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Photography Question 

Which Is the Best Beginner's Camera to Buy?

I'm just a beginner in photography. I want to buy a good SLR manual camera for beginners. I have been recommended the Nikon SLR FM10. Is it a good choice? Which one would you suggest?

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6/2/2004 8:23:43 PM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Natasha: Well, there are not many basic SLR's out there these days, and the FM10 is as good as any. Cheers!

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6/3/2004 6:36:42 AM

doug Nelson   As the resident geezer here, I recommend manual focus, manual exposure-setting SLR's, of which the Nikon FM10 is one. A Nikon FM3A is a bit more expensive, but a pro quality, durable, metal-bodied camera. If you would consider buying used, the Nikon FM and FM2 are good buys as well. Of the major brands of camera, none made a bad 50mm lens, so it's hard to go wrong with even the cheapest of 50's. With Nikons, stick to AI or AIS lenses. My Web page has comments about Canon as used cameras, but only because they are plentiful, relatively cheap, and offer excellent optics for the money. is a used dealer that replaces the foam seals and foam mirror bumpers on all used cameras.

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6/3/2004 12:37:28 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I, too, highly recommend the manual-everything Nikons to learn the basics of photography from the ground up. A used FM or FM2 is likely to be rather old, and you should buy one of these wisely. If you can find one which has been recently serviced or refurbished by Nikon or other reputable facility, it would definitely be worth checking out. This will save you hundreds of dollars over the price of a new body, which can be invested toward better lenses and accessories.

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6/3/2004 2:01:04 PM

Marvin Swetzer   Just pick up a Canon TX off of Ebay. I only use used cameras and haven't had to have any repairs. I also use a couple of Canon ex ee's. I have paid as little as $8.00 for great cameras. New cameras aren't worth what they cost, and they get old too.

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6/3/2004 7:56:35 PM

Marvin Swetzer   I forgot to tell you the meter in a Canon TX uses a 1.3-volt mercury battery. You can get them on the Internet, and there are a couple of ways around the mercury battery. You would be better off with any camera to use a light meter. You don't need a battery in a TX to fire the shutter. If you really want to use the camera meter, you may be better off with a Canon AT-1.

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6/3/2004 8:16:40 PM

Marvin Swetzer   I just checked out
Do what he says. He knows what he is talking about.

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6/3/2004 8:25:20 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Don't forget about the Nikon FE2 also - same era as the FM2. It has aperture priority auto-exposure (as well as full manual control) and can control many of the Nikon SB flash units from that era onward using TTL metering. BTW, Nikon continued production of the FM2n until a few years ago. They made them for a very long time. As a result, there's quite an age range among the FM2n's in the used market. With some careful shopping you should be able to find a relatively young one. IMVHO, cosmetic and operating condition are still more important than age. I'd rather have one 5 years older in fully functional and pristine cosmetic condition than one that's obviously taken a beating cosmetically. Cosmetic condition is usually a good indicator of functional condition and how much it has been used. It's not 100-percent accurate and requires a thorough evaluation of its functional condition, but it can help narrow down the field and make finding one in excellent working condition easier.

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6/3/2004 10:07:30 PM

Tom Walker   While all those comments from the "Nikon" crowd are true, (I also have a couple of old Nikkormats), I would suggest a Pentax K1000 - a good, durable manual-everything camera with an abundance of reasonable-priced lenses available from many mfrs. I have one I've been using for over 20 years, and it's still my back-up.

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6/4/2004 4:03:11 PM

Scott Pedersen   I'd recommend the Pentax ZX-M. Pentaxes are a compact, fun to use camera and if it stands up as well as my ME-Super you will have it for years.

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6/8/2004 4:41:33 AM

Thanos Papadopoulos   I also think an olympus om system is a good choise, especially olympus om2 SP.
The zuiko lenses are great with fine optics and very cheap (the nikkors are still expensive even the old ones. I have and use both cameras -nikon fm2 and olympus om10 - both from ebay and I am very pleased from these two babies. I am fun of the used camera idea, u can buy camera, wide, normal and telephoto lens with less than 100 euro. At the end an old camera can do the same things with a new is much cheaper and u can learn much more about the art of photograph

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6/8/2004 5:12:25 AM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  Let me add my two cents in with all of these great answers.

First off, it's a new day in photography. The options are literally endless, with more options appearing daily.

If you want to learn the craft of photography, shoot slide film in a camera that will allow you to manually operate everything.

If you're only interested in using pictures for emailing or uploading, a digitial camera would be fine. Any of the mid level Nikon Coolpix cameras and Canon G2 series cameras would do you well.

