Need compact 35mm film camera with full manual controls...

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by asimrazakhan, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. I'm sure many of you have experienced this: You go out on a day trip with your family and you end up lugging a heavy load of camera gear; a body or two with a few lenses. But this load takes away all the enjoyment of the family outing. It becomes a pain fumbling around with lens changes, and your SLR and lenses never seem to fit in the babies diaper bag.
    I've realized that when I'm taking day trips with the family, it's better to just carry a tiny camera with me. I used to have an Olympus XA for many years till it broke down. But I realize that the XA doesn't have full manual controls and I'd think that its aperture priority isn't accurate enough for slide film.
    Is there any 35mm compact film camera (perhaps the size of an Olympus XA) that allows me to control both shutter speed and aperture? I like to use my handy Gossen Digisix hand held light meter and set the aperture and shutter speed manually. I would like a 35mm film camera because I enjoy projecting slides.
    Its okay if it has a fixed lens... as long as its in the 35mm - 50mm range. And the lens should be very sharp and produce great colors because I'm spoiled with my Pentax Limited prime lenses (31mm, 43mm, 77mm). Lack of sharpness in inferior lenses really shows up when projecting.
  2. Small size: Rollei 35, S, T, SE, or TE. Only downside is scale focus.
    Larger size: Olympus 35SP, Leica CL
  3. A vote for the Rollei 35, but it does use PX625 batteries. I finished up an important trip on my Rollei 35 after my Nikon packed it in. Nowadays, when I scanned the slides, it's hard to tell where the Nikon left off and the Rollei began. So much lighter too...
    There have been a long series of posts on the Classic Manual Forum in the last few months for various small RF and zone focus cameras, many contemporaries of the early pentaprism SLRs. The quality from most of them is simply staggering, and most service most of them seem to need is replacement of the light seals. I'd suggest looking at some of these.
  4. Kodak Retina IIa perhaps, but if I were you I'd put up with a little more bulk and get a Pentax body to go with the 43mm prime you have already.
  5. The Rollei 35 cameras are great if you can live with the limitations. Otherwise, my favourite light small(ish) walk-around camera is my Minolta CLE with the 40/2 Rokkor M lens. It fits in a jacket/coat pocket, has a great lens and the metering is almost always spot on (it's my kodachrome body).
    Best wishes,
  6. How about Canonet QL17 GIII?
    It may not be as compact as you would like, but it has manual control and shutter speed AE, although you lose metering on manual mode.
    I have one and I like it with relatively fast F1.7 lens. Since you said you can use digisix meter (which I also use), you don't have to worry about the battery issue.
  7. you might want to try out an olympus om1 with 50mm 1.8 lens. very compact indeed.
  8. Leica IIIf with modern inexpensive Voigtlander Cosina lenses and VC viewfinders. That's the most compact RF camera in my kit and very high quality.
  9. For surprising IQ at lower price point, consider the Ricoh 500G. Very pocketable rangefinder with a very good Rikenon 40mm f/2.8 lens. They do tend to need foam seal replacements. Jon Goodman sells these foam kits for about $15. Check out my post here to see the camera and some sample shots:
  10. Your objective in asking for full manual controls is so that you can get well exposed slides. You will get accurately
    exposed slides with a nikon 35 ti. Even the olympus stylus epic with it's spot meter gives me well exposed slides. The tiny
    minolta tc-1 is my favourite: it has a fantastic 28mm/3.5 lens, fast autofocus, and the ability to give you full manual
    controls. The minolta has a separate button for exposure lock which can be programmed to stay locked between
    exposures, indepedent of focus lock. The manual ISO setting allows you to manipulate the shutter speed and the aperture
    is easily set using the aperture dial on the lens. I find the 28mm lens works better for my family outings than 35mm
    because Im usually sitting close to the kids and can get more of the surroundings with the 28mm. Family outings are just
    that, and your record shots need to be sharp and well exposed. I'd have too many blurry photos using scale focus and a
    40 or 50mmlens. You can leave the meter at home.
  11. i'd suggest something from the olympus 35rc / 35rd stable - not sure if they're 'manual' enough, for you, though. i dumped all my leica kit [five bodies, five lenses], once i discovered the olympus trip 35. this is what i get from them: - so i can't recommend them enough! no battery required, and can be bought for $5.
  12. Any Leica M with a 35mm or 50mm (depending on your preference)
  13. My favourites: Rolllei 35S with , Leica IIIc and Tessina 35
  14. "The lens should be very sharp and produce great colors because I'm spoiled with my Pentax Limited prime lenses (31mm, 43mm, 77mm). Lack of sharpness in inferior lenses really shows up when projecting."​
    What are you shooting now? Only you can know the importance of saving an inch or two in body size vs. getting outstanding image quality, but a Pentax MX would be about the size of that IIIc in the picture above and would allow you to use any of those excellent lenses.
  15. The Nikon TI came with either a 35mm or 28mm fixed f/2.8 lens. I had the 35mm version for about five years. Has program and aperture-preferred modes. Excellent optics. Small viewfinder but larger than the Leica IIIc or IIIf. Has only a camera strap lug on the right side of body. Don't know if you could still get it serviced.
  16. khi


