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What's a good 35mm SLR for a novice who wants to learn?

Frumious B.

Well-Known Member
I'm hoping to get a place on a City and Guilds photography course. It's strictly 35mm SLR. The darkroom malarkey is part of the course. I know nothing at all about photography. Being skint I'll be looking for cheap second hand stuff. So what do I need? Lots of manual controls? Something robust and serviceable? For which there's a big selection of affordable lenses and accessories? All advice gratefully received! :)
 

editor

hiraethified
There's loads to choose from - so long as it's got manual controls. I'd look at the likes of the Pentax K1000, Nikon FM/FM2n, Canon AE1 or my fave, Olympus OM1/OM2.
 

editor

hiraethified
To be honest any of the above - and many others like it - will do just fine, so if you can find someone flogging one off cheap (with a couple of prime lenses), I'd go for it.
 

dessiato

Proudly European.
I used a Ricoh for years, with a range of lenses. I'd recommend it. But the best 35mm I ever had was a Nikon. I bought it second hand about fifteen years or more ago. It still works.
 

FridgeMagnet

Administrator
I would pick something in Pentax mount - it seems a lot easier/cheaper to get hold of quality lenses on eBay, and the bodies are often very cheap as they come from non-trendy brands like Ricoh. (Who now own Pentax so must have been doing something right.)

You can't really go too far wrong tbh whatever you get, though. There are a lot of Canon AE-1s out there in the UK for some reason and that's a good camera. If you see a Praktica B-mount camera - BX20, B100 etc - that's a good bet too. Again, not trendy, but takes pictures and has loads of top East German glass for it. My BX20 with a pancake 50 is one of my favourite cameras.

For your course you will want something which has manual shutter speed and aperture controls, but that's pretty much all of them. You'll also want something with a meter, even if you don't use it, but almost everything not antique has a meter. Make sure you check which batteries it takes though as some of them aren't made any more.
 

what

Well-Known Member
Try camera world off oxford street often have good film SLR plus lens in the £75-£175 range
 

FridgeMagnet

Administrator

Frumious B.

Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone. I'm starting to get excited. If I end up graduating to a digital SLR body will I able to use my 35mm lenses? I bet that's a really stupid question, innit?
 

FridgeMagnet

Administrator
Thanks everyone. I'm starting to get excited. If I end up graduating to a digital SLR body will I able to use my 35mm lenses? I bet that's a really stupid question, innit?
...yes and no. You can usually get adaptors but they don't tend to be very good investments, you don't get autofocus or anything sophisticated and they don't help image quality. I'd not worry about that aspect tbh. You shouldn't need to spend much to get quality manual lenses anyway.

eta: the standard for Minolta AF lenses from the 80s onwards was picked up by Sony for their new DSLRs, so those work out of the box on them, but for your course you will probably be asked to do a lot of manual stuff and the Minolta film cameras won't be the best bet. I like them, Minoltas are my current fave system, but you probably want something more traditional for learning. Anyway, Sony DSLRs are pretty pricey.
 

Frumious B.

Well-Known Member
In the Brixton Stn Rd market yesterday one of the vintage tat stalls had a Pentax ME with a huge lens, about 8" long. Can't remember what it was, I'd never heard of the mfr, but it was £30 all in. At those prices there must be a few freebies on freecycle etc.
 

discokermit

Well-Known Member
Do you mean Minoltas?
no. nikon fm2.

from wiki,

Like its predecessor, the FM, the FM2n has a long-standing reputation for reliability and durability.[1] It has an extremely strong body of copper-aluminum-silicon (silumin) alloy.[2] The FM2's film transport consists of high-strength hardened metal gears and moving parts, mounted on clusters of ball bearings. The camera's precision-tapered, high-strength vertical metal shutter blades were fabricated originally of lightweight titanium (later production FM2 shutter blades were made of aluminum), while the mirror/shutter mechanism rides on self-lubricating bearings. The mirror linkage uses the same mechanism found on Nikon's professional F2, with some modern improvements designed to further reduce effects of vibration and mirror bounce. The FM2 also features Nikon's famous close tolerance assembly and minimal space lubrication, meaning that it will reliably operate in temperature extremes of −40 °C to +50 °C.
 

discokermit

Well-Known Member
FM2n is the gold standard for manual SLRs, but a bit out of the price range for a student, that's the only thing. If I saw one around for cheap I'd snap it up.
are they still expensive?
mine was stolen years ago. i replaced it with an f3p but it didn't have the same charm.
 

Frumious B.

Well-Known Member
I like the sound of Nikon, just because it smacks of '70s war correspondents and all that. And I have a notion that way back when it was always Nikkor that had the widest range of unusual lenses.
 

FridgeMagnet

Administrator
are they still expensive?
mine was stolen years ago. i replaced it with an f3p but it didn't have the same charm.
They're not super silly expensive, but from what I can see you'd be paying a couple of hundred quid for body plus lens on ebay. Might get lucky but it's still not going to go too much lower.

Better deal than the F3 mind you, but those have gone up in price basically because of hipster value. I went on a street photography workshop with a guy who's used an F3 for the last few decades, and he was baffled by how much they went for these days. "Hey I'll sell this one here to anyone who wants it, I don't care, I'll sell it to you right now, it doesn't make any difference, use an iPhone if you want".
 

discokermit

Well-Known Member
They're not super silly expensive, but from what I can see you'd be paying a couple of hundred quid for body plus lens on ebay. Might get lucky but it's still not going to go too much lower.

Better deal than the F3 mind you, but those have gone up in price basically because of hipster value. I went on a street photography workshop with a guy who's used an F3 for the last few decades, and he was baffled by how much they went for these days. "Hey I'll sell this one here to anyone who wants it, I don't care, I'll sell it to you right now, it doesn't make any difference, use an iPhone if you want".
i gave mine away. it was a special edition 'p', which you could only buy with press accreditation.
 

weltweit

Well-Known Member
Say you have an FM2 and you use the aperture ring to set the lens to f2.8 or f8 whatever, does the exposure meter take this into account when you are setting the shutterspeed?

All my lenses have aperture rings, but I don't have to use them on my Digital Fuji.
 

FridgeMagnet

Administrator
I like the sound of Nikon, just because it smacks of '70s war correspondents and all that. And I have a notion that way back when it was always Nikkor that had the widest range of unusual lenses.
The Nikon manuals are really great cameras. (Arguably they've lost the plot a bit now with digital, though I don't want to get into _that_....) It's just that really it won't make any difference to you if you're shooting a Ricoh with Pentax glass or a Nikon or a Canon or an Olympus OM or whatever. Any decent lens will be much sharper than you will ever appreciate, and the film is the same whatever camera you have. Very few bodies are bad enough that you would say "wait don't get that one".
 
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