Amateur Photographer Looking for Advice

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by guzelsu, May 2, 2007.

  1. Hello there:

    This is my first posting on this site. I'm an amateur photographer looking to
    invest in my first serious camera. I have a Canon SD500 Powershot and an ok
    Nikon film camera with a crappy lens. Most of my photography is either wedding
    photos or travel photos (last trip to Nepal resulted in about 500 photos which
    I will post a few of eventually). I've got a bit of skill but I think I need
    to invest a serious amount of time and energy into really developing my
    photography skills. I want to spend that time with a camera that I can use in
    a variety of situations that will serve me well over the next 10 years, i.e., I
    want to learn on the camera that I am going to use, not on the cameras that I
    have currently. I've got quite a bit of capital to invest in a camera (about
    $3000) and I wondering if you have recommendations for a 35mm film camera and
    required lens(es) for someone in my position. I'm also thinking of taking a
    class (I live in LA) and I was wondering if anyone had any leads on that
    front. I work as an attorney currently but will likely be moving to the
    foreign service next year. Photography has been my passion for the last 10
    years but I've always felt that with a better camera and a lot more time
    invested in learning the basics, I would be a much better photographer. I met
    a photographer for National Georgraphic in Nepal who was lauding the merits of
    a Leica but I'm not sure if it's versatile enough for what I am looking for.
    The romance of it does appeal to me but I want to be practical about this
    investment since I want this investment to serve me well for the next 10

  2. The only 35mm film camera worth having is a Leica. I have tried most of the other brands, but when I came up with the cash for a Leica, it became clear that everything else was second rate. $3000. may not be quite enough for a new one with a lens. If that is an absolute limit, do not hesitate to get a used one. M6 is my favorite, M3 second. Any current or very recent generation Leica lens will be good. My preference is for the 50mm f2. Lower price, focuses closer, weighs less. The Leica reflexes are ok too, but these are better. Suggest you buy from a Leica dealer as opposed to Ebay so you have some recourse if you get a bad used body or lens.
  3. Hi Ozge
    There is no serious or better camera in the world, but photographer. If you would be a better photographer, invest in films, paper and travelling.
    The only thing what you need is a box with a shutter and experience. Plastic or brass cameras have the same function.
    good luck!
  4. Here is link
  5. I would only consider camera systems who's lenses will let you transition easily into a digital SLR when the time comes, and it will. The Nikon F100, maybe Nikons best AF film camera, is selling in the $200.00 to $300.00 range now - a steal - and very similar in feel and control to current digital Nikon SLR's
  6. Ozge, you want an excuse for new gear...

    Now, let's skip that one.

    First, think about the kind of photographs you do best. Are you elated when traveling? Of all the photographs, which ones do you consider your best and why? Examine those ones, see what's in them that leads you to think there's a photographer inside you. In other words, think, really hard, about the knowledge you have gathered already about composition, photographic expression and "tricks" or signs (the ones that allow you to see sadness or happiness in a photograph). Study the work of photographers you like, see what they have done and try to follow their steps before you take your own path.

    And, most important, just take photographs for the sheer pleasure of taking them, looking at them, printing them and even framing them to hang in your place... but don't become obsessed with success or else you'll turn into a bitter man.

    Of course, if you want to buy a new camera nobody will stop you, but keep in mind that you, and not the camera, take the pictures.

    Start by buying or checking out books from your local library too! And enjoy the journey!!
  7. For 35mm film rangefinder photography, the Leica M system is the best, and $3K is sufficient for a good used camera and lens. However, your post does not indicate that you've decided that rangefinder photography is for you. It's different from SLR photography. You need to understand the difference better before deciding whether to buy a Leica system. On the other hand, you could buy it and if it doesn't work out you can usually recover your investment on the used market.
  8. A digital SLR would accelerate your learning, given that you get instant feedback. Why is it so important to have the camera for the next 10 years? If you don't mind getting digital, I'd suggest a Nikon D200 or a Pentax K10D.
  9. Most everyone has gone digital and that is what the classes will tell you. I'm a film guy preferring the Leica because of its many attributes, compactness, lenses, reliability, unobtrusiveness, among others. Decide if you're film or digi...then take it from there.

    classes: on the cheap your local community college or Tri-Community Photo Center in Covina, CA. [great teachers, very helpful].

