What camera to choose.

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PaulDK

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Hi guys.

I'm thinking on buying an old film camera, but I'm in a little bit of doubt on which camera I should choose? There's three cameras I have in mind.

Should I consider the Nikon F5, which I can find relatively cheap, even though the camera is a little bit big and bulky? Should I go down the medium format road with the Rolleicord/flex or should I return to the 35mm path and "drive the save up money car" towards a used Leica M6? Leica is of course a dream camera, but the lenses and body is still pretty expensive.

//Paul.
 

Regular Rod

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Do you already use a digital camera?

If so then maybe you should eschew 35mm and instead go for the medium format option as your digital camera will do all that a 35mm camera will do but it won't be able to do what a medium format camera can do...

Your budget will be a major influence on your choice of medium format camera. Do you want a camera to fit in your pocket, or are you happy to take a bag?

RR
 

Ian Grant

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Older Leica M3 cameras are better value than an M6 and excellent performers even with a good 1950s Summicron, I used my for many years before deciding that I was no longer interested in 35mm and switching to a Yashicamat (Turkey) and Rolleiflex's (UK).

I think RR is right about medium format it gives that edge in terms of image quality compared to 35mm. I just carry my TLR's using the neck strap, the case/backpack is for my LF gear :D

Ian
 

darkosaric

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If you think about Leica - then go for it. Lens: for start buy some cheap elmar (like 5cm f3.5 LTM), and later you can buy some summicron, or summilux or whatever. If M6 is too expensive: then go for a screw mount body - they are cheaper and fit in pocket.
 
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PaulDK

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Regular rod:
Well, I have a budget around $1000, maybe a little bit more if I save some money the next couple of month. I use my Canon 7D from time to time, but not as a professional photographer (earning to pay the bills).
Also the 7D is quite large in comparison to the old 35mm cameras, and it would be nice to downsize a bit, without a loss in quality if you know what I mean. So yeah it would be nice to have something you can fit in your pocket or in a small bag. Aaaand that's where I probably shouldn't have mentioned the F5, because it's as large as the 7D.
Sorry about that. :D

Ian Grant and darkosaric:
I always thought that Leicas only could use Leica lenses.

By the way, if I decide I want to make gallery size images, is 35mm too small or should I go for the medium format?
 

fotch

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Getting a Leica M3 w Leica lens is the way to go. Everyone should own at least one for awhile, then, if you don't like it, easy to sell.
 

jeffreyg

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I can't tell you which to choose as it should fit your needs and budget. I do suggest that if possible test it before purchasing or at least buy from a reputable source with a return policy. Once you get it test with film and processing to be sure it is functioning correctly bot mechanically and optically.

http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
 

mnemosyne

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Always remember that the nicest camera on the shelf is useless when you don't have the money to pay for film and processing.
So, with a limited budget I wouldn't go for a Leica. These cameras have addictive and seductive properties and you will soon be spending much more money on them than originally intended. Don't ask me how I know :whistling:

With a budget of 1000 $ I would go for a nice Olympus OM-2 and two or three favorite lenses and use the rest for film supplies, maybe even a basic set for film development (50$) and a good entry level film scanner (300$). IMO nowadays it is more important than ever to be in control of your workflow and honestly, for me it is half the fun of the whole thing.

Compared to SLRs, rangefinder cameras like the Leica M are quite a bit more expensive and I would suggest that you give them a try at a later point in time, when you are certain that you really want to stick with film and are ready to explore a different shooting style.

If you decide for MF, a decent post-war Rolleiflex in good condition is a reasonable choice. Just be aware that the waist level finder is not to everybody's liking and you should make sure that you will get along with the limitation of one focal length. If not, a more flexible system camera like a Bronica SQA could be the better alternative.
 

Regular Rod

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Regular rod:
Well, I have a budget around $1000...

That is equivalent to the budget I had when I was doing the same as you.

I went for 6x9 folders.

Zeiss Super Ikonta 531/2 has coupled range finder. A good example with clean lens is capable of amazing quality and sharpness.

Moskva 5 is a Russian copy and a good one is capable of matching the results of the 531/2.

Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 524/2 has uncoupled range finder. Produces the same quality as the 531/2.

AGFA Record III with Solinar Lens produces even better results than those above.

There are others that are said to produce better results than these, but I'm not so sure and anyway they are well outside "our" budget.

All these fit in a jacket pocket...

RR
 

jp498

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For $1000 you could get a rolleiflex automat ($300), light meter ($100ish), and have money left over to get a hasselblad or bronica or good folder, or a 4x5 speed/crown graphic.

I highly respect the F5 (I had an F4s and newer DSLRs), but unless you're doing sports, it's probably not necessary today. Perhaps the exception would be if you want perfectly exposed E6 film using the camera's meter. It and the F4s had a very nice matrix metering system built to expose transparency film, which is going the wayside.
 

BrianShaw

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You have a good budet, and have received some good advise... but perhaps you should back up one step and think about what you REALISTICALLY plan on using hte camera for since the choice of camera is quite dependent upon what you plan to use it for. In terms of an all-round, do-everything camera I would suggest the 35mm SLR option.
 

miha

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Regular rod:
By the way, if I decide I want to make gallery size images, is 35mm too small or should I go for the medium format?

You'd need 4X5 or bigger for that.

Kidding aside, look for an older EOS film camera so you can potentially use your existing lenses and spend 900 on film...
 

BrianShaw

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Kidding aside, look for an older EOS film camera so you can potentially use your existing lenses and spend 900 on film...

750 on film, spend the rest on a tripod so your negs are good enough so you can enlarge big if/when you want.
 

mweintraub

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When buying a new system, lenses should be a big factor in your decisions. Not only the quality, but the cost. What do you shoot? What do you want to shoot? Will you be having a continuous budget where you can get lenses in the future? For example, maybe you can get a Leica with one lens now, and pick up some more later.

