Worlds best film advance?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by tony_lockerbie, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. While posting a reply in the thread about the Nikon F3, I was wondering which camera in your opinion, has the nicest wind on action.
    The F3 is up there, but my vote goes to the Minolta XE1/ Leica R3.
  2. Tony,
    Are we going to limit this to SLR's? If so, then my vote goes to my Nikon F3HP. The film advance is like butter. Can't think of a better way to describe it. However, the only SLR's that I have ever owned are Canon and Nikon (that limits my objectivity) so I'll give 2nd place to my Canon F1. I'm sure any of the so called "pro" bodies from the different manufacturers will have a nice wind on feel. Probably due to the materials used in building the cameras.
  3. M3 single stroke. Brass, custom fitted geartrain for smooth movement, ribbed end of the handle for perfect grip. You can carry the camera by the wind lever, and with a quick flick of the wrist advance to the next frame.
  4. I find the old Praktica 1950s Knob wind smoother than most of the lever winds of the latter years. sp.
  5. I think Subbarayan has got it right, my experience is the Leica IIIf no need to move the camera away form your eye just run your finger along the wind knob for the next shot.
  6. leicaflex sl2 - like running a hot knife through cold butter.
  7. leicaflex sl2 - like running a hot knife through cold butter.
  8. A recently CLA'd Leica IIIc/IIIf.
  9. Nikon FM2n and right behind it the Canon F-1n. My Nikon F3 is very smooth but the camera is well worn from heavy motordrive use so the FM2n just feels better on manual wind. Silky but firm.
  10. I concur with the F3 - the advance on my F3HP is as smooth as I can imagine.
    But I've recently purcahsed an M7, and am very impressed with the advance on it. A little more friction on the M7 than the F3, but very quiet and smooth in its own right.
  11. A properly working Minolta SRT is very smooth. Between the Canon F-1 and F-1n I prefer the smoothness of the F-1. The stroke is longer. The winding stroke of the F-1n is overgeared so it's shorter. Without film both are smooth. With film the F-1 feels smoother to me. The Minolta x-700's advamce is also smooth.
  12. II haven't found anything yet to outdo the F3HP. However, some of the old Voigtlanders have a nice kind of clockworky feel, tight and precise, with the audible ratcheting providing a nice reminder that this is a machine full of little German gears and pawls and cams and levers.
  13. I think the Contaflex With its wind is very good and smooth my other contaflex with its stroke lever nice but not like the wined one
  14. I agree with Tony and think that the smoothest ever is the Minolta XE-series. Sometimes I like when my XE-7 has no film in it just so I can play with the film advance and hear and feel the smooth shutter sound and action. The F-1 is certainly nice, but the XE is even nicer. The XD-series is almost just as nice.
  15. Minolta XE7 among Japanese cameras. Of course this camera was developed when Leica and Minolta had fruitful trade agreements and I think the Leica R series and this camera share components. My OM-1 is OK, not the greatest but perhaps a 6.5 or 7 on a scale of 10. I also have a OM-2sp that's just awful, with an odd divided cycle that feels like I'm trying to grind coffee beans and advance the film at the same time. The old Nikon F didn't feel great but by all reports were quite rugged and long lived so I guess smoothness isn't everything.
    Oh yes. Moving away from SLR's the little wheel advance on the Oly Pen VF cameras can be very nice and is also fast. A smooth, clean design that actually works.
  16. Canon P.
  17. but my vote goes to the Minolta XE1/ Leica R3.​
    I have an XE-1 tooand it's currently my favourite 35mm SLR.
    I suppose the fact that I can't comment on the film wind mechanism (without going and playing with it) means that it is good. i.e. I have no reason to think anything bad of it.
    I'm going off to play with it now to see what you are referring to!
  18. Graflex Grafmatic.
    Moving those 4x5 sheets of film was never easier.
    andyfalsetta likes this.
  19. Well being a technician who has serviced a multitude of cameras since 1977, the smoothest advance in my memory is the true ball bearing advance; Topcon Super D aka Super RE
    IMHO I feel that the Leica R3/Minolta XE is a distant second...
  20. Canon VI T
    Although my Leica IIIf is almost as fast when I wind by running my index finger along the knob.
  21. Had f3, f4, f5 and other various brands but nothing I've owned compared with the leica m3. The m4, m6, m7, and mp
    are also good, but not quite. I haven't had the double stroker, but I understand that it is even better than the single
    stroker. The old Leitz craftsman rated the d.s. M3 as the peak of all the m's.
  22. Another vote for the Minolta XE series.
  23. Very interesting replies, and I must admit I was thinking of SLR's when I posed the question, however all must be considered!
    Which brings in the Leicas, and you are right about the M3, and the 111G was very sweet if my memory serves me correctly.
