1. Time for some upgrades in server hardware and software to enhance security and take AK to the next level. Please contribute what you can to sales@audiokarma.org at PayPal.com - Thanks from the AK Team
    Dismiss Notice

$200-$300 budget for DSLR + Lens

Discussion in 'Cameras and Photography' started by Wildcat, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    My daughter is in art school and has been borrowing a Canon T3i from the school's media center for assignments. (You can borrow them for free, for up to three days; none are available to rent through the semester.) They are doing the basics right now, starting off using the camera on full manual, photographing under different types of lighting, etc.

    She'd get good use out of one on our next trip. So I'm thinking of getting her an entry-level DSLR. Not sure what's out there though. I like my Sony SLT-A33 since it can use my Maxxum lenses, but it has one quirk in that the SteadyShot built into the body can overheat, so it can't be used for video (as they also use these in the video class). The Canon T3i is a 2011 model; at this point the latest/greatest isn't necessary (obviously), but something reliable and inexpensive would work. Figure, too, she has to go into Detroit with this thing, so I can already imagine it being stolen or destroyed at some hoodlum's hand, so I don't want to spend much for that reason also. Main thing, though, is that it has a full manual mode. Tempted to stick with a T3i or very similar, since she is slightly familiar with it so far. Or I'd upgrade my A33 to a better body and hand it down, yet, that issue with the SteadyShot is not something I'd want to become a problem. Turning it off isn't exactly helpful, but it is a possibility.

    I've had decent luck buying used camera equipment on eBay and even Amazon (where I got my A33 body). Is it worth checking pawn shops, or is that the luck of the draw? (They are not camera experts; the thing could be a barely functioning POS.) I'm also wary of Craigslist sellers; lots of scammers around this area.

    Ideas welcome!
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    What about a mirrorless ? I used the Sony NEX line for years and they are awesome cameras. Full manual mode, interchangable lenses with mount adapters made for just about any lens system under the (rising) sun :)

    If she's going to 'certain areas' then the NEX will slip into a bag or pocket easily - just unmonut the lens and slip that into another bag / pocket. They're absolutely great for street work with a 35 or 50mm prime lens on them. One time I went to concert and heaps of guys were getting asked to leave their 'professional' cameras at the door. I showed them my NEX which just had the body cap fitted and they waved me in, saying 'you won't get much with that mate'. Inside, I pulled out the 80mm prime I had in my pocket and the 2 x teleconverted the wife had in here bag - with the ISO cranked up to 1600 I got some great shots.

    There are other options too with mirrorless such as the Samsung and Nikon lines but the NEx really impressed me.
     
    Ethan25 likes this.
  3. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    The school is pretty adamant about teaching them to use DSLRs, so I'm sticking to that avenue for now.

    But it's good to hear the NEX line has worked out well. :thumbsup: It's something to keep in mind if I need to change up my camera lineup.
     
  4. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Also the older micro four thirds can be something of a bargain. Again quite pocketable but in the more familiar 'DSLR-like' format. I picked up an Olympus E-420 with the 14-50 and 50-150 lenses recently for $150 and it's a great little camera. Sure it's ultimate image quality isn't quite up there with the crop DSL brigade but unless you sit staring at every pixel or print A0 size then you would never know. It's light, fast and a proper bargain. Again you can get mount adapters too so you don't have to stick with the pricey 'Zuiko' lenses if you'd rather have something else.

    If you'd like me to post some samples from either of these systems let me know - or check my Flickr stream
     
  5. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand

    Lol, that's pretty narrow minded of them. The exposure triangle has three points no matter what system you're using
     
    Ethan25 likes this.
  6. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    If only they taught people how to compose images rather than use cameras.....
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Something like this -

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/OLYMPUS-E4...168928&hash=item361c46fad6:g:LjMAAOSwu59ZYcWw

    Is what I have. I wasn't expecting much but VERY surprised by the quality and ease of use. I've used Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Sony, and always find the Olympus just as user friendly. Plus it doesn't weigh a ton either so is good for travelling and / or small hands :)

    With your comment about pawn shops - I get ALL my photo bargains there ! Got a Canon macro ring flash worth $400 for $80 a while back :)
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    That Olympus looks nice!

