BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : 35mm Cameras : Comparing Camera Brands

Photography Question 
Christine Howe

Purchasing My First SLR Camera

I am about to ditch my failing point and shoot camera for an SLR camera. After some research and questioning I have been told that the Canon Rebel 2000 is the ideal beginner's camera. I asked a camera shop salesperson if she could compare it to any others. She suggested the Pentax mz7 as it has a more durable construction (I am a self-confessed clutz).

Any thoughts on this with respect to which might be better for someone new to SLR?

To love this question, log in above
9/3/2001 3:09:29 PM

doug Nelson   I've used only Canon for 30 years, and, ya know what? I'm rather upset with them. You can't buy an all-manual Canon any more. If you want to buy new, I'd recommend the current Nikon manual exposure, manual focus SLR. Do some reading, take a class in photography basics, and hang out on this site. Shoot lots of film, and learn from it.
If you give in to automation, you won't learn photography the right way. It would be like learning a few guitar chords, without knowing the piano keyboard, never learning scales, or knowing how music is put together.

To love this comment, log in above
9/4/2001 9:40:16 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy   Doug's response is a bit misleading. It is true Canon doesn't make a manual focus camera and their cameras all have various auto and program modes. But many of them also have manual modes (which is what I shoot in 90% of the time). Plus you can set them to manual focus when needed (about 60% of the time). I would look for a camera that does allow manual operation but not necessarily an all manual camera.

To love this comment, log in above
9/4/2001 10:55:32 AM

doug Nelson   I was assuming everyone has as little self-control as I do. When I have a shortcut or a cop-out handy, I'm too apt to use it.

To love this comment, log in above
9/4/2001 12:55:21 PM

doug Nelson   Whoops. My last remark could easily be misunderstood. It is NOT a cop-out to use automatic exposure or autofocus. A pro, for example, HAS to get the action shot, and can't afford the time to fiddle. But the pro knows what the automatic feature is doing, and knows when he needs it and when he doesn't. I'm glad I made the mistakes I did (and still do) with only manual settings. I don't photograph for a living, because I'm afraid it would take the fun out of it.

To love this comment, log in above
9/4/2001 2:10:10 PM

Christine Howe   Thanks for the thoughts. You seem to have quite a passionate dislike for the crutch of automation...LOL :)
However, as this is my first SLR and I doubt I am ready to go all manual just yet (thanks for the vote of confidence though) - which is why these two camera's were recommended for me. I'm a bit snap-happy and am hoping to get a bit creative. I do plan to take a course or two but I'm not making any plans to leave my profession for a living behind the lens just yet.

Any thoughts on the Pentax MZ7? I have been sort of leaning more towards it. Seems to have a bit more flexibility, and as I mentioned before, better construction (metal vs plastic). Has anyone done any comparison shopping between the two (or any other similar models?).

To love this comment, log in above
9/4/2001 10:29:35 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy   I don't know much about the current crop of SLR's but I can tell you what to look for in a camera system. I say system because it's not just a camera you're buying. A camera is basically just a light tight box that you put a lens on. There really isn't a lot of difference between any of them other than which bells and whistles they have and how they work. Nikon and Canon make the most complete systems (most variety of lenses and accessories) but Pentax and Minolta are pretty close. I would just make sure that whatever you get has a manual mode on it because eventually as you learn what you are doing you are going to want more control over what the camera is doing.

To love this comment, log in above
9/5/2001 12:03:04 AM

Ken B   I can't comment on the Pentax, but I have had a Rebel 2000 for 6 months now. It really is a great piece of equipment. It is fully automatic and fully manual and many thing in between. There are times that I want to experiment and learn more and there are times that I just want or need to get the shot. It gives me the best of both worlds. As far as the plastic body and ruggedness goes, I can say that it hasn't seemed to be a problem as of yet. It is lighter than most and the fact is that good quality plastic products are far better today than they were 20 years ago.

To love this comment, log in above
9/15/2001 1:31:10 AM

Karen Stanford   I went out to have a hands on look at the Canon EOS 2000 knowing that was the camera I wanted. Apparently at all 3 camera stores I dtopped at the Canon Rep never comes in so the salespeople were pushing Canon. All 3 had their favorites but all 3 did say the Minolta Maxximum 5 was the one to buy. But I got a good buy on the Canon on Ebay and I am looking forward to having a "real" autofocus. I currently have a Canon T50 and after seeing photos on this website I know that the Canon EOS 2000 is really going to help me. Go for the Canon 2000!

To love this comment, log in above
3/7/2002 2:39:04 PM

Peter D. Hyde   Hi Christine,
I have used a Pentax Spotmatic ll since 1970. It is a totally manual camera and has been a pleasure to use and learn with. However I just ran 2 rolls of 200iso through my brand new Pentax Mz7 and all I can say is WOW. Yes buy it. You can use it manually. You will not be missing good shots while you fumble and try to remember new techniques. This camera will let you become fully competent and as skillfull as you want to be.
I thought the 3.5/5.6 aperture zoom would be a bit limiting but not so.
This is one incredible camera and should serve you many many years.
Also the light weight is a real bonus.
Shop around for a good price. You should be in around $275.
Go for it!!!!
P.S. As a beginner welcome to SLR's and check out "The complete photographer" by Andreas Feininger. ISBN 0-13-162255-2
Good luck

To love this comment, log in above
5/19/2002 5:01:18 PM

Christine Howe   Thanks all for the advice on the Camera purchase. I bought the Rebel 2000 last fall and am really enjoying it. I am 110% sure I am not using it to its maximum potential but have been impressed with what I have been able to pick up on my own so far. I think its perfect for the true amateur like myself who literally had no clue what to do with it when I first took it of the box. The automatic settings are great for those social occasions where I go "snap-happy" and really just want a quality POS. I have also been getting creative with the manual settings and the new zoom lens I received for my birthday.
I have been checking out some photog. courses. Does anyone live in the Toronto area who can recommend a course? I have been leaning towards George Brown but mainly because I have not found much else.

thanks again

To love this comment, log in above
5/20/2002 10:13:22 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.