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Sunday, 07 April 2013


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How about a used Nikon D3100? The VR kit lens is OK and the 35G 1.8 would give him an excellent 50mm equivalent.

Not sure this ticks all the boxes, but given his interest in fisheye then I would think a full frame camera is the best bet. An original Canon 5D might suit. Main weak point would be the AF (but of course that depends what he's used to). On the plus side I'd say the 5D is the most SLR like DSLR I've used, which might make the transition easier.


My best advice as a former lecturer would be to find out which system the college uses, it will be either Canon or Nikon and then get one of the entry level DSLRs for that. This will give access to the pool of college equipment.

Nikon D7000 for about 500 dollars second hand 16 Mpixel and even 12 Mpixel is enough for an Anna Wintour pleasing Vogue cover.....

SamYang 8 mm Fisheye.....sharp as hell at 5.6....349 dollar new at BHPHOTO (you can add the link yourself Mike) about 250 second hand.

18 till 200 travelzoom VRII, second hand about 500 dollars....

Greets, Ed.

D700 - sturdy, fast, tested&true, available in all stages of usedness, lots of lenses of all kinds of brands to choose from. Good luck, Nate!

The Nikon FM3D. Oh, wait, they don't make that one, do they :-)

In that case, a Nikon D2h is the most responsive "cheap" camera around. And the VF is nice, too. And a fish-eye converter could be a cheapskate solution for the fishy bits.

Honestly an old nex or m4:3 would be my recommendation, they sometimes go for really cheap. If fisheye is really a desire then m4:3 gives nice access to CCTV fisheyes. One could be up and running for less than 400$ with a 100mm eq and some pseudo-wide.

If there is slightly more budget: 5D classic + 50mm f1.8 + the cheapest possible flash.

Camera: Nikon D300 - excellent speed and autofocus for sports etc. Good low light performance. Commander mode flash. No video unless you went for the D300S, which will be more expensive.

Fisheye lens: Samyang 8mm f/3.5, or Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8 if (funds permit). Samyang is manual focus, and there are two F-mount variants. I have the later one, with electrical contacts. Always lifts the spirits using that lens, by its sheer madness. Can't help but laugh. Usually set to focus at about two feet, and f/8. It's available for other camera mounts too.

Camera and lens: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-qt3ScZDHBOI/Tv-bKGoYaNI/AAAAAAAAp6E/OZoHE3Q1Rhs/s1024/DSC_9118.jpg

Does he have any lenses that he could use on a digital camera?

Nikon D90 (or D300); Canon EOS 50D.

Looks to me you have described the Nikon D7000. It won't be obsolete so soon and is an extremely capable camera, intuitive to use and very responsive. And, with the new D7100 around, it will soon be available for a good price at the second hand market.
As for the film apprenticeship, it is actually not so unusual. In my town there is an excellent man called Raul Sá Dantas, who owns a photography store and organizes workshops on developing techniques and film photography; he's been very successful since he started promoting those workshops, and the attendants are all very young. It's something of a rarity, of course, but the number of young people turning to film is steadily increasing. Maybe some youngsters are reacting to the nonsense that pervades the photographic industry by searching for the true foundations of photography. Or maybe they're just fascinated by techniques they didn't know because they were raised in the digital era. When I walk the streets of my town I see many young people with film cameras, and they're not necessarily hipsters. It's an attitude - probably the same that made me turn to vinyl records some thirteen years ago after being frustrated with CD. It's not nostalgia, rather a symptom of the saturation induced by the endless quest of the industry for syphoning all our money with useless novelties.

A used Nikon D3100, D5100, D7000, D90 or D5000. A lot of people are upgrading to full frame and high-pixel cameras, so there should be a lot of used bodies around. Used 35/1.8 DX (cheap!) and/or kit zoom. There's the 10.5mm DX Fisheye and Nikon has a few older manual fisheyes, though some may need mirror lock-up. I guess other brands have the equivalent.

Pentax K20 K7 or K5 with Zenitar 16mm f2.8 FE.

Affordable, versatility and huge range of cheap adaptable lenses. And keeps up the tradition of using Pentax in a student program.

Pentax K5, Samyang Fisheye, one Samyang lens for Video 85 f1.4, Tamron 17-50 f2.8

Not based on much direct experience but my suggestion: my friend raves about his new Canon 60D but when I was helping him research it seems like the 50D is only missing a few (non-essential IMO) features but is around 60% of the price of the 60D.
Samyang make an 8mm fisheye lens for all the major brands, $300 on ebay.

At the risk of starting a partisan bunfight, go Nikon. Compatibility back to '59 is a very attractive option (yeah, I know it's not all lenses, but it's a lot of great glass) so he can get serious glass for very little. Bodies are almost give-away nowadays. If the OM lenses worked on new Dolys (they don't do they?), that would be another great option. My advice: buy the Nikon 35 or 28 you have been talking about lately, as much body as you can afford, and Robert's your Mother's brother. Then it's f8 and be there, as all PJ's will tell you.


It may not be inside the price range restrictions, but maybe what I use daily in my newspaper work is available used at a reasonable cost. I find the Nikon D700, with the MB-D11 battery pack to be ideal. It gives wonderful results in very low light; perfectly useable to ISO 3,200 (today's [4.7.13] lead picture at www.heraldnews.com was shot at 3,200). The sensor is full-size; FX-in Nikonspeak, so fisheye lenses will produce fish-like results. And the battery pack allows shooting sports or anything else at 8 frames per second, when set to "rock & roll".

