BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Valerie N. 

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?

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9/20/2003 11:31:10 PM

John Gatica   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.

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9/21/2003 5:29:48 PM

Sarah R. Gipson   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

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9/23/2003 8:35:50 AM

Wayne Attridge   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.

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9/23/2003 9:27:02 AM

Walter Fuller   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!

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9/24/2003 2:28:22 PM

BetterPhoto 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.

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9/29/2003 12:32:12 PM

Hannah Y   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!

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10/16/2003 10:07:05 AM

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