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Old 11-28-2012, 02:46 PM   #1
Minnie's Pal
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Camera suggestion needed...

My daughter is beginning to get into photography. I need advice on a decent camera for her ($200 or less) to start with. The amount of choices are so overwhelming - I don't even know where to begin!

She basically needs something that will take a good quality picture (whether it be her & her friends or scenic), that is durable & within my budget. Any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:08 PM   #2
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It's tough right now...there were some crazy good deals in the past few weeks. There was the Olympus ZX-1 going for $199 on Amazon as they were clearing out stock (now its back up to $312+)
And really close, there was the Canon s100 for $229 on Black Friday
Those are both enthusiast cameras with larger (than most PnS) sensors and very bright lenses. RAW file capture, and full PASM controls.

Here's one take: (on traditional small-sensored point and shoots:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowl...0-cameras.html

I like the ZS15 / ZS20 and you can get close with the Canon sx260 if you want to get a versatile travel zoom type camera.

If you are talking about getting more seriously into photography, there are used interchangeable lens cameras in that range. The Olympus E-PL1 is a fairly compact micro 4/3 system camera that would have more of the control a photographer would want..
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:18 PM   #3
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How old is your daughter? How into photography is she? Does she just want to learn the basics, is she taking a class, has she just decided it's an interest to pursue? Does she also want to do video? And lastly, what has she been using up to this point?

You're going to get a lot of people throwing out models. Those may or may not be right for your daughter.. it really just depends on where she's at and what she wants to do.

There's a lot of cameras out there. Digital wise you're going to be limited to point and shoots with your budget (and there are a few solid ones in that range). But if she's interested in starting a more formal photographic education there are a ton of old film SLR's in your price range (check KEH.com). But like I said, it really depends on what she wants to do.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:10 PM   #4
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Are there particular brands you like or hate?
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:22 PM   #5
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When you say "into photography," does she actually want to learn photography or just take some fun snap shots?
If she really wants to learn, I'd go find the best used dSLR in your budget. If she just wants to take lots of Facebook pictures with her friends, there are plenty of good p&s options, and even some smarts phones are just as good.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakepb View Post
It's tough right now...there were some crazy good deals in the past few weeks. There was the Olympus ZX-1 going for $199 on Amazon as they were clearing out stock (now its back up to $312+)
And really close, there was the Canon s100 for $229 on Black Friday
Those are both enthusiast cameras with larger (than most PnS) sensors and very bright lenses. RAW file capture, and full PASM controls.
If only I had asked this question a week ago! Thanks for the info. though...helps me know what cameras to start watching for sales on. (Those cameras aren't in my price range at the moment.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
How old is your daughter? How into photography is she? Does she just want to learn the basics, is she taking a class, has she just decided it's an interest to pursue? Does she also want to do video? And lastly, what has she been using up to this point?
She is 14 and this is turning into a hobby for her but right now she is just using her phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maria1985 View Post
Are there particular brands you like or hate?
No opinions as the only camera she has ever owned was some crappy one I bought for her a couple years ago on sale that fell apart after about a year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by havoc315 View Post
When you say "into photography," does she actually want to learn photography or just take some fun snap shots?
If she really wants to learn, I'd go find the best used dSLR in your budget. If she just wants to take lots of Facebook pictures with her friends, there are plenty of good p&s options, and even some smarts phones are just as good.
I think a little of both. She takes the silly FB pics but she also does other things. For instance, last Sunday she spent a couple hours outside at our church with her phone taking some, IMO, really great pictures of different things (statues, some fallen leaves, etc.) Seeing those pictures is what clued me in that she is seriously interested in photography as at least a hobby. She would love a dSLR but, as this is a new hobby for her, I don't want to start there. I'd rather just get her a good starter camera and see if the interest is something she continues to pursue or if it fades.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:20 AM   #7
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http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-...LUMIX+DMC-ZS15

Thoughts?
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:38 AM   #8
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It sounds like an enjoyable, versatile choice if you want a bit of zoom:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pana...-dmc-zs15-tz25
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Pal View Post
If only I had asked this question a week ago! Thanks for the info. though...helps me know what cameras to start watching for sales on. (Those cameras aren't in my price range at the moment.)



She is 14 and this is turning into a hobby for her but right now she is just using her phone.



No opinions as the only camera she has ever owned was some crappy one I bought for her a couple years ago on sale that fell apart after about a year.



I think a little of both. She takes the silly FB pics but she also does other things. For instance, last Sunday she spent a couple hours outside at our church with her phone taking some, IMO, really great pictures of different things (statues, some fallen leaves, etc.) Seeing those pictures is what clued me in that she is seriously interested in photography as at least a hobby. She would love a dSLR but, as this is a new hobby for her, I don't want to start there. I'd rather just get her a good starter camera and see if the interest is something she continues to pursue or if it fades.
Based on that description, I would go with a used dSLR. Unlike a point and shoot, a dSLR is expandable as her interest grows. And even a 5 year old dSLR will produce better results than any sub-$200 point and shoot. Most importantly, a dSLR can really give her a photographer's "feel" and all the manual controls necessary as experiment and learn.
Fast focus, good bokeh effects, etc -- these are the province of dSLR.

But if you do go with point and shoot, the most important thing would be to get a camera that allows full manual control and allows to shoot in raw format. At least then, she can experiment and learn. Without those things, she may outgrow the camera in a matter of weeks.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:57 AM   #10
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That ZS15 does have PASM modes but no RAW or manual focus. It's good enough to start learning exposure and composition ,but it would not be enough for a formal photography class.

