Small SLR for travel

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Chris Loffredo, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. My smallest and lightest kit is actually a rangefinder, though, because
    of its all-metal construction (Leica M6), the weight savings over a SLR
    aren't that big.
    You could save some weight & cost by using one of the Voigtländer Bessa
    One of the nice things about that kit is that the lenses really are tiny
    - especially the Cosina/Voigtländer 15mm & 21mm, which together add up
    to be about half the size & weight of a compact 50mm.

    Other tiny & very sharp lenses I like: The Zeiss 35mm & 85mm f/2.8
    versions (I use them on a Rolleiflex SLR, where a good and very small
    Mamiya-made 21mm is also available). Your best bet is probably to use
    those on a light Contax body.

    Other cameras to consider:

    The Pentax MX is probably the smallest SLR ever built.

    I don't really like Olympus OM cameras, but YMMV...
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 18, 2006
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  2. Chris Loffredo

    fred Guest

    Hello -

    I've been through a lot of the posts and still have some questions. My
    wife and I have two point and shoots that we bring with us when we
    travel - an Olympus and a Yashica. It's the old problem of wanting
    more in a camera but not wanting much more in size. We can fit these
    in our pockets and normally don't have problems with the pictures. We
    got back from Utah though and have a lot of washed out prints.

    Is there something about the same size that's a manual SLR where we can
    bracket, play with the shutter speed and f stops? Something that we
    can still fit in a jacket or vest pocket? I'd rather not bring our
    SLRs that we have now just because of the weight and bulk.

    I have a feeling I'm asking for too much and may have to bring the SLRs
    we have but would love to find out that there is something out there.

    Thanks for any help or suggestions.
    fred, Dec 18, 2006
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  3. Digital or film?

    Old or new?
    Richard Polhill, Dec 18, 2006
  4. Chris Loffredo

    Scott W Guest

    Take a look at the negatives and see if the washed out areas have
    detail in them. A lot of labs don't pay much attention to whether they
    are blowing out the highlights in a print. My solution to this was to
    get a film scanner and do my own prints. It is amazing how much better
    of a print you can get this way.

    But film scanning is a pain and takes a lot of time, it is better in a
    lot of ways to get a digital camera, and they do make many that are
    very small. I even have a DSLR, the Canon 350D, that is pretty small
    and light.

    Scott W, Dec 18, 2006
  5. Chris Loffredo

    fred Guest

    Sorry about that - I'm talking about film, not digital. I'd be
    interested in old or new, but have been looking mostly at older models
    - that could be anything from 5 years and older.

    fred, Dec 19, 2006
  6. Chris Loffredo

    fred Guest

    Scott -


    I've thought about scanning and doing our own prints but I'll have to
    wait awhile for that. As far as digital cameras go, I don't know - for
    now, I'm going to stick to film.
    fred, Dec 19, 2006
  7. Chris Loffredo

    Scott W Guest

    Well if you are going to stick with film you might want to look at some
    of the range finder cameras on ebay. A lot of these are going to take
    as good or better photos as a SRL but will be a lot smaller.

    Also if you are going to stick with film scanning will improve you
    prints greatly.

    Scott W, Dec 19, 2006
  8. For an SLR, you're not going to find anything that's pocketable. One of
    the smaller SLRs is the Nikon FM family. I have an FM2n, which is fully
    manual, not auto anything. It won't fit in pockets, though.

    SLRs are larger because they have a penta-prism on top, they need room
    front-to-back for the mirror to swing up, and the lenses are designed
    not to intrude into the camera so they aren't hit by the mirror.

    If you want a pocketable 35mm camera, I'd suggest sticking with the
    range-finder/view-finder style you seem to be using. I don't follow
    point and shoot cameras, so I can't offer suggestions on which offer
    manual controls.

    Googling the phrase
    35mm rangefinder
    which has brief descriptions and a link to some point and shoot cameras

    and lots of eBay hits.

