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Photography QnA: Best First Cameras

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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Best First Cameras

Maybe a 35mm manual camera for beginners is right for you. Or maybe a compact digital camera is more appropriate. Join this Q&A to discuss the topic.

Page 1 : 1 -10 of 13 questions

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Photography Question 
Arvind Chaudhari

member since: 11/12/2005
  1 .  Guidance to Buy Digital SLR Camera
I want to buy a digital SLR camera. But I can't spend more than 800$. Is there any easy installment method? Which camera is best suited for me?

11/18/2005 11:38:19 PM

Joyce S. Bowley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/7/2004
  Can't help you with the installment thing, but have you used the Digital Camera Calculator here at BetterPhoto?

11/19/2005 7:59:11 AM

Tracy Olsen
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/3/2005
  I just bought a Nikon D50 (a slight step lower than the D70). It is a great little SLR for me, as I just needed a good entry-level DSLR and am still learning to make good photos.

You can get the body and a lens in your price range (I've seen it for about 700$ - just do a net search).

You can read reviews of the D50 here at PC Magazine:,1759,1848401,00.asp

and here at DPReview:

Hope this helps.

11/22/2005 2:30:34 PM

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Photography Question 
Sam Kumar

member since: 7/31/2004
  2 .  Manual or Autofocus?
I'm new to the world of photography. I want to purchase a new SLR camera. Is it possible to begin with a manual focus camera and then to switch to autofocus? What will be the difference in the resolutions of the two cameras? One Will I be able to improve my photography skills? And, lastly, which is the best choice among manual cameras?

7/31/2004 6:39:54 AM

Steve McCroskey

member since: 3/20/2004
  Hi Sam! Yes, it is possible to start with a manual focus camera and then switch to an autofocus model! Nikon,I believe, makes their lenses so they will fit either manual focus or autofocus cameras. I, however, decided to purchase a Minolta Maxxum 5 camera - autofocus - but it has manual settings if I want to experiment! Most autofocus cameras have a manual setting. Hope this helps!!

7/31/2004 12:36:55 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
As Steve mentions, it is possible to start with manual focus lenses and move later to autofocus within Nikon's system. Choose the specific camera body and lenses with some care. Some of their autofocus bodies are easier to use the Nikon AI/AIS manual focus lenses with than others. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert with Nikon's autofocus system, so I cannot make specific recommendations. (You cannot do this with Canon ... their FD manual focus lens mount is different from their auto-focus EOS system.)

Neither manual nor autofocus gives you any better "sharpness." That's a quality of the lens, and ultimately you control lens focusing (albeit indirectly with auto-focusing systems). With film-based systems, resolution - more correctly resolving power - is a function of the lens and film together. Whether it's manual or auto-focus makes no difference.

I still prefer manual focusing for the control it provides ... it allows me to very directly place critical focus exactly where I want it using the viewfinder's focusing aids (split, microprism, etc.). Not that it cannot be done with auto-focusing systems ... the methods for doing it seem cumbersome to me the few times I've handled auto-focus gear and I've done it so long manually that I don't have to think about it ... it's a natural part of the flow in making the photograph.

Regarding photography skills, it depends to some extent what you want to do. I'm very much Old School on this ... with the three most important things being control, control, and control ... which requires understanding the aspects of lens optics, film/print (the photographic process), and exposure relevant to being able to control them for desired effect in the photograph.

7/31/2004 8:01:18 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  I too prefer manual focus ... especially for critical work in macro, and for landscapes. As mentioned, AF systems can be somewhat "cumbersome" ... unless you have a thorough working knowledge of the system you are using, and can INSTANTLY get it to react to your desired objective.
Where autofocus has its advantages is shooting action sports ... where focus distances may change quicker than your ability to react, or when trying to capture fast-moving wildlife subjects.

The good news is that just about ALL AF systems have manual overrides ... so you can "improve your skills" ... or switch off the AF for those times when manual-focus simply makes more sense.
As far as improving resolution and image quality ... stick with the name brands (Nikkor, Canon, etc.) and get at least one good "prime" lens.

7/31/2004 9:12:12 PM

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Photography Question 
Cindy Gawlik

member since: 2/23/2004
  3 .  Looking For a Beginner's Digital with Everything
I like the features of both the Olympus Camedia C-750 and Kodak Easyshare DX6490, but wonder if I'm getting in over my head as a first time digital buyer. I'm interested in taking pictures of the birds in my backyard as well as vacation, and family photos. Are either of these good choices? Will I need a tripod for zoom photos? I don't believe the C750 has that capacity.

2/23/2004 10:08:19 AM

Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Hi Cindy,
The C750 is a great camera with it's long optical zoom. The only problem is that it is not a optically or electronically stabilised lens, so yes, you will need a tripod with the camera.

If you are looking for a stabilized system with a good zoom, you might try the Minolta A1. 7x optical with CCD stabilizer. If you can wait a few months, the A2 is coming out with all the same features as the A1 but with 8MP instead of 5MP.

A good camera I used to use was the C2100 which had optically stabilized 10x lens. But it was only 2MP and had ISO100-400 only.

