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Author Topic: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa  (Read 15923 times)

Beautor

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Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« on: December 13, 2012, 11:29:34 AM »
Here's the situation: My retired parents who are in Malawi, Africa doing humanitarian work were recently robbed and their point-&-shoot camera was among the things stolen. They have asked me to find a good camera for them to use when they take a little time off to visit some of the game preserves in the area. They do have a 2nd hand cheapo PS camera now for taking pictures of people, and things up close. My parents are not photographers, nor are they particularly tech savy. What they want is a camera with enough reach to take pictures of wildlife as they travel around the game preserve. My Dad estimates that what he is looking for is to be able to get a reasonably close picture of a kudu or a hippo from about 200' away. They are not especially wealthy so a setup like a 7D and 100-400L is unfortunately out of the question. They just want to be able to take good pictures of the amazing wildlife that they see when they go out driving.

After talking to them it looks like their budget is in the up-to $600-$700 price range. Currently I'm debating between a new good quality point & shoot like the Canon SX150 IS because it has a 12x zoom (28-336mm equivalent), it is compact, and is easy to use. This option is less expensive, but would hopefully give them much better reach than their 2nd hand PS that has a 3x zoom. Being a compact camera also makes it easier for them to carry with them without inviting undue attention from unsavory individuals.

The other option would be a Rebel with the 18-55mm & 55-250mm lenses. I think I can do the Rebel kit for around $600, or maybe even lower if I'm lucky shopping Kijiji for 2nd hand equipment(Craigslist isn't big in my area). This option provides slightly more reach, but is way bulkier. If they go with this option the camera would primarily stay in their appartment and only go out when they go sight-seeing because of the probability of being robbed again in the future. As for use, I highly doubt that the camera would leave the green mode, so the extra features of a DSLR are not especially needed.

What I'm asking is for feedback on the options I've come up with. I haven't used a PS style camera for quite a while so I'm not certain of the quality, and if it would be sufficient. Does anyone have any other recommendations in their price range?
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Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« on: December 13, 2012, 11:29:34 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 11:40:51 AM »
Currently I'm debating between a new good quality point & shoot like the Canon SX150 IS because it has a 12x zoom (28-336mm equivalent), it is compact, and is easy to use....
The other option would be a Rebel with the 18-55mm & 55-250mm lenses.

I think I'd consider the SX 500 IS - same size sensor as the SX 150 IS, meaning same ISO performance (although nowhere near a Rebel).  better zoom range, both on the wide end (24mm vs. 28mm equivalent) and much longer tele end.  Lack of interchangeable lenses means less issues with dust/grit - a common problem in Africa. 
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Aggie92

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 12:05:06 PM »
+1 for the SX 500

I used a similar Fuji with only a 10x zoom for years and loved it.  It was the only camera I had when we went to Alaska and I was able to photograph wildlife with little problem.  I think your parents would have a lot of fun with this type of camera. 
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 03:02:17 PM »
Ditto.  The other thing to consider here is the reason they need it... the last camera got stolen.  Any DSLR no matter how old (to us) will attract more theft attention than a decent P&S.  Plus, as neuro mentioned, there's the dust issue.  So the SX500 is likely the best option for a variety of reasons.
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Beautor

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 05:01:34 PM »
Ditto.  The other thing to consider here is the reason they need it... the last camera got stolen.  Any DSLR no matter how old (to us) will attract more theft attention than a decent P&S.  Plus, as neuro mentioned, there's the dust issue.  So the SX500 is likely the best option for a variety of reasons.

The possibility of a DSLR attracting unwanted attention was actually my first question to my dad. The main reason a DSLR is on the table is because it's what he originally asked for. I think he was a bit frustrated with his crappy point-and-shoot camera, and knowing the kind of pictures my wife and I get with our DSLRs, he wanted something with a lot more reach, but decent quality. My preference for them would be a decent PS with good reach and decent quality like the SX500 suggested here.

Thanks for your feedback everyone!
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vlim

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 05:39:14 PM »
I would say a Lumix FZ200

Take a look at what Mate Bence has done with :

http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/gallery/fz200/Bence_Mate/

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Hesbehindyou

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 05:41:40 PM »
My first thought was a good bridge camera. As long as light is very good the long end of the zoom will still result in decent photos.

When I read your other message re the DSLR my thoughts turned to one of the recent mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras with a 2x crop sensor (as opposed to the 1.5 or 1.6 on APS-C DSLRs). Mirrorless means smaller body, 2x crop means smaller lenses - a 300mm lens gives a similar effective focal lens to a 375mm lens on a crop/APS-C camera (or 600mm on FF) while keeping IQ high.

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 05:41:40 PM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 06:16:22 PM »
Ditto.  The other thing to consider here is the reason they need it... the last camera got stolen.  Any DSLR no matter how old (to us) will attract more theft attention than a decent P&S.  Plus, as neuro mentioned, there's the dust issue.  So the SX500 is likely the best option for a variety of reasons.

The possibility of a DSLR attracting unwanted attention was actually my first question to my dad. The main reason a DSLR is on the table is because it's what he originally asked for. I think he was a bit frustrated with his crappy point-and-shoot camera, and knowing the kind of pictures my wife and I get with our DSLRs, he wanted something with a lot more reach, but decent quality. My preference for them would be a decent PS with good reach and decent quality like the SX500 suggested here.

Thanks for your feedback everyone!

It's the reach part that is going to send you over budget with a DSLR kit.  A nice used 40D or Rebel (do they want video or not?) would work great but getting a decent lens with reach isn't cheap and if you get a decent lens with reach, you also need to get a decent general purpose lens for casual shooting and/or low light.  Something like a 40D + 70-300 IS + 28mm/1.8 prime perhaps?  That gets you reach, low light and an easy to use casual walk around prime on the crop sensor.  Total cost would be around $450 + $300 + $250??  But you still need a bag, batteries, and you're already over budget.  Or a single ultrazoom lens like the Tamron 18-270 VC but you're not saving any money, just not having to change lenses and you lose the low light part.

I still say the high end P&S is the best way to go for everything, including the intended users being non-technical.  Much simpler and less to carry and worry about.
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Halfrack

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 06:17:50 PM »
Pick up a used used XSI/XTI ($300?) and pair it with the 70-300 4-5.6 III ($100?) and you're spending a few hundred dollars.  Getting the most abused body and a new battery may be the most safe option for them.  Clean the sensor before you ship it & let then know it's just that cheap.
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Zen

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2012, 07:38:11 PM »
You might take a look at the Canon G15 too. A good P&S with some customizable features if the user wants to use them. Several of my pro friends, myself included [altho I'm not a pro], use them when they don't want to drag the "big one" around.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

Zen

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Re: Camera advice requested for parents in Africa
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2012, 07:38:11 PM »