    Good luck.
    Phil Stripling, Dec 19, 2006
  9. Try getting them re-printed, it is pretty hard to overexpose
    negative film to the point one can't get a decent print out
    of it. Some camera stores have tech's that do know how to
    use the equipment, as opposed to Aunt Henrietta at the Rx
    A pocketable SLR -- not in full frame. There are the 1/2 frame
    Olympus Pen's. And the 110 Pentax - film's a bit of a problem.

    If you don't need lens interchangeability there are quite a
    few folders to consider: Retina IIA [make sure it works/get return
    privileges], Voigtlander Vito III, Zeiss Contessa. Then there are
    the compact 1970's cameras: Canon Canonette GL17, Olympus 35SP, Rollie 35.
    A bit more modern is the Minox 35GT. The Olympus XA isn't strictly
    manual but you can futz the ASA by yourself, I don't like them but some
    swear by them.

    And then there is a screw mount Leica or Voigtlander with a collapsible

    For superb picture quality consider a 6x6 or 6x9 folder like a
    Nettar, Isolette or Ikonta. Fuji makes [made?] a 6x4.5 folder.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Dec 19, 2006

  10. I highly recommend the Canonet QL17 GIII. It's lens is legendary, some
    call it the poor man's Leica. It is small with auto exposure and
    manual exposure as well. Manual focusing, and oh so very easy to load
    with film. It is an extremely high quality camera, as you will see
    when holding it. Here is a link to a better description:

    They can be bought on ebay. But make sure the camera has had it's
    light seals changed, as they were made in the early 1970's and back
    then they used a type of foam to keep the light out. I bought my
    Canonet from an ebay buyer who specializes in Canonets. He cleans
    them, puts new lights seals in them, etc. They go for an average of
    $130. US
    A very good investment.
    Good Luck!
    helensilverburg, Dec 19, 2006
  11. Chris Loffredo

    jeremy Guest

    You don't say what lenses you will need, or why you consider your present
    SLR to be inappropriate.

    The Olympus OM-1 was a pretty small SLR, and it set the stage for Pentax's
    introduction of the "M" ("Miniature") series of bodies and lenses. I don't
    think that you will get an SLR that is significantly smaller than those

    If you want both manual AND automatic operation, look at the "P" series from
    Pentax (Sorry, I am unfamiliar with other brands, although I am certain that
    there are alternatives out there). The P3n or the P30t were only 1
    millimeter taller than the original OM-1, and they were designed for the "A"
    series of automatic lenses (manual focusing, but automatic exposure). Both
    of those 2 models features metered manual mode, where YOU set the shutter
    and aperture and you could accept the TTL meter;s recommended settings or
    use whatever you wanted. There was also Program mode, where the camera
    selected the fastest available shutter speed possible for the shot, based on
    film speed. Great to stop action, but no control over the DOF because the
    camera set the aperture. Also has shutter priority automatic mode, where
    YOU set the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed (stepless from 1
    second to 1/1000) for correct exposure. That is the mode that I use most.
    Finally there is an automatic flash mode when a dedicated Pentax flash is

    The "A" lenses, especially the normal lenses, are repudiated to have been
    among the sharpest that Pentax ever designed. You can get them on eBay,
    including lens, for under $100. I own 4 of them, all purchased on eBay, and
    they all arrived in mint condition, because they were typically purchased
    originally by amateurs and saw little use. A lot of amateurs shot only a
    roll or two per year, so even after 15 years, the cameras had only 20 or 30
    rolls run through them.

    They had Seiko-Asahi electronic shutters that were more accurate than the
    cloth-curtain shutters used in the older Spotmatics. They were lightweight
    and very easy to carry about on a neck strap all day long.

    I use them as my walkabout cameras, rather than overwork my Spotmatics and
    ES models. I believe that they represent the best bang for the buck in film
    SLRs without autofocus. And there are a number of low-priced zoom lenses
    available if you require additional focal range. I carry a couple in my
    bag, but I almost always use the 50mm f/1.7 SCMP-A normal lens.