In bright daylight, you should be able to handhold the 750 to take pictures of birds. The 750 has a very fast lens. But at longer telephoto ranges, you will need to brace against a wall or use a tripod. Sorry. ^_^;

But if you want relatively long focal length and stabilization, try the Minolta A1($600-$800) or the A2 when it comes out.
Good luck!

2/23/2004 1:12:35 PM

Denise N

member since: 4/15/2003
  I own a Kodak Easyshare DX4330 (my first digital camera) and absolutely love it for a first-time digital user. I use it for a variety of shots: sports (action), scenery, and family photos. I use my tripod a lot especially with the zoom (I don't have a steady hand). For the price, you cannot go wrong with a Kodak - especially the Easyshare system which is sooooo easy and fast. I personally only buy Kodak and I don't know why they always seem to be "left out in the cold" by everyone. For their products I think they have the best price for the features. But remember to play, play, play with your camera to get to know the features it has and how they all work under different conditions. I've had mine for almost a year and I'm still having fun learning what it can do. Enjoy! and Good Luck!

2/24/2004 8:53:39 AM

Alisha May Furbish
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/5/2003
  I own the DX6490, and I like it very much. Image stabilization or not, I think it never hurts to use a tripod- I put off getting one, but when I did I realized how helpful they are. The DX6490 is easy to use and has a lot of manual and auto features. It produces beautiful images. My only qualm is that for a few hundred more dollars I could've gotten a digital SLR. But, being an advanced amature, I found the Kodak had more than enough options to help me learn, and to produce great pictures.

2/24/2004 4:19:34 PM


member since: 11/28/2003
  I got the Panasonic Lumix FZ10 at Christmas. It is a 4mp camera with 12X OPTICAL zoom (35-420 equiv) and it has optical image stabilization. And it is F2.8 all thru the range.

It is my first digital camera, and I am very pleased with it so far.

2/24/2004 6:56:16 PM


member since: 2/16/2004
  I bought a Kodak Easyshare DX6490 after looking at a lot of cameras and photo galleries. (Look at Alisha May's) The lens is awesome. I will even say it is at least as good if not better than a Zeiss. I used to use a Pentax K1000 but it is too large to take along with the camcorder. The Kodak is an excellent alternative and gives me better prints than what I got with my high quality film cameras. (film processing is not as good as it used to be) I will get a digital SLR in the future, but I do not consider that technology "mature" yet. 5+ megapixel cameras are still a bit on the noisy side and there are some other issues that they need to work out. In the mean time, I will "suffer" with a small, lightweight, easy to use camera with a world class lens and color system.


3/3/2004 8:04:00 AM

Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Ah..the quintessential request: I want everything, but I don't want to pay for it. :) It has been my observation that you get what you pay for in the camera world. Of course, as a whole, photo equipment is way overpriced. You can pretty much expect that the cheaper a camera is, then the less it has to offer. Features that shoot the price up considerably are resolution, memory card used, optical zoom, image capture formats offered, flash features (red-eye reduction, slow-sync, etc.), white balance options, and manual exposure functions. The more automatic a camera, the cheaper it will be. Just take the little Canon A101 or whatever it's called. It has no zoom at all - just one focal length (I think it's around 35mm). This is the least expensive of the Big 6 brands (Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Sony, Olympus). You can grab one for $150. It probably takes/makes better images than, say, the Olympus D-360, which DOES have a zoom lens and higher resolution.

Choosing a digital camera isn't easy, nor is it universal. You need to make a list of your priorities - even if you don't know what the function is called, list what you want to be able to do with your camera, and then go play with the cameras at your local Best Buy or even WalMart. These store usually have a ton of demos tied to the counter for customers to play with. Even if you've done all your homework on the web, you will find that holding a super light plastic camera in your hand can really change your mind quick about the relative quality of a particular camera. To me, this just screams "cheap!" Also, although most of the big 6 have been trying to get their cameras as small as possible, I find the smaller they are, the simpler the design and the less they offer.
If you're still confused, get the most expensive camera you can afford and you can't be too disappointed. Sad, but true.

3/23/2004 6:59:39 AM

Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Addendum: RE the aforementioned Canon 'A101'. THis is the exception to the rule. Optical zoom, for instance, isn't going to make a damn bit of difference in the 'quality' of the image, but most people will gladly sacrifice this for some zoom power. If there were only two cameras in the world to choose from, I would go for the zoom model, but this is a personal choice. REmember, everyone values each option differently. The trick is finding the "perfect" camera that offers all your favorite options in one package. Camera manufacturers deliberately add or leave out options on certain cameras in order to push you toward the next most expensive or higher end camera. YOu might not want all the bells and whistles that a certain camera offers, but if it's the least pricey model with your one desirable feature, then you are forced to pay for all the others as well.

Don't worry too much about making the "wrong" decision. ONce you make your choice and become comfortable using your new camera, you won't remember Jack about what the others might've offered. Frankly, you can make great images with any camera. Pick the best you can afford and then just shoot, shoot, shoot, and you can't go wrong with that.

