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Tuesday, 11 December 2018


The current camera is always the favorite, minus sentimental attractions. Else we have to face up to a foolish purchase. But sentiment counts. Mine are my trusty Canon F-1, my first 5D, my Sinar F, and my (current) Pentax 645z. Sentiment is involved in all those, but they earned their way to that status.

"Seriously, there is something about the aspiration o' the moment, the desire for something you want but don't have yet, that triggers the GAS-endorphins in the brain and help to put that thing, whatever it is, up on a pedestal for a while."

Yeah, this. Wow. My current obsession is a travel backpack (the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L, if you must know.) I already have several high end travel bags, including a Tom Bihn that cost close to $400 with the accessories. I obsessed over that one for months before ordering it. I've used it for five or six years, and I'm very aware of its flaws. Of course the new bag -- which I do not yet own -- is perfect and flawless in every way. And 'twill remain so until I buy it and use it for a few years... :)

Oh, and thanks for the nice write-up on the Fuji X-H1. I've been tempted by the internal stabilization. I already have, er, many Fuji bodies, including the pair of X-T2 bodies I use at work. I figure I need to buy one more set of cameras to finish out my career, and Fuji ought to have an X-H2 out in a year or so. If I can get five years out of them, I'm good.

I've had a list of "5 best science fiction novels"(in my opinion) for forever, and one of my rules has always been that the list could not have 5 names on it. For years it was 4, a while ago it finally jumped to 6 after years. The basic names have remained the same, though, in my case.

Anyway -- I'm not the person to give you grief over having something other than five names on your "five best" list!

For cameras mine might be Leica M3, Nikon D700. I don't really feel like the Nikon FM, Olympus OM-4T, Fuji S2, or even the Olympus OM-D EM-5 or EM-1 MkII make it; maybe after another year or so with the EM-1? (Or many other cameras, but none of them would be in serious consideration for such a list by most people; those 5 feel like they should be considered, but I don't choose them after consideration.)

My favorite five: Mamiya M6; Leica M6; Olympus OM-1; Canon FTb; Canon 5DS R.

I had a metal shop buddy machine a solid baseplate for my early Wista field (in the UK we called it 5 x 4 more often than 4 x5) because even on a huge( long pre carbon fiber) Gitzo Studex tripod and Arca swiss ball head the camera was a bit flimsy in the wind which I attributed to the thin bottom panel that flexed easily. I also locked solid /permanently all the movements except front and rear tilt, because the hardware was flimsy and I was only using it for landscape work where shifts and swings were not important. I started out with a 150mm but ended up wider with the 135mm nikon and 90mm Super angulon. Fun days.

"... up on a pedestal for a while. Then you get it, the glow is strong and roseate for a time, but then you ...get used to it, it ...grows familiar, and those endorphins no longer fire so strongly." Lovely.
Could also apply to a lot of things in life other than cameras including, I'm sorry to say, one's better (bitter?) half. The halo sometimes slips. Just saying.

What are the “five favorite” photographs you’ve taken? And were they taken with any of these “favorite” cameras?

[Well, it's easy to think of favorites taken with all five of these. But it's also easy to think of favorites taken with numerous other cameras, so I guess I can't claim any magic coincidences. As I always used to say, "every camera gives its gifts." --Mike]

My imaginary X-T4 with IBIS is my current favorite:) For extant cameras, I'd go with a Canon EOS A2(my first new camera purchase), M6, D7000(My Second New camera purchase!), Linhof Tech 70, and the Fuji X-T2.

The D7000 still seems like one of the most perfect releases Nikon had - that amazingly flexible 16mp sensor, 2 card slots, great battery life, worked with most every lens...biggest mistake I ever made was selling that camera for a D600.

I know you weren't overly impressed with the A2 when it was out, but with the vertical grip, that camera was at my side from 1995 to 2008.

Nikon Df, Leica M240, Leica M6, Hasselblad SWC, Linhof Super Technika III from 1956.
Incidentally I tried an interesting exercise, looking through every film scan and every digital file I'd ever taken and creating a favorites folder. Every single image was off film, all were black and white, and apart from a few taken on Nikon F's and some with a Rolleiflex, the last three cameras took the lot - with a little help from me.....

