Which older EOS for teaching users of new Canons?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by steve_gallimore|1, Oct 24, 2021.

  1. Ok, this might appear to be a bit of a strange question.

    90% of my local photo club have Canon dSLRs, with 2 or more numbers in the model name (there is a 90D, 77D, 600D, etc.). I'm trying to help with teaching, but I don't have a Canon dSLR, in fact, I've never used a dSLR, nor an autofocus SLR! (I jumped straight from classic film cameras to digital mirrorless)

    So, I'm having a hard time getting my head around some of the problems that the club members are having, what should (in my mind) be a simple operation (adjust shutter speed, focus & recompose, etc) appears to require mystical incantations and finger gymnastics, attempts to help on my part just lead to things becoming even more confused.

    I figure that the best way to tackle this is to use the same gear - if I know how to change settings and can demonstrate, I can better teach others.

    But I don't intend to switch system or spend any more than the minimum (if I can keep it around €50...)

    So, of the older Canon dSLR models, particularly the 10D/20D/30D and the 300/350/400D, which would be the best match, control point wise, to the more recent cameras?

    Additionally, which is the best (least bad?) of the cheap 18-55mm kit lenses?
  2. The 10D/20/D/30D are all midrange cameras with classic Canon 2 dial controls. The 300/350/400D are “D rebel “ models with 1 dial controls, which take a button push to set shutter speed & aperture in manual mode. Any of the image stabilized 18-55mm are decent optically.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  3. Thanks. So, are the control operations essentially unchanged between, say, the 30D and the 90D? I'm trying to wade through old reviews, "essentially the same, with one/few minor change(s)" is a phrase that keeps coming up - I'm worried that 15 years of 'minor changes' will lead to "that doesn't look the same as my camera" and "it's easy for you to say, you have a better(different) camera".

    I think the club numbers are in favour of the two-dial cameras, and there appears to be little difference in used price, plus, one dial would drive me nuts, likewise two dials that swap functions depending on the selected mode (they don't do that, do they?).

    While I'm not really planning on using the camera myself, outside of club exercises and learning the controls, I'm contemplating gifting it to my sister-in-law (as a way of justifying the purchase!), so I'm still tempted to get the 'best' that I can for my 50€.
  4. I'm as unfamiliar as you about recent Canon user interfaces. Out of the cameras mentioned I would go for the 30D, if only for the reasonable sized LCD screen and two wheel controls.
  5. Wouldn't you know I just faced this question? My niece has developed an interest in photography, and after a conversation to establish that she actually wants to take a class and learn the basics, I agreed to supply the camera. Since my experience is mostly Canon, and I'll be the source of advice/tech support, I hunted up a good-condition 40D on Craigslist. Same reasoning as above - good controls for manual use, decent viewfinder & rear screen, etc.

    I'm working out the lens question now. I'm thinking of putting a brand-new 50/1.8 STM on there for her. It's cheap & capable, and won't complicate the learning experience. Yes, she'll need to 'zoom with her feet', but I don't think that's a negative.

    Alternatively, I might give her my 50/1.4 and treat myself to a more modern 50 (Sigma Art/Tokina Opera). Depends on how much I want to give myself an excuse to indulge in GAS.
  6. I'd stick with the XXD (20D-50D, that is). They are pretty cheap, they have an adequate pixel count, and the control system is like the bigger and newer Canons of the EOS series.

    The control systems on the "Rebel" (in Europe XXXD) lines are less desirable to my mind. They work fine, but the controls are different from the mainstream EOS.

    The standard short modest wide angle to short tele are all just fine. Do not get the "Rebel" lenses for the main XXD line-- they won't mount.

    The biggest "White" Canon EOS lenses can be too much to handle for the normal person.
    EF 25000mm L f-3.5.jpg
    Gary Naka likes this.
  7. JDM, it's only the 10D which won't take the EF-S lenses (like the D30 and D60 before it). The 20D and 30D accept them fine.

    I would have thought an 18-55 kit lens would have been the best starting point.
  8. I agree, I use Nikon and the school yearbook used Canon. And I had a bear of a time trying to think how Canon does X vs. Nikon.Having to teach students, I found it is better if you can handle the same/similar kit they do, where the controls match as best as possible.

