I think for black and white work on film your assessment may be completely valid, but for colour work on either digital or film, there are some caveats. Testing with B&W film as you did may obscure many colour-coupled lens flaws such as chromatic aberrations and purple fringing. For this reason, one should test every lens in the intended end use. A good example of a great lens on film, but very mediocre on digital, is the Nikkor 400 f/3.5 IFED. There are many other examples, too. And although it is maybe not what you meant to say, I doubt that resolution is the only or even most important characteristic of an optic. I do agree that Canon L lenses are mostly great, and so are the APO and ED counterparts from Minolta, Nikon, Leica, Olympus etc. But there are many lenses that are equally great that are not necessarily L or ED. Some are downright unassuming, like the Nikon Series E 75-150. You are correct in saying that old manual focus lenses can be surprisingly good, but I would add a few zooms to the list of primes.
Originally Posted by Les Sarile
Actually digital is very mediocre since the thread is Best 35mm Film Camera . . .
Originally Posted by dorff
The Nikon F2, then the F3.
Originally Posted by wrightguy
If you delete the SLR, perhaps an M2?
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
With cameras being relatively inexpensive, I would buy several of them and then decide which to keep.
I'm partial to Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Rolleiflex and Olympus (in that order). I also tried a buddy's Canon AE-1 and liked that quite a bit, and I always thought the Canon F-1 looked awesome.
Finding which is best for you is a very personal matter, because what feels nice in my hands might not feel so good for you. Or it might be perfect for you.
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I like a no-nonsense camera, very reliable under all kinds of conditions, no electronics, mechanical with no need of a battery, and no clutter in the viewfinder that looks like an airplane cockpit. If it comes with an owner's manual the size of a phonebook - not for me. My first camera was the very earliest SLR
Pentax, and I liked it a lot. Now I use a Nikon FM2n and an FM3a (the latter has just a little added nonsense which I ignore).
Obviously, the Fujica 35 SE. I mean, film advance lever on the bottom? C'mon!
Fujica 35-SE 35mm Rangefinder
When I want a good photo, I shoot digital. When I want a great photo, I shoot film.
Late in the day to be answering the OP's question, but I'm gonna do it anyway.
Since you have EOS lenses, you'll want an EOS body. The best cheap one is the Elan IIe, I got a few for $25 each. The best newer body is the Elan 7N, which has the backlit top deck LCD that the Elan 7 doesn't. The best inexpensive pro body would be the EOS 1N.
Outside of Canon? I like Contax, but they're expensive. You might also consider a Mamiya 645 Pro; they're so cheap I bought two.
Beyond that? They're all good. Well, except for the original Maxxum 7000. What a dog.
But the senator, who insisited he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity.