Your favourite mechanical camera

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jonathan_maloney, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. I guess there should be some requirements here (any other suggestions?):
    -mechanically-operated shutter
    -camera can work without a battery
    I'll start it off with my three favourites (is that even allowed in a question like this? -sorry, I couldn't just pick one!):
    -Hasselblad 500C/M
    -Olympus OM-1
    -Nikon F2A (regret selling this beast)
  2. Rolleiflex and Widelux FV. I've taken photos with both that really stayed with me. Nice emotional connection to both. Both are kinda weird mechanically, too. Birds of a feather, I guess...
  3. Olympus OM-1
  4. Olympus OM-1, Olympus Pen F and Pen viewfinder (not EE models). Small, light and beautifully smooth.
    Kodak Tourist II, the ones with the f4.5 lens, both the 3 element Anaston and the 4 element Anastar. Even though I have to respool 120 on to 620 spools.
    Leica M2, I have never owned this camera but I really want one with a couple of lenses,
  5. Contax IIa
    Nikon F with plain prism
    Nikkormat FT2
  6. EXA II and my little Pax M-4 , might have to add a pentax or two .
  7. john> my girlfriend's dad was a camera collector in his younger years and every time I go up to their house I gaze through his dry-box windows at all his Leica M2/M3/M4s and Contax I / IIa's. Heavenly.
  8. Foca PF3, Retina IIc, Leotax K & Rolleiflex 3.5F.
    The 50's were probably the golden age of classic cameras.
  9. Mr. Maynard's Rolleiflex MX_F-1n_EF_FTbn_SP_Hawkeye
  10. Leica M3. Simple, elegant, quiet, compact, and quick-handling - it's my go-anywhere camera.
  11. Leica M3, M6
    Olympus OM-1n
    Nikon F, F2
  12. Pentax Spotmatic F,KX,MX and Olympus OM1n all dressed in Black.And a special mention for the Fed 2 and Zorki's 3c and 3M.
  13. Canon F-1, Olympus OM-1n, Minolta SR-T 102, and my newly acquired Pentax MX; I can just tell it's going to be a favorite!
  14. Leica M4
    Rolleiflex 3.5F
    8x10 Deardorff
  15. Oh man...this is going to be tough! I'm still kind of new to classic, mechanical cameras...but I already have a BIG collection of vintage cameras and it would be hard to decide which is my favorite!
    Maybe I'll have to list a few of my favorites.
    In 35mm, right now, I seem to be using my Minolta SRT-101 a lot. I really like the feel of it...all-metal, very solid and reliable, but also easy to use. I really like working with an SLR because what you see in the viewfinder is what you get (at least as far as focus and framing goes). I don't have to worry about parallax, so I can be a little more creative and get in closer to the subject and do some other things that I can't do with a rangefinder. I just wish I could take multiple exposures with it.
    My other favorite 35mm camera is my Argus C3. Yeah, it's boxy and heavy and kind of awkward to use. But it's also very simple and reliable, and it's easy to fix. AND I can easily take double exposures with it! ;)
    In medium format, I'd say my favorite camera is my Yashica A. It takes beautifully sharp pictures, and it just kind of has a classy and "serious" look to it. I feel more like a real photographer when I use it. LOL
    I'm also really liking one of my folding cameras, the Zeiss Ikon 515\16. It takes VERY sharp pictures...I just recently shot a color roll of 120 film in it for the first time and I was amazed at how the pictures came out.
    So, here's my "list" if I had to say what might be my favorite cameras.
    Minolta SRT-101
    Yashica A
    Argus C3
    Zeiss Ikon 515\16
  16. Rolleiflex 3.5 E and Leica M3
  17. Leica III, IIIa, IIIc
  18. In 1970 I bought 2 Nikon Fs new. Still going strong and so are the cameras.
  19. SCL


