Student Seeking Suggestions/Advice From Advanced Photographer (35mm)

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ashlinimartini, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. ashlinimartini

    ashlinimartini Member

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    My name is Ashley and I am a beginner with the art of photography in the most literal way. I am about to start introductory classes for digital and 35mm photography next week and hope to become a polished photographer in the future. At this point I really don't have the knowledge it takes to compare different 35mm cameras and purchase one that's best suited for my needs and level of experience. I have been browsing online now for several hours and I am getting pretty overwhelmed with all of it. I would be in a tremendous amount of debt to anyone with some experience that has some good recommendations on where to steer myself in the purchase of equipment. My goal is to end up with a 35mm camera that is reliable, has any features I will need for learning in a classroom environment, is not necessarily "top of the line" but is somewhat close and any additional things that I will be able to use throughout my career to enhance the quality of my work. I look forward to hearing what experienced artists think! Without the power of suggestion I don't think I will be able to make a choice! Thank you so much for your time, I greatly appreciate you.
     
  2. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

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    Don't be fooled into thinking you need an expenisve camera to make great pictures, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Manual controls, mechanical operation, good choice of cheap but good quality lenses are the things you should look for. For years the standard students' camera was the Pentax K1000, I think this would be a great place for you to start.
     
  3. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Ashley,

    I am much older than you but you probably know more already than I do because you are willing to ask basic questions.

    First off, there is a difference b/w the film-based photography that this site is dedicated to preserving - and the (now) more common mode of digital imaging.

    I believe you have to first make a personal decision of whether you want to pursue film or digital photography. If you prefer film as a means of "capturing an image" then you are close to being what this site is about - and close to where my interests lie.

    How you then process the film you shoot will determine whether you would prefer to remain here or, if you like to scan your film shots etc., would be happier on the site's sister site:hybridphoto.com

    Anyway you "cut it" welcome to the site Ashley from George in NYC,
     
  4. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    before you even start thinking about buying one make sure you understand the requirements for the course. When I took intro to photo the proffesor had told us all that we needed 35mm SLR's with manual controls, several students came in with point and shoots after hearing that.
     
  5. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Speaking as someone who spent 10 years as a professor, your teacher will appreciate it if you go and ask him or her. It shows that you are interested and willing to put in the effort to talk to them.

    That said, I'd recommend a Nikon, such as an FE or FE2 from someplace like KEH. They are first class cameras that don't sell for much, and there are tons of reasonably priced lenses for them. You might consider getting a 28mm (wide angle), 50mm (normal), and 105mm (telephoto) lenses. Make sure to buy from a reputable dealer, like KEH.
     
  6. ChadHahn

    ChadHahn Member

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    I don't know where you are located or if you know anyone knowledgeable about cameras. If you know what to look for some great deals can be had out there. The chain pawn shops in my city are selling 35mm SLRs dirt cheap. Their cases are filled with cameras and lenses.

    My city doesn't have any used camera stores to speak of anymore but if yours does, there are probably bargains to be had there as well.

    Like I said, don't go buying a pig in a poke. Have someone who knows what they are doing check everything out.

    Chad
     
  7. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    One of the forum members of nelsonfoto has put several Cosina SLR's up for sale. The first couple are k-Mount bodies, equivalent of the K-1000. The last two are the older screw-mount bodies. I would go with a k-Mount body, although the older screw mount cameras have many VERY cheap lenses available. The K-Mount is easier to use.

    All are good prices.

    http://nelsonfoto.com/v/showthread.php?t=11513
     
  8. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    All the above are good suggestions - if budget is a consideration, my recommendations from cheap to somewhat more expensive would be Pentax K1000 and then Nikon FE, FE2, FM, FM2n, F3. These days second-hand analog equipment is much cheaper than it ever was before and even a Nikon F3, a top pro camera of 25+ years ago, is really not that expensive.

    Best regards and welcome!

    David
     
  9. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    Nikon and Pentax have excellent systems and have considerable backward compatibility with their older technology (not each other). This would allow you to purchase a basic system and then later upgrade as your needs evolve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2007
  10. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    In the past I recommended (as above) the Pentax K series.

    1. It is reliable and was quite affordable.

    2. There are good lenses available for it.

    3. The Pentak K series is a bayonet mount...the earlier versions like the Spotmatic (which are good, I use one that is nearly 40 yrs old!) are screw mount lenses, they are threaded and are more cumbersome to attach to the camera...

