what, in your opinion, is the best 35mm camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by james_kennedy|9, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. I know, we have addressed this before, but as the years pass, we acquire more cameras and learn more about them. The Nikon F6, still in production, may be the best but I have never held one. I have a lot of great cameras, and among those I own, I would consider the Nikon F5 and F100, the Kodak Retina IIIC (big C), the Canon T90 and F-1New, the Minolta XD-11, the Leica M6, and a few others. I love the workmanship on my Zeiss contax IIa. Considering all this, I guess the Nikon F100 is the best. It lacks mirror lock up and a built in viewfinder curtain, but it sure feels good in the hand and delivers great results. What say you and why?
  2. Hi.
    The canon EOS 1V
  3. Leica MP overall, among Nikons the FM3.
  4. Like many others here I'm a camera collector as well as a photographer, so I can't easily give a single answer.
    Modern autofocus is a boon in many cases, but if you wish to use manual focus you either need a manual focus camera, or a manual focus lens on an autofocus camera - auto focus lenses used manually IMHO just don't cut it - so already we have a the possibility of two different cameras for two different situations.
    A similar situation might arise with built in or hand held/spot metering - horses for courses.
    Another issue could be the state of the camera today - is a new f6 a better camera than a 12 year old f100? I know that my Nikkormat is a superbly built camera that appears to have had hardly any use - while the newer f2s, though both still fully operational, are mechanically loose and cosmetic wrecks after long hard professional lives. Today the simpler camera is better!
    A someone who shares his life with far too many cameras (even in MY opinion, don't even ask my partner :) IMHO there is no best camera, just my favourite one on the day.
  5. Canon - F1 - Just really well built - did the job without a ton of flash.
    Nikon - F2 - Nikon fixed the few errors in F design and created a classic
    Konica - T4 - All the other Japanese makers had gone to electronic 1/60 sec sync speed shutters by the time the T4 was introduced - T4 had a mechanical shutter and a 1/125 flash sync. You could also shoot without a battery at any shutter speed.
    Minolta - Maximum 7000i (the one that you could put cards into to change default settings) - The only AF Film SLR that I'd recommend. Minolta did AF right.
  6. mtk


    Count me in on the F100. Maybe it simply is the way it fits my hand! As much as I love my F and Nikkormat FTn ...these guys are a work of industrial art........My other favorite is my "lowly" FM....Light, simple, tough....takes all "F" lenses in a single bound!
  7. Any Pentax that uses Super-Multi-Coated optics.
  8. There is no one winner.
    Some of my favorites.
    Leica M6. superb build and lenses but rangefinders are a bit over rated and are limited.
    Nikon FM3a. A fine camera but does it really do that much more then an Fe2 does?
    Olympus OM1n, 2n and OM4t are all great.
    Nikon's F3 is a legend.
    This is the Classic forum so i won't mention the f6 and f100 but my current favorite is the Nikon FE2. Just picked up a fine sample that has the smoothest advance I've ever used and that includes the Leica bodies i've owned. It's affordable well built, compact and does whatever I need to do when shooting B&W film.
  9. The "Best" camera is the one that gets used!
    Best for one person may - or not - be best for someone else.
    Best for one application may - or may not - be best for other applications.
    The Minolta XE-7 and Pentax ME Super ought to be on someone's list.
    Thanks, Gene for putting things in perspective...
  10. Always back to my favorite first: Canon EF, rugged, dependable and a silky smooth film advance.
    But there truly isn't only one; the F-1 and New F-1 are right up there also as are the Olympus OM-1 and OM-2, Canon A-1 and Nikon FE-2.
    For shear simplicity and durability the Canon FTbn.
  11. Best depends for what purpose. The Topcon Unirex wasn't great camera and could mount very few lenses, but if you needed flash sync at 1/500 in a 35mm SLR it was hard to beat.
  12. To me, the best camera in the world is the one that the best photographer in the world used to take the best photograph in the world
  13. "Best 35mm camera" covers too much ground. I don't think a Nikon F2 and an Olympus XA are really comparable in any meaningful way other than the quality of the resulting pictures. You don't buy them for the same purpose.
    That said, if I could have only one 35mm camera, it would probably be the Nikon F2. It's really well-made, and as a system camera it offers more flexibility than cameras with fixed viewfinders or fixed lenses. It also works (aside from the meter) without batteries.
    For fixed-viewfinder, interchangeable lens cameras, my favorites are the Nikon FE, Olympus OM-2N, and Minolta XE-7.
