I took the cameras out today. (MPSIMS + IMHO lens recommendations)

Sequence of events:
[ul][li]Coworker goes to England. Drops her low-end digital camera in a toilet. Says she needs to get a new one.[/li][li]I start thinking about how my Nikon CoolPix L1 lacks capabilities my 35mm cameras have.[/li][li]I narrow new camera choices down to the Nikon D90 and the Olympus PEN EP-2. I post a thread, and decide on the D90.[/li][li]What the heck. I’ll dig out my 35mm cameras. Three of them have film in them. How old is the film? Who knows? Maybe it’s bad. Only one way to find out…[/ul][/li]I went out to Semiahmoo, which has a few photographic possibilities. I used the Nikon FM3a with the 28-85mm zoom lens first. It had like four pics left on the roll. I have absolutely no idea what’s on the rest of the roll. I got a couple of photos of a Bell JetRanger that had landed near the resort, and a couple more pics down by the pier.

Then it was time to use the Olympus OM-1 with the 24mm lens. I snapped pics of the old cannery building with the rotting boat next to it, various shots around the pier, kayaks, the Plover, and such. A guy had a nice-looking, red, 1982 Yamaha Seca 550. I got a shot of that. After I’d shot the roll I rewound and took out the cartridge. B&W. Well, so much for the red bike! But I think the cannery building and boat should look good.

I headed around Drayton Harbor to the Blaine Marina and out to the pier. Now I had the Canon AE-1 Program with a 50mm lens. I burned up a roll in that, but nothing there was really as interesting as Semiahmoo. Some seagulls let me get fairly close, though. I dropped the three rolls off at Rite-Aid, and I’ll get them back next week.

I really like the Olympus. It’s the smallest of the cameras, and rock-simple. Since I had the wide-angle lens on it and it was a bright, I wanted to use the depth of field and stopped it down to f16 and set the shutter to 1/125. It’s been so long since I’ve shot 35mm, I’d forgotten what a joy it is to use the OM-1. I’m using a non-mercury battery in it. This should throw off the meter a little… unless the adaptor adjusts for that. I don’t remember. Well, we’ll see when the pictures come back… assuming the film was still good.

I had the MD-12 motor drive on the FM3a. There was no need for it, but I used it anyway just because I felt like it. This made a normally handy little camera (larger than the OM-1) rather bulky. And I had that zoom lens on it too. In this configuration I like the Olympus better. I’ll pare it down a bit next time.

The Canon. Oh, this was such a nice camera in 1982! Today it seemed clunky next to the others. The 50mm lens is a little boring, too. But I do like the finger grip, and I got a photo of an old hydrant with the background out of focus.

I still plan to get a D90 eventually, but darned if shooting film – especially with the manual cameras – wasn’t fun! I could use some different lenses though. The FM3a has a 50mm lens, which, as I said, is a pretty boring focal length, and the zoom lens. The Olympus has a 35-200 mm zoom, a 50mm, and the 24mm. I only have the 50mm lens for the Canon. I’ve found I like to take pictures of airplanes. Since they are often ‘off-limits’, a long lens is handy. The 50mm lens is good for when I can get closer and don’t want any wide-angle distortion. I also like to take pictures of old buildings. 24mm is nice for that. Still, I feel as if I should have a couple more options. Sure, I have the zoom lenses; but I wonder if they’re enough. Heck, I’ve even wished for a very long lens so I could take pictures of the herons around here.

So what do you think? What lenses should I have in my ‘kit’? Definitely a 24mm for the FM3a. (And yes, I know I’m supposed to choose one camera system and build on it instead of having four – I have a Pentax K1000 too, but it didn’t have any film in it – but I tend to ‘collect’ things.) I don’t think I’ll get any more gear for the Pentax or the Canon; I like the Olympus and the Nikon much better. Also, I don’t want to go overboard. As much as I like film, digital is the way to go nowadays. I’m still going to get the D90, and I’ll need lenses for that. So what I’m looking for are ‘must have’ lenses for the FM3a and the OM-1.


I’d suggest checking out bhphoto.com. I’ve never looked but I would expect them to have adapters so that different lenses worked on different cameras. I’m sure some of them don’t move the electronics so you would lose autozoom/focus/FStop and your EXIF data would be lacking, but if you don’t mind doing that by hand, it might be the cheapest route.

BTW, 35-200 sounds nice, how fast is it? Between all your lenses it seems like you’ve got distance covered 24mm prime, 50mm prime, 35-200 zoom. You said you’re looking for something longer, are you looking for a zoom lens or a prime? Other then that, I’d say look into something fast, especially if you want to take pictures of birds.

I can’t speak for the other cameras you mentioned, but I have the D90 and love it. Mine came with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm kit lens, and since they were offering a deal, I also got an AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm lens.

The camera takes amazing photos. The video is not horrible, but nothing to write home about.

Also, what are you willing to spend on a lens? $100? $300? $1000?

I’ve got a 70-300 that I like, but I made the mistake of taking only that lens on a vacation once. I got very few photos. Everything was waaaay to close for it to be useful.

