Advice on buying a 35mm camera

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mjs, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. mjs

    mjs Member

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    For years I have kept a Yashica Electro 35 rangefinder camera underneath the driver's seat of my car; it's my beater camera, as it were. I like the camera; it's small, quiet, unobtrusive, and dirt cheap. I have four of them and didn't pay more than, I think, $40 for the lot. But recently I've noticed that I've been taking a lot more close-up photos and, with a rangefinder like the Electro, that can be a problem. Sometimes serendipity works in your favor but most of the time ... not.

    So I'd like to replace the Yashica rangefinder with an SLR of similar characteristics: cheap, rugged, quiet, etc. My past experience with 35mm cameras has been exclusively with Minolta equipment and, if batteries were still available, I'd simply get an SRT-something and be done with it. But mercury batteries are not available, Wein cells don't hold up well to the environment below my seat (I've tried, with an SRT-101,) and spending $100+ for the alkaline battery conversion seems too expensive for this. Here's what I'm ideally looking for:

    • Cheap
    • tough. It isn't easy living on the floor of a car in all seasons!
    • Uses a current battery, something I can actually buy
    • Can operate with at least one shutter speed with a dead battery
    • Compact. There isn't much room under my seat!

    Manual/auto-focus and exposure isn't much of a factor for me assuming that I can do the manual exposure thing when required. Come to think of it, 35mm isn't an absolute necessity, if someone knows of a medium format camera which fits the bill. Not interested in a Diana, etc., but thanks for the suggestion. They have their places but under my car seat isn't one of them. :smile:

    Thanks for your help: I just don't know enough about 35mm cameras other than Minolta to be able to figure out what would work for me and what wouldn't.

    Mike
     
  2. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    You will probably get everyone's personal favourite in response but in my opinion you can't go past an Olympus OM1.
    - small and light
    - cheap
    - excellent zuiko lens
    - does not need batteries other than for metering
    A 50mm 1.4 zuiko lens is outstanding and has good close focus abilities. The one thing you need to watch out for in a used body is the foam light seals which can get sticky and perish over time. You can get replacements and I have replaced the seals myself over the years on my OMs. Also advisable to look for an OM1 which has had a light meter battery conversion to accept standard 1.5v battery if in-camera metering is important.
    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/olympusom1n2/om1/index2.htm
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Olympus-OM1-...ryZ15239QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2007
  3. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I'd suggest a Nikon F3 with a 55mm Micro-Nikkor. This is an extremely tough camera and the Micro-Nikkor is excellent for close-up's
     
  4. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    I second this - although I love my Canon A1, she is NOISY! :surprised:
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    For Nikons, I'd think something along the lines of an FM would be a better choice than an F3. They are smaller, lighter but still reasonably rugged, at least by reputation. Also, they don't depend on batteries like an F3 does.
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I'd lean towards one of the M42 cameras. Most will work without any batteries at all. The meter is the only thing you'll lose. For the most part they are almost free on the used market.

    If you need a meter the Pentax Spotmatics will use silver batteries just fine for the meter. OTOH we are talking about 40ish year old cameras. I personally tend to assume the meter is gone. If it works it's a bonus.
     
  7. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    The Nikon F3HP. Built like a rock. Carrying an extra battery around (they last longer than a year) is not exactly a big chore. Tape it to the camera strap).

    I believe I'm the third to suggest the F3 out of six messages.

    I'd also endorse the Nikkor 55mm Micro f3.5 or 2.8.

    This isn't exactly "cheap." But how "cheap" is "cheap?"
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I have owned about a dozen Nikons, still have 8, and like the F3HP the best. Most versatile SLR of all makes, rugged, acurate, great handling. I usely use my FE for a secondary, or backup, or for a light weight walk around.

    For serious use, the F3 all the way.

    JMHO

    PS. They are so ridiculously cheap now.
     
  9. janimir

    janimir Member

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    F3(HP) is for sure one of better SLRs ever made, but is huge. Huge compared to mjss current rangefinder and to any small SLR. OM1/OM1n, FM/FM2, with some smaller 35mm or 50mm lens sounds more like what he wants - small, cheap, battery for meter only. And any of those 4 are rugged enough. And can be found cheap by any mean.
     
  10. Voyager

    Voyager Subscriber

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    I just bought my second Nikon FE body (manual or auto speeds, 1/1000, standard batteries, match needle meter) for $65.00 from eBay. Since I had the lens for my first body, I now have one loaded with B&W, and one loaded with color. An ex condition 50mm 1.8 AI-s lens will probably set you back $75.00. Can't beat it!
     
