talk about. I'm sure you could also get a older used DSLR with a low powered lens in that price range as well.

ok, i will google around. What type or lens do you suggest? also, do you have suggestions for cameras? Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Connor Cochrane said:

You could probably get something like a rebel t6 with a 100-300mm lens. But, it might be worth getting a point and shoot and saving up for something better. 

sorry, i know nothing about this. Just to be clear, a point and shoot is a digital camera without a lens, correct? 

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I started off with a Nikon P600 in 2014 and that was perfectly fine until I replaced it with a DSLR in December, but I still use it sometimes.

Super easy to use, the zoom is amazing and it’s relatively cheap (below $500). And no need for lenses, and no need to pay attention to shutter count. Also super light and small, I can fit mine in my coat pocket.
All I ever did with mine was put it in bird watching mode (yes there’s an actual mode) and it worked fine. 
Though, I think it’s discontinued and replaced with a the Nikon B600 which I think is the technically the same just with a different appearance, but I’m unsure. Theres also the P950, P900, and P1000 that have more zoom, but are also way more expensive and honestly the 60x with the 600 is good enough as is.

But honestly I think it’s a great beginner camera and you can always move up to the more expensive and somewhat harder to use DSLRs in the future. As you won’t really be able to match the zoom of superzoom digital cameras with DSLRs unless you are willing to spend quite a bit of money. 

There’s also a thread that Candyez12(?) started a while ago that discusses the same thing but her budget was a bit higher

Only downside I found was it wasn’t the best at motion capture, low light it struggles with a bit, and it takes a while to focus and zoom.

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11 hours ago, IKLland said:

sorry, i know nothing about this. Just to be clear, a point and shoot is a digital camera without a lens, correct? 

A point & shoot is a camera with the lens permanently attached.  That built-in lens cannot be removed or replaced.

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are sold in two pieces, a body and a removable lens.  There are a wide variety of lenses for different purposes.  Bodies from different manufacturers use different mechanical ways to mount and release lenses.  When buying a lens, you have to know the lens mounting type used by your body.

With that out of the way, I suggest looking at a Panasonic FZ80.  It has a ridiculous zoom range, and is a good P&S for beginners.  As you get comfortable, you can start experimenting with aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, learning a lot from it.

On sale through the weekend for $300:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=panasonic lumix dc-fz80&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ps

Cropped Osprey at 200 feet with an FZ70, the predecessor model:

image.png.cf202f92914b8a5a3dbda742570fd3eb.png

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Chiming in as a non-photography person. I use a Canon SX530, and before I had an earlier version until it took a swim in the mangroves - I think it was and SX50. My current one has a 50X zoom lens (meaning you can zoom in a lot closer to the birds to get photos when they aren't close). It falls into the category of a "good point and shoot" (if a little old) but others here can better recommend one brand or another.

But, if you don't know a lot about photography, I do think a point and shoot is a good idea. It has a lot of controls you can learn to use which, it turns out, I have very little interest in doing. I've learned to adjust a couple of things so I can usually get IDable photos if the bird isn't a kilometer away, and in good conditions I can get very nice (by my admittedly low standards) photos. So you can learn some things on it and I think if you end up being interested in photography you'll want a DSLR and you'll have learned enough to know what you want. So the point and shoot can be a bridge or a way of finding out you don't want anything more.

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7 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

A point & shoot is a camera with the lens permanently attached.  That built-in lens cannot be removed or replaced.

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are sold in two pieces, a body and a removable lens.  There are a wide variety of lenses for different purposes.  Bodies from different manufacturers use different mechanical ways to mount and release lenses.  When buying a lens, you have to know the lens mounting type used by your body.

With that out of the way, I suggest looking at a Panasonic FZ80.  It has a ridiculous zoom range, and is a good P&S for beginners.  As you get comfortable, you can start experimenting with aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, learning a lot from it.

On sale through the weekend for $300:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=panasonic lumix dc-fz80&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ps

Cropped Osprey at 200 feet with an FZ70, the predecessor model:

image.png.cf202f92914b8a5a3dbda742570fd3eb.png

Very helpful everyone!!! Thanks for all the suggestions. Thanks Charlie for pointing out what a point and shoot camera is for me. After finding out, I am not positive on which one, but know that I will need a point and shoot, as it sounds better for my needings. I will probably chose this one, Charlie, as that is a great photo! That’s the kinds of shots that I Sinatra to take. I will probably have one chosen by Tuesday and it will most likely be this. 
thanks everyone!!