Good shooting,

Jack Foley, The Herald News

Nikon D7000. By all accounts (I don't own one), terrific 16.2mpx sensor and excellent all-round usability. DX (APS-sized) sensor, so fairly small, light and reasonably inexpensive. Widely available s/h especially now that it has been overtaken by the new D7100.

And Nikon make a little gem of a 10mm fisheye for DX-sensor cameras. I have had one of those; wonderful.

Dead Easy, I'd 've thought: a 2nd hand Canon 5D (mk I, that is). Makes wide angle / fisheye look as intended on a 35mm frame size, not too expensive 2nd hand, solid as a rock (well, mine seems to be), a useful but not OTT file size and prints well to and beyond A3+. Controls are (to me) quite easy and fall directly to hand without much need for thinking. What's not to like?

Oh, not "current"; and somewhat "old fashioned" - especially if teamed-up with old-fashioned (ie. inexpensive) EF lenses.

Capable but not flashy.

Personally, I like it and suspect it would admirably fit the stated requirements. However, I also expect it's too recent to be "cool" while too far behind the bleeding edge to be "modern". Which might rule the idea out-of-bounds entirely unless "functional" works as it should.

...Mike F

I got a manual focus Samyang 8mm f/3.5 crop sensor format 180 degree diagonal fisheye a few months ago, which seems to perform quite well on my Pentax K20D, and is about half the price of AF fisheyes. I think Samyang lenses are available for all major mounts, but with different levels of exposure automation depending on the mount.

I have also seen "fisheye adapters", a bit like closeup supplementary lenses, advertised, and a friend who used one on Canon EOS film seemed very happy, but I haven't seen results myself.

As the tight budget seems to play a big role in his decission, I would go for a used 4/3 (not m4/3) professional camera, i.e. the E-3. Waterproof. Great lenses. Works forever. They are unbeliefably inexpensive on the used market now - as the future of 4/3 is not entirely foreseeable yet. Anyhow, the lenses work well with adapters on m4/3 cameras, so at least there is some future. Best regards, Markus

I'm always surprised by how damn good a canon 500/550d can be, and a 50mm and a 28mm are cheap But a brand new Panasonic Gx1 on amazon is $250!!! my good friend who works in an ad agency has one with a few cheao m43 primes so takes a lot of images uses one and they end up publishing a lot of the GX1's photos over the in-house photographers 5d mark 3. Everyone says the best camera is the one you have on you which is why I believe micro 4/3 is the bees knees.

And a GX1 almost looks rangefinderish to pass off on faux photojournalism...

Having been through the same problem in my photo school days a few years back, I would say a brand new (to get the best possible sensor) low-tier canon or nikon dslr. They take a beating for the money, are good value and will last for a good while if bought new. Or for even more savings, go a generation back and get an used one. I would not be afraid of starting out with the lowest model line as the sensors in those are still plenty good for even professional work in a pinch.

A cheap K-01 using a $10 LCD-V1 + MF with Focus Peakig for the action photography?

No need for AF on fisheye either, have a look at the 8mm Samyang.

Well, I know someone wh's got a K-5 they don't need. And there's all those old Pentax lenses that can be used. Fish-eye, I don't know. You didn't say if it was circular or rectilinear

An EOS 5D (original version) would be good if you can get one second hand. I've had mine for 6 years and I'm still impressed, even though I have more recent models. Good selection of lenses..... ;-)

Nb this is on eBay


He says the mirror is off, but this is a fault in the original 5D that Canon repair free of charge. Mine was repaired a few years ago and has been good as new ever since.

Used cameras. There are two options that I would look at. I would go to someplace like KEH (no affiliation, satisfied customer etc.) and get a Sony NEX 3 ($172 in LN condition) an adapter and used, orphan manual focus lenses (Konica AR, Pentax thread mount (e.g. 35/2 = $69)).

Or in SLR a Canon D30 or D60 for ($65-80) OR a Nikon D100 ($109) and the best lens he can afford for either. I know you said "action" (sports? dance?) I don't think there is a cheap, fast, robust, modern option here. Better IMHO to get decent quality manual focus glass (which is cheap BECAUSE it is obsolete) and get proficient at using it. Generations of PJs did just fine with manual focus lenses and this kid will too.

For a college budding photojournalist, the current mad, short, product cycle works in his/her favor as perfectly good cameras are now deemed obsolete. No college paper is ever going to need all 6MP of the data that cameras were producing 7-10 years ago.

The cheapest fisheyes that I know of are all Rokinon (or OEM but same lens) 8mm or so. I have one of these for m-4/3 and it is a great little lens. Does what it is supposed to and cheap. Made in FF for Nikon and Canon too . . .

A little less than a year ago I bought a second-hand Nikon D700. I got it for a little less than half of the retail price at time of introduction. After the release of the D800 even more D700 have leaked onto the second-hand market, pushing the prices even further down, at least here in Norway. I don't know anything about the US market, but I would guess you can get a lot of bang for your bucks if you go for a D700.

I think the D700 is a good allround camera, with great choice of lenses, fantastic IQ and STN-ratio. Only miss the Quiet-mode from newer bodies, and some might miss HD-video...

Fisheye lenses might be more of an issue. I guess you can go really cheap to get to experiment without robbing a bank, by buying a Samyang or something. Fullframe Nikkor fisheye lenses will set you back quite a bit.

PS: My girlfriend mentions a Canon 7D (or even a 5DmkII) might be a good choice too!

Well, if he's really doing film then I would say some sort of mechanical camera. Of course in 35mm something in the FM series springs to mind, but also Pentax MX or (better) LX. But Minolta had a couple of tank bodies too. I'm sure there's stuff in Canon and Oly too.

Pentax and Minolta have the advantage of some cheap used glass, and at least the Pentax glass was excellent.

I would have said go MF, though, until that fisheye bit. I still think MF is what I'd advise, because the fisheye bit to me is tail wagging dog. This past fall I got a Pentax 645N & back with a 75mm AF lens and an MPC Pola Back (!! not that I'll use it...)for $350. I added a wide and a short tele, another back, a flash, a grid screen, plus some other gidgets and gadgets and the whole shebang only cost about $900. Can't beat that with a stick.

Canon 1D Mark II, priced between $350 and $500 in very used condition. I used a pair of these for five years and they are excellent cameras. Built like a tank. Amazing autofocus. 8 frames per second. Good quality 8 megapixel images that print well on a two-page magazine spread.

The 1.3x crop factor is minimal and allows use of a fisheye, though of course it's not the whole 180 degree coverage.

They take some getting used to, as the user interface is different from most other cameras (there is an interlock that requires pressing two buttons to set anything, which means it doesn't change settings if you bump it.)

I still have mine, and one of my (college) students uses them very happily. They are still be used professionally somewhere, I am sure.

My advice would be a used mid-line crop-sensor body from N or C. Play with the camera to see how you like the AF and the viewfinder. Get a couple of zoom lenses. Done.

Whatever the camera, an M42 adapter would allow use of a Peleng 8mm and more.

I think he should get a used camera and think about systems. For example stick with Nikon or Canon.
He should buy zoom lenses that way he has several focal length at his disposal . Bill

The D7000 seems right to me. Very affordable, still very good, and can mount and meter pretty much any Nikkor lens back to AI. Plus, the impending D7100 release should drop a number onto the market.

It's probably not the cheapest option, but I'd look for a used D700.

I'm not sure how tight we're talking here, but I've found that as far as bang for buck goes you can't do much better than the original 5D. The image quality is top notch even today (I've always found there was something special about the 5D's look), and they can be picked up at a decent rate on eBay.

Perhaps it's a bit out of the budget, but it has worked for me and I'm not exactly flush with cash.

Nikon D300, for less than $600 used, robust build quality for durability, responsive- quick enough for sports, and able to meter with MF lenses. Samyang 8mm fisheye, less than $300 new. But try and borrow a fisheye for awhile. Anyone that has one will let you try it simply because they are not using them.

As a working journalist I can't think of a better purchase than a used d700. It is still the best camera I have owned, fantastic in low light, rugged, autofocus is the best in it's class, metering puts the canons to shame. The only thing it lacks is the extra pixels, at 12mp, but those twelve are excellent and post process extremely well. Lenses on the other hand... Now that's the tricky part. I'd go for a used 24-120 f4 and get the cheapy 35mm f2 for low light.

My last DSLR before downsizing to mirrorless was a Nikon D5100. Nice compact size, articulating screen and the renowned 16mp Sony sensor. There is a DX 10.5mm f2.8 fisheye Nikkor available. After the introduction of the D5200 I wouldn't be surprised to find good deals on second hand or even remaindered new stock. The 18-55vr kit lens is not bad either.

Also consider what lens & flash mount the camera has -- if he gets something compatible with most of the local photogs he knows there's more opportunity for local advice, lending of lenses, etc..

On the other hand, the determined eccentric who gets something unlike most of the locals is forced to learn more about more kinds of gear, to learn more fundamentals, to be more ingenious.

Nikon D200s go for about $300 will support every lens Nikon made since the '70s.
When I had mine(6 years) I felt it worked a lot like my "F" bodies.

A used D300 or D7000, with under 10k actuations and in excellent condition can be had for ~600 off Craigslist.

Add a Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 lens* for ~450 and a Rokinon fisheye** and you have a complete top-quality kit for a student photographer there, one that can become a good primary kit for now and a backup for later.

All the best!

*Shameless plug- I am selling one in like-new condition for that much.
**These tend to drop in value like a tank (on the after-market) because so few people want one.

Mike and Nate: Not knowing your definition of "between tight and very tight," I'll venture to suggest the Sony SLTs (I've owned the a35 and the a57):
- Lots of features for the price.
- Some really nice, but affordable, "plastic fantastic" lenses at 35mm, 50mm and 85mm (and 55-200mm, for that matter -- I got mine for $100.).
- A large pool of affordable legacy lenses from Minolta, etc.
- Very cheap lens adapters, the kind without additional glass, that bring all those old screw-mount lenses into play. (I love my Mamiya/Sekor 55mm f1.4!)Hit the pawn shops!
The Sony SLTs are sometimes doubted because the fixed mirror just has to degrade image quality and bounce all your light away from the sensor. Use one. You won't worry about this "issue" again.
Similarly, don't dismiss these cameras because of the electronic viewfinder. You get used it quickly, and it has real advantages; it's much larger than the typical DSLR OVF, and it gives you WYSIWYG "pre-chimping."
While these cameras are not the perfect sports-action cameras, their shortcomings in this area are exaggerated. Yes, if you simply hold the shutter down, the viewfinder will fall behind the action. Shoot in shorter bursts and you'll get your shots.
Forget the fisheye lens. Either borrow someone's full-frame kit or use your software to emulate the fisheye look.
- Stretch for the a57 if possible.

I would think that a D700 with some second hand glass would give him good service for years to come. I have one that I have bonded with. It is a very good general purpose body. My favorite lenses are 16-35VR. 50/1.4G, 60G micro and 85/1.8D.

