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12-09-2012, 07:52 AM   #1
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Gift for a beginner. What to choose.

I want to make a Christmas gift. A film camera for a beginner in film photography and a point and shoot digital user with a good eye for photography.

I was thinking of a ZX-5n or maybe an ME Super or maybe even back to a mechanical camera like the spotmatic.

What are your opinions on that? What would the better choice be?

The more manual the camera controls are the more the user will learn. The more automations the camera has like autofocus AE etc, the easier it will be for a beginner.

It also must be portable so that they actually take it with them wherever they will go.

Suggestions between those choices or maybe something else?

12-09-2012, 08:03 AM   #2
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The K1000 was the film class camera of choice for a LONG time. I donated 2 of them to a film course at a small college and they were very happy.
12-09-2012, 08:13 AM   #3
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If I decide to go for a fully manual camera, I'd prefer as spotmatic F better than a K1000. For some reason I don't like K1000s as much even though they are the same cameras with K mount.
12-09-2012, 08:24 AM   #4
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I also like the Spotmatic better than the K-1000 but if I were buying one for someone starting film would go with the K-1000 as at a later date the lens can bu used on a digital without bothering with an adapter.There is an advantage of the m42 lens are more versatile on a digital than the M lens after they are mounted for an argument for going with the Spotmatic.

12-09-2012, 08:28 AM   #5
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Lenses are no problem. I have m42 and k lenses to give with the camera. And if I was to go for a k mount manual I'd rather have an ME super or MX due to the smaller size and portability.

But the real dilemma is the choice between generations. Autofocus AE or fully manual (AV at most) ?
12-09-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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As much as I love and prefer fully mechanical cameras, I think for this case modern is better. I'm thinking in the lines of a ZX-7. These cameras have the flexibility of going from full manual to point and shoot auto everything. That flexibility can make it the "go to" camera regardless of conditions. Sometimes you don't have time for setting all parameters manually and some automation can come in very handy.
Keep in mind that not all ZX/MZ bodies can be used with older lenses. I think the ZX-7 can.

Another alternative can be the P3 / P30t generation that are manual focus but can provide Av and Program modes along with fully manual. They are also lighter weight than metal mechanicals.

Bottom line, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices...
Long live film!

Thanks,
12-09-2012, 10:40 AM   #7
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Be aware that an ME Super/K1000/Spotmatic (older metal bodies) will likely need seals & bumpers replaced. The newer plastic bodies don't seem to suffer from this problem. Any older model may also need a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) to make it usable. Maybe try to find a nice one that's already been serviced, so it works right out of the gift box
12-09-2012, 12:41 PM   #8
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Good points.

The tricky part is that with the automated camera you'll always be tempted not to use the manual settings. So you may not learn. With manual settings you are forced to make use of them in order to make a picture that is decent. So you tend to leard a lot more about exposure, diaphragm, film etc.

12-09-2012, 04:54 PM   #9
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If purchasing for a beginner, there are a ton of choices and not all of them Pentax. I, for one, would avoid the plastic AF bodies. I know there is a devoted following here on the film forum, but my bias is based on build quality and inferior viewfinders. My recommendation from the Pentax line would be the KM. It is nicely featured, is easily and readily serviced and inexpensive. Next would be the KX or MX with the K1000 a distant third. It is hard to justify paying as much for a K1000 as for a KX. Again, all of these models are easily serviced.

Now, if brand is not a big consideration, I would give serious consideration to any of the many excellent aperture-priority bodies from the late 70s and early 1980s. For the most part, cameras of that era featured robust and accurate vertical electronic shutters and fairly bulletproof electronics. If they are clean and work at all, it is likely that they will function pretty much as good as new for some time. Many also feature full-information viewfinders with large bright image for focusing. For K-mount, the XR series Ricoh bodies are a good option. They are dirt cheap and if the body is clean and working, it will likely be every bit as serviceable as a Pentax body of the same vintage. I have both a Ricoh XR-2s and XR7 and prefer both to my similar Pentax models. The only problem with Ricoh is pinning down the feature sets. They made a ton of vary similar models under both Ricoh and Sears names. Pricing is about the same regardless of features.

Edit:
I figure there is no harm posting a link to a blog post I did on this general subject for Hin awhile back:

http://www.techtheman.com/2010/12/bottomfeeders-guide-to-film-photography.html

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 12-10-2012 at 09:07 PM.
12-09-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
Be aware that an ME Super/K1000/Spotmatic (older metal bodies) will likely need seals & bumpers replaced.
Any used film camera made more than a decade ago will likely need to have its foams (seals and bumpers) replaced. It is sort of a rule of life. The materials degrade with time with longevity being negatively effected by temperature, exposure to ozone, and such. This is assuming of course that they had foam in the first place. Some of the newer plastic bodies are reputed to not require film chamber seals. I can't say, having never owned one. I also wonder whether they also were made without mirror bumpers.


