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First 35mm - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by Akvavit, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. Akvavit

    Akvavit Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 19, 2012
    After a visit with my parents, where i managed to scoop up a few old cameras - I have become hooked on trying out shooting 35mm - but I am quite a lot in doubt what to go for.

    A potential 35mm will "only" be a secondary thing to my digital, but I am loving all things mechanical, and an old 35mm camera was the next step after i a few years ago picked up vinyl as my favourite music source.

    However... after reading a lot over the last few days around various forums and collector sites - it seems like there are so many hidden gems, either from not that well know brands, or brands that no longer exist - so I am not at all sure which way to go. Hope you guys can kick in some suggestions and ideas.

    The thought I have made currently is:

    - Fair priced - both house and lenses
    - Solid build - the more metal the better (this comes from holding an old, but defect Exakta Varex - loved the weight!)
    - To be found within Europe (e.g. Ebay.co.uk) - as I always get slaughtered in customs and additional taxes.

    A few I have been looking at:

    Canon AE-1
    Minolta X-700

    But I was also thinking if any of the old Olympus 35mm, can use the :43: lenses fitting my Pen? If yes - any model suggestions?

    If I am in luck and find something, then I plan to develop the negatives myself - after reading a bit, this part seems to be not overly complicated. But then instead of developing the pictures, I planned to scan in the negatives - I saw that Canon sells scanners with negative scanning for quite reasonable prices.

    I will come up with more questions, but this should be able to get me going right now - hope to hear from you guys :thumbup:
  2. KS11

    KS11 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 31, 2011
    Busan/Hong Kong
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Akvavit

    Akvavit Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 19, 2012
    I have not decided if I want to go rangefinder or SLR - to be honest I have not 100% pinpointed all pros/cons of both formats.

    This 35mm love that that surfaced is not even close to be based on any practical sense - it's all for the love of mechanical things - hell all things old and different.

    But thanks for the link, reading it now :thumbup:
  4. KS11

    KS11 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 31, 2011
    Busan/Hong Kong
    well other than rangefinders, here is some info i can share (cause i am going into film too!) so i wanted something small and not a huge film SLR which is heavy.

    a pentax and olympus vintage SLR camera is quite reasonable in size.

    no modern electronic lens will work on your old 35mm camera body, unless you mean vice versa...

    in that case a olympus om1 or om3 would be nice although the om3 is much more rarer to find. i mention these two because they are all mechanical and dont require batteries for the shutter or anything. om lenses are getting higher in price though as they are very high quality in feel and image quality


    rivaling this IMO would be a pentax system.

    for the others, you might want to go even older and get a K mount Pentax MX (correct me if i am wrong that this is the all mechanical version)

  5. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    The Canon AE-1 is a great choice, because FD-mount Canon lenses tend to be more affordable than other lenses of that era, since they're not compatible with EOS bodies without an adapter. But keep in mind that the top & bottom plate are plastic, not metal. If you're looking for an all-metal body, this isn't it.

    The AE-1 also doesn't have an aperture-priority mode, if that's important to you.

    I think the A-1 might have been all metal, and it offers both shutter- and aperture-priority modes.

    With any old camera, you should do some Web research about whether batteries are still available. In some cases, only batteries with different chemistry/voltage are available, which can make the built-in light meters inaccurate.

    If you're considering Nikon, I know my FE-2 was built like a tank. A lot were sold and they're pretty much indestructible, so there are a ton of them out there. You should be able to find an affordable body. Affordable F-mount lenses will probably be harder to find than FD-mount Canon lenses, though.
  6. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I have several 35mm film cameras: an Olympus OM-1 MD, a Canon AE-1 Program, and a Pentax Spotmatic SPII. Out of the three, my favourite to handle and shoot with is the OM-1 - Its fully manual so if you like the experience of shooting with a mechanical camera, it certainly gives it. Mine has had the battery conversion so it can use off the shelf batteries for the meter as opposed to some of the work arounds that are available. The AE-1 Program is nice, and lenses are relatively cheap, but for me it's just not as nice to shoot with as the OM-1. The Spotmatic is nice as well, but larger and heavier than the OM-1.
  7. The A-series Canons both have metal top and bottom plates, even the AV-1. It's the insides you have to be careful with. All A-series Canons can suffer from a squeaky mirror mechanism (often incorrectly called a squeaky shutter). The hinges on the mirror are prone to losing lubricant and the mirror becomes slow to operate to the point where it will not rise quickly enough at faster shutter speeds and partially obscure the image. There are a number of methods documented to attempt to fix this, but nothing that I have attempted so I can't comment on their effectiveness. They are electronic cameras and need a battery to operate. If the electronics fail they are a paperweight :frown: The A-1 is the most sophisticated with it's digital display, and offers the same PASM modes as found on modern cameras.
  8. Akvavit

    Akvavit Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 19, 2012
    When looking around I see OM-1n MD, OM-1 MD and OM-1...

