Resources for auto SLRs?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by UncaMikey, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. UncaMikey

    UncaMikey Guest

    For years, I have used a Pentax Spotmatic and a Yashica Mat MF (and
    occasionally a Pentax point-and-shoot zoom), and just recently decided
    to enter the modern age. I bought a Pentax *ist (film, of course!)
    with the FA-J 28-80 lens. Lovely camera, exactly what I was looking
    for, and it's great fun learning to use it.

    My question is: is there a good source (printed or online) explaining
    the auto and custom functions in the *ist or for auto SLRs in general?
    I know the manual describes the *what* but I want to learn more about
    the *why*. Since I am used to far simpler cameras (adjust shutter and
    speed, focus, compose, snap) I am somewhat bewildered by the choices.
    I even asked Pentax, but they were of no help explaining why their
    camera does various things.

    Some options are self-explanatory, but then there's #6, for example,
    "superimpose focus points." What does that mean exactly, and what are
    the pros and cons of the two options? I even googled "superimpose
    focus" and found zero matches -- nada! And all the different metering
    options, and auto this and auto that, and so on and so forth.

    Of course, I could try them all and learn by trial and error, but I
    don't think I could afford the film and processing costs.

    I am eager to learn, and would just like someone to point me in the
    right direction. Thanks!
    UncaMikey, Apr 10, 2004
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  2. UncaMikey

    Alan Browne Guest

    To bring you up to date on the autmoatic stuff: has a pretty good basic tutorial (Canon mainly)

    and of course the manual of the camera. read it, read it again. then
    read it, really, this time.

    Start simply: My initial advice would be do just use a simple focus
    mode, and a simple exposure pattern (spot or center weighted) coupled
    with Aperture priority mode. (You select the aperture, the camera
    computes the speed based on the metered light/film speed). Get in touch
    with the exposure compensation...

    Then use Shutter pri mode where warranted. (you select speed, the camera
    computes aperture based on the metered light/film speed).

    Try to master only one or two 'features' at a time, and then set up to
    use the camera the way that is most productive and intuitive for you.
    camera models have so many special features and means of activating and
    using them, that there is no "general" instruction for all of them. If
    you have specific questions about the camera, someone here can likely help.

    Have fun.

    Alan Browne, Apr 10, 2004
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  3. I believe you are reading too much into the options. If I understand your
    statement, there are a number of focus points spread out along the
    viewfinder for your convenience. You may have a subject close to the camera
    and off center; selecting a focus point that covers that subject means that
    the camera will focus on the near subject, not the distant greenery (or
    whatever). The camera can show the focus points in red superimposed on the
    viewfinder so that you know you have one actually lined up on the subject
    and selected as the active focus point.

    Pressing the shutter button half way down also locks in the focus point,
    which is then superimposed on the viewfinder in red, and you can then move
    the focus point off the subject, compose your shot, then take it.

    You may choose not to have the focus points shown (superimposed) in the
    viewfinder. I believe they still will be visible on the LCD display for
    your viewing and focusing pleasure.

    I recently went from having used manual cameras for decades to an auto-
    everything Nikon, and it can be confusing because basic automatic modes are
    taken for granted by the manual writers. If you cannot find different
    directions and explanations on the Web, check and see if Yahoo has a user
    group for the camera. It has a user group for my Nikon, and people have
    posted cheat sheets you can glue to the inside of the lens cap (I guess
    it's too embarassing to glue it to the outside :->) And when all else
    fails, pick up the manual with the camera in hand (unloaded) and follow the
    directions in the manual as you actually put the directions to use on the
    camera. Sometimes this helps confusing instructions to clear themselves up.

    Have fun and spend some quality time with the camera and manual. You'll
    figure it out eventually. Things start falling into place and it comes more
    Phil Stripling, Apr 11, 2004
  4. UncaMikey

    Guest Guest

    Here is a Pentax forum:

    PDML = Pentax-Discuss Mail List
    To subscribe to the mailinglist, simply send a message with the word
    'subscribe' in the Subject: field to the -request address of that list

    Subject: subscribe

    You can find help from many Pentax users.
    Guest, Apr 11, 2004
  5. UncaMikey

    Deathwalker Guest

    is there a canon one of those?
    Deathwalker, Apr 18, 2004
  6. UncaMikey

    UncaMikey Guest

    Thanks for the several helpful suggestions. And thanks, too, to Alan
    for the reminder to "read, read, then really read" the manual.

    Even better than re-reading the manual, I have found, is to download a
    digital version of it, thus having it in a searchable format. I
    downloaded pdf files of the *ist manual from the Pentax website
    (thanks, Pentax) and did a search on "superimpose" -- it turns out
    that "superimpose focus points" means nothing more than flashing the
    little red light in the viewfinder to show which focus point the
    camera is using. Turning the option off means no little red light.


    UncaMikey, Apr 22, 2004
  7. UncaMikey

    Alan Browne Guest

    Very good point.

    Many camera manuals of recent years are available online from the
    manufacturer (and often in pdf, searchable); and many old ones are
    available from private posters putting them up out of the kindness of
    their hearts. These are usually scanned, so not searchable (unless, I
    suppose you OCR it, but I doubt that would be worth the effort).

    As a backup to my paper manuals, I've downloaded the manuals for my
    cameras from Minolta. The more recent Maxxum 9 is original electronic
    text and searchable in pdf; the older Maxxum 7xi is also in pdf, but it
    is a scan of the camera ready sheets, and not searchable.

    Alan Browne, Apr 22, 2004
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