Looking for a new camera...

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by matthew_manire, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. Hey guys, so like the title suggests, I'm looking for a new camera. I have been getting into film photography recently and really enjoy it! I'm currently shooting on a Nikkormat FT which is an awesome camera! But my only problem with it, is its size. I'm wanting a camera that's small enough to fit in my pocket. Like many people say, the best camera is the one you have on you. Anyways, I came across the soviet FED 1. I really love the look and feel of it, I've handled it before. But the one thing keeping me from buying one, is how you load film. Its extremely easy to rip your film while loading it, which is a problem for me due to the increase in film cost(about $10 a role where I live). So basically my question is, does anyone know of a camera small enough to pocket, like the fed 1, yet easy enough to load, so I don't risk ripping a bunch of film?
  2. Are you okay with a fixed-lens 35mm? If so, there are a ton of good fixed-lens cameras out there, like the Canonet G-III (40/1.7 lens), which would fit your criteria. The canonet has a "quick load" feature too.
  3. I would prefer a removable lens, but I would take a fixed lens for the convince of a small size. Thanks for the help!
  4. You may also think of Fed 2 with the same retractable lens. It is only a few millimetres longer than the Fed 1 or Zorki 1. But it is back loading [not bottom loading] and very easy to handle. Another advantage is that its range finder is almost twice as wide as the one in Fed 1. It was one of the most successful models of the Fed series. It also has diopter adjustment for the view finder. Its View finder and RF are combined into one. Good luck. It would also be less expensive than the Fed !. sp.
  5. You have big pocket that you can fit the FED2 in it. I have to use the Olympus XA to put in my pocket.
  6. Leica CL with 40mm M Rokkor. Uses Leica M mount lenses. A compact Minolta or Leitz 90mm f4 is available.
  7. If I had spare change to toss around I've long
    had a craving for a Leica IIIc or IIIf with
    collapsible 50/2 Summitar. That'd be a swell
    pocket camera and fashion accessory.

    But on my budget I've been contented with an
    Olympus 35 RC. Maybe not quite classic all manual
    cameras but there are several compact 35mm
    rangefinder and zone focusing cameras from the
    1970s-'80s. I used to have a Minolta Hi-Matic
    zone focusing viewfinder model that had a really
    sharp lens, their lowest end model of that
  8. I think Lex might be referring to the Hi-Matic G. If so, that's a good choice for fixed lens zone focus. More compact than a Leica CL and a lot less expensive. A similar model from Konica is the C35V. Both offer programmed automation from 1/30 second at f2.8 to around 1/650 at f14. Both have sharp 38mm f2.8 lenses. Not sure about the H-Matic, but if battery dies, the Konica will default to 1/30 at f2.8. The Konica has a flash setting that sets shutter to 1/25 second and allows apertures to manually selected. But if you want a little less automation with full manual override, then the Olympus 35 RC is a good choice, plus it has a rangefinder. Also consider the C35 A, which has a rangefinder instead of zone focus. It also has a B setting.
    Now if you're willing to give up automation all together, take a look at the Rollei 35 models. They have match needle CDS metering (Rollei 35 and 35S) or uncoupled selenium with B35. Sharp lenses. Scale focusing.
  9. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    How are you tearing your film? I use a Zenit 1 and a Zenit 3, which load just the same as the FED, and have never damaged the film yet. I keep small scissors in my camera bag to cut the long film leader (you know about that? see Fedka's page about film trimming and loading if not). Are you sure your film is tearing during loading? I have only ever torn film in cameras where the rewind-release failed to release properly (the original Canonet was the worst for this).
    If you are enjoying using an SLR, but want a smaller one, the classic answer is an Olympus OM-2.
  10. Matthew, my camera quest from about 1999 was for a camera with truly uncompromised image quality in every aspect in the most compact size feasible without sacrificing good handling. These are all subjective terms. My all time favorite for many situations is the Rollei 35 (T or S). Downside is there is no rangefinder, so focus is by scaling/estimating the distance to your subject by using the distance scale on the lens. I've only been to Europe once in 2000 for work, and I only took the Rollei, and I was not disappointed, but I knew it's limitations, so I worked with it. It is pocketable. The problem was that in low light where you have to use it wide open, especially up close where DOF is so shallow, scale focusing just isn't very reliable.
    I tried and still have the Olympus XA, Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Kodak Retina IIa, but only the Olympus is really pocketable as stated by another poster in this group. There are Minox options and also Contax options. I actually found that the APS FILM, YES FILM, cameras that came out at this time offered admirable picture quality in cameras that were unusually small and useful around that time of year 2000. I had a Canon Elf Jr. That was a very handy little inexpensive camera. My girlfriend (wife now) at the time got one also. It was smaller than a pack of cigarettes and had a "normal" wide f 2.8 lens (if I remember right). With the new Advantix film formulations, it was a good solution for nightlife where the camera was truly in the pocket and never on the shoulder. These are not interchangeable lens cameras, and I felt the better quality of full size 35 was needed.
    So then I got into trying the small fixed lens rangefinders like the Canon GIII QL-17. It isn't truly pocketable, but it was so very usable. I wanted that but with changeable lenses, and that was the Leica CL and the 40 and 90. They were almost perfect, but the Leica CL film loading seemed iffi to me sometimes. I really think that is the perfect size camera to execute for lens interchangeability, but I wanted a sense of better build, and I discovered/finally bit the bullet to buy a used Leica M6. I should say that happened in 2004, but I had already bought a Nikon FM3a in 2001 when they came out, and these two cameras were the only cameras I used for several years. They are both wonderful and perfect. I decided that their size was justified by their capabilities, but I wouldn't use anything bigger. I just about gave up on "pocketability" because I couldn't compromise functionality of controls further for that. Eventually I found myself waiting for somebody (Nikon or Leica) to make a digital body this size that could use the lenses I had carefully purchased/accumulated. Affordable options didn't happen. I wasn't going to go to digital until the right thing emerged, and I wasn't sure it would.

