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Used SLR Cameras for 2011: Cheaply moving up from the $150 pocket camera category

Reevolving

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I am starting a new thread to update this conversation with specific recommendations. Thanks for any advice on this. I am looking for advice from posters who understand the concept of diminishing returns, and a price/value optimization. (As opposed to "buy the most expensive thing you can possibly afford. Ask questions later") For the right price, I have no problem buying something 6 years old, if it does the job at my level.

Mainly, I want well lit indoor pictures, and to be able to blur the background using F-stop/aperture control (depth of field). But, I don't think I need a $2000 bespoke camera and lens collection to do this. I mostly take indoor portrait shots, and some close ups of items I am selling on Ebay. I don't need RAW, I don't need more than 5 megapixels, and I rarely use optical zoom. Otherwise, for ISO and shutter speed variations, I think the "auto" presets of a $150 P&S have been acceptable. Also, the histogram & auto bracket exposure feature help out greatly.

I don't need it to be a compact pocket camera. I never randomly whip out my camera to take a picture anyway.

1) Will a bigger camera & lens take better indoor pictures b/c of a bigger sensor?
2) Does a bigger lens take in more light?
If yes, I think it's time to look into the DSLR or crossover category.

This is the range I am considering:
Lumix DMC-LZ8 for $70 (pocket w/ manual/priority settings)
Lumix DMC-FZ20 for $150.
Lumix DMC-LX3 for $300 (pocket)
Canon S90 for $300
Nikon D40 + lens for $325+

I don't think I want to spend more just to learn some basics of manual control. Also, I want be able to rely on auto mode.

Canon Powershot G11 ($400) or 30D ($500) or Rebel 400d or XT ($400) ...
I would consider this $400 level if you're telling me I am truly missing out on an entire paradigm shift for the extra $100+.

What sort of lens would I need for the following:
Indoor lighting. (What f-stop number?)
Macro (close-up) zoom.
Wide angle would be nice.
Does 18-55mm cover this?
 

DerekS

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ive asked this same question....a friend of mine happens to be a photographer and advised i keep an eye out for a used nikon d40...they can be had with lens for around 350-400 if youre patient.
 

Pale Male

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Contax G1 or G2 with 45, 90, 28 mm lenses -- superb optics, compact package, beautifully designed & well-constructed.

Rangefinder, not SLR -- and not digital, either.
 

Johdus Fanfoozal

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For your purposes (EBay pics), you don't really need anything more than a decent p&s and a good light source.
 

Pale Male

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Re: Contax G Series -- Value/Price:

Bentley for the cost of a new Beetle.
 

Harold falcon

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Originally Posted by Reevolving
Pale, are you really suggesting a 35mm film camera? I don't think so.

Don't hate on film. It's not practical for ebay work but I love my old Nikons.
 

Fraiche

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You should try using the Canon S95 first. It's a good camera that bridges the gap from P&S to SLR.
 

Bill Smith

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Originally Posted by harvey_birdman
Don't hate on film. It's not practical for ebay work but I love my old Nikons.
+1, for ebay pics and photojournalism, nothing beats digital, however the Nikon D series DSLRS (or Canon Rebel for that matter) just do not have the same sex appeal as an old Nikon F, Leica M3 or a Rolleiflex.
 

Crane's

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Originally Posted by Pale Male
Contax G1 or G2 with 45, 90, 28 mm lenses -- superb optics, compact package, beautifully designed & well-constructed. Rangefinder, not SLR -- and not digital, either.
I have a 1958/59 Contina G3. Takes great pics. If I come across a Contax in excellent working order it's mine.
 

Ludeykrus

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Your needs can be covered by a broad spectrum of cameras.

I recently picked up a cheap Rebel XT w/ 18-55mm kit lens for ~$250 with a few accessories. Then I procured a 50mm 1.8 Canon lens for ~$100. Voila! Indoor shots, ebay shots, tequila shots, you got it all! All sorts of blurry background stuff going on as well! Just gotta watch out for the 1.6x crop factor when looking at macro shots...

I used to be a big proponent of bridge cameras; nowadays, I think that used DSLR's are cheap enough that they're not as practical.
 

Ludeykrus

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The 1.8 is the f-stop of the lens, how 'fast' it is so to speak. The smaller that number, the wider the aperture can be held open (since it's actually f/1.8). The wider the aperture, the more narrow depth of field.

Basically, the wider the aperture, the more blur in the background of the picture.
 

Reevolving

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It seems the 2 popular "beginner" lens types:
1) 50mm f/1.4
2) 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5
3) ??

Which will take close ups (macro)?
Which will be good for low level indoor light?
Which will allow for "brokeh" blurring?

#1 is fixed? No zoom?
#2 allows wide angle? (18mm)
 

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