Choosing a camera

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by reinis, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. reinis

    reinis Member

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    Hello.
    If I can't choose a camera, only because I don't know anyone who coud more or less without fear or favour compare some cameras and from camera revies it's quite hard to tell what's good or bad or better.
    So, I have used a Praktica (with some old, unsharp lenses ) Yashica fx super 2000 (can't compare to the praktica), a Yashica fx-103 (more solid than the fx-2000), and now I want to buy one for myself.
    But I realise that Yashica's are not the only cameras avaliable.
    So I need somebody to tell me If there are any better than (for example) the same Yashica fx-103.
    Well, hard to tell what i want, but is the Canon A-1 that much better? (apart from some more programs and shutter priority, and so on )
    So actually the question is like this:
    What camera (that is not a scarcity and avaliable, e.g. on e-bay ) would You suggest for me? It could be about the yashica- 103 or canon a-1 level camera.
    Well, is the canon a-1 more solid?
    Or any other cameras?
    Well, at least the Yashicas can use CZ T* lenses.
    Hope You understood my question.

    Thanks for any advices.
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    My advice? Buy cheap, shoot lots of film, learning in the process and refining your definition of the ideal camera for you. Then, based on that experience, upgrade when the first camera becomes a serious limitation. By starting with a completely manual camera, and a reasonably good hand-held meter, you'll learn more about the technical aspects of photography much faster than with any form of automation.
     
  3. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    The Yashicas can use the Zeiss glass, but will the cost of those lenses stop you from buying the lenses you want?

    Almost any system that you can afford will be just fine. You didn't list anything in the way of "features" that you want or what your budget is, so I'll make some assumptions based on what you said you've used: You're willing to use a manual focus camera as long as it has a meter, and you're probably interested in "general photography" so you're not yet looking for anything terribly exotic. You want to be able to afford a camera and a few lenses without spending a lot of money.

    The Yashica is fine as long as you can get the lenses you want. If you'll be buying the Yashica lenses rather than the Zeiss lenses because of cost constraints, then I'd suggest you look at something like an old Pentax K1000 or even a Pentax Spotmatic (screw-mount) instead. You'll be able to afford a lot of good lenses for one of those cameras, and the cameras are built like tanks. The old Pentax lenses were some of the best around, especially if you stick with Super-Multi Coated ("SMC") lenses.

    As an example of the price difference: KEH sells the Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 for the Yashica in Bargain condition for US$62. (This is by far the cheapest Zeiss lens they list; most of the Zeiss lenses run anywhere from US$200 - US$600.) They sell the Pentax screwmount SMC 50mm f/1.4 in Bargain condition for $US35, and most of the lenses for the Pentax screwmount sell for under US$100.

    For the price of the cheapest (Bargain condition) 180mm Zeiss lens that KEH lists (US$349), you could buy Pentax screwmount lenses in the following lengths: 200mm, 135mm, 105mm, 50mm, 35mm, and 28mm...plus a Spotmatic camera body. And you'd still have a couple of dollars left.

    I love Zeiss lenses, but unless you're sure you're going to be able to afford them, I think you'll be happier with a camera that allows you to purchase good lenses at a fair price and that will last you until you decide to upgrade (either to a higher-end 35mm camera system or to larger film). Besides, the Pentax Spotmatic and K1000 cameras seem to run forever. You could probably buy a well used system today and use it for the rest of your life.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  4. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Budding photographer here, and I'd like to echo the feeling of my respected colleagues. I have a Praktica L, which uses M42 (AKA Pentax Screwmount) lenses, and I'm relishing the availability of good, cheap lenses. My body is fully manual, doesn't even have a meter, but I got it CLA'd so that the obvious defects are wiped out.

    Honestly, when you begin, you can't even judge yet the effect of two different lenses of same focal length (I know I can't). Bear in mind that you have to figure out at the same time the problems of proper exposure, depth of field, and compostion: getting down and dirty with the details of how specific lenses look, how film reacts, how they combine with processing techniques, and how they look on paper will take you YEARS. Go incrementally.

