Advice on buying a new 35 mm camera...

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Comet, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Comet

    Comet Member

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    Hello everyone !

    So here is some context about my quest for a new 35 mm camera :
    I bought a Nikon F3 about 2 years ago on Ebay but had to have some repairs made to the shutter as it wasn't working properly... cost me half the price of the camera so it wasn't a good deal. It went fine for a year and now the problem has appeared again and I have decided to change the camera altogether, or at least the body... enough investments made on this one. Now, I have thought of several options, and would appreciate your advice...

    I am most concerned about image quality, my maximum budget would be around 1500$, with a flash and at least one lens.
    I use the camera for my own photographer's work. I have a Mamiya RZ 6/7 that I mostly use but I like to have a 35 mm camera to carry around at all times, and I do like to know that if I like one shot, I can have it printed at a decent size (about 20 inches wide).

    So I have considered getting :

    - The Nikon F3 Titanium body, which I hope is a little tougher maybe than the regular F3 ?
    I could re-use my present flash and lens, but would appreciate some recommendations on lenses as well, I sometimes find my Nikkor lens to be not so crisp, so if there is anything better out there...

    or

    - The Contax G2 with 45mm f/2.0 CZ and flash.



    My question is, is the Contax better in terms of quality image than the Nikon F3 ?
    Any other suggestion would be great as well....


    Thanks a million...
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Results from the Contax, whatever model, will be of no visual difference to the Nikon. You would be buying exclusive Contax optics which cost a lot more than Nikon optics and for all practical purposes perform no better - they just cost more!

    The Titanium Nikon F3 has the same internal workings as the standard F3 and the F3 HP so you would be gaining nothing except a wallet and a camera that weigh a little less. However the Nikon F3 is one of the most reliable cameras ever made and would not be put off buying another if I had need to..

    Some zoom AF Nikon lenses are, shall I say not the best, but most are good and will deliver the goods. A lot of unsharp images are down to camera shake/poor focusing (non AF lenses) so the camera lens can hardly be blamed. You don't say what lenses you found unsharp but personally in 40+ years of using Nikon, I have never found any of the non-zoom lenses to be unsharp. The first version of the 80-200 was not the best but was sorted out with the later AIS version.

    Buying a camera on E Bay is a gamble! Some sellers are as honest as they day is long, some are out and out rogues only out to fleece you of your hard earned cash. I would NEVER EVER buy a camera from that place unless I could see it and look at it first. A dealer will sell you a camera that will have some sort of warranty and the better ones will not knowingly sell you junk!

    Bear in mind that manual and some AF cameras are running short of spares. The Nikon F3 will be no different, but I would hazzard a guess that the spares for Contax models which were produced in smaller numbers will be very difficult to find. The parent company went out of business several years ago. Stick with Nikon you won't go far wrong
     
  3. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I have never used a Contax G2, although I saw a test somewhere which tested one of the lenses (forget which) against a range of other cameras. On that test it did quite a lot better than everything else. That's just one test though, and I'd suggest you try to hunt it down. Theoretically, I understand that it's easier to make a high quality lens for a rangefinder camera as you have more flexibility with how far the rear element is placed from the film/sensor. With SLRs, it needs to clear the mirror, so you can't have it too close.

    However, I would say that even if there is a difference, it'll be non-existent compared to the difference caused by camera shake and other factors.

    If I was spending $1500 on a 35mm camera, I'd probably get a Zeiss Ikon, if you're after other suggestions.

    If you like SLRs though, stick with that, as you get so much more bang for buck.

    Printing 20" across I'd say it's up to your own standards whether it's possible to get good results. I'd likely be happy with it, others would not be.

    Also, here is a far out suggestion for you. You like medium format, you want a camera you can take everywhere, how about a Fujifilm GF670, Plaubel Makina, or Mamiya 6 or 7? All very portable medium format hand held cameras.
     
  4. Comet

    Comet Member

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    Thank you so much for both of your opinions !

    If the difference between the Contax and the Nikon isn't major... then I think I'd rather stick with the F3 which I'm used to and really do love working with... I will check out the Zeiss Ikon as well, thank you for suggesting that.
    I have also heard very good things about the Mamiya 6 and 7 so thank you for suggesting these, but I really like both formats, so I like to have one camera of each.

    I am currently using a 35-70 mm AF Nikkor lens, I like its versatility and it always allows me to take the shot I want, but sometimes when scanning the film I have the feeling the global sharpness could be better... but maybe it's just me, it's hard to know when we're reaching the limits of the scan or the limits of the lens...

    Won't buy on Ebay no more no... I plan on getting the new one at B&H, I know they're serious, got my Mamiya, in Used condition at their store and never had one problem with it in 5 years of using it.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    F-100 is very inexpensive at around $200 for good ones. I have 3 of them. You can find them on APUG classified from time to time at around this price. You can also find them on most used places but you'd pay much higher.

    "Quality" of the image has to do with lens, not the body. If you mean 35-70mm f/2.8, then you'd be able to use it with F100 as well.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I'd actually suggest a more modern/younger camera like an F100, KEH.com has one listed LN- condition today for $339, or one in excellent condition for $225 and they provide a warrantee.