    Leica M4
  20. Nikon F and F2
    Canon F-1 and FTb
  21. Pentax MX
    Pentax K1000
    Canon F1
    Exakta VX
  22. For me what is interesting is that the cameras I lusted after didn't turn out to be my favorites. I always wanted a Hassy, Leica, and Pentax 67. I saved up the money, and used those cameras for years. Nice cameras, but they never really got to me. They were easy to sell when I realized I wouldn't be using them anymore for business.
    It was the cameras that came into my life by surprise that won me over, and I still keep, and I may even shoot again someday: Widelux F6, Rolleiflex 3.5E Planar, and Ansco Titan 20. The Rollei and Widelux aren't the kind of cameras I would have sought out and paid market prices for, but I ran into some amazing deals (I paid $150 for the both of them), and in the end they were the cameras I fell for. I found the Ansco Titan (6x6 folder) at an antique mall for $15. Turned out to be a favorite.
  23. Retina IIa.
  24. Canon A-1
    Agfa Billy Record III
  25. Olympus OM-1, Yashica-Mat M, Minolta SRT101 and 201, Canon EF, Graflex Speed Graphic and my newest favourite, a Geiss modified Argus C4.
  26. Double post.
  27. For me, Contarex. -THE- ultimate mechanical camera. Shutter plays heavenly music like no other.
  28. My favorite was a Retina IIa, however it was sacrificed for other equipment, my present manual camera is a Zorki 6 with a Jupiter 8 50mm lens. I am still learning how to bend my hand and fingers around it, but I'm having a ball with it.
    Gene Lake
  29. Rollei 35 with 40mm f2.8 Tessar (Germany or Singapore) no difference in performance or build quality. Half the time I don't bother with the battery, it's a pain should be mercury (illegal), alkaline replacement button battery has to be installed while film is not in the camera. With non mercury battery, a sleeve cut from plastic tubing allows the use of smaller button battery, ie. alkaline or silver oxide and the ISO has to be lowered one stop.
  30. 1973 Kiev 4a with 1963 Jupiter 8 for my carry-around, usually loaded with faster B&W (Tri-X, HP5+, Neopan 400, Delta 3200)
    Nikon FM with slower, colour film (Portra 400NC at EI 200, Ektar 100); Series E 50 1.4 and sometimes Hoya closeup filter for setup shots; 36-72 Series E 3.5 and 75-150 3.5 for landscapes, almost always on a pod.
    Both have amazing handling and very nice VFs (from my use); I find I can usually focus with the Kiev faster (rangefinders have grown on me).
    I took the batteries out of the FM and taped the cover semi-permanently on - if I need to meter with anything other than my eyes, I use an incident meter; hence, both cameras are truly mechanical.
  31. I forgot to add the Canon EF...Tom's post reminded me.
  32. Hasselblad SWC
    Rollei 3.5E Planar
    Rollei 2.8E Xenotar
    Kodak Medalist I with sync added
    Hasselblad 500C three lens kit
    Nikkormat FT3
    Leicaflex SL
    Leica IIIa
    Sears Tower 4x5 (Pressman model D) three lens kit
    And I could go on, and on and on, but those are just a few that I still own.
    My very best was a Nikon F2AS that I sold a couple of years ago. That was the best 35mm I have ever owned and I have owned cameras like the Alpa 9 and 10D and most of the Leica M series cameras. Still, I think the Nikon F2AS w/ a 105mm f2.5 AIS lens is the ultimate in my book. JohnW
  33. The original early 70's Canon F-1; a better Nikon F2 without the big head (you can read a lot into that statement, eh?).
  34. The Nikon F. (And, that is a period, period).
  35. I hardly have to say it again, but I'm with Sasvata C. The mighty F it is.
  36. Rolleiflex 2.8F - A real workhorse of precision. Once voted the finest man made instrument. (Jewelers tools were also considered)
    From another post that I think applies here; the made for space, Nikon F and F2 with their titanium foil curtains and SUPER simple mirror boxes get my favorite vote.
    The Leicaflex's up to the SL2 are a close second. This because of their use of SUPER hard metals and ultra precision.
    Once with a Swiss tweezer, I tried to scratch a certain shutter gear, (I wondered how a camera shutter with so much age on it could still be so accurate) and I couldn't leave a mark on the raw gear !
    These are two manual SLR models that still amaze me for how, with a lack of maintenance, they still hold their tight tolerances.
  37. I have three favourite mechanical cameras, each with a different frame size. They're listed in no order other than random.

