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Best 35mm SLR Camera for Beginners?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the for-growing-shutterbugs dept.

Graphics 812

TibbonZero asks: "I've been thinking of getting into photography, but want to stay with 35mm film instead of going digital. Used 35mm SLRs seem to be the best bet, but which ones should I seriously consider? I would like to spend less than $200 on the camera itself, and start off with some cheaper lenses. It seems to me like there's still a lot more bang for your buck in film vs digital cameras at this point, even with film processing costs (I have almost a whole darkroom setup that my father used to use). I think I want a manual focus camera." Don't forget, a 35mm camera (film or digital) would make a nice Christmas Gift for that budding photographer in your life!

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Pentax K-1000 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674513)

That's the prototypical student camera. No auto-anything, no motor, no
electronics. Just a meter to help you out with exposure. They don't make it
any more but you can find them on eBay, and there are plenty of similar
cameras. Built like a tank and many pros still use them. Or at least that's
what I've heard, I haven't seen a pro use anything but medium/large format
and/or digital these days!

If you learn on a camera like this, you will *understand* photography better
because you will have to make every decision yourself. You have to learn to
constantly keep in mind the following: composition, shutter speed, aperture.
Once you learn to juggle those variables and "think" in photograph terms you
can switch to any other camera with manual capabilities.

Don't worry too much about the type of body though. Just make sure it's an
SLR with minimal "automatic" stuff. Then spend the rest of your money on the
lenses, or tickets to far-away places where you'll take lots of cool pictures.

Think about this: when you press the shutter on the camera, it is just an
empty box (a well-aligned box, but still just a box). So don't waste your
money on the camera body. I see people blow big bucks on the camera and then
with "money left over" they buy some crappy Sigma lens.. don't do that.

Also, you might want to consider a medium-format camera or something where you
have to individually load sheets of film. I personally never liked 35mm
because of the small size and the annoying canister and was glad to dump it in
favor of digital.

Good luck, remember to shoot as many shots as you can afford and never be afraid that you're "wasting" film.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674556)

First post and a lengthy response like that? Let me guess ... you work for Pentax ... you submitted the question ... you submitted the answer ... you probably talk to yourself too!

Re:Pentax K-1000 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674594)

Yeah Pentax is going to rake in a lot of cash from a discontinued 1970-era camera, last made in 1997.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674679)

I'm going to buy one ... aren't you?

Re:Pentax K-1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674702)

He's obviously a subscriber, knob.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (4, Insightful)

vondo (303621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674596)

Yes, a K-1000 is a good learners camera, but it may not be the best choice for something to grow with. I started with an all manual Olympus camera. Added more lenses, replaced some lenses, added another body, etc. Then I decided I needed AF and something reliable (the Olympus stuff was finicky). I had to scrap everything and buy a new, modern system.

I'd suggest something that can be a seemless upgrade to a modern system. I stuck with my manual equipment far too long because I had too much invested in it.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (1)

Moleman (74531) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674603)

He's right, the pentax k-1000 is a spectacular beginner camera.

I've used my friends, it's light and very user friendly.

FWIW, I shoot a minolta srt101.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (5, Insightful)

Apro+im (241275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674613)

The parent makes excellent points - only thing is that if you get a manual-everything camera, even with a lot of practice, quickly getting a picture is nigh impossible. I might get a low-end camera which has the option of manual everything, but even with my Canon A-1 (as old as I am!), I'm often frustrated by the need to just *focus* before I take a shot. (Maybe if I used it more, that'd come a lot more naturally to me.)
Also, if you're developing your own, of course you can always try to compensate for bad settings at development time.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (2, Insightful)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674652)

Unfortunately, they're difficult to come by. I'd suggest the close substitute that I have, the Pentax ZX-M. I've been using it for quite some time now, and other than the "infinite time exposure", I pretty much get most of the things that I want to experiment with. It does have time/aperture priority modes which I used earlier to help me, but soon you will be happier just experimenting with the fully manual mode. Given the fact that it cost much lesser than most other cameras, it's a great deal for a student on a tight budget.

Third party lenses... (4, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674690)

...are not necessarily so bad.

Sigma has a pro (EX) line, and Tokina does as well (AT-X). Some of Sigma's EX lenses are very highly regarded these days.

I think the previous poster may actually commit some of the sin that he spoke of when he recommends a K-1000 before asking what the person intends to shoot...

Each lens line is different. Canon has certain options that may be useful for sports/wildlife shooting that Nikon does not, etc. So rather than just decide on the "cheapest manual body," take some time to find out whose lens lines most closely match the things that you intend to take pictures of.

Then buy the cheapest body that works with that lens line. Some of the classic families include the Nikon lenses (all one big sort of happy family), the Canon FD series, the Canon EOS series, the Olympus OM series, and of course the Pentax series already mentioned.