I would love a 35/1.4 to go with it. That and a 2nd body would be Mikes perfect setup. I really love your article:


Camera: Bite the bullet and get:

Body: Nikon.
D7100 DSLR Camera (Body Only from B&H)@ $1,196. Go to dpreview to see why. This is the best bang for the buck camera I've seen, ever. With this body, you will be able to use Nikkor legacy lenses, and have the capability of growing the system as your needs grow.

Fisheye: 8mm Ultra Wide Angle f/3.5 Fisheye Lens for Nikon F Mount. Here are the specs.

For APS-C Size Image Formats;
Hybrid Aspherical Lenses -- Sharp Images;
Multi-Layer Coating to Reduce Flare;
Manual Focus Lens;
Minimum Focusing Distance of 12";
Built-In Petal-Type Lens Hood.
A GREAT LENS: Bower version @ $249, Rokinon version @ $269. Available at B&H.

Portrait and normal lens options:
Nikon offers a terrific array of 50mm lenses starting at around $125. If 35mm is more to your liking check out thr AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens for $200.

Why by used when affordable, new equipment under warranty is available?

If I was a poor college student, I'd pick up a part-time job or maybe two for a couple of months to pay it off. If said college student has a decent credit history, he/she could purchase a decent kit, interest-free for six months through "Bill Me Later" at B&H or Amazon.

Negative advice first: the cheapest Nikon bodies come without screw-drive AF but their kit lenses have focus motors. That can be cheap to start but cuts out older Nikkor screw-drive lenses that don't have focus motors. I'm not saying don't buy Nikon: just be aware of the potential future costs.

Twin or single control dials? Twin gives a lot more ease of control but is more expensive. I started with single dial and got horribly frustrated with needing to use menus so much; but hosts of users are happy that way.

For the convenience of twin dials and decent - but not, of course, state of the art - IQ I'd suggest Pentax K20D (but advise strongly against the K10D). It has half-way tolerable LV, in-body stabilisation of all lenses and is WR.

The current Pentax range of lenses is narrower than others but covers all but longer tele FLs. There are probably more still-compatible used K-mount lenses on the market than all others combined.

Don't be stupid stick to film, buy a better scanner!

I'd recommend an older Canon 1 series camera. They are big and heavy but very responsive. They are built like a tank and available at a good price in the used market. The reason to recommend Canon over Nikon is Nikon USA's repair policy. This from Roger Scala's blog post at Lens rentals: "... I’m a fanatic about customer service and repairs. That’s a big edge to Canon USA compare to Nikon USA right now (it’s different in different countries), and right now is when I’m making my decision. Fanboys can go off as much as they want, but I handled several thousand repairs last year. Nikon takes, on average, three times as long at double the cost. (Lensrentals insider joke: What do you call a D800 with a scratched sensor? Parts. Because at $1,800 for a sensor replacement . . . )".

Plenty of Canon and third-party lenses available including fisheye. Good luck to Nate!

It might well depend on what is available, rather than an optimum choice. Some sort of DX Nikon, or an older model of Canon 5D perhaps?

Exotic lenses, not in regular use, might best be hired - if he is in a part of the world where that is possible of course.

Get a used crop sensor Canon. Lots of cheap used lenses around, no L glass obviously. For the fisheye, find one of those converters, they will fit a few of the older kilt zooms and give you the look and can be lots of fun. You never get the IQ for Internet pixel peepers but you can get interesting images and learn a lot

I happen to use Sony gear so I do not feel qualified to recommend any other. With that in mind may I suggest that Nate investigate the Sony A700. I can say this machine is very well made and in my experience is very rugged. It should last him. To go with it I suggest the Sony 16-105 mm zoom. I understand that this lens was designed specifically for the A700. The last time checked the A700 is selling for $300 to $400 for the body only.

Nikon D7000, or it's progenitor the D90. Well built, responsive to action, and very good IQ. Both can be had used (thanks, D600 and D7100!) for decent prices of around $500-700, and if you stick to the primes, the old and new Nikkors available for it are quite good.

As for fisheye views, the Nikkor 10.5mm is a peach, but I would strongly recommend the Tokina 10-17mm "zoom fisheye" for experimenting with fishy-ness (says a guy who owns no less than 8 fisheye lenses).

Furthermore, Nate, remember to take as many photos as you can, have fun and don't read photo-gearhead forums! ;)

Canon 5D. Still use mine along with newer bodies. FF, still common batteries, plenty are available used and in good condition, accepts 100s of old lenses via adapters as well as AF Canon mounts, ...

The Samyang 8mm fisheye is available in just about any mount. So that's not going to lock you into any brand.

Used Pentax K-r's are getting quite affordable, just saw one listed for $325 on Pentax Forums with the kit lens. It's from the first generation of Pentax DSLR's with really good low-light performance. Light and small, but takes good pictures. Pentax is notable for their Fisheye zooms, like the DA 10-17mm, but they're not cheap.

That said, no DSLR line has a wider variety, and greater supply, of used lenses than Nikon. But, the problem is that Nikon "consumer" DLSR's are designed to not work with the old lenses, you have to buy the more expensive ones to do that. I don't know the product line enough to know what to suggest.

It would be easier to know Nate's actual budget. My thoughts are that below a certain threshold (in the $200-300 range)You are getting an older consumer quality camera that might or might not crap out at any time. I know Nikon the best, so that's what I'll recommend, obviously there are other great choices from other manufacturers.

If he can stretch to make it happen, I suggest something like this:


...coupled to an 18-55 VR (pretty good cheap DX lens) to get started.