    If you decide to get one of these cameras (the P3n is black and the P30t is
    titanium - gray) be sure to avoid the earlier model P3 or P30, because those
    models did not have shutter-priority automatic mode, only program mode.
    They sell for the same prices as their better cousins, because most people
    don't know the difference, but you will definitely want the later models P3n
    or P30t. They're so cheap you can get a couple of them as backups, and I
    found them to be all I needed in terms of features.
    jeremy, Dec 19, 2006
  12. Maybe a used Pentax MX would suit You. Fairly small and all-manual, a
    lot of used lenses around (and new of course).
    Also to consider from Pentax are Me-Super and Super A which can be used
    fully manually and are quite small and should be easy to find used. See
    Hope this helps.

    Väinö Louekari
    Väinö Louekari, Dec 19, 2006
  13. I second everything Jeremy says. I was going to recommend the tiny Pentaxes
    but I don't think they're significantly smaller than the OM. Personally I have
    a couple of ME Supers that I use for portability, when my T90 is just too huge
    and noisy.

    I would be considering a small rangefinder camera if I wanted anything
    smaller, although there may be a few AF compact cameras with manual modes.
    Certainly quite a few digital compacts have manual modes; I have an old Nikon
    Coolpix 4300 that has manual/Av/Tv/Program modes and even give manual focus as
    if this was possible on the LCD!
    Richard Polhill, Dec 19, 2006
  14. Chris Loffredo

    Jay Beckman Guest

    Richard's comments made me remember the T90s little brother, the T70.

    I have one and it's pretty darn small (compared to the T90 and/or the EOS

    A couple of AA batteries and a snappy compact FD zoom and "Bob's yer
    uncle..." as they say.

    Just another opionion, FWIW...

    Good Luck

    Jay Beckman
    Chandler, AZ
    Jay Beckman, Dec 19, 2006
  15. Nice but still no smaller than the OM, and heavier.
    Richard Polhill, Dec 19, 2006
  16. Chris Loffredo

    Peter Chant Guest

    Hmm, have you tried polarising filters - assuming it was light blue skies
    that got washed out.

    Peter Chant, Dec 19, 2006
  17. Note also that you CAN affect exposure in a compact camera as well, if
    it's of an old enough variety :) You can fool the camera to over-
    or underexpose by changing the ISO setting - IF it has one. The
    too automatic ones probably don't.
    Toni Nikkanen, Dec 19, 2006
  18. Chris Loffredo

    Doug Robbins Guest

    The Canonet *does* have a good lens, but after 35 years they are notorious
    for developing sticky leaf shutters. Also, they require mercury batteries
    and are iffy in the electronics reliability. Although not as small or
    elegant, the Yashica Electro 35 GSN can use modern batteries and has even
    better optics. If you are set on a small SLR, I'd recommend a Pentax Super
    Program, the best of the Pentax small SLR's, excepting the LX, which is
    quite pricey even in the declining film SLR market.

    Doug Robbins, Dec 19, 2006
  19. My Pentax 110 SLR fits nicely into a pocket, but I prefer to use the
    belt clip. Alas, it's a program-mode only model.

    In the Nikon line, the FG and N/F55 are both smaller than the FM2.
    I think the smallest readily available Nikon SLR is the APS-based
    Pronea S. I have one of these as my "car camera", and with a lens
    like the 45mm f/2.8P you probably _could_ fit it in a large pocket.

    The Pronea S does not offer full manual operation, but does offer
    shutter- and aperture- priority modes with exposure compensation.
    Michael Benveniste, Dec 19, 2006

  20. That's the first time I've heard about the QL17 GIII having sticky
    leaf shutters. There were other Canonets made as well, perhaps they
    are the ones you are talking about? I know there are some Canonets
    that do not have the same sharp lens as the QL17. Their lenses are
    inferior to the QL17. But as far as needing a mercury battery, that no
    longer applies. I can readily buy a battery for a small amount of
    change on ebay. The PX625 is mercury-free. And they last at least a
    helensilverburg, Dec 19, 2006
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