Advice: durable 35mm; 50mm prime

Neil Fitzpatrick

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Looking for advice on a 35mm camera.

Priority is durability and weather "proofness". Budget is around $500 CAD ($350 USD).

I like to shoot with a 50mm (or similar) prime lens and would like something wide like a 1.4 if possible. My goal is to carry a reliable camera with good optics and a point n shoot on canoe trips.

I've been down the rabbit hole from various mechanical SLRs -> rangefinders -> Nikon N80 -> F100 -> F5 -> F4 -> F3 -> Pentax LX.

Currently, I have a Canon AE-1, Pentax Spotmatic, a Pentax Espio point n shoot and a few less functional cameras. My primary camera has been the Spotmatic. I'm a paddler and I do a lot of whitewater canoe trips and whitewater canoe park and play. This is where I shoot 95% of my film. The Spotmatic is nice enough but it is not very robust. I have recently switched from a small Pelican case to a Watershed duffel with my camera wrapped in a sweater in the duffel. I worry about it taking a bump and dying mid trip. Returning from a fly-in mountain river trip this year, I realised it's hard to accept the thought of damaging a camera and returning with only cell phone photos. I would like the ability to shoot in a light rain, though I'm not a professional photographer so shooting in a light rain means taking it out of the waterproof duffel, or from under a rain coat, setting up a shot, then returning it to protection.

The idea of using some Nikon lenses I already have for my old D300 is a little appealing. A good autofocus is appealing. I'm also okay with a good focus screen and a manual camera, as something compact and simple is also appealing. This ambivalence and the cost of some mid-range film cameras rising to the cost of some old pro cameras, you can see how I got lost in the rabbit hole.
 
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I see now that "weather proofness" is misleading. I meant sealed buttons, etc like my D300. A friend has an N80 but he recommended the F100 because it has seals. I then read that the film door does not have seals, leading to dust getting inside. I don't like the sound of that since I do occasionally trip in sandy/dusty areas.

My weather requirements come from shooting the occasional picture in light rain, or even having it out on shore when rain starts. And just the struggle of keeping things dry during consecutive rain days when tenting. There is a lot of wet gear to dry some days! I'm definitely not looking for waterproof (Nikon did make the Nikonos but it's not for me right now).

I wouldn't be pushing a camera nearly as hard as, say, a photojournalist but I'd like a the durability of a camera a photojournalist would've used since some are reasonably priced.

Even an older mechanical camera that I could easily lubricate myself would work.
 
Try the FM/FE variants. Otherwise, I'd minimize the fuss and go with a water-proof digital p&s and enjoy the trip.
I see a lot of love for the FM/FE variants. More durable/reliable than the F3? The price difference isn't a lot. Local FM/FE sellers are asking for more than an F3 is going for on Ebay.

I have a waterproof digital point and shoot. Looking for 35mm film recommendations only. I want to enjoy taking pictures and there's nothing enjoyable about screaming at my TG-6's GPS or looking back at its photos with water/fog on the lens.
 
I see a lot of love for the FM/FE variants. More durable/reliable than the F3? The price difference isn't a lot. Local FM/FE sellers are asking for more than an F3 is going for on Ebay.

I have a waterproof digital point and shoot. Looking for 35mm film recommendations only. I want to enjoy taking pictures and there's nothing enjoyable about screaming at my TG-6's GPS or looking back at its photos with water/fog on the lens.
So 35mm film camera lenses repel water? Obviously a feature I've missed...Good luck.
 
So 35mm film camera lenses repel water? Obviously a feature I've missed...Good luck.
I really don't see what your goal is here. I didn't say anything about waterproof 35mm lenses. Are you're inferring that somehow my film camera, coming out of a waterproof bag, is the getting the same exposure as pulling my waterproof point and shoot out of my soaking wet PFD pocket? They are not.

I just wanted to upgrade my Spotmatic, with another 35mm, looking for more durability, and need 35mm advice. I do not need any point and shoot advice.

Sorry if I'm being persnickety, but I'm trying to be clear that I want 35mm film camera advice.
 
The Spotmatic is nice enough but it is not very robust.
IMO, the Spotmatic is a very robust camera. Mine has been through heck and still works great. Other than a Spotmatic one of the most durable Pentax's is the K1000.


I then read that the film door does not have seals, leading to dust getting inside.
Have never heard of that and all the film cameras I have used is dusty conditions have never had dust inside.
 
IMO, the Spotmatic is a very robust camera. Mine has been through heck and still works great. Other than a Spotmatic one of the most durable Pentax's is the K1000.



Have never heard of that and all the film cameras I have used is dusty conditions have never had dust inside.
Great to know about not having dust inside!

It was actually a K1000 that made me decide to look for a more durable camera. I had my advance lever stick, then had my mirror stick. Neither time was on a trip so it wasn't a big deal, but it made me worry about chartering a flight to a place I'll never return to, and have my camera fail early on in the trip.