Canon SLR stuff is probably the best value proposition, especially is speed/responsiveness is a factor. I love my mirrorless cameras but if both speed and low cost are important, I don't l know of many good options there.

Just taking a peak at the B&H used section, there's a cheap ($350ish) 40D body, a little more on the dated side but still a very solid all around camera. Decent sensor, good AF system at 6.5 FPS, solid build with weatherproofing, and a relatively decent viewfinder. Nothing sexy about it at all, but I'm sure there's still more than a few pros out there making a living with those things.

You could get a fancier sensor in one of the newer consumer Rebel models, but those bodies have always felt chintzy to me, they're slower, the viewfinders aren't as good... yes, you get ISO 85 gazillion and live view, but you're giving up a lot in overall camera functionality.

As far as the fish-eye thing goes, just buy the cheapest one possible, which is usually some kind of Russian made thing on eBay, or maybe some sort of plastic toy lens that's available. Personally I see lower optical quality in a fisheye as more a feature than a bug.

My local shop has a couple Canon Xti's for $150. As you know, it's all in the lens and that's where he's going to have to spend some money.


Nikon D5200 with 18-105 fit lens. Samyang 8mm FE.

Or buy a used Nikon D7000, or Canon t4i.

Canon Rebel XS. Tough camera,only 10mp but great pix. Can be had from one of your sponsors for $300 including 18-55mm lens battery, charger etc.Obviously, many EF lens options available as well as old FD lenses with an inexpensive adapter. This was my first DSLR and has since been handed down to son. Can't go wrong

I am not a Canon fan but they do make reasonably good cameras. May I suggest the Canon EOS Rebel T3 with 18-55mm IS & 75-300mm USM Kit. This slightly older 12mp camera kit can be found at Camera Canada for $529. It is new, warrantied, covers 18 to 300 with a small gap and would be great for your young friend.


Three separate questions, really: photojournalism camera, very tight budget, fisheye.

If the student is serious about photojournalism (s)he should contact the school and see what's recommended; some schools with pj programs have lockers of lenses for pj majors to use, but they tend to be Nikon and/or Canon.

You can get decent micro 4/3 bodies at dirt-cheap closeout prices (eg GX1 body for $275, or kit for under $400), and a Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 for under $300. Will that be the absolutely best combo for photojournalism? No, but one can make do.

If cash is tight, it's pretty hard to beat a 5D mark 1 body with the old Canon 35mm/2.0 for photojournalism.

Add the 85/1.8 for faces, and you'd be set up.

If I was broke, and had to start again, I'd go straight out and buy that.


Rokinon make an 8mm f3.5 fisheye in EF mount - there's a new one on the big auction site for $288. Mount that on a used original 5D, a camera which is still capable of excellent IQ and can be had very cheaply (check that it's had the mirror fix). Just my 2 cents.

Can't go wrong with a Nikon D300S. Several of my photojourno friends continue to use them with excellent results. Tons of lens options.

I would suggest either a lightly used Nikon D3 for FF, or an D300s for crop.
Both are fast cameras and capabable for action. 12mpix should be plenty.

"Money is tight" can mean very different things to different people. If you don't get obsessed with specs, then any DSLR should be fine. My wife still uses my old Nikon D40 and it is still capable of capturing some great photos, even at 6MP. You can likely find a used one with a kit lens for $200 or less.

The Samyang 8mm fisheye is a fun lens for around $300 new. It is comoletely manual though. On a lower end camera (like the D40) even metering won't work. Still even without a light meter it only takes a little trial and error to figure out the exposure.

Used and cheap with action sports worth AF -

Nikon D300 ~$550
Nikon D200 ~$200
Samyang DX Fisheye ~$200
Nikon DX Fisheye ~$400

What a wonderful puzzle for the morning! I'm really hoping that the Tunley's choose to answer this one, I'm really curious to see what they would recommend!

If he was studying photography (and not photojournalism), I would suggest the cheapest refurbished NEX,(a NEX 3 is only 172$) with new-on-sale Sigma primes, the 19/2.8 and 30/2.8 for 200$ for the SET(!), and a legacy adapter (35$) with a 50mm f/1.8, (75$) and possibly a fast legacy prime like a Nikkor 100/2.5. [Total= 172+199+35+75= $481]

Since he's doing photojournalism, I would think the first, most sensible suggestion would be to talk to his professors and find out what kind of kit he actually needs, and if the school loans camera bodies or lenses to the students, as they used to in the film days.

I'm going to save camera brands to the end, and start with suggested lenses.

What you have briefly described suggests that he would need a wide-normal fast zoom, for close in reportage work, since the most interesting reportage is of people doing things with/to other people. Wide angles of view are essential for preserving information on how people's bodies relate to one another. On campus, that would cover the majority of situations, including meetings, crowds, conferences, presentations, and police ticketing cars, about half of which would be in mediocre light. The Tamron 17-50/2.8 comes to mind. (26mm to 75mm-equivalent, aboout 500$ new, which isn't super-cheap, but is cheaper than primes that would cover those focal lengths and faster than any kit zoom.)

Favorite low-light subjects like dance, basketball, and theater, call for a mix of fast standard and tele lenses. On the cheap, a fast normal prime, like a 35mm/1.8 (under 250$) and a legacy autofocus prime like a 50/1.8 (under 75$) only offer but a single stop's improvement over the Tamron, and are inside the covered focal lengths, but might be worth considering. Alternatively, a 85mm/2.8 prime (127mm-equivalent) is about 300, though Rokinon has a manual 85/1.4 for the same price. For active subjects at static distances, like theater, I would consider that very seriously. (And refer him to Ctein's article on using one!)