    Its about the photographers and not the gear, but if you ask I'd say go with the Leica M camera - the best ever made.
  10. If you already have a Nikon body, spend $500 for a pair of Nikon primes, used off eBay, and you won't have "crappy" lenses any more. If you want opinions from strangers, this stranger will tell you spending $3000 on film Leicas in 2007 is stupid. Your photos will look exactly the same as the ones you took with your crappy lenses. My $500 lens advice will save you $2500.<p>Take the remaining $2500 and use it to fund yourself a full month off and to travel somewhere you've never been with a couple of bricks of film. You may come back with a dozen photos you never dreamed you could take. <p>Best of luck.
  11. Thanks for all the responses. Very helpful. Of course there is some aspect of the "new toy" thrill in my desire to buy a new camera. I would think that most people on this site would understand that. I will likely invest in a digital SLR at some point as well -- it seems unavoidable. I love the photos that my little digital Canon SD500 takes so I am actually pretty happy with that for the time being -- it's great for times I don't want to lug around a full-size camera. Seems silly to get a second digital camera when I have one that serves most purposes relatively well.

    I am not so happy with the quality of my photos from my Nikon which could be either that I am a crappy photographer or that the lens is causing issues. $3000 is more of a guideline than a cap. I want a nice film camera and advice on the best one available. Looks like the Leica M6 may be my best bet. I'll probably research/think for the next few months before investing regardless. I'll be leaving the country next spring for a 3-4 month trip through the Middle East so I need the camera well before then with enough time to really learn how to use it.

    Andy, thanks for the advice on the Nikon. My father bought me the prior version of the Nikon I have currently. It broke after 2 years and I took it in to be fixed. The camera store said it would the same to buy a new one as it would to have the old one fixed. So I replaced the body with a new one but it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I expect that when I spend $400 a piece of equipment that it will last longer than the warranty. I guess I could invest $400 every two years and it will still be more cost effective than the Leica but for some reason that is less appealing to me. This is part of the allure of the Leica -- that I can fall in love with the camera and have it for a long time without having to replace it. I thank you all for your kind advice. I imagine I will be seeking more advice shortly.
  12. "I am not so happy with the quality of my photos from my Nikon which could be either that I am a crappy photographer or that the lens is causing issues"

    What lens is it and why do you suspect the lens rather than other factors? Part of photography is understanding and working around the limitations of your equipment- some equipment is more versatile than others but all are limited in one way or another.
  13. I'm surprised Nikon gives you poor results, even the amateur lenses should be pretty
    good. Getting a few prime lenses is good advice.

    Leica concentrates on essentials: robust, quality gear that wil last and last. If you want the
    latest tech and a huge range of zoom lenses, it isn't for you. But then some of the best
    pictures have been taken with really simple gear, just a manual body and 50mm lens. If
    you decide on Leica M, I second Leica M6 or M3 plus a 50, and also a wide angle (35 or 28)
    for traveling.

    Also, don't dismiss a really simple compact film camera with quality fixed lens for taking
    along as well as a digital (it's unlikely to last as long as an M, though).

    The trouble with virtually all digital gear (except, possibly the Leica M8) is that it is
    outdated as soon as it is released and will be superseded by the next model. Leica Ms will
    just go on and on. But you do have to factor in film processing costs.

