The First Cameras You Consider Modern

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by timwitt, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. What camera model of each manufacturer would you consider to be their first modern camera and why is it modern to you? Consider any type, SLR, P&S, Rangefinder, MF. Did the manufacturer ever make a non-modern camera after that first modern model? This would certainly be easier to answer by those who have owned different models of the same manufacturer through the years.
    My first camera was a Canon AE-1, it has a conventional SLR look for the time period but I would say it has modern electronic exposure control. I don't know if I would classify it as modern or something else. Although the Canon EF had similar operation, I wouldn't label it as modern because the exposure control is primative compared to the electronic exposure control of the AE-1. Both are FD cameras and they have their own forum, I only bring these up because I had Canon FD from my start in photography.
    What say ye?
  2. In both function and design, I'd consider the T90 to be the first modern camera. But my perspective is somewhat limited, given that my first SLR was an AE-1.
  3. The Minolta XD11 was the first camera with both Av and Tv (in Canon-speak) and a program mode of sorts; in Shutter Priority mode it would shift the setting to an appropriate one if you had picked a setting that would lead to an improperly exposed picture. I don't know if it was the first modern camera, but it was certainly a very significant one along the way.
  4. Minolta Maxxum 7000 was my first camera as well as being Minolta's first modern body. Depending on how one defines 'modern', their X-700 might lay claim to that title. (Edit: Saw Andy's comment; I have a stripped down XD11 here on my desk that I forgot about. It certainly deserves consideration.)
    After six months of hell I ditched the Maxxum and bought a Canon T90, Canon's most significant (if not first) modern camera. Canon's first was, I think, the T70, though many would argue the New F-1 to be their first.
    Nikon's first modern body would be either the F3 or the F4; possibly there are one or two N series bodies in between that might qualify, though not being a Nikon person I really don't know when the N bodies started to appear.
  5. You could probably talk me into the T90 just due to the load of electronics, LCD and control wheel. All functions, how they are achieved and the body design are much more advanced than the T50 that I have been thinking of. It just doesn't look like conventional SLR's from Canoflex through the "A" series. The T50, T70 and T80 appear to be in between conventional and the T90, based on looks.
    The Sure Shot of 1979 seems to be first modern Canon P&S due to AF, exposure control, polycarbonate body and it just doesn't look like a rangefinder.
    I'm much influenced by visual design when I think of modern and less about the functions and what controls them but I do think both determine the camera's status.
  6. The first modern camera for Topcon: _________
    The first modern camera for Miranda: _________
    The first modern camera for Petri: _________
    The first modern camera for Kowa: _________
    All blanks! I figure they did not survive into the modern period.
    The first modern camera for Voigtlander: Made by Cosina???
    The first modern camera for Zeiss Ikon: Made by Cosina???
  7. The answer to this really depends on what you consider to be the essential "modern" feature of today's cameras (limiting the question to film cameras since this is the Modern Film Cameras forum). What is the most fundamental difference between today's cameras and those of... whatever time period you consider to be "non-modern" or "classic"?
    For me, while there are many differences, the most fundamental, in descending order of importance, are:
    1. Autofocus
    2. Program AE (especially when multiple "scene" modes are offered)
    3. An external LED or LCD display (other than a battery check light)
    4. "Black blob" body design
    #3 usually goes along with a menu system, generalized buttons for navigating the menus rather than physical controls for every function, and the implication of a lot of software inside the camera. I hate cameras like that.
    A camera that has none of these features can be considered "classic" or "non-modern" as far as I'm concerned. A camera that has all of them is definitely modern. A camera that has some but not all of them is somewhere in the gray zone in between the two.
    Not modern (fully manual): Canon F-1, Nikon F2
    Not modern, but showing definite signs (aperture or shutter priority): Canon AE-1, Nikon FE
    Not quite modern, but more so than I want (program mode): Canon AE-1 Program, Nikon FG
    Definitely modern (Autofocus, program AE, black blob, external display): Canon EOS 650, Nikon F4
    This is, obviously, a rather 35mm SLR-centric view of the world. A lifetime large-format photographer might think of autofocus as no more than some silly thing that people with toy cameras get excited about.
  8. I've wrestled with the question in relation to both Nikon and Canon, especially. I'd hope that this new forum will be a generous in recognizing that the "modern" camera does not spring into being fully formed.
    Some cameras are clearly "modern film cameras" -
    For Canon, the EOS 650, the first EOS camera of all.
    But what about the Canon T90, probably, since almost every later camera copies it to some degree. But the AE-1 Program? And if it is in, how about its immediate predecessor, the AE-1. The A-1?
    For Praktica, is having the first electrically connected lens enough to get into the "modern film" category? After all, by Josh's criteria spelled out down at bit in , if it needs a battery to operate, it's modern. Well the M42 mount Praktica EE2 won't work without a battery, so presumably it's in. But it's primitive compared to the EOS 650 or the Maxxum 7000.
