Usable Vintage Camera

The earlier system has a mount that accepts lenses that screw into the camera body (what we call 39mm screw mount, or LTM for Leica thread mount). They introduced this system in 1930 with the Leica I(C) model, and continued it well into the 1950’s up to the classic Leica IIIg. Concurrently during the 1950’s, Leitz introduced a new system that accepts lenses with a special bayonet mount (rather than screw in, the lens is placed against the mount lined up with a red dot and a quick quarter turn locks it in place).

This is known as the M bayonet system, which started with the superb Leica M3 and continues right up to the latest M8. Okay, for $500 you want to find a classic Leica that your fiance’, who probably knows and appreciates the Leica mystique, can enjoy in his free time.

I’m talking hobby camera, not camera for his work, because a photojournalist today would be doing his job with the latest digital gear. No problem. You’re on the right track looking at the Leica IIIf. It’s a common model, with over 180,000 sold between 1950 and 1957, it accepts all the zillions of screw mount lenses Leitz made up to that time (and also early 39mm screw mount Canon, Nikon, and even many Russian made lenses), and there’s always a bunch available on eBay.

I do not recommend the Leica IIIg; although it is a better camera, collectors keep it’s price hovering in the $1000 range. I do not recommend some other common earlier models like the Leica III, IIIa, or IIIc; although they’re equally common and readily available for less money, they are also just old enough to cause a lot of trouble and frustration. Among the screw mount models, the Leica IIIf is a great choice. Find one that work! Don’t take a risk on an example that needs any sort of repair.

Look for one that has a bit of external personality (as long as there’s no overt damage, a few rub marks or gentle dings are not a problem), the seller guarantees it all works, as it should. And the Leitz Summitry is a fine fast lens, but get the Elmer 5cm f3.5 instead if you can.

Forget the original box (collectors will PUSH the price for original boxes, but there’s no advantage for you there), don’t worry about a case (they fall apart, and they sometimes cause more damage to the camera because they hold in moisture), but do try to get a proper Leitz lens cap. This is your best bet for a usable vintage Leica in the $400-$500 range.

Now if you want to bend just a bit, and you’d like to explore those later M series cameras, you can probably get a 1960-ish Leica M2 with a superb Submicron 50mm f2 lens somewhere in the $500-$600 range. All the same thoughts apply in regards to condition, etc. The biggest advantage of the M series over the old screw mount series is that if your fiance’ eventually wants to get a modern Leica (for work AND pleasure), any lenses he already has with the M2 would be interchangeable with the later camera.

The classic M3 is too desirable among collectors, the M1 has limited features, and you could consider stepping up for the M4 (actually it would have to specifically be the M4-2 because the original M4 has become quite collectible as well), but that model is the first of the “modern” designs. So there you have it, the Leica IIIf or the Leica M2, those are your best choices in your price range. Regarding your question about Leica values, in general, yes, all of them do increase in value.

The vast majority increases slightly ahead of inflation (over time, not right away), so not that terribly high, but certainly enough to equal money in the bank (and assuming you deal only in top condition). The historically significant models, and a few choice rare models, increase by much greater degrees, in some cases to the point of being ridiculous. Common models like the IIIf just seem to float along with the economy. So, in general, Leica cameras appear to be a good to excellent “investment”.

Select the Correct Camera

First, it will matter whether you are buying a camera to be used for a hobby or as part of a professional endeavor.

Professionals use single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. If you are considering photography as a profession, then this is the type of camera you will want to invest in. SLR allows you to adjust the lenses as contrasted against the normal point-and-shoot cameras. You can control the opening of the lens and the shutter speed. Though it may be more difficult to operate, pictures taken with SLRs have higher quality and provide more gratifying results. They allow more space and opportunity for the best composition. Simply stated, compared to a point-and-shoot camera, SLR can do much more.

If you are able to consult with experienced photographers or purchase photo and camera magazines, get some product reviews. You can also do some research on your own through the Internet, paying particular attention to how users rate specific SLR cameras.

What is Your Budget?

SLR cameras are more expensive than point-and-shoot. Some low priced cameras have built-in aperture settings. They are also operated manually. On the other hand, there are models that offer better features, have timers, measure flash and provide automatic shutter and aperture speed options.

Making That Decision

Before visiting a store and walking out with a new camera, be sure that you have already decided in advance which features you like and will fit your budget.

When you arrive, spend some time with a knowledgeable worker to ensure you see and talk about the cameras that satisfy your specifications. Do not purchase one immediately; rather hold it and try it yourself. Adjust the lenses and familiarize yourself with the controls.

There are also digital SLR cameras that will compete for your attention. If one of those piques your interest, consider the same specifications you already have in mind, but definitely weight the cost. A digital SLR is pricey.

In fact, always keep your budget in mind while shopping for a camera. If what you really want is too steep, consider buying a refurbished camera, or check out options on eBay.

Digital Camera Scene Modes

Portrait Mode

Portrait mode is for taking people pictures. Whether it’s a single person or a group of people, you should use the Portrait mode. Your digital camera will select an appropriate shutter speed and aperture combination to capture your subject and blur the background. The idea here is to make the background less distracting.

Newer digital cameras incorporate autofocus technology that actually scans the picture looking for faces. It’s usually called Face Priority or Face Detection. It especially helps when your subject is not dead center in the picture or when you have a group of people. Nikon, Fuji, Sony and others manufacturers are putting this technology in many cameras.

Check your owners manual to see if your digital camera uses this technology and whether it’s automatic or you have to enable it manually.

Landscape Mode

Landscape mode should be your choice for all of those breathtaking views you want to shoot. Scenic vistas of the beach, the mountains, a field of flowers or a city skyline are all prime uses for Landscape mode. Your digital camera selects an exposure combination to maximize what’s in focus from front to back.

Although it’s not absolutely necessary, using a tripod or some other sort of support will help. Walk around a bit to find the best vantage point. Sometimes a small shift to the left or right (or up or down) will make the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

Sports Mode

Whether it’s kids soccer or baseball, or an NFL game, Sports mode is designed to help you stop the action. Your digital camera will set the shutter speed as high as possible for the lighting conditions in order to stop action. Sports mode also puts your camera in Continuous shooting mode (hold the button down and shoot 3-4 pictures in a row) and forces the flash off. If you can, setting the ISO to 400 or 800 will also help. A few cameras do this for you.

You’ll want to get as close as you can for great Sports and action pictures. First get physically close, right on the sidelines if possible. Move up and down the field with the action. (Not so easy at hockey games.) Then use your zoom lens to get the shot you want. Take some wide shots to show all the action, along with tight shots of one or two players. This will help tell the story much better.

Be sure to pay attention to what’s going on in the game. You may have to jump out of the way of the players!

Beach/Snow Mode

Having been a longtime resident of Florida, and as a current resident of Colorado, I can attest to the real benefit of the Beach/Snow scene mode. Both film and digital camera light meters are calibrated to a medium tone. Overly bright or dark scenes are not recorded properly. Beach/Snow scene mode is for all those bright scenes.

Big open areas of water on a sunny day. Long stretches of white sandy beaches. Snow covered mountains on your next ski vacation. These are all perfect times to use Beach/Snow mode. You are telling the camera that your subject matter is quite bright and it will compensate accordingly. Instead of muddy grey snow it will be recorded bright and white as it should be.

Sunrise/Sunset Mode

While most Scene modes change the aperture or shutter speed used, Sunrise/Sunset mode changes how the colors of the scene are recorded. The goal is to record the beautiful quality of light at these times of day.

Sunrise and sunset are times when the world is bathed in beautiful warm light. You’ll hear photographers refer to this as Golden Light or the Golden Hours. By using these settings instead of Auto mode you’ll capture that beautiful light and the dramatic colors. Try it for yourself next time you photograph a sunset and you’ll see the difference.

The next time you read your manual (You do know where it is, right?) check out all the scene modes your digital camera has. Perhaps there are a few that you would find useful for your style of shooting. Try them out, along with the 5 listed here, to improve the pictures you take.

Camera Dollars

Who needs my photos

  • Webmasters don’t need only fresh content they need pictures also. Sure some of them shoot their own photos but sometimes they don’t have the time for it. For example you can be sure that a travel webmaster can be interested in your photos from your last trip to Thailand (just to name a country).
  • Real estate agents: Real estate is big business worldwide people are spending billions of dollars on renting and buying houses and apartments.

But real estate agents need photos as well some of them pay up to a few hundreds of dollars for a single picture of a house

Paparazzi: If you visit a concert try to make a picture from your favourite star.
Journalists do not have always the tame to take the pictures themselves and guess what there is a company who is whiling to pay you two thousand bucks for a single picture.
That is just like printing money if you visit a concert.

