Digital to Film! Which small SLR?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Mike Chini, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Mike Chini

    Mike Chini Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    So, I've been 100% digital for about 2 1/2 years now (Canon 5D). I love it. No complaints. In fact, it continually impresses me except for one thing....street photography. The look of my earliest work blows away anything I can do here in NYC with the 5D (everything is super-contrasty so I always get clipped highlights or shadows - even on cloudy days).

    In the past I had a really great Contax system which I sorely regret selling. It was an RTS II. I miss it! But...I've been considering the Olympus cameras. The early OM's are VERY small (almost Leica small) and so are their lenses. Contax bodies were a bit bulky. Compared to my 5D, the OM-1 and OM-2 are almost 1/2 the size!

    Any suggestions? Rangefinders are out. I could just never get comfortable with them despite their many advantages. I did love the super-sharp images I got with the Zeiss lenses so I'm a bit confused as always!
     
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The 5D is rather large in terms of SLRs and whiel you could go with the OMs (great lenses and cameras) you could also pick up a Canon Elan 7 and use your current arsenal of lenses. The 7 is one of the quietest SLRs I've ever had the pleasure of using though still a bit larger than the OM series. Pentax also made a number of smaller sized SLRs and go for pennies on the dollar, though their lens prices have started creeping back up as you can mount and use them on their digital camera, too.
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Phoeinx Ariz
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    New at about $200 the Cannon Rebel is small and would be good for street phot.
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well as you say there is the OM system, the OM-1 is particularly suited. But have you considered a rangefinder? Smaller than an SLR and quieter.
     
  5. Mike Chini

    Mike Chini Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks guys. I hate to be a nitpick but one of the things I loved about the RTS II was it had 96% or 97% viewfinder coverage. I know...I know...but I loved seeing almost everything in the frame. The way I shoot, it matters. Also, my current EOS lenses (non-L) feel like toys and they're still kind of bulky. I also want something really basic and really sturdy. The Elan 7 is a great idea. I will check that out though.
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,714
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    and use hyperfocal settings to get the maximum depth of field.

    Steve
     
  7. Mike Chini

    Mike Chini Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Rangefinders certainly did it for many a great street photographer. I do like being able to shoot at slow shutter speeds. Unfortunately, I really dislike using them for numerous reasons. I REALLY wish I did like them or I'd be shooting with a Voigtlander outfit right now.
     
  8. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New York Cit
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I know you said SLR, and no rangefinders. Have you considered a Rolleiflex TLR? It's an entirely different direction but one you might well consider. It is a superb street photography camera. The lens is fast, and on the wide side of normal; you compose on a big screen that shows exactly what the negative will get; waist- to chest-level is a good height for street work; the shutter is dead quiet; by facing away from your subject and turning the camera at an angle, you can photograph people without them being aware a camera is pointed at them.

    Have a look at the work of Robert Doisneau or Willy Ronis -- both did fantastic street work with Rolleiflexes.

    Sanders McNew
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2007
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ach just get over it and get a rangefinder or tlr for street stuff :wink:

    For slrs, I am impressed by the Nikon fm3a. That is a superbly crafted and durable instrument, and it's quite compact. And it only just went out of production so new ones are probably still available. The VF coverage isn't spectacular but once you get the camera in your hands, you won't care. Anyway with a Nikon then you can buy yourself Zeiss ZF lenses if you want.... Canon won't allow Zeiss to make lenses in their mount, so Nikon is probably the best way to go if that is your intention.
     
  10. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

    Messages:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Columbia Cou
    Shooter:
    Holga
    I love my Minolta x700..almost as small and maybe lighter than an Olympus.
    I've had mine since '84, no problems even after 2 hard drops, dead on metering (they make very good meters), 3 exposure settings (including manual) and superb relatively unfought-over glass. I bought a NOS 50 1.4 for $50 2 years back.
    My #1 camera if I can only bring one and I have everything (RTS I, Nikon F2, Leica rf, Rolleicord, etc )
    2nd choice: The Contax Aria is tiny, tiny tiny and has alot of neat features and decent glass :smile: I hear.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another thing, if you can agree in principle to the advantages of rangefinders, then perhaps you might consider an AF one. For example the contax g2 system which offers interchangeable lenses, or the konica hexar AF which has a fixed 35/2. Superlative optics in a very small and powerful package.
     
  12. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

    Messages:
    298
    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    Location:
    Newcastle, E
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I did something similar about 6 weeks ago, but wanted to keep using the canon L glass I had for my canon digital, I initially went for a 300V, which was ok, and only last week, bought a mint, second hand EOS1N, which feels so much nicer to use. Its a bit chunky though
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

    Messages:
    2,806
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Phoeinx Ariz
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you want a small all metal constructed SLR the OM 1 or 2 fits bill as does the Pentex ME/ME Super or MX. For full size an Canon F1/ FTB/ or T 70/90 or Nikon FM/FE or Nikkormat. The OM 1 and ME have motor winders and drives if you want or need autoadvance.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you can find one there is also the Nikon FM3a.
     
  16. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,128
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I took plenty of photos in the streets of New York and Brooklyn with my Nikons, an F and F2, without any real problem. The F2 is slightly lighter and quieter. Both give close to 100% viewfinder views. I think you can use just about anything you want, it's up to you to decide how much you want to carry.
     
  17. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    You might want to leverage your investment in Canon glass by using the EOS 3. An excellent camera. OM-2s work well too.
     
