Olympus OM, Canon FD, or Nikon for low-light

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm not too sure what qualifies for low light but I'm talking about shutter speeds of 1/30-1/60s with a 35mm/f2 lens.

    I want an auto exposure camera that is somewhat suitable for this. I have manual exposure RF's that I love but I want something a bit faster. I know that slow shutter speeds is generally rangefinder domain, but I can't find any inexpensive RF's that I'm 100% happy with.

    I'm thinking Olympus OM2n, Canon F1N/A1, or Nikon F3/FE because the bodies/lenses are readily available and mostly affordable.

    I'm wondering if their is a noticeable difference in focusing screens and mirror damping. Maybe the difference is very slight, I don't know, but I thought I'd ask anyways incase someone else looked into this. As of now, it's really a tossup as they all have their own pros/cons and cult followings.

    My priorities:
    -Auto-expsoure (Aperture, Shutter, or both)
    -Good/Decent 35mm/f2 lens
    -Good viewfinder & focusing screen
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Those speeds are very achievable with most any body and 35mm lens, as your are shooting at the reciprocal of the focal length, or 1 over the focal length, which is 1/35.

    Out of the 3 you mentioned, the 35mm F2 on Olympus and on Canon FD, are pretty pricey. some of the FD 35mm F2 lenses are radioactive too. The concave version is all the rage.

    Nikkor 35mm F2's are very affordable and plentiful. The F3 body if heavier than the others, and may help with steadiness, but that mirror sure has a nice "Thunk" slap that may affect pictures at slower speeds (1/15. 1/8th and so on).
     
  3. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    All three camera systems you mention will do the job. This really is a situation where you're should "test drive" each camera before deciding on what to buy. Each system has their own strengths and weaknesses that are hard to describe in a camera forum.

    As for lenses, again, all the 35mm F2.0 lenses you mention are good. Nikon did offer a 35mm F1.4 lens, if you really need to the extra speed.

    Jim B.
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    All of the cameras you mention are great. I'm more famlier with the Canon FD system. You might look up KEH for decent pricing.

    Jeff
     
  5. warejn

    warejn Member

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    I have been around all of them off and on. I still have an F3 that I use. I prefer the F3. there are a lot of lenses out there and they are a little easier to find than the FD or OM lenses because of the amount of photojournalists that used them for years.
     
  6. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    I use a few F3s with various 35mm lenses for a lot of my work. Mirror slap is a non-issue, the bodies are very, very, good (my F3/T is favorite manual-wind SLR, period), and the 35/2 lens in any permutation is hard to go wrong with. I use a 35/1.4 Ai-S most of the time now, but I spent a great deal of time using an old Nikkor 35/2, and for a time a FSU Mir 24H 35/2 in F-mount.

    I can't recommend the combination highly enough.
     
  7. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    heres my thoughts on the cameras mentioned:

    OM2: smallest , quiet. People rave about the viewfinder but its not all that. Very nice exposure compenastion dial. slow speeds down to 2 minutes if you are into that sort of thing.
    -olympus lenses can be hard to find and not any cheaper than nikon. However the 35mm f2 is less expensive than the other OM f2 lenses. There are no bad reviews of it, but people just dont seem to lust after it.

    canon A1: small size, nice led readouts in viewfinder and easy control of shutter speed or sperture. Camera prone to squeaky shutter. A generally reliable camera but compared to others lists more prone to electronic problems.
    canon F1N: medium size, solid, big bright viewfinder, aperture priority but dos not show aperture in viewfinder when in automatic. shutter priority only with motor drive attached.
    FD lenses: good bargain. The 35mm f2 concave is excellent and still fairly low priced. Other FD lenses are plentiful and inexpensive. Also have the L series to choose from if you have the money.

