What older manual 35mm camera is the best to purchase? price max out at 350

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by danielle_visco, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. Hi!
    Ok so I am relatively new to 35 mm film cameras and I am in the market of purchasing one. I currently am shooting with digital and I am really looking for a more intimate experience. I want a camera that is older, heavy and fully manual. I have been looking at two that I am especially interested in and I wanted the opinion of more experienced people as to which one I should get. The two I am looking at are the Leica Leitz III (3c) and the Nikon F2. Please help!
    I am also fully open to any other suggestions regarding older cameras (a.k.a. which you think are the best, and also I need recommendations for lenses for whichever you choose)
    Thank you so much!
    p.s. my price range for the camera max. out at 350 dollars.
  2. Are you more interested in a rangefinder like the Leica or a SLR like the Nikon?
  3. If you get a camera like a Nikon F2 then you will not be able to also get many lenses for your total of $350. If you can get a camera like a Canon FTbN or a Nikkormat FT2 for $75 to $100 and then spend another $100 or so to get it overhauled you will have $150 left to spend on lenses. For the Canon a good starter set would be a 28/2.8 FD SC, a 50/1.8 FD SC and a 100/2.8 FD SSC. For the Nikkormat you might look for a 28/3.5 AI, a 50/2 HC or later and a 105/2.5 (any lens marked in mm).
    If you just want to experiment you can get a Vivitar V4000 or V4000S with a 50mm lens for$25 to $50. These have K mounts and will accept a wide variety of Pentax an other K mount lenses. My favorite slower 50mm lenses are the 55/1.8 SMC Pentax and 55/2 SMC Pentax models. Even the slow 35-70 kit lens which comes with the Vivitar cameras isn't half bad but an f/1.8 or F/2 standard lens will make focusing in lower light easier.
  4. The Leica screwmount rangefinders are a very different experience from a single-lens reflex like the Nikon. They also have appeal to obsessive collectors, which means some accessories are crazy expensive. Things like hundred dollar lens hoods -- just insane! You really should try out a Leica screwmount before committing to it.
    Another Leica screwmount approach would be a Canon P or 7 rangefinder, which is in your budget. Not as small or light, but a much more modern design, nice finders.
    Nikon F and F2 are tank cameras. However, the meterless prism is rare and pricey -- could use up over a third of your budget. The metered prism is bulky and prone to irreparable failures in the meter circuit.
    Nikon is a good choice since your lenses can be re-used with their digital SLRs. But you really want to use at least "AI" lenses and cameras to do that. A Nikon FM or FM2 could be a great choice.
    Another approach would be Pentax K-mount cameras. Huge variety of lenses, and Pentax makes excellent ones. However, anything older than a Pentax-A lens is awkward to use on their digital SLRs. Pentax-A lenses are fetching high prices used for that reason.
    If you don't have any interest in ever re-using the lenses on a digital SLR, consider Minolta (MC and MD mount) and Canon (FD mount). Both of these mounts were orphaned in the transition to autofocus, making used lenses really cheap.
  5. I can't pronounce on the two you listed. I can recommend the Canon F-1N (latest model) without the AE finder. It's a big heavy pro camera, takes modern batteries, and you should be able to find one in good condition for around that price. Keep in mind also that any older camera should have a CLA done soon, you'll want to factor that into your price. Being a dead-end system, the Canon FD mount lenses are a lot cheaper now than Nikkor or Leica lenses.
    (Psst.... I can also recommend the Nikon F4, though I probably shouldn't say so too loudly on this forum. Said to be the best manual focus camera Nikon ever made. I love mine, I just wish I could afford more lenses for it! It's more modern than the others mentioned, your choice of metering modes and metering patterns, all of which can easily be ignored; set the camera to manual and fire away.)
  6. looking for a more intimate experience. I want a camera that is older, heavy and fully manual.​
    Leica is light, Nikon F2 is not fully manual.
    Get yourself an original Contax. Heavy, fully manual, older and you will get very intimate experience. Price is higher than $350 but not much.
  7. you guys are wonderful for getting back to me so quickly. ok so I have decided the leica is out for now. so for the nikon, what one would you recommend more? I have looked at the fm-10 and its ok. but what else do you think?
    what minolta is best for me?
  8. Your two candidates cover a lot of ground.
    In Leica, I much prefer the M3. Leicas sing in one's hands. But this is way over budget.
    I love the Nikon F2 (around $160-300 @ KEH) and while we're talking heavy, I should mention the Nikon F (I presently have 6 or 7). You can find one in EX condition for $200 at KEH right now.
    The F3 might be a little too electronic for you, but they rock, and can be found at around $200.
    I love the Nikon FM-2n, and FM-3, though they're a little lighter. Figure on $245 or so.
    Nikkormat FT2 or FT3 can be had for $75 or so. A bargain, and 1/125th synch.
    Lighter & smaller still, and among my favorites, are the Olympus Om-1ns without the winder. $110-245
    Other cameras to consider are the Canonet QL-IIIs ($175), and Olympus XAs ($50-150), maybe not pro caliber, but stellar in every way. And the last two offer 1/500th flash synch.
    One more recommendation: Use vintage lenses matching the camera. These earlier lenses are dripping with character and distinctive optical signatures, what today would be designated as "flaws".
