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08-29-2007, 04:20 PM   #1
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Which fSLR?

sorry if i really found the need to post a new thread regarding this, considering that there are already more than 2 threads of similar topic.

what film slr would you guys recommend for a photography class? based on the previous threads, the MX is highly recommended along with th K1000. what are other "PRO" level fSLRs?

thank you.

08-29-2007, 04:59 PM   #2
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The ME Super is a nice unit too, and it is compatible with aperature priority lenses.
08-29-2007, 05:51 PM   #3
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If you are just interested in having an all manual camera for classes, anything will do, (my manual only body is a KX, which I like more than an M series camera becasue the M series are just too damm small, BUT......

If you are looking for a good film camera, with potential to use autofocus, fast shutter speed, which gives you 1/250th for high speed flash fill, and the ability to later migrate to digital, or perhaps use both digital and film, and purchase new lenses and accessories for both, I woould select a PZ-1 or PZ-1p.

They are truely great cameras will work with virtually all lenses (except digital only), and if you get an AF540FGZ flash which supports every pentax flash mode, you can use everything you purchase for both film and digital.

My PZ-1 saw use up until I got a Sigma 10-20 mm digital only lens for my K10, because my 18-35mm zoom that came with my *istD was a full frame lens. All my wide angle shots stayed on film until the new sigma came along
08-29-2007, 06:58 PM   #4
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I would put a strong recommendation for a PZ-1 or better yet a PZ-1p. You will have to buy any of these used and make sure you get the manual. They can be totally manual but there are a ton of user and ato settings that will require a manual. You can get the manuals online and if you buy either of these I have a few links (as do others) that can get you an online copy.

Why these models? they are dirt cheap for what they sold for new. around $150. vs $1000 new. They both feature similar settings to the k10D so when you decide to try digital some day the transition is easy.

Some reasons for these models:
much better AF than any previous models
Hyper-program modes that use the thumb and index dials to adjust aperture and shutter speeds without taking your eye off the viewfinder
reasonably fast motor drive
full manual settings
User programable settings
Mirror lock up and self timers
Spot metering, Multi segment metering, Center weighted metering
Shutter speeds up to 1/8000
Flash sync at 1/250th with leading or trailing shutter curtain.

That's only a few of the features.
many of the older cameras are very nice but with the exception of the LX this is the best IMHO they made. many will argue the MZ-s was the best and in some ways It may be but it lost the hyper program mode and i think that was a big disadvantage. Also on a budget the MZ-s still costs $500 so it's more than most will now spend for film.
The Pz-1p will only sell for $50-75 more than a good K series camera so I think it's the best buy now.

08-29-2007, 07:43 PM   #5
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LX and XZ-5N would be two other good picks

The LX is not only a Pro level camera, it was a Pro camera. Downside is that it can be hard to find a good copy; most were really put through their paces by professional photographers. It has manual exposure and aperture priority exposure automation. TTL flash metering. It's manual focus, has interchangeable viewfinder, focusing screen and back.

Another, perhaps in reality more useable, option is the ZX-5N, although it probably doesn't qualify as 'Pro' caliber. It has all exposure modes and has autofocus. I like its classic layout (like the LX) where you set the aperture on the lens and the shutter speed on a traditional knob on the camera. It also has TTL flash metering which makes macro flash photography so much easier.
08-30-2007, 08:03 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
The LX is not only a Pro level camera, it was a Pro camera. Downside is that it can be hard to find a good copy; most were really put through their paces by professional photographers. It has manual exposure and aperture priority exposure automation. TTL flash metering. It's manual focus, has interchangeable viewfinder, focusing screen and back.

Another, perhaps in reality more useable, option is the ZX-5N, although it probably doesn't qualify as 'Pro' caliber. It has all exposure modes and has autofocus. I like its classic layout (like the LX) where you set the aperture on the lens and the shutter speed on a traditional knob on the camera. It also has TTL flash metering which makes macro flash photography so much easier.
I have a couple of ZX-5N cameras with the battery packs and they are very nice cameras. You can still find them in almost new condition if you look hard enough.


wll
08-30-2007, 08:29 AM   #7
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Then of course there are the Spotmatics, from a certain standpoint better student cameras than the K1000... and lots of screw mount lens options.
08-30-2007, 09:28 AM   #8
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You really can't go wrong with any of the old mechanical slr models that Pentax has pumped out. The LX is a wonderful camera, but expensive to buy and maintain - so I would pass on it if you are just buying it for occasional use. The KX and the MX are both nice solid cameras that will put up with some major abuse - you should easily be able to pick up either model for $75 or less if you shop around.

