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gear suggestion for 6th grade photography class

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Hi Brian,

I'm hoping for a camera body suggestion from you.  I am a hobbyist/intermediate level photographer.  I shoot with a Canon 5D Miii and L-class lenses.  I have been teaching a 6th grade (12 year olds mainly) course at my elementary school.  Right now, everyone is shooting with what they can bring to the club and the range greatly varies.  I have an old Canon 60D and xsi the club is "borrowing".  I'm saving up their club fees to buy a few cameras.  Right now I have about $1400 to spend.  I'm debating what camera body to buy.  Used is fine, probably prefered so I don't cringe as much when they drop what they are using.  My biggest concern is getting photos of "decent" quality, in crappy low light classroom situations, that they kids can have published in the yearbook and be proud that they shot these photos.  Are you familiar enough with the rebel line to offer advice?  How old can I go and still get okay quality?  They are not fantastic photographers, most are still having issues focusing.  Their outdoor stuff is decent but their indoor is poor.  My debate is getting one or two of the more recent models or going to the $300 range and getting four bodies like the t1000.  Do you have a recommendation on models to choose or stay away from?  (photo to see the range of cameras this year has)

Thanks!!!

Photog Club Movement FULL  (1) (1).jpg

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I know exactly what you are going after. You see, I was one of those kids…back in 1986. :) 

In reality, any rebel body 6MP or more is fine. I’ve bought stuff used from KEH.com and B&H Used Store. What you really should be looking at is the lens choices that the students will be using. I started with a Minolta X-370 and a 50mm f/1.7 Lens. (Yes, Minolta liked to be different, it was a 1.7 and not a 1.8 lens.)

I’d recommend getting 35mm 1.8 or f/2.0 lenses, with the crop-factor that puts the FF equivalent to 56mm with Canon Crop Bodies. (Focal Lenght x 1.6).

If any students are shooting with a Nikon Crop Body, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX Lens  Same thinking, different manufacture  Also, having a flash for those low-light situations is also something that students need to learn. Oh, another thing that needs to be taught, is controlling DoF between f1.8-f/22, which makes a 50mm 1.8 Prime essential. (And I’m a Zoom Guy.) 

In todays world, kids can produce great photos in low-light with their phones, so it’s tough to purchase all the equipment that is needed to compete, especially if you are using old Rebels from a few years ago. 
As far as publishing, I’ve had things in yearbooks with a 50mm 1.8 lens, so it’s quite possible. It’s also really easy to be able to zoom and not think; if they only have access to kit zooms of the 18-55 Variable Aperture Class, since they are used to your L Glass, their results will be mixed. More-so than before.

So to answer your question, any Rebel or Nikon D3000 (and above is fine.) I would recommend models that have a decent amount of Focus Points though. That might help things in the AF dept. 

 

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Thanks so much for the suggestions! I've been so hung up on picking a body I didn't think about the lenses.  I have the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens and the 85mm 1.8 lens I've been letting them use and I did notice the indoor photo quality is better than with the kit zoom lenses.  Adding a 35 mm is a good idea.  I will go this route, get a few old model Rebels and then try to get some prime lenses.  Really half of them are still having issues putting the SD cards in the correct way so expensive cameras would be a waste, at least on this group of kiddos.  

 

Thanks again!!!

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Yeah, your 18-55 "Kit Zooms" are really crappy. You just have no idea of how bad they are until you shoot with L-Glass. 35mm 1.8 Lenses or even a 28mm 1.8 Lens will work. Not only will you get better results, it will make them think about composition and they will have the wider apertures to play with in low-light. Can't do that with a Kit Lens. :D 

Plus, you are right, you have a bunch of 12 year olds. Those Rebels need to be "Throw-Aways" if they are broken.

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Oh, one more thing! I saw that there is a Nikon Shooter in your bunch. If they have a Crop-Body, they really should consider buying this lens:

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

Now, since that lens has a "DX" stamped on the side of it, that lens is meant for Crop Body / Nikon DX Bodies ONLY! So if they have a Full Frame / FX body, they are better with a 50mm f/1.8 Lens of some kind. That said, the 35mm 1.8 DX lens should be in every Nikon Crop-Shooter's bag...it's that good AND it's only $196 new.

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