Tam posts about the old, great manual film cameras and acknowledges that their day is long past:
These days when I look at "film cameras for beginners" lists, I see recommendations like the Nikon FM2, Olympus OM-1, or Pentax K1000.These cameras are all-manual. Unless someone has a grasp of the exposure triangle...shutter speed, aperture, ISO (light sensitivity of the film/sensor)...they are going to be burning film trying to learn it.
Le sigh. Whenever anyone brings up the Pentax K1000 I go from zero to sixty on the nostalgia dial in 4.2 seconds. I loved my K1000. I took good pictures with it, like this from Ostia Antica, the old port city of Rome. There was a temple of Mithra there, and it looks exactly like this:
OK, confession time: I did a little enhancement on the scanned photo using The Gimp, a Photoshop equivalent (click through for the photo before modification). But in a sense this proves Tam's point that you will burn a lot of film to learn the camera (and you'd still need a better light meter than the built in one) and you'd need to know how to triangulate light readings from different parts of where you're going to shoot. I didn't in 1990 when I took that picture.
But man, I loved that camera. And I did take a great pic of Florence at night from the hill across the river. I used Kodachrome slide film because you could blow it up without getting grainy. That photo hung in my living room for a long time. After all, it ain't bragging if you can do it.
But it's weird to find me in the same boat as today's hipsters - I really liked the dials, and after a few years of shooting (and developing) lots of rolls of film I got better. Once I added a Takumar zoom lens I could get lots of pictures framed properly and then set exposure and depth of field separately. I even got pretty good "snapshots" like this one of a 4 year old #1 Son in a little village on the Moselle river in Germany, somewhere in 1997. I had to set up the shot while he was looking away and then I called his name:
But by then we were already in the era of digital cameras - my next trip to Rome didn't see me dragging along the Pentax; rather it was a Fujifilm digital. Now my iPhone takes basically all my snapshots and there's no film or developing cost.
But something is gained, and something is lost. Like I said, le sigh. I sure loved that Pentax, in a way I've never loved a camera since.