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Nikon FE 10

Unusually for a new design, this model has a metal body! Think of it not as a basic or entry level camera so much as a way of getting into the phenomenal Nikon system where 1959 lenses will still fit and work on a 2001 camera (with certain exceptions of course). One for the cognoscenti who realise that it's the lens that really counts!

Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5
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Nikon F90X

We're talking proper Nikons now. Serious money but a serious spec list. Enhanced AF sensors permit follow focus situations at up to 4fps, shutter speeds can be set to 1/3 f/stop increments (few users can meter that accurately), brilliant flash control system with the dedicated SB26 flashgun. That handgrip and second shutter release makes handling spot-on.

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Nikon F80

The enthusiast market is an awkward one - they want the specs of a flagship and the price of an entry level camera. Nikon have opted to pitch in with the handling characteristics of the entry level F60/F65 and some of the more important features of the F5 (but not the wallet ravishingly fast motordrive). Looks like a good ‘un.

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Nikon F65

F60 with bells and whistles. Nikon's high-end specifications have devolved down to entry level cameras now and the F65 features 3D matrix metering and matrix balanced flash. no more cash than the F60 but lots more dash. Deserves its position in the marketplace.

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Nikon F60

Nikon are as guilty as some other makers of downgrading specifications. The slowest (equal) flash sync speed in the group restricts users development in this area. Otherwise, the specification for an entry level model is fine – you have the option of program use or the more creative semi-auto modes & all the feel of a Nikon.

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Nikon F5

The heaviest of all currently available 35mm SLRs, the build quality of the F5 is superb. The colour matrix metering system considers colour as well as subject brightness for even better control of exposure. Will eat film at 8fps if required - 4.5 seconds per film! Reinforces the ‘top-of-the-tree' status of the marque first grabbed in 1959 by the Nikon F.

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Nikon F3

Nikon flagship of the 1980's with all the specification you could desire and two notable and potentially disastrous foibles. It is totally battery dependant – no mechanical back-up whatsoever – and the flash sync speed is an abysmal 1/80th. The manual FM2n is better value and half the price, the auto focus F5 is much better specified. Probably why it's just been discontinued.

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Nikon F100

Most of the goodies found on the F5 flagship with both price and weight shaved by 1/3rd. Little more need be said than that this camera will win a lot of friends and become one of Nikon's most popular models ever. (We think!)

Rating: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5
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Minolta X-700

Like a pair of favourite slippers, the X-700 has been around a long time. Program mode is unusual in a camera of this vintage, but Minolta have always been at the forefront (they introduced autofocus). When compared with their current range of autofocus offerings, the X-700 doesn't look very good value but the durability is superb.

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Minolta X-370s

A better range of shutter speeds than the more expensive X-700. Still the same 1/60th sync speed characteristic of a horizontal run FP shutter. Swiped from the X-700 is the meter switch - touch the shutter release and it's activated. Otherwise, little change from the old X-300

Rating: 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5
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Minolta Dynax 9

A quantum leap away from Minolta's previous sleek design styling, the Dynax 9 has returned to knobs and as a consequence looks chunky and businesslike rather than sleek. Look at the specification, look at the price, its superb. You may smile at a ‘pop-up' flash on a so-called professional camera. Then you find out just how useful it really is.

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Minolta Dynax 800si

The full Minolta range of features with the addition on multiple mode memories and, extremely usefully, exposure data storage. There are 16 custom functions (the Dynax 7 has 35) but there is also a very powerful pop-up flash covering the whole range of the latest Dynax lens, the24-105mm ‘D' series.

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Minolta Dynax 700si

Winner of many major awards, the 700si builds on Minolta's superb reputation for both handling and automation. Metering is, of course, superb with the highest level (just) of accuracy of any tested and common to the whole Minolta range. It's the first in the range not featuring extreme lightness in the hand.

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Minolta Dynax 7

Simply WOW. The Dynax 7 deserves to set the world on fire with its combination of ease of handling and the sheer volume of information available to the user. Despite being relatively small, it has full professional features and is more than capable of fulfilling that role yet at a price more akin to a good‘enthusiast' level model

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Minolta Dynax 505si Super

Another extremely light camera, the Dynax 505 Super is an upgrade of the Dynax 505 with added remote release terminal and a return to a metal lens mount. That one item gives the whole camera a much more durable feel even though it is likely that users at this level will rarely change from the 28-80mm lens supplied

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Minolta Dynax 404si

Claimed as the smallest autofocus SLR currently on the market (is that necessarily a good thing?), the Dynax 404si includes ‘big league' features such as spot metering, exposure bracketing and exposure compensation at ‘little league' prices. Funny how once everyone wanted (and paid extra for) ‘professional' black and now we see a return to metallic

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Minolta Dynax 303si

Find the average weight of every camera in this section; the Dynax 303si weighs less than 2/3rds of that average. One of the smallest on the market. not at the cost of missing features though, the Dynax 303si has just about everything you could ask for. It all depends on whether or not you like small, light cameras.

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Leica R8

What can one say about the R8? It's a good job the name and the red dot are there, otherwise no-one would recognise the uncharacteristically sleek styling. This camera is crammed with everything you could possibly wish for in a manual camera – four exposure modes and more ambient and flash metering modes than you can shake a stick at. The Carlsberg of SLR cameras

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Leica R6.2

Never ones for a new model every five minutes (certain Japanese makers look after that), Leica have opted for an almost minimalist approach combined with their customary impeccable quality. Completely mechanical, completely manual and a camera for the understated perfectionist

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Contax N1

In a parallel AF system to the Contax AX, the N1 does use autofocus lenses, it also uses autofocus lenses from the medium-format 645AF. Anyone running both 35mm and medium-format systems will tell you of the horrendous cost of a decent lens range in both formats. Criticism is often levelled at the cost of Zeiss lenses; this method chops that cost right down.