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Film Camera recommendations?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by ksn, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. ksn

    ksn Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 6, 2011
    I don't have much experience with film cameras, but I would like to get a decent one, not a large SLR, and probably just one lens (doesn't have to be interchangable) for some b&w street photography. I find that I like the noise in film photos and I'm not having much luck replicating that in digital.

    I have no idea where to start or even how to compare cameras since I'm not looking at megapixels, etc anymore. Any advice?
  2. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    If it's just something that you're looking to explore casually, then I'd look at a Canon AE-1 or AE-1 Program. Depending on the condition they're in, they tend to go for $50-75 on eBay. For street photography, you can add an FD 50mm f/1.8 lens for another $20-40 in great condition or move up to a 50mm f/1.4 for somewhere around $80-100 in mint condition. The lenses can be switched over to your µ4/3 camera with a $12 adapter making them multi-useful.

    The AE-1 was a simple to use, all-around performer and was, I believe, the biggest-selling camera of the 70s and 80s, so there are lots on the market which keeps the prices down. Mine was bought in 1979 and is still going strong with never a problem over the course of its long life. The batteries are still easy to find online (Duracell 28L - about $10 new on eBay and they last forever).

    There are an awful lot of vintage film effects plugins for your post-processing software that'll reproduce not only grain effects, but do it for hundreds of types of film, most of which are out of production these days - DXO, Alien Skin Exposure, and Nik all come to mind. Something to also consider as finding a great variety of available film to shoot these days is getting harder.
  3. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Any smaller 70s or 80s slr will do. I've used Pentax M series and Olympus OM in the past, they're both nice and can be had with a good 50mm lens for very little money.

    Another option would be a fixed lens rangefinder like a Canonet or Olympus 35xx. This article lists a few worthy examples
  4. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    If you'd prefer something that isn't an SLR - Olympus Trip 35 (or Canon Canonette or Yashica Electro) or a newer Olympus Mju - not much to control or configure and they generally just work (and they're pretty cheap).

    If you want to spend a little money on something compact - a Ricoh GR, Konica Hexar AF or Contax TVS

    Small SLR's for manual control - Olympus OM series (pref single digit) or the Olympus Pen F series.

    More money and a rangefinder - Leica M (the older screw mounts too but I hear the viewfinders are tiny) or Voigtlander Bessa R

    Serious bullet-proof SLR's - the Nikon pro line F, F2, F3, FM, FE or the newer F4, 5 or 6 (the F100 can be had cheap and its as good as an F5 or 6 if you don't need all the pro bells and whistles).

    Theres a nice series of articles over here -



  5. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    I can recommend a Nikon F3, I have one listed on the marketplace :) 

    If you're looking for a point and shoot, I can vouch for an Olympus mju-II (with 28mm f2.8 lens) .
  6. ksn

    ksn Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 6, 2011
    Thanks all. I looked over the options people brought up and I like the Ricoh GR, it seems pretty compact and I like how it looks. Price is okay too for a GR1v. Gonna look into it a bit more though!
  7. ThereAndBackAgain

    ThereAndBackAgain Fighting GAS

    May 26, 2014
    North Devon, England
    Or an Olympus XA? Tiny, pocketable, good image quality.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    If you are not into collecting stuff then almost any of the last autofocus film cameras will do well. You can get EOS 1000 for almost free and its a light and modern body. I see an Elan (which was a good camera) for $21

    Pentax made some good cameras too and y could get one for nix as well.

    I use OM and have manual focus manual bodies but they tend to be a bit dearer. I have an OM1 and an OM10

    This Nikon is a classic too


    Try keh.com for some prices :) 
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Canon Canonet GIII

    The rear seals on the film door are generally need replacing but its pretty DIY. Lovely camera... Its a bonus if you can find one with the Canolite D flash which is specifically designed for the camera. Be aware that these like many older cameras use selenium meters which can go bad. There are battery options.

    SLR wise, there's nothing more fun than going retro with a good condition Pentax Spotmatic or K1000 with a handheld meter. Another more modern SLR that I liked was the last of the Canon FD mount bodies; T90. FD lenses are plentiful and inexpensive. I prefer the T90 because AE's (which are good too) have a habit of developing shutter squeek.

    Of course, the Leica M (which I shoot) but understandably can be a bit uncomfortable price wise. Most will need a CLA by now (if not already) and the lenses can get mighty expensive (also CLA cost). Vintage M-mounts have risen in price with the introduction of adaptable mirrorless options.

