Looking for a manual SLR?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by cjparsons, Jul 8, 2005.

  1. cjparsons

    cjparsons TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Georgia
    And so another joins the ranks of those who call themselves photographers.

    Please bear with me here. All of this is very new to me. I apologize for my seemingly infinate ignorance in this field
    That being said, let us continue...

    It runs in my family to enjoy the fine art of photography. My interest has been blooming and in rescent weeks, my desire to capture the temporary vitality of worldly things has become utterly uncontrollable.
    My father tells me that if I truly want to learn about photography, I need to get a manual 35 mm SLR with a zoom lens. I think that is the lens anyway. He says that it gives me the best flexibility for beginning.
    I must say though that he has not been activly interested in photography for a number of years.
    So here is what I need to know.
    1.) Film or digital?
    2.) What is a good (relatively cheap....I only get about fifty dollars a week) SLR camera for a beginner?
    3.) Lens? What would be ideal?
    4.) Anything of else that I am ignorant of but would be of interest. Or problems that I wouldn't have thought of which those of you with more experience would have.
    I appreciate the assistance.

    Regards,
    chris
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    7,021
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Does he mean "manual exposure"? Almost all 35mm SLRs have a manual exposure feature. Or does he mean a manual exposure, manual focus, mostly mechanical 35mm SLR?

    I think you'd learn more going with a prime lens or two than a zoom lens. They also tend to be cheaper and faster (let more light through).

    You can get a good, clean used manual exposure, manual focus, no frills 35mm SLR with a 50mm lens starting at about $30 (like a Ricoh KR-5). It won't be a cool brand name (Canon or Nikon), but it will take just as good photographs.
     
  3. clarinetJWD

    clarinetJWD The Naked Spammer Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    5,787
    Likes Received:
    97
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Digital or Film? Good question. If you're not absolutely sure if you will continue with photography, go for film, as it has a much lower initial cost. If you know you want to keep with it for a long while, and have the cash right now, go for a digital SLR. The initial cost is quite high ($1200 minimum) but you never have to pay for film development, and with instant feedback, it's a better learning tool imo. If you want to do digital, but cheaply, borrow a camera from a friend ;)
    From what you said, though, I'd go with film (on your budget) just because you won't be able to get a good digital on $50 per week.
    Hope this helps...
    Anyways, you don't need anything special to start with. You can learn composition on any camera, and in time move up to something better.
     
  4. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Messages:
    3,628
    Likes Received:
    460
    Location:
    Here N There
    You should always start with film, then you will be forced to learn the hard but fun way.

    You can get a used manual SLR with lens for pretty low cost. You will be spending most of your money on film and developing cost, but I bet the sense of satisfaction will beat using any digital camera.

    Also for a start, you can go for semi-automatic kind of camera. I mean camera bodies with the option of certain electronic functions, but still requires you to set it manually and crank the film back by hand after you are done with the roll.

    I use Nikon F501, or refered to as the N2020 in the US. It's a nice and user friendly camera with really nice sound when you hit the trigger!
     
  5. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern Michigan
    Chris:

    The choice of a camera is largely dependent upon the type(s) of photography you intend to explore. The only "problem" with that is that one's photographic explorations change from time to time - so some time and effort should be made from the beginning. In short, do your homework thoroughly first and then make a choice.

    With that said, I shall offer a number of guidelines.

    When I began my major photographic explorations, I choose - because of budget considerations - a Pentax H3V with a coupled meter and the standard 50mm lens. I then found out that I also wanted to explore two other areas, namely portraits of people without them largely being conscious of being photograph (I didn't want to obtain "stiff", "uptight" portraits) and I also wanted to photograph some wildlife - namely birds and small animals. So after much "thought", I purchased a 200mm Pentax Takumar lens.

    Unfortunately, it ended up being the worse choice I had ever made photographically. Along the way, I also found out that what I really wanted to do is focus and compose my photographs of people (and other subjects) - quickly, accurately, reliably, and quietly under all sorts of lighting conditions. In this process, I also came to the conclusion - which I still hold - that the SLR camera is generally not suited for these conditions especially when shooting with medium telephoto to wide angle lenses under available light conditions.