    I would advise you to cruise Flickr searching for users of each of those cameras before making a decision, then go play with some in the used section at a nearby camera store.
  9. A Minolta SRT-102 can be picked up for very little, and you can use the leftover money to have it CLA'd and to get some of the amazingly underpriced and widely available MC or MD lenses for it. The 102 has mirror lockup, double exposure, dof preview, and a notably accurate meter. The meter is match-needle, so it doesn't violate your all-mechanical rule. And of course, you can shut it off and use a hand meter. The meter is the only part of the camera that needs electricity. This is a real cast-iron tough machine with a nice feel in the hand. The Rokkor lenses are as good as any out there, and a few are unique. You will interact with this camera a lot, and I think you will find it inspiring. Really. When I pick up my 102, I want to go straight out and shoot some pictures--just something about that camera. Minolta kept the SRT series going for decades, steadily improving it, and this was the high water mark.
  10. Danielle,
    What are you gonna do with that camera?
  11. If the intimate experience matters you can try something like that.
  12. between the nikon fm10 and the fm2, which one?
  13. I really think you should consider Red's advice and take a look at the Minolta SR-T 102 and the Rokkor lenses that make up that system. This is a fully mechanical camera with a full set of features, not to mention an amazing exposure system and legendary lenses. It's most certainly worth a look!
  14. I looked at the minolta srt 102. Do you think I will have any frequent problems and need to repair it often? What lenses do you recommend?
  15. and is the minolta srt 201 better than the 102?
  16. The Nikon FM2 is very nice as is the F3 but if you want the full tilt, manual "brass and glass" experience then hook up a Canon F-1n (little "n"). Rock solid, all metal camera, mirror lock up, full pro accessories. Get the lenses Jeff recommended above. Canon FD equipment offers great bang-for-the-buck.
  17. this is all so wonderful. I think I have decided on the minolta srt-102. I am thinking about getting a minolta tele rokkor 135mm f2.8 lens. do you think that sounds good?
  18. Kozma wrote:
    Leica is light, Nikon F2 is not fully manual.
    Just to clarify, the F2 is fully manual. Manual focus, manual exposure, manual wind, fully mechanical shutter, all functions of the camera body work completely without batteries, no autoexposure, no meter in the camera itself.
    The F2 does have automatic diaphragm and instant-return mirror (my first Exakta didn't have either of these two features), but most people wouldn't say this is enough to call the camera less than fully manual.
    Metered prisms (called Photomic in Nikon nomenclature) are common for the F2. But these do not automate anything. You still have to manually set the aperture and shutter speed.
    There is a very rare optional EE aperture control servo available for two of the metered prisms. This is a motorized device that provides shutter priority autoexposure by using a motor to move the aperture ring back and forth until the meter needle is centered. I've never seen one of these beasts in person, but I understand they were noisy and expensive, and battery hogs. Since your chances of running into an operating one of these are so slim, I'd pretend they don't exist for all practical purposes, but just note that you might read about one someday. An F2 with one of these devices does have autoexposure, so wouldn't qualify as "fully manual" while the aperture control servo was installed and working.
  19. im sorry to keep bugging but what are your opinions on a bessa and would they be a good fit for me? if so which one?
  20. what about the bessa-l? I am confused about scale focusing though
  21. Man, right now you could by so many great cameras and still have money left over with that $350 I can't see wasting it on the Leica. I only say wasted because what's the point in owning a Leica body and not being able to afford decent glass for it?
  22. I also have to agree with Red, and would recommend a Minolta SRT. I just got a Minolta SRT-101 (my last two posts were about it.) I love it. It's a really nice, heavy, solid camera and I've already been really happy with the pictures I've taken with it. It's all-metal and completely manual, but has a light meter. The light meter is coupled to the shutter speed and aperture, but there is NO auto exposure, and it doesn't control anything. The meter just sort of gives you a needle indicator in the viewfinder and when you adjust the aperture or shutter speed, it shows whether the combination will give you a good exposure. (There are two needle indicators and they will line up when you will get a good exposure).

    I'm assuming that the SRT-101 is very close to the SRT-102. And like Red said, everything is mechanical on it, and the only thing that uses power is the meter. If you wanted, you don't even have to use the meter and just use the "Sunny 16 Rule" for outdoor exposures, or use a separate handheld meter. I like using both...sometimes I'll use the meter, and sometimes I'll just "guesstimate" with Sunny 16. The light meter uses a small battery, and the original mercury battery that it took is no longer available. But you CAN get compatible replacements. Right now, I'm just using a 625 (1.5 volt) alkaline battery. The battery voltage is higher than the 1.35 volts that the original battery had, and a few people have said that could cause the meter to show the wrong exposure. But so far, I haven't had any problems and it seems to be accurate enough. (We're talking about a difference of less than two-tenths of a volt anyway!)
  23. I can also recommend the Yashica TL-Electro. Fully manual (does have a light meter though) and built like a tank. Or, if you want to try out a rangefinder, the Yashica 35 GSN is an excellent choice (although not fully manual, shutter time is automatically set for you). Does it show that I like my Yashicas ? :)
  24. Fortunately for classic film camera lovers and users, the question "which is the best?" has no answer. Therefore, you will get a variety of excellent recommendations.