3/23/2004 7:12:01 AM


member since: 2/16/2004
  I agree with Piper, It will be hard to make a really wrong decision. My decision was based on 4 requirements; price, size, image quality and useability. Although the Kodak DX6490 has a 10X optical zoom, it was not a factor. In reality, you will mostly use the wide to medium zoom range and rarely use the full 10X. a 3 - 4X is usually sufficient. Do not use digital zoom. Most large zooms are not as good optically as shorter zooms. The real good German designed lens out there are exceptions. (Zeis and Schneider Kreuznach)
A good thing to do would be to write down what you would like the camera to do, go look in the stores and hold the different cameras to determine which ones are too big or small, read some online reviews by experts, re-evaluate your criteria and make a decision. You will love a digital camera. I have taken more pictures in the 2 months I have owned mine, than I did all of last year. :-)

3/23/2004 7:58:36 AM


member since: 2/16/2004
  I took a look at some reviews of Douglas's camera. The Panasonic Luminix FZ10 looks like a great one. I almost took my Kodak DX6490 back. I would love to have the manual focus, but I have to have the low light operating capabilities of the Kodak. I wish the Panasonic had the AF systems of the Kodak, or the Kodak had the manual focus of the Panasonic.

3/28/2004 6:08:58 PM

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Photography Question 
Tyrone Marquez

member since: 12/22/2003
  4 .  Which First Camera
Hi my name is Tyrone and I'm new to photography, although I have taken great pictures with just point and shoot 35m cameras throughout the years. I am now taking photography very serious. I love taking pictures of sports - boxing, baseball, etc. I would like to know what would be a great camera to stop action. I really like that moment when the action freezes. I was thinking about the Maxxum 5 or Canon Rebel Ti. Can anyone please let me know what would be best? Thanks. My budget is about 600.00

1/10/2004 7:18:31 PM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  You would not go too wrong with either one. However, $600 allows a higher level choice than the rock bottom of the maker's line. Automatic focus may not always work as well as you'd like with dimly lit sports situations. Look a couple of steps up the manufacturer's lineup to get a more sophisticated autofocus function, and maybe even a brighter viewfinder. Plan on good telephotos or zooms, and plan to use a tripod or monopod to steady the camera. Maybe a 50 or 85 would do just fine for the boxing ring. For sports, you get dealt the double whammy of less than ideal lighting and fast action. You and I can't afford the f2.8 300mm lenses the pros use, but we can use fast film (high ASA number), the fastest shutter our equipment allows and hope.

1/11/2004 8:19:04 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  Myself I went with a Nikon F80 and have only great things to say about this camera!!!

1/13/2004 11:13:38 AM

Buddy Purugganan

member since: 8/31/2002
  $600.00? Quite a BIG budget for sports cam picture action! NIKON N75 ( reviewed in Photographic magazine dated June 2003) with a superb D series lens zoom ....28-200mm about $365.00 in Broadway Photo ( 1-800-861-3436) or The N75 is light and real compact!

1/17/2004 5:44:26 AM

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Photography Question 
Kenneth DeSiata

member since: 3/21/2003
  5 .  Help - My First Camera
Hi, I am new to photography and I don't know which camera to get. I have signed up for a basic photo class in January so I need a camera.
I like the way the Minolta Maxxum 5 fits in my hand, but some people say that I should just go with a Nikon N65 or a Canon Rebel 2000.

Could anyone give me some advice? I don't take sports photograpy so a really fast camera is not really needed. What I want is a simple camera to learn and one that if I decide to grow it will grow with me.
Thank you all for any and all help.

9/24/2003 4:12:10 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  (a) You might check with the instructor of the class to make sure that the camera/lens you get is suitable. Don't ask specific brand so much as ask for a list of features the camera should have. For example, it might be preferred if your camera has Depth of Field preview - the ability to close the lens aperture down so that you can see in the viewfinder how much of the scene will appear in focus. Not all SLRs have this feature (though the Maxxum 5, Rebel 2000 and Nikon N65 do). The professor may be "old school" and prefer that you start with a 50 f/1.8 lens instead of the standard 28-80 f/3.5-5.6 zooms that most cameras come packaged with.

(b) All of the major manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax) make terrific entry-level SLRs. There are a few specific models that are not well-suited to your photography class because they do not allow manually setting exposure (example the Minolta QTsi), but the 3 you mention will serve you very well.

(c) The Maxxum 5 is as good or better than the other two cameras mentioned, so IF YOU LIKE IT, GET IT.

(d) The main drawback that I see with the Minolta system is that IF you ever want to change to a digital SLR Minolta does not (currently) make one. With Canon/Nikon/Pentax you can use the film camera lenses with their digital SLR bodies. But that's a future consideration. You may not ever want a digital SLR, or Minolta may have a model available when you do, or Olympus's idea of digital SLRs with unique lenses not compromised for sharing with 35mm film cameras may take hold.

9/25/2003 6:23:39 AM

Kenneth DeSiata

member since: 3/21/2003
  To Jon Close, thank you for your answer. I read through the often asked questions and I have a 50mm 1.7 lens.
I like the way the Minolta feels so I will go with that. It can be either manual or fully automatic so I can learn both ways in class. Thanks again for your help.