    Some like Russian screwmounts too.... but the quality varies quite a bit from one to another.
  10. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    If you want cheep look for the Cosina 35E or its similar cameras by Chinon Vivitar etc, you can also get a Konica one for a bit more, they are though a rangefinder with program exposure. The Olympus µ mju with the fixed focal length lens is a cracker if you want AF but again program exposure. The Ricoh and Yashica/Contax's go for a lot of money but the lenses are good. A nice and sometimes affordable interchangeable lens rangefinder was the Agfa Ambi Sillete there is an article on Camraquest about them, no meter at all but the lenses are little crackers. Getting traditional black and white film developed is more expensive than colour films, the C41 (colour dev) mono films do not have the same grain structure as traditional films such as HP5 and Tri X so you may want to consider trying home developing, it does not need to cost much as a lot of things can be bought on Ebay used and the process itself it quite easy.
  11. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Your original post made me think of the Ricoh GR1 series, because its wide angle made it popular for street photography, so much so that Ricoh has produced a popular digital version. If you haven't seen it, here is a good article about the series:


    There are so many great options, for not a lot of money. I started with SLRs because they came attached to lenses I bought for my PEN. I've been into rangefinders lately, mostly Minolta Hi-Matics, and I have an Olympus Stylus Epic coming to replace the one I foolishly sold just last year. Since I realized I could put a light meter app on my phone, I'm considering older cameras, maybe even medium format. So much old gear, so little time.
  12. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    I recommend a Konica Auto S-2. They can be found in good working order for under $50. It's an outstanding fixed lens rangefinder with a truly superb lens.
  13. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    I agree, that's a fantastic camera. It took me a few tries to find a functional one. Otherwise, the Auto S2's only fault is that its outwardly beautiful leather case has a yellow foam pad inside the top, which dries out over the decades then disintegrates during shipping, leaving a fine yellow powder all over the camera. If you order one, ask the seller to pack the camera outside its case.
  14. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    +1 I have one and it's a gem.
  15. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Konica's Hexanon 38mm lens in some of their compacts is awesomely sharp. The C35 can be had for very little money, and it's very fun to use.
  16. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    A Fuji gf670, or Mamiya 7 if money was no object. Barring that a tight little mamiya 1000dtl with a hotshoe. Sweet little camera, and the lenses are tiny. The 55 1.8 is one of my favorite 50's and is great on the m4/3 bodies as well. Sweet feel to the camera, nice and butter smooth to operate.
  17. Engawa

    Engawa Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2014
    I've never owned an XA1 before but I thought I should mention the XA2 because it has zone focusing which sounds useful for street photography.

    I also think any of the Japanese rangefinders mentioned already are great. I have the canonet, Konica s2, and yashica electro and love them all!
    I also love the OM SLRs as well!
  18. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    If you are planning to use the metering on older cameras, make sure that the batteries are still available. Many older cameras used mercury cells because of the stable output. Look for ones that use silver cells (S76 or equivalent). The Yashica Electro 35 series can often be found in working order for little money. The meter can use easily found battery (PX28A or 4LR44) with a simple homemade adapter (to hold the smaller battery in line with the contacts. The Electro 35 has an excellent 45mm f/1.7 lens. As with any older camera there may be problems with light seals or it may need a CLA. It is a buyers market with many excellent cameras to choose. If you have a local camera store you like, check to see if they have any used cameras for sale. Usually they will give you a short warranty.
  19. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    If you are hoping to use a camera that uses 625 size Mercury batteries, which was the most common battery in mechanical cameras from the 1970s, they're not available. You can get 625-size alkalines, but they have the wrong voltage, and the meter needs to be re-calibrated to use them - which can cost more than the cameras themselves nowadays. But there's a better choice.

    675-size Zinc-Air hearing aid batteries produce the right voltage for the meter. They wear out quickly, but they are dirt cheap - they last for about a month after you activate them by pulling the tab and exposing them to air. They are also the wrong size, but you can get a #9 rubber O-ring spacer at any plumbing supply store such as Home Depot, for well under a dollar - which you just drop into the battery chamber and it perfectly adapts the chamber of most cameras to fit the 675-size batteries. The 675 zinc-air hearing aid batteries cost about $5 for a 6-pack.
  20. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 21, 2013
    I agree as well.
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