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10-07-2008, 01:37 PM   #1
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I want a film body, but will I use it?

Two part question:

I want a film body, something to play with and learn how it was done in the proverbial "good ole days." I am only 23 so I didn't have much of a chance to get into film photography. My question is, have any of yall bought a film body and ended up just letting it collect dust?

Next, if I were to buy a body, what should I go for? The LX would be nice, but its expensive and again, its just something to play and learn with. I have two lenses compatible with 3 lenses compatible with film (FA50, Vivitar 90/2.5, FA77). So I'm thinking maybe a k-mount body?

I really have no clue. Help me out

10-07-2008, 02:19 PM   #2
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Well, if you want something to play with and learn how it was done in the "good ole days" any body that is capable of fully manual operation is an option.

Bojidar lists all bodies and their features.

Now if you want something that also feels nice and old get a pre P-series body. That's my opinion at least, you will probably get others too. Never held an A-series so I can't speak for those.

I would say don't get an LX, as you say it is expensive and it sounds like you will do just as fine with many other bodies, and if you buy an LX now you will have nothing to look forward to.
10-07-2008, 02:48 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by paolojackson Quote
I want a film body, something to play with and learn how it was done in the proverbial "good ole days." I am only 23 so I didn't have much of a chance to get into film photography. My question is, have any of yall bought a film body and ended up just letting it collect dust?
No!!! What does the action of someone else have to do with what you might do?

QuoteOriginally posted by paolojackson Quote
Next, if I were to buy a body, what should I go for? The LX would be nice, but its expensive and again, its just something to play and learn with. I have two lenses compatible with 3 lenses compatible with film (FA50, Vivitar 90/2.5, FA77). So I'm thinking maybe a k-mount body?
You didn't mention your budget, but here goes. First choice would be a tie between a Spotmatic and a K1000. That is only true if you really want to "learn how it was done in the proverbial "good ole days." My impression is that there is more glass available for the Spotmatic at better prices. If you gotta have a "K" mount there a lot of really nice K1000s available. Just not so much really nice glass. Either way, be patient, make the seller send you pictures. My own standard is to buy from original owner, camera must have original case and lens cap.

Second choice would be an MX. I've been looking at the MX, but there just aren't many available. Of course. if you have the budget, the LX by all means. But a nice one is going to cost you some heavy geld. You'd never need another film camera unless you got really hooked and decided to go medium format.

Last but not least, order at least one roll of Kodachrome before it disappears. Then you can hang around whatever replaces this forum 43 years from now (when you are my age) and start your post "I was shooting a roll of Kodachrome..." The 23 year old guys won't have a clue what you are talking about.
10-07-2008, 03:14 PM   #4
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My 16 year old daughter stole my Spotmatic and has learned how to use it well. She shoots film fairly often. I use the cameras I have left and use them nearly every week. I find lugging around a dSLR is just too damn bulky and heavy

When you read around and solicit opinion, the well known phenomenon of 'need creep' rears its head and we all end up wanting more than we really need. And therefore we end up with overly complex and expensive stuff where we'd actually have been happier with something simpler and cheaper. So yeah, LX is supposed to be the ultimate, but most of us are happy with far less.

The first question: do you want any exposure automation, or do you want to go fully manual?

For exposure automation, you can't go wrong with ME/ME Super, Super Program / Program Plus, etc. There's no shame in going for the one-down from any era's top model, you still get an excellent camera. With auto exposure cameras, often one of the things you give up is some convenience or ability to manually set exposure. Around this forum, there's a big fan base of ME Super enthusiasts, so much so that it's made me want one. And I already have 4 Pentax film bodies and a couple of handfuls of other film cameras...

Did you want auto focus? There are plenty of good AF bodies, however IMO Pentax never was at the forefront of AF ability... But they WILL make good photos.

So manual exposure? I'd support what Bill says above, though I've never been into the K1000. Too often they are over priced; you can get a better body for less when it doesn't say K1000 on it. KX, MX, both really excellent cameras.