    I say, let's leave it open. Let the poster decide and then we will submit to the moderator's correction when it seems absolutely necessary. As it is, there's already overlap with other forums like the FD forum, so let's just go with the flow and let the posters be guided by common sense...., nah, well on second thought, let's just stumble along and let things work themselves out the 'natural' way.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that dates may be a wrong way to distinguish -- we used to have dates on the "Classic" forum and it didn't work out too well. Besides what could be more Modern and Classic than the Super Kodak 620 - perhaps the first AE camera --- in 1938. (link)
  9. I would be happy to discuss the definition of modern and/or classic in a different thread but this thread is not about a definition of modern. I think CMC and MFC forums are and will be generious with respect to where the poster places the camera.
    "What [specific] camera model [number or name] of each manufacturer would you consider to be their first modern camera and why is it [that specific model] modern to you?"
  10. I would be happy to discuss the definition of modern and/or classic in a different thread but this thread is not about a definition of modern.​
    Yes it is, implicitly, because we can't meaningfully discuss what the first "modern" cameras are without understanding what we mean by "modern" in the first place. It's impossible to answer your question, especially with your request for why those cameras are "modern", without at least implying a definition of "modern." And if we have to imply it, I'd rather say it openly, to get it out in the open where it can be evaluated and discussed. To have people just throwing examples around is merely an invitation to a Monty Python "yes it is", "no it isn't" argument.
  11. By the way Tim, you may have overlooked it in your pique about not controlling what others do on your thread, but the responses before yours named a number of specific cameras, and- mirable dictu-actually did talk about "and why is it [that specific model] modern to you?" The latter part of your post implies discussion of definition.
  12. Craig, I agree that ultimately this thread would produce each poster's opinion of what is modern in their words and with their example but I want to avoid a debate and just simply see the model and why.
    JDM, a computer produces our voice or thoughts into the written (typed) word but will never be able to convey the tone of how the message was intended. My 01:05am post does sound terse and I apologize. I can see how the last sentance can be interpreted as a discussion invitation. I don't want the thread to turn into "this is what the definition of modern should be in the MFC forum".
    Rather than a back an forth debate of what should the MFC definition be, I just wanted the brand, model and a statement of why. Each person reading the thread could determine for themselves, the general opinion of what most posters consider modern.
  13. My personal definition of a modern camera for my own collecting and using interest meets the following criteria: The shutter will not operate without battery power. It may have only one manual speed setting plus bulb. It will not meter with manual lenses even though they fit. One cannot change f stops because there is no aperture ring.
  14. 'The shutter will not operate without battery power. It may have only one manual speed setting plus bulb. It will not meter with manual lenses even though they fit. One cannot change f stops because there is no aperture ring.'
    I think that illustrates the difficulties with precise definitions. Current pro-grade Nikon dSLRs meter with manual lenses, and work with aperture rings.
    It's probably hard to get any closer than 'I know one when I see one', but for a quick (and never strictly enforced) rule of thumb, how about: 'Modern Film Cameras have built-in autowinders'. It's not perfect (what about the Leica R9?), but seems better than using exposure modes or shutter battery dependence (which tend to divide very similar cameras like the FM2 and FE2, or include 60s cameras that most people regard as 'classic'). We could use AF, but then we might as well call this the 'AF film camera forum' (and we'd be excluding clearly modern designs like the T90). Building in a winder generally coincided with a shift in body design to a recognisably 'modern' form to accomodate the motor and larger batteries.
  15. In Pentax-land, I would place the dividing line between the classic M-series (e.g. MX, ME Super, etc.) plus the 1980 LX body and the modern 1983 A-series (e.g. Super A, Super Program); these models added full Program AE (as well as shutter-priority and first electronic lens contacts on K-mount), electronic self-timer, TTL flash, and featured LCD readouts in the viewfinder and on top panel. The obviously molded plastic of the pentaprism bulge and detachable right-hand-side finger grips also differentiated these from their predecessors.
    Other 'modern' features include the ability to read DX-encoded film cartridges and built-in film advance motorization--for these, the 1984 A-series A3/A3000 added these features.
  16. The Nikon EL body was the first all-electronic body by Nikon, though not very successful, despite the updated EL2. Nikon eventually went on to produce the FE and then the superb FE2, both of which are still widely used by film photographers today.
    I think Canon is the king of first-gen modern SLR cameras, with their superb AE1. This camera was a huge seller and went on to enjoy a second life as the AE1 Program, and also spawned the superbly way ahead of its time A1. Nikon tried to compete with the FA but it just wasn't nearly as popular (read, not popular at all, though heavily advertised). Canon went on with the T series (T50, T70, and T90) which were all well regarded and sold well, and also represented the last Canon FD bodies before the EOS line was introduced.
  17. The first modern camera was obviously the Voigtländer Vitrona. It was the first camera with a built-in flash. That means, it depends on what you call modern.