    Now however the price factor is now quite different and Nikons are very affordable, and I agree with Peter and David, If you can afford it get one of the Nikon cameras listed above, they are also bayonet mount systems, and are of the highest quality...note the Pentax K and the Nikon cameras are of metal body construction-a good thing in my opinion...
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    There are two basic types of 35mm cameras used for serious work: the SLRs mentioned above and the rangefinder. Probably the SLR will be more appropriate for your use. However, when there were few SLRs on the market, I used rangefinder cameras for many years, and still use them when more appropriate. My Leica M2 has served well for 37 years, which makes the initial cost a bargain. Rangefinder cameras are great for shooting quickly, quietly, and and in poor light. Journalists sometimes still make good use of them. SLRs are more versatile. My Nikon gear is about as old, and still performing well enough. In addition to Nikon models others have mentioned, consider the Nikkormat. Batteries for its TTL meter are a problem, but otherwise these basic, but sturdy, cameras are workhorses. I also use the original funky Nikon F with a prism viewfinder instead of the awkward metered finder. These old cameras are less convenient than new equipment, but there is little difference in the images they produce. They were the pro gear of their day. Many affordable new 35mm cameras don't have nearly as durable construction.

    Prices of older quality cameras are low, and vary widely. If you shop carefully now, cameras won't depreciate much while you are getting the experience needed for choosing your ulitmate outfit. If possible, hold the cameras before purchase, operate the controls, and look through the viewfinder. If the camera seems inconvenient to operate, as some people find the Nikkormat, you might be happier with something else. Most quality cameras, intelligently used, will deliver good photographs. How well the photographer can use the camera is the important thing.
     
  12. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    As you are taking both film and digital classes I would pick a camera with lens that can be used on either film or digital bodies. I would take a look at a Nikon N80, Pentex Z50, Canon EOS, or a Minolta, I would avoid Olympus as it's digital system is not compatable with its older 35mm system. All of these camera have manual override, built in motor drive and auto focus. One advantage of the Pentex is that can use auto focus, non auto focus K mount and with an adaptor M42 screw mounts lens.
     
  13. airgunr

    airgunr Subscriber

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    Just to add my 2 cents worth and expand on Paul's comments....

    There have been many excellent suggestions offered here. Definitly ask your teacher for their recommendation.

    That being said, when you purchase a camera you are purchasing not only the body but their whole system and most importantly their lenses.

    I choose the Nikon line as most all of their older and newer lenses work on both 35mm cameras like the FM2n, FE2, FA, etc. and the newer digitals. There are some exceptions but few.

    The reason I say this is that if you do go with a film camera you can then use the lenses you purchase on the newer digitals if you go that route in the future.

    Some cameras, Canon comes to mind, do not have this compatablity from their older models to the new ones. Not to say Canons aren't good, but it is a factor to consider.
     
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  15. laverdure

    laverdure Member

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    Generally speaking, the more manual your camera the more you will have to learn (and more learning is a good thing.) I started with a K1000 and it was good enough for me for ten years before I bought anything else. However, for a photographer just starting out now, I'd recommend a Pentax Spotmatic: it gives a few more creative controls (depth of field check, self-timer), the lenses are cheaper (never mind they take a few seconds longer to put on and take off than the K series (K1000) lenses), and frankly, it's a hell of a lot prettier than any K. Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer, like KEH. It's a pain to get burned on your first camera.

    But do ask your instructor, and enjoy yourself.
     
  16. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Pentax K and Nikon FE/FM2 are very sound-also the Pentax MX, which was my first camera aged 11.It's light, compact and simple to use.Used ones are pretty cheap as well.YMMV:smile:

    PS- a well known UK photographer (John Blakemore) once said that the Nikkormat represented the peak of camera design:wink:
     
  17. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I used Nikon for many years and really loved it. When I decided to buy a digital, I bought a Nikon so I could use the same lenses and it has worked out well. Most Nikon slr's will allow you to use it manually which will be the most helpful with either film or digital shooting. Good luck!
     
  18. laverdure

    laverdure Member

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    Basically... any name-brand non-autofocus SLR from the 1960s onward will do, I think is what we're saying. Really, there isn't that much difference between them. Don't spend a fortune: plenty of time for that later. The older cameras are usually cheaper, often better made, and for most purposes just as good, if not better, than newer ones. If you're only buying one lens, make it a 50mm, or else a 35mm, but definitely not a zoom.
     
  19. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    All of the recommendations so far are good except the one that recommended the Pentax K1000. This camera is way overpriced and often sold used for more that what it's worth new.
     
  20. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    In terms of buying an older (much older) camera such as a Spotmatic or Nikkormat. I would not recommend a student buying a 30 year old camera, buy a recent model that can repaired quickly such as Nikon N 50-90 or
    Pentex Z50, your grade to a certain extent depends on your camera.
     
