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"Neither camera, nor lens, nor film determine the quality of pictures;
it is the visual perception of the man behind the mechanism which brings them to life.
Art contains the allied ideas of making and begetting,
of being master in one’s craft and of being able to create.
Without these properties no art exists and no photographic art can come into being."


                                                             -- Helmut Gernsheim, 1942

Taken with Nikon F801/8008, Nikon 35 - 70 mm lens, on tripod, Fuji 200 print

Many photo enthusiasts forget than some of the most famous master photographers 
built their reputations with cameras that were primitive by today's standards, with little or no internal metering for proper exposure. 
 

Taken with the Nikon Coolpix 950.. overexpose 2 stop, no flash


This section has become very popular, so it will be expanded.  
If you have a
digital camera review  you would like to submit, please do. 
You will be given a credit by-line and a link to your site.

I now shoot mostly digital, with the Canon 30D and Canon XT rebel.

I'm very satisfied with them.
I can print excellent quality up to 11 by 17
 

I use a variety of cameras which I always purchase used. 
Many old cameras are excellent, being very durable and having no vulnerable electronics.  
A good lens is more important than a new or expensive camera body,
and there are many fine lenses for sale. 
Try Ebay.com.

I have operated cameras made by Canon, Nikon, Leica, Pentax, Rolleiflex, Olympus, Yashica, Fuji
and many others.  I sometimes sell a camera and switch to a different model.  
There are many superb cameras made today,
so one's choice depends on price, features, and availabilty.

It's more important to learn how to get the most from the one you have. 
Few cameras can serve all purposes, however, so you should have at least 2 good cameras. 
Ideally, they should share lenses, but one should be light in weight and both should be well made.  
It's also very good to have a third camera that is very small but has an excellent lens.

Nikon Coolpix 950 - very versatile camera

I've used the Nikon Coolpix 950 and I love it.   
It is incredibly versatile, and it would be truly impossible for me 
to get many great shots without it because it is so small, quiet, and portable.   
This is my first excursion into digital photography.  See the separate page for a more complete review.

Koni Omega 6 by 7 press camera

                         Medium format  -- this site    

Manual and semi-automatic 35mm cameras

Nikkormat

Nikkormat FTN -- about 30 years old. A heavy, rugged, all manual camera with a built in basic light-meter. Takes Nikon AI lenses, which are excellent. I use this for most of my black and white photos.  It is ideal on the copy stand for old photo reproduction and close-up work.  Displayed with a 135 mm f 2.8 lens, which is good for portraits. I also have 28mm, 50mm, and 80 - 200 zoom lenses. I sometimes use macro lenses, and a 2x extension tube. This camera can be purchased on the used market for $125 to $150 without a lens. I have seen it as low as $50, with a lens, at a thrift shop.  Look around.  It has a self-timer and pc flash cable outlets, one for X and one for M. Shutter speed from B to 1000.  Mirror lock-up feature.

pentax MG camera

Pentax MG -- - an all-purpose aperture - priority camera.  No manual override. Not by any means expensive, it is easy to use, quite small, and reliable.   Many good lenses are available for it.  Shown is a versatile 28 - 205mm zoom with a 1.4 macro feature.   I use this camera for many prints that end up on the website. Does not have flash cord jacks, but does have a flash mount.  I also have a straight 50mm lens and a 135mm 2.8f.  It is almost worn out by now, and I will replace it soon.  The Pentax ME is very similar, but has more controls, including manual override.

Konica TC -- early auto-exposure camera

Konica TC -- One of the first Auto exposure cameras that was a top seller.  Shutter priority or manual.  Flash synch at 1/250, with both PC outlet and hot shoe.  Cloth shutter.   Very easy to use and durable.  Many good lenses are available.  This one has a 1.8 40mm.  A great student or travel camera that delivers fine results. 
Yashica TL-Electro,  Pentax Spotmatic.  Pentax K -1000  Great student cameras.  All manual, speeds to 1000, plus B.  The Yashica and Pentax cameras use 49mm screw lenses, which can often be found very cheap on the used market.  The better ones, such as those by Takumar, are excellent.   Yashica flash synchs at 1/60, plus hot-shoe and PC jack.  If you're travelling to an undeveloped country and don't want to take an expensive camera, get one like these, then sell or trade it before returning.  There are many similar cameras made from 1950's to 1970's that are good, too.

