We all have to start somewhere

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Melanie, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Melanie

    Melanie TPF Noob!

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    I've been told to buy a short zoom lens and long zoom lens camera, I will need a tripod and cable release also. Oh and one thing they said I also need is the following (of which I don't understand at all): Flash gun which can range from part of the camera to a separate flash gun (preferred)

    What camera would you buy? How much would I anticipate spending?

    Any help would be appreciated thank you :)
     
  2. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    Just so we can get a better idea of what's going on here...
    Who exactly is telling you to buy all this stuff?
    Are you going to take classes?
    and What will you mainly be photographing?

    Thanks!
    I'm sure someone here can help you out! :)
    -Chris
     
  3. Melanie

    Melanie TPF Noob!

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    Cheers Chris

    I got the requirements from ICS (City & Guilds Basic Photography course)

    I am going to do a course using the above company

    I'm not sure what I will be photographing at the mo as I haven't started the course. I don't want to part with the course money to then find out I need a £1000 for the camera...its coming up to Christmas I wanna keep to my budget!

    Seriously though, the money isn't a HUGE problem, I am expecting this to cost, but I don't want to be diddled by a shop because they will realise I'm a noob.
     
  4. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hi there, I did a photography course a couple of years ago (A-level - it sounded like a good doss course :mrgreen: ) and I'm not sure what they meant by a "short zoom lens and long zoom lens camera" but I expect any such course will want you to have a 35mm SLR. This way you can use any length lens you want. I doubt they'll expect you to have a high-end, £1000 camera - it's not worth it if you're learning the basics. You might actually be better going for an older camera, probably second-hand (Ebay is surprisingly good). I personally recommend the older manual focus Pentax SLRs, as there are bazillions of lenses available second-hand very very cheap, and the lenses made by Pentax are just plain great. If you're particularly interested in looking professional then go for a Nikon or Canon. Actually that's unfair, there are reasons why Nikon and Canon are considered more "serious" brands - but for the purposes of a photography course you shouldn't need one of these. If you do choose to go for one then I'd recommend the F75 as a (relatively) inexpensive Nikon.

    The SLR body may come with a lens or not. In any case I'd recommend you get at least one good prime lens (fixed focal length) as these are usually not only cheaper but also better quality than zoom lenses. Go for a 50mm. A zoom lens certainly won't hurt however. Tamron make lenses for Minolta cameras that go from 28mm-200mm and take pretty decent images throughout that range - there are similar lenses available for other camera brands.

    Folks here can probably give more specific suggestions if you tell us what exactly the guild asked for - do they specifically insist on a Nikon or Canon, do they say the camera has to be fully-auto, fully manual, or do they just suggest any kind of SLR?

    Ah one final thing I almost forgot - I'm guessing they want this to be a film camera, right?
     
  5. Melanie

    Melanie TPF Noob!

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    Hey Zaphod (excellent choice of name - I loved Hitchhikers :D)

    I was seriously tempted to buy stuff at eBay but just wasn't able to understand the jargon, which leaves me with the usual high street shop. Quite frankly I'm terrified of buying something on eBay and not getting the product or receiving it in a damaged condition - you may be able to tell I have absolutely no experience with eBay :D

    If I develop the er...confidence to join eBay I will look for this F75!!! or of course the manual focus Pentax SLR...er...thinghy..
     
  6. Melanie

    Melanie TPF Noob!

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    Just saw your edited post!

    Unfortunately they JUST said SLR camera and when I called them the call centre girl wasn't all that up on the camera requirements herself - I suppose I could wait to receive the course documentation...it might stipulate what I need then?

    I think its a film camera...not sure what other you might mean to be honest...sorry :(
     
  7. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hehe I know the feeling when it comes to Ebay. Most of the time you'll be fine, but I guess you don't really want anything to go wrong if you're relying on the camera for your course. If you get it from a shop you should have a warranty, so you have someone else to blame when it breaks :)

    As for being diddled by the shop - you will be! I notice you're in Berkshire - just don't buy anything from the camera shop in Maidenhead unless you like paying twice the actual value of things :p High street shops will almost always charge more; buy the camera from an online shop. Of course that doesn't mean you can't go into a shop first and try the camera ;). Go in, ask to try all their SLRs, then write down the name of the one you like and go buy it on the interwebby :mrgreen:


    Edit: Just saw yer second post. Sorry, I meant film as opposed to digital.
    Film can produce better quality images but that doesn't mean it will. Digital can be great but is generally thought to handle colour better than black and white (for which you're probably better off using film).
    The obvious advantage of digital is that you can see how the photo turned out as soon as you've taken it (even if it's on a tiny screen) and you can alter it with software without having to scan it first. You also don't have to pay for developing and processing like with film. The obvious example of film is that the start-up costs are cheaper; you can pick up a second-hand film SLR for £50 and still be able to take amazing photos with it, photos from any £50 digital camera will look rubbish as soon as you expand them larger than the size of a postage stamp :)

    If they just want a film SLR then you shouldn't need to pay more than £300 for a new camera with lens. If you're happy to pay that much then maybe go for the Nikon F75, which will come with not one but two lenses for just over £300, and have pretty much every feature you could conceivably want as well as a few you'll never even consider using :).

