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Tuesday, 26 September 2017


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I have a Canon Elan 7n that I bought new (ETTL2). A Yashica T3 P&S, a Yashica T4 P&S, and a Leica LTM, all three came from ebay. And a Toyo 4x5 from a friend.

All five cameras together can be bought for less than the cost of one 16-35 FF lens—with money left over to buy a couple of bricks of 35mm film, and a couple of boxes of 4x5 film.

That black-'n-silver Canon T2 looks like a good way to hide-in-plain-sight, while not straining your back 8-)

Great post! Enjoy. I recently won an Olympus XA2 in a photo forum weekend challenge and have been shooting Tri-X in it and home-processing. Back to film after 10+ years of digital only, and completely smitten. It's amazing the endless possibilities film opens up, and, like you say, for next to nothing. The experience has me asking myself, after all these years and tens of thousands of dollars in digital gear, is this $20.00 camera all I ever really needed? - John

I picked up a new Nikon F100 from B&H back in 2010, shortly before they sold out. It wasn't inexpensive—I paid $750 for it—but that was $135 less than I had paid a year earlier for a Nikon D90, and I figured I would replace the D90 in a couple of years (I did) while the F100 would probably last as long as I did (it has so far).

The F100 currently shares lenses with my D800E. I use the former maybe twice a year, the latter maybe twice a month, and my Fuji X-T2 almost every day. But a few years from now, I suspect I'll still have the F100, while the two digital bodies will be, at best, fading memories.

@Steve Rosenblum: Talk about "synchronicity"! I recently broke out my Contax T3 out of storage and bought a roll of Ilord FP4 as I thought it would be fun to shoot some B&W film for "sh*ts and giggles". I bought the T3 back in 2002 for $600 and probably used it half a dozen times; as such the camera is "mint". The last time I used this camera was on a long weekend motorcycle trip to Lake Tahoe in 2002, I was blown away by the image quality from the Zeiss T* f/2.8.

Doc; I like your film solution. I work in film a lot, mostly b+w of late and love simple, quality solutions.

Hoping you make some great photos with that rig.

I don't know, this seems to me more like how to keep most of the things I dislike about digital photography , but still use film.

That's a very similar kit to what I got for my niece some years ago when she needed a film camera (why?) for a college photo class. It served her very well! (Better than her class, in fact.)

Trying to wrap my mind around that "full control of ISO" with a film camera. Of course, we all used to push the hell out of Tri-X. :-)

Well I qualify for comment because #1 I shoot B&W film (sometimes) and #2 I very much enjoy the 40mm focal length. My favorite little film camera right now is a Olympus RC with a 45mm 2.8 lens. I am lucky enough to have found one with a very clear bright viewfinder/rangefinder. For digital I just picked up a 27mm 2.8 for my recently acquired Fuji XM1 that I did not pay a lot of money for. The 27 gives me a near 40mm POV in a small package with Fuji X image quality. 40mm equivalent give portraits without much facial distortion, is wide enough for a lot of scenic/landscape work and a nice focal length for street/candid's too. (of course until one desires or needs something longer or shorter :)

I've actually got one of these! - well, the European version, the EOS 300X. It's boxed; mint (never used); and complete with its kit lens, the no-doubt-stellar 28-90 f4-f5.6 . Even better, I've even got a 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens (and its EF-S twin, the 24mm f2.8).

Our house was burgled almost 10 years ago, and among the things that was taken were my cameras. These included a very old EOS 650 - yes, the very first EOS, which I had bought in 1988 when it was still the current camera. For one reason or another I'd hung on to it, and so it was grabbed by the burglars that evening.

The way insurance works in the UK is that you don't get a cheque in settlement. Instead, the claim (once approved) is passed to a settlement company who make their living by negotiating which replacement items you'll get, and then sourcing them as cheaply as possible. Typically, if you lost a 3, 4 or 5-years old tech item (an older laptop or camera, say), you'll get it replaced by a newer but not current model of at least equivalent specification. So in my case I had a 5-years old Apple Powerbook replaced by a new, unused example of the previous year's MacBook Pro that the settlement company obtained from a wholesaler. That's how I got the 300X. On paper, its specs are better than those of the old 650 so that's what they supplied.

But it's never been used - I don't use film anymore. Which means I could be open to offers..... (but not for the 40mm lens - that, I do use.)