    Found the definitions for these here: Olympus OM-1 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    But was wondering if any of them is to avoid, or if all 3 would be great if found for a good price?
  9. greyelm

    greyelm Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2010
    Any one from the front row :wink:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Being serious for a moment, whatever you chose, be aware that older cameras may require a CLA (cleaning lubrication adjustment) so factor this into your costs.

    Places worth checking out are charity shops (thrift shops), many bargains can be found for little money.
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Nope, you probably won't find any 35mm film camera that will, as digital non-reflex register distances (that includes Micro Four-Thirds, NEX, Nikon 1, Pentax Q, etc.) are all shorter than what we saw back "in the day", even shorter than rangefinder and cinema lenses.

    Which is of course why our cameras today can be adapted to all the lenses of yesteryear... but it doesn't work the other way around. Brand is not an issue.

    If you don't want to go into rangefinders, then the next shortest register is the Pen F, which is basically halfway between a traditional SLR and a rangefinder in flange distance. Theoretically you could adapt other SLR lenses to it, but I don't know if there are adapters available.

    Instead, I would suggest keeping with just one 35mm film system in its entirety, both body and lenses. Which of course means availability of lenses should come into your buying decision. Look around at which lens types are common in your area. Maybe Pentax or Minolta? Politics in your area may come to play... For instance, the Olympus shop in my town got shut down way back when and so Calgary, a few hours south of here, had become the only place to get Olympus gear. As such, when I look for used lenses around here OM Zuikos are pretty hard to find. Pentax and Minolta are easy (I often shot with a Minolta in film).
  11. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I've had/have most if not all, other than the Leicas, of the cameras mentioned. I would go back to basics, a Pentax K1000 or a Pentax Spotmatic F or SP1000. Although you didn't mention whether you want anything automatic. These cameras are all manual and mechanical except for the light meter. They also have bridge circuits and thus will take cheap modern batteries. I would lean towards a late model Spotmatic since M42 lenses are plentiful and cheap.

    As for scanners. You can get film scanners for next to nothing. At least here in the US. I paid a few hundred dollars for a Minolta a decade ago. I got a used Minolta a couple of generations newer last year for $25. I was using it last night. Works just fine.
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    These guys are mostly thinking like photographers, not collectors.

    For fine mechanical things, the old Leica (greyelm's front row) and Contax rangefinders are hard to beat. The Nikon SP, S3, etc. family is very nice as well but they are copies of the Germans, so maybe somewhat tainted for a collector. Depends on your attitude.

    For luxurious SLRs, the Leicas and maybe the Alpa with its somewhat unique apochromatic lenses.

    Not 35mm, but the Rollei TLRs are very pleasing devices as is the Linhof Super Technika. The Minox "spy camera" is another beauty.
  13. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Those all all fine cameras. But the OP had certain cost criteria.

    If he's worried about getting slaughtered on taxes, I don't think the Leicas will be in his price range.
  14. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    They are all good if they can be had for a good price, though I don't know what you mean by 'good price'. For example, KEH has a bunch of OM-1 series models, some that have been converted to use 1.5V batteries, for as low as $41 for a BGN rated camera (I've been nothing but pleased with the BGN rated lenses I've received from them, although I've never purchased or seen a BGN rated camera). A 50mm 1.8 will then run you between $29-$45.

    Edit: Sorry I just noticed you're in Dublin - I don't know if KEH will ship there.
  15. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Look around for a photog getting rid of his entire kit... Or estate sales.

    I have almost all of the systems mentioned above, and it's hard to go wrong with any of it unless it's damaged. Given your location, I would be especially vigilant about fungus damage on the lenses.

    For price, you'll likely find Minolta SR/MC/MD and Canon FL/FD lenses and bodies the cheapest as they cannot be used on regular DSLR's. M42, K, F, OM can all be more easily adapted to the current crop of DSLR's, so the prices have been a bit crazy.
  16. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Back in the 80's I sold AE-1's and never thought very highly of them. Lots of repairs. The X-700 was more reliable. Any electronically operated camera from that time period may be hard to maintain today.

    The OM1 is great, but the mercury cell that runs the meter is unavailable. They can be modified to use silver oxide cells. Without modification the meter is inaccurate. There are also air cells that have the right voltage but run down continuously once they are opened whether they're used or not.

    Here comes the suggestion, Nikon FM or FM2. All mechanical, all manual, no battery issues, tons of lenses.

  17. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Nikon, either F or Ftn.

  18. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    If you have to you can pound nails with an F.

  19. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Yep, they will deflect a bullet, stop shrapnel and still take a great image with a wonderful system behind it.

  20. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    I have a collection of 35mm cameras-

    Mechanical cameras tend to fare better in their old age compared with the electro-mechanical counterparts. The Canon FTb is a better choice than an AE-1, Nikkormat FT2 is a better choice than an EL. If an electrical contact gets dirty on the FT2, the meter needle jumps. If the conact gets dirty on the EL, the shutter sticks open.

    anyway: the fixed-lens RF Canonet Ql17 GIII and slightly older (same size) QL17l is hard to beat. compact, well built, good lens. Shutter preferred automatic with full manual override. Worls without a battery. Bought "just off of Ebay", chances are you will need to change the seals, clean the finder.
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