Re:Pentax K-1000 (5, Interesting)

sideswipe76 (689578) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674717)

I completely recommend the cannon rebel 2000. new, the rebel is about in your price range. Used, it's easily in your range. The rebel series has served me well, and they use the EOS lenses -- which there are about n^n lenses out there that are compatible. The other great news is that those same EOS lenses are also completely compatible with the Digital Rebel should you ever go that route. Dear santa: All I want for Christmas is a shiiny new Digital Rebel. Can the elves make me one?

Re:Pentax K-1000 (4, Funny)

Avihson (689950) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674723)

If not the Pentax get an old Minolta XD-11. The XD-11 had a full manual but also has aperature and shutter priority.

Enjoy, and don't let them go in a divorce! I should have fought for the cameras instead of the kids... the Judge gave her both! The kids came back to me full time a few years later, the camera equipment she sold!

Re:Pentax K-1000 (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674758)

It might be a good learner's camera. However, if you can find a KX, get a KX instead, because it has more features - it's just like a "K-1000 Pro".

Digital Rebel! (-1, Troll)

m3j00 (606453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674518)


Re:Digital Rebel! (0, Flamebait)

fputs(shit, slashdot (645337) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674666)

Rebel [] is a good camera but not 35mm!

Come on with the jokes.. (0, Offtopic)

deniea (257313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674524)

Is nobody going to make a joke on the darkroom thing ?

Re:Come on with the jokes.. (0, Redundant)

duckpoopy (585203) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674567)

No, only a retard would do that.

Pentax K1000 (0, Redundant)

brulman (183184) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674526)

great student camera, I don't believe they make them any longer, but they are all over ebay and inexpensive. Nice metal body in case you need to stop a bullet in a war zone. No apeture preview though...

Also, if you are more serious, you might consider picking up an older manual nikon. Then, if you collect some nice lenses, you can always migrate them to a digital body somewhere down the road.

Re:Pentax K1000 (1)

MazTaim (1376) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674573)

Man, that brings back memories. The K1000 was my first SLR camera. I only wish they made cameras as sturdy anymore.

Re:Pentax K1000 AND FILTERS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674590)

I second the K1000. I own one myself. The only suggestion I would make is to get a basic filter kit for the lens: one clear one for protecting the lens itself, one for balancing out flourescent lighting and one polarized.

Re:Pentax K1000 (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674601)

Agreed. The K1000 is an awesome camera -- simple, rugged, and a large number of lenses available.

I had one that traveled many years and many thousands of miles with me, through sandstorms, rain, and snow; it survived all sorts of terrible things like being banged into a granite cliff (doh!) and being grabbed by a powerful electromagnet (separate occasions, I should point out), and it always carried right on working.

Lasts several years on a battery, too, since it's only using it for the internal light meter. It'll keep working fine without the meter, if you're willing to compute exposures some other way, like Sunny 16 rule.

I'd still use it today, if it hadn't been stolen in a burglary.

Centon DF (3, Informative)

Organized Konfusion (700770) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674528)

Centon make great beginner cameras, they are part of the jessops brand who are the largest photographic company in Europe.

Nearly every school recommends their cameras when students sign up for photograpy degrees.

Check out some of their models here []

Several good options (5, Informative)

vondo (303621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674532)

You want to make sure you pick something you can grow with. From that viewpoint, a manual focus Nikon body and a couple of lenses might fit your budget. Then later you can slowly upgrade to auto-focus. A used (or even new) Canon Rebel body and lenses might also be a good choice. (Nikon kept things compatible when moving from manual to auto focus, Canon did not.)

Both Canon and Nikon offer digital SLR bodies for when you are ready, and used equipment is easy to find (unlike some of the other manufacturers).

Keep in mind a few things:

  1. When buying used equipment, cosmetics are very important to the price. So, if you just want something to use but don't care about resale value, a scuffed up, but otherwise mechanically perfect, camera or lens may be a great deal.
  2. If you start with an older manual camera, you will learn a lot more about photography than with a new, auto-everything, camera. You will also waste a lot more film.
  3. Unless your father had an amazing darkroom, you'll be limited to black and white prints and maybe developing slides. Color prints are very difficult. But you'll learn tons regardless.

For what it's worth, I recently replaced an old Olympus system with a Canon system. Rebel 2000 body, Elan 7e body, 28-90mm lens, and 100-300mm lens. It's been great. At some point I will buy a digital body too.

Re:Several good options (1)

Clockwork (15658) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674694)

No no, definitely don't buy a older Nikon or a Canon manual focus body if you want to upgrade your system later! Canon manual focus mounts are totally incompatible with the current variety, and modern Nikon autofocus bodies (except for the very very top of the line) won't meter proper lenses. Unless you're going to buy a Nikon F5 later I wouldn't base my decision on upgradability.

Don't forget Pentax (2, Informative)

nano-second (54714) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674765)

When I was 16, my parents gave me a Pentax K-1000 which is a classic student camera. Everything is manual, so you can have complete control. Yes, this offers more room for bad pictures, but that's part of the learning curve. It has a split-focus which is really great and makes moving to manual focus a pretty straightforward change.

