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Beginner looking to buy an SLR camera

nick1981 Avatar
5y, 7m agoPosted 5 years, 7 months ago
Hello All, im looking for some advice from people in the know about Cameras.
I recently decided i wanted to buy a new camera and i saw on this site a really good deal on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. (It received alot of heat and alot people said the price was great, about £185 i think - so i bought it off Currys)
Anyway ive been using it and whilst it does take some really sharp crisp images, and the zoom on it is fantastic, it does not take the style of image i want to acheive - What i want is to be able to do is take a photo of an image and have the subject in focus and all the background/surrounding blurred - i think these photos look ace and very proffessional.
Anyway i have been told these images can only be acheived by an SLR camera - and the camera i bought is not an SLR.

Can anyone reccomend if i should by an SLR Camera then which one to buy and how much ??
Also is it worth considering buying a seconf hand one off ebay rather than pay out full price for one??...afterall if do decide to buy an SLR Camera then i would probably put my Lumix on ebay and expect to loose abit of money as its only a month old !
Thanks Nick
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nick1981 Avatar
5y, 7m agoPosted 5 years, 7 months ago
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#1
nick

first things first - pop along to your local photography group and see if a member will let you have the quickest of goes of their camera to get an idea of what you need. the type of shot you describe employs something called "depth of focus" (DOF) which is adjustable, in that you can get for example a particular thing, such as a persons face, in very crisp focus and the rest of the image blurred, or another example is a group of chess pieces where one is in crisp focus and the others blur either rapidly or not as rapidly, to give different effects.

you DO NOT have to pay a fortune to get your hands on a DSLR, especially second hand. The type of thing a DSLR is tends to mean the previous owners have kept reasonably good care of it too.

good luck.
#2
I like this guy.

Good solid reviews.

http://www.dpreview.com/
#3
Nice advice - im very much of a beginner but where would i even begin to find these photography groups??...and also where would you suggest is a good place to find a second hand SLR???..
scrumpypaul
nick

first things first - pop along to your local photography group and see if a member will let you have the quickest of goes of their camera to get an idea of what you need. the type of shot you describe employs something called "depth of focus" (DOF) which is adjustable, in that you can get for example a particular thing, such as a persons face, in very crisp focus and the rest of the image blurred, or another example is a group of chess pieces where one is in crisp focus and the others blur either rapidly or not as rapidly, to give different effects.

you DO NOT have to pay a fortune to get your hands on a DSLR, especially second hand. The type of thing a DSLR is tends to mean the previous owners have kept reasonably good care of it too.

good luck.
#4
Nothing to do with having an SLR camera or not although it does help.

All about having a shallow Depth of field ie wide aperture, not familiar with your current camera but SLR's generally produce better image quality all round.

If you're only starting out I'd suggest buying a Canon 1000D (body only) http://camerapricebuster.co.uk/prod661.html to find best price although also check the offical Canon outlet store on Ebay to get it cheaper.

Purchase a 50mm prime lens (one of these) to go with it and you'll be producing some amazing bokeh in your photos.

Here's some of my pics taken with the same lens

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5064/5621130467_32a4d36f13_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5095/5512791332_742b845211_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5251/5579768921_bf19edc8cb_z.jpg

Sorry, I have a bit of a fence obsession.
banned#5
Just blur the background in photoshop or paintshop or similar. There you go I've saved you a fortune!
#6
That photo of the flowers is just beautiful......how easy is it to capture images like these (for a beginner)
I dont want to sound lazy but i dont have the time to go on courses/college etc - but i would like to learn myself how to take great images.
To be quite frank for all i know this panasonic i have may take equally great images - its just that im not venturing away from the IA mode which is specifically set up for amateurs - i would like to try and get an understanding of apature, shutter speed - but i cant seem to find anything on the internet that explains it in a manner to a complete beginner
mr.potato_head
Nothing to do with having an SLR camera or not although it does help.

All about having a shallow Depth of field ie wide aperture, not familiar with your current camera but SLR's generally produce better image quality all round.

