Sleeper 35mm cameras - good and cheap

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by jordanstarr, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I haven't had a lot of time to experiment with different cameras and compare results, so I'm wondering if anyone out there has opinions on good, cheap cameras that arn't super mainstream because there's no way to convert them to digital. I ask because I'd like to take on some risky assignments that might end up with my camera broken or stolen and I don't want to use my Nikon or Contax cameras.

    I was looking at something like a Mamiya NC1000 or an old Pentax Spotmatic with the bayonet thread. They could also be Rangefinders. I would even entertain some Medium Format selections as well if you know of any.

    ...thanks in advance
    ...Jordan.
     
  2. zumbido

    zumbido Member

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    Dozens of old SLRs and rangefinders (both fixed lens and interchangeable) can be had for peanuts. Impossible to make a recommendation without criteria other than "cheap and good".
     
  3. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Pentax Spotmatics, Rolleiflex 35mm SLRs, Soviet rangefinders (and even SLRs), Prakticas, various no-name M42 & K-mount SLRs (made by Cosina, Chinon, ect..), Mamiya SLRs....

    All have good sides and caveats. A lot depends on the lenses you want to use.

    Personally, my Spotmatic or Soviet rangefinders are my "suicide cameras".
     
  4. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I don't have a set criteria really. I'd like a 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lens for sure and probably a good tele-portrait lens too. I'd like it for under $200, but with a 24mm lens, that might be pushing it. This would be ideal, but not restricted to that criteria. What I'm looking for in this thread is something like: "Hey Jordan, I shoot with a ________ and I find it to be as good as my Nikon, but for peanuts". Then, I could do some research and see what works best for me. I know there's a lot out there, but I'm looking for people with specific experiences or knowledge about the quality of the images they produce because I don't have money to buy 5 different systems, test and get down to one system. My criteria is lenses that produce great results, but go unnoticed do to the demand of digital or are just not popular. They also have to be under my price range or I'd just chance it and go shoot with my Nikon.
     
  5. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I like the term suicide cameras...that's what I'm looking for. A camera I can beat or throw at someone with if they try to jump me in a sketchy area -ha!. But it would have to give me good results too.
     
  6. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    The Argus C-3 comes to mind. Capable picture-taking RF, but with really sharp edges and corners if used as a weapon. (grin)
     
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  7. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    O.K. M42 Killer lenses:

    Tokina/Vivitar 17mm f/3.5, Zeiss Jena 20mm f/4.0, Zeiss Jena 25mm f/4.0, Sigma 24mm (reputation, not tried personally), Tamron 24mm (reputation, not tried personally), Pentax 35mm f/3.5, Pentax 35mm f/2.0 (reputation, not tried personally), Zeiss Jena 35mm (both 2.8 & 2.4), Schneider Curtagon 35mm f/2.8, most 50mm (the Pentax ones are excellent, but so are most others), Schacht Ulm 90mm... and many others.

    All of these are close to (or better than) what most "modern miracles" will deliver and are mostly cheap.
     
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  8. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    If you just want a camera to use for a one-time project, you almost cant loose with a japanese SLR.
    As long as you find one in working condition.

    The second question is what lenses do you need for this project?
    If you just need a normal, basic wide, or basic zoom lens, again you almost cant go wrong.
    Most of the name-brand lenses and even the aftermarket lenses are adequate.

    Most of the talk you hear on this board and others comes from hair-splitters who talk about distortion, chromatic aberation, and mtf charts. This means didly for 99% of the shots.

    My recomendation: since you allready have some nikon equipment, get a basic nikon like the FE or a Nikkormat. (then you can use the excellent non-ai lenses). or even a Nikon EM or FG with the series E lenses.

    Other inexpensive alternatives: Canon AE1 or FT/FTb, Olympus OM1, Spotmatics, pentax ME, Ricoh, Fuji, or Mamiyas.
    Like I said, it really depends on finding something that works.

    Other alternatives are compact Af models like the Olympus Stylus, pentax iqzoom, minolta freedom, etc.
    You can get 2 or 3 for the price of an SLR.
     
  9. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Pentax Spotmatic would be my first option, if you don't need to switch lenses very fast or find using a microprism spot annoying. The M42 lenses for the Spotmatics are very good. The off-brand lenses for M42 are mostly cheap and cheerful. If you want to stay with Nikon, I think the EM, FG or FG20 might be good options for suicide missions in unknown territory. The various off-brand K mount cameras could be another option, as would a Pentax K1000 (same specs as the Spotmatic but with a K mount).
     
  10. Cainquixote

    Cainquixote Member

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    Chinon, Ricoh, made k-mount slrs that are uber cheap on the evil bay.
    Kalimar imported the seagulls with a minolta md mount for awhile.
    Vivitar had a few cosina made bodies in m42 and k mount.

    Fujicas are going for next to nothing.

    For more modern gear don't shy away from minolta, canon, or nikon.

    I picked up a 700si for 30 usd.

    My mint f100 from keh was under 125 usd.

    There was another recent thread where someone got a n90 for under 40.

    Suicide camera is an awesome adjective
     
  11. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Edit: I have a nikon Fg that i really like. I have a 135mm series E lens, a 50mm f1.8 ai, and a 24mm tokina lens. Definately paid less than $200 for the whole kit.

    Actually at the $200 range, you would not have to compromise on quality and could easily get a kit. i would reccomend a 28, 50 (f1.7 or slower), and 135 to be the cheapest set of lenses. Or a basic zoom instead of the 135.

