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What is a 35 mm camera with manual override and Where can I get one at a decnet price?

Liana Ortiz , Jun 21, 2010; 10:56 a.m.

I am taking a class in photograpy this fall and on the course description it says to purchase a 35 mm camera with manual override. I dont know what this means because when I looked online its giving me price ranges from 150-1400 dollars and its showing me many name brands as well as cameras that are digital and not..so im lost. please help. :/



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William Kahn , Jun 21, 2010; 11:09 a.m.

Why not buy a camera that's all manual, like the Pentax K-1000 or Olympus OM-1? Something without a lot of automatic features that you won't be using, anyway. It's a good way to learn the basics of photography...

Vincent Peri , Jun 21, 2010; 11:11 a.m.

Does the course require a film camera or a digital camera? And how much do you want to spend?
Answer these questions and you'll get more help.

Nick Sanyal , Jun 21, 2010; 11:17 a.m.

Most modern digital SLRs can be used in full manual mode.

Rob Bernhard , Jun 21, 2010; 11:20 a.m.

Could you talk to the person teaching the course for clarifications or recommendations? Otherwise, what Vincent said.

Daniel Joder , Jun 21, 2010; 11:28 a.m.

I think what they probably want you to have is something other than a fully automatic point and shoot camera. You need a a 35mm camera which allows you to control both aperture (the lens opening) and the shutter speed regardless of what the light meter might say. I'll echo the previous poster...digital or film camera? Personally, if it works for this class, I'd go with digital at this point since you can get instant feedback right after you take each shot and this will make your learning curve a lot steeper--and no film costs. From the Nikon side, relatively inexpensive cameras you might look at might be the D3000 or the D5000. A used camera might be another option...like maybe a D70? Canon shooters (and other brands) can chime in with their recommendations...they are all pretty good machines these days, regardless of who makes them.

James (Jim) Johnson , Jun 21, 2010; 11:33 a.m.

First find out (as Vincent pointed out) which the course requires.
In either case (film/digital) any SLR - Single Lens Reflex camera will have "manual" aperture and shutter control.
If the course requires a film camera, there are many good used film systems around. I would suggest doing a little study/reading.
You can "mouse-over" the "Equipment" tab at the top of the page, then click on the "35mm" selection and start there.
If I did it right, this should get you there Building a 35mm SLR System

Hope this helps.
Then come back here and ask questions that will arise after a little study/reading.

Welcome to Photo.net Liana!
You will find this site very helpful and informative in your venture into photography!

Best wishes,

Pierre Lachaine , Jun 21, 2010; 11:41 a.m.

Starting in the 1970's, 35mm SLR cameras started going electronic, versus all-mechanical. This allowed for some automation to be introduced, such as programmed auto-exposure in addition to the traditional manual exposure controls, and then autofocus.
Even program auto-exposure can be overridden with exposure compensation, but when it comes to photography courses, manual override usually means that you must be able to set the camera in manual exposure, and focus it manually.
Not that any camera is inherently better than any other, but you can't go wrong with what were popular choices, even if it's just because they end up being plentiful on the used market. You should be able to easily buy a good plastic-bodied autofocus camera from the 90's and early 2000's, such as a Nikon F80 or N80. Those were great little cameras, which were not unlike modern DSLR in terms of overall operation.
If you want a more classic kind of manual/semi-automatic 35mm SLR, a good choice is a Nikon FE or FE2. The later ones are not that old, have great ergonomics, solid build, and they can be had fairly cheaply. They can be operated with semi-automatic exposure (you set the f-stop on the lens, the camera sets the shutter speed), and in full manual mode where the camera gives you a meter reading, but you have to set both the aperture and the shutter speed manually.

Ebay is a good source if you stick with reputable camera resellers rather than thrift shop hunters who pick up anything they think they can sell. If they sell all kinds of goods, they aren't camera dealers, and they are unlikely to have even put film through the camera.

Andy L , Jun 21, 2010; 11:42 a.m.

What they're looking for is a film camera, not a digital. That's what 35mm refers to. What you'll want to do is find a good used camera that was originally made for manual focus use - not an autofocus camera used in manual mode. Manual focus cameras have viewfinders that are better set up for manual use.

When I did this I used a Minolta SRT with a 58mm f/1.4 Minolta lens and a 28/2.5 Vivitar, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the same, although there are excellent options from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and others. Try Keh.com - they're better than Ebay because you're only looking at inspected/tested cameras. Camerapedia.org has information on the specific models. Either get a kit that includes a prime (not zoom) lens in the 45-58mm range or a camera with such a lens purchased separately. Most companies also had a good lens around 135mm and there are some good 3rd party options, like early generation Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm macro zooms - I have the f/3.5 version and it's excellent though heavy.

This is all so inexpensive your savings will more than cover your film costs. If they want you to shoot B&W, try Freestylephoto.boz house brands - these are inexpensive repackagings of brand name films. Legacy Pro is Fuji, Arista EDU is Foma and Arista Premium is Kodak (100 is Plus-X and 400 is Tri-X). Your professor might have preferences as to what you start with, but usually you wouldn't be going wrong if you started with several rolls each of Arista Premium 100 and 400.

Will you be wanting a tripod as well? Whether you need it will depend on the sorts of shooting assignments you get.

Matt Needham , Jun 21, 2010; 12:32 p.m.

You are looking for a 35mm SLR with manual exposure mode. Most have it. You should be able to find many good models in decent, working shape for under $50. They are practically giving away Ricoh KR-5 cameras, which was my first 35mm SLR. It's a nice, basic, mostly mechanical camera that takes Pentax mount lenses. You can find one of those with a lens for under $25.

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