    But probably the best investment you could make for $100 or so would be to buy some
    photo books, including National Geo's travel photography, and anything you can find on
    composition and exposure.
  14. Ozge wrote:

    << ... merits of a Leica but I'm not sure if it's versatile enough for what I am looking for. The romance of it does appeal to me but I want to be practical ... >>

    Well put. And it points you squarely in the direction Andy described, rather than in the direction of the M6 (a camera I own and like, by the way).

    If you want to go the all manual route, a Nikon FM2 (or FM2N) would do the trick. Compact and solidly built, in the Nikon line-up for about 20 years and thus easily repairable/adjustable if need be, and it accepts half a million quality lenses (give or take). Only the meter is battery dependent, same as on the M6. But unlike the M6, it goes to 1/4000 max shutter speed and flash syncs at 1/250.

    If you're thinking about autoexposure, there's the FE2 -- similar to FM2 but with aperture priority AE and ttl flash. It uses batteries, but they're modern ones and readily available.

    If you have autofocus on your mind, there's the F100, a superb camera now available at a low price because .... it takes film.

    For the manual cameras, there are outstanding mf lenses at 35 f/2, 50 (either f/1.4, 1.8, or 2.0), and the celebrated 105 f/2.5, and too many others to count. Comparable AF Nikkors are available for the F100, should you prefer autofocus. You can put longer zooms on the slr than you can on a rangefinder, should you find you're interested in wildlife. Macro photography is also easier and more convenient on an slr, should you go that route.

    If you said you expected to concentrate on available light photography in poorly lit places, the rangefinder offers the advantage of having no mirror, and therefore no mirror slap, so it can be handheld by many at somewhat lower shutter speeds.

    If you want the romance, the M6 is there. But how will you feel about yourself in the morning ? :)
  15. Above, "longer zooms" should have been written as "longer lenses."

    (There aren't "long zooms" for the Leica M series cameras.)
  16. jtk


    The end of the world is at hand (end of film). What's this about 10 years? No camera with today's lens mounts will have any relationship to what any of us will want in 5 years.

    Spend $1000 on a good OLD Nikon SLR and a couple of prime lenses, and put the rest into film, processing, bus fare, and fruit juice for the ladies. Shoot $2000 worth of film and high quality processing and scanning (if you can find it). Do this for the remainder of 2007 and you'll be a famous photographer in the New Year, like Al Kaplan or Weegee.

    You won't be able to find film and processing for that 35 in a few years, and today's best digital cameras will be paper weights by 2010, so put your money into photography itself rather than into hardware.
  17. Such depressing comments with regard to film cameras. I'm not swayed. The advantage of the Leica is really the portability for me. I like to travel light and I love taking shots of people in places I travel. My understanding is that I will lose a lot of travel convenience with the SLR. Perhaps I am wrong on that front and someone can correct me . . .

    And I don't care about the new digital revolution. There is an art to film photography that will never disappear and I want to be a part of it. I can always keep the digital in my pocket to see how the shots may have turned out.

    As with all romances, you never feel quite as nice in the morning but I always have an unabashed grin while brushing my teeth the next day. I cannot imagine that I will regret any amount of money invested in a good and practical tool.

    I've ordered two books to start me off:

    "Langford's Basic Photography, Eighth Edition: The guide for serious photographers"

    "Leica M: Advanced Photo School (A Lark Photography Book)"

    Thanks for all the helpful advice.
  18. John K, will due respect, your doomsday stuff: "The end of the world is at hand (end of film)" is a boring 150 year old echo of what was said about painting and engraving when photography was invented.

    Those in the mid 19th Century who said that etching and engraving would have no future, have been proved so wonderfully wrong, by the existance of artists' printmaking workshops flourishing around the world, with developments and improvements in ink supplies, and magnificent etching papers still made in mills in Europe and elsewhere, some who have been in continuos business for CENTURIES.

    Portrait painters were supposed to all go and jump off cliffs because the camera had arrived.