The only real issues with my Spotmatic are a few dents, the meter switch seeming spongey and the lens cap (only have the one lens) being slightly loose. The cap often comes of in my bag and I have keep my hand on it during hikes. Extra annoying if I'm keeping the camera under my raincoat.

After my K1000 incident, a friend told me I should look for a Nikon as he found the consumer grade Nikons of the same era much more durable.

Perceiving the Spotmatic as not durable may be because of my K1000 issues. Who knows, I may circle back around to it.
 
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You can obviously drown a mechanical camera. Just don't expect its metering system electronics, however crude, to survive, much less the film. Sorry but this is all making less sense as it goes along. Think it's clear what's what.
 
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I left my Canon New F-1 overnight on a tripod in a light rain (I had a bit too much to drink), and also lightly pounded a nail with it (don't ever do that ... and not sure if alcohol was also involved).
 
Looking for advice on a 35mm camera.

Priority is durability and weather "proofness". Budget is around $500 CAD ($350 USD).

I like to shoot with a 50mm (or similar) prime lens and would like something wide like a 1.4 if possible. My goal is to carry a reliable camera with good optics and a point n shoot on canoe trips.

I've been down the rabbit hole from various mechanical SLRs -> rangefinders -> Nikon N80 -> F100 -> F5 -> F4 -> F3 -> Pentax LX.

Currently, I have a Canon AE-1, Pentax Spotmatic, a Pentax Espio point n shoot and a few less functional cameras. My primary camera has been the Spotmatic. I'm a paddler and I do a lot of whitewater canoe trips and whitewater canoe park and play. This is where I shoot 95% of my film. The Spotmatic is nice enough but it is not very robust. I have recently switched from a small Pelican case to a Watershed duffel with my camera wrapped in a sweater in the duffel. I worry about it taking a bump and dying mid trip. Returning from a fly-in mountain river trip this year, I realised it's hard to accept the thought of damaging a camera and returning with only cell phone photos. I would like the ability to shoot in a light rain, though I'm not a professional photographer so shooting in a light rain means taking it out of the waterproof duffel, or from under a rain coat, setting up a shot, then returning it to protection.

The idea of using some Nikon lenses I already have for my old D300 is a little appealing. A good autofocus is appealing. I'm also okay with a good focus screen and a manual camera, as something compact and simple is also appealing. This ambivalence and the cost of some mid-range film cameras rising to the cost of some old pro cameras, you can see how I got lost in the rabbit hole.
You're activity cries for a Nikonos. Why not? I used mine not only for scuba diving but for whitewater rafting, hang gliding, rain and sand and surf. The lens is a 35mm not 50mm. But it's one of the sharpest lenses around. Load it up with Kodak Gold 200 and your set. Good luck with whatever you choose.
Nikonos IVa with 35mm lens samples
 
You're activity cries for a Nikonos. Why not? I used mine not only for scuba diving but for whitewater rafting, hang gliding, rain and sand and surf. The lens is a 35mm not 50mm. But it's one of the sharpest lenses around. Load it up with Kodak Gold 200 and your set. Good luck with whatever you choose.
Nikonos IVa with 35mm lens samples
There may be a point where I go Nikonos, but for now I use my waterproof digital while I'm in my boat, in rapids. I use film from shore or at camp. When I used a Pelican case, I would pop my film camera out while on the water but Pelican cases aren't waterproof so this year I went to a waterproof duffel that isn't easy to access.

The Nikonos could be a good replacement for my film point and shoot but I would lost the ability to pass the camera to a friend for a shot.
 
You can obviously drown a mechanical camera. Just don't expect its metering system electronics, however crude, to survive, much less the film. Sorry but this is all making less sense as it goes along. Think it's clear what's what.
It feels like you are not even reading my posts, but making assumptions and trying to steer this thread in a direction that suits you and doesn't help me at all. My original post stated that I keep the camera in a waterproof bag. A very expensive waterproof bag. Why the comment about drowning film cameras? Why the comment about magical 35mm lenses that repel water? Why suggest that I should use my waterproof point and shoot (which is almost always wet and fogged up) for trip photography when I clearly stated that I'm looking for 35mm recommendations? None of this is logical.

Maybe my original post wasn't clear. Hard to say, but please stop.

I don't shoot film underwater. I don't leave my camera out in the rain. I take film on backcountry canoe trips. I feel like that's allowed. It's been done for years and people still do it all the time. I try my best to protect it. Even when shooting a shot in the rain, I keep the camera under a raincoat until the shot is taken. This isn't a stretch. This is normal. Even if you don't like it, I should still be allowed to do it.

A film camera I buy will be used. It will not be brand new. It will not be completely reliable. I want to buy something that gives me my best shot at a camera that won't fail during a trip. My film photos from trips are valuable to me. I want to research and learn what to buy rather than buy something random and hope for the best. I don't see what is wrong with that.
 

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