Best advice on SLR cameras for a student

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NiKeZz, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. NiKeZz macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    Topeka, Kansas
    #1
    Well I've finally picked out my major and minor and I'm going to be doing photojournalism, studio photography, and a minor in Graphic Design or the swap side of that being my passion growing up always capturing the moment. But regardless the class requires an SLR camera on the first day of class... I've looked around and all you ever see used are Cannon's, Nikon's, Sony's etc.... I've always liked Cannon's and Nikon's digital camera lines over the others but I've never been able to get familiar with an SLR camera... Anyways, like i said I'm a college student with the normal college student income of a part time job and I'm looking for a greatly recommended and widely used camera but at a great price to preferably under $1k. It doesn't have to be anything fancy because throughout the class I will have to buy lenses and software for my MacBook Pro. I know camera's can be bought used throughout but i have no experience with the cameras functionality and I'd really like to avoid being screwed over. Your advice is my treasure on this one guys. Thanks for lending a helping hand.
     
  2. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #2
    Between Canon and Nikon, you honestly can't go wrong. Ignoring the fan-boy flamewars, they both make incredible cameras and lenses to fit a wide variety of photo budgets from hobbyist to student to amateur to professional.

    A big recommendation you'll find on here is to go to a store and handle them; see what fits well in your hands. I prefer the feel of Canon and the menu system, others prefer Nikon and their menu system.

    There are other brands obviously like Pentax, Sony etc but I think the best support will come from Canon or Nikon.
     
  3. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    #3
    I've heard that i should get acquainted with the cameras before deciding but thats with anything of course.. I have long skinny fingers if that accounts for anything. I would really like to avoid BestBuy at all cost knowing that there just selling an item by bs'ng. I really wanna know cold hard facts on cameras but still be able to swing one for a good price for me.
     
  4. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #4
    A Canon T2i is a terrific deal and value right now.
     
  5. tpg macrumors regular

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    Mar 19, 2010
    #5
    I've found http://www.dpreview.com/ to be an excellent site with plenty of data for comparison between different cameras. Once you get yourself a shortlist, you can quickly compare the finer points here!

    I don't own an SLR at the moment (like you, I'm a student, but not in photography so I can't justify the cost :p) but have used a friend's Nikon D5000. I haven't used the equivalent Canon model (eos rebel t1i), but on comparing the sample images in dpreview I would say that the Nikon seems marginally better, particularly in low light with high ISO settings.
     
  6. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #6
    Film cameras are in the minority, now, but SLR still refers to film. DSLR is digital. Make sure what you need is film or digital. There are plenty of current and past film shooters on the forum, so keep your terminology straight. Someday the D will be dropped, but not just yet.

    Go through a resource like DPReview and look at the offerings from Canon, Nikon and Pentax, then go to a good camera store and handle one of each with no money or credit card in your pocket. Think it over after that and make your purchase. All have good lens lineups, and Tamron and Sigma make alternatives for each. I have a Canon XSi ((450D) that I got used from a camera shop and it does almost everything I want except high ISO for low light shooting. My go-to lens is a Tamron 28-75 f/2.5. I also have a Canon 100 mm macro f/2.8.

    Good luck and have fun. Show us some pics when you get going.

    Dale
     
  7. JackHobbs macrumors regular

    JackHobbs

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    London
    #7
    Invest a bit of money in camera magazines, read the reviews and get a feel for what is on offer for your price range. Decide whether or not you want video on your SLR. If you decide not, then that can save you a fair amount of money.

    Once you have decided what sort of features you want, go to a good photography store to try out a basic SLR, such as a Canon 500d, and talk to the sales assistant. If all they try to do is sell you a box, then it isn't a good store. This could be a long term relationship you are developing here so go for a place that has a good feel and listens to you then tries to recommend something suitable. They may even have a good second hand department and offer refurbished stock. Second hand will mean you get more bangs for your buck.

    If you know someone with an SLR talk to them about what they like about their brand or camera. If they are really a good friend then they may even lend lenses and accessories to you and so you may consider going with the same manufacturer as them to make sharing easy.

    I have a Canon camera and am very happy with it but I think you cannot go far wrong with a Canon or a Nikon. Canon cameras come with some basic image manipulation software as standard so this may influence you a little.

    Good luck with your choice.:)
     
  8. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #8
    Since this is a required school purchase, I would be interested in knowing if the school has a list of recommended cameras. A link to the school website would be good, too.

    Dale
     
  9. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    #9
    So far through all the digging I have yet to come across anything of the sort.. Although My grandmother is great friends with one of the Photojournalism teachers and she is going to find out some info for me. The University is one of the top Photojournalism schools in the Country from what I've been told.
    http://www.wku.edu
     
  10. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2008
    #10
    I'd stick with Canon or Nikon. Pentax/Sony are viable options, but a much smaller used market for both buying and selling. Any affordable lens you are looking for for Canon/Nikon will be on craigslist weekly if not daily. Personally I like buying older bodies. I don't care about megapixels, I don't print often and don't print large. This allows you to buy better quality bodies (often with very few shots on them as many people buy and then store).

