Not sure such list is really pertinent as old cameras are prone to failure anyway. Those reliable (or supposed to be) when new might develop unexpected weakness with years.
Praktica might be low in your list but it is the only camera I bought used which worked great right out of the package. All others need some adjustment / lube at one point (Pentax Spotmatic, several Olympus OM, Yashica TL, you name it), the worse being a Nikkormat which broke after 2 rolls... Too, my Zenit 3M worked great after I slightly adjusted the second curtain of the shutter (it was sometimes dragging).
So, my advice would be to buy whatever you like and to get it CLAed. If the job is done correctly (another variable in the equation...), you can expect to be happy for a decade. But I would not rely only on a camera reputation after all these years.
Too much anecdotal evidence and personal experience , not enough hard facts to establish a list. I have found many old cameras not functioning at all or functioning poorly.
The key is really the knowledge of how to *thoroughly* check an old camera. Perhaps short of an instrument shutter speed test in the field, then at least a basic function test.
When on a camera hunt I always bring several common meter batteries, (the #675 zinc air hearing aid battery can usually be substituted for non available 1.35 mercury cells). and a small electronic flash with PC cord to check sync and, to an extent, lazy or capping shutter curtain problems. These checks will take several minutes and if the seller balks at the care I am taking then I walk away. Even with these precautions the camera could quit in the first month or two. That is the risk we all face.
In all of the above I'm not saying there are not some cameras that have not stood the test of time as well as certain others. The problem is that quite a few of our classic cameras have spent the last 20 or 30 years sitting around and not getting used. That is often times more detrimental to a camera than being used regularly over the same time frame.
if you don't mind bumping up to MF, the Kiev 88 is my nominee for the all-time suicidally-inducing fall-apart-on-opening-the-box piece of crap camera in existence.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
At least the one I had, briefly, was -- it made three trips to be "fixed" in the space of a month, and the last trip was one-way after it started falling apart, quite literally, in my hands as I just worked the shutter because at that point I was afraid of the thing.
I know the Kiev 88 has its fans, and people speak highly of those models that have been "upgraded" with better parts, but I might, maybe, take one if you gave it to me, but that's it. Ukranian/Soviet quality control added to a camera design that Hasselblad abandoned because they couldn't make it work right is an evil mixture.
Other bottom line: Never buy a camera from a factory in a country where the rule of thumb is to find out what day of the week it was made because on Mondays everyone has a hangover and on Friday everyone is rushing to get out, and even those made on Wednesday are dicey, at best.
I second the comments on SLRs with between-the-lens shutters (Retina, Zeiss contaflex) -- the shutters probably worked well new, but are too complex, with too many things going on, to age well and are very expensive to have serviced.
Last edited by summicron1; 10-16-2012 at 08:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
My first SLR, a Miranda Sensorex, was very unreliable when brand new. I doubt if it has improved with age.
My Miranda D works perfectly...
For this list though I nominate Edixa. All of them. I've had five or six pass through my hands. Every single one of them had a dragging shutter. Very easy to take apart though, so not a big problem to fix this. However, all but one of these Edixas also had degraded prisms and mirrors. Which is a shame because the one good one I have is really bright, and the image is larger than on most M42 cameras. The last problem is that most Edixas won't actually work with regular M42 lenses. The aperture plunger does not travel far enough to push the pin on most M42 lenses. This is why companies made Edixa specific M42 lenses.
That being said the camera I have run the most film through this year was an Edixa Prismaflex. I just can't recommend one of these to anybody who is not mechanically inclined. Because they're all broken.
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Could not agree more, all the General Motors and General Electric stuff i have ever owned came out of such a factory...true ,
Originally Posted by summicron1
OK: I have been buying SLRs and RFs (the cheap ones) for literally decades and do minor repairs. MY EXPERIENCE has been that (E von Hoegh) Mirandas are MOSTLY good but I admit that there are some dogs, and for no apparent reason. I have always thought that their really silly advertising (essentially 'sex' ads glorifying the man/woman sexual attraction that segues into their product(?!) is what they were trying to use to sell their cameras. Compare those 1960s ads with the cool, quite, intellectual ads placed by Nikon. Advertising, more than any other factor destroyed Miranda. Who was their Madison Avenue agengy? But, no, Mirandas were generally not faulty products.
(Nick Merritt): yes, Retina reflexes were bad. In fact, were ANY leaf shutter SLRs that were any good? Thank you for reminding me.
(TheFlyingCamera): Kiev 88 was out of my scope here as I was not talking about MF. I am not knowledgeable about that but I will say that my first 'real' camera, age 16 (1966) was a Minolta Autocord CDS and I loved it (until a grain of rice entered the rather accessible gears during the shoot of my cousin's wedding! Quality control in the Soviet bloc was generally bad but even the Zenit could perform well (optics great) in its dire simplicity if the QC was good for that particular item.
(Dali): Nikkormat was never quite the 'god' it was cracked up to be. I have had Nikkormats, Spotmatics, and SRTs get truly soaked and only the Nikkormat did not respond to drying and TLC.
Yes, Yashinoff: Edixa in in the quagmire.
My BEST experiences have been (talking ONLY of mass market items here, folks, not professional caliber items): Spotmatics (and H series predecessor and progeny like K1000), Minolta SR and SRT, electronic Minoltas, electronic Canons. Mechanical Canons are also great but somewhat overengineered. Also excellent but less 'sexy' are most Ricohs, Vivitars, Mamiya DTL. In fact, if one were to have to specify the single, best mechanical mass market 35mm SLR I would choose Pentax (H series, Spotmatic, and K family) as the very best, closely followed by the Minolta SR and SRT. It took FOUR years of R&D to bring the Spotmatic to market but I have the same high regard for the predecessor, the H series, which I feel to be the most aesthetic SLR design of all times. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 10-17-2012 at 08:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
When I sold cameras for a living an old lady bought a black Zenit E from me and a couple of weeks later she brought in her camera and asked me to remove her first film from the camera and have it processed and put a new film in.
When I took the camera out of the E.R.C. there were hundreds of small dents in the cameras base plate, and when I asked her what she had been doing to it she said "oh my stair carpet was was coming loose and was dangerous and I don't have a hammer to tack it down with, so I used the camera " .
I tested the Zenit and it still worked perfectly, and I know for a fact it worked for the next three or four years at least, so you can literally "pound nails in with them"
Ben, that is a true story because the Zenit is suffiently simple, engineering-wise, to withstand that 'abuse'. Really, think about it, what could go wrong using the bottom as a hammer?
When I was a child I used to build electrical battery operated gadgets on wooden bases and I had no hammer. Instead of having the intelligence or insight to ask my father or mother to use a hammer to hammer the nails on my contraptions, I used the bottom of an EverReady D cell as a hammer. I used to stip wire with my teeth also, Stupidity has no dearth of places to hide. - David Lyga
I know of a Pentax K2 which survived falling down a mountainside in a holdall (it didn't have a case of any sort). Only damage was a small dent in the baseplate. It went on to shoot almost twenty years of family holidays before my parents bought a digicam, and still works perfectly now although I've yet to persuade Dad to put the K-7 down for a bit and give it some exercise.