Suitable DSLR for A level student

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Mark, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Mark

    Mark Guest

    My daughter is likely to do A level photography and requires a DSLR.
    Obviously the budget is limited but we don't want to fob her off with
    something that is unsuitable. I already own a Canon 1100D btw and
    something like this might be ok, yes?
    Mark, Feb 1, 2014
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  2. Mark

    Paul Giverin Guest

    Yes, that would be fine. If she really likes her photography and it
    isn't "just for the course", she might want something a bit more

    In addition to the DSLR, why don't you treat her to something like

    They normally go for less than £30 and she will learn a lot about
    Paul Giverin, Feb 1, 2014
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  3. Mark

    Rob Morley Guest

    The problem with film photography these days is ongoing cost - maybe
    we've just been spoiled with infinite free digital shots, but film,
    chemicals and paper seem to be sooo much more expensive than they used
    to be. Still great fun to do, but not on a frequent basis. I'd be
    inclined to go medium format rather than 35mm, because it's a bit more
    different than 35mm/digital.
    To really get a feel for the roots of photography it's worth making a
    pinhole or similar camera, and even trying the wet plate process.
    Rob Morley, Feb 1, 2014
  4. Mark

    Ian Guest

    Hello Mark.

    You said that your daughter "does already really like photography and has
    got some amazing results from just a cheap
    compact". What are the limiting factors of her compact camera? What can't
    it do that she would ike it to do? The answers to those questions will
    hopefully point you towards what she needs in her next camera.
    [I started in DSLR with a second-hand 350D. I replaced it with a 50D when I
    decided that I genuinely needed 6fps, spot metering and more pixels .. and I
    was correct.]

    I will always suggest buying second-hand in this situation. There are still
    camera shops whcih deal in second-hand equipment so there's no need to risk
    buying unseen from the Internet. Most of my equipment was bought second-hand
    (from LCE in Nottingham and Derby).
    Alternatively, if you happen to have been thinking of moving up from the
    1100D then you could give or sell it to your daughter and treat yourself to
    a new camera.

    I would stay with a DSLR rather than also use a film SLR. I learn far more
    by viewing my mistakes immediately on the camera's LCD than from exposing a
    roll of film, getting it processes and then viewing the prints (and that's
    not taking into account the hassle of noting down all the exposure date -
    shuttter and aperture setting, flash status, metering pattern and so on).

    Best wishes, Ian.
    Ian, Feb 1, 2014
  5. Mark

    Paul Giverin Guest

    I'm sure you have heard the argument before but shooting film, where
    there is only 36 exposures on the roll, encourages the student to think
    about every shot, rather than taking 100 shots and hoping for one good
    Paul Giverin, Feb 1, 2014
  6. Mark

    Ian Guest

    Hello Paul.

    Yes, I used the "think carefully before pressing the release" for 30+ years.
    I still think carefully before pressing the release but I do appreciate the
    (almost) instant feedback via the LCD screen.

    Best wishes, Ian.
    Ian, Feb 1, 2014
  7. Mark

    Woody Guest

    Canon for compatibility - and sharing your lenses etc - if
    you trust her that much!

    Look seriously at the Nikon D3200 as a fairly basic dSLR but
    with 24Mp sensor. The D3100 is also a good buy with 16Mp
    sensor. Neither has live view.

    The Sony A65 has a good reputation. Be aware of some of its
    relations that have electronic viewfinders.

    I have seen some pretty good results from the current range
    of Olympus dSLRs but beware that they use a 4/3 (i.e.
    smaller) sensor than most of the competition.

