The Continuing search for a great Pocket camera

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by ray ., Oct 18, 2007.

  1. For a long time I've wanted a responsive camera that I could carry with me all the time in pants or shirt
    pocket, but I've never come across a satisfactory solution. Here is a basic outline of the things I would
    the camera to offer:

    1) About the size of an Olympus Stylus would be OK, maybe a tad larger, but something significantly
    smaller than a Canonet, for example, which you'd need a larger coat pocket to fit in. Also needs to be
    flat or close to flat with lens. I want it to be ready to shoot in a jiffy- not sure something with power-
    on time and lens pop out would work well for that. A fixed 35 or 40mm film equivalent lens would be
    about right.

    2) Hopefully some kind of optical viewfinder, and hopefully built in, not external, and at least
    viewable enough to frame the subject. I don't think an LCD screen alone is going to cut it- for me- in
    outdoor lighting.

    3) Good image quality, at least better again than the Stylus, which was OK, but significantly soft in the

    4) Some kind of fast focusing capacity, even if it just means setting distance scale w/ depth of field
    manually on the lens or
    camera body.

    5) Negligible shutter lag (that's most of what I mean by responsive).

    6) Built-in meter, preferably with auto exposure.

    7) Reasonably fast, probably something that works well up to at least 400 ISO.

    The camera could be digital or film, and if not in current production, then not too rare so it's easy
    to locate one.

    Given the above, what would be your favorite and why?
  2. Olympus XA?
  3. Contax T2?
  4. If you can cope with the weight, there are several "50's" folders such as the Retinas, Contessa, Vitessa, etc that should fill the bill. I have carried an ancient Retina IIa in many situations where risking my Leica was not desirable. Only a nit-picker would quarrel about the difference in image quality. I generally prefer the Leicas because of lens choice, but I have never been embarrassed by reliance on an old folder.
  5. Rollei 35S, 35SE
  6. Re-reading, I see you want a built-in meter. After fifteen years with my M6 I have come to the conclusion that reliance on batteries is a massive PITA and I've gone back to full manual! Sunny sixteen has worked well for me since I started in photography and I've wasted too much time with meters. I think I'll trade for a M4 and get back to basics!
  7. Rollei 35Se, a Hexar AF camera , or like said above, any of the Retina Folders.
  8. pje


    Another vote for a Rollei 35S or an 35SE if you can find one. Definitely fits in the pocket and
    if you need a defensive weapon, it can do that too! It's great for street grab shots.
  9. Olympus c-5000. Great P&S. solid (even though it's plastic), excellent quality parts, and so light I can just extend my arm, raise it over my head and shoot by just aiming the lens. Recently, I was with a bunch of people shooting some art deco detail. They were fumbling with their LCD's, etc, looking for things to stand on (you needed to be 10 feet tall to get at the good stuff).
  10. Leica mini-3. I have this and would recommend it.
  11. Konica Big Mini.
  12. Ricoh GX-100. Digital. Small. Pocketable. Versatile zoom lens from 24mm to 72mm (f/2.5-4.4). Snap focus mode very fast and great for quick candids. Excellent ergonomics for manual control. No optical viewfinder but an optional electronic viewfinder can be attached to simulate SLR style shooting. 4.5W x 2.3H x 0.98D inches, 8.8 oz incl. battery.
  13. Contax T3.

    Getting expensive because it has so many of the features you list.
  14. Interesting that the Konica Big Mini came up. I believe Konica made several cameras with this name. The one I have has a powered retractable 35mm f2.8 lens, built-in UV filter so no lens cap needed. Excellent optics, small size. I think it's better than the Olympus Stylus. It's discontinued and probably hard to find but is a sweet little camera.
  15. I always look for the same as you, and last week I finally decide to take once more time my Olympus XA2 because I needed to be as unobtrusive as possible. Image quality is not as good as with the M6, but I know that sometimes the important thing is to have the shot rather than to have a good picture... and the best of all, the battery still had enough load.
  16. I agree with the Rollei 35S, an excellent lens, but would also add the Minox 35GT or GL (not sure what the model differences are).
  17. Oh, Nikon also made a small camera, two versions, one with a 35mm lens and the other with a 28. Forget the actual model designation, but supposedly excellent lenses.
  18. I agree w/Bob Atkins that the closest thing is the Olympus XA as it has a true manual focus RF, aperture priority auto-exposure, a decent 35/2.8 lens, & is basically the same size as the Stylus series, which should be no surprise. The only thing better would be an original Kyocera Contax T, but they've gotten very pricey.

