For "budget" I think you need to consider the total cost and quailty of your system. If you want a system with matched manufator's brand prime lens then Canon FD, Minolta MD and Konica are good choices as the lens (with a few exceptions) are very inexpensive. If you can live with 3rd party lens then Nikon, Pentex, Minolta and Canon AF bodies with Sigma or Tamron AF lens exellent buys. Determine what you want, set a price and do an Excel spread sheet comparing the diffent brands.
I vote for a K1000 to based on your budget concerns. The lenses are cheap and available too. You can have a nice 28mm, 50mm, and short tele for just $300.
An autofocus camera is not a modern alternative to a manual focus camera, it's just a different beast. You get a brighter viewfinder, but you lose the ability to easily and correctly focus manually, because focusing screens in autofocus cameras are optimized for light transmission not for help in focusing.
If you take pictures of fast moving subjects (such ad dogs and children) then autofocus is helpful. If you do street photography, or just cityscape etc then autofocus is a hindrance. If forces you to focus-lock-recompose which I find quite suboptimal. Besides with autofocus lenses you often have to give up on scale focusing. Depth of field marks are just a suggestion, but a useful one! :)
Finally, I have nothing against a more recent camera that works. But all the automation in it (autofocus, motors) is something that can break or go out of calibration more easily than gears. Motor-induced noise can also be very annoying in certain circumstances. It's horses for courses, younger horses are not necessarily better.
Generally speaking, I've no consideration for matrix metering at all. If you can't use an external light meter, you are better off using an internal one (whatever, but not "matrix") and then compensating manually than relying on what the camera thinks you should be doing (and the camera certainly cannot know better than you).
For me mehanical shutter, no programming is the better route. Just picked up a Ashahi S1a that is built like a tank. All mechanical and not meter. Takes the very plentiful M42 lenses such as the Super Takumars which is some excellent glass and very plentiful so not expensive. Viewfinder is excellent and thought there is no split image focusing, I find the focusing easier than say a Leicaflex. No need for figuring out a batery solution as it has no built in electronics, hence no battery required. Yes, Sunny 16 Rule or hand held meter but it really is not an issue unless you are going to deal with say a bellows, filters or things like extenders as you will then need to remember the factor. Just plain good fashioned photogrpahy.
A more modern choice would be the Yashica FX-3 or FX-3 Super, with the built in meter. Though they are not considered pro cameras they seem to be almost bullet proof. At the time Yashica design and made them it also was building the Contax line that felt only a little better. Happily both lines take the same lens mount so you can get some of the best glass out there and a camera that is very reliable but basic. I have 2 of them and the meters are spot on. These can be had very inexpensively and later when funds build up you can get something like a RTS series and use the FX as a backup body. The only weakness is the letherette covering that tends to shred and wear easily over time. One of mine I simply bought a piece of leather for a couple of dollars and made a covering that has lasted some 20 years and the other still has the original. A company does make a leather kit for the bodt for something like $60US but it is easy to make it as there is little complexity in the body design.
A bit more modern with built in metering
If one spends anytime in cold weather such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, walking, hiking ..., then batteries become a big deal - batteries-less black hole or not. Cold temperatures sap and kill batteries. Every winter vacation I see people with digital cameras swapping batteries only to find that the "new" batteries quickly die.
Originally Posted by Wolfeye
Personally, I'd stay away from the AE-1 and AE-1 programs...
... the ones I am coming across are showing electronic age... as in electronics are getting goofy... these are 30 year old cameras now.
Nikkormat!!.. but they are heavy things.... nice though.
Just not so. Late Nikon AF bodies have bright viewfinders with perfectly acceptable screens. Focus confirmation has never let me down. They're superb with MF lenses. Matrix metering isn't an option with AI-AIS lenses, just centre-weighted and spot. It's an "alternative" that works for me, sometimes better than my F3s, FEs and Fs.
Originally Posted by Diapositivo
As for batteries, if the weather's cold enough to kill your batteries, then it's probably too cold for you and your fingers.
I prefer the Canon EF
Originally Posted by benjiboy
All this reminds me of one thing.
Regarding autofocus, a friend of mine had a Canon film model, AF mount, I don't remember which model, which had a very advanced autofocus feature: the camera has several AF points, and could be instructed to focus on the AF point where the photographer is looking at the moment. Some sort of sensor looks toward the photographer's eye, and understands which AF point is it looking at, and uses that AF point to focus.
I couldn't believe that. We went to his house and he showed me the thing. And it really worked! That, I think, was a sensible technical innovation. If one can train his eye to look at the focus point just before releasing the shutter, this mechanism, besides working very well for moving subjects, would also end the focus-lock-recompose ballet which one normally has to do with an AF camera.
I'm generally weary of electronic in lenses (it breaks, it suffers condensations, it wears etc.) but this was a really interesting innovation, I was certainly impressed.
I have a Canon EF as well, and I prefer it too, but there's very few of them about,especially in good usable condition, there's bags of AE1s and A1s around there cheap and plentiful.
Originally Posted by Pumalite