"Professional" compact non-SLR camera?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Bob Martin, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Bob Martin

    Bob Martin Guest

    Early next year I am doing a two month walking holiday and need to
    minimize weight carried.

    Accordingly, I am looking to buy a compact, lightweight (plastic)
    camera that will produce 35mm slides as close to a professional
    quality as possible.

    It should have a relatively fast lens for unassisted indoor shots, but
    also a good built-in flash. A zoom, or lens interchangability is not

    Can anyone recommend a few of the best new camera options in the under
    $400 price range?

    Thanks for your reply.

    Bob Martin
    Bob Martin, Nov 6, 2003
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  2. One good but very cheap ((<$100) option is the Olympus Mju-II (Stylus Epic
    in the US). Fixed 35mm lens.

    The Ricoh GR1-V is more expensive (maybe just over $400), but more
    versatile. It could now be a bit hard to obtain in the US. however.
    There's also a cut-down version (GR10) that shares the same 28mm lens, but
    is quite a bit cheaper.

    Richard Williams, Nov 6, 2003
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  3. Stylus Epic. Excellent 35mm f2.8 lens. Waaaaaay under $400 - less than
    $100. The best deal going.

    Rollei AFM35. Not just an excellent lens - a superb 38mm f2.6 lens.
    Probably the best lens every put on a point and shoot camera. Has other
    features you may want, like exposure compensation, manual focus and manual
    aperture control (as well as all automated, of course). $300 at B&H right

    Mike Lipphardt, Nov 6, 2003
  4. Bob Martin

    ROBMURR Guest

    Bob while I use an Olympus Stylus for
    carrying around, I was going to suggest
    something else. What about a Canon
    Rebel TI camera with a 50mm F1.8?
    With lens it is super light and has a better
    flash system than the point and shoots.
    Plus much faster, sharper lens.
    Cost US would be about $300 total.
    ROBMURR, Nov 6, 2003
  5. Actually, despite my earlier OlympusStylus Epic/Rollei AFM35 suggestion,
    this is a great idea. Doesn't need to be Canon, either. Minolta Maxxum 4
    or 5 with a 50mm f1.7 is equally good and very small and light, and as with
    the Canon, you can expand the system if you like. I'm sure Nikon and Pentax
    have equivalents in size and cost, and they're all pretty well the same
    quality wise at any particular price point. With a p/s you're locked in.

    Mike Lipphardt, Nov 6, 2003
  6. If by "professional quality" you mean good sharp images
    then you don't have to spend a lot.

    My favorite compact non-SLR:
    Canon G-III QL17. 40/1.7 lens is sharp.
    A classic for $50 to $100.

    But still about the same size and with SLR versatility:
    Any Pentax M body (ME, ME Super, MG, MV, MV-1, MX)
    with 40/2.8 pancake lens. (I'd recommend ME Super or MX.)
    Very durable bodies. See http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp for more info.
    The pair can be had in the neighborhood of $200.

    Hope this is useful,

    Collin Brendemuehl, Nov 6, 2003
  7. Bob Martin

    Bandicoot Guest

    Both my first choices are ones already mentioned in this thread: the Ricoh
    GR1 / GR1s / GR1v (that's oldest to latest version) and the Pentax MX with
    the 40mm 'pancake' lens.

    The Ricoh is very tiny, and light. It is metal not plastic, but being alloy
    is still very light. The 28mm f2.8 lens is outstanding - as good as any
    28mm lens for 35mm that you will find anywhere. The flash system is
    excellent, and you get a lot of control: you can use it entirely as a full
    auto P&S, or set focus manually, use it in aperture priority AE, set
    exposure compensation, and manually set the film speed. The meter is good
    enough for slides. Mine is a GR1v - the earlier models have slightly fewer
    features, but the same excellent lens.

    I love mine, and carry it almost all the time - have sold several pictures
    taken with it, so I guess that means it meets your 'professional'
    requirement. Actually, at a recent meeting of pro.s here in the UK someone
    asked, as a joke, everyone to turn out what camera they had in their
    pockets. Of those who had brought any kind of camera along, more than half
    had a Ricoh GR1 /GR1s / GR1v.

    Other option for me is the Pentax. Now, I use Pentax anyway because they
    are my favourite lenses, so maybe this is a more obvious choice for me. Of
    course this is bigger than most (not all) P&S cameras, and a lot bigger than
    a GR1 - but you get versatility. It also isn't a new option, but that
    shouldn't put you off, and nor does it have flash built in, which might.

    The MX is totally manual, only the meter even requires a battery. Very
    comfortable to hold, very easy to use. The 40mm f2.8 is tiny. If you
    wanted to add some wide capability for landscapes, the 28mm f3.5 is very
    small, cheap used, and an extremely good performer. The MX is unlike the
    other M series cameras in that it was designed as a stripped down
    professional camera - so it is a true system camera (apart from lacking
    interchangeable finders) and is very robust. The target market seems to
    have been as a fully manual, non-battery dependent, back up body for heavy
    users - but I'm sure that in the end most were sold to amateurs who just
    loved the compactness.

    Be aware that over the life of the MX as more advanced plastics became
    available the design was gradually changed to replace a number of brass
    parts with plastic. These later once seem just as reliable, and are a lot
    lighter - so it is worth checking out the weight of any you consider buying.