If you're concerned about how much you will spend on film, buy a bulkloader. It's not to hard to use and way cheaper than buying individual rolls.

Pentax has a variety of different lenses that are usually interchangeable between different models but beware that older cameras are screw mount and newer models are snap mount. It might be harder to find lots of screw mount lenses on the used market since they are no longer made. I would recommend gettng a snap mount body.

nikon n65 (1)

davidesh (316537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674537)

i've gone digital... but i have a Nikon N65 i have been meaning to put on ebay. with 2 lenses.

was a good beginners camera.

Go Canon or Nikon (3, Insightful)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674538)

35mm photographers use mostly either Nikon or Cannon. There is an ongoing flamewar between them. But I really like Nikons better. However, Canons can be had quite cheaply on the low end, though the plastic lens mounts will restrict lens use in the future. Go to a camera store, and try out both Nikons and Cannons. Go with what feel more natural to you.

Re:Go Canon or Nikon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674689)

Those Cannon jerks love vi and Kirk. When will they learn the the true trinity is emacs, Nikkon and Picard?

Re:Go Canon or Nikon (1)

psychogentoo (582658) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674705)

You really can't go wrong with either a Nikon or the Canon. Nikkor and Canon lenses both have great optics. I got the Nikon N65 over the Canon because of the beefier lens mount.

Make sure and save up for some nice lenses. Even if you decide to go digital later, you'll be able to use same lenses. I'm sure you already know but the body of the camera is only as good as the lenses that you use.

Am I on crack? (0, Offtopic)

ebbomega (410207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674539)

What the hell is a 35mm Digital Camera? Last I checked 35mm was the size of the film and has dick all to do with digital cameras.

Course, what do I know. I just sell these things.

Re:Am I on crack? (1)

dead_penguin (31325) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674602)

35mm Digital Camera does sound somewhat self-contradictory. My best guess would be a DSLR with a full-frame sensor, where the chip is the same size as a full frame of 35mm film.

Not that I could afford one of those.

Re:Am I on crack? (1)

Ageless (10680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674636)

Well, they were probably talking about digital SLRs and slipped up, but it can matter actually. The CMOS in the Canon 1Ds is the same size of a 35mm frame, so you get the exact same size picture you would with a 35mm film camera. In the Canon 10D, which is what I have, the CMOS is smaller than a 35mm frame so everything is effectivly magnified by 1.6x.

35mm Digital Camera would have 35mm sensor [nt] (0, Offtopic)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674744)

no text

used Nikon FE-2 (2, Informative)

odenshaw (471011) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674540)

tons of them around.
tons of lens' for them around.
proven to last.
Photography is expensive.

35mm *film* ? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674542)

Go to and see if you can ask your question there. Slashdot is a technology site.

Re:35mm *film* ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674619)

I thought cameras were a form of technology.

Canon (4, Funny)

Lordofohio (703786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674544)

I started with the Canon Rebel 2000 and I really liked it. I think the controls are intuitive and its got more focusing points than the higher level cameras like the Elan.

I saved money at first by going with Tamron lenses and I was also satisfied with that. And of course whether they're canon or Tamron, the lenses can be auto or manual focus.

Being an amateur photgrapher is also a great way to get girls to undress for you :-)

Nikon EM (3, Informative)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674547)

One of the most rugged budget SLRs ever made, and great value for the money.

Re:Nikon EM (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674732)

The definitive answers to any such question are to be found on []

Pentax K1000 (1)

The_Terminalator (696236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674554)

All manual and rugged as hell. I took three cameras to Thailand the two modern electronic ones broke from the humidity and heat, the Old K1000 worked perfectly and I got some great shots. I bought mine on e-bay for eighty bucks.

Camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674557)

Nikon or Canon nothing else matters! They have the best of everything!

Why not digital? (2, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674560)

Honestly, why not start 'em with a digital camera? They can bang off hundreds of pix with no cost while they learn basic composition and not spend hundreds of dollars processing bad pictures.

Once they've mastered basic photography you can move them up to a "real" camera.

Re:Why not digital? (1)

at_kernel_99 (659988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674743)

Digital does work great for banging off hundreds of pix at low cost. However, some folks still like to experiment with film & some of the aspects of photography that are easier to control with a film camera. My beefs with digital (and my primary camera is digital) are: reaction time - i.e. the time between pressing the button & the picture being taken; and 2, the pace of change in digital photography - my 2 year old $450 camera is comparable to current $100-150 stuff. IMHO you can buy a lot more camera in a used 35mm SLR that will last a lot longer than a brand new digital.

Low-End Nikon, Fast Normal Lens (2, Insightful)

turman81 (204429) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674562)

Go for a low-end used or new Nikon SLR body and buy either their 50mm f/1.8 ($90 or so) lens or their 50mm f/1.4 lens (about $300). The f/1.4 is very expensive, but it takes photographs in very low light. Definitely start off on the fixed 50mm, because it will force you to think about composing the frame; you can just zoom it away.

