Which camera and format to invest in?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by edmyloo, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. edmyloo

    edmyloo Member

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    So, I need some help deciding which camera or format to invest in. The reason I'm posting in the 35mm Cameras section is because I'm leaning slightly towards a 35mm SLR system.

    I've been shooting daily with my parent's old Nikkormat FTn for the past few months now and after a little rock climbing accident(small dent on body), I feel like I should spend some money on my own system rather than beat up my parents' old cameras which most likely has some sort of sentimental value to them.

    I've taken a quick look at various types of formats and cameras and I feel like a 35mm SLR system would give me the most for the small amount of money I have. I'm open to almost anything, so feel free to chime in if you think a different system would work better or anything.

    The camera would be around my neck almost every single day and could go anywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the snow covered Aspens. Keep in mind, I'm not asking for lens recommendations(unless it's a fixed lens system), just a body. I don't really care about weight, but SIZE is a factor. I don't want something the size of a cinderblock around my neck. Build quality is important. It'd also be nice if the lens mount could be easily adapted for use on the Canon EOS systems. A built-in meter would also be nice, but is not necessary. For example, right now I'm considering the Nikon F/F2 or even another Nikkormat. For now, lets just say my budget for a body is about $100.

    I'm SURE I missed some things, so if you guys need any more info, ask. Thanks! :]
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    If you want a not too large well built reliable camera check out a Nikon FM2. Light weight no bells and whistles a simple built-in meter and there should be plenty of lenses available.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  3. elekm

    elekm Member

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    $100? You're probably looking at something from the 1960s or a plastic wunderkind SLR from the 1980s and 1990s. Canon made tons of them, and they're cheap (in both senses of the word) and plentiful. And plastic can get whacked and not leave a dent.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you want something whose lenses can be adapted for use on the Canon EOS system why not a Canon EOS body?

    I obtained a Canon EOS Rebel 2000 with Canon EOS 28mm - 90mm kit zoom lens through Craigslist for less than $50.00.
     
  5. fstop

    fstop Member

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    There is not a camera on the market that can be considered an investment. The prices are still dropping and its not likely that they will come back up in the near future.
    You would have to find a truly mint example of a desirable camera cheap and hold onto it for a quite a while. The price of admission will be quite high.

    Any new camera in production will only depreciate, especially digital, the residual value on a digital after 3-5 years is about 1/3 of the purchase price.
     
  6. edmyloo

    edmyloo Member

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    1960's is fine. As I mentioned in my post, I'm considering a Nikon F body. The Nikkormat I'm using now should also be around that time period and I couldn't be happier with what it can do. And plastic... I feel like a blow hard enough to dent a Nikkormat might crack a plastic body. x.x

    I guess invest was the wrong word. I meant to like buy in to an older 35mm system. For personal use and enjoyment.
     
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  7. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    I still use my Nikon F's, F2, And Nikkormats daile. Also use all my Spotmatics(5): Of course I have around 200 cameras in all formats. It's a hobbie; so it's not a big deal.. I tend to use cameras from the 60' and 70'.
     
  8. fstop

    fstop Member

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    Fs are reasonably priced right now. I have two.I got a cream puff F with a mint lens,FTn finder and neverready case off the bay for less than 100 bucks.
    Most of them that are cheap don't have working finders so just hand meter it.
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    An Nikon N90s would be a great box to start with.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    If you want light and portable, it's hard to beat 35mm. But, asking which camera to "invest" in is like asking which fruit you should eat. It's all what you like and want.

    For 35mm, you can buy N80 or N90 on your budget with some change left over. Heck, I have a N80 for sale at 60 dollars. (and no one wants it!) Manual camera tends to go for more money than these modern bodies.

    For medium format, you can almost buy Mamiya M645 if you are patient and don't mind cosmetic blemishes. It's not small but it's manageable even for me. (I'm pretty small)

    By the way, don't think of camera as an "investment" unless you meant an investment for your enjoyment. If you are like most of us, it'll be a big expense as your hobby grows.
     