    You mention a Bessa. I guess you are thinking of the modern line of 35mm rangefinders, and not the older folding rollfilm cameras. If so, the models that would interest you, at least from your 'fully manual' criterion, would be the R2, R2M, R3M, or R4M. They use the Leica M bayonet mount, so you have a whole Leica range of lenses to choose from, as well as the Cosina-Voigtlander ('CV') range made for these models. Even on the second-hand market, these may stretch your budget. I have the R3A, which is the battery-operated version with AE exposure control added, and I love it. It's a very different experience from an SLR ; I can't describe it readily, but the word 'intimacy' goes some way towards it.

    The original Bessa cameras were folding cameras, and they have an enthusiastic following. You have to be careful, however, in buying one, as you will want one that has no light-leakage in the bellows, and it would be a shame to spoil your experience of film if you had too many problems to sort out at the start. The modern Bessas have no link to the old Bessas ; Cosina has a licence to use the name for its modern range of film cameras.

    All the recommendations you've had are good. I'm going to add a couple, simply by way of diversity, and to reflect my own experiences. I've never owned a Leica (though I have some Leica lenses), but I can't believe you'd be disappointed going down that route. Neither do I have a Minolta, though a friend of many years does, and the reputation is justified.

    I don't think a big collection of lenses is a big deal here. From that point of view alone, you could have enormous fun with one of the higher-end compact 35mm fixed-lens rangefinders, like the Olympus 35RC. It takes a battery, but only to power the meter. It's five-element Zuiko lens is a star in the compact camera world. Even if you get something else as a result of your foray here, you should get one of these. They're inexpensive, small, fit anywhere, make a great backup camera, and make a great first camera too.

    You haven't yet had a recommendation for my favourite in the 35mm manual SLR list, the little Yashica FX-3. It's fully manual (there's a light meter with 'traffic light' LEDs), and even if it doesn't meet your criterion of "heavy", the chassis is metal and the outer body polycarbonate. It is very reliable indeed. With this camera, you have two very good ranges of lenses to choose from : the Yashica ML range (ignore the DSB and YUS ranges), and the Carl Zeiss T* range for Contax SLR. The FX-3 can be had for a song, and you could be kitted out with several ML lenses too in your budget. The Zeiss lenses for Contax/Yashica are right up at the top end of the performance spectrum, still fairly pricey, but the fabulous 50mm Planar (either the f/1.7 or the f/1.4) is still inside your budget, and if you get fortunate (or are prepared to add a little more), there might even be room to squeeze in the 28mm Distagon. I have four SLR systems, Nikon, Canon (film and digital), Olympus, and Yashica/Contax (and this excludes a variety of M42 screw-fit systems), but the Yashica/Contax one is my favourite by a long way.
  25. I have an older folding Bessa 1 which produces 6x9 and 4.5x6 photos on 120 roll film. I use it but wouldn't recommend it for what you're after.
    I have two Leica IIIf's. Lovely classic 35mm rangefinders which I also use but wouldn't recommend. They are somewhat idiosynchratic to use these days compared to others that are easier to use.
    I have two Bessa R series 35mm rangefinders but I think they're going to be out of your price range, and I'm not sure rangefinder is the way to go. They have their uses but as long as your eyesight is good then an SLR takes some beating.
    I have a Nikkormat FTn from around 1970 which is a great SLR and in the same class as the Minolta SRT, in my view. Battery operated match needle exposure meter but everything has to be done manually. I'd strongly recommend it and they're relatively cheap these days. Built like a brick dunny! I have a range of lenses from 21mm to 200mm - you need to be clear what sort of photos you're likely to take but a 28mm wide angle, a 50mm prime and a 135mm tele are probably a good starter set.
  26. Danielle, it appears as if you are stuck with these two name brands, more as a prestige issue. if you are going to learn film photography, including some developing B&W etc., then you don't have to start so expensive. In fact it would be very inefficient and a waste of resources to start with such expensive cameras. As suggested above you may start with a Vivitar or If you fancy Nikon name brand you may start with the FM 10, a purely mechanical camera but it can take Nikon lenses. [And it is available new!]
    I would look into the M42 mount cameras and K-Mount cameras ranging from Praktica, Yashica, cosinon to Pentax and Vivitar. The K-Mount cameras can also take the M42 thread mount lenses with an adapter. That would give you a huge variety and number of top class lenses. As for the price, you can buy about 5 or 6 cameras with lenses for the $350 you would spend on an inadequate Nikon or Leica. Those are my two pennies' worth. All the best in your venture. sp
  27. Consider a Nikkormat FT2. These use the readily available silver oxide battery and, of course, Nikkor optics. These often go for under $100 with a f2/50mm Nikkor lens.
    A Pentax Spotmatic is another good choice, often going for less than $75 with a fine Super Takumar lens. These (other than the Spotmatic F) have a meter circuit which does not require a mercury battery. Eric Hendrickson (www.pentaxs.com) offers a CLA for a Spotmatic for about $65 - a good idea for an older camera.
    My favorite would be a Leicaflex or Leicaflex SL, also available for well under your price limit with a 50mm Summicron. The meter on either of these can be recalibrated for a silver oxide cell.
