Looking for a small camera with manual controls

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Hyun, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. Hyun

    Hyun Member

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    Hello all, my first post here on APUG. I'm Hyun. I hail from sunny California.

    Photography is a hobby for me, and I shoot mainly for my own fun and for friends and family. I primarily shoot DSLRs, but still enjoy shooting film from time to time. Mainly Reala 100, Superia 400, and Ilford XP2 Super 400, but lately some real B&W film as well.

    Right now my main film body is Canon Elan 7N. I am looking for a small (smaller the better) camera that has manual control over aperture and shutter speeds. I have the Olympus Stylus Epic, which is a great little camera, but is fully automatic. I'd like something that I can pocket (like the Stylus Epic) and carry around with me.

    One criteria is that I'd really like whichever camera I get to be readily available from some place like KEH, Adorama, or B&H used departments. I don't have enough familiarity nor knowledge of film cameras, especially the older models, to be confident of buying on eBay or Craigslist.

    Thanks for reading so far and any help you can give. I just found a link to APUG from Fred Miranda's website today and am very happy to find such an active group of film shooters.
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    How about a canonet or such.
     
  3. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Consider a Rollei 35 in one of its incarnations, such as Rollei 35TE or 35SE.

    Great lenses. Very small size. Quirky ergonomics.
     
  4. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Definitely go with a Canonet. The GIII 17 is a great camera!
     
  5. rpsawin

    rpsawin Member

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  6. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Hyun,
    Depends upon the size of your pockets--in both the actual sense and in as cash-wize. The Rollei 35 comes to mind; but I never found it to be comfortable in my pocket. Probably the Leica CLs would be about the same. A predecessor of your Stylus is the Oly XA. Automatic, yes, but with shutter speed control via the aperture setting; and definitely pocketable. Other Apugers shall have info on more modern cameras. I am a dinosaur when it comes to camera acquisition. At this juncture I do not own a camera of the type you mention but am always looking to acquire cameras i do not need: aka G.A.S. I thought I had one when I bought a Kodak Signet 35. I love the sharpness of it's 44 mm Ektar lens, but its design is a fine example of what ye oldene engineers could concoct on a drawing board, whilst damning to perdition the concept of ergonomics.
     
  7. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    The aforementioned Rollei 35

    or

    one of the following Kodak Retinas (all meterless compact folders with excellent lenses):
    Retina I (No rangefinder, Schneider Xenar lens)
    Retina I and IIa (especially the Schneider Xenon lens is outstanding).
     
  8. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    Pentax MX.
     
  9. elekm

    elekm Member

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    -- The prewar Kodak Retinas are small and manual controls. Downside: Might need to be serviced.

    -- Then there is the Olympus 35 RC -- a smaller rangefinder with manual controls.

    -- The Kodak Signet 35 is small but might not be what you want.

    -- Again, the Rollei 35, 35T or 35S ... all are great cameras.

    -- The Olympus OM-1, OM-2 and the Pentax MX (in SLRs)

    -- A postwar Taxona (although it shoots square 24x24)

    -- The Olympus Pen F/FT (half-frame)

    -- Welti 35mm rangefinder

    -- Braun Paxette rangefinder

    -- Agfa Parat-I (half-frame zone focus)

    -- Agfa Super Solinette (nice little folding rangefinder camera)

    -- Voigtlander Vito, Vito II and Vito IIa (folding zone focus cameras)

    -- Voigtlander Vito B (zone focus), Vitomatic IIb (rangefinder)

    -- Zeiss Ikon folding Ikonta (zone focus), Contina (uncoupled rangefinder) and Contessa (coupled rangefinder and meter)

    ... these are the ones that come to mind
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Have to second Mike's suggestion a Pentax MX.

    Ian
     
  11. HelenOster

    HelenOster Member

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    Message from Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    If you'd like to contact me directly, I would be happy to put you in touch with Joel in the Adorama used department, who could talk through possible options with you.
    Our return policy is as follows: if you are dissatisfied with your purchase, you may return it within 14 days of receipt for an exchange or refund.
    You are also covered for 90 days from receipt of an item, to return it for repair if required.

    I hope this helps.

    Sincerely

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    helen.oster@adoramacamera.com
    www.adorama.com
     
  12. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    SLR or RF or P&S? Do you have any preference in style?

    Okay, for P&S, there's not much to choose from when it comes down to the manual control, but I would say, Contax T3 or Ricoh GR1. But since you have Oly Stylus, which is a pretty decent and useful camera, maybe you don't need another P&S.

    For SLR, you say you have Canon Elan. I don't know what kind of lens you have for it, but you might wanna try a smaller fixed focus length lens first and see if you're happy with the size and the weight with the camera.

