Film Camera Recommendation

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by laroygreen, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Good day,

    Short story: I want a small film camera, with good wide angle lenses, built-in light meter available and must be easy to focus through the viewfinder.

    Long story: I have a project that I'm working on this year that will require me to do some street shooting in a few poorer communities here, and I wanted to use a film camera primarily because I think I would be more comfortable using an old film camera than my digital slr camera (I normally don't shoot any public street scenes, mainly portrait sessions at private locations). I might be paranoid, but when I visit certain areas with my DSLR, I feel like I have a huge bullseye painted on my back as pretty much any digital slr screams "I have money, please rob me" (which I don't!).

    I don't plan to stalk the streets, and will have the camera in plain view at all times, so its important that the camera meets the following requirements:

    - Ability to take wide angle lens (24mm - 28mm). This was one of the reasons I decided against rangefinders, as using external viewfinders isn't appealing (plus they tend to be expensive).
    - Is easy to focus!
    - Has a built-in, usable and fairly accurate (in common situations) light meter.
    - Fairly cheap used, with my budget being around 500 USD.
    - Doesn't look too professional/modern, but is still functional.

    I actually really wanted to shoot MF as I think a waist level finder (and large film size) is ideal for me, but the lack of metering, and the poor ergonomics and size when using a prism meter is a turnoff. Plus, I think most MF cameras (from videos I've seen online) aren't that easy to focus properly when not using a tripod (The Mamiya 7/Bronica RF look nice, but the wide angle situation, and the expense isn't ideal).

    Again, I might be paranoid, and using my DSLR would probably be 100% safe, but just having that thought lingering in the back of my head while shooting isn't going to help.

    * As a side note, none of my current lenses would work on any film camera.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Subscriber

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    I think that you could get a nice Nikon FM2N and a nice Nikkor wide angle and still have change left from that $500. Or a Yashica FX-3 with a Zeiss T* 28mm lens. Or one of many good compact AF cameras, see the current thread on them in this forum. http://www.apug.org/forums/forum52/99897-compact-35-large-lens.html

    Have you considered a scale-focus camera? The Olympus XA4 will be as unobtrusive as anything you will find.
     
  3. CGW

    CGW Member

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    My sense is that old school chrome SLRs attract very little attention. An iPhone, M43 or schmaltzy p&s, DSLR--different story. Anything MF with a WLF--just a weirdo not worth the trouble. Probably something like any of the Nikon FM/FE variants would work. Nikkor lenses in your focal lengths aren't very pricey. Makes for a small, lightweight kit that delivers function and optical quality. I'd shy away from old, compact 35mm rangefinders in favor of SLRs.
     
  4. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Thanks for replying! I have never used scale-focus before and I've only read a few things about it, but it doesn't seem like something that would work for me.

    The Yashica looks good (never heard of it before :smile: )! Compared to other SLR cameras of that era, Nikon and Canon seem rather expensive (4-5x as much)!!

    I read the other thread before I started my own, and the OP seems to want different things and the recommendations seem to focus heavily on compactness, which isn't my biggest issue.

    The Pentax K1000, Minolta XE-1, Minolta SRT101 (Minolta on the whole, camera and lenses, seem to be the cheapest used), Olympus OM1 and Yashica FX3 (probably not the Zeiss lens, which is pretty expensive on eBay) look like good options, but I can't find any information on how good the meters are and how easy it is to focus manually.

    Any ideas/other suggestions?
     
  5. fstop

    fstop Member

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    XD-5 are running as cheap as XG but offer more features,Rokkor 28mm MD lens.
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    You might look up Canon FD system.

    Jeff
     
  7. Sambarino

    Sambarino Member

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    Ditto the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000

    I have an FX-3 Super 2000 in excellent condition. Mine has a split prism focusing screen, which make MF a lot quicker. With a 50mm ML/c (compact) lens it weighs about 16 ounces, loaded. At smaller apertures, f/11+, focusing doesn't need to be exact. With 400 or 800 speed film you can stay stopped down quite a bit. I just got a Yashica 28mm f/2.8 on e-bay for $20. Ditto a 135mm f/2.8. Yashica primes are generally pretty good. I think the only zoom worth having is the 28-85 ML. If you need long, go with Vivitar's older lenses. I have a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/3.5 (made by Tokina, sn# starts with 37) that is just fantastic. It cost me $102 on e-bay. I would put it up against Canon's 70-200 in every category but focus speed; it is MF only.

    The Yashica FX-2 is a larger, more solidly built camera. It seems a bit harder to find in really good condition. I have purchased 3 of them. Oh, well plenty of spare parts on hand. By the way, if you get this camera, use 1.35V zinc-air hearing aid batteries. It meters much better with them, although they die in 3 months or so, even if not used. You can cover the air holes with tape to prolong them, but they are only about $1 each. The FX-3 uses standard LR44 batteries, available widely.

    Edit minutes later: The split prism FX-3 S2 is easier/faster to focus than the FX-2 is without it. With the right batteries (FX-2 1.35V zinc-air; FX-3 2xLR44), both of them meter just fine. Both use only center-weighted average. If your subject is NOT in the center of the frame, you'll have to focus and meter, then compose. Not a problem for me, that is how I use my DSLR, center point only.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2012
  8. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    You could buy a Pentax Spotmatic and a 28mm lens and have about $350 left over.
     
  9. charlief64

    charlief64 Member

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    I'll second Jeff K's suggestion. Get a Canon FTB with a 28mm ( I just shot with mine this morning). The metering is needle match. You can buy everything on Ebay, including the Wein cells for the meter, or shoot "sunny sixteen" without it. With your budget, you would have a nice pile of money left over for film.
     