    24mm may be harder to find a name-brand lens, but tokina, tamron, sigma, kiron, and some vivitars are good quality. 24mm isnt hard to build.
     
  12. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    You name it; you can have it. SLR's have never been so cheap.
     
  13. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Cain has a good point. Plastic AF SLRs are dirt cheap these days. I have a nikon N75 that I bought new and has served me well for 5 years. Canon rebels, various nikons, minoltas, and especially pentax AF SLRs are at rock bottom prices.
    Get a 24-105mm zoom and you are set.
     
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  15. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I have a Nikon N8008s that is fantastic; Matrix Metering and all. I don't think it costs more than 20 bucks to find one.
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    How about a Pentax 24-50 f/4 A lens, plus a body in KEH BGN condition like a K1000 or ME Super, or for full automation, P3n or Super Program. Or one of their later plastic fantastics. KEH has EX condition 24-50's for as little as $119. It's a very nice lens, both optically and mechanically.
    Or a Pentax 24-35 f/3.5 and a 50 f/2. For a longer lens, KEH has BGN grade Pentax 80-200 f/4.5 lenses for $16 and up. I have the 24-35, 50 f/2 and 80-200 and they are all very good.

    The N8008s/F801s is very good, and very inexpensive. A third party zoom lens of 24 to 105 or something should still keep you under $200.

    If you want fixed focal length lenses you'll have to look at third party to stay under $200, IMO.
     
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  17. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Since you may be using it as a weapon , find a camera with very sturdy strap lugs and a well made camera strap. I once found myself in such a situation and almost had to use my Hasselblad --- fortunately for both me and the assailant the incident was avoided.
     
  18. zumbido

    zumbido Member

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    Depending on (again) what the rest of your requirements are--what *kind* of shooting you'll be doing--I'd either second the suggestion of an off-brand M42 or K-mount SLR (plentiful cheap glass available everywhere in the world), or something like a FED-3 (M39 lenses of all kinds are likewise easy to find, and if you're shooting mostly wide this will make for a smaller, lighter, simpler-in-construction kit).

    If changing lenses is going to be impractical, then screw it and get a cheap plastic SLR with a zoom lens like others have said--people are essentially giving them away for free.
     
  19. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Just about any of the SLR's that accept m42 mount lenses. Invest in the glass, and spring for a ton of really cheap bodies to play with. Ocasionally, you find a body that you wont part with "for love nor money". I'm pretty partial to the Olympus FTL, my first slr, and would dearly love to find another.

    rick
     
  20. elekm

    elekm Member

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    For $200, it pretty much covers every camera ever made, except for Alpa, Leica, the Zeiss Ikon Contarex and a few others.

    I like the Minolta XD11/SRT 202, the Pentax MX, LX and K1000, the Rollei SL 35/M/E, the Nikon/Nikkormat F2A/FE/FM/EL2/FT3, nothing from Canon, the Yashica/Kyocera Contax SLRs, don't care for the Konicas (although I own one), the Vivitar Cosina-made M42 and K-mount cameras, Pentacon, the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex I/II, Kodak Retina IV, Olympus OM1/OM2 (never tried the OM3/OM4). And I'm sure there are hundreds (literally, hundreds) more cameras that fit your criteria.

    I think you have to see if they feel good in your hands. If you hate how they feel, then you automatically start off not enjoying it.
     
  21. GeorgeDexter

    GeorgeDexter Member

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    Hey Jordan, you're right, it's hard to put a 24mm lens into that mix and have it come in under $200. The problem with many systems like Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Minolta (Maxxum), even M42, is that the lenses can be used on digitals (though some only with adapters). This keeps the prices higher. Look for a system that can't be used on digital, and maybe one that was never common.

    The Russian cameras come to mind, but there's actually a fair trade in the M42 russian lenses, and I've heard less than flattering things about the reliability of the cameras. Canon FD and Minolta MD might be options, especially if you'd be willing to settle for an off-brand 24mm, like a Vivitar or Tokina. Some of them are still quite good. Another one is Konica. Their lenses were supposed to be exeptional, though I've never shot with one. I expect they'd be pretty cheap. Try the Autoreflex T3 -- it certainly could be used as a weapon. I work for a camera store that sells used equipment. I think we could put a kit together for you. PM me if you're interested.
     
  22. getalifeagain

    getalifeagain Member

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    A Leica iiic could be had for $200. And it is the best (if you learn to load it)>
     
  23. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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    Well, I just purchased a N90s from KEH for $29, $38.95 with shipping. It was listed as a BGN. I received it today and it is pretty much in immaculate shape. Still have the same listing I ordered from, so they must have some more. Don't know how much more of a suicide price you're after.

    http://www.keh.com/Product-Details/1/NA0299900229106/NA02/FE.aspx
     
  24. unclemack

    unclemack Member

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    Nikon F3/MD4 has the best grip for both shooting and clubbing your victims - accept no substitute...
     
  25. Nikon Collector

    Nikon Collector Member

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    mamya nc1000s

    One of the best cameras I ever owned. Sold it cause I had to mail order lenses instead of picking them up at the local foto store. I also own several Ricohs and IMO they are the best kept secret in used equipment, For a few dollars you can get a totally manual XR1 to a XRP with shutter weighted program, aperture weighted program, normal program, aperture priority, or full manual. It also has a built in intervalometer.
     
  26. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    nonsense! there are quite a few 24mm lenses sold on ebay for under $100. That includes nikkors, canon fds, and minoltas. Olympus and Pentax tend to go for a bit more. Alternative manfacturers are seen for under $50 sometimes.