Also, What type of camera do you like shooting? Do you think you'd be fine with the rangefinder of the Leica Ms?
 

nsurit

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In 35mm, good glasss would be my concern. Given that I've consumed the Olympus OM kool aid, I'd probably get an OM 4T with 50mm high number f1.4, a 24mm f2.8 and 85mm f2. Amen to the tripod and tiltall might be a good choice on a budget. You would not be disappointed with the Zuiko glass. Bill Barber
 

mr rusty

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Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you when you need it, and when you take that shot, there is nothing between the lens and film except air. Some of the images I have been most pleased with recently have been taken on a 1953 zeiss folder with a plain triplet lens. Go figure.
 
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PaulDK

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Thank you very much for your great input guys, I really appreciate it.
 

darkosaric

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Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you when you need it, and when you take that shot, there is nothing between the lens and film except air. Some of the images I have been most pleased with recently have been taken on a 1953 zeiss folder with a plain triplet lens. Go figure.

Yep. I do have a Leica and summicron, but Olympus mju is always in my bag, because it is so small and lightweight with very good lens (both 3.5 and 2.8 version), and if it gets stolen or broken - I don't care.
 

fmajor

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Hi guys.

I'm thinking on buying an old film camera, but I'm in a little bit of doubt on which camera I should choose? There's three cameras I have in mind.

Should I consider the Nikon F5, which I can find relatively cheap, even though the camera is a little bit big and bulky?

Nope - pass on this because you're already finding fault with it ("a little bit big and bulky") - you will *always* second-guess/regret that purchase. Always.

Should I go down the medium format road with the Rolleicord/flex

See my comment below on using a new-to-you type of camera (TLR) and format (6x6cm square)

or should I return to the 35mm path and "drive the save up money car" towards a used Leica M6? Leica is of course a dream camera, but the lenses and body is still pretty expensive.//Paul.

Yes, this ^.

If the Leica M6 (or whatever other Leica) is your dream camera, you will be doing yourself a huge disservice by not getting it. It seems you're not in a hurry or have an immediate need to buy so why not shop for your DREAM camera. If you actually have to "drive the save up money car" a little while longer with a specific camera and lens (or lenses) in mind the delay in gratification will not disappoint (especially if you take your time shopping and source an example in good condition).

Only you know what your intended results/final output will be so you have the best idea what will "serve you (and your photographic ambitions) best". If you're new to using a ground glass type camera (TLRs like the Rolleicord/flex are examples), you should be aware there is a good amount of learning to do. Focusing and composing an image with a TLR requires viewing the subject/composition you're attempting in a reversed and/or up-side down aspect.

This difference in composing may be more frustrating than you were planning on.

Also, TLR cameras are typically 6x6cm square format which is very different from the rectangular format of 35mm (or digi aspect for that matter).

I really don't want to persuade you in any specific direction; rather, help you make the most-informed/best-for-you decision.

So, things to consider:
1) final output - prints (how big?) or simply scan and web-post or e-book to print
2) object desirability (how badly burning for a Leica are you?)
3) format/camera type familiarity (do you want to use something that's familiar to you or are you willing to risk trying something new and potentially not a good fit for you?)
4) object cost (and not just the camera body itself unless a TLR - there are always lenses/filters to buy and other focal lengths to try)

Once you come to what's really, really going to satisfy you, don't second guess your decision. Then shop like all hell is chasing you to find the best condition example available (not simply within your budget - "drive the save up money car" until you can afford it). You will not then be disappointed (unless there is a learning curve you do not get along with).

I did this exact same process with a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S. I took nearly a year from initial desire to buy to complete acquisition for my dream camera. I searched and shopped and read as much as I could find about the camera, lenses and viewfinders - it was such great fun. Ultimately, I found great deals on superb examples of every component I wanted. During the searching journey I learned some things that not only saved me money, but ensured I had made the "best" (for me) equipment choice. My camera is an absolute joy to use and I'm comfortable with and aware of it's short-comings.

Enjoy!!!
 

pen s

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Another thing to consider. Do you really like rangefinder viewing and focusing. I always wanted a Leica M because of the precision build and nearly silent, for a roller blind shutter, operation. So I saved, got a really good deal on a couple of used CV lenses, sold a few cameras from my collection, and bought an M4-2 body. Only after owning and using it did I realise I miss TTL viewing and focusing. I actually perfer my ancient OM-1 with the 1-10 screen and most any Zuiko, a combo that is one tenth the price of almost any Leica with Leitz glass.

I'll keep my Leica. It was my retirement present to myself. But in reality I really like reflex focusing. Of course a Leica and lenses can usually be sold for close to what you paid for them so that choice is not unreversable.
 
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PaulDK

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About my photo style, I like to take landscape and city photos. I'm also interested in fineart. Generally I like to take photos of everything, except model photography.
 

TheFlyingCamera

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First, I would try to borrow a Rolleiflex or other TLR for a few days to play with it and see if waist-level viewing and square format are something that works for you. It's a VERY different style of working from what you're used to with the 7D. If you find it works for you, then by all means, acquire one. I've shot with everything from 35mm rangefinder (Contax G series, Kodak Retina IIa) to ultra-large format (Canham 14x17). I think my all-time favorite camera now, though, is my Rolleiflex 2.8E. I've handled other medium format stuff too (Hasselblad- which I did love, but the kit gets bulky; Mamiya RB-67 - those 6x7 negatives are something special, but the bulk again!; and Fuji GSW690 - huge camera, it just didn't sync with my way of seeing the world), but the one I keep picking up and using is the Rollei. It also taught me a very important lesson - there are virtually no photos I want to take that I can't take with the 80mm normal lens.
 
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