    I would like to mention one camera that not many people even know exsists. The Fuji KlasseW. The KlasseW is a small professional film P&S camera tha offers both automatic and manual control. The camera was never sold in the USA and is available here:
    A bit expensive, but it is worth every penny. Small, lightweight but very solid build, and offers a razor sharp Fujinon EBC 28/2.8 lens, auto film advance etc. I humbly submit a small sample to show...
  17. The Pentax ME Super and MX both have full manual modes. They're probably about the same size as your Olympus, since it is widely believed that Pentax introduced the smaller M-series cameras, in response to the Olympus OM series of cameras.
    Both are regularly available on ebay and are affordable. They both have the added advantage that your Pentax limited lenses will work with these cameras. I'm assuming that you are referring to the FA limiteds, which have aperture rings, and not the DA limiteds, which do not. As long as they have aperture rings, they will work with the MX or ME Super.
    Other models in the Pentax M-series, such as the ME, MG and MV are aperture-priority only.
    Paul Noble
  18. If a built-in meter is not an issue, consider the fixed-lens direct-vision cameras from the 50s and 60s - Agfa Silette, Voigtländer Vito, Kodak Retina/Retinette, Any of these are light in weight and compact but offer great optical quality (choose a 4-element lens over a 3-element). A built-in rangefinder will be an advantage, any built-in meter may not work too well after 40 or 50 years!
  19. For something a little bit bigger than the rollei, get a Nikon FG20 with a GN (pancake) lens.
  20. Funny that Edward mentioned it - I was going to say Nikon FG20. It is one of the most acurate and reliable camera I've ever had, since the 80's. Unfortunately, I gave mine to my nephew while he's taking photography class in high school. It's one of my favorite all around shooter camera.
  21. For the same reasons you mention, I got a Kodak Retina IIIc on ebay for $80 in very good working condition. (The light meter has a bad connection though, but is not coupled to the camera). This is a foldable, completely manual camera that takes no batteries. It has a superb, and I mean superb 50mm f2.0 lens. The shutter is virtually silent. And the rangefinder focusing is very accurate, though the viewfinder is small. The Retinas were high quality cameras made for Kodak in Germany (most in the 1950's). The camera has interchangeable lenses, but you will only want the 50mm as you can't eye focus directly the additional lenses.
    And best of all, it's way cool looking and many people will ask you about it:)
  22. I don't know how compact you need the camera to be, but one of the modern Voigtlaender Bessa rangefinders might suit. Or an Olympus OM1 series. I find the Contax Aria with a Zeiss 35mm f2.8 small enough to carry about in a coat pocket. I would suggest the Ricoh GR1, but it has a 28mm lens, which is too wide for your use.
  23. I seem to remember that you already own an MZ-S and that FA43/1.9, which are great and compact, so I'm not sure how much better any of these other SLR recommendations would be--they're not *that* much smaller. Something a little smaller & lighter might be a Pentax ZX-L/MZ-6 or ZX-5n but I'm pretty sure you want smaller still, probably something without a mirror box, like a fixed-lens rangefinder.
  24. wow, amazing responses... and so many as well. thank you all very much. i'm going to have to spend about a month researching each one.
    just to answer a couple of questions. i currently shoot slide film mainly with a Pentax LX or Pentax MZ-S using the FA limited lenses (31 f/1.8, 43 f/1.9, 77 f/1.8).
    Lately I've been really fascinated with Leica as well as Hasselblad and a Mamiya 7ii. So for the past few months i've been trying to figure out which direction i should take my photography... medium format 6x6 and 6x7 prints, 4x4 superslides using a hasselblad, or stick with 35mm slides and perhaps divulge in a leica. all very tempting options.
    but for now i need a camera that i can carry around for short day trips. yesterday i went out with the family around dubai (where i currently live). we went to the beach, the old city, the gold and spice souks (covered markets) and a museum. i had with me the Pentax LX with only the 43mm lens. it worked out fine but i thought that i may as well carry an even smaller camera in times like these. there's no point in having an interchangeable lens camera when you only have one lens with you!
    well now i have much to think about thanks to all your help. i've had time to see pictures of most of the cameras but haven't been able to research them yet. there's a lot more options out there than i had previously thought.
    thanks everyone.
  25. I used a Contax T2 for many years. It was incredibly good - compact, one of the best optics I have ever used, beautiful. Get one used, you´ll never regret.
  26. Olympus 35RC. 'Nuff said.
  27. A Leica M with the 50mm Elmar or 35mm Summaron or Summicron is not really very large. You won't find better quality.
  28. If you are thinking 120 format, the most compact camera I have, and still am using reguarly, is the excellent Mamiya 6 with 75 mm normal lens. For me, Mamiya gave up a great thing when it increased size to the non-retractable Mamiya 7 (and 7-II). The two other Mamiya 6 lenses (50 and 150) are great performers as well. You really have to put one in your hands for a short while to appreciate it, and its portability and ease of use for a 120 camera, and the square image gives a multitude of portrait and landscape framing possibilities as well as the square frame.
