First Camera - help please

Hi everyone, I am looking to buy a camera so I can take some half decent pictures for my website. I don't want anything too complicated as I am a total beginner but intend to learn as much as I can, without blowing too much money if I prove to be totally useless, as I'm not hte slight bit artistic.

Please could anyone give me some ideas if this is a good halfway house camera Canon SX510 HS

Thanks in advance for any tips or alternatives.

I was a pro photographer for 25 years, and have always used Canon. I have a Canon DSLR, but I don't travel with it because it puts the "tourist" light over my head. For our travels, I always used a Canon IXUS until it was stolen on the Metro in 2009. I then used a Lumix, but was never happy with a few details. I have since bought another Canon IXUS for our travels. I find it is compact enough, and produces quality images for the "every man".

Hi Tracy

I was in your position last year. I had always wanted a Canon EOS or something similar as I wanted the ability to take quality photos and with a really good zoom. I discussed it with several friends (two of which were professional photographers) and also on a photo forum I belonged to. I didn't want the hassle of carrying different lenses etc nor the complication of all of this. I like spontaneity in photos. One of my professional photographer friends said that they thought I would be far better off with a Bridge Camera (not DSLR which requires lenses). In the end I ended up with a Nikon Coolpix P510 (it is a Bridge) and it is excellent. Easy to use, incredible built in zoom and wonderful quality photos. Hope this helps. You have had lots of suggestions so perhaps very confusing for you. Given that you are a beginner I would suggest go with a Bridge. There are many on the market - but happy with m Nikon.

Best wishes, Sarah

I am a beginner and just bought a Pentax X5 from Amazon....£140 I think...and am delighted. I can't do any of the frilly bits, because I am too thick, but have taken lovely photos of views, chickens, dogs....and put a flowery frame round one! The reviews mention that the battery opening is fiddly...and so it is...just a bit, and I was looking out for this as a problem! It's not a problem, just fiddly. It has a viewfinder, but a very easy alternative...which I like better. Excellent for me.

Looks lovely.

It has far far too many pixels for use direct on a website, so you would need to reduce the size on a computer before uploading (or set the camera to fewer pixels, eg 1024x768 is plenty for most web purposes). (A full size pic would take say 5 or 10seconds to load on a decent connection, forever if you lived in the sticks)

It might be a bit big to cart around all the time.

For what you want to do practically any Canon brand (or Pentax, Lumix, Sony,Nikon) will do fine, £25 from ebay would cover it. 30x zoom is the sort of thing used by paparazzi; are you planning to take intimate photos of the neighbours? (or even the neighbours' neighbours) is the main reviews website, but be warned you could fall into a huge debate with yourself when what you should probably do is get snapping.


camera choice is very difficult, usually there is always a slightly dearer model with something you really need. But what you have considered is fine so far, WiFi, zoom, image stabilisation etc. However to get really good detail, especially if you want to emulate professional standards then you need the best sensor, processor, lens and also the amount of pixels. This camera seems to tick the first two. Lenses are generally better on a DSLR and the pixel numbers could be higher, in my opinion. That raises the problem of price though. Any DSLR especially those of Canon and Nikon is going to be expensive and you would need another lens to get good zoom. Tamron make good lenses, you would need to read reviews for each one you fancied. The alternative to aid quality is use a tripod, or steady the camera against a post or wall. I use a compact Samsung but find it needs very good light to get detail of good quality, which is probably where the camera you look at may let you down especially on zoom. That is a guess though. I'd suggest a CANON EOS 600D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55 mm & 75-300 mm DC III Lenses (look at for the description) or the same camera with the same 18 - 55 mm then source the other lens or similar from another manufacturer making sure it is for EOS and the best you can afford. I am sure Nikon make a similar model and lens but haven't read the reviews. Best of luck.

I get asked this question most days.

Its impossible to keep up with technology, so I advise people go look at a website - Digital Photography Review. The good thing is you get commentary from professionals and also from people actually using the type of camera they have purchased: positive and negative comments.

Have fun :)

Hi Tracy,

Canon's are always very user friendly and the one you have chosen seems like a great choice ... great zoom options x 30 and x 60 plus the wide 24mm, great for close ups and landscapes ... full HD with stereo ... automatic settings with aperture and shutter priority which gives you some manual flexibility for the more experimental stuff and when you want to work in lower light conditions when you don't want to use flash. it looks like a great choice for a first camera !!

enjoy, best wishes,


Thanks Kent, that's some great pointers and I will bear them in mind for making the ultimate decision all mums have to make - do I need it more than the kids need new etc, etc etc!

u'mm, I was looking at the Canon Power shot SX500 which is considerably cheaper but the reviews I found said the new one was a considerable improvement - I also liked the idea of WIFI uploads as we have so many cables in our house it's a nightmare, I'm sure everyone has the same problem.

Well remembered James, yes I do but I find that there is not enough zoom on it. I was out yesterday trying to take pictures of the harvest in the vineyards and hate feeling I am intruding on people by getting too close. Also would like to take pictures of historic building details which I can't get close to.

When my daughter wanted to learn photography I gave her my Nikon FM because it had no auto mode, just a simple meter in the viewfinder: 3 little lights: under/overexposure and the correct exposure in the middle BUT you had to learn what the relationship was and the effect between aperture, shutter speed, film speed and focus.

I'm not saying that you can't take a good picture if you don't know the technical basics - but it certainly helps.

Unfortunately, now everything is digital, most cameras come with all the whistles and bells, the more gadgets the merrier and the easier for the manufacturer to flog 'em; this can certainly cloud things for the beginner. So, I'm not sure what would be the digital equivalent of my old film FM but I would recommend that you at least, try to find a camera that gives you the option to control the shutter speed, aperture and focus manually otherwise you can miss out on some valuable lessons which could make your photos stand out from the crowd.

As to the Canon SX510 HS you mention, I don't know the model but, after a quick Google, I see it has full manual control (as well as all the whistles and bells) - and one hell of a zoom - Canon make good kit - nearly as good as Nikon...

Your post caught my eye because I too am looking at buying a bridge/compact, I am on my 3rd canon digital camera a 5d which I love but it's heavy to carry around and too easy to leave at home when walking the dogs or just to have in your bag.

It seems the Canon SX510HS is very new and there are very few reviews, no user reviews yet that I can find. Previous models get great reviews so there is no reason this one shouldn't be a great camera too. Personally I would wait or look at earlier models which may be discounted. I am also looking at Fuji, Panasonic and Sony models.

Catharine recently got a Galaxy Note 2 and the camera is excellent, certainly more than adequate for web resolution.

Don't you have a Samsung S3 Tracy? Have you tried using the camera on that?

I eventually went fully digital - leaving a shelf full of redundant Nikons - but I wanted a camera that I could use all my old lenses on and something that felt familiar vis-à-vis knobs and twiddly controls, I thus opted for a Nikon Df, totally excellent beastie, very happy with it, knobs and all - but - like most full frame SLRs, it’s a bit big, so I don’t cart it around with me all the time. What I DO cart around is a miniscule Sony DCS-HX90: a THIRTY times zoom, equivalent to 24<720mm; it also has a pop-up viewfinder so you don’t have to struggle with the 180⁰ tilting screen in bright sunlight. My only criticism is that, being tiddly, the controls are close together and it’s easy to hit the wrong thing and complicate things at the wrong moment.
If someone is looking for an amazing compact compact, I’d highly recommend it. Nikon%20Df

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ps: It’s actually smaller than you’re probably seeing in this pic: 10cm wide.