What is a good value film camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by NHSN, May 19, 2022.

  1. Cameras do not get much better in terms of build quality than the Nikkormat. As Mike G pointed out the FT3 does not need the pin and rabbit ear coupling to meter as did older Nikkormats. The meter display on the top plate is a bonus as well as you do not have to lift the camera to the eye for metering. Pre metering a scene while deciding on a composition is a timesaver.
  2. Surely the F-801 (N8008) or its 's' version is a no-brainer?
    Why piss about with something else that's less versatile than the average phone camera, and spend more money on it?
    NHSN likes this.
  3. Since it's also been mentioned in this thread more than once, here's my take on the now crazy-expensive Olympus Stylus Epic...

    I bought one of these for my son in around 2004 (for like $115), and he gave it back to me a couple of years later after getting his first digital camera. I've used it on and off occasionally since, more with color film than b/w. The only thing that really impresses me is just how small it is, and I say this as someone who loves small cameras (earlier Olympus OMs and Pens, Petri Color 35, Minox subminis). Yeah, the 35/2.8 lens is good, but the autoexposure logic tends to shoot wide open when I'd prefer a slower shutter speed/smaller aperture for better depth of field. I got a lot of soft results.

    It's a great design... and an okay shooter. You can't beat it for carrying convenience, and in the days before even modest cellphones had excellent cameras, it was cool. But honestly, I get better images out of nearly every other camera shoot. I can see how it would be valuable to someone who has a great eye but doesn't want to make the effort of learning/working more complex cameras. But I've been using manual cameras since the mid-1960s, that's not me.

    I mean, I'm keeping it, it's a design classic. But I haven't run film through in about four years, and I don't know if I'll ever use it again. It's a cool camera, but to my mind, somewhat overrated.
    stuart_pratt and robert_bowring like this.
  4. Put the F801 in P mode, fit an AF lens, and it becomes a Point'n'shoot.
    It even recognises DX coded cassettes, so there's no need to even get to grips with that complicated ISO stuff.

    But why shoot film at all if you just want to get pictures and not worry about the technicalities?
    Bettendorf likes this.
  5. I'd also put in a vote for the Pentax ZX-5. In addition to AF with Pentax lenses (and some third party offerings) it will provide metering and autoexposure with the A series Pentax K mount lenses. Also, add the M42 adapter and you can mount most screw mount lenses as well.
  6. I bought a Maxxum 9 from Ebay for $40 plus $28 shipping. It works fine and can use all my AF Minolta lenses. I always liked to shoot E6 but it is hard to get processed these days. My Maxxum 9 was built in 2000, one of the last. I had 2 Maxxum 9's in the early 2000's so it is a trip down memory lane for me.
  7. I think many of the people wanting to get into film photography are probably doing it for the wrong reason... I like quirky stuff like Exaktas and Kiev and Zorkis. I have old Folders and Baby Speed Graphics... I like the discipline of thinking about what I'm doing. Why not do it in style with a mid 50s Contax and a Biotar lens. Many newbies like the idea of film photography, but want the P&S experience, auto focus etc. There's tons of capable cameras out there that won't break the bank so I encourage folks to just take one and learn how to use it, then move from there.. Many believe there's a Eierlegende Wollmilchsau camera that will launch them into photographical stratosphere.
    What is a good value film camera?.. Probably the one you're using!
  8. No Contax, but for years I used an old Praktina with CZ Jena 58mn f/2 Biotar + (old even then) 75mm f/1.5 Biotar. The 75mm was unusable wide open IMO, but very good at f/2.8 and below.

    So, been there and done that, and have no wish to repeat the experience. 'Style' or no.
  9. Thanks for all the input. I didn't expect consensus on this subject :)

    I have to say that Olympus Trip 35 is easily beating an Yashica T4/Olympus Mju (all of which I have used/owned) in value, even at the bloated prices I quoted, if the user understands to simply set ISO on the Trip 35 and can figure out how to set the distance scale to one of the 4 settings (and don't use flash).

    With a 400 ISO film and set to 3m the Trip 35 will cover most situations without much mental effort.
    Regarding the concern that the Trip 35 selenium meter is unreliable, I have to disagree. Or rather; my experience is that if it works, it works.
    1. Point the the Trip 35 towards a bright light and shoot.
    2: Hold a hand over the lens and try to shoot - it should block.
    If both checks out it is likely to be working.

    The €179 price tag is ridiculous, of course.
    It was produced in millions and is easily available from local classifieds where people aren't generally aware of bloated current pricing - I bought a mint sample for €25 recently.
    For some reason owners of Yashica T4's and Mju's seem to understand the market value - local classified prices are as absurd as those at Kamerastore.com.