Digital SLR is the Future (4, Insightful)

Qweezle (681365) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674566)

Why not just get a digital SLR? Digital has so many advantages over film, and especially going into the future...I could be naive in saying that "film is dead", but I believe that's pretty much the truth. Especially for someone like yourself.

A good site to check out for reviews of Digital cameras(including SLRs) is Digital Photography Review [] .

Also, to make the "search", easier for you, I'll go ahead and recommend the Canon EOS-10D. One of my good friends(amateur photographer) has one, and swears by it.

Re:Digital SLR is the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674659)

know where I can get a 10D for $200? (well if I didn't have one already).

the skills learned with film apply just fine to digital, and the cost of film means you have more incentive to learn from every shot instead of filling 512MB cards and picking the one good shot.

10D is definitely not a beginner's camera

Re:Digital SLR is the Future (2, Insightful)

vondo (303621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674671)

Well, a cheap digital SLR with one lens is $1000, for starters. Plus, there is still something to be said for learning with film.

Re:Digital SLR is the Future (1)

Apro+im (241275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674693)

I'd say film is dead except for somebody like the poster - he clearly wants to study the craft - and while journalists and wedding photographers (and the like) who sell the content of their images more than anything else may be moving to digital, there are still holdouts in terms of artists who feel that film photography is a craft that they don't want to give up entirely.

Re:Digital SLR is the Future (3, Interesting)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674740)

I could be naive in saying that "film is dead", but I believe that's pretty much the truth. Especially for someone like yourself.

It may not be dead, but it has certainly moved into the catagory of "not practical for most cases". Most professionals are moving to digital because the quality is now just as good for most situations.

Digital is the best choice for a beginner because you can do a lot more experimenting without spending a fortune on things like film and developing. It also allows to to see the results immediately along with saving all the camera settings information. For someone just getting into photography, I'd recommend skipping film. Just buy a 3+ megapixel digital used on EBay. Buy something more expensive when you've figured out exactly what you want.... which you will.

Anything? (1)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674569)

I'd just cruise around eBay and buy something cheap. At the risk of sounding like an old man, they don't make cameras like they used to. A friend gave me an old SLR (Minolta XG1) that was 'taking up space,' along with some decent lenses. I'm not sure of the value, but if you cruise around eBay, you'll probably find a ton that will suit you just fine.

I've found [] to be chock-full of discussion about any camera you can imagine; if you find a good deal, see what the people there have said about it.

go to your local photo swap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674570)

I started out with a Canon AE-1 [] I picked up for cheap. It has served me well.

Canon Rebel (1)

NickDngr (561211) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674575)

While a little more than the $200 you would like to spend, the Canon Rebel line is an excellent choice. You can adjust the camera to do anything from fully automatic everything, to fully manual, and everything in between. I've had a Rebel G for several years now and it has never disappointed me. The pictures are always excellent and the autofocus (should you choose to use it) is the fastest I have ever used.

Re:Canon Rebel (0)

BassAkwards (670247) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674633)

Agreed. We have a Canon Rebel 2000 EOS which I think cost about $200 and it is an excellent camera. Easy for beginners, but full-featured to grow with you.

Re:Canon Digital Rebel Kicks Yo Mamas Ass (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674745)

And though the OP was stating 35mm, the Canon Digital Rebel [] is an excellent SLR Digital Camera. For under US $1000.00, it delivers a very high end package, with gads of features, 6.3megapixel res and 18mm-55mm zoom lens. I picked mine up 2 months ago, and have yet to be dissapointed. Plus, it takes any Canon EF Lens [] .

So if the poster went out today and bought a brand new EOS series Camera, he could go out later and get the Digital Rebel and use the same lenses for both cameras, if that doesn't kick ass, I don't know what does.

Canon has definitely made a brilliant move with it's EOS line of cameras.

MMMMM Nikon (0)

IcephishCR (7031) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674581)

as an owner of an F5, I find most Nikon's controls as logically laid out. A N75 would be a good choice for a beginner, or if you don't mind a manual camera, you can have an inexpensive pro-level camera and lenses for a great deal, look for the Nikon FE, or the FM used, like on [] , a great source for high quality used cameras. and with a Nikon, when you upgrade from a manual-focus camera to an autofocus camera you have a good chance of being able to used the great lenses you already have!

Cannon Rebel Ti (1)

booyaka (563501) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674584)

I bought a Cannon Rebel Ti last year and have been very impressed with it. I do a lot of travelling and I've found that it is light enough to truck around, yet sturdy enough to take some mild knocks. Using the stock lens that comes with it (with an AF/MF switch) it is possible to use it either as a point-and-shoot type for snapshots, or to take advantage of the full range of features like any other SLR. It misses out on some more advanced features like "eye-focus" but takes the full range of cannon lanses. I can't remember exactly how much I paid, but it was in the $300 range with a decent lens. I think it's definitly a good choice for beginners, but you won't outgrow it too fast either. Try B&H Audio Video or Henry's.

