To upgrade, or not?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by robinhood_1984, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. robinhood_1984

    robinhood_1984 TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone, my first post here so thank you for having me and here goes.

    Like many people, I've relied on my smartphone for photos ever since they became a viable option quit a few years ago now. In recent months I've started to tire of missing opportunities because of slow start up times or poor focus in low light conditions etc, especially since the birth of our second child less than a month ago and I've been starting to think that its time to take photography a bit more seriously to preserve memories in a less hap hazard and amateur way.

    I'm no stranger to SLR's and I've owned them since 1999 when I had a Minolta Dynax (can't remember the model now) but my camera usage with SLR's was always aimed almost exclusively at my hobby of ship photography from the days when I used to live in England (I've been in Canada since 2009). In about 2006/07 I finally retired the Minolta and upgraded to its digital re-incarnation, namely the Sony Alpha A100 and I still own this camera now, though in recent years its had precious little use as my general photography skills outside of maritime subjects are entirely un-honed and non-existent to be blatantly honest and I fall in to the ranks of people who feel that they take more pleasing shots with a smartphone or point and shoot (I had a cracking little Fujifilm compact for many years) and found it disappointing to lug the A100 about along with the little old Fujifilm and in the vast majority of cases be much more satisfied with the end product of the Fuji, unless of course a zoom was required.

    Ofcourse, I'm ready to accept that much, if not all of the reason I'm not satisfied with my A100 photos is my own lack of knowledge and skill at using the manual settings of the camera and to that end I've been spending much of my parental leave at home obsessing with the A100, reading all I can, watching endless videos and it would be true to say that my photography is improving but I'm having to spend a huge amount of time and effort just to get one or two very good shots with it, when the click of a finger on a smart phone excels the other 95% of the time, at least aesthetically, if not technically.

    Now, I'm going to persevere with the A100 for as long as it takes as I know that's what I have to do to get the photos that I want. The reason I'm wanting to carry on with a "proper" camera is that my main motivation for doing so is capturing my children, which as most of us know, never stay still for more than a second and inside shots are often in low light so I do need something capable of the job.

    I'm wondering whether opinion on here will be to keep the A100 and acquire better lenses for it, or if I'd really benefit from an upgrade to a different camera given that the A100 must be completely obsolete by today's standards. I'm inclined to think a fresh start with a newer camera will be the way forward but I do understand that its not a magic wand to suddenly taking better photos and that will only come with practice and skill, no matter the camera. I'm not particularly invested lens wise in my A100, as I only have the 18-70 kit lens it came with and also an older Minolta zoom lens that is 70(or there abouts)-300mm that I've owned since buying the original Minolta Dynax back in 99 and it was second hand then.

    I'm just as open to going mirrorless as a replacement DSLR and while getting decent shots of my kids has been the motivation to getting back in to photography again, I'm hoping to open up to new things and make something of a hobby out of it in the long term, which is why I'm leaning to a interchangable lens system rather than a decent point and shoot or bridge. I'd like in time to get a small collection of lenses for different subjects or at least have the option of doing so. I've spent the last two weeks checking a lot of reviews and browsing all the usual sites with regards a new camera and I'd be lying if I claimed not to be completely overwhelmed by the choice available, even just within a single brand so narrowing down my choice hasn't been easy.

    The most helpful item of information will be budget I'm sure. I don't have one set in stone as such but if we said in the area of $1000 Canadian/$800 US / £600 GBP as a rough guide for a body+lens or indeed suggestions if you think I should just invest in new glass for the old Sony instead, though I wouldn't want to invest quite so much.

    I'm not against used in principal if its from a reputable source, otherwise new would give me more peace of mind, especially if buying online with no face to face contact with the seller etc. The only other thing I can really add is that while I'm certainly a beginner, I'd probably like something slightly above the absolute base line model and more to the point, I'd like a much of the controls and settings of the camera to be manually available on the turn dials on the body of the camera, rather than having to mess about going in and out of options menus.

    So to sum up.

    Currently have an old Sony A100 DSLR.

    If I choose to upgrade to another camera, decent low light capabilities and fast auto focus are my most important considerations to start with. The A100 often fails to get crisp shots of my toddler when she's running about. How much of that is the camera, and how much are my short comings as a photographer, I don't know.