  11. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Subscriber

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    I'm not sure if an SLR would be your best bet for the use that you described in your first post. Maybe you should consider a weather-resistant 35mm point & shoot, like an Olympus Stylus Epic/mjuII, or a rugged, ultra compact rangefinder or scale-focus camera like one of the Olympus XA series. These would be fast, compact (pocketable), and especially in the case of the Stylus, easily operable with one hand. And any will give you images with excellent quality and sharpness. With an SLR, the one piece that could be consider an "investment" would be the lens, which is also the most vulnerable part, especially in the active and varied conditions that you describe.
     
  12. edmyloo

    edmyloo Member

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    I was actually wondering about medium format SLRs, but after I took a (very) quick look, it looked like a fairly expensive route. If you're knowledgeable about medium format systems, maybe I could PM you and we could talk? :D And when it comes to size, I think a MF SLR would be fine. I'm not exactly sure how it compares in size, but I shoot with a Yashica-Mat once in a while and size isn't really a problem with that. I just don't want something HUGE camera around my neck.

    Well, the thing is, I'm USUALLY not taking pictures in some rugged terrain with bipolar weather conditions, but I do end up in places like that once in a while(maybe like once every two weeks). And when I AM in a place like that, I'd want a camera that could take a good bump or something like that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2011
  13. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Subscriber

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    The Stylus Epic is able to take a good beating... that is what it was designed for. But if you want something really rugged in a p & s, keep your eyes peeled for a Konica Off Road:

    http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kvla29m6Li1qzpwppo1_500.jpg
     
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  15. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    You want to have a camera around your neck all day and in high mountains and weight doesn't matter? Hammmm.....

    And lenses? They do play a role is the system you use! Do you even need interchangeable? If so, will you be changing often (if not, M39 & M42 screw mount could be interessting)? Are there any particular focal lengths you like and for which uses? Otherwise you'll just get "get the camera I use" answers, with Nikon winning the popularity contest.

    A basic rundown of the main players:
    Pentax Spotmatic: + Compact, reliable, nice lenses - Slow lens changing, slow metering, poorish viewfinder
    Pentax K (no, the K1000 is not the best & only K made!!!): Like above, without the defects. Less lens choice than some (if you really need that).
    Nikon MF: Make good hammers. Generally very good users, though often beaten by others in individual parameters.
    Nikon AF: De gustibus... Need to change focus screen if you want to use it seriously for manual focus.
    Canon FD: They have a right to exist too (if you avoid the more plasticky ones).
    Canon EOS: Very much de gustibus... If you like "fire and forget", why not?
    Olympus OM: + Small, light, (some) very good lenses, viewfinder, dampened mirror & shutter. - More expensive.
    Leica R: Probably over budget (but not as much as you's think). + Esp. Leicaflex have Best MF viewfinder ever, exceptional shutter & mirror dampening, usually exceptional lenses, very low shutter lag. - Price, weight (esp. of lenses).
    M39 screw mount: Affordable ones are Soviet. If you have a well-working one, they can be very nice and reliable.
    Contax: + Zeiss lenses (probably the nicest look of them all).
    Rolleiflex: + like above, Zeiss lenses! - Bodies,while some have very nice viewfinders, etc. are better suited for masochistic sophisticates... ;-)
    Minolta MD: + Some very nice cameras & lenses, very good value now. - Less choice & prestige lenses than some.

    Not at all a complete list. I also left out M mount rangefinders as they'd be over budget.
    Basically, find you niche and one of those camera systems will fit it slightly better than others.

    Good luck!
     
  16. onepuff

    onepuff Member

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    The Nikon F / F2 would be much more expensive for something in good condition and they are also quite large and heavy cameras. If you like the Nikkormat, have you considered the Olympus OM range? They are small bodied but are durable and a wide range of lenses and accessories. They also have the shutter speed ring around the lens throat like the Nikkormats. An OM-1 could be yours with a standard lens for your budget and as it is totally mechanical, you would not be reliant on batteries.
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Do your parents still use the camera? If not, talk to them about giving it to you. My guess is you have more sentimental value, to them, than an old camera...
     
