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Thread: Cheap 35mm SLR for sport & general photography?

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    Cheap 35mm SLR for sport & general photography?

    Hi Folks,

    Well recently I have been missing not being able to do much in the way of motorsport/action photos - a while back I sold all my dSLR gear with big lens because I didn't use it all that often, and decided to get another camera that was easier to carry around and better suited for general use.

    I also have been getting more interested in film and enjoying using a Wide Angle Slim (basically a wide angle toy camera).

    I figured that if I'm not using the SLR and big lens all that often, a film camera makes sense because I only pay for film as I use it - I won't have $$$ worth of digital gear sitting around doing nothing.

    Well that idea only works if I can find a suitable film SLR and lens combo for fairly cheap... which is where I'm hoping some people can offer advice. Basic requirements are autofocus, that's about it! I can make do with a lens in the 100-200mm range of max zoom. If there's some obscure camera type out there that will have AF and those size lenses for cheap, then I'm all for it.

    Not sure if there are any cameras with (battery?) grips that fit those criteria, but I like the larger size cameras so I can rest it against my shoulder for a stable grip and smoother panning. Maybe that won't matter if it's a small camera with only a 100-200mm lens... my last SLR was a 1D with the 400mm f/5.6L so that's what I'm used to handling (as far as motorsport photography goes).

    Cheers for any info!

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    Auto focus was around long before digital!

    I use a minolta 7 as my late model film SLR. While not quite as good as a late model DSLR, AF is more than adequate. 9 points, with a centre cross point is not bad for a camera that was discontinued in the early 00's.

    But, I am sure if you stick with a Canon or Nikon of the same era, you should be able to get something as good.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    As Hoffy says, there are some good SLR's out there, either new or second hand. You could also look for one with a motor drive for the film spool if you wanted, to increase the frame rate when you are shooting sport. But the appeal of film, is not firing off a heap of shots to get 'the one'. So depending on what your intentions are, a motor drive may not be in your considerations.

    Also has Hoffy says, autofocus came before digital. But the advantage of buying a new SLR, means that it will take most of the current auto-focus lenses. Whereas some brands, if you buy second hand, will not accept the newer lenses.

    I think you need to decide if Canon is your choice still, and then look at the options, or if you are open to other brands, then that gives you much more latitude in choosing an SLR.

    http://www.nikon.com.au/en_AU/produc...-f6#features/1
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    Thanks for the info. I have an old Minolta XG-2 that I wanted to use, but it looks like it's dead ("capacitor problem"?) I'm not really set on any particular brand, so that keeps my options open.

    Tell me if this is just a straight up bad idea... but what do you think about using an older FD lens/body? On the plus side the lenses are cheap (really cheap), but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to try an use manual focus for action/sports? I have tried MF a little bit (on my rangefinder with 50mm lens) and it was a bit tricky (mostly due to a lot of guesswork when panning, not easy to keep an eye on the subject and the small focus area, and being a 50mm lens means a small movement creates quite a big variation), not sure if that would change with an SLR? And if a long lens was pre-focused it seems like that's a lot different than trying to do the same with a smaller lens? I also read up about certain Canon FD-mount bodies having a focus-assist system where the entire viewfinder would be blurred if the lens wasn't focussed? Something makes me think that would actually be quite good for what I want to do? I see some people still use those super-tele manual focus lenses for wildlife photography and they seem to go alright?

    I suppose that is what people had to do before auto focus came along anyway? But let me know if you think that would just be getting myself into a lot of frustration...

    I don't need to have a high framerate, I'm more of a "one shot" kind of guy.

    hoffy - whey you say you have a "Minolta 7", is that the Minolta Alpha/Dynax/Maxxum 7? I'm having a hard time finding any on eBay - is Maxxum 7 the correct search term?

    I did find the Maxxum 9 though, is that still worth looking at? Also any other things I should look for in buying a used film SLR?

    Actually now that I'm looking up Minolta gear it just reminded me that most of the newer Sony lenses will be compatible as well? Bonus!

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    Well folks after a week of furious Googling I made the decision to go with a T90 and FD lenses. I will post back with a followup once I've had a chance to give it a thorough use and adapt to manual focus. I'll post back with my findings in case anyone else is thinking of making a similar change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mugget View Post
    Well folks after a week of furious Googling I made the decision to go with a T90 and FD lenses. ...
    Why did you choose the T90 which to the best of my knowledge is unreliable and prone to certain problems, not to mention no longer supported by Canon? See excerpt below from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_T90

    "Use today[edit]

    Canon ceased supporting the camera in 1998 and spare parts are no longer available from them. The subsequent difficulty in obtaining repair services is likely to discourage any remaining professional use of these cameras.

