Help finding my ideal manual 35mm

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Mark Fisher, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    My 35mm outfit right now is Canon EOS. I originally bought it 15 years ago because I had difficulty focusing my beloved OM1. After using medium and large format, I've learned to really dislike my EOS for its plastic, autofocus and relatively complicated interface. My OM1 is really ideal (size, control, important features, ergonomics) EXCEPT for the viewfinder. I wear glasses and find it difficult to use. Are there any similar alternatives in the Canon FD, Pentax, or Nikon worlds that might fit my needs? I'd be willing to give up some on size to get an amazingly good viewfinder.

    Thanks -- Mark
     
  2. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    Mark,

    If you can broaden your list a bit, you might look at leicaflex SL or SL2's. Their viewfinders are about as good as you can get. The lenses aren't bad either.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Just in general reference to the eyeglass question. I have a Contax RTSIII which has diopter adjustment of +-3 diopters. Since I am very myopic, I had to add a -3 diopter lens to this to bring my viewfinder into clear focus with no glasses. I work mainly from a tripod. I really enjoy having the viewfinder being bright, clear and in focus and to see the whole viewfinder. I use depth of preview very extensively. This has done the trick for me. If I use the camera with eyeglases my eye has to be very well centered to see the corners. As a drawback, When I take my eye from the viewfinder I have 'Degas vision' with everything being out of focus. I try to remember to have my glasses on a cord so that I can not lose them. Not much good if I forget to bring it along. If I forget it then I put them into my shirt pocket.

    I was taking photos at the downtown Milwaukee post office one summer night after dark. I was using a PC lens on a tripod on sharp gravel from a low viewpoint on my hands and knees. It took me quite a while to find a viewpoint that I liked. When I had finished my photo I found that I had not put my glasses into my pocket. I did not wish to call home for assistance. I did not wish to drive home and to be able to see to drive thru holding the camera to my right eye. I took me better 25 minutes crawling around on my hands and knees using the Braille method to find my glasses by touch whilst being careful that I did not put any weight in the wrong place before finding my glasses. Would you believe that I learned a lesson trom this?
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I think it's hard to not think about Nikon here.

    Nikon has a lot of cameras that have high-eyepoint viewfinders, which are truly a pleasure to use (and the best viewfinders in the industry if you wear glasses). The F3HP comes to mind - very inexpensive these days, and extremely well built. The F4, despite being an autofocus camera, makes a great manual-focus body if you put a focussing screen with focus aids into the camera.

    The only real disadvantages to the F3HP are its strange flash shoe (completely non-standard) and its low x-sync (1/80). If this is an issue you will probably strongly prefer the F4.

    One great thing about Nikon is that autofocus lenses can be used on manual bodies. The manual focus feel of some is not great (but it's usually livable), but on some (particularly the f/2.8 zooms) it's exceptionally good. I use a few AF lenses on manual cameras frequently and don't mind the focus feel at all.

    If the plasticky feel of Canons is really the big issue for you, you might fall in love with the higher-end metal AF bodies in the Nikon line (particularly the F4, F5, F6 and F100).

    Mix and match your bits and build a great system. I love my Nikons.
     
  5. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Have you looked for a diopter correction lens for the OM1? Depending on your prescription this might be a good solution. There are a few on eBay right now in different prescriptions.
     
  6. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I just compared my Nikon FE2 and FG with an OM1. and they all fade a little in the corners of the viewfinder with my glasses on*. I've gotten used to it apparently. But if it bothers you then definitely go for a high eyepoint viewfinder. If a set of Nikon glass is more than you want to invest, you may want to look at the Minolta SRTs, which have high eyepoint viewfinders, are built like bricks, and can be really cheap.
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I should have been more specific. If I use 35mm, it is handheld, with prime lenses and mostly street photography. I tried the diopter route, but I hate constantly removing my glasses. The Leicaflexes are beasts, but if they have a great finder......I could be talked into it!

    Thanks -- Mark
     
  8. DBP

    DBP Member

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    For street photography, hand held, have you considered a rangefinder?
     
  9. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    The old OM series are nice and compact SLRs. Most of the older Nikon SLRs are higher magnification finders than the more modern cameras, at least in the more compact bodies. I think the F4 recommendation is good, though I would suggest you actually pick one up and handle it first. The usual F4 you will find on the used market has a vertical grip, and is quite heavy. Even with the normal grip, it still packs lots of weight, and has a fairly large grip for your right hand.

    An F3 is more compact, and has finders that can be changed without much trouble. There is a somewhat less common sports finder (F4 and F5 also had these), which would be really easy to use. The flash issue can be worked around with a few Nikon items that convert the old shoe style.

    Since you already have Canon, you might want to look into an older Canon F1. The lenses from your EOS won't work, but these are nice system cameras, similar to the Nikon F3.

    Another nice system camera, with nice lenses, is the Pentax LX. This is still relatively compact, and very well made. I still know two professionals who use these for their work, one of whom is in his fifties and wears glasses.

    It seems more like getting away from command dials, and back to regular knobs and controls. Definitely pick up and try out any camera, if you can find a nice example used. You might also want to look into getting a rangefinder camera, though the spending levels are often higher than many older SLRs. A rangefinder can often be a little easier to use for eyeglass wearers, though there is a slight learning curve to getting use to the focusing and framing methods.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  10. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

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    I have a similar problem with the OM1n. I can't see the whole frame with my glasses on and I struggle to focus with them off! So what I now do is set a medium - small aperture and use the DOF scale on the lens (which is reasonable accurate on the Zuiko lenses) I tried autofocus for a while (Canon EOS50E) but foud it didn't always focus on what I wanted it to, whereas I get about a 95% success rate with the manual OM1n. Obviously, wider lenses are better for this technique in my experience.