    For RF, I agree with others here that something like Canonet GIII is a good idea.
     
  13. Silverhead

    Silverhead Member

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    I know this is a bit big to meet your criteria, but I just have to give a shout out to the venerable Pentax Spotmatic. A great series of small SLRs--just slightly larger than a Leica--with some great lenses to boot. A little big for your pocket but still a viable option as a smaller alternative to today's SLRs.
     
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  15. Hyun

    Hyun Member

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    Thank you for all the replies!

    Thank you for all the replies so far. I'm looking for something definitely smaller than a SLR, so the Olympus OMs and Pentax MX seem to be out (they're SLRs, right?). I think a small rangefinder with a fixed lens is what would work for me; maybe the aforementioned Canonet or Rollei 35.

    One thing that's come up in my research so far is that a lot of older rangefinder cameras use mercury batteries that are no longer available. Are there replacement, readily-available batteries for those?

    Thank you again, all.
     
  16. unohuu

    unohuu Member

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    The Olympus XA fits your bill and will definitely fit into a pocket.
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    See this site. Lots of good tips.
     
  18. Hyun

    Hyun Member

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    Thanks very much, Keith!
     
  19. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Lots of work-arounds for the non-existent mercury batteries. Zinc-air batteries or Schottke diodes work for me.

    Would you consider a half-frame camera?
     
  20. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    Yashica Electro 35 GSN or MG-1. For battery a Duracell PX28A with a cardboard for fit and a little spring for reach. You should also consider the Ricoh GX-500 (especially small with a 40mm 2.8 lens sharp as a tack)
     
  21. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The OP wanted a compact, pocketable camera.
    Canonet Glll, Olympus 35RC or SP will all be larger than the Stylus but are the three best options.
    These will be slightly heavier than the Stylus. Life's a compromise ain't it?
     
  22. spark

    spark Subscriber

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    Olympus XA is a good model, uses modern batteries but is aperture priority automatic. A 35 RC or 35 RD do full manual. But you will need to have the camera serviced (to fix the infamous sticky shutter) and re-calibrated for modern batteries. Minolta Hi-matic series had some good small cameras too. Remember that almost any 1970's or 80's Japanese camera will need new light seals.
     
  23. andrewc

    andrewc Member

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    The Canonet QL17-GIII is a superb camera but I'm an even bigger fan of the Olympus 35RC. It doesn't suffer from the oily shutter problem of the 35RD because its shutter assembly is different, and it's very compact. Do a little research on it and you'll see why it has such a devoted following.
     
  24. Hyun

    Hyun Member

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    Thanks very much, everyone, for the replies and suggestions. I've got some research to do, but thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
     
  25. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I would handle a Barnack Leica (or copy, e.g. Canon) while you are making this decision. They are not that expensive, are very small for the amount of quality they pack, and give you many options for lenses. (I can name five great 50mms off the top of my head: Elmar f/3.5, Summar f/2.0, Summitar f/2.0, Summicron f/2.0, and Serenar f/1.8, none of which are pricey.) Usually a IIIa or IIIc with a Summar or Summitar in superb shape will go for under $300. I got my IIIc with Summitar for $225, and it was near pristine. If you don't need '1000 or the slow speeds, they are even cheaper. Get one with a lens. Lenses can go for stupid amounts without a body attached.

    If you don't want a camera that "good", I would consider a Rollei 35 if you can deal with scale/zone focusing. A Canonet is great too, though I think people usually ask too much for them. The Yashica Electro 35 is great, cheap as dirt, and weighs nothing, but is larger; definitely a more "normal-size" camera, and only offers full manual via tweaking of the ISO. In any case, you have no indication of what the [stepless] shutter speed is unless you set it on flash synch, which is '30 fixed, so I would say that this one is out. The XA has the same problem, if holding strictly to your requirement for a manual exposure camera (though at least the XA tells you the shutter speed).

    Then there is the Minox! heh heh. We have a gorgeous one in at work, with the case, box, instructions, and flash.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2009
  26. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    For the cameras that take mercury batteries, google CRIS battery adapters. They are more expensive than the Schotkey diode approach, but they do work and are really easy to deal with. Based on your comments, I'd consider either the Olympus XA or the Olympus RC. As mentioned before, the XA takes modern batteries and is around the size of the Stylus. It has a fairly difficult to focus rangefinder. I consider mine a zone focus camera like the Rollei. The RC feels more like a "real" rangefinder camera and is smaller than the other 70's era rangefinder cameras. You will need to deal with the mercury battery situation, though. John Hermanson is a great repair person for the Olympus cameras if you ever need it. He does battery conversions as part of a CLA.