  18. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    You are more than welcome to PM me any time you wish although I am not the expert of MF cameras. I have had a few and I use them.

    One thing though.... you can plan all you want and discuss everything down to every spec for the camera but it really comes down to how you LIKE the camera after you had it for few weeks/months. We can chime in our opinions but I'm not really sure if that's going to help.

    Here's my take on my choices:

    I have two main cameras. One if Nikon F-100 and the other is Mamiya M645Super.

    I like F-100 because it's competent, portable, auto-focus, accurate metering, and all around good camera. I have lenses to suit most of my needs, too. One "problem" is the film size. I have problem seeing small contact sheets. Also, if I want to print large, it's more affected by grain size than medium format would. One annoying thing is, because of higher magnification when printing, dust and scratches becomes major issues.

    I have Mamiya M645Super as well. It's somewhat bulky but it's not any larger or heavier than above F-100 with a grip and a zoom lens. It's manual focus but I have a magnifier to help me focus. It's not suited for fast actions; however. But, because I take my time to focus, compose, and contemplate before I shoot, I have far higher "keeper rate" than the above. Contact sheets are nice and large. Print quality in terms of grain size are better but not astonishingly so.

    I dunno... it's all up to you. Light, portable, cheap, good, and plentiful, Nikon's late model auto focus models are pretty good. You can do a lot with N80 or F90 and a lens of your choice. You could also pick up Mamiya M645 system for 200 bucks or so if you are patient. You could start with one and pick up the other later, also.

    At this stage, you might just have to "pick one" and run with it. Soon, you'll see recommendations from folks starting Holga and going all the way up to Hasselblad and large format cameras. Happens every time!! (oh, let's not forget pin hole cameras either)
     
  19. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Nikon F - or F2 - is not small and you are certainly not going to have it on all occasions.
    I think you have three roads in front of you.

    A small rangefinder with fixed lens:
    http://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm
    those are small, not necessarily very light, most of them allow you full control over exposure, and they have a rangefinder. If you don't think a rangefinder is important, Minox is probably your best choice (high optic quality, very, very, very small). Olympus XA are certainly to be looked at (size, weight, optical quality, rangefinder) Rollei 35 S have become too expensive.

    A Leica III with a collapsible lens. Those are small, rugged, and give you high quality. You can change lens too, but in that case you'll need a separate viewfinder (less practical and less compact).

    A small SLR: I would look for an Olympus OM-1 or one of the smaller Pentax (ME, ME Super, MX, LX). But they are not going to be light and small like solutions above.

    If you are "normal" (or at least if you fall within the concept of "normal" within this forum) you will certainly end up having several cameras: one for having always with you just in case, one for having always with you but when you know you have it with you, one for when you go out with the bag, one for when you go out with your dog, one for rainy days, one for sunny days, one for fun and one for desperation. A camera which is good at everything was never made.

    I have a Yashica T3 which is more or less whaterproof and very rugged. That's my "backpacking" camera and it still works well since 1989. Its main problem is that it has no control over exposure (only autoexposure mode). When I am in a backlit situation I project a shadow over the camera with one hand while taking a picture with the other hand.
     
  20. pentax4ever

    pentax4ever Member

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    You did mention size as a factor. This rules out almost all of the SLRs mentioned. Look at a Pentax ME Super (K-mount), Olympus OM series body, or a K-mount Ricoh KR5 Super II or XR-10.
     
  21. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    What do you shoot? Total budget? If open to either MF or 35mm, then I'd suggest checking out the Bronica ETRS series. It is a MF camera system that has the ability to swap backs allowing you to use 120, 220, 35mm normal or 35mm panaramic. You get he best of both with this system. A few decades ago I had MF and 35mm systems and decided to go with the ETRS. It gave me both formats with a single camera allowing me to learn one set of lenses, holding, metering, and control layout and reduced the costs associated with having 2 different systems. It actually reduced my investment costs.