    Seems that the F3 is very highly rated, and I must admit that I had forgotten about the Topcon RE Super, so I dragged it out and must agree that it is up there, and beats the Nikon...but just....and the Minolta...juries still out.
  24. I am surprised nobody mentioned Contax RTS III which is the best, probably.
  25. Minolta X700
  26. N8008s!
    I agree about the F3, but I never had the luck to own a Leica or a Topcon...
  27. I didn't try top-of-the-line Nikon or Leica but I am voting for my Minolta XE-5. Man, this is well built camera...
  28. Leica MP - no question.
  29. As a long-time Topcon Super D owner, I'll admit that it's very nice indeed. But only the earlier 46A model (serial number starting with 46). The later 71A and 72A (Super Dm) have extra gearing to reduce the wind from 180 degrees to 135 degrees, and that gear has lousy bearings and makes it very grindy. (I've been under the hood and seen the difference.)
    My Canon 7s is also very smooth.
  30. F3 or FM2n. But I haven't used any Leicas.
  31. Definitely Minolta xe-7. Smooth as butter.
  32. Two rangefinders, Topcon 35-L and Minolta Super A, but only up until the last moment when the shutter is cocked, though. The total absence of gear noise and racheting feel makes me worried, only the sudden resistence from cocking the shutter reassures me it is a succesful wind. So actually I won't call the full advancing cycle smooth -- there's a sudden change in tension at the end.
  33. Accura made a device for rapid film advancement named accurapid. I never used it though. Was that of any help?
  34. Earlier Fujica ST801's with the long throw advance were very smooth and light. Mine is still smooth as new.
    With film, I find my Pentax LX and Nikon F3 are about the same- without film, the Nikon's smoother and lighter. The Nikon does have that little "clack" at the end, though. It's not unpleasant, and gives tactile and aural indication that it's fully wound.
    The LX's stroke is shorter. If it were the same as the F3's I think it would match it for smoothness and lightness. And it is much more solid.
    I'm gonna have try one of those Minoltas.
  35. I'll be controversial and suggest the Canon EOS 30v. I haven't much experience with manual wind ons but the 30v has the nicest, smoothest and quietest motordrive I've heard.
    How about the Konica Hexar AF with stealth mode advance?
  36. From mechanical:
    Old om1.
    Auto winding:
    Hexar af in silent mode.
  37. I've always admired the Nikon F2's winding mechanism. Which winds IMHO, with "reassuring precision".
  38. I'd second the EOS 30(v), if this wasn't the Classic Manual Camera forum. Something the 30 definitely isn't...

    But it's a great camera otherwise...
  39. Of the cameras I've owned, two stand out in this area. A Leica M2 and a Nikon FM.
    The M2 was purchased used and hadn't seen any action in years and felt like it. After a DAG CLA it felt like a different camera altogether. I often had to check to make sure that the rewind indicator was moving to confirm that the film hadn't slipped off the takeup spool.
    The FM was bought new in 1980 and I still have it. Of all the Nikons I've owned, it easily has the smoothest film advance. My F3 was closest to it, but that particular FM was smoother
    Of the two, I'd have to give the edge to the Leica, but just barely.
    I'm surprised to see a Topcon 35-L mentioned as they are pretty hard to find. I owned one for a time (a flea market steal at $10 with working selenium meter) and really enjoyed it. Nice camera with excellent craftsmanship and a 1:1 finder but mine didn't compare to the M2 or FM for smoothness.
  40. computer locked-up
  41. Minolta XE-1, XE-5, XE-7 (all have the same action) and the Leica R4 which was almost identical camera, because of the Leica / Minolta collaboration on these four cameras ( Minolta shutter,meter,viewfinder and Leica electronics and body).
  42. I've have to nominate the Robot Royal and Recorder spring wound cameras. They are have a very fast advance and pull the film along via both top and bottom sprockets. Their cassette system (TR and NR) provides no resistance as the gates are opened as soon as the camera door is closed. Film registration is top of the league-- as expected as these were widely used as scientific instrumentation cameras-- and with burst mode (sequential) of as many as 4 or even 5 well registered pictures per second its faster than most motor driven SLRs ...... all completely mechanical with workmanship and handling from the hey days of the German optical and camera industry..
  43. The original Nikon F. and Leica M2,3.The Nikon F2 not as nice, the F3 too long a throw and so lil resistance, yu dunno if film inside the box!My Rolleiflex Automat the smoothest of all.
  44. Sorry Rick E., but the R4 and XE-7 couldn't be more different. You must have meant the R3. (See picture of two beaters just prior to repair)
    Jeff L., you should try to track down an R3. They & the stunning old Leica glass are cheap right now.
    The release action of an XE or R3 is also something to behold.
