Camera: Where to Start?

Oct 11, 2012
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I'd like to purchase my girlfriend a camera for Christmas this year. However, I know not where to start my search. She loves taking pictures of wild life, nature, and whenever we are with a group of people. My plan is to go hiking with her more as the months go by. I'd like her to take this camera with her so she can dive more into the hobby of photography and document our excursions. My price range is $ 200-$ 400.

My questions to you knowledgeable forum posters:

Where should I start my search?
Is a super telephoto lens a must have for what we want to do?
Are Canon and Nikon my main bets for this type of purchase or are there other just as good models out there from other OEMs?

I look forward to any feedback that can be sent my way; I think she will flip when she opens this up on Christmas; she's always wanted a nicer camera for better quality photos. She currently uses an older model Canon digital camera. I'm unsure of the model number,
 

kenrivers

Splendid
Moderator
Do you want to get her one with interchangeable lenses or a fixed lens (one that cannot be swapped for another)?
If you want one with interchangeable lenses then some of the offerings from Canon and Nikon include the following:
Canon EOS M Mirrorless Digital Camera: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/994793-REG/canon_caem1855w90_eos_m_mirrorless_digital.html
Nikon 1 J1 Mirrorless Digital Camera: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823585-REG/Nikon_27565_1_J1_Mirrorless_Digital.html
Nikon 1 J1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm / 30-110mm Lens: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823587-REG/Nikon_2_1_J1_Mirrorless_Digital.html
The B&H site is used simply as a reference where you can view the specs of each.

Are you looking for a point-and-shoot or something with more manual controls?
This site - http://cameras.reviewed.com/ - has reviews of various cameras and may be useful as a reference.
 
Oct 11, 2012
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Hey Ken, thank you for your reply!

I'd like to stick with fixed lens. I want to step her up from what she has currently to a more "sophisticated" camera. I'm looking for more of a point and shoot type of camera. As she puts it; "I like taking pictures" but I don't think she's wanting to go with something too complex or intimidating. I'll check out that last link you posted. Thank you again for the information!

 

kenrivers

Splendid
Moderator
You could still get one with interchangeable lenses just in case she becomes interested in taking her photography a step further in the future. As she becomes more comfortable with the camera she may want to explore the more advanced options. But if point-an-shoot is what she wants then that is what you should get her. In addition to the Canon and Nikon the Panasonic Lumix may be worth a look as well.
 
Oct 11, 2012
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The link you had posted earlier was full of information. I saw the front page review of the Canon S120. It's a little compact digital camera, but surprisingly feature packed. From the review, the picture quality was great. The review had references to a Sony RX model and a few others. I will begin searching there; with those three. The Canon S120 seems like a rock solid contender at a nice price point. $ 339 after doing a quick newegg.com search.

Do you have any suggestions similar to this model?

 

kenrivers

Splendid
Moderator
I'll get back to you on that once I do a little research. After comparing it to some Nikon and Panasonic cameras in the same price range the Canon appears to be a good choice. I could not find a compelling reason not to get the Canon.
 
Oct 11, 2012
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I was asking my cousin over the Thanksgiving holiday about cameras. He's an amateur photographer and owns a Nikon D3100. He thinks for a good entry/mid level DSLR, it's a solid choice. This has an interchangeable lens if I'm not mistaken, like you had talked about initially, Ken. It looks like it has a bare bones feature set. Something I think would be fine for her as she starts to learn.

I'm not against something like this but it's a tad out of my price range. I wonder what a nice camera would be (DSLR or point and shoot) right "underneath" this price point. Something around the $ 300-$ 450 range. Do I already have it picked out with the Canon S120 (despite it being a point and shoot)?

 

kenrivers

Splendid
Moderator
The Nikon D3100 recommended by your cousin can be found on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-14-2MP-Digital-18-55mm-3-5-5-6/dp/B003ZYF3LO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385784798&sr=8-1&keywords=nikon+d3100) for $426.95 with free shipping. It includes a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens. It can also be found on Newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA29P1155796) for $409.99 if you order by December 1. Other sellers listed on that page have it for $426.95. Personally, I think the interchangeable lenses is a plus.
 
Oct 11, 2012
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Upon a quick lesson on interchangeable lenses, I can see why you think this. I am a lover of comparing feature sets (even if I don't fully know what I'm talking about). Would you have another model to compare this to, say from Canon or Sony? This type of camera may be the middle ground I've been looking for. With that said, I'd like to stick to the newer model (the D3200 in this case). Although I'm afraid it's a tad out of my budget. Does the addition of 10 mega pixels and the addition of a couple features warrant an additional $ 100?
 
Oct 11, 2012
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Today I purchased the Canon T3i I thought for an entry level photographer like my girlfriend, she'd really enjoy this one. The lens that came with it is more of a basic lens and I'll follow up with the higher-zoom lens later next year. I feel as though the feature set on the camera gives enough for her to play with while at the same time not being overwhelmed. I can't wait for her to open this.

Kenrivers; Thank you for all the help, sites, recommendations, and insight on this thread!
 

kenrivers

Splendid
Moderator


I think you made a good choice for her. I think she will be quite pleased with your choice. You should take a picture of her when she opens it. It could make for a great memory.
 
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