If you're interested in making larger prints 13x19 and larger, a film based camera would be best right now.

If you don't want to sit at the computer processing images all day, a film based camera is best.

If you want more dependable archiving, a film camera is best.

If you're doing travel pics or candids and want a camera that will do everything for you, exposure-wise for faster shooting, a medium to high end digital would be best.

If you plan on photographing weddings or people events, a high end digital camera may be best.

Finally, there is no "right" camera. Your first question to yourself should be, "What do I want to do with my photography?" Then, look for the appropriate tool (camera).

Hope this helps.

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6/8/2004 5:13:19 AM

Allan Yates   Natasha - As others have said, I don't think you can go wrong with a Nikon FM2n. If you can't find a good used one that you like, the Nikon FM3a, successor to the FM2n would be an excellent choice. Good luck!

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6/8/2004 6:43:01 AM

Michael McCullough   I really like the Minolta SRT 101,for a manual focus body,has mirror lockup half the cost of used Nikon,just as hardy if not more durable and a really good selection of MC MD lenses available!!!!

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6/8/2004 8:41:59 AM

Raymond W. Earley   Hi 5's Tom W I love my pentax k1000! I have had it for over 10 years now and it is still my back up as well. I would agree manual camera's are great to start and learn on. I would suggest any camera with M mode would do fine ( I would sugest SLR however). This way when you feel you got the basics down, you don't have to run out and buy another SLR with auto focus and exposure. For faster subjects you can just use the camera you have.

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7/19/2004 9:33:34 AM

Erica Butler
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/3/2005
  I started out with a Canon AE1 and a 50mm lens. I loved it, and it's a great camera. I also hear good things about old Nikon's and the Pentax K1000.

Good luck!

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6/30/2005 9:15:46 PM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  Nikon FE2(1983)

This was the best of the FE/FM line at the time.

Shutter speeds from (8 seconds-1/4000 with flash sync of 1/250)TTL flash capability.

AI-AIS lens only. (Prong does not fold up)

Metering is 60% center-weighted controlled by 2 silicone diodes, providing a metering range of EV 1-18.

Exposure compensation of +/-2 stops in 1/3 stop increments.

Fixed prism with 93% picture field. 3 interchangable screens (K2,B2,E2)

Can add a MD-12 motor drive.
Date back was also available.

I've seen this camera sell on e-Bay for under 200.00. If you can find one in nice condition, this camera is a ROCKET.

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7/1/2005 12:45:34 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Where do these two come from-

Have to buy a camera that only has manual everything, instead turning off auto focus and turn a mode switch to a big M that stands for manual

You'll be at the computer all day if you get a digital camera, instead of 30 minutes, hour, maybe 2 hours.

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7/1/2005 1:05:36 AM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  I agree, Just turn the dial to M and your manual.

The FE2 offers electronic capabilities, but simply turn the dial and your full manual.

Simple as that with many cameras.

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7/1/2005 1:19:11 AM

Tom Walker   AS you can see, when you ask 10 photographers "What's the best camera?" expect 10 different replyes. Figure out exactly what you want to do in photography, pick a camera that lets you do that and feels comfortable in your hand. Myself, I could never get used to nikons backward lens mount and battery covers, but it's all a matter of taste.

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7/5/2005 4:22:10 PM

Cathrine    I don't know what model camera to recommend but I do know that I have taken 100x the pictures since getting my digital camera, experimenting like I never did when I had to consider the cost of film. And I practice using appropriate settings when I'm photographing and spend little time 'post processing' Just advice from my experience good luck!

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7/5/2005 5:35:28 PM

Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/1/2004
  I have a Pentax K1000 and highly recommend it. It's as tough as a brick.

This is my 2nd K1000 as my first was stolen after traveling around the world with me and taking all sorts of abuse from my carelessness and butterfingers, but it never stopped working.

AF I like Maxxums by Minolta

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7/13/2005 7:05:15 PM

Marvin Swetzer   Who cares? This question is over a year old. What are you guys doing?

Forget film unless you are going to use large format. Like it or not, it's digital now.

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7/13/2005 8:53:03 PM

John Werner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/8/2005
  Yo Marvin,

If the questions is so old how come you answered it? People like to talk. So someone misread the date, big deal. Don't be a dick!

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7/14/2005 4:21:10 AM

Steve Warren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/1/2004

Pop Photo ran a story recently that the Canon EOS 1DS Mark II can give you better image quality than film.

Until I can get that quality without spending $8000 for a body with no lens, film is still the better choice by far.

There is no digital SLR on the market that can give the quality of film for a comparable PRICE.