  11. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Great information; thanks, I really appreciate it. Can someone briefly tell me what kind of batteries the Nikon FM, F3, and the Olympus take? It sounds as though the Nikons take silver-oxide batteries while the Olympus needs an adaptor?

    I remember reading somewhere that Olympus cameras were generally smaller and lighter than much of the competition, also that that they had some oddities in the way they operated. Can anyone elaborate?

    Mike
     
  12. janimir

    janimir Member

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    I still have Varta V 625 PX (1.35 V) in my OM1, and in F2 (the last remaining Nikon in my collection) use two (FDK) LR44 batteries (1.5 V), and if I remember correctly, same batteries were in FM (or one of 3V, but I have forgot which one that was). 625PX might be a problem, but not too hard to find (mr. google will find one for you :smile:)
    As for Olympus oddities - I have found two of them, but I won't tell that I didn't get use to them. 1st one is that exposure times don't have dial on "normal" place, but you have thin ring around camera/lens mount with shutter speeds dialer. (sorry on my clumsy english). The second one was always a sort of problem to me - as a Nikon user it was normally to me to turn the lightmeter on/off simply by opening/closing a film advance crank (is that proper term?), but on OM1n you have on/off switch... and I did forgot to turn it off many times... so battery died... that is the only minus I can tell about Olympus. A lot of people used to call OM cameras "mountaineer's cameras" due to theirs small size and small weight but solid build.
    Hope this helps. :smile:
     
  13. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Member

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    There are some manual focus Pentax bodies that are also non battery-dependent, rugged, and compact. And they take some great glass.

    The LX is overkill for this application, and while I love the MX as a lightweight backup camera, they can be expensive. (On the other hand, older MXs sometimes have a faliure in their flash synch. circuit for which there is no spare part now available: such a camera may be a bargain for an application that doesn't require flash.)

    Other Pentax models to consider for this type of use are: the KM (like a K-mount spotmatic, nicer and cheaper than the K1000) and the KX (similar but adds MLU). (The otherwise rather nice K2 is too battery dependent for this application.)



    Peter
     
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  15. dslater

    dslater Member

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    The F3 takes either 2 S-76 silver-oxide batteries or 2 LR44 alkaline batteries. If you don't wear glasses, then the non-HP version of the F3 is a bit less expensive than the F3HP.
     
  16. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I vote you get a Pentax K1000
    OR, get a Pentax SL which doesn't even NEED batteries. Hardcore! :D
     
  17. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The F3 will also take a single 3 v lithium, I don't know the number offhand though. The lithium might be a good choice for this app, due to their long shelf life capacity.
     
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Nikon fm3a. Lots of other wonderful suggestions up there ^^^ though.

    Let me also suggest considering medium format, i.e. a good AF 645. Kindly don't throw eggs at me, I now this is the 35mm forum, I am just saying what I would do right now.
     
  19. Daniel-OB

    Daniel-OB Member

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    Nikon F3(hp) or FM3A
     
  20. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    A long time ago (and far far away) I read an article by a photographer who photographed in extremes. From the bitter cold to Death Valley heat and his pick of the best was a Canon FTB. Same stuff with mercury batteries tho, but it does have mirror lockup.
     
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Forgot to mention, the fm3a can operate with no batteries, the shutter is hybrid mechanical. You wouldn't have exposure readings without batteries, of course. It does have aperture priority, when you have batteries.
     
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    A Nikon FM2, FM, or FM3a would be my first through 3 choices in that order. To say that these cameras can take a beating is an understatement. All will work at all speeds without a battery of any kind. They are on the small side, and the viewfinders are quite good, though not as good as the one found on an F3. F3's are too nice to live under a car seat.
     
  23. jolefler

    jolefler Member

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    Nikkormats are almost free these days, really just an early FM. FTn, FT2 &
    FT3 models are purely mechanical ('cept for the meter). Uses all that nice F mount glass, including the Micro Nikkors for your close ups.
     
  24. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I was about to suggest the same thing. The homepage shot on my website was taken with a Nikkormat.
     
  25. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Suggestions of older cameras such as Olympus OM-1 and Nikkormat sound very interesting. With other old 35mm cameras, obvious weak points are door seals and meter accuracy. Any other suggestions of things to look out for when buying older cameras one isn't intimately familiar with?

    Mike
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'll toss out another oddball suggestion - Contax RTS I (usually just labelled RTS) or an RTS II, with a 50mm f 1.7 AE. They're old enough now that they're cheap to pick up. The optics are second to none, and the original RTS's are built like tanks but they're not nearly as massive as the F3.
    KEH has an original RTS in Bargain condition for $94. Takes one PX 28 battery. They're available in Lithium, Silver, and alkaline (the batteries that is).