Is an old camera cost effective?

Photography on a very limited budget.

I know some will feel that buying “Old Technology” is a step backwards when it comes to camera gear. Fortunately I dont suffer greatly from GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome ). For some having the next latest and greatest is a must. I can understand a professional wanting to update their gear but for most of us, perhaps its not so important.

So can you really nab a bargain and get something that will last a couple of years while being budget friendly. Well in my case that is definitely what I got. After checking on Trademe to see what was on sale , it was soon apparent that there were plenty of 1000d’s for sale as well as 1200 & 1100d’s. All entry level cameras, most priced between 3 & 4 hundred dollars, some as two lens kits and some just with one.

For a good second hand entry level 2 lens kit I would be comfortable paying up to $400.00 providing the shutter count is low, meaning the camera hasn’t had a lot of work and should remain operational for a long period of time. How do you know if the price is right? Generally if the price is under 60% of a new model you are getting value. Better if the cost is 40-50% of a new model or in my case approx 20%. This is based on current prices from one of the largest camera retailers here, Photowarehouse 

The price of a new 1300d with a single lens is over three times what I paid for my used Canon and I have to say I was lucky to get it a that price, but you should not be put off buy the prices as there are always bargains to be had if not on Trademe and you dont mind waiting for a week or so E-Bay also has some substantial bargains as well.

Now back to the central question, is it cost effective and the answer is yes, provided you don’t absolutely need the latest innovations. For example the 1000d only goes up to ISO 1600 which might make some folks panic, but remember that 8 years ago ISO 1600 was what everyone was wanting, and there is only the odd time when I might want more,  particularly if I’m doing astrophotography. However there are a lot of stunning astrophotos taken with the little Canon, and I will be testing and documenting this process as well.

In my case the 1000d is a good little shooter that hasn’t taken a lot to get to grips with, bearing in mind that this also is my first DSLR. In the past I have used my film SLR’s and mirrorless cameras and the transition is straight forward with little fuss. Using the Fuji bridgecameras is  very close  to the process when using a DSLR only the DSLR has much better image quality.

To date my expenditure has been:

Canon 1000d twin lens kit ( used) $200.00 NZD

New 16 gig Sandisk SD card $17.00 NZD

New aftermarket battery charger $16.34 freight incl.

New aftermarket shutter release $23.00 freight incl.

New aftermarket LP-E5 battery $30.00 freight incl.

Total to date = $286.34 NZD.

Thats just under $200.00 US to set up a starter DSLR package. It may not have all the latest upgrades but it will still provide a good starting point to build on and lets you allocate funds for some better lenses, whether that be a stabilised zoom or a couple of nice used primes, so again I would say its definitely cost effective. You may also find you have some accessories that can be used with your new camera. In my case I have a number of filters and macro filters that will fit the Canon lenses, and of course I already had a very good tripod as well as a very functional bag that the camera came in.




Canon EF 70-300 F4-5.6

The standard 70-300 mm kit lens that came with the camera isn’t image stabilised,  therefore I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope as to how useful this lens would be when handheld.

Our ever present moggy just had to know what was going on and so presented a target of opportunity. Never one to sit still, this was going to be a bit of a challenge especially as I was using the lens at the 300 mm setting. Knowing that the lens would be a little dark at the long end I selected ISO 400 and dialled up the Ev to +2 and snapped off RAW+Jpeg combos. The two images you see are both processed from the RAW file using ShowFoto.

A little bit of PP work and I had a couple of pleasant shots to finish with. I have to say that I am impressed with the apparent sharpness of the lens and the relatively narrow focal plane even at f5.6. The bokeh is really quite good as the green in the background is our lawn which was about 6 inches tall and looking pretty shabby.

The two images above are taken with the EF lens and the distance to the subject is approx 3 meters ( 9 feet ). Be warned that these are the full file sizes at approx 19 meg each so they make take a while to download if you dont have a reasonably fast connection.

This next image is one for comparison, taken using the Fuji XA2 with the 16-55 mm kit lens working at f4.5.  Distance to the subject is about the same as for the previous images. The small Fuji lens does a pretty good job here too.



The next two images were taken using the same EF lens working at the same zoom. The distance to the subject is approx 9 meters, again handheld and again at 300 mm.

The first of these images is taken with Ev-0 and the lens stopped down to f 8  & f 10 (second image) to help improve detail and contrast. The second image is a Jpeg direct from the camera and again processed in ShowFoto. The same applies for the first image as well. Both images were cropped to remove approx 50% of the original image. Both images were shot at ISO 400 and 1/400 sec. This helped a great deal to stabilize the image as I’m not the steadiest holder of a camera and suspect I never will be.

For a non stabilised lens, using the settings I have outlined the results were not unpleasant, and show a good deal of texture and fine detail and very little noise. I printed both the images of the Kingfisher on gloss 5 x 7 photo paper using my Epson  L365 and the results were very good, and I have no doubt that a print at A4 size would look just as good.

Some budget friendly accessories

And some conclusions

One of the things missing from the 1000d package that I bought was a charger. No big deal however, a new charger on Trademe is only $7.73 NZD plus courier fees, add another $8.00.