    In late 2011, Sony introduced the NEX 5n that could use both Nikon and Leica lenses with adapters. I read the reviews for months and bought one in spring 2012. My summary opinion is that the small size and flexibility and image quality combination was unparalleled. Now I'm not even sure I want full frame digital. Sony finally has the A7 series that is similar in size to the Nikon FM3a, but I'm not disappointed ever with the quality of imagery from my 5n. But the 5n with a lens on it is small but not really pocketable, but more and more there exist smaller options too in digital. I already have full frame film lenses that I want to use purposefully, but if I didn't I would look at the Panasonic GM5 MFT body. It is very small and has an EVF. Buy it in a year when it is cheaper. I'd like to have one.

    I realize you have asked about classic pocketable cameras, and some of the options I am suggesting are not "classic" in the sense they are not film, but I feel I really might understand what you like doing, and I'm trying to suggest that as you follow the process of exploration, options that seemed out of bounds might be worth considering for capturing imagery and documenting life at a granular level,
  11. Mr. Manire…

    I see you’re new to the board today. Welcome aboard.

    Have you considered an early 1950s era Kodak Signet 35?

    The Signet 35 advertising stated this lens as being as sharp as their German, more expensive Retina 35mm cameras. My experience would be that would be true for the Retina with the four-element lens, but not the Retina with the six-element lens. The coating on the lens was one of the better for both Kodachrome and black and white contemporary films. Some of the other cameras mentioned in this thread are quite costly. If you want a small framed fully manual camera, but want to maintain the sharp results of your SLR, this is probably the most cost effective way to do it. It has a 44mm four-element Ektar lens. Top shutter speed is 1/300th, limiting the use of fast film at fast F stops. Also, any adjustable quality lens is going to protrude, making it less pocketable than the later electronic retractable lens cameras, which would lie flatter in your pocket. The trick is getting one with either accurate or known shutter speeds. I bought some apparently good condition samples from Ebay until I got one with shutter speeds I could use. I have a shutter tester. The one I use is 1/160th at the 300 mark, about 1/125th at the 100 mark, and about 1/64th at the 50 mark. Those are shutter speeds I can use with the films I was using. For instance, the then end run of Kodachrome was rated at ISO 25 and 64. Both Fuji and Kodak made a pretty decent negative film rated at ISO 160. Kodak had just put out the latest Ektar negative film at ISO100. By using shutter speeds that were the same as the film ISO rating, I could then adjust the F stop for the light conditions and get an excellent exposure. The Kodachrome 25 just had to be two stops away from the light value I would have chosen for 100. None of the shutter speeds were spot on, but they were ones I could work with to get a perfect exposure. For a compact, fully manual 35mm camera with a sharp lens, I believe it is the bang for buck champion with today’s Sleazebay prices.

    An expensive consideration, but high quality and very pocketable, is the much-heralded Yashica T4 Super (T5 in some markets). It is full auto and perhaps is off topic in a classic manual camera forum. It’s classic, but not manual. It is well weather/dust sealed and is very pocketable. The four-element genuine Karl Zeiss Tessar lens has a superb reputation that my examples have lived up to. It was being sold new in the same era as the Nikon F4, the Canon 1N, and the Minolta 9XI which were top of the line cameras from the Big Three used by working professionals. Their pocket camera was usually the T4 Super. It was also known to be the only full-auto compact in its era that would measure the light accurately enough to be used with fussy slide film. Today’s prices are high due to its quality reputation. The drawbacks are lack of manual override for exposure settings and it will not do intermittent shutter speeds like 64, 100, 250, 320, etc. It also will not go below 50, so some of that Adox high definition 20 and 25 ISO film can’t be used. Still, the high price is fair, considering the pocketability and excellent lens coating.

