I need to turn this all of this money into a camera!

JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey, so, I'm taking this Photography class, right? And I need a camera. The only real specifications are that it must be a 35mm film camera with manual controls. Anything automatic needs to have full manual override. It can be digital or film based, but I heard film is cheaper initially, so, I guess I'd like to go with that.

My teacher directed me to www.bhphotovideo.com, and I located things that would work, but I really have NO IDEA about any of the specifics, so can anyone make a recommendation? Keep in mind, I am a super beginner.

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Jurg on

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  • #pipe#pipe Cocky Stride, Musky odours Pope of Chili TownRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Sure! I started learning to shoot properly on 35mm too and I still think it's the best way too learn. It teaches you discipline and you have to be confident in your settings because you can't just shoot - check - adjust - shoot which is a crutch a lot of digital shooters fall into.

    I can greatly recommend the Canon EOS Rebel series as I learned on the 3000n.

    5175F8Q8J1L._SS500_.jpg

    It's an entry level 35mm SLR but it's modern, fast and still easy to find parts and repairs for. Also it's great to learn on because it has all of the same settings and adjustments when you upgrade to a Digital SLR (except things like white balance and ISO which are determined by the film you load in it and filters you use.) Also you can use the same kit lens you get with the 35mm on whatever Canon DSLR you end up getting unless you go for a 5D or a 1D which I wouldn't expect you to do right away.

    At only $~150 for the body with a fairly ordinary kit lens, I'd suggest dropping the extra hundred bucks for the nifty fifty

    41wx0ebndXL._SS400_.jpg

    Basically the first lens any photographer buys. It's got a nice wide (1.8f) aperture so you can shoot in lower light and get a nice soft depth of field for portraits, plus it has higher quality optics than the kit lens so you'll get a more crisp shot with better colours. And it's a good cheap way to learn even more discipline being a prime lens (it doesn't zoom) you actually have to move your body to get you the composition you want.

    I would suggest buying as modern as you can to ease the later transition to DSLR. You're going to want a Canon or a Nikon as they'll have the most versatility as far as lenses and accessories still on the market. Also they'll be easy to care for and repair if needed.

    If you buy used, consider taking the camera to a specialist camera store for a service. They'll check all the components and clean or repair any seals to stop light leakage.

    #pipe on
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Jurg wrote: »
    Hey, so, I'm taking this Photography class, right? And I need a camera. The only real specifications are that it must be a 35mm film camera with manual controls. Anything automatic needs to have full manual override. It can be digital or film based, but I heard film is cheaper initially, so, I guess I'd like to go with that.

    My teacher directed me to www.bhphotovideo.com, and I located things that would work, but I really have NO IDEA about any of the specifics, so can anyone make a recommendation? Keep in mind, I am a super beginner.

    What does your budget look like?

    The basic kit for a photography class that focuses on film is the Nikon FM-10. Manual and still in production.

    If you want something a little more solidly built but are willing to take the risk of buying a used/old camera look at the following:

    Nikon FM
    Nikon FM2/N
    Nikon FE
    Nikon FE2
    Nikon F3
    Nikon F4
    Nikon F100
    Nikon F5

    Canon Rebel Series
    Canon 1V

    Pentax ME
    Pentax Spotmatic

    And these are a couple of super basic rangefinders that can be had for ~$50

    Yashica Lynx 5000e (comes with f/1.8 fixed lens)
    Yashica Lynx 14e (comes with f/1.4 fixed lens)
    Canon Canonet 17III
    Canon 7

    If you can get a little more specific about what kinds of things you would like to have in a camera I'd be happy to narrow it down.

    I think the F100 is going to be the best buy (probably because I have one) because it has a very modern meter, great autofocus (which you can switch off if need be) and is much newer and less likely to need major service unless you buy it from a pro who has abused it. It can be had for around $170.

    Lenswise: 50mm f/1.8. Every major brand makes them and most cost ~$100. It's a classic.

    Uncle Long on
  • #pipe#pipe Cocky Stride, Musky odours Pope of Chili TownRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Only don't buy the F100 because Nikon sucks

    (just kidding)

    #pipe on
  • BuddyDoQBuddyDoQ Registered User
    edited September 2010
    If you can get a digital SLR and still be in compliance for your class, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It may be a bit more cash out of the gate, but you'll be save a ton on development and printing.

    Every single time you shoot film, you have to pay for the:
    1. 4 pack rolls of film $10-15
    2. Development $4~8
    3. 4X6 Print $0.10 ~ 0.90

    A semester with a project every week and you're looking at an extra $200+ just to turn in your work. It's a bit older now, but the Nikon D80 has full manual controls and might be found slightly used for a fair price. It's what I've been using since 2008 and it's been a dream.

    BuddyDoQ on
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Really, it's going to depend on your budget and the class requirements.

    You might also want to let us in on what the class requires. Are you expected to do darkroom work? If you are then buying digital would probably be a poor choice seeing as how you would have to buy into a film rig later.