    Having and using TWO dial cameras, I HATE the ONE dial cameras. I would never get a ONE dial camera for myself, if I have the option for a TWO dial camera.
    But the entry level cameras, Nikon D3xxx/D5xxx and Canon Tx, are all ONE dial cameras.
    Tough decision.

    The menu WILL change from the bottom of the line to the top, and over time. The T3 will be different than the 90D. And the T3 is probably different than the T7.
    What is upsetting is when they MOVE a function from one part of the menu to another. Then you have to look for and find where they moved it to.
    What you mentioned is true, the higher models will have menu functions that the lower models will not have. Nothing you can do about that.

    I did see a spreadsheet where someone put the menu of various models side by side, so you can easily see what menu functions are lost as you go down.
    That was a while back, so I do not remember the details of that spreadsheet. But if you make one, that may help you deal with the various models.

    For the 18-55, get the stabilized one. I think that is the latest lens.
  9. Of course you're right. My Covid-stirred brains were thinking poorly. I was thinking about the full-frame but writing about the crop-bodies :oops:

    My personal favorite, but a little bit more costly, is the EF-S 17-85mm IS which was sitting on my 20D right at my elbow while I was writing.....

    Someday, if I ever 'recover', I'll be doing reports on the 10D and the D60. But first, I've got a whole line of "Argi" film bodies and lenses to do.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  10. Hi Steve,

    To answer your question directly, I've only ever used older Canon DSLR's
    - a Canon 40D (2007) which at the time felt better in my hands than the (cheaper) 400D
    - a second-hand 6D (2012) which I bought 5-8 years ago and still use

    From I see on internet re modern DSLR's, the 3 basic contol wheels and exposure control buttons haven't changed much over the years. A few buttons (menu, info) have moved around a bit and and a few new ones have been added. You might be lucky and pick up a usable 30D or 40D for around €50. But from what I see, usable models tend to be in the €75 - €125 range. Perhaps you borrow a DSLR for a week to play around with?

    A lot of info on DSLR controls and options can be found by downloading the revant user guides (download at own risk - via the Canon sites is safer).For example:
    - EOS 40D
    - EOS 5D mk IV

    Reframing your question: How do I help photo club members take better photos?
    As far as camera settings go, it's IMHO useful to distinguish between 'teaching' and 'facilitating/enabling self-directed learning'. To put put it simply, it sounds to me as if you can usefully help participants to understand the principles of what camera settings (in general, on any digital camera) they can/should choose to get get different (or the 'best') results in different situations. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask participants to find out how to adjust these settings themselves from their camera user guides. Participants can share what they've discovered.

    Leaving things like Wifi and GPS settings aside, there are only a limited number of settings that basically need to be set once only (image size/quality, image file types, image 'vividness"). A limited number of settings need to be set for each shoot/photo, such as:
    - Shooting mode (Fully automatic, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, etc.); most camera's also have preset 'sport', 'macro'and other modes
    - ISO value (for semi-automatic modes)
    - light metering modes
    - focus modes
    - drive modes

    Reframing using a preset focus point is pretty much standard.

    I've never used a Mirrorless camera but I can't imagine that these basic settings are any different from other electronic cameras. As far as I understand it, the only main difference between traditiional DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras in the 'though the lense viewing' technoloy.

    'Learning' is often a often a chicken an egg situation. You look something up in a user guide only when you you need to. But IHMO, it's worth considering whether the claims of 'mystical incantations and finger gymnastics' are just smoke and mirrors to disguise the fact that some members haven't yet been motivated to find out - and/or practice- how to adjust their camera settings.

    So without knowing anything about your photo club or your teaching role, I can envisage a lot of scope for teaching various principles in various situations, showing iinspiring examples, asking participants to figure out how to adjust their own camera settings accordingly and to take some photos in similar situations.I'm a great believer in 'learning by doing'. Somehow, I don't feel that it should be the role of a teacher at a photo club to instruct people on how to operate their cameras.