I'm assuming your class requires a 35mm format camera, but if it doesn't (definately check with the teacher) you might want to look for a used Pentax 645 medium format camera and lens. It is bigger than any of the cameras mentioned above, but they are still hand-holdable. The increased negative size will give you a lot more flexibility in the darkroom (easier to create big enlargments, less grain, overall better prints). If you already have a digital SLR and want to dabble in film, buying a medium format film camera makes a lot more sense than buying a 35mm film camera IMHO. That being said, if your class limits you to 35mm format the Pentax 645 is about as useful as a lead brick.

08-30-2007, 11:22 AM   #9
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What will you do with it after the course?

There are literally thousands of people who learned their photography on the K1000. These were not used by professionals (except when they originally learned) Other than the light meter, everything is manual and mechanical. There are lots of them around, both used (actual K1000s) and new (clones). Unfortunately, once you have learned the true basics, you might actually enjoy being a photographer, and want the camera to assume more of the functions for you.

I have, and have used the following:

The K1000 originally came out about the same time as the KX. The KX does NOT offer autoexposure and autofocus. It's just a great, reliable, well-built tank of a camera.

The MX was Pentax's answer to the Olympus OM1. It's a jewel of a camera and can qualify as a professional's tool. There are still lots of accessories available.

I think that the SuperProgram was the best autoexposure program camera Pentax made. It is NOT autofocus. Of course, you can manually set the exposure.

The Z-1 (PZ-1 in the US, Z-1 elsewhere) can be used manually while making autoexposure and autofocus available. There are dials to control lens aperture as well as shutter speed. Besides offering a fully autoexposure program, it has a hyper mode that lets you change either one while the camera changes the other to keep the same exposure level. This is very translatable to either the *istD or the K10D.

So, for the prices these bodies are currently selling for, I'd opt for the PZ-1 and use it manually for the class.

Larry in Dallas
08-30-2007, 01:35 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DAP Quote
You really can't go wrong with any of the old mechanical slr models that Pentax has pumped out. The LX is a wonderful camera, but expensive to buy and maintain - so I would pass on it if you are just buying it for occasional use. The KX and the MX are both nice solid cameras that will put up with some major abuse - you should easily be able to pick up either model for $75 or less if you shop around.

I'm assuming your class requires a 35mm format camera, but if it doesn't (definately check with the teacher) you might want to look for a used Pentax 645 medium format camera and lens. It is bigger than any of the cameras mentioned above, but they are still hand-holdable. The increased negative size will give you a lot more flexibility in the darkroom (easier to create big enlargments, less grain, overall better prints). If you already have a digital SLR and want to dabble in film, buying a medium format film camera makes a lot more sense than buying a 35mm film camera IMHO. That being said, if your class limits you to 35mm format the Pentax 645 is about as useful as a lead brick.
first of all i would like to thank all you guys who have replied to my inquiry. i'm still stuck with choosing the "right" one for me considering the price, which you all know differs from one vendor to the other. i'm quite sure though that keh would probably be the best place to look for a used camera, since they are a reliable used equipment seller. checking prices over at the bay is just taking much of my time - comparing, asking questions and the like.

@DAP, i was actually fancying about purchasing a pentax 645 but considering that i have only been into photography for less than a year it doesn't seem to be a reasonable option for me, although i see myself doing photography more seriously in the future as a sideline probably. when i read this post of yours, i suddenly became interested with the 645s. i can get hold of one for the same price as an MX. first of all, before i jump into film photography, how much does it cost to start up a mini darkroom at home-equipment, chemicals, paper, etc.? thank you for the suggestion and i will ask my professor as soon as possible.

***i would like to correct myself... 645s are rather expensive for my pockets right now and they do not cost as much as an MX. sorry for the ignorance. lol

Last edited by j-pol; 08-30-2007 at 01:41 PM.
08-30-2007, 04:28 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by j-pol Quote
First of all, before i jump into film photography, how much does it cost to start up a mini darkroom at home-equipment, chemicals, paper, etc.?
I don't know how much it costs now, but i suggest just look for a film shooter and take his equipment when he stops shooting film and goes digital.