    For Canon I would look at the 20D/30D/40D (approx $200/$300/$500 respectively used). Save your money for glass, that makes the biggest difference in your images. Don't buy a new body, you get the least body for the most money this way. I can't give you any specific model recommendations for Nikon, but a lot of good (and affordable) Nikon bodies are out there.

    For glass, as a student, starting with the 18-55 IS and 50 1.8 (~$100 each) is a great place to start. Add more glass as you find shots that are impossible with what you own.
     
  11. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

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    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #11
    Background: I'm a full time photojournalist on staff at a daily newspaper.

    As others have said, my personal recommendation is either Canon or Nikon. If you plan this as a long term career it is better to start putting your money into a system that will last. Both Canon and Nikon offer the widest range of lenses/accessories and have professional support systems (CPS and NPS). As a photojournalist, the colleagues you'll run into on assignments or on the sidelines will be shooting Canon or Nikon so if you need to borrow a battery or lens it will be that much easier. Chances are the majority of your classmates will also be using one of these two so you'll get this sharing experience right away.

    Now some advice you didn't ask for: I get asked for major advice by high school students interested in photography fairly often. These days my usual recommendation is to get a degree in something other then photography. In the long run I think most will benefit much more from having a degree in business, accounting or marketing with a only minor in photography.

    Unfortunately most working photojournalists (and photographers in general) these days are self employed small business owners. The number of photogs with staff jobs is shrinking on a monthly basis. As such not only will you have to know how to be a photographer, you'll also need to know how to run a business. Pay the bills, keep the books, market yourself to get and keep clients. I would imagine this applies to many graphic designers as well.

    Now obviously these topics won't be near as much fun for someone with a desire to capture the moment. I can understand it would be a huge decision to spend most of your college focusing on these topics instead of what you have a passion to do. If nothing else please consider at least getting a minor in a discipline unrelated to the creative arts. There are hundreds of students graduating with PJ degrees each year for only a handful of jobs. I've seen amazing photographers struggle to pay the bills every month because they don't know how to run a business while mediocre photographers with greet business/networking skills rake in the dough.

    Trust me, I'm not trying to discourage you at all. Photojournalism is a fun and rewarding profession and everyone should always follow their dreams. If you aren't happy what's the point right? I just wanted to mention this because from talking with college students these days it seems like there is very little real world advice about the state of the industry and job market being taught.

    Feel free to PM me if I can ever be of any help in the future.

    .
     
  12. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    May 28, 2010
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    Topeka, Kansas
    #12
    I'm actually quite surprised by that. I know the graphic design job-list is decreasing by the day but I never realized that PJ was just as bad.. I will definitely take your advice and carry it along my journey! I'm still a first year freshman so I have plenty of time to change my major, but regardless it will always be a minor for me because of it being my passion. I will definitely look into the marketing/business category although like you stated it won't be fun but what part of school is? I'm just a person that likes to do my own thing and be individualistic and be able to express myself through my work, thats why art is such a passion for me even though i suck at drawing and painting I can be very creative in graphic designing and even small photography with no prior teaching but that of my own.

    I can completely agree on the lack of the teaching of the job market. School has changed so much from when my parents were in college.. It's almost like there just there for the pay check and they do whatever they feel like to get you the education your trying to achieve success with. Sad that its come to that although i do still believe lots of teachers are doing what they can to keep that from being the mainstream.

    Thank you for all the encouraging words and guidance.. Your small statement probably just saved a house payment 5 years down the road because of the lack of a job in my major. I'll definitely be finding another major but keeping it as my minor!
     
  13. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

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    Houston, TX
    #13
    I wasn't trying to talk you out of it, you could still major in photojournalism as long as you go into with the realization of what the job market is like. I majored in Criminal Justice and learned all my photography on my own through organizations such as the NPPA and by working at the university newspaper.

    There is nothing to keep you from doing the opposite. Major in PJ and learn all the business stuff on your own time. As long as you realize you'll need the knowledge and commit to obtaining it. You don't need the actual degree in business/accounting/whatever to run your own photography business, just the knowledge. However having that alternate degree could serve as a backup plan...

    Here is a site that will give you an idea of the current state of the newspaper industry: http://newspaperlayoffs.com Of course there are other outlets for photojournalism then just newspapers but that is where the largest number of PJs have been employed traditionally.

    .
     
  14. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

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    Jan 3, 2007
    Location:
    melbourne.au
    #14
    Probably the best advice for anyone who wants to be a professional (I'm an amateur ATM). In fact this advice would have always been valid, whether 50 years ago or today.

    And arts degree or a business degree are much more valuable than a photography qualification. One should do what one feels is right for him or her, of course, but it's worth noting that a lot of professionals never bothered with a qualification.

    Oh, and if you are asking about digital SLRs, try to find one which takes AA cells by default. You might find this convenient (no need to borrow batteries from comrades in this case). Most Pentax models do.
     
  15. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    #15
    Just a shot in the dark but would any of you recommend any of the DSLR camera's on the Best Buy Website and if so which ones? Provided I went to a camera shop and just bought a body what lens/body combos are great for just general shots..
     
