The right equipment for me?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Geomax, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Geomax

    Geomax Member

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    Hello fellow photographers,

    As I mentioned in my introduction, I am in the process of getting back into film photography after a few years of draught. I do not have any cameras anymore and am looking to build myself a system that will accompany me through the years. That is why I want to choose carefully!

    Younger I went through a few models, liking some and disliking others, so I have a rough idea of what could do the job, but I am seeking the advice of more competent people in the domain. I would like to know if the ideas of equipment I have in mind suit my style and needs.

    First of all, I am planning to set up a darkroom in my flat as from next summer and already have an enlarger (a Durst) but am limited to 35mm, so that rules out medium format.

    Being a mountain climber, I generally take my camera with me and shoot landscapes and “action shots”: which are either my partners climbing below me as they arrive up to my level or portraits at the base camp/summit. I also tend to throw a camera in my backpack on my travels and shoot whatever captures my eye. However I tend to like taking my time for my shots, and rarely do street photography (sometimes I see some nice shots but just don’t dare point my camera at the people). So I’m not a “shoot anything from the hip” kind of photographer. Finally I also enjoy walking around a place I know and rediscover it with a new eye, just for the pleasure of taking photos.

    This brings us to the gear, there are two cameras I liked using in the past: the Nikon f3 and the Rollei 35S. What I like about the Rollei is that it is small (that is what I would take climbing, also useful in the street to take pictures unnoticed) and produces nice quality pictures. I liked the feel of the f3, but it is another camera altogether size wise and in its functionalities. I was wondering if the combination of the two would be a good base to start from: I could have a roll of color slide in one and B&W in the other without it taking up too much room. The Nikon could come in for portraits I imagine or when I want a different lens from my classic 50mm.

    What do you think of that combination for what I tend to shoot? I am wondering if I really need the functionalities of a SLR or if I could go maybe with a rangefinder camera like a Leica III or a more modern Bessa R, smaller though several lenses possible…

    Max,
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Sure, that sounds like a decent combination for what you want to do. I've never really gone for a lightweight camera but used an F3 for the majority of my 35mm photography. Although I've never mountain climbed like you are describing, I'd be oriented toward usign the F3 in that situation also.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... but for the Rollei 35 don't you need to work an alterative for the battery? I seem to recall that it used one of hte mercury 1.35v batteries. If so, there are several alternatives - some cheap, others more expensive but maybe better.
     
  4. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I don't know anything about the Rollei but I definitely think the F3 is a great choice for climbing, since it's so well built. In fact I have a friend who is an avid climber and that was his camera of choice for many years (until he switched to autofocus). And of course you can use almost any Nikon lens you want on that particular model.
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I would suggest the F100. It is a sort of F5 "Lite"- much less of a beast but almost equally packed with helpful features. The metering is exceptional, and it's just as much fun for manual lenses as for AF. With the vertical grip, I expect that the F100 would make a very nice climbing companion. Plus it's so light you could probably pack two and not notice. The only slight drawback I see of the F100 is the lack of WLF, which might be handy in some climbing situations, I suppose.

    If you are up to considering medium format, let me suggest the Mamiya 6, a collapsible 6x6 rangefinder with a huge VF and three stellar lenses. I think you would like the ergonomics (which should remind you vaguely of the Nikon F) while also enjoying the much larger frame. The 'multiformat' 6MF version allows use of 35mm film too, with an adapter. The Mamiya 7 and 7ii are 6x7 versions, without the collapsible lens mount... but some additional lenses in the family and a few other bells and whistles.
     
  6. Geomax

    Geomax Member

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    Thank you for your answers!

    I am sure it is a great camera to use on moderate climbs or hikes, the advantage of that little Rollei is that it fits in the pocket on the belt strap of my rucksack, so I can pull it out and take a photo in a flash! Plus if I recall correctly the shutter is mechanical and the battery only used to power the lightmeter.

    I never owned a "sophisticated camera", all the ones I used were older models. I like the easiness of meter, shutter speed, aperture and fire! The good thing with the f3 is the mechanical shutter if the battery goes dead (if it gets cold in the winter, [but then how many times will I pull the camera out in those conditions?]). That is why I was considering the Fm2 also.

    I don't think that Mamiya would bring me any advantage yet as I am looking for 35mm and the prices observed seem much higher than the other cameras.

    To talk about the rangefinders with changeable lenses: would there be any advantage considering one over either camera - them being maybe more compact? Maybe less solid?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2012
  7. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    I'd suggest an FM2 vs. an F3. Not that the F3 isn't fantastic, but it's quite a bit heavier then an FM2 and since you're planning on hiking around with it, every little bit helps.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Ah okay, yeah, I would recommend the fm2n, I love it. An fm3a might be worth a look, though they are pricey. But then if you really liked the F3 then get an F3, why not....

