Ask Adrian: Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems
Question: I have a Canon 70D camera but increasingly I only use my iPhone for photos. I've heard mirrorless is the way to go. What do you think? Ease and portability are big factors. I will be 60 in March. - Paul C, Cork, via email
Paul, let me start by saying that even though it's a few years old, the 70D is a really good camera. With a decent lens, you'll get superb photos with it. But like most DSLR cameras, it's bulky. And it also requires a bit of attention and commitment to learning a few things about how a DSLR works, like ISO, aperture and shutter speed (not to mention white balance). I know many casual snappers simply don't want to dive into this.
So it sounds like your camera is overqualified for what you may really want - good, high-quality photos that are easy and quick to produce but also have more variation than what your flagship iPhone, Samsung or Huawei phone can give you.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
On whether to go mirrorless or stick with a DSLR, you're absolutely right in what you're hearing - mirrorless is definitely the way to go. Overall, it's a better system that is more user-friendly than any DSLR.
If you own a 70D, I'll assume that your budget is not completely basic (the 70D cost over €1,000 when originally launched). However, I always like to keep recommendations reasonably priced, so the models I'm recommending cost less than your 70D did.
I'm not sure why exactly you mention your age but, in the context of your other request for "ease", I'll assume it's to indicate you want something relatively beginner-friendly.
Those being the criteria, I'd recommend two options. You need either a high-quality all-in-one mirrorless model or a basic interchangeable lens mirrorless model.
First, I'd advise that you look at two all-in-one options.
One is Canon's G1X Mark II (€669). It's easy to use, very portable (it's not much bigger than a pocket camera) and has a 5x zoom. Canon has taken a lot of what gives its DSLRs good photo quality and shrunk it into this camera, including very good low-light ability. It's very beginner friendly, too. The zoom is two and a half times longer than an iPhone's zoom, but no bigger than that. This is to keep the lens quality (and this the photo quality) high. There is a newer, (Mark III) version of this camera, but it costs twice as much and, for someone who prizes ease of use over extra technical features, it's arguably not worth the money.
The other all-in-one camera I'd recommend as being good value is Panasonic's FZ1000 (roughly €600-€650). This is a little bigger than the Canon I mention above, but still smaller than your current 70D. It has a superb, stabilised 16x zoom that goes way further than the Canon or many other cameras in this price range. This kind of long-zoom camera is very good for sunsets, moon shots and casual wildlife photos. So it's good for people who travel. Again, it's reasonably beginner-friendly.
Lastly, if you think you might like to experiment with different lenses in future, something like Canon's new mirrorless Eos M200 (€569 with a kit 3x zoom lens, though other lenses generally cost between €300 and €500) is practical for casual users who still want quality. I reviewed it a fortnight ago (search for it on Independent.ie).
My 16-year-old daughter says that she wants to get a camera for Christmas. It's purely on an amateur level, without needing a second mortgage or a Masters in technology. Could you offer any advice on what we should be looking at?
- Patrick B, Dublin, via email
If she's 16, I'm guessing that she knows smartphones inside out. Thus, I'm assuming that the defining traits of a camera to her are qualities that you can't get in a smartphone. That means either film (such as an instant camera) or something that delivers very different results to a smartphone, probably with a different process of taking the shot, too.
One of the coolest-looking, most fun interchangeable lens cameras at a modest price is Olympus's E-PL8 (€399). It's a small mirrorless camera that takes very nice shots and comes with a 3x zoom kit lens. It has a nice flip-down screen, too, and it comes in a few different colours. If your daughter wants to expand her horizons, she can get a bigger zoom lens pretty affordably (around €200 or so). A similarly-priced option with an even better kit lens (3x) is Fujifilm's X-A5 (€399). This one has a screen that flips up and also comes in different colours. Again, the range of good lenses available for Fujifilm is strong, if she ever wants to expand.
If she wants to jump into something a bit more radical, Panasonic's FZ82 (€350) has a massive 60x zoom while still being no bigger than a small DSLR. While that zoom is very handy in some circumstances, it's not as good in low light as the previous two cameras.
Recommendation: Canon G1X Mark II (€669) or Fujifilm X-A5 (€399), both from Conns Cameras
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nokia 800 Tough
€129 from Harvey Norman
Need a phone that can rough it? Nokia's new 800 Tough phone is it. The 4G model, which comes with trimmed down versions of WhatsApp, Facebook, Maps and Google Assistant, is drop-proof, waterproof and has no problems with dust or freezing conditions. Its long battery life makes it good as a second 'rugged' phone.
Apple AirPods Pro
€279 from retailers
Apple's AirPods are a runaway hit and, in this reviewer's opinion, the best quality wireless earphones you can get under €200. But they're missing noise cancellation. So Apple's new AirPods Pro has added this feature. It promises to cut out external din when you're trying to listen to your music or just concentrate.