  14. The one that works for you that you like the best.
  15. Nikon FM! - Small, all manual (Battery operates the meter only), film advance silk smooth and most of all able to use non-ais as well as ais lenses.
  16. In order of favoritism: 1959 Leica M3 SS with 1966 DR Summicron 50mm f2/ !976 Nikon F2 with DP-1 and 50 f2 Nikkor/ 1976 Canon F-1n with 50mm f1.4
  17. My 4 greatest:
    Nikon F2AS
    Canon F1
    Minolta SR-T101
    Topcon Super D
    The best camera is the one you have with you, even my cell-phone will do.
    Best regards,
  18. I give the nod to the F100. There are a lot of great 35mm camera's out there but some things I would use to rate the camera would be, availability for new or like new products, repairs, cost and power source (AA rechargeable batteries are good). The F100 excels in all of my requirements.
  19. I'm with Gene!
    Although the Chicco looks more to belong to "Modern Film Cameras" than here.
    There's really no single "best" -what does best mean, anyhow?
    Having said that, someone should mention the Canon T90, certainly for the non-AF category.
  20. Nikon F6 for SLRs: metering, autofocus ( which you can turn off of course) accuracy and speed, viewfinder, craftsmanship, the way it feels in my hand, and sheer versatility.

    For rangefinders: The Leica M4-2. Reasons: simplicity, grace, handling.

    For panoramic work, the Seitz Roundshot.
  21. Some great comments above. I'm on side with Jack Fisher and Nick Clarke. That being, that the best camera is the one that is used for the job.
    For actual preference though. I use a Canon EOS-3 for all of my AF film work, and would imagine that the EOS-1V is better than the 3, so I'll throw my hat in the ring for either of those camera. True work horses, and I've put my EOS-3 through its paces. However, the sucker is heavy, so it has a specific niche (auto-focus or complete weather sealing, or places where I can carry the load).
    For manual focus, I would lean towards a Pentax setup. I took a pair of Super Programs to Australia and the Philippines, with very harsh conditions in Australia, and they performed great. I've since upgraded to a pair of LXs, and except for the lack of a full-program or shutter-priority setting, the LXs are awesome.
    Keep in mind that the best film camera is only as good as the best lenses that you have. Pentax has an incredible line of MF lenses which are small, well built, and light. Similarly Canon has some superb AF zooms. If you can't find the lenses or accessories for your system, and what you shoot, the best body in the world won't help you. (For example, I see serious flaws with Pentax's flash system, but I don't shoot flash with my MF film gear, so it isn't really an issue).
  22. gib


    Oh let's say there is a tie
    Nikon FM2, Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax Pz-1
  23. vdp


    1. The Contax RX.
    2. The Contax Aria.
    3. Konica Hexar AF.
    4 Voigtlander Bessa R.
  24. I think I'm far to old and prejudiced by childhood dreams and middle aged habits to make an objective judgment, and anyone who recalls my variety of posts here would probably guess that the Nikon F is a sentimental favorite, whose shortcomings must be vigorously denied.
    My wife, less influenced by this sort of thing, would second the F100. She has two, and last I heard she has no desire to replace them. As a fully-realized picture taking machine, it doesn't get much better.
  25. Nikon F with all those incredible lenses, and the waist level view finder! rollei 35s for travel.
  26. The are a number of great cameras. My first criteria is the availability and quality of lenses for the camera. Then on a personal basis I like a meter. I also like the camera to be sturdy and light weight and I do not care for autofocus or motor drive (anymore). The Leica M6 Classic or TTL or the Nikon F3HP meets my needs. The Olympus OM series meets those criteria but I am not as confident in its build quality nor was I impressed with the lenses as I was with the aforementioned cameras.
  27. I'm partial to the Topcon Super D. Solid camera, great metering, great lenses (exception being the 200/5.6). Indestructible.
    But I just got a Pentax LX, and it does pretty much anything the Super D does and better. For instance, TTL metering with any interchangeable finder. (Try that on a Nikon F or F2.) Probably not as reliable (indestructible) as the Super D. Very nice to handle. A wider collection of lenses. The larger throat of the lens mount allows better lens designs. But the accessory finders are rare and pricey.
    The Pentax MX has a larger finder than the LX, but with less eye relief, less bright. Also, the shutter speed dial is hard to turn, and the LED meter readout less than ideal to see and fiddly to keep lit.