If you're only starting out I'd suggest buying a Canon 1000D (body only) http://camerapricebuster.co.uk/prod661.html to find best price although also check the offical Canon outlet store on Ebay to get it cheaper.

Purchase a 50mm prime lens (one of these) to go with it and you'll be producing some amazing bokeh in your photos.

Here's some of my pics taken with the same lens

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5064/5621130467_32a4d36f13_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5095/5512791332_742b845211_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5251/5579768921_bf19edc8cb_z.jpg

Sorry, I have a bit of a fence obsession.
#7
ps hope this works..... this is a photo i made an attempt at today
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll66/petster1981/P1000185.jpg
#8
nick1981
Nice advice - im very much of a beginner but where would i even begin to find these photography groups??...and also where would you suggest is a good place to find a second hand SLR???..
scrumpypaul
nick

first things first - pop along to your local photography group and see if a member will let you have the quickest of goes of their camera to get an idea of what you need. the type of shot you describe employs something called "depth of focus" (DOF) which is adjustable, in that you can get for example a particular thing, such as a persons face, in very crisp focus and the rest of the image blurred, or another example is a group of chess pieces where one is in crisp focus and the others blur either rapidly or not as rapidly, to give different effects.

you DO NOT have to pay a fortune to get your hands on a DSLR, especially second hand. The type of thing a DSLR is tends to mean the previous owners have kept reasonably good care of it too.

good luck.


nick, just google for any local photography groups or maybe check your library

you can get a DSLR off ebay for less than £200 with a lens

or i have no doubt there will be someone selling old kit at the said photography group, or even at specialist "real" camera shops (obviously not dixons etc)
#9
nick1981
That photo of the flowers is just beautiful......how easy is it to capture images like these (for a beginner)
I dont want to sound lazy but i dont have the time to go on courses/college etc - but i would like to learn myself how to take great images.
To be quite frank for all i know this panasonic i have may take equally great images - its just that im not venturing away from the IA mode which is specifically set up for amateurs - i would like to try and get an understanding of apature, shutter speed - but i cant seem to find anything on the internet that explains it in a manner to a complete beginner


Thanks.

Well I'm completely self taught so I guess courses aren't essential. Having said that I do generally pick things up quite quickly and having a passion for it which will make you wat to learn these things. It's definitely not a case of just picking up the camera and being able to take great shots, you do really need to know how Aperture works and how that'll affect how your image will look.

I think I started picking it up by looking at the terms in Wikipedia, the more you search Photography websites, the more it starts to piece together and make sense.

Here is a basic start and does have some other great info http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-exposure.htm


Having said that, this image http:[email protected][email protected]/ was taken with the same camera as yours so may just need to play around with the settings on your current camera and save your money.





Edited By: mr.potato_head on Apr 26, 2011 18:54
banned#10
Further to my ignored point, look at the pics JTT did with his iPhone then edited in photoshop:

http://www.hotukdeals.com/misc/cute-cats/925873

As your camera is considerably better then the iPhones you should have no problem making great images with the aid of PS.
#11
mr.potato_head
Nothing to do with having an SLR camera or not although it does help.

All about having a shallow Depth of field ie wide aperture, not familiar with your current camera but SLR's generally produce better image quality all round.

It is very much to do with having an SLR camera ore more specifically a camera with a large sensor, depth of field isn't just dependent on aperture it's also highly dependent on the actual focal length of the lens (not the equivalent) and the focus distance. Because compact cameras and the likes of the FZ38 have very small sensors, in turn they have very short actual focal lengths which means it's very difficult to get shallow depth of field. F2 on a Panasonic LX5 doesn't offer any shallow depth of field whereas F2 on a crop sensor SLR will make for shallow depth of field in general shooting and F2 on a 135 format SLR will be very shallow.

The only time you can really get any shallow depth of field is at macro distances with the subject very close to the lens which of course is when you don't want it. The Flickr photo you've linked to has been photoshopped to have the background blurred, there are no settings which will allow the camera to achieve shallow depth of field in general shooting.

John
#12
Johnmcl7
mr.potato_head
Nothing to do with having an SLR camera or not although it does help.

