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Help a teem with limited budget to choose a good camera
  • Hello everyone.

    Thank you for a great site.

    I'm a teenager from the UK that wants to learn photography as a hobby. After I realised my mobile phone photo shots were rubbish, I've been slowly saving to buy a camera. But with so much choice out there, I don't know which one to go for. My dad used to have a 2009 Panasonic FZ38 which I know is now a bit on the old side, but it did have good quality photos.

    Forgive me as I'm on a very tight budget. I want a camera within £200 (approx $250) range for a second-hand one. I'm not too fussed if it's slightly outdated or doesn't have stuff like wifi etc.

    The main features I'm looking for are:

    • As good quality photos as possible
    • Can do good Bokeh effects and aperture is as low as possible
    • Can do 1080p movies at least at 30fps

    Bonus Features (if possible)

    • Hackable to allow for improvements
    • Wireless
    • Can exchange lens
    • Not too bulky
    • If it can be modern with good features then that would be great

    So what can you guys recommend?

  • 46 Replies sorted by
  • I think that used GH2 bodies are going for right around $250 right now. You'd still need to get a lens, but that should be right around your budget. You're on your own to determine if the photo quality is sufficient for you, but after it's hacked, the video quality is great - and if you choose your lens right, you'll get nice bokeh. It should fulfill, basically, all of your main features and just about all of your bonus features except for wireless and "modern" is up for debate. :)

  • yeah I see no alternative to GH2 or maybe GH1. :)

  • Thanks guys for your help.

    Features wise what's the difference between these two models?

    What lens can you recommend to get a shallow DOF and BOKEH effects for portraits?

    Here is a GH2 with lens... Is this any good for the price?

  • That looks to be a very good price. You can't really go wrong with a GH2.

  • @camerahacks

    I also suggest to look at Samsung NX bodies, even may be NX1000.

    Samsung NX300 and NX300M kits are in your range, they make superb photos better than m43 cameras, can do 1080p60 movies and has peaking and such, has Wi-Fi. Only drawback is that some high detailed parts in video can be blurry due to encoder.

    Samsung NX500 is outside your range, but if you can - get this as kit with 16-50mm lens , it still has best APS-C sensor, has 4K video capability also has hacks for it.

  • Thanks JanH. What about the Lens the seller is including? Are they any good or worth a lot of money?

  • Thanks you Vitaliy. I really like your suggestions as the NX looks modern and takes good photos too. Other than the NX500 which is out of my range, which one would you go for? NX300, NX300M or NX1000?

    From looking at ebay, I can pick the:-

    • NX1000 (including 20-50mm lens) for around £100,
    • NX300 around £170 - £250
    • NX300m around £170 - £250

    I'm steering towards the NX1000, but can't make my mind up - From these three which has the best/latest features for the money?

  • Well, if you can go for NX300 / 300M (their main difference is angle of monitor tilt).

    Do not rush, check sold items prices, and get good used kit using buy it now on ebay.

  • Thank you Vitaliy. If I may ask, are you from UK?

    Other than angle of monitor tilt, are there any other features or large differences that the NX1000 doesn't have?

  • No, I am not.

    Other than angle of monitor tilt, are there any other features or large differences that the NX1000 doesn't have?

    NX1000 is old entry level camera, NX300 was compact flagman.

  • Right I see. I've been looking into both models and it seems the NX300 is much faster at taking photos and also has features such as WIFI.

    I'm not too fussed about WIFI, but how do I work out exactly how slow the NX1000 is compared to the NX300? Is there a number to look out for?

  • I'm not too fussed about WIFI, but how do I work out exactly how slow the NX1000 is compared to the NX300? Is there a number to look out for?

    I have no idea.

    Instead of focusing on it, best idea can be find some small work around, but NX300 or NX500 and go shooting.

  • I understand. The thing is vitaley you sometimes need a bit of speed to get that shot in quickly. As long as the nx1000 is as fast as the old Panasonic FZ35/FZ38 that my dad has, then it should be fine.

  • @camerahacks

    I understand that you want to save maximally, just sit and think. It is always best to find small work, add savings and get best you can get, if you really into it.

