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Customer Discussions > Digital SLR forum

buying a new slr camera for my daughter's graduation

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Showing 1-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 27, 2012 4:27:25 PM PDT
My daughter graduates this week and for graduation we want to get her a digital slr camera. She is going to study advertising/pr and a minor in fine arts with photography emphasis. She loves taking pictures.

What is the best camera to get for around 2,000 - would be nice to spend less. Give me your thoughts.

Posted on May 27, 2012 5:09:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 27, 2012 6:02:13 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
My daughter just finished her freshman year at a university. She is majoring in Visual Communication Design and Photography. She used her Canon XTi for most of her photography class, but, used our Canon 50D for her final project.

A Canon EOS 60D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS UD Standard Zoom Lens would be a fine choice for your daughter to start with.

That way you could afford accessories like a Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash as well as a nice prime lens like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens.

Don't forget things like memory cards, extra battery, Hoya 67mm DMC PRO1 Clear Protector Digital Filter, Hoya PRO1 Digital CIRCULAR PL - Filter - circular polarizer - 67 mm, as well as camera cases. I like the Canon Zoom Pack 1000 (Holster Style) and a Canon Deluxe Gadget Bag 100EG. These are small enough to carry both, but, large enough to hold everything she needs.

Oh, my daughter also needed a Grey Card, like the CowboyStudio Photo Studio 24 Inch Triangular Collapsible Balanced Reflector, Black/Grey/White and Silver and a Tripod, my daughter used an old one of mine, but, plan as a minimum $100 for one.

Please note, just because the 18-135 lens is good, doesn't mean the 18-200 lens is better (it's not).

edit: also at that age kids can be very brand conscious so if your daughter has her heart set on a particular brand, you are probably better off going with that one. Canon and Nikon have the largest selection of lenses and offer the best upgrade paths. Sony tends to have proprietary quirks like their flashes. Pentax and Olympus make fine cameras, but, really lack up an upgrade path.

In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2012 9:55:38 PM PDT
EdM says:
I'd mention the Nikon D7000. Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens.

However, I'd also agree with Tom that you should ask her what she wants. Cameras are personal to each person - how they fit in the user's hands, how intuitive they seem, etc. As she's going to study at a university, she might also consider what the teachers at the school might suggest, and also as to whether there is an emphasis on video, as well as their thoughts about DSLRs in a video mode [or not].

Students may on occasion be able to borrow a classmate's lens for a specific assignment, but that only works if both students are using the same brand of DSLR. Plus, some schools do have a lending ability for some gear, but that might be of one brand, e.g. All these things may bear on what is a good choice. There is always compromise involved in these decisions.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 12:19:38 AM PDT
Good advice here -- I'm sure she already had a very good idea exactly what she wants so you'd be doing her a favor to ask for a hint. Just keep in mind that you may want to set aside something extra for another lens or two and these probably won't be inexpensive.

Posted on May 28, 2012 1:15:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2012 1:17:30 AM PDT
I would also suggest the Nikon D7000. Nikon D7000 16.2 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm Lens (Black)

The D7000 is a fast camera with good performance all around. It is deep enough to keep her busy for a while mastering it. All of Nikon's best glass is compatible with the D7000.

I shot with a D90 - the D7000 predecessor - for a couple of years and moved to the D7000 last summer. I am very glad that I did.

Eventually I plan to move to a full frame Nikon. But for now, I am still mastering the D7000.

Posted on May 28, 2012 7:31:57 AM PDT
T. Campbell says:
The Canon 60D and D7000 are pro-sumer bodies with several advantages over entry level bodies. Both have better focusing systems. The 60D has some optimizations which make it especially nice for video & audio and controls are laid out more like Canon's pro bodies.

The 60D currently has an instant rebate which drops the price by $100.

I'd echo what Tom suggests... the "kit" lenses that normally come with these pro-Sumer bodies are nicer than the entry level kit lenses. But adding a nice low focal ratio prime comes in handy in low light shots.

