starter dslr for senior citizen

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jer446, Jan 30, 2007.

  1. jer446 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2004
    I know this has been posten a lot, but wanted to get a definitive answer. My grandma's old point and shoot nikon is on its way out. She loves taking pictures. She takes them of flowers, on vacation, of all her grand kids etc. She is not too good on learning new things, so I figured get her the nikon d40. Is this the easiest dslr to use? I also want her to get a nice one because my grandpa has sworn his 50 year old nikon will beat any dslr, and i think he might like it. (He is stubborn so no matter how good the pictures turn out, he will say his is better) Would any nikon dslr work with his 50 year old lenses? I doubt it right?
    What would be the difference between the nikon d40, and nikon d50. She always complains about blurry photos, so that is the most important thing. Which dslr should i get?
    I figured i would get her the kit all in one lens for now, until she wants more.
    Any suggestions?
  2. bearbo macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    generally speaking, without knowing what lens those are...d40 will not work with non-internal focusing lens.. it doesn't have the motor for that. but it will work partially. as in if the lens has auto focus features, it won't work on d40

    d50 doesn't have that problem.

    now if the lens mount or not is another issue.

    d40 has better interface and easier control, or so i've heard, but both of them are quite good.
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816


    Sep 15, 2006
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    You sure you want to go for an SLR? If your grandma doesn't "like learning new things", a DSLR may be a bit too much for her. I've heard great things about the Canon PowerShot S3, and I've owned a Lumix FZ20 (essentially a Panasonic). Both those cameras should be more than sufficient for taking great pictures.
    While I'm not exactly sure (look this up on dpreview), the D40 has a different way of mounting lenses, which means it won't work with older Nikon lenses. One of the Nikon people here will be able to tell you for certain.
  4. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    Your grandma probably doesn't need an DSLR. High end point and shoot models offer similar image quality (to the untrained eye). She will probably have a harder time learning a entry pro model (like the D70s or D80, or the EOS 30D), or even the low end D40 and D50 or Rebel XT than mastering a quality point and shoot (like the Canon PowerShot S3).

    But, if you were to go DSLR, a D40 would serve their needs fine. At this point, the kit lens that comes with it will do decently fine at most stuff, even thought it's not a super high quality offering. In it self, the D40 is a fine camera - not really a full end SLR, but still offers the manual control point and shoots don't. While the D40 can't take a number of older lenses, it's interface is probably the least complex of the popular DSLRs.

    Anything above a D50 is unnecessary, but the D50 would also be a good choice, as it has a wider pool of glass that'll work with it.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    First off your grandpa is right. If the criteria is just image quality then an older film camera will beat the D40. There is no question about that. Film wins. Film uses a larger frame size (36x24 vs. 24x16) film has a greater dynamic range and can record finer detail. But film needs chemical processing.

    If you care about fast turnaround and the control you gain over processing that digital is the way to go. Most people don't need more image quality than the D40 offers. They make only smaller prints or look at the images on-screen.

    Yes the D40 should work with many older Nikon lenses. 50 years ago it was 1956. I don't think Nikon had AI lenses out yet but most non-AI were converted as the conversion was cheap and easy and remains so even today. So if his lenses are AI or "AI'd" then they will work. But they will not allow any of the auto focus or exposure modes.

    I don't know if the D40 is easier to use then the D50. I'd gues they are abou the same but the D50 is certainly the better camera. The D40 lacks a focus motor in the body so it can autofocus with only AF-S lenses. So do look ahead at the set of lenses you might want some day. If one of them is non-AF-S then don't get a D40.
    Many of the new Nikon lenses will work with the 50 year old Nikon SLR. There are many limitations but in general all Nikon SLR stuff works together. I use a few 1970's vintage lenses on my D50.

    The real question is "Does she need and SLR?" With many older people it's the computer that slows them down and keeps then away from digital cameras as you really can't use a DSLR without a computer.
  6. jer446 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2004
    yeah well she wants to upgrade to a dslr.. its not that she doesnt like learning new thigns, she has a hard time. I usually have to teach her. So both the d40 and d50 should be about the same in ease of use? the quality isn't a concern, it will look a lot better than her current camera.
  7. NeXTCube macrumors member

    May 14, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Tough call, but I might lean toward the DSLR...

