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Photography QnA: SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Cameras

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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : 35mm Cameras : SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Cameras

Have questions regarding SLR Cameras and spotting scope photography? Wondering what the history on SLR cameras is? Ask all of your SLR questions here.

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Photography Question 
Amy B. Sudduth

member since: 2/22/2004
  1 .  Lookin for First SLR Camera
Ok, here is the thing... I am looking to buy my first SLR Camera. I will be using it to practice taking portraits and some day I want to have my own studio. To start out.. what cameras would you suggest for this field?

2/22/2004 11:20:12 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  You'll hear from the resident geezer first, I guess. I'd start with a manual focus, maybe even manual exposure SLR. Good ones are very cheap used, and you can buy a few new still. Lenses are far less expensive. Try a 50mm lens first, as they are both cheap and very good at resolving fine detail. For portraits, try an 85 or 100mm. All makers have these. Read more about this approach on my web page. The regulars here have heard it all before.

2/23/2004 10:19:43 AM

George Gaskell

member since: 2/23/2004
  There are two cameras I would strongly recommend to a beginner -- (1) whatever the current entry-level Canon EOS camera is, and (2) the Pentax K1000.

There is something that every beginner really needs to understand -- the camera body is the LEAST important component in the whole photography process. It is only there to hold the lens and the film in the proper relation to one another, and if it can do that well, then you have a winner. All the features and gadgets on the high-end cameras are only there for the photographer's convenience (which may be important if you take photos for a living, but should mean very little to the rest of us). An expensive body will not give you better photos. There are 4 things that matter a lot more -- light quality, film type, lens quality and composition skill.

The most affordable Canon EOS camera at the moment is the Rebel GII. It is only about $150! It is packed with features, too. Ten years ago, it would have been the most advanced thing on the market. It takes all the EF lenses (start with the 50mm f/1.8 III). You can't go wrong.

Second, think about a Pentax K1000. It is a warhorse. It is all manual, very reliable, perfectly designed. As an alternative, there is the new Pentax ZX-M.

With the money you save by choosing a less expensive body, invest in top of the line lenses, a top quality filter set, lighting equipment (if you shoot indoors), and a library of good photo books. These things will improve your photos far more than a high-end body ever will.

2/23/2004 8:59:58 PM

David S. Davis

member since: 12/17/2002
  I use the Nikon N65 and love it. But this is not my advice to you. Spend time reading reviews. Popular photography and Photographic magazines for example (I think the web sites have archive reviews). Go to a few stores and see what feels best.

My advice is to check out ebay and sites like that have used equipment. You can save a ton of money. I wish I had gone this route.

2/24/2004 7:20:04 AM

  I started with the Canon Rebel Ti, excellent camera. What sets it apart from the lower end Rebels is that the lens mount is metal not plastic! I use the 28-90mm lens and then a 75-300mm. Everyone recommends 50mm for portraits but I also love 150mm. I like options!
From there if you so decide, you can go to the digital rebel. I just purchased it and love it! You can use all the same lenses as the Rebel Ti, very practical. I now use them both in my studio.
It's nice to be able to build on what you have. Pick a brand that you love and stick to it so that you're not carrying 2 separate sets of lenses and filters down the road.

2/24/2004 10:32:41 AM

David S. Davis

member since: 12/17/2002
  Check this link - it reviews SLR's under $300

copy and paste to your browser.

2/24/2004 11:42:35 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  Personally,I started with a Nikon F80 28-80 D lens and 70-300 ED lens,then added a 50mm.1.8 a little later,never regretted my choices,I added a Minolta SRT 101 and XE5 with a 28mm and 45mm Minolta lenses,bought a screwmount adapter and added alot of really great Takumar lenses,the 105mm.Super Tak,50mm.f1.4,SMC 55mm.f2.and the older Tele Takumar 200mm.f3.5 a good sharp 200mm.The total cost of the Minolta system 400 Canadian,The Nikon gear about 1200.Shop around and have some fun!!!

