Best vintage SLR?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tom_cable, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. I'm looking for a good, vintage SLR on ebay. Anyone know of any that are moderately cheap?
  2. Those are kinda wide open requirements! There are dozens of models. But you can't go wrong with a Nikon F and 50/1.4....although not the cheapest. For cheap, look for Minolta SRT 101, Nikkormat, Canon FT.
  3. Okay, maybe I'm just looking more for a good vintage manual camera, 35mm, maybe from
    60s/70s. I'd like my photos to have that washed out look. Does that help? lol
  4. Well that narrows it down a bit. You'll not be looking for a good camera, then.
  5. I'm not sure what that "washed out look" is,but if you want a cheap all manual SLR try a Zenit if you want a cheap non SLR try an Argus C3.But be forewarned both a these cameras are very capable of taking Pro-quality pictures.Just because the camera cost less than lunch at McDonalds doesn't mean it's rubbish.If you just want rotten pictures....Er,I mean pictures with character,buy a Holga.
  6. The quality of most cameras you'll find will be far too high for your requirements. The only SLR which could possibly be of any use to you is one with an improvised lens stuck on front. Even something like a Kodak Duaflex or Pony 135 is too good for you. You can get something of a washed-out muted look (in color) by using an old pre-WWII camera with an uncoated lens, but even there it still may be too sharp. There are lots of plastic cameras with meniscus lenses that can give you what you want - the Holga itself can be expensive due to cult status, but there are others - you can often find cheap junk cameras in thrift stores for very little.
  7. You don't get 'that washed out look' from old cameras of the 60's and 70's. That effect is mostly fading of prints due to age. I think you might be disappointed to see how well the 1960's cameras could perform.

    I agree with the prewar uncoated lens for 'the washed out look' but even then you might be surprised....

    As a general recommendation I would go for Nikon F gear. The Nikkormat FTN is a lower priced camera from this range.
  8. Hi, Tom Interesting post, mate. So you want a cheap but reliable SLR, that gives er "interesting" pictures of the washed-out variety. Like the other guys have said, that's a tall order because just about everything of the SLR kind gives sharp pics. Some may be a bit unreliable and/or eat batteries at a prodigious rate, but when they're working they'll surprise with the quality of the results.

    On reflection, perhaps what you need is either an Exakta or Exa fitted with a Meyer Domiplan lens. The Exaktas are starting to get pricey if they're in nice condition, but their little ugly brother the EXA never seems to fetch very much. Soo my advice would be for an EXA fitted with a Domiplan. Shoot at max aperture or close to it and you should get your required low-contrast results. Come to think of it, the Ludwig Meritar lens that also came stock with some EXAs is a classic in mediocrity so bear that one in mind, too. (Pete In Perth)
  9. Pete, I have a couple of Exa's from my old Dad including one with the waist level finder rather than the swish new pentaprism jigger. Meritar fitted they still turn in sharpish shots with reasonable contrast (disappointed groan). Though as you say they are worth very little.

    Maybe if you could get some 1960's Agfa 35mm film stock.....
  10. Perhaps you should buy a Holga:

    You can even buy one that's been modified to accept 35mm film:
  11. Tom, cameras of the '60s and '70s, good and not so good alike, all took pretty good pictures. If you want the "washed out look", none of them will give it to you. Come to think of it, no camera in good working order and used correctly will produce it.

    What you want to do, if shooting color, is overexpose if shooting slides and underexpose severely if shooting negatives. If shooting black and white, underexpose and underdevelop. Then don't try to fix the mistake when printing. BTW, if you send color negatives out to be printed the lab will do its best to make acceptable prints, i.e., not "washed out", unless instructed to do otherwise. Alternatively, bleach the prints.

    Mark Medin, I have couple of pre-WWI lenses in good order. All uncoated, of course. I shoot slides with them. In blind tests highly experienced photographers have been unable to tell me which of a group of slides, some shot with my oldies, other with modern lenses, were shot with the oldies. The canard that old lenses are inherently low contrast won't die, but it is still false. People consistently blame the effects of overexposure on the lens. I don't know why they do it, but they're mistaken. Old shutters often run slow ...
  12. A camera from the 60`s is not the answer. I can use mine and make competitive prints with todays stuff.

    You need to age poor quality color for 40 years. Then you get what you want.

    If you can`t wait, scan the negs or get a cheap digial, bring it into photoshop and desaturate the color and lower the contrast.

    Get cheap consumer scans and Photoshop Elements can be had for $100.
    There are also free limited value programs like Picasa. There is an aging function in there.
  13. Regarding the suggestion of an Exa with a Meyer Domiplan - you can't even rely on that as some were OK (for a triplet I mean) I think they put a few good ones out just to keep us guessing!

    If you want to make certin of this look, then go down the toy camera route.

  14. Hi, Colin OK, mate, you've got me here. I guess it's time to confess that I do actually have an EXA. It's an EXA 11 with fixed pentaprism and it looks great. Well, that's to say, it looks as great as any EXA ever did, which isn't saying all that much unless one likes ugly, smallish toad-like but curiously heavy beasts with very limited pic-taking capabilities.

