Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

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Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:02 pm

Hey guys, I'm looking for some help finding a good site/community to learn about SLR's and the whole 35mm film thing... Obviously I know nothing and my girlfriend only knows a little but wants to pick it up as a hobby, she took a photo class a couple years ago. It worked out since my Grandfather had a Sears TLS with 4 or 5 lens and a couple tripods. Any tips and tricks or recommendations for a good site would be much appreciated.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:13 pm

Film is a lot of work. Digital is the way to go.

A book like Understanding Exposure could get you started.

If you're interested in cameras with interchangeable lenses, Canon and Nikon still dominate the DSLR market. Sony is also worth considering, especially if you have access to old Minolta Maxxum lenses that will also work on the current Sony α DSLRs.

Your grandfather's 40+ years old M42 screw-mount manual lenses could be adapted to a Canon EOS DSLR using a cheap (<$25) adapter.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:26 pm

What the first responder said. My two professional photographer friends (commercial & portraiture/weddings) are exclusively digital and have been for a few years. I'm sure processing labs will be around for a while, but I have to believe prices will be going up and service levels will be going down.

I use DPReview for good evaluations of gear and recommendations.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:54 pm

While it may seem lame or old fashioned, grab an intro to photography book. "Photography" by London and Upton is a pretty popular book. It's got big pictures and teaches you the basics to photography in general as well as how to develop and work with film. If you really want to play with film, find a local darkroom so that you can develop your own pictures. B&W will be easier to develop early on.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:33 am

As long as you don't hope to replace digital with film, you should be fine. I love my EOS 1N, but honestly, I haven't touched it since probably December.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:47 am

sluggo wrote:I use DPReview for good evaluations of gear and recommendations.


While DPR is a very good outfit, they do tend to be very body-centric. A good lens ecosystem is essential for anyone who wants to go beyond the basics offered by the kit zoom, and DPR doesn't distinguish systems with poor lens selections very well. For example, the NEX is generally well regarded there (post-firmware patch) despite the fact that the system still only has 3 lenses (2 zooms and a prime), all of which overlap in focal length. While there's no denying the performance of sony's APS-C EXMOR sensors, someone who buys into NEX on the basis of the dpr review might find themselves with a more limited system than they had counted on.

To the OP: I would skip film and go with digital, especially if you're just starting out with photography and are learning the basics as you go. The near-instant feedback you get with digital makes the learning process go a whole lot faster than if you have to wait a week to get your prints back from the lab. All the different makes have their own strong points, if you're looking for value for money, the Pentax Km is definitely one of the better options to consider, although the Nikon D3100 is also good. Nikon has a larger lens selection than Pentax, but its older lenses need an AF screw to autofocus that the D3x00 do not support. Whereas Pentax still has the AF motor on-body - while it means its AF is not as fast as on-lens solutions and generates more noise when recording video, it also means their lenses are among the most compact designs for DSLRs.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:33 am

If you want to use any of the older Nikon AF lens designs with screw-drive focus (many of which are still being produced), you'll have to spend enough to get at least a D90 camera or else give up auto focusing. If you want to be able to meter and shoot in aperture priority with late-1970s AI-S manual-focus lenses, Nikon requires that you buy at least a D300s camera, which is rather expensive for someone just starting out in the photography hobby. The situation is simpler with Canon, where all of the 60+ million Canon EF lenses produced since 1986 are fully-functional (including auto focus, auto aperture and metering) with even the least expensive Canon EOS DSLR. Sony α cameras are fully-functional with Sony lenses and with the old Minolta Maxxum auto-focus lenses.


