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Thread: Need advice on film camera

  1. #1
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    Need advice on film camera

    I'm looking to buy a mechanical film camera as a backup to my digital camera. I don't need anything electrical aside from the metering, so the shutter has to be mechanical and has to work whether I have a battery of not. I'll be using it under the same conditions as my digital camera (and then some), and it has to be light enough that I actually take it along. Here are some trade-offs I've already done:

    1. SLR vs. RF: I do realize there are advantages to RF cameras (no mirror vibration issue, light, quiet shutters, better lens quality), but the price range of RF cameras is a bit beyond what I'm willing to pay for a backup camera. I'd love to own an M3 some day, but I think for this purpose I'll stick with an SLR (unless someone has some other, less-than-$200 RF suggestions). For what I do photo-wise, I think an SLR is also a better choice in any event.

    2. Canon vs. Nikon: I don't think I have any significant loyalty here one way or another, recognizing both brands are about equally strong for mechanical SLRs. I do have a stash of some Canon FD/FL lenses I'm using for my m4/3 digital, which has some cost advantages to staying with Canon, but I don't want to preclude going with a better choice if that means getting a few additional lenses.

    3. Canon FTb vs. Nikon FM2: The FTb is Canon's all-mechanical SLR that I think will work for me. It's fairly inexpensive as a body, has an MLU, and fits my existing lenses. On the other hand, the FM2 comes with a faster shutter (1/4000 vs. 1/1000), is lighter, and has interchangeable screens. Both seem to be built to last, so that's a wash. As downsides, the FTb weighs 200g more than the FM2, but the FM2 costs more and doesn't have manual MLU.

    So, do I choose the less expensive, heavier camera that has MLU and a slower shutter, or the more expensive, lighter camera that has a faster shutter? What should I consider when I make my decision?
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

  2. #2
    Super Duper
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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    One of the things I like best about the the Panasonics is being able to use the same lenses on both film and digital...since you already have some FD, it makes sense to go Canon. How often would you need 1/4000 shutter speed? What film will you shoot, and what lighting conditions?

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    I was planning on shooting mostly non-people with my film camera, using Velvia 50 most likely, or Ilford or TMax 100 black & white. For the most part I'd be shooting stuff that doesn't move in conditions where I wouldn't want to take my expensive digital camera.

    My concern about shutter speed has to do with wanting shallow DOF shots in bright sunlight/snow conditions, and even with an ASA 50 film I'd only be able to clamp down the aperture to f/5.6 with 1/1000s shutter speed, whereas I could go to f/2.8 with 1/4000s. I could use ND filters to take some of that light away, but I'm worried about having too much glass added to my lenses (perhaps an unreasonable worry).
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Yum, Velvia 50. I went that direction, and now shoot more film than digital.

    Anyway, if you think the 1/4000 is important, the trade off is you'll need to buy some Nikkor lenses. Or maybe look at the 'new' Canon f1, which has mechanical speeds from 1/90 to 1/2000.

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Are you sure about the Canon being able to use your existing Canon lenses? Only if you have older FD lenses but not with EF lenses.

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    I vote for Nikon. If you are willing to compromise on being fully mechanical, the F3 is a great camera. I've always thought the FM2 is the ultimate backpacking camera - small, mechanical, light weight, durable, reliable. It also has a pretty small viewfinder and a loud shutter. Fake MLU with the two second timer works. One advantage on Nikon is being able to use the new Zeiss lenses with it.

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    I think I'm leaning toward the FTb now. People who've used it in all sorts of conditions LOVE it, and the only downside I see on it is the slow(er) shutter speed, which I can overcome by adding filters is I want to take wide aperture shots in bright light. I think the non-metal shutter on it may actually have some hidden advantages to it (quieter with MLU engaged perhaps). The small viewfinder on the FM2, especially since I wear glasses, is kind of a deal-breaker for me unfortunately.