    One issue is with LCD (liquid crystal display) life, a problem not unique to the T90. LCD displays age and wear out at a varying rate dependent on environmental conditions, use and other factors. Commonly quoted lifespans are about five to ten years;[4] thus, many T90s will have displays nearing the end of their lives, even if they have been replaced. The spare part is no longer available and no third-party replacement has emerged.

    The plastic battery holder on the T90 is somewhat susceptible to breakage, and can cause the camera to become inoperative. Used cameras should be carefully checked for broken/repaired battery holder compartments. Another common problem is failure of the second internal battery that retains frame number/ISO settings, replacement of which requires service by a person skilled in soldering techniques and camera disassembly.

    Another, more serious, problem concerns the shutter. The T90's shutter appears to become "sticky" as the camera ages. It is prone to locking up, in which case the camera's LCD displays "EEE" and the message "HELP" appears in the viewfinder display. This is commonly called the "EEE syndrome" among users. The problem is most likely to crop up after the camera has been left unused for some time; thus, the best way to prevent it is regular use of the camera. It does not seem to cause inaccurate shutter speeds before failure. The problem can be corrected by a knowledgeable technician without replacing the shutter mechanism. It is reportedly caused by dirt on the shutter's magnets affecting their performance. But if left unused for an extended period of time the circuit will need to be replaced, an expensive and time-consuming proposition.

    The sticky shutter problem relates to a rubber washer which is involved in the operation of the shutter. With age and atmospheric conditions, it tends to deteriorate and become sticky, so that it impedes the operation of the shutter. Frequent use can delay the stickiness from 'glueing up' the shutter, but once started, the only long-term remedy is to have the shutter repaired, when the rubber washer is replaced, and so another 10 years or more can be enjoyed with the camera working correctly. A good short term solution is to lightly clean the shutter diaphragm with a cotton ball and lighter fluid."


    Personally I would have gone for an EOS1V which is still a modern camera, has AF and is capable of 10FPS with the optional NiCad pack/booster. I have 2 of these cameras (and had the booster for a long time too) and can honestly say it is one of the best cameras ever made in terms of durability and functionality. You can put any current Canon EF lens on it too, although these are not cheap, but the after market EF lenses are and they work on the 1V because it has a normal Canon EF mount.

    I've shot sport with many manual cameras and it's quite do-able depending on the sport, so you don't always have to use a modern AF camera, but if you are looking for an AF body then I'd suggest something reasonably modern, if only for the sake of reliability.
    Last edited by jjphoto; 20-04-2014 at 9:57am.

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    It's probably easiest to explain it this way:

    • Cheap
    • Good quality glass
    • EOS/EF system


    Choose two.

    My main importance was to have a cheap way to try out film, with good glass available also (which the FD lenses definitely are, at least by my standards). So that limited my options right from the start. Initially I was thinking $100-150 would be cheap, but after some research I revised that up to $300. I finished up with the T90, 35-105mm f3.5, 85-300mm f4.5, Canon 2x TC, 300TL flash, Canon wireless remote all for around $335 (plus $100 shipping).

    EOS1V would have been my ideal choice, but that didn't fit with my idea of cheap, and as you mention good EF lens definitely can't be found cheap either. By my criteria I wouldn't even say 3rd party EF lenses are cheap.

    I know that the T90 is getting on in age, but there's still plenty of users who are very happy and would not part with theirs. I guess I believe in "the tank". :the:
    There's also a way to avoid the shutter sticking if it's in storage, and amazingly in my searches I didn't find too many people whose internal lithium battery had gone flat (although obviously it will eventually). Or rather there are more than a handful of people who are still using the original battery.

    If it turns out that I do like shooting film, I'll definitely look to the 1V in the future. But in the meantime if the T90 breaks and it's not an easy fix, I'll just buy another one. I'm not trying to say that the T90 is some amazing camera that's just been forgotten about (although it is the pinnacle of Canon's professional manual focus SLR line), it's just that it happened to fill my requirements at the moment.

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    I am interested to know what type of film you will use and whether you will process it yourself. Will we see your results scanned and posted on AP ?

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    martycon - I've got a whole bunch of different film I'm going to try out, but I think at the start I will just use Fuji Superia 200 because it's cheap. Actually that could be interesting because I've been sitting on this stuff for a while, I think it all expired sometime last year! But even more interesting is going to be whether I can adapt to manual focus... but yes I will definitely post the results here!

    Initially I think I might have it processed at a lab, but if I take a liking to film and make it past 4-5 rolls I will definitely be doing it myself. You don't even need a darkroom, which I never knew before, so it needn't be too complicated. And of course DIY is a much cheaper option (you see a pattern appearing here, right? )

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