    Despite my EXA 11's almost mint condition, the built-in (and therefore uncleanable without considerable effort) pentaprism has somehow acquired so much internal dust and crap that viewing is a nightmare. However, I also suspect that even if it were still pristine, focussing would still be a hit-or-miss affair thanks to the very vague ground-glass imaging via the (yes!) Meritar f2.9 lens. Film/shutter wind is an RSI-inviting exercise, because it's so damn stiff despite umpteen efforts at getting some lubricant into the system. This ia one seriously dislikable camera.

    However, please don't think I'm an Ihagee-hater. Au contraire, I'm a great admirer of Exaktas and had about a dozen of 'em at the last count, from pre-war Kine to last-gasp VX 1000. It's just those exasperating EXAs I can't find any love for .......... (Pete In Perth)
  15. And, of course, one can carry an Exa with a Biotar, or an Exakta Varex with a "deurmekaar" [mixed up].

    Washed out? I'm trying overexposure of long-expired Kodak colour negative film but with a so-called "warming filter". Initial efforts from a Rolleiflex Automat MX yield unremarkable photos...I think the warming filter may simply cancel out the blue cast. Not sure. I'll keep trying, maybe with a pre-war uncoated lens on an Exakta SLR. It's a lot more fun than photoshop, at least for me.
  16. Pete, the Exa range is not my favurite either. They just don't set the pulse racing or even gently jogging. Uninspiring. I wish my Dad had bought Exactas instead.

    My best suggestions for the washed out look are :

    1) find a good camera with a fungus ridden lens. I had a Leica III with Elmar lens that took rubbish pictures for that reason.

    2) A folding camera where the front standard is slightly out of whack. These can give interesting dreamy pictures where nothing is in sharp focus.
  17. Best advice you have received is to incorporate digital to achieve the washed out faded look you desire. Either go all digital or convert your color negatives to digital. GIMP is a free open source image editor that some say is the equivalent of Photoshop.

    Why create the effect digitally ? YOU will have control over how the final image appears.

    As for a camera, you can find a 5-8mp digital P&S for ~$100 if you take your time. You can also find many many classic film SLRs from the 60-70-80's for the same price. Minolta, Pentax, Nikon, Canon etc etc.

    Good Luck.
  18. Tom - look at some Holga galleries. That may, or may not, be a look that you'll like. They
    are medium format cameras (and only $20), but, as noted above, you can buy one
    converted to 35mm.

    A few Holga galleries:
  19. Tom, all good suggestions here. Don't forget the Pentax Spotmatic, which is inexpensive and you have loads of lenses to choose from. But if I were going to do it, I'd get something different from the Chevy, Ford, or Plymouth. A Bessler Topcon Super D, or a Ziess SLR from the 60s, Even though it isn't in this forum's purview; a Leica R.
  20. I think what your looking for fotos taken by older TLR's 1950 and under they can give you the soft feeling in your fotos attached is a foto I think your looking for ?
  21. Don't want to rain on the parade, but that image isn't 'soft' as much as out of focus.

    Nonetheless an uncoated lens from the 1930s or 40s gives a good effect for some subjects-- low contrast, shadows full of light. I have an uncoated Canon 50/3.5 from the late 1940s with a tessar-type design. It gives very different results from a modern lens, as you'd expect.
  22. aaagh don't fight it. thrift stores are full of $1.99 plastic 35mm cameras.
    maybe not as bad as you hoped for but you could always shoot B&W and send it out to some cheap place, I am sure you will than get the " look" you want.
    don't bother with 126,127,or 110 as film is rare.
    didn't freestyle once sell a Holga 35mm camera?

    I saw some photos last week they were sharp and clear, I asked and the owner used a disposable 38mm. The Kodak Max disposable cameras are reputed to be very good, so avoid them.
  23. I would say the Minolta SRT 101 is the cheap one but if you are happy to spend a moderate amount the Leica SL2 is reliable and user friendly with a brilliant finder.In short no contest.
    Cheers Manfred
  24. Manfred, washed out photos with a SL2? Shame, shame! If you are rich and want the classic "look", a Leica 111G with an 85mm Summarex wide open will do the the trick.

    If this is not satisfactory, pack it all up and send to me, SL2 included.

  25. <<...from 60s/70s. I'd like my photos to have that washed out look...>>

    In my memory of 60's & 70"s "washed out" photos, it was the processing rather than the camera which produced the look: color prints processed by Kodak were quite "mild"; black and white sent out through the drugstore lacked contrast. The only washed out b&w I've had in recent times (I went back to developing my own in the 70's to get away from that) came from commercial processing of C-41 black and white films: maybe you could try that with whatever camera you have handy?
  26. I was going to go with my usual knee-jerk suggestion (Nikon F of course), but if you want an antique look, it's not the camera you need to look at but the film. But if you want the king of vintage SLR's, I still say, it's the mighty F.
  27. How about buying any SLR you can find for cheap, and then get most any lens that will fit the camera. Then find a bunch of uncoated UV or skylight filters. Stack as many of these filters as you can in front of the lens, so there is low contrast and plenty of flare, and then shoot away!
  28. How about this for an idea. I had a Meyer Domiplan that had a cell reversed. I couldn't focus on anything. How much more washed out can you get?
  29. I think it's out of production now,but if not for Black & white try 'Lucky' brand film in any camera you like & it'll give you the look you want!This film can turn a Hasselblad into a Holga!
  30. I think what you're after is the faded look of old snapshots-mostly taken with the brownies, the instamatics, etc., of bygone years. When new they were pretty bright & vibrant, though. You can probably get that look with your digicam & Photoshop.