    I was shortlisted in a global architectural photography competition in the mid 90's, where I used a Yashica T4 to create the portfolio, and was flown into Bristol,UK from Copenhagen, Denmark, on the competition's expense, to be present at the opening. So, I know first hand what these competent compact P&S' are capable of.
    In the mid '00's I brought the same camera to Tokyo and experienced the painful shutter-lag that I had happily forgotten.

    A Trip-35 is, or woud have been, much more responsive and would have been much more adequate for the street type of photography.

    The F801/N8008 is of course the best value and most capable camera in the equation - by far. (and the lens mentioned is not bad if you follow common 1990's logic of stopping down 2-3 stops).
    As Joe says - set to P and forget about it. And there is plenty of potential for developing your skills a film photographer - if you so desire.
    Unfortunately the F801 does NOT seem to appeal to those newly interested in photography, at least not those who consult me.
    I do not think excellent inexpensive but manual cameras such as Nikkormat FTN (or other equivalents) would be appreciated either.

    The potential users are often those coming from single-use-cameras - but want something "better" and appear to be clueless when subjects such as aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, and even focus enters the conversation.

    It seems to be a bit up-hill.
  10. As someone who continues to use film a good bit still my recommendations would be a Nikkormat FT2or FT3 or the Pentax K1000, all very good manual cameras though the meter on the Nikkormats can be iffy. Also the F2 is just superb. If you want auto focus and exposure capability then the N90S is very capable and if you don’t mind spending a little more, the F4s. Lots of other good options but I have and use all those I mentioned.

    Rick H.
  11. The Nikkormat gets good reviews here, but it is basically a Ricoh Singlex at heart.

    Same shutter, similar metering, similar all metal construction, but open to the whole realm of M42 lenses.

    Just another alternative, of course, and of course lower status.
    m42dave likes this.
  12. This is the answer!
    * $37 brand new.
    * Way "better" than single-use cameras.
    * Never be troubled with those pesky film details, such as: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or focus.

  13. I still don't understand why (the flick) such people are interested in film at all.

    Why, why, why go to the expense and trouble of using film if you have the mental laziness not to wish to learn the basics of exposure - and possibly nothing about composition, lighting (or environmental impact) either?
    Especially when there are perfectly good digital cameras with 10 or 12 megapixel sensors lamenting on boot-sale tables and in charity shops, for less than the price of one roll of film + processing. Digital cameras that would teach you more in 5 minutes of instructed use than weeks of piddling about with film. Not remembering which frame went with which camera settings by the time it came back from the processor.
    Last edited: May 27, 2022
  14. I doubt it is a lasting interest for most, but young people seem to long for some more tangible things in their life - heck I do more film photography because I am dead tired of dealing with electronic interfaces and screens all the time - that regardless of full awareness that even my iPhone will give me technically better photos in most, if not all situations.

    One can ask similar questions about the renewed interest in LP's - and I think you have in another thread. I think the answer is the same.
    rodeo_joe|1 likes this.
  15. Hmm. I don't know. There seems to be a generational cognitive dissonance between generally holding the opinion and lamenting that older generations have well and truly screwed up the environment, while simultaneously having a vast, and needless, turnover of items like smartphones, trainers, hoodies and suchlike. Instead of helping become less of a throwaway society. Now they want to increase their plastic and energy consumption in completely needless ways too.

    There was a movie out recently called "All influencers must die!" - couldn't agree more. Unless they use their influence for other than commercial gain, of course.
  16. You'll live 5 years longer if you stop trying to make sense of whats going on. My young save-the-planet no-plastic vegan employees were routinely having allergy inducing toxic tattoo ink injected into their bodies.... and so much more, don't get me started.
    Last edited: May 28, 2022
  17. All might be fine, but a two or thee times the price they should have.

    I recommend that Canon FTb, which tends to be priced about $10,
    and FD lenses are also reasonably priced. And they have a tendency
    to work.

    But yes, Nikkormats, especially the FT3, are nice, and have a
    good chance of working.

    Many don't like the AI 43-86 lens, I don't know so many complaints
    about the 35-70. Actually, I always liked the AI 35-70, but I
    believe that the optics are related.
  18. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    The average price range for working Canon FTb bodies on eBay (actual "sold" prices) is closer to $30-$35, with black ones selling for more. They are still a fairly good value, though I never cared for the FD mount.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  19. Seems to be going up.

    Canon: Canon FTb QL Price Guide: estimate a camera value

    still says $10 to $20 for average condition.

    I got mine about 9 years go for $11, with 50/1.8 lens.

    I suspect if you put a saved search on eBay, it won't be long before you get one for close to $10, though.

    Though I buy way too many cameras from shopgoodwill.com. Goodwill uses both their own auction
    site and eBay. Fewer people look at shopgoodwill, so the prices might be lower.

    In any case, my system is to bid low, and sometimes I get things.

    I believe my FTb was from Goodwill, with local pick-up to save shipping costs.

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