Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by johnfantastic, Dec 17, 2020.
Thank you @ph for your advice, well noted.
Hahahahahaha this one made me laugh. My wife would kill me if I followed your last advice.
I haven't posted in a while. Anyway I am planning to purchase 2 cameras a month until my collection of 50 classic manual cameras are complete.
So for February, here is what I purchased.
A Nikon F3 in very good condition with a 50mm pancake lens. I bought it for 200$.
Now since I have an F and an F3, It is imperative that I buy a an F2.
Funny, but I cant seem to find very good Canon Cameras with lens with a good price, Well I have a lot time to buy 1. 2 years at least.
I am a Nikon fan and my best one so far is the FE,I love the way it handles and the metering is the best I have used for consistent results for my needs.However the one camera I really was happy with was the Rolliecord 4 ,a superb lens and fitted with a brighter screen it was a joy to use.I spent a few hours in the darkroom today setting up my old bessler enlarger again and used one of my Rollei negs and was so pleased with the result ,not just the sharpness but the character of the lens is so good.My advice would be to buy selectively to use the cameras as it is far more fun to try out a new one and revisit old favourites.I had over 300 cameras in my collection at one point and now am down to about 10 using ones and a box of others that will go on E Bay to fund film and paper.
To get started with your search, just buy one of each camera Zeiss Ikon made.
Very nice camera but wrong lens. Back then people would use an EM with AI lenses but nobody used a series E lenses on an F3.
Any way just the Nikon F's series would be more than 20 if you collect all variation of black and chrome as well as differences in viewfinders and body materials like titanium version as well as some with non moving mirror.
That is NOT a series E Nikon 50/1.8, but rather a normal Nikkor 50/1.8 AiS. or was it called "long nose" pancake?
Late to this thread and I haven't read through it all, but I had a lot of old cameras, some quite "classic," and I base my response partly on the ones I did not decide to give away.
I kept a pile of Olympus XA's, either XA2 or plain XA. This little gem is pocketable, sharp, its auto exposure is reliable, it's nearly silent in operation, and easy to shoot from the hip, making it a nearly ideal street and casual camera, but still capable of making a decently sharp biggish print. XA's tend, occasionally, to stop working, especially, it seems, if used consistently in very cold weather when it seems some little integrated circuit conks out. Since they're not economical to fix, I just have an obscenely excessive little pile of them. One of the best I got free here from someone who had run over it with his car. It bent the back and disconnected some little part inside. I replaced the back with one from my most recently dead XA3, fixed the little part inside, and it worked just fine. XA's are tough little contenders.
I will never get rid of my Nikon F's or my F3. The F3 makes lovely images, feels right in the hand. When you handle it, the quality is tangible. The inexpensive 50/2 AI lens is a great match here, sharp, compact and rugged.
The original F is a little big, its Photomic finders a little ugly, but it is a mechanical masterpiece, and capable of superb images. I always liked its weight and its superb viewfinder, and found it easy to make good shots.
Nikon has the slight disadvantage for collecting, that because they kept the same mount forever, the good lenses are still sought out by users.
I also kept some old Minoltas, in part because they're not worth much. But the optics are great. Various small variations of the old SRT are robust and reliable. I have an SRT-102 that's very comfortable to use, and one of many X-700's (noted for bad capacitors) actually still works. Good Minolta glass is lovely, and often crazily cheap. The working X-700 is one I actually got free from someone here, with a 50/1.7 lens which proved to be about as good as anything ever. I kept also a nearly unused X-370, which aside from making good pictures, has what for some reason seems like the most accurate meter I've ever used. I used this at various times as a calibration standard when re-calibrating old Photomic Nikons. Match your meter to the Minolta, and even your Velvia slides will come out right.
One of the classics I gave away was the Canon A-1. If you like Canons and like the classic look, this is a wonderful camera. Mine worked well though it had a trace of the dreaded squeak. It looked beautiful. As a long-time Nikon user, I found the Canon's arrangement of functions odd and annoying, so I tossed it in the direction of one of my kids, who likes Canons. Canon mount lenses can be fairly easy to find, especially since the older breech mount does not fit newer ones.
I also liked the Pentax Spotmatic, notable among classics for being able to function with modern batteries without any modification. Nonetheless, I gave mine away complete with the grand F1.4 lens. Same with the K-1000. Great classics, but you can't keep everything and I didn't want to start collecting their lenses.
