Author Topic: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?  (Read 633 times)

TFrugal

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Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« on: November 18, 2017, 10:07:27 AM »
Hi All,

I'm hoping to get my wife a gift of one of these cameras in the next few months.  We are both (but mostly her) looking to get into photography as a hobby - we are also looking to use for pictures of our kids (which would be moving shots), nature, etc.  We are not starting a photography business and do not need the latest, greatest, etc.  Mainly we use blown up pictures as gifts, use in our home, etc.  As of now, our current camera is pretty old and cheap and any blown up pictures are not close to the quality we are looking for.

As I am very new to this hobby, any beginner DSLR recommendations?  I assume now would be a good time to buy it being near BF and everything.  Used would be a must.  Any model recommendations or any thoughts on other "gear" needed?  A direct link to any nice, used cameras on Amazon would be appreciated :)  Thank you!

nereo

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2017, 10:46:59 AM »
oh man... it would be hard to come up with another questions where the responses will be as varied and ultimately boil down to "it depends".  It's also the sort of question where photo enthusiasts will fight with one another to the grave.

Well, here goes:

From what you've described virtually any interchangable lens camera made in the last 6 years will be more than enough.  While this will certainly invite a deluge of dissidence from photobugs who pixel-peep,* a 12MP sensor is sufficient for printing great photos up to and even exeeeding 11x14".   Literally every dSLR out there exceeds this threshold, and while the latest crop of cameras have ≥24MP sensors and unquestionably produce sharper images and have better features than their predecessors, it is very hard to spot the differences in quality unless the photos were both i) shot and post-processed by someone with a lot of skill and ii) printed or displayed in a very large format (>> 8x10").

So --- what should you get?
On one hand it doesn't matter.  Find a camera that was made 2-4 years ago that is selling for cheap and go with it.  Regardless of what you choose you'll be able to do the sorts of thigns you are talking about.

A few things to consider though...
Lenses only fit one brand of camera.  People will make a big deal out of this and suggest that you will be 'locked into' whatever brand you initially start with.  I think this is overblown for a few reasons; #1 most casual photographers wind up with just 1-3 lenses, so the 'penalty' for switching into an entirely new system isn't that great, and #2 people who get really into photography ultimately want to upgrade what they start with anyway and sell what they bought, so it doesn't matter if you jump from one brand to another.

dSLR vs mirrorless.  I shoot with a dSLR (a Sony a77II if you care - mostly for 'legacy' reasons (see above)).  however, if I were to start from scratch right now I'd seriously skip over the dSLR category entirely and go for mirrorless.  Why?  Size and future compatibility.  Up until ~5 years ago the best cameras were all dSLRs, built around the old SLR format from 35mm film.  But with that came compromises - the camera bodies were much bigger than they needed and build around a large 35mm mirror box (both to be compatible with 'legacy' film lenses as well as to incorporate the ttl autofocus and metering systems that had been developed over the last 3 decades).
Nowadays mirrorless cameras are starting to equal dSLRs and most industry watchers expect them to completely replace dSLRs in all but small niches. They have some major advantages (no mirror box, smaller size, less distance from lens-to-sensor, live-view) and their traditional weakpoints (auto-focus, metering) have narrowed considerably lately.
That said, there are way more very cheap dSLRs out there than there are cheap mirrorless cameras.


suggestions?
Sigh... here goes. As I said anything made in the last 6 years will be more than enough for your purposes.  I'd look through the camera reviews from https://www.dpreview.com/reviews?category=cameras and start looking for models that were announced anyhere between 2012 and 2014 and start there.  Then use ebay/craigslist to look for those models.
Canon's entry-level Rebel cameras will give you great bang-for-your-buck, and you can find used models on ebay for $100-200.  A step up in Canon-land would be the 50D or the 70D - both available used for around $200-300.
Nikon's d5200 and d5500 are also great and within that price range
Sony's a65 and a77 are another two options.

If you want to go mirrorless and cheap I'd look for Sony's older models (used)  - the a5100, a6000 & a6300 hold up well.  If you can find the original Sony a7 mirrorless (before the a7ii and the a7R and a7S... confused yet?) then you can get a great camera that holds up well even against 2016 models.

tl/dr: the most important part of a camera is what's 12" behind it (the photographer).  Any camera will do the trick.
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TFrugal

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2017, 11:33:29 AM »
    Nereo, very helpful, thank you!  Like you noted, since ANYTHING is going to be such a huge upgrade, I don't really need to even worry about the "photobug" details that I will not even notice.
     