2/24/2004 12:07:31 PM

Michael F. Millay

member since: 3/8/2003
  Amy - I am not Sure who "Michael M." is (above)
But I am Michael F. Millay - or Mylo - or Sharpshooter... ANYWAY -
BEFORE I read ANY "Replies" I Came up with the SAME 2 Cameras in my Brain, as George & DOUG Did! The Old Pentax K-1000 ! (remember NO AutoFocus-U actually have to LOOK at Your Composition, etc.) Or... ANY Canon REBEL (How many Rebels Do they Have Now?) You Might be Glad LATER if you get the SAME NAME Camera AND GLASS - As You Could KEEP Say.. Canon Glass, then SELL a REBEL, & get a BETTER Canon - OR Digital Canon.
ALSO : If your Bank Account is NOT Bulging, You Can cover EVERYTHING from 28 mm to 300 mm - with TWO Hunks of Glass - as I did. i.e. :
CANON 28-105mm ZOOM, AND CANON 100-300 ZOOM. Total Cost - BOTH Lenses : Approx. : $ 450 to $ 500 ?) (Buy thru Mail at B & H-New York ONLY, or be Stupid) I have had about 30 Photos Published that I shot with above Glass.
... Sharpshooter

2/24/2004 1:25:29 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  I have heard rumers that the Rebel does not handle cold weather well,and the build quality is plastic in feel and heft,these in itself would really question on wether I would buy one ,oh by the way its Michael McCullough,and for 4or 500 dollars you really can pick up a complete manual system that will still have years of life left,Canon made some great manual cameras and lenses at one time!!!!!!

2/25/2004 8:34:29 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  And just to add a little more for you try picking up a new auto focus camera and I don't mean a pro camera and then a 25 year old manual masterpiece you will see right away the build difference in both quality and feel.If the older camera is maintained it will last a lifetime,Take good care!!!

2/25/2004 8:41:52 AM

Paula  S. Masterson

member since: 1/25/2003
  This is repetitive, but maybe it'll help you! My first (and only) SLR was the Canon Rebel Ti, and it is everything I could want. It has all the preset modes that you can use when you are getting comfortable with the camera and how to handle it. Then it has all the creative controls you'll want as you understand more about photography. I stuck with the original 28-90mm lens until I got more comfortable with phtography fundamentals, then added a 28-200. I bought it about 18 months ago, on-line, from 17th St. Photo in NYC, for $250. It came with a whole kit of stuff, inc. a tripod. I have used it out in the cold without any problems. I like the lighter weight of the plastic body, as I am a smaller person and it is easy for me to handle. You won't be disappointed!!

Paula Masterson

2/26/2004 11:47:59 AM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/16/2003
  Hi Amy,

I reading through these entries and I’m thinking that if I was just starting out, I’d be more confused now then when I first asked the question! Everyone has there favourite brands and you will to. All of the mentioned brands and even ones that aren’t mentioned make some excellent cameras, so I’ll do you a favour and not tote any brands in this response (besides these companies take my money, not give it to me, so I will not give them any free advertising, too!). Out of all of the responses, I think I agree most with the first response from Doug Nelson. With his approach, you’ll spend far less money…and gain a lot better understanding of the technical aspects of photography. With today’s AF cameras, the temptation to leave them in Autofocus and Program mode is too tempting. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but you will advance a lot more slowly in your understanding of exposure if you let the camera do all of the calculations for you, and usually the results are more sterile (meaning less creative). The good older manual camera tends to offer more flexibility in many ways too. Multiple exposures, elapsed time exposures, and the ability to still shoot in below freezing, or even without batteries are inherent to many of these cameras, but not usually to the AF cameras. (Unless you are going to buy VERY high end and/or add expensive databacks). A good manual camera with a manual 1.8, 50mm prime lens (great for portraits) will cost much less, teach you a lot, and allow you to get familiar with the SLR world before spending big bucks on your investment into a system for your studio. Best of all, when you’re ready start building a SYSTEM for your studio, you’ll be able to do so based on your OWN criteria of what you need in SLR technology. I emphasize system, because you are aspiring to make photography a business, your investment in lenses and accessories will far outweigh any camera bodies you buy. You’ll want to maximize your system to allow for the needs of your business….ask yourself, does this one brand offer all of lenses and accessories I will need later on?, Do they offer both film and digital cameras? (you’ll likely want both eventually), How compatible are the lenses and accessories across both formats?, etc. Once you figure that out, tryout potential candidates…determine how it does it feels in your hands? You’ll hate even the “best”, most feature laden camera if it is uncomfortable for you to use. You’ve got big plans, but you’re still in the early stages, so you’ve got time. Start out with a manual SLR that feels good to you. Spend the money you’ve saved on some good photography instruction books, or maybe some courses, and learn the basics of SLR photography with it. Even if you buy a completely different brand for your studio equipment, the loss of investment due to incompatibility will be minimal. In the meantime, you’ll have a great time with your new best friend, your first SLR! No matter what fancy & shiny products that come out down the road, you’ll always look back at “old reliable” with fondness.