    Nikon F3. medium size, solid., big bright viewfinder. aperture and shutter visible in the finder but can be dim in low light. the shutter and advance sound a but clunky but that is not a indication of poor quality.
    Nikon FE. somewhat small, very sexy, viewfinder window is round so can be harder to see corners. Nice electronic shutter. can use older non-ai lenses as well as ai. needle for shutter and peep window for aperture.
    nikon lenses: plentiful still good priced. often well-used by professionals but dont let that discourage you. as long as the glass is good and the mount is not damaged. mint examples can sell for quite a bit more. i dont know much about the 35mm f2 but you really cant go wrong with nikon.
     
  8. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The Nikkor O 35 f2 is a pretty nice lens, well behaved but needs a hood to cut down on ghosting. I'm talking about the pre AI version here, the later multicoated versions are better.
     
  9. fstop

    fstop Member

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    You want a Minolta XD-11. LED display is readable in pitch black. Bright finder.Aperture priority, shutter priority and metered manual.Very quiet.

    Other wise an F3.

    I have all the top of line manual focus bodies from both Minolta and Nikon, my main stays are the F3,FA, XD-11 and XK.

    If mirror lock up is needed I use my XK w/AES finder.
     
  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Regarding just the bodies and Auto feature:
    Olympus Om2n manual and aperture priority
    Canon f1N manual and aperture priority
    Canon A1 Aperture, Shutter and Program auto modes but manual does not have a match needle/arrow system in the viewfinder.
    Nikon F3 manual and aperture priority.
    Minolta XD11 aperture,shutter priority and manual with metering for manual in the viewfinder
     
  11. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    When I need an auto-exposure 35mm SLR body for low-light shooting, I use the Nikon F4.

    Not only does the F4 give me the option of using aperture, shutter, program, or manual exposure modes, it also gives me the option of using auto focus or manual focus modes.

    The standard viewfinder works well under dimly lit situation because it has a light that illuminates the viewfinder information.

    I also love being able to remove the viewfinder and/or focusing screen and replace them with whatever I need for low-light shooting.

    I have two fast 35mm lenses for low-light shooting: an f/2 and an f/1.4. Unless I am shooting in a hostile environment, the f/1.4 is my first choice.


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/5219143020/
     

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  12. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Using a spot meter, I setup a scene @1/30 & f2 on a gray card and cannot find a camera lens combination that I cannot manually meter - no LED/LCD needed. It seems to me this is a fairly "bright" scene.

    Given this, it seems to me any camera with the AE you're looking for will fill the bill. In your list only the A-1 has aperture and shutter AE as none of the others you listed have shutter priority. You can add Canon AE-1P, Minolta XD-11, Nikon FA, Pentax Super Program as having the AE you want. The last two also have TTL flash if that is important. All of these have at the very least a decent 35mm f2 lens.
     
  13. sangetsu

    sangetsu Member

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    I have several cameras from all three systems. The OM is the smallest, and the Olympus lenses are great, but in my experience, the Olympus 35/2 is only a fair performer. Of the two examples I had, one was okay, the other was simply bad.

    For FD cameras, I have a few F1, A1, AE-1, and FTb bodies. I prefer the old F1, but all of the bodies work well. I prefer the size and smoothness of the Olympus bodies to the Canons. But the Canon 35/2 (concave) is superb, and is my favorite 35mm lens. I have a military issue F1n which came with a 35/2 concave, and I can't say enough good about it.

    I have many Nikons, ranging from the old F1/2/3, FM/FE/FM3A, etc. The best all-round camera is the FE. The Nikon 35/2 lens is good, if not great. The FE is compact, smooth, easy to use, and meters to perfection. It is also among the easiest to find and least expensive. It's much better than the Canon AE-1, and head to head with the Olympus OM, but the FE has a better shutter speed range.
     
  14. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    I like the Nikon FM2N's LED read out. The only con with regards to the FM2N, is the somewhat poor eye relief for eye glass wearers. I can't see both the LED exposure readout, and aperture. But that's not really an issue once you've become used handling the camera. I pretty much could remember what aperture I was, and only had to look at the LEDs for proper exposure.

    I think the OM2n is a fantastic lowlight camera. No LED readout, but it's OTF metering allowed for wonderfully exposed pictures. It's light, handles great and I love the smooth and relatively quiet shutter release.

