In your opinion, what are the best modern 35mm film SLRs ever built?

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Since I'm shopping around for a new-ish 35mm film SLR, I figured that I'd ask some of you more experienced professionals about this. (I've been shooting large format and medium format film for about 8 years and am working my way down to 35mm film!)

What 35mm film SLR camera systems do you think are the best to get into right now?
Which system do you think has the 'best' lenses?

I did a little research myself and settled on three cameras that I think might qualify:

-Minolta Maxxum 7 (also known as the 'Dynax 7' or 'Alpha-7')
-Nikon F6
-Contax N1
 

oxcanary

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Given your route downwards I would look at stripped down systems without too many modes and possibly with greater longevity. So manual focus manual only cameras (but perhaps with aperture priority as an extra)

I have voigtlander R2 with 25, 35, 50, 75, 90 lenses. Negatives are contrasty and sharp and I happily blow these up to 16x20

Pentax lenses are good especially M series (the A series click stops break). Pair these with a KX, KM, MX or LX or even a Ricoh XR1.

Olympus lenses equally good paired with OM1n or OM2. There ends my experience and have used these three systems for black and white prints for some time


but others love Nikon FM/FM2, Various Minolta offerings, some like Canon (Ftb, AT1)

I would think all these Lens systems are great - so which bodies handle best for you ?
 

Nitroplait

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Nikon FE2 or FM3a if you insist on newish.
Not compact but a handy size you will actually want to bring along.
F100 if it must be AF.
 

guangong

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Based on you LF experience, I would go with simple. Original Nikon F and F2 with plain prism viewer. No batteries to worry about. So many were sold that clean cameras are not hard to find, plus plenty of lenses. Simple and rather small cameras. Very durable. Repairable if ever needed.
I also use another brand SL, but if confirmed to one, it would be one of above Nikons.
 

velvet

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If you’re looking for a good autofocus system most anything made by Canon or Nikon at the end of the film era will be feature packed and competent at its job. Particularly anything made in the 2000s would be a good bet, and typically quite cheap!

As others have done though I’d also recommend you look at some mechanical shutter cameras as well. They’ll serve you a life time and they’re generally just nicer to work with imo than the late era plastic wonders.

I’d also recommend a Nikon here if for no other reason than the massive library of glass you have available to you with the F mount.
 

TheFlyingCamera

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I love the Contax RTS system - particularly the RX, and the RTS III. There are other good bodies in that lineup - the 167MT, ST and S2 bodies are all great options. There's also the option of the AX which will let you autofocus with the manual focus lenses. I don't know that I'd outright recommend it because it's just so odd and mechanically complicated, therefore more likely to turn into a brick at some point in the future. I personally have owned 167MT bodies (two of them) an RX, and currently I have an RTS III. The RTS III was a dream camera when I was younger and they were still in current production, so the prices for both new and used bodies were well beyond what I could afford. They have come down considerably and now are affordable. If you don't want/need the motor drive and a few of the other bells and whistles, then an RTS II would be a good alternative.
 

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That is a very hard question to answer, because it very much depends on a multitude of factors.

But the answer if you look at specs, build and access to super high quality lenses of any type, is obviously F6.

With Minolta Dynax/Alpha/Maxxum 9 a very close second.

None of the Canon bodies can compete, in build and features, but they will be absolutely fine for 99% of all use you can think of.
Trouble is, you are fighting with everybody else over lenses for an absolutely contemporary system. So very few great deals to be found.
 

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I have a Minolta 9, the led readout in the viewfinder is starting to fade, and it is really heavy, made from stainless steel, add the battery grip, a workout to shoot with it all day. I like the 7, it will work all Minolta Sony A mount lens, gear and SSM driven. A sleeper is the Minolta 9XI, top of the line body, a generation ahead of the 9. Other than it uses a series of function cards for advanced feature, like bracketing, it has the same shutter as the 9, auto focus is really good, and runs on a standard CR5 battery. There is a very rare battery grip. But my fav is the 800SI, great viewfinder, although much more menu driven than the 9 it is easy to set up. Also recommend the F2, all mechanical, repairable to some degree, rugged, only draw back is low flash sync of 1/60 if you like to use fill flash. EOS1V, as good as the F5, AF is likely better than a F6, and all full frame EOS lens will work. I have a dozen or so Minolta AF bodies and more lens, but I have buyers remorse, should have gone with Canon 1N or v. lens rDS
 

xkaes

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For size, weight and features, you can't beat the Minolta Maxxum 5. Tiny, light, and every feature you could imagine from full auto to complete manual. Best of all you can find them in near perfect condition for about $25. TONS of great lenses to choose from -- inexpensive as well.
PLUS, you can use these lenses on any Minolta or Sony digital -- the accessories as well.
No-brainer!!!
 
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Well have to vouch for a classic, Olympus OM1 followed very close by Nikon F2 or Canon F1.. Lot of features don't make for a great camera, just increase usefulness.
 

