Nikon D3500 or Sony A7 III ? (Also Sony A6600 or Nikon Z50) for absolute beginner

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,354
Re: Nikon D3500 or Sony A7 III ? (Also Sony A6600 or Nikon Z50) for absolute beginner

sonic123 wrote:

Welcome to the forums!

You're probably not going to like my short answer, which is this: It doesn't matter which camera you get. All will work equally well -- and, if your expectations are wrong, equally badly.

Here's the long answer:

Smartphones take pretty amazing photos, and one of the ways they do that is by using techniques that more advanced photographers would apply manually. For example, let's say the scene has a lot of dark and light areas. (Cameras don't deal as well with extremes of dark and light as human eyes do.) You press the button once, but the phone actually takes several pictures, not just one, and combines them, tossing out the too-light and too-dark parts and using the just-right sections of each to give you a photo that looks evenly lit.

Now, there may be some entry-level cameras that use the same fancy (dare we call it cheating?) techniques that smartphones do. But higher-end cameras may not have those same abilities. Take that same shot with a high-end camera and it'll probably look like crap.

Why? Because higher end cameras are designed not to take better pictures, but to give photographers greater control over their images.

The idea is that, given that same dark-and-light tricky situation, a more advanced photographer will know what to do -- bracket (take several photos at different exposures) and stack the photos in post-processing, or use auxiliary lighting, or use other post-processing techniques to get the photo looking just the way they want it. Or they might just choose a scene that won't give them so many complications.

The assumption is that more advanced photographers don't want the camera to fix those problems for them -- they want creative control to make the photos the way they want.

Back in the film days, students were required to use the most simple, basic cameras possible -- manual focus, manual aperture, manual shutter speed, manual wind. The idea was to teach them the basics, and how all these settings affected their images. It sounds intimidating to some but it really wasn't difficult -- if an idiot like me can learn it, anyone can.

1) Does the Sony A7 III take better photos (better image quality - pro looking photos) than the D3500 or does the D3500 still makes the better photos?

Neither -- it's the photographer who makes great pictures. The cameras have different qualities, and there may be some argument as to which one has sharper lenses, or makes less-noisy high-ISO photos, but the broad truth is that it's the photographer, not the camera, who makes the images. I work at a car publication with some truly talented photographers, and they have vastly differing opinions on Sony vs. Canon vs. Nikon, but any of them could take great photos on any gear. Or a smartphone!

I would be using my camera to make everyday moments photos look BETTER (way better) than the ones I obtain with my iPhone and also to shoot photos (both regular and portrait) photos of my daughter and wife and shoot videos for my daughter.

That's going to require some learning. It's not terribly difficult: First, you need to understand the basics of exposure (aperture and shutter speed) and the effect they have on photos. A lot of people overcomplicate this but it hasn't really changed much in the 170 years or so.

Next step is to learn more about post processing -- that's how you make the photos look better than reality. I find that one a bit intimidating (I grew up in photography in the film era, and still shoot on film) but it's still not terribly difficult.

Because I know the basics, btw, I'm still able to get (I think) passably decent images without knowing a lot of post-processing. I've been doing it long enough to figure out how a scene in front of me will translate into a photo, and how I can manipulate the scene using the controls the camera gave me.

Back In The Day I had a black-and-white night shot I was rather proud of hanging in my dorm room, and friends would say, "Oh, but you have a really good camera." And I'd tell them that, actually, that was a pic I took not with the "big" camera but with a simple point-and-shoot.

All of us who have been snapping away long enough know someone (or several someones) who thought they could buy their way to a good photo. They bought expensive gear, but didn't know the basics, and they got photos that were very sharp and nicely exposed, but still boring. Meanwhile, I knew lots of people who took amazing, compelling images with very simple equipment. I now own some of those high-end film cameras (they're dirt cheap nowadays) and while they do speed up the process, the photos I make with them aren't any better than on my lower-end film cameras.

Great photos are made behind the camera, not in it!

I can't speak much for video, which I don't do. I would say that any camera that meets your video needs will probably be fine for still photography.

I would also say that you probably won't get images as good as your iPhone right off the bat. But as you learn more, and learn to take control of your images, you'll be able to make your photos even better. A mirrorless camera might help a little since it gives you a better idea of what your shot will look like, but with higher-end cameras, there's no magic bullet. Happily, photography is not all that difficult to learn to do well and lots of people here will help you out.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!


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