9/25/2003 8:20:43 AM

Steve A. Stephens

member since: 11/26/2003
  Man..this brings me back to alot of my memories when I started out with a camera and needed to get one for a beginning class...
Ken, First off get a manual camera..pentax makes a good one for a beinner...this will teach you about manual focus, fstops, appeture settings, depth of field, and setting iso manually...if you have an weak eye like I do, get either a canon or nikon autofocus camera...which ever feels good to you...check the controls out in both and see if they are intuative to you..for me canon has intuative controls and makes sense to me...a minolta is a good camera, but they don't support them well if something breaks...Nikon and canon have a ton of lenses to choose from....for a good all around lense select the 24-70mm zoom and a 70-300 zoom lense...they are very flexible and will give you all the lenses you might need....also I usually recommend to my students to buy as much camera as they can possibly afford..don't settle for a botom line camera cuz after abuot a yr..your not going to be happy with it's abilities cuz you have surpassed it with your abilities....also learn the camera inside and out..if something throws u on you while your in a shoot you'll know what to do to clear it...hope this helps...good luck with your selection..

12/1/2003 7:24:48 PM

Steve McCroskey

member since: 3/20/2004
  This fall Minolta will introduce their first digital SLR camara.
The digital Maxxum 7 will be compatible with maxxum accessories - lenses,flashes,etc.
Steve McCroskey

5/23/2004 4:10:13 AM

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Photography Question 
Melody Mattison

member since: 9/20/2003
  6 .  Learning to Take Portraits
Hi, I have enjoyed taking snapshots for years and would love to learn to take portraits (especially because I have a 14 month old little girl and I spend a fortune on her pictures) and possibly for a p/t business. Where do I start? A friend that works at Ritz said buy a camera and lights and start practicing. He also recommended a digital camera. Do you agree? Thanks so much!

9/24/2003 7:53:48 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  The guy at Ritz wants to sell you a digital camera, perhaps. If I worked at Ritz, I'd try, too.

Buy an SLR (film or digital). If you go with automatic focus and autoexposure, be sure you can turn these OFF. For what you're proposing, you need control.

If you are serious about going into business, you'll need lights. For now, photograph your little one in open shade. Also, try soft window light. Put a homemade reflector (piece of foamcore board) opposite the window to open up the shadow a little. You'd be surprised how this works. You can worry about better lenses than the one that comes on the camera later. If you have a choice, though, go for a 50mm over an el cheapo zoom. There are a lot of bad zooms out there, but almost no bad 50's.

9/25/2003 5:22:44 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
Owner,, Inc.
  Hi Melody,

I agree with Doug about focusing on outdoor portraiture at first - you will find it much easier to work with natural light outdoors than artifical light indoors.

I would also recommend that you check out the Kodak book "The Portrait".

More importantly, since you mentioned photographing your 14-month old, take a look at Vik Orenstein's excellent book, Creative Techniques for Photographing Children.

Or considering enrolling in Vik's fantastic course here at BetterPhoto, entitled Photographing Children.

9/29/2003 10:42:37 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001

Also not too surprised the guy at Ritz wanted to sell you things . . . that's his job. Just recognize a camera store is not a really free advice counter although a good one will work to head you in the right direction . . . while still working very hard to sell you something. It's a business; if they don't sell things (or enough of them), they go under. Also remember that a camera store salesman may try to convince you that buying the next gadget or gizmo, or another lens, or even a complete camera system will magically solve all your problems. Not quite true. Equipment is an enabler, but all by itself it won't create anything. Photographs are *made* by the photographer . . . period.

Portraiture has two critical elements, controlling lighting and light's interaction with the subject and that requires having a lot of techniques for working with people. In your case with small children, it is much different in some respects than working with adults. Control of background is also important. It's not as simple as it seems, especially with children not your own, but it's also something nearly anyone can master if they work at it for a while. The guy at Ritz was very correct about one thing: practice. Combined with some study to learn concepts and get some ideas, it's the experience of doing it that will perfect your techniques.

There is a rather steep learning curve to using studio lighting . . . and a high cost to procuring enough equipment to be effective (even with a minimal setup). Best to learn about how to work with light as others have suggested by using natural lighting outdoors and working at modifying it with simple, home-made devices first. If you do advance on to using studio lighting indoors, you'll have a very good idea about how you want to use it and the learning curve won't be quite so steep.

If you're considering your own business doing infant/child portraits, go into it knowing that the competition in this field is very stiff. You will be competing against every Sears, Wal-Mart and Meijer store that has a "studio" for doing just this in the back. You must be able to provide something more than they do. You will likely *not* be able to do it with lower prices. Their Achilles Heel is the simple formula "cookie cutter" approach and assembly line McPortrait results. They're not "bad" portraits, but everything looks the same; just change the faces. Provide something uniquely tailored to the subjects that brings out something special about them and those who consider more than just bottom line lowest possible price will hire you.

-- John

10/4/2003 10:20:46 AM

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Photography Question 
Valerie N. 

member since: 9/20/2003
  7 .  TOTAL Beginner
I know NOTHING about cameras but I am interested in photography. What is a good camera for a total beginner? I hear that digital cameras are not as good as manual kinds - is that true? What is a great camera I could get or about $500 or less to practice on photography skills. I am really interested in going far with this, maybe becoming a photographer. I think I want a manual type arent they a little better than digital?

