Q: We have a 1963 Zeiss Contaflex camera, which we now use almost entirely on automatic setting. It's easy to use for distance (at the infinity setting), but the focusing is slow and guess-distances are hard to make when taking pictures between three and 20 feet.

The quality of our pictures is very important -- both daylight and flash -- so we believe that we would not be happy with any of the pocket cameras that we have seen.

Could you suggest an automatic camera for us? We would prefer one where the battery is not needed for daylight use. A: Just like the good old days -- the good old cameras weren't all that great. Progress does march on and some things do get better -- photographic equipment, for one. I remember when just to get a decent lens on a camera was a feat, and to be able to blow up a 35-mm to an 11" x 14" print was a miracle. (I started using a 35-mm camera for news photography in the early '50s and got constant static from my editor until I made some 16" x 20" prints that he admitted were sharp.)

In your letter, you also suggest that some of the new cameras you've seen seem too complicated -- well, yes and no. They're really quite simple to operate on automatic -- just follow the instructions. But they can be a problem if the battery fails and you're nowhere near a store.

The best bet in an automatic 35-mm camera is one that has override so you can take pictures on both auto and manual. But it seems to me that if you're going from your present older model it would be better to forgo the complete automation. Sure -- focusing and exposure metering is essential, but any 35-mm SLR will give you that; but the auto-focus and auto-advance features you may be able to do without. I'll guarantee one thing: Any of today's models will take sharper pictures than your 1963 model once you get adjusted to their operation.