    I do a have a few follow-up questions:

    • Many of the cameras I have seen thus far do not include any lenses.  If I go that route, which lenses do you recommend I need?  I want to say that I would like to be able to take distance shots of nature, but also close up and action shots of my kids, so that may require a few :)

    • Are any other accessories actually needed?  Or is it basically camera, lense(s) and safe travel bag?

    • You mentioned that much of the quality of the shot is the photographer.  Any specific books I can pick up from the library or blogs to read that cater to newbies?

    Appreciate the mirrorless notes, but with probably go with DSLR to start with for cost reasons.  If we really love the hobby and want to upgrade down the line and sell the DLSR and go mirrorless, that won't be a problem.

nereo

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2017, 11:57:41 AM »
    Nereo, very helpful, thank you!  Like you noted, since ANYTHING is going to be such a huge upgrade, I don't really need to even worry about the "photobug" details that I will not even notice.
     
    I do a have a few follow-up questions:

    • Many of the cameras I have seen thus far do not include any lenses.  If I go that route, which lenses do you recommend I need?  I want to say that I would like to be able to take distance shots of nature, but also close up and action shots of my kids, so that may require a few :)

ah, yes... lenses.  I didn't cover that upthread because it's yet another topic where there is no one-size-fits-all answer, nad where there is a lot of passion and opinions.  That said:
regardless of whether you go dSLR or mirrorless one of the 'selling points' is the interchangable lenses.  Many will be sold "body only".
I'd recommend to start out you get whatever the "kit" lens is - typically an 18-55mm (or similar) lens. Start with that and see what you desire for the next lens.  That will depend on what you shoot. As examples, many will go for a huge "walkabout" lens that covers a wide zoom range, from wideangle to telephoto (exampels: 18-200mm).  The downside to these is they are never as sharp as other lenses.  I'd urge getting a 35mm or 50mm 'prime' lens (one that does not zoom) - these are the sharpest lenses for the price, and having a fixed focal length forces you to not be lazy and actually think about your picture taking - using a prime lens will make you a better photographer.  If you like doing extreme closeups of flowers, bugs, etc you might want a macro lens.  If you do landscapes you'll want a wide-angle (e.g. the 14mm primes).  Low light and/or sports?  Something with a fast aperture (<F2.8).
bottom line: until you know what subjects you want to shoot I cannot recommend a particular lens.

Quote
Are any other accessories actually needed?  Or is it basically camera, lense(s) and safe travel bag?
You'll need a memory card, but those are ~$10-15.  Don't go nuts here and buy the latest, fastest, largest out there.  A simple 16GB "class 10" card is all you'll need - faster cards won't give you any advantage in older model cameras.  Most dSLRs in your price-range will take SD cards.
I'd also recommend protecting whatever lens you buy with a simple UV filter ($10-20). Get the size that will fit your lens, listed in mm (e.g. 55mm is a standard size for many kit lenses). 
That's about all you need.  Of course there is an entire rabbit-hole of accessories, but try to resist.

Quote
[/li][li]You mentioned that much of the quality of the shot is the photographer.  Any specific books I can pick up from the library or blogs to read that cater to newbies?
I cut my teeth on a great textbook called "Photography" by Barbara London and John Upton.  WRitten back in teh days of film it's still an awesome text to learn about the fundamentals like shutter speed, aperture, DOF, etc.

Many people I know have liked SCott Kelby's books and courses for learning how to use dSLRs and (just as important) how to do simple post-processing.  Post processing (PP) is as important as taking the initial photo if you want the best results.

[/list]
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markbike528CBX

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2017, 12:17:51 PM »
Nereo, very helpful, thank you!  Like you noted, since ANYTHING is going to be such a huge upgrade, I don't really need to even worry about the "photobug" details that I will not even notice.
 
I do a have a few follow-up questions:".......

You mentioned that much of the quality of the shot is the photographer.  Any specific books I can pick up from the library or blogs to read that cater to newbies?...

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/not-about-your-camera.htm          and most of the posts on that site.

Except for the size and weight, my Nikon D700 from 2009 is more than I'll need for most purposes.
I overbought, to be able to take no-flash pics of punk  bands in dimly lit bars.

Your cell phone camera is probably OK for most shots.  See the link above.