9/20/2003 11:31:10 PM

John Gatica

member since: 9/21/2003
  I think that most people would recommend that a beginner start with completely manual camera. I recommend the Pentax K1000 manual SLR. The camera is no longer in production, but it can be found used at camera shops or at ebay with ease. Since this is a completely manual camera, there will be no autofocus, auto-film advancing, auto-rewind, etc. This camera allows the student to learn about photography from the ground up. For $500, you could by a K1000 and a couple of good lenses and still some cash left over.

9/21/2003 5:29:48 PM

Sarah R. Gipson

member since: 9/23/2003
  I personally love my Canon Rebel 2000. It takes gorgeous pictures and I have never had problems with it. It is great for absolutly everything. Plus, it only cost and 200-300 dollars. I use it for sports, portraits, and landscape. And if you get the 300 zoom lens, your pictures will come out absolutly amazing for far away pictures. It has both automatic and manual. Its also very easy to use. To me, its a perfect 10

9/23/2003 8:35:50 AM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  As John said, the old manual camera is the best place to start. I bought a Canon FTb brand new and have shot with it trouble free for many years. My son now shoots with it. They are plentiful as well in the used market and I think the Canon FD series lenses which this camera uses are superior to the pentax counterparts. An opinion, but very good results from the equipment.

9/23/2003 9:27:02 AM

Walter Fuller

member since: 8/11/2003
  I strongly disagree about starting with a manual camera. Virtually none of the manual camera skills (other than composure) will transfer to today's modern cameras. Learning on a manual camera, only to re-learn on a modern camera, is a waste of time and presents impediments to learning. After all, to learn how to wash your clothes, did you have to first learn with a washboard? My recommendation is to avoid feature/function on manual cameras, and focus on the tasks you will be performing with your camera. Treat each one as a skill objective, and learn how to do it with a modern camera. Example: how to take a portrait, how to take sports photos, etc. The knowledge foisted upon you to learn how to perform each skill should be restricted to only the knowledge you need to perform the task using your camera. Believe me, you will end up with better skills in a shorter time period!

9/24/2003 2:28:22 PM

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2002
  Photography is more than just composition. If you want to learn photography, in my oponion, you should start from the basic. The manual SLR camera (or modern SLR with manual override) is preferred by many pros because it is the most basic tool that you will need to learn photography and to capture the image. It is you who should be in total control, not the camera. It is you who should decide what aperture/shutter speed to set, when to use the flash/filter, why you need to compensate for exposure, and even what should and should not be in focus. It is your eyes and the thinking process that you should develope in learning photography. Once you acquire the skills and knowledge, you can then focus on the specific subject and pick up the appropriate equipment. In other words, you should USE your equipment, not DEPEND on them.

Choosing the camera (the tool) is very personal and everyone knows that the most expensive automatic everything SLR will not necessary make you a better photographer. Once you learn how to use a manual camera (or the automatic SLR with manual override), learning any automatic camera will be a breeze because any single feature the automatic camera can do, you can do it on the manual camera too. You are learning the features of the new camera, not photography. And you will know when and why you use certain feature. Even you swith to another camera, you still have to learn the featrues of the other camera. And photography is still the same.

9/29/2003 12:32:12 PM

Hannah Y

member since: 3/4/2003
  It was very interesting to read the answers to this question. Personally, I don;t think you should go for a digital camera, since you are a beginner. I have a wonderful camera that I would recommend to you - Cannon EOS 3000N. This was my own first camera, and although I started off as a beginner, I am now a semi-pro! I personally think that when you are simply starting off in photography you shouldn't really worry about adjusting shutter speed, aperture and all those little details. You should rather concentrate on WHAT you are shooting and let the camera regulate everything on its own. Try this camera, and shoot in the P (automatic) mode. Go for a high ISO film, i.e. 400, or Kodak Ultra for instance. This camera has a very good manual so you should be able to get on with it very well.

Good luck!

10/16/2003 10:07:05 AM

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Photography Question 

member since: 6/10/2003
  8 .  Beginner 35mm SLR
I'd like to get a new 35mm slr. I'm a beginner, and being such I know that you'll probably suggest a Pentax k-1000. I'd like to get something new. I've had too many bad experiences with used equipment. I don't necessarily want to spend a fortune, but I'd like to get something that I can continue to use as I get more experienced. Any suggestions?

7/30/2003 12:24:37 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Canon Rebel Ti, Rebel 2000, or Rebel G-II; Nikon N65 or N75, Minolta Maxxum 5, Pentax ZX-7 or ZX-L/6. In each case the camera maker's 50mm f/1.8 is sharper than their standard kit zooms (28-80 f/3.5-5.6) sold with these. Each maker has a "better" 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 zoom that would be preferred to the kit zoom.

7/30/2003 1:00:03 PM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  Another option is the Nikon FM3A, a manual camera that can use Nikons AIS lenses, and also Nikon's autofocus lenses (in the manual mode). Nikon may sell the FM10 new, a manual camera that has a decent reputation, but is less robust than the FM3A. See to learn more about Nikon manual cameras.

7/31/2003 6:15:45 AM


member since: 6/10/2003
  i like the nikon fm3a but it's a little more ($$$) than what I had in mind. I like manual, though. anything a little less?