    Today, a ETRS system can be had for less than many 35mm SLRs and the lenses though excellent are less expensive than many would pay for a Nikon or Canon and certainly less than a Zeiss or Leica lens. Only limitations are top shutter speed of 1/500th but for meit was never a problem as I tend to shoot slower ISO film. One the plus side, each lens has its own shutter so if in the field and you have a shutter problem, you just sub another lens, flash sync is at all speeds, with removable backs, you can shift between color, b&w, slides, differing ISOs or formulas and go between formats, availablility of a shift lens and ability to view either at waist level or eye level depending on the finder. Weight is not that of a feather in any format but using the speedgrip and AEII finder so the camera is equiv to a 35mm layout, the weight is not more than number of totl 35mm cameras and feels no heavier than my Olympus E-510 DSLR while feeling better to hold.

    For the cheaper side of the budget, a Yashica FX-3 or FX-3 Super with the later Yashica lenses is a good way to go. The camera has in-camera metering and a mechanical shutter so the battery is only for the meter. The company also made the Contax line of cameras with the Zeiss based Contax lenses. It is rumored the Yashica lenses from this period were formulated from the Zeiss designs. As the Yashica and Contax used the same lens mount, you can even move up to the Contax lenses and mount them directly on the FX-3. Then, when the budget permits go all out and move up to a Contax body such as the RTS series and use the FX-3 as a back up body. The FX-3 is lightweight and so basic as it is a tough little contender. Only weakness is the covering that tends to flake off but, there are aftermarket suppliers to provide a replacement. On mine, I went to a local shoe repair shop several decades ago and bought a leather end piece for something like $2 and redid mine. My 2nd body does not hve the flaking problem and is a much later production unit so they may have corrected the problem.

    Even more basic, look for one that accepts the M-42 screw mount as there are a huge quanitiy of lenses available in that mount, including a good supply of Pentax lenses. Because of the design, the lenses with an adaptor can be used on other later cameras. The early Pentax cameras with batteries are not mercury battery dependent so there is not a problem with battery subtitution. The cameras from this period are built to be used as hammers. I just bought a S2a Pentax with the M-42 mount and not meter, not a problem for me as I tend to use a hand held meter, and it is built like a tank. I doubt you could bang it hard enough to dent any part of it.

    If you do not care about changing lenses, then the world really opens up for you. The Voightlander Vito series with Color-Skopar lenses are absolutely beautiful to use, rugged and the lens is as good as any later multi-coated when using color film or slides. Another is the Zeiss Ikonta folding series, that when folded are easily pocketable and not much larger than the Rollei 35 and Minox 35 series. Stay away from the models with built-in meters as due to age they tend to be off and getting them serivced can be challenging.
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I'd get that Nikon and pancake 50mm that is in the classifieds for $65.
     
  23. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Subscriber

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    Actually, its down to $45, less the zoom lens. And still no takers.:confused:
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I am sorry I suggested it. It is now spoken for. But similar kits will show up.
     
  25. edmyloo

    edmyloo Member

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    Thanks for the list! This is nice. So through this, I think I could expand my choices to Nikon MF and Olympus OM. Maybe even Leica R and Contax, but those don't sound like very cheap options regarding body and lens. I'll do some more googling today and hopefully that'll prove me wrong.


    I read someone else's thread about getting a camera for his birthday or something and the ETRS system did stir up some interest. I didn't really look up pricing or anything, but I was wondering if lens and backs would cost a good amount of money. And I've also read that when you shoot MF SLRs, it'll be hard to shoot subjects that won't wait for you, like street for example.
     
  26. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Very glad if I have been of help, but just wanted to make clear that "Nikon MF" means Nikon manual focus cameras; that is Nikon F, F2, F3, FM and so on (including your Nikkormat).

    AF of course means means autofocus.

    P.S. In case no one else said it clearly, medium format SLRs (with the exception of some 645s) are big and heavy beasts which I really wouldn't want around my neck for a few hours.
    Some folding and RF medium format cameras can be fairly light, but they also have their own problems. From what I've read of your requirements so far, probably 35mm is a better choice (you can always change if you really want better quality).
     
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