Looking for multi-purpose 35 mm SLR


TPF Noob!
Mar 17, 2006
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Hello everyone,

Great forum here--I've been reading a few posts and decided to make a post of my own. I'm a 2D and 3D artist who is interested in getting into photography. I have a lot of experience with composition, contrast, etc. so the technical "art" aspects of photography won't be too hard for me to grasp, it's more the mechanical aspects specific to photography that will take getting used to. I would like to find a 35 mm SLR that would be good for a beginner/amateur who understands general art theory.

I plan to use the camera to not only take landscape, portrait, general photos, etc. but also to photograph up close my paintings and sculptures for slides and portfolio use. It's my understanding that the SLR body, while important, is universal for all these various types of photography, but what I will need to change out is the lense.

What I would love (pretty please) from all you experts is advice on a used SLR body (preferably under $200-$250) and a couple lenses I can use with it. I will be traveling around England for a few months this summer and want time to get used to it before then. I should have access to a dark room and someone who can teach me the basics of developing. I love tinkering around with this sort of thing, so I'm looking for something with lots of settings and options to mess around with as I learn what I'm doing.

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to explain where I'm coming from. Thank you very much for your time and advice.

Well, I'm no expert, more of an ametuer/hobbiest. That said, My personal tip would be something like the Canon Rebel. You can find the Canon Rebel 2000, XS, and such for around 200 ussually. Thats my tip, and what I currently use. The main thing is to get the brand that you want to get a digital in some day. If you've ben eyeing a Canon or Nikon DSLR then get the film version of that camera. That way once you go to digital ,if you ever do, the lenses and most accessories you purchased will work with the new camera.

IE. I use a Canon rebel, and I will get the Canon Rebel XT DSLR in a few years (if I can't afford a better model by then) and all of my accessories will transfer. Bulb remote, filters, lenses, straps, cases etc.
Second hand is the best path in my oppinion... Where bodies are concerned you want to get something that is built solid, especialy for travelling and has enough on it to do what you want. I would say keep it fairly simple. I don't know about where you are but here we have a few camera shops in the space of a couple of blocks that have large expansive windows full of second hand stuff. Find something in your price range, a few in fact and ask to hold them, see how they feel in your hands because that's very important. Once you get above the range of crummy plastic cameras all you are getting for the extra cash is things like advanced autofocus, and generally faster operation. This is probably not necessary for what you'll want to do! I shoot Canon myself and find them very nice to use. Something like a second hand EOS 10 will be just about in your price range.

As for lenses, the sky is the limit really... a 50mm prime lens will give you superior quality to that of a cheap zoom. The prime lens really is the way to go for an all round sharp good value lens. Also with both these things, look to see if you can get some sort of warranty on second hand stuff. The length of warranty offered is usually a good indication of how good a condition they are in. Good luck, and may your other questions be answered by people with more experience than me.
Thanks for the fast replies.

Rahb--At this point in time I don't have any interest in shopping for a digital camera. But if I read your post right, only Canon accessories work with Canon bodies, Nikon with Nikon, etc, right? I'll check out the specific model you mentioned.

Stingray--I'm definitely going second hand for my first SLR. I'm located in Washington, DC and don't know of any second hand camera shops, but I'll look into it. I was thinking about buying off eBay after I hold a few different cameras and get the feel for them. Does anyone have any thoughts on buying cameras/accessories off eBay? I'll check out the EOS 10 as well. Thanks again.
Welcome to the forum.

Do you want auto focus gear or will manual focus be sufficient? Do you really need all the bells & whistles or would you be happier with just the basics? Some cameras will work without batteries, some will not.

People often recommend starting off with a manual focus, simple camera. Possibly even a manual exposure camera, which would force you to learn the basics of how photography works.

You said that you want to mess around with lots of settings and options. All you really need, is to control the aperture of the lens and shutter speed. Just about every SLR will allow you to do that. After that, it's just bells & whistles.

Older manual cameras are cheap and fairly easy to find. However, newer auto focus stuff will probably have a higher resale value and should be compatible with current camera bodies & lenses...should you ever decide to upgrade.
DFB said:
Thanks for the fast replies.

Rahb--At this point in time I don't have any interest in shopping for a digital camera. But if I read your post right, only Canon accessories work with Canon bodies, Nikon with Nikon, etc, right? I'll check out the specific model you mentioned.

