Film Camera Recommendation
Short story: I want a small film camera, with good wide angle lenses, built-in light meter available and must be easy to focus through the viewfinder.
Long story: I have a project that I'm working on this year that will require me to do some street shooting in a few poorer communities here, and I wanted to use a film camera primarily because I think I would be more comfortable using an old film camera than my digital slr camera (I normally don't shoot any public street scenes, mainly portrait sessions at private locations). I might be paranoid, but when I visit certain areas with my DSLR, I feel like I have a huge bullseye painted on my back as pretty much any digital slr screams "I have money, please rob me" (which I don't!).
I don't plan to stalk the streets, and will have the camera in plain view at all times, so its important that the camera meets the following requirements:
- Ability to take wide angle lens (24mm - 28mm). This was one of the reasons I decided against rangefinders, as using external viewfinders isn't appealing (plus they tend to be expensive).
- Is easy to focus!
- Has a built-in, usable and fairly accurate (in common situations) light meter.
- Fairly cheap used, with my budget being around 500 USD.
- Doesn't look too professional/modern, but is still functional.
I actually really wanted to shoot MF as I think a waist level finder (and large film size) is ideal for me, but the lack of metering, and the poor ergonomics and size when using a prism meter is a turnoff. Plus, I think most MF cameras (from videos I've seen online) aren't that easy to focus properly when not using a tripod (The Mamiya 7/Bronica RF look nice, but the wide angle situation, and the expense isn't ideal).
Again, I might be paranoid, and using my DSLR would probably be 100% safe, but just having that thought lingering in the back of my head while shooting isn't going to help.
* As a side note, none of my current lenses would work on any film camera.
Thanks for the help!
Ditto the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000
I have an FX-3 Super 2000 in excellent condition. Mine has a split prism focusing screen, which make MF a lot quicker. With a 50mm ML/c (compact) lens it weighs about 16 ounces, loaded. At smaller apertures, f/11+, focusing doesn't need to be exact. With 400 or 800 speed film you can stay stopped down quite a bit. I just got a Yashica 28mm f/2.8 on e-bay for $20. Ditto a 135mm f/2.8. Yashica primes are generally pretty good. I think the only zoom worth having is the 28-85 ML. If you need long, go with Vivitar's older lenses. I have a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/3.5 (made by Tokina, sn# starts with 37) that is just fantastic. It cost me $102 on e-bay. I would put it up against Canon's 70-200 in every category but focus speed; it is MF only.
The Yashica FX-2 is a larger, more solidly built camera. It seems a bit harder to find in really good condition. I have purchased 3 of them. Oh, well plenty of spare parts on hand. By the way, if you get this camera, use 1.35V zinc-air hearing aid batteries. It meters much better with them, although they die in 3 months or so, even if not used. You can cover the air holes with tape to prolong them, but they are only about $1 each. The FX-3 uses standard LR44 batteries, available widely.
Edit minutes later: The split prism FX-3 S2 is easier/faster to focus than the FX-2 is without it. With the right batteries (FX-2 1.35V zinc-air; FX-3 2xLR44), both of them meter just fine. Both use only center-weighted average. If your subject is NOT in the center of the frame, you'll have to focus and meter, then compose. Not a problem for me, that is how I use my DSLR, center point only.