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Author Topic: Best inexpensive used DLSR model for college class  (Read 1649 times)
plugsnpixels
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« on: May 20, 2014, 02:41:53 PM »
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My daughter is taking a photo class this summer and needs an adjustable DSLR. Believe it or not, I've never owned one (it's all about post-processing and plug-ins for me)!

I have a local used camera store that told me via email they have a selection of used Canon and Nikon equipment (both with 18-55 zoom included) for between $250-350 and do some repairs on site. B&H also has a nice selection, but they are 3000 miles away and all that comes with that.

I haven't gotten an exact store inventory list and haven't gone over to look in person yet, but I would appreciate comments about what models to seek out and which to avoid, and why.

Also, would a micro four-thirds camera pass the "manual adjustment for class" test? Since we are going to keep the camera after the class I would personally prefer the smaller model that I assume is better than the prosumer Nikon Coolpix I already use, and my daughter would probably prefer the smaller size as well.

Thanks in advance!
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BobShaw
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2014, 05:09:42 PM »
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Anything with manual mode and shooting raw files will probably do. That is most DSLRs. The 18-55 lens is usually rubbish. A cheaper camera and a batter lens is the best return for money. You may be able to use something a like a Canon G11 if removable lenses aren't required.
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2014, 05:36:40 PM »
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Thanks Bob. We'll try to get more details from the instructor soon.

Good point about the lens, I guess that zoom is the equivalent of the old 50mm throwaway. What off-brands (i.e., non-camera maker) do you prefer, or not? Back in the 35mm days we bought Vivitar, Tamron, etc.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2014, 11:12:19 PM »
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I would pick an older gen APS camera with a nice and bright viewfinder, such as the D90, and a 50mm f1.8.

The first steps in photography are about learning to see.

In my view zooms confuse the mind more than they help and a lens opening at 1.8 will provide a much more photographic rendition of the world.

Cheers,
Bernard
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2014, 11:33:16 PM »
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Thanks Bernard, I hadn't heard anything about APS in years! ;-). When you say "D90" you're not talking about the $800 one (?!).

We also have to consider post-class usage, which will most likely be mainly me. I shoot mainly for my website (doing post-processing with Photoshop plug-ins), and to date I've used 1, 4 and 6-megapixel prosumer models, no DSLRs (maybe you can tell, ha!). I do miss the SLRs of old with the bright viewfinders and manual focus (I used them from 1975-2000 or so). I haven't looked through an optical viewfinder for 15 years or more, I would like to experience that again.

Funny, I even stopped using any sort of traditional camera to shoot ebay photos, since the iPhone is perfect for that (aside from the pincushion distortion in close-ups).
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2014, 12:37:54 AM »
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Thanks Bernard, I hadn't heard anything about APS in years! ;-). When you say "D90" you're not talking about the $800 one (?!).

Indeed, but it can be had around 300 US$ second hand, at least in Tokyo.

It should have read APS-C. Smiley

Cheers,
Bernard
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2014, 12:53:01 AM »
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Hang on, let me factor in the ticket to Tokyo... ;-)
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StoneNYC
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 02:58:27 AM »
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Just get an old Canon XT Rebel... Or even a 10D or 20D refurbished from canon directly will cost you $150-$200 and be more than enough for a class.

No need to get excessive
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2014, 08:37:51 AM »
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Just get an old Canon XT Rebel... Or even a 10D or 20D refurbished from canon directly will cost you $150-$200 and be more than enough for a class.

No need to get excessive
I'll second the motion. The Canon 10D was my very first digital camera, and it produced a number of exhibit-worthy images.

I also agree with Bernard's suggestion of a single fixed-focus lens for learning to see during the course.
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2014, 12:31:46 PM »
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Thanks guys. The Canon refurbs currently offered are a bit higher than I wish to go (limit about $300), but I like the idea of refurb better than just plain "used".

For example, I see a Nikon D3000 10.2 MP DSLR body refurbished by Nikon online ($200). Buying a body and choice prime lenses is probably better than going for the stock zoom most cameras come with.
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k bennett
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2014, 02:31:51 PM »
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I work with a lot of college students, and the Canon Digital Rebel and the basic intro Nikons like the D3100 are popular. They almost always come with a kit zoom lens, which is very slow in aperture, but image quality is excellent and they are inexpensive. Used is fine -- I'd be willing to go back to a Rebel XTi, since that was the first consumer Canon with sensor dust removal.

If you can swing it, something like a Canon 40D would provide much better/easier manual control over exposure. They are pretty cheap lately -- KEH.com has one for $199 in Bargain condition.

If you buy the lens separately, try to get the Image Stabilized version. That makes a significant difference in shooting high quality photos. Those seem to be about $75 at KEH.

You'll want a spare battery and some sort of camera strap. If you have a few extra bucks, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens makes a terrific second lens that she'll use constantly. Batteries are available at Amazon for very little money.