    If the potential user is accustomed to SLRs, then going to a D-SLR might actually make some sense. I know that I still have an easier time using my Digital Rebel (EOS 300D) than my Powershot S2 IS, coming from an old-school Nikon F2 and a less-old-school Rebel 2000.
    My wife, actually, also thinks that the 300D is easier to use than the S2 IS, which is funny, since she was non-camera user before we were married, and one would expect her to be intimidated by the DSLR. For me, at least, using a manual rotating zoom ring is 1000x easier than trying to use the little motorized zoom lens on the S2 IS, and the ability to use bounce flash to get more natural-looking flash photos is a huge plus when there's not enough light to handhold even with the image stabilization.
    On the plus side of the "superzoom", it's a lot more portable than the 300D, which needs its own backpack, a special battery charger for its LiON batteries, piles of AAs for the flash, a couple of zooms and a couple of primes, etc. The S2 also doesn't have the "steal me" factor of a DSLR, you won't get into arguments with the security guy at the gate of your favorite sporting event over whether you have a press pass (been there, done that), and if something bad happens, all I have to say is that I have lenses that cost 3x as much as the S2 IS...
  8. beloved84 macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2006
    i second the Canon PowerShot S3. flickr it and you'll see a lot of nice pictures.
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Well with the D40, she'll be doing a lot of things using the LCD. The LCD is big and bright, while the small Status LCD on top of the D50 has no backlight and will be more difficult to read, particularly in a slightly dark room. Also, the viewfinder on the D50 is smaller and darker than the one on the D40, so the D40 is better suited, I think.

    Actually, I think the Pentax K100D is better suited for her because of the built-in anti-shake. She has shaky hands, like you said. I choose the K100D because it's a good camera, and for the price, you're not going to get image stabilization in any other DSLR.

    So anyway, I'd purchase the D40 if you're going with Nikon. Some of your grandfather's ancient lenses won't properly meter on the D50 or D40 (but would on some more expensive DSLR models), while the really old lenses may not even mount. I think your grandma is OK as long as she uses old AI-S lenses (manual focus, no metering), AF lenses (manual focus, metering), and of course AF-S lenses (auto focus, metering).

    If you want to be a very good grandson, you may want to get her a single lens with a large focal range on top of this camera. *cough*18-200 mm VR*cough* ;) That way she can be rather flexible in what she does using just a single lens. :) She may find that switching lenses is a nuisance.
  10. NeXTCube macrumors member

    May 14, 2002
    Upstate NY
    If you're not married to Nikon...

    ...both the Pentax K100D and the Sony Alpha are excellent choices. The Pentax will work with the k-mount lenses going back many years, and the Alpha will work with the Minolta Maxxum mount lenses and flashes (Maxxum uses a non-standard hot shoe, but that's actually a good thing).
    I'd actually probably go with one of the Pentax models were I not already invested in the Canon EOS/EF system. They have really low image noise, similar to the Nikons.
    Not to sound unnecessarily like a Popular Photography shill (I don't work for them), but here's a good comparison article which includes the Sony, Pentax, Nikon and Canon: 10MP DSLR Shootout.
  11. hodgjy macrumors 6502

    Apr 15, 2005
    I also vote for the Pentax. The Pentax cameras have bigger and brighter viewfinders than the Nikon D50 and D40 and Canon Rebels. This could be a big deal with someone who might older and weaker vision.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Decide based on the lenses you want to use. The D40 can ONLY use AF-S. Some of the best lenses are non AF-S. For example the 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 and both versions of the 85mm. Look on the nikon web site to see what will and will not work.

    Also if considering used lenses. For example perhaps the current model 80-200 f/2.8 lens is to expansive you might some day want to buy a used lens of that type. This older version will be optically good but not AF-S. Cost 1/2 as much but works on D50 but not D40. Same applies to some macro lenses. Can save many $$ buy going with older lenses but not if you own a D40.

    BUt I thin k now all the current, low cost consummer zooms are AF-S. Most D40 users would only consider low cost zooms and not look at primes or used high-end gear.
  13. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    While the spirit is right, to be totally accurate, AF-D lenses will work on a D40, you just lose autofocus. Older lenses won't meter.
  14. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    You could also point out to her the the kit lens that often accompanies the Canon isn't as good as the built-in lens on the S2 and S3. Macro (her flowers) is also better on the S2/S3, unless you buy a good macro lens for the dSLR.

