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Old Jun 4, 2011, 7:26 AM   #1
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Default Looking for a cheap used DSLR to start with..any suggestions?

I've been into photography...well, taking pictures....for several years now. I started out with a cheap Kodak point and shoot, then last year moved up to a Cannon Powershot S5is which I really like. It's still not a DSLR, but it's got all of the manual settings that I can mess with. I take my camera with me on every weekend trip I do....no matter if it's kayaking down a river, camping, hiking, cave exploring....just about everywhere.

I've always wanted to eventually get into a nice DSLR, but because of the price...and that fact that with all of the outdoor trips I do...there is a good chance it's going to get ruined by water, humidity, mud, or I will drop it!

I've deiced to try to pick up a cheap used DSLR either locally, or online somewhere (ebay)......but I have no idea what would be a good camera and lens. I definitely want to stay with a low zoom lens that will allow narrow field of focus with a big aperture setting. I really like taking close up pictures of object where only inches/feet behind it is all blurred out because of the large aperture setting. I can do it with my S5is....but usually only if I'm on a macro setting and I'm really close to something.

What would you guys suggest for an inexpensive DSLR?? There are lots of older used cameras out there....I don't even know where to start!


Oh, here are a few random pics I've taken

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Old Jun 4, 2011, 7:31 AM   #2
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see if you can find a canon XS or XSi. There are allot of used lens options for them, as canon has the most lens options out there. These models just got phase out, so they are still very current in technologies.
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Old Jun 4, 2011, 8:32 AM   #3
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Buying a used dSLR isn't such a good idea. There's no way to tell how much use and abuse the camera has been through, and the mechanical components of a dSLR (primarily the focal plane shutter/mirror box assembly), while quite reliable, are subject to wear.

A better choice might be a refurbished dSLR. Adorama has a good selection of factory refurbished dSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax. All come with a 90 day factory warranty, except the Canons which have a 1 year Adorama warranty.

Getting shallow depths of field with large aperture lenses, means that the lens is likely to cost more than a the camera body, and is just as subject to the dangers you mentioned as the camera body. In addition, large aperture lenses may be and often are, bigger and heavier than the dSLRs you mount them on.
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Old Jun 4, 2011, 1:09 PM   #4
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Refurb would be the way to go but in the event it's still to much cash or you can't find what you want, try keh.com for used stuff. Adorama and B&H have used equipment, too.
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Old Jun 4, 2011, 4:04 PM   #5
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"Relatively inexpensive" can have very different meanings for different people.

But, based on the type of photography you do and conditions the camera will be subjected to, I would strongly suggest you look at a weather sealed camera body and hopefully lens as well..

Not trying to 'sell you' on any particular brand, but Olympus really made a great weather sealed camera known as the E-1. The E-1 is really a rugged camera designed to withstand almost any type of conditions you can throw at it. It has a 5MP sensor - which produces very sharp images with the right lens. The optical viewfinder is very large and easy to see- unlike a lot of cameras today. I mention this because, It sounds to me that you may like to experiment with lenses and camera to produce unique and unusual images.
With the aid of an adapter, you can use almost any manual focus lens and achieve really pretty impressive results. The optical viewfinder's large field of view really allows you to focus the lens.
Manual lenses originally used on 35mm film cameras are relatively inexpensive - you can pick up lenses from 20 bucks to a couple of hundred dollars. The benefit to you if you happen to drop the camera and lens in the drink, The E-1 will survive to live another day. The lens, meanwhile may not.
BUT, you wouldn't have invested a whole lot into it.

By the way, you can pick up an E-1 for around $250USD. A close focusing 80-210mm manual lens can be had for around 20bucks.

Just a slightly different approach.

So you want to be a better photographer? Open your eyes and take a look at what is all around you.
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Old Jun 4, 2011, 4:19 PM   #6
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I'd also suggest that you look around for a weather sealed camera and lens. Pentax makes them - the Kx and Kr are NOT sealed, but the K10, K20, K7 and the current K5 are. You might want to look around for either a camera store that sells used cameras and offers some sort of warranty or else a refurb of any of these cameras.

I've known several people who have bought used Pentax cameras from individuals and done very well with it. But as TCav mentions, you could easily end up with a camera that's been abused and has significant problems.
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