  28. Arri and Panavision make fine 35 mm cameras.
  29. It's fun reading about all these great cameras. Many that I have not had. I can only speak to the best ones I have had. In 35mm SLR, my Canon T-90 is king for three reasons. The design, comfort and ergonomics are superb; the automation is useful AND elegantly simple to use; and of course it uses AA batteries!
    In 35mm pocket cameras (which I really love), the Olympus XA is just utterly timeless in simplicity and usefulness.
    In rangefinders, I am really enjoying the Bessa R for simplicity and for having screw mount Leica compatibility at a low price. It might be a kind of "best bang for the buck" camera? And, I like the lightness of it. Would I like to trade up to a Leica? Well, of course!
  30. If I had to take one out to use it would be Nikon F2AS preferably in black.
  31. For me the number one camera is the EOS 1v(HS or non-HS), simply amazing in so many ways, followed by the F100. Both of these are cameras that I use alongside my digital gear on a daily basis and are both phenomenal cameras. My list of favorites after those two depends on my mood on any given day, but consistently favored are the F3HP, XD-11, Pentax LX, T90, F1n, and the FE2.
  32. My #1, Leica M3 - #2 Leica R9. Its all about the lenses.
  33. My #1, Leica M3 - #2 Leica R9. Its all about the lenses.
  34. Canon T90, EOS 1V
    Nikon F4, F6
    There are loads of others, these are my favorites.
  35. [​IMG]
    The Nikon F with standard prism finder
  36. I have bought and sold more cameras than you can shake a stick at and have found a few that are real winners. The old Canon F1, Canon FTBn, Konica T, T3, Pentax MX, LX, Nikon FE2, Nikkormat FT2, FT3, Leicaflex SL, SL2, R4, Leica M2 and M3ds. I have owned all of those and more, but the only one I near shed a tear over when I sold it was my beloved Nikon F2AS. I probably ran more film through the Nkon FE2, but the Nikon F2AS is my "all time favorite" film camera. Until you use one you just won't understand. You can meter, even in low candle light, with the DP12 head and the silky smooth gear train in that camera is beyond description. I like the Leicaflex SL I still own, but if I had a choice I'd take a F2AS over any 35mm film camera. Of course, that's just my opinion. JohnW
  37. I don't know about best but My favorites In no particular order are:
    Canon T90
    Retina IIa
    Retina Ia
    Pentax Spotmatic
    Canon F1
  38. Really should be the Leica M2/M3, or the Nikon F2.....or the original Spotmatic.....or....
  39. Topcon RE system (Super D, RE Super, Super DM). The tank of tanks, beautiful and competent lenses 20 mm to 500 mm, meter on the mirror, interchangable finders, screens, and backs. I've used the big guns from Nikon and Canon, but there are none simpler and more rugged than the instruments from Topcon. (Just my opinion, of course.)
  40. Minolta XE-5.
    ...Next would be battery independent Minolta SRT 102.
  41. I agree that the best camera is the one that gets used, and in my case I can narrow things down to just a few:
    Canon F-1n -- the original F-1 continues to be my overall favorite. Robust, accurate, comfortable.
    Nikon F2 -- Nikon's last hand built camera and my favorite Nikon of all.
    Leica M6 -- My favorite rangefinder.
    Olympus XA -- the best pocket 35mm camera that I can think of.
  42. My seven favorites:
    Leica IIIf
    Leica CL
    Nicomat FTn
    Nikon F100
    Minolta XD11
    Olympus OM 3T
    Leica R4 S Mod P
    PS Sometimes the camera you have with you sucks and infuriates you and you strongly wish you had a BETTER camera with you.
  43. My personal favourite is the OM-1n. Although I had the impression that the Nikon F 2 is the best built SLR, I prefer the smaller and lighter OM-set (body and lenses). It is of an excellent design, does everything I need and is not a burden for my shoulders and back. I always wanted a Leica M 3, but they are overpriced, at least in germany. Another camera I like to use is the Voitglaender Vitomatic IIa. The Color-Skopar produces a nice glow and the viewfinder is very nice.
  44. The Minolta XE-7 and Pentax ME Super ought to be on someone's list.​
    The Monolta XE-1 (European version of XE-7) is on my list.
  45. Leica R8, best viewfinder I've ever looked through! Handles like it should, with access to all the important stuff. And best of all, it houses the R lenses!