  28. Danielle,
    The SRT-102 differs from the 101 by having a feature that allows you to see the aperture you've chosen in the viewfinder. It also has a multiple-exposure capability. It differs from the 201 in the same way plus the 201 doesn't have the mirror lock-up feature. The truth is though, whichever SRT you get will be a solid camera that will perform for years and like I mentioned earlier, the CLC exposure system works amazingly well. The Rokkor and Celtic lenses for these cameras are simply superb and in my opinion rival some of the nicest lenses currently made in terms of sharpness. My SRTs required minor repairs; replacing the foam seals, the mirror damping seal, and lubing a gear in the bottom of the camera. Now that I know the camera fairly well, I can say that these repairs will take less than an hour if you even need to perform them. While you've been given a lot of excellent choices, this particular selection (any SRT) is a very rugged camera that is straightforward and smooth in operation and layout. The performance is outstanding and for the amount of money you're willing to spend, you can get a very nice SRT kit. Take a few minutes and google 'Minolta SRT' and see some of the websites devoted to this system, and you'll see how enthusiastic SRT users are about this camera and its lenses. As an aside, I have to agree with Alex's recommendation to get a little Olympus 35RC to go along with whatever you decide. It's such a nice little camera that performs so well, it should be in everyone's camera bag. For your money you could get an SRT and lenses plus the 35RC. Just a thought.
  29. thoughts on zorki?
  30. so then between the nikkormat ft2, the minolta srt 102 and the nikon fm10 what would you recommend most
  31. thoughts on zorki?​
    What about it? I have one. Zorki 6 has a limited number of exposures. Zorki 4 is more versatile in that matter. But if you get a Zorki you are on your own. No metering. I actually love them. Just remember to change the exposure after you ckock the shutter. And unless you are looking to the rare and very much Leica looking Zorki 3 or 3M your budget will be less than 60 bucks. Just make sure that lenses are Industar 61 l/d or Jupiter 8.
  32. Go for the SRT. Plenty of bargains in camera bodies as well as lenses. All Minolta Rokkor MC and MD lenses are fully compatable and even the older Auto lenses from the SR series can be used with stop-down metering. If you do go with Nikon, remember that some later Nikons cannot use the non-AI Nikkors without damage. The older Nikkormats are non-AI anyway so no problem. The later AI lenses have the tab so they can still be used.
    Another possibility is the Pentax Spotmatic. It is also rugged and the bridge circuit metering system can work with silver oxide batteries just fine.
  33. Well, It has to be your favorite Pentax. For Me it is an LX.........but you may not find a really nice one for $350...........Jim
  34. I bought the minolta srt 102! yay!
    Thank you all so much for your help. now in terms of lenses, what are my best options?
  35. If the camera came with a 50mm lens then I would suggest a wide angle such as a 28mm and a short telephoto like a 135mm. Both offer value as well as good performance. For wide angle the Minolta or Minolta Rokkor 28mm f2.8 or the Minolta Celtic 28mm f2.8. Makes no difference whether MC or MD. For telephoto try the 135mm f3.5 or f2.8- in Minolta MD or Minolta MC/MD Rokkor as well as the two Celtic offerings.
  36. Danielle -
    While there are many 35mm cameras available that would work well for you, Olympus, Canon, Minolta, Nikon, etc, some of the brands carry a more premium price than others that will serve equally well. I think anything named Leica is prohibitive, somewhat the same with Nikon, collectors and users keep the prices quite high. While great performers with high quality, you end up paying a bit more for the name.
    I'm in complete agreement with Louis, Red and Andy, the Minolta's are great regardless of the generally lower cost, with superb optics that deserve much higher consideration than commonly given them, IMO. The SRT is very well built, durable and still very serviceable. My SRT's were at least as good as any comparable I have ever owned, they get a very strong recommendation. Also, an Olympus OM-1 would be another fine choice, I had great service from them as well.
    I also think the advice to build a full service into your acquisition budget is just RIGHT ON POINT, if bought at auction. The camera will be around 30-40 years old and you will have no idea of it's care history, that service will typically be around $125-150 and is so worth it. I know it's a bitter pill to swallow, spending perhaps more than the cost of buying the camera, but good care and service are essential elements of photography overall.
    KEH is a good place to start, they have an inhouse repair facility, I'm confident their goods will have been examined for serviceability prior to sale. I've bought from them, typically the unit is at least as advertised, often much better, AND..., they will stand behind it, you can return it if not up to spec's. Buying from them might get you a camera that doesn't require an immediate full service, worth a look.
    Hope you have good luck in your search, all the best.
  37. First you will have to see what condition your 102 is in. After you have it serviced you will know how much you have left over for buying lenses. You will want to have your 102 converted to 1.5 volts. This way it will work with an A625 battery and wonlt require zinc-air batteries which don't last very long or an MR-9 adapter which costs $30 or more. For Minolta you have the original MC lenses, the MC Rokkor-X lenses, the MD Rokkor-X lenses, the plain MD and also the budget MC and MD Celtic lenses. If your camera comes with a 50mm or 55mm standard lens then you can let us know which one. If it doesn't then my three favorites of the slower ones are the 50/1.7 MC Rokkor-X, the 50/1.7 MD Rokkor-X and the 50/1.7 MD. All of these are excellent and inexpensive. The MC Rokkor-X lenses were sold in non-US markets as MC Rokkor and then two letters like PG or PF. They have the same multicoating as the MC Rokkor-X lenses but with different markings.
