Hi, I have a nice Konica A3 that I've been hanging on to. It has a Tokina ATX 28-85 macro zoom lens. It's shutter-preferred auto or manual exposure. It has the accessory hot shoe and a new battery and new leather skin. It's in really nice condition.
Welcome to this glorious hobby/mental illness, I would look at an Olympus OM-1 or a Nikon FM, or Nikkormat Ftn with a really decent 50mm lens and just get out there. The hand held meter is also a handy thing to have around. I found with just one lens you are forced to learn the basics. Anyhoo, I think others summed up just as good as I had.
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
I'm going to be the heretic and sugegst you get a Nikon N65/F65 or N75/F75 and a wide to mid-tele zoom. It will be cheap, it will allow you to do almost anything (even with flash) semiautomaticly and in no way will it keep you from trying out everything manualy. Walk around and shoot the stuff you like - this will let you find out what focal lengths you really use and need. You will most probably not be limited very soon by things like the lens quality and extra metering options. But it wil llet you easily fnd out which parts of photography you like.
I think the first thing you should do is determine what your budget is. A lot of good ideas have been offered but it's hard to recommend a particular "kit" w/o knowing what your budget is.
Nowadays, on eBay, you can buy a very good condition Nikon F3 with a fast 50mm Nikkor lens for around $250 - oftentimes including the case. Manual SLR prices are plummeting (as are AF's too) as many long time shooters race to digital.
Give some thought to what you want to spend and how basic you want to start. Uncle Bill's suggestion of an older Nikon F or Nikkormat FTN/FT-2/FT-3 is a good way to "get in" cheap with some great, but very basic, manual equipment.
Oh, and nothing wrong with "self teaching" there are tons of books out there, as well as the web, it's how many of us get started.
As you might have noticed, there are many loyalties running through the membership of APUG - ranging from casual preference, through educated choice, all the way (thankfully rarely) to near religious fanaticism.
The bottom line is this: the brand of the camera matters least.
But... you do have to choose one, right? Well, yes, you do. I would venture to say, that all the manufacturers make pretty damn good cameras (as can be attested to by the legions of loyal users). I would go further, to say that quality wise, there is little to differentiate a Nikon from a Canon, or Minolta, or Pentax (or whatever) of a similar level (meaning, don't compare a Nikon EM to a Canon F1).
Where there are differences are in the marketplace. Go to eBay (even if you don't want to buy there), and clickon the 35mm SLR section. Look on the left hand side. The category is broken down further by majour brands. Now do the same for 35mm SLR Lenses. See what I mean? There is a definite drop off after the Canon and Nikon categories. This may be something to be taken into account when basically buying into a system. And this is what you are doing - buying the frist building blocks of a camera system. It should be the camera and lens on which you will build. Just because you are a beginner, and this camera is a learning tool, does not mean you can't have it as perfectly useful part of your future kit. Unfortunately, with production of manyof the affordible cameras being stopped for a long time, buying into a more numerous system will just make your life easier down the road.
I would suggest a basic camera and a better lens (using Canon for example, I would rather buy an AE1 with a 50mm f1.4 ssc than a A1 with the 50mm f1.8SC). That better lens will be a useful part of your equipment, one you will go back to, even when the relatively simple body will get relegated to back up purposes. And most of what sets the pro-sumer body apart from the entry level one are features you , as a "student" do not need. When you learn what it is you need through experience, you will spend your money more wisely.
These are just some thoughts - don't sweat any of this too much. As you can see, you really can't go that wrong no matter what you choose - there are that many good chouces out there.
As for me, I chose the Canon FD system. I have no need for AF, I always wanted a New F1, and becuase of the mount change (from FD to the autofocus EF), FD lenses are a relative bargain in the used market. That was my logical choice made simply because hey, I had to choose one. I own some Nikon gear, have shot Minolta, Zenit, etc. - and frankly, I have made great pictures with all of them, my favourite being with... the Zenit. So it really does not matter Just get one and go out and use it.
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I would argue against this - there are indeed differences between brands, and as you are buying into a system, what you get and how and if you get it directly derives from this. This can and will have an impact on what youcan do and how esaily. The Pentax system includes their MF cameras and extreme glass compatibility, Canon has an advantage in fast and long glass, Nikon supports the most arcane flash setups and proably has best overall glass lineup. The M mount system has probably the best overall glass in the normal supported range. Other systems have their own advatages.