    Start by getting the obvious facts right: is my shutter accurate? is my light meter also accurate? can I take pictures without shaking? are my lenses clean? is my body light-tight?

    Get a few cheap prime lenses (~30-50$) of decent brands, usually japanese (vivitar, pentax, yashica, asanuma; 50mm Zeiss can also be cheap) to get a feel of different focal length. It's the most obvious feature of a lens, and that will get you started. Don't try to make too fine distinctions too early because your eye will be looking at the wrong things.

    For your first developments, any average lab will do. Find the one that's closest to your house, so you'll minimize on shoe costs :smile: The point is to see whether you're overexposing or underexposing, if you can find the right angle/focal length, and if you can focus. Don't even think of mastering contrasts yet, and think formally.

    At that point getting to know a more experienced photographer and/or finding a lab that can process your film manually will become invaluable. The learning process is very individual, so being able to talk with someone and ask questions in terms YOU understand will bootstrap you into something more accurate. Start reading technical, artistic, and critical literature. Show your pictures around, and exchange ideas. Experiment with what you know. You'll be surprised by how much you can accomplish when you sit down and think hard instead of hunting gizmos.

    Overall, you want to get manual control on more and more aspects of your work. This takes time, effort, and learning. There's no recipe.
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    On the Pentax theme I'd recommend you look out for a Centon K100 which is a Pentax clone and takes the PK fit lenses. Loads of fine quality Pentax SMC lenses available as already been said. They are well built, very cheap and on Ebay they usually only go for about £10-15 (GBP) leaving you free to spend your cash on lenses. Since I liberated one from my son I've used it more than my Nikon F100. Manual cameras are great fun to use and you'll learn everything you'll ever need with one.
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    These days on Ebay you can usually pick up various K mount cameras for not much more then shipping. The Ricohs are some of the best values. Better speced then the Pentaxes. Cheaper. No cult bidding wars.

    If you want basic with no frills then something like the KR-5 types. If you want everything but autofocus then the XR-M or XR-X camera. Same camera different name. With patience both should be had for less then $50 with a 50mm. The KR-5 maybe closer to $30.

    http://www.butkus.org/chinon/index.html

    That website has manuals for a whole bunch of K mount cameras.
     
  7. reinis

    reinis Member

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    Well, it's not that I've never used a camera at all.
    I own the Praktica (fully manual)with 37, 50, 135 and 200 mm lenses, but mostly I use only the 50 mm lens , I know the basics of fhotography, I also have something more or less like a darkroom at home, It's not that I'm an utter beginner but there are some reasons I want to get a new camera:

    *It's heavy (I know that theoretically it's good (it's harder to jar it))

    *It's quite hard to focus precisely (compared to those SLR's that have the the split-image rangefinder, which I love)

    * The mirror slap/shutter open and close is very jarring, and the shock is not absorbed

    *The lenses I have are old and heavy, and I'd rather spend money on lenses that are really good, I don't see any sens of wasting money on lenses for a camera that's morally outdated. (which is one of the most important motives for buying a new camera and collecting some (I think, about 4 would be quite enough) lenses for it)

    [sorry for my english]

    Anyway, even if I had a camera that has the AE or P programs, most of the time I would use it as a manual camera. Just sometimes it's good to have those programs.

    I use the Praktica, I can't say I dilsike it, but it's morally outdated .
    I've used the Yashica fx-2000, which is also fully manual, and I can say it's more comfortable and more fun using it.
    But only I haven't used a Canon or a Pentax, I can't judge them.
    I assume that the difference between using a Canon and a Yashica could be the same than the difference between the Yashica and the Praktica.
    How can I know?

    So what I would need is a (don't know if it may be called so, but)- manual camera that has the split-image rangefinder, at least the AE mode, but if it had also other programs, it wasn't a trouble

    The DOF preview button would be great, but that's not the most important thing.
    Well, maybe there's something else, but I can't imagine just now.