Where should I sell my photos?

  • Photo stock sites: Photo stock sites have two kinds of visitors: People who are looking for photos and people like you who are selling their photos. I remember me a post from a webmaster who has spend more then 4000 dollars on a single site so yes there is money to be made. Some sites are offering you a fixed commission and with other sites you can decide your own price.
  • E-bay: Millions of items are being sold on eBay every month. After the photo stock sites this is by far the easiest way to sell your photos online.
  • Offline: Your digital camera can be a cash machine offline to. For example you could sell your photos to a bank, an illustrator, an advertiser or a real estate agency.
  • Your own site: This can be a very professional way to sell your art but do this only if you have some more experience. Nobody wants to buy photos from a photographer with only two pictures on his portfolio.

I hope with reading this article you have realised that you have a cash machine right at your home. And a last point perhaps you are scared that people on online stock photo sites will not pay you. No panic, most of them are working with a shopping card system. As soon as the webmaster has paid for your photos he will receive them.

Improve The Battery Life Of Your Digital Camera

First of all you must understand that you when in any given shooting session you need to keep your digital camera on. It takes a lot of power for the camera to turn on and off especially if it has a retracting lens. Turning the camera on and off will just suck the life out of it like a kid drinking red cordial.

It is very likely that your camera has a standby function that will save power while it is still on. This standby function usually just comes on automatically after a set amount of time. However, if your camera does not have a standby function then just do yourself a favour and leave it on. Not to mention that when your camera is constantly being turned on you often miss shots because of the slow start-up speed that most cameras have.

How tempted are you to use the nice, luxurious screen on you camera instead of the viewfinder? You have to resist this temptation. Yes, the screen is nice and convenient but it is also another major power murderer. Turning the screen off and using the viewfinder will make a huge difference in terms of saving power.

You’re probably thinking that the viewfinder is the most annoying, inconvenient and most primitive feature of your camera. Well I’m here to tell you that you’re just plain wrong. Using the viewfinder can actually improve your photography because it helps you keep the camera steady. Think about it. You don’t see the pro’s using the camera screen, do you?

Maintaining in and taking care of your battery pack is critical if not the most important part of extending your camera’s battery life. To keep your battery pack, or your plain AA batteries, in good condition you need to make sure that you only charge them when they are completely empty. If you do end up charging them while they are still half full they will slowly deteriorate and eventually your battery will have a total life of about five minutes. This is the same with mobile phone batteries or any other chargeable batteries. Some battery chargers totally un-charge the battery before charging to avoid this. However, if you don’t have one of these then I suggest you only charge your battery when it is just about empty.

Well, I’ve given you 3 simple, basic tips on how to save your digital camera’s battery power. However, there are plenty of other things that you can do to save it, so why don’t you do a bit of experimenting and find out some more ways to keep your battery life kicking. Get out there, follow my tips and you will be having a lovely, long shooting session without interruptions.

Comparison of Polaroid Cameras

Unfortunately, Polaroid’s generate minimal collectible interest, the film pack and roll film models are no longer usable, film is only readily available for the latest SX-70 type instant film technology, and the Automatic 100 is possibly the most common Polaroid ever made.

Put all that together, you have a camera that might sell for about $10 to $15 in truly excellent condition, and perhaps double that amount if in the original box. Check eBay for yourself, do a search for completed auctions using the key words Polaroid Automatic 100, and you’ll see that there is no lack of the darn things and the majority won’t sell at all! That’s why camera collectors often refer these types of Polaroid’s as “boat anchors” and “paper weights”. I’m afraid it’s a “white elephant” with virtually no value.

The Model 95 was Polaroid’s first camera, and it was introduced in 1948. They sold zillions of the darn things into the 1950’s, so they really don’t have any value. In fact, virtually all Polaroid cameras are just about worthless today. No collectible interest, and really no usable value. The film for the Model 95 was discontinued in 1971. To match your 1969 VW, I’d recommend a mid to late 1960’s film pack Polaroid, the best example being the Polaroid 100, but there are plenty of other similar cheap models that are common fodder at flea markets for around $5-$10 each.

