Decisions, decisions.....

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Paul Jenkin, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    There are a few cameras that I've lusted after over the years. Now that the price of a good quality example of some of them has reduced to manageable levels, I've been thinking about buying one or two as a little collection of modern classics. Top of my current wish list are:
    • Canon F1
    • Canon F1n
    • Pentax LX
    • Nikon F3
    • Olympus OM1n / OM2n
    However, I've seen a really nice example of the Pentax LX (unusually, with a sports finder instead of the standard prism / eyepiece) and a Canon F1. Given that my budget is far from infinite, which of the cameras I've listed would you go for and why? Are there any others of the 1970s / 1980s era that should be included? I suppose the availability of decent glass and spare parts in case they need repairs also needs to be considered.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts / suggestions.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Having had a pair of F3's which I got rid of rapidly I'd buy the Pentax LX. New lenses are available from Zeiss, and Pentax M & K lenses are superb. It's a nicer camera to hold and use than the Nikon.

    But I'm biased towards Pentax I have 7 or 8 plus a few lenses :D MX's are very nice small like the OM 1's, but I'd laso like a K2 and a Spotmatic ESII.

    Ian
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    More glass for the Nikon, but I'd go with the Olympus.
     
  4. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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  5. aparat

    aparat Member

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    All of these cameras are great. I would recommend Nikon. The Nikon system is huge, used lenses are abundant, and rental equipment readily available. I have the FM2s, which I love. You can't go wrong with the F3, either, eps. if you don't need fast flash sync speed.
     
  6. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    As I always told people when I was selling cameras at the camera store.... Buy the one that fits you hands best.... I could never use the Olympus, my hand it too big.... The Pentax LX is a nice camera, but again a little small for me.... The Canon F1's are good size for me as I have my grandfathers.

    I would get the Nikon, but since my Nikon lenses are all non-AI I wouldn't want the F3.... that's why I have the F2.... that and because when the battery is dead I can still take pictures.....
     
  7. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    For big hands the Canon T90 would do nicely..erm with large biceps as well after putting on a zoom and the speedlight flash gun.....the combined weight of 8 AA batteries doesn't help.
     
  8. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Exactly. I've used the Canon F1 and Pentax series, and currently own an Olympus OM-1 and the Nikon F3. They are all excellent cameras, and they all have a great variety of lenses available used.

    I prefer the Nikon F3--it feels just right in my hands.
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Interestingly all the above cameras with the exception of the Canon F1n are listed in the 1982 Good Camera Guide, edited by Stephen Bayley, the then technical editor of AP.

    The difference in prices is quite amazing, running from the OM1n at £135 to the Nikon F3 at £400. In 1982 money they all cost a fortune, especially the Nikon F3. We've never had it so good, as Harold Mac said, in terms of today's prices.
    Very briefly the Canon F1 and Nikon were the heaviest by quite a long way at over 2lbs( we were still imperial then) with the OM1n beingt the smallest and lightest by some way. In the overall camera rating category they all scored 8/10. Only the Nikon gets 9/10 for lens quality, the rest are 8/10. The OM2n and Pentax score highest on metering at 9/10.

    Also of interest is the statement that the Nikon is reliant on batteries whereas the Pentax shutter speeds which match the Nikon are fully mechanical. Certainly the LX seems to maintain its value very well in comparison with a number of other cameras of that era and I think that's got to say something.

    The Guide is a very worthwhile book to obtain for those into early 1980s cameras and ,like Paul, researching the market. It also covers compact cameras and MF as well as lenses

    pentaxuser
     
  10. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    My favorite camera has to be my Nikonos RS, but it's lenses are only really any good underwater, as you need the 25% magnification of the water on the lens port..... but then again the camera is just over 2 kilo without a lens......
     
  11. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    My question is whether or not you plan on actually using the cameras or having them in a "collection"? My OM kit is actually in professional use.

    As to the OM cameras being too small? Possible for some people, but by the time you add a motor-drive, 35-80 F2.8 zoom, and the T45 flash, smallness is no longer a factor. However, for hiking, an OM body with a 35mm F2.8 lens is about the size and weight of what we call "pocket cameras" today.
     
  12. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    The smallness has more to do with my big fat fingers and the small controls on the camera. I have lots of trouble with a Pentax ME as the buttons are too small for my fat fingers. I have found some of the Olympus OM's to be like that too.... I worked retail selling cameras in the early 80's so I have had the chance to use many of them as loaners :D so I really think you should by a camera for ergonomics. You should be able to handle a camera comfortably and it should fit your hands well.
     