    In the early 2000s, being a Kodachrome fanatic, I used both of the above side by side one day with some Kodachrome 64. I will refer you to the results below. Open each one up to the original size so, moving around on your screen, you can look through the two glass doors to some plantings that are about 150 yards/meters away. You’ll notice things look a little larger with the Signet because it’s a 44mm lens vs. the Yashica’s 35mm lens. The lenses were set to the front of the building. Still, as you look through both a heavy glass door and a heavy rear commercial picture window, both tinted, you’ll see a lot of detail in the plantings despite the fact that the focus is about 130 yards in front. Both shots are in Kodachrome 64. Both were processed back to back at Dwayne’s in Kansas. And both were scanned at 4000 ppi on a Nikon 5000 dedicated film scanner. Detail is terrific for a fixed four-element lens. Remarkable too is that the Signet lens serial number indicates a 1956 manufacturing date.

    Here is the result for the Signet 35:


    Here is the result for the Yashica T4 Super:


    A. T. Burke

    P.S. Mr. Amos’s recommendation of the Olympus XA fits the most pocketable category. I have three. Only one had the lens resolving power of the Signet 35 even though it is years more modern and has a six-element lens. I got OK semi-automatic exposures, but not always on enough for a critical shot with fussy slide film. So.. Pocketble it is, but there was wide area of lens quality control and exposure is more suited to B&W or color negative films that have a wide latitude and a second chance to get exposure right in the printing process. One more point for the XA is the pocketability WITH flash attached! Opt for the A16 flash over the more common A11 if possible
  12. A lot of great suggestions, and I can't find fault with most of them. I wholeheartedly second the Canonet QL17 - but, it is a fixed lens and there is no bridge circuitry so you have to buy zinc air batteries. No biggie to me - its a wonderful little camera and the lens is winner - but, it doesn't seem to be meeting all your requirements. I love mine, its really a great camera that punches well above its weight class.
    Somewhat in the same category would be a Kodak Retina II or III. Just a jewel of a camera, great glass. And its just plain neat - the folder design is just something cool to behold, its a real classic and a real mechanical marvel. if you're a good hunter they did come with auxiliary lenses that gave you a slight wide angle and a short tele - no personal experience with those, but from what I read the base 50 in its various forms is a wonderful lens in every way, but the aux ones are just... well, adequate. They do command a premium and are very hard to track down, and from what I hear when you do find them its quite often the case that they are not perfectly aligned with the host lens and quality suffers further. But a set is a bit of a trophy to sicko's like me and many on this forum.
    In light of that, I would suggest a few classic (or classic...ish in some cases) SLR's.
    For starters, the Nikon FG - its light, its very small, you can use any ai and later Nikkor glass, and with the 50 1.8 E series its a real compact package, and light too. It does feel a little plasticky but I assure you it is far more durable than it first appears. It is battery dependant - but the 357 cells are very cheap and very plentiful and easy to find. The meter has never let me down, and for giggles I put my 17-35 f2.8 on it the other day - you could hardly tell there was a camera back there lol but hey - it works perfectly. You mentioned you have a Nikkormat already, so it may be a prudent option to investigate.
    I believe the Pentax K1000 may just be the smallest SLR, and you would not be lacking for choices of great glass that is relatively inexpensive, with a M42 adapter further opening options for glass choices - not just from Pentax but from just about everything that took that very popular mount for decades.
    Also, you may want to look at an Olympus OM1 - very tidy and small SLR, fully mechanical except for the meter, and a real joy to use - you will love the wonderful large viewfinder, at least it made an impression on me.
    I think those three SLR choices would actually leave little on the table to most interchangeable lens rangefinders out there in terms of size and weight, and all have access to some real winners in their lens line ups.
    Just another option to consider, since you appear to be one of those weird people (weird for this forum) who are not hopelessly afflicted with GAS and find the phrase "choosing which camera to buy" completely foreign regardless of what language its in:)
  13. If you're considering an SLR the Pentax MX with its 40mm f2.8 M lens is about as compact as an SLR with lens can be. Or slightly bigger, but lighter would be a Yashica FX3 Super 2000 with the Carl Zeiss 45mm f2.8.
  14. If you want an SLR I'd say look very hard at the Olympus OM series, OM-1 or -2. Great cameras and super glass, not sure about being a pocket camera but otherwise maybe the best smaller SLR anyone ever made. If you want to go with a rangefinder the Olympus Trip 35 is a good one and I got a lot of use from a Minolta Hi Matic 5. Both very small, and although I never put one in my pocket it is certainly workable.