JerseyDoug

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Nikon still has parts and will service the F6. I don't think this level of factory support exists for any other SLR.
 

GregY

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As a LF /MF user, you're accustomed to cameras without meters. If i were in your position, I'd buy a Nikon F2 Titan with a few lenses & be very very happy. Clearly there are many other choices.
 
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Helge

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I have a Minolta 9, the led readout in the viewfinder is starting to fade, and it is really heavy, made from stainless steel, add the battery grip, a workout to shoot with it all day. I like the 7, it will work all Minolta Sony A mount lens, gear and SSM driven. A sleeper is the Minolta 9XI, top of the line body, a generation ahead of the 9. Other than it uses a series of function cards for advanced feature, like bracketing, it has the same shutter as the 9, auto focus is really good, and runs on a standard CR5 battery. There is a very rare battery grip. But my fav is the 800SI, great viewfinder, although much more menu driven than the 9 it is easy to set up. Also recommend the F2, all mechanical, repairable to some degree, rugged, only draw back is low flash sync of 1/60 if you like to use fill flash. EOS1V, as good as the F5, AF is likely better than a F6, and all full frame EOS lens will work. I have a dozen or so Minolta AF bodies and more lens, but I have buyers remorse, should have gone with Canon 1N or v. lens rDS

I’m aware of the 7. And that would be a close contender.
But the 9XI‽ It’s cool looking and all but the card system is beyond stupid and it’s 6 years older than the 9.
 

Paul Howell

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My 9Xi still works, and the AF is pretty good. In my case I have a few of the cards, but I don't use or need those features, I manually bracket, don't do multiexposure, have never needed a landscape or travel card. In long run I would really think about a EOS 1V, cost will less than a F6, more than a F5, tons of great lens, not only Canon EOS but later version of Sigma and Tamron. I understand that there were issues with compatibility with a few early Sigma EOS lens. In terms of Minolta 5, just came back from a walk with mine. Great little camera, good features for the money, and while the Minolta 9 is a heavy beast, the 5 is a little too light. It will work with SSM lens as well as geared, and it is cheap. Not weather sealed. Tomorrow I'm going the the local zoo, will take the 800si, a 400 and 600 lens, if I was shooting wildlife would lug along the 9.
 

Old_Dick

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Nikon F2. What everyone says.
 

4season

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Asking for "the best" without stating your priorities is always going to be a hit-or-miss thing. For instance, the vintage lenses which interest me personally include 28 and 35 mm perspective control, 16 mm rectilinear fisheye, 55, 100 and 200 macro - all of which can be readily had at okay prices for Nikon F-mount. And when using such lenses, I don't particularly care about autofocus, so I can get by with almost any older Nikon camera body which will work with non-electronic lenses

Next closest thing for me might be Canon EOS, albeit at a much higher price, because we're talking about relatively modern glass which may still be available new. But I will say that the modern 40/2.8 Canon pancake lens is a little gem and works very well on film bodies.

OTOH, if I were more of a generalist and thought I might like common focal lengths including 28-35-50-100-200, then pretty much any system might be suitable.
 

Huss

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The dood is asking about new-ish cameras, so all those posting Nikon F, or F2 etc. Well unless you think it's still 1977 those are not new-ish.


Best lenses? Leica.
Best manual focus body? Leica R9
Best system camera? Nikon F6
Best combination of camera and availability of lenses? Nikon F6.
 

Swordman

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Nikon F2.

Alternatively, the Pentax K1000 and Olympus Pen F are excellent cameras, too, but the Nikon edges them.
 

Bill Burk

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It’s worth checking out old mechanical cameras that can be easily serviced.

The wide availability of M42 mount lenses has always made them a good choice.

As features go, I like the Pentax Spotmatic F paired with SMC Takumar lenses.

As lenses go, I like the old Super Takumar 35mm f/2 with 67 mm filter size.

I like the Spotmatic F for the self-timer and locking shutter release. Coupled-aperture metering is nice.

For the Spotmatics, remember the film counter screw and retainer under it are reverse threaded. After that everything else is straightforward.

They will always be repairable, service manuals are freely available and more people are learning how to do it.

A young couple at the grocery store liked my camera and I mentioned I repair them. They told me they might have work for me, they have a Minolta X-370 that needs work. I had to shrug and tell them the electronics make them harder to repair.
 

Bill Burk

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The dood is asking about new-ish cameras, so all those posting Nikon F, or F2 etc. Well unless you think it's still 1977 those are not new-ish.


Best lenses? Leica.
Best manual focus body? Leica R9
Best system camera? Nikon F6
Best combination of camera and availability of lenses? Nikon F6.

All good advice. What I consider new is a 1972 camera with CLA. When ticking the features boxes consider how useful was the feature and how well was it implemented in that camera.

For example was the autofocus slow (older Canon EOS), do you need a motor drive, were the zooms ever a good idea? Was the metering useful? (I’d say Nikon matrix metering is a pinnacle). If capacitors die or electromagnets stick, do you have a brick?
 
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