Please recommend 50 Vintage Cameras I should Collect

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by johnfantastic, Dec 17, 2020.

  1. Hello Fellow PhotoNetters,

    Good Evening,

    I was a camera deprived teen when I was in High School. I envied my classmates who were lugging the SLR's and other expensive equipment. When I was in freshman, I joined our High School Photography Club even when I didn't have a "real" camera. All I had was a kodak instamatic that uses 126 film and fire magic cubes for flash. I was so desperate to have an SLR that I pretended that I had an SLR. I ask my Aunt who was a factory sewer to make me a leather case for my instamatic camera that has a front bulge so that it would look like and SLR with a lens. :)

    My first SLR was a Canon T70, I really wanted an A1 but I can't afford so I settled for the T70. :)

    Even until now I love the feel of the retro camera and the sound of its shutter. Now that I am reaching retirement age, My camera of choice is a smartphone. hahahahaha But I was inspired by your posts here and decided that I would try to collect vintage cameras as a hobby. :)

    Aside from fiddling with the aperture ring, winding the film crank and firing the shutter, I probably have no use for it and it will stay in a display cabinet almost all of the time. :)

    Can you please recommend to me 50 of the desirable film cameras to collect ?
    Top of the list would be a Canon A1 as this camera was my first object of desire way back in the early 1980's. Could you recommend other cameras to the list? And can you tell me why it should be part of the 50 I should be aiming to collect?

    Here are the list of cameras I will start searching for, preferably in top notch condition

    01. Canon A1
    02. Nikon FM2
    03. Nikon FA
    04. Canon AE1
    05. Pentax K
    06. Bronica Medium Format (I already have one)
    07. Canon T70 (my first DSLR which I can't remember where I placed it and I want another one)
  2. Konica Autoreflex, I'd suggest either the original Auto-Reflex or the T3.

    A Zenit, it's not a complete collection without a Zenit!

    You might want to try to get examples of 'firsts'

    First pentaprism SLR

    First auto exposure

    johnfantastic likes this.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    To me, an interesting collection is one that has significant brand models in sequence - e.g. my Nikons: F Photomic T, F Photomic TN, F Photomic FTN, F2, F3, F4, F5 (F6 is still too pricey, but may be added at a later date). Most of these were bought and used rather than collected, so the outlier Is a Nikkormat ELW, used for riskier shoots. Significant to me, is that I have not retained a couple of my earlier Nikon digitals. Remains to be seen if I keep the ones I have now as additions to the modest collection.
  4. Thank you Steve, I just learned something new from you. I have never heard of a zenit until today and I googled it. Thank you

    Any idea what SLR has the first pentaprism?
    How about the camera with the first Autoexposure? :)
  5. Thank you Sandy. I think it would be fun, looking for the camera's you mentioned. Isn't it very hard to find a working F camera? I live in Seattle but goes home to my home country many times a year. I am giving myself 5 years to collect the 50 in my list and hopefully I can complete my list by March of 2021. :)
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Was looking for something different, but there are several good ones here Link Used Cameras and Used Camera Equipment For Sale | UsedPhotoPro Good folks to do business with!

    They have a comprehensive collection of film cameras across brands - If you buy from their internet listings you can sometimes Mane an Offer.
    johnfantastic likes this.
  7. Rolleiflex Automat - all time classic TLR.
    Canon T90 - groundbreaking most advanced manual focus SLR, setting the SLR style even today.
    Minolta XE - auto exposure in a beautifully made classic style camera with a simple control system, no fiddly knobs or buttons.

    The Nikon FA has a poor reputation for reliability, by the way.
    Andrew in Austin likes this.
  8. It's one of those things where you have to be very specific, or it gets complicated.

    First eye level pentaprism 35mm SLR was the Contax S. The Zenit was I think fourth?

    First auto exposure SLR was the Konica Auto-Reflex.

    Bonus trivia, the trademark 'Pentax' came from Zeiss Jena, they sold it to Asahi and decided to go with 'Pentacon' (Pentaprism Contax) instead.

