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karmacat Dec 8, 2006 10:07 AM

A group of us parents want to buy a camera for a first grade teacher to use in her classroom. We have about $325 to spend, and want to include a decent sized memory card.
Because it's for classroom use, the camera would be used for taking pictures of first graders under fluorescent lights except when the kids are outside for special activities. Kids may sometimes use the camera, too.

Please help me decide on the best one for this situation!

mtclimber Dec 8, 2006 10:40 AM


The very first question has to be this: How experienced is the teacher photographically?

Is she is without much experience, then I would focus on a camera like the Kodak C-743 which is very simple, easy to use, and does a darned good job. It is on sale at our local Walmart for $149.95 this week. Let the balance of your funds pay for prints and the like.

Now, if she is camera proficient, then the issue takes on a completely different flavor. Let us know, please.


karmacat Dec 8, 2006 12:00 PM

Thanks for responding!

I don't know how proficient the teacher is. She did say she has a digital camera at home which she does not want to bring to school. This leads me to believe it is probably a nice camera.

karmacat Dec 8, 2006 12:05 PM

Oh, I didn't mention this before, but I do have $25 set aside (not included in the $325 figure) to use for a gift certificate to for prints. Prepaid, that gets her 250 prints!

mtclimber Dec 8, 2006 12:11 PM


OK, for the sake of our discussion we will consider the teacher to be camera proficient. That brings up question #2: How much do the parents want to spend of this classroom camera, and how much will be reserved for other portions of the project.

You could go with something like the Canon A-540 (no IS, but pretty good) average internet cost $184.00 or the Panasonic LZ-3 (Has IS, also pretty good) average internet price $166.00.


BillDrew Dec 8, 2006 6:40 PM

karmacat wrote:

A group of us parents want to buy a camera for a first grade teacher to use in her classroom. ...
How much light is there in her classroom? I suggest doing a bit of trial shooting with just to get a feel for what is needed: some combination of ISO and f/stop. It is amazing how dim an area is when it is lit for comfortable reading level of light. Often something like f/2, 1/10sec, 100 ISO. That means a high ISO is a real good idea; high ISO in general means a high price.

(At 1/10 sec the average first grader will be nothing but a blur.)

I am not sure you can find a camera that will work for her at that price. Could be wrong about that, and expect to be wrong within a few years, but I think that is the situation right now.

monx Dec 8, 2006 8:07 PM

some wideangle would probably be nice to, seing as a lot of the shots could be class-room shots.

JWalsh Dec 8, 2006 8:22 PM

When you're shooting figety children indoors, you'll need to shoot at high ISOs to freeze the action. The Fuji F20, F30 and F31 have the best noise performance on the digicam market - they have the least noise at high ISOs and can shoot up to ISO 1600. The F20 has the same sensor as the newer cameras, and is a good deal now that it's a bit older, around $200.

Here's a link if you want to research it -
Fuji F20 reviews

mtclimber Dec 9, 2006 6:14 AM

Well, Karmacat-

You have certainly had some good suggestions. Thus far, I tend to favor the Fuji F-20 or F-30cameras, as theyare especially good at low light level candids. I own a Fuji F-30 and S-6000 myself. But again, the sucess seems to revolve around the teacher's photo skills.


BillDrew Dec 9, 2006 9:21 AM

The Fuji F30 is an example of a camera that might do the job. Using the exposure settings I noted above, the f30's ISO 3200 and f/2.8 would have a shutter speed of 1/160th sec - just barely enough to catch a first grader that was being fairly still. The question with that camera is how much noise is there at ISO 3200? If it is like every camera I have heard of, the noise at the largest ISO avialable is only marginally useable. Having a dial-up, I am not going to look at Steve's 3Mp examples (, but dpReview's ( images shows noticable (to me) noise at ISO01600 and unacceptable noise at 3200. Using ISO 800 means a shutter speed of 1/40th sec which isn't fast enough for first graders.

Check out the high ISO noise levels in any camera you are thinking about and (if possible) get a light level reading in the classroom.

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