I could see it going either way. It could be the sort of better, yet pocketable camera that intrigues her, or it could be too limiting if she has a serious photographers bug. Has she talked about seeing DSLr's?
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakepb View Post
That ZS15 does have PASM modes but no RAW or manual focus. It's good enough to start learning exposure and composition ,but it would not be enough for a formal photography class.

I could see it going either way. It could be the sort of better, yet pocketable camera that intrigues her, or it could be too limiting if she has a serious photographers bug. Has she talked about seeing DSLr's?
The main advantage of raw, is if she ever wants to explore more creative post processing. For example, if she wants to try her hand at HDR images.

Manual focus can be less critical, though it can certainly help to the extent she wants to play around with depth of field. For example, let's say she wants to focus on 1 spot further away, and make the foreground blurry.

To me also, for a teenager learning photography for the first time, there is the actual *feel* of a SLR-ish camera. The fast responses of the shutter, composing the shot in a viewfinder before you take it.
Different cameras have different levels of manual control, but dSLRs all have pretty much full manual options. You want the freedom to see the effect of changing aperture on a picture, manipulating the depth of field.

One thing you will notice in many of the best photographs, is the subject in a sharp focus, with the background softly blurred. This is an effect very very hard to accomplish on a point and shoot, due to the small sensor. But is something that any photo-bug enjoys doing with a more capable camera. (Better lenses help with this also, though even kit lenses can accomplish it on a dSLR to some degree)

And to me, the big advantage for someone just starting -- is the learning curve. A dSLR lets you try everything. Once you learn on a dSLR, you can switch to any other dSLR easily, and can easily transfer your knowledge to any other camera out there.

Until recently, I shot with a Sony A100 -- Still a fairly capable dSLR. 10mp. Unfortunately, it has the older focus system, but thats still better than most point and shoots. ISO limited to 1600, but high quality images with reasonable noise. Optical viewfinder, no video.
Just one example of a capable dSLR you can find on ebay, with kit lens, for under $250.
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Pal View Post
She is 14 and this is turning into a hobby for her but right now she is just using her phone.



No opinions as the only camera she has ever owned was some crappy one I bought for her a couple years ago on sale that fell apart after about a year.



I think a little of both. She takes the silly FB pics but she also does other things. For instance, last Sunday she spent a couple hours outside at our church with her phone taking some, IMO, really great pictures of different things (statues, some fallen leaves, etc.) Seeing those pictures is what clued me in that she is seriously interested in photography as at least a hobby. She would love a dSLR but, as this is a new hobby for her, I don't want to start there. I'd rather just get her a good starter camera and see if the interest is something she continues to pursue or if it fades.
Given those things I would go with a nice point and shoot in your price range. Because as you pointed out the interest may fade and, well, buying a used DSLR in your price range will mean a really old DSLR and even then it's going to be difficult to get a camera and lens in decent shape for under $200. Unlike with film cameras there does come a point when a DSLR is not worth the money and IMO that applies to the under $200 bodies when it comes to general use. I'd look for a point and shoot that will allow her to have manual control if she wants it. There are more than a few point and shoots in your price range. Since she already uses her cell phone as a camera I'd look at one with more optical zoom to give her something she doesn't already have in her phone.

Personally I like the Fuji S4500. I got my daughter it's predecessor the S1000 when she was getting interested in photography (though I made her use a 35mm SLR for a few months to learn with first). I've played with the S4500 a lot recently at the store, I'm considering getting one for my DH for Christmas. It's a solid camera for the price and might fit what you need. Then again it might not... like I said, there's a lot on the market and a lot of features to pick and choose from. dpreview.com is a great place to do some research.

RAW was mentioned... I wouldn't get too hung up on that at this point. If she's like most 14 year olds I know she'll be into actions in Photoshop a whole lot more than tweaking RAW files. I know my 12 year old prefers the instant gratification of jpegs and actions. It's easier and she can post it to facebook that much quicker.
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Last edited by photo_chick; 11-29-2012 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:05 AM   #13
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Costco did have the Olympus E-PL2 on sale for $300.00 which is a small camera with DSLR shooting style. Over the budget though...
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:20 AM   #14
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I just bought a refurbed Nikon p310 from Adorama. I haven't taken many photos with it yet but the reviews were good and pictures I've seen were nice. It was a spur of the moment purchase after seeing some pictures taken with it on NikonCafe website. No RAW but has manual controls.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0073HSH08/...?tag=dradis-20
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:53 AM   #15
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I like the suggestion to start with a film SLR (I would also suggest manual focus). This may be because I'm currently using one.

I have a history of getting engrossed in a hobby for only a short time. I've "been into" photography on and off. Recently I had a major itch to buy a DSLR. Luckily I realized that I didn't have the skill set to fully utilize a DSLR's potential.

By starting with SLR you will do a few things
1) Avoid high price tag
2) Force your daughter to learn the basics of photography. You can learn the basics of photography on a DSLR, but that full-auto mode is staring you in the face, enticing you to be a little lazy. Whereas a full manual SLR gives you no choice.
3) It gauges her interest in photography. Doesn't sound like we know how much "into" photography she is. If she is willing to suffer through the nuances of film/manual, then she might have a serious hobby on her hands. If not, then point and shoot might be the best way to go.

My decision to shoot film was based on these 3 factors - primarily #3 given my history.
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