Low Budget DSLR

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by firstapple, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. firstapple macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2007
    I just received a call from my girlfriend's dad... His secretary's daughter (age 16) would love a camera this holiday season. Her mom, being a single parent can't afford an expensive one.

    From what I have been told, she loves photography so the mom asked my girlfriends dad if he knows anyone into photography... He of course asked me to look into things, as I am getting into photography and I am a regular on Craigslist.

    Well, the budget I have been given is $300 and she would need a body and lens. Any idea of what brands may run at this low of a price and whichvwould be the best deal? The only brand I know is Nikon as I have had a D40 and now have a D80, both have been well over $300.

    Please let me know the best DSLR that would run around this price.

  2. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    A good deal on a D40 is going to run you $400 with a lens, and that's the cheapest Nikon or Canon. You MIGHT find a used D40 with lens for between $300 and $400, btu I doubt you'll get a good quality one closer to the $400 range.

    You might look the Sony A100. You might find a used/refurb one with lens under $300. They use the old Minolta AF lenses, so you could get a good deal on a used/refub A100 body and then dig around a cheap, used Minolta prime.

    Finally, go to a camera shop and look at some used Olympus dSLR cameras. They're an OK brand, from what I understand, but I don't know much about them except that Amazon says you can buy a couple models (used) for under $300.

    Oh, one last finally, but she could always go with a nice used Nikon or Canon film SLR. It's not as 'cool' as digital, but it'll take fantastic photos for cheap.
  3. jbernie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I am kind of reluctant to recommend anything at that price range, you are almost only able to look at used and after doing a quick browse on Amazon even at $400 for new it is a stretch for dSLR.

    Problems I could see, buying a used one, quality could be hit & miss, a bad experience now could make the long desire diminish, do they know/understand that buying a dSLR has the potential to lock them into one brand for future purchases? (in the sense that lenses arent interchangable between Nikon & Canon etc).

    Would suggesting a P&S camera be too much of a let down? That way you can still buy new & also not lock yourself into a brand & maybe get a camera with some more options to explore?
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    what about just a point-and-shoot that just has some SLR functions? like the Canon SX10 or something.
  5. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    I would venture to say that I think a 35mm film SLR would be preferable to a P&S, but that's just me. I would never have said that until I bought a D40, but at this point, I don't ever want to go back to a P&S.

    Seriously, if you can get them to stretch the budget to $375 you can get a Nikon factory refurbed D40 with free shipping at Adorama, which is $25 less than I paid just 2 months ago. It's a fantastic buy, really.
  6. jbernie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I don't disagree with you, but with the budget we are working in, a digital P&S might be the best of the evils.

    SLR = cost of printing & film is an ongoing cost that can nickel & dime you
    dSLR = high up front cost but longer term flexability
    P&S = lower entry cost, can be reasonably flexible

    If the budget is tight now, regular Film is not a cheap way to keep going, one memory card and previewing on your pc &/or printing at your local store can be much cheaper after just a few rolls of film.

    One question for the OP, how "into" photography is the person, are we talking serious thought of making it a career or just someone who appears to like taking lots of photos?

    I have my Pentax mz-50 film SLR w/2 lenses not doing anything other than taking up space, though just doing a quick search that still might be $250.
  7. firstapple thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2007
    That D40 sounds like a good deal. What about a D50 with 18-55mm lens used from cameta camera for $340. Which would you suggest, the D40 or D50 and why?

    As to how "into" photography she is, I honestly have no idea as I don't personally know her. I will try to ask some questions about her tomorrow in order to get a little more information. All my girlfriend's dad told me was that the only thing this girl enjoys in life is photography. As for now though, all I know is her mom was looking to get her a DSLR if possible. I am going to ask about film tomorrow, but in all honesty, I would imagine she would be most interested in digital.

    Thanks for all the suggestions so far.
  8. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    You could probably find a used Digital Rebel for a good price. I sold mine to my sister for about US$175. And that was with the 18-55mm lens.

    And there isn't much wrong with that model of camera.
  9. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2005
    Palo Alto CA.
    Does she want a DSLR or does she just enjoy taking pictures?
    You will have a hard time finding even a used DSLR at that price. Thats in good condition.
    For a 16 year old, why cant it be a nice point and shoot digital camera.
    They take very wonderful pictures. And are great for beginners to learn about important things like, composition.

    like the sony cyber shot DSC-H10

    Some one suggested getting a film SLR. Pleas don't.
    This is not cheap or fun for someone on a budget. Film costs money. developing costs even more money. If you want them to put your pictures on disk so you can edit and store them, it is even more money.