    So I purchased my Leica M-4 rangefinder with the DR 50mm Summicron, the MR-4 meter, a lens shade, a skylight filter, and a "never ready" camera case. Since I was on a budget and since the camera shop where I ended up working for nearly 6.5 plus years had a time pay program, I traded in all of my Pentax equipment and paid off my new Leica at the rate of a little over $50.00 per month for a year.

    Of course, that was many, many years ago and I doubt whether or not you'd find a camera shop willing to have you make time payments over a period of time.

    But that is (or was) one way to accomplished your objective.

    So where do we go from here?

    Well, I believe that the best value these days for a beginning photographer with a limited budget is to fully explore three options.

    1.) If you're doing outdoor and/or general portraiture, I'd opt for a Canon A-1 body with the Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 lens and then begin to look for a good used Canon FD 85mm 1.8 lens. As for the Canon body, look for one with a high serial number - thus making it more "recently" manufactured - and in excellent condition both cosmetically, mechanically, and electronically. Then I'd save/spend money on sending it to an authorized Canon repair facility to give it a good CLA (cleaning, lubrication and adjustment) for years of excellent service.


    These cameras have a very nice bright split image viewfinder - brighter than most digital SLR's (auto focus or not) available today, thus make focus under poor lighting condtions more rapid and accurate. They have a center weighted metering system with various options. Over a period of time and after you gain some experience, I'd also opt for a hand held meter, such as the Gossen Luna Pro or the Gossen Luna Pro SBC and make the switch to incident light meter readings for most situations. There is a number of interesting accessories widely available for the Canon A-1, such as the power winder A2 or the motor drive - if you're into sports or action photography. I purchased a power winder A2 for both my wife's AE-1 and my A-1 camera, since it will more easily enable either one of us to respond more quickly to the expressions of our grandchildren, etc. It will be used in other photographic areas as well.


    The same can be generally true of the Canon FD lenses, i.e. high serial numbers and cosmetically, mechanically and optically in excellent condition. So long as there is no oil on the diaphram blades and no fogging or markings within or on the lens, the lens should be a good choice for purchases - given the factors noted above.

    There are some very excellent buys of Canon equipment available from time to time on Ebay. Again, do your homework and choose wisely.



    2.


    I'd almost recommend a Pentax K2, but the camera body and certain lenses are becoming somewhat difficult to find, i.e. a 35mm F/2.0 and/or the 85mm F/1.8. Although this camera and Pentax lenses are excellent choices, their relative rarity would not make them an excellent choice. And if my memory serves me correctly, the Pentax K2 camera arrived a little earlier than the Canon A-1 and wasn't kept in manufacture for as long.


    3.


    However, if you're really serious about taking quiet, unobtrusive photographs of people under all sorts of lighting conditions, especially under available light conditions, there is only one camera that will really fit the bill. And that camera would be either a Leica M-3, a Leica M-4 or a Leica M42 with the 50mm Summicron and either the 90mm Elmarit (F/2.8) or the 90mm Summicron (F/2.0) as perhaps the next choice. Of course, you'll end up paying an arm and a leg for the used equipment, but Leica's are unmatched in terms of the resulting images, rapid and accurate focus, and years of quiet, reliable operation.

    On the subject of reliability all of my "older" Leica lenses will fit and work on the current model rangefinders. One of my lenses is an old 135mm Hektor F/4.5, which I purchased used many, many years ago. It was introduced in an "M" (Leica M rangefinder) mount sometime in 1954. As far as the lens itself is concerned, the focusing barrel is still nice, smooth and tight as the day it was manufactured; something which cannot be said of some camera lenses made during the same period.

    In addition, Leica is the only camera company to have consistently produced enlargers and/or projectors of the same quality as their cameras - so there is no loss of image quality. Although they no longer offer enlargers, there are many good buys on Ebay.

    I've photographed extensively over the past many decades with the cameras noted above and as well as many others. See my profile for reference.