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12 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I highly suggest purchasing used items. You can save a lot of money on something that was barely used. 

Ok, whatever I chose. Thanks for your help!

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I've been using both a point and shoot, My Nikon Coolpix P900, and my uncle's DSLR, a Nikon d5100 with a 55-300 mm lens, on and off for about a month. Here's my experiences, and the comparison both types of cameras.

These are just my opinions on these camera's, and I've only been using the DSLR for around a month.

Taking photos for bird identification is my main priority, while them being nice photos is not as important. The point and shoot far out preforms the DSLR in this area. 

 

The DSLR with a 300mm lens

It focuses way better through vegetation than the point and shoot.

The Buffer is larger, (This is the speed you can take photos after you have taken a burst of photos, the DSLR can retake them about .5 of a second after, the point and shoot takes about 3 second before you can take more shots.

The photos taken at dawn or dusk or in heavy shade turn out much better than the point and shoot. 

The average image quality is much better. 

Cons

Once you start taking photos at more than 60-70 feet, they often turn out pretty bad, although cropping can help with making them identifiable.

 

The Point and Shoot with 83x zoom

You have way more zoom, with my point and shoot I can get photos that would be rated as 3 stars on ebird at around 400-500 feet. the DSLR takes three star photos at around 25-35 feet.

Depending on what you want, the controls on the Point and shoot are much easier to use. my P900 has a birding mode, and I don't think I've ever left that mode more than once or twice.

Cons

Taking photos of birds in flight is really hard.

The quality of photos taken at dawn, dusk or in heavy shade is terrible

 

This here is showing the difference between the two cameras. all four photos are uncropped, and they were both taken at around the same time and the same distance. Both of these cameras are at full zoom. the DSLR at 300mm and the Point and Shoot at 83x zoom. 

The DSLR

776087746_DSC_0005_02-01-201107-25.thumb.JPG.0e7294e8d0160279fe9b24f40e32f0cd.JPG

1867640127_DSC_0030_02-01-201107-31.thumb.JPG.0ef358412f2302de16722df72696e6ba.JPG

The Point and Shoot. 

153683919_DSCN3251_02-25-202111-16.thumb.JPG.6c6df18ec64973121910c68cb0c2be3f.JPG

427248948_DSCN3322_02-25-202111-34.thumb.JPG.e587948dd65076bc6523ee00302f99c7.JPG

 

If there are any questions feel free to ask, some of this post might be a little confusing. 

 

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I found with the coolpix that changing it to auto mode helped both in flight photography and in low light. But still pretty worthless over all 😂

Though my profile photo was taken with my p600 in low light with auto mode and it turned out pretty good. A little ‘soft’ , but far better than what I was getting with bird watching mode at the time.

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1 hour ago, Aaron said:

I found with the coolpix that changing it to auto mode helped both in flight photography and in low light. But still pretty worthless over all 😂

oh, any improvement would be great, I'll have to try that out! I've noticed with the bird watching mode that the key with birds in flight is to take a ton of photos, and hope one turns out nice!

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On 2/27/2021 at 10:47 PM, Aidan B said:

I've been using both a point and shoot, My Nikon Coolpix P900, and my uncle's DSLR, a Nikon d5100 with a 55-300 mm lens, on and off for about a month. Here's my experiences, and the comparison both types of cameras.

These are just my opinions on these camera's, and I've only been using the DSLR for around a month.

Taking photos for bird identification is my main priority, while them being nice photos is not as important. The point and shoot far out preforms the DSLR in this area. 

 

The DSLR with a 300mm lens

It focuses way better through vegetation than the point and shoot.

The Buffer is larger, (This is the speed you can take photos after you have taken a burst of photos, the DSLR can retake them about .5 of a second after, the point and shoot takes about 3 second before you can take more shots.

The photos taken at dawn or dusk or in heavy shade turn out much better than the point and shoot. 

The average image quality is much better. 

Cons

Once you start taking photos at more than 60-70 feet, they often turn out pretty bad, although cropping can help with making them identifiable.

 

The Point and Shoot with 83x zoom

You have way more zoom, with my point and shoot I can get photos that would be rated as 3 stars on ebird at around 400-500 feet. the DSLR takes three star photos at around 25-35 feet.

Depending on what you want, the controls on the Point and shoot are much easier to use. my P900 has a birding mode, and I don't think I've ever left that mode more than once or twice.

Cons

Taking photos of birds in flight is really hard.