7/31/2003 4:27:05 PM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  See if the FM10 is still being sold new.
It's made by Cosina, so the build quality is not Nikon, but you can expect Nikon to stand by the product. The FM 10 is extremely light weight, so you'd be willing to carry it around more.
Look at used cameras on The FM2a and FM2 have a great reputation for durability. When KEH says "Bargain", they mean it has a few scratches or paint rubs, but is fully functioning. They may even have a slightly used FM3a.

8/1/2003 5:22:19 AM

Dale Moreau

member since: 7/10/2002
  While I understand your concern for buying a used camera, I personally recommend it. You can get an excellent condition FM2n for around $200.00 (+lens)with hundreds of lens choices everyday on line, or check out a local pro-dealer who stands by their products and pay a little extra. I have have had an assortment of nikons from Nikormats through my current F3s with absolutely NO problems at all.
Have fun,

8/13/2003 3:57:33 AM

Rahul Sharma

member since: 5/7/2003
  Dear Mike,
I have one Cosina C1s manual camera with 35-70 lens and I tell you its a good one at low price. You can easily master SLR photography with this one and then you may go for some advanced one. Its a totally manual camera with TTL metering but no option for multiple exposers. Shutter speeds from Bulb, 1s to 1/2000 and f spot from f3.6 to f22. Results are quite good and the lens mount is K mount so dont expect to interchange lenses with nikon or canon bodies. Overall its a good camera for beginners

8/13/2003 6:42:30 AM

Amy Hummingbird
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/14/2000
  I too am a beginner, and I started out with an old Canon Rebel G. When I got bored with it, I got a Pentax ZX-M. It's not for everyone I'm sure, but I've loved it. It has auto film advance and autoexposure, but the focus is manual. You can do manual exposure as well. It has worked really, really well for me, and I've learned more using it than I ever did with the Rebel. I got it through B&H with the 50 mm f/2 lens (which I recommend, by the way -- you get hooked on it and no zoom will ever compare), and the whole package was under $200.

Of course, I'm sure it will never measure up to an FM3A, but hey, I don't have the cash for that and I'm not THAT serious a photographer! But if you're really interested in new equipment, this is another option for you. I've had great luck with it.

8/13/2003 7:48:03 AM


member since: 2/12/2003
  Hi Mike. I would highly reccommend the Pentax K1000. It is totally a mechanical 35mm SLR. No lights, whistles, or anything else to distract you in your quest to become a quality photographer. I am a seasoned amateur, who uses a number of Nikon SLR's, one of which was my first camera. I love them, but I should have started out with a totally manual camera like the K1000. I have one that I have had for (2) weeks. I use it quite a lot, and it is quality. You can find one n ebay, in topflight condition, get you a couple of lenses, 35-80, and a 70-210, which you ca also find on ebay. Don't get me wrog, all of the above advice given to you are top flight stuff, but this is my opinion. The Pentax K1000, has my vote.

8/14/2003 6:22:36 PM

Buddy Purugganan

member since: 8/31/2002
  There are plenty of 35mm manual/autofocus cameras available for any beginner. For Manual cameras--the Nikon FM 2/3 with an SB Speedlight Flash is truly a wise choice.I have used this and what I find incredible about the Nikon FM2 or FM2N is that they can even function without ANY batteries! For an autofocus (AF)camera---Nikon N65/ N55/ or the new N75 have a vast reservoir of excellent features that makes photography easier for the beginner! By the way, most of the AF cameras have built-in speedlight flash units for convenience...though I would recommend the SB Speedlight flashes available to avoid flash lighting problems. See for details of the BEST SLR cameras now!

8/20/2003 7:19:57 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  I wouldn't really recommend a k1000. True you can learn from it, but just because it's all manual dosen't really make it a better beginners camera. Most cameras that have aperture/shutter priority still can be switched to manual. And the pentax has a meter that tells you whether it reads something as over or under exposed just like a newer camera does when it's set on manual.
So unless you just can't afford a newer camera, a k1000 would be a start, but I think if you're somebody who's really going to try and learn as much as you can, you'll quickly outgrow it and will want something else. Because you'll want to at least try a new lens, and I don't think you'll be able to find one other than a 50mm, and that's what will probably come with the camera.
I don't know how much they cost brand new off hand, but something like an A2 would be a good choice, especially a good used one. Or if minolta makes a comparable one to that.

11/26/2003 5:31:17 AM

Stephen Salathiel

member since: 1/6/2004
  Hey bro,

I'd definitely go for a manual Nikon. These things rock. I started out with manual Minoltas like the SR-T 303, and then when I was about 15 or so, my uncle lent me his Nikon FE2 because my Minolta had broken. I've never looked back since. If you buy a manual Nikon, you'll be buying into part of a huge system that is infinitely upgradable if/when you feel the need. I still love this model camera (the FE2) but never actually bought one because I was too blind to focus the damn thing!!! I bought an 801s instead with an autofocus zoom. The manual lenses work great on a lot of the newer cameras so there is no need to sell your whole outfit if you want to change gear. I decided that I didn't like the feel of manual focussing the autofocus lenses, so I bought a Nikon F4s ($650 AUD) with some manual lenses (my favourite is the 28mm F3.5 AIS, sharp as and dirt cheap ($70 AUD)). There is an electronic rangefinder that helps me to focus. From my perspective, I wouldn't buy a Pentax K-1000 or anything like that. I am only twenty, a student and have relatively no money. I'd keep saving your pennies and buy a manual focus Nikon body like the FE2, FM2 or even an FA (this body is the coolest manual focus camera ever!!) and then not be pissed off that you bought some other brand (although they do exactly the same task probably equally as well!!). These cameras keep their resale if you don't bash them, so you'll never have a problem trying to offload them to someone else. There is tons of great quality used gear out there for Nikons and this digital era is just making the prices lower. You would not regret buying a Nikon. I can't say the same thing for other brands. I know that the old Minolta lenses are really nice, cheap and feel great, but it is (like the manual focus Pentax's and Canon's) a bit of a dead end if you later want an autofocus body. Hope this helps. Please don't bag me other posters!!!