I’m afraid there’s nothing special or valuable about the Polaroid Model 100. It’s merely an “industrial” version of their extremely common Model 95A made from 1954 to 1957. It has better gears and cogs in it to stand the extra strain of day-to-day work, and probably the majority of these cameras were used in police and security. As for selling “less than 10,000”, well, you don’t understand, that’s a lot of sales for an industrial model.

In truly excellent condition, a Polaroid Model 100 would sell for around $20 today, and maybe double that in the original box with instructions. It’s no great treasure as a collectible, as a rule, Polaroid’s tender virtually no interest among collectors, and absolutely worthless as a usable piece, the roll film for these was discontinued years ago.

The cost of film is getting more expensive, and the quality is fairly close to a 1.3 mega pixel camera. I could only suggest a Polaroid SX-70 camera. This camera uses a manual focus glass lens, and allows for fairly accurate exposure control. Not in any form of calculated values, but a sliding switch for a lighter / darker image. Old, but the more fancy of the bunch. Sure to offer some nice images.

If you want to use an older film pack Polaroid, with their old style black and white emulsion, and you need manual controls, I’m afraid you’re limited to the 195, the 190, European equivalent of the 195, the 180 features a really nice Zeiss Ikon rangefinder, and the 185 very rare, so essentially untouchable because collectors will pay so much for it. All the other more common film pack Polaroid’s is amateur models, cheap plastic junk with automatic exposure control only. The 195 remain the most desirable and you will see prices in the $300+ range.

The 190 is the oddball that sometimes slips through the cracks in the $200 range, but is actually, I believe, a slightly better model than the 195 and should go for more! The 180 are a bit more common than the other two and have declined in value the past two years, now selling for around $200. All three are very fine cameras indeed, but you’re competing with collectors and specialized professional users. You’ll have to get very lucky to find one at a discount price.

Camera Filters Work

  • Ultraviolet (UV) filters absorb ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet is invisible light, and film cameras are more sensitive to it than digital cameras. At elevated locations, ultraviolet light is particularly dense; this density is due to the thin atmospheric layer.

UV light produces haze that can cause photo details to regress as the subject moves farther away. The viewing and focusing of images can also be difficult.

  • Infrared filters reduce visible light. When capturing aerial haze penetration and heat effects, infrared filters are helpful. This kind of filter absorbs visible light and transmits only the infrared light to the lens of the camera.
  • Natural density (ND) filters can be used to obtain proper exposure in high intensity lighted surroundings. It is also used to produce a specific opening of the lens for image sharpness and absorbs light evenly from the visible range. In effect, ND filters alter light exposure, even without changing the lens opening.
  • Polarized filters enhance contrast, reflection, and color control. Compared to other filters, they are built on different optical principles. In just one vibratory direction, a polarized filter allows light to pass through. This kind of filter can be aligned in many ways, giving the image more interesting effects.

Polarized filters are normally used for taking pictures outdoors because they enhance color saturation and contrast. They also create different colors. For example, a yellow bright light can be produced using a yellow polar filter.

Reflections from glass or water surfaces can also be controlled, or at least minimized, by polarizers. The recommended angle is 33 degrees from the surface to obtain an impressive result. This filter can make an object in the water appear to be outside of it simply by rotating the lens.

  • Optical filters allow different shots with different special effects. These filters can make a subject appear more alive.

Whether taking pictures is a hobby or a profession, filters are an important part of the photography arsenal to achieve impressive results. Filters can produce a very noticeable difference in pictures compared against those without any filtering.

Optical vs Digital Zoom

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom will not influence the quality of your photographs negatively. It can be compared to a traditional zoom lens on a 35mm camera, bringing the subject closer to still give you a clear, close up photo. Since buying a camera with greater optical zoom is more expensive than one with only a 2x or 3x, deciding how much optical zoom you need can greatly influence your budget. I would suggest buying a camera with the longest optical zoom you can afford. If you’re primarily going to use your camera for social pictures, 2x or 3x optical zoom should be more than sufficient. In this case, you can always move in closer physically to get a better shot. If you’re planning on shooting wildlife or subjects that you cannot get physically close to, buy a camera with more than 6x optical zoom.

Digital Zoom

With digital zoom, the camera crops the entire image, and then digitally enlarges it. This “fake” zoom crops and throws image information away. This is comparable to cropping an image with image editing software, and can result in pixilation and “soft” images. The camera replaces the missing pixels with pixels that are close in colour to those in the original image. The colours are rarely as sharp or accurate as optical zoom, as it’s an estimation.