    Give serious consideration to a Pentax K500 as a basic. They
    have the one (serious) advantage over most other makes that
    the image stabilisation is in the body so works with any

    One final question: does it have to be a dSLR? Some of the
    crossover cameras are very very good. Look at the Panasonic
    Lumix FZ range. You can pick up a FZ45 for less than £100 or
    a FZ100 for a bit over. Both have Leica lenses and monstrous
    zooms with image stabilisation built in, an electronic
    viewfinder, and they will record video in HD with stereo

    Ultimately she has got to use it and has to be comfortable
    with it. Troll along to your local camera shop, Jessops (if
    you have one nearby,) or John Lewis' when it is quiet and
    let her play with them*. If she is lucky one of them will
    feel 'right' and no matter what bells and whistles others
    have, that is the one you should buy for her. If there is
    more than one that fits the bill then bells, whistles, and
    price come into the equation. Remember that (a) you don't
    want to be blamed if the camera is not suitable for her use,
    and (b) if it doesn't suit (fit her hands, too heavy, etc
    etc) it will just end up on a shelf unused. If she likes
    your camera you can always give it to her and use it as an
    excuse to upgrade for yourself. Oh, and don't forget to buy
    a skylight filter to fit on the lens - scratch a filter and
    it costs a tenner to replace, scratch the lens and it could
    [* Forget Expensive World as they rarely have a charged
    battery available.]

    Don't be afraid to buy s/h from a dealer as you will get a
    warranty and most cameras that a dealer will take in are in
    pretty good condition.

    Good luck
    Woody, Feb 1, 2014
  8. I recommend investing in a secondhand "pro" level, full-frame DSLR. The
    mark 1 Canon EOS 1Ds can be bought, body only, in great condition for less
    than £500 on eBay and is a great tool to learn with. Built like a tank too,
    she'd have to try really hard to bugger it up. You could then spend a lot
    of money on L Series lenses to go with it but could instead start her off
    with some very reasonably priced 3rd party lenses and get her a lot of
    options for not much money.

    If I was asked to choose between spending 500 to 800 quid on a new consumer
    DSLR or an old pro Canon or Nikon, it's no choice at all, my money goes on
    the old good gear rather than the new plastic tat.

    Stephen Thomas Cole.
    UK Usenet Head of Social Media and PR.

    This post was sent from my iPhone, likely whilst walking, so may have typos
    or bizarre auto-corrects.
    Stephen Thomas Cole, Feb 1, 2014
  9. Shooting B&W film in manual mode (preferably on a mechanical camera with
    zero automation), using a hand-held light meter and developing and printing
    in a darkroom is, as far as I'm concerned, the *only* way to learn and
    *understand* photography.

    Stephen Thomas Cole.
    UK Usenet Head of Social Media and PR.

    This post was sent from my iPhone, likely whilst walking, so may have typos
    or bizarre auto-corrects.
    Stephen Thomas Cole, Feb 1, 2014
  10. Mark

    NY Guest

    The other big advantage with digital is the ability to see immediately the
    effects of making changes to aperture (ie its effect on depth of field),
    shutter speed (freezing the droplets of a waterfall or rendering them as an
    ethereal blur) and to vary the exposure by applying +/- adjustment to
    metered exposure, especially in difficult (ie untypical) shots where a meter
    will routinely under/over expose.

    That coupled with the ability to tell immediately whether you've captured
    the moment correctly or need to re-shoot a photo because you've not followed
    the moment of a fast-moving object.
    NY, Feb 1, 2014
  11. Those are all, indeed, fantastic benefits of digital. Do they train the
    novice and produce a better, more competent photographer than an analogue
    workflow might? I'm no Luddite, but I think not.

    Stephen Thomas Cole.
    UK Usenet Head of Social Media and PR.

    This post was sent from my iPhone, likely whilst walking, so may have typos
    or bizarre auto-corrects.
    Stephen Thomas Cole, Feb 1, 2014
  12. Mark

    NY Guest

    They allow more rapid feedback so you see immediately the effects of
    changing parameters like DOF and exposure, rather than having to experiment
    and then wait several days/weeks/months until the film is processed and you
    can see the results. Having each exposure tagged with aperture and shutter
    speed means you don't even need to keep notes on a scrap of paper. Also,
    using negative film you can mask minor errors of exposure by compensating
    when exposing at the printing stage, so you don't necessarily notice when
    you've got the exposure wrong, whereas digital is less forgiving (like slide
    film) so you learn more about getting exposure correct.