  13. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I've played with just about everything, but the OM-1 is close to perfection for me. Whether is is good for you will depend on what is important to you. Do you want all manual or some automation? Does a small camera feel best to you or do you like something more substantial? Everything you list is a pro level camera and they all have more than enough lenses and accessories available. Here is my rationale for the OM1...it is manual so no electronics to fail/go obsolete, it is the physically smallest system (49mm filters!), the controls for the shutter and aperture are both at the lens/lens mount, and they have a good selection of lenses in the range I want. Honestly, I'd just buy and try. If you don't bond with the camera, resell it and try again.....or better yet buy from someone like KEH and take advantage of the return privilege!
     
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  15. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Paul Jenkin;

    Under Nikon and notable cameras, I suggest the Nikon F2, Nikon's last hand assembled camera. And it continues to work when the battery dies (in the light meter). It does meet your period criterion of the 1970's.

    Under ergonomics and larger hands, I also fall into that category. For a camera that "just fits my hand," I have found the Minolta X-700 with the MD-1 Motor Drive to be the best of all of the cameras I possess when in my hands. Please note that for me, it was not just the Minolta X-700. It all came together when I added the MD-1 Motor Drive to the X-700. Then it all "clicked."

    Go out and try some cameras. When you find "the right one," it will be obvious to you. It will just fit. You will know it when it happens. But, do not limit yourself to just a specific group of cameras. You may be surprised by what just feels right when you find it. Since the 1970's, almost all of the manufacturers have made glass that will provide very good quality when printing your negatives.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2008
  16. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    Thanks to everyone who's responded so far. Lots of great, positive advice and some interesting potential additions - Minolta and Contax to name but a couple. I must confess that I did previously own Olympus OM1n and OM2n cameras and, albeit briefly, had use of a Nikon F3. However, that was a long time ago. Whilst my memory of them is very positive (and I do intend to use what I buy regularly) I want it to be a collection of the 'best' not just the 'flagship' models - though one tends to go with the other.

    I'm gravitating towards the Pentax LX as (a) I've never owned a Pentax and (b) I like the idea of a camera that works mechanically if the batteries die - though does it work on all shutter speeds? The chap in the shop actually mentioned this and suggested it was only from 1/125 towards the faster shutter speeds. The only consideration is the sports finder. As a spectacles user, this gives a great view but is it possible to get hold of the standard prism as a separate purchase? Are there any advantages or drawbacks in having only the sports finder?

    The other camera I like the look of is the Canon F1 / F1n. I used to own an A1 (awesome amount of plastic going on there) and a T90 (radical-looking camera with multi-spot averaging) and I really liked FD lenses (very light but very sharp). However, I will never forget the feeling of solidness when I held an F1n with the AE head at a camera shop just after it was launched. Sadly, though, it was so expensive that it was a 'dream' purchase and never a reality.

    Thanks again and hope to hear more about the LX (etc) before making my mind up.

    Regards to one and all. Paul.
     
  17. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    If you want the best, i'd choose one not on your list: The Olympus OM-4Ti. A 1980's classic, I have two of them and my girlfriend has one. The metering is incredible...multi spot metering. The body is the same size as the OM-1 !!

    All of the cameras you mentioned are great. I have used an F3 and Canon F1N. The problem with them is I like Spot Metering. The F3 doesn't offer it. The F1N can with a special focusing screen, but to switch between centerweight and spot requires changing the focus screen! What a pain. I have small hands so the OM fits me nice.
     
  18. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I don't think you can just stick a camera on a scale to look at weight. It's more about balance.

    My F4 and my ETRSI are about the same weight if you listen to the scale. The F4 is much nicer to hand hold unless I put the grip on the ETRSI. Which of course adds even more weight to that camera.

    Pick up the camera with your most used lens on it. Does it feel right?

    OTOH you can get used to almost anything.
     
  19. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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  20. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    Hello,

    What lenses do you already have? That would play a factor in my decision were I making it for myself.

    I own an F3HP and like it very much - although it has never been my favorite camera. Despite its reputation, my experience with it has not been that it's as sturdy as those who praise it claim. I have had to have two repairs done - one on the circuit board - due to damage done through normal use. Put an MD-4 on it (get one for pennies these days) and it feels like a hammer and shoots like a dream.

    Were I making this choice and were getting a Nikon, especially for manual focus, I would seriously consider the F4 in any of it's configurations. My favorite Nikon body - MF or AF.

    I had a buddy who swore by the two variations of the F1/F1n. I don't know much about them, but he loved them and took wonderful photos with the Canon MF glass.

    My grandfather shot with with an OM-1n and my uncles (his sons) still shoot the OM-2n. Zuiko glass is great stuff - and pretty cheap these days from what I see on ebay. The cameras were always too small for my liking, but they are all (were) big men like me and they liked them just fine. A matter of taste I suppose.

    I know practically nothing about the Pentax and won't comment on it.

    My guess is that any of these cameras will bring great pleasure and the glass associated with them will create wonderful images.