Wrong Forum (2, Insightful)

blunte (183182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674586)

You are SO on the wrong forum.

There are many places where you can get intelligent answers to this question, and somehow I doubt /. is one of them.

I'd bet most of the answers here will be, "get a digitial". Just because you see Philip Greenspun's amateur stuff [] here periodically doesn't mean this is a good place for tips :P

My Ask Slashdot (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674591)

Dear Slashdot,

What should I eat for breakfast tomorrow morning?

Re:My Ask Slashdot (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674683)

Bacon sandwich.

I'd suggest a decent piece of back bacon rather than streaky. Also I think bread is important. None of that pre-sliced stuff from a supermarket. Get some good quality bread from a bakery. Slice it thick, spread on some butter, and serve with some brown sauce. (O.K. Fruity Sauce is my favourite but it's hard to get hold of recently).

Re:My Ask Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674685)

A toasted salt bagel with lox, to go with a large coffee from Greg's.

Nikon N65 (4, Informative)

nosse_elendili (147250) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674593)

I recently went through this issue myself and ended up settling on the Nikon N65. My reasons were somewhat arbitrary, but I have been happy.

I preferred it over similar Canon models becuase it has the ring that holds the lens is made of metal instead of plastic and it just feels sturdier. Also Nikon tends to make slightly better lenses than Canon.

I preferred it over the N55 becuase it has a depth-of-field preview button, which I come to deeply appreciate.

But mostly I picked it becuase it was around $100 (without any lenses) and I read lots of good reviews.

Hope that helps!

Canon EOS (1)

leftover (210560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674604)

Fine camera, well established lens and accessory lineup, and they already have a digital body if/when you want to switch.

Could always read this... (1)

JohnGrahamCumming (684871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674605)

The last time (October) this was asked: here []

Weird how both people asked about "Digital 35mm".


Old Nikon/Nikkormat (1)

sailor420 (515914) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674608)

I learned on an old Nikkormat FN (I believe that was the model). Great little camera, and quite inexpensive. Built like a tank--I dropped it down the stairs once, and all it did was tear up the stairs. There are also tons of lenses out there, to be had for a song. Just go to your local photo shop and poke around their used section, they should have plenty.

Oh yeah, Nikon and Nikkormat are basically the same thing.

A camera is a good gift for a photographer? (2, Funny)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674616)

Don't forget, a 35mm camera (film or digital) would make a nice Christmas Gift for that budding photographer in your life!

Really? I thought a bag of hammers would have been a much more useful gift to a photographer.

I guess this is why I'm spending Christmas alone. Again.

canon eos rebel G2 (1)

adamiis111 (525750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674617)

I've heard good things about the eos line. $209 is the cheapest I can find. This is good because if you start buying lenses, you can keep them for when you get an eos digital body in the future.

Cheapest Pentax (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674620)

I got the cheapest new Pentax MZ-50 3 years ago and have been very happy with it, the quality of the shots has been very good (depending on the photo processing outlet). If you want to upgrade then just replace the cheap lens that comes with it with a more expensive one.

Check Pawn Shops (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674624)

You can find a TON of manual cameras in pawn shops. I was doing research on a good student camera about a year ago and narrowed it down to 3 or 4, with the Canon AE-1 and Pentax ME-Super being the top of the list. Then I found the ME-Super with 4 lenses, flash, and a bag in a pawn shop for $180. They gave me a guarantee that it would work, so I could return it if there was anything wrong. The price on the whole kit was what decided things for me.

Nikon N75 (1)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674628)

$200 USD at B&H (or pretty much anywhere), solid body for a sub-$200 camera, nice construction, can meter a lot of lenses (D, G for sure, AIS maybe), can be used full auto, (mostly) full manual, and everywhere in between. It's a lot of fun. You might want to spend another $100 or so and get an N75, but after a long time of speculating and pricing out my options I decided it wasn't worth the extra cash.

BTW, if you live in Canada, it's STILL cheaper to get the camera from B&H in NY and have it shipped to you. Go figure. Film camera warranties are a bit more international than digital, so that's not really even a concern, but for another $30 USD I got a 7-year international Mack warranty. Win-win.

Pentax (3, Informative)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674629)

I got a Pentax Asahi off of eBay, and have loved it. Very nice camera.

The reason not to go digital, incidentally, is that digital cameras still come nowhere near the resolution of regular film. Also, if you have access to a darkroom, there's lots of stuff you can do there that's just not the same done on photoshop.

It's the same reason not all artists grabbed their styluses and switched to the tablet PC.

Get a clue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674635)

You can get a digital camera suitable for beginners at comparable prices.

Lens (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674637)

Get a good lens, then find a camera body that matches it.

