"Best Classic Camera" from a mechanic point of view

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by juan_mcmahon, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Sometime ago, "Modern Photography" interviewed the late Marty Forscher, "the
    undisputed king of camera repair" as the magazine describe him. He then said:

    "MP: What do you think is the best camera you've ever repaired?

    MF When I was just starting out in this business, the big battle was between
    Zeiss Contax and Leica. There was controversy over which was the best made
    and the most functional. I think the Leica tended to be somewhat more reliable
    because it was less complicated mechanism. Then there are the classic
    cameras. The twin-lens Rollei, for example, was about as well made as anything
    I've ever seen. There were things about it that were absolutely exquisite. No one
    has ever come close to replicating its film-advance mechanism.

    MP: Any other favorites?

    MF: There is something so basic about an M3 Leica. When you pick up an M3,
    itᄡs a sensual experience. Jason Schneider will appreciate that - he's devoted to
    classic cameras. Holding an M3, yo get a feeling of substance and weight. It's a
    no-nonsense, no-frills camera" (Modern Photography, January 1988, page 37).-

    Two weeks ago, Mr. Walter Ruedt, "the undisputed king of classic camera repair
    in Argentina" (he's now in his happy 80 years or so and he's still working,
    amazing!) said to me exactly the same, not knowing the words of the legendary
    Forscher ...
  2. Can't disagree with Marty. I still have an M3 and a 1950s Rollei, both outstanding.
  3. I am just an amateur in camera repair, but I have to agree with what Juan wrote. Rolleiflex is indeed a very nice camera mechanically. In my opinion, if you will look for the most complicated cameras, Zeiss will easily win (contarex, contaflex TLR, and others)... or maybe also Tessina or similar small cameras. But there are so many cameramodels that are either impossible or very difficult to repair because of genious, but too complicated mechanics, so that cannot be used as a criteria for best camera mechanically. Of course also fine mechanics means that it is not probably easy to repair, but maybe something that is possible to repair. I have been repairing quite a lot of old presscameras and their focalplane shutters and among them I could say that speed graphic was very easy and nice to repair, but still it was not mechanically so complicated. So in my opinion the vote for the best classic camera mechanically goes to Rolleiflex, it is complicated, but not too much. Fine design and quality. Lasts almost forever if maintained properly and is a joy to use and very reliable.(I use an early Automat myself)


    My presscamera pages
  4. What? No mention of the Zorki or the Praktica? ?

  5. I don't like to be repetitive but I always prefer the Zorki 3 viewfinder (with dioptres adjustment) than the Leica M3 (with no one). Not the mechanism, of course. M3 has the mildest you can dream and shutter is quiet as a serpent
  6. Wonder what he said about the Speed Graphic?
  7. Nikkormat's and old Nikon F's, are indestructable. I personally have never broken one's shutter! And I can't say that about too many other cameras.
  8. For the price, a used Nikkormat is hard to beat. With an overhaul it can work again for a long time. They get out of adjustment and need service but a broken shutter is rare. I'm partial to the FT2 because it takes an MS-76 and will work equally well with pre-AI and AI/AIS lenses as long as you have the metering prong. According to my repairman the FT3 is more reliable because its AI indexing system is less likely to malfunction than the FTN to FT2 system.

    A Canon F-1 takes a little more time to overhaul but is also quite reliable abd durable.
  9. Juan, Marty Forscher is not dead.
  10. Kinahurrah.
  11. "Juan, Marty Forscher is not dead"


    I don't know why I thought that!! Thanks Noah. I'm glad that he's still with us. He must be in his eighties, like my camera mechanic, Walter.

    Another interesting concept from him:

    "MP: What do you think are the easiest cameras to repair?

    MF: Interestingly enough, usually the cameras that are most functional and easy-to-use are the most reasonable to repair. A camera that is usually a nightmare to use is usually a nightmare to fix. Many years ago, there was an Exacta 6x6 camera (1) that never made it because functionally and mechanically it was impossible. Yet the basic concept was an intelligent one; it was a 6x6 camera that handled much like a 35mm"

    I don't know, it sound a little controversial to say "itᄡs easy to use so it must be easy to fix ..." but the man knows what he is talking about!

    I must say that he is not talking about automatic cameras. He was very critic with them in another part of the interview.

    (1) I don't know which Exakta he's talking about. Could is this beauty? http://www.peterlanczak.de/exakta66_52.jpg
  12. The mechanically best camera I have ever seen or used was the late version of the Canon F1 with non mechanical shutter speed control but rather electronic. There have been many that were in the over 1,000,000 exposures category without failure. In addition to using them, I had a business in which I rented cameras to potographers, some very famous cameras had to be repaired on a regular basis.

    M3 and M4 Leicas were favorites and usually would outlast the photographer. For many years, the M4 was the favorite of all photojournilists, to the extent where Leitz actually had to make batches of M4's for the trade well after to other later Leicas were in production.

    I agree with Marty (and we were friends for many years), about some ot the Rollei TLR's survivability. I'm aware of a 1.3 Million and a 1.5 million 3.5F using a 35mm adapter for use as Navy ID cameras so we could actually prove that this number of exposures had taken place. My problem with Rollei TLR's is that you have no idea where the film plane location will be, or how flat it will be until a few exposures per roll will develop enough tightness although this disn't seem to be a problem with the Rolleikin 35 adapter.


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