  29. Not 35mm, but very compact.
  30. Try goodwill/Salvation army. They may have one for a prayer. I was at my local goodwill and they had film point and shoots, even a nikon which I have never seen before and not sure what type of camera it is but me thinks it's a point and shoot.. It is in the original box. They were asking 20 bucks for it.
  31. For personal use' I can recommend the Rollei 35. I also had excellent results with the Olympus Stylus Epic, an automated camera. It was VERY handy, with great lens.
  32. Asim, I'm thinking about your post, and I wonder if you should forget about all manual. Just get one of the small or medium point and shoots, something that auto focuses fast. It's not just the size of the camera that divides your time from your family, could it not also be the time it takes to focus and set exposure with your meter? If you want to shoot quickly, go auto, even digital. Makes more sense if you think about it.
    If you really just dig manual etc. Than why not just get an M6 or something and one lens. That's all you need really. Sling it over your shoulder, have a few rolls of film, simple as pie. Then, if you have time for your regular photography you can use your different lenses etc.
  33. I can certainly empathize with your desire to go light and simple.
    There are numerous great fixed-lens rangefinder cameras out there with excellent leaf-shutter lenses: Minolta, Konica, Ricoh, Canon, etc. Some have fast lenses, like f/1.7, some have slower lenses, like f/2.8 or 3.5.
    Some are bigger than you might think, though, and a really compact SLR with one of your Limiteds might compare surprisingly well.
    I have the LX, MX and ME Super. I find the MX and ME super are quite a bit smaller than the LX, especially the ME Super, which is much less wide. Both are less obtrusive and much more pocketable than the LX. And the LX, as you know, is fairly compact itself. I like the ME Super for just the situation you're talking about. I wish it had DOF preview and a conventional shutter dial instead of buttons, but it's a sweet little machine, tiny for an SLR, with a great viewfinder. And you could carry an extra lens or two in another pocket, just in case, instead of the meter. You might find yourself really wanting that 31 or 77 for something. Speaking of just in case, Pentax has a cool small clamshell case for holding three compact lenses. It costs $50 though!
    The MX is not quite as small as the ME Super but it is close. I like its DOF preview, conventional shutter dial, and interchangeable focusing screens (though with your fast primes I think the ME Super's fixed screen would be fine).
    If you do get an old fixed-lens rangefinder, make sure its rangefinder spot is distinct and that it focuses accurately. Also make sure the shutter is not sticking. It's a good ides to get a CLA, just to be sure.
  34. The camera that is perfect for family outings shooting slide film is the Olympus Stylus Epic, known as the Olympus mju-ii outside North America. It is the ultimate family/children picture camera. It has lightning fast, super accurate focusing, can focus as close as 1 foot/.3M, has a very sharp and fast f2.8 lens, and a fill flash. Fits in the palm of your hand, and also your pocket. Can be pulled out of pocket, lens cover slid back, aimed, and fired in a few seconds, with only 1 hand ! From a functionality and usefulness perspective, one of the best 35mm cameras ever built, definitely one of the best compact cameras of all time. Exposes slide film accurately, has a spot meter, IR Remote, self timer, night flash mode, and a 4 second to 1/1000 shutter speed range also.
    I have lots of cameras, including medium format and digital, but I have taken more great pics of my family with the Stylus Epic than all my other cameras combined! You will love the lightning fast deployment and focus, and small size. The exposure system is deadly accurate, so you dont need to fumble with a meter, and can focus on getting the shot.
    You can pick up a used one for about $60 on ebay.
    Oh yes, did I mention it is super sharp? Popular Photography ranked it along side top SLR lenses in sharpness. Not bad for an inexpensive Point and Shoot!
  35. This question comes up regularly. I have many fixed lens rf cameras. My favorite small model with full manual control is the Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII. Other nice ones include the Olympus 35RC, Olympus 35RD, Canonet QL17GIII and Olympus 35SP and SPN. If you don't mind zone focusing then the Rollei 35 models are nice too. I have an original 1966 German model and a later Singapore model also with the 40/3.5 lens.
  36. I agree with what Randall Pukalo said about the stylus epic. Did he mention it's water resistant?
  37. Keith, that fuji looks interesting. I know that Fujinon lenses are top notch and the equal to Zeiss in the Medium Format world.
  38. I have for sale a Rollei 35 SE in Perfect Condition. It includes the camera, which is in 97.5% mint condition. some would say "like-new" or "Mint". I rate conservatively though, but it is a beauty! It includes the Rollei 35SE with the Zeiss Sonnar (Rollei 40mm F/2.8 HFT Lens), Original Rollei Case, new Rollei Gray Belt Case, B+W MRC UV Filter, Strap, batteries extra set, box (some tape on it), but still ok, and manual, papers etc. This camera look as if it has been used much if at all.
    Recent CLA from Harry Fleenor, Oceanside Camera Repair.
    Asking: $325.00 shipped within the USA

    See link:

    or email for info:


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