Photographers, I need your HELP!!!

I am taking a photography class starting in January... and need to purchase a new camera for the class... I want a digital SLR and my professor FINALLY sent out the requirement list for the class... I really have NO idea what the heck I am doing... What is the best kind of camera to get [i want it to last for a few years as i'm learning and advancing]... what brand... where I should buy it... how to get the best deals... I was hoping to find a camera during the holiday sales... black Friday & other Christmas sales... but I desperately need help! So any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. I will love you forever if you are able to help me! [I will probably already love you forever anyway even if you don't/can't help me!!]

Here are the highlights from the email:

"CAMERA - You MUST have one before the class starts. You are to bring your camera to the first class meeting. You will be shooting images the very first week of class. You can use either film a or digital camera. But the camera MUST have the option of working in a MANUAL operating mode. That means you must be able to set the exposure yourself, specifically the f-stop and shutter speed. If the camera only operates automatically, it will not be sufficient to complete your coursework. Icons indicating control of the shutter speed include a “sports” mode – a guy running or “TV.” Controlling the f-stop is in modes “AV,” the mountain and the portrait icons, plus, perhaps others.

There are many good camera manufacturers and I don’t want to recommend a specific one. Keep in mind if you’ve never heard of it - there’s probably a reason. A really cheap camera will not be a bargain in the long run. However there are good sales almost every weekend – so watch the Sunday newspapers. If you intend to continue on with photography you may want to put more money into equipment. New ones have some great features but older totally manual film cameras are also fine for this course. The best thing is to practice shooting with your equipment before the semester starts. This way you will begin to get familiar with its features. This enables you to have the best control of your outcomes and to WASTE LESS time, paper, film and money next semester. Familiarization with your equipment also reduces STRESS! (Mine as well as yours!)

You will need the following by the FIRST DAY of class:
• Camera - 35mm OR digital. Manual capabilities required, automatic features and flash nice to have, but not needed. Totally automatic point and shoot cameras are not acceptable.
• Fresh batteries.
• Manual for the camera - this is very important, especially for the newer cameras that have sophisticated electronic features. Older, manual film cameras are easier to figure out so the written manual is not as critical for these. You can get free or inexpensive manuals on-line for most cameras; do a Google search using the manufacturer’s name, the make and model number.
• Lenses - 50 mm is the standard that comes with most film cameras, another that is nice to have but not required is a zoom lens; bring any other lenses that you have that fit the camera. If you must get a camera with a fixed lens, at least get one with a zoom.
• Lens cleaning tissues - NEVER clean a lens with anything else or you will damage it.

If you are using FILM - Buy either Kodak or Fuji Color PRINT film, 24 exposure. Get a range of speeds - 100, 200 and 400. You should not need faster film unless you want to try low light shooting. You will need AT LEAST 10-12 rolls. Some of you will shoot much more depending on how you like to work. The only advantage to getting film ahead of time is the possibility that you can get a discount (at some camera stores) IF you buy 10 rolls of one type at a time. Call around to see if any stores in your area offer such a discount.

Optional equipment - if you have them, bring them -
• comfortable neck strap
• lens cap OR skylight filter to keep lens clean
• filters - bring any that fit your lens
• camera case or bag
• flash
• tripod and cable release

Digital cameras - The prices for digital cameras that let you have control of the lens aperture and shutter speed (also called AV and TV modes) are really dropping. The more mega pixels you get, the more the camera will cost.

Features to look at in digital cameras –
resolution, expressed in mega pixels (the more you have, the more you can enlarge prints + the sharper images can be).
shooting modes (manual, auto, portrait, macro for close-ups, sports, etc)
zoom capability, expressed as “4X” etc. – look for optical Vs. Digital zoom (the higher
the OPTICAL zoom number the better the focus of “zoom” shots). What digital zoom does is take a small portion and enlarge that section resulting in poor quality.
batteries – specialty, or rechargeable, rechargeable batteries will save you money
size of LCD display
ISO equivalents – this is what we used to call “film Speed;” it rates the sensitivity to light
compression – file formats: JPG, RAW
storage capacity – media size & type
downloading images – you may want an inexpensive usb card reader ($10 and up)"

Thanks, friends. i love you. & Merry Thanksgiving!!!



Anonymous said...

I would stay Nikon or Canon. I have a Canon Digital Rebel that would cover all of that. I would look at those. As long as you go with a SLR, it should have everything you need. Also, people at best buy and camera shops will probably know how to help you. The requirements are not that advanced that the average camera salesmen wouldn't know what you're talking about.

Canons that will work: http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ProductCatIndexAct&fcategoryid=111

And all these Nikons should work too: http://nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Digital-SLR/index.page

Anthony said...

Go Canon. Excellent lenses, which will help as you grow into your new-found photography skills.

Look at the canon Rebel XSi, or Canon EOS-40D. The EOS-50D is also a strong choice but I believe the first two will be more economical (relatively). If you want an excellent starter/intermediate level cam, you could do much worse than either of those I mentioned. Each offer very good image quality, and are easy to use for novices.


Carla said...

You can often find excellent deals for brand name cameras on overstock.com, but obviously you'd have to know what you want already.

I'd trust mSturge, get his opinion!

Erika said...

Like pretty much everyone else has said, i would go with canon. I have the Rebel XTi, which is 10 megapixles, but i would get the newest one, the XSi. i'm not sure if it has a bunch of new features, but it is higher megapixles (12). If you get the rebel..or pretty much any other slr, it should come with a 18-55 mm lens or at least make sure you buy it with the lens included! also, if you buy any other additional lenses, don't feel like you HAVE to buy canon ones...i like Tamron lenses because they are cheaper and are just as good as the Canon brand lenses...

as far as places to buy, b&h.com and buydig.com are both good dealers but also def. check the ads..with the holidays coming there should be some great sales!

Liz said...

Cee, the most for your money would be an Olympus. Gina & I both have them. You can get a two-lens kit for under $600.

Canon is excellent, and you can buy a lot more accessories for it, but it's also more expensive, so if you don't plan on needing all the professional extras I'd recommend an Olympus E-510.

Mark said...

Best bang for your buck for an entry level SLR is going to be the Rebel XSi:


It has some nice new features, and will be easier on your wallet to start than the new 50D. Consider the 50D later down the road (serious amateur / semi-pro camera):


DO NOT GET THE STANDARD ZOOM "KIT lens" when buying the camera. The 18-55mm lens is GARBAGE!

Do yourself a favor and get the Canon 50mm F/1.8 II prime lens. It's not a zoom, but it is the best bang for your buck lens from Canon. It is perfect for learning about what a lens is capable of achieving. Please read this review on it here:


Any other questions, just ask!

Gina said...

I've gotta side with Liz... I'm partial to Olympus.

I enjoyed using a Nikon during my photojournalism class... but they are so stinkin' expensive (if you want a good kit)

No experience with Canon... but I'm guessing they're good!

Gina said...

Hey girl,
Here's the list of SLR's on sale for black friday...

Ebay is also an excellent place to shop (that's where I got my full Olympus kit for around $600)