Add your "Best" camera to the list

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Joseph Meehan, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. Joseph Meehan

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Not so sure about the Aunt Fran bit, since some Aunts can be more savvy than
    others.
    I think with larger cameras, none are really very user friendly, even if they
    were somewhat numerous, or famous. About the only ease of use I would nominate
    for large format is the Polaroid films, which can fit many cameras. Those films
    have probably helped more people understand large format photography than any
    other technology.
    Okay, lots of the Rollei TLRs were out there in the past of photography.
    However, I think the far simpler folder and box cameras for medium format did
    more to take photographing to the public. While they did not meet the needs of
    many pros, they were used by some pros. The most numerous were those made by
    Kodak and AGFA, so I nominate any of those.
    I am not familiar with that one. I would think that the disposable one-time-use
    cameras do a great deal to take photography to the masses, and are easily one
    of the highest volume sellers of all cameras. They can even meet the needs of
    some pros, as the ultimate emergency backup. Also, a couple years ago, I
    remember reading about a book that was published about the Tuscany area of
    Italy, and the photographer did the entire book using disposable cameras. I
    would be surprised if he was the only one to accomplish something like that.
    I have a couple of Yashica GT rangefinders. While I think the lens is great, I
    don't consider this an easy to use camera. The focusing grip could be better,
    they are actually quite large and heavy, and the metering display system does
    not always inspire confidence, despite the accuracy. To the credit of the many
    variations of this Yashica rangefinder, they are very rugged cameras with well
    made rangefinder focusing methods. If someone wanted a camera to use under
    rough conditions, or take into bad neighbourhoods, it could be one of the few
    choices.

    I think quite a few more modern P&S cameras with autofocus could be better Aunt
    Fran choices. On a more pro/advanced level, only a few P&S cameras really
    become good choices, due to some user control over the settings. The older
    Olympus XA was one, though more modern choices like the Contax T3, Rollei
    AFM35, or new Leica CM are other considerations. As far as legendary, or
    "best", perhaps the more common Olympus Stylus Epic (if I have that North
    American name correct) would be my nomination.
    I am less convinced that it is user friendly, though it did herald a large era
    of SLR domination in the market. It was a good beginning for mass market SLR
    cameras.
    Not familiar with that, though I think that was an old rangefinder. Going by
    the old rangefinder choices, the Leica M3 could be a "best" of the old, though
    once again many lower cost AGFA, Balda, and Kodak Retina cameras made it into
    the hands of the public. The built in selenium meters of some might have made
    photography a little easier, though I doubt many beginners could figure out
    these cameras in our modern high technology world.
    A friend of mine has one that is built like a tank. It is the only one I have
    ever seen. With older SLR cameras, I see more Nikon still in use than other
    brands, though a few Canon models do show up, and very few of other brands.
    Okay, best SLR is a toss up between the Nikon FM and the Canon AE-1. While the
    Nikon FM and three LED exposure system is the ultimate in manual SLR
    simplicity, the Canon AE-1 (and large marketing campaign) brought SLR
    photography to the public in large numbers. To confuse this a little more,
    there is the Nikon F3, which has been one of the longest continuous production
    runs of any SLR camera.

    My nominations for best rangefinder cameras goes to the new Leica M7, thanks to
    the addition of aperture priority exposure automation. Closely functional is
    the Hasselblad XPan, with slightly more automation, an additional framing
    option in large panorama, and still a nice size (not too large).

    I would consider the best P&S camera to be a toss up between the Contax T3, and
    the Rollei AFM35. The only reasons I include the Rollei, are that the lens is
    quite good, and the cost is much lower than the Contax T3.

    Those who want small and compact, though autofocus, and configurable, can have
    a great choice in the Contax G2 system. There really is not another autofocus
    camera like that, so I nominate it as a best choice, due to that versatility,
    and some great lens choices.

    With medium format, the best in SLR I have yet used has been the Rollei 6008i.
    The ergonomics and handling are amazing for such a large camera, and it works
    as an extension of my vision. The best of medium format rangefinders I feel is
    the Bronica RF645, based upon the excellent control layout and ease of use. The
    RF645 is probably the most ergonomic camera I have yet used. Not to leave out
    Aunt Fran in this, there is a level of automation in both these that could
    allow for quickly being able to make images, without need for reading the
    Owner's Manual.

    I largely dismiss many of the autofocus SLR choices. At the low end, there is
    not enough to satisfy some professionals. At the high end, the cameras are
    quite huge and bulky, and have some many settings and adjustments to make
    confusion a possibility for many users. Yes, autofocus can be convenient, and
    even easier to use for many in the public, though I think the camera interfaces
    and ergonomics have largely become worse over the years. My opinion is that
    simplicity is easier than complexity, and that user controls that can be set
    without looking are true ergonomic interfaces.


    <http://www.agstudiopro.com> Coming Soon!
     
