recommend camera for PJ student

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Jeremy

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I would tell her to talk to people in the department and find out what they are using and what they suggest.
 

Eric Rose

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Good suggestion Jeremy. I would recommend a mid-range Nikon is probably all she needs. Match that with a wideangle to mid tele zoom plus AF and she's set. Leaves her lots of money for the important stuff - film and processing. IE - honing her craft.
 

Sean

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I used to own a Leica M6 and although beyond stellar in image quality, I would have failed miserably with it as a journalism student. I tend to have a hard time focusing quickly with manual cameras (one reason I love landscape photography is I can take my time). The M6 focuses fast enough for most and even a lot of pj's but in a journalism situation where the action is unfolding quickly I'd like an F5..
 

bmac

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You are sure to get several different opinions on this one.

My suggestion, Dont go Leica. Grab a higher end Canon or Nikon SLR and some lenses. $4,000 is huge for this type of rig. After school, once she is in the working world, she can use her lenses on a DSLR, because that is what 90% of the PJ's I see shoot.
 

Flotsam

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If she wants to hone her photographic skills in analog, that's great! But if she is preparing herself for a career in PJ, I just can't see her getting around going the d*****l imaging route and studying the fascinating topics of file compression and transfer methods.
 

Deniz

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I am an owner of many nikon SLRs including the beast F5 and it offers everything i could ask from a 35mm camera.

But.. it does draw alot of attention and it is heavy.. if these 2 Cons are important i would go with a nikon F100 or the new F6 for autofocus and FM2 if auto focus is not important..

I did use my F5 for photo journalism for years and it has served me very well...even though i dont use it anymore i just can't sell it...i just can't... :D

I do use a Nikon D70 for smaller format photography now.. and it has gotten my photo on the front cover of the Vancouver Sun a couple of times..
 

kjsphoto

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As a photojournalist I can tell you, you are going to have harsh conditions and I would not go with an F100. They are excellent cameras but for the day to day use and the beating up :sad: that will happen I would not recommend that camera even though I own one.

If they do not care about AF I would find a good used F3. Those bodies can take a beaten. If AF is needed then an EOS1 Canon or a Nikon F5, both cameras are excellent. But remember when you step into the EOS or F5 bodies you need batteries and if they go out you are SOL. That is why I also take the F3 as I do not have to worry about batteries with that body. As far as lenses and depending on the type of work they will be photographing you are going to need fast lenses.

I really do not like the zooms to much as I feel that with fixed lenses I can concentrate on the composition rather than messing around with zooming in and out. I have other zoom lenses but do not use them that much anymore since I have gone more over to fixed lenses. Also a 35 lens is awesome especially if shooting with a film body.

$4K isn’t much if you are looking for new equipment as the faster the glass the more expensive it becomes. I would look around for used gear. Now if they change their mind and buy digital do not buy used.

If you can afford Lecia go for it! The camera and lenses are just awesome but it is a lot of money if this is something you are only thinking about doing. The field is hard to break into and very competitive. I wish I never left the field as I am having a hell of a time trying to break back in. Again make sure this is what you want to do and figure out what you want to shoot and buy the equipment for your shooting style. I mainly cover sports and photo stories so my line of equipment will be completely different from a person that covers war for example. If I am hitting the streets to cover spot news I am going to travel very light; If I am going to an event and have someone helping me out I am going to pack a bit more. Again it really depends on your shooting style and the assignments you want to take on.

If you ahve any quesiton drop me a line anytime.


Hope that helped,

Kev
 

titrisol

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PJ student, a N100 would do very well.
IMHO they ned fast AF, accurate metering and autoexposure mostly.

No need to go with anything else, better spend some $2K in camera+ 28-70 and 70-200 or similar + flash (Metz) + Batteries (Quantum)
 

kjsphoto

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I am not sure I agree. More and more PJ are carrying light meters because the camera are not as reliable as you think. And AF doesn’t always work that well. Many times when out in the sports arena especially at night MF is the only way to go as AF just doesn’t respond. You have to learn to track and anticipate. The camera only part of the learning process. Back in the 80's when I shot some pro events we didn’t have AF and I learned so much more that I ever cold today as I had to learn anticipation and reflex.

I realize each to their own but for a new PJ I would rally stay away from auto meters and AF and learn the trade, as it should be, Old school.

But again this is only my opinion for what ever it is worth. In any case good luck in your ventures and remember you go with a battery camera the batteries die you are SOL and believe me this happens more than you think. I would really get back to basics for PJ work and use the manual focus to enhance a scene, learn to read light and the film you use. You will get to a point when you look out doors with your favorite film and know off the top of your head what the settings will be before you even look through the viewfinder. Learn from the ground up and skip the electronic. But like I said earlier it all depends on your shooting style.

