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Old Jan 18, 2014, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Cheap teaching camera

I'm getting ready to teach a photography class for "at-risk" high schoolers. We have 8-10 students, and a budget of $1000 for supplies. So I'm trying to decide what cameras to buy for this class. I'm looking for a camera that's cheap enough that we can buy 8-10 of them, but has enough manual control that it's interesting to play with.

I plan to teach composition, lighting, and other things that apply as much to a phone camera as a DSLR. But I'd also like to teach them about f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and manual focus. So I'd like a camera that can let them play with all that, and still be cheap enough that each student could have one.

e don't have a darkroom, so 35mm cameras are out; it's gotta be digital. And because we need to buy a bunch, used/eBay isn't an option.

So I'm looking for a digital camera that:
Has a manual mode with control over aperture, shutter speed, and maybe ISO
Offers manual focus
Has enough optical zoom to make interesting comparisons
Costs $100 or less. Might also consider cameras in the $150-$200 range, and the kids could switch off with 'em, but $100 is better

It would be super-awesome if it was a camera with swappable lenses, but I know that may be hoping for too much.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Or does such a camera just not exist yet?
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Old Jan 18, 2014, 4:25 PM   #2
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Old Jan 19, 2014, 3:53 PM   #3
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from the page that BBbuilder467 listed, you'll find the E-PM1.
it has a larger sensor than most point and shoots, and while the modes are hidden in the menus, they're there. you can do pretty much everything with this camera that you can do with a DSLR including adjusting shutter speed, aperture, ISO and it does have manual focus.

you might consider this
it's a generation old, and i hear the sensor is a bit smaller than most, so don't expect miracles at high ISOs, but it has PASM, and you can control ISO, shutter speed and aperture. i've read there's manual focus, as well. unlike the E-PM1, it has an external mode dial, which makes things less frustrating. of course, the E-PM1 will have nicer images at higher ISOs. also the E-PM1 shoots raw, so you could teach the kids about post processing. both cameras have stabilization.

read more about the SX160 at canon
where you can also download the manual (called the camera user guide) to see what it can do.

Last edited by pcake; Jan 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM.
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Old Jan 19, 2014, 11:49 PM   #4
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i've been thinking about this post. perhaps it's possible that if you approach the right store, you can get a discount if you buy multiple cameras, or maybe they can sell you some scratched units. it couldn't hurt to ask.
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Old Jan 20, 2014, 8:13 AM   #5
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Something like the GE X550 might be about the only new camera in your price range with manual controls and the features you are looking for.
Not sure if it has manual focus.
Additionally, with any camera, you will need to add the cost of memory cards, and possibly spare batteries.

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Old Jan 20, 2014, 2:45 PM   #6
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Default Thanks!

Thanks very much, all! I'll look into those cameras, and see if B&H will give us an educational discount.
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