Purchase New Intermediate Camera vs. Older Professional

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Christopher Trauco Christopher Trauco Post 1 of 2
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I have been largely absent from photography the last 7 or 8 years, this account is from some dabbling I did as a teenager... However, I am preparing to leave for Belarus for 6 months in January, and I really want to be able to capture the essence and spirit of the places I visit through photography. I have traveled the world, but all of my photos are just from regular point and shoots, they don't inspire the awe that others are able to capture.

I am wanting to purchase a quality camera, and I have decided on mirrorless... My budget is $500-800 USD, and while I would love the Sony Alpha A7R, I know that making such a purchase would be a mistake. I had settled on the Sony A6000, after much research. However, I also looked up the top mirror less cameras from 2013, and some of the enthusiast(around $1000) level cameras, I can now buy used for $250-600(e.g. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX7 or the fujifilm x-e2), just for the body, lens are usually separate.

My question is this, would it be best for me to buy an intermediate level camera like the a6000, or purchase a 2-3 year old camera for the same price, that would have been top of the line at the time? Some of the higher end functions, especially the superior iso and video recording capabilities appeal to me.

I know the Sony a6000 is a great beginner camera, but I wanting to get the best bang for my buck. I am enrolling in a photography at the local community college, so any thoughts or recommendations?
euangray euangray Post 2 of 2
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As someone recently in a similar position (but not going to college to study the subject), can I suggest?

You will learn much more about photography in general by using film rather than (or as well as) digital. Digital is good too, but film teaches you more. It is these days not expensive - you can buy a good quality 35mm film SLR for well under £200/€200. If you start with black-and-white film you can develop it at home yourself very easily and cheaply, then scan the negatives into your computer.

As for digital, whilst I think mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are the future there's no doubt that right now conventional digital SLRs are the best, most flexible and probably cheapest way other than point-and-shoot bridge cameras (some of which are actually very good). I'd wait for MILC technology to stabilise before investing large amounts of money in it.

It is NOT about equipment, it is about you. In fact, I'd recommend restricting yourself to cheaper, simpler kit because it is this that will bring out the creativity, part of which is working round the limitations of what the camera and lens will allow you to portray. Thousands of Euros of equipment won't make you a better photographer, whereas a good photographer can get excellent images from a disposable camera. Note especially that film is less susceptible to technological advance than digital, the fundamentals not having changed for decades.

I'd suggest buying a used camera. Digital technology changes rapidly, so what today costs €10,000 tomorrow will be a few hundred in a second-hand shop. An "outdated" digital SLR will still produce perfectly good images capable of printing at A3 size or even larger. You don't really need more than about 10-12 megapixels unless you're doing exhibition size prints.

Lenses are more important than the camera. If you can afford it, buy a film and a digital SLR of the same brand so you can use the same lenses on both. Since I started using my father's AE-1 in the 1970s, my preference is for Canon, but Nikon is just as good, it's simply a matter of personal preference. Both have a very wide selection of lenses. Get a Canon EOS 35mm SLR and you can use modern EF-type autofocus lenses. The range of usable Nikon lenses is even greater since their old film and current digital models (largely) use the same lens mount design, whereas Canon changed from FD to EF in 1987 and the two are not interchangeable.

Not knowing enough about Nikon or other types, I would make Canon-specific recommendations so - a Canon 700D or 70D crop-frame digital SLR if you want new, or a used 450D for cheapness; a Canon EOS 3, 30 or 33 film SLR; the EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens because it is cheap and optically good; a macro lens of 100mm focal length; a modest telephoto zoom; a wide-angle if you want interesting perspectives. You say video appeals to you - the Canon 70D is very good for video, especially coupled with some of the EF-S lenses with STM focusing motors. If you want old-school everything manual still photography, then get a Canon AE-1 and some FD type lenses.

But most of all, enjoy.
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