Rookie looking for the best value $400 max camera

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Kershmerica, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. Kershmerica

    Kershmerica TPF Noob!

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    I want to capture the northern lights when I'm in Alaska in November. I've always had cameras and took photography in secondary school but don't want to commit more than 400 at this time. I would like to work my way up as I learn. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated before I do make the purchase!

    Thank You


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I think the best value would be a used mid-range DSLR.
     
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  3. Sharpshooterr

    Sharpshooterr No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Canon 5Dmkll.
    Excellent camera and you can find them for $400 but you’ll still need a lens!!!
    If it doesn’t need to be to wide, maybe an old nifty 50 for under a $100.
    Or an old 35-80 for $50. They’re pretty sharp but noisy enough to call the spirits from the past!!! LoL
    Good luck
    SS
     
  4. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    This is a great camera and if your budget is for the body only, it, paired with the nifty 50 will certainly enable you to catch the northern lights. You would be getting a full frame professional grade (when new) camera and a prime lens. I would suggest researching both of these topics regardless.

    I suspect you will want to capture more than the northern lights while in Alaska and afterwords. A used crop sensor (APS-C) will lower your cost and leave room for a zoom lens which will give you more flexibility.

    The T3i is a good Canon crop sensor body that can be had used for around $150. That would leave room for a new nifty 50 (50mm f 1.8) for $120. and a used 75-300 mm EF zoom for $120. This approach will not provide you with a wide focal length for landscapes (a must for Alaska) but honestly, your phone can often be used for these until you grow into photography and justify expanding your budget for a wider lens.

    Others may suggest Nikon/Fuji/LUMIX options and other lens choices that will be equally suitable. You have time. Make sure you research topics like full frame, APS-C/crop sensor, prime lenses, zoom lenses, low light performance and other areas of photography. Just be prepared to continue investing as your knowledge and skills grow and you find the types of subjects you enjoy shooting.

    I got back into photography a few years ago using airline miles to get a Canon T5, 18-55mm zoom and 70-300mm zoom. Since then I have learned so much more and invested accordingly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
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  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Unfortunately, with your stated budget, you are not likely to find a mid-range kit. I see two kits on eBay, but they are at auction, so the selling price may exceed your budget.

    Nikon DSLR kit | eBay
     
  6. oldhippy

    oldhippy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I suggest a used D300 and a 50mm Nikon 1.8d. this camera is somewhat waterproof, and has great mechanics. Try to find the lowest shutter count at price you can afford on eBay . Good luck and good snaps.
     
  7. Kershmerica

    Kershmerica TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for these messages. I am learning so much. In all your.professional opinions would a d300 with lens for 360 be a better option vs a d3500 for 400? Picture enclosed. Haha I have no idea what I'm doing! a Screenshot_20191225-231145.png Screenshot_20191225-231145.png Screenshot_20191225-231145.png Screenshot_20191225-231145.png
     
  8. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    The Canon equivalent of the two lens option is how I got started again in photography. I would go that direction and learn everything you can about your equipment. Even low end options are very capable so long as you know how to use them. Avoid the dreaded "Automatic" setting. You'll be frustrated at first but as you learn to take control you will enjoy the satisfaction that comes with great results.
     
  9. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Don't buy a d3xxx series.

    Also, don't buy a d300

    I'll expand when off phone
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
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  10. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Shop used. and from reputable vendors that will take returns.

    Adorama actually has two D610s for $250 rated at G. This is a lower rating for them -- but if they are actually still functional and they just appear to be heavily used -- that's an amazing deal. Great thing about them is if it doesn't work out, you can return it back to them.

    They have E and VG rated D600s for $400, but I wouldnt a buy a D600 now unless you call Nikon and see if it's been serviced for the oil issue. Their service advisory on the D600 ends on Jan 10th. So if you could get one and send it to Nikon ASAP, that would still be good -- but really pushing the end of the free service.

    Otherwise the D610 is a fantastic camera whos used value is still an insanely good deal, for one of the top 20 rated sensors on the market, today.

    The D3xxx series is Nikon's entry-level. Don't be fooled by their lens packages -- you can buy those two lenses used for $90 and $130 respectively. So that right there tell you how much the camera body itself is worth.

    While it has a great crop-sized sensor in it, Nikon dummies down the featureset of the D3xxx model line to the most basic functions in order to keep the "cost down." The D5xxx series is a much better platform -- So long as it has the 24mp sensor.

    But I would personally recommend the D7100 or D7200 as they have a more "pro" level body, and a sensor that does well in low-light for its size. Both are also still very decent cameras for day-to-day. And like the D610, and unlike the D3xxx and D5xxx, it can drive D model Nikon lenses.

    The D300 recommended above is simply too old. It was great at it's time, but simply a relic today and wasn't designed for what you need. The D700 would be a better choice, which has a better full-frame sensor, and I would still discourage it for the same reasons. (early 2000s tech, dont focus well in dark, low resolution, bad ISO/DR, etc).

    I don't like the 5DmII recommend either, google ISO invariance. The 5dmII has horrid ISO invariance, Canon didn't solve this issue until the 5DmIV -- not what you want when shooting the night.

    If you want to capture the northern lights in Alaska, you need a camera sensor that works well for night and long-exposure work and a lens that can do the same. The biggest problem you'll find is your budget -- the used camera market artificially keeps value high on junk old equipment, and lenses retain value as they pretty much last a lifetime.

    This is just my opinion, but I'd personally rather have a decent/better/capable camera body as a base and work from there without the need/desire to upgrade later. Most your money will go into your lens investment.
     
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  11. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    So, lots and of good advice. I think everyone would agree that you should invest more in your lenses than the body and that there are good used bodies from which to chose.
     
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  12. Sharpshooterr

    Sharpshooterr No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    K, the problem with a D300 is that even when it was brand new, it was only 12mp and that hasn’t changed! LoL
    I wouldn’t consider anything with less that 20mp and preferably 24mp.
    I know if you’re new to all this it can be overwhelming but at least do better than your phone can do!!
    SS
     

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