What features do you consider essential on a camera?
New member here ! Greetings from Colorado.
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...)
...and anything else you can think of.
I have no inventory of lenses at the moment, so I'm open to all suggestions.
I'd like something prior to the button/lcd display era and bayonet mount only (might venture into the m42 arena a bit later)
I'm considering the following...
Contax RTS or RTS II / Yashica FR or FR I
Minolta series = XE, XD
LeicaFlex SL / SL2 or perhaps the R3
Olympus OM-4 / OM-4ti
Something durable and can take some abuse. Preferably brass top and bottom plates (or ti)
I'm studying composition and exposure techniques now (rule of thirds, zone system, etc...)
I've seen plenty of amazing photographs from something as simple as a pinhole camera, so none of these things are really essential.
Perhaps beneficial is a better word.
I know it's all about the person behind the camera and the lens, much more than the body itself.
I enjoy shooting landscapes, architecture, portraits, street photography. Don't see me needing a 5fps motor drive for anything though.
I see myself jumping into medium format as well. Seems the Pentax 67 is cheap these days (it's good enough for Nick Brandt)
Thanks for any advice you can offer
Don't forget the "Click" a camera has to go click.
Worst thing to do is complicate anything in life. Find yourself a camera with simple controls and a simple lens. You are the zoom, exposure offsets, motor drive and focus control. The more you as a human are involved rather than technology, the less to go wrong and the better the results, IMHO.
Pick a $ ammount that allows funding of film and printing then pick the camera that fits in there. It will probably not be your only camera you ever buy so enjoy the journey. And make certain it goes Click, a lot.
Depth of feild preview, mirror lock up, spot and either average or matrix is nice. Range of primes and zooms. I use a number of 35mm for landscapes, my Sigma SA 9 has loads of features but does not have a good selection of primes. My Pentax SF1n and PZ1 have a great lens selection but lack mirror lock up. I do have a 42mm lens to Sigma SA/D adaptor. A recent Nikon or Cannon or Mintola have all the elements. On the cheap a N 90S. Older manual focus cameras such as Konica, Minolta and Miranda have good features and a wide range of lens but are getting long in the tooth.
Good points Lee...
Originally Posted by daleeman
Perhaps that's the best route for me to take, Thank you
I love a camera that works without batteries. I have had several occasions where I have hiked out into the middle of nowhere for several hours, or it is Christmas dinner and the batteries die or are dead. If it takes AA's, that's not a big deal but if it takes a specialized battery that needs a specialized store to buy, that is more than annoying. I can usually guess at the metering but still need the camera to fire. This of course limits you to manual cameras of the older variety but I like those kind anyways.
Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.
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Don't overlook the Nikon F4. It's an AF camera but it works splendidly with almost any manual focus Nikon lens, even the older non-AI ones. And it has the feature set you specified: DOF preview, MLU, spot meter, exposure compensation, auto bracketing (if you get the MF-23 multi-function back), AE Lock, a gorgeous bright viewfinder as well as a very fast vertical metal shutter. Oh, and it has dials and knobs! If I was still seriously interested in 35mm I think I would pick up an F4 (not the F4s which has the larger 6-AA battery grip, but the MB-20 which takes 4 AA batteries).
Most important would be A: durability, B: comfort of use, C: has good lenses available in the focal length(s) I want to use, D: built-in metering. Not necessarily in that order of priority. Certain features would on a case-by-case basis override other features, like I'd trade a little durability for mind-blowing optics, or give up an internal meter for something that is more comfortable to hold in the hand. Doesn't matter if it has 20,000 point multi-evaluative matrix metering if there's a 50/50 chance it'll be pointing at the floor or ceiling instead of what you wanted to photograph because the camera is too small/big/slippery.
On that list you provided, I'm a big Contax fan for the optics. I used to have a 167 MT and an RX. Beautiful cameras that were intuitive to use and had some of the best glass going. If Contax glass is in your budget, I'd also look at older Leica SLRs - an R6.x or even an R7 would be a good option and unlike their rangefinders, the Leica SLRs and lenses are actually affordable on the used market.
Essential features on a manual SLR:
Time AND bulb settings.
X synch with PC socket.
All metal construction,must be rugged, durable, and reliable.
Interchangeable prisms nice but not essential.
Aside from being able to attach the best lenses available for my type of photography (obviously):
-Bright viewfinder with 100% coverage
-Focusing screen(s) that makes focusing easier
-Standard mechanical cable release socket
-Intuitive, simple controls
Personally I've always found DOF preview next to useless. But it is always available on cameras with the above functionality anyway in case you need it.
For me, 99% of film cameras have everything required. A viewfinder, and full manual control. All the cameras you list look pretty good to me, Pentax LX would be top of my list though. OM4Ti is a little electronic for me, I think Leica SLRs lack the charms of the RFs, and not worth the pennies IMHO.
For medium format, Rolleiflex offers a gorgeous camera at a good price. If you can get along with a TLR, the lenses are amazing and have a real "look", shot wide open, and plenty sharp when stopped down to f/8 or whatever. I wish I could get on with a TLR, as they are great value, very small, make great pictures and are beautiful objects.