  18. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,157
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You can't have it all, laddie. If you want something small and light, your best bet is something like the current Canon EOS cameras, T2 or K2, and you can use your Canon lenses - but you won't get anywhere near 97% viewfinder coverage. For that you need an EOS 3 or 1 series.

    Since you mentioned the OM system, you must not be mated to your Canon glass, and that opens up a world of SLR possibilities. The OM cameras will do nicely. So will Canon FD, Minolta MD, Nikon, Pentax, Fujica, Chinon, Ricoh, Sears, Yashica.... whatever. Go to a used camera store. Play with a few. Buy the one you like. No 35mm SLR ever made is any better than any other and they all have great lenses.
     
  19. Mike Chini

    Mike Chini Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks everyone.

    Wolfeye-

    I know. There is no perfect camera but there are things I've learned to avoid and things I've learned to seek out. One of them is a 95%+ viewfinder. I'm very careful when I compose my shots and I like to print full-frame. I also want a small, lightweight but durable camera and very sharp, high-quality lenses. That's really it! No autofocus or bells and whistles needed. So far that leaves me with the OM's, Pentax K's, a couple of Nikons (F3, F100) and the Contax series. Canon, unfortunately is all about bells and whistles and even though I shoot Canon, for street photography, I much prefer not to.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,555
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To get you back into those wonderful Zeiss optics, I'd look hard at a Contax Aria. I used to shoot a pair of 167MT's, now I have just one RX body, but I've kept my primes for it, which are all excellent. I also have a G1 body with the standard 3-lens kit (28,45,90). I'll put in another vote for the Rollei TLR as an option. If you want to try out TLR shooting without the financial commitment of a Rollei, pick yourself up a nice Graflex 22 (aka Ciroflex). They usually go for $50 or less on That Auction Site.
     
  21. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A street photography camera at or near the size of a 5d. Any Eos, any (two ?) 35mm rangefinders. Framing with an RF is easy once you get used to it. Having the ability to shoot and see what you are shooting when the shutter is released is worth the effort to learn. The ability to hand hold in much lower light is also a major advantage and the most important reason for using an RF for street. I own a mamiya 6 it is about the same size and weight as the 5d and I shoot a fair amount of street stuff with reasonable success. If you wish to stay small I'd get a bessa on price. If you wish to challenge yourself I'd look into a Hassy SWC.
     
  22. Mike Chini

    Mike Chini Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I've shot a fair amount of stuff with a TLR and while I definitely like it for many things, in general it's not for me.

    Those Zeiss lenses were just killer. I'm really tempted to go back...never sell cameras!

    JD-

    I'm actually looking for something significantly smaller than the 5D which is why I first got interested in the OM's. They're MUCH smaller! I carried a 5D with 24-105 f/4 around NYC last week shooting a job and it was just monstrous. Too much for what I want to do. The EOS 3 is pretty much the same size as the 5D.
     
  23. guissimo

    guissimo Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    An added benefit of getting an RTS II or an OM is that you'll be able to use the lenses from those systems with your 5D. Just get the proper adapters & the canon Ee-s focusing screen. Until recently, I did not own a Canon lens. I only used Zeiss and Zuiko glass with my 5D.
     
  24. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Since you're not wedded to the Canon glass - I'd recommend the Nikon F3HP if you are sure you will be satisfied with manual focus. The aperture priority feature (should you want to use it) is handy for "quick" shooting. An excellent condition F3HP with a fast 50mm Nikkor lens can be had from around $275 to $300 or so.

    The F3 is a lot smaller than the F or F2 - and yet is built quite robustly (as attested to by the fact it was a very popular PJ camera).

    However, if you think you might want the option of auto focus - the F-100 (w/o the optional power pack) is a very nice small body choice. I find I often prefer carrying it instead of my F-5 when I am traveling because of its smaller size.

    I don't know the other brands (always been a Nikonian in 35mm) but but nice thing about your "problem" is that there is so much to choose from, as opposed to so little!
     
  25. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,157
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Minolta X-700

    The Minolta X-700 has a 95% viewfinder. Lenses are great, especially the 24mm 2.8 that I see on eBay fetching $200. Small, light, and handsome:

    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/minoltax700/spec.htm

    I know and love this camera, own two myself. I also own an OM-10, Canon A-1, a Nikon EM, a Pentax K1000, and more, but this would be my first choice for what you seek.
     
  26. BeatPoet

    BeatPoet Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think you've already identified your best SLR options. The OM1/2 fit the bill ideally. Both offer about 97% viewfinder coverage, are small, light and beautifully constructed.

    Personally speaking I'd go for an OM2n - this incorporates all the improvements made over the lifetime of the OM2 and also gives aperture priority over the OM1 (purists may complain and say we should be happy with a fully manual camera - I say "pah!") The OM2 SP seems to have some battery draining issues.

    Additionally, Zuiko lenses are beautifully compact, sharp and very cheap at the moment.

    I must say I'm biased, I've just bought an OM2n myself after deciding to try film again. I wish it would hurry up and get delivered!

    On the subject of rangefinders, I tried a Yashica Electro 35GSN recently. Although it has a fine reputation and looked great, it weighed an awful lot and wasn't very easy to handle. Additionally the focus lines were very faint.

    The Pentax's mentioned are fine as well, but not quite in the same class as the OM1/2.