3 Olives, I think you really need to quantify "inexpensive." Some people here see that word in reference to a camera and they think "less than $1." Others think "less than $100." A few think "less than $10,000." (OK, perhaps I exaggerate slightly on the range -- but not by much.) To give some examples in various ranges....
In the sub-$50 range, you'll find very little except for 35mm cameras. You might luck out with a low-end medium format TLR or folder, but most of these are a bit pricier than that. A few Holgas cost about $50; these are very low-end medium format cameras. (There are also 35mm Holgas, though, so be sure of what you're getting.) A used 110 or 126 camera could fit the description, but film will be hard to find -- 126 film was discontinued about a year ago, IIRC, although there may still be some in retail channels. I recently heard rumors that 110 film has ceased production, but I haven't seen that verified by reliable sources. Most 110 and 126 cameras are point-and-shoot models, so they won't produce great results, but they might be good if the teenager is interested in Lomography-style shooting, or if you happen to find one of the rarer "serious" models that used this format. In case you don't know, 110 film was a 16mm format that was popular in the 1970s for point-and-shoot cameras. The cameras and their negatives were tiny. 126 film was popular slightly earlier than 110 (in the late 1960s and early 1970s, roughly). It's the same size as 35mm film, but it's perforated and handled differently. 126 cameras produce square photos, which could be an interesting difference for a teenager who's experimenting with photography. (Many, but not all, medium format cameras also produce square photos.)
In the ~$100 range, various used MF TLRs and folders, as others have suggested, are options. Many of these lack built-in meters, so check for that, and factor in the cost of a meter if necessary. Another type of camera that might be of interest in this range is a 3D camera, such as a Stereo Realist. There are actually several types of these cameras. The one I'm most familiar with (the Realist; my father owned one) shoots 35mm slides, which are then viewed with a special viewer, which looks a bit like binoculars. These are mostly 35mm, but the format is unique enough that I think it deserves mention.
Going significantly beyond $100 (to $200-$1,000), options broaden considerably into high-end MF TLRs (the Mamiya C-series, for instance, although you might luck out and get a basic one for $100), MF SLRs, and so on. These are used prices, for the most part; few MF cameras sell for under $1,000 new, although a few do (Holgas, Kievs, maybe one or two others). You can get a pretty good camera in this range, although I suspect it's not what you mean by "inexpensive."
I would recomend a TLR . A Yashica or even any other that can be purchased for $100 or less(shipping included) But stay away from the highly overpriced Seagulls, and the Russian Lomo's. Holgas and Dianas might be fun, although could prove frustrating for a neophyte. I like folders as well, and a handheld incident meter is a wonderful way to learn light values.
How about a Yashica 124 Mat G? It was my first experience with medium format and a good little camera. I paid $50 for mine in perfect working condition.
Bought mine from the local photo studio when the founder sold his business. The new guy was shooting Bronica MF and using a Nikon FA for weddings (yeah, this was a LONG time ago) so he didn't need it.
He probably gave me a deal. The week of the sale - or at least the first week the new guy was in the shop, I was in 8th grade and walked in the door and asked for a job. Jack gave me the job - sweeping floors, cleaning out 40 years of photographic clutter, and developing film and enlarging prints. My payment was learning how to do it all. He never paid me a dime, but due to what Jack taught me, I paid my way through college and grad school & have a lifelong passion - not necessarily for cameras (I am NOT a collector), but for photography - shooting, developing, printing, framing, etc. - as an art.
M3, M5, CLE, Minolta XE7, Minolta Maxxum 9, Minolta Maxxum 9000, Nikon F3HP, etc., etc.
I second the Yashica TLR or MF folder (e.g. Agfa Isolette) idea.
Yup, for a 120/220 film camera, without "breaking the bank", a Yashica 124 Mat G is the one to get.
Aberdeen, WA USA
My film cameras are all Nikons
: F3HP, F4s, N90s, N8008, N8008s.
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Get them a Ciroflex and a copy of Don Normark's book, Chavez Ravine, a Los Angeles Story. He did those shots in 1949 with a TLR Ciroflex camera and they are remarkable. About $40 for the book and the camera on eek-bay.
I hate Holgas. Hate, hate, hate!
But for an inexpensive option for a teenager, I think it would work fine. I have several friends who are very good photographers and make some damn good photos with them.
I still hate them though.
"The beauty and profundity of God is more real than any mere calculation"
I think of a Holga as a cult camera (ducking now); OK if you like the look but not the best choice to expand your horizons. I also assume that the objective is not just a larger negative. So here's my 2 cents.
The first thing to get, if you don't have one already, is a tripod. I think a tripod (which forces you to be much more deliberate) will do more to provide a new perspective than another camera.
Then, in terms of the camera, I join the voting for a TLR with waist level finder. The waist level finder encourages you to see the image differently. It's a bit like previewing the print. The TLR also has no moving mirror, so in the case of portraits you see the expression at the exact point of exposure. You may or may not like a TLR, but you'll experience something different from your 35mm.
Oh, speaking of "horizons," there are panoramic cameras that might be of interest. The least expensive of these is the Russian Horizon (or Horizont) line, which goes for about $150-$400. The Horizons, and several others, are still 35mm cameras, but perhaps different enough to be of interest to the OP. There are MF panoramic cameras, but they're much more expensive.
Originally Posted by mgb74
Second-hand Bronicas are going cheap now, as I found out - and immediately completed my lens collection. for "cheap", a ETRS with 75mm lens is about the best possible value for money.
Or there's always the dreaded Lubitel 166U. Horrible plasticky box, doubtful quality, more light leaks than a Holga, but surprisingly fun to use.
Last edited by Ole; 04-16-2009 at 08:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist