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Thread: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

  1. #1
    New Member Elkaintmoose's Avatar
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    Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Hi everyone! I ran across this forum searching for camera reviews, and thought I'd go ahead and post, as well as read. Here's my situation:

    It's fallen to me (an English teacher) to handle the Journalism class at my high school—I do my best, but lack a ton of experience in some important areas, like photography. Recently our two old FujiFilm S9000s bit the dust, and I've been given $1000 (US) to find a replacement (for now), but I'm not really sure what would be my best bet. The FujiFilms didn't really serve us well at all, so I'm thinking we should upgrade to a DSLR.

    Here are some constraints:

    (1) Students 15-18 years old, generally with little photography experience—they can only take the class for a max. of 2 years. I'd like something flexible enough to get most of them up and running, but deep enough so those who are interested might experiment.

    (2) We end up taking a lot of pictures inside, in low/florescent lighting, gym, theater, etc. So decent low-light performance is a must.

    (3) I'd like to be able to catch decent sports shots, too—which we haven't really been able to do in the past. But at this price point, that might be asking too much.

    (4) Something cheap enough so that I could afford a flash attachment as well would be ideal. Advice for what features to look for in a flash unit would be welcome, as well.

    (5) I'd like to be able to shoot video, but that's not high priority right now—getting decent photos is. On the off-chance that it's possible, though, something that allows for a remote mic would be a plus.

    Thanks for any help—I've been looking in the direction of Canon D60s and T3i's and T4i's and Nikon 5100's and D90's and such, but I'm bewildered, and especially would like to get the best bang for my admittedly limited bucks. (I don't know if I should go for a cheaper body and extra lens, or whether a decent flash is more important, etc., etc.)

    Thanks for any advice you can offer!

  2. #2
    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    If you live near Nashville you may want to contact Dury's Camera Store, and tell them what you are seeking, and your budget.
    You will also obtain good suggestions from CiC members which will aid you in your search.
    In addition, do you have access to a computer with editing software. This is almost a "must" with digital photography.

    Bruce

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Welcome to CIC, could you go into your setting and add the name you like to be called, you will notice that Digital's real name is Bruce as there are many named Bruce however their can only be one "Digital" at CIC, or we may just call you Moose for short.
    One thing you did not say was how many cameras are you looking for, as I show Nikon I can only speak for them, The D90 is still a great camera to learn with, a lot of journalism shots were taken with 35mm lens as all the photo editor wanted was the image and they would crop to the size what they wanted to show for print. As you will need lens I would suggest the Nikon 50mm f1.8 D it is the least expensive they make (about $150.00 new), best would be a 28mm however way, way, way to much money. I would suggest 2 D90's with the 50mm f/1.8 D as your best learning equipment for your price, now I picked the D90 as it can auto focus all auto focus lens, but to save money maybe the D3000 or D3100 as they do not have a build in auto focus motor with the 50mm f.1.8 D lens they would have to manual focus which is not such a bad thing to learn.
    Other I am sure will also have very excellent suggestion and ideas.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    A couple of used Canon T2i (550D) bodies with 18-55mm kit lenses would be a great place to start. There are Nikon equivalents, of course, but I don't know their lineup. Might even be a good idea to get one entry-level Canon and Nikon DSLR so your students can learn the idiosyncrasies of each system and avoid a mother lode of Internet scorn someday.

    The T2i will do HD video, and has no problem with the shutter speeds required for sports. Glass is more likely to be your limiting factor. An 18-55mm lens is going to be pretty short most of the time, and the lower your light level, the more likely you are to run out of aperture (not wide enough). Some kind of 75-300mm lens with an ultrasonic focus motor(USM or HSM suffix on the lens name, faster than the standard servo), and if you have the budget, image stabilization (IS or VR suffix on the lens name), will fill the sports zoom range nicely. Unfortunately, I can't be terribly specific on expected prices and recommended models, because I'm not sure what the used market's like in your area. But any reasonably large camera store should have a selection broad enough for your needs.

    I'd also recommend sending your students to cover events in pairs. Take both cameras, give one the long lens and one the short, then have them swap. It'll keep the sensors from getting exposed to the environment too often, and if the students learn to work with others on assignment from day one, they'll be far better off in the long run. Event coverage will be more complete, and they'll have another head in the game to ask questions if necessary.

  5. #5
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    I’d also suggest buying more than one camera and kit zoom if possible.

    With such a limited budget, you’d be better to use the strategy of buying a camera with HIGH ISO capacity and with it buy a kit zoom lens, (i.e.EF-S 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 IS), rather than buying a fast Prime lens (i.e. big maximum aperture) to use for your ‘sports / low light photography’ requirements .

    Typically (speaking only about Canon) you do NOT want to buy a Canon D60 (though I think that is a typo and you actually meant a 60D).

