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Film camera for beginners

Andrea Ruelas , Mar 29, 2010; 05:10 p.m.

I've been searching all around town, from thrift stores to the camera store all the way in downtown, and I can't find any (vintage preferably) film cameras that work or are as cheap as most say they should be (camera store prices $200 and up).

Before I can even begin to consider purchasing online, I need professional and experienced people to give me some advice.

What (Exact type and model) film camera should I buy? I'm a beginner so I don't really know if I want a rangefinder or SLR...I'm just hoping that I'll get good suggestions that'll lead to a good (affordable) buy.



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Stephen Lewis , Mar 29, 2010; 05:25 p.m.

You need to make some decisions before we can give you honest answers which would be meaningful. Take a look at www.KEH.com in their used gear dept. and see what appeals to you. You say you haven't decided whether you want rangefinder or SLR cameras. You haven't said if you want 35mm or medium format cameras (folders), or some intermediate sizes. Do a Photo.net search for several postings by Gene M, who specializes in taking used cameras of all sorts and running film thru them...perhaps something in one of his posts will catch your eye.
Not sure where you live, but where I live, within 10 miles are several thrift stores and virtually all of them sell used film cameras, often costing as little as $3-4 in working condition. I've even picked up a Nikon EM with a perfect 50mm lens on it for as little as $8 this way. Most of these cameras are 35mm point & shoot cameras but some are excellent picture takers with good sharp lenses and reasonable zoom ranges, but occasionally a folder shows up. Another venue you might try is garage sales.
The biggest obstacle is that you haven't narrowed down your focus to what you're really looking for..sort of me saying I'd like a vehicle, but don't know if I'm looking for a bicycle, car, van, truck or Segway. Perhaps some reading on your own would help you come to a better understanding of what you want.

Andy L , Mar 29, 2010; 05:42 p.m.

Keh.com is a reliable source for used equipment. If you look in its 35mm section, it has categories by manufacturer and in many of them there is a "camera outfits" section where you get a lens included. I'm doing a quick drill-down and seeing some good options. Under Canon Manual Focus there's a FTB with 50mm f/1.8 lens for $109, Minolta X570's with 45mm or 50mm lenses for under $110 and some decent prices on Minolta XD and XE kits (XD is newer than XE and both are better than XG). Nikons are more expensive but there are some options under $200. There are some excellent deals on Olympus OM10's with 50mm lenses. A Pentax ME Super with 50mm lens for under $140 is also a good buy.

John Tran , Mar 29, 2010; 05:43 p.m.

As Stephen said, it is hard to answer your question but I understand that you want an answer. So I say get a Yashica Electro 35 GSN, or GT. To recognize it, have a look at
Good luck for treasure hunting

Chuck Foreman , Mar 29, 2010; 05:45 p.m.

Do some reading like Steve said.. see what floats your boat.. The cool thing with SLR is WYSIWYG so there's something to think about. What I like about Rangefinders is they focus fast..and are comparatively quiet. But really look around ... is it just that you want to use film? Well there used to be more kinds of film than you can shake a stick at... luckily this hasn't changed too much but you'd better know what you want and why... basic 35mm color print film is still everywhere. Have you looked at a Twin-Lens-Reflex (TLR) yet. (check out Gene M) That's one of those with one lens on top you look down into through a mirror, and the other lens on the bottom actually takes the picture. Kind of neat. You get to focus on a ground-glass like an SLR but the picture use a square format (6x6cm) 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. Get your feet wt and make an informed purchase, then you'll be likely to try other options rather than getting frustrated or disappointed

Gene M , Mar 29, 2010; 06:15 p.m.

I suggest a Canon AE1 SLR. Cheap, plentiful and easy to use. Feel free to contact me should you wish. I'm not into this for the money.

JDM von Weinberg , Mar 29, 2010; 06:58 p.m.

Almost any of the film versions of current digital SLRs are good buys these days, if an SLR is what you want. Canon EOS film cameras, say, in working order may only be US$20-30. More desirable later models are more, but may be better buys. Ditto for Pentax, Nikon, etc. The older FD-series Canons like Gene's AE-1 have the advantage (of sorts) of being out of production and so the lenses are often very great bargains too.
Some older cameras may take batteries of the now banned mercury type and can be more costly to keep in new, non-mercury batteries.

Les Sarile , Mar 29, 2010; 08:22 p.m.

Another one for KEH because most come with at least a 14 day return and 60 day warranty. Don't be hesitant about considering their BGN rated gear either!

Mark Pierlot , Mar 29, 2010; 08:26 p.m.

I concur with Gene. You'd be hard pressed to find more camera for less money than you will with an AE-1, which typically sells for around $40 complete with an FD 50mm prime lens.

JDM's advice to get an older EOS film body is also worth considering. The main advantage to doing that would be that if you ever wanted to "upgrade" to a later (even digital) body, the EF lenses that you had acquired would be compatible with it.

Stephen Cumblidge , Mar 29, 2010; 09:07 p.m.

For under $200 I would go with something like an Elan 7 and a 50 1.8. For more exotic you could get a Contax 167 and a 50 1.7. Keh and Adorama are goods place for used stuff if you are uncertain.

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