It is nice to have a dedicated flash/speedlight rather than rely on the built-in pop-up flash? That's about $300. For Canon, get the 430EX II. For Nikon get the SB-700.

Neither camera will come with a memory card. They use SDHC memory cards. Get a "class 10" card (you can use slower cards for photos, but class 10 is preferred for video so the card can keep up with the camera.)

Can lists thei rebates & promotions here if you are interested to see what deals you can get. Any "authorized dealer" will honor these and they are "instant" rebates (price is adjusted at time of purchase -- nothing to mail-in.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 1:24:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2012 3:55:34 PM PDT
®ichard says:
Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 18-105mm and this is the first time since it was released that it is on sale or the price has drop across all retailers. Also the body only is $100 off on amazon too. The D7000 is similar to the canon 60d, but the d7000 has a metal body, but not a swivel screen. So it is a little heavier (not much, actually so lenses on it weight more) but feels sturdier. Another thing is Nikon use sony sensors, and Sony is going banana releasing new cmos sensors all the time. You get the latest technology and dynamic range when a new body comes out. Even the D3200 has a new sensor from the d3100, which was different from the d3000. Canon tend to upgrade body model, but use the same sensor, as 60d is the same as the t2i, t3i, 7D. I think they are due for a new sensor.

Photography is an expensive hobby. All the little items sneak up on you. So the Nikon D5100 16.2MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm is a cheaper option. This is the cheapest it been since it released. At $650, it came out as a $800 or 850 camera just like over a year ago. It use the same sensor as the D7000 on a beginner body. Major different like the Rebel series is the small body which is lighter for a long day. If you live in sunny weather and like to shoot wide open, the shutter speed of 1/4000 speed is slower the then d7000 1/8000. When I was in Florida I was hitting over 1/4000 on the beach consistently. My favorite lens is the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 for portrait, which is like a black hole, it sucks light, and at time I hit 1/8000 even in Seattle on a sunny day. I like my bokeh, why I buy a large aperture creamy. (Actually I have to step down to f2.2 to get sharper image, open wide at 1.4 is too soft for me). It might look good on flickr or facebook, but when you zoom in it isn't that sharp. To be honest, most shots are below 1/4000 shutter speed, just a few wide open shots are testing the limit.

I see a lot of young student photographers that do the 50mm f1.8 wide open portrait (with dress) in the field/wood photography on flickr and a lot of shots are a little overexpose on a rebel or baby nikon body. These photos gets more views then any other type on flickrs, some kind of artsy movement they teach in school. So I do recommend a cheap prime lens in the 50mm range like the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, honestly I would past on the f1.8 and get the f1.4. A tad better image quality (IQ)/bokeh, maybe not 2x as the price indicate, but a little. I actually do not use the 50mm as much now that I have 85mm 1.4 (outdoor) and Nikon 35mm f/1.8G (indoor). I do use f2.8 zoom lenses too, just not as much lately. Overall most beginners use a kit lens which will cover most of the focal range and will swap with a 50mm 1.8 for improve IQ.

I use flashes for 1/3 of my shots these day, that because I do portrait and event shoots a lot. Before that the popup was fine. Maybe just get a cheap 3rd party flash with ittl, she may not be too interested. Took me like 4-5 years before I got my first one. So buying a $300 flash is a waste if one is not interested, in a few years the spec will improve (lenses rarely change, but the prices are skyrocketing), so no need to rush. Most people I know don't really use flash or have a speedlight, just that the one do use it a lot.