  21. 3Dfan

    3Dfan Member

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    If you want to buy new instead of used, I'd suggest the Vivitar V3800N as a modern k-mount SLR. However, be sure to get the version with the 50mm prime lens instead of the zoom lens. The vivitar has double exposure, depth of field preview, and a timer. I have enjoyed using mine. It's a common enough student camera that you can often find it used (Mine was ~$12). On the down side, it has a plastic rather than metal body. Since you are also getting digital, I should point out that either the Vivitar or the K1000 is lens compatible with the Pentax k10D and k100D dslrs which are given good reviews and seem a lot of value for the money compared to Nikon or Canon.
     
  22. snegron

    snegron Member

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    As others have recommended, I second the idea of getting a Nikon FM2 or F3. Nikon has kept its mount for many years which means that if you purchase a lens made back in 1980 you will be able to use it on a DSLR like the D200 in case you decide to go digital in the future.

    I started with a Pentax K1000 and I loved it! I never understood why that camera was so tough. I had no idea on how to treat a camera back then, so I really mistreated it. I once left it on the hood of a car and drove off. It hit the asphalt road and bounced several times. I picked it up, blew the dust and debris off, and went shooting with it.

    Nikons are also very rugged and well built. Their film cameras enjoy a well deserved reputation for being tanks, especially their F series. Check with www.keh.com. They are a reputable company and offer some of the best cutomer service in the business. I would stay away from ebay (at least on your first purchase) until you are very familiar with what you want to buy. It is way too easy to get burned on ebay.
     
  23. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    I suggest you either talk to the professor or double check the requirements. In addition to an SLR that will work in manual, not automatic mode only, there may also be a requirement you have a handheld meter. That seems to be popping up on a number of the boards as the Fall term approaches.
     
  24. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    My suggestion is that you buy a SLR that uses lenses which you can use for whichever brand of DSLR you might think of buying in the future. One thing about buying photographic equipment, camera bodies you can always upgrade, but it's recommended that you stay with a lens system. I highly recommend that you buy the best lenses you can afford and start building your SLR system, one lens at a time.

    Since I started with Canon, I'm going to list out a system of camera bodies and lenses which you can start out with, and you can determine whether you want to go with this route based on what you want to do in terms of photography since the lenses can be used for Canon's analog and digital system.

    Analog:

    - Canon EOS Rebel Ti or EOS Elan 7 series.
    - 50mm F1.8
    - 28mm F2.8
    - 85mm F1.8

    After this, you have a pretty good camera system with a normal, wide and telephoto lens which will be more than adequate for 99% of your photography.

    And when you decide to go digital. You can get the following:

    - Canon EOS 30D or Rebel XT or whatever new DSLR Canon has coming out.
    - The 3 lenses you buy for your analog body still works, and you can save up for a zoom lens like the 17-55mm 2.8IS.
    - Or if you really want to get the 3 lenses which 99% of photojournalists use, you can get the 16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8 but that's going to put you in the red $3.5k. :smile:
     
  25. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Member

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    I tend to agree: the K1000 is a very solid camera and a favourite for students, but that fact means that everyone has heard of it, and that has pushed up the price. Also, it lacks mirror lock-up which is helpful, and Depth of Field preview which I would regard as near essential, especially for a student as it is so helpful in visualising the end result.

    Instead, I would recommend the Pentax KX or K2 as cheaper and better alternatives to a K1000.

    Nicer still is the Pentax MX, but this will cost more. Main point to look out for on an MX is to check that the flash synch. circuit works as this is often the first thing to go wrong on this model.

    The LX is a magnificent camera, but expensive - if you get one make sure it has had a service to cure the 'sticky mirror syndrome' that they tend to acquire with age, or else budget to have it done (once this issue is fixed it won't re-occur as the materials used now last much longer.)

    In your position I would chose either Pentax or Nikon because both allow you to use lenses on both film and digital, manual focus and AF bodies. Of the two, Pentax's backward compatibility is slightly the better. Personally I also prefer the 'look' of Pentax lenses and like the ergonomics of their bodies, but both these things are personal and somewhat subjective issues, so go with what 'feels' right for you.

    That last point is important: getting a camera that is comfortable in your hands and where the controls fall easily under your fingers makes an enormous difference to the ease and 'naturalness' of using it. Having a camera that you can use comfortably and intuitively so that, like any good tool, it just becomes an extension of yourself, helps you to produce better work because you are concentrating on the picture, not on the camera.

    Enjoy :smile:


    Peter
     
  26. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Check with your tutor about the most suitable camera, whether digital or film based. A film based camera can easily have negatives scanned if you are being introduced to Adobe photoshop.

    Learning digital isn't necessary unless you are looking to be employed by a company.

    A lot of people are referring to the Pentax K1000, but this was fine maybe 20 years ago!

    I would look at an auto-focus Canon EOS 300 (Canon Rebel in the USA) with a 28-90mm zoom lens (preferably USM model of lens.).

    Excellent quality and value for money, can be manual or automatic as you wish. Manual focus cameras are fine for landscape photography, but useless for almost every other application.