Finding a camera for my dad

Discussing options for a camera for my dad


Alex Johnstone


October 17, 2022

My dad likes photography, but he doesn’t really have a camera. He used to own one, think it was a Praktica SLR. He’s told me the story of dropping it in the sand at a beach and also of setting up a darkroom space in his bathroom, but then never getting a chance to use it before moving. Having said he likes photography, I’m not really sure how many photos he’s taken. Not the exact number, but whether it’s been a consistent thing over time. He gave the SLR to my sister - not that I think she’s used it - and I’m not sure if he has any digital camera other than his phone.

This is the issue though, would he want something beyond his phone? He also doesn’t have a computer, just an iPad, and I feel like photography on an iPad, whilst doable, is not that enjoyable, particularly if you’re not up for “a routine” to make it all work.

So why am I looking for a camera for my dad? Mostly because I think he’d like it. He likes birds and gets a lot of wildlife in his garden. He also lives in the countryside with lots of good walks. There’s lots of scope for wildlife and landscapes, although I feel like he’d want to focus on birds.

The most obvious choice is a digital with super zoom. Maybe APS-C to get some reach, or even MFT as I see a lot of bird photos with them on reddit. I don’t really want to spend a huge amount - I had thought about asking my sisters if they want to split it with me for his Christmas, but that probably wouldn’t add that much. This then leads to used cameras, and maybe something like a Nikon D90, and a Tameron lens. However, something exactly like a D90 ends up being a lot more expensive than you think. I think as it’s well known and then it’s quite popular and that keeps the price high.

Whilst I don’t want to spend too much money, I also don’t want it to be a terrible camera and then be annoying to use.

I’m partially tempted to get a film SLR and a long lens, mostly as it’s quite straight forward to use, the film gets developed and then there’s no digital media to deal with. Not that he couldn’t deal with it but it would simplify stuff. However, maybe I’m just projecting my enjoyment of film on to others…

This wasn’t a very in-depth assessment at possible options, and writing it mostly made me wonder if he really would actually like a camera or not. I’m leaning towards no and so, whilst I do enjoy a good research project, it seems like a waste of time. He’s had cameras, they have digital cameras in the house that belong to my sisters that he could’ve easily borrowed. Maybe getting one as a present would change his mindset, but I feel like he is too busy to start another hobby.

Perhaps the real outcome is asking him about it.