    David, I think you're referring to Nikon's 35Ti & 28Ti.
  19. I`m owner of the 28Ti version. The best of it, the metering system. Perfect for chromes. The lens is good, I missed on it a manual focus.
  20. No one has yet mentioned the Ricoh GR1 series 35mm cameras, the last one of which is pictured here.
    I've never had one, but can't recall ever having heard a discouraging word about them. And I've seen photos, though I'm not sure from which GR1 they came. That camera can deliver the goods.
  21. olympus xa2 -- the konica hexar is a big cumbersome thing --- the xa2 is about the size of a pack of cigarettes and damned near silent
  22. Dan Flanders, do you only take photos in direct sunlight? I almost never do. Overcast, shade, windowlight, indoors, dusk, dawn. Sunny 16 can't help here.

    Cheers, DC.
  23. Konica C35AF3. (Sunny 16 is the starting point from which you estimate all exposure from sunlight to deep shade.)
  24. Top choice : Minox ML with late serial number and improved shutter.

    Great pocketability, quality lens, fun and easy to use. Program exposure mode with exposure hold capability, AV mode for creative work. Manual set film speed useful for exposure compensations, built in self timer and backlight buttons. Easy turn/off by folding open the lens. Great flash gun options.

    Hard to find one now you can be sure of second hand.

    Heavier and less pocketable great alternative : Contax T2

    Amazing lens. Built in weedy flash useful for fill flash, program and AV modes. strong body shell and view finder. Informative viewfinder. Amazing lens. Manual focus wheel, exposure compensation wheel very easy to use. Self timer. Easy automated film load/unload, Did I mention the amazing lens. Cheap to buy now.

    No hot shoe for flash options. 2.8 setting also doubles as program mode so can not be set to use 2.8 in AV mode!
  25. There are dozens of true pocket-size digital cameras. Go to Best Buy or Costco and look at the Canons. The Minoltas were great while they were in production, particularly the Xt. Right now I'm using a Sony T100 which unfortunately I can't recommend.
  26. Though they have 28mm lenses, try a Ricoh GR series. Great little cameras.
  27. Wonder if the Contax or any of the others compare well to the Hexar AF lens (which is not

    Yes, I know about the GRD, GX100..

    Thanks for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming if you have more.
  28. DAVID: Just how do you think they made photos before the invention of the light-meter? It wasn't sunny sixteen, but it worked on the same principle!
  29. Ray wrote:

    >Wonder if the Contax or any of the others compare well to the Hexar AF lens (which is not pocket)..

    The Contax T3 has an excellent 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens which compares reasonably well with the Hexar's, but cannot offer the f/2 maximum aperture of the Hexar. The Contax T2 lens was not as good, with softness and significant light fall-off at the edges.
  30. Rollei 35S or Ricoh GR1 series. I've got both and they're just the ticket.

  31. I'm suprised I had to read so far down this thread to see the name MINOX? Their 35MM cameras are the smallest and lightest, and the lenses are excellant.
  32. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Check out the series of Konica RF's that start with the C-35 and go all the way to a built in flash AF version. The basic C-35 is the smallest rectangular form RF I could find Available in both silver and black.
  33. I will 2nd third and fourth the rollei 35S- recently picked one up cheap and ran a roll through it- I was astounded at how sharp the lens is and that scale focusing is really easy with reasonably fast film.
  34. No one has yet mentioned the Ricoh GR1 series 35mm cameras, the last one of which is pictured here. I've never had one, but can't recall ever having heard a discouraging word about them. And I've seen photos, though I'm not sure from which GR1 they came. That camera can deliver the goods.
    I still have a Ricoh GR1s, richly sumptuous in black. A nice cam. Long live film!
  35. I went on such a quest and ended up buying and personally testing the following cameras, ranked as per my preference:<p>
    1. Minolta Tc-1 <p>
    2. Ricoh Gr28 <p>
    2. Contax T <p>
    3. Nikon 35ti <p>
    4. Contax T3 <p>
    5. Contax T2 <p>

    FYI, the Minolta Tc-1, pre-focussed, and Contax T, pre-focussed, have a shutter lag negligibly different from a Leica M3.<p>
    The Contax T3's pre-focussed shuter lag is similar to a Hexar RF <p>
  36. Film: Rollei 35S or Minox 35GT-E. Most of the AF compacts have way more focus/shutter
    lag. The Minox has the shortest shutter lag of any camera I've ever used, including Leica

    Digital: Panasonic LX2, Fuji F30. The Panasonic has RAW capture, image stabilization and
    is good to ISO 200 if you use RAW capture. It has an excellent lens. The Fuji works
    remarkably well even at ISO 400-800, has a good lens, and is very similar in size to the
    Rollei 35. Both are reasonably responsive.

  37. Nothing wrong with a Ricoh GR1 especially as the V and S versions can take filters... [​IMG]
  38. I have posted an advert to buy an used Ricoh GR-D in $300 range. A camera I covet.

