Hey guys,

I currently own a large format 4x5 camera kit (my preferred format), a Mamiya RZ67 kit (my second preferred format) and I want to add a 35mm slr camera kit (I have a Nikon F2, but after using it for a year, it does have some things that really annoy me! Mostly changing the shutter speeds while looking through the viewfinder - the viewfinder column is up high so I have to move my hands to get to it, the difficulty of seeing the viewfinder readouts in dim light and the fact that the meter isn't spot metering and doesn't have an exposure scale - I would keep it as a second body and I only have one lens that I got for free (still a good lens though)).

My large format and medium format cameras are really great but the weight is an issue when I want to say take portraits outdoors or by someone's home (and use natural light vs. strobes). So I am on the market for a more suitable 35mm kit (I looked at getting a lighter medium format setup, but either the lenses where expensive, slow or the metering was limited - but if you know any that could fit the bill, feel free to comment). I wrote down a list of the features I want (in order of importance):

  • Reliable
  • Affordable (less than $400 for one in excellent condition)
  • Large aperture lenses (50, 85, 135 >= f2) that are "cheap" (typically less than $300.00 for one in reasonable shape)
  • Spot metering (I prefer spot to center weighted)
  • Viewfinder displays exposure scale in manual and aperture priority mode
  • Viewfinder that is bright and graphical display that can actually be seen in dim lighting
  • Aperture priority & full manual mode
  • Manual focus (I know AF can usually be disabled, but not all cameras are good at manual focusing)
  • Part of a system (motor drives, grips, etc)
  • Solid build with "retro" style - i.e. does not look like a modern dslr

I have looked at all manner of cameras, and the OM4Ti looked ideal except it seems to be very unreliable (saw a few videos and internet posts about electrical and mechanical issues) and rather expensive compared to other cameras from that era. The Nikon F4 ticks all those boxes except it is very close to a modern dslr in terms of looks (actually it looks like a modern mega-zoom point and shoot). The Nikon FM3A is very expensive and does not have spot metering (I think - neither does the FE2 and FM2). I also looked to maybe buy a new viewfinder for the F2 but none seem to address my issues (same for the F3 which also doesn't spot meter or have an exposure scale - AFAIK).

So, there you have it, what would be a good camera to fit the above requirements?