Since your list contains aperture priority capable SLRs, then the LX offers some picture taking functionalities not available in any other camera - past or present, and that is aperture priority auto exposure for as long as it takes. This is because the LX's exposure range is unequaled in this regard - unassisted range of EV -6.5 to EV +20. This is not matched by any light meters either. Pentax calls it Integrated Direct Metering which is another way of calling off the film metering. This allows the LX to constantly monitor the scene for changes in light and will extend or cut short the exposure time accordingly. This OTF metering is also used for flash. Because of this metering system, the LX doesn't need a viewfinder blind as external light coming in through the VF does not influence the meter in any way. Also because of this metering, it is the only camera that can meter a scene with the mirror in the locked up position so you don't have to drop it each and every time after each shot to verify the exposure.
Build quality is top notch as it is the most weather proofed camera compared to it's peers. It is a system camera - with replaceable viewfinders and screens. Has all the features you ask for except 100% viewfinder. However, unlike it's peers, the magnification is larger then the F3 and the finders have diopter adjustments. Other features that are unique to is that the film rewind reset also acts as multiexposure control without the hassle associated with using this - you won't have to tighten the film first then hold the rewind while you advance the film for fear of the film moving and missing registration. The film rewind also serves a random access to any frame previously shot. This means at anytime, you can rewind back to any previous frame and registration is perfect. You don't have to listen to the film while you are rewinding to make sure you stop before the film is completely taken up back in the canister because the counter is always accurate.
The shutter speeds are mechanical - from 1/75 on up, so you can still use the camera even when battery is depleted. Unlike it's peers, the self timer is mechanical so that is available too.
Unlike it's changeable viewfinder peers, it is so compact it doesn't even look like it is changeable and almost the size of the OM-4. Even the strap lugs are cleverly designed!
Although the OP didn't say SLR I can guess that the OP meant a 35mm SLR. Being an SLR the most important feature the SLR has to offer is the viewfinder. The viewfinder should should allow me to focus easily without any of the focusing aid like split image (the split image is a rangefinder and I don't buy an SLR and focus via a rangefinder) or microprism. The image area should be free of any clutter i.e. meter, and other info. Any information display should be outside of the image area. 100% accuracy is a big plus although not a must.
Accurate shutter speed is important, although I don't care for AE but if the camera has to be electronic in order to have high shutter accuracy then I don't mind. I only need shutter speed from 1 to 1/1000 second plus B. Because I don't care for high shutter speed nor high flash sync speed I prefer titanium horizontal shutter.
DOF preview/.. Nice if you can ascertain it when stopped down; Especially in bad light.
MLU/.. Depends on the camera. Some mirrors are so light on release that you practically don't have to worry about vibration affecting a picture.
In-camera spot meter/ .. Not really needed. Many late models have it tho.
Exposure compensation/ .. Easier the better if you really use it. Fiddly controls suck, especially 2 handed ones.
Auto bracketing/ .. I don't use it. If you have to cock a shutter you can click the aperture around.
AE Lock/ Only needed on cameras with program settings.
Bright viewfinder/ Probably the most important next to good lenses.
Horizontal cloth vs Vertical metal shutter/ I think the Vertical metal was a little lighter on vibration.
Viewfinder info (shutter speed, aperture, etc...) I like both shutter speed and aperture. Fast Exposure comp can be nice.
Of the things you didn't mention, I'd add:
1. Popup flash (fill flash) which is nice for casual shooting. Who the hell wants to carry a big strobe on a body or a bag.
2. TTL Flash.
3. Decent priced and available good lenses. 4/3rds drove alot of lens prices higher.
4. Something that fits the hand. ***
5 Auto wind. Thumb wind is nice but auto is better when you need to shoot fast.
6. Program, T, A settings. I like to shoot in A when I've tested my lenses.
Stick to an old classic mechanical camera and learn photography all over again. Make sure that makes "Click"
Originally Posted by russkat
" A loving and caring heart is the beginning of all knowledge " ~ Thomas Carlyle ~
- Shutter release
- Light meter (very optional)
Intelligent person who does all the thinking, not the camera.
Start with the basics. e.g. an all-manual. All that floss is nice but it will not make a better photograph. That's where you come into the (bigger) picture.
I'm looking to get back into shooting film for various reasons which I won't get into now.
I'd like your varied opinions on what features you consider essential on a manual focus slr so I can make an informed decision on a camera purchase.
In-camera spot meter
Horizontal cloth vs Vertical metal shutter
Viewfinder info (shutter speed, aperture, etc...)
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Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions...
I need to stop analyzing and buy something now.
I'll be looking for a Contax (RTS I or II most likely) and/or a Yashica FR1 body and some Zeiss glass.
Time to quit talking and start using.
Hopefully I'll find something soon.
Bright finder with good focusing screen. Hard to take pictures if you struggle to see and focus.
Relatively quite shutter and mirror slap. It's a must for street work and being unobtrusive.
Easily accessed controls for aperture, shutter speed, and if has meter exposure compensation.
Decent flash sync speed.
Handles well in hands. And can be carried all day.
Easy to rewind film.
Ttl flash & high speed sync & fill flash options
1/2000th or higher shutter speed
Good winder/motor drive attachment
Diopter correction adjustment
Spot meter/multispot meter
Aperture priority mode
Should have added a viewfinder, the simpler the better
Originally Posted by R.Gould
Originally Posted by Brian Puccio
I think that is the only important thing.
I formed a firm opinion over the years:
1) Shutter speed of B and 1s to 1/250 or higher. Lens f/2 or brighter (except f/2.8 OK on 180mm).
2) I would want speeds 1/250 and above to be in working condition (no missing or underexposed part of image caused by curtain lag).
3) Dark interior coating or simple light path to minimize flare.
4) Takes the picture at the moment shutter release is pressed. (Sounds like I am only prejudiced about AF but this also includes operational issues I've seen with Contax and Minox not tripping unless shutter is pressed a certain way).
Lately I've relaxed restriction on 1) because it's an arbitrary snob guideline, not affecting picture quality.
35mm? Manual focus, aperture, and shutter speed, and a decent focusing screen for manual focus, in the case of an SLR. Low shutter lag is a plus.