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Old December 20th, 2015, 11:00 PM   #1
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Cheap Camera for Beginner

I've been asked to recommend a cheap camera for a young guy who is getting interested in video. I'm afraid I'm out of touch with that area and wondered if anyone could help by making a recommendation. The budget is very low, 200GBP maximum (300 US dollars).

I'm hoping that even for that sort of budget there will be a stills camera with passable video capabilities - any comments would be appreciated.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 12:24 AM   #2
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

A Canon 1200D is a nice entry-level DSLR with video capabilities. You can pick it up with an 18-55mm lens for $399. A bit above your budget though.
Canon T5 EOS Rebel DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm IS II 9126B003 (AKA Canon 1200D)


Otherwise you could look at buying second hand. A used Canon 550D or 650D would be my choice. You should be able to pick one up with a kit lens for under your budget.

Others will no doubt have other suggestions, but that's what I'd be looking at. You can't really beat the DSLRs for image quality in the lower price range.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 01:38 AM   #3
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

I use a pair of Panasonic FZ1000 bridge cameras which are way out of budget BUT the FZ200 is 245.00 from Amazon and free delivery in the UK and has outstanding image quality and a massive zoom. The IQ of my 1000's is vastly better than the $4000 Sony EA-50's I used to have and shoot in 4K too. However the FZ200's are used professionally by my friend Roger in the UK and he has nothing but praise for them !!

A bridge camera still has a decent zoom and no extra lenses to buy and you cannot beat Leica optics either!! constant F2.8 makes it fare very well in low light too. I also shoot stills on Nikons so beware cameras with kit lenses! They are usually not the best quality so if you want interchangeable lenses rather buy just a Canon body and a decent chunk of glass for it!! I tossed my kit lenses out very quickly!!
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Old December 21st, 2015, 05:59 AM   #4
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

If they have a smartphone then they already have a camera. They don't need a camera with features such as zoom lenses to become good at making good videos. In fact they will become BETTER cinematographers if given a camera with more limitations because they will have to think more about lighting and camera placement.

All they need is the basic understanding of the language of photography and cinematography and their cell phone. Take the $300 and give them a couple lights, a huge memory card for the phone, and a book on cinematography.

If they turn and blame the phone for why they can't create nice videos you'll know they don't yet understand. When they no longer blame the phone and make some nice looking videos THEN its time to get them a proper video camera.

Strictly my opinion.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 06:00 AM   #5
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

There might be quite a difference between the performance of '...a stills camera with passable video capabilities...' and a videocam that that can do the odd passable still. Your friend's priority for video or stills would be important.

Secondhand, used, or pre-loved - good gear at very favourable cost, from dealers or eBay. One or two dealers do put selected and checked-over equipment up at Buy-It-Now rates, with some sort of warranty. I've been pleased with two eBay buys over the years and my current 3yr-old Panasonic HDC TM700 offers quite enough manual control to keep me busy and happy. Pick your timing and there's some surprisingly nice stuff for around the 200 mark. If your friend gets on with something like this, he could move on to higher things in due course.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 06:37 AM   #6
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

There are plenty of point & shoot cameras with 1080p video capabilities under the specified price limit, e.g. Point & Shoot Cameras | B&H Photo Video
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Old December 21st, 2015, 06:56 AM   #7
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Out of that list the fz200 or the lx7 from Panasonic are the ones I would recommend.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 08:15 AM   #8
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Otherwise, Chris is right about the guy's phone. He can even buy a nice lens kit for it for $100 per so its not so wide angle. If he wants to learn composition and other non-exposure triangle aspects of video, that's where he should start. Something like this: Moment Tele - Mobile Photography Lens

Then he could move over to a DSLR, and shallow depth of field and such. I'd go something like a Canon T3i (with Magic Lantern) and a 50mm f/1.8. Really, though, he would love a 70D with its focus help, I think, if he's going Canon. Or a Panasonic FZ1000 gently used is around $600 and not having to buy lenses.
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Old December 21st, 2015, 05:17 PM   #9
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Following on from Chris and Noa's replies, I have had a pair of Panasonic FZ200s for a couple of years, which I have frequently used alongside my Panny video cams for stills and video. Although I have a pair of FZ1000s, I still sometimes use the FZ200s for very quick and unobtrusive shots.

As Chris said, the zoom up to 24x at f2.8 throughout the range is exceptional and the automatic and manual control is also very good. Like all smaller ccd cams, it is better in reasonable light conditions, but you get a very flexible camera for not a lot of money.

Roger
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Old December 21st, 2015, 05:42 PM   #10
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
I'd go something like a Canon T3i (with Magic Lantern) and a 50mm f/1.8. Really, though, he would love a 70D with its focus help, I think, if he's going Canon. .
That's about what I would do, though with a nice old Nikon AF 35mm f2 or 24mm 2.8 with Canon adapter instead of the 50mm f1.8. T4i if you can swing it.
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 02:27 AM   #11
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

The problem with dslr's is that you get the body only and the costs quickly start to add up when you buy lenses and adapters, that's why for only 300 dollar a all in one system is a much cheaper start, a second hand camera like a t3i doesn't have any warranty so that's another thing to consider.
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 02:45 AM   #12
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

I agree with Noa, there are plenty of dslrs out there but not for a maximum of $300 by the time you add lenses etc. A bridge camera will be affordable, plus all the manual settings etc can be learned on the camera without worrying about different lenses etc.

Roger
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 03:38 AM   #13
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Another option is a used DSLR body, 550D or similar with Magic Lantern and vintage lenses. It would need an adaptor which costs around a tenner, but high quality glass can be had for peanuts, especially if you look in places like charity shops or car boot sales.

It's likely to be manual only, but that's no bad thing. I picked up a 50mm Zeiss Pancolar (with a body attached) for 50 and a 35mm Zeiss Flektogon for around 40. Both M42 thread, both in good nick. I certainly couldn't have afforded them new!.

Dave
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 06:15 AM   #14
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

Hi Dave

I would say that the title says all .. "beginner" ... A manual only camera with adapters and magic lantern is likely to scare him off for good. A full auto point and shoot is more likely to spark his interest a lot more compared to having a camera he will struggle with .... After 25 years and weaned on full manual still cameras I still prefer my B-Cam to do the thinking for me and enjoy what I'm filming !!
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 06:30 AM   #15
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Re: Cheap Camera for Beginner

You are quite right Chris, for experienced old pros, quality is of paramount importance, but for a beginner on a very limited budget, the itricacies of a manual used dslr may be complicating the learning process. The quality may be good, but without the right camera techniques it becomes secondary. A camera that can quickly be put back into a reliable auto or semi auto mode, can easily restore calm in moments of panic.

The other advantage of buying a new camera of course is a warranty, and current technology and codecs, rather than older video processors and formats.

Roger
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