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.
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.
Originally Posted by puketronic
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
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.
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.
M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa
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.
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.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.