Looking for a good used DSLR for my wife's B-day

Discussion in 'Cameras and Photography' started by Alobar, May 30, 2018.

  1. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    Neither of us has owned a SLR since the film days fell from favor. My wife has just recently become interested in "birding" (ID'ing birds, photographing, sharing etc) and has nice bino's but often birds won't sit still enough to take note of all the little minutia needed for proper ID. So far all she has is her cell phone for photos, which when zoomed way out (digitally zoomed) look like crap and are useless for ID as well.

    What I think she needs is:
    A. Something with a through the lens viewfinder.

    B. A telephoto lens, something njot so huge that she leaves it home, maybe variable 80 out to 200mm (based on 35mm film camera)

    C, doesn't have to be a large megapixel body, mostly these photos will only be viewed on a computer screen (although cropping may make a higher pixel camera more useful)

    D. I don't want a camera with lots of difficult menu's to have to navigate through in the bright sun. More point and capture is what we are after I think.

    E. looking to spend no more than say $300 Camera and lens can be a few years old, just want her to try one out and see if she will use a real camera or not. I don't want to spend for a new one if it sits in a drawer.

    Any ideas on brands and models to watch out for on Ebay or other sites.
    Thanks
     
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  2. Kim G

    Kim G Super Member

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    I am not familiar with anything that fits your needs. Micro 4/3 will be your cheapest bet for a dslr. With the budget you are proposing I would check into a used super zoom bridge camera. Here is a link to help you get started. Don't even think about birding on the cheap with a full frame dslr.
    https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/348745/the-best-bridge-cameras

    Good luck in your search. I just got my beginners birding lens 2 weeks ago, and being able to crop is very helpful.

    [​IMG]DSC02031 (2) by Kim Gibbens, on Flickr
     
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  3. mkane

    mkane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have an old Mamiya 35 mm you can have, with extra lenses. If I remember there is a 70-200mm in the bag. Yours free if you pay for shipping and take me out in your boat when we show up, one of these days
     
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  4. JDub

    JDub AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I recently bought a DSLR but previously used a super-zoom for a few years. The photo quality at maximum extension isn't great (that super-zoom is basically digital cropping) but it has helped with IDs. The main limitation is it's a bit slow and the little birds often sit just long enough to get close to focussing and then spot a tree they like better ... and you get a nice shot of a few twigs and leaves. Also the focus is only auto so the camera chooses what it's going to focus on - if I had an ivory billed woodpecker and a dead weed in the frame, mine would focus unerringly on the weed. My birding strategy was therefore to start with the big stuff (swans, pelicans, eagles) and work down through ducks and woodpeckers to the little suckers.

    The DSLR is pretty intimidating for a neophyte, but I found a cheat sheet with a few basic settings that make it point and shoot for the time being. I have a 55 - 300 mm zoom that is just enough to magnify a duck at 150 or 200 yards enough to get an ID, and even at closer range I'm mostly using it maxed out. A longer lens would be nice, but I suspect would be too unwieldy without a tripod for support, so 300 is a good compromise.
     
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  5. cratz2

    cratz2 Addicted Member

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    It's hard to beat free, but if it comes down to Canon vs Nikon, though I'm more of a Nikon guy, I'd lean towards Canon for someone on a budget wanting a telephoto lens.

    Canon's 55-250 IS is better in my opinion than Nikon's 55-200. The extra reach is just a bonus. On the 'crop' body, that will be the equivalent of a 85-380mm lens.

    As for bodies, if you don't need a higher frame rate, AF speed is the main difference in my opinion. The 40D is a good step over the 30D and is what I'd recommended someone on your budget shoot for. It's not the smallest or lightest, but is probably the most feature rich at that price point. The T1i and T2i have some nice features, but the price goes up since they do video.

    Should be able to find a body for $150-ish and the lens for $80-ish. Definitely get the lens with IS as that will dramatically help with handheld shots. I'd also get a tripod at some point.

    Usedphotopro, KEH, B&H Photo and Adorama are good bets.
     
  6. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    Thanks for the offer! Probably will pass as it is film and we would like to go digital.. But the boat ride is always there for you! In fact I just got done taking it out for a little shakedown run, first of the year and it was a beaut of a day as these photos show!
    Capture.JPG
    Capture1.JPG
    Capture3.JPG
     
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  7. dzkfraser

    dzkfraser Well-Known Member

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    Can get older Canon EOS models in the 8 MP range for dirt cheap
     
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  8. mkane

    mkane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Water looks inviting
     
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  9. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Yes and maybe more power with a fixed 300 or 400 also

    Well as your stating, if your lens falls short you can zoom in the crop and still have a good closeup image.
    Well your going to have that, but they also work as point and shoot in auto.

    Well let me tell you what I think about going cheap or buying very old and or out of demand. You can buy something thinking she might not use it, and she doesn't. Well if it's something in demand with the ones in the hobby there will be a market for it if you want to sell and get your money back. If it's just something cheap that most don't want you could be stuck with it and or sell at a loss.
    Just like say a nice McIntosh amp if you buy used, the price will stay stable and go up with inflation with a Canon Professional L lens. While a nice L lens might cost $1000 or more, in a year or two it could sell fast for more.