    I'd stay far away from the purchase of a zoom lens, even though I have a 70-150mm zoom for our Canon cameras. When I was working a one of the better camera shops in Peoria, I almost always took out a zoom lens, mounted it on a camera, and had the customer zoom in and focus on a car stopped at the intersection. In nearly all cases, the light would change and the car would be on its way before the costumer was able to zoom in and focus. None of them were able to take an exposure meter reading.

    Of course, they are convenient, but prime lenses will give you the best possible results. And, oh yes, stay with the lenses offered by the same camera company. Better glass, better materials used, etc., etc., etc.,

    So - again - take your time, save your money, choose wisely and then make your purchase.

    A bit more to come later.

    Hope this is useful.

    Bill
     
  6. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern Michigan
    Chris:

    Here is some additional information which you may find of interest, particularly Erwin Puts's review of Canon 50mm and 55mm lenses. Decades ago, I saw a comparison made between the Leitz 50mm F/1.0 Noctilux and Canon's first high speed aspherical lens. FYI - the comparison was made at one of the two Leica Photographic Seminars that I attended many years ago. The slides were projected on Leitz projector onto 8 Z 12 FOOT screen (A 96 times magnification from the 35mm 1 X 1.5 inch slides and the Leica lens won out in my opinion - better sharpness further out to the edges; better definition of colors, etc., but the Canon lens was very, very good.

    To give you an idea of who Erwin Puts is, I have given you a link to one of his books immediately below; a link to the web site on the Canon lenses; and a copy of his review.

    As I said previously, I wouldn't explore your proposed option and instead explore the option of purchasing a Canon A-1 with the Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 and a Canon FD 85mm F/1.8 lens later - when the budget permits.

    One of many important things that was covered in the two Leica Photographic Seminars that I attended - one in Peoria, IL and the other at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL - was their emphasis on the importance of fully exploring your lens, BEFORE adding another lens to your collection. This point was driven home more than once and it was always accompanied by various photographs showing different points of view with the same lens.

    Again, hope this information is more than useful in helping you make a wise choice.

    Since I've been told that this is too long, I am posting Puts's review of Canon lenses in the next response.

    Best regards in your endeavor!!!!

    Bill
     
  7. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern Michigan
    Chris:

    Here's the promised information!

    Bill



    Leica Lens Compendium (Hardcover) by Erwin Puts

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/189780217X/qid=1120866527/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/104-3770998-8678303?v=glance&s=books"]http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/189780217X/qid=1120866527/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/104-3770998-8678303?v=glance&s=books[/ame]

    http://www.imx.nl/photosite/japan/CanonFD/FD50.html



    CANON FD Lens Reports By Erwin Puts 50 and 55mm lenses Introduction Since the introduction of the Canon F1 in 1971/72 the Canon optical designers have created a number of lenses that challenged the conventional wisdom of lens design. And in cameras too. they were innovative: the Canon Pellix may not be a great commercial success, but it showd the forward thinking of the Canon engineers to see the limitations of a design and find solutions.

    In optical design they too were very capable: they were very early with aspherical surfaces, floating elements, a new correction philosophy for aberrations (see my Leica R publication on the Leica site), the breachlock bayonet system, and many others.

    For this report I tested two Canon 1.8/50mm lenses (FL and FD). two 1.4/50mm lenses (FD and new FD) and the redoubtable 1.2/55 aspherical. To indicate the relative performance (with respect to each other I will give some resolution figures, measured on the optical bench). Resolution figures are dangerous, as you may read too much into them. But it gives some much needed quantified information about these lenses. Canon 1.8/50mm FL and FD

    Both are classical 6 element Double Gauss designs. Both show strong curvature of field, as can be seen from the figures. If you focus on the center of the image, the outer zones are quite soft and if you focus on the outer zones the center becomes soft. This is a classical dilemma for camera designers. Most lenses exhibit this form of aberration. A lens does project a curved image on a flat receiver (the film). So the designer can select a back focus distance where the tip of the curve intersects the front of the film plane: we have excellent center sharpness. Or the designer can select a distance where the outer parts of the curve intersect the film plane, giving a high quality in the outer zones with a weaker center part. You can count on film curvature to correct the center part, but in any case the designer has a choice here. For a normal standard lens it is important to have even coverage, so the second solution would be wise. for a high speed reportage lens, the first option may be advisable. The official approach in lens testing is to focus on the center part and use this position as an analyis base. Here it comes:

    At 1.8 and on axis both lenses have a central disk of about 6mm radius (12mm diameter) of high resolution and low contrast. These lenses resolve easily 125 linepairs/mm but the contrast is very low and some flare can be seen on axis.