    Gordon Moat, Jul 12, 2004
    #21
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  2. Joseph Meehan

    Alan Browne Guest


    I was tempted to say the above, almost verbatim. However the
    OP's statement

    "... rather I am talking about those cameras that have done an
    outstanding job of fitting the needs of the public, both
    pro/advanced and Aunt Fran."

    ....stopped me. The Max 9 is just beyond the OP's spec.

    Add to your statement "... or the Max 7's wireless sync speed".

    Cheers,
    Alan.
     
    Alan Browne, Jul 12, 2004
    #22
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  3. Joseph Meehan

    George Guest

    Nikon F -- classic, changed opinion of Japanese products, popularized
    modular SLR camera systems

    Leica M4 -- basic, modern, elegant rangefinder, excellent quiet courtroom
    camera

    Nikon F2AS -- the epitome of mechanical 35mm SLRs

    Hasselblad 500CM -- the workhorse of professional studio photographers for
    many years

    Canon F1 (original) -- finally there was a horserace with the Nikon F
    Photomic FTn -- this camera really helped consumers by creating a
    competition in high end camera systems (even though I didn't own Canon SLR
    cameras, I feel I benefitted by this camera as it made Nikon become very
    competitive in lens and camera design with Canon breathing down their neck)

    Bronica ETRSi -- leaf shutter 6 x 4.5 camera with Metz SCA flash capability
    (finally a 645 with leaf shutters for any speed flash sync and daylight fill
    flash)
     
    George, Jul 12, 2004
    #23
  4. Joseph Meehan

    Sabineellen Guest

    You are increasingly tempting me, TP, to order one.
     
    Sabineellen, Jul 12, 2004
    #24
  5. Joseph Meehan

    Sabineellen Guest

    Minox 35. Relatively inexpensive, very small, depth of field scale, aperture
    priority and scale focusing, and very very quiet. Also, images, given a good
    lab, are spectacular.
     
    Sabineellen, Jul 12, 2004
    #25
  6. Joseph Meehan

    Jack Black Guest

    Nikon F4: absolute tank, never fails to perform, and I'm usually left
    wishing I'd brought it along on those trips where I decided to leave
    it home!

    Mamiya C330: your basic MF rig, but another well made, performing body
    without all the crap that is on most bodies today.


    Jack
     
    Jack Black, Jul 12, 2004
    #26
  7. In interesting story. My father was on a US destroyer between the WWI
    and WWII in China. During a call to Japan he had the job of trying to get a
    replacement for one of the sextants. He brought the broken one in and said
    they needed a new one. It seems there was a small communications problem and
    they copied the original including the defect. When he went to pick it up
    he explained the problem and how it worked and what needed to be fixed.
    When he came back the next time they had a new one with no flaw and a few
    improvements in the design. The new one proved better than the original.
     
    Joseph Meehan, Jul 13, 2004
    #27
  8. Joseph Meehan

    Rivergoat Guest

    Quick and simple answer...

    Canon F1....a workhorse I've owned since 1977.

    Nikon N90s.....the recent addition to my bag, I'm having a great time
    (and great photos) with it.
     
    Rivergoat, Jul 13, 2004
    #28
  9. Nah - put it in P, and Aunt Fran can handle it. Unless she's really frail
    and the thing has a vertical grip on it. I made the mistake of hauling one
    around Colonial Williamsburg for three days - my shoulder hurt by the end of
    day one! :p

    Mike
     
    Mike Lipphardt, Jul 13, 2004
    #29
  10. Nikon F2 (AS, but really applies to any variation) The ultimate manual
    SLR. Does anything, and with a mechanical elegance that's unsurpassed.
    (Yes, I've seen Leicaflexes - somehow, they say "stamp collector" more
    than "working pro")

    Leica IIIg - Again, a compact elegance not met by the later M series.
    No way to improve it without radically changing it, which is indeed
    what happened. Plus, I just happen to take better pictures with it than
    any other camera, ever.

    Here's a couple people will disagree with:

    Rollei SL66 - Beautifully made mechanical 6X6 SLR. Excellent closeup
    capability with built-in bellows; front tilts, too! Focal plane
    shutter, but several lenses could be had with auxilliary leaf shutters
    for fast sync.

    You know, it seems I'm a clockwork camera junkie... except:

    Nikon N70 - Lot of people hate the control setup, but it's the last of
    the non-pro bodies that wasn't dumbed down (N75 and later) Reasonably
    compact, quieter shutter than my later Nikon bodies, and yes, that
    little built-in flash is often useful.
     
    Scott Schuckert, Jul 13, 2004
    #30
  11. Joseph Meehan

    Alan Browne Guest

    Mike Lipphardt wrote:

    Wimp. I haul it around all the time (rarely use the grip, wanna
    buy a spare?)