    My first favourite mechanical camera is my little Zeiss Ikonta A. All it has is a basic range of shutter speeds maxed out at 1/300, and a modest f/4.5 Novar lens. Yet it's got that feel about it that, when you pick it up, says 'Take pictures with me'. The Novar is far better than I'd any right to expect, and stopped down a little, can trade punches with the Tessar. I like the 4.5x6 format too, which gives plenty of pictures on a 120 roll.

    I'm also a lifelong enthusiast of the Yashica FX3. It's completely unpretentious, with no extras, but it's pleasing to hold, does almost everything a camera should, the shutter is accurate, the meter is accurate, it goes on and on and on, and it mounts those fabulous Zeiss T* optics. Holding it with the Zeiss 'Pancake Tessar' mounted on the front gives me butterflies.

    My third favourite is my Agfa Isolette, a Jurgen Kreckel refurbished model with striking red bellows and Solinar lens, Agfa's Tessar clone. Its colour images are just knockout, punchy and sharp, and jaws drop when I tell people that the photograph they're admiring was taken with a half-century old folding camera.
  38. fld


    Leica 1
    Argus A
    Exakta VX
    Mamiya 1000 DTL
    Yashicamat 124G
    Pacemaker Speed Graphic
  39. Rolleiflex 3.5F
  40. There are several. Here's one...
  41. Nikkormat FTn
  42. SLRs Minolta SRT 201 and Olympus OM-1
    rangefinder/viewfinder: Konica Auto S2 and Rollei 35
  43. LF....Linhof Technika
    MF....Rolleiflex 3.5F
    35mm SLR....Zeiss Contarex
    35mm R/F....Leica M2-3.
    You could substitute the Contarex for a Nikon F2 on occasions.
  44. It is a toss up for me, either my Nikon F2's or my Hasselblad 500C/M. If I had to choose only one though, my Blad would get the nod.
  45. Nikon F
    Nikon S2
    Bronica C
  46. Tough, tough, tough! Ask me on any day of the week and you'll get seven different answers. Mostly Pentax, though, my recently acquired screwmounts: an H2 in black, an H1a and a basic Spotmatic; my trusty Yashica TL Electro. There's my K-mount workhorse Pentax MX (also black), and a Canon III rangefinder to round out 35mm. Then there's MF! Totally mechanical are my Yashica D TLR and my beloved Zeiss Ikonta C 521/2 that I've used steadily for the last 36+ years. I guess that adds up to 8, but whose counting? Cheers, Allan
  47. Any of my SR(SR1, SR3, SR7) Minoltas, SRT 102, Nikon F/F2, Topcon RE-Super.
    In medium format: Minolta Semi, Olympus Six, Kowas Six.
    LF: Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5, RB Graflex 4x5 with Bausch and Lomb 190mm Tessar, Busch Pressman 2x3 with Ektar 101mm.
  48. Rolleiflex
    Nikkormat FTn
  49. My choices, in no particular order:
    • Topcon Super D: meter in the body, chain-drive meter coupling, beefy and rugged, precision engineering
    • Voigtlander Perkeo II 6 x 6: tiny, precision engineering, fab lense (Color Skopar)
    • My little Zeiss Ikonta 35: tiny, easy to use Tessar or Xenar are both great glass
    • Olympus SP: wow, great automatic, small but not tiny, great street shooter
    • Gene M, I also have an old Dick Tracy which was given to me, never tried it though
    • On the way: Zeiss Contina with Opton/Compur. I can't wait.
  50. (Not in any particular order)
    Canon F-1n
    Rolleiflex 2.8F
    Leica M4
    The Nikon F series should gets an honorable mention as well...
  51. Olympus OM1n
    Minolta A5
  52. I can't believe I left out the Rolleiflex. What the heck was I thinking????
  53. Any Canon FD body. Did anyone else make cameras?;)
  54. Linhof 220 and Mamiya Universal with 50mm lens in medium format. Linhof Technika in LF.
  55. Nikon F
    Leica IIIF
  56. For looks, Contarex Bullseye tied with Leica IIIf BD
    For actually using, Leica M2, with honorable mention to the Leica CL (only the meter dies without a battery).
  57. Canon F-1n
    Nikon F2
