The first camera...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by modafoto, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Hi

    I was thinking about what camera to start out with when you are a beginner. I have some neighbour and friends looking for a camera that will be good for starting up. I would like to have you guys and girls in here comment on my recommendations.

    I really recommend starting out using a manual camera with manual focus. Then you can learn the basics of shutter speed, aperture, focusing and DOF. If you start out with a fully automatic camera like my Canon EOS 30 (ELAN 7E) with AF (that can follow your eye and focus at what you look at), programs and all the other stuff that helps you in your daily photography and I'm very happy to have (especially aperture priority and AF).
    But as a beginner you won't learn the basics which is essential. Of course the beginner could set the camera to manual and disable the autofocus...but we all know that it won't happen...or at least, it takes a lot of strength not to switch the electronics on and shoot away...

    What do you think?
     
  2. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    A Pentax K-1000 is an excellent starter camera.
    Rugged, well built, excellent optics and very basic.
     
  3. sparx

    sparx Member

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    I would have to recommend an Olympus OM series camera. Total control, legendary optics and so many accessories still available second hand it will take someone through the beginner stage and out the other side.
     
  4. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A manual Nikon (ai or ais). If they love the camera they have 40 years worth of lenses to choose from. They are built like rocks (My wife has the FE2), but when everything is said and done all manuals are pretty good and its the lenses that tell the tale.
     
  5. Max

    Max Member

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    My first "real" camera was a Nikon FM - built like a tank, doesn't need batteries (the lightmeter is the only thing that uses them - if they die, you can keep shooting using other ways to figure the exposure), and like Mr. Callow said, a lot of great lenses to choose from.
     
  6. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning,

    I'd second the Olympus recommendation, assuming that one is interested in 35mm.

    Konical
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Even as a Canon FD user, I'd recommend a Nikon manual focus camera for someone getting into 35mm photography today, since it will allow easy transitions "forward" or "backward," and it's all good quality stuff.
     
  8. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    A real sleeper on ebay is the Fuji STX-1, STX-2, STX-1N series. These were very good cameras, with DOF preview, self timer, manual with light meter, very basic. Glass was excellent (Fujinon X-mount, EBC) in primes and zooms. They were from the early 80's and are going cheap, bodies and lenses! I just picked one up on ebay with case, 3 lenses, filters, etc. for $75.
     
  9. anyte

    anyte Member

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    I can't comment on what the best system is for a beginner, but I did want to comment on the portion quoted. I realize I might be different from the norm but I never use any of the auto features on my camera. I hadn't even had my first roll of film developed when I switched over to full manual on my Minolta Maxxum 50QD. I've never considered going back - not even to use aperture or shutter priority. It's an auto-focus camera but I still manually focus all my shots. I have two zoom lenses but restrict myself to using a small list of specific focal lengths. I do not randomly change the focal length per shot but rather choose a focal length to work with as I view something I would like to photograph, I then set my lens to that setting and do my best to make it work. I actually get rather frustrated when I unthinkingly adjust the focal length rather than the focus - because then I have to stop and make sure to reset it to the chosen focal length before I am willing to proceed. I set of prime lenses would fix that little annoyance.

    I think how the camera is used depends very much on the person using it and what they specifically want to get out of photography. If the person has a desire and is committed to learning, all the features in the world are not going to get in their way.
     
  10. 127

    127 Member

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    I'd aggree that any kind of automation is VERY difficult to turn off. Most of the cameras I use are totally manual. I set the exposure based on experience, and stuff almost always comes out fine.

    When I use my Petri 35mm (very rarely) with a build in meter I find it almost impossible not to become totally dependant on the meter. I stop trusting my judegement, and start trusting the little needle in the viewfinder. The means I stop looking at the light, and thinking about the scene.

    When I occasionally use a Canon EOS (not mine), I just put it on program and let it drive. If I try and control anything manually then it just compensates elsewhere automatically and I'm never sure what it's changed. The shots come out fine, but I want to get back to my nice manual cameras.

    The idea that the Auto-SLR can operate in point and shoot, so the novice can get good pictures immediatly, then gradually turn off the automation step by step as they get more experienced is a nice one, but it takes a lot of courage.

    Ian
     
  11. tomtom

    tomtom Member

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    my first camera was a minolta x-700. although it had some auto features, program, aperture and shutter priority, i never used them when i was taking a beginning class. i had know idea how they worked :smile:


    well said anyte :smile:
    tomtom
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    At first I was going to concur with everything said so far. All good advice, but I'll go on a limb and recommend something different for a first timer.