Oooh, picking just fine is not fair - I love'em all!
If I had to choose: Panasonic GX7 (current), Pentax MZ-S, Pentax MX, Spotmatic F, Yashica Mat 124G.

GX7 and MZ-S are a joy to hold and use, MX is the smallest fully mechanical 35mm SLR out there, Spotmatic F is the latest and the greatest fully-manual M42 camera there is (with open-aperture metering), and YashiMat is generally very lovely camera.

Beyond top five, in no particular order: Panasonic GF1, Panasonic L1, Olympus E1, Minolta SRT 101, Minolta XD7, Contax 167MT, Hasselblad 500c/m, Canon New F-1, Nikon FE, Nikon F801(s), Bronica GS-1. All those cameras I've used for some time, some I still own.

I'd really like to know what are David's favourite SF novels ...

But back to cameras, my top 5 are the Leica M3, any LTM Leica, the Monochrom, any reliable Rolleiflex-shaped medium format, and the Minolta SRT series.

The Minoltas are a very late discovery (over 30 years after the production was stopped), but I enjoy them quite a lot. And quite the opposite to "aspiration of the moment :-)

cheers, sebastian

If my house caught fire the only camera I would run back in to save would be a Rollei 2.8f that has been a steadfast friend for forty years.
Filling out the list would be a Nikon F2, a Hassy 500c, a Nikon D70 that got me into digital ans served me well for a decade and finally my new to me D7100.

Well, you are incorrect for liking these as your top 5. The Wista ain't a bad camera to like, but where is you OM-1? Or Nikon D300. Anyone who does not consider one of those as one of their favorites is just plan wrong.

I once read that if one had nothing useful to contribute to a conversation, he or she should say nothing. Obviously, I pay no attention to that.

[I thought you were going to say that *I* pay no attention to that. :-) --Mike]

I'm a bit surprised to see the Wista on your list, as I don't think of you as being a view-camera kind of photographer. I'm curious as to why it made your Top Five list ... care to share?

[Maybe someday! Not now. --Mike]

Interesting. I tried very hard to think of my favourite cameras, and I could not really think of a favourite film camera. Although I liked my first proper film SLR, a Canon AE-1P, that was more sentimental than anything else.

I did have a soft spot for the Nikon Coolpix 990 which introduced me to digital, and had some very cool and quirky features. I find it sad that digital cameras became less innovative over the years and not more so.

And my newest camera, the Fuji X-pro2, is my favourite camera to date, but with so many advances in technology, it's unfair to compare it with anything older. It may cease to be my favourite when the X-pro3 comes out - who knows?

I can't really think of a favourite anything to be honest. There were cars, books, photographs and movies that I liked for different reasons, but I never ranked them against each other. I don't know how to compare Bach with Muddy Waters or Paul Simon.


Looks like the X-H1 is currently in the aspiration spot. The same is true for me. I am hopeful that the price will fall by the time I finish my OC/OL/OY project.


My Konica-Minolta 7D keeps on going... it turned 13 last July and continues to be used regularly by my daughter. I've never had a camera that fit my hand better and was more easy and comfortable to use. It will always be one of my favorite cameras.

In order of acquisition: Olympus OM1 (stolen), Nikon F3HP, Canon G11, Nikon D7000 (sold), Fuji X-T1 (replaced D7000). I enjoyed the D7000 but just don't see myself carrying that much weight going forward.

“Oh come on - David has to give us his list of 6 favourite sci-fi novels !!

On the camera front I loved my Olympus XA, the Nikon F2 and the Leica M6. But way out front is the current one, the Olympus PenF

My all-time favorite is the Olympus OM2n that I carried on documentary assignments to 27 countries on five continents in the '80s and '90s. I also have great respect and affection for the Canon A2 that I used for nine years to photograph one book and many commercial assignments; the Mamiya RB67, the workhorse of my commercial studio years; any of the various TLRs I've owned (currently a Minolta Autocord); the Canon EOS original 5D, my first fully satisfactory digital camera, which I used for eight years; and my current "pet," the lovably quirky Fuji X-Pro1.