  11. Thanks for the answers, all. I think I'm going to start by asking 'El Presidente' if he has a spare camera I can borrow, I reckon I only need a couple of hours to figure out how it works. Buying a used camera to play with is just GAS!

    While I'm sure all modern (d)SLRs are rather similar in their control layouts, I come from a background of 'classic manual cameras' and the 'odd one out' digital system (Fuji X), so my way of thinking about camera controls is slightly different, they're all there in front of me: which is where I think the club members are becoming lost, we talk about shutter and aperture, then they twiddle a dial and look at numbers changing on an LCD screen, the physical link between control and result is broken (but maybe that is just me, I'm one of those people who has to understand how & why something works - build the engine before learning to drive the car...), examples are meaningless when we're still stuck trying to remember which dial controls the shutter and which the aperture.

    I used to teach (whilst still learning myself) at a camera club at the end of the film era, with an old plate camera as a prop. With a bit of creative lighting, it was easy to demonstrate aperture and focus on the ground glass, shutter speed had to be taken as read, but we never spent more than a couple of hours covering the basics.

    I can easily disassemble a spare Zenit as a prop to show the mechanics of the thing, but I'm not sure how I can make the link to buttons, dials and LCDs!
  12. I didn't know for sure that there was such a thing as "spare Zenit"

    I always assumed that the design of the things was done by a collective with "constructive self-criticism" playing an important role.:rolleyes:
    steve_gallimore|1 likes this.
  13. For an old foggie like me.
    When in doubt, the FIRST thing you do is RTFM.

    But many NEVER open the camera manual.
    They PLAY with the camera, trying to "figure it out." Then when that does not work, they want you to show them how it works.
    They want YOU to do the work for them, and hand them the answer on a tray. They do not want to put in the effort to learn it themselves.

    I had a student ask me how to upload pictures to the web site.
    I told him, "the instructions are in the class' shared drive, go read the instructions."
    To his credit, he did read it, and followed the instructions.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  14. Even the most basic rebels have manual setting. So shutter speed, Aperture and ISO, jpeg and raw settings will be there. Menus and button location may vary and features will be different between models. Some will have more focus points, higher ISO capability. So you should be able to teach the basic fundamentals of photography. I started dslrs with 350d rebel and upgraded to 40d to 7d to 6d to 5dmk4. Last summer I was doing some astro photography with my 5dmk4 at a camp. A nieghbor camper had a 350d rebel was interest in learning how to do what I was doing with their camera, it took me a bit to recall the capabilities, limitations and controls of that camera. It had been well over a decade since I touched that model.
  15. The kit for my niece end up as: 40D body - $50, EF 50/1.4 - 0$. It will probably cost almost that much to ship it to her, but it should be a good camera to learn on and enough camera to take her a good way in the hobby if she takes to it.

    The lens is only $0 since it's mine from the early 2000's, and I already had a Sigma 50/1.4 Art on my shopping list, so I guess that's sort of cheating.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  16. Joe, considering that the used price of that lens is ~€200-250, I'd call that cheating!

    My problem (which was mostly my GAS looking for an excuse) has been solved, I've arranged to borrow a dSLR from the club president, so I'll soon be able to dive down the rabbit hole of PASM, modal dials, buttons and whatnot.

    RT(F)M is a frequent response of mine, but to people with no technical background or inclination, it's often not a very helpful one - then again, there's not much point in waving, say, a Canon RP in front of me and asking how to change an AF setting (as happened last week) - shutter speed and aperture, I can probably find on an unfamiliar camera, ISO with a bit of poking or a labeled button, but anything else needs the manual. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem though, if you don't already know the basics, the manual may not be of much help, or, the opposite, it's too dumbed down to be of use for more advanced users (cough, Panasonic...).

    We'll see how much of a fool I can make myself look with the EOS!

    Please, don't anyone take this as me knocking Canon, I'm not, all cameras are highly capable, but it's hard to use or give advice on something you're completely unfamiliar with (my only Canon is a Canon 7), hence my desire to learn and Canon dSLRs happen to be by far the majority in our group.
    mikemorrell likes this.

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