Originally Posted by gnashings
Prolem is - to know which to pick, you need an oracle tell you what you will be using and doing in the next 10 years.
These are good point - espescially the idea that you are buying into a "system" so whatever is your first camera sort of "marries" you to that company. I began with a Nikkormat FT-2 a million years ago and now have a stable full of Nikons both Manual and AF film as well as a D-70 and D-100. With some compromises - I can swap the "glass" between all of this gear so I am "married" to the Nikon system.
Originally Posted by sanderx1
As a Nikon shooter, my knowledge of their gear leads me to recommend them - but therse is plenty of other fine out there - each of which offers a "system".
I guess my overall advise to a "newbie" would be to get a good basic SLR and either a normal or 35mm lens at a relatively "cheap" price. Thereafter, if you decide you prefer gear from a different manufacturer - you're no so "deep in" on the first kit that you cannot let it just gather dust.
(I too need to get a signature here)
Originally Posted by sanderx1
But he's not. He's buying a starter camera, and I hope getting something solid, but not too expensive. I've noticed that many recommendations tend to veer off into the author's particular obsessions: sharpness, macro, zoom, etc.
I'll go out on a not too dangerous limb and suggest that you should get a good used mechanical body with a 50:1.4 lens from one of the big five; i.e. Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, or Minolta. My typical street iron is a Pentax Spotmatic with the 50:1.4 SMC Takumar, but any of the major Japanese manufacturers should provide a similar kit nicely. Bebbington's complaints notwithstanding, a solid mechanical SLR well handled should get you a sharp 8x10 print once you know your way around the camera. I've been working with one of my Spotmtic negatives on old TMAX 400 that as far as sharpness could go 16x20 no problem, but would fail in so many other ways as our large format bretheren are sure to point out. On sharpness: I made a glance through Magnum's "In Our Time," and so very few of the photos strike me as highly sharp, but nearly all strike me as amazingly good. Bill Pierce's quip about icecream cones and razors comes to mind.
If you are in the States or have ready access to the US market, look at KEH as perhaps the best source of solid mechanical cameras. I'd avoid a macro for now as there's a technical side (recip and bellows) to close-up that a beginner doesn't need to address. I'd also avoid the zoom as the most affordable zooms are poor choices for low light and shallow depth of field shots.
On the Pentax K1000: yes this is the first thing that comes to mind when people think student camera. Trouble is that for this reason and maybe a bit of nostalgia about first photo courses, the price on these is higher than other more capable bodies in the Pentax K-mount series, and I would prefer an MX or KX if buying a K-mount.
I'll also suggest something a bit more expensive now. If you've a school which offers a photo and darkroom class, I would spend a little money and sign up. There are too many things about film and the possibilities of the print that dropping a roll off at a one-hour place won't teach you.
Last edited by cao; 02-13-2006 at 10:29 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: k1000 comment
I am sticking to my guns on this one - as originally stated, it matters least. Not "does not matter" or "there is no differences", but "matters least".
Originally Posted by sanderx1
And I still think it matters least, and by a pretty long shot. All the majour manufacturers offer you capabilities that are so close to each other that it takes a great deal of personal pereference, and a very discerning knowledge of your craft to actually be able to see a difference.
As such, I think you are 100% right about the ability to see ten years ahead - but by then, as I stated earlier, you have a much better knowledge of what you need, that you yourself obtained first hand through experience.
And remember, the question was about a starter camera - not the last camera you will ever need to buy. I have honestly never looked at my picture taking and though:"Well, I am screwed - should have bought a Nikon..." - conversly, I doubt I would say the reverse if I chose to go with a Nikon system, or any other brand. Its good to keep an eye open to the future, but its not like getting a sex change operation... you can change you rmind later
Is depth of field preview important to a student of photography? Should a "student camera" have this capability?
Some basic fundamentals centric cameras, and a lot of modern plastic ones, do not have this capability. Some now have no way whatsoever to determine or see DoF.
The Pentax K1000 does not have DoF preview, but its lenses will have DoF scales.
For the same money, I think I would seek out a solid metal SLR with the feature.