    You’ll spread your budget further if you look at the xxxD Series rather than the xxD Series

    I can buy two (not grey) Canon EOS 600D (T3i) with kit zoom (18 to 55IS) for a total of about AUS$1070.00, which would at the present exchange rate, be a bit under US$1000.00 – that is where I would be heading if I were you.

    Buying for a School might relieve taxes and the price could be less.

    ***

    “I have profess'd me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy
    deserving with cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better
    stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse; follow thou the
    wars; defeat thy favor with an usurp'd beard. I say put money in
    thy purse.
    It cannot be long that Desdemona should continue her
    love to the Moor—put money in thy purse—nor he his to her.”

    (Wm. Shakespeare, Othello Act 1, Scene 3)

    Be passionate and tough as nails and squeeze the life out of the Funding Person for an extra $1000.00, at least, to buy a couple of Flash Units (320EX) and one telephoto zoom lens (EF-S 55 to 250 F/4~5.6 IS MkII).

    Argue that buying that kit, (two cameras, and three lenses and two flash units) in a bulk purchase together, you will be able to negotiate a saving and attain an excellent suite of learning aids at a very reasonable price: after all what price does one place on education?

    When they agree to the extra $1000.00 then look at buying THREE 600D cameras: the two 18 to 55 lens and one 55 to 250 lens and the two flash units.

    ***

    If the Bean Counter denies your argument, then have a sausage sizzle and car wash on Saturday and raise the funds – one Swimming Club with which I am associated raised $5000.00 at our last sausage sizzle and car wash.

    I teach Photography to High School Students (last two years – students’ ages 17 and 18 years) and I’m passionate about Poetry as well as Shakespeare - so let's have some quid pro quo . . .

    WW

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    I would suggest having them bring in whatever they can get there hands on, doesn't matter whether it is a point and shoot or high end DSLR (risk assumed by the student) and show them the limitations and benefits of each. Using a class provided camera will be an added bonus.

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Elkaintmoose View Post

    (2) We end up taking a lot of pictures inside, in low/florescent lighting, gym, theater, etc. So decent low-light performance is a must.

    (3) I'd like to be able to catch decent sports shots, too—which we haven't really been able to do in the past. But at this price point, that might be asking too much.
    Hi Jeff,

    A budget of $1000.00 and a camera capable of shooting indoor sport is a contradiction. There is no camera in that price range capable of capturing decent indoor sport images under low light conditions.

    In the Nikon range you should be looking at D7000 and up. The Nikon D5200 might just make it in this division rendering reasonable images at ISO 3200.

    A Sigma EF 610 with a guide number of 61m will handle most of your indoor and outdoor requirements and it is half the price of an OEM flash.
    With the Sigma flash mounted to a Nikon D3100 you will be able to shoot sport under low light. Shooting gymnastics with a flash – I don’t think so!

    An impossible situation – low budget + low light + indoor sport = impossible. Sorry!

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    For an high school journalism class and for students in the two middle years of High School:

    Many acceptable indoor sports images can be made with the cameras and the lenses as described.

    Certainly, I am sure, neither the school, nor the teacher, nor the curriculum demand Award Winning Sports Photography.

    It would bode well to get a realistic handle on the level of outcomes that are expected, I think.

    WW

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Jeff - it may be worth thinking a little outside the box - contact your local camera dealers and see what used gear deal they could do, or perhaps they know of a specialist 'end of line' stockist; there's also generally some mileage in asking for an 'educational' discount or 'sponsorship' discount; you could also try some of the 'pre-loved' websites and of course there's always garage sales. Of course the further down the chain you go the greater the potential risk, but at least with digitals you can take an image there and then to minimise it.

    steve

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Hi Jeff,

    As Dabhand and others have said - local camera store, used or end-of-line stock. A $1000 budget should get you 3 DSLRs (or 10 film cameras - I await the wrath of non-users ) from a sympathetic store owner. Consider giving all the students applying for the course a letter tae their parents, asking if anyone could donate items e.g. flashguns, tripods etc. Even ask if any experienced photographers would donate their time for field trips and tutorials .

    Best of luck, Boab.

    PS, low budget -lowlight- indoor sport is the sort of challenge that should be offered tae your students! It's certainly acheivable.
    Last edited by tao2; 29th August 2013 at 11:11 AM.

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    A budget of $1000.00 and a camera capable of shooting indoor sport is a contradiction. There is no camera in that price range capable of capturing decent indoor sport images under low light conditions.

    ...

    An impossible situation – low budget + low light + indoor sport = impossible. Sorry!
    I don't quite agree. Remember, these students are just getting familiar with photography, and the shots are only going in a high school newpaper or website. They really don't need to be of stellar quality. Hence why I recommended a recently out-of-production DSLR. The used market's full of 'em, they're cheap, and pretty darn good.

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    The proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

    I shot this in “low light” pretty much what you will get in a school hall under fluorescent light.