I also got rid of a couple of functional Konica FT3's. Konica glass is nice, the cameras work, but they're big and noisy, and when it came right down to it, I decided they don't do anything for me better than contemporary Nikons and Minoltas. Although many such cameras are loud, the Nikon F much so, I think the Konica FT3 was in a class by itself, sounding like a slamming barn door.
I also got rid of some Yashicas. Nice cameras in the main, and good lenses. Their cheap kit zoom (42-75 I think) was surprisingly decent. But the cameras tended to break, were hard or impossible to fix, and Yashica had the worst leather imaginable, so often a good one looks awful.
If you're starting out with classics, I would suggest one avenue might be to skip the SLR's, nice as some are, and go for compact 35's. There are many small variations in these, and the best are amazingly good. Aside from the Olympus XA, for example, are other earlier Olympuses, some of which are optically surprising. Ricoh and Sears made an inexpensive 35 that was excellent. Minolta made a few as well. I had a Yashica Minister that was great. Some of the old classics require odd batteries and aren't easy to recalibrate, but some use modern batteries, and most can be run without batteries as sunny-16 manuals. One exception to this was some Konica one I had, which was only automatic, and had a glitchy battery too. Lovely optics, but not fun to use.
I should mention also that I kept a "Barnack" Leica IIIb and some lenses, but these are not easy to find and poor economy. I have a minty Rodenstock Heligon 35 mm. lens for mine, which I have had forever, and I recently looked it up and it's worth something like a thousand bucks. Crazy!
If I were starting a classics-only collection from scratch and determined to do SLR's, I think I'd look first at Minoltas, because they and their glass are relatively easy to find and inexpensive, but the image quality is good.
OP...don't neglect the cine' cameras...
I also have a few Bolex.
And while you are at it, get some stereo cameras.
A Leica thread mount and an M camera with contemporary lenses ought to be on your list, but as they are likely to be quite expensive especially in good working order, it would be a good idea to stay continuously alert and ready to act when they show up at a price you are willing to pay.
Oh, I almost forgot, one of the other cameras I kept, and that is a Rollei 35. Mine is a black bodied one with Schneider Xenon lens, apparently rather rare, but at the time I got mine it was not considered particularly desirable. Mine also has the advantage of having slighly dented corners, making it a poor collectible but a great user. These are pretty, compact and sharp zone focusing cameras, with an averaging meter that may not be very trustworthy. Eccentric in design, including a flash bracket on the bottom, a battery that can be accessed only with the film out, a meter that does not turn off, and right-to-left film travel with the wind lever on the left, but they are nice to use, and nice to look at.
I was tempted when they came out.
I would add a caution on those old Voigtlander rangefinders. They come with a choice of lenses, and even the lesser ones make good pictures, but be aware that the same model camera can have different grades of lens. The other thing about them, and one that requires a firm ability to return a bad one, is that the rangefinder is made with a glued-together block of elements, and if dropped that block can come apart. When that happens, the rangefinder will never be accurate again. The camera will still work, but it's essentially not worth trying to repair. If you get a good one and don't drop it or break it, you will be happy with the camera. The "color Skopar" is the better grade of lens. I can't remember the others, but I think the lesser one was a Lanthar, and there was a superior one that's scarce as hens' teeth.
The Vito is a sweet little camera, but you should be aware that its odd winding mechanism means you cannot dry fire it. This may work in your favor if someone has one and thinks it's broken. To test it without film, you must open the back and use the film sprocket to cock the shutter.
Some of these models had a coupled selenium meter, and surprisingly, at least on the ones I've used, that meter tends to be accurate.
From innovation, quality, and precision point of view, I will hold onto the following:
- Leica M3 35mm rangefinder
- Rolleiflex 3.5F, 2.8C TLR
- Hasselblad 500C/M
- Linhof Tech V 4x5 field camera
From interesting and fun perspective, I will keep:
- Voigtlander Vitessa folding 35mm rangefinder with 50/2 Ultron lens
- Rollei 35S 35mm rangefinder with Sonnar lens
- Kodak Medalist 120 rangefinder camera with 105/3.5 Ektar lens
From reliable, simple, take everywhere, survive a desert island point of view:
- Nikon FM2n
- Konica Autoreflex T3/T4
- Fujica GL690/GW690/GSW690
- Pentax 67
- Mamiya C330
Separate names with a comma.