Photo.Net. Wow, this is an incredible site with really great information. For instance, Camera Equipment Forum - Advice for beginners threads and Building an SLR system. I can't stand the fact that picture quality on point and shoot cameras is so poor. Here are two good guides to getting into photography with 35mm SLR cameras. Also see Consumer Search which is a review of reviewers. A neat meta review guide.
A little history of the Tong's
For years we had an Olympus Stylus 35mm point and shoot and I had never realized how blurry the pictures were until someone showed my photos from an old Nikon 35mm SLR. Wow, amazing.
Then, I got a digital point and shoot, the Canon ELPH S-100 minature one. It was fine, but there is so much edge enhancement built into it, the pictures when printed looked really bad as well as the fact that it takes one second for the photo to actually get taken, so I always miss the candids. So that went off to my Dad. We then got a Yashica T4 Super 35mm fixed focus with a terrific lense and I went to Adorama to get some really great 35mm film from Fuji called NPH and like got better. The Yashica is now discontinued, but apparently, the trusty dusty Olympus Stylus 80mm fixed lense is the new standard one to get even though we had bad experience with the quality of their zooms.
Recently, some folks sent their 35mm shots from a cross-country run to us and it reminded me how bad a 35mm point and shoot was. The Yashica is way better than the old Olympus, but nothing compared to that. Of course I want to go all digital, but the technology revolution is just moving too fast. I'm waiting for the 16 megapixel models that are coming out now!
35 mm Cameras
The solution presented itself in a Popular Photography, so now I'm off looking for a used 35mm SLR. There are some incredible choices right now. Essentially, the two major players, Nikon (strong in the US) and Canon (strong in Europe) have identical products at identical price points of roughly $200, $400 and $900.
So, I'm ebay camping out looking at the them all, but based on great advice from photo.net where they summarize by saying get Nikon for the lense, Minolta for the body and Canon for the best compromise. Given the two share leaders are Canon and Nikon, I'll probably do a Nikon for right now by shopping at these Nikon oriented URLs:
- KEH which is reputable, but perhaps has higher prices.
- Adorama. Like KEH, may have higher prices.
- eBay. Rock bottom but caveat emptor
- Pricegrabber. A good browsing of major resellers just watch the low rated ones, they can be very bad.
Here are the camera's I'm looking at that are all five star rated in the buying guide issue of Popular Photography:
- Nikon N80. Great review in Popular Photography at $400 street roughly or a used one for about $50 less.
- Nikon F100. The is the premium one for about $900 street for the body. Wow, that is expensive, but a nice one. Probably can't justify it.
- Nikon N90s with MD26 databack or Nikon N90-s. This is now discontinued but just went for $250 on eBay so is a good value leader where I can put the money into lenses. It's the sensible but not less high technology choice.
- Canon EOS Elan 7e. This is the equivalent of the N80.
- Canon EOS 3. This is the equivalent of the F100 in model lineup.
Now, I'm off to look at lenses as advised by looking for a good lens. Some good advice on lenses says basically stay with simple non-zoom lenses. Means, I either to get:
- A fixed focus 35mm or 50mm to start. The f/1.8 versions are very inexpensive at less than $100 and for double that, you get f/1.4 which shoots in half the available light. Good to look at a high quality used one here.
- Telephoto and wide angle fixed lenses.
- a basic 35-70 f/2.8D for about $300 as noted in the piece or a new 28-80/2.8. Seems like you want just a small zoom as I recall reading somewhere. The basic thing here is that this is advanced stuff and is very expensive.
- Or a 28-105mm/3.5 AF-D as a longer lense.
If you can't find a good local lab, consider using mailers. Adorama Pro Lab offers dip-and-dunk processing for both E6 and C41. A mailer for 36-exposure slide film is $6 (order), for 4x6 proof prints from 36-exposure negative film, the cost is $12 (order). A&I is one of the nation's best big labs and they offer mailers: www.aandi.com. I love the convenience of mail order so will give both Adorama and A&I a try. Not that Adorama got some terrible reviews in photo.net. Also that B&H also reselles A&I mailers, but you have to pay their very expensive shipping so A*I direct makes more sense.
Photo.net. Most good sites are saying ISO 400 film is high enough quality and lets you shoot in less light. Right now, we use the Superia 400, but photo.net says that he doesn't like it, so I'll probably use up the rest of the Superia 400 then get a bunch more of the Fuji NPH, Kodak Royal Gold 400 or Kodak Portura 400 for the film and see how it goes. We've compared Superia and NPH now with A&I processing and they are right, Superia is very enhanced, NPH seems very neutral. We like it.
2001 Films Roundup, ISO 800 film in 2/02 and ISO 1600 Films in 11/02. Seems that 800 film is really coming on. The NPH 400 is a good safe one, but others to try at ISO 800 would be the Fujicolor Portrait NPZ 800 Professional with really great sharpness but not as neutral as the Superia X-TRA 800. Also the Kodak Centuria 800 got good marks for accurate color and sharpness.