As others have recommended, I second the idea of getting a Nikon FM2 or F3. Nikon has kept its mount for many years which means that if you purchase a lens made back in 1980 you will be able to use it on a DSLR like the D200 in case you decide to go digital in the future.
I started with a Pentax K1000 and I loved it! I never understood why that camera was so tough. I had no idea on how to treat a camera back then, so I really mistreated it. I once left it on the hood of a car and drove off. It hit the asphalt road and bounced several times. I picked it up, blew the dust and debris off, and went shooting with it.
Nikons are also very rugged and well built. Their film cameras enjoy a well deserved reputation for being tanks, especially their F series. Check with www.keh.com. They are a reputable company and offer some of the best cutomer service in the business. I would stay away from ebay (at least on your first purchase) until you are very familiar with what you want to buy. It is way too easy to get burned on ebay.
I suggest you either talk to the professor or double check the requirements. In addition to an SLR that will work in manual, not automatic mode only, there may also be a requirement you have a handheld meter. That seems to be popping up on a number of the boards as the Fall term approaches.
My suggestion is that you buy a SLR that uses lenses which you can use for whichever brand of DSLR you might think of buying in the future. One thing about buying photographic equipment, camera bodies you can always upgrade, but it's recommended that you stay with a lens system. I highly recommend that you buy the best lenses you can afford and start building your SLR system, one lens at a time.
Since I started with Canon, I'm going to list out a system of camera bodies and lenses which you can start out with, and you can determine whether you want to go with this route based on what you want to do in terms of photography since the lenses can be used for Canon's analog and digital system.
- Canon EOS Rebel Ti or EOS Elan 7 series.
- 50mm F1.8
- 28mm F2.8
- 85mm F1.8
After this, you have a pretty good camera system with a normal, wide and telephoto lens which will be more than adequate for 99% of your photography.
And when you decide to go digital. You can get the following:
- Canon EOS 30D or Rebel XT or whatever new DSLR Canon has coming out.
- The 3 lenses you buy for your analog body still works, and you can save up for a zoom lens like the 17-55mm 2.8IS.
- Or if you really want to get the 3 lenses which 99% of photojournalists use, you can get the 16-35mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8 but that's going to put you in the red $3.5k.
I tend to agree: the K1000 is a very solid camera and a favourite for students, but that fact means that everyone has heard of it, and that has pushed up the price. Also, it lacks mirror lock-up which is helpful, and Depth of Field preview which I would regard as near essential, especially for a student as it is so helpful in visualising the end result.
Originally Posted by Chan Tran
Instead, I would recommend the Pentax KX or K2 as cheaper and better alternatives to a K1000.
Nicer still is the Pentax MX, but this will cost more. Main point to look out for on an MX is to check that the flash synch. circuit works as this is often the first thing to go wrong on this model.
The LX is a magnificent camera, but expensive - if you get one make sure it has had a service to cure the 'sticky mirror syndrome' that they tend to acquire with age, or else budget to have it done (once this issue is fixed it won't re-occur as the materials used now last much longer.)
In your position I would chose either Pentax or Nikon because both allow you to use lenses on both film and digital, manual focus and AF bodies. Of the two, Pentax's backward compatibility is slightly the better. Personally I also prefer the 'look' of Pentax lenses and like the ergonomics of their bodies, but both these things are personal and somewhat subjective issues, so go with what 'feels' right for you.
That last point is important: getting a camera that is comfortable in your hands and where the controls fall easily under your fingers makes an enormous difference to the ease and 'naturalness' of using it. Having a camera that you can use comfortably and intuitively so that, like any good tool, it just becomes an extension of yourself, helps you to produce better work because you are concentrating on the picture, not on the camera.
Check with your tutor about the most suitable camera, whether digital or film based. A film based camera can easily have negatives scanned if you are being introduced to Adobe photoshop.
Learning digital isn't necessary unless you are looking to be employed by a company.
A lot of people are referring to the Pentax K1000, but this was fine maybe 20 years ago!
I would look at an auto-focus Canon EOS 300 (Canon Rebel in the USA) with a 28-90mm zoom lens (preferably USM model of lens.).
Excellent quality and value for money, can be manual or automatic as you wish. Manual focus cameras are fine for landscape photography, but useless for almost every other application.
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For a 35mm camera, look for features such as:
Originally Posted by ashlinimartini
- all mechanical (battery to run exposure meter only)
- depth-of-field preview (not stop-down-metering)
- mirror lock-up
- multiple exposure capability
The Minolta 102 comes to mind.
"Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing." Stephen J. Gould
How did photographers manage from 1839 until the mid-1980s? How on earth do people manage to produce pictures with the millions of manual focus cameras still in use? I would think a camera with dumb single-point autofocus is the last thing a student needs!
Originally Posted by Gary Holliday
For my money, the Pentax KX is both a great camera and great value for money, particularly as most beginners head straight for the K1000, not appreciating that the KX has all the facilities of the 1000 plus depth of field preview (vital IMHO), mirror lock-up (not vital, but nice to have occasionally) and it uses "silicon blue" cells rather than cadmium sulphide. The silicon cells are not so inclined to have a "memory" when changing between extremes of lighting and are more likely to be in good shape thirty years after they stopped making the KX. The KX also has aperture and shutter speed info in the viewfinder, which the K1000 doesn't.
And yes, I've got a KX - two actually. One I've had for a bit over 21 years and the other for a mere 19. They have different focussing screens, my preference being for the split image centre as I seem to end up doing a lot of my photography in poor light (or perhaps it's my poor eyes!)
Have fun with whatever you choose and please let us know what you go for.
Whatever camera you choose you may wish to make sure a remote release can be used with it. Not all cameras will allow it. My Rebel K2 cannot use a remote release because it is not the date model. You may not need a remote release right now but you may someday.
Good luck in your endeavor.
Canon Rebel K2
Tamron 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 Tele Macro
Tamron 28-80mm 1:3.5-5.6
The guys in 1839 didn't take too many photographs of moving objects and the photographers in the mid 80s promptly dumped their cameras for auto focus systems.
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
Of course a student needs to learn how to focus using an auto-focus sytem! There is a technique in accurate focusing even with single/ multi point focus sytems.
An auto focus camera is clearly more versatile and will give him a greater number of successful images. Move with the times.