Best of luck, and happy shopping!

3/8/2004 11:52:57 PM

S Goswami

member since: 4/30/2005
  I was in the same situation when I was trying to buy my first slr. And that is why I ended up buying quite a few from Ebay. I think any manual focus camera will do, be it Pentax K1000, Minolta SRT101 or the likes. If you want a real workhorse you can pick up a Zenit from ebay which you can buy around $50-$60 from ebay with a very good quality russian lens. They are really good in quality and very very cheap.

4/30/2005 1:42:24 AM

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Photography Question 
Eric Neumann

member since: 2/6/2004
  2 .  Beginner Looking for Starter SLR
I am just starting to get interested in photography and I am looking for a great beginner camera. I have looked at the Canon EOS Elan II and the Nikon N80. Can anyone let me know about these two and any other cameras good for beginners

2/6/2004 12:45:25 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  The Elan II/IIe is out of production, being replaced by the Elan 7/7e. Mid-level SLRs like the Elan 7/7e, Nikon N80, Minolta Maxxum 5 or 7, and Pentax *ist are a great place to start. They offer more features and function than the entry level SLRs (Rebel Ti, N65, N75, Maxxum 3, ZX-60), but are not as heavy and expensive as the professional bodies. In my opinion they are of equal quality and value. You can safely chose whichever one strikes your fancy (best hold, easiest to work controls, etc.).

2/6/2004 3:12:44 PM

Buddy Purugganan

member since: 8/31/2002
  In Nikon cameras, the entry level cameras include the N55, N65, and the current N75 for the autofocus lineup. In the Canon entry level cameras lineup the Rebel GII, Rebel Ti are quite recommended with superb features. Pentax has released the *ist kit, ZX-60, ZX-7, ZX-L for the camera enthusiast. Just make sure you familiarize yourself with each camera's features, the advantages, the availability of accessories and even spare parts (some cameras get "phased-out' like the earlier Nikon N60,N70 and N50 models. Anyway-ENJOY IN YOUR SELECTION!!!

2/7/2004 5:40:58 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  At least consider this alternative: If money is a consideration, go onto an online auction and pick up a manual focus Canon FTb, TX or TLb, Minolta X370 or 570, Nikon FM or FM2, Pentax K1000 or MX or Olympus OM-1 and a 50mm lens. If you can afford it, Nikon still makes a pro-quality manual focus camera, the FM3A. will sell you a used FM3A, saving you a hundred or two. You can use an autofocus lens on the FM3A as a manual focus lens. You can use a manual focus lens on higher-level Nikon autofocus SLR's, a good strategy with wide-angle lenses.

Your camera won't be sending out a silly light beam to aid in focusing, startling people and ruining your shot. You will learn to focus, even in dim light, by using your own eye. When you make mistakes in the learning process, you will be able to figure out what you did wrong. You won't have program modes and full automation to temp you to bypass the learning curve.

If you really want an autofocus camera, at least get a 50mm lens for it. You need to see how good 35mm can be. 50's are cheap and resolve detail amazingly well. Do yourself another favor, and try the lens and camera in the store. Be sure you can focus manually in low contrast or dim conditions.

If you decide later that you want to shoot sports or wildlife for a living, you can choose a high-level autofocus system from Nikon or Canon. You would then get better autofocus action and a brighter viewfinder.

2/8/2004 11:04:33 AM

Cathy B. Sylvester
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2002
  All the cameras mentioned would be good starter cameras;however, even though the Elan II is "out of production", you can still get good ones through reputable dealers that they have taken in on trades. I use an Elan II very often and I like it better than my Elan 7 and my Canon N1. I've used it for just about everything. Just my opinion. I would consider myself a very, very serious amateur/semi-professional photographer at this stage of my game and I would recommend you look into this camera as well. For more info, go to

2/9/2004 9:33:30 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  I have had the Nikon F80 for a couple of years now,overall a really great camera which has helped me produce some very nice work.Even though it does not have weather seals I've used it in extremely cold -30,to wet days,without a problem of anykind.My back ups are a Minolta SRT 101 and Minolta XE5,both manual and rugged!!!!!!