  10. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    All the recommendations look great so far ... can't decide! I may have to just flip a coin, or better yet, see which one gives the best deal and best physical condition on eBay and just go with that. Either way should be fine I guess.

    If I had to go with my gut feeling, I like the Yashica (based on the above review) and also like the Minolta X-series more, mainly because I found this review online rokkorfiles.com/XD11.html which talks about the focusing and metering, and the 28mm is rather cheap now :smile: . There are a few issues though, such as complaints about battery drain, but leaving the battery out when not in use seems to fix that issue.

    I currently have a Minolta XE-1, Minolta XD-11, Canon AE1, Pentax K1000, Pentax Spotmatic, Canon FTB and Yashica FX3 lined up on eBay from rated sellers, so depending on closing price, I'll get one of those!

    While searching for info, I also found this cameraleather.com ... sign me up :D. If I was to use this alone to decide, the Yashica is the most beautiful :D

    And yes, having piles of money left over for film, will certainly help :smile:
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    There are probably a thousand 35mm cameras that meet your parameters. I'd recommend a Yashica 124G.
     
  12. HowardDvorin

    HowardDvorin Member

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    Another idea, The early Canon are very cheap right now. I have been using my 630 for over twenty years. It is autofocus, has an excellent meter and power film advance built in. You can buy one from KEH with return priveleges.
    You will be off and running for a lot less than you budget.


    H
     
  13. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    If you want built in meter then stay away from those that use mercury battery. I know I will get flamed for saying this but I don't think any of them has very accurate meter even with the right battery. On your list I think the XD-11 is good. I do think the Nikon FM (FM2 etc..) would have good meter.
     
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  15. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    If you're mainly leaving one lens on, I'll also recommend a Pentax Spotmatic.
    The remaining disadvantages: slightly murky viewfinder (not a big problems with a fairly wide wide), slow metering and averaging meter (as opposed to spot or center-weighted) may or may not be important to you.
    On the good side, they're cheap, very reliable and have good ergonomics.

    A number of good lenses are available for it, including the Zeiss Jena 25mm. Also look for Mamiya M42 lenses.

    IMHO the Yashica FX3 isn't especially durable and the leatherette falls apart very quickly.
     
  16. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Nonsense....
    I have several cameras made for mercury batteries and find their meters accurate enough for any purpose (and the ones with a spotmeter tend to give much more accurate results than some more "advanced" meter cell technology using a wider measuring field - but that is also my preference and way of working).

    The most important thing is learning to use the meter you have to its utmost.
     
  17. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello;
    This is off the wall but go into a local thrift store and pickup an old point and shoot 35mm camera. For five dollars and under is a ton of fun and no worry about having the camera ripped off! My favorite is the Nikon L35 AF, fairly wide angle and takes great pictures. Another favorite is the Olympus XA 2, zone foucus, fits in a shirt pocket, and sharp pictures. Both of these are great street shooters, Steven.
     
  18. RPippin

    RPippin Subscriber

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    Try a Nikon F3HP with a winder. Great viewfinder, rugged as hell, lots of lens options, and in a pinch can be used as a defensive weapon without causing to much damage. To the camera, that is.
     
  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Use whatever camera you already have. Bring a friend who can watch your back. Preferably a big, hairy, ugly friend with tattoos and scars and missing teeth. Even in the hood there are few who will try to steal your camera. They would rather take your wallet for the cash than to get a camera that they have to sell to get money. It is more likely that they will chase you to beat the pulp out of you for taking their picture -- either because they are engaged in some sort of illegal activity, or are wanted by the law, or are just shy... or just becuase they know "you aren't from there". Wear good shoes that will allow you to run fast. Don't drive a nice car either and park it on the streets in a ghetto.
     
  20. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Oh... and show no fear. They can see fear on your face. Sometimes I think they can even smell fear.
     
  21. Sambarino

    Sambarino Member

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    Keep in mind that with any of the Yashica FX series, you can use Carl Zeiss lenses, if you are inclined to spend truckloads of money.
     
  22. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Yikes!!! Sometimes I'm thankful that I live where I do... :confused:
     
  23. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Me too. I'm just saying that when I went photographing in the ghetto or other rough areas... I took my brother with me. :whistling:
     
  24. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Anything requiring mercury batteries, apart from the inconvenience of futzing with ill-fitting zinc-air cells, is also verging on being a relic with a good chance of age-related problems affecting reliability/functionality. After the usual chorus of counter-claims, testimonials and CLA recommendations dies down, remember you'll still be relying on a 40-50 year-old camera whose reputation for toughness will be cold comfort when it breaks or produces poorly-exposed negatives. Forget about retro fashion statements. Get the newest, most reliable gear you can. There seems to be budget enough according to the OP.
     
  25. Sundowner

    Sundowner Subscriber

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    I like the idea behind the F3 suggestion, above. Here's an even cheaper Nikon option that will get you shooting some great pictures: the little-loved FG. :D

    You can get one for - no kidding - $30. Also, you could pair that with the 24mm f2.8 lens - a hundred bucks will get you a good one - and throw a ten-dollar filter on the front and you're DONE. Less than $150, and you have an AWESOME rig that you can upgrade easily later on! That leaves you $350 left over, which will buy you somewhere around 81 rolls of 36-exposure Tri-X 400, which is a minimum of 2916 exposures. Even I could get a good one with that many frames... :cool:
     
  26. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Subscriber

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    I am the big ugly hairy friend. Sigh.