Bang for the Buck

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by classcamera, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. Hello All,

    Every now and again I post this question, and as it has been awhile, I will
    post it again. What is the best bargain for the money? What is the real
    sleeper that has been overlooked by collectors, and users alike? I am not
    looking for your best buy (like the 25 dollar Contax IIIa), I want to know
    which camera takes the best pictures and is always under valued?

    I think that the Anso Viking is a great camera for little or no money, as is
    the Zeiss Netar line. In a TLR the Ricohflex is a great buy, as are the Ciro-
    flex/Graflex 22 line. For the 35mm shooter, I would try and get a Minolta 35,
    and in SLR cameras go for an OM-1.
  2. How about a Canon FTb ?
  3. A Nikkormat FTN.

    A Speed Graphic.
  4. SCL


    I'll toss in the Ricoh 500 rangefinder (1956-59). They generally go for $25 or less. The 5 I've had have exhibited sharp pictures with generally good contrast, but subject to flare without a lens shade. For the really lucky ones there's a Ricoh 519 (f1.9 lens) which has a better lens than the lens on the 500s...but hard to find as they were only produced for a short time. Doesn't match my Leica, but a number of people haven't been able to tell the difference in good prints.
  5. Two cents from a "newbie".... I have to agree with Gene on the FTb and with Mark on the Ansco Viking. As a matter of fact, I had the Viking out today.
  6. The Argus C3, considering you can find a good one (in the USA) for around $10, has a full range of shutter speeds and apertures and takes great photos. Only gripe is the tiny viewfinder and poor ergononics. For a screw-mount 35mm SLR, try the Vivitar 250/SL or 400/SL. They are very good cameras (made by Cosina). Black ones (any other camera you pay a great premium for black) are actually more common than chrome. You can find them for under $25.
  7. The phrase "Bang for the buck" would have to mean more than just price compared to picture quality for me. I would consider also versatility in the mix. Others may have a different opinion but I would consider the 35mm SLR design the most versatile of camera types, able to do many things well. Of this type the high point was from the late 60's to the late 70's. There were so many really good cameras from Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Minolta, Konica, Olympus etc. that the choice really reduces down to personal preferences and particular feature sets. Most of these cameras are now available for very reasonable prices and even with a CLA they represent I think the best value, all things considered. Just my 2 cents.
  8. Wendell: Make that a Nikkormat FTn with a working meter. ;)

    Back when I raised the issue of the 1970 date being, so to speak, "out of date" we were assured that the 1970 date would not be used to cut off discussion.

    Therefore, I suggest buying prime copies of things like the early EOS cameras and the early electronic film cameras of any make. Many of these are widely available right now as people are still switching to digital, and they are selling for practically nothing. These are the vintage cameras of tomorrow! These also have the advantage of being common in the US of A, so you don't have to buck the plummeting value of the US dollar (and if you're not in the USA, it's even more of a bargain).
  9. A complete Exakta system in good condition with a 35, 50/58, 90, 135, and macro bellows can be assembled for very little money, and good samples of East German Zeiss, Schacht, and so forth aren't hard to come by unless you're holding out for one of the super-rare 24 or 85 models.

    Medium format other than Hasselblad or Mamiya is stupidly cheap nowadays.

    It's not "classic" but a used Eos 630 or Elan II and a 50 1.8 is a pretty serious combo for next to nothing at todays prices. The 630 shoots 5fps and won't fog IR film. The Elan II had an on-board IR assist beam and plenty of modern features.
  10. I don't mean to be flip and I am not. I think the Leica III series is the best bang for the buck in 35mm. $300 and you get outstanding mechanics and passable glass.

    The ultimate bang-for-buck is the Fuji 6x9 or the Mamiya 6x7...especially the RB; hard to beat a medium format camera capable of delivering large format quality for $400.
  11. I also have to concur with Gene about the Canon FTb. They are excellent cameras that seem to sell for peanuts.

  12. My Diacord (under $50) is an awesome bargain. Ditto my Yashicamat.
  13. Have to chime in again. Another term that could be used here is "sleepers". Cameras that often are passed by. In that case I would vote for the Olympus XA2, little appreciated and in the shadow of the XA they go for 1/5 the price of an XA and are very capable. Load them up with 400 or 800 color neg and go crazy, the shutter will stay open for up to 4 sec in dim light and in better light the default focus to middle distance makes checking the distance unnecessary most times. Close the clamshell, shove it in a pocket and go. Your never without a camera.
  14. I have a good answer, but if I told it to you the lemmings would bid the prices up and make it not so good.
  15. Having started this thread, I figure I should chime in:

    In large format larger than 4x5--any old Grundlach. The 8x10 will sell at the big auction site for will under 100 dollars, and the quality is there.