The quality of photos taken at dawn, dusk or in heavy shade is terrible

 

This here is showing the difference between the two cameras. all four photos are uncropped, and they were both taken at around the same time and the same distance. Both of these cameras are at full zoom. the DSLR at 300mm and the Point and Shoot at 83x zoom. 

There are a couple of other advantages to a point and shoot.  They often weigh less than a DSLR with a long-range lens, and the batteries often last longer.  Both of these can be important during an extended day in the field.

Obviously, this varies depending on the specific models being compared.  For example, @Aidan B's P900 is over two pounds; its P1000 big brother is over three and comes with a 20% on sherpa services..  But those two are at the high end / heavy end of the range of point and shoot models.

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On 2/27/2021 at 7:47 PM, Aidan B said:

I've been using both a point and shoot, My Nikon Coolpix P900, and my uncle's DSLR, a Nikon d5100 with a 55-300 mm lens, on and off for about a month. Here's my experiences, and the comparison both types of cameras.

These are just my opinions on these camera's, and I've only been using the DSLR for around a month.

Taking photos for bird identification is my main priority, while them being nice photos is not as important. The point and shoot far out preforms the DSLR in this area. 

 

The DSLR with a 300mm lens

It focuses way better through vegetation than the point and shoot.

The Buffer is larger, (This is the speed you can take photos after you have taken a burst of photos, the DSLR can retake them about .5 of a second after, the point and shoot takes about 3 second before you can take more shots.

The photos taken at dawn or dusk or in heavy shade turn out much better than the point and shoot. 

The average image quality is much better. 

Cons

Once you start taking photos at more than 60-70 feet, they often turn out pretty bad, although cropping can help with making them identifiable.

 

The Point and Shoot with 83x zoom

You have way more zoom, with my point and shoot I can get photos that would be rated as 3 stars on ebird at around 400-500 feet. the DSLR takes three star photos at around 25-35 feet.

Depending on what you want, the controls on the Point and shoot are much easier to use. my P900 has a birding mode, and I don't think I've ever left that mode more than once or twice.

Cons

Taking photos of birds in flight is really hard.

The quality of photos taken at dawn, dusk or in heavy shade is terrible

 

This here is showing the difference between the two cameras. all four photos are uncropped, and they were both taken at around the same time and the same distance. Both of these cameras are at full zoom. the DSLR at 300mm and the Point and Shoot at 83x zoom. 

The DSLR

776087746_DSC_0005_02-01-201107-25.thumb.JPG.0e7294e8d0160279fe9b24f40e32f0cd.JPG

1867640127_DSC_0030_02-01-201107-31.thumb.JPG.0ef358412f2302de16722df72696e6ba.JPG

The Point and Shoot. 

153683919_DSCN3251_02-25-202111-16.thumb.JPG.6c6df18ec64973121910c68cb0c2be3f.JPG

427248948_DSCN3322_02-25-202111-34.thumb.JPG.e587948dd65076bc6523ee00302f99c7.JPG

 

If there are any questions feel free to ask, some of this post might be a little confusing. 

 

Ok, thanks! I am definitely getting point and shoot. I am deciding between Charlie’s point and shoot suggestion, which fits me perfectly. The point and shoot the @Aidan Bsuggested is out of my budget on Amazon for a new one, but hopefully I can find it used on eBay or something like that for my range. Thanks everyone so much for the suggestions!

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On 2/27/2021 at 6:30 AM, Connor Cochrane said:

I highly suggest purchasing used items. You can save a lot of money on something that was barely used. 

Also, local camera stores usually carry used equipment and many will "loan" (i.e. rent) out lenses.  Just be certain you get the used items from a reputable dealer, like B&H that @Charlie Spencer mentioned or KEH.  I would NOT recommend eBay for used camera equipment.  

Edited by floraphile
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I would NOT recommend eBay for used camera equipment.  

Unless you know what you're doing... I got my Canon 80D and Canon 100-400mm lens on eBay. The camera was basically new with only eight pictures taken with it. I saved a couple hundred dollars by getting it on eBay. And my lens was in almost new condition and I still got a very good deal. 

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6 minutes ago, Jefferson Shank said:

Unless you know what you're doing... I got my Canon 80D and Canon 100-400mm lens on eBay. The camera was basically new with only eight pictures taken with it. I saved a couple hundred dollars by getting it on eBay. And my lens was in almost new condition and I still got a very good deal. 

Or if you are incredibly lucky.  

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