    My Minolta 35mm SLR cameras include two versions of the SRT 101, an SRT 102, an SR-7 and three X-700s. I have plenty of free advice on Minolta and Minolta mount lenses. The early MC telephotos had aperture rings in the center rather than at the rear. They are also not as well coated as the later MC lenses so I prefer the later ones. I will start at the 28mm focal length. There were two 28mm MC lenses. The f/2.5 is beautiful to look at and also a good performer but is prone to yellowing so I would go with the 28/3.5 instead if speed isn't too important. Other 28s to consider include the 28/2.8 MD Rokkor-X. MD and Celtics. The early MCs included two 35s. There is a 28/2 in MC and MD form which is expensive. The 35/1.8 is a very nice lens but even the oldest one can be quite expensive. The 35/2.8 almost always has oil on its blades and can't be recommended for that reason alone. If I am not using my 35/1.8 I will use the 35/2.8 MD Celtic. It's inexpensive and still very sharp. Any of the 35/2.8 MD lenses would also be fine. All of the 50/3.5 Minolta macro lenses are good so if you find one at a good price, get one. I have three 50/3.5 Minolta Celtic lenses as well as an older 50/3.5 pre-set Rokkor. For a longer lens I prefer the 100/2.5 to the early 135s. The 100/2.5 MC lenses focus to 4 feet and will give close enough portrait cropping for an adult but not for a small child. The 100/2.5 MD focuses to 3 feet but costs much more when you can find one. The 135s only focus to about 5 feet. The second MC is nothing special. I have a later 135/2.8 MC Rokkor PF (same as MC Rokkor-X) which is somewhat better but still not so suitable for portraits. The 135/2.8 MD is supposed to be the best of Minolta's 1352.8 models. I have three 100/2.5 MC lenses and these are my favorite Rokkors. The second version of the 200/3.5 MC and the 200/3.5 MC Rokkor-X are both very good. Even the 200/4.5 MC is OK but it's not easy to focus in low light. The 200/2.8 is probably over your budget and not very easy to find.
    Here are some non-Minolta lenses which can be found in Minolta mount are which are worth considering: Vivitar 28/2 (Ser. # 28XXX...), Vivitar 28/2.5 Fixed Mount, Kiron 28/2, Vivitar 35/1.9 Fixed Mount, Vivitar 55/2.8 Macro, Vivitar 135/2.8 Close Focusing, Vivitar 135/2.8 (Ser. # 28XXX...), Soligor 28/2 C/D, Soligor 35/2 C/D, Vivitar 200/3.5 Fixed Mount, Vivitar 28/1.9 Series 1, Vivitar 135/2.3 Series 1, Vivitar 200/3 Series 1, Tamron 28/2.5 Adaptall II, Tamron 90/2.5 SP (1st or 2nd version).
    Your SRT 102 can use either MC or MD lenses. The extra tab on MD lenses is used for the Program mode on X-700s and for Shutter Priority automation on the XD series cameras.
    as they are nice when they work but terribly complex and hard to get fixed.
    the Leica's had a lot of clones, it has been said that this was a "cottage industry" in japan in the 1950's
    but many were terribly unreliable. and as said leica compatible lenses are insamely priced.
    so a japanese or russian Leica copy is interesting but unwise.
    many of the screw mount ( m42) cameras are useful and lenes are not over priced
    ( pentax early ricoh and many others) My old Ricoh TLS is really heavy!
    metering is stop-down and match pointer. the cameras are mechanical
    the down side of K mount cameras ( pentax ricoh vivitar chinon cosina ) is the lenses fit and sort of work on digital pentaxes and this "
    ups" the price.
    the canon FL and FD cameras all have meters, most are automatic or will work automatically.
    but the lenses as said will not fit a digital and as said cost less.
    remember all these cameras including the Nikons and Minoltas are 20-40 years old and it is not
    unreasonable to expect a need to do a CLA.
    the more common and ordinary or popular the camera the easier it will be to buy another that fis your lenses.
    Do not buy any Odd ball models,. they may be "wonderful" but lenses will be virtually inpossible to find
    like my Mirandas and some mayiyas and Fuji's that use a unique lens mount.
    the advice above by other posters is reasonable and gets repeatred here many times.
    I have the cameras I do use because of gifts and sometimes luck.
    I cannot fully understand why yiou want a fully manual camera and a heavy one.
    My LUNKER of a Ricoh TLS , may be one of the longest -lived cameras I own, but
    not the first one I would choose to take a picture.
    I would grab the canon sure shot 105 ( full auto) or the konica C-35
  39. The caveats on budgeting for a CLA are wise. Some people have a view that it's not worth spending more on a CLA than the camera is worth on the second-hand market, but it's not a view I share. There are many ways to measure the 'worth' of a camera (or any other object for that matter), but one of those I like best is the saying that a camera is worth every roll of film you put through it.
    You may not need a CLA if you've bought through a reputable dealer, but I have to confess I have been unlucky. My Pentax Spotmatic looked a good buy, and I bought it 'on spec', and it was some months before I got a chance to use it. That was when I noticed that the shutter was tapering, but by that time, the dealer's warranty period was over. My own fault for not checking.
    I bought a little half-frame camera, because it was so dinky, on eBay. The seller was, shall we say, a little optimistic in his description. Still, I sent it off to a reputable repairer, for a repair that cost me three times the buying and market price. I now have a full functioning little pocket camera whose meter now works, whose frame counter works, whose lens assembly no longer wobbles, and which can take good pictures properly exposed and in focus. As I bought it to use, not to sell on, I'm getting my money's worth, and am not wasting my own time in using it.
