for a 17 year old, entry level DSLR with manual settings

Discussion in 'Photography and Cameras' started by DrForBin, Sep 10, 2016.

  1. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    #1 son is taking a photography class as a HS elective. the suggested tool is a DSLR that can be used manually.

    as i have no understanding what any of that means can i get some help?

    i am also somewhat staggered by the price tags i have seen out there. but, then i think US$100 is a lot of money too.

    please, give any and all advice. :bow:
     
  2. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    Just in case you didn't already know what a DSLR is, it is basically a camera which can swap out lenses and contains an optical viewfinder(OVF) that allows the user to see directly through the lens, rather than have the image recreated on a screen. This mechanism requires the use of a prism in the camera, which largely contributes to the increased bulk. They also tend to have better sensors than most compact cameras, resulting in better resolution (not necessarily immediately obvious) and greater dynamic range between bright and dark areas and more accurate colour tonality (more obvious aspect, but often overlooked by the uninitiated). The entry ones may be a hair under 1k with the stock lens. Take note: DSLRs may be sold body only, and thus are slightly cheaper than the "package deal", but will essentially be useless without a lens.

    Manual use basically means that all the parameters you take for granted when snapping shots with your iPhone (shutter speed, aperture size, ISO or light sensitivity etc which largely affect exposure but have other important consequences as well) will be directly under the user's control, in principal allowing him to craft a shot closer to his intended image.

    If your son is unsure of whether he intends to continue pursuing photography after this elective, as with audio gear, buy secondhand. I have friends who bought DSLRs thinking they wanted to learn photography or take better pictures, only to leave them in the drybox because they realised that their iPhones were good enough to gather likes on Instagram, and wouldn't have used the DSLR enough to justify the bulk.

    In fact, if all your son needs is to learn manual control, the higher end compacts, which were called superzooms when I was still in the market for them, would achieve the same objective as well for a few hundredbl dollars cheaper, at the cost of more limited images, or perhaps standing out in class (but then again, kids should always learn how to manage peer pressure).

    Besides DSLRs and superzooms, there are also mirrorless cameras which for simplicity's sake may be thought of as DSLRs without the OVF and are thus much less bulky, but I have never really handled them so I can't quite provide advice about them. Except perhaps that pricewise, they hurt the wallet about as much as a DSLR.
     
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  3. m.i.c.k.e.y

    m.i.c.k.e.y Facebook Friend

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  4. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    my current research indicates that a Nikon D3300 could be the right choice. what do y'all think?
     
  5. m.i.c.k.e.y

    m.i.c.k.e.y Facebook Friend

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    One of the best entry level dslr.

    But weigh in Friday's suggestions. It (camera) will get banged, dropped, or he may lose out interest (after all its just an elective).
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  6. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    Fits all your needs. If it's within your budget, go for it.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Used Nikon D200. $200 or less, but you'll need to grab a lens.

    The D3300 is not a good learning tool. The D200 has a metal body with all the controls easily accessible. The D3300 is essentially a point and shoot in an SLR body in my eyes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
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  8. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Get some old manual focus lenses or the previous AF-D series of primes and for little money you can have a very good Nikon kit for a beginner.

    The D90, D200, D300 are now bargains and they have built-in compatibility for most of Nikon's old lenses. Nikon has great ergonomics, solid recommendation.
     
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  9. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    Aye, I didn't consider that generation of DSLRs as I started later, and admittedly the D3300 is not quite as intuitive as some other models.
     
  10. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Any modern cameras with appropriate controls? I'm thinking of buying the D7200 during Black Friday along with the Sigma 18-35.
     
  11. TRex

    TRex Almost "Made"

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    Easy to use, almost auto DSLR (not so great for full manual learning) with great sensor & image quality: used D3300 + used kit / 50 1.8G lens.

    Feature rich (great for full manual learning) with dated sensor & alright image quality: used D90 + used 50 1.8D lens.

    Any camera, for serious photography learning: used F3 + used 50AIS

    D300 (D90 sensor in semi-pro body & features) might be too advanced for a first timer, and it also heavier. That being said, D300 is more durable than D90. Skip point & shoot ol' grandpa pocket camera.

    These are Nikons. I'm not familiar with Canon, but generally Canon has better handling (very slightly). Pick your poison.

    What is 'appropriate control'? D7200 is a great camera & 18-35 is TOTL APS-C lens (if you can live with limited focal range).
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
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  12. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Dials, buttons, etc. I don't want menu UIs that look like they were designed back in the windows 98 days.
    Basically the opposite of what you just said
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  13. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    Dials and buttons at least are very similar to the D7100's which I'm using, and I can safely say that shutter and aperture control should come very easily. Menu UI is alright on the D7100 in that nothing is hidden where it shouldn't be, not too sure how they may differ there.
     