    I wouldn't go back to a film camera: too expensive, too slow to see results,
    too difficult to be creative (eg correcting for perspective distortion
    because I've deliberately shot at an angle to avoid getting myself or my
    flash reflected in a shiny subject, or correcting for colour cast in unusual
    lighting, or enhancing contrast, or correcting for lens distortion (using
    PTlens) - or any of the other things that Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop can
    NY, Feb 1, 2014
  13. Mark

    Mark Guest

    It's not as good as it was. I think she has damaged the sensor with
    shots into the sun.
    Manual control. As with most compacts it's not great in low light
    conditions. It's also fully automatic IIRC.
    I bought most of my 35mm cameras secondhand but I am less
    knowledgeable about digital cameras and I don't think things last as
    well nowadays (showing my age eh?). It's certainly an option to
    That's a serious consideration. The main reason against this (apart
    from cost) is I wouldn't know what to buy for me! So far I am pleased
    with the 1100D but I haven't really used it "properly"[1] yet. I
    haven't had it long. However I have had some difficulties with the
    AF, but that could be my fault.


    [1] So far mostly just snaps. I tried one HDR image but it didn't
    look very clear -- don't know why yet.
    Mark, Feb 1, 2014
  14. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Good point. I'm not sure I would since she isn't as careful as me!
    I've read reviews of those but I am undecided. I thought that more
    megapixels is not necessarily a good thing.
    The school says so.
    No Jessops here any more :-(
    I thought skylight filters were only for film cameras?
    Mark, Feb 1, 2014
  15. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Ouch! £500 is a bit more than I was intending spending, especially if
    I have to buy lenses extra. A 1D looks much too big and heavy. I'm
    not sure if she could lift one! Also are the rumours true that many
    older pro cameras are actually slower than modern consumer cameras?
    It's more a choice of spending £400 or less ;-)
    Mark, Feb 1, 2014
  16. Mark

    NY Guest

    I'm not sure whether skylight filters make any difference to the photo with
    a digital camera in the way that they take out haze caused by the
    sensitivity of film to UV. But they do act as a protective front piece of
    glass to prevent you scratching the front element of the lens. I really
    *should* buy one for my lens :-(
    NY, Feb 1, 2014
  17. Mark

    Mark Guest

    The person in the shop said I just needed a UV filter for a DSLR
    instead - the AWB would obviate the need for a skylight filter. Maybe
    they were just trying to sell me more stuff. ;-)
    Mark, Feb 1, 2014
  18. Mark

    Woody Guest

    Its academic really. I said Skylight but UV will do just as
    well and I guess you will find UV easier to get than
    Skylight. The only reason for the latter, yes its use will
    be counteracted by the AWB but it does remove that bit more
    UV and high colour temperature blue which (a) IME makes the
    AWB work better and (b) reduces flare if there is any. Also
    if your sensor suffers from purple fringing the reduction in
    blue present will make it less evident.
    Woody, Feb 2, 2014
  19. It was the 1Ds (the "s" is for "studio") I recommended, not the 1D. The 1Ds
    has a full frame sensor, the 1D doesn't. They are both, indeed, heavy and
    big cameras but they are built to last. Slower, too, than the current
    generation of cameras, but who needs to take 10 pictures a second?
    Certainly nobody learning photography! If your daughter is serious about
    photography, buying her an old pro DSLR and a couple of lenses will be the
    biggest favour you can do her.
    I fear that you won't get much camera for less than £400, not much that I
    would consider particularly worth having. If your budget really is that
    tight, trawling eBay and getting something a few years old secondhand will
    be the best bet to maximise return.

    Stephen Thomas Cole.
    UK Usenet Head of Social Media and PR.

    This post was sent from my iPhone, likely whilst walking, so may have typos
    or bizarre auto-corrects.
    Stephen Thomas Cole, Feb 2, 2014
  20. Again, you're listing many of the great benefits of digital photography but
    do any of them make for training better photographers as opposed to the
    analogue way? I still think not. Someone who has spent time getting really
    good at working with film and darkroom printing, with all of its inherent
    delays and frustrations, has acquired a bucket full of skills that directly
    transfer to their digital workflow and, IMO, give them a broader and deeper
    understanding of what they're doing.

    Stephen Thomas Cole.
    UK Usenet Head of Social Media and PR.

    This post was sent from my iPhone, likely whilst walking, so may have typos
    or bizarre auto-corrects.
    Stephen Thomas Cole, Feb 2, 2014
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