I get asked a lot for advice on a low-budget entry level camera. I usually respond by asking for what kind of photography it is intended to be used. Because, frankly speaking, if people want to spend 300€ on a simple entry level camera for just some basic snapping of the usual holiday / people / travel photos, they should stay away and just use their smart phone. Because smart phones these days are also really good cameras, and one that you always carry with you….so the question is: Smartphone or entry level camera?
Let’s get something straight. Dedicated cameras are still superior in many aspects. They have larger sensors, better auto focus, more photographic functions. But 300€ these days buys you just a basic point-and-shoot camera. And on that level, the images you get out of it won’t be much better than the ones out of a capable smart phone camera.
If people tell me they want to buy a camera to make the transition to some serious photography, I would recommend them to spend a bit more on a new entry level mirrorless camera system, or take their budget and look on the aftermarket for an older but proven model, that’s now very affordable, but gives you all the bells and whistles of a dedicated photographic tool (have you read my post about getting a used Fuji X-Pro1?).
In the end, it all depends on what you want to use the camera for. For snapping away at the stories of life, your smartphone will probably do a better job than a cheap point-and-shoot. If you want to delve into learning composition, you can do this just as well with your smart phone. Street photography is a genre you can shoot exclusively with your smart phone. But if you are looking for a camera for special purposes like sports- or portrait photography, you will need to spend more (look for something more in the range of your premium smart phone), or go for used gear.
Just to underline my message, here are a few images I shot last weekend when we took a boat trip from Genoa to picturesque Portofino. I had my Fuji X-Pro1 with the 35mm in my backpack, but never took it out. I’ve photographed this trip before and intended just to take some landscape images of the coastal scenery on this beautiful day.
I knew I didn’t have a zoom for my Fuji to shoot coastal closeups, and that my iPhone Xs has a similar, slightly wider focal range (plus the benefit of capturing panoramic shots) as the 35mm prime lens I had on the X-Pro1. And on a clear sunny day, the quality of the travel pics from the iPhone would be fully sufficient to post on the blog or on Instagram and to put them in the annual family photo book. So in the end I captured the whole trip with my iPhone camera and put together this little photo essay.
Finally, you have to know how to use whatever gear you shoot with, its limitations and effectively use its creative possibilities.
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Have a great Saturday