    I threw away my Minox 35mm cams after too many mishaps. A Leica CL with an Orion 28mm lens (no extra viewfinder) works well for me now.
  39. Rollei 35 SE, Minox 35 GTE or Leica CM (i own all).
  40. Just one camera -- Contax T3 --
  41. "great Pocket camera"

    Ray, I don't think that there is one. They all have their trade offs.
  42. Re: the GRD, There was a run of those produced about a year ago that are bad news. I
    have one. It has been in for warranty work 3 times in 10 months, 3months in the shop...
    the most common problem, the lens freezes and fails to retract or extend. the lens has to
    be replaced. I would not buy one with out a warranty. a cool camera when it is working:)
  43. Agfa Optima 1535 Sensor (rangefinder) or the 1035 and 535 models (scale focus). They are compact (104 x 69 x 56 mm), have the best viewfinder you can find in a P&S, no lag and a sharp 40 mm f/2,8 Solitar (4 elements, 3 groups). But they are full automatic and were introduced in the late 70's.
  44. Have I got a deal for you...Here.
  45. olympus xa meets all of those requirements...and delivers great quality in one of the most
    carryable cameras ever.The light meter never stops to amaze me.
  46. Images allowed? Sorry, I can`t stop shooting... the prefocus settings on the XA2 are very convenient to me:
  47. I take it the Oly XA has a better lens than the Stylus Epic?
  48. Minox GT for film runner up the canon ELPH (I am sure they are out of production took the APS film cartridge), as for digital (using size as my limit) that produces pretty good images is the Canon ELPH just don't expect miracles about asa 100.
  49. No, at least not in my experience. The XA lens was okay though it vignetting often, the epic
    a little better across the board. Having said that I bought the epic new and XA in user

    My choice would be the GX100 but I always wanted a Fuji Natura Black.
  50. I can personally vouch for the Contax T2. As with other film cameras its price has dropped remarkably over the past few years making it more of a bargain although it is still quite expensive (being a top of the line P&S with a full metal body.) It has a lens that is second to none in sharpness and contrast. The lens has (believe it or not)has an aperture ring so you can shoot full auto or aperture priority and there is also a little knob on the top right which allows you to select full auto focus or you can manually focus (with assistance from the built in electronic range-finder.) Finally you can manually set the ISO film speed if you wish to tweak the exposure. This is one Wow of a camera. But you would need to be prepared to pay perhaps $250 -$300 from memory which is still quite a lot for a P&S
  51. The Fuji Natura Black has a terrible viewfinder, maybe velcro a voigtlander finder on it. The Contax T2's shutter delay is too long, and it has a max shutter speed of 1/200 (?) when in A preferred mode. The XA vignettes and the images are soft wide open; and it's hard to focus. The minolta TC-1 is the best: in auto mode, it'll tell you the shutter speed, the aperture, and the distance; you can manually set the ISO, scale focus, autofocus (v. fast),it has a spot meter that can lock in the reading until it's reset or turned off, AND the focus can be adjusted separately; using the manually ISO setting and the spot, you can operate the camera in fully manual mode (including scale focussing the camera). And the shutter delay prefoucsed is as fast as a Leica M3; and not prefocussed but the distance set manually, it is slightly slower, but still faster than the next fastest GR1 PREFOCUSSED. The lens is a superb 28/3.5 with a true circular aperture for beautiful, round OOF highlights. It vignettes only slightly more wide open than the latest Leica 28 elmar (tested shot on velvia with a Hexar RF and M3).
  52. Another vote for the Ricoh GR1s ( this version you can attach lens hood and filters) the very last version: GR1v had a manually adjustable ISO setting.
  53. Leica CL? With the 40/2 Summicron of course.
  54. The XA and XA2 have different lenses. Let's not confuse them.
  55. For some time I've been bugged by the same question. The test for me is "does the camera fit comfortably into the back pocket of my jeans?". I gave my last compact (Leica Minilux) to a friend because I got so irritated by the shutter lag and all the auto-things it did, although the 40mm lens was superb. I agree about 35mm/40mm -- for me these are the best all-round focal lengths and 28mm is just a bit too wide -- so that rules out quite a few of these cameras. I keep thinking about an LTM Leica with a 50mm Elmar (if I can't have 35mm/40mm lens then I would prefer a 50mm to a 28mm) but maybe this is a bit too bulky for jeans back pocket?
  56. Gary, the Natura's VF isn't great, but it's not terrible. It is as small as it is because of the
    size of the entire camera.

    No other camera gives you what the Natura does in such a small package. If you decide
    you want a camera that can do low light AND want an ultra wide angle, the Natura is it.

Share This Page