  16. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #16

    Yep, find a new major, preferably business related.

    You can essentially teach yourself photography through practice, trial and error, the internet, etc. Teaching yourself business is a lot tougher.

    It is widely considered that professional photography is 70% business skill, 30% photography skill.
     
  17. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2008
    #17
    Don't do it. Buy used, you can get a much better camera (without video) with better glass for less money.

    At the very least go to a real photography store and play with the different brands and models. I bought Canon because I hated how the Nikon's felt in my hand. Knowing what I know now, I like the way Nikons think better, but can't afford to switch (at the quality of glass I buy, Nikon is significantly more expensive for similar lenses (some of which are optically better, but not enough for me to justify the cost)).

    Starting off a photography career at Best Buy is not a good start. Most of what they sell/push will be 2 lens kits, the long one of which is useless inside and marginally useful outside. Most people sit it in a drawer forever and don't even bother carrying it, yet stores still continue to push them.
     
  18. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #18
    Yep

    Agree 100%. Not that I have anything against best buy, but they simply are too big to be interested in your photography.

    Support NatCam, or better yet, support your local photographers trying to sell their used equipment! They more often than not would love to help you out and offer any advice you may need.
     
  19. Bodhi395 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    #19
    My advice is to research cameras on your own on the internet, and then if you find one you want and its recommended, look to see if they have it cheap at Best Buy. Where you buy your camera doesn't matter, as long as its the right camera for you. You could also test cameras out there, but just realize the salesmen probably is not all that experienced in cameras as opposed to a real camera shop.

    I'd also recommend Amazon, since you can usually find the cheapest cameras there, especially if you keep checking to see if they have a deal on one you like.

    Used might be all right, but I'd worry you might get a camera with mechanical or electronic problems. You might get a perfectly fine one, but there's always a risk involved with used, and you don't have much recourse in taking it back as with a new camera.

    As for what major you should take, if you see college as merely a way to get a job, then go with business and minor in photography. However, if you see college as a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn and explore your interests, stick with your photojournalism major. You might have trouble getting a job once you get out, but at least you'll have enjoyed your four years much better.
     
  20. iancheyne macrumors regular

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    Sep 22, 2010
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    Colleyville, TX
    #20
    Great advice ... just remember that whichever brand you buy you are buying a system, you are unlikely to throw away your investment and switch once you are committed to one or the other. So take a look at the lenses available and that might sway your choice one way or the other. I love my Canons but I know people who are equally as satisfied with their Nikons.
     
  21. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    #21

    I know they don't know anything about it.. I used to work there and I know the retail side of things by pushing them for more to make more money and to meat store goals... Thats why i said good cameras "Online" to avoid the store, for a good "price". Im not buying used because of to many complications when its only going to knock off a couple hundred dollars. I'm avoiding used camera bodies online at all cost except personal friends that are photographers... To many horror stories..
     
  22. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    #22
    I also believe that your statement about best buy being a horrible start to my photography career is quite biased... I know professionals that did my senior pictures my cousins wedding pictures and even a successful couple that do nothing but take pictures at a HUGE studio they have started off with Walmart cameras and the couple started off with a film camera they got at a yard sale...;)

    Bill Gates didn't start in a computer shop.. lol I'm a person that strives to make success out of the smaller things.. All i did was ask a question if any of the Best Buy cameras were reasonably priced and if there were any on the SITE that you would recommend... :)
     
  23. Bodhi395 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2008
    #23
    Give us a price range you are willing to spend, that way it will be easier to narrow down the options.
     
  24. NiKeZz thread starter macrumors 6502

    NiKeZz

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    May 28, 2010
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    Topeka, Kansas
    #24
    Below $1k. Again its just a start to a lifetime of photography so it doesn't have to be the most expensive camera. I've kinda narrowed down to a few but I want to make sure i get the most for my $ since I'm paying for it. I'm not so much worried about the Video capabilities of a camera, I'm more worried about cameras that can take the best picture for my $. I know skills are required but thats part of learning.

    1) I really like the Nikon D5000 but I've read people don't like the Lens that comes with the body. So at around $850+tax I won't have room for a lens at the time until I can save up.

    2) My cousin recommended the Canon D20/30/40 series but i can't seem to find them in any surrounding stores which i would prefer to do because of hassles of online retailers.

    3) Like i said im just a student for now but i want a camera that i know i can always take GREAT pictures with.
     
  25. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #25
    Used 30D = $325 (there are several on the B&S forum at FredMiranda.com right now)

    Used 17-40 f/4 L = $550 (again, pops up regularly on fredmiranda)

    New 50 f/1.8 = $100

    TOTAL = $975

    That would give you a very nice body, and a 27-64 (effective) f/4 lens, plus a fast prime. I learned on a 10D with the 17-40 and 50/1.8; I found the 17-40 to be a perfect walkaround zoom, and the 50 gave me the ability to shoot in low light and to learn about super-thin depth of focus.

    I'm struggling to think of a better beginner kit (Canon) for the same price. You could get a Rebel and a kit lens for a lot less, but this combo has quality glass AND a much nicer body.
     

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