    I'm sure you'll enjoy using your Minolta enormously. Although I have never used one, I nearly bought one, and it was only the cost at the time that dissuaded me, as I was a penurious student at the time, married, with a young family. So I had to hand it sadly back to the dealer and allow reality to take over the reins again.
    What I would do is resist the temptation to buy several lenses. Instead, I'd recommend taking the time to get to know one lens rather well. I've been on outings where I'd loaded the bag with a 21/24/28/35/50/85/135 set (yes, I have been that stupid), and found that over 90% of the frames shot were taken with the 35, and the rest with the 50. There is a very good reason why the classic compact cameras you will encounter in this forum have focal lengths around 40-45mm.
  40. Jeff, you are right about the 35mm f2.8. I returned a mint- 35mm Rokkor MD to KEH because of sluggish aperture (due to oil no doubt) and the MC Rokkor HG 35mm f2.8 that came with my used SRT 100 (12 USD for the whole works) suffers a similar problem. Thankfully the camera is near perfect. When I use this lens I meter normally then use the stop down button on the lens to make sure the lens is fully closed to shooting aperture. Works fine until I can get one in better shape.
    Danielle- be sure any Minolta lenses are designated MC or MD. If you obtain an older Minolta Auto lens, such as those made for the SR series, you will have to use stop down metering as these lenses don't have a meter coupling that allows the meter to read set aperture with lens wide open.
  41. Probably the best overall answer would be one of the varations on the Nikon F.
    However, just for fun, let me deal a wild card. How about a Topcon Super D, also known as Topcon RE Super?
    It had probably the best overall metering design of its era, and Topcon made some really good lenses. The mechanical design and ergonomics were also said to be good.
    Topcon was a high end profesional camera that competed with Nikon, though it was not nearly as popular as Nikon for reasons that are not entirely clear but probably related to the quality of the distributors that handled the cameras.
  42. Congratulations Danielle--excellent choice! I know you're going to love this camera and soon you'll be hooked on it like the rest of us who have them have become. I can't wait to see pictures from it after you get the feel of the camera. Keep posting your questions and progress with it.
  43. Converting the Srt101 to 1.5 volts. Is this something that an owner can handle? Has anyone done it. Or were can I find out how? My profession is electrical automation, so If it's not too bad, lets try it.
    Just bought the SRT101, I love the feel of it, solid camera. I know many of you have mentioned other great cameras, but my only other experience is a K1000 in high school (good learning camera). I'm getting back to film (B&W). Digital seems to take the edge off. I plan on developing the film and then scanning negatives. I don't have the room or resources for a full dark room. Sorry everybody.
  44. Pentax K1000 (up to $175; good deals can be had for less, but get the best mechanical quality available).
    M42 adapter ($15)
    55mm Takumar (sometimes free, if you get someone who wants to get rid of the body)($50).
    Pentax Spotmatic (will never accept a K mount lens) with 55mm Takumar (under $50).
    28mm Takumar wide angle lens ($75)
    130mm Takumar telephoto lens ($75)
    $125 left over for batteries, film, caps, next phase of the project. Lens spanner for opening camera: $45. Small screwdrivers $20. Foam replacement kit $10, max.
    Overall, if you pick well known models; it will be tough to find a bad model. When you shop for the camera, look for a picture of the shutter dial; a lot of times it will tell you at a glance what kind of automatic functions are built into the camera; this can help you date it; and, help you understand just what will be manual and what won't.
    I don't think the Leica and the F2 are good choices on your budget. I think that was already covered, though.
  45. This thread is crazy and all over the place.
    If you would like to get into film then try the Argus C3 or Ansco 6x9 Billy.
  46. Danielle, I use a CRIS adapter in my 102; that allows me to use common 1.5 button batteries. This arrangement works perfectly.
    As you've noticed, I'm sure, the 102 has a bright focusing screen and a good-size match needle. You can match up the needle from the corner of your eye while you are shooting.
    Don't change the shutter or aperture settings with violent twists: they have delicate connections, the only delicate part of a tough, tough little machine.
    The 102 is one of the best ever cameras for close-up work. You can lock up the mirror, lock the aperture at the chosen f-stop, and use the self-timer to trip the shutter. This arrangement plus the weight of the 102 assures sharp images.
    Among lenses, I've had my best results from the 50mm 1.7 MD and the 135mm 3.5 MD. I also have the celebrated 24mm 2.8 MD. It is killer sharp, and has a floating element that allows for extreme closeups. The 100mm f4 macro is one of the best ever made, and the 85mm 2.0 also works brilliantly.
    All the Minolta lenses focus smoothly and are sturdy. You will occasionally see one of the special-purposes lenses made for these cameras: the 85mm Varisoft and even some lenses with elements that shift to straighten out vertical lines.
    I've never had a problem with my very sharp 35mm 2.8 MD, but you might want to heed warnings about it. Minolta made some faster 35mm lenses anyway.
    I'm delighted you chose the 102 because I'm sure you will be happy with it. And you will be astounded at the low prices of these great lenses. For example, you can get one of the 1.7 50mm lenses for five dollars and the 135mm 3.5 for twenty. You won't bust your budget with those!