    Mamiya Super 23
  58. The Nikon F2 (any head)
    Hasselblad 501CM and most certainly if I had one the 500CM
    The Kodak Retina 118 is a very special little camera:
  59. Graflex Super Graphic
    Graflex RB Auto
    Kodak Medalist
  60. At the risk of continuing to appear to have a one-track mind, my old Stereo Realist cameras fit the critera for this thread. Totally manual, very rugged, and the most reliable cameras I've ever used. They've been my primary cameras for the last 12 years.
  61. Black body Pentax Spotmatic F.
    I finally paired it with a proper SMC lens for open aperture metering, and it was like a whole new camera! This Spottie is a workhorse, and has done steady duty as one of the primary cameras for my dad and then me over the last 30 years. This, after my dad bought it used.
    I am about to send it to Eric for its first CLA, but I'm nervous about putting it into a box and sending it away!
  62. Canon F-1, Nikkormat FT2, Minolta SRT 201, Konica Autoreflex T2, Pentax Spotmatic F, Minolta Autocord, Konica Auto S1.6, Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII, Olympus 35SP.
  63. OOOH, OOOH, Shoulda seen this sooner! :)
    1. Cambo 4x5
    2. Hasselblad 553
    3. Rolleicord V
    4. Minolta SRT101
    5. Nikon FG20 with 35mm PC lens
    6. Super Graphic 4x5
    Hmmm...seems like I shoot mostly all manual cameras!
  64. Leica M6 TTL, Konica Auto S3, Nikon F2A, Konica Autoreflex T3, Kodak Retina IIIa, King Regula RM.
  65. I like my Olympus OM1n the most, I prefer it to my old Nikons, and my Canon F1/FT cameras. It's small, light, and simple.
  66. My three (from cameras I own):
    Rolleicord V
    Kodak Retina Reflex III
    Voigtlander Vito B
    If you ask me tomorrow it may be a different list!
  67. holga, leica m3
  68. I have used quite a selection of different fully mechanical cameras, but I always go back to 2 cameras that inspire me most when I want to use my creativity.. Those 2 are Rollei 35S and Nikon Fm2N
    After those comes an old Rolleiflex automat from the earliest batch of manufacturing and Mamiya's TLR cs330s
    In large format I keep on going back to my MPP technical and speed graphic... I just love the creative feeling that all of these cameras get out of me. They all are like different brushes... each one different and for different purpose.
  69. My three favorites are (in order):
    Wista M metal 4x5 field camera
    Fuji GS645W medium format
    Mamiya 7 medium format
    Actually, it's a toss-up between the Fuji and the Mamiya. In the field, when I can't carry my Wista and a tripod, the Fuji is my favorite since it is small and light, fits in a fanny pack, and produces very sharp negatives. When I get to the darkroom I prefer the larger and extremely sharp negatives that the Mamiya produces. But after owning two Linhof Technikas, a Crown Graphic, and a Linhof Kardan, the Wista is by far the best handling 4x5 of them all.
  70. Pentax KX
    Nikon FM
    Yashica Lynx 5000
    Yashica 635
    Canon Canonflex
    Canon EF
    Petri 7 s
    Kodak Retina IIa (after war)
    Agfa ISOLA I
    Konica Autoreflex TC
    Vivitar 220/SL
    Fujica ST705
    Minolta SRT 100
    Exakta VxIIa
    Olympus OM2000 Spot
    Argus C3 with 10 shutter speeds
  71. Box Brownie
  72. Duo Six-20 or Hasselblad 1000f. Depends on which side of the bed I get up on as to which is my favorite. :)
  73. Guess exposure, guess focus, guess frame...
  74. Ahh I love the old Voigtlander Vitos!
    Some of the cameras on this list are not fully-mechanical - like the Mamiya 7. We're looking for cameras that don't require batteries to work! :)
    Have always wanted to get my hands on a Kodak Retina IIa or a Voigtlander Vitessa. One day, perhaps...
  75. I don't have a large collection by any means (about ten different models), but I can easily narrow down my favourites:

    Mamiya C330f. This camera single-handedly renewed my enthusiasm for photography after a very long lull. I now have two bodies and have built up a collection of all the different lens lengths that were available, plus some other original accessories (paramender, L-grip, etc). I LOVE this camera. When I bought my first one a few years ago it was everything I wished my Rolleicord would be. The 'cord hasn't seen the light of day since.

    Spotmatic SPII. My grab-and-go camera for general use. I also now have two of these. The first was given to me by a guy in my photography club, and to be honest I just accepted it to be polite. After all, why would I need it when I had a perfectly good EOS-33? But one outing with it and I was hooked! I've now also purchased six different SMC Takumar lenses for it and they're wonderful.

    My latest purchase is a 1937 Zeiss Super Ikonta 531 in good condition. I haven't had an opportunity to actually shoot any film with it yet but I have very high hopes for it.
  76. With this question, in this forum, you could be a little more specific. Most of us have a good variety of cameras that we're fond of. The real question is "When?" I've collected some cameras for about ten years, and recently I've gotten a bunch literally handed to me, and I haven't had the chance to take any of them out for a run. Ten years ago, my favourite camera was the Signet 35. Then I got into SLR's. I learned to love my Fed 5. Then I learned to love my Yashica A TLR, and so on, and so on, and so on... Right now, my favourite is my Moskva 2 (although I've cheated recently with my new digicam).
  77. Good ol' Leica IIf.
  78. My Best All-Mechanical Shooters :
    1. Rolleiflex F 3.5
    2. Voigtlander Bessa ll Heliar
    3. Zeiss Contessa
    4. Rollei 35 SE
  79. My heart says Brooks Veriwide with the Horseman back and Super-Angulon 47mm f/8. This was the camera I used to record the illustrations for my first published article in a national magazine, back in 1980. It is light, drinks in detail and chromes or negs blow up real BIG. You only get 8 - 6x8cm frames, but what frames! The big viewfinder and triple array of levels allow you to get your shot in a hurry without disappointments. Since 1977, I've owned three of 'em - two f/8s and the last model, the f/5.6 S.A. with (I believe) 10 element lens.
    My other favorites are the Nikon F, the Rollei-Wide and my trusty Minolta Autocord L I just sold on the 'net.
  80. For rangefinders my wonderful Retina IIa and IIIC folders, the Retina IIIS and all its lenses. For SLRs, my Contaflex Rapid, with a nice short wind stroke and solid shutter sound, and Voigtlander Bessamatic modified to accopt all my Retina IIIS lenses. Bob Jasinski
  81. No contest - my Kowa Six. If you've never used one, you're in for a treat - it shoots gorgeous photos and the glass is all first rate. They still make microscopes, binoculars and lots of sharp optics - they are pretty cheap on ebay. Pick one up, get a CLA and try it out. You won't be disappointed.
  82. Just a quick update to this thread after I was posed the very same question earlier today by someone I know:
    Minolta SRT-102 - These are heavenly cameras. Beautifully-made and designed. I can't wait to expand beyond my 35mm f/1.8 Rokkor.
    Leica M4 - It's such a close call for me, especially compared to the M2 and M3, but the M4 has so many small tweaks like the film loading and rewind mechanism that it makes it such an easier camera to shoot in the field. Also, after owning a total of 7 Leicas (2x M2, 3x M3 and 2x M4) this is the one I've decided to keep.

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