    Their main point is that the instructors don't have enough time to have to accommodate all of the different types, brands and styles of cameras out there, at least for now. Personally I think it would be cool if they learned on film, but assignments these days are uploaded to the instructor when completed (via Blackboard). It's pretty cool that they still have a full film lab on campus, where students can develop and enlarge photos at any time they want. (Even if they are not in a photography major, for example, but know how to use a darkroom, they are welcome to make use of it.)

    They'll get there in time. ;) For many of them, it's the first time they've ever operated a "real" camera. (For the majority, all they know is a smartphone; for my daughter, at least she has a Canon point & shoot she uses, but like the rest of the class, she is unfamiliar with all the concepts and terminology.) This semester is more about using the equipment and the basics of composition; the creative part will come later.
     
    KentTeffeteller and Markoneswift like this.
  9. mhedges

    mhedges Super Member

    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Greensboro NC
  10. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Nikons are great cameras but assuming our young student is on a tight budget, I would look at Canon, Sony, Pentax or Olympus. I say this because the flange focal distance on the Nikon (the distance from the lens mount to the sensor focal plane) doesn't permit use of many older 'legacy' lenses from other camera systems. Canon and the other brands mentioned have a slightly more tolerant flange focal distance and because of this, many many lenses from all manufacturers can be used with the addition of a simple adapter.

    The best way for a student to learn about exposure is by using fully manual modes and I found with my students, they all really enjoyed using fully manual lenses. As soon as I introduced them to a few classic legacy lenses like the Canon FD 50 / 1.8 or the Pentax 50mm / 1.4 they were hooked. Using this older glass is WAY cheaper than purchasing modern electronic AF lenses. If a kit with a couple of lenses can be acquired within budget then that's awesome but for future creative options, even a modest 'modern' lens is going to cost a couple of hundred bucks. Picking up old M42, Pentax K, Minolta, FD etc lenses is a blast and they can be found all over the place and sometimes for crazy cheap prices.
     
    Ethan25, cratz2 and onepixel like this.
  11. Chip Chester

    Chip Chester Super Member

    Messages:
    1,970
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    You can probably get a T3i off CL for that $300, if you wanted to. They show up often around here. She could ask around other students who took the class with their own cameras, and now either don't need them or have moved to other ones. Spring break is fast approaching, and $300 would cover some airfare...

    Chip
     
    KentTeffeteller likes this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. cratz2

    cratz2 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,493
    Location:
    Indy, IN
    I would disagree on recommending against Nikon if on a budget. Nikon is exactly what I would recommend on a budget. You can directly use older AI and AIs lenses without using an adapter and some of those offer excellent performance for little coin.

    Depending on what sources you are considering, you might be able to get a Nikon D90 and an 18-55 VR lens for $300. The 5100 linked above will work and will be lighter weight, but I prefer the slightly larger bodies of the D50/D70/D80/D90 cameras.

    KEH.com, bhphoto.com and usedphotopro.com are all great sources for used gear. You might pay a few dollars more than craigslist, but you are much less likely to get stuck with a bum camera.
     
    Old Ears too likes this.
  13. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    I'll reply more--quite a few options presented here. Thanks!
     
  14. mhedges

    mhedges Super Member

    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Greensboro NC
    The thing with Nikon is you really need to do your homework with respect to lens compatibility. The new AF-P lenses won’t work at all on a D90. The 3000 and 5000 series can’t focus the screw drive AF lenses. Stuff like that.