But by far the coolest way to go is to get a Spotmatic (there I love the SP1000, go figure). Like Bill says, the world of $10 lenses opens up to you... and with one tiny adaptor, all your Pentax bodies will mount those wonderful Super Takumars. Yeah, you won't be able to mount the FA77, but then you might be cured of lusting after the latest $800 lens.

Really, Pentax didn't make too many bad cameras, it's mostly a matter of what you chance into, in good shape and for a good price, with the features you most appreciate.

10-07-2008, 03:27 PM   #5
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Yes, Buy a Film Body

I recently got back into film after digital. I shot with a Canon Ftb in high school and then moved on to smaller cameras, digital point and shoots and eventually the K100D. Started buying camera packages for the lenses off of e-bay and then started using some of the film bodies.
In the last 2 years, I have shot with 3 Spotmatics, 2 ME Supers, P3, 2 PZ-1p, 2 ZX-5n and a ZX-7. I also lucked on a bargain of a LX that I couldn't bring myself to use (it was new in the box).
All are sold except one of the ME Supers and the PZ-1p. I really like the ME because it is incredibly small, built very well and has an Av mode or manual. The PZ-1p is so much like the new digital bodies, in terms of controls, that it is the film body that I shoot with almost exclusively. It is autofocus, motordrive, fully functioning goodness, or completely manual if you want to got that route.
What keeps me shooting film is mostly black and white. I don't believe that you can get the same results processing color digital photos as a good old Tri-X. Even scanned negs have a different feel to them that I can't get in post processing, and believe me, I have tried every technique available.
I say get a film body and give it a try. The ME Super that I shoot with was on e-bay for about $40 with a lens and I re-sold the lens for $50 so if you are patient, bargains can be had.
My latest purchase is a roll of Fuji Velvia so I will see how I like color film as well.
10-07-2008, 05:01 PM   #6
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get a Pentax 645, I saw one at the local shoppe for $345 with lens mmmm
I have my eye on it
10-07-2008, 05:13 PM   #7
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Since I moved to digital, I shoot more film than ever(!)

I traded in my Nikon F80 kit to buy a Pentax DSLR. I like it, and shooting a digital SLR is very convenient and a powerful photographic tool.

But there is something in the texture of film that I can't replace with digital. So I still shoot lots of 35mm and medium format film.

In fact, as the price of quality film gear has fallen through the floor, I have more (and better) cameras than ever before, and I put a lot of film through them.

Since I got my *ist DL, I shoot probably 2x as many film shots as digital shots(!)

Even though I am fully digitally literate (I like computers, I use Lightroom and Photoshop and am comfortable with the digital process).... I am installing a darkroom in my new house! I will be developing and printing B&W film again, which I haven't done since highschool.

I say, get a film camera, find a reliable, cheap place to get the film processed and scanned, and have fun! You don't have to spend much money to get a great film camera and it only has to cost $5 or $10 per roll to shoot.
10-07-2008, 05:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
...but then you might be cured of lusting after the latest $800 lens.
Then why do I want the Zeiss Distagon T*35/2.0? In M42 mount!!! Cause there ain't NO cure. Deep in my heart I'm an egotistical showoff. My Super Takumar 35/2.0 is probably at least 90% as good as the Zeiss. With my lack of talent no one could tell the difference.

10-07-2008, 05:53 PM   #9
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If you have the interest, go get a film camera! Will you use it? I have no idea.

Personally, I have a small collection of film cameras. Its a "sub-hobby", that goes allong with my photography as a hobby. Its like collecting old cars, but cheaper.

Of the pentax bodies I own:

S3 - great old camera. Built like a Swiss clock. No internal light meter, M42 lens mount. Its the oldest I have. I never use it.

SP1000 - First SLR camera i ever used. Great sentimental value. Comes out for special occasions.

