Budget Photography – Using The 35mm SLR
Long time readers will remember a series I did a while ago regarding budget photography where the merits of various types of equipment could be used. To summarize, those that were wanting a DSLR type result but without the large outlay required for good quality gear.
While it is true that new equipment has become cheaper it is still outside the bounds of many who would like to do more with the camera.
I too fall into this category as I limit my budget to $1000.00 NZ, roughly $820.00US. I would like to add to my Pentax family the Pentax Kr DSLR. This would be the two lens kit as seen here. Which I might add is currently the cheapest NZ supplier, and I have found them very good to deal with.
Recently as I was heading home from work I spotted a RNZAF Hercules orbiting the Hamilton Airport, practising short take off and landings. This was a photo op I hadn’t planned for. I had the big gear bag in the van with me but when I looked inside, yikes not HS20EXR in site. Fortunately I always carry one of my SLR’s with me and a spare roll or two of film. In this case one roll, so I was going to have to try my best to take shots that I could get the most from.
This was going to be a little difficult as a stiff westerly was blowing at the time and I had no tripod or mono-pod with me. Theres a lesson in that too.
After loading up the camera with film it became evident very quickly that the AF wasnt going to work well, too small a target in a very large sky with little contrast for the AF to work with. I was using my 23 year old Pentax SF7 with the Sigma DL 100/300mm Telephoto lens. I had the camera on full auto ( noting that the average aperture was f8 and shutter speeds around 350/sec.)
I switched to manual focus and took a series of shots at the runway approach end, approx 500 meters from my position, and then bolted off down the road to the take off/landing area at the other end of the airport to obtain a different perspective on the planes approach.
Once done the film was packaged up and sent to Photo & Video International located in Christchurch NZ. Total cost for a 24 exposure film including Scan to CD and return mail was $16.00 total plus the original $2.30 for postage to Christchurch. You can get scans done at several resolutions. I opted for the lo/med res scans and with a little PP work they are quite acceptable for standard prints. I would ask for the larger resolution scan if I were to print anything above 8×10 inch prints.
With care and better preparation & equipment I would have no problem repeating the process on subjects that dont require a point and shoot process. I lost a number of shots to blurring from movement, and unlike digital you cant go back and do it again, once the shots taken its on film to stay.
The lesson here is one of preparation and knowing what you are setting out to achieve and planning for it.
And there you have it, photography on a budget. The SF7 cost me $135.00 NZ and came with a bag, external flash, 1 x 28-80mm AF Takumar lens, and One AF Sigma 100-300mm telephoto lens.
A very useful package for very little outlay.
There are still extremely good bargains to be had in the 35mm SLR used camera market. I prefer Pentax because of their good background and the fact that every lens made by Pentax, right back to the 42mm thread lenses is compatible in one form or another with the newer DSLR’s Pentax now produces. Similarly you will find this is also the case with Canon, Nikon and others its just a matter of shopping around.
I used Fuji Superia 400 & 400 Xtra, bought in triple packs from places such as The Photo Warehouse but lately have discovered that the Countdown Supermarket chain stocks Fuji 200 and 400 ASA Superia for around $16.00 for a triple pack of 24 exposure rolls. While this may seem to make photography expensive on a shot to shot basis if you choose what you shoot wisely you can obtain excellent results at a fraction of the cost of new digital equipment.