    So - I need a good camera that can be used as a fully manual camera, but has also other features, now I think I could afford about 170 Euro for the camera + a 50mm lens.
    The features will not disturb me from learning fhotography, as long as I can use it as fully manual camera.
    Hope You understood what I said.
    And thanks for any advices again!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2005
  8. reinis

    reinis Member

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    I live in Latvia, and getting anything from the USA is quite expensive (especially after joining the UE), so I actually can get only stuff from ebay.de, and there's no Centon stuff at all.
     
  9. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I don't know if it's of use but I only use ebay uk as I can't use palpay. Postage shouldn't be too bad from here.
     
  10. reinis

    reinis Member

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    The pentax K-1000 seemed like a brick just like the Praktica to me, I think I'd like something with more features
     
  11. reinis

    reinis Member

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    Well, but most of the sellers on ebay.uk post only to the UK
     
  12. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    While they don't all have AE, have you considered the Minoltas? They are very well made, have the split-image, DOF preview, mirror lockup, normal weight, the Rokkor glass is very good.

    BTW what language do you speak? I'm curious to know what you mean by the Prakticas being "morally" outdated :wink:
     
  13. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Try reading the information at www.photoethnography.com on the various 35mm cameras that are reviewed there. (Choose the Equipment link, then choose My Classic Camera Collection from the left-hand menu. There are a lot of write-ups on a lot of classic cameras, and they're all from the web site owner's personal experience.)

    Weight wasn't something you mentioned in your original post, but since the weight of the camera is important to you, you should pay attention to the tables at the bottom of each review that include the dimensions for the cameras (including weight).

    Each review also includes highlights of the features of the cameras. You'll be able to tell if the cameras have the features you want.

    Although it's more expensive than the Pentax models I mentioned above, perhaps something like a Nikon FE-2 would be good for you. It's not quite as heavy as the Pentax, but it's still an all-metal body that will stand up to abuse. It has both manual and Aperture Priority shooting modes, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up (using the self-timer), a bright, user-replaceable view screen, 1/4000th top shutter speed, TTL flash metering, and an extensive range of lenses and accessories. I've been using one since they first came out, and it's never failed me. The only problem when compared to the Pentax system is the price; both the camera and the lenses will cost you at least double what the Pentax will. (Still much cheaper than the Zeiss lenses, though.) The Nikon FE should be even cheaper, and you only give up TTL flash metering and the slightly brighter viewscreen.

    If the size of the camera is a problem, you might also look into the older Olympus cameras. They tended to be smaller than the cameras produced by other manufacturers. Olympus has a long history of introducing technical advancements in small camera bodies; if the size of the camera is important then the older Olympus models might be good for you.

    The truth is that no camera is perfect for everyone, and one camera is rarely perfect for even one person. If you could list the top ten things that you want in a camera, in order, I'll bet someone here can make a recommendation that will be helpful to you. (You probably also want to give us some idea of how much money you want to spend.)

    APUG is full of friendly people who love to share their knowledge and who love helping people who are new to an area of photography. You couldn't have come to a better site for information. If you can help us understand what's important to you, many of us would love to help you find the best camera for you.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
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  15. reinis

    reinis Member

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    Oh, well, I speak Latvia, since I'm from Latvia.
    That's a Latvian proverb, which I just metaphrased in English.
    By that I mean that that the Praktica Technically is good and usable, but I don't see a reason for buying new lenses to it, since sooner or later I will need a new camera.
    And about Minoltas - I don't know anything, I just know that the Canon A-1 is quite good, and I just have used the Yashicas, and knoe they're better thatn the Praktica.
    "morally" outdated - it's that for some reasons You can't use the item, because it has some "qualities", which in present situation and time makes You consider using something that's more of today.
    Hope You at least got the taste of that proverb.


    P.S. Ok, I'll try to list 10 most important things

    And I could spend about (maximum)150-180 Euro (~ 230 $) for the camera and a 50 mm lens
     
  16. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Download the manual for the Ricoh XR-X. That's the European name for the camera. Hard to find more value for the money.
     
  17. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    This (generically) is something that I've heard before.