(I greatly prefer KEH for used gear over the big NYC stores. Usual disclaimer. I've been a happy customer of KEH for 25 years, but have no other relationship with them.)
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2014, 03:17:25 PM »
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Thanks, just checked KEH and nothing in my price range for either Canon or Nikon. However, elsewhere I see a Nikon D3000 body for $199 or D3100 body for $299 (both refurbed by Nikon).

Thoughts on these models and/or refurb vs. used? I supposed anything other than New would have a shorter warranty.

Also, it seems in my price range I am going to have to choose either a several year old slightly more advanced model or couple year old lower end model. Video capability may sway that decision (again, I will most likely be using this camera myself after the class ends). At this point in my research I am leaning toward a newer model.

PS: Then I end up at Ken Rockwell and read bad things about the D3000, but I've also read bad things about Ken, ha!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2014, 03:20:03 PM by plugsnpixels » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2014, 06:29:27 PM »
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Wait, KEH is on ebay and there is hope in their store there...
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PeterAit
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 10:07:27 AM »
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Don't worry about the quality of the lens, "OK" is good enough. Your daughter is going to learn photography, which involves seeing, composition, and exposure. Sharpness is a minor issue - really, was any poor photo ever made better by sharpness or any great photo made less by lack of perfect sharpness? Duh, no!

Don't get image stabilization. It is a very useful feature but will inhibit your daughter from learning how to hold the camera steady and how shutter speed and focal length interact.

You might look at the Nikon D80 with the 18-135mm kit lens. It's within your budget and will meet your daughter's needs, I believe. I got one in 2006 (my first serious digital camera) and I used it for my Australia/New Zealand trip - follow the link in my sig line if you want to see the photos. A few years later I gave it to my daughter and she is still using it.

Hope this helps,
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2014, 05:46:53 PM »
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If you're in the under $200 range check craigslist, honestly it doesn't really matter, any canon rebel digital you can find will be fine for her needs. And yes the 50mm 1.8 is a good lens for the money, it looks and feels so cheap but the glass is good.

But you're more likely to find a kit with a zoom lens, and these days they don't teach by starting with prime like they used to.
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2014, 05:57:03 PM »
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It might actually be better to start with a "bad" lens. She can learn about the tradeoffs that photographers make between sharpest aperture and shutter speed, etc. Very obvious with something like a 50 f/1.8.
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2014, 01:39:38 PM »
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Pentax ist, they are still around. Great little cameras.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2014, 06:04:52 AM »
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I would personally go for a prime lens with a fast maximum aperture rather than a zoom.  The 50mm is ideal on full frame, perhaps a bit long on APSC.  The wider aperture is much more useful in demonstrating the effects of depth of field.  A slow zoom of say f5.6 on a cropped sensor shows very little variety in depth of field.  The video question and trying to find a camera that will suit you after your daughter has finished with it is just going to complicate things.  A DSLR is potentially a confusing tool for a newcomer and I would go for the most basic body you can find.  There is a reason why with film the Pentax K1000 was king of the student cameras, and not just for it's relatively low price.  They are simple and just let the student get to grips with the basics.

Jim
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The View
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« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2014, 01:23:36 AM »
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A zoom is a good idea, as it allows your daughter to explore wide angle to light tele.

An 18-55mm Canon kit lens is not that bad, and enough for it.

A used Rebel (not older than 3 years) would be a good fit.

I recommend that your daughter look at new cameras first - which one does she like best? Then you can go and buy a used one.

It's also possible to buy a compact, as long as it has a viewfinder and is fully adjustable. There are some like the Canon G12. The Canon SD 110 could be another candidate.
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« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2014, 08:16:48 AM »
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Bottom line is this :  both Nikon and Canon make excellent entry level cameras in the DSLR market.  Either brand, even models that are 2 or 4 years old are great.  People are really spoiled nowadays.  My first "real" SLR was a Nikon EM, great camera, but compared to what you get today for the same money (taking inflation into account), seriously, I cannot see how you would go wrong.

My main concern is that the electronics in these new cameras can be easily damaged by rain, dropping the camera,etc.  if you are buying a used camera and you do not know how well the previous owner looked after the camera, then what happens when it stops working?  Because of that, I highly recommend a refurbished camera directly from Nikon or Canon, or from a reputable dealer.  Refurbished cameras usually come with some kind of warranty, anything from 30 days to one year, depending on how expensive the camera is.

The basic kit lenses from either brand are not bad at all optically, especially for the money, but mechanically they can break easily.  For example, the all plastic mount on the Nikon 18-55mm seems to break all the time,seen myself more than once.  Either brand, a basic 35mm prime lens would likely be pretty bullet proof in terms of ease of use and long term durability.

One last thing buying used, make sure the battery is new or in good shape, and a brand name battery.  My experience, the 3rd party brands only seems to last a year then they simply do not hold a charge as long as the brand name batteries do.
Good luck

« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 08:18:29 AM by joneil » Logged
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