As for your old M42 screw-mount lenses, you'd probably lose the ability to focus to infinity if you had a screw adapter to mount them on a Nikon camera. Unless you add optics to the adapter (these tend to be expensive and they degrade image quality), These sorts of adaptations cannot easily go from a shallower flange focal distance to a deeper one. Thus T-mount lenses (at 55mm flange focal distance) can be adapted to work with nearly everything. Old Canon FD manual-focus lenses (at 42mm) can be cheaply adapted to Olympus 4/3 cameras (at 38.67mm flange focal distance), but not to Canon EOS (44mm) nor to Nikon-F (46.5mm) without optics.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:20 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:If you want to use any of the older Nikon AF lens designs with screw-drive focus (many of which are still being produced), you'll have to spend enough to get at least a D90 camera or else give up auto focusing. If you want to be able to meter and shoot in aperture priority with late-1970s AI-S manual-focus lenses, Nikon requires that you buy at least a D300s camera, which is rather expensive for someone just starting out in the photography hobby. The situation is simpler with Canon, where all of the 60+ million Canon EF lenses produced since 1986 are fully-functional (including auto focus, auto aperture and metering) with even the least expensive Canon EOS DSLR. Sony α cameras are fully-functional with Sony lenses and with the old Minolta Maxxum auto-focus lenses.


On the other hand, Canon is faffing about with ridiculous megapixel counts and falling behind in low light performance compared to Sony (and Nikon and Pentax cameras with Sony sensors), and many of their EF lenses (over a dozen) have been hanging around for 20+ years and direly in need of updating in the digital age. I voice these criticisms as a Canon owner who uses his m43 gear more than his Canon gear (!) these days.

The OP is a new entrant into photography and is unlikely to have any legacy lenses, or to care about mounting 40-year old lenses on his new DSLR, assuming he does follow the general advice in this thread and goes digital.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:23 am

The Sears TLS (1960s) that the OP mentioned used M42 screw-mount, which is why I addressed compatibility with those lenses.


The problem with Canon introducing newer state-of-the-art "L"uxury EF lenses to replace some of the older ones is that they've been jacking up the prices on the newest lenses to make them as expensive as Nikon gear. :( My EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens uses a design that was originally released in 1992. It's still a good lens for the price today, and it's fully-functional with even the least expensive EOS camera.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:22 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:The Sears TLS (1960s) that the OP mentioned used M42 screw-mount, which is why I addressed compatibility with those lenses.


Ah, missed that.

I think it is a bit backwards to choose a digital system based on a few cheap legacy lenses (yes, I'm using a M42 SMC Takumar as one of my lenses myself). If legacy compatibility is paramount, then a mirrorless system like m43 or NEX (or even Leica) is a better option than a DSLR, and true, Nikon has the longest FBD distance in its lens mount, making it the least compatible of the major brands for legacy lenses. But that's like choosing a girlfriend based on which girl lives closest to your drive home from work.

Pick a good system (as I have said, they all have their strong points, though some less than others) and stick with it. Right now, the Nikon D7000 and Pentax K-5 are the kings of low light, but they're a bit expensive for newbies. The entry level models to watch are the Nikon D3100, Canon Rebel T1i (aka 500D), T3 (aka 1100D, if you can wait, it arrives in March) and Pentax K-r, and of those, I think the Pentax is the best value and performer of the three, although it also depends what subject matter the OP wants to shoot. Pentax's lens range is probably not your first pick for fast moving subjects and action due to the screw drive mechanism.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:28 am

Voldenuit wrote:I think it is a bit backwards to choose a digital system based on a few cheap legacy lenses.
Excellent point. Start with a new (or used) digital camera with new (or used) lenses that are fully-functional with the camera that you choose.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:01 am

Wow, when everyone ignores the OP and gives him completely different advice, something is up. :) In this case, 35mm processing is a bit of a waste of time. Digital is easier, has excellent quality, and is used professionally now. Doing the 35mm thing doesn't make you more professional or more capable any more than listening to vinyl records makes you better-able to appreciate music.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:18 am

The sad part is that the best piece of glass I own, a Nikon AI-S 28-85 f3.5/4.5, will likely never again take a picture. It's hanging off a Nikon N2000 that's been sitting on the shelf for at least 10 years.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:18 am

You guys pretty much confirmed my suspicion that we would end up wanting a DSLR. We cant quite afford it at the moment but probably this Spring we will pick up a beginner camera that you recommended. For now I suppose we'll use the TLS while familiarizing ourselves with photography. That being said should we buy new or is it generally safe to by used? Any certain place that is popular to buy cameras? Are Voldenuit's recommendations for a DSLR the group consensus?
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:30 am