    In the outer zones the resolution drops to about 20 lp/mm with a higher contrast, but now we see soft edges at the black/white borders. The lvel of astigmatism is very low, which is a major feat. There is low vignetting and some very small pincushion distortion.

    Stopping down to f/2 and f/2.8 brings a slight improvement in contrast and it is at f/4 that the lenses start to show a punchy performance. At f8 we have excellent performance with high contrast, and good edge contrast (micro contrast) over the whole image field. The FD version shows a slight improvement in the outer zones, but overall both versions perform identical.There is no decentring: always a good sign of outstanding workmanship in manufacturing and quality control.

    As the FL version is steel and glass, where the FD version already uses plastics, my preference would be for the FL version, but generally both are fine performers. There is some tendency to flare and overall contrast is low, giving the pictures a flat and dull appearance when uses wide open. Stopped down the perfomance is very commendable. Canon FD 1.4/50 SSC and New FD 1.4/50mm



    Both are seven element Double Gauss designs. The fingerprint is similar to the 1.8 designs. No astigmatism, strong curvature of field, some slight pincushion distortion, low level of vignetting (causing the corners to be very weak in performance).

    Wide open at 1.4 the SSC version has excellent quality in the center area (6mm central disc), but again contrast is low and resolution high with more than 125 lp/mm. Going to the corners there is a rapid drop to about 30 lp/mm, where the lines have soft edges, giving the pattern a blurred appearance. At f/2 edge contrast improvs and at f/4 we have good overall contrast. Usable resolution in the outer ones has reached 40 lp/mm and at f/8 we have excellent performance with 125lp/mm in the central disc and 77 lp/mm over the rest of the image field, excepting the corners, where we see at best 30 lp/m.

    Flare is strong on axis at wider apertures.

    The new FD version of the 1.4/50 lens shows the same performance with a slight improvement in the outer zones and overall some higher micro contrast and a more even performance over the whole image area.

    The new FD is shorter, more compact and has less weight: to have the same performance as the larger predecessor is qute good and overall the performance is better than most films could deliver in those days. Both are not stellar performers, even if Canon indicates these to be their main lenses as referece for the rest. Mechanical quality is very high and they are better than the 1.8 versions. Here I would choose the new FD version.

    The Canon FD 1.2/55mm SSC Aspherical

    Here we entering a new game. With this lens Canon used every trick they knew. The lens was in its day (1975) the most expensive standard lens in the world, even more expensive than the Noctilux 1.2/50 from Leitz. There were 8 lens elements, one aspherical surface and a kind of floating construction where the last lens stayed in postion and the rest seven elements moved as agroup when focusing.

    At 1.2 the central disc shows a clear but low contrast image where 154 lp/mm can be easily sen. In the outer zones we see the performance drop from 77 to 50 lp/mm and even the corners have 50 lp/mm. Amazing as it seems to be, but this lens is wide open better than the other designs at f/4 and smaller. The snag is that micro contrast is quite low and even the 10 lp/mm pattern has soft edges. In practical shooting you see this as a quite soft image when looking at finer details. You see the detail in the mage, but it lacks the sharp delineation of outlines that give the picture transparancy and sparkle. Coma is very low (only in the outer zones) and now we see strong astigmatism and less curvature of field. Again there are no decentring problems and this lens must be at the top of mechanical construction. Even close up pictures (at 50 to 70cm) are quite crisp wide open.