2/10/2004 10:57:01 AM

George Gaskell

member since: 2/23/2004
  There are two cameras I would strongly recommend to a beginner -- (1) whatever the current entry-level Canon EOS camera is, and (2) the Pentax K1000.

There is something that every beginner really needs to understand -- the camera body is the LEAST important component in the whole photography process. It is only there to hold the lens and the film in the proper relation to one another, and if it can do that well, then you have a winner. All the features and gadgets on the high-end cameras are only there for the photographer's convenience (which may be important if you take photos for a living, but should mean very little to the rest of us). An expensive body will not give you better photos. There are 4 things that matter a lot more -- light quality, film type, lens quality and composition skill.

The most affordable Canon EOS camera at the moment is the Rebel GII. It is only about $150! It is packed with features, too. Ten years ago, it would have been the most advanced thing on the market. It takes all the EF lenses (start with the 50mm f/1.8 III). You can't go wrong.

Second, think about a Pentax K1000. It is a warhorse. It is all manual, very reliable, perfectly designed. As an alternative, there is the new Pentax ZX-M.

With the money you save by choosing a less expensive body, invest in top of the line lenses, a top quality filter set, lighting equipment (if you shoot indoors), and a library of good photo books. These things will improve your photos far more than a high-end body ever will.

2/23/2004 8:57:44 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  Some aternates to the pentax and canon would be minolta SRT 101,Nikorrmat FT3,Pentax Spotmatic,Nikon FM,or FE!!!!good luck!!

2/24/2004 7:36:11 AM

Namita Shah

member since: 4/12/2004
  well, my first slr camera was a konica minolta maxxum 50. its really easy to use. and you can always switch it to automatic when you dont want to deal with aperture and shutter. but for a starter camera, you definately want something manual.

8/10/2004 1:20:30 PM

Djordje S. Kis

member since: 8/21/2002
First : Camera body is film and lens carrier only. You are who make photos!!!
Second : The best starter SLR is Canon, Minolta, Nikon, Pentax…, or by un-alphabetical order: … Pentax, Nikon, Minolta, Canon, irrelevant…
Third : and most important: I have two excellent Minolta bodies 7xi and 700si, every paid more than 500 $. Now I’m going to digital, and trying to sell my old equipment. Nobody wants to buy Minolta, or offer me 50$ per piece.

The result is: buy Nikon. It has the highest resale value.


9/1/2004 6:51:26 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  I have two Olympus SLR's for sale, an OM-1 and an OM2-N. Each has a 50mm in beautiful shape, and two Olympus zooms, a small Olympus flash and a leather case are available. I would pass the saving of not having to use eBay on to you. Any item bought from me carries a warranty and advice on its use. Batteries are included. All lenses have caps and shades.

9/1/2004 8:11:28 AM

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Photography Question 

member since: 12/23/2003
  3 .  About Minolta Maxxum GT
I'm not a camera buff, but my wife has a desire to learn the art photogaprhy. I just bought her a Minolta Maxxum GT for Christmas. She has been using instamatics and one-time-use cameras because we like to travel and it's not a big problem if we drop it in a river or something. We now have grandchildren and lots of family get togethers. There are no reveiw listings for the "GT". I would like to know as much as possible about this kind of camera and how to use it. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks and Merry Christmas to all who read this.

12/23/2003 1:03:12 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  I don't think there was ever a Maxxum GT model. Perhaps you meant Maxxum HTsi (or STsi, QTsi, or XTsi). If you bought it 2nd hand without a user manual, you can download these for free from Minolta's site (, hold the cursor over "Cameras+Accessories", click "Support", then "Manuals").

12/24/2003 6:34:12 AM

Lisa R. Guetschow

member since: 12/26/2003
  I also just recieved a Maxxum GT for christmas and I am having difficulty finding information on the camera. I bought it at Target. Also looking for some reviews. Thanks to anyone who can help.

12/26/2003 9:32:48 AM


member since: 12/26/2003
  Target absolutely sells a Minolta Maxxum GT. However nowhere on the Konica-Minolta site does it show that model.