Also recommended:

Canon A-1 and AE-1 Program.   Nikon F-series.   Nikon FE --   etc.

Electronic 35mm
Very common today, and most are built very well.   Many lenses are available.  Some have fairly complicated controls and others requires dedicated flash for best results.   Best to get one with manual over-ride to electronics.    Main problem with this type of camera is dependence on batteries.  No battery, no picture.  Not good.   The better ones have cast aluminum or titanium frames under the plastic.  If the electronics fail, you are out of luck, and it will be sudden, without warning.   I always have a manual camera available.  

Nikon N-70

Nikon N70 -- very versatile and durable.   Same type of electronics as some of Nikon's top cameras, yet it doesn't cost a fortune.  Very light in weight, compared to the F series.  Can take older Nikon lenses as well as the new auto-focus ones.  I have a 28 - 80 general purpose auto-focus lens on it and a 70 - 210.  Autofocus is quite fast, and can take around 3 fps.  Useful camera for fast action,  slides, and portraits.  Its complex automatic matrix metering system is very effective.  All manual adjustments are available, too.  Manual, shutter or aperture priority, programmable, up to 3 frames per second.  Very versatile and accurate on-board flash.  No flash cord  or standard shutter release jack, unfortunately.   

F801SB25_1.jpg (28879 bytes)

Nikon F801/8008 -- This is my primary film camera.  It's not the latest or fanciest Nikon model, but it does the job well and I use it often.   It's built very well and I've never had a problem with it.   Many features include shutter speed of 1/8000, program, shutter, aperture, and manual modes.  Respectively fast auto-focus and excellent exposure meter.    Shown is the Nikon SB-25 speedlight.
The Nikon Speedlights are excellent flash units that read TTL ( through the lens) light settings.  With the proper cable/adaptor, you can hold the speedlight off camera and still get TTL light readings.   The SB 25 is for wide to medium angle lenses ( 24mm to about 135mm )

Olympus IS-1  -- early version

   Olympus IS-1  Self-contained autofocus(no manual focus over-ride) with excellent 35-135mm lens.  Can be set to Program, Aperture priority, or manual.  This is a very useful camera, and delivers good results, but it has a few negatives:  No PC outlet, and the hot-shoe requires a dedicated flash unit.  Awkward film loading, and goes through batteries faster than I would like.  Size is also cumbersome.  Autofocus is quite slow, too.   However, its lens and other features, such as adjustable built-in flash, manual exposure over-ride, and so on make it one I use often for web photos.  Newer versions of this camera have improvements, but I have not tried them. 

Also good:

Pentax models, Canon Rebel and EOS series.  Top of the line is the Leica R-8 and similar models from Nikon, Minolta, Canon, etc. 

Rangefinder 35mm

Leica M series or quality range-finders of classic vintage.   All old rangefinders from Leica, Nikon, and Canon, and some others, are highly collectible.  Lenses may be hard to find and very expensive.  Rangefinders are quiet and usually smaller than SLR's, making them unobtrusive.  That is good for press photographers.  

  Ricoh 401 with flash

Ricoh 401  --   this is a very unusual camera, because it has a dual view-finder, both waist-level and regular.   It is old, and uses screw-in lens that was once a standard.   It's a very hardy camera, and I use it often. Built-in averaging meter, aperture and shutter priority, self-timer, both X and M flash outlets.   Seen here with a Mamiya/Sekor F 2.8   28 mm lens and a Vivitar flash unit.  This old camera can produce excellent results.  The waist-level viewfinder is very handy on the copy stand and also for discrete photos, such as street photography.  

canontx1.jpg (7605 bytes)

Canon TX -- a basic but well-built camera for which you can buy many lenses on the used market.   Great student camera.  Has an averaging meter with a match-needle. 

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www.betterphoto.com   
great camera reviews
Nikon

www.merrillphoto.com/junkstorecameras.htm -- reviews lots of old cameras
Choosing a large format camera



 

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