I know you aren't currently looking for a DSLR. I have had my Canon Rebel XS SLR for 2 years and a Pentax before that. I currently have the Rebel XS and have begun purchasing accessories like lenses and such. I'm buying without fear, because I know that WHEN I advance to a DSLR I will go with a Canon. This means I can use all my accessories with the new camera, which will keep me from having to re-purchase.

You may never want a DSLR, but might as well pick a brand that allows you the option of the future capabilities of upgrading.
First, welcome to the forum...

Secondly, forgive my skewering of the Engamalish spelun...

I am about to give a piece of advice here, so listen (read) closely.

I on occasion take photographs of Navajo Jewelry for the purposes of stock, and presentation. The photos in many cases MUST be 35mm slide. (Which is very unforgiving). I will tell you that regardless of the camera brand, make absolutly sure that it has at least the capability of 12-3200 ASA/ISO. This is important, because if you get into presentation type photography, you will be shooting VERY slow film. (ISO 25-100).

And yes Dorthy there still is 25 speed film to be had. (you just have to look for it.) (Sorry, I didnt mean to steal from Wizard of Oz there...)

Anyway, you will need a first class tripod for that. Dont skimp there.
If you can, try to find a camera boom attachment for it as well.

(e-bay most instances.)

A good setup for lighting, strobes or even 5600K hot lights.

Shadow Box, blah,blah,blah. You get the idea.

As for brand, you can go with many, but I have had enormous sucsess with my Maxxum 7. (Dont let the Minolta name scare you. The lenses are out there, they are cheap enough, and are very reliable.) Get a remote cable release for it as well.. (You will find it invaluable.)

For Landscape and portrat, make sure you get at least a good 50mm f-1.7 or faster, AND 55 or 58 mm. Preferably 85mm (super expencive) and 135 (Super cheap) is the best way to go.

As for shooting landscape, I will tell you that though you are looking at a 35mm, I would STRONGLY advise you to at least investigate a Mamiya, Bronica or Contax 645 Med. Format. Or even a Kiev 88, Bronica, 6x6. Those can be had as a complete set up for around $250 USD if you look.

Good luck.
Where are you located?

It really doesn't matter what lens and what camera you get. ANY SLR with a non zoom 50mm lens is good.

Lenses are such a personal thing that it is impossible to give advice. Each lens puts a slightly different spin on the image and you just have to experience it yourself to understand the difference.

In the last 6 months, I've drifted away from japanese canon/nikon and moved toward german/russian glass. (russians use german designs in most of the lenses)

Pentax takumar I like too.

But you shouldn't worry about your first lens. Just get ANY 50 or 35mm lens and it will serve you well for quite a while.
Thanks a lot for the replies everyone. I'll look into all that you suggested and post back when I come up with something. More advice is of course appreciated.

Edit: Oh, and I'm located in Washington, DC at the moment (I go to school here) and I'm originally from San Diego, CA.
Okay, so I've come up with a little list of SLR bodies to look at. I've decided to go with Canon because I've heard good things in the past, and it doesn't really make that big a difference which brand (out of the big ones) I choose because there will always be lenses and accessories, right?

What are your opinions on these Canons:

EOS 500N
EOS 650
EOS Elan
And then the Rebel series

Also, it sounds like I'm going to need to get a 50mm lense. Is there another type of lense that I ought to buy as well for the purpose of the type of shooting I'll probably do in England this summer? I don't think I'll be shooting too much of my art any time soon, I don't need it for a portfolio or anything so I don't need all that equipment. (Thanks for the words of wisdom, though Soocom1.)
Hello again friends,

I've been looking online and in local shops and I've decided on one of the following three Rebels: GII, K2, and T2. I like the T2 the most, but is there any reason I should not get it, or reasons to get one of the others instead?

Oh, and I'll probably be ordering from KEH.com as I can't find these cameras any cheaper in person. Anywhere else I should check?

Thanks a lot.

Time to look into lenses...
Hmm thanks for the last couple replies, but I've actually bought a Canon Rebel T2 and a 50mm prime lense. Thanks a lot for all the help, looking forward to 7-9 days from now when the body comes. Got the lense already... it's just sittin' here looking pretty.

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