Next on the list was a remote shutter release. As the 1000d doesn’t support wireless releases we need to get a good quality cable based shutter release. I choose the following based on functions available, the wide variety of models it supports and a pretty good YouTube review. At $23.00 NZD including courier fees this seemed a reasonable purchase. Should also prove very handy for astrophotgraphy.


The next item on the list is a second battery. Having only one battery in the kit is a recipe for disaster. It turns out these are well priced as well at $30.00 NZD including freight.





The other item I bought at the time of purchase was a new 16 gig SD Card, a lot faster than my current 4 gig class 6 cards and it certainly does the job. With the 1000d I’m shooting RAW + Jpeg so the total file size for each sSanDisk 16GB Ultra UHS-I SDHC Memory Card (Class 10)hot is large, but the camera doesn’t slow down any writing to the card. These latest generations cards weren’t around when the 1000d was brought to market but it certainly makes it quick to store the data.

Essentially all I need to obtain now is a couple of lens hoods for the lenses and we have a pretty good kit. They run at between 2 & 5 dollars a piece and are readily available. I have to wonder why Canon leaves them off the lenses as it would only cost them a few cents to produce these and it seems a little cheap not including them.

Thoughts & conclusion.

So all up I have a budget friendly kit that will have cost approx $320.00 NZD to setup a basic DSLR kit.

For those wanting to get into a new camera that is a step up from their point and shoot units or cellphone, its possible to equip oneself with a very modest ( cost wise ) small DSLR kit that wont break the bank , will provide very good images and leave plenty in the future budget for obtaining better lenses. A 10 year old DSLR may seem like you are missing out on all the most up to date bells and whistles, but truth be told you dont need them to start with.

Investing in better lenses even if just replacing the kit lenses with a better version of them, is going to improve your images markedly as this video shows. More below…

Whether it be a Canon , Pentax, or Nikon, there are some bargains to be had for very little outlay. The main caveat I would suggest is the you look for cameras that have a very low shutter count. In my case a couple of thousand, means I have an almost unused camera. The Pentax KX I was considering buying only had 6200 as a shutter count, and again this is basically a near new condition camera, and while Pentax accessories and lenses arent as prolific or inexpensive as its Canon counterparts it still would represent a pretty good first foray into a DSLR.

With all this in mind I would suggest you give it a go. With my very limited budget I have been able to obtain a DSLR setup that will give me a good deal of pleasure to use, as well as providing some pretty good imagery even with the standard kit lenses.

In following articles I will go through how the camera performs, what I decide are my favourite settings and shooting modes  and anything else that seems relevant and accompany these article with shots taken with the camera.

For those who already own and use a DSLR you may find something of use here and I would encourage you to comment on items that will help beginners and adepts alike. The journey as they say never ends…….






Enter the Canon EOS 1000d

Also known as the Canon XS

Now before all you Fuji users pop a gasket this article is about photography on a very limited budget. Have I abandoned Fuji all together …. No.

I am however not in a financial position at present or for the short term to enable me to step back into a mirorrless setup. I didnt want to repeat my experience with the XA2 by going into an XA3 which didnt provide one thing that I was hoping to see in the XA series and that was PDAF auto focus. That for me was a killer as far as the XA line goes. Hopefully when the time comes and they shift from Contrast detect AF to Phase detect AF they will again be on to a winner.

The Fuji range finder style bodies just dont do it for me. Yes they are very good cameras but I  find them uncomfortable to use, I much prefer the XT style bodies but even a used XT-10 will set you back  well over $1000.00 NZD with a basic lens, so the Fujis arent really an option.

I’m aware that there are sometimes very well priced cameras on E-bay but when you factor in the freight to New Zealand thats not really an option either. There are however some bargains to be had on our own NZ  Trademe   site and I was lucky enough to nab a bargain.

One lightly used Canon EOS 1000d   bought at Auction for $200.00 NZD. Shutter count is 2700 plus about 150 I’ve added just messing around. One 18-55 mm EFS IS lens and one EF 75-300 mm lens, plus a nice sized kit bag to tote a bit of gear around. You will note that the 75-300 isn’t image stabilised. The plan here is to buy a EF-S 55-250 IS lens and use the bigger lens as a tripod only tele. Theres currently three of these lenses on auction a present so I’m hopeful of snagging another bargain.

One of the things I liked about the 1000d was the size, its only a tiny bit bigger than my HS20 so with the 18-55 bolted on the front it will feel familiar, size and weight wise with the bigger zoom lens available as an option. My preference has been to try and find something that afforded the same level of image quality as my XA2 in a similar body size but alas nothing other than a small DSLR like the 1000d or the K-X from Pentax really comes close. Had I missed out on the Canon, the Pentax KX was an option with a buy now of $275.00 NZD,  however this only came with the 50 – 200 mm telephoto lens and for local bird photography the 75- 300 mm  when tripod mounted will hopefully be the better option. The other overriding factor is the simplicity of the Canon which will help with getting my wife confident with the camera as she is a complete photography novice,  so the Canon will be a good fit.

I wont bore you with all the specs and such with the camera, just click the link above and you get a review and the specs. Below is a series of images I took over the past 2 days. Most are crops some as much a 60% of the original image. All are hand held using both lenses, all but one are RAW images processed and saved as jpegs. Images were processed using Showfoto  a photo editing package that I am liking more and more as I get used to it. It works with the canon RAW files very nicely and of course its free software.