Building a 35mm SLR kit from scratch in 2020/21

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by Karim Ghantous, Dec 16, 2020.

  1. That could be the key right there. If a lens has an aperture ring, you can't force it to a constant aperture.
  2. Theoretically, you should be able to set the aperture with the lens' aperture ring - though for lack of equipment I can't confirm. DSLRs I owned always allowed to use the actual aperture ring on the lens - provided you set it up correctly in the menu. Naturally, this is limited to cameras that actually have the Ai follower tab (and hence excludes most of the lower-end Nikon DSLRs). Most film cameras aren't customizable (F100, F5 and F6 are though I don't know if that particular option is available) - so that option isn't available on those that aren't. Often the use of the lens' aperture ring is not restricted when using the camera in M mode. In any case, if the lens aperture ring can be used then of course a constant aperture can be forced.
  3. It's an interesting topic.

    I guess I would lean toward the Contax-Yashica approach. The original RTS and the Yashica FR series were a lot more similar than advertised at the time. The shutters were essentially the same. The touted 1/2000 shutter speed of the RTS was actually available on the FR I and even the lowly FR II, when set on auto with the needle pegged in sufficient light. I remember servicing many of these cameras and seeing a clean and honest 1/2000 speed on the digital tester, just like the RTS.

    The FR series had one small weak spot, which was small nylon gear in the frame counter, which always failed after a passage of time. If that has been repaired, and the light seals and mirror bumper replaced, an FR I could be the basis of a good system. But any of these 35mm cameras are likely 20 years or more old and really need a thorough examination before serious use.

    For years, by photo backpack consisted of two Contax 139 bodies and a variety of Distagons, Planars, etc.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  4. Thanks, Michael. I too have a place in my heart for the Contax system. I love the FD system too - I have a small F-1 kit. But honestly, I'd have to choose Contax if I wanted more than just one or two lenses. You'd think that the FD kit would be really cheap, but apparently not.
  5. The Nikon N90s is my favorite machine for film, even better than the F3, which feels, to me, a notch obsolete. The N90s is crazy cheap now, even pristine examples of it. Minty examples of the F3 are still pricey. The N90s and F3 both have advanced flash capacities. Neither has a quiet shutter, but they aren't stealth shooters, anyway. Of course, the N90s has excellent AF; the F3 is MF. The F3 has a devoted following, whereas the N90s is almost forgotten (hence the price difference).
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  6. I think you've just identified the next 'cult camera', for those who want the F3 but want AF, and for those who want the F100, but who are on a budget. Get it while it's cheap! ;-)
  7. The N90s/F90x was a thousand dollars back in the nineties. Pros would use it as a second body. It is very solid. Yes, it is solid enough to be a weapon. The AF and AE are great. How did I discover it? Two Japanese girls stopped me on the street and asked me to take their picture. They had an F90x. I took one frame and knew I wanted one of my own. The camera, not a Japanese girl. Although......
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  8. I thought you meant building but turns out you meant buying.
  9. Japanese girls are pretty the F90x isn't. I don't want the F90x or N90s just because of its look.
  10. Best advice I can give is buy into something that can get serviced. I have quite a collection if Nikon F2 gear from my Dark Ages that I still use regularly. Seven bodies, 27 lenses, 11 MD-2s and double that on parts bodies and parts motor-drives. Love projecting chromes with Jazz playing on weekends. No stinking monitors for me.
  11. Agree on the servicing issue.

    The ring resistors for the Nikon wears out, and as I understand, replacement are hard to find or non-existant.
    The F2 was in production from about 1972 to 1980. That is about 45 years ago. That also means that Nikon stopped making spare parts for the F2, MANY years ago. And the inventory of spare parts has been gradually drying up.
    So while the F2 (and similar vintage cameras) can be serviced (CLA), if replacement parts are needed but not available, that may be the nail in the coffin.
    In my case, my fall back for the internal meter, is to use a hand meter.
  12. Actually I have found that the Nikon F and Nikon F2 ring resistors do not wear out. Most of the time they are just dirty and need a cleaning. It is not hard to do yourself if you are careful and have a set of proper screwdrivers. I have revived several of them with just a good cleaning.
    Karim Ghantous and Gary Naka like this.
  13. The main reason I've got about two dozen parts bodies. In 2006 a Nikon and Mamiya authorized repair man, Tom went out of business due to the internet. Long story short. He made me seven F2 bodies and 8 MD-2's. All my bodies and motor drives have 100% new replacement Nikon innards. Winding, take-up and shutter mechanisms are new factory replacement assemblies. Only the shells are used.
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  14. That's a pretty good list thanks. I'm not sure if I would agree with every lens you listed, but it's good to know what quality lenses are available out there without pulling your hair researching those things. For one thing I'm not sure if I would include so many Sigma and Tamron brands especially used ones. These two brands have just started catching up to OEM as far as quality(but I could be wrong).

    Since I never had the fortune to sit on a big pile of money, it took me years to build my camera/lens kits which include Canon, Nikon and Pentax(manual and AF). More than half the lenses I don't even use, or use very sparingly. The Research part and grinding my teeth while the lens or camera was in the mail, was the hardest part.

    I would say though that I had a 95% success rate buying used gear Online(which did a lot to boost my faith in humanity). Some of the remaining 5% was due to my not reading the description correctly. These days I'm thinking about offloading a lot of this stuff since I hardly get a chance to use them. I will probably keep a couple of pearls if I need to...
  15. I have the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 AF-D lens with the aperture ring. If you set the lens to the smallest aperture and control your aperture via the sub command dial then you can have constant aperture when you zoom. (of course not the largest or smallest aperture). But if you use the aperture ring to set the aperture then you don't have constant aperture when you zoom.
  16. Quite aside from the specifics of particular camera and lens combinations, I have been forming 'minimal' kits for cameras I've collected for a long time.

    For early film SLRs, for example, I've tried to get the camera, a normal lens, a wide-angle lens (of focal length appropriate to the time of the camera) and a telephoto. Sometimes, I have also added a short telephoto.
    As the models get newer, I try to find the 'standard lens' (usually a wide-to-tele zoom, later on), a telephoto zoom, and whatever specialist lenses (like my beloved PC-Nikkor) seem interesting. I also like catadioptric lenses and ultra-wide lenses, but my personal kinks are less of interest, I think.

    My Nikkormat EL "kit"
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
    Gary Naka likes this.
  17. BTW, that same lens kit works with all the original Nikon mount cameras like the other Nikkormats and my F and F2 cameras. The same is true of 'kits' for M42 cameras like the Prakticas and SLR Contaxes as well as many other lens mounts, so you don't have to get 20 or 30 135mm lenses, for example. If, that is, you are not too strict about absolutely contemporary models.
  18. In the case of T-mount lenses, you would only need one for multiple "kits", as you could move it around.

    This is especially true for catadioptric lenses, with no aperture coupling needed.
  19. F2 specialist Sover Wong has all new ring resisters for the DP3/DP12 prisms and even new cds cells for the other prisms that use those and the meter needle to bring all F2 prisms back to new condition.

    His ring resistor for the DP3/DP12 in particular, he tested it against the original resistor Nikon used and he rates his new version as lasting well over 4 times as long due to the improved materials used. He installed one in the F2AS I just purchased from him and itโ€™s one smooth-working camera.

    Link to his site on his updated DP3/12 resister...

    DP-12 ring resistor
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
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