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Photography Question 
Misty D. Ross

How to choose the right lenses

I need advice on lens selection and hope to find the answers here. In Sept. I begin my first photography course (the first of many!)and from reading the answers on this site I have determined that I need to purchase either the Olympus OM-1n, PentaxK-1000, or Nikon FM2 (to ensure that I learn from the very beginning, instead of letting autofocus take over!)
My question is, as I realize that lenses are hugely important in determining quality, which lenses should I be looking for?
Also, does anyone have an opinion on which of the three cameras I mentioned would be best for a novice who plans to be studying professional photography for the next few years?
Any advice / answers would be appreciated!
Thank you,
Misty Ross

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8/27/2003 4:49:23 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Olympus OM-1n is a fabulous body, but was never sold in the numbers of Pentax, Canon, Minolta, or Nikon, so OM lenses are going to be far less available than the other makes (but worth the effort to find/acquire). Pentax and Nikon lenses are plentiful, because they were popular sellers, but also because they built their current line of autofocus lenses off the old manual focus/mechanical aperture mount (though with occasional incompatibilities), where Minolta and Canon abandoned their manual lens mounts 20 years ago for new all-electronic mounts for their af cameras. Both the FM2 and K1000 are classics and functional even if the battery or meter dies. The classic first lens for a class would be a 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 (or f/1.7 or f/2). The FM2 is higher performance than the K1000 (higher flash sync speed, higher top shutter speed, changeable focus screens,...).

While you are leaning toward these manual cameras, know that virtually all autofocus SLRs can be used in full manual modes (manual focus, manual exposure) and a few (such as Canon's Rebel 2000, Rebel Ti, and higher models) have useful learning features like depth of field preview.

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8/27/2003 5:47:56 PM

Misty D. Ross   Thank you for your answer! You know, originally I was leaning toward a Canon Rebel 2000. In your opinion, can a student learn the manual basics as well on an autofocus with full manual options as on a full mechanical manual? Also, do you advise beginning with set lenses or a zoom lens? Again, any opinions / answers appreciated.

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8/28/2003 8:42:13 AM

doug Nelson   Consider an all manual first. The total outlay is cheaper, if you decide photography is not your thing. The viewfinder of any of the cameras you mention is likely to be brighter and the focusing microprism or split image focusing aid better than in a bottom end autofocus SLR. With a manual, you will be able to focus even in dim conditions with less contrasty subjects.
Go with a 50 prime lens first. In the Olympus, go for the 50-mm f1.4. The 50 f2 Nikkor and f2 Pentax are good performing bargains. 28 wide angles are plentiful. 135-mm teles are out of vogue, so plentiful and inexpensive. See how sharp prime Nikkor, Pentax or Olympus lenses are, before you settle for one of the many affordable but mediocre zooms.
Since the manual cameras you mention are 20 years old or more, spend $85 on a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) and new foam film door seals. Have an honest camera shop check it over for you to be sure the cLA is necessary. This is more important than the extra lenses.

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8/28/2003 9:59:16 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy   Autofocus really has little bearing on learning to use a camera. As someone stated above, autofocus lenses can be focussed manually. The important thing to look for in a camera is it's ability to be used in manual exposure mode (not the same thing as manual focus).

If you are serious about continuing on with professional photography and want a system that can grow with you I highly recommend staying with either Nikon or Canon. Those two companies are by far the leaders in professional photographic equipment. The other companies make fine products but their selection is nowhere near that of Canon or Nikon.

The suggestion of a 50mm lens is a good one and that is what I would recommend as well. Zoom lenses can make you lazy and as good as they are their optics still aren't as good as a typical 50mm lens.

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9/1/2003 8:58:46 PM

Jen Hernandez
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2003
  Misty, just in case you're leaning towards the Rebel 2000, maybe you should consider the Canon Rebel Ti. The Ti actually replaced the the older 2000 and has much better quality and features. I own a Ti and one of the selling points is the fact that the lense mount is metal and not plastic like the 2000. Just wanted you to know!

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9/3/2003 9:32:14 AM

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