Simpler Cameras

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ongakublue, Oct 17, 2015.

  1. ongakublue

    ongakublue Member

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    Hi all,

    I recently posted on a digital forum about my experiences with old cameras from the late 70s and early 80s. Pre AF cameras with very few functions compared to today's cameras. I was trying to make the point that these older cameras in many ways have something better going for them than a modern full frame digital camera because the simplicity can lend itself to a different approach to creativity. I was met with very mixed reaction. Mostly negative. I suppose it's not surprising. People saying they can't be without the latest tech and so on. That older means not good enough. Which is kind of nonsense in most ways. I was also accused of trying to impress people, that I can work a camera that is only MF and so on.

    Watching what is next to come out and running after it. I suppose, without sounding pompous, I think that so much is lost in this kind of keeping up with the Joneses. For me, the switch to film has been so enlightening, such a pleasure and I don't miss menus which have 100 options in them either. (I understand more recent film cameras do come closer to this but I am talking about the older models). It has made me slow down and really savour the whole experience. Plus the physicality of committing something to film is beautiful.

    How do you feel about this? Do you feel glad not to be watching for the latest tech developments in digital cameras? Are there things you miss? Do you tend to shoot on cameras from the late 90s, for example, rather than the late 70s. How important is the technology in all this?

    People say it's the person behind the camera that is most important. I really believe that. I am just not sure many people really do.
     
  2. Sceptic

    Sceptic Member

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    As someone who started with a digital camera, I couldn't agree more. Since starting film (3 years ago +), I may have picked up a digital camera less than 5 times. I feel like there is no point going back
     
  3. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member
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    Except for the time it takes to process the film, old manual film camera doesn't slow me down at all. I am actually faster than using the new digital with all the bells and whitles. Those unnecessary features actually slow me down.
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber
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    I shoot both digital and film, 90% film, in terms of 35mm many of my cameras are from the 60s and 70s, a few are from the 50s, I don't think I have any from the 40s, no I take that back I have a new in the box C33 which needs to be serviced. I own 3 AF film systems, Sigma, Pentax, and Minolta. I like my Pentax Spotmatic and other M42 mount cameras because they are so basic, it is all about the image in the viewfinder, I use Konica because of the lens. I use either Pentax or Minolta AF when shooting sports or wildlife, the metering is so much better and my Maximum 9000 shoots 5 PFS when needed. When I do shoot digital I tend to use my older bodies as I like the look better.
     
  5. jnantz

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    i don't mind technology, i think modern cameras are fun to use .
    but i also like bare bones simple cameras ...
    no focus
    no fstop
    no nothing but a lens and button.
    that's fun too
     
  6. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    I think it's human nature to want others to understand what we feel. I have had wonderful things to say for just about every camera that I've owned and used. But sadly I'm usually the only person that feels like that (in my circle). I can tell a group people how wonderful it is to use a particular camera, but if nobody in that group has ever used such a camera, can I reasonably expect them to agree? In fact, what I would expect is this . . . a group of individuals defending what they know and have experienced. And until they have had the same experiences as I, I shouldn't expect them to understand or agree. Aside; I love it when I tell people something, and their eyes just glaze over. It's that point when they are most vulnerable. And it's that point when they most easily enlightened. Anything you say is most likely "new information" to them. My three pesetas.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2015
  7. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Member
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    manual film advance makes multiple exposures super easy. I like on a leaf shutter on "bulb" setting you can just open and close the shutter without having to re-cock it. open close open close.......open close. However you like. EASY! do it your own way!
     
  8. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber
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    My first SLR was a Nikon FE which I shot for years until I bought a F100 which I thought would allow me to focus faster in situations that called for it. The first thing I realised was that manual focusing was often faster for me than autofocus, because I didn't have to worry about the camera constantly trying to find the focus point. Other difficulties I hadn't anticipated were scrolling through the menus (albeit much simpler than what digital cameras have today) and/or trying to remember where everything was to do something relatively simple (as on the FE). I like to do night exposures too but the lack of an old-fashioned cable release socket threw me for a loop (luckily the self-timer works for this too). While I like the F100 a lot my go-to camera is still the FE, which I could shoot blind if I needed to, it's so simple to use. So yes, I understand your feelings, and that's just from my experience with film cameras!
     
  9. fdonadio

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    I tried, but never got really used to the dials and buttons on d-cameras. They don't work for me.