I picked up a Nikon FG with a series E 50mm at the local thrift store. The little gold QC stickers were still on both. No wear on the pressure plate or dust on the shutter; I'd be surprised if there had been more than a dozen rolls of film through the thing.

Five bucks.

In a slightly different area, I bought a Pentax MX body for £65 a little over a year ago. I already had the 40mm pancake (which is what I bought it for) but they seem to be about £80 on ebay. Of course it's not auto-anything.

I've used that camera more than any other this year: maybe 40 rolls, which is a lot for me.

There are cult cameras and good cameras: the intersection of those two sets is not empty, but it's also not the union.

I've been carrying around an Olympus XA2. the idea was to put new light seals in it then Ebay it, but then I found a roll of film. It's so simple to use, there are few decisions to make except where to point it and when to press the shutter.

Even the focusing is simple with it's three click stopped positions; middle position for most things, closest position for around the 4' mark, and a distance position. It resets to the middle position when you close the cover, so you always know where you are when you fire it up again.

The Nikon F100 was mentioned by another poster. They are currently going for under $100. While not as light as the Rebel, they are amazing cameras. I still have mine, but I must admit that my M4-P has film in it and the F100 does not.


These days, cameras and film are a lot like razors and blades (or printers and ink): Inexpensive to buy, but expensive to operate.

So Chris and Steve, how do contemporary lenses interact with film? Do you think the (supposedly) higher resolution, better aberration correction, and better coatings of today's lenses allows film to capture more detail, nuance, magic than it did with the last generation of pre-digital lenses?

Still loving film for B&W, but pretty much abandoned it for color. There were a lot of "plastic fantastic" film SLRs. I have both the Pentax MZ-3 and *ist. The latter is a lot lighter, but at the cost of a tiny dark finder. Both use small/expensive CR2 batteries. Obvious small/light lens is 43mm Limited.

One of the best options (in my irrelevant opinion) for a fixed lens 40mm compact is the Olympus 35SP. (OK, it's 43mm, but who's measuring?) It has had its moments of cult status, so a good sample might set you back more than $109, but the lens is excellent and the ergonomics are great; it is lighter than a Leica but feels like it in the hand.

The 'SP' in the model name stands for "spot", as in spot metering. With the push of a conveniently placed button, you can switch the camera's metering from average to spot, with the spot corresponding to the rangefinder patch. Brilliant. Add some b&w film and Rodinal, and you're going to be having fun.

Photography isn't about posturing (behaviour or speech that is intended to attract attention). When someone looks at a photo they don't care about all the subjects that you have mastered. All they care about is the result.

Me, I don't futz with focus or exposure. I set my camera to P (for professional) which frees me to concentrate on composition and/or connecting with the client/model.

You can't re-shoot a photo you missed while manually setting exposure/focus in a fast moving situation. All cameras suck, to a certain extent, because they all get in your way. That's why I use automated cameras because they suck less.

For many years, the camera that was always in my flight bag was a Leica Minilux. Amazing 40 mm lens. Black Titanium. Got it new in NY, I don't remember the name of the dealer, but he was in a 30 something floor. Still have it, but is sadly idling back home in Mexico.

T3 was 35mm

@ Richard Swearinger said:

"So Chris and Steve, how do contemporary lenses interact with film? Do you think the (supposedly) higher resolution, better aberration correction, and better coatings of today's lenses allows film to capture more detail, nuance, magic than it did with the last generation of pre-digital lenses?"

I haven't done any kind of methodical comparison so not sure my answer is valid, but, the lenses I have from the 80's and 90's have pretty awesome image quality. Certainly good enough for me. I am very impressed that Canon is able to consistently squeeze such good image quality out of the 40mm lens for so cheap a price. That may be an improvement in design and manufacturing tolerances.

I love this idea. And lens bargains, in this forum-driven inflation-booming age are rare. Normally, when a lens when gets a certain reputation, prices for used examples rocket. The exception is when the price is neatly bounded on the upside by the reasonable retail price, as is the case here. There are also certain lens properties that provide downward pressure on prices: unusual focal lengths, uncommon lens mounts, and in this case - perceived slow speed.

I've got a fridge full of 35mm and little urge to shoot anything with it. So a new camera to pair with this lens is the only solution. But as a true TOP fan (or rather, as follower of Mike's history with the EOS line) I've plumped for a EOS RT. Total cost: £68 (lens) + £20 (body). Less than £100 all in with shipping.

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