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  1. #1
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    Film SLR Body for Learning- which brand, which model?

    I'm looking for an SLR film body to learn on. I'd like a brand that makes good digis so I can keep the lenses when and if I switch. So the main candidates are canon and nikon. But what about sony/minolta? Do old minolta bodies fit new sony lenses?

    If it's down to canon/nikon, I've read most of the canon-v-nikon threads. The jist seems to be:
    -both brands have ardent supporters
    -canon stuff is better at the highest level
    -some peeps say that nikon's consumer grade lenses are better value

    It sounds like either one would do me, but how do they compare cost/value wise on the used SLR market? What about total cost (body + a few lenses). Assuming I buy a few lenses that are good enough to warrant keeping, is my total cost going to vary much between nikon and canon?

    I found this thread with good, if old, info:
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...mera+film+body
    Summit recommends some Canons, but their isn't much Nikon info.

    If it helps, I'd like to spend less than $400 to get a body, a short (maybe wide-angle) lens and a zoom lens (like 70-300ish)

  2. #2
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    One of the best buys out there is the Minolta x700. You can get a refurbished body for around $100, or a whole package for a couple hundred on ebay. My dad still shoots this and mine just died after 20 years of faithful service. I would be happy to part with my various lenses should you go this way, for a reasonable charge (ie a discount off what is happening on ebay).

    National Camera in MN has the refurbished bodies for $100 and I believe you can give them a call and they'll ship it out same day.

    Jay
    Five minutes into the drive and you're already driving me crazy...

  3. #3
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    Why not just buy a digiSLR and learn on it?

    If you are stuck on a film SLR buy an old manual focus setup. Some of the old Nikkormats are dirt cheap and absolutely bombproof. If you've a little bit more cash something like a Nikon F3 would be sweet - KEH has some decent packages, and their BGN grade equipment can often be in very good shape - they've a Nikon F3HP w/35mm f2 lens for $240. If you want AF Nikon, chek out the F100. Any Nikon lens that's AI, AIS or newer will meter on the better Nikon equipment (D200, D2x, etc) and mount, but not meter, on the lesser stuff.
    Last edited by cj001f; 03-19-2007 at 04:10 PM.
    Elvis has left the building

  4. #4
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    maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but i have an old canon rebel.
    for $60 i'll ship it to your door.
    good enough for slide shots like these (the lines are from my crap scanner):


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj001f View Post
    Why not just buy a digiSLR and learn on it?

    If you are stuck on a film SLR buy an old manual focus setup. Some of the old Nikkormats are dirt cheap and absolutely bombproof. If you've a little bit more cash something like a Nikon F3 would be sweet - KEH has some decent packages, and their BGN grade equipment can often be in very good shape - they've a Nikon F3HP w/35mm f2 lens for $240. If you want AF Nikon, chek out the F100. Any Nikon lens that's AI, AIS or newer will meter on the better Nikon equipment (D200, D2x, etc) and mount, but not meter, on the lesser stuff.

    I'd like to be able to shoot film, at least at a basic level. Maybe take a basic photo class. A friend has a very old, MF Nikon that I could use to start out (it looks like those nikkormats, but is says nikon, can't remember the model right now), though I would like to try some light action and it seems like AF & some motor drive capacity could help there. Maybe I'll check out KEH as you mentioend.

    MnFly thanks for the tip. Do you know if lenses for those minoltas would work with a newer sony digi body?

    Camel- nice pic (aside from the lines). that seems like a great price, i'm assuming it's the body only but does it come with anything else? what model rebel is it (or is EOS rebel a fully qualified model name?)?
    Last edited by komo; 03-19-2007 at 05:20 PM.

  6. #6
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    Komo-

    I believe it is a Rebel G, possible that I could throw in a 28-105 lens, have to check when I get home .

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by komo View Post
    I'd like to be able to shoot film, at least at a basic level. Maybe take a basic photo class. A friend has a very old, MF Nikon that I could use to start out (it looks like those nikkormats, but is says nikon, can't remember the model right now), though I would like to try some light action and it seems like AF & some motor drive capacity could help there. Maybe I'll check out KEH as you mentioend.