Many camera manufacturers and dealers promote packages with a body and a zoom lens. While they may have improved over the years, zoom lenses are a compromise. I would get a nice 50mm lens as a starting point.

Ancient Canon's (1)

Ion Berkley (35404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674638)

For what its worth by philosophy for many years has been for my SLR needs I buy old Canon A-1 and
AE-1 stuff (we are talking 20 to 30 year old equipment here). It was bomb proof metal construction, and the fixed focal lenth lenses were very good quality, and on the odd occasion I loose or destroy one, I'm not horibly out of pocket.

This is a good camera. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674643)

Not SLR, and not 35mm, but also not made in the late nineteenth century, you luddite.

Digital -vs- Film (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674645)

>>"I've been thinking of getting into photography" Good for you. >>"But want to stay with 35mm film instead of going digital." Ok. >>"Used 35mm SLRs seem to be the best bet, but which ones should I seriously consider?" Lotta companies claim there's is the best, but it is all the same. Give it a couple of days and it will be outdated and junk. "I would like to spend less than $200 on the camera itself, and start off with some cheaper lenses." Yah get what you pay for. "It seems to me like there's still a lot more bang for your buck in film vs digital cameras at this point, even with film processing costs (I have almost a whole darkroom setup that my father used to use). "I think I want a manual focus camera." "Don't forget, a 35mm camera (film or digital) would make a nice Christmas Gift for that budding photographer in your life!" I see some advertisement in you future. Sound like buying a computer -vs- sticking with a typewriter. There is both good and bad in each of these. Depending on what you want to do. It is not the format, but the picture that is interesting. IMO: A 2 dollar bra on Britanny spears is worth more than a 2 million dollar bra on Rosanne Bar.

Dear Ask Slashdot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674646)

I want to buy a computer. It must be the fastest computer available but I'm willing to use crappy parts. Please keep in mind that it should be under $50 and still be great! Also, I am a grade-A moron. Thank you. That is all. No, I can't use Google although I can dress myself. Please discuss.

Learn, then buy (4, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674648)

I strongly recommend that you read . Not only does it contain some good general photographic advice, it also has some pretty good recommendations about equipment (not specifics, but enough to teach you how to pick your own).

On the other hand, IMO your budget is way low. If you're looking for an SLR, presumably you're pretty serious. Which means you'll be taking many, many pictures (the only way to get better). And buying film and having it developed.

My recommendation? Up your budget quite a bit. Check out the Canon Digital Rebel [] . Yes, its about $1k with a pretty good generic lens. But that may be less than you'd spend over a year with a $200-300 film camera, plus decent film, plus developing. Think TCO not just initial purchase price.

If you do go with film, then pick up a simple camera (Canon/Nikon) and a good, solid 50mm prime lens. And lots, lots, lots of film.

pentax me (2, Interesting)

at_kernel_99 (659988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674653)

I bought a Pentax ME, used, for a girlfriend years ago; maybe 8 or so. She upgraded to something fancy, so I inherited the Pentax. Works great, and is rather durable; it survived a 6 month hike hanging from my neck every day & took great pictures the whole time.

Re:pentax me (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674733)

I bought a Pentax ME, used, for a girlfriend years ago

Really? I wonder how much you'd get for a girlfriend now? Does she have to be in really good shape, and can you negotiate well with the camera seller?

Pentax K1000 (1)

joeblarnystone (681831) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674658)

If you can get a hold of a Pentax K1000 they are excellent cameras, great for beginners. Full manual, built in light meter. You don't need anything else. They have rugged metal bodies so they can take a dishing. Almost everyone I know learnt from one.

Pentax K2 (1)

eric777 (613330) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674663)

I started off with a Pentax K2 [] .

It's manual everything, solid no-nonsense body. Very little to break, very easy to use.

Of course, you have to do everything yourself - which helps you to learn little things like composition, depth-of-field, etc. etc.

the model is at least 25 years old - that's when I had mine (!)

After that, I had a Nikon FG - also a great, simple camera.

I have (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674674)

I have a Canon EOS Rebel 2000 that I bought for around $400 but used it only twice.

Instead, I use my digital camera which gives me preview option and no cost of film.

I would sell my Canon EOS Rebel 2000 for about half the price if I could find a buyer!

Re:I have (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674741)

I just checked and it is selling new for $239.80. Who would give me 200 for mine!

I recommend getting a digital camera instead of SLR unless you wanna get a cheapo SLR just to practice various manual options and then switch to an advanced high megapixel digital camera.

Not one camera, a secision process (2, Informative)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674696)

Though this probably should be asked elsewhere...

Most cameras are competitive with each other. The big boys always introduce cameras that more or less compete directly with cameras from the other companies. Witness the Elan 7 and N80 coming out at right about the same time.
And also, with SLRs, you buy into a system. Remember that lenses and accessories are not compatible across marques.

