Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on My Brother-in-law's Condition & Request for Camera/Photo Recommendations

My husband and daughters were able to make the trip this weekend to see my brother-in-law in the trauma center--I couldn't physically make the 500 mile trip and back in three days so I wasn't able to see him.  He is still in unbelievable pain and the meds are making him very nauseated so he is eating very little. They are trying to work on moving him to a rehap center closer to his home--it will be about an hour away
instead of 2 1/2 as the hospital is.  He will know more when he gets evaluated there but they are predicting at least 9 to 12 weeks off his feet.

When I talked to him yesterday he mentioned he would like a digital camera and possibly take some classes as photography has always interested him.  I am going to talk to family members and see if we could get him a camera, some books/magazines, etc. so he could start working on learning some while he lies around healing--it will pass the time and he will be ready to start shooting when he is up and about.  I figured it would be a good activity--not too physical--to have to do as he begins walking again.  He will be able to focus on something other than just the exercise he is doing by walking.  So I wanted to ask your help.

Those of you with any experience or knowledge of digital cameras and photo editing I'd love your input.  He has a Sears gift card he wants to put towards it, but doesn't think there is enough for a very nice one, but I thought if the family added to it we could get him something decent, but not top of the line. What can you suggest?  Here are some things I am thinking I'd love advice on:

  • Brand of cameras you have liked or heard are good.
  • Features that would be great to have--for a beginner/novice (I am thinking something that gives him the ability to try some things out so he knows if he likes it and wants something better down the road, but not something anywhere near top of the line, but not the most basic either).
  • Magazines or books/dvds that might have informational information.
  • Good online photo editing sites or photo storing sites.
  • Software.

And of course anything I am not thinking of.  We will be going to see him mid-September we hope and would like to be prepared then to order it and perhaps have some other info before that for him to start checking out.  Sarah has a bunch of pictures she has taken with him and his son on outings the three of them have gone on the last few years so I thought she could upload a bunch on a photo editing site and he could begin playing around and learning on those until he can take some of his own. Also he could put together a photo book from them and learn how that works.

Thanks for all of your help!  Simply CVS readers are the greatest!


Anna said...

The Cannon Rebel digital camera is good. It is around $600. I know that is expensive, but it is the last one he will need. When we bought ours, we also got the 75mm - 300mm lens with it. You can get great far away shots with this camera. We got pictures of a bumble bee on a flower from about 150ft away and it turned out crisp and well focused. Also, the camera has different features like low light, sports(action shots, works great at daughter's tennis games), sunny days, etc. Extra lens filters are great also. If you get the UV light lens, it will take shots that you sometimes get glares from the sunlight and dampen the glare if not remove it all together.

Unknown said...

I have a Canon Rebel XS, which is the very starter model DSLR that Canon makes. Everything I've read suggests that if you don't care about having video on your camera (which I don't) then there is no need to get the "upgraded" rebel and down the road when you're feeling like you do want to upgrade, buying new lenses, flashes etc is all you'd need to do, using the exisitng camera body. The Rebel XS usually sells for about $500. If he is going to take photography classes he needs a SLR style camera that he can set to the manual settings. Don't even bother with a point-and-shoot because they are too limited. He can start in full auto mode with the Rebel until he feels comfortable experimenting with the manual settings but I can tell you, as this is MY first SLR camera and I've only had it since last Thanksgiving, it is a GREAT camera to learn on and I'm already shooting only in manual modes! There are TONS of tutorials and blogs online that offer great info, I could recommend a couple. Also, as far as photo editing, if he doesn't have any photoshop experience, it is a big investment, maybe start with photoshop elements or even a free online editing like Picnik or Gimp, just for starters. If you'd like to email me at, I could discuss it with you more. Good luck and I hope your brother has a speedy recovery!

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Anna, for so much detail. I have heard of the Rebel, I think that is the one Sarah wants to get someday.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Great, Mom on a Mission, I do want sites for him to look at and good free online photo editing. Thanks for letting me know what he will need for classes.

Anonymous said...

Nikon Coolpix L120 Digital Camera (Black) with 8GB Card + Batteries/Charger + Case + Flash + Cleaning + Accessory Kit

This would be a good camera for someone looking to get into photography as it has nice features, comes with everything you need to start taking pictures right away, and it also is priced nicely. It is at for $314.95 one other brand that I have always had good luck with is fuji. There are several good entry level dslr's that are reasonably priced. One thing that you will want to look for is one that has a hot shoe for an external flash unit as often at some settings the built in flash can ruin a picture more than help. The cameras that have that feature can cost a fair amount more, but in the end it is worth it.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Great info, Anon, thanks. The external flash sounds like a great feature.

Unknown said...

I disagree on the coolpix, you see, it still costs over $300 and he will DEFINITELY need to upgrade to an SLR style camera and that point-and-shoot will have very little re-sale value! Spend the extra 200 bucks and get a starter SLR. :)

Magda said...

If he wants to learn photography then he definitely needs an SLR camera NOT a point and shoot. A point and shoot is good for taking snapshots but it doesn't have the capabilities to actually help someone learn more than just how to frame good shots.

You want to look at entry-level digital SLR cameras.