For 8 grand, I can get any top-of-the-line film SLR, 3 or 4 high quality lenses, a bunch of film and processing, and have a bunch of change left over.

The original question was what is a good camera for a beginner, and the best way is still a manual focus film camera.

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7/14/2005 6:38:41 AM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  I tip my hat to Steve.
For the average consumer film is still the best qaulity.
I do know digital will take over, but until then I shoot with my Nikon film cameras and enjoy great images at any size.

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7/14/2005 11:37:23 AM

Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
  The field of camera choices is endless & the options they offer are even greater. WHERE does a person start??!! I presently have a minolta maxxum which my husband purchased, probably 10 years ago. It's still in perfect shape but I haven't begun to use ANY Of the features on it. I STILL don't know how to do manual ANYTHING. I have tried, but really not sure what all the settings do. Is the minolta maxxum a good camera to learn the basics on? I also want to get a good digital camera & was reading the Canon EOS 20D was one of the best. Any comments on either of these cameras? Thanks

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7/14/2005 11:46:52 AM

shannon casey   I consider myself a "perpetual novice". The two cameras that I own that I feel have the the most to offer, in terms of learning photography, are my Nikon FM-10, and my Canon 20D. I am completely serious! If I had to favor one over the other, cost aside, I would go with the 20D. (Like I say, whenever I screw up a shot, which is most of the time, I wish it was digital. Whenever I'm pleased with a shot, I wish it was film!). I consider the digital's ability to record exposure information to be a great learning tool. I don't need to worry about writing down my camera settings, all of the information is stored in there. I can expirement all I want, at no additional cost. The point is, I do go back and look at this information, and try to remember it when I'm shooting with a film SLR, like my good old FM-10. This method, screwey as it sounds, is working for me. One other thing about the 20D.....My laptop crashed two months ago. So although I still use the 20D, I haven't been doing any photoshop work because my desktop doesn't have a burner. Again, purely by experience; I've noticed that the shots I have printed out, right off the cf card, at any decent local mini lab, with no manipulation at all, look great to me in terms of sharpness and color. Much better than anything I ever tried to fool around with. They look as good as film to me. I like the challenge of the FM-10. I like the convenience of my Canon AF film cameras. But in terms of pure learning, I think a digital slr should be considered as well. I think that digital photography will keep film alive. Everyone's buying digital these days. A small percentage of those will be drawn more into photography, and will want to shoot film. It will becaome trendy again. It's like good cooking, or good wine. Just a matter of time.

Those are just my thoughts, as of now, on the "great debate".

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7/14/2005 4:39:09 PM

Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  Canon Price : $ 1,995.95

Mail-In Rebate: $ 100.00
Shipping Cost

EOS 20D, 8.2 Megapixel, SLR, Digital Camera with Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Autofocus

This 8meg camera is very nice but still falls short of film quality.
I could go into my shpeal about 40 billion silver halide yada,yada. But I feel most people already know this.
I could pick up my FG and shoot better quality pictures.My Fg cost me 100.00 dollars. Film is cheap,a couple bucks a roll. Digital requires disc.I know you can use your desk top to print but you still pay for paper and ink.It cost you either way.
This thread was about a starter camera and the best deals. the canon is a fine camera but not a great deal or great starter camera.

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7/14/2005 9:14:55 PM

Marvin Swetzer   I use film all the time, but I can see what is happening. Digital is improving and should be as good as 35mm soon. Is film still better if you compair digital to 110?

If you want huge enlargements use film and a tripod, but if you just want pictures use digital and you don't need to spend $8,000.

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7/15/2005 3:18:24 AM

Jill  Skaggs
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/10/2004
  Like some have said on here, you ask 10 different photographers and you will get 10 different answers. I started out with a Yashica manuel many years ago, I am now using a Minolta Maxxum which can be switched either AF or MF. I will not go back to total mauel again. I use the camera at times on both settings, I love the advantage of having both settings to choose from. Sometimes you have that special picture that you need to snap right now and manuel just doesn't get it. Other times you have the time to adjust and tweek the settings. And as far as digital, until they get one that the normal everyday amature photographer can afford, I will stick to film. How can you justify $3,000-$8,000 for a camera that you don't make a living with. When that get them down within reason, I will have a digital camera but not until.

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7/18/2005 3:12:18 PM

Larry T. Miller   Natasha;
Most everything mentioned so far is pretty good to start with. One excpetion is the FM-10. I'm not sure about that one. A lot of people started out with the Nikkormat FTN, the FE2, the FM or FM2N. Either one of these should give you what you want and need.

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7/28/2005 1:38:13 PM

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