Steve
12-12-2012, 11:30 AM   #11
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I have recently bought a K5 because I can use all my old lenses from my 1977 KX which I bought from new. SO I think it would be best to go for an AF camera, like I also have recently. They are VERY cheap so I was able to buy a few, try them and sell the ones I didn't want! Most came with decent lenses too so I kept them and am selling the bodies. The SFX and SF7 are well specified. The MZ60 is all-plastic and very light so it would suit a backpacker or biker but I couldn't vouvh for its durability. It can only use AF lenses which is a bit limiting and the reason I'm selling it.
With an AF body you can "upgrade" to a Pentax DSLR and use all your old lenses! That's what I'm doing.
12-12-2012, 11:51 AM   #12
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Personally I'd go with an MX if you want to make sure it is small enough that they bother to carry it around. The KM and KX are good choices too although bigger and heavier. I know this will get me excommunicated or something but I have never seen the attraction of the K1000. Just the lack of self-timer put me off, let alone any other features,

K.
12-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #13
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For a true learning camera the K-1000 is top dog yet easy enough for a beginner to take decent photos. When my son was 18 he took one and an f2 50mm to Ireland with only 15 minutes of very basic instruction and managed to get most of the shots he wanted.

I'm not sure I buy into the theory that a camera will need this or that just because of its age. IMO, how it was handled and stored plays an important part in that.
12-12-2012, 02:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pureanalog Quote
ZX-5n or maybe an ME Super or maybe even back to a mechanical camera like the spotmatic.

What are your opinions on that? What would the better choice be?

The more manual the camera controls are the more the user will learn. The more automations the camera has like autofocus AE etc, the easier it will be for a beginner.

It also must be portable so that they actually take it with them wherever they will go.

Suggestions between those choices or maybe something else?
I'd go with a Spotmatic. I was a longtime K1000 shooter, and the first time I got my hands on a spottie, I felt like I had entered another realm of ergonomics and quality.

QuoteOriginally posted by pureanalog Quote
Lenses are no problem. I have m42 and k lenses to give with the camera. And if I was to go for a k mount manual I'd rather have an ME super or MX due to the smaller size and portability.

But the real dilemma is the choice between generations. Autofocus AE or fully manual (AV at most) ?
I agree with your comment that "manual controls make the user learn them" and disagree with the user above who said that the case for modern is better. My family owned a Canon Rebel G back in the 90's, and I never learned a thing from it (and thus never fell in love with photography). First time I ever touched a K1000, my life took a turn that it has followed ever since.

Again, my recommendation would be a Spotmatic, as I think it just feels like a treat, and thus would be a great gift. I would personally NOT recommend an ME Super or MX to a beginner. The LED metering for manual mode on these cameras ranges from terrible (ME Super) to not-as-good-as-a-matchstick (MX). My primary camera is an ME Super, and my fiancee's primary camera is an MX. Both are fantastic cameras, but if I hadn't learned on a matchstick (K1000, Spottie), I wouldn't have the intuitive understanding of LV/EV that I have now internalized.

Just go with a spottie. Just do it. Just do it.
12-12-2012, 04:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jakeblues Quote
. . . . . . I would personally NOT recommend an ME Super or MX to a beginner. The LED metering for manual mode on these cameras ranges from terrible (ME Super) to not-as-good-as-a-matchstick (MX). My primary camera is an ME Super, and my fiancee's primary camera is an MX. Both are fantastic cameras, but if I hadn't learned on a matchstick (K1000, Spottie), I wouldn't have the intuitive understanding of LV/EV that I have now internalized. . . . .
Being a noob and a learner, I've got to disagree with you Jake - sorry

I've used an MX, ME Super, p3, P30T and K1000 in the last year - all are more or less fully functional. I've also fiddled about with a P50, SuperA (SuperProgram) and ProgramA (ProgramPlus)

I know it's subjective, but I quite like using the MX, ME Super, P30T, P3 and K1000. The metering system / display works a little differently on each - but every one is straightforward to understand and to use. While I'll never get the hang of decent composition, I can manage to manually expose reasonably well with each one - even auto-exposure on the MES and the P's is useful for learning as the shutterspeed indicated automatically changes as the aperture is changed.

On the other hand, I don't really like the P50, or either of the A's - too fussy for me.

What the K1000 allows me to do is accept that getting the match-needle there-or-thereabouts will do - it doesn't have to be spot on (or will I get criticised for suggesting that half or even a full stop either way doesn't really matter - just get the shot!). LED meters make you chase the lights to be spot on!

Back to the original post, the priority seems to be portability and limiting any automatic functions, which leads me to suggest that anything K-series or older is going to be too chunky and most stuff after an ME Super (other than P3/P30 perhaps) is going to be too automated.

I quite like a metal body and mechanical feel, so MX wins for me, but I'd worry about damaging an MX more than a P3 / P30T (meaning I'd feel a lot less guilty if a P body was broken) . . . plus the P's are cheaper and younger making them the more practical choice perhaps.

Blimey - that was long-winded! Sorry.
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