Cheap dSLR (and/or art GCSE) advice please

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  • Cheap dSLR (and/or art GCSE) advice please
  • P-Jay
    Member

    I took GCSE photography yeeeeeears ago but we needed an SLR for that – we were told for the course it needed manual focus, adjustable shutter speed and a light meter.

    The EOS line-up were the ones to have, they were usually robust, you could get loads of lenses for them and well… they had an auto everything feature which made things easier.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    I would wait until you have it confirmed that they need one. I can’t imagine a secondary school requesting all its art students to buy DSLRs.

    5plusn8
    Member

    Hmm I think if they need one then the cheapest dslr you can get would be fine.
    eg this d50 with an excellent 18-55 lens £99, plenty of manual function and capable of taking excellent pictures.
    https://www.lcegroup.co.uk/Used/Nikon-D50-+-18-55mm_187765.html

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Ask the school?

    An entry-level dSLR is a great investment for someone who wants to learn photography, but it won’t just magically take better pictures. A friend of mine is a landscape photographer with all the gear and has a three foot canvas on the wall of a picture he took – with an iPhone. The question isn’t “does she need one for her GCSEs?” but rather “does she want to get into photography?”

    There is a healthy second-hand market for camera bodies, last year’s colours sell for bargain prices. Lenses OTOH tend not to depreciate, well, at all, but the 18-55 is the “kit” (ie, bundled) lens and is basically free with Tiger Tokens. Not that it’s a bad lens, rather everyone who ever bought a dSLR ever has one.

    Premier Icon colournoise
    Subscriber

    I’m an Art teacher.

    Can’t see why for a ‘normal’ (ie Unendorsed/Fine Art) GCSE any student needs a DSLR. Any photography aspect of a general course (usually just for collecting primary visual resources) should be able to be covered by a decent compact or even a phone camera (especially if the camera app allows a manual mode). There’s no non-specialist GCSE Art & Design specification that I’m aware of that insists students demonstrate knowledge of and skill with DSLRs / manual mode photography, so I would suggest any such requirement comes from the foibles of the teacher or school and is at best unfair on the students…

    TBH I don’t even insist on a DSLR for GCSE Photography students (I would for A level) – we’re going to be delivering ours using bridge cameras (for manual mode work), compacts and the students’ phone cameras for homework tasks.

    It’s entirely possible to achieve top GCSE Photography grades with only a camera phone… I intend to use one for all my exemplar work this year just to prove a point (and because pretty much all my personal photography is done with my OnePlus – the ‘good’ cameras rarely leave the house these days).

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    I know bugger all about this

    My daughter has been convinced by one of her classmates (NOT her teacher) that she’ll need a dSLR for GCSE art next year – apparently there’s some photography involved and “a smaller camera or phone won’t do”

    She thinks a

    EOS 1300D Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens

    fits the bill and will cost about £250

    She’s convinced of the need for this and actually could afford it with money she’s saved plus a birthday coming but I’m worried that she’s just wasting all her cash

    so,

    1) Is this any good?
    1a) Should we look at something else similar?
    1b) Is there a plausible second-hand market that a novice could tap into?

    2) Anyone know much about forthcoming GCSE art and whether this is all bollocks anyway? (my elder daughter did it without any photos but apparently this is a new thing)

    Cheers
    🙁

    Premier Icon pnik
    Subscriber

    My daughter is doing gcse art next summer and thankfully the subject of cameras hasnt come up at all, let alone a dslr

    jkomo
    Member

    Eldest did it last year, no SLR needed.

    kerley
    Member

    Hmm I think if they need one then the cheapest dslr you can get would be fine.
    eg this d50 with an excellent 18-55 lens £99

    If you do actually need one I would go down this route. Lots of older DSLRs around, could get the above, a Canon 20D and a kit lens for under £100. Would be a nice camera too.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    I have Pentax k100d DSLR, of some vintage. Takes ace pics. Cost £62 on eBay, with 18-55, 50-200 and (amazing)50mm fixed lens of some 40 years vintage.
    The nice bit about Pentax is backwards compatible lenses, uber cheap…

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    morning all – thanks for the comments

    pretty much as I expected from colournoise, but good to know this really is the case (you’ll note that she has waited until after the end of term to broach this “urgent” need – she’s not daft!)