    Whilst engraving, was for the most part eclipsed by lithography in commercial printing, but not entirely, because some exclusive texts are still illustrated with copperplate photogravure, and stone lithography by zinc then aluminium plate for high volume photo lithography, it, like so many other print medium has made a place for itself, and stayed. So will film-based photography.

    We are experiencing only just the beginning of a consolidation of the film industry. In one form or another it is here to stay, and will outlive you.

    I recently had a friend ask if I still had the darkroom gear he was so keen to throw out when he bought his first pixel thing. Lucky for him I still do. Others have told me they regretted selling their film cameras. You do no one any favours with that stuff about "end of film", but it sure does seem to be your favourite hobby horse.

    Read some history dear friend ... if you dare.

    Cheers, Kevin.
  19. Ozge, ignore the depressing stuff. I bought an M3 about 10 years ago, and have just used a hand-held meter. I would like another later body with a meter for colour transparency (slides) but have invested in additional lenses instead, all old and magnificent. I also have Minolta X-370 SLR. They have some excellent lenses, good enough that they supplied Lieca with the optics for some of the Leica R lense range.

    A reliable and respected author on the M system is Jonathan Eastland, who has written a number of works, but if you are interest in the M cameras, I would suggest you get his "Leica M Compendium"

    I have this book as well as his Leica R Compendium. You can get them new from Hove Books direct or via the link above, and sometimes used on eBay as well.

    Cheers, Kevin.
  20. << ... My understanding is that I will lose a lot of travel convenience with the SLR. Perhaps I am wrong on that front and someone can correct me . . . >>

    That depends upon which slr, and which lenses. The FM2 and FE2 I mentioned are small cameras. An M6, for example, weighs 560 grams; an FM2 weighs 540. The AIS version of the 35/2 Nikkor lens weighs about 280 grams; the black chrome Leica 35/2 ASPH is about 255 (but the silver colored one is heavier, weighing in at closer to 340 grams).

    In short, the Nikons and Leicas we're talking about are rather close in weight, but not in price. :)

    When people talk about carrying heavy, bulky slr gear, they're often talking about pro-level bodies and lenses, which are indeed large and heavy. But that comparison is not terribly illuminating. A pro-level autofocus body from Canon or Nikon shoots multiple frames per second (vs. ? on the manually advanced M rangefinder, or for that matter the manually advanced FM2), autofocuses terribly fast (vs. not at all on the M rangefinder or the FM2), and so on.

    Of course you should get the cameras/lenses *you* want, whether you select on the basis of price, utility, durability, practicality, flexibility -- any criteria *you* prefer. I'm only posting so that other views are presented and explained.

    The important thing is that you get equipment you'll enjoy using.

    Whatever you decide to get, I do hope you post some photos with us here.

    Best of luck.
  21. As a lifelong and committed film photographer who shoots Leica AND dslr, my suggestion
    would be FORGET Leica for now, get a DSLR, learn to photograph, THEN, once you built up
    some skill get a Leica if you want.
  22. If you can resist all the naysayers then it sounds as if you are a Leica M candidate!

    Leica M Advanced Photo School is an excellent book, and very inspiring. The Nat Geo one
    is good, and I can also recommend Brian Bower's Light Lens and Landscape and Roger
    Hicks and Frances Schulz's Perfect Exposure.

    Leica M is definitely A LOT lighter for traveling, and excellent in low light. Use it with 100
    ISO slide film or 400 ISO print film and you will be very satisfied.
  23. jtk


    Amusing responses. There's a big difference between etching/painting and film photography. Guess what it is.

    Film photography is 100% dependent upon the desires of shareholders of a couple of gigantic corporations that actually do have bigger fish to fry. The future of film has nothing to do with the desires of 35 mm camera operators. Etching/painting are not dependent upon any industry at all, the artists can keep their technology alive without any input from any industrial resource or financial market whatsoever...even without paper.