    I do agree that I don’t see a young person wanting to mess with adapters to use old lenses, even though they are cheap. It’s a very AK answer, but I just don’t see the need.
     
    cratz2 likes this.
  15. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    Yeah, simplicity is going to win the race here, although for now I don't think she'd stray outside the kit lens. If I didn't have the overheating issue with my camera body, I'd just pass it along with my old Maxxum 28-80 lens and get myself a better body, but I don't have the $700 I need for the body I'm after.
     
    cratz2 likes this.
  16. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Good comments here, hope your daughter gets something that suits her needs. At the end of the day, getting something within budget and usable is the aim as well as getting out there and taking some pictures :)
     
    Wildcat and cratz2 like this.

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. JediDude

    JediDude Active Member

    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    If you're looking at used, one place worth looking at is Keh camera in Atlanta (I think) and online. They have used equipment that runs the gamut from film and first generation DSLR to just about the latest and greatest. I've had good success with their BGN rated stuff: fully functional with less than perfect cosmetics..

    If you have any gear (lenses, maybe?) of your own that she might be inclined to borrow occasionally, that could influence your choice of a system. Does the school have other lenses available to borrow? If not, the field is wide open for choice of manufacturers.
    I've gotten good mileage out of Pentax gear over the years. Pentax's A-series manual focus lenses will allow seamless metering, with the obvious need to manually focus, giving a wide variety of used MF lenses out there. Somewhere along the way Pentax switched from screw-drive focus to on-lens focus motor (I forget which DSLR models use which), so you'll have to watch body/lens combinations there. Otherwise, Pentax is big on backwards compatibility, at least for basic functionality. BTW, K and M series Pentax lenses will still work with their DSLRs, but exposure metering requires an extra step.
    The one downside of Pentax is some of the more exotic lenses are up there in price, but the normal stuff is quite affordable.
     
    KentTeffeteller and Wildcat like this.
  18. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

    Messages:
    5,109
    Location:
    MI, US
    Score! :D

    Right now they are studying about lighting--the different types (daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, etc.), lighting at different times of day, single source lighting indoors, etc. It will be interesting to see how this all develops. A second class is video oriented, so they use DSLRs to take short video clips. I'm hoping at some point she is in a class where they need to use film cameras, as they have a couple of well-equipped darkrooms at the college they can use, and she seems a little excited that she might be able to use that in the near future. I have a Maxxum 4 film body and some lenses if she has to go that route. I always liked that one.

    As for the "scroe," I ended up watching a handful of different models (some mentioned above), poked around many places, then a freshly posted Canon T3i on eBay caught my attention last night. It was one of those typical camera purchases where someone with little knowledge of cameras buys it to take family pictures, uses it once or twice, and it sits unused. Still has the original box, a few accessories, and the 18-55mm kit lens. The pics show it to be in immaculate condition. It fell well within our budget, so I clicked Buy It Now. It should be here within the week. :thumbsup:

    There was a T2i listed near me on CL, which claimed to have a "few cosmetic issues" but supposedly everything worked OK. The poor pictures didn't do much to inspire confidence either, and there were a handful of no-name off-brand accessories included. (It just didn't feel right, and it had been listed for two months.) There was also a Nikon D5100 on eBay for slightly more than the T3i I scored, but it wasn't in as good condition.

    I know she'll make use of it beyond classes, as she likes taking photos when we go on trips. She has liked her Canon point and shoot camera and like me, she also took hundreds of photos on the phone on our trip last summer, in addition to photos on her P&S. All else fails? We could resell the T3i and not be out much.
     
    cratz2 likes this.
  19. mhedges

    mhedges Super Member

    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Greensboro NC
    Yes the bodies hold their value surprisingly well. As do the better lenses.
     
    Wildcat likes this.
  20. Markoneswift

    Markoneswift Quartz locked n ready to rock

    Messages:
    3,400
    Location:
    Aotearoa New Zealand
    Great buy, I had a couple of T3i bodies a few years back. I've always liked Canon gear :)
     
    8xlaxx and Wildcat like this.

Share This Page