HERE'S THE second chapter on cameras to buy for the holidays. Remember, prices will vary from store to store, so shop carefully.
PENTAX -- The SF-1n has to be one of the top bargains in the SLR field. This rugged and dependable camera does about everything you need it to, and then has some things left over. There are three auto-focus modes and manual override, a program mode that changes with the focal length of your lens, aperture and shutter-priority modes as well as a full-metered manual mode. Its pop-up flash unit can project an infrared beam to aid focusing in the dark. The exposure bracketing system works easily, and the self-timer gives you up to three shots. Speeds are from bulb to 1/4000 of a second. Cost: $550 with 35-70mm zoom lens.
The SF-10 is a slightly scaled-down model of the SF-1n. It has all the exposure and AF modes, but no exposure bracketing. It does a bit less, and costs a bit less: $450 with 35-70mm zoom lens.
The IQZoom 105 Super is one of the top automatic zooms on the market. It has a 35-105mm zoom lens, two macro settings, flash with four modes, a wide range of exposure compensation and shutter speed of from 1/3 to 1/250 second. Cost: $290.
POLAROID -- The newest addition to the "instant image" line is the Spectra 2 AF. The camera incorporates most of the Spectra features, including sonar auto-focus, electronic flash and 100 percent field-of-view viewfinder. Although it looks very much like the Spectra, the "2" has a redesigned panel on the back. Instead of the row of options, there is only an exposure control switch that allows you to adjust the lightness and darkness of the pictures. The flash is programmed for just the correct amount of light. Spectra 2 uses Spectra film and can handle the full line of Spectra accessories and filters. The difference is in price. Without sacrificing quality, the "2" costs as much as $30 less -- well under $100.
RICOH -- The KR-10M is the newest Ricoh SLR. It has built-in motorized transport, DX settings from 25 to 5,000, and a silver-coated penta-prism for brighter viewing and easier focusing. Other features include an all-metal, vertical-moving electronic focal-plane shutter with speeds from 30 seconds to 1/2,000 of a second, a wide exposure compensation range and exposure bracketing, at half-stop underexposure, normal and half-stop overexposure. Two exposure modes are available: aperture priority and metered manual. The TTL meter is both center-weighted and averaging. There is a hot shoe with flash sync at 1/100 of a second. Cost: $320, including 35-70mm zoom lens, gadget bag, five-year extended warranty and a book on photographing children.
The all manual KR-5 Super II is also available with the same kit. No automatics but fully metered with super construction. A great first SLR. Cost: $249.
The Shotmaster 70 is a scaled-down model of the sophisticated Shotmaster Zoom. It's auto-everything with an extended ISO range of 50 to 1600 and a high-quality f-4 to f-7.6, 35-70mm zoom lens. It has on-demand electronic flash. Cost: $179.
All the new Ricoh cameras are equipped with sockets for the Wireless Remote Shutter Release, which operates on radio frequency rather than line-of-sight light beams. Cost: $39.95.
SAMSUNG -- Samsung isn't really the new kid on the block. They have been making cameras for other manufacturers for some years. Now they have come onto the market with a line of compacts of their own. These cameras are all very small, compact and technologically advanced.
The top of the line is the tiny AF-Slim, which is just a bit larger than a cassette tape and a little thicker than a roll of 35mm film. But, indeed, many good things come in small packages. The AF-Slim can be carried nicely in shirt pocket or purse, looks good and is very easy to use. There are three flash modes, including off; an automatic macro system; an automatic exposure compensation mode; both a single- and double-frame self-timer; and an interval timer that really works. Cost: about $170.
The AF-Zoom700 has a 35-70mm power zoom and many of the same features. Cost: $190.
YASHICA -- The 230-AF was introduced to me by a bird-watcher. It features three auto-focus modes: standard for general shooting; continous, which allows the lens to continually focus on whatever moving subject is within the focus frame; and trap focus, whereby the shutter is automatically released when the subject -- such as a bird -- enters a prefocused zone. All this and manual focus, too. Cost: $515 with 35-70 zoom lens.
The T3 compact is a small package with all the auto-everything features. It has a 35mm lens (a Carl Zeiss Tessar), brightness control, multiple flash modes, and, in addition to the normal viewfinder, a "candid finder" on top of the camera that allows viewing from all angles. Cost: under $200.
NEXT WEEK: Accessories.