    Along those lines, you should probably add a Contax (rangefinder) and a Leica to your list.
  9. One copy of every Leica rangefinder and SLR ever produced. For completeness, you need one in chrome and one in black chrome; also black paint when available. And, of course, the green Safari models. Then get the competing cameras from Contax, Nikon etc.
    One copy of every Hasselblad SLR, and to make the competitor's story complete, one of each twin- and single lens reflex Rolleiflex. Expand to other competing brands if needed.
  10. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    What is it that really attracts you to a certain camera and makes it special? Is it aesthetics, design, rarity, historical significance, age, country or origin, or something else? It's possible to give you a laundry list of collectible cameras (there are plenty of books on the subject), but camera collecting is a personal thing. What interests me, or someone else, may not interest you. Cost and availability are also factors: I'd love a Konica F or Alpa 11Si, but they are rare and expensive.

    I am attracted to unusual designs and less common "second tier" brands. For example, cameras by Miranda, Petri, Kowa, Fujica, Soviet & East German makes, etc. interest me more than Nikon or Canon (which are fine cameras, of course). I like their designs, they are generally affordable, and take pictures every bit as good as the "big name" brands, IMO.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2020
  11. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    Sorry to be a grouch, but I don't think this is the way it should be at all.

    Working through a to-do list of cameras to buy, dust and store seems a pretty sterile exercise, the more so if the list was compiled by someone else. If you don't know about the cameras, why do you want them?

    If you want cameras to stay interesting, use them. Buy *one* camera, in good usable condition. By all means let it be a Canon A-1 if you like 35mm SLR cameras. Then go out and take pictures with it. When you have used and had processed at least a dozen rolls of film, you will have the basis for some feelings about the camera: things you like, and some you don't, which you won't get by just keeping it in a cupboard.
    If your first purchase is a 35mm SLR, the next thing to buy isn't another camera. Next you want a second lens, which for me would be a moderate wide-angle, 35mm or 28mm. The third thing I would get might be a short tele lens, a tele zoom, or a tripod: it depends what you enjoy photographing, and what you feel is limiting you.
    Sometime, you might then think about a *different* camera: maybe a little rangefinder with a fixed lens, that fits in your pocket; or a folding camera for roll film; or a TLR, or a box; or a *different* 35mm SLR, like that Zenit or an Exakta.
  12. Sinar Norma and Sinar P
    Hasselblad 1600 F
    Hasselblad 1000 F
    Hasselblad SWA
    Hasselblad 500 C
    Olympus OM-1 and OM-2
    Nikon F1, F2 and F3
  13. That was eggszackly my first thoughts - that crazy desire to build up a set of lenses for a newly acquired lens mount.

    My second thought was to strike the Nikon FA from the above list and replace it, if need be, with a FE2 to go with FM2 - both of which use AIS lenses.
  14. There are a lot of cameras out there, many for very reasonable prices, a fairly small number
    for surprisingly high prices. It makes a lot of difference how much your budget is.

    You can make a very nice collection from $20 cameras, or from $1000 cameras.
    Very few people will know the difference without looking them up.

    If they are just going to sit on a shelf, you might not care if they work.
    You can look for those sold for "parts/repair" (code for doesn't work).

    Personally, I have built a collection, mostly planning to use at least once each,
    from auctions (both eBay and shopgoodwill) from a nearby Goodwill store.
    Until recently, that allowed me to pick them up and avoid shipping charges.

    There are a lot of cameras approaching 100 years old for about $20.
    Many of the quality SLRs from 50 years ago are also about $20.
    A Leica might be $200 without lens, $400 with lens, and likely won't work
    as well as the above.
  15. The Canon FTb is a nice SLR usually for a low price.
    One of the last of the mechanical cameras before the electronic
    series of A and T cameras.

    The Nikon F and F2 are usually reasonably priced, and usually work.
    Many used Nikon lenses are reasonably priced, and still work on new
    DSLRs. (Some don't, though.)

    The Nikkormat series were, for a long time, not considered
    to be "real" Nikons. The FT series ends with the FT3, which is near
    the beginning of the AI models. There is the EL and EL2, electronic
    auto-exposure models before the FM and FE and successors.

