Ok, so i'm researching film SLR's which i assume are 35mm cameras? sorry i'm so new to this...
I keep reading "manual focus" ....i have two questions:
1) is manual focus hard?
2) is there so such thing as a film SLR which has autofocus?
On a digital camera getting things in focus is the hardest part for me and i worry manual focus is just pushing my luck.
Thanks from Casey.
SLR is a type of camera. You can get SLR cameras from 1/2 frame 35mm all the way up to 4x5 (maybe larger).
1) it depends.
2) There are many many film SLRs that have autofocus, in both 35mm and medium format
The ease of manual focusing depends on many things.
How good your eyesight is.
How good the camera's viewfinder is (bright isn't always better - many AF cameras have bright viewfinders which don't clearly show when a lens snaps into focus).
How fast your lens is, how much light there is, the type of subject, etc...
IMHO, manual focusing can be more accurate than autofocus.
I often get a headache with autofocus cameras and getting them to focus where I want them to is usually slower and more complicated than focusing manually in the first place.
Having a camera which does manual focusing well is certainly a big help.
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I used to have a Nikon D40 and trying to focus that manually was difficult. By comparison manual film cameras are easy as they have sections in the viewfinder to help you spot when the focus is correct. I suggest taking your current auto camera to that shop where you saw the FE2 and compare the two.
Almost all modern film SLRs are auto focus.
An only way to really find out if manual focus cameras will work for you is to try it out yourself. Cameras made for manually focusing are MUCH easier to focus manually than trying to manually focus cameras made for auto focus. Focusing screens are made differently and also lenses are different. It has this silky smooth dampening to it.
I find manually focusing digital SLRs painfully difficult. On the other hand, manually focusing Olympus OM10 (an *old* camera from 1980s) very easy. If you have used camera stores or even flea market in your area, you should be able to try out a few.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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First, many "D" SLR (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony/Minolta) were born from 35mm cameras and the lenses mount is identical or similar.
A short lesson in SLR:
In the beginning, there were only Manual Focus SLR: Pentax, Nikon F, Minolta SR, Canon F-1 and so on.
In the 80s many manufacturers developed Auto-focus driven lenses and systems. The first successful system was from Minolta with their model 7000 in 1985. Nikon and Canon followed up in 86 and 87 with the Nikon F-501 and the Canon EOS 650. These are the grandfathers of today's cameras.
Any Manual Focus camera is great and all very well made and should give you years of good service. Sincerely any good Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Olympus or Pentax manual focus and manual operation is a great camera to have!
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A bunch of Nikons
SLR = Single Lens Reflex. Bottom line, this is a camera where the viewfinder let's you see through the picture taking lens. Here's a wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-lens_reflex_camera
They are available in various formats, not just 35mm.
There are lots of 35mm SLRs that autofocus.
Manual focus is not necessarily harder but it does take some thought.
Automatic features (focus, exposure, ...) on cameras do a very good job in many situations but they can be fooled pretty easily.
That's not a big deal when your starting out but as you learn more about the craft of photography you will probably move toward specific looks. For example if you like people photography you'll probably experiment with short depth of field (DOF).
One way I use short DOF is to isolate/focus-on specific subjects, say in a crowd. My subject may be in the third row back, so to speak, and the camera may be looking through the crowd to get there. Autofocus in situations like this regularly picks the wrong subject, probably somebody in the front row instead; manual focus becomes the easy way to get what I want.
Some cameras, like the Nikon F100, can be setup to "manually" autofocus which is really handy; you switch a simple setting to make the camera autofocus (AF) only when a different button (AF ON) is pressed rather than any time the shutter button is pushed. This is a truly useful feature.
Many older MF only cameras like say a Nikon FM use "split screen" type focusing which is very accurate, fast, and easy. This is nice because there are a bunch of great older MF lenses available at a bargain price.
With practice and decent tools MF can be just as fast and accurate as AF.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Top-of-the-line AF cameras and lenses will outperform your MF ability when focus is toughest - fast moving subjects and wide open apertures. That's why even top sports/news shooters depend on AF exclusively in those situations.
Do YOU need/want AF for everyday stuff that you will be doing? Only answer is to try both to see what you like best.
I don't find manual focus to be too hard and it's often more accurate to what you want in focus. But I have some AF 35mm SLRs too. The Canon EOS 33 / Élan 7e allows you to calibrate the AF point to wherever you are looking. It's pretty neat and allows you to pick a point off centre instead of focusing I the centre and recomposing. Both AF and Manual film cameras are quite affordable these days and if you tried a manual camera and didn't like it, you could always sell it here and not lose any money. Or even trade it for an AF camera.
AF lenses almost always have a manual focus option and the cameras have an option to go fully manual with exposure as well. Just don't use the full auto mode, get to learn about exposure and how shutter speed and aperture affect the image and you will be much happy with the results, I know I am. My usage for my automated SLRs is 85% in aperture priority mode, I choose the aperture and the camera picks the shutter speed. But for some street work, I switch to shutter priority as I k ow I'm moving and don' t want too slow of a shutter. These features are available on some manual focus cameras in one variation or the other, some just have one of the features, but all modern AF cameras that I know of have both aperture and shutter priority (Av/Tv for canon and A and S for just about everyone else).
Another recommendation is to skip zoom, lenses for now. Fixed focal length, prime lenses, are a bargain and often produce sharper images than zooms. A 28mm or 35mm and a 50mm lens are great to start out with, and since you like photographing people, a 75, 90 or 100mm lens will get you nice portraits. But I've also taken portrait shots with a 50mm or wider lens.
If you are in a major city centre, you might find a camera shop that has both types, manual and AF and see how easy they are to focus in the shop. And there are probably a few APUGers near you that would be happy to help. And I have a Canon 30 / Élan 7 that I could sell, but shipping might be as much as the camera! You'd be better going local I think.
As said, autofocus cameras give problems when focusing manually: the focusing screen is optimized for light transmission and not for focusing, the lens doesn't have a comfortable focus ring, it is likely too soft, too narrow, in the wrong position.
Originally Posted by readysetgo
Digital cameras which only have an electronic viewfinder are the hardest to focus manually, and maybe this is the kind of digital cameras you are referring to.
Autofocus is superior for wildlife, sport, fashion, your dog (or your neighbour's).
In all other circumstance a proper manual focus is probably just more comfortable: you don't have to wonder which AF point is active, or don't have to focus/lock/recompose if your subject is not where the camera places the focus (typically the centre of the frame, or the nearest focus point).
A manual focus lens is probably more robust.
Also, an autofocus lens probably has "internal focusing" (IF). Focusing is reached by moving one lens element inside the barrel. In manual focus lenses it's either the entire lens (all groups) which is moved, or the front lens. This in general gives better optical performances than IF as far as I know.
Be careful about compatibility when you buy a Canon or Minolta lens or camera:
Minolta SR mount (also improperly called MD): Manual focus;
Minolta AF mount: Autofocus, and not compatible with the above.
Canon FD mount: Manual focus;
Canon EF mount: Autofocus (not compatible with the above).
Pentax and Nikon managed to use the same existing mount both for manual focus and for autofocus cameras, but there are incompatibilities you should be aware of when coupling something AF with something non AF.
Olympus OM, Yaschica/Contax (YC) and other mounts are mostly manual focus.