    Budget is about $1000 Canadian, perhaps with a couple of hundred dollars leeway for the right machine.

    Many thanks for taking the time to read this if you've got this far. I could have probably condensed it somewhat but I wanted to give as much information as possible.


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Nikon D3400 vs Sony Alpha 100 | DxOMark

    An overall sensor score of 61, and a High ISO/low-light score of 476 for the Alpha 100...

    Low-light capabilities at 476 are very poor for the Alpha 100...many,many newer cameras will easily better it.
     
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  3. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It sounds like you might be one of the people who would be well served by one of the new smaller mirrorless cameras. They’re compact and easy to carry around, have excellent image quality and low light performance, and most have interchangeable lenses so you can grow the system as you get better.

    The mirrorless cameras, specifically the new Fuji’s, have what many consider to be the best straight out of Camera jpeg images available. This is important if you don’t want to also spend money on editing software and learning to shoot in RAW.

    If I were you, I’d look into something like the Fuji XT20 or a used X-T1.
     
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  4. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For kids, you NEED to check the reviews for shutter lag. The reviews of the early mirrorless showed enough shutter lag that I went to a D7200, to replace my D70 that died.
    Shutter lag on a P&S drives me nuts; when the shutter fires, a second or two after I press the shutter release. The kid has moved about 1 to 2 feet in that time, or turned around.
     
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  5. beagle100

    beagle100 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with the other posters, look at the new smaller mirrorless cameras - all the features of an "SLR" but they are smaller and lighter and can also use the big DSLR lens
    www.flickr.com/photos/mmirrorless
     
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  6. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I liked the Sony A-100 ... I had that for years.
    Yes, it is far behind the current camera's in terms of low light and fast AF ... but the images from the sensor were pretty good (there are numerous Sony shooters who have kept one around just because of that) when coupled with a good lens.
    That old kit lens sucks, one of the first things I did was find a replacement (the current 18-55mm kit lens is much better).

    If you want to stick with A-mount, there is not much in your budget if you want a new body and lens ... the A77mII w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 is a great combination (I have this combo), but is about $1800 ... if you can find an A58, that would be a substantial upgrade to your A100.
     
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  7. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ... and the original Minolta Maxxum AF 75-300mm beercan (if that is what you have) is one of the best in that focal range for A-mount.
     
  8. Peeb

    Peeb Semi-automatic Mediocrity Generator Supporting Member

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  9. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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  10. robinhood_1984

    robinhood_1984 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    I certainly do like the look of the Fuji XT20, it seems a fantastic little machine and while I may be willing to stretch to those sorts of prices to get the right thing, I'm a bit worried that buying additional Fuji lenses would be very expensive compared to lets say Nikon or Canon? Perhaps I've just been looking at the wrong lenses etc.

    If we start talking about the $1000-1500(ish) price range, do any DSLR's become serious contenders against the XT20 or for the amateur like myself would I not notice any difference in the finished product between an XT20 and lets say a Nikon D5500 or D7200 etc?

    Whilst I'm keen to get the right equipment to start with, I don't know where to draw the line. I don't really want the cheapest entry level camera such as a D3400 but when you then start talking D5500 it becomes easier to justify spending more and more and advancing up through ever increasing model specs as each 'improvement' is 'just' another couple of hundred etc.

    I have also been looking at the Sony A6000 (and newer versions) as a possibility but I don't know what to make of it compared to the XT20. Obviously its much cheaper and many of the reviews and videos on youtube highly rate it and in reality it probably would satisfy my needs for the most part, I just don't want to invest a not insubstantial amount of cash on something that is expensive enough to make a dent in the bank balance, only to feel like its not quite enough for what I may want to grow in to later.
     
  11. robinhood_1984

    robinhood_1984 TPF Noob!

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    That lens is still back in England but my parents just confirmed it is indeed the 75-300mm 4.5-5.6 Beer can. I still don't know if its worth persevering with this rather old camera though and investing with more lenses or to make a new start with a completely new system with a much more modern and capable body.
    The A100 is acceptable in good light conditions, though the colours always seem faded and washed out straight out of the camera and need editing to add a bit of life to them. However in lower light conditions, ie inside the house for much of the day its completely useless and takes much worse photos than even my aging Galaxy S4 smart phone. I don't know how much of that is down to my lack of experience and skill and how much is down to the parameters of the camera.
     

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