    Try Ektachrome with Minolta lenses. It's a nice match. And so is Fuji Superia Reala.
  47. Kozma,
    You really need a tripod for that.
  48. Mamiya Sekor 35mm SLR's that take the ubiquitous M42 screw mount lenses (including some very good ones by Mamiya) are dirt cheap and highly available at eBay. If you can psyche out who the reliable eBay suppliers are who won't give you junk, you can get a lot for a little. Their meters are good when they work but prone to failure. That in itself should not be a deal-breaker. The camera bodies are so cheap now that you can buy a camera+lens just for the lens' sake and end up with a spare body essentially for free.
    Using this approach with due care, you can easily end up with a whole integrated system for less than $350.
  49. I am thinking about getting a minolta tele rokkor 135mm f2.8 lens. do you think that sounds good?​
    Sounds good to me. I recently bougt a Minolta system. An XE-1 body (XE-& in the US) with 50mm f1.2 and 28mm and 135mm f3.5 lenses.
    I was actually looking at getting similar prime lenses for my Nikon but I couldn't afford them. For about a quarter of the price of Nikon lenses, I got the Minolta equivalents.
  50. If I were buying a 35mm camera today I would buy a nikon fm2n (I think that's the one). I own a fm3a, which is similar in size to the fm2n (compact), and I love using it. The fm2n is far more reasonably priced than the more recent fm3a and readily available on the used market. A nikon f3 would be a good choice too.
  51. As I think about it, the nikon f3 camera is not a mechanical camera. I think it requires a battery for operation. Also, it featurtes aperture priority mode. The fm2, however, is a mechanical camera. That would be the one for me.
  52. I would agree with one of the previous posters that this thread really does go all over the place.
    But regarding the original poster's intent to go Minolta, I think my ideal $250 batch of lenses (assuming that's the money left) would be a Minolta 24mm f2.8 ($100), a 35mm f2.8 ($30), a 50mm or 58mm f1.4 ($40), a Vivitar series 1 70-210mm ($30), and tack on a B&W 55mm polarizer ($20) and a Minolta 320 flash ($20) for good measure. All prices are ebay prices. That's a kit that puts more quality at the wide angle range of your spectrum. The Vivitar telephoto is versatile, but not the greatest quality optic, but if you're shooting telephoto, you probably want to use digital anyway. Alternately, one could cheap out at the wide end and get a Minolta 28mm f2.8 in lieu of the 24 and 35 and have $100 to spend on a better telephoto, a 135mm, or a macro lens.
    One's choice of a manual focus system really does depend on whether you want to adapt your lenses to a Canon/Nikon digital system. If you've got to adapt to one of those systems, I would agree with the posters in the Nikon/Pentax screw mount veins of the thread, though I'd say cheap out on the body and get better lenses. If not (or if you're adapting to 4/3) Minolta is a great way to go.
  53. For the money and with these criteria:
    1. Inexpensive
    2. Quality
    3. Timeless
    4. Can use all the lenses the manufacturer made, including the current one's.
    5. Repairs and spares still available.
    ...there are really only two that qualify. 1st is Leica, but far too expenseive for you. 2nd is Nikon.
    The three best and most affordable earlier Nikons that meet all the above standards are the FM2n, FE2, F3, F4s. I have them all as well as a D300 (trading on a D700). My favourite is the FE2. It is small, built with the best materials like titanium and magnesium, works in Manual or Aperture Priority auto mode. The FM is like a fully manual FE. I love the F4s for all its features of a pro body, and its bomb proof. It will also support all nikon slr lenses ever made. As one current reviewer said, "its the Rosetta Stone of SLR film cameras".
    I did not include but still have an Olympus OM1n. It's on a par with the Nikon FM, but battery availability for the meter is now an issue. The good Zuiko lenses are also hard to get.
    I hope this biased opinion is helpful. It comes from my 40 years of photography, and if you put it all in a can and look at it as a whole, it's why so many people are loyal to and stay with Nikon.
  54. People should read the thread before posting. The OP has bought a Minolta SRT-102 and wants advice on lenses.
    My picks would be the 28mm f2.8 (any version) and the 58mm f1.4 Rokkor-PF.
  55. Any MC or MD Minolta lens will give you excellent optical quality and be rugged enough to survive decades of use. Don't rule out Minolta zooms either.
    My suggestion would be: All Minolta...(don't compromise quality)
    24~35mm f3.5
    35~70mm f3.5
    75~200 f4.5 or 70~210 f4
    All of these lenses have a 55mm thread size so you only need 1 set of filters. And don't forget to add a Minolta flash to your system.
  56. Any MC or MD Minolta lens will give you excellent optical quality and be rugged enough to survive decades of use. Don't rule out Minolta zooms either.
    My suggestion would be: All Minolta...(don't compromise quality)
    24~35mm f3.5
    35~70mm f3.5
    75~200 f4.5 or 70~210 f4
    All of these lenses have a 55mm thread size so you only need 1 set of filters. And don't forget to add a Minolta flash to your system.