    Neither of these cameras is better than the other at lowlight. Both are so good that it just comes down to your technique.
     
  15. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    Yeah. I don't really know which one to get but since my requirements are low (no digital compatibility, motor drives, af, etc.) I'm probably going to pick one randomly. I've tinkered with a few at a store but I don't think you can really get a feel for a camera until you own/use it. It would probably be easier for me to just pick one, use one, and make it work or sell it if I just can't.

    Too many pros/cons.
    Canon's have tough-looking bodies (F-1!) and the cheapest glass system wide.
    Olympus has the sexiest bodies and ergonomics that (I think) will work best with moderate-priced glass (some cheap and others expensive).
    Nikon seems to be the best compromise: tough-looking F series and the more petite FM/FE with expensive Ai/Ais and cheap(er) non-Ai.

    I like the feel of big bodies but I also like the portability of small. Some days I think Nikon other days I think Canon and other days I think Olympus and other days I say screw it! haha.

    I'm going to think about this a little more, buy one then become a Nikon/Canon/Olympus zealot.
     
  16. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    Have you thought about a non-slr? Many have brighter and larger viewfinders than an slr. They can have excellent lenses, as good as the 3 companies you mention while the complete price for camera and lens is less than just the slr lens. Also, many will have the same level of automation and metering as you may want and shutters usually are quieter than an slr's overall noise level b/c there is no mirror involved. Some have interchangable lenses while others have acc'y aux. tele and wide angle lenses.

    Just something to consider. Many decent non-slrs are showing up in the thrift store $5 bin box as they are not big slrs and many employees will not know the difference between a Yasmine plastic fixed lens camera and a Minolta CLE. I've been at the local on some days where there were more than a dozen very decent rangefinders from Canon, Konica, Olympus and Nikon for $5 each but, as I am not a collector/collecto/hoarder I just pass - probably stupidly.
     
  17. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Probably the best 35mm f/2.0 out there is Leica (or maybe now Zeiss). The Nikkor 35 2.0 is quite good, but the leica has over a stop quality advantage (the Nikkor needs to be closed past f/2.8 to equal the Leica at 2.0) and *much* better flare behaviour.

    Since you also want electronic and cheap, a Leica R4 *could* fit your bill: not the best possible Leica viewfinder there is, but still better than an F3 (and possibly your other candidates). Basically a good camera, only the shutter lag is longer than ideal.
    If price is no object, look at a Leica R8 or R9.
    If you can skip AE, a Leicaflex SL will give you arguably the best viewfinder ever and an extremely well-dampened shutter & mirror.
     
  18. Trasselblad

    Trasselblad Member

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    Why hasn't anyone suggested an OM-4Ti/T body? Much better metering than the OM-2 and spot metering as well, whilst same minimalistic form-factor, yet still the same OM mount. This weekend I was using my OM-4Ti in minus 17C no probs. I was, incidently, using the 35/F2.0, which I love especially in close-ups.
     
  19. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Look at newer cameras, too. I have a Nikon N8008s which has a bright, clear and contrasty viewfinder, and I've been impressed by the low level of mirror slap. I got it from KEH in either BGN or UG condition (I don't remember) for 16 US dollars. The spot metering is useful for selectively metering in low light, and it has center-weighted and matrix also. I don't really use AF, and have only one AF lens- the 50 1.8. But I was impressed with its speed and accuracy for something so old, even in dim light if it could find some contrast. I understand the "s" has a much improved AF performance over the original N8008.
    One in really nice shape should be well under $100.

    The N90 is newer, very popular, and still sells for peanuts.
     
  20. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Whatsamatter, too good to be an Olympus/Pentax/Konica/Nikon/Canon/Minolta zealot!

    [​IMG]

    I agree, there first one is just the icebreaker . . . :whistling:
     
  21. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    The smoothness and quietness of the OM shutter/mirror are well known. I have taken many shots in the 28mm-35mm F/L at 1/4 - 1/15 second. If you need longer exposure, the OTF metering produces excellent results up to 2 minutes.