    If you get a Nikon or Canon in this price range then with £1000 you should be able to build up a system of good quality lenses, flash gun and other accessories based around the one camera, and possibly still get a digital camera.

    If on the other hand you go for a cheaper film camera - you can get some really good ones second hand - then you can probably afford to also buy a decent digital camera and still have cash left over to try something different, like a rangefinder.

    P.s. whatever you decide on, do try it in a shop before you buy. You might have the most advanced camera in the world, but if it feels uncomfortable in your hands or you can't reach the dials then it's not much use to you.
     
  8. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As a general rule, most of these beginner's courses want to teach you on film. The obvious reason is to make sure they are looking at what the student actually shot, so it can be critiqued and the student actually learns exposure. With digital, I would imagine the temptation to make the shot "just a little bit better" before class might be too tempting, and you'd never learn anything except how to fudge images in photoshop - and you signed up for a photography class, not a software class.

    Film helps keep it real. :) And you may want to move into the darkroom after that; just handling film helps you get a feel for what's expected there.

    Good luck with it - have fun!
     
  9. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Completely agree with you there Terri - film is definitely the way to go for learning photography. Of course that doesn't mean you have to go for a £2000 Nikon made of kevlar, magnesium and depleted uranium with a top shutter speed of a millionth of a microsecond :mrgreen:. Setting a limit of £300 for the camera would allow you to get a good digital later, which could be a good idea if you're looking to use your qualification in a photography-based career - I think photojournalism is largely digi-centred these days.
     
  10. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hmm I've been re-reading my posts, and imagining what they'd look like if I was reading them 3 years ago when I was a total newbie who'd only ever taken photos with point & shoot cameras, mostly with my finger ending up in the middle of the photo :)... suddenly what I'd typed here appeared to be in some kind of alien dialect. I appreciate it's not all that helpful, at least not until you understand some of the basic terms and ideas.

    So now I'll try to explain what an SLR is, why you're getting one, and how you'll be taking photos... hope this makes some kind of sense...

    SLRs...

    SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. Essentially, what you need to know is that an SLR includes a mirror and a prism, so that you effectively look through the lens rather than just through the viewfinder. Therefore your finger doesn't end up in the photo :mrgreen:.

    SLRs have removable and interchangeable lenses. This means that you're not buying an 80-200mm SLR, but an SLR with an 80mm-200mm lens. This can be changed for example with a 19mm lens, or a 2000mm lens if you have great big stacks of money. It's as simple as clicking and sliding or possibly unscrewing one lens and popping another on.

    Lenses...

    The great advantage of this is that you can use the lens that's most appropriate for the situation. So for holiday photos, a zoom lens, say 28-200mm would be perfect because it lets you go from a reasonably wide angle to zooming in pretty close. Bear in mind that a "zoom lens" does not mean one that lets you take a photo of something far away - it simply means you can zoom in and out. For photos of a specific subject where you want a sharper-looking picture, a prime lens would be better.

    A what? A prime lens is a fixed focal length - you can't zoom in and out. Instead of being 80-200mm or 20-100mm it might be 50mm, 80mm or 1000mm. So if you can't zoom, why would you want one? Basically because the photo will look better. Think of the zoom lens as a Swiss army knife which is quite good in lots of different situations, and the prime lens as an electric screwdriver which is better for that specific task (see how I add to my macho-ness by using tools as an analogy :mrgreen: ).

    When looking at lenses you'll also want to look at the range of aperture settings on the lens...

    Aperture

    Aperture (along with shutter speed) determing how much light will be allowed in. Someone else can probably explain the technical bits better, but I'll just say that the wider the range of apertures, the more control you'll have over how the photo looks. With an aperture of F22 everything should be in focus so this might be better for landscapes; with an aperture of F1.7 you'll have much less depth of field so you could use this for portraits; the person you're focusing on will be clearly in focus, and the background blurred.

    Aperture alone however does not decide how the photo will turn out; you need a good combination of aperture and shutter speed...