    Perhaps Ozge should investigate Prokudin Gorskii. Glass plate photography, unlike film photography, didn't need Rochester. Coat em' yerself.
  24. Ozge, you present an interesting situation because while I moved to Leica M for the constant desire for more compact high quality photographic equipment options and was also attracted by the durability and legacy aspects, I did not think my previous images were crap. You can get a used Nikon AIS 50 1.4 for about $125, and find out if you are able to meet your photographic expectations.

    For me, the rangefinder concept, perfected in the Leica M, is more of a photography touchstone than the quality of the Leica glass, but I came to that conclusion only after years of using many cameras, and as you acknowledge yourself, the rangefinder M is not as versatile as some of the SLR alternatives. While my Leica M6 and CL are essential to my personal enjoyment of photography, in many situations I still reach for my Nikon FM3a to deal with parameters I can not control when I need a predicatable result, and the FM3a is well suited to creative-control projects also.

    Often when posters say, "Its the photographer and not the camera" I want to gag because they are attempting to dismiss any consideration of the incremental benefits that better equipment offers, but the fact is that fine photographs can be made with inexpensive equipment.

    I uploaded a few photos. Couldn't manage to turn them all upright before uploading but I
    hope to fix that shortly. Some are taken with the crappy Nikon (Cambodia, Laos) and others
    with the Canon SD500 (Nepal). Peruse and comment.
  26. Ozge - I remember about 9 years ago I was in a similar situation with respect to my assessment of my photography skills and equipment. I thought my composition showed some potential and was often quite good, but my photos were rather dull and unimpressive. I blamed the lacklustre images on my equipment and technique and bought some books on photography to learn what to buy. I learned that the body is just a box to control how much light reaches the film. I also learned that my lenses were probably not really to blame, especially not my 50/1.8. Most likely the problem lay with the processing of the prints. To test this theory I ran a roll of slide film through my camera and lo and behold, they looked awesome. Exactly the look I had been wanting.

    Moral of the story is don't be too quick to blame yourself or your equipment for images that look dull and uninspiring if you're judging by prints. Try slide film. It doesn't improve your composition, but you just may realize that your equipment isn't to blame. At the very least, it's a cheap experiment and may give you an idea of where your equipment and your ability to properly expose film are at.

    Now don't go reading into this that print film is somehow inferior to slide film. In fact it has many advantages to slide film and if you don't know what they are, then there is one more thing for you to research. Perhaps many of your archived negatives contain stunning photos which the print processing failed to do justice to. All I'm saying is that slides pretty much reveal what was exposed on the film - same as the negative; whereas prints are totally at the mercy of some photo lab tech or computer algorithm which may or may not (more often the latter in my experience) know how to generate a great print.
  27. an m6 with a 35mm summicron will do a great job at both weddings and travel photography.
    you'd even have money left over for a nikon fm2 and a 85/1.8 or 105/2.5. if it doesn't pan
    out, sell it and get something else.

