BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Heather 
 

Built in Flash or not


I am starting up in photography (more art based) and would like to purchase my first fully manual camera but am not sure if I should go with a model with a built in flash or not. What's the difference if any, does it make a difference? Do you have any model suggestions that have a built in flash and a wide range of every kind of lense?Thank you!


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3/31/2008 7:05:32 PM

 
Heather    Forgot to mention, I am looking for a 35mm SLR fully manual film camera...if that helps?


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3/31/2008 7:08:12 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Howdy Heather: The difference lies both in your own preference and price range along with what you plan to use the camera for.

You can get a bit more bang for your photo bucks buying an older 35mm film version like a Canon AE1 or Nikon F2A.

My preference is the Nikons with Nikkor lenses that you can get quite reasonably at places like KEH.com (a great place to buy used equipment). You can get them in different conditions, of course, but the Nikons I know of are built extremely well, still have parts available, pretty rugged in terms of the conditions they operate well in, and can be used in full manual mode in case a battery fails. If you prefer something a bit fancier, a Nikon F-3 or F-4 is a very nice piece of equipment as well.

I also do a lot of 35mm work with Leica M-6 rangefinder cameras and lenses. Excellent glass, great cameras and much quieter than an SLR. Again, what you get depends on where/how you'd intend to use it.

As to flashes, you can buy an auxilliary flash that will either work in a hot shoe off the camera or on a separate bracket with a sync cord attached to the camera. You can use those with and without a diffuser and the results are quite nice once you get the hang of using that type of flash. Built-in flashes are somewhat limited in their ability to supply more creative effects like producing shadows or softening from bouncing light back into your subject off a wall or white ceiling.

If it's possible for you, I always recommend going to a camera store and trying out a camera before you buy it to get the feel, check the ergonomics for you and available lenses. Renting is good too and there are a number of places that will let you do that as well. You could even ask at a local camera store. For film and supplies, try bhphotovideo.com

I'm sure someone else will come along soon to give you their input as well. Meanwhile, have lotsa fun and good luck!
Mark ;>)


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3/31/2008 7:59:31 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Hi Heather;

Welcome to Better Photo. You have quite the question.

There are no fully manual 35mm SLR cameras that I know of that have a built in flash. Most of the later model sutofocus SLR's and all of the new digitals do, but no fully manual cameras. That should help narrow your choice. Most of the fully manual 35mm manual cameras will be found on the used shelves. With the exception of Nikon and Pentax, most will have the same controls. I personally, own a Minolta SRT201 that I use for severe weather since I can remove the battery and still retain full function of the camera. There are many older cameras this can be done with. Pentax had the K1000 that was more than capable of this, also. I believe that Nikon may still have a manual available.

About the flash. There are several flashes on the market today that are capable of working not only cameras of old, but with todays digitals with a replacement module. Most of these are very good flashes and very well made.

My suggestion is to go to the local camera shop and talk to them about what you are looking for. Purchase some film and run it through them. When you find one that feels right for you, you have found your camera.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.


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3/31/2008 8:01:45 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  omg


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3/31/2008 9:46:25 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  What's the oh my God about there Sam?


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3/31/2008 10:58:25 PM

 
Paul D.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/25/2006
  Hi Heather,

Pop-up flashes are a convenience but not for getting quality images. You can get a flash unit like a Vivitar 285HV for under $100 that allows tilting and thurning the head to direct the lighting. Go with a real flash. I use a Canon 5D that has no built-in flash and I've never missed it. Those built-in flashes usually make snapshot-looking photos since you have less control. You know where they work well? Taking a shot of someone at the beach, close-up, with the sun behind them. Otherwise...


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4/1/2008 6:14:38 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  some cameras can be programed to use the on camera flash and a dedicated flash,off camera,with a 1-2 ratio that gives the user full placemement of the off camera flash.the on camera flash serves as a fill to lessen such things as dark eye sockets.
yet I thought I would not patronize myself.
this is all for mark h who might not have his stick on the ice.
wadday ya think paul?
sam


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4/1/2008 9:43:04 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Hey, I like high sticking. I also row upstream on one oar.


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4/4/2008 6:59:25 PM

 
Heather    Thank You all for your input, I appreciate it greatly!


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4/5/2008 7:50:16 PM

 
Christopher A. Walrath
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/25/2006
  Answered a question similar to this over on the photo forum. I would like to suggest a Minolta sr- or X- series camera. Any of these accept MC or (more common) MD lenses and are readily available on eBay. That's where I pick up mine. You could conceivably get a camera body, a 28-200 mm zoom, a flash, a tripod and some film for around $200.00 or so. I have an older universal Vivitar flash that is light duty and fits in the Minolta hot shoe (which incidentally is identical to Canon's, Nikon's, et al.). Welcome to the fold and have fun.

Thanks
Chris


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4/5/2008 10:57:38 PM

 
Christopher A. Walrath
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/25/2006
  Of course, if you want to really simplify things, get an old 35mm rangefinder. I have two Zeiss Ikon Contiva's and the Canonet QL17's are really sweet as well. More options. Leaves lots of money for film and cool stuff and the cameras are fully adjustable with manual settings.

Thanks again
Chris


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4/5/2008 10:59:49 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Check out a Nikon FM2.
These full-manual (and mechanical) workhorses were discontinued around 2001 but you can still find them in great shape for around $200.
Look for a camera that has been recently refurbished by Nikon and you will have a tool that will probably outlive you.

An MD-12 Motor Drive is a worthwhile accessory...and you will have access to an entire arsenal of tack-sharp used Nikkor AI-S manual-focus lenses that nobody seems to want anymore.
If you shop wisely, you can build quite a collection of great lenses at minimal expense.

Someone earlier mentioned the Vivitar 285HV Flash. I have this unit and it has worked flawlessly for many years.
(Read Reviews)


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4/6/2008 3:21:38 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  I went with a Promaster 5750DX after my 285HV got dropped into a bowl of cereal. Children and photography equipment are not very good friends. The Promaster will adapt to most cameras.


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4/6/2008 2:42:05 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
 
 
 
Hi Heather,
Get a Mamiya C-330 and the 180 Super lens. If you can afford it get a prism or a porro finder. Then get a Norman 200B. Itís all manual. But itís all great! Thanks, John Siskin


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4/6/2008 7:51:55 PM

 
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