Keep in mind that film and processing costs on 35mm cameras add up fast. Go to your local camera shop and find out the price of a roll of film and the price of processing it (or the price of the supplies needed to process it yourself), then see how much it will cost you in the long run. Unless you're a hipster artsy type who just wants to shoot film, it's really a dead end (especially once you get a digital). Big name camera stores that sell used equipment should be reliable for used equipment, like B & H. If all you want to do is learn, you can get a brand new film camera for cheap, but even then, you're within striking distance of digital.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:25 pm

Fastfreak39 wrote:You guys pretty much confirmed my suspicion that we would end up wanting a DSLR. We cant quite afford it at the moment but probably this Spring we will pick up a beginner camera that you recommended....Are Voldenuit's recommendations for a DSLR the group consensus?

It sounds like your budget doesn't include a home darkroom, which would be just about the only reason to play with film these days. Even then, you have to be after the experience itself, not the results, because the next thing you'll see is your meticulously crafted 8x10 print hanging next to an identical print produced by some kid down the block who did it with a $100 P&S digital, fifteen minutes' worth of Photoshop, and a trip to Costco.

Depending how tight your budget gets, the Canon Rebel XS would be a good entry-level model for the dSLR market (that's what I started with). If you want to play with timed night exposures or remote shooting to a tripod at events, the Rebel XSi supports the RC-6 wireless remote accessory and would be a better choice. It also has a 12MP sensor to the XS' 10MP and will more reliably print to 11x14, especially if you have to do any cropping during post-processing. Then, of course, there's the T1i, T2i, and upcoming T3, if you want to get into more advanced in-camera processing features and video and such. The main issue is whether you can reasonably commit at least $1500 to the hobby over the next 2-3 years. The kit lens is very average in capabilities and image quality, and if you really intend to stick with SLR photography, there will be at least two or three other lens purchases coming down the pipe at about $250-500 each.

If that doesn't sound like you, then consider something like the Nikon CoolPix P100 or the Coolpix L110. These (and other similar models) are much more appropriate for photographers who want dSLR-style features and control, but either can not or will not carry a heavy camera bag to all the exciting locations where good photos can be had. Note the product pictures and pay attention to the dimensions: these are lighter and more compact than full-dSLR systems but they are not pocket cameras.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:32 pm

Captain Ned wrote:The sad part is that the best piece of glass I own, a Nikon AI-S 28-85 f3.5/4.5, will likely never again take a picture.
That old lens would perform just as well on a Nikon D300s or D700 DSLR as it ever did on the N2000 35mm film SLR.


Fastfreak39 wrote:Should we buy new or is it generally safe to buy used?
There's little danger in buying used or refurbished equipment from the big suppliers like B&H Photo Video, Adorama or KEH.

Depending on your budget, a used Canon EOS Rebel XSi (aka EOS 450D outside North America) wouldn't be a bad place to start. Add the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS wide-normal kit lens and a memory card and you're on your way. Add the EF 50mm f/1.8 II to play with shallow depth of field (e.g.: portraits and indoor non-flash photography), the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS telephoto zoom to bring small distant objects closer and a Speedlite 430EX II (or an old Speedlite 420EX) to round out a very versatile but still inexpensive kit.

You could use the Canon loyalty program to get a refurbished camera and lens for a very appealing price directly from Canon. The Rebel T1i + 18-55mm kit lens for $480+tax is a great deal, for example. Buying used gear from the sources above is fine. Your local Craigslist may also be okay. You can track the new prices of these and other gear at http://www.canonpricewatch.com/ . You can also shop the usual on-line deal sites like Slickdeals to find when good deals are available (like Amazon bundling the 55-250mm lens with a Rebel T2i kit for under $900).