K1000 - Ok. I have three. One is my old warhorse, I thought it was broken. So I bought a replacement. Viewfinder is gimped on camera two. Bought camera three ($26.00 awsome shape!). Then I fixed camera one. Thinking of giving one to my sister. You need to own one to understand the cult status. Kind of the VW bug of cameras.

ME - An underated gem of a camera. A real delight to use. I gave it to my nephew. He loves it.
ME Super - Missed the ME, so I bought an ME Super. It is my most used film camera. I think it is one of the best bargans out there right now for old Pentax film cameras. Plenty of them on ebay and craigslist. They often are sold with a bunch of lenses. Often are sold buy the first owner.

LX - I just had to get one. Solid. differnent shutter sound because of the titanium curtains. Erginomically it is the best I have. Mine needs a CLA. I really need to get that done. They often will have "sticky mirror syndrom". Once CLA'd I expect it to replace me ME Super.

Camera in the mail, Pentax KX. Fingers crossed that its a good one.

Next camera on list: Pentax MX

Other camera to consider, PZ-1 as it will work well with the auto focus lenses you have.

The spotmatic is a great sugestion, as it is the least like a modern camera, but it still has a built in light meter. Personally, part of film that I like is that the camera is not like a modern DSLR. An it uses all those old M42 lenses.

Eric.
10-07-2008, 06:55 PM   #10
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Try to find a K1000 with the good ole' SMC-M 50mm f2 on it. Should be able to get one cheap, and then just go out and use it !!! A few weeks ago I went fishing, and I get IN the water with em'. So I will NOT take my K10D with me for that. So I always take my old Ricoh KR-5 with me when I hit the water. It is a fully manual camera like the K1000, and I can get some nice shots with it, IF I set it up right. It has the needle and arm that you line up to get exposure correct, and it is spot on if you watch the needle. What is really funny, is almost EVERY shot I took, I had to advance the film, ( in the old days I automatically advanced the film after each shot ) Because I am so used to using my Digital. And you will also find yourself looking at the back for an LCD after each shot too !!
10-07-2008, 06:58 PM   #11
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Original Poster
Thanks so much for the replies so far. I like the forum as a whole, but it's definitely a different (good) vibe in the Film SLR section.

With regards to my budget, I am looking to spend $200, give or take.

Full manual vs exposure compensation, I have no preference.

My reasoning for going with K-mount was because I can use lenses I have right now. I am aware of super taks and their price to performance ratio, so that is definitely something I would consider. But is there an adapter from K-mount to M42?

Seems like the ME Super, MX, and K1000 are mentioned a lot. And a lot of people swear by the Spotmatic. I'll definitely keep an eye out for those.

What else is there important to know about film bodies? This is coming from someone who has never seriously shot film. The only film camera I had was a LOMO LC-A and that was maybe 8 years ago. It was a fun little camera though maybe not for a pro, and it has somehow disappeared...
10-07-2008, 07:04 PM   #12
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Really, the body is not as important as the lenses, and the film you use. I am not too familiar with the different types of film, as I have always mainly used the consumer grade kodak and fuji stuff. But I am sure there will be some good advice for film on this great forum !!
10-07-2008, 07:18 PM   #13
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As Stratman says, the body has less to do with the final product in film cameras than for digital cameras. As is often said, the body is merely a light tight box to hold your film while the lens and shutter do the critical work. If you want to get down to basics, keep the camera simple. It will be less expensive and you will solidify your knowledge or even teach you something about metering, aperture and shutter speed.
10-07-2008, 08:26 PM   #14
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i started off with a film camera two years ago when i was 16. i used the film camera all the time until i got my k10d. Film is really fun.
10-07-2008, 08:38 PM   #15
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I still have my original K1000 I bought back in 77. I've acquired a few more cameras in the last 3 years with only the K10D being digital. I still find that with my film bodies I know in my mind's eye what the shot will look like. And usually it does. After over a year with the digital I'm still not "feeling" it. I mean I get a good percentage of great shots but it's not always what I originally saw like with my film cameras.
By all means, get that film camera. Personally I think you'll have a grand time with it.
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