This leads me to: if you have a close friend or family member with an SLR, get one in the same family. The ability to share lenses and gear with them will generally override any small differences between cameras.

If you don't have anyone, then I'd say pick up a cheap Nikon or Canon. My opinion (flame wars begone) is that the greater ability to rent and borrow matching equipment negates any differences in bodies. Every 3rd party lens has Nikon and Canon EF mounts available.

Don't think of the body. The body is just a lens holder. You may go through multiple, or want a backup body. Get a 50mm lens, preferably as your first lens. Good for low light, good cheap lens so spend more money on film. Lack of zoom makes you move around instead of cheating with the zoom. You'll get different pictures as you learn to move and change angles.

Right now, I'd probably pick the N65 or N55 if you like Nikon, or the Rebel Ti or the Rebel K2 (don't hink the K2 is generally available yet) if you';re a canon guy. A Rebel GII with 50MM lens should cost you around $200, fairly low technology, but about as much as you'd pay for a low end point and shoot.

Wrong site (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674707)

Why no try or something? /. is hardly the place to come to for advice on the best begginer 35mm film SRL cameras.

Besides? What's wrong with digital? It's much more fun learing with a digital than with a film camera IMHO, you get instant feedback etc. Film stuff still costs a fair bit even if you have your own darkroom.

My 2c anyway.

The Ultimate Learning Camera (2, Informative)

dr00g911 (531736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674708)

The beginner's camera is (and has been for years) the Pentax K-1000 [] . It's pretty much the defacto standard for students and beginning photographers.

It's been discontinued recently -- but you can pick 'em up at photo, pawn shops or ebay [] very reasonably.

You won't find a better or more sturdy camera for a beginner (I did photography professionally for quite a while, so I have *some* knowledge in this realm.)

Failing that, go Nikon over Minolta and Canon (in that order).

Renting Equiptment (1)

nullix (100540) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674716)

I don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but you can always try renting the equipment first. You can get some good deals for a cheap cost. Rent a camera and lens for a weekend and see how you like it before you commit to buying it online.

Also, be very advised on where you buy from. There are many photography companies online that first offer you a product at a reduced price until you place the order. Then they call you back and offer you a warrenty or special filter kit for hundreds of dollars more. If you don't accept these offers, the item is misteriously out of stock.

Search the news groups since these companies usually have a bad background. I've bought online from bhphoto without a problem. They're a very reputable place (I don't work there or own any stock with them).

There also is a lot of information in the discussion groups at

Happy shotting...

Used Mamiya/Sekor 1000/500 DL/DTL (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674724)

These cameras were considered to be amateur grade when they were new with the result that most used ones are still in good condition. Compare this with most of the pro-grade used cameras that are pretty much clapped out when they hit the used market.

The Mamiya/Sekors have a very nice spot meter, a good, bright finder and surprisingly good lenses.

There are millions of used lenses available for the Pentax style screw lens mount.

I have a shelf full of old cameras and the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL is the one I take down when I need to bring home an image.

canon eos rebel! (1)

net_bh (647968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674725)

Very good and inexpensive camera for beginners. But do not buy it in a kit with the cheap 24-80mm lens. Instead get it with a fixed 50mm lens.

For details, visit []

Good luck.

Contax (1)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674727)

I think you should get a used Contax. These can be obtained for under $200 from an outfit such as Kenmore Camera. [] If possible, go to a big used camera store to look at several models.

Contax cameras are nice because they have Zeiss lenses available, which are quite stunning. Lower priced Yashica lenses will also fit. My starter was a 50mm Contax lens and a 30-200 Yashica zoom.

Using Contax will impress other photographers and doesn't cost an arm and a leg like Leica.

Canon AE-1 (1)

v_1matst (166486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674736)

get a canon AE-1. You should be able to find the body on ebay or through used camera retailers. This camera is fully manual and takes great pictures (well, it's all in the lens really but the body is nice). I have the AE-1, Rebel DSLR and the elph S100 and the AE-1 by far gets the most use (although the Rebel is rapidly taking over... I just got it).

Digital dude (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674737)

I've been doing serious photography for about 7 years now and honestly I think digital is the way to go. It costs more for a comparable camera, but you don't have to pay for film over and over again (and chemicals and paper if you're doing your own processing). Plus you have the pictures immediately, you don't have to wait for them to be processed or a bunch of time in the darkroom.

Minolta X700 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7674739)

If you can find one its the best camera ever made. My brother recommends it and he works for the competition. Mine is 20+ years has been through 23 different countries (some not to friendly to Americans with cameras) and still works like the day I bought it.

Stay with Film as long as possible (2, Insightful)

unixcorn (120825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674742)

I work for a professional photo lab and I see lots of crappy digital images. I think you are making a great choice by choosing film to learn with. Your results will be good as film has tons of lattitude and will be forgiving. Nothing more discouraging than realizing the picture on that little LCD does not accurately represent what is in the camera memory. Before shooting digital, we would like to tell our customers (of course we can't) to shoot a roll of slide film. If they can meter properly with the slide film, they are ready for digital photography. Slide film has a very narry sweet spot, so is much more difficult to use compared to negative film. Whatever camera you choose, happy shooting!!