    i also live in the la basin, but i wish i lived in nyc because there's so much more going on.
  28. Ozge Merhaba,
    Herkes fikrini belirtmis ama bende sana kendi tecrubelerimi yazayim. Bu arada umarim, turkce okumanda sorun yoktur. Leica makina ve objektif ile cekecegin fotograflarda son derece net veya alan derinligi olan fotograflar bulacaksin. Hele Siyah/Beyaz cekersen cok daha guclu ve vurgulu fotograflar elde edersin. Leica'nin objektifleri cok kalitelidir. Eger kullanmayi bilirsen muthis guzel fotograflar cekersin. Bunuda zamanla ilerletirsin. Ama rangefinder makinalar, SLR makinalar kadar kolay kullanilamaz. Fotograflarindan gordugum kadari ile daha cok portre, insan fotografi ve manzara cekmeyi seviyorsun. Genis aci lens ile yakindan calisabilirsen ve bir tane teleobjektif bana yeter dersen Leica rangefinder ozelliklede Leica M6 almani oneririm. Hem kucuk ve hafif, hemde cok kaliteli bir makina. Tabii burada karar verecegin baska bir konu, filmli makina kullanmak istiyormusun? DSLR makinalarda sen sadece konuya odaklanirsin ve kadraji ayarlarsin. Isik ayarini ve metre ayarini makina kendisi ayarlar. Ama rangefinder makina kullanacagin zaman herseyi sen yapacaksin. Netlik, kadraj, isik ayari, hiz ayari gibi...
    Fakat elinde eski model gorunen bir makina ile kimseyi rahatsiz etmeden ve gurultu cikartmadan cok rahat fotograf cekebilirsin.
    Ankara'dan sevgiler.
    Tolga ANIL
  29. John, what you said about lens mounts is obviously nonsense. Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Hasselblad, even Leica will use their current mounts 5 and even 15 years from now for many of their new digital cameras. And you can still get film and processing in 10 years, to say the least. I am offering $10 for all your film cameras and lenses in the mounts of your film cameras in 2012. You should take on the offer now as nobody else will make a better offer, if you turn out correct.
  30. "This is part of the allure of the Leica -- that I can fall in love with the camera and have it
    for a long time without having to replace it."

    Well, the only way to find out is to buy one and see if love blossoms. You want a new
    camera and you fancy a Leica -- I can't think of single reason why you shouldn't have one.
    Buy and enjoy.

  31. Very glad you posted your photos, Ozge. I enjoyed them. It looks as though you take some of the same kinds of photos I like to take.
    Sometimes for me there's a tension between (i)showing more background/context in my street photos to give a sense of the setting: pic #1; and (ii)getting in a bit closer, making them more like portraits, and still trying to leave enough background in the shot: pic #2. It's a challenge.
    Incidentally, I didn't see anything (at the posted size, of course) that suggested to me that your camera -- either camera -- wasn't up to the job. A couple of the Cambodia photos show the difficulty anyone might have in exposing for very bright and very dark portions of the same frame. Often that situation calls for specialized filters, more experience metering those scenes as you get the feel for what a given combination of camera/lens/film will do, and/or more work in the post-processing, either by the lab or later, by you in Photoshop.
    But as Alun Severn has noted succinctly above, what your current cameras can do may be beside the point. :)
  32. I just traded two Canon 1Vs for a Leica M3 and a few lenses. I have snapped a few shots with the Leica and practiced some prefocusing (the only other rangefinder expereince i have is with a yashica Electro), but mostly i have been walking around with my light meter and taking notes so i can use the damn camera without a meter. Here is my advice to you, I have owned just about every type of camera out there, and from the way you travel and shoot, I would go one of two routes. If you have a ton of money, get an M6, how can you really go wrong. But if you have saved the $3000, and it isn't pocket change for you, I would seriously consider the used Nikon FM2N with some quality lenses. you will still have the new toy, and it is a hell of a lot of fun to use that camera too, you won't be disappointed. The fact that it is all manual is a bonus. Compared to DSLRs it is still a pretty unassuming camera. Like the wiser people have said before me, spend the leftover money actually taking picutures. I am sure a lot of people can sympathize with "the new toy" aspect, a few years ago i got an aquisition itch and bought a lot of camera equipment, that i have since been getting rid of. I have a canon FD system that i find more enjoyable than my canon DSLR and AF systems, and now the Leica is making me develop some new skills, so for that it is a useful tool for me. But you really got to think if switching to a rangefinder is going to improve your photography whereever you are at, and also if you will enjoy that style of phtography. You really got to look inside and buy a camera becasue it will be useful, not becasue it would be a nice toy, trust me I know from experience :)
  33. practice, practice, practice.
  34. Lots of good discussion here. My recent introduction into the Leica world has made me a
    huge fan of the cameras form/fit/feel/function. I've shot a few differnt models of the
    Canon line up, and still shoot a ton of stuff with their digital bodies. But as an all around
    cam, I carry an M6. I've gotten to really enjoy the slower pace of shooting with it. (slower
    on purpose, although I am sure some folks can shoot faster).