    If she really wants a DSLR what about buying her the body only. She could get a lens later
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    With that budget yuo are looking at used equipment. You should be able to find a used D50 or D40. The D50 would be the better deal as far more used lenses fit the D50 than the D40.

    But even used, you will have to hunt and shop as $300 is low.

    Now, if you can used a film bsed SLR $300 will get you something nice. You could go for a high-end film body like the F100/N90s
  11. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    At the same price, I like the D40, but the D50 is cheaper AND has a larger selection of cheaper lenses, so it's the better buy in this case, imo. The D40 is a slightly better camera in most respects and it's quite small/light making it really handy, but the low price of the D50 and the availability of some inexpensive and really nice prime lenses is a good combo.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to go as cheap as possible the D50 is perfectly fine. If the prices were equal, or if the extra $30-40 wasn't an issue, it would depend on if the user wanted something small and light (D40) or something with the largest selection of lenses (D50).
  12. firstapple thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2007
    Thanks again for the ideas everyone. I have sent an e-mail out and will let you know more tomorrow regarding the girl looking to get into photography. I am trying to get a better feel of the budget I have. The D40 from Adorama and the D50 from Cameta both sound like great deals to me, so I have sent these over to my girlfriend's dad to pass them over to the mother.

    I have already offered her one of my 4GB memory cards (as these things come cheap now-a-days) to get her started as well.
  13. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    The D40 will fit the quality and price nicely, besides are you close with her? Cause it seems you already own a Nikon DSLR so you could switch lens with her.
  14. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    You should be able to find a Rebel or Rebel XT and pair it with a 50/1.8 for that price.
  15. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I second this recommendation. A beginning photographer will really enjoy experimenting with the shallow DOF that the nifty fifty can provide. Surely you can get this combination for under $300. And she would be able to auto-focus with that lens, unlike the equivalent on a D40.
  16. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    You can find a D40 or D50 in great shape and with the original accessories for around $200. And this from a brick and mortar store with at least 4 weeks of warranty.

    Same kind of deal for the AF-S 18-55 will run you about $100.

    That $340 deal for a D50 with 18-55 seems OK if it comes with the accessories, it's in excellent shape with low use (up to 10,000 shots taken), and they give you some (own) warranty.

    Get the D50, not the D40. It takes very good pictures and opens the door to many good and less expensive lenses.

    Your 4GB card may only work on the D50 if it's SD, not at all if it's SDHC, and then you would have to format it on a PC (or with my hack from another thread on the Mac). But formatting in something other than the same camera comes with no warranties: if it happens that you lose photos it's your own fault.

    Just get a cheap 2GB SD for the D50, and format it in the camera.
  17. waloshin macrumors 68040

    Oct 9, 2008

    Yes i second the Nikon d40, its a great camera!

  18. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    What about looking into a Canon Powershot G7 or G9? You can get them cheap and they make great almost-dSLRs. I've even got a Powershot S2 IS that takes great pictures and is a few generations behind; an S3 or S5 might do your budget and her skill well... I learned on one of these baby-dSLRs before graduating to a real one.
  19. SimD macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    What he said. XT goes dirt cheap these days, and the nifty fifty is an amazing lens that will capture phenomenal pictures (yes, I really do love my nifty).

    Can't go wrong with this.
  20. firstapple thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2007
    Well I would again like to thank you all for the options and opinions. Ended up going with the Nikon D50 w/ 18-55mm lens for $339. Went with this option over the D40 due to it having the motor built in to the camera body, so it will be cheaper/easier for her later on when she wants to get different lenses.
  21. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    Good choice.

    The D50 also has several expanded manual controls that the D40 lacks.
  22. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Good call on choosing the D50. The in-body autofocus is hard to put a value on, because it opens you up for cheap, good lens choices that are barred to you with the D40 (not counting manual focus).
  23. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    The D50 also has 5-point autofocus, while the D40 has only 3.
  24. Ironic macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2008
    In my MBA!
    Just picked up a canon XTI for 360.00 including lens.
  25. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    The wolf camera clearance center has some good deals that will fit your budget. You can buy a Pentax *ist DS with kit lens, new in the box with factory warranty, for less than $300. Search for wolf camera clearance center on ebay. They also have a brick and mortar store located in the Dallas area. I recently bought an *ist DL myself and it's a great camera, slightly downspeced from the *ist DS.

    One thing which impresses me about the *ist DL is its superior backwards compatibility with virtually every lens ever made by and for Pentax.

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