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Old Jul 9, 2009, 3:02 PM   #1
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Default What DSLR for a newbie on a budget?

I'm looking at used DSLR's. Yes, I know that the technology won't be on the cutting edge, and there probably won't be a warranty, but I'm OK with that. Budget definitely factors in.
$200-$500, maybe? ($500 meaning lens included).

I had a little Sony cybershot for a while, outgrew that, recently bought a used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 that I LOVE, but still need a little more camera. Photography has become quite the hobby for me. Always has been, but recently I've become a bit obsessed.

It will be a birthday present from a family member, and he tends to be Ebay/Craigslist oriented, although a great online or big box store sale not out of the question either.

I have no brand loyalty. I'm mad at my little Sony because it died the dreaded "memory card error" death, but would still possibly consider an alpha.

What I want is external flash options, ability to take better indoor pictures (flash on my Lumix is horrendous, but even with IS I'm unable to capture most indoor shoots without significant blur), faster shutter speed, and greater portrait/bokeh ability.
If it sounds like I don't know what I'm talking about, I probably don't. Still in learning curve. Utterly confused about lenses. The one thing I think I really want is IS in the body.

So what DSLR and what lens for what will mostly be portraits of children?

Last edited by sidle; Jul 9, 2009 at 3:06 PM.
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Old Jul 9, 2009, 4:00 PM   #2
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IS in the body means Konica Minolta, Olympus (except the E-4x0), Pentax (except the *ist series) or Sony.

For a used dSLR, I would definately go with a reputable retailer like Adorama (Used Department), B&H Photo Video (Used Department), or KEH. Buying a used dSLR is really a crapshoot, and if you don't get a good return policy, you're taking a big chance.

A dSLR in good condition, plus a lens, won't leave much for an external flash, so I think you'll have to wait for that.

Konica Minolta, Pentax, and Sony can all use lenses that have been around for a while, and can also be found on the used market, so I think they would give you a lot more flexibility for purchasing additional lenses later. (Sony dSLRs can use Minolta lenses.) Olympus switched to a new lens mount when it went digital, so there aren't many lenses on the used market that you can use.

I really think that, for a dSLR, eBay and Craig's List would be a bad idea. For lenses, I've had good luch with eBay, but I wouldn't buy a camera there.

But you may get lucky.
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Old Jul 9, 2009, 7:45 PM   #3
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The Olympus E520 is a nice, light camera that may suit you well.

I just checked Buydig and they are selling the E520 with both the 14-42 and 40-150 kit lenses for $549.

The E520 has built in image stabilization and both of those lenses are really quite nice. They are also both compact and light.

I know its $50 more than budget, but its nicer than I started with (E500 w/ kit lenses) and I was more than happy with that camera.

I'm sure others will chime in with suggestions from the other manufacturers as well. Really, they are all make very decent cameras.

Greg
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Old Jul 9, 2009, 8:22 PM   #4
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Here are a couple of options.... if you are considering Pentax:

Best Buy (online) has Factory Refurbished K100D for $280 - body only

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....ci_sku=9348752

They also have refurbished K200 - $379 and K10 for $399 - bodies only

KEH.com also has a few K100D and Supers available for between $275 - $350

http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/Produ...&GBC=&GCC=&KW=

To start out, if I were to do it again, I would not change a thing and I started out with a Pentax K100. It is a wonderful starter dSLR, 6MP, in body image stabilization, etc. Quite a few of the Pentax folks upgrading to the K20 have kept their K100 as a backup, and because the sensor noise is so low.

Now the prices above leave little room for a lens and a flash. Personally, I would go with the kit lenses DA 18-55 which KEH has for $105 to $120 (both excellent+ or like new condition). So that brings you up to $400 (body and lens). I do not have a flash, so others are going to have to help there.

Another thought is that Ritz Camera is closing the rest of their 400 locations. I saw K100's go for $175 and the kit lenses for around $50 all brand new. That may be an option if you live near a Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, Kits Cameras, Inkley's or The Camera Shop stores.

http://www.reuters.com/article/marke...37940420090708

The Canon and Nikon equipment went out the door in the first hours, when they closed their first round of stores about a month or so ago.

Just a thought...
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Old Jul 11, 2009, 10:26 AM   #5
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You should also take a look at the pentax K-2000 that comes with the Pentax DAL 18-55mm kit lens which is excellent and a Pentax AF 200 Flash in the same kit for around $(US)400.00. It would give you a brand new camera, the external flash, you want, and a full guarantee. I has the Canon XS and returned it to purchase the Pentax K-2000 camera, lens, and flash.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 11, 2009, 11:06 AM   #6
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When I posted last, I had looked for that special package deal that Pentax had put together for this camera and nothing came up. However, I tried again and found it (was not labeled as before) - be at a slightly higher price...

Here is the K2000 body with the Pentax DA 18-55 lens along with the Pentax Flash AF200FG flash
http://www.amazon.com/Pentax-K2000-1...noisydeals7-20

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

http://www.cameta.com/Pentax-K2000-D...lash-37501.cfm
With just the body and lens - it goes for a bit less... ($415)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html
... and here is a set of reviews.
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2009_...tax_k2000.html

http://www.1001noisycameras.com/pent...m-reviews.html
and all the online retailers are reputable.
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Old Jul 11, 2009, 1:08 PM   #7
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The least expensive new DSLR I could find was the Sony A200. So I did buy it. This particular Sony is designed for the CompactFlash memory card, you would need an adapter to put a MemoryStick in it. Besides the low price other pluses for the A200 are in-body image stabilization, comfy viewfinder, good dynamic range, and quick focus. The kit lens takes a lot of hits for softness, to which there some truth. But the nice sensor about makes up for that.

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Old Jul 12, 2009, 9:53 AM   #8
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Kelly-

No offense please, but I did try the Sony A-200, during my DSLR search, and I was not overly impressed by it. In the end I purchased the Pentax K-2000, as an open box item at a great price and have really enjoyed the camera.

Here is a recent sample photo. The photo was taken hand held at ISO 800, not ISO 1600 as stated in the photo tag.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 12, 2009, 6:12 PM   #9
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None taken Sarah. Pentax is a rare bird in the stores here, I did not get a chance to try one. And yeah, I'm well aware that there are many who are not impressed with the A200. I would have passed over it myself, except for the deep closeout discount.

Kelly
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Old Jul 12, 2009, 6:26 PM   #10
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Hi kelly-

That is the same way I purchased the Pentax K-2000, open box, deep discount. $(US) 364.00 for the camera, kit lens and the AF-200 external flash. I could not pass it up and I had tried 3 other consumer DSLR cameras and returned them. The Pentax K-2000 has been a winner for me.

Sarah Joyce
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