All about having a shallow Depth of field ie wide aperture, not familiar with your current camera but SLR's generally produce better image quality all round.


It is very much to do with having an SLR camera ore more specifically a camera with a large sensor, depth of field isn't just dependent on aperture it's also highly dependent on the actual focal length of the lens (not the equivalent) and the focus distance. Because compact cameras and the likes of the FZ38 have very small sensors, in turn they have very short actual focal lengths which means it's very difficult to get shallow depth of field. F2 on a Panasonic LX5 doesn't offer any shallow depth of field whereas F2 on a crop sensor SLR will make for shallow depth of field in general shooting and F2 on a 135 format SLR will be very shallow.

The only time you can really get any shallow depth of field is at macro distances with the subject very close to the lens which of course is when you don't want it. The Flickr photo you've linked to has been photoshopped to have the background blurred, there are no settings which will allow the camera to achieve shallow depth of field in general shooting.

John


As mentioned, I'm not aware the Op's camera but you can achieve good bokeh without an SLR camera.

A lot of compact/bridge cameras have good zoom on them now and make up for a lack of wide aperture and small sensors.

Op doesn't sound too bothered about learning photography anyway so a proper SLR will be wasted on them.

Best not to persuade them into buying something they won't need when there's perfectly decent alternative options.
#13
mr.potato_head
As mentioned, I'm not aware the Op's camera but you can achieve good bokeh without an SLR camera.

A lot of compact/bridge cameras have good zoom on them now and make up for a lack of wide aperture and small sensors.

The OP has an FZ38 and I disagree entirely about the zoom making up for the lack of wide aperture as it's not a feasible approach for general purpose photography. A long zoom needs a higher shutter speed which in anything less than ideal light means a higher iso which these tiny sensors cannot handle. Furthermore there are IQ issues in attempting to use a long zoom in this fashion, the bokeh is poor and you can't avoid the field of view compression.


Op doesn't sound too bothered about learning photography anyway so a proper SLR will be wasted on them.

They may not get the full potential of the camera but they can certainly get plenty out of it without fully learning the camera, shallow depth of field on an SLR with a wide aperture prime is so easy to achieve that it's more of a problem avoiding it. Furthermore, it's far more difficult to get shallow depth of field effects from a 1/2.33in (impossible for general purpose shooting) so your advice here contradicts your point above.

Best not to persuade them into buying something they won't need when there's perfectly decent alternative options.

If they want shallow depth of field, then they do need an SLR or similar large sensored camera, there aren't any alternatives. There are some small sensored cameras which offer a shallow depth of field effect which is achieved by focussing the camera on the subject, then defocussing and stacking the pictures but the results (if it even works) are quite frankly terrible. I'm simply presenting the facts correctly, it's up to the OP how they wish to proceed, there is no benefit in claiming their camera can do something it cannot.

John





Edited By: Johnmcl7 on Apr 26, 2011 19:49: .
1 Like #14
Nick I've got the same camera, (did you post a similar question before ?) bought from the same deal & as you I'm stuck on IA mode as well, just need to get brave enough to venture out of IA mode.

just been reading what you are trying to achieve & I'm not sure if these links are of any use, I'm still learning to get the lens cap on & off :D

flickr.Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 (FZ38) Digital Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 (FZ38) Digital Camera / Discuss/ Help me to take depth of field photos in fz-38

Help with DOF Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 (FZ38)

Edited By: richp on Apr 26, 2011 20:07
#15
Johnmcl7


If they want shallow depth of field, then they do need an SLR or similar large sensored camera, there aren't any alternatives. There are some small sensored cameras which offer a shallow depth of field effect which is achieved by focussing the camera on the subject, then defocussing and stacking the pictures but the results (if it even works) are quite frankly terrible. I'm simply presenting the facts correctly, it's up to the OP how they wish to proceed, there is no benefit in claiming their camera can do something it cannot.

John






I'd encourage everyone to get an Slr camera but for image quality and ease of use but there's no need to spend money when it's not neccessary.