    The solution for the last person with this trouble was for them to send me the amount of money that they wanted to spend, identify the eBay items that they wanted, then I'd buy for them using my eBay account and forward the items to them. It takes a bit longer, but at least they got a worldwide selection of photo items to choose from.

    It seems to have worked rather well last time I did it, so if this procedure interests you and you'd like some help, let me know.

    cheers
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Reinis,
    If size & weight are considerations you may want ot consider the Pentax MX. It's full-featured as is the Olmpus OM series. Also very light & compact. Uses the K mount lenses or, with an adapter screw mount M-42 lenses.
     
  19. reinis

    reinis Member

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    The Nikon FE-2 looks quite ok, though quite expensive.
    Well, I understand that the cheap ones will not have the DOF preview, although my Praktica has one, but it's not that important, if it makes the camera cost much more.

    So some thing I'd like to have :
    Manual focusing
    It rather be cheap than expensive
    I'd like the Shutter-priority program
    I'd like to see the shutter and aperature info in my viewfinder
    It does not have to be a tank, but it should not be a soapbox either (like the Pentax Mz-m)
    TTL flash metering would not be bad, but not necessary
    It shout not be some kind of retro-camera

    As I said, it could be something between Yashica fx-103 and Canon A-1

    What do You think of The A-1?

    And - again, thanks for replies, I've read them and inspected the cameras You adviced
     
  20. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    If you want something lighter and with a bright viewfinder, try Olympus OM. They are light and with smooth mirrors (the OM-1 has mirror lock up). The OM-2n is perhaps the best mix of cost with manual and auto. They are reliable, have good battery life and there is loads of superb glass. It doesn't have shutter priority auto, though, although I have rarely missed it.

    I would also agree that the Nikon FE-2 is a good choice, but not if you are left eyed. It switched on with the film wind lever and if you are left eyed you will bash your head with the lever and switch the camera off when you bring the thing up to your eye. I always thought the contempoary Canons, e.g. the AE-1 and A-1 were male jewelry at the time and still do. Sorry to Canon lovers.

    David.
     
  21. reinis

    reinis Member

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    You mean the A-1 isn't a good choice?
     
  22. reinis

    reinis Member

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    Thanks, I'll keep that in mind
    Isn't a package from the USA to Europe expensive?
    And I think if not that,than the money transfer to any foreing bank is quite expensive.
     
  23. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Yes, it is true that there is some added cost, payable to the financial instututions for the transfer of funds and for the extra shipping step. I personally will contribute my time at no cost.
    The amount of desire that the "purchaser" has will determine how much money they wish to throw at solving the problem of obtaining the part in question.

    A storey from personal experience ::

    A couple of years ago, I found in Lithuania a couple of parts (military surplus) for an antique radio that I was restoring. By the time I was done with the costs of the money and the cost of the shipping, the price of the parts had tripled - the radio works pefectly :smile: !!

    cheers
     
  24. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I hate them, but I am sure there are others who don't.

    David.
     
  25. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I was in your shoes 2 years ago

    I have been a serious shooter of black and white 35mm film for two years now and farting around in general with colour for 5 years. I picked up a Canon Ae-1 as my first manual focus SLR and shot a lot of film through it. They are relatively cheap on the market, I paid $250 CDn restored with a 50/1.8 lens. I built up a system with a 28mm wide angle lens my brother scored on Ebay and a 90mm telephoto given as a birthday present. The one complaint I have with the camera is when the battery dies the camera goes along for the ride. Another camera to consider is the Nikkormat FTN, the battery only runs the meter and its built like a tank. The same cannot be said for modern cameras. You will want a nikkor 50/1.4 to go with that.

    Bill
     
  26. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    It sounds like you have you mind set on either the A-1 or, a yashica. As was mentioned previously by others, in 35mm, you're buying into a lens mount and glass. Both canon and yashica owners have wonderful glass available to them - though neither of these camera bodies is known to be particularily robust.

    The later Pentax and Minolta cameras also fall into this category...and have the features you want (although AFAIK, shutter priority AE is only going to be found on the Minolta X-700 with MD lenses)

    If you have used a Yashica and like it...get one and enjoy the fine glass.