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Old Dec 12, 2007, 2:23 PM   #1
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I am a clueless Mom with a daughter that loves photography. She will be heading to college in the fall of 2008 and starting towards a degree in photography.

Up to now she has used a 35mm film camera for her high school classes. I had thought to try and get her a dSLR as a Christmas present.

I am trying to find something that will be usuable for her through her college years. I had a recommendation from someone for a Nikon D40x (this person does not like Cannon). I then called the college to ask if they had any recommendations and was told to look into the Cannon EOS 3D or XTI.

None of the research I'mdoing makes much sense to me because I don't know anything more then point-and-shoot..... Can someone recommend what camera would be good for a beginning photo student, but would also work through the 4 years of college. I am also looking to stay under the $1K point for now.

The one requirement I was told by the college is that it HAS to have the capability to be "fully manual".... Thank you for any help you can provide.
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 3:58 PM   #2
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Any modern DSLR can be a fully manual mode camera if you want it to be.
What 35mm camera and lenses does she have now? Because her current lenses may be used with a DSLR body and save some money at least at the beginning.
Nikon D40X vs. Canon XTi - personally, I would go with Canon because of the better lens choise, D40X is a bit limited, especially for a photography student.
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 5:02 PM   #3
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Hi Algold,

I believe her film 35mm is a Pentax.....it was purchased about 4 years ago so I'm not 100% sure - but I think that's what it is. So, it wouldn't swap out with either the Nikon or the Cannon (I think)....?

I think the negative coments I received on the Canon was that it has difficulty focusing in low-light situations, the menus are hard to read and not intuitive, they aren't as water-tight as the Nikon and it doesn't fit comfortably in your hand......do you know anything about these issues?

Thanks!
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 6:28 PM   #4
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First, forget the D40x. The extra megapixels, slightly faster burst rate, and use of ISO 100 are not very important and are not worth the extra $175. The Canon to me feels a little plasticy and odd to my hand, whereas the Nikon feels like it was built better and is morecomfortable. The Pentax K100D also feels well built. It's true that any of these cameras will be excellent tools for your daughter to learn on, and all of them are capable of producing excellent results. Also, as she grows, she will replace this camera, no matter which you buy, and she will probably get new lenses, too, so choice of manufacturer probably isn't that important either. If she has a good Pentax autofocus lens or two, I like the K100D Super. If not, I like the D40.
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 6:33 PM   #5
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First, all dSLRs can be "fully manual".

Second, if she has any lenses for her current Pentax SLR, they will probably work just fine on a Pentax dSLR.

Third, the comment that the Canon XTi "doesn't fit comfortably in your hand" is mostly coming from people that are used to full size film SLRs. The Canon Rebel, XT, and XTi all take advantage of the fact that a smaller image sensor (that is, smaller than a 35mm film exposure)can be contained in a smaller camera. It is smaller, but a young woman might just appreciate a smaller camera. It is very much a personal choice, so, make sure that she knows that, if she doesn't like it, you still have the receipt so she can exchange it for something else.

The Canon XTi is a fine camera in most respects, but if she has Pentax lenses, I suggest you get her a Pentax dSLR.

And I agree with algold that you shoud stay away from the Niokon D40x. It is also a nice camera, but it might be limiting for a photography student.

Another consideration that you might want to take seriously is that, if the college says she should get a Canon, that might be because the college has extra Canon lenses and accessories that she could use on her own Canon dSLR if that's what she's got. But, of course, you might just have been talking to someone that was expressing their own preference, not the preference of the college.
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 9:59 PM   #6
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I happily use both the Pentax K10 and the K100 cameras, and use my old lenses with them (none of my old lenses are auto focus, but I don't find manual focusing with the dSLR cameras any more difficult than I had with my film cameras). If she has auto focus lenses, they would maintain their auto focus capabilities with the digital cameras, a definite cost savings.
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 3:40 AM   #7
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I agree with most of the above.

Firstly there are no "lemons" amongst the current DSLR crowd; all are very capable cameras.

Secondly I happen to think the D40x is a great little camera and would certainly not avoid one just because of the restrictions it has on lens choice. There are plenty of lenses available for it IMO, and those who warn against it for this reason are often blowing the issue out of all proportion.

But finally, if she has some decent Pentax lenses and film camera, then it makes good sense to go with a Pentax body. Either the K100D or K10D are great options. Do make sure to get them with the standard kit lens because the old lenses don't work exactly the same on the smaller sensor (think film-area) of the DSLR. So the old lenses will be useful, but not for exactly the same purpose as she currently uses them. The K10D is particularly good value for money IMO and boasts features generally restricted to much more expensive cameras. If you can afford it then that's the one to go for.
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 8:49 AM   #8
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peripatetic wrote:
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Secondly I happen to think the D40x is a great little camera and would certainly not avoid one just because of the restrictions it has on lens choice. There are plenty of lenses available for it IMO, and those who warn against it for this reason are often blowing the issue out of all proportion.
You can't get many brighter primes (i.e., f/2 or wider apertures) in a number of focal lengths (for example, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 105mm f/2, 135mm f/2) that work on it yet, unless you want to use manual focus.

To me, that would be a "show stopper". To others, perhaps not.

I'd think a Photography student would be more likely to want lenses like that, though.

anniese44:

Just because she's using Pentax now, doesn't mean she's not interested in another brand. If she's been taking classes in Photography and wants to continue persuing it in college, then she's probably already familiar with the pros and cons of various camera brands and models (and some of the lens choices available for them).

Have you asked your Daughter if she has a preference in camera brand (which may or may not be Pentax), or is this going to be a surprise gift?

What lenses does she have now for use with her Pentax 35mm camera?
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 11:48 AM   #9
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Hi all,

First, thank you all for your responses. Some of what you are telling me is "over my head" (f stops and such).

Second, the Pentax she presentaly has is an older film camera. She only has the one lense (that came with it). We ordered this off ebay when she first started taking photo classes in her HS Freshman year. So, no big monetary investment that would sway us toward a Pentax dSLR.

She hasn't spent much time looking at the dSLRs that are out there (brief stop or two a counters here and there) but seemed to like the size and feel of both the Cannon and the Nikon. I don't think she really has a preference at this point on which camera to get - this will be an "intro" camera for her into the dSLRs.

This purchase is inteded to be a Chrismtas present and, hopefully, a surprise. I know that eventually she will need to replace this camera with a more expensive one if she does indeed pursue this as a career - my aim is to get her something that will be fairly easy to learn on but also last through her 4 years of college.

The person I talked to at the college was the head of the Photography department and so I would think she would know which camera they would like to see students with. She said the Nikon was good but to also look at the Canon......

Wolf Camera is running a sale through Saturday - both of the cameras I've been looking at are on sale for $799 with two lenses (Cannon: 18-55 and 75-300; Nikon18-55 and 55-200). So, I was trying to get some info on these to see if either was more appropriate for my daughter and whether this was a good sale price.

Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 12:07 PM   #10
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Have you noticed what kind of photography she's more interested in (portraits, sports, landscapes, indoors in low light, etc.)? That can influence what camera is going to be a better bet.

Between the Canon and Nikon, I'd personally go with the Canon (due to lens choice restrictions with the Nikon).

But, I wouldn't rule out other brands either, depending on what she wants to shoot.

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