First, why a Yashica ?
The entry price for Yashica are one of the most economical currently available. You can try on the not-that-bad Yashica lenses first - also one of cheapest you can find around (But doesn't translate into quality factor). The Yashica FX series won't turn dead and still fully functional if your battery fails to operate.
Why not ? The FX3 is a manual camera. It is sufficiently to provide basic necessity for a safe entry into SLR photography. It can grow with its system - backed by the first rated Carl Zeiss T * lenses, should one day you decide to get serious and you are not short of first class optics behind you. And they have a few - very good options on their line up in the manual focus cameras, more interesting is their recent AF camera - which take into consideration of the users investment into their lenses - your manual T*lenses can be operate autofocusing on the AF-Contax body (The Contax AX) !There is NO autofocus lenses in the Carl Zeiss now, instead, Contax built a camera that has its autofocus mechanism within the camera body (Concept differs from current principle of AF cameras available in the market). Thus, all your manual lenses can go autofocus without even need any modifications. (Most Zeiss lenses are made in Japan now, although still bearing the German brand name, Contax).
The sensational Contax AX can transform Contax manual focus lenses into autofocus...
In case you drop it, lost it or your naughty son or daughter use their fingers rubbing on it, you won't feel the pain inside of you seeing the lens being "prostituted" that way. You can still hide it under your car seat freely without worrying about it getting heated up... best of all, one day you realize SLR is not for you, just pass on to your kids and let them have a hand try with it and see if you can generate that kind of interest. Worst scenario - sell it back to used market.
Main advantage is being: you can force yourself to pick up some good basic fundamentals in photography since there isn't any programmed auto or automation and need you to manually adjust, fine-tune yourself. (Don't worry, the metering is there to help you get proper result to show your vacation shots with your wife or gal friend). Your Yashica lenses all share with the Contax mount (Although I haven't seen any Contax user mounting with a Yashica lens on it, but most times, the other way round).
Update: Contax has eventually reverted to main stream AF strategies by introducing a NEW AF lens mount with a series of new AF Carl Zeiss lenses with various NEW AF body(ies) to come. So be ware with what I have recommended earlier.
Top of the line Manual Focus CONTAX RTS SERIES
So, why shouldn't a Yashica be considered ?
(Just in case, those looks of your friends bother you to some degree seeing you holding a Yashica), next I will give you an option for a branded name model as second choice..
Okay, next on my list is one of the "main stream labeled" body, the Nikon FE2 . FE2 is not in production now, you can only source it from the used market. Unlike the the Yashica, the Nikon FE-2 is an automatic camera, by the way, to be more precise, an aperture priority camera (Meaning, you set the aperture, the camera will "try" to set the appropriate matching shutter speed for you based on the camera built in metering SPD cell which measures brightness of scenes to suggest a proper combination for an acceptable exposure. There is a back up mechanical shutter for you to operate, in case the battery cells won't function. The key advantage for the FE2 is its ability to allow you to step into the huge Nikon system. Since the current attention is on AF, there are plenty of bargaining choices in the used market for their manual focus lenses (Anytime, also anytime rated first class optic by any standard).
In case you want to have some insurance, you can start investing into its latest AF lenses for future growth (Yes, the new and old lenses are sharing the same F-mount). The provision of the limited auto functions will still lead you to pick up some basic even you set the shutter speed dial to auto setting. You will learn "faster" of what result aperture can yield and its relation to time shift of shutter speeds (Till your shutter closes for 8 sec few times, you will find out why, hehe..). Joke a side, the FE2 is a very simple, good and reliable camera. Virtually, it can take in everything the Nikon system has, except the interchangeable finders and a high speed motor drive (It has a very good dedicated motor drive(MD-12) on its own at 3 fps). If your friend tell you to get a fully manual body or your preference is like to spend time during dial-turn and twisting during shooting session, then I don't want to offend anyone, just substitute the FE2 with the manual Nikon FM (or FM2n). You won't get hurt with any of these bodies, there are plenty of buyers for them, just in case, again...
Relative: Other worthy Nikon SLR bodies to be considered and have been featured in this site.
The last budget entry is a Pentax ME Super, Super A, MX or a K-1000. The first two is a fully automatic camera and the MX & K1000 are fully manual camera bodies.
Why ME super & Super A ? Because it is not in production anymore, thus, it is very cheap in the used market and no one will fight with you to bid for them and best of all, you can bargain hunting at used outlets (The shop assistant will try his best to dispose off them from his inventory). The MX was originally launched as a semipro model from Pentax, it is a highly reliable camera by nature and the mini-system accessories is big enough to you to fun with it for a long while, further, since nobody takes any notice of it anymore, it is selling cheaper than the Super A.
Rarely having any cough and hiccups and most importantly, it accepts virtually everything in the Pentax camera system. Pentax bodies are famed for its compactness without sacrificing reliability (Always made me wondering why today's AF bodies can be so big in comparison, although components within doesn't have those complicating and highly precision mechanical parts which I though suppose to be the other way round affecting the cost factor). Another main reason is being, the AF and manual Pentaxes are sharing the same mount, so your investment will not go to drain if you changed your mind later, AF is for you. Which make sense, I think the AF camera and lens market should stabilize by then. You might think I am anti-AF. No, I am not. In fact, I have just bought a AF camera. What I am trying is to secure your investment and lead you to have an interesting entry to the SLR photography. Though the manufacturers might not like to see these articles published. What ever it is, the huge installed base of 35mm SLRs over the last half a century will be here to stay. If the makers of hardware and films producers want to keep themselves afloat by sluggish sales of SLRs, keep more effort and financial allocation in R&D to give us more product value and keep prices contain to affordable and realistic level.
Since the K1000's targeted clients are essentially aiming at new users (Thus, it is made to be economical). You may consider to acquire it as new, anyway, the price is almost as the Yashica FX3 super. It has sold more than a million units since the model launched a few decades ago. It is a plain, simple but rugged camera.
Update: This fine rugged entry camera has been discontinued by Pentax by a Pentax P30, an automatic SLR.
I was a little pissed off after reading a lab report of the Popular Photography on results yielded between APS films and 35mm. Despite the fact an APS negative is 56% the area of a 35mm negative (120 format is 300% larger than 35mm), the eventual shocking result indicated: APS films produced sharper end result than a larger 35mm format ! Emulsion and filming technologies makes the differences. Where are the commitment of film producers to 35mm users ? And I don't think this is amusing either...
You may ask: Why there isn't any Canon or Minolta or even the Olympus in all my recommendations?
That is because of backward compatibility issue. Canon's EF mount is not compatible with the FD mount, so does the Minoltas, while Olympus has no firm future commitment and direction laid in their AF-OM series (They are more engaged in the ZLR - Zoom Lens Reflex market now - you can also take a good look at their fine series of manual focus Olympus OM1n & OM2n bodies).
I can't recommend any of them as you may got stuck and have to reinvest again in a possible all new AF body and lenses IF you opt for the used hardware now for a tryout as entry - which could be a very painful lesson.
Relative: Canon A and T-seriesSLR camera bodies, Minolta's XD-7ORfollow this linkto check other possible usedSLR camera bodies featured in this site that may put under your consideration list.
Credit: David Jay Chapin for rectifying a mistake made on the image.
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