‘Ot…oh… focus’? :confused: :stuck_out_tongue: What I like about the FM3a and the OM-1 is that they’re manual. (OK, the FM3a does have an aperture-priority option.) Being mechanical, they only need the batteries to run the meter. If I guestimated using ‘Sunny-16’, I wouldn’t need batteries. :wink:

The Olympus’s and Nikon’s zoom lenses are both f3.5-4.5. I could use a long lens if I decide to try some nature photography (or for catching aircraft on flybys), but it would be a ‘special purpose’ lens. Generally I like wide-angle (for architecture) and ‘normal’ for everything else. So I could indeed get a 24mm for the Nikon and be done with it. It’s just that I have a ‘feeling’ that I should have other lenses in my kits. Only, I’m used to what I have and I’m not sure what else I’d ‘need’.

The other thread convinced me on the D90. It’s not time to get one yet, though. When I do, I’ll definitely be asking about accessories for digital photography! I have a video camera for video, so I’d use that capability on the D90 for ‘emergencies’.

As little as possible! But I plan on getting Nikkor lenses for the Nikon (which is what I have now), and Zuiko ones for the Olympus. Actually, I’ve got the 24mm annd 50mm for the Olympus, so maybe I don’t need any more. Or maybe one more. (That’s the purpose of this thread! :wink: )

If your lenses are primarily f3.4-4.5 I’d say the next thing you should look at is something fast. Whether it’s wide angle so you can take your architecture pics in lower light or long/zoom for nature.


Spend some money on a high quality tripod and head. I have this head which I absolutely LOVE on a tripod similar to this. I had a cheapo $50 tripod and the first time someone tripped over it and shuffled everything around I went out and bought this. Having a nice tripod made a huge difference. You can take a low light picture with a not so fast lens because you can leave your shutter open so much longer and be confident the camera won’t move (use your remote for doing this). You can bracket shots, play with HDR etc… And that head is amazing. Point the camera anywhere you want it without having loosen and tighten a bunch of knobs. Set it to landscape or portrait on the fly. It’s an all around great tripod.

Actually I have a pretty good tripod. It’s a Bogen 3193 (Manfrotto 546B) with a Bogen 3066 head. Might be just the teeniest bit stout for a 35mm camera, though.

I do have a set of Bogen 3021 legs and a 3063 head, which is much more portable (and doesn’t need to support an Aaton).

Edit: I looked again at the ‘3193’ link. Actually, it’s not the same as the 546B. The 546B has a 75mm bowl, and the 3193 has a 100mm bowl. Just to be clear, I have the 3193.

Too late to edit.

Here’s the 3193. I have the 3138 spreader, and a gigantic hard case. Good thing the case has wheels on it. The legs and head weigh about 38 pounds.

Should have gone with the Maxxum - at least the digital bodies accept the film lenses. I have very low regard for the crooks who decided to force users to buy all new lenses because the stuff behind the shutter changed.

For aircraft, I’d say a minimum of 200mm. Portrait use 130-150mm. 50mm is the default “kit” lens for those who feel that being required to buy the body snd lens separately is some kind of rip-off. I never did find a use for it.

I have never been able to focus a camera - a real limiting factor. Then Minolta (RIP) introduced a real auto-focus. I dropped a ton of money.

I ended up using a 28-85 and a 70-210 for 90% of my shots - critters and landscape. The 20mm got some of the best shots for buildings and landscape. Then there was the macro -I have both the 50mm and 100mm. The 50 gets WAY more use than the 100. If you want to collect coins, get the 100mm. Everybody else, the 50mm.
I have a 500mm which has not been used for 10+ years, and damned little before that.

Lenses I have never used: 85mm (great for tabletop/product), 135 (portrait - and I don’t do people). 50mm. I got rid of the 70-210 when I bought a 100-300. Big mistake - the 100-300 is a crappy lens, and I want my 70-210 back (a Minolta/Sony thing).

I now have the 28-135 (legendary Maxxum lens) - it now gets 90% of work

Another vote for “make up your mind” re. camera systems - good glass is too expensive to have to buy 3 times, and i’ve never heard anything nice about adapters.

Oh, I completely agree. Here’s how it happened. In high school I had (and still have) a Minolta 110 AutoPak. I wanted a better camera. I chose the Canon AE-1 Program because it was the most ‘advanced’ camera I could afford. See, I was young and I considered aperture-priority, shutter-priority, or fully-automatic (the camera chooses both the aperture and shutter speed) as Good Things. I used the Canon for years. But, still being young, I had aspirations of being ‘professional’; and the pros were using Nikons. Well, I couldn’t afford one. But Olympus looked good, and better than Canon. I was enamoured of the photos taken by mountain climbers with the OM-1. Ah, rugged individuals! I got an OM-4. After a while I realised that I was relying on the aperture-priority mode too much. If I wanted to be a ‘pro’ (and I actually did sell some photos), I should me using Manual! So I got an OM-1. As I said, it’s a great little camera. Its being fully functional without batteries also appealed to me. (I also favour mechanical watches.) But I still suffered from Nikon envy. I finally got the FM3a.