I would also suggest the cheapest slow tele-zoom he could find. Right now the winner for price is the Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 for 145$. Most things he'd be reporting on where you'd need a 105-450 equivalent are outside, and have at least mediocre light on them, which would be adequate for college football or soccer, and at maximum aperture he'd still probably not have _enough_ depth of field for most things.

What about fisheye lenses? Manual focus is just fine for such wide work, so a Rokinon (Samyang, etc) 8mm f/3.5 is new at 270$. The next best deal would be to buy a refurbished micro 4/3 camera, with the Olympus kit zoom that takes a fisheye adapter, though I can't recall the model number. They are supposed to be quite nice, though I've never played with one.

So, what camera brand? It probably doesn't make much difference, and I'm sure the brand-partisans here will make their arguments known. Action photography and responsiveness suggest a Sony A55; the SLT design permits continuous phase-detect tracking, a top speed of 10fps, and no mirror blackout, which should be enough to catch most things. (Though Thom Hogan would point out that the key to capturing the decisive moment is anticipating it and not capturing the moment directly before and after.) The sensor is the same very nice, previous generation sensor as in the K-5, so the low-light capability is great, and the flip-out/flip-around screen is very helpful for close in work, and anytime less-threatening body language is needed while photographing. Also, I've used one, and liked it a great deal. The Alpha mount variant of the cheap 35/1.8 is particularly nice; light as a feather and more than sharp enough. In the interests of saving money, pretty much any Sony SLT could be interchanged for the A55, though. Right now A33's are only 310$, and A55's are only 379$. (True DSLR A330's are 205$, but that's a little too hairshirt for me!)
[Total= A55 for 379, Sigma & Tamron zooms, 643, fisheye 270, 85mm prime, 300 = $1592]
[Alternatively, A33 for 310, Sigma & Tamron zooms, 643, Minolta 50mm/1.7, 75 = $1028]
[Super-Cheap, A33 for 310, kit lens for 41$, Sigma tele zoom for 145, Minolta 50mm/1.7 for 75= $571]
[My personal choice would be = A55 for 379, Tamron wide zoom for 500, get the rest later, as needed = $879]
Will Frostmill

We're going aps-c, but there is a full frame option out there (5d mk 1) but its too slow for action sports. And its nikon oriented.

I just got out of school a few years ago, so I understand how tight money is. But I also know that you need to really stretch to get the equipment you need. So here's my suggestion.

Start with a used Sigma 17-50 F2.8 DC OS ($500)
This is your everything lens. Its wide enough and long enough to be useful in a lot of situations. Especially pj work. And action sports.

Really, I would just stop there, and add in a telephoto later once you know you need it.

Your options:
A used Nikon 80-200mm. Old version ($500)
You COULD get a variable zoom (like the 70-300), but you'll end up with a 2.8 anyways in the end. Unless you want light, or you're not sure you'll use the tele a lot.

There's your lenses. Beg borrow steal or rent a fisheye. If in a photo school, they most likely have a gear pit, so rent one from them. Dont buy one right now. Make sure its something you really need to have. Most often, you'd be better off with a wide angle zoom.

Your lenses are good. That 80-200 could last you forever, and a format switch if you bump to full frame ever.

So the body. I have two options.
A used d7000 ($700)
Or a used d200 ($300)

Both have good buffers, high fps, and built really well. The d200 will show its age once over ISO 800, but otherwise its still solid, and built like a tank. My favorite all time camera (but I used it and only it for four years, so Im biased).

So you can get started for under 1K with the mid range and the d200, or you can go up to 2K for the newer body.

Good luck!

Boring but probably sensible: Any CaNikon rebel class camera. Large used cam selection, lots of lenses, good support and repair system. Decent output. It basically boils down to the amount of dollars vs recentness of camera. EOS 600 or 650 will do nicely.
However boring this choice is, its probably unavoidable. Odd choices and quirky preferences are for people with several bank accounts full of idle money...

I would just tell him to figure out his price limit, then go on-line to Adorama and B&H and check out their used Canon and Nikon DSLR listings, sorted by price low to high, and look for what shows up near his limit that includes a lens (almost always it's the standard kit lens), and has a condition rating in the top two or three categories (check out what the categories mean at both companies first). I'd give a slight nod to an older but higher end model to a newer but lower end model, but maybe that's just me. Download a manual off the net. And not to forget that he'll need a memory card and a reader and some software too, and possibly a battery also (he should check to see if that's included with the camera).

Alternatively, I would suggest that he ask Zander to ask his Dad to figure out the best or at least a very good available choice for some total amount and have him buy that. — This is probably the better alternative, at least for Nate . . . .

If maximum flexibility and performance for minimum cost are the main drivers, a couple of pieces of general advice:

1) If you're buying used, try B&H, KEH, Adorama, eBay, your local camera store (buy from somewhere with at least a 30-day return policy & offers some warranty, even if you have to pay a nominal fee for it)
2) Buy Canon or Nikon; largest number of inexpensive second-hand and 3rd-party lenses available, including cheap fisheyes from Korea. Also much easier to find cheap 3rd-party accessories for these two brands (TTL flash, remote cords, battery packs etc.). Pentax is also a good brand for plentiful cheap used manual-focus lenses.

Don't know about Canon, but Nikon D80's are going for low three-figure sums (
$200-300) and represents the minimum in terms of "prosumer" specs, fast responsiveness and non-obsolescense (is that a word?). D80 also works with all Nikon-compatible AF lenses whereas some other models only work with newer AF-S lenses, cutting you out of a big pool of used glass. If you also want to work with manual-focus Nikkors with auto metering, you have to upgrade to the Nikon D200, which adds another $100-200.

