Looking for decent, fully manual camera for $50 & under

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by vamason, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. vamason

    vamason Guest

    I'm moving to Virginia soon and I'd like to send some pictures of the
    area. I just want a fully manual camera that will take decently clear
    pictures. I've looked at the Soviet knock-offs like the Feds and the
    Zorkis, but I don't know much. I just bought a Smena 8m--it hasn't
    come yet, but I've read it's mostly a "fun" camera, not necessarily for
    taking some decently clear pictures. Sorry, I'm a newborn in the
    photography world.
    vamason, Feb 28, 2005
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  2. vamason

    Walt Hanks Guest

    If you really want something for under $50, I recommend disposable cameras.
    You can't buy a decent used manual 35mm SLR for under $50. And the Kodak
    and Fuji outdoor disposables aren't that bad - certainly no worse than the
    plastic body, plastic fixed lens you'll get buying a toy camera in this
    price range.

    Sorry, but photography is not a cheap hobby. When you can at least add a
    one to the front of that budget, come back and we'll talk about some
    seriously good used manual cameras, such as a Nikon FM, Canon AE-1, Olympus
    OM-10, Pentax .... , and a few auto-focus cameras as well, such as the Nikon

    Walt Hanks, Feb 28, 2005
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  3. I'd like a Mercedes Benz for under $300. I'd like a Rolex for $75.

    uraniumcommittee, Feb 28, 2005
  4. vamason

    PGG Guest

    Functional Minolta SRTs go on eBay for $50-$100, and this
    typically includes a 50mm lens.

    But he is right that if you can stretch it to $100, you are more likely to
    get something that just works right away as opposed to having gummed up
    "light seals" or other minor things which require a bit of adjustment.
    PGG, Feb 28, 2005
  5. vamason

    vamason Guest

    Did I say I was looking for a kick-ass camera for $50? No, I said I
    was looking for something PASSABLE. If I wanted a snide and dumb-ass
    remark from a witty gentleman, such as yourself, I would have for one,
    vamason, Feb 28, 2005
  6. vamason

    Nick Zentena Guest

    Used? Ricoh KRs various models. Often under $30 with a 50mm lens. K mount
    so any K mount lens will work. I think they're all fully manual but some
    models provide aperture priority. Right some bidding wars on Ebay for no
    obvious reason. Just wait.

    Nick Zentena, Feb 28, 2005
  7. vamason

    Peter Irwin Guest

    I bought a Pentax S3 with 55mm lens at a camera show last year
    for $75 Canadian. It is a first class camera. The chances of finding
    something comparable at a camera show are pretty good.

    I bought a Konica Auto S2 rangefinder at a mall antique show
    2 years ago for $35 Canadian. That's a less likely spot, but you
    never know where things will turn up.

    I like Feds and Zorkis. (I've managed to acquire 3 Feds, 2 Zorkis,
    2 Kievs, a Moskva, a Lubitel and an Iskra. All work and are lots of fun.)
    I don't think any of them are as well made as my Pentax and Konica
    cameras, though the Zorki Ib I got from Oleg comes fairly close.

    The Smena 8m is actually surprisingly decent, but it is a very
    basic camera. Cocking the shutter and winding the film are two
    separate operations. Focussing is by scale, though you can use
    a separate rangefinder such as the Blik. The viewfinder is
    really just a window: I find it quite difficult to get an accurate
    idea of what is in the frame.

    If you want a Fed or Zorki, your chances of getting one that
    works properly without any extra work on your part are greatly
    increased by choosing your seller with care. I can unhesitatingly
    recommend Oleg at <www.okvintagecamera.com>. I can also recommend
    alex-photo/asr-photo on Ebay. There are other good sellers,
    look on the BestStuff Russian Camera forum for lots of good advice.
    see: <http://www.beststuff.com/forum/index.php?f=25>.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 28, 2005
  8. Look, fart-face, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

    Cheap bastard.
    uraniumcommittee, Feb 28, 2005
  9. vamason

    Jerry L Guest

    Have you looked at the stuff at


    to see what is available?
    = = =
    Jerry L, Feb 28, 2005
  10. vamason

    Bill Hicks Guest

    I got a Canon FX from 1964 that works perfectly for $50
    Bill Hicks, Feb 28, 2005
  11. Soviet cameras are best left for "experts", who can recognize (and
    possibly sort out) the problems they are prone to. Given that
    reservation, they can (esp. the Zorkis) be very satisfying.

    My own recommendation would be a Pentax Spotmatic: One of the nicest
    cameras ever made, excellent lenses, and a good chance of being in
    working order - an important charactersitic, especially if you're not
    experienced in checking cameras out.
    Chris Loffredo, Feb 28, 2005
  12. vamason

    Chris Brown Guest

    Does it have to be 35mm? You might be able to pick up a passable Rolleicord
    for that sort of money if you hunt around.
    Chris Brown, Feb 28, 2005
  13. vamason

    baldeagle Guest

    You didn't say it had to be a SLR. For that kind of money, a used
    rangefinder might suit. For instance, I bought a used Yashica
    Electro 35 GSN for $24.00 on Ebay. It has an excellent, sharp
    lens. With a battery adapter from the Yashica Guy (Google) to allow
    use of currently available batteries, my total outlay was less than
    baldeagle, Feb 28, 2005
  14. vamason

    Bob Hickey Guest

    I've always had good luck with the old Ricohs and Konicas. But the old
    Pentaxes remain my favorites. Photography doesn't have to be expensive.
    Upgrade fever is expensive. Mistakes are expensive. Collecting is expensive.
    My rule of thumb is: stay away from light, plastic and electronic. K-Mount
    lenses are money savers. I have Ricoh, Tamron, Sears, Pentax, Tokina lenses
    that fit my Pentax, Ricohs. No duplications. Make sure the meter works on
    1.5 batteries. Good luck. Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Feb 28, 2005
  15. vamason

    Roger Guest

    Watch for a Minolta 7sII, Canonet, Olympus 35RC, etc. on ebay or
    private sales. These are 1970s non-interchangeable lens rangefinder
    cameras with varying degrees of automation. Usually, the more manual,
    the more expensive. Another choice is a used Olympus Stylus Epic,
    although at $90 (if still available new) are still a good value.