  45. The smoothest (with film in the camera) is probably the Leicaflex/SL/SL2, but by far the most satisfying is my Contax IIa.
  46. The smoothest I remember was a double stroke M3. I didn't end up buying it, but did find it hard to hand back to the guy. It was like there were rubber bands inside!
    I really like the winding on of my M6TTL.
    I also have an F3HP, but don't know what all the fuss is about with this one.
    My Dad has a couple of Minoltas he doesn't use much these days. I must ask to have a play next time I visit.
  47. F2, Hands down.
    Split 2nd price goes to FM2n & OM-1
    Another great off-topic thing about the F2: the mirror returns instantaneously, so > 1/60s the shutter goes "schlak" when other SLR´s go "schlatak"
  48. I believe that the R4 was actually based on the XD-series body.
  49. My vote will go to Lordomat standard. Might be a minority report but well worth my vote. The unusual clockwise double stroke clicks like swiss watch.
    Voigtlander Bessamatic comes close second.
    I do have Nikon F2, F3 and have to admit the film advancing mechanism are among the finest. But I still prefer the feel and sound from metal gears and bearings.
  50. Bill M., as you can see from my "showoff" camera porn pictures; I have the cameras you & others described, and the Topcon Super D '46' blows them all away. This most definitely includes the F3, F2, F, FM2n, FE2, OM-1, LX, M3(DS), MP, IIIf, IIIg, RTS III, XK, XG, X-700, F1n, and P . These cameras cross my bench constantly, and that Topcon has yet to be equaled. Besides, I don't even own a Topcon Super D (46)... Come to think about it, after all of this build up, I should try & add one to my collection.
    Andy C., correct, R4 thru R7 = XD
    IMHO, motorized cameras don't count in this topic and neither do the "grinding/clicking" variety described by James Z. (Too much feel)
    Tony L's original question: "has the nicest wind on action."​

    I think translates to "most smooth" action, hence his F3, XE & R3 initial picks...
  51. Camera porn indeed, lock your doors....I'm coming to get them! Leica SL2 and a chrome R3, mmmmm.
    I was kinda thinking most smooth, but it is interesting to see what everyone's idea of a nice action is. Motor drives I never considered, but I guess that still fits the criteria. The Contax RTS was mentioned, a camera I have never used, maybe I will have to track one down.
  52. From the cameras I have owned and handled I like my Leica M2 the best. Its soooo smoooth :) Nice length of stroke too. Second place will have to be Pentax LX. Again smooth and short! I tried a new F1 and found the click at the end annoying and the stroke was way too long. Nikon F2 was nice and smooth but again, the stroke was a bit too long. Nikon FM2n feels ratchety. Don't like it too much. Minolta CLE is smooth too but it lacks a bit of weight. I generally don't like cameras with a click at the end of their stroke (except Leica ;)) and long stroke cameras. Makes them harder to wind with one hand and fast.
  53. I haven't used Minolta, Nikon or Leica, but my Pentax MX has a very buttery smooth wind on action, even though the mirror slap is slightly harsher than the competition (Olympus OM*).
  54. Another wonderful advancer which hasn't been mentioned is the Leicavit, and its RF Canon derivitives.
    And the ultimate MF advance must be the Omega 6x7, which literally moves the pressure plate out of the way while the advance is being used. (Also, is the world's uglyest camera). Come to think of it, the Rolleiflex crank ain't bad either.
  55. I've been thinking about this since it was first posted, and I still can't come up with a decent answer. I know some that I'd rather not use-the sort that cut the hand and such.
    I guess in a perverse sort of way, I actually like the almost randomness of some of the middle period East German cameras like the Pentacon 6 medium format, where the combination of bad film loading and a "sensitive" film advance could result in wild and massive variation in how much the film actually advanced or not. The camera was very good if you loaded it just right, usually, ... well often.
  56. Hi Gus, nice camera porn photo! About the original question, 'the nicest wind on action', to me (with not so much feelings), is not neccessarily 'the smoothest wind on action.' It seems you have put too much feeling into 'smooth' to make it the only criteria, IMHO. Talking about smooth, have I ever mentioned the Minolta Hi Matic E? That might be very smooth but not so nice.
  57. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I used to buy and sell photo equipment at camera shows. So I owned a lot of different cameras during that time. No Leica SLRs, however. But thinking back about those cameras that I did own, I would rank those whose film advance smoothness I recall, in descending order, as: Contax 139, Nikon F3, Minolta XD-11, Minolta X-700, Canon EF. I've owned a fair number of Canon F-1s (including those in my personal inventory), of all versions, and like the Nikon F2, I've never really regarded the film advance as "smooth". Solid, yes, but not smooth.