Having said all of that, the Noinks would tell you not to buy anything but a Nikon. I like Nikon's mid-range (D90 or better) and top-end cameras, but I consider the Canon line to offer a better value at the entry level. It's like Ford vs. Chevy with some folks. The truth is that despite the vigorous debate over gear, it's the work of the photographer that makes the difference in results. It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools. Even the entry-level DSLRs available today are much better than the gear that Ansel Adams had to work with. If you have friends or family who are already invested in one of the major systems (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, micro-4/3, etc.), the ability to borrow lenses, flashes, etc. could be a deciding factor in choosing which system will work best for you.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:46 am

Going back to the topic of film.
I bought a film SLR some time ago out of curiosity. I'm still shooting digital mostly, but from time to time it's a lot of fun and educational to play around with a film camera.
Not being able to see the results on a LCD may need getting used to. You'll shoot less try-out-shots and you'll be forced to think and pay attention a little bit more to the scene that you're shooting than when using a digital camera. Of course, you can do the same thing with digital and not look at the LCD until you get home, but that requires some discipline; and try-out shots won't cost you money on a digital camera :-p.

I don't have any good links to 35mm film related sites for you, though. I did join a flickr group for film shooters recently, but the group isn't very active:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/a_n_a_c_h_r_o_m_e_s/
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:51 am

Voldenuit wrote:On the other hand, Canon is faffing about with ridiculous megapixel counts and falling behind in low light performance compared to Sony (and Nikon and Pentax cameras with Sony sensors), and many of their EF lenses (over a dozen) have been hanging around for 20+ years and direly in need of updating in the digital age. I voice these criticisms as a Canon owner who uses his m43 gear more than his Canon gear (!) these days.


Yes and no. It depends on the lens. I would have absolutely no hesitation in taking my EF 85mm f/1.8 (first introduced in July 1992, if Wikipedia is to be believed) and throwing it onto a 5D II or 7D. Conversely, the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 is a piece of junk in this digital age - wouldn't touch it on any even remotely modern DSLR. The difference is that one's a prime, the other's a zoom - it's a lot easier to make a high quality prime than a high quality zoom.

Somebody else mentioned Canon upgrading all their lenses, and replacing the old ones with Ls to make them more expensive. It's a valid point. But the trouble is, as the resolution of the DSLR gets higher, you need higher quality optics to produce the full resolution. That means better precision, which drives up the price of the lens. There's nothing wrong with getting the older lenses and sticking them on a new DSLR (my comments above about lenses being junk notwithstanding - you need to be careful not to get a dog of a lens, but a little research - say, at http://www.the-digital-picture.com/ - will help you with that); they'll still produce good pictures, it just means that you won't get the same resolution as you might have had ... but it won't be any worse than in the film days. Canon wants to get the most out of their sensors, which is why the quality of the lenses (and hence the price) is going up, but as long as you're aware of the pitfalls, you don't have to get the latest and greatest.

The OP is a new entrant into photography and is unlikely to have any legacy lenses, or to care about mounting 40-year old lenses on his new DSLR, assuming he does follow the general advice in this thread and goes digital.


Yes and no. You can get some really good lenses dirt cheap, because they aren't modern, autofocus, and so forth. There is a learning curve with them that won't be there with more modern lenses, but there's nothing wrong with them per se, and could be a good way to get going on the cheap.

If it were me, I'd be choosing between Canon, Nikon, or Pentax. Olympus on the outside; there's some good ideas with 4/3, but I'm not convinced that they'll follow through as they need to. Nikon have a definite edge in a number of areas, but - frankly - any camera from those three will be a far better camera than any film camera you're likely to be able to afford.

All IMO, naturally. Disclaimer: I shoot Canon, but I am not affiliated with them. They make some good gear, but they do need to pull their fingers out and catch up with Nikon in a few areas. However, remember that Nikon was in that position not that long ago - I view serious competition as a good thing.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:27 am

Don't shot film it's dead, times have moved on.

The real choice is either Nikon or Canon... both are excellent and both give great results. Photography is less about the tool and more about picture. So don't get caught up in specs when starting out. Find out how much money you have to spend, look at what DSLR are available in that price range, find a proper photoshop that lets you try them out in shop. Go with the one that's easily for you to use. Also buying second hand when starting out can save a lot of money if you're just getting a feel for the hobby.

