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  1. #1

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    Sleeper 35mm cameras - good and cheap

    I haven't had a lot of time to experiment with different cameras and compare results, so I'm wondering if anyone out there has opinions on good, cheap cameras that arn't super mainstream because there's no way to convert them to digital. I ask because I'd like to take on some risky assignments that might end up with my camera broken or stolen and I don't want to use my Nikon or Contax cameras.

    I was looking at something like a Mamiya NC1000 or an old Pentax Spotmatic with the bayonet thread. They could also be Rangefinders. I would even entertain some Medium Format selections as well if you know of any.

    ...thanks in advance
    ...Jordan.

  2. #2

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    Dozens of old SLRs and rangefinders (both fixed lens and interchangeable) can be had for peanuts. Impossible to make a recommendation without criteria other than "cheap and good".
    -brian hayden
    http://fed-2.org

  3. #3
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    Pentax Spotmatics, Rolleiflex 35mm SLRs, Soviet rangefinders (and even SLRs), Prakticas, various no-name M42 & K-mount SLRs (made by Cosina, Chinon, ect..), Mamiya SLRs....

    All have good sides and caveats. A lot depends on the lenses you want to use.

    Personally, my Spotmatic or Soviet rangefinders are my "suicide cameras".
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  4. #4

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    I don't have a set criteria really. I'd like a 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lens for sure and probably a good tele-portrait lens too. I'd like it for under $200, but with a 24mm lens, that might be pushing it. This would be ideal, but not restricted to that criteria. What I'm looking for in this thread is something like: "Hey Jordan, I shoot with a ________ and I find it to be as good as my Nikon, but for peanuts". Then, I could do some research and see what works best for me. I know there's a lot out there, but I'm looking for people with specific experiences or knowledge about the quality of the images they produce because I don't have money to buy 5 different systems, test and get down to one system. My criteria is lenses that produce great results, but go unnoticed do to the demand of digital or are just not popular. They also have to be under my price range or I'd just chance it and go shoot with my Nikon.

  5. #5

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    I like the term suicide cameras...that's what I'm looking for. A camera I can beat or throw at someone with if they try to jump me in a sketchy area -ha!. But it would have to give me good results too.

  6. #6
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    The Argus C-3 comes to mind. Capable picture-taking RF, but with really sharp edges and corners if used as a weapon. (grin)
    Last edited by Anscojohn; 01-27-2010 at 03:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  7. #7
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    O.K. M42 Killer lenses:

    Tokina/Vivitar 17mm f/3.5, Zeiss Jena 20mm f/4.0, Zeiss Jena 25mm f/4.0, Sigma 24mm (reputation, not tried personally), Tamron 24mm (reputation, not tried personally), Pentax 35mm f/3.5, Pentax 35mm f/2.0 (reputation, not tried personally), Zeiss Jena 35mm (both 2.8 & 2.4), Schneider Curtagon 35mm f/2.8, most 50mm (the Pentax ones are excellent, but so are most others), Schacht Ulm 90mm... and many others.

    All of these are close to (or better than) what most "modern miracles" will deliver and are mostly cheap.
    Last edited by Rol_Lei Nut; 01-27-2010 at 03:14 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  8. #8
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    If you just want a camera to use for a one-time project, you almost cant loose with a japanese SLR.
    As long as you find one in working condition.

    The second question is what lenses do you need for this project?
    If you just need a normal, basic wide, or basic zoom lens, again you almost cant go wrong.
    Most of the name-brand lenses and even the aftermarket lenses are adequate.

    Most of the talk you hear on this board and others comes from hair-splitters who talk about distortion, chromatic aberation, and mtf charts. This means didly for 99% of the shots.

    My recomendation: since you allready have some nikon equipment, get a basic nikon like the FE or a Nikkormat. (then you can use the excellent non-ai lenses). or even a Nikon EM or FG with the series E lenses.

    Other inexpensive alternatives: Canon AE1 or FT/FTb, Olympus OM1, Spotmatics, pentax ME, Ricoh, Fuji, or Mamiyas.
    Like I said, it really depends on finding something that works.

    Other alternatives are compact Af models like the Olympus Stylus, pentax iqzoom, minolta freedom, etc.
    You can get 2 or 3 for the price of an SLR.

  9. #9
    Jerevan's Avatar
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    Pentax Spotmatic would be my first option, if you don't need to switch lenses very fast or find using a microprism spot annoying. The M42 lenses for the Spotmatics are very good. The off-brand lenses for M42 are mostly cheap and cheerful. If you want to stay with Nikon, I think the EM, FG or FG20 might be good options for suicide missions in unknown territory. The various off-brand K mount cameras could be another option, as would a Pentax K1000 (same specs as the Spotmatic but with a K mount).
    “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu

  10. #10

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    Chinon, Ricoh, made k-mount slrs that are uber cheap on the evil bay.
    Kalimar imported the seagulls with a minolta md mount for awhile.
    Vivitar had a few cosina made bodies in m42 and k mount.

    Fujicas are going for next to nothing.

    For more modern gear don't shy away from minolta, canon, or nikon.

    I picked up a 700si for 30 usd.

    My mint f100 from keh was under 125 usd.

    There was another recent thread where someone got a n90 for under 40.

    Suicide camera is an awesome adjective

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