Oh, and set some money aside for Lightroom or Aperture. Both are available with steep student discounts if you can prove you're in college. At our local UofT, Adobe Lightroom 4 sells for 85 bucks to holders of a current UofT ID card.

How about a used Canon 50D from KEH? It's the first Canon DSLR with a nice screen on the back. From there, a plastic 50mm for around $100 is a great choice.

Fisheye is tougher...obviously, full frame would be desirable. But fisheye need not be super expensive. The Russians make a lot of relatively inexpensive fisheyes (Zenitar et al) that are manual focus, but you don't need autofocus with fisheye.

And if he doesn't mind focusing manually, M42 lenses are plentiful, cheap, and easily mounted to EOS. I use them all the time for tripod work, and I even have a 135/3.5 lens I use when shooting video.

You can frequently find the Canon D60 on eBay for around $100. This camera may lack double-digit megapixels, but it's still capable of taking stunning photographs. I shot with one for years. Still use it as a backup. Combine it with the 50 f/1.4 and you've got a perfect beginner's camera for a couple hundred bucks.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneosd60 for a review.

Not a true 180 degree fisheye, but the Samyang 8mm is a very nice lens for APS-C and can probably be found for about $200 used.

As for the body, cameras that were solid three years ago are still really solid, so I'd imagine he can find something like a t3i or equivalent for a nice price. Or even go back an iteration, it barely matters. Get better lenses.

If I was doing photojournalism I'd make sure to get a lens equivalent to a 17-40 mm or thereabouts. I think they're like 10-20mm on APS-C. Nothing drags a viewer into a scene like an ultra wide shot right in the action.

Go to Fred Miranda's board and find an "upgrader's" low milage Nikon D300 for $450 with a spare battery and 16gb CF card. Add the older AF-D screw drive Nikkor 50/1.8 and 24/2.8 lenses ($100 and $250). Get something like the Nikon 10-24DX later, if such a need overwhelming presents itself (I hope it doesn't, such a gimmick).

While the similar vintage Canon 5D is also a bargain and offers perhaps better image quality, the Nikon has better build quality and very responsive control going for it.

The D300 is very rugged, has a bright optical finder and is good to ISO 3200 so they'll actually have to think about light and limits as they won't be able to rescue every shot in Lightroom. It arguably has the best and fastest auto-focus of any DSLR since 51 sensors practically cover the entire DX frame. The older screw drive lenses are noisier but I have found them faster focusing, more compact, and less expensive than their newer, even more plasticy counterparts. The loss of AFS is not as big a problem as I had feared, you either know you want to manually focus or not in nearly every case.

Going with Nikon (or Canon) will allow them to swap and borrow lenses, flashes, and accessories from their peers... it also opens up opportunities to be a second shooter on weddings since the main shooter will want a complimentary look to their own Nikon (or Canon) gear. And they can pick up a $40 Nikon N80 body to use with their lenses if they want to shoot some 35mm film. There are a lot of good reasons to go with a five-year old prosumer Canikon body... want me to go on?

I had the new Fuji in hand a few days ago and found it to be slower and more complex than my vintage Nikons. Sure it was lighter and cuter but that doesn't make for better photos does it?

It's actually better to be frugal... kids at RIT come with full $$$$ outfits that can shoot in the dark, so guess what... you don't need to think about light. They should really be starting out with manual 35mm film cameras.

If money is really tight I would recommend something like a D70 with an 18-70 Nikkor. You can put together this kit over at KEH for under three hundred bucks. It will make a nice 20x30 (there's one in my living room right now).
For under five bills you can step it up to a D200 with this lens. Both cameras can autofocus with any AF nikkor and also can control Nikon speedlights wirelessly.

A lot of performance for not much money.

If you have some more dough and pixel counts are a factor drop by Costco for this.


A good starting point would be the Nikon D300 paired with. While old, is not obsolete and can be had for $500.00-600.00. Nikon 50Mil,Tamron 28-75 lenses, and a Sb400 flash. The Tamron may still be a bit pricey tho.

Nikon D7000 is an excellent camera that could last a long time, and it is now available at end-of-lifecycle prices of around $800-900 new, and I believe can be had for at least a couple of hundred dollars less for slightly used. For the combination of features and quality, that's hard to beat at those prices. Nikon does have some fisheyes, and he can easily check with his local camera shop, B&H or Amazon for the going prices.

The following might be worth considering, by brand. (It might help if a $ amount was included.)

Sony: a57, maybe a77
Nikon: D5100, D5200, D7000, D300s, maybe V1
Canon: EOS 50D, 60D, maybe 7D
Panasonic: GH2

In all of the above cases the models have good still-shooting performance, plus decent-to-very good video capabilities.

FWIW, I own and have extensively used the Nikon D7000 and V1. The D7000 is the "performance" stills camera of the two. But the V1 is better for discrete shooting and video, and is still available new for under $400 with kit lens. Also I have seen Nikon 10.5mm DX fisheye lenses selling second hand for around $400-450. There is no fisheye option for the V1 at this time.

Just my $0.02. I hope this helps.

Canon "classic" 1D (the 4MB one). They are dead cheap and you get a pro sport camera with 8fps, 45 AF points, continuous AF, canon-mount, etc. The classic 1D is a CCD and not a CMOS. the drawbacks are going to be low light (more noise at high ISO). but the IQ is on-par with today's camera. All the pros were using it in early 2000's and were able take amazing photos including using it for billboards photos. For sure with 4MB you can't really crop without loosing some qualities...but this is more an advantage in my view point.