    These are advanced P&S cameras (excepting the Olympus and it has an
    exceptional 35mm f2.8 lens).

    Check out www.cameraquest.com for more details on the 1970s cameras.
    They have very good lenses. I still use one on occasion and it gives
    great results.

    Roger, Feb 28, 2005
  16. vamason

    Matt White Guest

    I'll second this. I picked up a Yashica Minister III for less than the
    cost of its own shipping! It doesn't even need batteries for the light
    meter to work; it uses a self-powering ring of cells around the front lens
    element. I tested the meter against my more modern SLRs, and it's still
    accurate after 40 years. Full manual control, razor sharp 45/2.8 lens,
    PC-sync plug and a shutter that'll sync with flash at any speed.

    It's got a few battle scars on the body, but that works to my advantage. I
    can take it places where I'd never risk taking expensive electronic SLR
    bodies or lenses. Plus, it's got a very cool retro steampunk look to it.

    - Matt
    Matt White, Feb 28, 2005
  17. vamason

    Bandicoot Guest

    There's plenty of cameras that will satisfy this gentleman's requirement
    that can be had, used, in his price range. Since he is shopping in the US I
    am less familiar with exactly where the cut-off in price will be than it
    would be here, but he can certainly get someting on that auction site that
    will work and have a decent lens. Now more so than ever. Lots of nice '70s
    rangefinders, and a few decent SLRs.

    Your comment was deliberately snide and unhelpful, and the sort of thing
    that gives the group a bad name by giving the impression to newbies that
    they are unwelcome, when quite the reverse is the case. We exist to help
    newbies as least as much as we exist to chat amongst ourselves, and only by
    encouraging newcomers to photography will the group do anything other than
    eventually age and die.

    You, however, are an arrogant ass, and fortunately this particular gentleman
    was able to spot that immediately.

    Bandicoot, Feb 28, 2005
  18. vamason

    Bandicoot Guest

    I firmly second that opinion. Very nice to use, robust, light for something
    of that vintage, and with absolutely first rate lenses available at rather
    low cost.

    There's a range of models, but for a beginner I'd suggest getting one with a
    built in meter, which rules out the 'pre-spotmatic' bodies like the S3, nice
    though they are. So, the Spotmatic, SP1000, and SP500 - in that order of
    desirability - are worth looking for. The SPII and Spotmatic F may be too
    expensive, but are also options.

    A standard lens will probably come with it, and the best one is the "50mm
    f1.4 SMC Takumar". The version without the "SMC" in its name is very nearly
    as good, and the 55mm f1.8 is also a nice lens.

    Another option is to look at a rangefinder, like a Konica Auto S2 or one of
    the nice Ricoh, Yashica or Olympus models. The Cameraquest website gives
    lots of info. on which of these are better than others. I have an Olympus
    SP as well as an XA, Yashica Electro 35 CC and Konica Auto S3 all of which
    are very fine cameras, though those particular models may break the budget,
    and not all meet the OP's fully manual requirement.

    The other 'traditional' recommendation is an Olympus Stylus Epic, the
    original model with the fixed 35mm f2.8 lens. This is an auto camera, but
    still a very good one, and will give excellent results for the money.

    Whatever, if you find something you are wondering about, you can always come
    back here for more specific advice.

    Bandicoot, Feb 28, 2005
  19. vamason

    Walt Hanks Guest

    I'm amending my advice. I hadn't realized how much prices have dropped in
    the last few months. An Olympus OM-10 with a 50/1.4, a 80-200 off brand,
    and a vivitar flash just sold for $23.08 on eBay.

    So, get to eBay and look for cameras like an Olympus OM-10, Pentax K-1000,
    or Minolta SRT 101 or 201 with a normal lens. Decent Canon's and Nikon's
    are still holding their prices a little better than the other brands. You
    may need to replace light seals and mirror foam, but that's a $20 DIY job.
    Be sure you don't buy from anyone with less than 98% positive feedback.

    The rangefinder cameras that have been mentioned are also good buys, though
    they don't have the ability to add lenses should this become a long-term
    hobby for you.

    Please also remember that you are looking at spending around $10 per roll of
    film (film and processing), and that's at Sam's Club prices. The film and
    processing is the real cost of this addiction we all have.

    Good luck!

    Walt (who is really glad he sold his manual equipment before Christmas!)
    Walt Hanks, Feb 28, 2005
  20. vamason

    Alan Browne Guest

    Check out the camera stores and pawn shops. A good used Minolta, Pentax, Canon,
    Olympus, Nikon and a 50mm f/1.8 lens can be had for that amount. Just make sure
    you get to test it fully first.

    Alan Browne, Feb 28, 2005
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