    I honestly don’t think she’s interested in learning about photography – she just fancies some flashy gear (“…and what’s wrong with that?” comes the chorus from a bike forum 😉 ). That’s fine, and I guess she can sell it on when the inevitable happens.

    My “job” here is to make the facts clear so she can make her own mistakes. Any further thoughts welcomed !

    stevextc
    Member

    Any DSLR will do … and as its not actually needed/required

    I’d push her towards something with plenty of cheap lenses and cheap external flash triggers though…

    If she buy’s anything used f2.8 or better in a zoom and f1.4 or better in a fixed lens they will sell for what she pay.s (A few exceptions perhaps being in ultra wide angle under 20 degrees where a smaller aperture lens is fine)

    I’d avoid paying extra for anything with a crap zoom lens thrown in…. (i.e. anything >f2.8 will also have crap optics and unbearable amounts of chromatic aberration) .. in practice that means avoid anything like the super zooms like 17-210mm …

    I’ve got a few fully manual lenses .. like an old 105mm macro … paid peanuts for it and could sell it for the same amount of peanuts… so if she wants to play then you don’t lose much money on something like this… get bored with taking Macro’s and sell for what she paid ….

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    I’d avoid paying extra for anything with a crap zoom lens thrown in…. (i.e. anything >f2.8 will also have crap optics and unbearable amounts of chromatic aberration) .. in practice that means avoid anything like the super zooms like 17-210mm …

    She’s a high school student, not David Bailey. A “crap” kit lens will be perfectly fine. In fact after what the OP has just said, she’d be better served with a point & shoot.

    stevextc
    Member

    She’s a high school student, not David Bailey. A “crap” kit lens will be perfectly fine. In fact after what the OP has just said, she’d be better served with a point & shoot.

    A crap kit lens isn’t going to let her play with depth of field for example … it’s not really something to play with and then perhaps get bored… the choice just isn’t available.

    You can buy a 50mm f2.8 or better much cheaper than the crap zoom….

    A friend of mine was showing me photo’s a while ago on a iphone3 or 4 screen and after about 2 minutes I told him which lenses he had.. (both nasty kit lenses) simply due tot he distortion, chromatic abherbation and lack of detail …So he mightiest well in many ways have been using a P&S …

    If you are gong to the bother of a DSLR instead of the many excellent P&S/Bridge type cameras then you might as well get decent glass…. which sells for the same as you pay anyway.

    What most other people said, although Im not sure where stevextc gets his numbers from, f1.4 is at the very expensive end of primes and f2.8 is beyond what most zoom lenses under four figues will achieve too. You can get cheap lenses with good f numbers too, and they’re crap. So buying by f numbers is a futile exercise.

    Id get the oldest and best camera you can, if shes more interested in the photography than the photograph then things like seperate dials for appeture and exposure are easier to work with than newer entry level cameras with only one dial and a switch button.

    Pentax have a huge back catalogue of lenses that still work with their DSLRs. The downside is everyone else knows this and the good ones are not cheap. For example the pentax 50mmm f1.4 is about 4x the price of the canon (but is metal not plastic). And getting 3rd party lenses for pentax feels like a ripoff as pentax bodies often have focus drives and inbuilt shake reduction, but you still pay more than the cannon or nikon mount lenses (which have those in the lense) for the same lense without. The upside is if you buy sensibly (wait for sales or s/h) lenses dont lose value.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Subscriber

    I agree with lots of stuff said on here but many seem to be ignoring the OP’s daughter’s budget.

    I’d recommend MBP for secondhand gear graded for quality and with a warranty.

    kerley
    Member

    A friend of mine was showing me photo’s a while ago on a iphone3 or 4 screen and after about 2 minutes I told him which lenses he had.. (both nasty kit lenses) simply due tot he distortion, chromatic abherbation and lack of detail

    Guessing his camera and/or lenses were faulty if you can gather than from an iPhone screen.