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  14. TRex

    TRex Almost "Made"

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    Tons of buttons in small body, limited budget: Olympus OM-D E-M1
    Tons of buttons in big body, limited budget: D300/500
    Tons of buttons in big body, unlimited budget: D800/810, D3/4/5 & Canon counterparts
    Many buttons, limited budget: D7000/7100/7200, D610, D750 & Canon counterparts
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Cameras have gone the way of headamps and headphones. By large, they really haven't gotten better over the last few years. After a jump a few years ago, high ISO performance is only slowly getting better (mostly via better processing). To get true high ISO amaze balls performance, you have to go full frame. This is why I have a Df, which was at one time, one of the cheapest ways to go for FF. Sony would have been the other, but I already have a few Nikon lenses. The more megapixels thing is utter nonsense unless you are going to blow up your photos for billboards, and even then, more megapixels means shittier quality noisier pixels with less dynamic range with the privilege of bigger files and slower transfer speeds.

    Some of the old cameras like the D200, D300, etc. are a great deal. They are cheap today because people actually believe in all jizz about megapixels and high ISO performance. But the fact is, these older higher-end cameras are much better handling: faster shutter response, readily accessible mechanical controls (no going into menus and programmable custom functions), stronger lens motors, faster focus, bigger viewfinders, more accurate focus, etc.). All these things count. If you miss a shot, you miss a shot. More megapixels or slightly better high ISO performance won't help you. Also, if you are taking a photography class, you don't want to be messing around in menus. You want all the controls available to you on the outside of the body. Even now, I'd take an older higher end body than a lower-end body with all the "tech".
     
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  16. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    I'm not an engineer so I don't know but isn't that kind of false considering the D810 has more megapixels, less noise and more dynamic range than the 5dm3 or even 5dm4 for that matter? Even in the same brand, the 5dm4 has less noise, more dynamic range and more megapixels than the 5dm3.
     
  17. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    It depends on the sensor technology. The last few years some improvement have been made.
     
  18. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    It also kind of depends on how you view the image. If you view the d810 images 1:1 vs the 5dm3, it will be noisier because smaller pixels, but viewing 1:1 is basically zooming in to a teeny tiny portion of the image. When you downscale both images to fit your screen, depending on the quality of the downscaling algorithm, the noise will look similar on both cameras, since downscaling is basically combining pixel groups together, which means high-error ones are combined with low error ones to make one pixel that depends on the algorithm might have the same amount of error as one bigger pixel in the old cameras, quite possibly even less due to better processing. Again, I'm not an engineer so I might just be BSing here.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Once you resize them appropriately, there probably isn't that much of a difference pixel peeping in photoshop between the ancient 5Dmark3 and newer D810. In any event, my statement was more geared toward that of products within a manufacturer's line, and with the caveat that there was one recent jump with higher ISO capability and dynamic range, but little progress after that.

    I haven't pixel peeped photos from the D810, but I do know that my measly 16mb Df produces better quality photos than the 36mb D800 at higher ISOs - this when the photos are scaled to be the same size. The D4/Df sensor, despite lower resolution, is simply better than the D800 sensor, all things being equal.

    My argument to the OP was to don't worry about the latest tech or megapixels for this son, but rather to get a good handling camera that would not hinder him in learning technique.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
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  20. TRex

    TRex Almost "Made"

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    Counting MPix is useless for most of us. However, upgrading from NIkon era D90/300 to era D3200/5100/7000/700/600/800 is a big change because Sony made quite a significant feat during that time; D3300/5200/7100/750/610/810 afterwards got more features with little improvement on sensor capability.

    It is true that low-light performance starts to reach the limit. As result, manufacturers are racing for dynamic range nowadays. It's not just the darkest to brightest area a sensor can capture in one frame; it's also about RAW push/pull ability. This is very important for post-processing flexibility, especially for landscape. Low high ISO noise helps to achieve high DR, but algorithm & sensor readout matter more. This is the reason Canon cameras (except the new 5dm4) aren't as good as Nikon/Sony cams.

    For example, Df & D810. The Df has less pixel & less high-ISO noise. But D810 is unbeatable on base ISO (64), making it one of favorite DSLR among pros. Df dynamic range sucks balls compared to D810. Let's say that you take picture of a really contrasty scene on ISO 64. With D810, you can just meter for the brightest area to preserve them. Then in post, you can push shadows for 5 stops without significant noise & artifact - that's ISO 3200.

    I agree though these discussion is too much for a beginner & probably unneccessary - like discussing Yggdrasil to someone who's planning to buy his first DAC.
     

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