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Canon Snappy LX II

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Zenit 122

Once rumoured to be built from recycled Soviet tanks, Zenit cameras currently offer the cheapest new entry into 35mm SLR photography. Restricted film speed settings for centre-weighted metering, restricted shutter speeds but access to the greatest selection of second-hand lenses in the world - the old Pentax M42 screw mount. Fancy a second lens for a tenner? Its possible.

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Zenit Automat

A newer design than the 122, the Automat offers aperture-priority automation, an enhanced shutter speed range (it's a completely different unit with a better sync speed) and a more usable range of film speeds for the meter. A reasonably decent camera for an almost indecent price!

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Yashica 109MP

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Yashica FX-3 Super 2000

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Vivitar V3300 SE

Very wisely offering the Pentax K mount as lens fitting means that this and the V4000 can tap a huge market of second-hand gear of impeccable quality. Top speed of 1/1000sec belies the age of the design, but that doesn't stop it being truly excellent value for a budget camera

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Vivitar V4000

Big brother to the V3300, the V4000 differs mainly in offering a better top speed of 1/2000sec (if you'd ever use it) and a standard zoom lens which opens up much greater compositional possibilities at a two f/stop slower price. The VX4000 is probably the better option of the two, certainly looks more modern.

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Sigma SA-5

Strangely enough, this SLR has a huge array of lenses available for it. If they can make lenses that fit Canon, Nikon and Minolta why not make them to fit their own camera too? Like the lens range, this camera has an impressive specification - dedicated flash sync to1/4000th for one. Exposure bracketing fairly mean; 2 f/stops either side of zero but that's not uncommon either.

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Ricoh XR-X3000

Modern styling but with traditional values. no highfalutin program modes, just good old aperture-priority and manual. Extra effort has been diverted to additional metering options like spot (questionable for the inexperienced?) And film advance options like auto exposure bracketing. Refreshing to see a maker who doesn't ignore the basics of photographic experience in favour of transient fashions.

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Ricoh XR-X 3PF

All the bells and whistles of a thoroughly modern autofocus piece of male jewellery except for one thing – they forgot to put in the autofocus! not just Program mode, but dedicated modes within that for specific subject types, in line with the very latest offerings. Similar levels of control are offered over the built-in flash.

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Pentax Z-1P

Very well specified SLR with shutter speeds to 1/8000sec (if you ever use it), plus or minus four f/stops compensation control, a superb meter range of 0-21 EV, flash sync to 1/250sec and a built-in flash too. What more could a person want?

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Pentax MZ-M

Multum in parvo, the newly introduced MZ-M is in effect a non-autofocus version of Pentax's popular MZ autofocus models. In hand it feels tiny but beautifully engineered, as Pentax's have been for the last 40 years. The size and styling make it an unusual thing - a pretty camera. Under the surface is a full gamut of exposure modes, a terrific viewfinder crammed with information and a depth of field preview. Hurrah for Pentax!

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Pentax MZ-7

OK, the MZ-3 Date shows Pentax can still do it properly but why stick with that mediocre shutter for a third model in a row. The Z1-P is much better specified (at twice the price) but the MZ-30, MZ-5N and this MZ-7 give the distinct impression that Pentax are building down to a price. That is not what they built their excellent reputation on.

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Pentax MZ-5N

An MZ-5 update with a superb meter range (0-21EV) shutter speeds to a useful 1/2000sec and a pathetic flash sync of just 1/100sec. Just don't try fill-in flash on an even halfway sunny day. Predictive focus redeems the situation a little, as does the excellent metering system (from the inventors of TTL metering). But oh that sync speed is so restricting.

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Pentax MZ-50

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Pentax MZ-30

In some ways strange with the only option being matrix metering, this may put off some people who feel they may want to take control at some stage. In fact, the metering is very much more reliable than the average user. Anyway, you get a range of program modes to play with. And exposure compensation so you can control the metering after all, just by a roundabout route.

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Pentax MZ-3

A limited edition model of the very popular Pentax MZ-5, the difference being a redesigned shutter capable of speeds up to 1/4000sec (marginal use) and a flash sync speed of 1/125sec (big improvement). Quite how long it remains a ‘limited edition' remains to be seen.

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Olympus OM 4Ti

There are photographers about who still remember the furore when the original OM1 was launched. Since that time Olympus have built on a superb basic design culminating in the current models. The OM4 offers the traditionalists preferred aperture-priority & manual modes and metering system in a titanium shell. All the traditional Olympus goodies still fit of course.

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Olympus OM 3Ti

Top of the tree OM with extensive metering options feeding this manual exposure camera. In addition to centre-weighted, spot and multi-spot the user can measure highlight and shadow areas and compute the desired exposure with full information at hand. not a camera for the technophobe though - a brain is definitely required

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Olympus IS 3000

Again, the lens can't be changed but seeing that it ranges from 35mm to 180mm (with optional adapter to 300mm), is the type of person at whom this design is aimed likely to find this an unacceptable restriction? We think not. Pretty good built-in flash too with some interesting effects possible.