  18. The first modern camera was obviously the Voigtländer Vitrona. It was the first camera with a built-in flash.​
    Which makes it a classic. Er ...
    I'm with you, Stefan (though the advent of TTL-metering might be my defining event: Canon Pellix, anyone?). The particular beauty of this forum lies the non-prescriptive, chameleon- like moniker "Modern", which means, well, pretty much what you want it to. For further discussion, see here:
  19. My first ever 35mm camera, the Konica auto S2 I bought in 1966, had a very functional auto exposure mode, but if the battery died, you still had everything but light meter, so I don't think AE defines "modern". The first 35 mm camera I ever owned that had had AE, auto focus, auto film advance and rewind, and had an electric driven zoom was my Minolta 140EEX, bought around 1996, and I think the Canon sure-shot was far earlier than that. My first SLR that had all that was my Nikon F100, but that came after my Nikon D70.
    My first venture into classic was a Kodak Retina IIa in 1981, followed by a Canon F-1 in 1998, and then the flood gates opened. I am currently enamored of the Nikon N80, which has gotten quite good reviews from Phil Greenspun, Thom Hogan, KR, and was a lightweight favorite of Galen Rowell. My first roll is still in the camera, but it seems to cope with everything but driving tent stakes.
  20. Possibly, the "Edsel" of modern camera firsts. The first with built-in rechargeable electronic flash.
    One of the first IIRC, with built-in power film advance. Absolutely would not function without a (charged) battery.
    The Fotron!
    Some remarkable firsts, from a very unremarkable camera.
    Built-in functions we now take for granted, from 45 years ago.
  21. Because there's no real line-in-the-sand division between classic and modern some cross-pollenation is inevitable.
    It might make this section even more interesting.
  22. Well just make sure that ALL cameras discussed on this forum need batteries to operate!! Otherwise they belong in the Classic Manual forum...
  23. In terms of system cameras (with interchangeable lenses) and autoexposure option, automatic diaphragm lenses and 35mm SLR, probably the Asahi Pentax of the 60s.
    In the case of the MF SLR, the original motorised and autoexposure Rollei SLR (later the 6000 series).
    In the case of an early autoexposure MF RF camera system, the New Mamiya 6 of about 1989 with its three electronicaly controlled leaf shutter lenses. All three are making excellent photographs today.
  24. I think the question is what were the seminal cameras of the modern electronic cameras
    What some might consider a seminal modern camera others might consider a transitional camera. And then you need to address whose cameras are you talking about?
    The question regarding SLRs is hard enough. When you take Leica rangefinders the question becomes a bit maddening.
    Try a working definition. A seminal modern camera is one in which an electronic function became so well refined that the camera reached professional quality and was also long lasting.
    To start with Leica, I would argue that the M6 was that company's first modern and seminal rangefinder even though it was manual. It had a metering system that was so good that it continues in the current MP. It also had motor winder capabilities that continue in the MP and M7. On top of that it had super build quality that continue in the current film M series.
    The M5 had a built-in light meter but it was a Rube Goldberg operation which made it a transitional camera. Also it could not be motorized.
    The irony is that by the time the M6 hit the scene the first AF SLRs were upon us. And when Leica finally created the quirky M7 auto exposure RF, the digital age was already blooming.
    Is the M7 post modern? Or is a contemporary classic, seeing as it incorporates all the electronic advances of the 1970s?
    Regarding SLRs, I think the first truly seminal modern cameras were the Nikon F and F2 and Canon F-1. Yes, they were manual cameras but they were the most completely professional models that once and for all showed that built-in electronics were not simply crutches for amateurs.
    I include the Nikon F because it evolved into the F2, whose evolutions led to the F3.
    I think of the Nikon F3 as the apex of the modern professional SLR manual focus film camera (though during its reign I preferred the Pentax LX). It was seminal in its own way by showing that not only a professional camera but also an outstanding professional camera could be battery-dependent and using auto exposure.
    When it comes to Medium Format cameras I bow out of the discussion.
    In fact, it is past my bedtime here in Japan and I am going to sign out before I fall asleep at the computer. Pardon the typos, etc.
  25. How about a modern full system Professional grade 1968 camera with:
    1. Interchangeable film backs.
    2. Removable focus screens.
    3. Stepless Electronically controlled shutter 1,000th to 8 sec. (Needs two "N" sized batteries to function)
    4. Aperture priority automatic exposure capable.
    5. Motor drive capable.
    6. Full array of stunning professional grade lenses.
    7. Data write on to the film capable.
    8. Full information viewfinder.
    Now sure, it's a mid-60's camera. But you've got to admit, it was certainly "Modern"
    and definitely ahead of it's time. Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Topcon, Nikon and Leica weren't even close...
  26. For me it's complicated. "Modern" is Olympus OM-4 and possibly 3, since it has multispot metering.
    From age point of view it is Horseman SW, since it has some features of largeformat and remains very compact and easy to use.
    So this is my opinion and personal feelings :)

Share This Page