    Cheers,
    Alan
     
    Alan Browne, Jul 13, 2004
    #31
  12. Joseph Meehan

    Roger Guest

    Contax currently has a rebate that includes the T3. You might want to
    check this out if interested. The T3 is one of the best camera
    investments I've made. I travel a lot on business and on long and
    extended trips I have so much business related stuff that carrying an
    F5 and lenses is often out of the question. My T3, however, is never
    very far away. I carry a small (continental style) shoulder bag with
    T3, batteries, film, palm pilot, mobile phone, airline survival stuff
    like MP3 player, ear bud headphones and aspirin. Fairly recently I had
    a three week trip to Asia with a week holiday between two weeks of
    meetings. The T3 was all that I needed. Yes you have to pass on some
    pictures, but the 35mm lens is a good coverage lens for urban stuff
    and environmental portraits (e.g. event stuff).

    With the aperture preferred metering and the manual focus
    capabilities, you can easily set up a snapshot mode for no-delay
    "action" opportunities. I have some fun snaps of elephants playing
    soccer where I was able to capture the moment of impact of the
    elephant's foot and the gigantic soccer ball. This also works for
    other typical street photography, eliminating the delays inherent on
    many other P&S cameras.

    The lens is outstanding, the ergonomics excellent given the small
    footprint and the manual overrides give a wide latitude of control. I
    especially like that several of the defaults can be changed for a
    duration based on a single shot, until the camera is powered off or
    until the change is manually reset (i.e. across power cycles). The
    rangefinder is accurate and the exposure readings are dead on for
    ISO400 film. I do enough day/night/available light photography on the
    run that I've settled on ISO400 as my all around film. Mid Roll film
    changes are a bit tenuous on the T3 but can be done. I don't take
    transparencies routinely but the few rolls that have been through the
    camera look terrific on a light table. I just don't have any end use
    for transparencies any more.

    The lens does have a macro range but the viewfinder is not parallax
    following. It does have parallax marks, but I have to admit I don't do
    enough macro work to really nail the guesstimating necessary for
    accurate framing. If macro is a large part of your photographic
    reporitoir, getting better at the framing probably comes with
    practice.

    Check one out. It might be for you. I find the tightly fitting belt
    case really appropriate for a small camera like this.

    The exposure readout in the viewfinder is a bit unorthodox, but it
    took me about 5 minutes to get used to it. Now it's there for a quick
    check to make sure I'm in the right exposure ball park (actually that
    my head is in the right ball park, the exposure metering is rarely
    fooled - basic center weighting with easily accessible exposure
    compensation).

    I could go on and on.....

    Regards,
    Roger
     
    Roger, Jul 13, 2004
    #32
  13. Joseph Meehan

    Ted Azito Guest

    Buy Aunt Fran a garage sale Instamatic then. People who cannot
    understand basic concepts like how big the hole, how fast the door
    opens (aperture and shutter speed) SHOULDN'T TAKE PICTURES. (The
    supposedly stupid Marilyn Monroe used the Leica Henri Cartier-Bresson
    gave her (and many other cameras) quite well.) They simply just
    shouldn't.

    The F was a little clunky. The F2 was to everyone else except Tony
    hell for stout and reliable. (Not sure what that says. Actually, I am,
    but...) The F3 was a basically good camera.

    Graflexes are great for experimenting and art photography and you are
    not a real photographer without some exposure to one-if only to
    appreciate other systems.

    TLR's? I think TLRs if well made and rangefinders are the best
    general purpose cameras where people are involved. The SLR is best
    where noise and slowness of cycle time are not key factors, especially
    in 35mm. But a Mamiya 7, or several other medium format cameras, is as
    easy and fast to use as a 35 SLR and the results are...how can I say
    this..better. Simple as that. Better. The old Rolleis and the modern
    MF systems such as Mamiya and the ETrsi Bronica have 35mm adapters
    too, so you can buy film at tourist traps and whorehouses, or use
    cheap cinema stock.

    My favorite camera all-around? Even though it's overpriced...M Leica.
    Rollei TLR, manual mechanical Nikons, RB/RZ where weight and size
    don't matter, probably Hassy, RF Canon, MF Canon mechanical SLR,etc.
    are all fine depending on horses for courses. Olympus Pen, for travel.
    Graflex or earlier Linhof for big negative or experimentation. Tessina
    for cool factor.

    Cameras I wouldn't have stuffed up my ass? Most consumer plastic
    autofocus SLRs. SQ Bronica. Rollei MF SLR. R Leica. Many Contaxes.
    Always hated Instamatics in their day. Polaroids with electric
    shutters. (Early Polaroids-NOT 110A/B/120- have optics great for
    conversion for portraiture though.) Anything with no manual controls
    for f-stop and shutter speed.
     
    Ted Azito, Jul 18, 2004
    #33
  14. Really? Why not.

    Following the say logic I would say you should never post messages to a
    NG.
     
    Joseph Meehan, Jul 21, 2004
    #34
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