Good luck,

Kev
 

Mongo

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My recommendation would be a Nikon F3 with the HP finder and some good glass. My reasoning is that the camera will take a beating if needed, the glass and many accessories are inexpensive enough and readily available used, and the value of the camera has pretty much bottomed out unless 35mm dies completely.

None of this logic makes my answer any better than any other answer here, but I believe in this path enough that when my nephew started photography school this year, this was the rig I gave him as a gift.
 

Bob Carnie

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I would suggest contax g2 system with wide angle and normal lens, very sharp and reliable
 

modafoto

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Mongo said:
My recommendation would be a Nikon F3 with the HP finder and some good glass. My reasoning is that the camera will take a beating if needed, the glass and many accessories are inexpensive enough and readily available used, and the value of the camera has pretty much bottomed out unless 35mm dies completely.

Why not go F5? Solid and can use the all the lenses F3 can...and also all the newer ones.
 

SteveGangi

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If you can do without autofocus and autoexposure, how about an old Canon FTb. Fully manual, so a dead battery doesn't put you out of commission, and able to take an amazing beating without quitting.
 

steve

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jdef said:
A dear friend has asked me to recommend a camera for her photojournalism studies. She doesn't want a digital camera, and has about $4,000 to spend, total, for camera/accessories, film, and processing over the course of the school year. The first cameras that came to my mind were the Leica rangefinders, but I am utterly unfamiliar with the differences in the various models, and lenses. A quick glance at ebay suggests that she could get an M6 with a couple of lenses for about half of her budget. Another camera that came to mind is the Nikon F5. A different beast altogether from the Leica, but maybe there are good reasons to consider it? I'm open to any and all suggestions, but please support your suggestions with as much specific, practical information as possible. Thanks.

Jay


Depends upon what she wants to do in photojournalism. If it's for a newspaper - they've all switched to digital. If it's magazine work - some use digital (Sports Illustrated for example), while others use a mix of digital and film.

If she really wants a film camera, I'd get an auto-focus. You can always use the manual focus mode when required. I like the Nikons because their metering and flash systems are just better than Canon's.

I do some work for specialty magazines using a 12 year old N-90. I recently shot some work using Provia 400F under extremely difficult lighting conditions. Early morning shots of classic wooden boats on a foggy lake.
The sun would break through the fog every so often making pools of light that the boats would go in and out of. Then it would all close up and be 1/4 mile visibility with the water blending into the fog.

I used the camera's matrix metering, and the camera just kicked ass on exposures. The worst exposure was less than about 1/3 stop off - but fully usable. With fast moving subjects and changing conditions, you just don't have the luxury of manually metering - you need a camera with a really good automatic metering system. The good news? The new metering systems are even better than my N-90.

My only complaint about my N-90 is the autofocus system gets confused under really monochromatic or low light conditions; and the auto focus mechanism could be faster. Under conditions where focusing becomes iffy or I need to focus faster - I use manual focus. The good news? The F-100 corrects those problems.

I own two Nikon F's, a Nikon F2, and have worked with F-5's. I understand the concept of being able to hammer a nail with a camera body and only hurting the nail. I was really skeptical of the N-90 when it was recommended to me. It's proven to be robust, fairly easy on batteries, and fabulous with metering. I have a really hard time believing that a PJ student would use an F-100 hard enough to damage it.

Leicas? Nice camera - I own an M-6. PJ work? Please, that's a Cartier Bresson retro-fantasy. There may be an odd person (like 1 in 10,000) that could pull that off & actually make money doing PJ.

What to look for: auto focus, motor winder, best matrix metering system, best flash system, fast zoom lenses.

Personally, for a new camera I'd get an F-100. Used I'd get an F-100 or N-90s.

Lenses: 17-35 f/2.8; 35-70 f/2.8. You don't need long glass unless you're doing sports work. Most PJ is people up close and personal. If she needs long glass - she can always add the lens later.

Sports work is a whole different bag-o-worms. You need LONG GLASS. Even an 80-200 won't cut it.

I'd buy used from a reliable source.
 

John Koehrer

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F5 is overkill for 95% of the photographers out there & big bucks for the privilege of toting it. Only a couple of differences 'twixt F5 & F100. F5 has 100% viewfinder, faster motor, interchangable finder, mirror lockup, slightly more sophisticated meter, and there's something else lurking in my rapidly aging brain that I'll think of about 2am.
The F3 is a very robust camera but is also battery dependent, if your battery dies you lose meter & all shutter speeds except 1/90th sec.
I also agree with learning how to use a hand held light meter.
 