    MnFly thanks for the tip. Do you know if lenses for those minoltas would work with a newer sony digi body?

    Camel- nice pic (aside from the lines). that seems like a great price, i'm assuming it's the body only but does it come with anything else? what model rebel is it (or is EOS rebel a fully qualified model name?)?
    Have no idea, though I think you need a DSLR that takes pics in a 35mm format. I'm sure someone will have the correct answer to that question.

    Jay
    Five minutes into the drive and you're already driving me crazy...

  8. #8
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    komo -

    I went through this same deal about 3-4 years ago. Initially, I just wanted to find out if I had any real interest in ever taking any pics, and at the time was 'puter-less, so film made a lot of sense, financially. I decided I sorta liked it, and last year ended up picking up a used Canon DSLR to move to the digital side.

    Anyway, more to your point, I still have the SLR that I bought, and would be willing to part with it. It's a Canon EOS A2. I picked it up at the recommendation of several of the photogs on this board - it's more of a pro-level camera than the Rebel series (ie, no plastic body) and shoots at 5fps which is obviously nice for action stuff. I took some great shots with it, but lacking a scanner, they all are prisoner to the cellophane.

    It is in absolutely mint condition - I bought it from a pro photog who kept it as his backup camera and basically never used it, and I really didn't put a ton of rolls of film through it.

    PM me if you're interested, details, etc.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big E View Post
    PM me if you're interested, details, etc.

    THanks for the offers Big E & CamelToad. And to others for the advice/tips.

    I did figure out that the camera I have access to is probably good to start learning on. It's a Nikon FM in good shape aside from a possible light metering problem. Once I'm ready to try action I'll look for the Nikon equivalent of the camera Big E is offering.

    The current lens is a 35-105/?? (I think). I'd like to start off shooting something simpler like a 50/1.4(as recommended by some peeps here and a few other how to learn guides I've read).

    So, any recs on
    -which nikon-compatible 50 to start out with? I see cj above says the AI/AIS and above will work well in the future. Is it wise to buy an AF/MF combo?

    -which (external) light meter to look for?

    Thanks,

  10. #10
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    Thirty year old Pentax lenses can be used on their current digital bodies. Conversely, certain newer Pentax lenses may be used on the older film bodies (everything but the DA series, I believe).

    Pentax film cameras are great for learning and their better lenses are excellent.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj001f View Post
    Why not just buy a digiSLR and learn on it?
    Yeah, why not?

    Just find a (good condition) used, entry level DSLR, one decent lens, and take it from there.

    The learning curve with a DSLR will be significantly faster than with film due to the immediate feedback...and it will actually cost you less in the long run due to not having to purchase film or developing...which can get expensive, fast.
    I got a Nikon camera...I love to take a photograph...So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AstroPax View Post
    The learning curve with a DSLR will be significantly faster than with film due to the immediate feedback...and it will actually cost you less in the long run due to not having to purchase film or developing...which can get expensive, fast.
    Yup. Click on the picture you like and find out the ISO, aperture, shutter speed and FL you used for it. Much easier than writing it all down.

    Cut your teeth with digital, then if you want to shoot film you could move up to something more exotic like a hasselblad or such - not much much more than others now.
    Elvis has left the building

  13. #13
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    I also have a Canon A2E, but want to keep it. However, I have two Sigma pro lenses that won't work at all in AF mode with my 1D Mark2. They also AF poorly if at all with the A2. But they are tack sharp lenses and easily manually focused. They are the 28-70 f/2.8 and 70-210 f/2.8 with LD glass. Paid about $1000 for them 15 years ago. They are in otherwise excellent condition. You could have them cheap, for $150 or so, I reckon.

  14. #14
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    While I'm on the same Pentax-boat as Viva (just got a "new" M42 mount 135mm/2.8 lens for nickels). I'd say that for action-shots, Canon... And get a dSLR to beging with.

