I would like to start my photographic journey, just don't know which camera to buy for beginners.

I was looking at Canon Canon PowerShot SX540 HS, but I wonder how much of an upgrade is it on smartphone camera. To be more specific, on Galaxy note 8.

Here are a few photos I took at Conwy Castle, north Wales, with my phone, as you can see, it is a bit blur, objects and far houses also not best. Trees don't look nice as well.

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Looking for quality good as this?

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The question is, if I go on to pay 250-400$ for a camera of that brand, how much of an upgrade will it be on the images I shared?

  • If you are looking for advice on a camera, perhaps show the images that you are trying to achieve instead of the images that you can currently shoot. This way, you can be guided on the type and limitations of other cameras.
    – OnBreak.
    Jun 5 '19 at 17:13
  • @Hueco I added an image I think is good? Jun 6 '19 at 6:44
  • 4
    The "quality" picture is an overdone tone-mapped photo.
    – xenoid
    Jun 6 '19 at 7:03
  • As @xenoid says, the image that you uploaded is simply a tone-mapped HDR. This is something done in post processing by combining multiple exposures. You could do this using the images generated from your smartphone and an app that lets you control exposure and a post-pro app to do the tone mapping. No fancy camera required.
    – OnBreak.
    Jun 6 '19 at 7:32
  • 6

I want a clear improvement using the only the eyes as measurement. Not looking for zoom, just for a more clear image, lesser blur, fine details in distance to look better.

Let's break this down...

Clear Image - a clear landscape image is due just as much to light and atmospheric quality as it is to sensor and lens choice - perhaps even more so. The iconic landscape shots are generally shot during "golden hour" - your images are all shot midday, the second one in particular is being robbed of clarity because of flare.

less blur - see above. Your first image is about as sharp as the HDR shot you're looking to emulate (which has been over-sharpened in post, IMO).

Fine distance details - again, see above. However, this one in particular will also hinge on how much you are blowing up the image, how high of resolution your sensor is, and whether or not your lens can resolve the detail.

You're not even coming close to maxing the potential on your Galaxy Note 8. Shooting a shot like your HDR example means learning how to do this particular type of post processing - and the images needed can easily be taken on your Note.

The next step toward improving your photography will be to learn composition and how to use natural light to your advantage (and how to avoid lens flare!).

You don't need a new camera...until you are maxing out the potential of your Galaxy Note 8 and are trying to do something that it technically cannot do.

  • 1
    Thanks! I will try to maximize the potential of my galaxy note 8 first. Would love for a first advice. Jun 6 '19 at 8:05

In terms of results that replicate these particular images, you are unlikely to see any significant difference. You may be able to identify some plusses and minuses, but basically it'll be in the same ballpark.

However, there is a significant difference: the camera you identify has a 50× optical zoom, while the Galaxy Note 8 uses compute power to blend images captured by two cameras, one wide angle and one narrower "normal" focal length. It is probably the case that in the Galaxy's sweet spot, the additional processing will give more impressive out-of-the-camera results — but on the other hand, if you want to zoom in on a detail or something far away, well, the phone camera just can't do that.

But, nothing comes for free, and a super-zoom lens in a < $500 package needs to have a lot of compromise. You probably won't see big improvements in detail and sharpness at wide angles, and the telephoto pictures will be great for social-media sharing but if you analyze deeply you'll probably be disappointed.

  • If I get it right, a 300$-400$ camera will make little difference if any when not zooming. Better save and buy a 1000$ later on for better quality. Jun 5 '19 at 16:57
  • 2
    @TonyTannous a $1000 P&S essentially has the same limitations as a $300 P&S - it's the nature of a P&S vs. a phone. There are P&S cameras, Bridge cameras, DSLR's, and Mirrorless - which one you need will be dependent on what you want to do and the limitations you are willing to accept. None of these options, though, require that you spend $1000 to get started. A used Rebel, for example, and a nifty fifty lens can be had for a few hundred as well and it's a vastly different beast than a P&S.
    – OnBreak.
    Jun 5 '19 at 17:11
  • You don't need to spend $1000 to get into photography. Get a refurbished mirrorless camera like the M3 and you can start picking up old FD lenses and experimenting with them. My 50mm 1.4 FD produces stunning shots as good as when it was brand new. Bokeh at 1.4 or stop it down to get sharp images. Flip it around and you got a macro lens. If you want zoom, then you can adapt a stabilized 250 STM lens onto it for under $100 and produce very sharp photos. Jun 5 '19 at 17:30
  • @Hueco I want a clear improvement using the only the eyes as measurement. Not looking for zoom, just for a more clear image, lesser blur, fine details in distance to look better. Jun 6 '19 at 6:42

Superzoom cameras like the Canon model you mention are specialized to give medium quality at a very wide range of zoom settings. At 24mm equivalent (which is what most phone cameras are), they might actually be worse (smartphone lenses tend to be relatively sophisticated prime lenses, albeit tiny ones, optimized for exactly one focal length. They will beat a mediocre zoom lens. Hard.). And unlike interchangeable lens cameras and very high end compacts (eg a Sony RX1), they share the weakness of smartphone cameras (a small sensor that is limited in dynamic range, and needs heavy postprocessing in certain situations - which these devices tend to automatically do). 50x zoom cannot be economically achieved with larger sized sensors, unfortunately...

If you want the best quality on a medium budget, looking into APS-C mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (of which entry level kits are sometimes sold in the $500 range, especially older generation but still great equipment), and building a system over time might be the best bet...


If you don't mind a slightly bigger camera than the one you are considering, get a refurbished Canon T6 I have five of their predecessor (T5) for my photography students and they are great. Having the flexibility of a DSLR is much better than the "advanced" style camera you are thinking about. There are many advantages... two that come to mind are the ability to change lenses, and the physical dials and buttons are much more user friendly. Maybe some other readers can chime in with more.

For anyone looking at this later, if the T6 is out of stock, check the main refurbished cameras page.


I have 5 different cameras and phone of course. Sometimes and very often I don't take camera with me, that's why I use phone to shoot. There is of course difference between shootings, especially you see it when you zoom or cut a face from the picture you got - it'll be of worse quality. I like this Nikon https://cameravs.com/Nikon-D3S best of my cameras, I have Olympus and Canon and Fuji. Of course it would be expensive, but it will serve you for long years.

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