Other item for photography/marketing major that you might considered that will take some chuck out of your $2000 budget you didn't see:

Adobe CS6 Design and Web Premium Student and Teacher Edition [Download] Not sure what school she is going too, but some university will provide free software for a time period or even a lower discount. I did architecture and we do alot of presentation and layout so you need this combo. Photoshop to adjust image, send the image to indesign for the layout. If you want to do some vector drawing that is what illustrator is for. This comes with Dreamweaver for web design and flash for flash animation. Not sure what the new standard for html5 adobe is using. While your school might give some free subscription, but before she grade from college be sure to pick up adobe suite at a student price, regular price is a joke. Even worst they are starting to charge yearly subscription per seat like most corporate software I use, AutoCAD, REVIT, 3dstudio, newforma. This is what happens when there is weak competition and one dominate a market. Thanks to apple's aperture and captureNX; lightroom4 had to drop their price to $150. I own Adobe CS5.5 Design suite and this cheaper CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 Education Edition. This can be an alternative, but most employers see adobe on the resume.

Being snobby here but Dell UltraSharp U2410 24-inch on dell site is $50 off, maybe memorial day sale. I just ordered one. This is one of the best IPS monitor for color rendering/accuracy for photographer, presentation layout, and CAD/3D. I'll be honest for most people a $300 monitor is fine. Sub $300 you get a lot of temperature changes from one end of the screen to another. My LG 3D is garage, but I use it for the 3d (photography and movies).

Most like she will pick up a laptop to edit photo or do presentation. Sony VAIO SE1 Series VPCSE13FX/B 15.5-Inch Laptop (Jet Black) This model has IPS monitor is one of the sharpest I seen in the store for sub $1000, they use some bravia technology. This is one of the lightest and actually more powerful laptop (not this model, but you can upgrade spec), and I am a thinkpad person. There is a 13" model which is more portable, then you can hook it to a larger monitor when she gets home, to actually see things.

Posted on May 28, 2012 4:33:10 PM PDT
Les Schmader says:
I'd go with a Panasonic LX-5 and a thousand dollar gift card or check.

Then there is no commitment to any brand dslr, and she'll have an excellent full featured compact to use any time she wants.

And "you" won't have to take a crash course in photography, just to get her a nice gift.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 5:58:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2012 6:08:03 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
On the laptop, most commercial art is done on a MAC.
Most likely the classes she take will dictate which version of Adobe Creative Suites she will need. I'd hold off on purchasing the software, also, the University Bookstore, actually had the best deal on a Macbook Pro. So again might be better to hold off on the computer purchase.
The IPS monitor is a great suggestion and no need to pay Apple prices for one, I don't care for Sony and there are a variety of brands to choose from the Viewsonic VP2765-LED 27-Inch Wide AMVA LED Monitor makes many best IPS monitor lists and is a bargain for a 27" IPS monitor. I purchased an Apple Mini Thunderbolt Displayport to VGA adapter from Monoprice, for around $15.
My daughter uses her flash all the time, I don't know if her class required it, as she got her own for Christmas a few years ago, after I got tired of her borrowing mine.

edit: spelling

Posted on May 28, 2012 6:59:52 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
She will qualify for a fairly substantial discount on the software throu school. You don't want to buy that without getting the discount. Adobe software is the gold standard, but it's very expensive.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 8:47:33 PM PDT
I'd go with a Panasonic LX-5 and a thousand dollar gift card or check.

I'd be more likely to just suggest giving her the entire $2000 budget with instructions that it is for a camera for her college work... Rather than getting something that may not be suitable at all (PR and Fine Arts photography -- with a P&S? Maybe for a skilled photographer with lighting kits etc. to overcome the small sensor limitations, but I'd hesitate to suggest my standard Canon G12 [which, at least, adds an optical finder] for this person).

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 10:35:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2012 11:33:44 PM PDT
"On the laptop, most commercial art is done on a MAC."

Eh, that's not true. Really depends on market: audio and video production would be the main platforms that are dominantly MAC. With 3D work, either CAD or animation, the PC is most dominant...especially with laptops (where there are many options for Nvidia Quadro/ATI Fire configurations that have never been on the MAC platform). With 2D graphics (photo retouching, illustration, or graphic design) either platform is fine.

