7ds are not great cameras for primary angles in skiing. A good 7d set up would cost 3-4 grand like e heath said. A cheap kit lens pretty much defeats the purpose of a 7d. If he wanted a cheap HDSLR, why not go with the t2i? T2i actually produces a crisper image. Only downfalls is the cheaper body material, and no dual digi processor which means slightly worse in low light (not much) and shoots 3.7 fps when shooting pictures.
I just wouldnt recommend a HDSLR though personally. They produce outstanding images and the DOF is unreal, but if you want to learn all about cameras like the OP stated, I just wouldnt recommend it.
the Panny HMC40 is a great starter cam. It shoots AVC HD, which can be annoying to work with and is the same data rate as HDV (so are SLRs so same thing), but you can learn a camera. You can learn what all of the settings mean and how adjusting them adjusts your image to situations. For instance, what look do you want to establish and how to set up your gamma curves, matrix, chroma level, coring, blah blah ect.
To me, those settings are very very important to learn. You dont get any of those settings on SLRs btw.
Plus you will have auto focus. I dont know why people think SLRs are soo great for skiing without autofocus. Sure you can just close the aperture and turn the focus to infinity, but to me that defeats the purpose of those cameras anyways. I could go on.
It really is just my opinion and people may not agree with it, but I recommend something like the HMC40, so you can truly learn a camera and all of the settings.
Normally I would recommend a DVX, but I think the HMC has all the same scene file options and you probably wouldnt listen to me if I told you to get a DVX to learn.
DVX is still an amazing camera btw. Just look what Landis can do with his. I know he has an hpx170 now too, but I know for a while he was still using his DVX more.
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