  58. Pentax KS and Kodak Retina IIa
  59. Another vote for the Topcon Super D and RE Super. Silk and butter describe this advance. I agree, the later Super DM sacrificed that smoothness to gain the shorter throw, which was a shame.
  60. F3HP, bar none. And I've owned Ms in the past.
  61. Of the cameras I've owned , a Nikon F2, Canon EF, Canon F1-N in that order,
  62. Leica M2, M3 and Nikon F2.
  63. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    So we have a clear winner LOL
    My fav is my 1951 Canon Model III with the factory Rapid Winder including the knurled grip. Like a machine gun she will go!
  64. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    So we have a clear winner LOL
    My fav is my 1951 Canon Model III with the factory Rapid Winder including the knurled grip. Like a machine gun she will go!
  65. I think the Nikon F3, Minota XD and XE are in a class by themslves for smoothness. I like the general ergonomics of the Pentax series, but on just about everyone I own, it feels like there is sand in the gears.
    Interesting comments on the Topcon Super D. I had never owned a 35mm camera until I was sent to Vietnam in 1966. One of the guys in my unit was planning on becoming a professional photographer, and had purchased a Topcon Super D and a Canon Pellix. He would go on and on about the superiority of the construction of the Topcon. I have never owned one but I have about a dozen Canon Fds (but not a Pellix) and find them to more than satisfactory.
    P.S. Because of $$$, I bought a Konica Auto S2 for $35, great camera, and just before I came home, a Canon FT-QL for $65, another great camera, both of which are still operable.
  66. My Pentacon Six makes contented little chuckling noises when I wind it on, as if it's looking forward to being used for the next shot. "Little German gears", is right.
    Of course, those little German gears could be getting ready to escape to freedom - it was made in 1972, after all.
  67. Easiest wind - one of my Canon EOS5s. Nicest mechanical feel - Nikon F3 just ahead of Leica R3. Most humorous - Voigtländer Vitessa - just love that giant plunger!
  68. Best or smoothest? The FM2n's advance is silky but it's not the most durable out there. The K-1000 will go and go and go but it's pretty clunky. For a combination of smoothness and durability, the F3 gets my vote.
  69. Just for fun: This image is for those who mentioned those particular Nikon cameras. I threw in the little Minolta RF (mounted on a Minox mini-pod) for James Z. and the Leicavit "style" advance for Bill M.
    Even though I don't own one yet, I still think the Topcon mentioned before is the best. I probably got outbid by one of you on a nice one just the other day. Enjoy it, whoever got it... Good going big mouth. (Me)
  70. Okay, here's the update on getting one of these "buttery smooth" transport kings...
    I just won the auction on a very mysterious Topcon Super RE. Images posted not very good; seems to be a 46 version though, and the capped lens definetly looks like a 50mm f/1.4 !
    After a proper & comprehensive CLA, this sholud be a beauty again. Thanks for posting Tony L., this was quite the eye opener & a great reminder of what was missing from my collection.
  71. My various OM-1's have been smoother, but a couple of them have developed a winding issue where they continue to wind after the end of the roll, which is rather sad. It's one of the few cameras I have that I can advance against my face without much trouble. Of the entire OM line, it easily has the smoothest advance. The OM4 is just terrible due to heavier cocking springs for the 1/2000th shutter. The Oly 35RC has a nice advance, it looks similar to the Pen F advance, but is much smoother I think.
  72. Nice Nikons, Gus. I've been a longtime Canon user but I feel a very serious Nikon 'itch' coming on, especially after falling in love with a couple of FE2s. While the FE2 is a wonderful camera to operate, it's not as smooth as my XE-7, but it's still a favorite.
  73. I prefer Leica IIIf, it just keep rolling without any paint for RFs. For SLR, Canon F-1n sounds nice, but I will put Nikon F2 as the first .
  74. Hmmm, the question itself doesn't limit it to classic cameras, although it is in the classic camera forum. This brings up a dilemma. Should I limit my response to classic cameras, or should I include my actual favorite, which is on a modern camera.
    OK, I can't stand it. I'm going to give my actual favorite... Canon Rebel. Why? because it advances the film backwards, and counts down from the full roll toward an empty roll. That way you always know now many shots you have left on the roll. That's far more useful than knowing how many shots you have already taken. In addition, if you accidentally open the camera in mid roll the accidental exposure won't destroy the shots you have already taken.
    Winding effort also negligible, since it is motorized, and it is quite fast compared to manual winding.
    Sorry for cheating like that and talking about a modern camera.
    Among classic cameras, my favorite is Exakta VX iia. It's not fast, and the wind lever motion is a long throw, and it is left handed, but at least it has a good feel to it... good old fashioned German engineering. I should mention that I haven't tried the elite cameras like Nikon or Leica.

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