Whatever you buy, remember this: (2, Insightful)

skizrule (701743) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674746)

An SLR camera is only as good as its lens. You can take the cheapest entry level Canon or Nikon body and the pictures it takes will be identical to those from the $2000+ professional cameras from the same company. Likewise, the $2000 camera with a "kit" zoom lens will produce pictures that will do anything but inspire you. That said, the 50mm f1.8 lenses from both Canon and Nikon are very inexpensive (around $80 new, much less on ebay) and optically among the best available. Paired with any entry level body (which you can upgrade later if the need arises, say for fast action shots), you'd be hard pressed to find a better system to learn photography.

Minolta X-700 (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674750)

This camera is great for beginners and long time users. It is built solidly and you can feel is when you hold it. It accepts a lot of lens. Wide angle, telephoto, and a regular old 50mm. It does not have a motor in it and that isn't nessesary at all. The electronics it has can be used as an aid in exposer or to handle more work than you want to deal with. The lenses for these cameras are a lot faster than those for new canon rebels. By fast I mean they allow a lot more light in so you have more leeway in taking your shot. I learned photography on this camera and I worked at a camera store for years and this one was always my favorite.

I'm happy to see you want to get started in film photography. Digital photography is not nearly as good or with the wide range of techniques you can do. Prints always look better on film.

Nikon N65 (2, Insightful)

c3rb (655107) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674755)

Lighting and composition are what make a great photograph. The camera is secondary. I've seen amazing pictures that were taken on a 30 year-old clunker of a camera.

That said...I have Nikon N65 and I love the thing. Simple enough for a beginner to learn with, but still high quality and decent features. But the most important thing: It's light, and isn't a pain to carry around. The most important thing to help a budding photographer learn is to take lots of pictures, and having a portable camera goes a long way towards encouraging this. It 's also reasonably cheap.

As a beginner, (and even as a professional) whiz-bang features aren't nearly as important as proper lighting and composition. However, there are some things you'll want:
- Aperature and Exposure time priority modes. These let you select one setting while the the other is set automatically to provide a good exposure
-Exposure bracketing. This handy if you aren't sure the exposure settings you've chosen are correct. Great learning tool.
-LED readout in the eyepiece display. I can't overemphasize how useful this is.

Good luck with whatever you choose. Just don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money initially. Remember, the camera is secondary.

Buy used (4, Insightful)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674756)

If you go to a camera shop that buys and sells used cameras, you can find some excellent deals. This can be better than eBay, because they will let you handle the camera, open all the little doors, push all the buttons, etc. You might even find a shop willing to let you shoot a roll of film and develop it right there.

Good cameras are Nikons and later Canons, but Minoltas aren't bad either. I've had good results with a Minolta X-700 which can be purchased for less than $200. Watch the light seals on the backs of older cameras, the foam rubber ones can get sticky, and velvet ones can wear down.

OM-10 (1)

Vilim (615798) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674759)

I bought an Olympas OM-10 a few years back. Although it isn't manufactured anymore you can ususally pick them up used for relativly cheap. It takes great pictures. I found it to be a great beginners camera.

Check out the Olympus OMs - but handle them all! (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 10 years ago | (#7674769)

I'd recommend an Olympus OM-1 (manual exposure) or OM-2 (autoexposure), personally. Then again, I'm biased, having owned and used an OM-2 since 1976, and an OM-1 before that. They're small (they're the camera that inspired the Nikon FE/FM), light, and handle extremely well. They also have a fiercely devoted following. The biggest drawback is that Olympus has pretty much dropped the system, and in particular never made a successful autofocus version.

A bigger recommendation is to visit a camera store with a wide range of used gear, and spend a couple of hours playing around. You won't make good pictures with a camera that's hard for you to handle or doesn't feel good in your hands. Any camera from a recognized manufacturer (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Minolta, and Konica are the ones you'll likely see) will make perfectly good pictures, and will do just as well in teaching you how to see and capture what you want to capture. The same goes for aftermarket lenses from Tamron, Vivitar, Soligor, or Tokina.

Unlike the previous poster who suggested a digital SLR, I'll recommend you stay away from that until you know better what you like and dislike and can judge your needs on that basis. The field is in way too much flux at the moment, and the costs are still way too high. (You can't get a digital body for less than a kilobuck, and won't be able to for many years, I expect.) There are also too many tradeoffs involved with focal length multiplication effects, and you may well discover that you *like* wide- and super-wideangle lenses - which are simply not available for *any* digital. My most-used camera is an Olympus E-10, but its biggest deficiency is that the widest it will go, even with an accessory lens, is an equivalent 28mm - and there are more than a few times I need wider than that. For those, I reach for an OM-4 and a 24, or 21.
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