I traded all my darkroom kit, 3 enlargers (2 b&w 1 color) plus print easles, processing drums traus drum rollers etc, for my first digicam.

My suggestion, especially if you are going B&W, is to get a film scanner, shoot on film, develop the film yourself, as you can then do push processing etc, but print and publish digitally. If you go color, get a lab to process the film, and many goods labs will do high quality scans (request 10 MP)
08-30-2007, 08:55 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I don't know how much it costs now, but i suggest just look for a film shooter and take his equipment when he stops shooting film and goes digital.

I traded all my darkroom kit, 3 enlargers (2 b&w 1 color) plus print easles, processing drums traus drum rollers etc, for my first digicam.

My suggestion, especially if you are going B&W, is to get a film scanner, shoot on film, develop the film yourself, as you can then do push processing etc, but print and publish digitally. If you go color, get a lab to process the film, and many goods labs will do high quality scans (request 10 MP)
i'm really not adept to film processing yet so i don't have any idea pf the equipment and how much it costs to develop a roll of film myself. editing the image digitally would be a nice option though, but wouldn't the scanner cost me a fortune? and i still do need to develop my films, right? sorry if my questions seem stupid. lol.
08-31-2007, 04:58 AM   #13
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I just thought you'd like to know there's a PZ-1p with a shutter release cable that will end today on Ebay. One with out the cable sold for just over $100.00 a few days ago. This might go a touch higher. The cable is worth around $20. If you like it it would be a great camera and if it goes for less than $150.00 it would be the best you will find in that price range. Personally I would be less worried about buying one of these used, since it was only discontinued a few years ago and the K and M series cameras are more than 20 years old in most cases.

Auction here:

eBay.ca: Pentax PZ-1P SLR Camera with cable switch (item 130148277150 end time 31-Aug-07 19:40:27 EDT)
08-31-2007, 05:26 AM   #14
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I'm adding this all from memory as I sold off the darkroom more than 10 years ago and it's been awhile....
Colour films:
As for home developing it isn't a terribly difficult process but you will have a 2 step process. You have to develop the film. Then there is printing.
For developing have a look at the following:
chromogenic.net: new york photography → verba 070822: How To Develop Your Own Film

If you are considering this to save money then you most likely would have a tough time breaking even. Most do it themselves to have creative control over the final print. Cropping, dodging and burning during the enlargement process.
The paper/chemicals are not cheap and you need to buy an enlarger and a good lens for the enlargement process no matter whether you are printing 3.5 x 5 or 16 x 20's. Enlargers used these days are much cheaper used than they were when new but harder to find.
it's a fairly basic process in some ways but you will waste some paper at first getting used to the process. Once the film has been processed then you put the film or slide in the enlarger. Adjust it for light output, crop and so on on the light table. Turn the enlarger off. The the room is totally pitch black. You get out a sheet of paper and put it on the table and turn on the enlarger for the required time and expose it to the image. Next is the chemical treatment for the paper. This is of course a simplified outline but it's fun and in some ways total guess work till you've run a few sheets through. I enjoyed it but it was expensive and time consuming.



Some info:

Darkroom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

How to Create a Photography Darkroom - Associated Content

Here's a couple of forums I came across that may offer a lot more detailed info (I didn't read much here so you're on your own):

How to influence grain in color process? - rec.photo.darkroom | Google Groups

and this one

Film and Processing Forum - photo.net
08-31-2007, 09:27 AM   #15
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we are going off topic a bit here but...

QuoteOriginally posted by j-pol Quote
i'm really not adept to film processing yet so i don't have any idea pf the equipment and how much it costs to develop a roll of film myself.
Processing drums for 35mm B&W film, plus processing reels are relitively inexpensive (~$20-$30). Developer, stop bath and fixer also about same, and this is enough for lots of film, although it has been 10 years since I last processed B&W film

QuoteOriginally posted by j-pol Quote
editing the image digitally would be a nice option though, but wouldn't the scanner cost me a fortune? and i still do need to develop my films, right? sorry if my questions seem stupid. lol.
I know a lab in Mississauga, that for $1 per strip will scan film to CD. The real message here is that the cost is per strip not per frame, so don't cut the film after processing. it costs $1 per 4 exposure strip or $1 per 36 exposure strip.

You could do 600 rolls of film for what I paid for my film scanner when I bought it new in 2001. (although I have scanned 24000 images to date so I consider it money well spent)
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