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01-10-2007, 04:23 PM   #1
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Starting from the beginning...

So I am thinking of getting a 35mm film camera. I have the DSLR but I dont feel that I am learning from it because post processing and photoshop and the little preview window makes it too easy to fix or erase my mistakes. I do plan on taking some classes in the spring/summer but I was thinking that a 35mm might help me understand better how cameras work and how to work them. I read the other post about the MZ-5, 5n and the likes. Are they too advanced for me, would I be better off with something less complicated. The key being I can use my lenses with them. Althought I wouldnt mind buying an FA-50 1.4

01-10-2007, 06:28 PM   #2
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If you want basic try a K1000 or the current manual model MZ-M (?)
No bells or whistles, set everything manually.
If you do try film your Sigma Lens will work, the Pentax DA has to small of an image circle to fill the 35mm frame.
01-10-2007, 06:53 PM   #3
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That was my first thought actually. Thanks, cheap way to get into it.
01-11-2007, 02:43 AM   #4
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Hi Buddha,
OK my friend, first off you need a completely manual camera (K1000-MZ M would be a very good start ) (An LX would be fantastic) In a class that will teach you all the basics soup to nuts these are excellent cameras. You will find first off film doesn't give you any latitude for error. It's either spot on or you wasted the shot. (This my friend is expensive) My take on your lenses at this point is you will have to get some good manual lenses. Manual Primes and limiteds are the very best.

Now if going to this added expense is what you truly want to do and you have the money for it then go for it. but if you don't have the money for processing film or making your own dark room and buying the chemicals and spending time watching the clock. Or don't have the money for manual lenses then don't do this.

From a guy who went threw all of this years ago (and it was very expensive then) to switching to digital for just those reasons You might be better off just getting some manual lenses to use on your camera and take the classes you want shooting with a digital camera and keeping all your shots. You still learn the basics but without the expense.

However if you got loads of cash you don't need than I would say HAVE AT IT.

Good Shooting.
Cheers: David

01-11-2007, 07:01 AM   #5
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I agree - there's no reason you can't learn with a dslr - just get away from the program modes, work on seeing how aperture affects dof, how to do exposure compensation etc. In the end, you're learning both the general principles AND how to use the tool you have. I see benefit in learning how the programs work, and matrix metering etc. In the end it's about gaining knowledge and control over how your camera works.

The photo classes will help with this, as well as pointing out techniques and things that may not occur to you, about composition, planes of focus, etc.

I've actually learned a lot about black and white filtering by using Virtual Photographer in PS. This is far cheaper than buying filters, taking photos and notes, developing etc.

Another way to educate yourself is to look at photography books - see what other, acclaimed, photographers have done, for composition, abstraction, isolation, etc etc.
01-12-2007, 12:11 PM   #6
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While learning the old way does force one to learn, I am convinced you can still learn on a DSLR. The fact that there is a chip inside recording to a card instead of film won't prevent you from learing and nor is that erase button a bad thing, though I recommend you do your erasing on the computer instead. If you get into the manual mode or even just into the aperature priority mode you can learn. Taking a class, sharing your work with others, reading, asking questions all help, but you will not get good if you don't shoot. With film everytime you hit that shutter release think of the sound of an old cash register going ka-ching. With the gear you already have each shutter release does not have to be considered a ka-ching, expense. If you are learning from scratch there will be plenty times where you will want to hit that erase button. With film you don't have that option you pay for each shot. If you're on any sort of budget it could even make you a bit gun shy in taking your learing pictures. I would not want to hit the erase button too many times on the camera, instead keep the images and look at them all on your monitor, where you can see far more detail and better analeyes even your worst shots to see where you did ok and where you did not. With digital your shooting info is stored with each image. This is good because you can take a series of shots and then go look at your results and see exactly how you shot what worked and you can see what difference were there for the shots that flat out didn't or almost did work. To do that with film means keeping an accurate field log as you shoot. Budget and logging proved to be my biggest stumbling blocks when I first was staring out in the SLR world. The other for me is shyness, of both being seen taking a picture and showing that finished picture for critique.

Save the money from a film investment and use it for another lens or a good tripod, gear bag, accessories, or all of the above.