Best of luck, Steve.

1/6/2004 2:35:55 AM

Tom Walker

member since: 3/12/2004
  Gregory, k1000's are still being sold new and a new body goes for more than a ZX-M with lens, tripod and bag. Used ones usually sell on ebay for more than I paid for mine new 21 yrs ago

3/13/2004 10:47:27 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  Well there you go. Another reason not to automatically go get a k1000.

3/13/2004 11:20:07 PM

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Photography Question 
J Ekpeti

member since: 10/7/2002
  9 .  Enlargers
I have just installed some enlargers but when it comes to printing images they come out flat and grey. When I print contact sheets they come out great, wiht excellent contrast. when I try to print out images they are incredibly flat help.
Do I need to put a filter in or what help!!!

10/7/2002 11:55:14 AM


member since: 9/7/2003
  Did you get answers? What kind of enlarger are you using? B & W or color head enlarger? My experience with color head, difusion light source, the prints will lack contrast and I have to use contrast filters to get what I want.

9/7/2003 5:09:48 PM

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Photography Question 
Gregory S. Vaughn

member since: 9/11/2002
  10 .  Washed Out Pictures
I'm not really sure what the problem is with my pictures (exposure or other problem) but many of my pictures from a recent trip seem washed out and/or overexposed (too light).

Here's the situation: I have a Nikon N50. I have a Tiffen Circular Polarizer that I use with it almost all the time (outdoors). I recently went on a trip to Japan and Hong Kong and I took 26 rolls of pictures. MOST of my pictures look very colorless. I have been shooting my pictures mostly using the landscape program because I want to see all of the detail. I can't tell if my pictures are overexposed (too light) or if something else is making them look so washed up. I have not adjusted the f-stop for using the polarizing filter... but I wasn't sure if the 3-D matrix metering would adjust for this automatically or not. What is likely causing my problem?

- Not adjusting for f-stop of filter?
- Using landscape mode (large degree of field)?
- Using polarizing filter excessively?
- Lab problem (not developed properly)?
- Other (or more than one of above)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

9/11/2002 5:09:09 PM

Gregory S. Vaughn

member since: 9/11/2002
  Oh yeah... I don't know if this info helps, but I used a variety of film from 200-800 ISO but mostly 200 and 400 ISO Kodak Max.

9/11/2002 5:11:09 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  - Not adjusting for f-stop of filter?: No, your camera will meter through the filter and will therefore adjust for it.

- Using landscape mode (large degree of field)?: Don't see how that could cause overexposure.

- Using polarizing filter excessively?: Shouldn't directly cause overexposure either.

- Lab problem (not developed properly)?: Very possible. Overexposed negative film would have to be severely overexposed to produce bad images. Negative film can handle overexposure very well and still give you nice prints. You may just need to take the film back and have them reprint it. Sometimes automated machines don't make the necessary adjustments and the operators don't pay enough attention.

- Other (or more than one of above)?: Could be your metering technique. Could be a sticky shutter. Could be a faulty meter in your camera.

9/11/2002 10:58:27 PM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  I had similar problems recently with a new camera.

Negatives that look the way you describe may have been underexposed. Slide film looks sickly and thin when overexposed. With negative film, exposure to light builds density in the highlights. Let enough light through to the film and you have density.

What I did was to trust the autoexposure in very bright lighting conditions. I allowed my light meter to freak and select too fast a shutter speed, thus under-exposing my negs. I didn't get it until later in the trip. Then I used exposure compensation to give the film another stop and a half of exposure. I could have saved myself this trouble by being more familiar with the metering system in the new camera.

9/12/2002 8:46:09 AM

james marcus

member since: 12/10/2001
  Although fortunate enough not to have experienced this myself, I have friends that related similar experiences of ghosting, fogging, and wash out that was caused from security check points. For example, allowing the film to pass through an airport metal detector and x-ray examination station. From what I understand, this creates aweful exposures on your negs.

Just a suggestion for thought.

9/17/2002 9:58:33 AM

j lucius estes

member since: 5/28/2002
  I would suggest using an 18% gray card. You should be able to pick one up at any good photography store. Hold the card up in front of your camera and set the proper exposer, then aime the camera at your subject and click. I only use all-manual equipment and am not sure how you would do this with an automatic focus camera but I hope this helps. Also if when you are shooting try to be in the same light as your subject, ie, if subject is in sunlight and you are in shadows expose for the light. That is where the gray card comes in handy. All camera meters average the light hitting the meter to an 18% gray. Doing this before you shoot with the gray card corrects the reading and you get a better shot. Hope this helps and have fun shooting.