    Kit lenses are more than good enough for school based work but would also be worth having a cheap prime low aperture lens as they can be had for £50.

    Saying that, for school I would think an old Fuji X10 would do as allows the manual adjustments, IQ is good enough etc,.

    In steve’s deffence, the solution to any issue is usualy to replace the kit lense. So guessing that his friend hadn’t upgraded them and blaming any flaws on that isn’t hard.

    The caveat to that is that a bridge/mirrorless camera isn’t going to be any better for the same budget. It may even be worse if it’s trying to cover an even bigger zoom range. And f numbers become meaningless as you move away from SLR cameras, most phones will have incredibly low f numbers on their lenses as its related to the size, yet are still rubbish in low light or high speed.

    You don’t need a DSLR, I did GCSE Art and unless you are doing a very photo heavy montage based piece or want a good excuse to get a camera don’t get one!

    Current phone cameras are all you need for GCSE Art its about getting the correct shape and colour of an object not how sharp and cool it it. You want good photos that your phone will take.

    I used a DSLR cos I had one already but what I used it for was the same things my friends used their phones for I was just showing off tbh…

    Photos in GCSE Art are for either recording the progress of work or getting composition from primary research. Or just go onto Google images and call it secondary research or what my friend did and went onto Flickr and…

    BTW I got an A and so did my non cheating friends with phones

    If she insists check out the Nikon One series on MPB photography, cheap and good. I have a V1 and J1.

    stevextc
    Member

    What most other people said, although Im not sure where stevextc gets his numbers from, f1.4 is at the very expensive end of primes and f2.8 is beyond what most zoom lenses under four figues will achieve too. You can get cheap lenses with good f numbers too, and they’re crap. So buying by f numbers is a futile exercise.

    RRP for the Nikkor 50mm prime f1.8 is about £100
    My sigma 70-210 f2.8 is not at all bad … RRP new is £560 (The glass is fine but it’s heavier than a more expensive lens)

    Obviously you can do some in depth investigation on lenses before buying … but I don’t think the OP or daughter are ready so a general guide is if they have a decent aperture and are made of glass 😀 they will be better than a kit lens…

    Guessing his camera and/or lenses were faulty if you can gather than from an iPhone screen.

    Well yes and no …. the Nikkor 18-200 VR kit lens is a fundamentally flawed lens … some (the best) are merely very bad lenses whilst some are barely a lens at all… more a few bits of transparent material chucked in a tube … and even on an old iPhone you can see when the VR is on ….so all of them are faulty if by not fault you man able to take a photo that doesn’t shout the model of the lens

    At the time it wasn’t that long (perhaps 6 months) after I’d been looking at hundreds of photo’s per lens by lens every day…so i was just well trained into spotting specific lens defects …

    I couldn’t do it now…. I was just practiced …. combined with …..

    In steve’s deffence, the solution to any issue is usualy to replace the kit lense. So guessing that his friend hadn’t upgraded them and blaming any flaws on that isn’t hard.

    Yes, in part I knew the options for kit lenses .. and the photo’s technical problems specifically matched one.

    The thing is about a month later (after we knew each other at work and found out we had similar interests and lived about 5 miles apart) we went out one weekend and I loaned him my not that more expensive Sigma f2.8 .. (which I’d bought used anyway)

    Premier Icon Tiger6791
    Subscriber

    I’ve got an EOS 350d with box and the EF 18-55 kit lens and two batteries.

    Light use and it good condition with original boxes etc.

    Just about to chuck it on eBay, they seem to go for £140 would take £100 for a quick easy sale and avoid ebay

    It takes very good photos, only changed it as I wanted video

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    Thanks all, had a bit of a result in that we’ve been offered the loan of one for the summer. I’m guessing she’ll have a much better idea of whether she has a genuine interest in the subject by then

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