    An RF might be good if your interests tend to wide angles and you are more interested in precise timing than precise framing. Some people go nuts with RFs and love them (I do), others never quite feel comfortable with them. You just have to try and see. One of my favorite RFs right now is a bessa T with a 21mm voigtlander lens and external VF. Lots of fun.
     
  9. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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  10. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    "film photography"? is there another type I don't know about?
     
  11. Geomax

    Geomax Member

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    Na nothing worthwhile! :cool:
     
  12. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    My vote if you want small, yet sophisticated is the Nikon FA+45mm pancake.
     
  13. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    If you are wanting a good mechanical camera that is compact and easy to use and also rugged enough to grab and go to out of the way places I would suggest the Olympus OM series of cameras especially the OM-1/1n. Small, light weight and rugged enough for whatever you throw at it. I've got an OM-1 and it is a great little camer with terrific lenses. When I put my OM-1 100/2 next to my F3 105/2,8 you can tell the difference, the 105 by its self is a monster lens.

    When I was much younger I used to hike/camp in the Olympia mountain range and I even spent a few summers in Alaska and the camera I used then was a Minolta srT-101 with a 50/1,7 and that proved to be a rugged little camera as well.
     
  14. MFstooges

    MFstooges Member

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    If you like F3 but it feels to heavy for climbing then get a lighter manual camera, no not FE2 or FM2 they're still too heavy, get FM10. Most of the body parts are plastic but it is tough enough for the job. I had it once and I literally throw it in to my backpack before I go hiking and the backpack also get thrown here and there during hiking. I didn't care that it is not really made by Nikon cause it does take Nikon's best lenses and that's what important to me.
     
  15. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    A summary of likely answers:
    1) get what I have, as only that will take decent pictures.
    2) get what wins all the popularity contests and (past) sales figures (strangely, d*g*t*l not allowed)
    3) get a camera which will hammer nails, can be used as a weapon and will attract notice because of it huge white lenses
    4) get a camera with as many "features" as possible: you never know when that 1364th nose-activated reenforced Plutonium AF sensor will win you a prize-winning picture. Also, shooting at 10 FPS is almost as good as watching a super-8 home movie...
    5) ridicule any non-mainstream cameras (meaning 99% of the general public hasn't heard of them) such as Leicas, Soviets, rangefinders in general, ect.
    6) that older mechanical cameras are too unreliable and innaccurate to use, that the "battery problem" is unsolvable...

    So, more seriouly now....

    I also go mountaneering and on long-distance treks, so the kind of issues you have are familiar.

    First, the cameras you mention:
    Nikon F3: a bit heavy. Also, not having to rely on a battery (or change one in awful conditions) is a plus.
    Rollei 35S: Great lens. You're stuck with a 40mm FL. Scale focusing might not be an issue in your case, as you don't seem to do many closer-ups.
    Leica III: No meter. Neeeds extra viewfinder for FLs other than 50mm. Probably needs a CLA. Slow lens changing.
    Bessa R: Nice choice, except for fine-focusing fast lenses or teles.

    I tend to favour a lighter & more compact SLR or rangefinder system.
    My "mountain SLR" is a Rolleiflex, but you could look into Olympus OM or Pentax MX cameras. In the Nikon world, FM, FM2, FM3A.
    A rangefinder can be even more compact and slightly lighter, and its disadvantages minimal (I rarely take a 200mm+ lens with me on a long trek anyway).

    Some examples of weight:
    Leica M6 + 21 +35 +90 1080 g. (1274 with a 15mm included) - A Bessa would be somewhat lighter
    Rolleiflex SL35-E + 18 + 35 + 85 1326 g. (the 18mm isn't expecially light)
    Nikon Fe2 + 20 +35 + 105 1579 g. (the 105mm is pretty heavy)
    Pentax 6x7 +45 +75 +165 3789 g. (with meter prism).
    Iskra 6x6 (one of the best MF folders around, results-wise) 918 g.

    P.S: I mentioned MF because nowdays you can get a MF enlarger almost for free and the Iskra really is sweet & relatively light.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2012
  16. rakeshmravi

    rakeshmravi Member

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    If you going to such a long hard trip, I suggest you take 2 cameras with you. Somewhat identical in operation (get twins if possible). Put films at 2 different speeds.

    In terms of what exact model is good, only you can decide it after using one for some time. I have never done a moutain climbing :smile:

    It is not always best of the features, but which camera you can just grab and take shot without thinking about anything else. Only then get the second one. I suggest an identical one.