    I bought my Leica equipment about a year ago. I found a vendor that had an auction of
    old stock from a store foreclosure. Recently I've seen the same bodies going for the same
    or more $$ than what I paid. There are some great deals to be had.

    Personally, I don't see the death of film in the near future. Maybe my head is buried in the
    sand to deep, but I just can't see it happening soon. Long live film...!

  35. i think you really want a leica and have the money to buy it, so my advice is get a used one,
    use it for a while, and if you like it you keep it,of you don't, you sell it at almost no loss of
  36. jtk


    Ilkka, thanks for the offer. Let's talk in 2012.

    Meanwhile, I plan to shoot and scan a lot of silver before the inevitable digital viewfinder-type with 4/3 chip that's optically better than Canon G7 at a price that makes sense to me (5D $$). I think 2008 will be that year. Panasonic's close, but for that neo-slr form factor. And yes, it'd be nice if it accepted M/LTM primes, but it won't IMO.

    Film's already dead with T-grain: inferior digital look.
  37. Thanks, Paul A!! I am signing up for the summer semester of Photo 1 and beginning photoshop at the Covina school. I think in the meantime before I figure out what I am looking for I will invest in 1 good lens for the Nikon and learn on that for the summer and then once I get the hang of it, I can feel comfortable with the larger investment for my trip next year. I imagine the basics of film camera use will be the same for beginners and I'll probably have a much better sense of what I need once I am done with the class. Thank you all for your help. I really appreciate it. I'll continue to post photos as I improve -- the photos on this site have been inspiring so far. If you were going to buy a lens for the Nikon N75 what would you get? The camera itself is not great, I know, and if people think it might be worth investing in the Nikon F100 instead then I may be willing to do that (it comes highly recommended from you folks so I'm sure it's great). Anyway, I want the Leica but until I know enough to figure out which exact model to purchase, I think I need an interim camera to work with. Sorry for the barrage of questions.
  38. I am convinced composition is the most important part of photography. To zoom or not to
    zoom? A 24 or 28 to 90 or 105 plus an 80 to 200 will cover just about everything you
    need. But then a single focal length lens teaches you discipline. If that's what you want,
    get a fast 50. If that appeals, you would like the Leica approach.
  39. First, good call on the photo class. Perhaps my best (and in one sense, my only) "investment" in my photography was an Intro class I took a few years ago -- 3 Friday evenings and 2 Saturday a.m. field trips -- at a community college down the road.

    Second, these are two consumer level autofocus Nikkor lenses I have used and liked:

    (i) 28 - 105mm AF-D Nikkor zoom

    Pretty good carry-around zoom range, sharp, reasonably light, and has a close-focusing capability (not "true macro" but better than nothing). Readily available (new and used) and in my view, not overpriced.

    (ii) 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor

    Sharp, small, light, quite good in available light situations, and at approximately $100 new, a easy call to make ... provided you like the 50mm (so-called "normal") focal length. I do like it, but for some, a 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm might make for a better prime lens.

    [Note 1: In both cases, the "D" means the lens transmits distance info for flash purposes.]

    [Note 2: Neither of these lenses is "AF-S" so neither will autofocus on a D40/D40x dslr from Nikon (but both will autofocus on all other dslr's from Nikon). If you've got a sense you might go the D40/D40x route, that might be a factor.]
  40. Incidentally, the F100 is head-and-shoulders above the N75 in just about every respect, but especially in its faster, surer autofocus and much better viewfinder. But it's also a larger and heavier body -- not immense, but certainly bigger than the N75.

    You should see if you can handle an F100 with a lens on it before you decide. As photographers have dumped film cameras, prices have fallen on cameras like the F100, but the cameras themselves certainly haven't lost any of their capabilities.

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