Most 2009 and later Dslr models  are fine.  Consider refurbished if you want to go big, don't worry about snap counts <100k.

nereo

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2017, 12:39:03 PM »
(you've hit upon a passion of mine - photography, and specifically photography on a budget)

Two other cameras to search for: Pentax k50 and k70.  The k70 was a knockout consumer dSLR when announced, and sometimes appears used at reasonable prices.  THe k50 is the k70s more consumer-friendly (lower cost) sibling.

Just because I've been thinking on this... if I'm suggesting cameras from 3-6 years ago...
what advantages do cameras made in the last 3 years offer?
1) better video capabilties & higher frame rates. 4K is all but standard now but was unheard of 3-5 years ago on consumer-level cameras.  High-speed and time0lapse functions are becoming standard too.  Truth be told the line between videography and photography is being blurred, as some cameras allow you to shoot at full resolution at 10+ frames/second, and you can pull still frames from 4k video at 30 or even 60 frames per second.  I cry a bit at how we are losing the "decisive moment' aspect to photography.

2) ever-increasing dynamic range & HDR functions.  IMO here's where the biggest leaps in sensors has come from a practical standpoint. Late-model cameras can capture detail in both the shadows and in the highlights of high contrast images.  This opens up possibilities for 'fixing' photos that would otherwise be lost to incorrect exposure.

3) yet more megapixels.  As I explained above, this is not a big deal (and sometimes a handicap) to the casual shooter who won't ever make a print beyond 8x10.  But MP continues to drive camera sales - c'est la vie.
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noplaceliketheroad

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2017, 12:22:13 PM »
+1 to everything nereo has said.

I'll add a few notes. Mirrorless is worth the extra money since the cameras are so compact, meaning it is way easier to tote around. Most mirrorless can fit in a decent size purse if it's for your wife. I used to use a Canon dslr and even when traveling overseas to beautiful places it would rarely leave the hotel room since it was so bulky to carry around. It really is worth the extra money for a mirrorless system.

I now use the Fujifilm X-T20 with the lens that came with (18-55 which roughly translates to a 27-80ish (I think) because of the mirrorless system). I love it and highly recommend! The Sony a7r series are great options too, but I went with the Fuji since it fit better in my hands and the shutter button was in an easier to use location for my fingers (I have tiny lady hands). Depending on the size of your wife's hands, you might want to take that into consideration. There really is a *fit* to cameras just like clothes. My husband shoots with a Nikon D750 and while I absolutely LOVE his camera, it's too big/heavy for me to use day to day. We buy our cameras through either Samy's in LA or B&H Photo in NYC but has a fantastic online store. They sell used/refurbished items online too.

I'd recommend getting a second battery, and at least 2 memory cards of 16gb or higher. If she's going to shoot raw maybe up the memory size. And a card reader if your computer doesn't have one. I use Lightroom for all photo uploading & editing, I think it's a simpler version of photoshop that does everything you'd need to do editing wise and it's fairly easy to learn. And if this is a hobby she wants to pursue, a photography class at a local community college would be invaluable.


chemistk

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2017, 05:43:20 AM »
Disclaimer: I'm not a camera buff at all, but a while back I decided that I liked taking good quality photos - better than the garbage point-and-shoot cameras I owned that kept dying.

I would call myself a beginning-intermediate photographer. I am comfortable manipulating most of the camera settings but often just keep things on Auto/no flash - mostly because I find myself handing the camera to someone else so I can get in the picture.

I got (well, received as an advised gift) a Nikon D5200 with the standard included lens, a decent camera bag, and a memory card. I don't pull it out frequently (no need for the toddler to break something else), but when I do it's ready to go and can take some outstanding quality photos and videos without having to adjust too much.

If you're just in the market for something easy to get started with, I'd look for a no more than 2-3 year old Canon or Nikon with specs similar to my camera (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-D5200-24-1MP-Digital-SLR-Camera-w-AF-S-18-55mm-VR-Lens-26188/142599315236?epid=153451299&hash=item213394df24:g:RYcAAOSwB3BaGgHI). I'm not trying to step on the toes of the more experienced folks here but I really think you're just testing the waters right now. You just need something that's good quality with a wide array of lenses and accessories available to figure out what you really like. If your wife really gets into it, you can always keep your first camera as a beater and/or sell it and then get something closer to what you want.