    Nikon D200, F1.8 (Nikkor lens), ISO 3200, WB 2700K, 1/45sec, hand held, Jpeg, SOOC.
    If anything on that patio moved it would have been blurred.

    You want to get a F2.8 zoom lens for shooting sport under low light and your budget won’t even cover the lens.

    The very first thing any photographer should learn is to realise the limitations of the equipment available to him/her.


    Camera Advice: Best for Budget

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    I might agree with most of the responders were it not for the fact that the teacher is an English
    Teacher that got roped into a Journalism Class and wants/needs new gear for school newspapers.

    In this situation, I would subscribe to the KISS (keep it simple...) principal and suggest good P&S.

  14. #14

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    If the learning curve of how to use the camera is an issue, I would look at a Nikon D3100/D3200 for a DSLR. The D90 is a very complicated camera for a beginner. Otherwise, as others have said, a good point and shoot like a Canon G series. G10 through G16 and/or the G1X. I am not familiar with Nikon equivalent P&S or the Canon equivalent to the D3100/3200.

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    New Member offramp's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    I would suggest looking at the Pentax line too. One advantage is the ability to make use of older lenses that you can buy used, sometimes at very good prices. As other people have stated the glass or lenses may be the most important consideration. Another feature that I like on most Pentax camera are they have very good ergonomics, relatively light weight and simplified controls.

  16. #16
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    An observation that is relevant to this discussion using an example extracted from my archives.

    The shot below was made in 2009 by a 16 year old School Student using an EOS 450D and the EF-S 18 to 55 F/3.5~5.6 Kit Lens, (used here with permission):

    Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Is it an award winning image? –
    No.

    Was it good enough to be published in the Monthly School Journal? –
    It sure was.

    What’s technically wrong with it? –
    lots of stuff: it is underexposed; it has Subject Blur; the horizon is crooked; the pole in the background is intrusive; the colour balance is a bit off.

    What was the MAIN thing that the Student learnt whilst he was making this photograph for his exposé on the Two Gymnasts, for the School‘s Monthly Journal? –
    that the camera and lens had limitations, but that he could with time and effort work around some of the limitations to make a good enough shot for the Editor to accept, but to do that he had to do some learning about the Sport as well as learning about how to best use the camera, too.


    WW

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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Thank you William. That shot proves my point. It is the sort of image you can capture with a phone. The two subjects in your example are in a very static moment. The more static a gymnast can be in that position the more points will be scored.

    It will be possible to shoot static subjects with budget gear under low light conditions. A gymnast doing a tumble over a horse or a back flip on a beam, under fluorescent light, will be a little more challenging. ( Try using a P&S on that one!)

    Jeff,

    With a budget limited to $1000.00 you will not be able to obtain camera gear good enough to get decent shots of fast moving subjects in low light conditions.
    The best advice I can offer you under the circumstance is to get the students to use their own gear if they are interested in journalism and photography.

    Low light and sport photography is very challenging and demand the right tools to be used. Those long thick lenses you see Photographers use, even in daylight, are not to impress you and me, they use it for a reason.

    You can contact this guy, he is a teacher of photography and a professional action Photographer. He will be more than willing to guide you in the right direction. simondp@actionimage.co.za

  18. #18
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    I wasn't seeking to post comments so that you could "prove points".

    I think that, you actually miss "the point" - entirely - of what I wrote: but - such is life.

    The fact of the matter is that, considering the situation as described by the OP: buying a set of one two or even three mid range DSLR's will be more than adequate for the purpose of teaching High School Students a lot of stuff.

    But yes - of course - using a P&S camera to make an image of a Gymnast tumbling over a vault horse would be difficult - but that is not the point.

    WW

  19. #19
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Ok - let's look at the limitations of the different camera types for learning with.

    I will assume that, for maximum learning potential, that even if a P&S, Compact or Bridge camera is suggested, it will (or should) be one that allows Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Program control, in addition to Auto.

    Phone:
    the tiny sensor won't allow any useful experience of Depth of Field
    the camera is unlikely to be able to be controlled manually, or even semi-automatically
    limited focal length range (may even be digital zoom only)
    jpg only

    P&S, Compact and Bridge:
    the small sensor won't allow much useful experience of Depth of Field (DoF)
    some may shoot RAW, allowing more PP experience to be gained

    Interchangeable lens DSM or DSLR:
    with a medium to shortish fast prime lens, to maximise DoF experience, plus
    a standard kit lens to learn the disadvantages of average zooms and a range of focal lengths, plus
    ideally/optionally a kit telephoto to give experience beyond 55 or 70mm


    I sure hope Jeff remembers to come back and read all his replies!

    If anyone needs an explanation of why I have said any of these things, just ask.

  20. #20
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera Advice: Best for Budget

    Jeff,

    How are you going with your choice?

    Have you negotiated more money?

    WW

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