    If you're shooting black and white film, you can pick up Arista films for $2.09 a 36 exposure roll and process for yourself in the darkroom for under $1 using Kodak HC-110 and probably another couple of dollars a roll printing a contact sheet in the darkroom and then printing just the photos you want to.

    You said earlier that it was specified that it had to be a 35mm film camera. But then you said it could be film or digital, so I guess there needs to be a little bit of clarification here.

    Also, it should be noted that there will be substantial differences in shooting a cropped frame digital (D200, D80, Canon 60D) which has a smaller sensor than shooting 35mm film or shooting full frame digital (Nikon D3, D700, Canon 5D, 1DS) and a substantial cost difference.

    Uncle Long on
  • tofutofu Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I would go to your local camera store and take a look at the used cameras they have. The first SLR I purchased was a Canon FTB for cheap. Just make sure it's in good working condition (especially the light meter).

    If the class has darkroom time available I would definitely go with film because it's way more fun.

    Also check with relatives, you never know who might have an old SLR lying around in the attic.

    tofu on
  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Listen to Long - he knows where his towel is.

    That said, I have a refinement for the "Pentax" section of his big Film Cameras To Buy list. Don't buy an ME or a Spotmatic. The ME is difficult to use in full manual, doesn't have DOF preview, requires batteries to work at all and won't give you aperture info in your viewfinder. The Spotmatic takes screw mount lenses, rather than the more modern K-mount.

    You should buy the following instead, in order of preference:

    Pentax LX ($300 used, brilliant, beware sticky mirror syndrome on bodies that haven't been recently serviced)
    Pentax MX (LX-lite, $150ish, brilliant, fully mechanical)
    Pentax KX ($100ish, older, relatively slow max shutter speed but fully mechanical and brilliant)
    Pentax SuperProgram/SuperA ($75, gives you Tv and P modes, good electronic shutter, but relies on batteries and has no MLU)

    The Pentax MX and a 35/50/135 combo is a pretty killer kit that can be had for under $350 and will still be here, in working condition, long after nuclear winter has come and gone.

    Dark Moon on
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  • JurgJurg In a TeacupRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Sorry, maybe I was unclear, because honestly, I don't know the first thing about photography. (That's why I'm taking the class :).)

    There's no darkroom work at all. Film cameras require off-premises processing. Like at a CVS.

    It says 35mm, but she said it can either be film or digital as far as long as the digital has a full manual mode. The object is to learn about stuff like shutter speed, and aperture. (No idea what that is.) Basically, we just have to stay the hell away from point-and-shoot, I-just-want-to-take-a-goddamn-picture type of stuff.

    As far as cost goes, I'd be willing to drop a few hundred if it's something that's going to kick ass and stay with me for a while. I mean, even if I turn out to hate photography, it seems like there is a good used market for it, so, I'm willing to take the risk. I mean, I don't really have any financial responsibilities outside of car insurance and gas, so it's basically whatever.

    Ultimately, I want to be able to learn as much about photography as I can. My main reason for taking this class is that I was an editor on the school's literary magazine, and while I had an educated opinion on the written work, I had no way to intelligently judge the photo submissions: it was pretty much a matter of whether or not I liked the subject matter.

    So, if you guys can recommend a digital that will be well worth the initial upfront cost to a beginner, I am willing to take a gamble on that instead of going for the short-term low risk film variety, SO LONG AS that digital camera has manual controls and allows me to learn about photography. I want to take this seriously. I don't just want to take pictures of my pets or whatever.

    Jurg on
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  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    You can get a digital P&S that has full manual control (I have one) but it's a pain in the ass, so don't do that.

    I strongly recommend a digital SLR, either Canon or Nikon. If you want to stick with it for a long time, lenses will stick around longer than the camera body so you should just pick which brand you want and get an entry-level body for the camera (Digital Rebel for Canon). If you want to save a little money you can get a slightly older model, there normally isn't too much of a difference - just do some research / read reviews. the posters above have lots of good info.

    Tomanta on
  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Oh okay, that's easy then. Buy a DSLR. Get a Canon or Nikon entry level camera - anything within your budget . Probably a Canon Xsomething or a Nikon D50/70/80 - with the following exceptions:

    [Do Not Purchase]
    Nikon D40/D40x/D60/D3000/D5000 because they don't have an AF motor and that's terrible if you want to buy older lenses (which you do because...)
    [/Do Not Purchase]

    You will buy the following lens: Canon or Nikon 50mm f/1.8. If you have enough cash, moving up to the f/1.4 version is very much worth it on the Canon side (the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 feels like it came in a cereal box). I can't speak with experience on the Nikon side, but my friends tell me the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is a bit more solid and has a metal lens mount. Not sure which version they mean.

    If you can find a body with a cheap kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 for under $40) it's probably worth getting it. The long end will be made redundant by the 50mm (which is a mandatory purchase, unlike this kit lens) but the wide angle is pretty decent and you always step down when working wide anyways, so it becomes sharp enough.

    Dark Moon on
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