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

Photography Question 
Eric Neumann

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

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2/6/2004 12:45:25 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto 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.).

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2/6/2004 3:12:44 PM

Buddy Purugganan   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!!!

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2/7/2004 5:40:58 AM

doug Nelson   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.

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2/8/2004 11:04:33 AM

Cathy B. Sylvester
BetterPhoto 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

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2/9/2004 9:33:30 PM

Michael McCullough   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!!!!!!

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2/10/2004 10:57:01 AM

George Gaskell   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.

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2/23/2004 8:57:44 PM

Michael McCullough   Some aternates to the pentax and canon would be minolta SRT 101,Nikorrmat FT3,Pentax Spotmatic,Nikon FM,or FE!!!!good luck!!

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2/24/2004 7:36:11 AM

Namita Shah   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.

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8/10/2004 1:20:30 PM

Djordje S. Kis   Hi,
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.


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9/1/2004 6:51:26 AM

doug Nelson   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.

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9/1/2004 8:11:28 AM

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