  • 200 GBP for the camera only or you do want a full functioning package? If only for the camera, then you cannot go wrong with GH2. If you want full functional package, then:

    GH1 + any good 28mm f2.8 manual lens + adapter to m43 for the lens + 2 x 8/16GB class 10 SD card + Mieke viewfinder loupe + good pistol grip install the latest GH1 hack from @humpman or from @lpowell The rest small amount of money is to buy bread and coffee to keep your body healthy when shooting in the cold winter.
  • @Yskunto - I like the idea of a full package if possible. However isn't the GH1 a very old camera now? I mean it was made in 2009 and that almost 7-8yrs ago. If possible, I'd rather go for a bit newer than that and maybe get one of the lens at a later date.

    @Vitaliy - Yes I definitely was to save as much as possible. I'm getting pulled towards the Samsung NX range, although there are many other manufacturers that are good too.

    Guys what if I didn't bother with cameras with interchangeable lens and instead went for a superzoom/bridge camera? Could I get good bokeh/shallow DOF from these cameras?

  • @camerahacks

    My advice was different. Advice was to instead of spending time of forums trying to save few pounds go and get some small work to collect for best camera you could.

  • Oic...sorry I misunderstood.

    The whole point of coming onto forums is to get recommendations based on my budget and needs as there are hundreds of brands and models to choose from.

    I don't want to blindly choose a model that I might regret afterwards.

  • The whole point of coming onto forums is to get recommendations based on my budget.

    I do not understand idea at all. I mean such budget and idea to buy "on budget". If you are not completely disabled, you slowly learn and ask and at same time work and collect for the thing that is good.

  • I'm sorry you've lost me. My question when I started off with this topic was what cameras can you recommend based on my budget & needs. Learning will come only once I've bought my choice of camera.

  • For video get a GH2 - the image still holds up, get some old Canon FD glass with a cheap adapter, if you look on eBay - Canon 24mm f2.8/ 50mm f1.4/85mm f1.8 and don't waste money on a rig - get one of these - Velbon Ultra 353 Mini Q Tripod it can be folded out almost like a rig so you have 3 points of contact for steady shots. And when you make some money from shooting buy some nicer glass like Voigtlander primes and the Olympus 12-40 2.8 and 40-150 2.8 I think maybe you need £250 - 300 for a basic set up like this

  • First of all, with all due respect, I'm not sure what you are asking. Surely you can read through the pages on this site and see what you want.
    However, let's assume for the moment that this is a serious question. The short answer is you will need at G7 at a minimum. Forget about the GH2, the GH1, etc. You would be seriously wasting your time. A cellphone like the Note 4 will take better video than the older GH cams. They were good in their day, but if you are serious about video, you need 4K. If you are really serious, put together $550 for a G7 with the IS kit lens and buy a few manual-focus lenses for peanuts. The Samsung NX is another option. Basically, what I'm saying is $200 won't do it, but $550 will buy you absolutely incredible video quality. If you are serious, you will have to ditch the GH2 or GH1 pretty soon, so ditch it now.
    If you really can only scrape together $200, figure out a away to get a bit more money. When I was starting out (OK, this was 50 years ago) I saved one peanut at a time for six months to get a stake. That's a skill in this business, maybe the most important skill.

  • A cellphone like the Note 4 will take better video than the older GH cams

    if it shoots better video than properly hacked GH2, than it definitely shoots better video than GH3 and is almost as good as GH4 and G7. why buy a camera at all if a smartphone is just as good.

    If you are serious, you will have to ditch the GH2 or GH1 pretty soon, so ditch it now.

    I guess you're not being serious here. Unless he needs 4k or 1080p60, GH2 is still a kick ass camera (except for lowlight, but every single m43 cam sucks in that department).

    It almost feels like you're trying sell your old G7 ;)

  • Thank you for your replies everyone. DrDave, I'm only a fourteen year old and it's difficult for me to save that sort of money.

    I want to mainly use the camera for taking portraits of family and friends, but at the same time learn a little bit about photography as a hobby. I've used my friend's note4 and even I know for sure that the photos are no where near as good as a proper camera such as a Panasonic GH.

    Also my budget is £200, not $200.