As mentioned by others, Photoshop is an alternative to buying a SLR if all you want is a blurry background so there clearly are alternatives even if you're blind to them.
#16
mr.potato_head

I'd encourage everyone to get an Slr camera but for image quality and ease of use but there's no need to spend money when it's not neccessary.

As mentioned by others, Photoshop is an alternative to buying a SLR if all you want is a blurry background so there clearly are alternatives even if you're blind to them.

No, you've already demonstrated that Photoshop is not a viable alternative as the Photoshopped image you posted above is terrible, it's nothing like the natural depth of field effect you'd get on a larger sensored camera. Quite simply, if the person wants natural depth of field in general shooting then an SLR or other large sensored camera with suitable lens is necessary, I don't know why you keep trying to argue against that when in all your posts in this thread you've not been able to produce a viable alternative nor the magic setting for the OP's camera to achieve shallow depth of field.

John




Edited By: Johnmcl7 on Apr 26, 2011 20:27
#17
The advice you all have provided has been excellent.
Ive decided im going to keep this camera because as per richp 's post it would appear that you can acheive those depth of field shots with my camera - im just going to have a play with it and see how it goes.
Some really great advice and links thanks again
banned#18
nick1981
The advice you all have provided has been excellent.
Ive decided im going to keep this camera because as per richp 's post it would appear that you can acheive those depth of field shots with my camera - im just going to have a play with it and see how it goes.
Some really great advice and links thanks again


Sounds sensible. I reckon your next camera will be a DSLR though ;)
#19
i took this with an FZ38, though i have no idea how. I am now getting an Olympus E-PL1 tho as i want to try more of these DOF shots.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4102/4802560037_dbdae8c2a0_b.jpg
#20
shanecr
i took this with an FZ38, though i have no idea how. I am now getting an Olympus E-PL1 tho as i want to try more of these DOF shots.

The shallow DoF is achieved there by having the camera focused very closely on the subject, at macro distances it's very easy to get shallow depth of field but you can't really apply this to general shooting because the camera has to be so close to the subject.

Which lens are you going for on the E-PL1? The 20mm F1.7 with its wide aperture is one of the best lenses for shallow depth of field as the aperture on the zoom lenses is pretty small, alternatively there's plenty of legacy lenses that can be mounted although focus, aperture and IS focal length have to be set manually.

John
#21
Johnmcl7


No, you've already demonstrated that Photoshop is not a viable alternative as the Photoshopped image you posted above is terrible, it's nothing like the natural depth of field effect you'd get on a larger sensored camera. Quite simply, if the person wants natural depth of field in general shooting then an SLR or other large sensored camera with suitable lens is necessary, I don't know why you keep trying to argue against that when in all your posts in this thread you've not been able to produce a viable alternative nor the magic setting for the OP's camera to achieve shallow depth of field.

John





OP followed my advice rather than yours.

Already told OP I was not aware of that particular model.

Thanks for your input, much appreciated by me even if the OP didn't follow it. I'm off to create some amazingly realistic bokeh in Photoshop.
#22
Johnmcl7
shanecr
i took this with an FZ38, though i have no idea how. I am now getting an Olympus E-PL1 tho as i want to try more of these DOF shots.


The shallow DoF is achieved there by having the camera focused very closely on the subject, at macro distances it's very easy to get shallow depth of field but you can't really apply this to general shooting because the camera has to be so close to the subject.

Which lens are you going for on the E-PL1? The 20mm F1.7 with its wide aperture is one of the best lenses for shallow depth of field as the aperture on the zoom lenses is pretty small, alternatively there's plenty of legacy lenses that can be mounted although focus, aperture and IS focal length have to be set manually.

John


its coming just with the kit 14-40 lens. and it may be a while till i can afford another lens lol
#23
mr.potato_head

OP followed my advice rather than yours.

Which is irrelevant, my point still stands and the information I provided is entirely correct whether the OP follows it or not. The fact you posted a series of shots demonstrating shallow depth of field with an SLR and a wide aperture prime very much backs up my points rather than yours as did that dodgy photoshopped picture. I suspect when the OP finds out that getting usable shallow depth of field is only possible in very restrictive circumstances they'll either be back on the hunt for an SLR or similar or give up on shallow depth of field shots.