    Canon fanboy here....
    Canon 5D Mk II
    24-70 L lens
    80-200 L lens
    300mm L lens
    400mm L lens

    The 300mm can be used in pretty close shots of 20 feet, it will get you really close like a portrait lens but for animals. With people we might be 10 feet away and use a 100mm lens to get up close for a shoulder head shot. With animals say in your yard you need to stay way back 30 yards or more. Well with a lens like this the animal will be the majority captured in the image instead of a spot and everything around them.

    Full frame cameras.
    If your used to setting up a shot in the viewfinder of a film camera that will be the image you want this will help a lot. With a small frame camera if you do your cropping though the viewfinder and ever want to print to normal frame size it's going to screw you up. To print the same frame for a standard 8x10 11x14 it's going to cut sides or tops off to fit the frame and paper.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  10. Bob

    Bob AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    since it's for your wife, I'd look into how much these cameras weigh. those high end Canons and Nikons
    are over 5 pounds and not a problem for us macho men.

    since used is Ok, try a PL1-9 from Olympus, body is similar to point and shoot, the standard lens
    is collapsible. both can hang off a wrist strap and is invisible compared to the White Canons, etc.

    if you're really excited, there's a 12-32mm lens that translates to 24mm (full frame) at the widest
    and is great for travel. and is collapsible and slides right into pants (do not try with full frames...)

    going through street markets in foreign countries I hold the camera by my side and slow down to
    take shots of everything. you can rotate back in any photo editor. Pull out a full frame Canikon
    and the whole street stops and looks at you.

    but cost is usually the first barrier.
     
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  11. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

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    A Nikon D50 is a nice, older, DSLR. Lots of them available out there for a good price and some come complete with cases and lenses.

    Good luck with your search.
     
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  12. cratz2

    cratz2 Addicted Member

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    A $3,000 full frame body and $3,000 lens would be nice, but that 40D and a 55-250mm IS will definitely get her started for under $300.

    On down the road, if she uses a tripod the first generation 100-400 L lens with IS will be a very nice upgrade and can be found for well under $1,000. A buddy just bought one for $650. That's a LOT of nature/bird lens for not crazy money.

    For wildlife photography where large prints aren't a primary goal, I'd skip a full frame body even if the budget allowed. Most nature photographers will still crop into the image for framing and a crop body give you 50% more reach without the optical hit of a teleconverter.

    Unless light is low and large prints are on the agenda, a full frame will work against you most of the time for birding.
     
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  13. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    Normally I would agree with you, especially on audio. This is why I have not asked my oldest brother who lives and breathes photography as he will tell me the same thing... Problem here is my wife is a very thrifty and practical woman. She is the reason we still have two rocks to rub together.. If she knows (and she will) that I spent a lot of money she won't touch the thing, be more than a little annoyed at me, and figured that I was just buying her a new toy for my own use! Marriage is such a complex institution!

    My main reason for used is that camera's, probably more than most other electronics other than perhaps computer related stuff has a experation date of sorts to it. Like day old bread, most people want the latest tech. If I hang back a few years maybe I can get Nikon, Cannon etc for much less. As I understand it, these cameras all have a shot counter so one can tell how much use it has before buying. Of course the glass is a different thing I suspect. Not much there that goes out of date technology wise and I suspect that is where I would be spending the most money on.

    That is a very good point! She likes compact, so having something with an 18" lens likely won't be her thing..

    Yeah I was looking into D40's a couple years ago, and now maybe D50's are also something to look at. If I could get a body to build on, get a modest fix lens that could get her out there using it then by Christmas a better lens might manage to get under the tree. After all, all she is using now is her cellphone, so it shouldn't take a lot of camera to best that! And if she sees value I can sell our camera and get a better one later..
     
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  14. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    I think these photo's are going to be more for identification purposes rather than prints. She is a retired scientist and she has a thing about nailing down exactly what she is looking at, be it fish, wild plants, and now birds. Me, I see a bird I can enjoy it for what it is without knowing a damn thing about it but her, the enjoyment is in the id'ing.. Here we have a very active migratory bird corridor that everything going north or south flies through. Also we are just south enough that due to weather patterns, we sometimes get birds that are rare venturing north much farther than what their range is. She is all over that, but having a camera that can show her what she is seeing from a distance I think would enhance this hobby of hers. Problem is she isn't that tech orientated. She used to be 25 years ago, with databases and whatnot in her work, but now the menu's on stuff just tend to frustrate her, so something that can be set to auto in advance might work well enough with just some tweaking for exposure, bump aperture or shutter a stop or 2 like the film days.. She could handle that.
     
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  15. cratz2

    cratz2 Addicted Member

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    I think she will be fine. She can make it as simple or as complex and she prefers.

    I still would suggest either a lens with IS if you go with Canon or with VR if you go with Nikon. With a general purpose lens, IS/VR doesn't often make a big difference but with a telephoto lens that's being hand held, it can make a tremendous difference.
     
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