If of course you cannot trust yourself to not shoot in an automatic mode then go with a K1000.
01-12-2007, 08:47 PM   #7
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I have decided to get a manual phocus lens for my camera and play around with that for a bit.
01-13-2007, 05:18 AM   #8
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Nothing is stopping you from using the kit lens in manual focus. You really need to look at your photos and determine what you don't like about them. If it is composition, a manual camera won't help you there but shooting more will. If it is depth of field, then you might need better glass to provide a wider aperture. Then you need to consider lighting. Would the picture look better if taken at a different time of day?

The best you can do is critique your own work to see what you want to improve. Then you need to experiment to see how to achieve your desired results, shooting the same subject from different angles or different f-stops. Digital is the most cost effective way to experiment.

QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
I have decided to get a manual phocus lens for my camera and play around with that for a bit.

02-09-2007, 06:26 PM   #9
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I started out my photography hobby with a digital SLR and personally didn't like it. I arrived at a similar dilemma. For me, the camera body has to be completely transparent. Its just me, the lens and the subject. Every digital SLRs, I tried got in the way with all their complexities. I found that the more I learnt, the more complex things got. Sure, as time went by I got faster and more experience with the camera but it was still found it a bottleneck between me and getting the shot that I wanted. My dSLR was stolen on a trip and to tell you the truth, that was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I then turned to all-mechanical cameras and feel that I grew much more as a amateur photographer as a result.

I recommend a Pentax MX like the one I have. They are very compact. It is smaller than my Leica MP rangefinder overall but slightly thicker due to the mirrorbox. The MX is an all-manual, all-mechanical camera - it only requires batteries for the meter. If the batteries die, the camera will keep on working - you just have to use your brain for metering. This is not as hard as you might think. I only use mechanical cameras. I've been using my Bessa-T without batteries for the last month and I don't have any worries using color negative film. I guess the exposure and if expect the shot to be good one then I also bracket - half-stop higher and half-stop lower. If I was shooting colour slide film, that would be a different story. I think that I would want a meter then. The compact size of the MX and all-mechanical nature would make it an ideal back-up camera for your digital.

I love using my Pentax-MX. It's completely transparent except for the loud shutter. Set aperture, set shutter-speed, focus - that's it. The VF is nice and bright and covers 97% of the frame. The unfortunate thing is that prices are going up. Mine cost me $100 and its in mint condition save for rub marks on the chrome from the neck strap and it had a recent CLA. I'm now seeing MX's in worse condition than mine going for $150+ at times.

I wish that Pentax made a basic, all manual SLR similar to the MX but with digital sensor. No buttons, no LCD screen - just an ISO/shutter speed dial, aperture and focus rings on the lenses - that's it. I'd be in heaven with a camera like that.

Last edited by Nando; 02-09-2007 at 06:38 PM.
02-09-2007, 07:50 PM   #10
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basic camera

Personally If you have some extra cash laying around I don't see any reason not to pick up an old film camera - Your best bet might be to get a ZX-5n (you should easily be able to pick one up for less than $100). These are really cool little cameras! The control layout is pretty much exactly the same as the old 70's cameras but it gives you the option of using autofocus along with aperture and shutter speed priority assuming that you are using the right lenses. I really can't think of a better camera for learning on. A big bonus is that they aren't that old so you probably won't have any repair/CLA issues that the "classic" models will have.

As far as film being unforgiving and expensive - that is debatable. A basic high-speed black and white emulsion (ex. Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5+ 400, or my personal favorite Fuji neopan 400) will give you WAY more latitude than digital ever will - you can REALLY be off on the exposure and still get usable pictures. If you develop the film yourself (which I totally recommend - it is really simple and a minimal amount of supplies are needed) you can get through the learning process with minimal expense. If you really want to get involved and make your own prints - scan ebay and set up a portable mini-darkroom in your bathroom - darkroom equipment is going for almost NOTHING lately.

If you are interested in learning the "old ways" - specifically B&W photography, I will recommend the only book you will ever need (IMHO probably the BEST photography book ever written - out of print and unfortunately forgotten in the digital age). "The Craft of Photography" by David Vestal. It covers everything from camera controls and exposure to developing and printing film (no color work is covered). Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

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