John
#24
Johnmcl7


Which is irrelevant, my point still stands and the information I provided is entirely correct whether the OP follows it or not. The fact you posted a series of shots demonstrating shallow depth of field with an SLR and a wide aperture prime very much backs up my points rather than yours as did that dodgy photoshopped picture. I suspect when the OP finds out that getting usable shallow depth of field is only possible in very restrictive circumstances they'll either be back on the hunt for an SLR or similar or give up on shallow depth of field shots.

John


Hopefully they do eventually get into photography properly and buy an SLR, as I said, everyone should own one.

Apart from price there's no advantage to keeping a compact.

Anyway, shut up and check the other photography thread as you seem to actually agree with me on that one.
#25
Everyone should own one so you post misleading information and frequently try to discourage someone from buying an SLR when it specifically fulfils the requirement they've specified? Well at least you're keeping up your contradictory posting style and better yet have the cheek to call me 'blind' after posting an obiviously bad photoshop then to top it off after all that then tell me to 'shut up'...unbelievable.

John
#26
Johnmcl7
Everyone should own one so you post misleading information and frequently try to discourage someone from buying an SLR when it specifically fulfils the requirement they've specified? Well at least you're keeping up your contradictory posting style and better yet have the cheek to call me 'blind' after posting an obiviously bad photoshop then to top it off after all that then tell me to 'shut up'...unbelievable.

John


Woah chill out, do you always get so upset when somebody disagrees with you. You don't have to answer, you're continuing this thread longer than is necessary.

Anyway, I said "apart from price", no reason to buy an SLR if there are cheaper alternatives for a desired look (which there are.) Same reason I wouldn't buy a Ferrari just because I like the colour (I do look good in red though)

Shhhhhhhhhhh
1 Like #27
Hello All Again - Following on from all your words of advice and links to info sites on how to do the blurring background shot with your subject in focus i tried to have a go......and amazingly i think i might have got it !!! I tried a go on my dog, basically following instructions from a step by step guide i changed my camera dial to "A"...(I think this some how emphasis apature), then moved away approx 6 meters or so and then got my dog in focus, i then zoomed in on the dog and set my apature to the lowest it would allow me - in this instance the lowest apature i could go down to was F3.7 ( I still dont know why on some shots the apature allows you to go lower than F3.7 but i guess thats another question), anyway once i had the dog in shot and everything in place i sat a still as i could and i got the below result............i know its no proffessional shot but its deffo the style of image i was trying to acheive. Once again thanks for all your help.
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll66/petster1981/P1000194.jpg
1 Like #28
I did exactly the same as per above with this shot - but then when i editing it on my picassa i cropped it so that i focussed on the centre of the photo and it seems to have emphasised the blurr even better this way.
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll66/petster1981/P1000221.jpg
1 Like #29
nick1981
Hello All Again - Following on from all your words of advice and links to info sites on how to do the blurring background shot with your subject in focus i tried to have a go......and amazingly i think i might have got it !!! I tried a go on my dog, basically following instructions from a step by step guide i changed my camera dial to "A"...(I think this some how emphasis apature), then moved away approx 6 meters or so and then got my dog in focus, i then zoomed in on the dog and set my apature to the lowest it would allow me - in this instance the lowest apature i could go down to was F3.7 ( I still dont know why on some shots the apature allows you to go lower than F3.7 but i guess thats another question), anyway once i had the dog in shot and everything in place i sat a still as i could and i got the below result............i know its no proffessional shot but its deffo the style of image i was trying to acheive. Once again thanks for all your help.
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll66/petster1981/P1000194.jpg


The reason some shots will allow a wider aperture is because you're zooming in less.

More zoom = higher minimum aperture
Less zoom = lower minimum aperture

For example, the standard lens you get with entry level Canon Slrs. The aperture varies from 3.5 when at minimum focal length then 5.6 when at the maximum focal length.

Glad you got the look you wanted

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