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Old School

Manual "Old School" Photo Equipment

Using older, even totally manual type photographic equipment is easy, fun and has the potential to produce great images. I shoot mostly digital, due to several factors, but am clinging on to what film and manual equipment I have and use it just as often as newer gear. You can get older equipment on auction sites and very often find a fine sample of a product at a great price. Many lenses can be adapted to use on many cameras too.

Note 1 - Manual equipment of good quality will outlast plasticy, electronic equipment.
Note 2 - Fixed focal length lenses, referred to as "Prime" lenses, have no zoom capability. Prime lenses will outlast zoom lenses due to less moving parts and almost always have better optics.
My Point - Unless you need AF (auto-focus) and Zoom lenses, get used, manual Prime lenses at lower prices & most usually with better optics.

Whenever the price is right, pick up different equipment from top makers like as Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Fuji, Leica and many others that you may have never heard of. Test them out and if you don't like them, sell them and recoup most, if not all, of your money. You can also find big discounts on new equipment on eBay and other sites as well.

You really should buy a used medium format 120/220 film camera to see the quality increase over 35mm film. These cameras are no harder to use than a manual 35mm camera and not much harder to use than digital cameras once you understand how cameras work. You can get these in great shape with lenses for well under $100.00!!!
Forget the "New" 120 cameras unless it's a top name brand and then make sure to research the model you are thinking of buying. There are several of these "New" cameras that are junky plastic and you may get the wrong impression of larger format cameras if trying them for the first time. I must warn you though... once you see the improvement over 35mm film and almost any digital file you'll want an even larger format. I say "almost any digital file" since there are some larger format digital cameras that are awesome but since they can cost as much as a new car or even a house, they are out of my reach. Make sure to get your film scanned at the time of processing and you'll have a pristine digital copy too.

Advise... when buying equipment, EVEN IF IT'S NEW, make sure to test drive it if you can as some samples are better than others. CASE IN POINT - I opened several new monopod boxes, all the same product#. The first, when fully extended, slipped when little pressure was applied. Another was missing a tightening ring grommet. Each piece of equipment, particularly those that have connection of any type.... adapters, lens & body caps, cameras, tripods, etc, etc... all have their individual characteristics so get the best sample you can.

Photographic equipment can perform as good as new, no matter what it looks like. It can still take the same pictures exactly as the new one. Things you DO want to look out for are scratched lenses and the sound of anything loose inside equipment. Other than that, you can pick up perfectly good equipment for just a few dollars if you don't mind the looks. You'll hear sellers saying "this lens has scratches but it does not effect the image quality"... I'd be wary, especially as the focal length of the lens decreases (wide angle lenses) The wider the lens and the closer the focus point, the more visible lens defects become. Test drive when possible.

Kert Kley

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