ManlyFather

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2017, 12:45:51 PM »
Here's what you should get, based off of your needs:

Camera: Canon T2i ($200 should get you the body, and the 18-55 lens, and the required accessories)

Lenses: 18-55 (should come with the T2i)
55-250 or 70-300 (should get for $100-$200, or included with the body)
50mm F1.8 prime lens ($100)

Flash: don't get one yet ($0)

Bag: Lowepro slingshot 100 or 200 ($50)

Total cost: $200-$500

You won't need to upgrade anything unless you want to go pro or if you want to take pictures of moving targets outside after dark without flash.

Be sure to get the T2i - the "i" is very important to make sure you get with Canon Rebel cameras.

If you want an in-depth explanation of anything, let me know.  Otherwise, just get this gear off of eBay and you'll be VERY happy with it.

ketchup

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 01:03:10 PM »
As others have said, almost any recent DSLR will do the trick.  The T2i mentioned above is a good option.  If your skills reach the point where you're limited by the camera, by all means upgrade, but most non-pros that think that are wrong.

Lenses truly matter more than your camera in terms of specific choice.  You might replace the camera in 5-10 years, but decent lenses are good for a lifetime.  You mentioned you want to take "distance shots of nature, but also close up and action shots of my kids."  I would recommend getting a few prime lenses (meaning non-zoom) as fast zooms are big and expensive and cheap zooms are slow (meaning they do badly in low light) and annoying.  A good start would be a 50mm f/1.8 which is cheap, light, and fast.  After practicing with that lens, you can figure out what else you want to do.  If you want to do landscapes you can get something like a 28mm f/2.8, or if you want to do portraits you can get something like an 85mm f/1.8.  I would definitely start with just the 50 though, to get started and get a feel for what you actually want to do going forward.  Lots of people just buy a bunch of crap all at once and then fumble around with it all and put maybe half of it to use.  Don't be that guy.

nereo

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2017, 01:18:55 PM »
Here's what you should get, based off of your needs:

Camera: Canon T2i  [snip]

For what it's worth the Canon T2i was sold outside the US as the Canon EOS 550D under their "rebel" line.  One will often find both when searching ebay.
It was released in 2010, and was a decent camera among its peers at the time of its release. 

It will certainly do the things teh OP requires, as well other models from that year forward.
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rpr

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2017, 01:23:16 PM »
Another option is to buy refurbished DSLR kits directly from Canon.

https://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/cameras/refurbished-eos-digital-slr-cameras

I've seen kits under $400.

PS: I'm using an old T1i bought years ago. It's still a great camera. Doesn't have a loot of cool features but I still enjoy using it.

KCM5

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2017, 01:57:30 PM »
I don't know what came over me, but I just bought this based on this thread https://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/eos-m10-ef-m-15-45mm-f-3-5-6-3-is-stm-kit-black-refurbished?utm_source=google&utm_medium=Product_Search&utm_campaign=Google_Product_Feed&cm_mmc=GA-_-Uncategorized-_-G_Canon_Product+Listing+Ads-_-38465&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvq-9mpfn1wIVirrACh0SSQanEAYYASABEgLAPPD_BwE $350 including tax seemed like a good deal.

I haven't had a proper camera for years after our last one succumbed to water damage from a water bottle, but I didn't realize mirrorless interchangeable lense cameras were a thing.

ketchup

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2017, 03:33:52 PM »
I don't know what came over me, but I just bought this based on this thread https://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/eos-m10-ef-m-15-45mm-f-3-5-6-3-is-stm-kit-black-refurbished?utm_source=google&utm_medium=Product_Search&utm_campaign=Google_Product_Feed&cm_mmc=GA-_-Uncategorized-_-G_Canon_Product+Listing+Ads-_-38465&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvq-9mpfn1wIVirrACh0SSQanEAYYASABEgLAPPD_BwE $350 including tax seemed like a good deal.

I haven't had a proper camera for years after our last one succumbed to water damage from a water bottle, but I didn't realize mirrorless interchangeable lense cameras were a thing.
They totally are, and they are great.  I had a Panasonic GH2 years ago.  You can use cheap adapters to use literally almost any lens ever made due to the short flange distance.

TFrugal

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Re: Best Value for Used DSLR Camera?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2017, 10:20:07 AM »
Thanks again everyone!  Got busy and have not yet made a purchase due to the multitude of options, but getting closer and the information has been incredibly helpful.