    If you really want a film SLR, get some old good camera (almost manual), like Olympus OM1 or numerous others. My personal pick was Pentaxon and Practica SLR's with both M42 mount...

    Then I bought a 10 bucks adapter and now use the same M42 lenses with my K10D (though they are fully manual).
    Quote Originally Posted by RootSkier
    You should post naked pictures of this godless heathen.

  15. #15
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    Contrary to what everyone else has said, I would HIGHLY recommend learning on FILM SLR rather than a digital one.

    Sure, the instant feedback is nice, but it doesn't teach you how to use a camera.

    Any idiot can pick up a digiSLR, take a quick pic, look on the LCD to figure out how to fix the exposure, then readjust until they get an exposure they like. Doing that, they'll never learn to use the meter effectively, never learn how shutter speeds and apertures correlate, and will probably never have the need for a tripod, as its so easy these days to just hit two buttons and increase the ISO in a low-light situation.

    Also, any idiot can take a mediocre digital picture, run it through photoshop, crop it a little here and there, remove red-eye, increase brightness, and make it 10x better looking. Shit, if you are shooting RAW, your exposure can be a full 2-stops off and your pictures will still come out fine. How is that a good learning environment?


    Lastly, learning on film will teach you to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of photography, and you will appreciate every frame you shoot. Face it, if you buy a used and outdated digital camera, the moment you see what others are shooting with, you'll want to upgrade. You'll blame the photos that come out shitty on your camera instead of on your technique, and thats a far cry from what photography is about.


    /rant

  16. #16
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    ^^^ Great point.

    Consider how far you want to take this hobby. Cannon and Nikon are safe choices for your lens investment, as they will continue to make digital bodies. Other brands worthy of your attention are too expensive for a non professional to make the digital leap (ie: Hassleblad) or you run the risk of no innovation in their DSLR dept or them going out of the business entirely.
    I'm just a simple girl trying to make my way in the universe...
    I come up hard, baby but now I'm cool I didn't make it, sugar playin' by the rules
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  17. #17
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    Hey Dipstick: I'm sure all the Rolleiflex (much less the Graflex SpeedGraphic!) users in the 30's said the same thing when Leica came out with the first 35mm camera. "Oh sure - burn 24 images without reloading - you'll never learn anything!"

    I love B&W film, I consider it an art form, but you can certainly just as easily shoot an EOS 1 in full Auto and burn a roll of film as you can fill a card on a 1D MkIII. The point isn't the gear necessarily - it's getting a camera that CAN be used manually and then taking lessons.

    I'm with Astro and CJ - get a good DSLR and some good glass, then invest in some basic photography classes at your local community college or Rec Center. Unless you want to get your hands dirty in the darkroom the act of capturing the image is the same - only the format changed. Yes RAW images have a lot of leeway - so does 100ASA film. You can Push Kodak's films up to 2 stops easily if needed... hell, many times you do it on purpose.

    The only films you don't want to do that with are Chromes (Slide film) and those are too damn expensive to print for hobby photography anyway. Too often you end up with an image like the above. Yes, the scanner added the lines, but the exposure is off a hair and the cheap Rebel glass is certainly evident in the poor contrast and muddy image. That is a great shot when shown as a 4x6, but the size it is shows the shortcomings of that Camera/Lens/Film combination. No offense meant, Camel Toad - in this case it IS the gear, not you.

    My Advice would be to invest in a Canon 5D, some decent Canon Lenses (the 50mm prime rocks and is the standard learning lens,) and take a class. Also Buy Ansel Adams' "The Camera" as your manual for how photography works. You can always buy a good used EOS 1 (which will take the same lenses) for film work later when you're ready to get your hands dirty.... literally.

    I have a Minolta Auto Meter IV F, bought used from eBay like this one. It kicks ass.
    Last edited by Tippster; 03-21-2007 at 06:53 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dipstik View Post
    Any idiot can pick up a digiSLR, take a quick pic, look on the LCD to figure out how to fix the exposure, then readjust until they get an exposure they like. Doing that, they'll never learn to use the meter effectively, never learn how shutter speeds and apertures correlate, and will probably never have the need for a tripod, as its so easy these days to just hit two buttons and increase the ISO in a low-light situation.