9/17/2002 11:55:28 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  I'm not completely convinced of the usefulness of a gray card. A gray card can give you screwy readings depending upon the angle of reflectance. Besides, who wants to carry around that silly card with them everywhere they go. When I need a reading like that I meter the palm of my hand and open up a stop. Works every time.

9/17/2002 11:59:30 AM

Gregory S. Vaughn

member since: 9/11/2002
  Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

I've reviewed some of my previous pictures (from another trip) and I'm thinking perhaps I will try using an ND filter to see if this will help.

I think the biggest problem might be that I'm either overexposing the sky or underexposing the other parts relative to it. I'm not exactly sure how the metering works for the N50 (I'm going to read more...but I know I can force the metering to lock based on a certain point if I hold a button on the back of the camera while aiming at that point.

I will try doing this in the darker areas (subject) while using an ND filter for the sky and see if this helps.

9/17/2002 1:23:12 PM

Taweephol Thipayarat

member since: 1/23/2000
  Was the ISO setting on the camera (if not auto) set to the corresponding film ISO?

9/17/2002 9:31:06 PM

Gregory S. Vaughn

member since: 9/11/2002
  The camera recognizes ISO automatically (I didn't manually override - if possible on the N50). BTW...I meant to say on the last post a GRADUATED ND Filter.

9/18/2002 4:19:58 PM

Michael F. Harrington

member since: 10/27/2002
  I have to agree with the airport security thing, This will ruin undeveloped and unexposed films. Next time buy in country and develop in country.

What does landscape have to do with it? Sounds as if you do not understand what that function means. It doesn't change any viewing angle. It changes you camera's programming for exposure control.

Aperture? Not hardly. Your camera programs that in, too.

Filter is NOT your problem. I shot all over Japan and Hong Kong with a polarizer with superb results. Your camera compensates since it's AE

Lab? Possible, but I'm sticking with the security scanner.

It just sounds most likely that it's the culprit.

10/28/2002 2:48:42 PM

Eddie Lagos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/1/2006
  The Nikon d50 is definately a good starter camera. If you want image stabalization though try looking into the Sony alpha, it recieved camera of the year by some photo magazine, like if that matters.

12/14/2006 3:53:21 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Well Greg, you're getting a lot of interesting suggestions here but not having actually seen your film or even a print, but especially your negs, it's all speculation.

I can tell you what it's definitely not. You're not describing base side emulsion fog from airport x-ray damage. That's a distinct problem that produces splotches from fogging on the film depending on how it's situated to the radiation source.

If you see violet/magenta streaking on the base side of the emulsion, then maybe you've got emulsion fogging but on every roll you shot, it's not likely. In fact, it's highly UNlikely even if the film went through checked baggage and a CTX 5000 scanner.

My suggestion is first of all, stop using all these filters. They're rarely necessary and only under special circumstances. If you really really REALLY feel you want to enhance the color saturation of the film, first, use a pro grade emulsion like Fuji Superia or Agfa Optima not Kodak Gold or something like that. And, just add a warming filter, say an 81B or even a "Redhancer" filter from like B+H.

Polarizers are for reducing glare or reflections. Not scene color enhancers although they can do that as a side effect. They can also fool internal meters into over or underexposing (often significantly) depending on the scene lighting. Especially center weighted meters Using a gray card, ....well, I wouldn't with a polarizer because once you get back to the scene you're shooting, you still have to readjust the polarizer and there goes the value of your gray card reading.

ND filters? What kind? Why? If your sky is that hot when you're shooting than a variable grade ND filter is ok, but you meter for the foreground, lock in the exposure add the ND filter and then shoot at the locked in exposure.

Labs? Not likely. In fact, very unlikely.

Okie dokie. If you want to post some images, that may turn some opinions around a bit.
Take it light.

12/14/2006 7:29:43 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Sorry Greg. One other thing I forgot to mention is a problem with either the camera or built-in meter itself. That's easy enough to have checked at a local camera repair shop. Probably won't even charge you to do that. Oh, and of course the batteries. You DID change the batteries right? Greg....GREG !!!!!!

12/14/2006 7:31:53 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/14/2005
  You might have to shout a little louder, Mark - his film problem was posted over 4 years ago!

Eddie, check the dates on posts before responding. No need to drag up old news.

Chris A. Vedros

12/15/2006 7:11:56 AM

Eddie Lagos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/1/2006
  Maybe he forgot.

12/15/2006 7:14:46 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  THAT's funny Chris !!!! I checked the membership date but not the original post date. Well, OTOH, at least the same answer would apply to someone with a similar problem even if their travel destination was different. LOL !!!

12/16/2006 10:01:41 AM

Gregory S. Vaughn

member since: 9/11/2002

Thanks for the suggestions...but as mentioned a little bit earlier, it was a LONG time ago. I actually don't shoot film anymore (do most of us?). I now shoot digital so I can better see how my pictures are instantly and adjust (and/or also post-process when necessary). I think Eddie (the first person to bring this topic back from the dead) got the Nikon N50 confused with the Nikon D50.

12/16/2006 1:38:30 PM

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