Ask Adrian: Can you recommend a digital camera that is not too complex for a beginner?

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Question I would like to invest in a digital camera. A friend mentioned that you are the go-to in terms of advice on cameras. He purchased a Canon EOS 750D for €450 a few years ago. Could you possibly recommend a model of camera for a similar budget? I am tired of taking photos with my phone. I need a camera that is not too complex for a beginner but one where I can become creative over time. I would like it for taking pictures of landscapes, animals and people.

— Derval Fitzgerald

Answer

It’s been a while since I’ve had a question on cameras. Phones have all but replaced them for most people, especially because even budget models now come with zoom and ultrawide lenses built in.

Even with all the advances of cameraphones, there are still two main advantages to standalone cameras. First, you can get a much greater variety of photos — far stronger close-ups, more atmospheric landscape shots and clearer portraits of people (often with that lovely blurred effect that really only properly comes from a camera lens). Second, the actual photos themselves are much, much more amenable to being edited or tweaked, from being brightened or darkened to corrections in colour. This is because the photos are simply higher quality and can take more tinkering.

That said, for a beginner, a standalone camera is usually three or four times less straightforward than a phone. Even if you want to use it as a point-and-shoot tool, there are simply too many buttons, knobs and dials that can be accidentally pressed to alter a setting. So your attitude of being willing to learn how to use it as a tool is happily (and also unfortunately) a completely necessary one.

As for recommendations, for your budget, I’d consider getting a guaranteed, used model from a reputable, established trader. Conns Cameras has a reasonable deal on a used Canon EOS M6 with a basic 15-45mm lens for €299. This is a manageable entry-level camera that will give you some decent shots and is a little easier to learn than some others.

By only spending €299, you will hopefully have some budget left over for a second lens. If you can stretch that to €249 (making a total budget of €550), Conns also has a used Canon EF-M 55-200mm lens for €249. This is reasonably good for animal photography, long-range portraits and some types of landscape shots (particularly sunsets and sunrises).

There are some other decent deals, like Panasonic’s more powerful G7 (about €500 with a lens included).

But whatever model you choose, from whatever shop or online store, I’d advise you get what’s called a mirrorless camera (like both of the suggestions I give above).

Many older cameras — and even some new ones — from the likes of Canon and Nikon are what’s called DSLR cameras. These are old technology which don’t let you see the photo before you take it. They’re gradually being discontinued because they’ve been superseded by modern mirrorless models. (I have two DSLRs, by the way, but rarely use them any more, favouring my mirrorless cameras almost every time.)

Recommendation: Canon EOS M6 (€299 from Conns Cameras)

Question

I recently purchased a MacBook Pro for working from home and studying for an online degree. My problem is that I had already invested in an external Bose microphone and a Logitech HD webcam for Zoom and Microsoft Teams online. These are both USB devices and are for work and classes. I also have external hard disks with back-ups of photos and videos that I use. And I have other USB peripherals that I also need access to.

I realise that I need an adapter or, better still, an ‘adapter hub’ but the Apple options are limited and I have read that there can be problems with non-Apple hubs causing problems with Macbooks. I don’t want to risk causing such problems. Any help would be appreciated.

— Brian McGuinness

Answer

I’m assuming that when you say they’re ‘USB devices’ and ‘USB peripherals’ that you mean USB ‘A’ (or USB ‘3.0’) — the older, more traditional type of USB connection for computers (and not USB-C, such as you now get for most new USB peripherals such as Android smartphone charging cables). If so, Belkin’s hubs are generally well regarded and compliant with MacBooks. Apple’s Irish online store itself sells one with four USB A (or 3.0) ports for €75 that should do the trick.

Email your questions to ­aweckler@independent.ie

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