Optical vs Digital Zoom

While it is useful to have both optical and digital zoom, optical zoom will result in sharper images than digital zoom. Both optical and digital zoom have good and bad qualities – digital zoom being far cheaper but affecting the quality of your images, and optical zoom being more expensive but resulting in images that are not pixelated.

Megapixels Reality

The number of megapixels is just one parameter in determining the quality of a digital camera. More megapixels is not necessarily better. Before checking out the number of megapixels or any other digital camera feature you should take a moment to determine the digital camera projected usage. If you intend to print enlargements you will need more megapixels. If you need to take high zoom photos and crop pieces of the photo you will need more megapixels too. If you intend to just watch your photos on your computer screen and print some 4X6 prints than 2 mega pixels is more than enough. A full screen photo on a computer screen with a common resolution of 1024X768 is less than 1 megapixels. A good 4X6 photo print should have a DPI of about 300 which translates to just about 2 megapixels.

For digital photo prints enlargements you should calculate megapixels that would result in a print of about 300 DPI. The following is a table for different print sizes and the needed mega pixels for such print quality:

  • page 4X6 2MP
  • page 5X7 3MP
  • page 8X10 7MP
  • page 11X14 14MP
  • page 16X20 28MP
  • page 20X30 54MP

Usually more megapixels digital cameras are more expensive. Since you probably do not have an infinite budget for your digital camera when buying it you make a compromise between megapixels and other features. As a result more megapixels could mean not having some other features which might be more important. For example is it better to spend money on more megapixels or on better lenses? Is it better to spend money on more megapixels or on an external flash for low light photography? When buying a camera try to predict what and how you will use it. A lower megapixels digital camera with better a lens can result in much better digital photos. Shop around and make sure that you get the best package in terms of both megapixels and other features.

Light sensitivity is also influenced by the number of megapixels. Since in most cases the sensor size is fixed more megapixels is achieved by having smaller pixels. Smaller pixels are less sensitive to light. For most purposes this light sensitivity difference is not noticeable. You should consider the number of megapixels and light sensitivity if you intend to take many digital photos in marginal light conditions or want to be able to take digital photos without flash light in darker scenes.

In conclusion do not be the victim of the number of megapixels. Although it is a good thing to have a high number of pixels there are other considerations that determine the quality of the digital photos. You should consider the complete digital camera features: megapixels, lenses, battery life, light sensitivity, sensor technology, external flash and many other features. Make sure that you consider the whole package and not use the number of mega pixels as a “quality” indicator for your buy.

Compare Digital Camera Features

So you may start by asking what are the features you want are or need that will help you take great looking photographs. One important factor you might want to consider is the amount of pixel that is offered on the various type of digital cameras.

Of course if you want to compare digital camera features like this you might want to have a buyer’s guide that will list all the various features for each camera model. For example you will be able to compare the amount of pixels for each camera model you consider buying. Always keep in mind that the amount of pixels will usually determine what will be the quality of your pictures. The more pixels you have the greater the quality.

Another factor you should consider when you compare digital camera features is: What will you do with your camera. Is the camera you are looking at is for amateur photographer, semi-serious or serious photographers? Determining this will bring you one step further from buying the camera you need.

When you start to compare digital camera features you will soon be submerge by more info that you were actually looking for. They key is to look for the one you want instead of being overwhelmed by features you don’t need. Some of those feature apart form the pixel amount could be your picture options. Do you want your pictures to turn into sepia, black and white or soft pictures with the use of your filter?

One point I strongly suggest you look into when you compare digital camera features is the shooting modes you get with your camera. You should find indications about various features like the focusing or flash capabilities of various digital cameras. Whether it is Canon, Nikon, Olympus or any other brand of digital camera, make sure you don’t overlook this aspect.

Of course the information you will gather to help you compare digital camera features will mostly be of technical nature. Make sure you look at various sources of information. Another great place to look for information is to buy photography magazines. They will help you compare digital camera features that allow you to take picture with special effects.

These special effects could be special zoom capabilities that allow you to take pictures from a totally new angle or focus capabilities enabling you to crop some of the surrounding areas of you subject.

Of course if you want to take great picture (who doesn’t want to) it helps to have many different helpful features in your camera. It is up to you to find what features you want in your camera by gathering the right information and doing research in magazine, internet articles and digital camera buyer’s guide to help you compare digital camera features.