    Bandicoot, Nov 6, 2003
  8. Bob Martin

    Ed E. Guest

    If he calls it a 2-month "holiday", he's likely not from the States.
    Ed E., Nov 6, 2003
  9. Bob Martin

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    I would check out the Canon Rebel Ti and the Pentax *ist. Both are light and
    both would produce good results at a reasonable price.
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 6, 2003
  10. Bob Martin

    Timo Labrenz Guest

    If Bob's talking about 400 Australian Dollars, the Rollei 35AFM should
    be fine, but some other recommends like the GR1-V and the Pentax *ist
    might be out of range. However, I second the Rollei.
    The Canonet QL17 GIII is nice, but has no build-in flash, as most older
    SLRs that have been recommended so far, and it seems to be important to
    Bob, if I got him right.

    Timo Labrenz, Nov 6, 2003
  11. Bob Martin

    Gordon Moat Guest

    As Tony pointed out, some of the low end SLRs are light plastic. The
    downside is that they are bulky and don't fit into most pockets.
    Most of the current crop are quite good with accurate exposure. You are
    still tied to DX coded films, though a few cameras allow exposure
    compensation adjustments.
    The fixed lens cameras tend to do a little better with final images, and
    have better low light ability. One that is a zoom, and fits your price
    range, is the Yashica T4 Zoom. Well worth investigating.
    Best is tough, though check out the Rollei AFM35, older (used) Yashica T4
    Super (fixed lens), or Contax T3 (used to fit your price range). The
    Contax will be slightly higher, but is a very nice camera.
    With even older gear, the Nikon 35 Ti was a good choice. You can
    sometimes find these used, and in good shape. They are fairly modern, and
    allow several user adjustments.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 6, 2003
  12. Bob Martin

    Bandicoot Guest

    I forgot to mention: my shoot in picture for the 'Night People' mandate was
    taken with a GR1v.

    Bandicoot, Nov 7, 2003
  13. Bob Martin

    Leicaddict Guest

    Get a Leica Minilux. Don't listen to these other assholes.
    Leicaddict, Nov 7, 2003
  14. Bob Martin

    Roger Guest


    On any of the P&S cameras recommended, make sure you try it out well
    in advance of your trip. While the Stylus Epic has a great reputation
    (and I love mine for a P&S), it's exposure system reportedly
    overexposes (assumes a print film bias). I've been very happy with
    mine for negative film and have only put one role of slides through it
    to verify that it is a lot trickier to use with transparency film than
    negative film.

    I also have a Contax T3. Above your budget new. I've carried this 35mm
    fixed focal length camera for three weeks in Asia as an only camera.
    It has several manual over rides and I especially like the exposure
    compensation setting (I use -2eV often for night shots of urban
    settings). It has a manual focus option and can be used in aperture
    priority mode. This affords a great deal of control and can be set up
    for ZERO exposure lag using the MF settings.

    The photos from my T3 excellent in quality. I'm not going to get into
    the "better than" statements, but several are just plain stunning at
    8"x12" with ISO400 film. I like the lens quality in the out of focus
    areas and it's bias towards larger apertures and faster shutter speeds
    IMO plays to that strength. Contrast is excellent and the images seem
    to pop.

    I hope your trip works out well. BTW: I often carry both the Epic and
    T3. The Epic makes a great camera to hand to someone else to get those
    self inclusive photos - it really is a P&S in operation. It's also one
    I can set up on a pocket tripod, set the self timer and walk away a
    few steps and not be quite so concerned with snatch and grab.

    Roger, Nov 7, 2003
  15. Hmmmm, another Minolta?
    Darrell A. Larose, Nov 7, 2003
  16. Bob Martin

    Bob Martin Guest

    Thanks for the great response.

    Bandicoot mentioned that the metering of the Ricoh GR1 is suitable for
    slides. This implies others may not do as well.

    Is this a common problem with compact cameras? I would have hoped

    If so, should I cross any of those previously suggested in this thread
    off my list, aside from the lightweight SLR's of course.

    I am concerned about this, since I will be taking some slides.

    Bob Martin
    Bob Martin, Nov 7, 2003
  17. I Concur, being a long standing MX owner and a recent GR1v owner.

    The GR1v is about to be discontinued so dont hang around too long
    Kevin Stephens, Nov 7, 2003
  18. Bob Martin

    Gordon Moat Guest

    That is mostly a wide angle camera, so it could be supposed that the
    metering may work a little differently. In practice, the more top of the
    line compact cameras should do well enough, except under low light
    Likely just the small size, and simplicity of components. How they meter
    can be another factor. There is a need for exposure compensation, though
    you need to know when to use that. Most of the cameras I mentioned allow
    enough adjustments to properly compensate.
    I think it is more of a matter of understanding your gear. Shoot a roll
    of two of your chosen film under varying light conditions, and see where
    the camera needs exposure compensation. The Contax T3 offers a good range
    of adjustments, and okay low light accuracy. If you can get into one
    used, it would be a great choice.
    Strong back lighting will probably give exposures that are off if not
    adjusted. The same can happen with an SLR, so the lesson is learn your
    gear. Several high profile pros use compact cameras, and the published
    results show good exposure, so it is definitely possible. I would not
    hesitate to use slide film in the proper compact camera, and you should
    feel comfortable doing the same.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 7, 2003
  19. Bob Martin

    Bandicoot Guest

    Apologies if I coused concern: my point was that slides are MUCH more
    exposure sensitive than print films. Just about anything can meter for
    negatives, slides are more challenging, but any _decent_ compact should be
    able to do it. As with any in-camera meter, you are measuring reflected
    light and so need to think about when to use exposure compensation: I
    certainly wouldn't consider putting slide film in a camera that didn't make
    using compensation a simple matter.

    Bandicoot, Nov 7, 2003

  20. No, Panasonic.
    Michael Scarpitti, Nov 8, 2003
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