Question - Best fully Manual 35mm SLR ever?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by michael_sample, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. This is likely going to be a controversial (or at the least, subjective)
    question, but:

    - What is considered to be the best 35mm SLR which is fully manual?
    Some criteria may include (but are not limited to) ease of use, functionality,
    practicality, construction, versatility, etc.

    The context of this question is not so much "What is YOUR favourite 35mm SLR"
    but rather, what is historically held to be the best manual 35mm.
  2. Nikon F
  3. I agree, but Paul, you do have to include the F2 as well. :)
  4. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    It is still just a matter of opinon. Who is historically held to be the best boxer of all time? Aside from the standard settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ASA (ISO) I suppose it should also include DOF preview, mirror lock up and, of course, through the lens metering.
  5. I vote Nikon F2AS.
  6. Since I started out as a Canonite, I'd lean toward the F1.

    But as I'm now a Nikonista, yeh, the F2.

    And as a former Olympian, gotta love the OM-1N, improved just enough over the OM-1 to make it a classic.

    Tossup between 'em.
  7. Well Bob, you have a point but Michael is only allowing one choice and that would be the F.
    The Granddaddy. The seminal force behind the SLR transition. The camera, from the gate,
    that set the standard for all that would follow. The camera that shoved rangefinders into the
    shadows. The camera of photographic history. Damn that F.
  8. How about the OM-3 or 2 (Cannot remember which was manual)? Revolutionary in its
    small size and capabilities. Like Nikon, you had to choose your lenses carefully, not
    all of equal performance. For impact alone, the Pentax K-1000 can get some votes as
    a great learner's (student's) manual SLR camera that contribute a lot to the
    advancement of photography.
  9. The OM-3 was all manual and way overpriced for what you got. Beautiful thing, just too precious. The OM-2-series and OM-4's had great features, but weren't technically all manual, tho' some of the series could function without batteries.
  10. Nikon F2, the back that does not have to be taken off is the only thing that gives it a edge over the F.
  11. I'm a Nikon F voter too (as one who still uses it as main camera), but must confess that the F2 has a couple of advantages, not only in the back, but in a more functional mirror lockup. Add to that that the meter heads use more modern batteries, and the F2 might have an edge. Either one is hard to beat, though.
  12. Pentax LX.

    Small, light weight, fully mechanical operation for all speeds, DOF preview, MLU, OTF metering, TTL flash, interchangeable screens, interchangeable viewfinders, weather sealed.
  13. Nikon Fe2 !
  14. The one I liked using most was the Nikon FE2. Small, chunky, the excellent AI lenses, manual and auto exposure modes.
  15. Now I may be nit picking here (there are other less polite terms) but the question is "fully"
    manual. Where do you put the batteries? And I don't want to hear the light meter doesn't
    count. Without the meter the F2 is an F with frills.
  16. I can't give a qualified answer because I don't know. But Minolta and the excellent Rokkor X lenses would have to fit in here someplace. I still shoot an X-9 part of the time.
  17. Historically I'd say it's the Nikon F. Personally it's the Nikon FM2n.
  18. For historical purposes only, the first eye-level prism SLR - the Contax S out of the ashes of Dresden (aka Pentacon, please, I know about the Start and I still say this). Otherwise, I think the Nikon F probably takes the prize.
  19. Historically I'd say it's the Nikon F. Personally it's the Nikon FM2n.
  20. Re responses from Harry and Colin -

    the Nikon FE2 has an automatic exposure feature.

    Now the FM-2 is manual, and mine has served me reliably for more than 26 years.
  21. I have tried and used many manual cameras. I have used the Zenith 11, the Fed 2, 5C, the Cosina CT1-g, Praktica MTL-3, Nikon FM, Pentax K1000.

    I liked the lightweight of the Cosina. I liked the ruggedness of the Nikon FM (still have 2 that I bought 20 years ago from a press photographer and which still work). I like the simplicity of the Zenith and the Fed. I wasn't too keen on the K1000's silk shutter.

    I can't say I have a real "favourite". If I were to pick a camera to climb Mount Everest then trek through Bangladesh and generally have tossed around by airport baggage handlers then I'm going to have to say that I'd go with the Fed 2 and 28, 50, 90 lenses. I just like the Fed - even though it needs a pocket light meter (for which I would always choose the Lenningrad 8).
  22. I'm with David Scott. Pentax LX. I've still one in perfect working order. Had the shutter adjusted to specification in order to get perfect zones. After more then 10 years it's still working perfect (I regularly check test negatives with a calibrated professional densitometer). Apart from that you can virtually roll it around on the beach, it's so perfectly sealed no sand will ever reach the interior. And all this from a real Nikon adept.
  23. Yes. The LX was a good camera. The MX was good also. I was never that struck by Pentax lenses though.
  24. For build, finish, construction, someone is sure to nominate the Zeiss Contarex.