It may be that Minolta has produced a model exclusive to Target whereby information or the camera would not appear anywhere else. This is not uncommon among large retailers.

12/26/2003 1:41:17 PM

Stephen Hill

member since: 11/4/2003
  Could someone possibly upload some front and back photos of this model. Maybe if we saw it we can match it to a more populer model. It is most likely a copy of one of the more well known models.

12/29/2003 8:35:21 PM

Steve D. 

member since: 12/30/2003
  I recently purchased the same camera and through my search for info on it,it seems to me to be most similar to the maxxum 3, at least in looks, maybe they just renamed it for popularity sake

12/30/2003 6:55:58 AM

Steve D. 

member since: 12/30/2003
  To confirm my earlier answer I emailed minolta and the Maxxum GT is an in house brand made specially for target and it is the same as the maxxum 3 minus the date feature.

12/30/2003 11:37:40 AM


member since: 12/23/2003
  Thanks to all who have responded.

12/30/2003 2:52:10 PM


member since: 1/8/2004
  i have been looking innto this camera a lot, I got a gt for Cristmas and it was from target, there is two possiablities that I have been told about this, I could be a gray market item. a gray market item is an item that is made for another country and is brought here to be sold, they dont have waranties and they can not get servised, but I got a minolta 1-year waranty on the camera, so it doesnt make sense.I have not been able to find any aditional info on this camera, not even minolta/
the other is that this was an agreement threw minolta and Target for a "new idea for a camera" a test trial as it were, well in any way, it so far seems to be a great camera, I have already went threw 4 rolls of film and I am still seeking moore info about this camera, if any one see this and has more info on this camera than the manual, which I think is very poor in information, please posst it up for all of the people before me and to come to know, thank you.

1/8/2004 8:25:43 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  It is apparently an exclusive model for Target, but it doesn't seem to be a unique or new model. I've now seen one at Target and I'm pretty sure it is simply a rebaged Maxxum 3. A very nice little entry-level SLR with several program autoexposure modes (but not aperture priority, shutter priority, or manual).

1/8/2004 12:55:00 PM


member since: 3/30/2004
  my wife and I are going to have our first baby soon. I wanted to get a nice camera, no one wants lousy pics of their children. I saw this MAXXUM GT at Target. I am kinda thinking about it,because although it is very cheap (around $144 for a complete kit) Im afraid of its quality and I dont know what options or possibilities the camera has.

3/30/2004 3:36:36 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  The quality overall is good, but it is not built for professional use. It is a nice outfit, but it is limited in that it can only be used in program exposure modes. Fine if you want a relatively simple camera that you can change lenses, but not being able to manually select shutter speed or aperture is too limiting if you want to pursue photography beyond snapshooting.

3/30/2004 5:10:54 AM


member since: 3/30/2004
  Thanks for the info!!! I did a little more reaserch at some stores today;(THANK GOD FOR ALL THE CAMERA SHOPS HERE IN ORLANDO) there might be a couple other options for me including a nice OLYMPUS IS50 under $190 and a couple digitals, although Im still kinda skeptical about digital. Again thanks for the info, it helps alot!!!

3/30/2004 5:14:32 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 6/10/2003
  4 .  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 

member since: 11/26/2001
  5 .  Keeping Track of Camera Settings of Photos Taken
I am wanting to become a better photographer as I view more books and sites I see that most pictures in print or uploaded show what settings - speed and aperture - were used. How do you keep track of them? Is there as SLR that has a memory for this information? TIA

12/11/2001 9:25:42 AM

Laura Johnson

member since: 10/4/2001
  Hi Tia,

I do this manually. I carry a tiny notpad in my camera bag. I set up the shot, take it and then record the settings. I also always try to take the same shot with a small aperture and the recommended shutterspeed, then one stop up or down and then I close the shutter right down (to a bigger number) and take two more. I record all these settings. When I get my prints back three are useless, expect that they have helped me to see which is the best way to take that kind of shot. I always compare my shots to my records. It improves your ability to photographer much quicker than just snapping away. I know this is more than you asked for, but I hope that it helps.


12/14/2001 1:28:30 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  Some cameras have (or have available) what are called data backs which actually imprint this information on the edge of your film. I think Laura's suggestion is a good one. Keep a notebook with you and take notes. I've made exposure data cards I carry with me and use them under peculiar lighting situations. You will find after a while that you will simply remember what you did on a particular shot and not need to take as many notes. Of course this only works if you get your film developed right away and immediately review it.