    In 4x5 cameras, I like the Speed Graphic, either the prewar, pacemaker, or the plastic Century models. Crowns sell for a bit more money and limit you to lenses with shutters, whereas the speed will use your barrel lenses. I have a Protar in Barrel mount that is flat out awesome. Find a decent camera, get a repair manual and do the CLA yourself, they are simple to work on.

    In medium format, I like the Rolleicord line. They are well made German cameras with some useful features, and decent lenses. In the cheaper camera realm there are loads of good cameras like the Ciro-flex, and the Super Ricohflex. In folders I have been continually impressed with the lens quality of Scot Tremblay's Netars, they rule the 25-45 dollar range. For 6x9 users, the Ansco Viking and its Agfa counterpart are flat out awesome. Find one in good shape, and have it worked on by a qualified tech. My experience is that the ones in good shape have the lens out of focus--so they never got used. Once the lens is in focus, they work great. In SLR cameras the Bronica is a real steel, but you will lay out some cash.

    In 35mm SLR cameras, it is so hard to pick. They are all selling for 10 cents on the dollar, and in some cases they were professional only when new. I like my OM-1, but I recently sold a FE that was really nice, for $125. Basically these are cameras that will last for years and be the utmost in reliable, at bargain prices.

    In 35mm range finder cameras, I like the Leica III, IIIa models. they are not particularly collectible, and are every bit as good as the later models for reliability, and function. Also, the Leica copies are selling pretty cheaply, with the Minolta models in the basement, and the cannons just above. Also, the Retina IIIc is a good bargain, and will be a truly pocketable camera.

    Of course this is all speculation. One thing is for certain, in the current market a collector can find and use a whole slew of cameras for not a lot of money. In the end I think the photographer that uses many different cameras, becomes more well rounded... but that is a topic for a different thread.
  16. For the money (if you can get around the mercury battery issue) my vote is for the Yashica Electro 35 -- totally underated but built like a tank and takes great pix.
  17. Thought I'd better chime in here since my name has been mentioned. Thanks Mark! Now the prices of my fav's the Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 just went through the roof on the auction site. There goes my chances of getting any more. The only draw back with the Nettar, in my estimation, is the lack of of an onboard rangefinder of some sort. But with a good eye or a clip on rangefinder (given the criteria above) I don't think they can be beat in medium format (6x6) folder circles. I love the "bokeh" of the Novar lens in these guys! I picked up a Mess Ikonta 524/16 which is basically a Nettar with an un-coupled rangefinder so there is the cure to that problem. A lot more money than the Nettar though. In 35mm folders/pocket cameras I believe in the Zeiss Ikon Contina 524/24. I have two, one with a Novar 45mm f2.8 lens/Prontor SVS shutter and the other with Tessar 45mm f2.8 lens/Synchro Compur shutter. Fantastic little cameras, easy to use, slip nicely into a pocket and to my hand feel more solid and user friendly than the Kodak Retinas. I notice the price going up on these lately so better get looking if you're interested. In 35mm SLR I have to go with the Minolta SRT series. They are dirt cheap these days and, arguably, there is some of the best glass on the planet in the Rokkor MC/MD lenses that go with these. Don't get freaked out by the obsolete 1.35v mercury battery needed for the meter. Just ask your camera tech at servicing time to tweek the voltage regulator or use it without the on-board meter. In fact I've never noticed a difference when using a 1.5v battery. I think there might be a 1/4 of a stop, if that, difference. You'll never notice that with print film. Minolta Autocords along with Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex get my tie vote in the TLR category. I really do not feel that I would get enough of "more" to make up for the difference in price with a Rollei. I think they are over-priced and always have been for what one gets. Before you flame me, let me remind you we are talking value, best bargain for the money and overlooked by collectors. Whew! Hope that reminder got me out of the hot water!! You can see examples of photos taken by the above mentioned cameras in my portfolio if you care to have a look.
  18. The Minolta manual focus gear, especially the SRT series. The bodies and lenses are great and very very cheap.

    The Olympus XA2 is great to, and I would add the Agfa Optima Sensor series: 1535 (rangefinder) or 1035 and 535 (scale focus). They are well built, compact and have a nice lens.
  19. I second the vote for the Nikkormat/Nikomat Ftn. I bought mine in 1968 and it's still oing strong.
  20. Scot,

    Nice doggy, good picture and excelent composition.
  21. I like to second Gene but I've got a lot of problems with a Canon FTb not with my FT. so Y vote for Canon FT
  22. The Pentax Spotmatic. It was designed in the mercury battery era but has a bridge circuit so it works just fine with silver batteries. There are a zillion cheap lenses in the M42 screw mount.
  23. In the slr category I also vote for the Canon FT. Great feel, great handling, and great pictures . As far as rangefinders go, I think the Retina IIc is one that gets overlooked a lot, but when put to work produces great, sharp images with good color and contrast.It's a good looking camera as well, and can be had for pretty cheap prices.

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