    But mostly they are fun to collect becasue you can actually use them.

    OK, there is a whole series of Kodak and a few others box cameras
    from the 1910's and 1920's. There are also the folding (bellows)
    cameras from a little later. The bellows sometimes get light leaks,
    but often work fine.

    There are the Leica models, and the Canon and Nikon clones of them,
    from before both companies left Leica behind. There are the Zorki
    and FED rangefinders, mostly not so different from Leica.

    There are TLRs and medium format SLRs.
  16. Something which hasn't really been touched on above is leaf shutter cameras. Folding rangefinders from Kodak, non folding Agfas, Paxettes. Leaf shutter SLR cameras - from Kodak, Voigtlander, Agfa, Edixa, Pentacon (Pentina) - these all have interchangeable lenses. There are many others with fixed lenses.
  17. If you haven't heard of a Zenit that says you are indeed at a very early stage as a camera collector. This means you have a great time ahead of you finding out about this fascinating hobby, plenty of reading, looking online more at you tube than ebay. Don't rush the buying spree, you might end up with a collection that doesn't satisfy. Looking at your list I would advise building up an FD theme, A1, T70 because you have a personal connection with them, although maybe a T90 could be substituted. Then my favourites ,EF and F1. Add a number of good lenses, just look online for best lenses for an A1 etc., FD lenses are much cheaper than EF lenses which can be used on digital cameras. You say you have a Bronica , excellent, medium format is something else ! My main interest now is Leica equipment picked up over the last 20 years, believe me I am not being smug when I say I could not afford to do this at today's prices. Will your collection have a theme? One or two makers, first cameras of a type? Or an eclectic mix of whatever you fancy, but quality over quantity please, don't make my mistake. I have an excellent book on collecting FD gear, will look up details if you want. Last bit of advice, ignore everything I say and do what you want. One last last piece of advice, a camera collection is a wonderful hobby and can fill any dull moments with joy but taking photographs is the best. Have great success with your new hobby, Christmas greetings, Charles.
    johnfantastic likes this.
  18. Year ago when I was accumulating lenses to use on my 2x3 Graphics my friend and neighbor Charlie Barringer -- he collected Zeiss gear and extreme optics, was co-author of the Zeiss Ikon Compendium -- remarked that he couldn't make sense of what I was doing and asked me what my rationale was. OP, I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish. What's your rationale? Back then, my goal was to accumulate good usable lenses for not much money.
  19. How about a Topcon? The first slr with through the lens metering.
  20. If you're after creating a well rounded & meaningful collection then you probably should include iconic examples of all the major camera types as well as a series of landmark firsts.

    For the firsts perhaps (some are contested):
    1888 Kodak No 1 box camera.
    1900 Kodak Brownie (bringing photography to the masses)
    1925 Leitz (first 35mm stills camera)
    1928 Rolleiflex (first practical reflex camera)
    1933 Ihagee Exacta (first SLR using 127 roll film)
    1936 Ihagee Kine Exacta ! (first 35mm SLR)
    1947 Duaflex (first eye level finder)
    1948 Hassleblad (first modular medium format)
    1948 Contax S (first pentaprism SLR)
    1952 Ashai optical's Ashaiflex (first mass produced Japanese camera)
    1959 Agfa Optima (first fully automatic camera)
    1959 Nikon (first F mount)
    1960 Ashai spotmatic (first SLR with TTL & first with spot metering)
    1978 Polaroid SX70 Sonar onestep (first AF SLR)
    1985 Minolta 7000 (first pro-grade 35mm AF SLR)
    1992 Canon first EOS

    Your range of types should include examples of:
    Early box cameras, folding cameras, LF press cameras, LF field cameras, LF monorails, TLRs, SLRs, rangefinders, instamatics, 3D cameras, disc cameras, point & shoots, and a few novelties too.

    Sounds like a big order to me. I've got examples of 8 of these types, but none of the 'firsts' - my brownies are ~30 years later and that's as close as I get!

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