    Vignetting is quite low and so is flare. But straight into the sun, we see some secondary reflections, which is unavoidable, but even inside the flare patches we still see details of the image, a sign of very good reduction of the internal flare at the micro level.

    At f/2 we see some crispening of the edges of detail and outlines and at f/2.8 we have a very high quality. There is some softness over the whole image, but that is gone at f/4 where we have an overall performance of 80 lp/mm over the whole image field (center is still at 154 lp/mm) with good contrast. From f/4 to f/11 we have the same level of performance.

    Compared to the Noctilux 1.0/50m that was designed in the same period, we have to say that he decision of Mandler to drop the aspherical surfaces and go fore a straight design with all spherical surfaces was not very smart. The Canon lens outperforms the Noctilux at wider apertures and closer distances. Accepting that the Noct has a half stop more power in light gathering we still have to note that that mere half stop asks for some compromises.

    And compared to the Noctilux 1.2/50m with two aspherical surfaces, we would say that again the Canon is the better lens overall. the exception might be the full aperture where the Noct has some advantages in transparancy, but that is not much.

    This Canon lens is an amazingly effective lens and a superb design in itself. Of course it lacks the sparkle and transparancy in small details that we can see in better designs, but they are of lower maximum aperture. Some commentators called the Canon FD 1.2 aspherical the best standard lens in the world. It is hard to disagree.

    Please note that I am happy to share my testreports and all the information contained in them to all members of the Internet. This report however is the result of considerable research and must be considered as a document protected by copyright law. So if you cite from, or use information contained in these documents, please respect the notion of intellectual property and refer to the original document or ask permission to copy parts of the text.

    Erwin Puts Author: Erwin Puts email: <imxputs@ision.nl>

    Last Updated: Fri, Jul 18, 2003 ml> /html> ml> Friday, February 22, 2002
     
  8. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    3,795
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Texas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    no offense, but alllll that stuff up there, about the lenses, is pretty much not going to help you really. especially since it would take you many many many many weeks to even get close to buying a very used one of those lenses. I say start with something common and sturdy for the lens. It is your beginning lens, so it doesnt have to be ultra sharp or ultra fast. just something that will work. You will be using this camera and lens to learn the basics of photography, not to produce photos with good enough quality to sell at 16x20 inches to art galleries in paris.
     
  9. mygrain

    mygrain Friend to nose goblins everywhere

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Messages:
    3,660
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    in a cool dry place
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    MY first manual 35mm was a mamiya/sekor 1000TL...it's built like a rock- i know i've dropped it more than once. and the lens are great. I paid about $65 bucks for it on ebay- and it came with a fitted leather case. [​IMG] this is a image of the type.

    If you aren't sure just stick with a good brand like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc... look around ebay and if you find something you like, link it to this thread and I'm sure someone will b emore than happy to give some adise on it...i think between all of the folks here most camera types can be covered and if not there are a few of the collectors here that can give you a run down on it pretty quickly.

    good luck!! and Welcome to TPF!!
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    7,021
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I still say spend $50 (probably less) on a Pentax Spotmatic and a couple of Takumar lenses. Spotmatics are build like tanks, and the Takumar glass is exquisite. The next week get a $50 handheld lightmeter because old meters tend to die, and I've rarely seen a Spotmatic with a working meter. Save the rest of your money for film and processing and a DSLR in the future. If it turns out that you really love film, you can always get a fancier film camera, but the Spotmatic has everything you need to start learning, and it's missing most of the features that might get in the way of your learning (like an easy to use auto-mode dial).
     
  11. selmerdave

    selmerdave TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    ...or a K1000 (Pentax) and a 50mm or 55mm SMC lens, should be under $100. The old standard.

    Dave
     
  12. cjparsons

    cjparsons TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Georgia
    Wow, thanks for all the help!
    I really appreciate it all, though I must say I am a bit confised. I still don't understand all of the terms too well. Oh well, I suppose I must start somewhere.
    -chris
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
canon fd 50mm 1.4 ssc lp/mm
,
canon fd 50mm s s c 1.4 lp/mm
,

erwin puts canon fd

,
pentax sv