    Rick H.
  15. Any on of the many Konica C35 models would fit your requirements -
    http://homepage1.nifty.com/fukucame/keifu/c35/keifuc35.htm - . They use standard AA or AAA batteries
    and Konica lenses had an excellent reputation. Some had manual override of the automatic exposure
  16. I shot earlier today with a Pentax MX at the trolly museum in Kennebunkport. On this trip I brought five of the small M lenses: 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/4 Macro, 100/4 Macro, 80-200/4.5 (1st version). I also brought a Pentax KM with a 55/2 SMC Pentax and a Vivitar V4000S with the 35-70/3.5-4.8 kit lens. The Vivitar was for when I wanted 1/2000 as a top speed. The KM had 400 speed film for shooting inside the car barns and the MX had 200 speed film. I left the smaller 50/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens at home but the MX with the 50/1.7 M is a small high quality package. Eric Hendrickson overhauled the MX for me and if you find one, a trip to Eric will make it good as new.
  17. Les, I was thinking MX and wrote K1000 :( I recall this series of images I think you have posted in a thread a while ago, it was actually what popped into mind when I saw this thread! Amazing how beastly the (actually very compact) FG looks next to that pentax!
  18. Mr. Manire....
    Mr. Sarile to the rescue, as he's done many times before. Unless you're into nostalgia, scratch my suggestion of the Kodak Signet. The Pentax MX with the 40mm pancake lens, although a little wider, will have less fore to aft distance, which will stick out less in your pocket. I've used an example of that lens and it is sharp, sharp, sharp. If you want wet prints, it will probably out-resolve the enlarging lens. If you have your film scanned, unless you use the most expensive drum scanner, it's going to out-resolve the scanner, including that nice Noritsu commercial that does about a real 6000 ppi (provided the goofball who is bulk scanning your film at the photo finisher has set it right). Plus the SMC coating will make the most of the color palette of any color film you might use, and do well with a range of tones in B&W films. Don't forget to use a tight lens cover that is not prone to come off. Older Pentax focal plane shutters tend to retain shutter speeds closer to the markings than the Kodak Signet's iris/leaf style.
    Since you're new to the board, notice how much quantity and quality of effort Mr. Sarile put in your reply. I can also name several others with similar knowledge bases here on Photonet who are also willing to share their years of experience with you.
    Again, welcome to Photonet.
    A. T. Burke
  19. Oops. Make that trolley museum. I don't always like the 40mm focal length. I have a number of 40/1.8 Konica Hexanons and they are nice and sharp. I have some 45/2 Rokkors which are close to 40. I think the rest of my 40s are on fixed lens RF cameras. I shold also mention my two 45/2.8 GN Nikkors. On this trip I have been using the K mount cameras and lenses I mentioned. The 35/2.8 SMC Pentax M is also small, light and sharp. In most cases (the Rollei 35 cameras excepted) I prefer a 35 to a 40. I have a 35/2 SMC Pentax-M but I took the f/2.8 model for the smaller size and lighter weight. Today I gave the MX a rest and used the KM with Ektar 100 and the Vivitar V4000S with Fuji 400 Superia XTra.
  20. Oops again! Make that should. The keyboard on this laptop is terrible.
  21. The MX with 40mm f2.8 did not always provide enough clearance to focus the lens when mounted on a tripod so Pentax provided a spacer to go between tripod and camera to allow this. Never had that problem with any of my tripods though. Also, Pentax produced the ME which was essentially the same size as the MX but had aperture priority automation. The later ME Super added manually selected shutter speeds.
    As you can see there are lots of choices. If possible visit a used camera seller so you can get a better feel for the size of any cameras that interest you.
    Good luck.
  22. OP requirement: "small enough to fit in my pocket"
    Pocketable + top optical quality = Retina II;
    I have a slight problem with the 50mm FL (prefer 40mm) but the image quality of the Xenon is quite something. The back opens for film loading, like with any decent film camera ;-) And accurate focussing is no problem with the RF. Only gripe is the viewfinder does not have a projected bright frame, but in practice one gets used to the correct eye placement for good framing.
    As mentioned by Mark Amos the Oly XA is also an option, even more pocketable. But it is battery dependant, and therefore not a classic (Just joking, I know there are no zealots on the Classic Camera forum).

Share This Page