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Thread: Mission Impossible?

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Mission Impossible?

    I am a newly-trained Literacy Volunteer with my first student who is interested in buying a new camera. Part of my role as a tutor with this Chinese student includes forays into our American culture and community during which she interacts in English with various people. Camera shopping will be among the various "field trips" planned.

    She currently owns a point-and-shoot and has expressed an interest in upgrading to a camera with more control. Specifically, she has admired photos where depth of field control allows for isolating focus on a face (for example) and allowing the background to be out of focus. I was delighted to hear that she had the eye to recognize how such a subtle quality could be an important advancement in a camera's capability.

    Now for the "impossible mission" part. Ruling out the top-of-the-line pro models and sticking with a budget of $1,000 or less, which cameras to recommend? I'm thinking of taking the approach of picking one (or possibly two) cameras for each of three categories:
    A. More advanced all-in-one (i.e. Canon G-11);
    B. 4/3 sensor (no clue on this one); and,
    C. Entry-level DSLR.

    I'm hoping you can help me by simply giving me your vote for a model to fit each of the three categories. With so many models to choose from, I'm hoping to narrow this down to a reasonable list of possibilities. I would be very grateful for your take. Which cameras would you recommend?

    Thanks!
    Tim

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Tim, For option B, I would recommend a Panasonic G1 or G2 (same sensor/ G2 has touch screen focusing). This would come with a 14-45mm or 14-42mm kit zoom. I would add a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens (40mm effective FOV and the DOF she is wanting).

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Thanks Cindy! I was thinking about the Panasonic but find the whole "G" model numbers confusing. Which is the current version?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Tim,

    I agree with the Panny choice for 4/3rds, and a nice G1 with kit 14-45 and 20/1.7 can be had for under $1000. The "current" G's are the GF1 (small body, rear LCD view with optional EVF); G2 (GH1 replacement) and G10 (G1 replacement). However, used G1's are very affordable and while the new ones offer some UI programming refinements and HD video, there's not a lot of IQ difference for stills. FWIW, they also all use the same batteries and lenses. But...

    For limited DoF, the larger the sensor, the better --- unfortunately this means full frame DSLR so from a cost PoV also means used, and even then a used 5D with a single (fast) 50/1.4 will probably exceed $1000. And if you go to any of the 1.5/6 crop DSLRs which will get the price down, you lose the DoF advantage pretty quickly and are probably better off with the Panny (2x crop factor) suggestion above.

    My .02,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Thanks Jack. Your G-model explanation helps a lot. I was kind of hoping that one of the entry-level DSLRs might offer an APS-C sensor in the $1,000 price range, and that should allow for a bit more DOF control. Maybe I'm just dreaming?

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Another caution regarding the Canon G11 and DoF. Your friend may find DoF control too limited because the small sensor.

    Entry-level DSLR might be great, if size is not an issue, and especially if gently used was an option.

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Tim, I just took a look at the Canon website and B&H to refresh my knowledge of current entry-level DSLRs and their prices, etc. I had completely forgotten about the XS, XSi and T2i models. These fall easily within the budget and may be easier for some to learn than some of the m4/3s; offer TTL viewing; better DoF control, etc.

    I helped a friend in Thailand get into photography with just such a kit. She took to it very quickly and has made some very nice images with the kit. She has body (1.6x crop), a Tamron 28mm-75mm, the cheap little Canon 50mm f/1.8, and maybe the original kit lens of 18-55mm which she never uses. She has been very happy with the kit, but even as compact as it is, it's a bit bulky for her to take all the time unless she's in "photo mode". She still carries a P&S all the time.

    The Panasonics mentioned above have a good following and there are some nice images posted in the appropriate forum here. One should experience the viewfinder differences to see if they are comfortable with the different approaches.

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    In the entry level DSLR world I would also suggest a 50mm f1.8 lens. It will only add about $100 to the price but will allow for creativity on DOF and gives a low light option on top of the kit zoom which presumably will be slow.

    You.

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    In the entry level DSLR world I would also suggest a 50mm f1.8 lens. It will only add about $100 to the price but will allow for creativity on DOF and gives a low light option on top of the kit zoom which presumably will be slow.

    You.
    Totally agree with Terry. A 50 f/1.8 is just the ticket on an entry level DSLR. Several years ago I bought the Canon 400D body IBLN (I guess that was an XTi) just slightly used for $440 to use as my small camera with my 5D. Its an APS-c sensor (look for a newer model and still be able to get a great price used.) A good place to try besides here is the Fred Miranda forum where I bought this one and sold it this past year. Great place for used gear.

    But, having m4/3rds also, I too would recommend a used G1 with kit and 20 f/1.7 That's my small cam now with my 5D. The newest are the G2 or the G10 but for a real bargain the G1 would do as well unless she wants video.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Good suggestions, all. Thank you! It will be interesting to see how she makes her decision and which factors she deems important. I want to help and advise, but not push to hard with my own preferences. Kind of an interesting exercise!

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Tim, Why not ask her to register here and post the questions?

    Would help with the language (may be), at least.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    Not a bad Idea Vivek. Although she speaks, reads and writes the language pretty well. She's been in the U.S. for 6 years and holds four (4!) advanced degrees. She spends most of her day at the computer and it's the interactions with "live" people she has some difficulty with. Hence the various "field trips" to camera stores. Perhaps when she gets a little closer to her decision I'll suggest it.

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    Re: Mission Impossible?

    In that case, Tim, a prescription of street photography is in order.

    The G1 and manual focus lenses would offer a lot shallower DOF than it can be calculated by DOF calculators.

    G1 plus a 25mm Computar-TV or a Fujinon-TV (via a c-mount adapter) would be the way to go.

    Unlike the GF-1, the G1 plus the 20/1.7 lens, does not offer (despite "liveview"!) the depth of preview. In that sense, the G1 is crippled just like a rangefinder.

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