    Every time I touch a camera like that, I immediately miss the aperture ring on the lens and the shutter speed dial on the top of the camera.

    Those and the focus ring (on the lens, for sure) are all a camera really needs to make it work for me.

    Some people will settle for even less.
     
  10. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    My simplest 35mm film camera is the Nikon F2 with a non-metered view finder.

    My most complex 35mm film camera is the Nikon N70.

    Both are excellent cameras, however, I prefer simpler to complex for the following reasons:
    1. The less bells and whistles, the less things that can break or go wrong.
    2. The operations of a simpler camera are more intuitive. I do not have to carefully review the camera operations before shooting an important assignment.
    3. When shooting in near total darkness, it is easier for me change the simpler camera settings by feel rather than by sight.

    [​IMG]
    Nikon F2 + 18mm lens by Narsuitus, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Nikon N70 + 180mm lens by Narsuitus, on Flickr
     
  11. momus

    momus Member

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    If you post what you did on a digital forum, that is what you will get. Personally I prefer pre 1940 cameras and lenses The optics are "better". They take nicer pics in every regard. And of course they can be fixed w/o sending them to the Highest Wizards of camera repair, who for a ton of money will, maybe, when they get darned good and ready, fix your camera and give you plenty of plenty of holier than thou attitude.

    Still, there are times and places where an all-auto-everything camera is better. I have lost my share of shots not being pre focused and w/ the right aperture and shutter speeds set. Always easier to just point it and fire away, and when I recently looked at shots from my earlier days of using AF Nikons, the shots were different than the later pics w/ manual cameras. That ability to simply point and shoot is not to be underestimated in the right situation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2015
  12. OP
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    ongakublue

    ongakublue Member

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    Nice replies. I shoot portraits mostly and some street photography. Well I carry around a camera and shoot things that interest me and I live in a city so maybe it is street photography :smile: so I have become comfortable with manual focus.

    The point about manual focus: With the digital AF systems (which were supposedly really good ones) I frequently found out of focus shots when I would look back on the day's work. I seem to nail the focus better manually myself when the subject is not moving a lot. It's getting better with practice too. Of course if you have 12 frames per second you miss less shots but conversely you kind of miss more! Because it can become spray and pray more. Other speed and automatic related advances are comparable. Kind of hoping the machine will do the work for you more and more.

    I agree with the bells and whistles getting in the way. I don't think it is intuitive to search through menus on the back of a body to change some setting like from spot to matrix metering or from continuous autofocus to single point autofocus. Of course it gets far more detailed than that too.

    I also agree with the point that people don't like what they haven't tried or fear it.
    I studied music for many years. Just as an example and analogy. A piano is essentially a machine to produce/express art on. A modern piano can play with far more resonance and dynamic range as one from 1800 (Some also had a smaller compasses back then) but to say that this means music played on a piano Beethoven used, was inferior or that the instrument itself is inferior. It's obviously absurd.

    Back to the point of this thread and the use of some of these older cameras, I suppose I am saying I think that less is more.
     
  13. Nodda Duma

    Nodda Duma Subscriber

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    To each their own.
     
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  15. blockend

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    Cameras are picture making devices. If you like the picture, the thing that made it is irrelevant.
     
  16. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Whether you use a fully automatic camera or something simpler really depends on the current subject matter. I find that there are situations (sports events, animal photos) where there is little or no time for adjusting focus, aperture and shutter speed. This is where fully automatic cameras really stand out. However I personally use something simpler such as a Bessa R most of the time.
     
  17. DWThomas

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    I have a pretty broad assortment of picture taking gear from 8x10 pinhole through assorted medium format film down through 35mm, a Minox and an iPhone. Each has its advantages -- and its drawbacks. Perhaps it's my age, but I find a lot of all-automagic-everything devices, not just cameras, to be frustrating almost as much as they are handy. Not so little things, like auto focus locking in on some contrasty thing in the foreground or exposure going bananas with some backlighting or artificial overhead light within a frame, etc. I pretty much skipped from the early 1980s to the 2000s in camera purchases, so I've not much experience with the most automated film cameras, I suspect they are not all that different from many d!git@ls in their attempts to be fully magicke at all times.

    Of course, there is also the outright gratuitous foolishness, like a previous microwave oven that scrolled "ENJOY YOUR MEAL" across the segmented display when its cook cycle ended! :whistling:

    I believe it's mostly about learning your tools, and picking the right one for the job at hand. I wouldn't use my 16" chainsaw to cut a picture frame molding! Nor would I use my Voigtländer Perkeo II for macro photography.
     
