The right equipment for me?
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…
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.
... 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.
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.
“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson
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.
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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 definitely think the F3 is a great choice for climbing
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 would suggest the F100.
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 Geomax; 01-29-2012 at 09:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
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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.
"film photography"? is there another type I don't know about?
I know what I want but I just don't know how to go about gettin' it.-Hendrix