DSLR Camera Shopping for Novices: Oaxaca Summer 2011 Photo Expedition

Image of a Nikon D40x Digital SLR camera with ...

Nikon D40X -- May be able to pick-up used; no longer manufactured.

Yesterday, I had a question from a novice photographer interested in attending the Summer 2011 Oaxaca Photography Expedition: Market Towns and Artisan Villages. This would be his first trip outside the United States and he does not own a DSLR camera.  What should he buy based on what criteria?  Some people love their Canons.  Others love their Nikons.  On the last photo expedition to Oaxaca over the Day of the Dead, an avid photographer participant packed a Pentax.

Here is photographer and expedition leader Ms. Sam Robbins’ basic advice.  Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

Shopping Advice for a DSLR Camera from Sam Robbins:

If this is to be your first trip outside the States, I can’t think of a better place to go.  Oaxaca and the surrounding artisan villages are beautiful, peaceful, photogenic and filled with wonderful people.

I gather that you would like some information about a camera.  Certainly eBbay is a possibility depending on how much you know about cameras.  I would recommend checking B&H Photo at  Go their their Used department.  On the website there is a link for digital equipment.

I’ve just looked and there are a number of cameras that have lenses with them that look like good possibilities.  My suggestion would be to look there — always checking to be sure that the condition is a “9” or better.  Many of the cameras are refurbished and come with a warranty. B&H will stand behind its cameras.  Additionally, they will give you a full set of specifications and a list of capabilities for each camera.

On the other hand, as Norma mentioned, I’m not sure that you absolutely have to have an SLR — just as long as the camera does have some aperture and shutter controls.  And, as Norma mentioned, you don’t need previous photographic experience, or experience with a certain camera.  Part of the purpose of the workshop is to help people become more comfortable with their cameras and to become aware of what makes a good photograph.

I hope I have answered your questions.  Please feel free to email me if you have questions about what camera to bring.   I’m always happy to help.  I hope we’ll see you in Oaxaca.”

Note from Norma about choosing and buying a DSLR camera and lenses: Two years ago I purchased a Nikon D40x camera on eBay for $325 that came with the basic 18mm-70mm lens.  It was New In Box with no warranty because it came from Canada.  It’s been a great camera for me.  Was I lucky?  I don’t know.  I’ve shopped on eBay with success.

Last year, I bought a used mid-range telephoto lens from B&H when my camera dropped and the lens broke.  It was the wrong one for this camera (no built in auto-focus) and I returned it without a problem.  I bought the right one, an 18-105mm, also used, rated 8+ and it has performed beautifully.

There are several online sites that evaluate, assess and rank digital single-lens reflex cameras.  I recommend reading them to do your homework.  It really depends on how much you want to invest, too.


Thom Hogan is a writer and photographer who reviews Nikon cameras and lenses.  His Web site is comprehensive and easy to understand.

CNET DSLR Buying Guide offers an explanation of the DSLR camera and hybrids, along with a comparison of available brands and models.

Take a look at Digital Photography Review for another site to help you evaluate and make your selection.

2 responses to “DSLR Camera Shopping for Novices: Oaxaca Summer 2011 Photo Expedition