    Rob
     
  11. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I use an OM-1, it is a great camera. If I could not use it I would go for a Nikon FM3A.
     
  12. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    The high eyepoint Nikons (F3hp, F4, F5 etc) are your best bet if you wear specs (like me). Very bright and easy to see through with dioptre control on the F4 and above.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't usually suggest to anyone equipment that is expensive - like the folks who suggest someone get an ebony camera and a $3,500.00 lens to go with it as a "starter large format kit" ...

    but if you have the $$$$$$$$$ leica RF.

    after shooting nikon and pentax, and now using
    a M3, i don't wanna go back.

    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2006
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  15. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    Have you considered the OM-4? It has built in diopter correction for those who wear specs. I am lucky that I do not need that feature just yet.

    Bill
     
  16. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    They (whomever 'they' are!!!) say that rangefinders are much easier to focus for individuals who have difficulties focusing SLRs.

    FWIW, my eyesight is not bad, but I find my R3A much easier to focus than either of my SLRs without my glasses. I'm actually hunting for a diopter lens for my R3A right now.

    Just my $0.02

    Kent
     
  17. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I'll also recommend the Nikon alternative. I have three F3HPs (kept at different locations) and find this to be a great piece of gear. Everytime I wind the film advance lever a smile comes to my face - it is so "buttery smooth".

    The F3HP can be used in fully manual mode if you prefer - but does also provide for aperture-priority mode for when you don't want to "think" too hard!

    I also have a F5 and although it is auto - the built-in diopter is an attractive feature that may suit your needs.
     
  18. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I think with wearing glasses, it gets harder to see any viewfinder. I have a rubber attachment on the viewfinder of my Nikon FM body to protect my glasses from getting scratched. And that's even worse. I can't see anything.

    But since this camera shows only 80-some percent of the actual frame in the viewfinder, I don't worry too much. Instead, I've learned not to rely on the viewfinder but go with my instinct and intuition for snap shots without framing as precisely.

    So, I preset everything in my hands. I check the light meter once or twice if the light doesn't change drastically. The focusing (distance-reading) isn't so critical since I've gotten so used to using the same 50mm prime lens on this camera.

    And any prime lens shorter than 50mm, I'm usually okay at this point. It's fun and brings me some surprises sometimes.
     
  19. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Some of the older EOS bodies work quite well as manual cameras and don't have complicated interfaces.

    I have an EOS 650 -- the first EOS camera -- and mostly use it with old screwmount (M42) lenses with an adapter. It's fine for that. The interface is simple and, to my mind, fairly ergonomic. Usually I just set the aperture on the lens and let the camera choose the shutter speed.

    The autofocus on it, however, is not good. It's accurate enough if you are careful with it but it takes a very long time to focus and sometimes hunts back and forth. I rarely if ever use it -- I have one EF mount lens and when I use it, I usually focus manually anyway.
     
  20. Shawn Mielke

    Shawn Mielke Member

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    Without blinking I'm going to recommend the Nikon F6 and any of the MF Nikkors and also particularly the up and coming offerings from Zeiss. You want a viewfinder? Here's your viewfinder.
     
  21. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    i agree.
    i sold my electronic mz-s and bought a LX some months ago. very nice camera indeed and good quality. Suburb light meter!
     
  22. haris

    haris Guest

    Mark, I really don't understand problem with EOS. Every EOS camera can be set to manual expoxure, lenses can be set on manual focus mode, and you have all manual camera. You don't have to use complicated interfaces if you don't want. Buy split focus screen for your EOS, set camera and lenses on manual modes, and problem is solved...

    I have EOS 3, and I use it on all manual mode or aperture priority mode. My EF lenses are allways set on manual focus mode. I wear eye glasses. So, you can do the same. Yes, I would love Leica or Zeiss lenses instead my Canon lenses, that is why I would like R6.2 or Aria, but that is because of lenses, not camera body. I can use my Canon body same way (manual) as any other manual camera if I want (Ok, except film winding :smile:)
     
  23. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    The Nikon action finder (also called a sports finder) is designed for those who must shoot while wearing eyeglasses, sunglasses, protective glasses, goggles, or a helmet.

    The action finder is available for the following Nikon SLR bodies that have interchangeable viewfinders:

    F (unnumbered action finder)
    F2 (action finder DA-1)
    F3 (action finder DA-2)
    F4 (action finder DA-20)
    F5 (action finder DA-30)
     
  24. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I am a very happy Canon user, and love the finder on my New F1 - but, I think with specs you may find the same issues with it as with your OM (which is known for having a great finder to start with - so I think that in itself is not an issue, but rather making it work for someone with glasses). In view of this, I have to wiegh in on the side of the F3hp - every time I look through one of these the viewfinder blows me away. Personally, I think it is the best I have ever seen on a 35mm slr, bar none. And I think the hp would put you right in the ball park for getting around the glasses issue and letting you use that gorgeous, 100% finder!
    And yes, that film advance is Rolex smooth, butter feels like scotchbrite by comparison!:D

    Peter.
     
  25. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    I wear glasses and I find the OM1 to have the best viewfinder of all the MF cameras I have tried. I believe the OM viewfinder was one of the first 'high-eyepoint' viewfinders a full 8 years or so before Nikon made their own!

    Hope this helps,

    Lachlan
     
  26. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I would agree with those who sugesst puting diopra correction in your OM-1 viewfinder. Failing that, both the OM-3 and 4 have dial in correction.

    David.