A friend back in the '80s had a Pentax K1000, and he was pretty successful with it. I thought it was totally cool that the cheapest SLR on the market was so capable, and I appreciated the fully-mechanical, ‘no bells and whistles’ simplicity. I knew this old guy who worked on my super-8 cameras, and the K1000 came up in conversation. He happened to have one, new-in-box. With three other brands, I certainly didn’t need another. But it was just too cool to pass up.

And so I ended up with four ‘systems’. If I could go back and start over, I’d probably start with Nikon and stick with it. Still, I love the OM-1. It’s hard being a ‘collector’. But at least I would have foregone the Canon. If it wasn’t so cheap, I’d probably had passed over the Pentax too. But it’s still pretty cool. Complicating matters is that I’m really more into motion picture cameras than still cameras. Since I was never going to be a professional photographer, having one ‘system’ wasn’t that important to me. I’d rather spend my money on movie cameras, and then video.

So yeah, sticking with one ‘system’ is the way it should be done. But between budget, youthful aspirations, ‘collector mentality’, and other factors I wound up with four. Now if only I could scrape up $10,000 for the lens I really want…

Do you have a fisheye? I use my Nikon 10.5mm all the time.

There are times when I’ve wished for a fisheye lens, but mostly it would be unused.

On my older Nikkormat FTn Nikon FM-2 and FA, I used the 24/2.8, 50/1.4, & 105/2.5, a Series E 35-70, plus a Vivitar Series 1 70-210/3.5 (old stlye) and a Spiratone 19/3.5. Flashes were 285s and 283s. Had some other lenses, too, like a 500/8.0 mirror, a 400/6.3, a non AI 35/2.0, etc…, but they mostly stayed at home.

My current Nikon D-60 has the 18-55 and the 55-200 ED, plus the SB-400 flash. Surprising how much photo capability is there in that very small camera bag. Currently thinking about one of the Sigma or Tokina ultrawide zooms which would just about complete my package. All of my older tripods, reflectors, etc… are still very needed, so they are in the equipment room, ready at a moment’s notice to come out and play.

Also, still able to use my 6" Meade with anything, either by piggy backing or a T-mount for astrophotography.

Film? Knew just about all I could about it, used it well. Digital? Love it! Haven’t used a film camera in a long time now.

Heh/ I bought myself a telescope, and then discovered the problem with living in the PNW. Skies are clear in the Summer, but it doesn’t get dark until late – and I have a full-time job that I need to get up early for. It gets dark in the early-afternoon in the Winter, but it’s usually raining.

What sort of subjects did you use those lenses for?

Portraits & weddings (b4 I stepped up to med formats), travel & landscape, personal.

For most of my later pro stuff (weddings, portraits, industrial), I used a Mamiya 645 and later a Hassy.

Winter is when I do most of my astro stuff. Cold, non-wiggly air. Well, usually non-wiggly. TX, CO, OK locations.

BTW, before the Nikon and med format stuff, I had Minolta, Canon, and Olympus systems. All of them were wonderful. My first camera was a Rollieflex Dad gave me. Had some old Polaroid Land cameras, too. And a 35mm Minox in the 80s that fit in my tight jeans pocket.
Kind of getting nostalgic here …

I still have my dad’s Polaroid Land Camera. It looks like the one in the link, but I don’t know if it’s that exact model. I wish I could get film for it, just to play with it.

Actually, I wish he’d opted for an SLR instead.

If you want one walk-around lens, a 24-70mm f/2.8 is perfect for that. The fixed aperture is fast enough for indoor shooting, and the focal range is great for landscapes to portraits. Of course, the latest versions of this lens are about $2000, too, but there might be some older models out there for cheaper. The predecessor to this lens was the 35-70 f/2.8, but it leaves you wanting a bit more wide angle at the short range. If I have to pick one camera body and one lens, this is the lens I grab.

As for best value, the 85mm f/1.8 (which is around $450) is a razor sharp, fast piece of optics. It is awesome for portraits (although I’ve stepped up to the f/1.4 version of this lens), contrasty, and great in low light. This is the first lens I got when I bought my Nikon N90, and it’s the first lens I bought when I got a Canon 5D (the Canon lens is about the same price and quality as the Nikon). Some may prefer the 135mm f/2 for portraits, but it’s about twice the price.

As for an all-around go-to wide angle lens, the 24mm f/2.8 does the job admirably. No Clue Boys’ list of lenses is pretty darn close to what was in my kit during for a good portion of my newspaper days (my bag was 24mm f/2.8, 60mm f/2.8 macro, 85mm f/1.8, 80-200 f/2.8.) My style has changed since them, so I’m now mostly in the 24-70mm zoom range that used to bore the shit out of me, but you can’t really go wrong with either the 24-70mm zoom (if you can afford it) or the 24mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.8. The only caveat about the 24 is that on the D90 it’s more like a 35mm lens because of the cropping. The 85mm becomes longer, but it’s not that big a deal as when your wides become significantly less wide.

As for fisheyes, they’re nice to have in the kit, but for most photographers (unless they have some weird fisheye obsession) it’s one of the least-used lenses.