Second what are you going to be taking pictures of? Do you want to do Macro work like close-ups of plants or take pictures of people or is it landscapes? Do you want a good zoom? Depending on this you can choose a lens suited for that type of picture. No one lens can do everything, but there are some good general purpose ones.

The cost of the camera is relativity small once you actually get into the hobby, as it's all about the different lenses. You don't need lots of lens but once you understand how photography works you'll see the benefit to choosing the right lens for each shot. Once you get a second lens you're locked into that make of camera.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:50 pm

/revive.

Just wanted to give you guys an update since you took the time to give me your input. A couple months ago my girlfriend and I purchased a Sony Alpha A390 on sale. We've been happy with it so far. It's very easy to use and the tilt-able screen is really appreciated since my lovely girlfriend is only 5' tall. The live view works great and is almost all we use since the viewfinder can be considered garbage. It's mainly her camera and she loves it so it's a keeper in my book. The only real problem is we only have one and its annoying to have to pass it back and forth when we go on "photographic adventures." Anyways, my point is that I would like to get my own DSLR now. I've realized that I don't need/want as much "camera" as we may have gotten with the Sony although it is considered entry level. Pretty much I would like a camera with a better viewfinder and 2 control wheels if possible. Obviously it'll have to be a used camera since I want to be cheap. What are your guy's thoughts and concerns?
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:57 pm

Well, you can get another Sony and that way you guys can trade off lenses. That'll be cheaper in the long haul; but since I have no idea how Sony's DSLRs or lenses are, I can't comment on the quality you'd get.

I'm a Nikon shooter so I'm obviously gonna pimp Nikon equipment. You can pick up a D5000 with lens for $500. It's a generation behind (current version is D5100, more pixels, slightly improved low-light sensitivity, couple hundred dollars more), but the D5000's imager is no slouch, speed is excellent. It's only compatible with Nikon's AF-S lenses (lenses that have the focus motor built into the lens body itself, as opposed to using a motor in the camera body... anything below D90/D7000 lacks the body focus motor), but by now Nikon's lens lineup has enough AF-S involved that you'll really only miss their 85mm f/1.8. The kit lens is also pretty good for such a cheapie.

Spend half a grand on the D5000/kit lens, and then maybe $200 on the 35mm f/1.8 for a good normal-equivalent prime that is also really center-sharp wide open. That will definitely give you an excellent entry into a camera system that will be very capable, sharp, clear, beautifully colored, and sporting pretty durn good sensitivity in low-light.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:15 pm

SPOOFE wrote:Well, you can get another Sony and that way you guys can trade off lenses. That'll be cheaper in the long haul; but since I have no idea how Sony's DSLRs or lenses are, I can't comment on the quality you'd get.

Sony bought the Minolta IP, so Minolta lenses (and there are buckets of them out there; some are excellent glass) work on Sony DSLRs.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:38 pm

I am also unfamiliar with the quality of Minolta tools, so I can't say much about them, either. :D
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:35 am

Fastfreak39 wrote:Anyways, my point is that I would like to get my own DSLR now. I've realized that I don't need/want as much "camera" as we may have gotten with the Sony although it is considered entry level. Pretty much I would like a camera with a better viewfinder and 2 control wheels if possible. Obviously it'll have to be a used camera since I want to be cheap. What are your guy's thoughts and concerns?

If you want dual control wheels and a top-notch viewfinder, you unfortunately will have to shop in the upper half of the range. Many cheaper SLRs use a mirror-simulated prism and crop the field-of-view by 5% or more. Semi-pro and pro models generally use an actual pentaprism, albeit sometimes with the cropped FOV.

