I'm new on this forum which I subscribed to get a response to a very tough question: which lenses should I buy for a comeback to photography and also which body to pare with those lenses?
Let me explain my situation: I used to own a bridge camera (Nikon Coolpix p510) with which I have learned the basics. I really enjoyed that camera because of the extreme focal range that it had (from 24mm up to 1000mm equivalent) that has allowed me to experiment and find out which are the subjects that I like to photograph the most.
Time has gone on and I have sold my first camera to buy parts for my enduro motorbike (150€... imagine how broke I was ). During the past years, I have tried a few cameras from different ranges: Samsung NX1000, Canon d1100, and the Fujifilm xt1, which has really impressed me.
Now I finally have a discrete budget (approximately 1500 €) to invest in a decent camera and in some pretty good quality lenses. I mostly photograph landscapes and I would like to experiment with astrophotography. I also like some to take some architectural and street photography (but mostly architectural) when I'm on vacation (so I think that I really need a super wide or just a wide angle lens). I also visit many museums during my trips and when the occasion happens I like to take some wildlife photographs. (Therefore I think that the wide lens mentioned before paired with a zoom lens that goes up to a decent telephoto would do the job for me).
I was mostly looking at the mirrorless system because it's lighter to carry around. Do you guys have any suggestions?
I am in almost the same situation you are: coming back to photography after many years (film dsl till 2003, then a high quality digital compact, then a better digital compact ...)
This is what I have learned in this process.
I had a long long search, looking at other people's images and then I sorted out the images I liked best. So this is how I knew which lenses and which cameras can deliver the images I like. And lenses seem far more important than cameras.
I settled on a second hand camera, a terrible camera (a mirrorles camera, with plenty of manual wheels, buttons and toggles - way too complicated compared to any basic dslr camera). But it is capable of what I want and it came at 30% of what a main street photo store asks for the same camera / lens (EUR 500 s/h vs. EUR 1500 new). The person who had the camera before me made only 70 pictures with it ... so it is actually a brand new camera, even though not from the most recent generation. I paid EUR 500 (camera and lens), so I have EUR 1000 left for landscape lenses. With EUR 1000 you can buy a very very good landscape lens, I think.
Now I will use this camera for a time and see if it works for me. Then I will add lenses, or change the system completely. I think modern compact cameras are much better than dslr and mirrorles cameras. And there are full frame and aps-c compacts with prime lenses too. So this sorts out my LANDSCAPE needs.
With astro photography, you have a bit harder choice. I think some basic bodies like Nikon D3400 will do all the work fine but you may take a longer moment to think about the lens. I have seen many beautiful night sky pictures at JuzaPhoto, taken with inexpensive FAST and WIDE lenses (e.g. Samyang). But if you want to reach deeper into the space, you will face the hard fact of getting a quality long lens, and these quality long lenses are some of the most expensive parts of kit in every brand you go for.
And maybe, just maybe, you will want a camera with a screen that swivels out / up and / or down. I think this may be useful when the camera sits on your tripod and is looking up into the sky. Some cameras have fixed screens, D3400 is fixed, but D5600 is angled. My own preference is very strong for maximum flexibility of the screen - I shoot very often from very low, ground levels. Believe me or not but our 15 years old compact has a screen that angles and swivels out and back. But the new mirrorles camera (from a big name company) only angles up or down ... so much for big company names and newer and more pro equipment.
Off course, I do not say Nikon is good. I had Nikons, Canons and Olympuses all of them very terrible cameras. Now I went for a mirrorless camera of another brand and it is just as bad. I do not want to spend my life reading manuals, I want to take pictures. But camera manufacturers have better plans for my life!
So. These are my pieces of advice based on my own experience with coming back to photography (OK not coming back yet, but maybe buying newer and more capable equipment to let me come back) after many happy years using only a small (but top quality) digital compact camera. I hope maybe my experiences will help out a bit avoid some pitfalls set by marketing.
1) Look at other people's pictures, 2) List the ones you really really like, 3) Focus on lenses, not bodies, 4) Get a clean s/h body, save $$ 5) Get the best lenses for the job.
Where I happily live (in Canary Islands) you can get a second hand kit from the shop and if you do not like it, return it in 48 hours. So you have 48 hours to test the camera and lens. If there is any actual problem - and one that has not been clearly declared by the shop, you just return it.
Another general remark is that if second hand equipment has signs of very hard physical use, then I never touch it. I do this because all my technical equipment looks like new - even the equipment that I have had for many years. So I expect the same attitude from others. Especially when we think of cameras, which are a mix of precise optics and delicate mechanics/electronics. Even the top shelf cameras from big names are not built to drive nails with them. This is what Germans have invented the hammer for!
So, in brief: - look for equipment that has no evident signs of hard use or deterioration, - shop where consumers rights are on your side.
And do read many many reviews of what you want to try or buy - some products have production faults that come out after some use. And some owners sell such equipment exactly to drop the problem on another naive!
There are many good websites that describe what actually, and how, to test when you buy s/h cameras and lenses. Just google and you will find all relevant tips and tricks and pitfalls.
This much said, I am for now keeping the mirrorless horror I have bought. I bought it s/h and it is practically new - came with the box, the original invoices, and even with those silly silica bags that keep moisture away. And I can sell it now at about the same price and buy something else if I decide I need a different tool for what I am doing.
Good luck, and let me know when you start shooting them stars! I will follow your gallery then!
+Very best regards, nico
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