    Or you can get your prints from the drugstore & expose them to sunlight for a few weeks; that might work.
  31. Hi Tony,my apologies I only read Tom's first post. Seems to me looking at his second post Leica will not do, however I will join Bill poor processing is the key, available again some labs have set the clock back.Goes for digital too.
    Cheers Manfred
  32. My dad just picked up for cheap and and gave to me a petri slr with a couple extra lenses and
    flash... i haven't run a roll through it yet, anybody have any experience with these and what
    to expect?
  33. The "washed out" look you are referring to was accomplished by filters and printing processes, and possibly by long-ago discontinued film emulsions, not by a camera body. You can accomplish that look using the Saturation and Contrast adjustments in Photoshop but unless you own some kind of chemical color printing machines you will only get disappointingly contrasty photos with vivid colors, no matter what you shoot with, even the junkier cameras from the 30's produce amazing results with modern films.
  34. Vivitar 250/SL and 400/SL. Chinon CS. Fujica ST605n. All are well-built and solid and tend to be undervalued. All take screw-mount lenses. Steer clear of any Zenit or Praktica no matter what anyone says.
  35. For Roger With The Petri Question - You'd best make this a separate post in its own right, mate. Tom's post question is purely about how to achieve a certain effect.

    FWIW, my understanding of Petri SLRs is that the lenses are quite good, but the cameras' mechanicals are poor. They went the same way as Miranda did in the late 70s, down the gurgler. I once took a defective Petri SLR (FT I think) into our local Repair Guru, and he showed me just why it wasn't winding/shutter cocking consistently. Its wind gears under the baseplate were made of relatively soft brass, and they had stripped in a couple of places due to wear.

    You don't have to be a mechanical engineering graduate to realise that brass has its advantages. It's cheap to machine, it's self-lubricating and it doesn't need any special treatment like hard-chroming or whatever to keep corrosion away. Unfortunately, in a relatively hi-load situation like wind gears, it's not going to last long before this or that tooth starts to wear away.

    You might get lucky with yours in that it may not have had much use, so those soft gears may still have lots of life left. Then again .... (Pete In Perth)
  36. Leicaflex SL

    Nikon F2 sans meter prism
  37. anything you like and add a soft focus filter?

    Canon anything and EF 135mm with soft focus?

    Other than toy cameras, they were all made to be reasonably good... even 50 years ago.
  38. Go to a rangefinder camera instead. The lenses from the 40's-50's are superb, with a nice character.

    Example: Canon IVsb + Canon 50mm/1.5.
  39. The old Elmar 5cm/3.5 will give you a nice vintage look to your photos. Such a lens can be bought for $100-$150, which you can always sell in the future for the same price.

    Another option of rangefinder cameras would be the old Leica screwmount cameras, such as the Leica IIIc. Often, you will find the IIIc with the Elmar offered for about $250.
  40. pinhole??? cheap and easy.
  41. Here's the answer:

    Put Mr. Peabody in the way-back machine, set the dials and gizmos to about 1970 (give or take a few), and when you land find a store that carries the Zenit 35mm SLR or any crappy TLR. Get yourself some of that "wondermulsion" 5247 film, load 'er up and pay no attention to exposure settings. When finished, hop in the Pinto (or Vega or even a Gremlin) and head for the local Fotomat located in a supermarket parking lot. This part is key, since the film will need to sit on the counter in the Fotomat booth for a couple of days to "ripen".

    When you return several days later to get your prints (and they're not there), the kind employee when put them in a bag which will be picked up Wednesdays and Saturdays to go to the lab to be processed in expired chemistry.

    You should get some suitably crappy photos in a week or two...or three.

    And don't forget to reset the way-back machine to sometime in 2008.

  42. Quote David M:
    "Steer clear of any Zenit or Praktica no matter what anyone says."

    What, and the poster is supposed to take this advice because YOU said it? Do you have some credentials as an engineer, or maybe you are known as a repair person then, David?
  43. You don't need a crappy camera--just a crappy photographer :)
  44. Nikon F or F2.
    Nikkormat FT2 or FT3.
    Minolta SR-T 303.
    Minolta XK/XM.
    Canon F-1 Old.
    Canon FT-b QL.
    Leicaflesx SL.
    Leicaflex SL2.
    Pentax Spotmatic F.
    Pentax MX.
    Topcon Super DM.

    Check this one out

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