  18. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member
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    My favourite cameras are from the 1950s - manual focus, manual exposure, manual cocking of the shutter, manual shutter release, manual film advance, manual viewfinder. I find my fully automated cameras from the 1990s irritating and confusing and rarely use them.

    I suspect that on APUG you will find most of us are happy with manual - including manual developing, manual printing (and for many of us it would seem manual calculation of ASA value!)

    Sent from my A1-840 using Tapatalk
     
  19. 4season

    4season Member
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    Thoughtfulness comes from within :laugh: You can shoot "decisive moment" types of shots thoughtfully with a fully manual camera: Just be thoughtful quickly! Oh, awareness and anticipation wouldn't hurt either--without those, not even the quickest autofocus is going to save you.
     
  20. Theo Sulphate

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    What is appealing about older equipment is that the level of involvement in using it is more enjoyable and rewarding. This is why I like cars with manual transmissions instead of F1-inspired paddle shifting automatics.

    I have an X-Pro1 and a D700 and sometimes they're the right tool for the job. But, to enjoy photography, I will always choose an all-manual film camera.
     
  21. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber
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    Simpler cameras, oh yes, couldn't agree more.
     
  22. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber
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    If you were to look at the work of the negative commenters you would probably laugh. I find most of the mean people out there may know a lot about digital cameras but little about photography.

    I shoot both film and digital so I understand that each has it's advantages and disadvantages.
     
  23. ColColt

    ColColt Member

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    I have little doubt I was one of the last hold outs switching to digital. I fought it tooth and nail for a long time. I began to see my favorite film disappear, chemicals weren't available locally anymore and few decent cameras(old Nikon, Canon, Leica, etc) but rather the latest and greatest and soon to change in six months, digital camera. Look up Luddite and you'll probably see my picture.

    I'm all for technological changes and improvements. I was quite happy in grade school to have received a polio shot to keep me from that dreaded disease that caused crippling. Unfortunately, Jonas Salk came around with a cure too late for my Granny. I was most ecstatic when they had medicine that helped me when I fell victim in the early 50's to the Hong Kong flu. I was joyful to get away from vacuum windshield wipers and alternator rebuilds way too often.

    Nevertheless, I saw little to lure me to digital photography but being of the curious sort I finally succumbed to getting my first one around 2008 primarily as I wanted to photograph my soon to be Corgi I went to KY to get from the breeder. Digital has some good qualities but to me the greatest is the ability to see immediately if you screwed up a shot. I don't need those mega pixel cards that give you a zillion jpegs or hundreds of RAW shots. Loose the card, if it becomes corrupt you're up the creek with hundreds of vacation shots lost.

    Having said all that I will give digital one kudo besides the ability to see your shots instantly. I doubt film cameras can compete with the quality as for sharpness of enlargements go if you only have 35mm. I have a 16x20 of my Corgi hanging in the living room that was done on canvas simply because it was to date the best shot I had made of him. It was shot with a Nikon D200 and the 80-200 f2.8 ED lens and was superb. I could have only equaled it with the 6x7 in that size photo.Film and digital fill a niche for us and I can see the use in both particularly if you want to send someone a photo of whatever ASAP a jpeg is the way to do it quickly. I would never switch totally to digital and as long as film is available I'll stick to what I learned with and with the simple cameras I learned with such as the Nikon FM, F2 Photomic, F2A and FTN Photomic. From my experience and perspective they're as good as it gets. I detest the hundreds of pages to mull through to learn a digital camera's functions and menus. That is the nemesis of that breed.

    BTW-that shot of my dog I mentioned...

    [​IMG]_DEF3557aa by David Fincher, on Flickr
     
  24. bergytone

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    Another neat thing regarding older, simpler cameras... they are affordable. Cameras that I could only drool over when I was a teenager in the 70's are now available for less than $50. I hear these stories of people dropping $5k on the latest new fangled mirrorless digibox and I think about how much film I could buy with that money....
     
  25. Chan Tran

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    Those who control exposure with the exposure compensator and nothing else.
     
  26. ColColt

    ColColt Member

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    I remember very well when the F2A came out and I drooled over it but couldn't afford it then...and I was working! Since I've retired guess what I bought, and for much less? Seems I've had money to play with at retirement than when I worked.
     
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