Tough one. D300?

what kind of fisheye does he want: circular or diagonal?

As in the ancient days, I think it is hard to beat ANY of the recent Pentax DSLRs. A new K30 or a recent K5 should offer far more function than Nate needs at a fair price.

Add a Rokinon 8mm lens to the kit 18-55 and it can still be less than $800 for a used K5. Go new and you'll be around $1100.

How about a gently used Nikon D300? Excellent build quality stands up to a fair amount of beating and will last quite a few years. No video capability may or may not be an issue.

There might be quite a few used D7000s available now or soon as people upgrade to the D7100. That adds video capability.

Supplement to my post above, the Canon equivalent to the Nikon D80 is the EOS Digital Rebel XTi, a.k.a. EOS 400D. The D80 has a dual-command-wheel control layout, spot metering, and goes up to 3200 ISO; the Canon is otherwise identical and can be had for even less money. In either case, the results are indistinguishably excellent.

Most DSLRs introduced after mid-2006 seem to be 'well-sorted' as dpreview likes to say. All the annoyances of the first two generations of DLSRs (small & inaccurate LCDs; small file buffers; slow startup and file writing speeds; shadow noise at low ISOs; ugly image artifacts at high ISOs; long exposure hotspots) have been completely fixed.

These cameras take great pictures, and involve no hardships or compromises to own and operate. And the 2006-2007 class of mid-range cameras can be had for a song.

Second hand Canon Rebel something or other (we call it 500D over here but I know it has a strange name in the US) would be pushing it, money wise, as it's a still a good camera. Perhaps the Canon 1000D - but it might be too limiting if he has already got good camera understanding - which I guess is the case if he has used a fair bit of film.

Of the other makers, I used to point my students towards the Olympus E series DSLRs as good cameras.

D7000's are great cameras, and are showing up for sale everywhere. I suspect people are ditching them for d600's. Consumer grade super-zooms aren't that much, and Samyang makes a lovely fisheye for cheap.

Canon 10D 6.4MP or XT 8MP body for under $100 and 18-55mm lens for under $100 (both can be founds at KEH).

Is there a need for more megapixels than that for his needs? The 10D is actually still a solid camera. The 18-55mm is a fine lens.

Action photography is kind of vague.

My dad pretty routinely shoots model airplanes that fly at around 100mph. So outdoors, comparatively bright light, but subjects that are a wee bit hard to follow. Shutter speed can be a real issue. And autofocus systems generally aren't responsive enough. Too slow. Manual focus and good depth of field help a great deal. Not all digital cameras handle manual controls very well, and when dad looked at switching to digital, that was a big factor for his decision process.

Someone doing photos of figure skaters or basketball players tho is going to have different concerns. Indoors means less light. Human sports move (somewhat) slower. You might be able to use autofocus, but things like having a person's face look like a face gets more important. And backgrounds are busier, so depth of field can make it harder to see what's going on in a picture.

In both cases, you can learn a point and shoot type camera's limitations well enough to get some pictures that work. And same goes for a film SLR. If you know what is making it hard, it's easier to work out what digital options would help. I tend to think of buying a a digital camera as being like buying film. You get a wider range of options out of one digital camera than you'd get with a single kind of film, but it's close enough. Lenses are still lenses. And lenses generally aren't cheap, and having one that does what you need is kind of a big deal. If you know you need specific things from your lenses, that may make your decision process very simple.

An old prosumer body, say, Canon 10d or Nikon d70. (I had a 10d and it produces wonderful images.) They are better built than the entry-level (say, Canon Rebel) and you can have a body + lens for ~ $250 on ebay.

Not sure about fish-eye. Maybe he can get a 50mm (a good idea anyhow) and a fish-eye filter?

Be sure to check the refurbished items at TOP links. At Adorama you can get a cheap add-on warranty if you join the VIP club.

From my perpective - Pentax for its plethora of thrift-store lenses. A gently-used K200d (if weather is a factor) or k-x body. I really like my Sigma 15 fisheye but the 8mm with many names is a bit less expensive.

Of course micro-43 can use all the thrift-store lenses with a $20 adapter, and the Lumix G1 is decent in my experience. He has many good choices on a tight budget, really!

Mike, I have a canon 40D I would let go of very inexpensively if he is interested. Feel free to shoot me an email. I have box and waranty cards. I would be glad to help out.

Canon 1dII. Only problem will be the fish-eye (and maybe the price).

As far as I understand, money is the main problem here. You don't tell if he is looking for a FF or an aps-c in your post, so I'll presume that he is considering the cheaper, i. e., the latter. A brand new pentax k-30 (BH: 584) + a new sigma 17-70 (BH: 499) could be a great combo for him—I started in digital photography with a K10D and a sigma 17-70—, besides, he could find nice 2nd hand bargains, like all the manual pentax lenses. My 2 cents.

there are a lot of used cameras from the last generation or two selling quite inexpensively on the used market.
As for a fisheye, I have been looking at the Samyang (in its various incarnations) as a reasonable entry..

Obviously depends on budget. Look for a recently superseded model (for example the Nikon D7000) and check out eBay etc. Lens could be more problematic. Currently on eBay D7000 bodies are going for around $680 and a Nikkor 10.5mm F2.8 fisheye is going for $500. Don't know if that fits the budget, or the brand.

Does it really have to be a dSLR? Does a dSLR do something that the Canon SX50 cannot?

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