    The most advanced P & S cameras often have manual controls that are more or less the same as on a dSLR, and as mentioned in the quote above, the P and S's are a LOT easier to carry around.

    She may not know all this about good P & S's, and that's why she thinks she wants a dSLR.
  15. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    SLRs really aren't much more complicated to use unless you choose to make them so -- full-auto mode does everything for you that it does on a P&S, last I checked. In fact, one could make a reasonable argument that SLRs are easier to use because you don't have to worry about parallax. If she has issues with blurring photos, high ISO capabilities are worthwhile; this works out better on an SLR because of the larger image sensor.

    My 10-year-old sister can figure out how to use my D50, so your grandmother probably wouldn't have any trouble with a D40 or D50.
  16. purelithium macrumors 6502


    May 28, 2006
    Kingston, Canada
    That's not a fair statement. The younger generation these days have grown up with this type of technology since they were born, but the seniors have had to adjust to it all. I know almost every person I know over 50 has a tough time learning new things, I've had to write out exact instructions for people to just check their e-mail, and other tasks that are almost natural instinct to kids.
  17. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    Single-lens reflex cameras have been around for decades -- and highly electronic ones since the late 1980s or so. The only real differences I notice in operating my D50 versus my Canon AE-1 are that the AE-1 doesn't have AF and requires a manually set shutter speed. Sure the D50 has more customizable settings, but there's an auto mode for pretty much anything if the user doesn't want to fiddle about. The computer stuff with regard to downloading images is no different from a digital P&S.
  18. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Whoa!!!! I am probably the age of the original poster's grandmother, maybe even older than she is, and I can tell you from my own experience that many of us "senior citizens" are quite versed in using computers and DSLR cameras. I can't speak to the situation which you describe where the people you know over 50 have a hard time learning new things and learning how to check email and such....I suspect that there are a lot of other elements coming into play besides their age. Intelligence, intellectual curiosity, education, environment...all are key.

    If Grandma or Grandpa has used a 35mm rangefinder or 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) in the past, chances are that using a DSLR now will be significantly easier and more satsifying, as with these modern cameras we no longer have to manually focus, manually set the shutter speed and manually set the aperture (unless we choose to do so). Those of us who learned by doing everything manually in the past actually have an advantage over the younger people approaching photography today, not to mention a far greater appreciation of the entire process.

    Ditto for computing.... People of my generation didn't grow up with computers, but at the time computers for the home were really taking off we were adults and many of us were eager and willing to play with this new technology. A lot of us have cut our teeth on DOS or the first Macs and moved on through the years since then.... I dearly love and appreciate my Macs because I have some grasp of what it took to bring home computers, OS and software to the point where we are today...

    Actually, it is not age which defines whether or not someone might be technically savvy or interested in new technology: there are a lot of other things which go into this.

    In short, don't underestimate Grandma or Grandpa -- they may be a whole lot more technologically savvy than you think!
  19. purelithium macrumors 6502


    May 28, 2006
    Kingston, Canada
    Clix - I'm sure there are some other tech-savvy older folks like you out there, but in my experience, a large number of the older generation DO have trouble learning new tech things simply because they are overwhelmed by it all. My girlfriend's mom is 51, and she cannot do anything on the computer if you don't write out specific and exact instructions to do things. I've had to do this for my Aunt, and my Grandmother. My uncle and grandpa don't even bother with computers, they just don't understand them at all.

    So if I sounded like I was generalizing, I wasn't meaning to, as I do believe there are some exceptions to this rule as I've seen it.

    JeffTL - Yes, but If the person isn't familiar with the enhanced features and menus and other functions of a DSLR, it can be very overwhelming.
  20. cgratti macrumors 6502a


    Dec 28, 2004
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    If it doesn't have to be Nikon

    maybe the Cann Powershot Pro1 camera would be good for her. Great wide angle and zoom lens, plus it's an L lens.

    It's almost a perfect camera for those who want to go in between a DSLR and P&S. I am sure there are others out there that can do it but I only have used the Powershot Pro1.

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