    For "ease of use, functionality, practicality, versatility, etc."...Nikon F was my second camera and fits the bill, but the Spotmatic was my first camera and fits my hand. It doesn't suffer in comparison to the F except in the mount.
  25. Everyone forgets the first successful SLR, which was the 1936 Exakta. The war and its
    aftermath apparently weren't too kind to the producer, but apart from Nikon F kicking
    butt of their own rangefinders (the S2 and S3 were great cameras), this was a
    landmark camera.

    Yep, historically, the Exakta is I believe the most important of SLRs, even if it is not
    the best. Nor was the F. Best is a moving target. Maybe the Leica R6.2 can be
    consdered high on the list of best manual SLRs, in part for its difficult to equal lenses.
  26. Experts say that Sugar Ray Robinson was the best boxer. I wouldn't know, I have not seen them all. Same for cameras. I don't know how you can pick the best slr without having used all of them. Of the ones I have used, Leica beats Nikon. Do not know which one is best, I have only had R4's but they were excellent--better than my Nikon F3's, or FM2's, or any others I have owned.
  27. Not a rugged professional job, but the original Spotmatic was a jewel of a camera, and batteries and meters are not the problem that you get with the nikon f. If ruggedness comes into it it has to be the f2 - but I find myself picking up the Nikkormat FTN more often nowadays (unless something unusual in the way of a finder or accessory is wanted where the Exacta still wins)

    OK I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure...............
  28. Pentax Spotmatic
  29. It's gotta be the Nikon F, but if I can have a battery, the F3HP is my first choice. Once you've used that finder and gotten used to the quartz timed shutter and realized that a well designed center weighted meter is all you really need, there's not much that competes. Unless you use flash...
  30. Well, since Bruce brought up the boxing analogy...

    The Pentax LX is the Emile Griffith of cameras. The best SLR that not enough people have ever heard of or seen.
  31. You're absulutely right Lex. I've worked the Nikon F3HP also and although they are virtually alike the LX wins by miles. Pentax has to this day always been slow to develop, produce, and market camera's and lenses that belong to the very top.
  32. I had bad experiences of Pentax cameras so I tend to avoid them like the plague.

    When I selected my 35mm SLR system, I went for the Nikon FM, having tried a lot of other systems.
  33. Zenit E
  34. The Zenith was a well-thought-out system. Shutter speeds of B, 30, 60, 125, 250. Who needed anything else? Below 1/30th you're likely to get camera shake. Above 250 you'll likely need a faster film than was commonly available. It was a very well thought-out camera.
  35. And another thing, the way it was priced made it very accessible. It was my mother's intro (and then mine) to decent quality 35mm photography. I suspect the same is true for millions of other people considering the number that were manufactured and sold.
  36. Forgetting 35mm the best SLR was the Pentax 6x7, but maybe that's cheating. So, Pentax MX, fantastic build cos it was designed to take a 5fps motordrive, and easy to operate, exposure was very simple. Then the FM 2n, I worked for Nikon and that was probably the camera of choice for most of the staff there!
  37. No contest. Nikon F.
  38. My vote is the Olympus OM-1n if you want it small and light weight, excellent handling or Nikon F2, if size and weight doesn't matter. Love the sound of it.
  39. Nobody has mentioned Leica. Why?
  40. Leicaflex SL, same answer in another thread. Happy now, Dick?
  41. Nobody has mentioned everybody's favourite - the pinhole camera!
  42. I liked my Minolta SRT-102. Needed a battery for the meter but was quite usable without one. Really got a kick out of the little window on the front of the prism housing to view the aperture settings. Although the Nikon F was probably the "best."
  43. The best camera is the one that takes the best pictures... remember, that's what they are for.
    And hands down more great, and historically important, pictures came from the Nikon F than any other SLR. Just try to wear one out.
    Runner up would, I imagine, be the F3... but not fully manual.
    As far as incredible design, the Olympus OM1 has to win. Leica-like size and bright viewing... Nikon-like lens quality and economy.
    Other greats... Canon F1... Nikkormat FTn... Leicaflex SL... Hasselblad 501C
    At today's prices you'ld be crazy not to have a few of each.
  44. Minolta SRT 101. A bullet proof camera along with stellar Rokkor optics. The Nikon F2 was needlessly huge and heavy and its manual indexing metering system was clunky.

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