Camera for Photography Course - Silicon Valley High School


Camera Options for SVHS Photography Course

Cameras come in all shapes, sizes and prices. What you need for this course is any camera with flash and manual controls that enable you to manual focus, set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

This Course Requires any Camera with Manual Controls & Tripod

  • Manual Focus
  • Manual Shutter Speed Settings
  • Manual Aperture Settings
  • Manual ISO Settings
  • Aperture Priority Settings
  • Shutter Priority Settings
  • Flash
  • Tripod–to stabilize the camera.

Of course a professional DSLR or full-frame mirrorless camera would be great, however, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money. Here are some options to consider:

Old, Used 35MM SLR or Rangefinder Film Camera

  • Pros: Good way to learn the fundamentals of how cameras work. With an SLR, you can see what’s in focus through the lens.
  • Cons: Need to buy film and get it developed, then get it scanned or digitized to edit on your computer.
  • Price: $100+.

Digital Point and Shoot

  • Pros: Small, lightweight.
  • Cons: Setting the controls on a small digital screen is not as tactile as a traditional larger, traditional camera.
  • Price: New $70+. Used: $30+.

Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera with Interchangeable Lenses

  • Pros: Image quality. Controls are readily available and easy to manipulate. You get to see what’s in focus through the viewfinder.
  • Cons: Price and bulky size. Mirrorless cameras are not so bulky as digital SLR’s but can offer the same functionality.
  • Price: $300+. Often sold in kits with lenses, etc.

Manual Camera Control Apps for Modern Android or Apple Smartphones

There are manual camera control apps for smartphones, such as Manual Camera DSLR for Android and ProCam for Apple. However, we recommend you find a real camera rather than trying to use your smartphone.

If you take our Photography Part 1 course, you will not be able to complete some parts of the assignments if you use a smartphone camera that does not allow you do adjust aperture and other settings.  

Borrow a Dedicated Camera from a Friend or Relative?

To learn photography, you need to understand how to override automatic settings to control the look of the image. Smartphone apps are limited in their capabilities, and we do not recommend them for this course. If you don’t have a camera, and aren’t able to buy one, have you checked if there’s a camera with manual controls lying around in the attic?  How about borrowing a camera from a friend or relative?  Borrowing a dedicated camera would be better than trying to use a smartphone app.

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