  57. rdm


    hey Dennis, i agree with you on everything because i use minolta and love them and the quality is superb. However theres really only one or 2 flashes with the minolta badge that are worth getting due to recycle time. Minolta Stoped making flashes for theiir non auto focus cameras a long time age, when Fast strobes wer not too common place and not that cheep. And i dont know if the early autofocus Minolta brand Flashes wer backwards compatible. You can get a good of beter aftermarket brand strobe in my opinion. I personally use a sunpac with TTL dedicated flash foot, I can take 5 consecutive pictures with my motor drive before I need to wait 30 seconds for it to recycle.
  58. I have three 280PXs and one 360PX. These are dedicated flash units made to work in TTL mode with the X-700 but the 360PX will also work as a regular automatic flash with any camera. If you can find one at a good price and in working condition it should work nicely with your SRT 102.
  59. Hi.
    There are so many great film cameras out there and the greatest imho ! is the Nikon F. My 3 all have non-working FTn heads and who cares. Not me, that's for sure! Just use a seperate meter is all. Rangefinders I find too fiddly and I've used 2 x 111a's, a 111c, and an M3 but I couldn't get on with them- that's me, not the cameras.
    Canon F1, Contax S2 (the spot metering one), Olympus OM3 (stolen), Minolta SRT101, OM1n x 2, OM1, FM2n, and perhaps a couple of others now forgotten; each when owned, with a few basic non-zoom lenses. I'm a rubbish picture taker anyway but I love to keep on trying to take a decent picture...and coming up to 40 years of trying !
    But of them all, the Nikon F is the most astonishing. It was built to last a lifetime, 10 lifetimes, who knows! the Nikon engineers made it as good as they possibly could and I just feel they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. I feel sure they would be so proud to know that it is still a functioning piece of a technology which has now been thrown aside for things made of plastic.
    Good luck in your search for the best for you !
  60. rdm


    Yes Jeff Adler just named the 2 i was thinking of when i said there wer only 2 old miniolta flashes worth buying.
  61. Congrats on choosing your srt 102. I purchased an old srt 202 at a thrift store for $2 (body only). I have a 50mm 1.7 minolta lens and a Sigma 70-210 zoom. The sigma is only an f4.5 but i like it anyway. i shoot mostly outdoors anyway.
    For your original question my recommendations are Pentax K1000, Minolta SRT series, and possibly the Nikkormat FTn. I also have a Canon AE1 but i would recommend against it. I don't like the meter and it requires a battery to operate. The pentax, minolta and nikkormat all have a simple needle meters that is constantly adjusting to the scene. The AE1 shows the f-stop that is recommended so you have to move the camera down and adjust the f-stop before shooting the scene. The nikon lenses are more money because they are nikon. The pentax lenses are a bit more as they fit the pentax digital cameras as several posters have already mentioned. The minoltas are great cameras, since the lenses are basically orphaned from any of the new digital systems they aren't as sought after and can be had for great prices. If you are able to examine before purchase always check that the f-stop diaphragm is not sluggish. I recently purchased a Vivitar 135mm f2.8 and at 1/60th set at f22 it only closes down to maybe f5.6, so beware of as is purchases. I am a fan of the soligor and sigma lenses in the off brands.
    Right after i found my srt202, i found on line how to adjust the variable resistor under the floor plate so i could use a 357 battery. I used my pentax k1000 side by side and adjusted the srt 202 till they both were the same. I imagine you could always adjust the film speed to do the same thing though.
    Good luck with your SRT 102.
  62. Leicaflex SL or SL2. Too expensive in their day for mass appeal, and quickly outpaced by technology (e.g., aperture priority), but in terms of function, they beat the hell out of anything Nikon produced. But the Nikon F2 is a very nice camera.
  63. This is an old thread, and the original poster has long ago found a camera.
    But I thought I'd add my thoughts for others in a similar situation.
    Now that digital has swept the world, the finest professional cameras of the 1960's-90's are available at fractions of their true worth. if you are getting into film photography, why not buy the best of the best.
    Any film Leica rangefinder is a treasure. You need to be sure that you don't however want to use really short or long lenses or shoot ultra close-ups. And many of the older Leicas are unmetered. Rarely will a leica (say an M2 and a couple of lenses) seem affordable to a newcomer to film. They may be a better step up at some future time.
    Nikons have always been professional workhorses, and the lenses are near Leica-like in quality. However both the original F and later F2 had awkward add-on meters. Either find a plain prism (unmetered) version, or look for the much more compact metered F3 ( a personal favorite). Alternatively the Nikkormat will give you near Nikon F quality with much sleeker design/dimensions than an F/F2 with a meter.
    The Olympus OM cameras were tiny, had fabulous lenses, and were hugely successful with pros. They may not be aging as well as Leicas or Nikons however. I'm not sure... I've run across some fussy old Olympus electronics. In their day they were certainly equals.
    Other pro cameras from the age would be Canon F1's and LeicaFlexes.
    With any of the above you will have a camera good for the next 100 years, plenty of used lenses to pick from, and in the case of Nikons and Leicas the chance to upgrade to the latest technology and still use you older lenses.
    For most beginning film photographers wanting a serious camera I'd suggest a Nikkormat, with 35, 50 and 105mm lenses. I could easily see the arguement for a 24 or 28mm lens as an addition to or alternative to the 35mm... but here we get into areas of style. Most old cameras will need a new light seal kit (replacement foam rubber) which can be bought on E-Bay for about $10 and can easily be installed yourself. If you have a bit more to spend look for the F3.

Share This Page