12/14/2001 2:01:19 AM

Laura Johnson

member since: 10/4/2001
  Jeff. I love the idea of data cards. What info do you capture on them?

12/14/2001 2:27:10 AM


member since: 7/6/2000
  I carry a small voice recorder. It's a digital recorder the size of a credit card. It also has a clip to hook on to your belt or camera bag. I'm in the process of figuring out how to secure it to my camera strap. I just say the frame number, settings then described the conditions and what I'm trying to achieve. To be a creative photographer you really have to understand the best way to set up your camera under different situations.

12/14/2001 7:16:04 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  I have friends who use the digital recorder and I've thought about doing that as well. I don't keep many notes any more as the "focus" of my photography has shifted from nature to portraiture so it hasn't been a priority. A stock photographer I know goes so far as to draw a sketch of the scene and make notes for each shot.

My data sheets are printed on half sheets of paper and glued together. They are very basic. At the top I have the Date, Location, and Film type. Below that is a table with a Frame # column, and exposure column, and a notes column. That's usually enough to figure out what I did.

Once I get the film back I examine it with my notes in hand and determine what worked and what didn't. If I notice anything significant I make a note of it in my journal that I carry with me in the field. The hardest part of all this is getting into the habit of using the data sheets.

12/14/2001 12:39:58 PM

Sunil Mishra

member since: 9/17/2002
  The idea of keeping record on note pad is perfectly O.K. But Nikon make cameras in models F5 F100 & F80 with special backs QD & S do have facility of recording exposure values in between the two frames beside inprinting date etc on the film.

11/6/2002 4:31:11 AM

Rick Rohlfing

member since: 5/18/2003
  Hi Tia,

The cheap and immediate solutions are:

- to carry a small note pad and pencil.

- or better, carry a small voice recorder and record a verbal annotation for each picture you take.

My experience was that I wasn't disciplined enough for the note pad. The voice recorder worked better, but still required a degree of discipline. Invariably, somewhere in recording the info for the roll, I'd miss an exposure or two, or make a mistake with the exposure number. As I said, its a question of self discipline.

The optimum - but expensive - solution (and the route I finally took) was to buy the Canon EOS 1v camera. This is one incredible camera! It stores the photo exposure for every frame for like the last 100 rolls you shot. Using the EOS Link software (for Mac or Windows) you can download the camera data to your computer. The software also allows you to then annotate each frame with additional information AND attach a digital thumbnail of the photo if you have one. This very HOT STUFF - albeit expensive also.

You can see Canon's blurb on it at:

By the way, EOS Link software also allows you to export the data in a variety of common formats that can then be imported into Excel, FileMaker Pro, Access, etc.

If you'd like to see more, send me an email and I'll reply with a sample Excel spreadsheet with some data.

Best of luck.

5/18/2003 3:01:12 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  For the digital folks: Digital camera files contain special information about the camera and its settings at the time the photo was made. This information is called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File).

Here an example of what's containtted in an EXIF file:

Captured: May 11, 2003 12:32:47
Aperture: 6.3
Shutter speed: 1000
Focal length: 23.7
Flash: Off
Dimensions: 1600 x 1200
File name: 17384_d2003514194325P5110016.JPG

This information is embedded with the image and will need to be extracted via software. It is still important to keep a small note book to record other information not in this file, i.e. weather conditions, exposure compensation, ISO settings, etc...



5/18/2003 1:37:15 PM

Adam J. Lucas

member since: 2/8/2004
  I used to use a note pad, but you need to be disciplined to do this for every shot. I bought a small digital recorder, which is a great way of recording descriptions of what you were trying to do and not just the exposure info. Olympus make nice neat small models for about £50.

Alternativey, the Minolta Dynax 7 is a fantastic camera that has a memory on-board that records all the exposure data you would need to know for up to 7 rolls of film (this is expandable if you buy the data saver which connects to the camera by removing the lens and putting this on, you can download all the data to it and then transfer it to your computer, 1000's of films worth of data can be stored)

The only limitation is that if you want to record info on filters you used or info on different techniques you used, then you'll still need a digital voice recorder or notepad to do this.

4/18/2004 11:10:49 AM

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