Question: My uncle is turning 70 next week, has recently retired and wants to take up photography as a new hobby. He is a total beginner and not very tech savvy. Our budget is around €500 and for his birthday we'd like to buy him a digital camera and maybe a lesson or two. Is there any camera that you would recommend as suitable for him?
- Olivia K
In my opinion, the best single camera deal out there right now is Sony's A6000 with a 16-50mm lens for €400 from ConnsCameras.ie. Even though it's a previous-generation model, it's a very good camera and that is an amazing (and unusual) price.
That's a mirrorless model, which means that, even though it takes interchangeable lenses, it's fairly compact. If he prefers a slightly larger size, Canon's EOS 2000D with an 18-55mm kit lens is a pretty reasonable deal for €489, and is available from a number of retailers.
Recommendation: Sony A6000 with 16-50mm lens (€399 from ConnsCameras.ie)
I have a HPDeskjet 1050A printer. I recently replaced the black cartridge and the indicator shows the cartridge level is full of ink. However, it will not print. I followed the instructions and cleaned the head three times but it still does not print. Have you any advice? I only use the printer occasionally. Would you buy another cartridge or another printer. The printer is about eight years old. What printer would you recommend?
- D Treanor
If you replaced the print cartridge and cleaned the head, it sounds like there may be another problem; I take it that this has stopped working all of a sudden and that you haven't just come back to it after months of not using it.
Realistically it's not worth paying to get it fixed as printers are very cheap - you'll get a much better up-to-date one for around €50, possibly one that takes the same type of ink cartridge. I have HP's Tango all-in-one printer (€150) and it's pretty good.
Can you recommend the best way to get good Wi-Fi for two months for a summer house in Kerry so that I can work from there? I use Zoom calls and the kids use Netflix. Everything seems to be wrapped up in 12-month plans.
Your best bet may be to go for a mobile broadband router and a short-term mobile broadband sim card.
Three has an 'unlimited' 4G 30-day contract sim card deal for €30 a month, which would do the trick. Then you just need a mobile broadband router. Huawei does several of them: you'll pay between €60 and €150 for a decent one (the higher the price, the better the Wi-Fi distribution throughout the house).
Obviously, an awful lot will depend on getting a decent signal - you might find that one mobile operator is way stronger than the others in the particular spot you're in. So testing that beforehand, if at all possible, is highly recommended.
I am looking for some advice on smartphone cameras. I have recently taken to searching for and snapping insects. I currently have a Samsung Galaxy A7 and while it works brilliantly at times, it can struggle to focus quite a lot, especially if the insect is behind a stalk of grass. Would you know of a smart phone that could best solve this problem, or whether there are macro lens attachments available?
- Alan Heneghan
You can buy macro attachment lenses for smartphones. While they don't quite compare to dedicated macro lenses for standalone cameras, they're a lot cheaper and they do work reasonably well.
One to try is Shiftcam's new 75mm long range macro advance lens (€120 from Amazon.co.uk). This gives you a very nice focal length. You can also bring your phone as close as 10cm away from the object, which is pretty good.
Recommendation: Shiftcam 75mm macro (€120 from Amazon)
Email your questions to email@example.com
€79 from Amazon.co.uk
Doogee's ultra-budget X95 smartphone is for those who want a large-screen device with decent battery life for very casual use. The 6.5in display is nice and bright and responds to touch far better than I'd expect for a phone at this ridiculously low price. It has two cameras, a headphone jack and a fingerprint security reader.
Sony Xperia 1 II
€1,199 from retailers
Sony's new flagship Xperia 1 II phone is for people who really, really want to watch widescreen movies on a phone. In fact, Sony has designed the whole phone around this, with a skinny, tall format. It's also a great phone for gaming. However, its camera performance isn't as good as it should be.