Autofocus cameras can be a real PITA. Most modern cameras like the EOS line are more like computers than cameras IMO. It is very easy to select a shutter speed and lens aperture on the Canon A and F series cameras and a hassle to try and use an EOS or similar auto-everything electronic marvel. I have students ready to throw their EOSs and Maxxums in the trash because the cameras will freeze up and not let them take a very simple picture manually without reprogramming everything.
You can probably find a good used A or F body very inexpensively and I would recommend you do that. The only reason I would suggest an autofocus camera is if your eyesight is failing with age or you need it for some specialized daily purpose like pro sports photography. For anything else, the older cameras will be easier to adjust and use for most people. That is unless you are doing some programmed setting in which case you might as well invest in a point-and-shoot camera and save some money.
There are some other issues with things like maximum apertures on the newer autofocus lenses that also tend to impede creative use of the cameras. Most new AF cameras come with zoom lenses with max apertures around 4-5.6 or thereabouts. Try doing a very shallow depth of field shot with them...nowhere near as easy as with an old 50mm f/1.4 FD lens.
"They don't make them like they used to."
The way I look at it is this: the only reason to get out of the FD world is if you want AF. Everything else, a FD camera can handle - and they are so cheap, (between the AE-1's, AE-1p's, EF, T series, newF1, AT, AV... on and on and on you have a nice spread of price options). So unless you want, or need AF - look at it this way:
A T-90 will offer you pretty much EOS w/o AF, and they are known as "the tank" for a reason. Full manual, or full (quite sophisticated too) auto modes, metering options, etc. But, you still have to pay $300 plus for a really nice one. Oh, yeah, and they are putridly ugly.
A NewF1 is... well, its just too cool for words!(OK, that last bit is just my personal bias...) - but: professional quality, strength, a monster motor drive (4.5fps), ability to shoot with a dead batt. (albeit limited - but try it with a modern SLR...), very modular, etc. You can probably have one for life, but you might be looking at $300-400 for a nice one with all the goodies.
OK, so those are the "I am going to stick to FD lenses for good and want that ONE camera" options. Now, this may not fit your budget - fine.
You rother option is buying a AE, AT, AV for $50-75 for a body in nice shape, and using it until it cacks out (which may be soon, but may be not before you do!). They are not as flexible as the above, not as robust, don't have some of the advanced features (but you'd be surprised how few). And can keep you happily shooting for years at a price where even a "camera-a-year" approach is pretty cheap (the gear will costs you less than you spend on coffee in a couple of weeks, hehehehe)
And the "in-between" options - A-1, a nice, semi-pro level camera or an EF (the only FD SLR with mirror lock - other than the old F1!).
And if you choose the AF path, let me know what lenses you have, I'd more than happy to ease your transition into the new way of Auto this and that!
And simply, all new cameras are ugly. So there.
These are of course just suggestions from an "advanced beginner", heavily laced with what I hope you will all take as humour
Thank for your suggestions and advice. I have given it up and am selling what I have to buy new autofocus lenses. It was mostly sentimental reasons for keeping the older canon and its lenses, but with my failing eyesight, autofocus is just my next step--(I really hate wearing my glasses).
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." -- Chinese Proverb.
e-mail me a list of what you have and how much you want for it, that is if you are interested in going that route. If not, I am sure you will be ale to collect enough coin to offset the move to AF via ebay or classifieds!
Yes its worth repairing
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