    Go to KEH or B&H or other place that has reputable service and look at their used equipment sections. Look for a used Pentax LX or a Nikon F3. These were fantastic, professional quality cemeras of their times (still are), but in today's world of digital, are undervalued and you can probably get a decent one at an affordable (I'm making a presumption on what your neighbours can afford here) price.

    They are fully manual as well as have a host of features that will, hopefully, entice then further into the world of photography. I always say the more toys, the more fun!

    My first camera was a Pentax ME Super. My dad told me he considered the K-1000 for my birthday, but opted for the former since it had more 'stuff' and knew it would entice me (a 12 year old at the time). It worked. I'm just assuming we're all kids here!

    Art.
     
  13. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    Canon FD is as good as it gets for newbies

    It's true, the Nikon system allows for expansion from a manual body to an AF one without losing lenses that might have been invested in the manual body.

    That being said, I would still recommend a Canon AE-1 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. This is the camera that I re-taught myself how to take a photo on. Before it I had a full-auto Pentax and it became a crutch, so I set it aside and found an AE-1 w/50mm lens and a flash on eBay for $65.00. The upside of Canon's decision to pretty much abandon all their existing customers and switch to the EOS system is that you can get all the old manual gear for fairly cheep.

    Basically if you are willing to focus your own lens and set your own exposure then you can get a top of the line camera for about $100.00. Granted it was top of the line in 1979, but the only advances that 35mm camera bodies have made in the last few decades has been in the ease of use (read: computer compensation for user laziness, ineptitude or lack of patience) area. The only people who really need all the latest technology in a camera body are photojournalists. The difference between life and death for say, a war photographer, could be measured by their cameras ability to photograph automatically and with multiple frame rates. For the majority of photographers (especially new ones) all the latest bells and whistles, while attractive, are not needed and if anything are a hinderance.

    Well I am going to step off my soap box now.

    Good thread Modafoto!
     
  14. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    First you have told us nothing of the people who will be using the cameras you want to recommend, whether their male, female or their interests as to subject matter or their thoughts on the subject of a camera and what they would like the camera to do. Rec'ing a camera based on no information is just plain stupid, and I'll tell you why. First, there's a lot of people out there who are not into the manual side of things. They don't want overly complicated equipment where you have to adjust anything, they just want to point and shoot. Rec'ing a manual camera, with match needle or diode metering and where focusing is manual and flash can be as well can turn these people off, and believe me I know quite of few of these types of people. Second with the emergence of digital, there's many people who like to have that little screen on the back so they can see their picture right away. There's even more of these people which is why so many digital cameras are being sold. They can take their card out, go to Walgreens and have prints in 1 hour, no computer and no film cost. Third, many cameras sold nowdays that take film are for family pictures (babies, birthdays, and holidays) and some travel shots when they go somewhere. My attitude here is that TTL flash exposure is the thing for these people to have. In fact for the babies and children shots, auto focus can be just as important. Forth, many manual cameras are getting on in age and parts are becoming harder to find. I could probably go on but to what point. A person interested in macro would probably want different equipment then someone interested in sports then someone interested in shooting weddings. I say, tell me what you want the camera for and I'll give you the top 3 picks according to what I've read here, elsewhere and what people have told me in person. As far as a manual camera is concerned, I'd say buy it second when you can have an appreciation for what one can do and will suffer the consequences of either it's weight, it's slowness or it's cost to get repaired when needed.
     
  15. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Bessa R2

    Great rangerfinder with superb optics for a fraction of the cost of a Lieca.

    Buy new. Yes there or tons of old Canons and Nikons out there but my experience is that used used 35mm SLR cameras are more trouble then they are worth. (unless you are sure they are new in the box)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2004
  16. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Which camera...

    There are alot of good cameras out there and I agree with your basic thought that a beginner should start out in 'manual'.

    My first 35 was (and I still own it; shot it today in fact) an early 80's Minolta X-700. I think it gives you the best of both worlds. It's a manual camera, requiring you to set aperture and shutter speed. But it also permits Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority, or full Program mode. It's a metal camera, and like the watch, it keeps on ticking...

    I'm sure all of the major camera manufacturers have a similar camera somewhere in their repertoire. Its just a matter of finding the one the fits best in your hand and your budget.
     
  17. unohuu

    unohuu Member

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    My first camera was a Minolta X-570. I liked this camera so much I have replaced it twice when stolen.