Jorge

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jdef said:
A dear friend has asked me to recommend a camera for her photojournalism studies. She doesn't want a digital camera, and has about $4,000 to spend, total, for camera/accessories, film, and processing over the course of the school year. The first cameras that came to my mind were the Leica rangefinders, but I am utterly unfamiliar with the differences in the various models, and lenses. A quick glance at ebay suggests that she could get an M6 with a couple of lenses for about half of her budget. Another camera that came to mind is the Nikon F5. A different beast altogether from the Leica, but maybe there are good reasons to consider it? I'm open to any and all suggestions, but please support your suggestions with as much specific, practical information as possible. Thanks.

Jay

Is this a college or highschool student? Is she planning to continue on this track or is it only a fill course. The answer to these questions is important to better recommend a camera. If it is a highschool student, you would have to be nuts recommending a Leica or an upper line Nikon. The best advice I gave students when I was working at a camera store was, Pentax K1000, 50 and 120 mm lens (or one of the better zoom lenses), bulk film loader and a 100' roll of tri X.
If it is a college student the advice does not change much. They have to make sure they like it, will use it and will stick to it. Buying a Leica or a Nikon F? for a first time photographer IMO is a waste of money. Of course if money is no object, go for he F6, $2500, a Tamron zoom lens a bulk loader and 100' roll of tri X....
 

Mongo

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modafoto said:
Why not go F5? Solid and can use the all the lenses F3 can...and also all the newer ones.

The only reason I'd recommend an F3 over an F5 for a new student is that I believe the value of the F3 has pretty much bottomed out. As long as the condition of the camera doesn't change too much and as long as 35mm film is still a viable option, the F3's probably not going to lose much value. You should still be able to sell it for what you paid for it in five years. I don't know if the same is true of the F5; none of us know that at this time.

For my nephew, the ability to use the Nikkor G-series lenses is a non-issue, as he's restricted to using prime lenses and manual focus only for his class work. (Or at least that's what they're told to do...I'm sure some students conveniently forget this at times.)
 

Deniz

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I again recomend the F5.. they are not that expensive and will last forever when only giant cockroaches are walking the earth.
With F5 not only you get the worlds best autofocus capabilities but also you get assistance during manual focusing. CAmera tells you which way you should turn the focus ring too and tell you when the picture is in focus in manual mode..

as i said it is heavy but if you go to www.nikonians.org and have a look at the F5 forum you'll understand why it is one of the best cameras in the world..

I did use a nikon F90X myself for a year and loved that camera.. did its job extremely well but now a little outdated to use with the latest Nikon lenses.

I use a sigma EX 70-200/2.8 HSM lens with my F5 and it focuses faster than i can blink.. and produces gorgeous photos.. and i still get metering with my very old manual nikon lenses..
 

steve

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If its a "special situation" and, from your description - she's really NOT going to use for PJ work - then tell her to get an Leica R8 or R9. She can shoot film OR digital, and will be able to choose from some of the finest lenses available.
 

fparnold

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From when I shot for a small-town newspaper, I would suggest an F3 + 50 1.4 + 180 2.8. There will be times when you can't (or shouldn't) use flash, so you'll want some speed, and that pair of lenses will cover most situations for the average newspaper. I've seen and handled an F5, and I'm sure it's nice to use, but it's almost the size of a Pentax 67, which makes it heavy to carry and painful when it bounces off your hip when you're running.

Less expensive, and just as convenient if she's not going to be using the camera professionally is the same pair of lenses with the manual Pentax K1000 body. Get two bodies for the price of the F3 so you always have a spare, or one lens per body and off you go.

Someone in these programs should insist that over 50% of the budget should be film, processing, prints, and presentation (whether mats and frames, portfolios, slide-shows, etc). Get something reliable and cheap enough you won't get upset damaging it in the pursuit of a shot, then go and shoot without thinking "this scene is costing me $.30 per frame".

My kit when working for that paper was a Spotmatic, with 50 1.8 and 105 2.8, and i covered everything from graduations to fish pictures.
 

mfobrien

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With that kind of budget, I suggest 2 bodies -- a Nikon N80 - lightweight and fairly fast AF, and able to take All AF lenses, add a second N80 body - or a used F4s or F100. Lenses: 24-85 mm f2.8-4.0/ 50mm 1.4/ 180mm 2.8. If she eventually goes digital, her lenses will still be useable on a lower-end DSLR. The F5 is overkill here. If she insists on a manual camera, then the F3HP and similar MF lenses are a good match. As a PJ, she may appreciate the motor wind on the AF cameras...
 

Sjixxxy

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jdef said:
...not because it's a practical camera for a working PJ professional, as I believe they all use digital, but because I thought it would satisfy her student needs, last forever, retain its value, and teach her more about photography than cameras.

...

The bottom line is that she will not be using any kind of film camera as a professional photojournalist, so the camera she chooses for her student work will only serve as a creative/learning tool.

Speed Graphic. I've learned more shooting with mine then anything else I've ever used.
 
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