    I've looked at the F-1 (the old one with the MLU lever) and the F3 (thanks for the suggestions!). The F-1 doesn't come in chrome (which I think looks better, although I'm not ruling it out at this time), and the F3 is way too complex and more expensive than what I'm after.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    I have never owned and hardly used a Canon, so I should shut up. On the other hand; Iīve used the FM in all itīs versions and loved them - functionality, build, handling, size, weight, the glass. You canīt go wrong there.
    My real point however is this; A while ago I came over an Olympus OM1 in very nice shape and cheap (with 1,8/50) and bought it for my daughter. I owned one a long time ago as well, but I am really impressed by that camera now. The viewfinder is simply terrific, it handles just as well as the FMs, itīs light and elegant. And they come cheap, as does the glass. Olympus?

    leif e
    F2, FM2, D700, 3,5/20 UD, 2/35, 3,5/55, CV 2,5/75 (all ai or aiīd), 1,8/85 af-d,
    2,8/60 af-d

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Leif, I hadn't considered the OM-1, so thank you for the suggestion. I haven't had a chance to touch one yet, so it's a bit of an unknown, but the reviews seem to be good. I think the FTb will still be my choice for a rugged camera though.

    I looked on eBay and it seems I can get the OM-1s really cheap, so I'll probably pick one up just to play with it. I'd need to get a lens or two with it, but I think that's OK. I actually think that I could get an FTb and an OM-1 in good working condition for about $100 total. Worst case I can sell one of them back for about what I paid for them (nice thing about used equipment).
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

  10. #10
    tokengirl
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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Look on eBay for a Yashica FX-3 Super 2000. Totally mechanical, it only needs a watch battery for the meter. There is no auto-anything. Top shutter speed is 1/2000 sec. You can probably pick one up with a lens or two for fifty bucks.

    Solid camera, it's what I learned photography with. Takes Zeiss lenses too.

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    If you are going down the OM route, I'd recommend the OM2n -the OM1 uses mercury batteries, and although you can reconvert them that's an unnecessary expense.
    The OMs are small (no bigger than a Leica M), reliable and have bright viewfinders. The lenses are generally excellent and cheap and small. A body + 28mm f3.5 (2.8 and 2.0 are also nice lenses, but slightly bigger) + any 50mm + 85mm f2 or 100mm f2.8 (both very nice lenses and very small) make an excellent outfit that weighs next to nothing and is carried in the smallest of bags.
    The only problem with this is that you then start looking into the OM4T, the OM3, the 90mm f2, the...well, you know how it goes.

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Quote Originally Posted by micek View Post
    The only problem with this is that you then start looking into the OM4T, the OM3, the 90mm f2, the...well, you know how it goes.
    LOL yes, I know! =) I really have to keep telling myself this is for a backup camera! The nice thing about all this is that I can use any of these manual lenses on my digital, so I'm not really wasting anything by buying into other camera systems. It's just the added expense of the body.

    If I buy an OM (I'll stay with the OM-1 since it has the MLU just in case I need it), I'll probably use it as a street camera since it's smaller and quieter.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Decided to go with the FTb(n). Just kept calling my name. Every time I'd start drooling over some other choice, it would pull me back to it, so I got one for $50 off eBay. Not bad I think. Can't wait to take it out for a spin in Tahoe next week.

    Also decided to get a QL17 G-III rangefinder (40/1.7). I should be able to find a good-condition used one for under $100. I plan on using that to learn how to deal with RF photography (training for a future M3 or R3M), and to do B&W street photography since it's so small and quiet. I'll get that next week.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Senior Member Leicadoc's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    The Yashica won't disappoint you.
    That f1.8 is quite sharp.
    Michael

    Leica and Canon

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    A used Nikon FM2n is a very good camera that only needs the battery for the meter. All the shutter speeds are mechanical and work with or without the battery.

    DaveO

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveO View Post
    A used Nikon FM2n is a very good camera that only needs the battery for the meter. All the shutter speeds are mechanical and work with or without the battery.

    DaveO
    Wow that's quite a necro thread. Can't believe it's been a year already since I started on the film journey. As you can tell from my signature block, I've gone fully into film to the point where I don't even use my digital except to take some quick product photos. I'll be selling my Canon FD gear shortly now that I have the F5. That, along with my MF and LF cameras will keep me busy for the next few years. It feels like film is making a comeback of sorts, and I'm there for the ride.
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: Need advice on film camera

    Quote Originally Posted by photoSmart42 View Post
    Decided to go with the FTb(n).
    Good choice. I bought a Canon FTb for the same reasons...mechanical shutter and mirror lock up. Though now the MLU doesn't work anymore...after using it and the self timer at the same time (even though I was recommended to do so by some literature I read.)

    Here's a cropped image taken with the FTb and Canon FD 24mm lens. The exposure time was about 6 or 7 hours...great not having to worry about batteries in such occasions!

    [IMG][/IMG]

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