As far as monitor displays, one of the main differences between budget ones vs professional ones is color configurations. Professional displays tend to allow fine tuning of color calibration and "scan" settings for keeping a full aspect ratio on screen. For a begining art student, I wouldn't say that investing in an expensive display is needed right now. Keeping consistant color profiles from display to print is pretty important for different magazine industries...but then if you're at that level, you've also got a color preference with a specific colorimeter. One of the main disadvantages for LCD monitors has been lower color range (the cheapest LCDs have less then 8bpc color range). Recently they have been getting better. They also tend to have a glossy screen to help add some contrast and darker blacks.

Another note I would say is that fundamentals in photography have not changed with film vs digital....currently it's just getting easier because you can preview as soon as you take the photo. The best way to get correct exposure on a DSLR is to look at its histogram after you've taken the image (you'll then lean on particular metering and exposure settings). The more you have a full range without clipping in the white or black area, the more optimal the exposure range. If there's no post processing, the more it's possible there can be blown highlights or dark shadows...having a full exposure range in RAW will give the most versatility (it won't show if you just preview, but there are tools for adjusting color curves for bringing out the best contrast range when then converted to 8bpc). It is much easier if your post processing is only working on artistic vision vs trying to compensate for some discrepancy (be it exposure, noise, or soft focus).

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 3:50:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 3:51:31 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
David Rosenberg says: With 2D graphics (photo retouching, illustration, or graphic design) either platform is fine.

Denise A. Edwards says: ... She is going to study advertising/pr and a minor in fine arts with photography emphasis ...

While either platform is 'fine' meaning equally capable, the majority of corporate graphic arts departments still use Macs. Honestly in today's job market, I would not want to go into an interview without being able to say I was familiar with both Mac and Windows platforms.

My daughter had a Windows laptop from high school, her VCD instructor suggested she get a Mac. While I know the Adobe Creative Suites is available for both Mac and Windows, and she could have continued to use her Windows laptop, we purchased her the Macbook Pro.

I understand the difference between `cheap' LCDs. I also understand the difference between 'cheap' and a 'value'.

Did you look at the specs / reviews of the Viewsonic?

5.0 out of 5 stars Great monitor, January 10, 2012
By J. Felt
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Viewsonic VP2765-LED 27-Inch Wide AMVA LED Monitor (Personal Computers)
Nice Monitor. Not as good as our Eizos but 1/3 or less the price. Very close to Eizo gamut! ...

Best monitor for photoshop under $500?
ViewSonic VP2765-LED
This thing was designed for your purposes.... for photo editing, video editing, color accuracy, that sort of thing. It's part of Viewsonic's pro series. Its MVA (multi-domain vertical alignment) panel delivers superior image quality, as its specifications lend it to accurate and vibrant color schematics.
Full hd, LED backlit, I mean this thing is really designed to give accurate and excellent color reproduction, ...

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 7:54:08 AM PDT
Denise A. Edwards also says she's looking for a DSLR: not computer or monitor advise. I was merely clarifying an inaccuracy: that the MAC is not the dominate platform in all commercial art applications. I'm also not sure what Amazon reviews of the ViewSonic has to do with the thread...again, I would hold off on looking at professional monitors until Denise's daughter is further along. First to make sure that she's staying an art major and that she'll have a better idea about what applications she'll use it for, prices will be cheaper, and color ranges slightly better.

Posted on May 29, 2012 8:07:25 AM PDT
I think a gift certificate would be a good way to go here. If she has decided on a particular school, check with the school and find out what their camera requirements are. The may have a brand requirement, or even an exact make and model, with specific lens requirements as well. If they don't have a brand requirement, go with canon or nikon, and the main question is her personal preference. Get as much camera as you feel like spending money on, along with a kit lens, a 50mm lens 1.8 or 1.4 depending on your budget, and expect to buy another lens before too long. Have her take pictures for a month, and then look at the pictures she has taken, and determine if she is shooting more at the long end of her kit lens or at the short end, and buy accordingly. I know lightroom can tally up how many shots have been taken at what focal length, I guess other software can as well.