    Shutter Speed

    The shutter is, put simply, a door which opens to allow light onto the film and then closes again. The amount of light allowed in depends on the aperture and also the length of time the shutter is open. Therefore you want an SLR with a decent range of shutter speeds - at least from 1 second to 1/1000th of a second, with a "bulb" option to allow you to control the shutter speed yourself (so you could keep it open for 5 minutes if you really wanted).
    So getting a properly exposed photo depends on aperture, shutter speed... and film...

    Film

    Yep, it gets more complicated. Film speed significantly affects what combination of aperture and shutter speed you need to get decent exposure. The three factors are all linked together. Let me give an example - on a reasonably clear day you might want to take a photo with an aperture of F8, at a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second, using a film with a speed of ISO100. Say the sun disappears for a bit behind the clouds; you've still got 100-speed film in your camera so you have to have a lower shutter speed (i.e. let light in for longer), or alternatively you could open up the aperture more, although this would affect the depth of field. If on the other hand you knew beforehand that it would be a cloudy day, you could load ISO400 speed film into the camera and then continue using the smaller aperture and faster shutter speed. Most cameras (including cheap point-and-shoots) will accept different speed films and will decide how to expose the photo based on what speed film is being used, but SLRs give you control of aperture and shutter speed, and some require or allow you to set the film speed yourself - which means you can 'lie' to the camera by telling it the ISO200 film speed is actually ISO100 or ISO400, if you really want to.

    Finally, an important point which I should probably have put earlier...

    Focus...

    I don't need to explain that getting the subject in focus is important, but it might be worth pointing out that with an SLR you have far more control over focus than you would with a point and shoot camera. Older SLR cameras require you to focus manually - which isn't a bad thing at all - and newer ones will allow you to do so, but will probably feature autofocus - they will focus for you. Autofocus on most recent SLRs tends to be pretty good - accurate and quick - but if you're buying second-hand then I'd warn against getting autofocus SLRs from the earlier part of the 1990s, since they can take ages to focus and even then may not focus all that well.

    I've gone on for far too long now, so it's probably a good idea to bring this back to...

    Which SLR?

    It depends. With a good modern SLR like a Canon EOS or the Nikon F75 I mentioned then you can take it out the bag, point it at almost anything, press the shutter release button and get a decent photo out of it using 400-speed film. This sort of camera will focus for you and will also control shutter speed and aperture, using a built-in light meter to decide what combination to use. If instead you're really interested in learning about the 'theory' of photography (or just want to spend less money) then I believe it's best to go for an older, manual focus or even fully manual camera. Old Olympus and Minolta SLRs are great, but I personally think you'd be best off with a Pentax. Apart from anything else, lenses for Pentax cameras are absolutely everywhere and are therefore usually very very cheap - but also very very good (long as they're made by Pentax). When I suggested the Nikon earlier, I think I had misread your first post; I got the impression that you wanted to spend up to £1000 on a camera :lmao:. If you are happy spending £300 on the camera before even looking at accessories, then it's still a good choice. If on the other hand you'd rather spend less, you can get a second-hand Pentax P30, P30T or P30N for next to nothing - £25-£50 on Ebay, £50-£100 in shops depending on condition. Why am I being so specific in my recommendation? Well, let's just say I have two, and still want more :D. This camera is manual focus, but can set aperture and shutter speed automatically, set aperture automatically while you set shutter speed or vice versa, or let you set everything manually. Obviously you'd have to try it first to see if you're happy using manual focus. But the reason I'd recommend such a camera is that it's designed as a manual camera, unlike many modern SLRs which are designed as automatic cameras and which seem built to make manual operation as difficult as possible, as if they're trying to make traditional photographers extinct :x.

    Terri and anyone else, please feel free to correct me if I've got anything wrong - which is pretty likely :D
     
  11. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    if you're going to get a film SLR Camera, i would suggest an Old fully Manual Pentax (meaning the only batteries are for the light meter)
    it would probably not be that expensive and they are good. I got my Pentax MX from my dad who got it in the Early 70's. Its never broken through 35 years of use, its probably shot over 20,000 pictures, it takes great pictures and the lens's are good.
     
  12. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :lmao: I freely admit to being too hungry at the moment to do more than just skim your text, and I didn't see anything glaringly wrong.

    That said, I'm real good with the quickie disclaimer: As a TPF Administrator, I can neither confirm or deny the accuracy of the above post by our member ZaphodB. Proceed with caution! :mrgreen:

    Oh, and I'm definitely on the Pentax team: an old ME and a groovy MZ-S that I bought when I took photo 101 cause it goes all manual but is still a fabulous little workhorse with modern bells & whistles. And Pentax makes pretty darn good glass, too; I have 4 primes with it.
     

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