    Good luck and let us know what you decided.
     
  21. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    Hi Jeff,

    I'm currently all Nikon when it comes to SLR (F100 film and D300 Digital). I use a 24/f2.8, 50mm/f1.8 and 85mm/f1.8 on the F100 and I want to (eventually) get a similar set up for whichever camera(s) I eventually get.

    I've owned an F5 but it was too heavy for my liking - especially travelling any distance round town or fell walking. The F100 isn't too far removed from the F5 but it's a hell of a lot more portable. The F4 is another nice piece of kit but I'm trying to get away from AF and want something that will offer manual settings (+ perhaps Aperture Priority / Shutter Priority). As you say, Zuiko glass is very inexpensive at the moment but, as I've previously owned an OM1n and OM2n, I'm tempted to go for something 'different'. The Pentax LX looks a likely candidate at present. I like the sports finder and also the option to use mechanically above 1/125th if the battery fails. Pentax glass - although not as plentiful as some - appears to have a good reputation.

    It'll be the new year before I decide one way or t'other and much will depend on having a few bob left over after Christmas.

    All the best, Paul.
     
  22. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The F3 will use your current lenses except G lenses. The F2 needs the aperture coupler unless you can find the last meter they made with the ai couler.
    The Pentax LX is laid out as Most slr cameras are in regard to release, shutter speed and aperture.
    The OM's have the shutter speed around the lens mount as the Nikkormats did. I never got used to it YMMV
     
  23. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    The lenses you have now will work on an F3. In the USA, where I am, Olympus lenses are the most expensive of the discontinued systems (canon FD, Minolta MD, Pentax manual focus). Collectors and Canon digital users have driven Zuiko prices high. You can get a Canon 24mm f2.8 for $90 while the Zuiko lens costs $150 to $200 on ebay. Olympus´s 85mm f2 lens usually goes for over $300. I still think Olympus is the best, but if cost is a problem it isn´t.
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'm not a Nikon fan at all despite having own 2 F3's, but the FM was the only model I'd have bought (I was given the F3's). There's one in the Classifieds now for $40 :smile:

    This is a Nikon that feels like a Pentax :D

    Ian
     
  25. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    As you're in Europe, you might want to add a Leica R to your list.
    Nowadays the bodies and lenses can be found *almost* cheaply (esp. if you order directly from Germany).

    Leicaflex SL & SL2 have the absolutely best focussing screens (systems) ever.
    Leica R4 are available very cheaply (despite their original bad reputation, any now working will probably keep working for a very long time) and have above average focussing.
    Also, after having used a Leicaflex (or even an R-), a Nikon (in my experience F, F2, F3, FM, FE-2) feels like a loud & rough shotgun.

    I won't bring up lens quality, but having used just about every system on the Planet, I now have my preferences... ;-)

    Chris
     
  26. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    Hello,

    The Leica Rs are nice. If you like them and you're really on a budget, consider a Minolta XE or XD body. The R / XE & XD cameras were made in cooperation as were all Leica SLR lenses, with Minolta. If you hold the cameras and/or equivalent lenses side by side you will immediately see that they are more than just "similar" in design - in some cases identical (some Leica shooters get really irate if you mention this, but as a Leica / Minolta shooter, I'm here to tell you - it is the truth).

    The Minolta glass is quite cheap in comparison and will give you the creamy bokeh not found in any Canon or Nikon lens - comprable to Leica even in this respect. Minolta bodies in great shape aren't as cheap as some other brands - Minolta collectors are always searching for "MINT" copies of their favorite bodies, as I suppose collectors of all sorts are. But user bodies and all but a few select lenses sell for nearly nothing on ebay, KEH and most other sights alike.

    One advantage Leica gave their SLRs over their Japanese double-cousins: the R's have "real" motor drives as opposed to the flimsy winder on the XD system (the XE has no automated winder, but is very closely akin to the XK Motor - which sells in the $1500+ range for a working model - when you can find one). If you want a motor drive, the R is actually a cheaper option than a Minolta. However, Leica glass has never been and is not - even used - very cheap. Hence the cost of Leitz glass will soon catch up with the cost of a motorized Minolta body. But this rolls into an arena of cameras and accessories far, far different from the ones you have mentioned... (XK equipment is rare and highly collectible).

    Personally, the slower auto winder is fine for any film shooting I've done in the past decade so it hasn't been an option for me. I'm not going to "waste" film on multiple frames of action shots these days - that's what digital is for in my book. I save the film for the important images, take my time and get it right the first time. If you're looking at the R (again, I'm not sure if you are, or someone perhaps just mentioned it) and you're not hung up on it saying Leica - get the XE or XD instead. You'll be able to buy lenses for 1/4 the price with results that will be indistinguishable except under a loop - if even there.

    When you do decide next year, be sure and let us know!