Advice on buying a 35mm camera
For years I have kept a Yashica Electro 35 rangefinder camera underneath the driver's seat of my car; it's my beater camera, as it were. I like the camera; it's small, quiet, unobtrusive, and dirt cheap. I have four of them and didn't pay more than, I think, $40 for the lot. But recently I've noticed that I've been taking a lot more close-up photos and, with a rangefinder like the Electro, that can be a problem. Sometimes serendipity works in your favor but most of the time ... not.
So I'd like to replace the Yashica rangefinder with an SLR of similar characteristics: cheap, rugged, quiet, etc. My past experience with 35mm cameras has been exclusively with Minolta equipment and, if batteries were still available, I'd simply get an SRT-something and be done with it. But mercury batteries are not available, Wein cells don't hold up well to the environment below my seat (I've tried, with an SRT-101,) and spending $100+ for the alkaline battery conversion seems too expensive for this. Here's what I'm ideally looking for:
- tough. It isn't easy living on the floor of a car in all seasons!
- Uses a current battery, something I can actually buy
- Can operate with at least one shutter speed with a dead battery
- Compact. There isn't much room under my seat!
Manual/auto-focus and exposure isn't much of a factor for me assuming that I can do the manual exposure thing when required. Come to think of it, 35mm isn't an absolute necessity, if someone knows of a medium format camera which fits the bill. Not interested in a Diana, etc., but thanks for the suggestion. They have their places but under my car seat isn't one of them.
Thanks for your help: I just don't know enough about 35mm cameras other than Minolta to be able to figure out what would work for me and what wouldn't.
You will probably get everyone's personal favourite in response but in my opinion you can't go past an Olympus OM1.
- small and light
- excellent zuiko lens
- does not need batteries other than for metering
A 50mm 1.4 zuiko lens is outstanding and has good close focus abilities. The one thing you need to watch out for in a used body is the foam light seals which can get sticky and perish over time. You can get replacements and I have replaced the seals myself over the years on my OMs. Also advisable to look for an OM1 which has had a light meter battery conversion to accept standard 1.5v battery if in-camera metering is important.
Last edited by Tony Egan; 08-18-2007 at 11:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added links with battery & seal info
I'd suggest a Nikon F3 with a 55mm Micro-Nikkor. This is an extremely tough camera and the Micro-Nikkor is excellent for close-up's
I second this - although I love my Canon A1, she is NOISY! :o
Originally Posted by dslater
For Nikons, I'd think something along the lines of an FM would be a better choice than an F3. They are smaller, lighter but still reasonably rugged, at least by reputation. Also, they don't depend on batteries like an F3 does.
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I'd lean towards one of the M42 cameras. Most will work without any batteries at all. The meter is the only thing you'll lose. For the most part they are almost free on the used market.
If you need a meter the Pentax Spotmatics will use silver batteries just fine for the meter. OTOH we are talking about 40ish year old cameras. I personally tend to assume the meter is gone. If it works it's a bonus.
The Nikon F3HP. Built like a rock. Carrying an extra battery around (they last longer than a year) is not exactly a big chore. Tape it to the camera strap).
I believe I'm the third to suggest the F3 out of six messages.
I'd also endorse the Nikkor 55mm Micro f3.5 or 2.8.
This isn't exactly "cheap." But how "cheap" is "cheap?"
I have owned about a dozen Nikons, still have 8, and like the F3HP the best. Most versatile SLR of all makes, rugged, acurate, great handling. I usely use my FE for a secondary, or backup, or for a light weight walk around.
For serious use, the F3 all the way.
PS. They are so ridiculously cheap now.
F3(HP) is for sure one of better SLRs ever made, but is huge. Huge compared to mjss current rangefinder and to any small SLR. OM1/OM1n, FM/FM2, with some smaller 35mm or 50mm lens sounds more like what he wants - small, cheap, battery for meter only. And any of those 4 are rugged enough. And can be found cheap by any mean.
I just bought my second Nikon FE body (manual or auto speeds, 1/1000, standard batteries, match needle meter) for $65.00 from eBay. Since I had the lens for my first body, I now have one loaded with B&W, and one loaded with color. An ex condition 50mm 1.8 AI-s lens will probably set you back $75.00. Can't beat it!