    Also, any idiot can take a mediocre digital picture, run it through photoshop, crop it a little here and there, remove red-eye, increase brightness, and make it 10x better looking. Shit, if you are shooting RAW, your exposure can be a full 2-stops off and your pictures will still come out fine. How is that a good learning environment?
    I disagree with most of that.

    The feedback with a digital is so fast, you can quickly learn how different settings affect the final image. You don't have to wait for development...and you don't have to write things down.

    Take a shot, regardless of mode (auto-a, auto-p, manual, whatever)...look at the histogram...look at the LCD display, then adjust the settings accordingly.

    Instant feedback...makes it very easy to learn exactly how the combination of settings affects the final image...and what is actually happening relative to the metering and focusing system.

    Hell, one can sit in the living room while watching TV, while at the same time taking some test pics and experimenting with the various camera settings...and learn what is going on very quickly.

    Also, what the hell is wrong with increasing ISO a little bit in lieu of a tripod anyway???...unless of course the subject matter (or the desired effect) actually requires a tripod.

    Believe me, it won't take long after realizing that it is easier to get the exposure correct the first time (instead of fixing it post process) before the photo jong starts paying attention to the meter, f/stop, and shutter while out in the field shooting.

    If a photographer wants to be lazy, fine. But, I don't think using a film camera as a photographic learning tool would necessarily change that behavior.

    But, at the same, it certainly would not hurt someone to also reference a good book on basic photography that is geared towards the 35mm SLR (vs MF or LF).
    I got a Nikon camera...I love to take a photograph...So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tippster View Post
    Too often you end up with an image like the above. Yes, the scanner added the lines, but the exposure is off a hair and the cheap Rebel glass is certainly evident in the poor contrast and muddy image. That is a great shot when shown as a 4x6, but the size it is shows the shortcomings of that Camera/Lens/Film combination. No offense meant, Camel Toad - in this case it IS the gear, not you.
    Hence the $60 Rebel G with 28-105.
    I just picked up a 30D and some L glass...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AstroPax View Post
    I disagree with most of that.

    The feedback with a digital is so fast, you can quickly learn how different settings affect the final image. You don't have to wait for development...and you don't have to write things down.

    Take a shot, regardless of mode (auto-a, auto-p, manual, whatever)...look at the histogram...look at the LCD display, then adjust the settings accordingly.

    Instant feedback...makes it very easy to learn exactly how the combination of settings affects the final image...and what is actually happening relative to the metering and focusing system.

    Hell, one can sit in the living room while watching TV, while at the same time taking some test pics and experimenting with the various camera settings...and learn what is going on very quickly.

    Also, what the hell is wrong with increasing ISO a little bit in lieu of a tripod anyway???...unless of course the subject matter (or the desired effect) actually requires a tripod.

    Believe me, it won't take long after realizing that it is easier to get the exposure correct the first time (instead of fixing it post process) before the photo jong starts paying attention to the meter, f/stop, and shutter while out in the field shooting.

    If a photographer wants to be lazy, fine. But, I don't think using a film camera as a photographic learning tool would necessarily change that behavior.

    But, at the same, it certainly would not hurt someone to also reference a good book on basic photography that is geared towards the 35mm SLR (vs MF or LF).
    I'm not here to argue that you're wrong, I'm just saying that I think learning on digital teaches bad habits. From personal experience, learning on film, looking back now, had a tremendous impact on my photography today.

    Think of it this way: every great photographer that has ever lived, and every professional news, commercial, sports, wildlife, wedding, portrait, whatever type photographer that is selling, publishing, or presenting their work in a professional setting today, learned how to shoot on film.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dipstik View Post
    Think of it this way: every great photographer that has ever lived, and every professional news, commercial, sports, wildlife, wedding, portrait, whatever type photographer that is selling, publishing, or presenting their work in a professional setting today, learned how to shoot on film.
    I'm noticing you aren't using quill pen and paper to write out this screed. Nor a typewriter or a word processor. Shit changes.

    There's absolutely nothing about shooting on digital that teachs "bad" habits. Most dSLRs have a little button for the manual mode - gasp - it's like a film manual mode. Except the sensor often has less dynamic range than film requiring greater work on exposure.
    Elvis has left the building

  22. #22
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    thx for the light meter rec

    I hear the digital folks, I'm just not looking to over-invest at the outset.
    My Advice would be to invest in a Canon 5D, some decent Canon Lenses (the 50mm prime rocks and is the standard learning lens,) and take a class. Also Buy Ansel Adams' "The Camera" as your manual for how photography works. You can always buy a good used EOS 1 (which will take the same lenses) for film work later when you're ready to get your hands dirty.... literally.

    With access to a good quality (if old) manual nikon (FM) I'm going to stick with that for a bit and see how I like it. The only lens on the FM is a pretty big, pretty slow zoom.
    So I'm in the market for a 50/1.x MF.

    All I've found locally is a 50/2 at adolph gasser (K&S has nothing) so I'll probably go with mail order (KEH). But I was thinking about an AF 50, but how bad is their manual focusing tactile feel v. the true MFs?
    Last edited by komo; 03-22-2007 at 02:03 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dipstik View Post
    Think of it this way: every great photographer that has ever lived, and every professional news, commercial, sports, wildlife, wedding, portrait, whatever type photographer that is selling, publishing, or presenting their work in a professional setting today, learned how to shoot on film.
    That might be true, however, just about every pro sports, and news photog now uses digital...and the other professional stuff that gets published is more than likely either MF, or LF. Not too many pros shoot high-end work with 35mm film, or a DSLR, because the fact of the matter is that 35mm film and DSLR image quality actually sucks in the grand scheme of things.

    Yeah, if I planned to shoot weddings, or planned to shoot landscapes for Arizona Highways magazine, then I certainly would want to learn the film....MF and LF. But, if I was going to concentrate on sports only...like skiing, or wildlife, I would probably want to learn on the system that I would most likely use, and that would be a DSLR.

    Certainly nothing WRONG with learning by film. All I'm saying is that I think it is easier and quicker to learn SLR work with a DSLR.
    I got a Nikon camera...I love to take a photograph...So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

  24. #24
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    The argument about whether its easier to learn on one or the other is clearly in favor of 35mm. Digital allows you to take a ton of images and find a few good ones here and there, while film forces patience and perfection out of you to produce good negatives. There is absolutely no question about what will better improve your skills, as well as improve your appreciation for your own work. Buy a fully manual 35mm SLR and go take some B&W photography classes at your local community college. Earlier Leica R-series SLR's are an excellent, reasonably priced way to get into it. The glass puts nearly anything japanese to shame, and with an adapter, can still work on your d-SLR when you get it. I've got a decent little Leica setup I wouldn't mind parting with. I'm setting photography aside for the moment and trying to get back into video.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrDirt View Post
    The argument about whether its easier to learn on one or the other is clearly in favor of 35mm. Digital allows you to take a ton of images and find a few good ones here and there, while film forces patience and perfection out of you to produce good negatives. There is absolutely no question about what will better improve your skills, as well as improve your appreciation for your own work.
    This makes no sense. I don't get the people that think you can learn faster on film. Unless you are very meticulous and write down the settings on every picture you take you simply won't even know how you came up with any given shot. But as has been pointed out with digital, all the info is right there and you can take hundreds of shots testing different settings and figure out what works and what doesn't without ever having to go into the post processing aspect. My photography got way better when I started to shoot digital simply because I could take more pictures because it didn't cost me anything and I could actually see the exif info.

    Check out this guys work. He started shooting with a 20d and learned everything shooting digital.

    http://winzeler.smugmug.com/Limited%20Edition%20Prints

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