What's the best Manual Film SLR out there?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by slrfan, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. slrfan

    slrfan TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm not sure this is the forum for this so if not, please redirect me.

    I'm just getting back into photography after a 25 year hiatus.
    I once had a Minolta SRT-202 that I used and loved for 15 years, but it was stolen.
    I had young kids at the time so I just got point and click cameras to
    replace it, but I have never been really happy with the experience.

    I want to get an SLR film camera again, a good used 35mm SLR,
    totally manual, and NOT battery dependant, like the SRT-202 I had.
    I'm thinking of a Minolta SRT, a Nikon F*, a Canon A1, Pentax or Olympus.
    To my total dismay I discovered that minolta is out of the camera business
    so I'm concerned about getting an srt serviced if I need it.
    I also want to use the camera for astronomical photography (another hobby).

    I know it's very subjective and I'm sure I'll get a variety of opinions, but here goes...

    What is the best, solid, dependable 35mm SLR manual film camera out there?

    I want a solid durable camera that I can get parts and service for as well
    as a selection of reasonably priced lenses, T-ring adaper for a telescope, etc.

    Is there another source of expert advice I should refer to (website or book)?

    I'm looking forward to your advice, opinions, and comments.
     
  2. Luke

    Luke TPF Noob!

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    that doesn't depend on batteries eh? k1000 is a nice camera, cheap too, with a variety of nice lenses. But hey, if you don't need an SLR per se, you could get a leica.... everyone loves leica...
     
  3. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I really doubt if there is an answer to 'best', though you'll garner lots of opinions here.

    You can consider repair history, number of lenses available, price, ease of use, ease of film loading, take-up mechanism, mirror shake, type of focussing screen, shutter construction and features such as stop-down preview, etc., etc., etc. And how do you propose to weigh the various categories? Each change of the categories and weighting will shuffle different cameras to the top of the list.

    There are huge numbers of the old 35mm SLRs available, including most, if not all, of the accessories. There are, admittedly, a few 'dogs.' But most brands are good, serviceable rigs. And there are new 35mm SLRs available, too.

    For astrophotography, the primary concerns will be the availability of adapters and the quality of your 'scope's drive. You might do well to consider a body for this particular type of photography as a separate, dedicated rig.

    Regards, and welcome back to photography!
     
  4. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    Nikon FM2
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Many mechanical 35mm SLRs will operate without a battery, except for the meter. There are older cameras where not even the meter needs a battery, but those meters are notorious for being unreliable over time (and they are all very old).

    If you are looking for a new, mechanical, 35mm SLR that will run without a battery I think your choice may be limited to the Nikon FM3a. No one else is making mchanical 35mm SLRs these days.

    I'm a big fan of the Nikon FM2n; it's like the FM3a without the aperture priority mode. It needs a battery for the meter, but other than that it will run without. It's similar to other mechanical 35mm SLRs, except it has a 1/250th flash sync speed, which I find handy.

    I wouldn't worry about getting a discontinued, mechanical camera serviced. It's unlikely that the actual manufacturer would be doing the repair anyway. There are plenty of great repair shops on the internet.
     
  6. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    I suggest the Pentax MX, its what i use, its completely manual, (except for a light meter).
    Also, it is 30 years old and still works like a charm, and i hear Pentax glass is pretty good.

    plus you can pick one up on e-bay for about 150
     
  7. slrfan

    slrfan TPF Noob!

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    Wow, quick responses!!
    I'll research the suggestions given so far, Pentax K1000, Nikon FM2 & FM3, Leika
    (when you say not slr, do you mean that it's a 'rangefinder'?).

    I don't know enough about non-SLR cameras to know how they would perform
    in astral photograhpy.
    I know focus is not an issue, being infinite, but I wonder about getting centered
    on the 'very small' targets like planets, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies,
    etc. with telephoto lenses.
    When using an SLR I can see what is visible 'through the lens',
    I don't know how accurate I could be with a non-SLR.

    I'd prefer to go with a good used rather than new camera like the FM3,
    for both cost and quality considerations.
    The older cameras were metal bodies and used mostly metal components
    as opposed to plastic and composite materials in the newer ones.

    I like the idea of having a camera dedicated to astral photography.
    Let's assume that is what the primary use of this camera will be.

    I want to use the camera in two ways:
    1- piggy-backed on the telescope, using the scope's equatorial mount to
    find and track the target, with the camera capturing the image
    through it's lens.
    2- with the camera attached to the scope's eyepiece
    (with T-ring and scope-to-camera adapter), capturing the image
    through the telescope.
    I've been stargazing with binoculars and my small scope for years,
    and am getting better at finding and tracking deep-sky objects.
    I now want to take advantage of a camera's ability to 'see' and resolve
    faint images (through longer exposures and film's sensitivity)
    that the eye cannot detect.

    Since all stargazing is done in the dark and frequently in cool or even
    cold weather, the camera must be both simple to use with no battery
    dependance (light meter excepted) and robust/reliable in construction.

    I appreciate all your advice and comments.
     
  8. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    if your gona use it in cold weather, you should be warned that if its really cold out, film can do wierd things, and in dry weather(like cold weather), fast winding of film may cause static discharge which kills film.
     
  9. LWW

    LWW TPF Noob!

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    That's hard to argue against. So is the F3.

    That being said there isn't a hill of beans difference between most of them.

    Make your decision based on the glass you need.

    LWW
     
  10. Dracklord

    Dracklord TPF Noob!

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    I'm a bit of a fan of the canon f1
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    The Nikon F3 is a cool camera. Why I went with the Nikon FM2n instead:

    Without batteries the F3 only has shutter speed 1/55, while with the FM2n all shutter speeds will work.

    Flash sync speed of 1/250th with the FM2n vs 1/60th with F3.

    FM2n is about half the price.
     
  12. slrfan

    slrfan TPF Noob!

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    Well I got one!! I found a nice clean Minolta SRT-101b, the light meter works, and it came with the following lenses:
    28mm f2.8 Soligor MC
    35mm f2.8 MC Rokkor - HG
    58mm f1.4 MC Rokkor - PF
    28 to 80mm f3.5 - 4.5 Image auto Macro Zoom
    200mm f4.5 Makinon Telephoto
    All in good shape with UV filters and caps,
    a release cable and a bag to hold it all.
    I got it all for $160 Canadian.

    I thank you all for your good advice, and I looked at Nikon F2 & 3, Pentax K1000 and MX, Canon M80 & F1,, most of them were $150 for just the body and maybe 1 lens. I didn't want to get into spending several hundred bucks, at least not just yet.
    It's been overcast ever since I got the camera, but I shot a roll outside using each lens for 3 different shots and they all work great.

    I can't wait for a clear night to shoot some stars, especially with the 58mm f1.4 ,,, I'll let you know how I make out.
     

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