Photoshop has very good discounts for students, don't pay full price. As for mac vs pc, photoshop runs on both. Some agencies will certainly have preferences, but it could go either way. With apple working as hard as they can to poison their relationship with adobe, the pc may have a long term advantage there. The part of me that knows computers better than cameras cringes every time someone advises a laptop for editing photos. On a per dollar basis, desktop systems will do more work in less time, and are easier and cheaper to upgrade over time. Don't get me started on wireless. If she is graduating, I am sure she already has a computer, and that's a distraction anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 8:33:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 8:35:10 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
David Rosenberg says: Denise A. Edwards also says she's looking for a DSLR: not computer or monitor advise.

Admittedly ® foray into monitors and software may have been slightly off topic, but, the realization that these expenses are coming can have some bearing on someone's budget. You could buy a Canon 7D for under $2000, but, so much of the budget would be spent on the camera body that little would be left for lenses, lighting, and other accessories. Having a daughter in college, I can tell you all the little things add up.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 8:59:39 AM PDT
I'm also not sure what Amazon reviews of the ViewSonic has to do with the thread...again, I would hold off on looking at professional monitors until Denise's daughter is further along.

Yeah -- the most commonly recommended monitor in Shutterbug's digital Q&A column is a large Dell... But not the run-of-the-mill Dell monitor that most combo packages come with. I forget the model number but it's either a 22 or 24 inch Dell UltraSharp. My ancient WinXP desktop (going on nearly 10 years old) has the old 20" 4:3 format UltraSharp (the viewable area is 12x16 inches, and the resolution is 100PPI giving 1200x1600; I've not encountered any 16:9 display that comes near it).

Posted on May 29, 2012 9:36:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 9:49:02 AM PDT
®ichard says:
I did go OT (off topic) since usually the OP tune out by now and the regulars here start doing their thing. Plus other people read these thread too, so I'll keep it broad. Maybe the Denise has already allocated the $2,000 for just a dslr, most parents probably realistically can't.

Well, I wouldn't buy anything right now to be realistic. I remembered getting a requirement list in the mail of things to buy like a few months before school started. 1. was a slr, these days, I heard student are require to get a laptop with CAD for architecture installed. Some photography schools are camera bias. I think one of the CC in Seattle don't care and the other little photography school is Canon, because of the instructor(s). For software some dept mandate them and at times some are free per student in dept. If you can't afford software or a computer in college, no problem, use the computer lab. I did this my first year (zip drive days) before I decided it was more convenience to get a computer my 2nd year (parents money at he time).

MAC or PC doesn't really matter since the software run the same on both. But yes when you buy you have to pick a version (some come with both). Photoshop has the same interface on either. Advertising/Marketing would have job opportunities in my different offices. I doubt everybody that has a Marketing degree go to a fashion agency. Most will go to corporate company, some small, medium business. Outside of art, most business are tight budget in which computer are bought at he cheapest price or bulk. Paying more for the same spec and having hard time to swap parts isn't financially feasible, for business larger then a mom and pop.

So a camera body with a good kit lens and a 50mm 1.8 is a good starter, anything else is on a need basis. I don't except a student to jump on a fancy IPS monitor either, if one is looking for a laptop with an ips for under 1k then the vaio isn't bad.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 12:46:29 PM PDT
"Some photography schools are camera bias. I think one of the CC in Seattle don't care and the other little photography school is Canon, because of the instructor(s)."

Just to clarify, no university photo department requires a particular BRAND of camera. This is not something to worry about.
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Discussion in:  Digital SLR forum
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Initial post:  May 27, 2012
Latest post:  May 29, 2012

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