Canon and Nikon both have several really good entry level cameras that will run anywhere between $400 and $1000. Canon Rebel XS, EOS T3 or Nikon D3000 and D3100 are the best of the bunch. Nikon D3000 is a 2 year model and can be found for as low as $400 on Amazon. The other models will be around $500-$600. That price usually includes the camera body and one standard lens. (which is important to note, all camera bodies are also sold separately from lenses)

You can probably get a decent Olympus or Pentax for under $400. (Not at Sears though. Your best bet will probably be Amazon)

Magazines: Photography Monthly is the best you can get. Shutterbug is a close second. (They are not cheap though. You can probably get a cheaper netbook laptop and fill an RSS feed with good photo blogs... seriously)

Cheap photo editing for beginners : Photoshop Elements
Free photo editing : GIMP

Online storage with easy sharing: Flickr
Other Online Storage which can be used to store photos : Dropbox or Amazon Cloud.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Magda!! Since he has a Sears gift card and said he wanted to use it towards a camera I felt we should go there, but I got to thinking if we got a SLR we could get it from Amazon to save and he could use his GC for accessories or extra lenses which might be fun.

I figured there must be some great photo blogs out there I just am not familiar with any.

Anonymous said...

i would also suggest a Canon digital SLR. there is a website called PhotographyBB which teaches beginner. its magazine is free (download) and it has a forum.

"The PhotographyBB Online Magazine is composed by a hardworking team of volunteer contributing authors who’s goal is to teach beginners all about digital photography and image processing. We would appreciate any donation of any size to help keep this magazine completely free and to assist with our hosting, bandwidth, and production costs. "

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Sounds great, Anon, thank you!

Carol said...

B&H has some of the best prices online for photography equipment.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks Carol, I will certainly check them out.

Carol said...

I have learned so much about photography from youtube videos. Here is one blogger that may be of interest to your brother-in-law. He has about 27 videos. Remember these videos are on the right side of the screen.

Anonymous said...

A place to get inspiration:

Anonymous said...

My wedding photographer friend loves the following site. You can get awesome books from here and it is reasonably priced. They run special deals all the time. Anyone can join. They give you free photo editting software too! Check it out.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Carol, Anon & Anon, thanks so much for these great resources!

CynthiaT59 said...

This is what camera my daughter has for a beginner camera.( Nikon COOLPIX P500 12.1 CMOS Digital Camera )This has been the best camera! She takes great pictures and it is still a very nice size to take everywhere. My husband has a (Nikon D80 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-135mm AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens) This cost quite a bit more, but it does so much more. My daughter just started college for photography and her photo journalism teacher said, "Anything camera that begins with a "D" would be good for his class." She just got a Mac computer which is better for editing.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Cynthia, thanks for the info. Great on the "any thing that begins with a D." Interesting on the Mac being better for editing.

Magda said...

Cheryl he could certainly use the giftcard for some supplies.

The first thing he probably should invest in is a good camera bag. Something padded that can also support a lens. SLRs are fragile and they aren't cheap ;) Plus a good bag will mean comfortably carrying the camera and supplies.

Other things to get would be

- extra battery (crucial if you want to take your camera out for the day)
- LCD screen protector (Optical glass ones are the best)
- Lens filters (UV protection filter is a must)
- Lens covers/hoods
- Tripod
- External flash
- Extra memory card
- Wireless remote
- Lens cleaning supplies

And eventually he will need an external hard drive to store all his photos.

Lenses tend to be more expensive than the camera body. And I would hold off on getting an extra lens until he is comfortable using the standard one AND saves up enough for a good one. The good ones will run for over $1000. Most of the cheaper ones will have limitations. (Once he has the camera he will need to research which lenses are compatible with it. ---The good thing about models like Nikon or Canon is that all of their lenses are standardized so they are compatible with all of their cameras) You can also get lens converters which are cheaper (several hundred $ vs several thousand). Initially he will be ok with the lens that comes with the camera. (Most likely it will be 18-55mm). The next one will depend on what kind of photo direction he wants to move to, micro photography, long range, day/night, still life or action as each usually require their own lenses for best results. I would not recommend buying an extra lens until he learns the basics.

Magda said...

Sorry one more comment because I just read what Cynthia said.
The any camera that begins with a "D" only applies to Nikon products. Their D-SLR line of product models start with "D"
No other manufacturer uses that.

Also as far as Macs are concerned. Macs are the preferred system for photographers and designers but the newest PCs are pretty much on par as far as specs are concerned.
I use both systems for my work (I run my own creative consultancy) and it's more of a preference than capability issue if you have two equally specced systems.
However having a decent computer will matter for editing photos as that usually requires more than usual computing power.

Photography is an expensive hobby =D

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Magda, for all the details. I see about the D now. He had a large gift card that we added to and just ordered him a good laptop so that should be helpful--not a Mac so I was a little worried, but it is just like Sarah's and she does lots of photo stuff on it. She wants an SLR so all of this info is going to be great for use for her, too. I love the idea of a wireless remote. Sarah is the unofficial/official church photographer so a better camera would be great for her--some conditions she photographs in are not too conducive to good photos.

I think I will be working extra hard on my Superpoints, Swagbucks and MyPoints to get Amazon gift cards towards this stuff--I cashed out this week and with what I have I will be up to near $100 to start so that will help.

I am going to get all of these comments to him once he is well settled and we can discuss more in depth what he would like. I don't want him to know yet that the family is helping him get something he couldn't otherwise get at this time. I just think it would give him something to look forward to instead of thinking of what he can't do (he and his son had plans for a lot of outdoors activities this last year before his son goes in the marines so he is discouraged about that).

J Rodney said...

I have a Canon Rebel SLR as well, and I guess it really depends on whether or not he wants an SLR. As mentioned in other comments it does not have video. I have a smaller Canon with video, and this is the one that I carry everywhere:)

I don't think a Sears card will do much good, as Sears have a limited selection and are not as price competitve. I have tried shopping for cameras at Sears before:)

If all the family members could all pull together a bunch of amazon gift cards, then that would definitely be the best solution. This way he can choose whichever camera he wants, and if he wants any extra he can easily add that as well.