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  • Transition

    I have been a traditional 35mm SR person for more than 30 years, and have a small fortune invested in lenses, lighting, flash units, strobe slaves, light meters, and other associated equipment. I have an Epson 3200 Perfection Photo Scanner, and until recently have been happy with using the existing photo system, using the scanner to create the digital image. Clients recently have expressed a desire for the instant gratification of seeing the results of a shoot more quickly than the 1-2 hr window that I have given them in the past.

    For the last 10 years my photography has been centered on real estate, and images for use on auction sites.

    I have always been a Canon fan, and have three Canon AE-1 Program camera bodies, two power drives and more. Because of this investment I have been reluctant to make the change to the digital realm. Add to the equation that until recently, I have not been that impressed with the results of the digital cameras. This changed recently when I saw the quality, incredible resolution, color and detail provided by a Canon digital camera. On the downside, these images were from one of Canon's top of the line cameras, whose price is well beyond my humble means.

    I am seeking some advice here. I would like to move into the digital 35-mm realm, but would hate to loose the versatility that I can now bring to bear on any photographic project with the existing equipment that I currently have. I also have limited financial means.

    Can anyone recommend a digital 35 mm SLR system (that can co-exist, if not compliment) my existing system. Also, if you have made the move from traditional 35 mm SLR photography, to the digital realm did you have to make any modifications in style and technique?

    Any and all responses would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Transition

    Without knowing your budget it is kind of hard to make any recommendations. I assume all your lenses are FD and without an adapter they won't work on the new bodies. I think the adapters are fairly hard to find tho. Anyway, post back with your budget and what focal length you use the most. Also, remember the Canon's have a 1.6 crop factor, unless you go full frame and they start in the $$.


    • #3
      Re: Transition

      I've had Nikon rather than Canon equipment, so had to google some info on your subject.

      If some or all of your lenses are FD -- here's the mostly bad news about trying to use them on EOS digital or film cameras -- Reviews of FD to EOS adapters from Bob Atkins site. Here's a companion piece from his site.

      Here's some general info on making the "Making the Transition from Film to Digital" by Michael Reichmann (of Luminous Landscape website) among some other related info on Adobe's site --

      Do you believe that many of your clients who have expressed a desire for "instant gratification" will take their business to digital photographers in your area if you do not switch to digital?

      Do you have some newer lenses that would work on a digital body? If so, would these lenses be useful for most of your clients' jobs? If you have lenses that are usable on digital bodies, you can think about buying a good used body. is a reputable dealer for selling and buying used equipment.

      It's a question that many pro's have had to ask over the last 5-10 years (except for the kids who grew up on digital equipment ), and I imagine there are a lot of questions/answers/opinions scattered throughout the internet forums.


      • #4
        Re: Transition

        Some comments:

        First of all, what kind of product are you trying to sell? If you only sell 4 x 6 prints rather than 30 x 40 prints, the recommendation just might be different.

        How long have you had the AE1's? Might they be kind of near the end of their life? Have you not been planning on replacing them someday and saving a bit of money to do so?

        You should not have to change any of your lights and other equipment just because you go to a digital camera. If you have ever shot color slides and are aware of the exposure limitations that brings, then you are ready for digital.

        Give us a bit more info and we can make better recommendations!


        • #5
          Re: Transition

          I own the Canon 40D and a digital rebel XT, both of which use a 2/3 size sensor. That means that traditional 5x7 pictures do not fit in the frame without some cropping. Most of Canon's cameras use this sensor. I have learned to work with this size and have even found a site that will custom cut mats in quantity. Nikon also uses this same sensor ratio (FYI).

          The only Canon body that falls within a reasonable budget and has a full frame sensor is the 5D. Everyone I know that has one raves about the quality of this camera.

          The new Mark III is said to be an exceptional camera. But then again, so is the price.

          If you are wanting to "get your feet wet", I would try the 40D. It is a lot of bang for the buck. All of the consumer reviews I've seen for this camera are positive. I would add my own recommendations to this as well. The only things I've not used and probably will never will are the camera to print feature and the live view.

          You won't go wrong switching to digital. And as far as I'm aware, your equipment should be compatible with the exception of the flash unit. The flash unit must be compatible with a digital camera's electronics.

          To answer your question about different shooting styles... No, I've not make any significant changes in my shooting style. If anything, I've improved in technique and style because of the immediate feedback via the view screen, the histogram, and the ability to shoot much more of the same subject at different angles, with different lighting, etc. all without the fear of wasting film, chemicals, and money.

          I hope this helps.



          • #6
            Re: Transition

            As noted, switching from FD-based gear to EOS-based gear, whether film or digital, will require new lenses. (In ~1989 or so Canon switched lens mounts. All EOS/EF lenses fit all EOS bodies, but the FD lenses do not, and there is no FD-mount digital camera available.)

            That means you'll need to budget for replacement lenses as well as a new camera body--or bodies, so you'll have a backup. Do you know which lenses you use most often, or which ones you mostly don't need/use?


            • #7
              Re: Transition

              My apologies for not being more specific in my original post. I have two Canon AE-1 Program bodies, both with power drives. I have an AE-1 body that due to a design flaw in the original cannot use the built in light meter. I have two SunPack top mounted flash units, an Auto 323, and a 360C. I have used these in conjunction with a Britek Studio mate AC slave Flash unit (if anyone knows where I could find one or two more of these-it would be appreciated) and a Redwing Cocoon.

              I have the following lenses for the cameras-a 17mm 1 3.5, a 90 mm1:28 macro, a100-300mm 1:56, a 28-210 mm 1:3.5-5.6, a 35-75mm 1:3.5-2.8, and a 500mm f/8 mirror lens that I have never used. There were all purchased over a 30 year period, for various projects and aside from the 500 mm, have all earned their keep.

              My photography these days is centered around a) real estate, (houses, & property) b) items for sale on eBay (antiques and cultural items) and c) candid people shots especially the very young and the very old.

              I guess my biggest concern is whether or not I can still use the peripheral items, flashes, slaves and so on with the digital camera. As much as I would like to, I am not in a position financially to move to the higher end digital cameras, and am looking for a digital 35 mm, kit that would make the transfer from traditional to digital as less painful as possible. Preferably a camera with two or three lenses included.

              I know point and shoot digital cameras are an option, but feel somehow that all of the expense, and experience garnered over the last 30 years would be wasted or loss by going that route.

              I know I can still use the existing system for the bigger projects that come my way, but clients seem to be looking for that instant gratification that digital can provide. I figure I could use the digital for quick and dirty proofs, while saving the rest of the equipment for the final work.

              Budgetary considerations-I could probably go up to $1500 for camera and lenses. The 90 mm macro, the 17mm and the 210 mm lenses are the ones I use most.

              Does this make sense to anyone else, or am I on a fools errand, and should keep with what I have and know rather than venture into uncharted areas?


              • #8
                Re: Transition

                Seems like you could get away with a lower end SLR, a wide range Zoom and a Wide angle and not go over budget by too much. You will get a lot from digital that you never got from film.

                I had (still have) a host of Canon film gear and lenses and asked the same questions several years ago. As my professional photography slowed down (retirement), I began chasing other subjects like "Birds in Flight" etc. I have spent a small fortune, but it is worth it.


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