    More modern cameras like the F100 can do much more with a flash than the F3.
     
  7. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    for $1,500 you could buy a Leica R5 and at least one lens, a 50 or a 35.

    talk about your image and build quality! check out KEH.
     
  8. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    F2 or F3, the G series were toys
     
  9. xo-whiplock

    xo-whiplock Member

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    Opinions... you know how the saying goes... LOL Remember that a camera is nothing more then a box to hold the film and stick a lens on it... and the lens is what actually "takes" the image and puts it on the film, good or bad depending on a bunch of things, but the most important is to have a lens that does not diminish image quality. The zoom you are using may be versatile, but consider when a fixed focal length lens may be required to get the results you are wanting. If it were me, and the F3 body met my needs and likes, then get another one that's been gone through by KEH, or send the one you have out to KEH.COM for a complete CLA and shutter. Use the rest of the $1500 for a couple of pro lenses. Just my 2 cents.
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    And to keep the darkness in!


    Steve.
     
  11. Comet

    Comet Member

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    Hummm I'm gonna ponder on this a little and try to make the best decision... thanks again for the advice !
    Will check out the Leica R5 as well... this solution sounds good too.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    For $1500 you can get enough Japanese 35mm SLRs to use one and throw it way for a year :smile:
     
  13. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    FWIW Check the prices on the R camera lenses. I think you may be in for a little sticker shock compared to Nikon.
    There's also a more limited selection of lenses.

    The Leica lenses are very well made and don't give away anything to the other makes.
     
  14. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Ilford XP2 in the M3 set lens at 12feet, f/8, 125
     
  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    ??? I'm just not sure how this helps someone buy a new camera ...

     
  16. Dismayed

    Dismayed Member

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    Sounds like an opinion from someone who has never used Zeiss lenses and who doens't understand constraints that an SLR places on lens design.

    The wide-angel Contax G lenses are extraordinary. The lack of a mirror box removes constraints that the SLR mirror box imposes. There is no Nikon wide angle lens that can compare to the 21mm Zeiss biogon. The flip side is that the Contax G-mount cameras aren't as versatile as an SLR.
     
  17. xo-whiplock

    xo-whiplock Member

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    Researched and found some lenses you should consider for the F3 or FE should be decided to get a lighter body that works well with MF lenses...

    Nikon 28mm f/2.8 AI-s (52mm filters, 9 oz. / 250g) Sharpest wide angle MF.
    Take your pick of the 50mm as they all do the same job with minor variations of which f-stop you use most. Avoid the Zeiss/Cosina made lens.
    Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s (72mm filters, 21.5 oz/609g., 3'/0.85m close focus
    and an FE body in good working order and your money has been spent.
     
  18. Comet

    Comet Member

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    Thanks again, I'll be going up to the city soon and making my final pick with all your recommendations in mind. Great !
     
  19. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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  20. Bruce Robbins

    Bruce Robbins Member

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    An F100, 35mm AF-D f2 and your current flash would be well within your budget. The 35mm f2 is a nice sharp lens. Reasonably sharp wide open but becoming very sharp a stop or two down. The R5 and a Leica lens suggested above might sound tempting but, from what I've read, the R5 doesn't have the best reputation for reliability. Certainly the F3 should be better in that respect and the F100 as well, I'd imagine. Plus, if you wanted to add a second lens, a good Nikkor would likely be cheaper than another Leica lens.
     
  21. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Rangefinder vs. SLR. Very different shooting styles. If you haven't tried a rangefinder, I'd probably start with a less-expensive fixed-lens model and see if you like it. No reason to buy a camera that you don't enjoy.

    As for Zeiss vs. Nikon, I believe many of the Nikon lenses were based on Zeiss designs. Or at least they were "way back when" ... before zooms and the (over)emphasis on high-speed optics. Anyway, I'm getting way off track.

    I agree that there is a difference in the results from the two groups of lenses, although the differences narrow at smaller apertures.

    And then there's Leica -- also a top-shelf maker of lenses and cameras for both rangefinder and SLRs. But they will most assuredly blow past your $1,500 budget.
     
  22. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Comet, if you haven't decided on which way to go here is my two cents:

    1.) Get your F3 repaired by a reputable repair shop if you like the camera. There are several people here who can recommend their favorite Nikon repair guy who will actually fix the camera.

    2.) Since you have some Nikon lenses, it would be much easier on the pocket book to stick with a Nikon body. If you like the F3 style of operation, get another F3 or variation (as stated earier, get it from a reputable dealer such as KEH....NOT eBay).

    3.) Consider an FE or possibly an FA.

    When you say you can't get much "crispness" out of your setup, are you saying you are having problems focusing? Perhaps you need to leave the manual focus cameras in the past and consider a autofocus Nikon camera. I started with an F4S and now love my F5. With a TC-16A, you can have autofocus with your old manual focus lenses. I can't tell you how much the built in diopter (in both the F4 and F5) allowed me to fine tune the finder for my failing eye sight as I get older.

    No need to blow alot of money in these economic times.

    Bob E.