I would second the recommendation to stick with something in the Sony Alpha line, so that you can swap lenses. If that isn't going to happen, then Canon's semi-pro x0D range has much going for it. You can pick up used 40D bodies for around $500, although live-view autofocus isn't available: for that, you would need a 60D or a 7D.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:21 am

How do you guys feel about used prosumer models like the 30D? Or the nikon and pentax equivalent? I'm not a fan of the higher level Sonys. None have the dual control dials besides the discontinued A700?
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:25 pm

If you're going for the Nikon line, you're either looking at the D90 (~$700 body only, refurb'd) for quality, or if you just want your foot in the door look for a D70s (the D80 isn't better enough to be worth it, and the D90 is a major step up from the D80 so that it's way more than worth it). The D5000 has the same image quality as the D90, but lacks the dual control wheels and a handful of other features.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:47 pm

Fastfreak39 wrote:How do you guys feel about used prosumer models like the 30D? Or the nikon and pentax equivalent? I'm not a fan of the higher level Sonys. None have the dual control dials besides the discontinued A700?

For Canon, I would skip over the 20D and the 30D because they hold their monetary value pretty well while being significantly behind the 40D in capabilities. Notably, the 30D does not offer Live View at all, while the 40D can do Live View with manual focusing. The 40D also has a 10MP sensor (versus 8.2MP in the 30D) and will print perfectly at 8x10 and still do quite well at 11x14.

However, do note that you can get a used Sony A700 body for only a bit more than the cost of a used Canon 40D. If your wife is going to stick with the Sony/Minolta lens platform, and if the A700 otherwise meets your needs, there's a LOT to be said for sharing glass because you can invest in higher-quality stuff, rather than splitting funds to build two incompatible sets in parallel.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:50 pm

Yeah, I'd stay in the Sony family. They're still up-and-coming in terms of filling out their own lens selection, but between older Minolta options and third-party designs, I can't help but think you'd be covered. And sharing a system will make it a little easier to justify some pricier lens purchases, which is where you'll find some real awesome tools.
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Re: Getting Into The 35mm Film Thing

Postposted on Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:10 pm

SPOOFE wrote:Well, you can get another Sony and that way you guys can trade off lenses. That'll be cheaper in the long haul; but since I have no idea how Sony's DSLRs or lenses are, I can't comment on the quality you'd get.


Sony's DSLRs are pretty good, and their sensor technology (when they do bother to update their bodies) ranges from poor (CMOS sensor models) to outstanding (A55, A580). Their lenses are a bit of a mixed bag, although that's true of *every* manufacturer. Some middling to poor zooms, some excellent pro-level stuff (which the OP is unlikely to buy) and a weird selection of primes which range from niche (135/2.8 STF defocus control, the only AF mirror lens on the market with the 500/8, etc0 to poor to outstanding). Sadly, many of their more affordable primes are plastic body +/- mount these days, although some of these still have very good image quality.

At the risk of repeating myself, every camera manufacturer has pros and cons and good as well as black sheep in its lens lineups.

Canon
Pros: full compatibility with every EF lens ever made (since 1980). Some great lenses (85/1.2L, 85/1.8, 70-200/2.8L, 70-200/4L) and widespread availability.
Cons: Some older EF lenses have not been updated for 20+ years and are showing their age on digital bodies.

Nikon: Some great lenses
Cons: Older lenses (AF-D) which require body-driven AF are not compatible with consumer bodies. Tend to be slightly more expensive than Canon/Sony.

Pentax
Pros: Some great lenses (FA Limited, DA Limited, DA*), very good value for body+lens kits
Cons: Limited lens selection, limited availability.

Olympus/Panasonic Four Thirds
Pros: Some great lenses (150/2, 300/2, 14-35/2, 50/2 Macro, 7-14/4, Leica 25/1.4, Leica 14-150/2.8-3.5)
Cons: Dead system. No fast portrait prime.

Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
Pros: very compact system, some great lenses (20/1.7, 7-14/4, 9-18/4-5.6, CV 25/0.95), compatible with nearly all existing lens formats including rangefinder lenses (using adapters).
Cons: Limited selection of native lenses, no fast portrait prime, poor ISO performance compared to the best APS-C DSLRs, limited availability

Sony:
Pros: Some great lenses, compatibility with old minolta lenses (can be had for very cheap)
Cons: Limited availability, pricing on Zeiss-branded lenses.

All the major manufacturers have niche lenses which are not found in their competitors' lineups, but they are usually not a deciding factor in buying into a system for regular consumers as they are priced out of their reach and tend to be very specialized in use.
Last edited by Voldenuit on Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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