  46. Doesn't the self timer trick work on the F100 for MLU? I'm actually curious...
    This is one of those questions that really begs perspective. As much as I hate it, new cars are better than old ones - they just are: they go further, break less, are safer, etc - mind you, driving them feels like a coma and they all look the same shade of hideous. I doubt you could ask a 35mm camera to do anything any better than a F6 or an EOS1V, and despite the fanatical pleas to the contrary, neither Nikon nor Canon glass will put you at a disadvantage. Either one of those cameras will do everything any other 35mm can do and then some, do it in more adverse conditions and for much longer, and keep doing it long after the Leicas glow their way into the repair shops they need like the fine exotica that they truly are. Those two have an extremely extensive lineup of lenses and accessories and miles of real wold testing - both in their own model and in their storied lineage.
    I don't really aspire to own either one, even though its silly not to at the prices the digital epidemic has caused, so for me neither one is "the best". But I assure you that if I had to bring a picture back on 35mm film in order to put food on my table and a roof over my head, I would pick one of those every time. I would perhaps side with the Nikon simply because of the whole mount issue and ability to use older lenses IF (and that's a big if) I would do such a thing while shooting for a living.
    Generally speaking I think that cameras can be judged much like life preservers - the best one is the one you can reach when you need it.
  47. The "Best camera" is the one you have with you.
  48. I hardly think I am in the position to opine for the "best" 35mm camera.
    My favorite 35mm camera is most certainly the Nikon F2. I've used it more than any camera I've ever owned even more now than my geriatric Pentax Spotmatic.
    After all these years (about 30) the thing has performed perfectly click after noisy click, frame after perfect frame and the only thing I've done to it, is install a fresh meter battery every few years. Not bad.
    I kinda like my iiif as well, but for entirely different reasons.
  49. Um, er, ah, all of the cameras mentioned are indeed worthy.
    Contemplating the lot of them, though, doesn't suppress the memory of something I saw on a consulting gig in Nicaragua. There I was in the Managua Intercontental's lobby (the old one, now there are at least two) waiting for the people I was going to go out to dinner with. A couple of vans drove up, people emerged from them and emptied them. They stacked the contents up in the lobby, made a nice pyramid of aluminum-skinned cases topped with an Arri 535. I've never been so close to a quarter million dollar camera. One 535 would buy enough of the 35 mm still cameras mentioned here to make each of the contributors to this thread very happy. Yes, it is an SLR.
    Gotta think big, folks. Mr. Kennedy, really serious acquisition is waiting for you.
  50. My favorites, in no particular order:
    Nikon F100
    Nikon F3
    Minolta XD11
  51. My short list:
    • Minolta XE-7
    • Minolta SRT 102
    • Konica Autoreflex T3N
    • Olympus OM-1
    • Pentax ZX-5
    • Nikon FE-2
  52. Canon FTb, w/ 50mm f1.4. Why? That's the one I have an emotional attachment to. Plus, it still works! Never been opened or serviced, in fact, despite abusive treatment by a 13-16 year-old aspiring photographer back in the early 80s. The weddings I shot with it? They're all divorced, re-married, kids in college or in a cult. The f-ing camera still works like it was new.
  53. For me, cameras that I consider “best” are ones that are dependable, rugged, reliable, easy to operate, and capable of producing images of high quality.
    Here are the mechanical/manual 35mm cameras that I own and use and think are the best:
    Nikon F2 SLR (especially the F2 titanium)
    Fujica ST705 SLR
    Pentax Spotmatic SLR
    Argus C3 rangefinder (not easy to operate but very rugged)
    Nikonos III underwater (not easy to operate but extremely rugged)
    Canon QL17 GIII rangefinder
    Minolta Hi-Matic 9 rangefinder
    Batteries may be used for built-in light meter but none rely on batteries for actually taking photos.
  54. Here are the mechanical/manual 35mm cameras that I have never owned or used but I think are among the best:
    Canon F1
    Olympus OM1
    Leica MP
    Leica M6
    Nikon SP
    Nikon FM (any in the FM series except the FM10)
    Batteries may be used for built-in light meter but none rely on batteries for actually taking photos.
  55. Here are the electronic/automatic 35mm cameras that I have owned and used and think are the best:
    Nikon F3
    Nikon F4
    Pentax ME
  56. Here are the electronic/automatic 35mm cameras that I have never owned or used but I think are among the best:
    Nikon F5
    Nikon F100
  57. Contax RX.
    For sheer feel of oozing quality, I have never had another camera in my hands like it. Put those fabulous lenses on the front, and only my own skills get in the way of fantastic photography.
  58. As the OP of this thread, I realize that there is no single answer. The best is the one than has your confidence, and there are a lot great cameras out there.

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