Does that make six? Ah, well. Tough cookies.

My favorite is my current 6d but then I’ve only owned 7 cameras in my life. It’s not that I’m a camera heretic...I just never had any money as a young man. My first two cameras probably shouldn’t count due to their limited capabilities. The first (Spencer Full-Vue) was bought in grade-school at the neighborhood AMVETS post yard sale for a dime (still have it) and the second was just some generic 110 I used in middle school for backpacking trips.

In high school I “splurged’ on an East German Practica LTL. It was used, cheap, and came with a snazzy form fitting hard case. Next came a Practica L parts camera (shouldn’t count this one either) that I picked up in a thrift store somewhere and a couple years later I received a brand new K1000 for Christmas. That first new camera was a thrill. I used the K1000 forever.

Moving to digital was a revelation for someone who never did any printing outside of their high school photography class. My three digitals (Oly C-8080, Rebel XSI, 6D) were all much more expensive but their immediate feedback combined with all the information available on the web opened up a portal that swallowed me whole.

Cars are another story. I always needed a car to get to work and so bought countless beaters over the years….several for $100-$200 dollars. My favorite of the beaters was the uber expensive ($800) 1964 Fairlane Sports Coupe with a 289 and 10lbs of Bondo. I wish I still had this car. I’d trade my Spencer Full-Vue for it in a minute. I remember needing to use the parking brake for the test drive. Ahhh…good times. :-)

Mine are Nikon FM, Hasselblad 500CM, Nikon F100, Nikon D700. I haven't got to 5 favourites yet.

The thing is that the old favourites are all fairly simple and straight forward to use. Current cameras have too many features to be thoroughly intuitive to me. Or maybe it is just that I have too many cameras now?

I really don't feel much for cameras in and of themselves. I probably liked Leica R6.2, Canon 6D and the current new boy OMD EM1 II as much as any. Most of them generate little emotion. The Leica Ms I loved the results and the size, but never warmed to them as users. The Leicaflex SL was great, but I preferred the R6, and although I liked the Canon 5DII and 5DIV (which I still have), for some reason the 6D stands out as one I enjoyed using more. The Hasselblad was in general not a success for me and I wasted a lot of money on that system. Probably should have had a medium format rangefinder or a 645 reflex. So, though I have good memories of most the photos I took using all of these cameras, the items themselves I can't really get all that worked up about.

Well if I were basing it on what did I make my favorite photos with:
Hassalblad 500c, 70mm combat graphic, Graflex RB 4x5 SLR, Polaroid SX70, and I figure that still owning them is a measure of favoritness. After that it’s a 20 or so way tie but the Sony dsc R-1, Minolta Autocord, Nikon F2 (owned 3 so I guess I liked them) and a Bronica s2a with a nikkor 50mm I had for a while before the Hasselblad and a clone of a brooks veriwide have fond memories.

Stereo cameras are a whole other thing...

Interesting but I’d like a companion post of top 5 cars.

Nominating my current crush - 1986 Porsche 944 - normally aspirated of course. The grocery getter.

In chronological order:

Pentax Spotmatic 500; Olympus OM2n; Leica M4; Sony Nex-7; Ricoh GR

Ive been cured of GAS for a while now. The remedy was spending a lot of time editing my archive of old photos. (those taken before yesterday)

There must be a design flaw in the Wista 45DX since everyone sooner or later will fold it incorrectly.

I started out with a Baby Brownie in the mid 40s and since then I've owned and used these cameras: Kodak Hawkeye, Retina IIIc, Nikon S3, Rollei 3.5F, Pentax Spotmatic, Olympus OM-1 and OM-2n, Leica M6, Pentax 67, Hasselblad 500CM, Holgas and Dianas, Wista 4x5 DX, Zone VI 4x5, Wisner 5x7, Wisner 8x10, Canon SD 1000, Panasonic LX3, Panasonic GX7, and Panasonic GX9.

Of these cameras, my favorites were the Rollei, the Olympus OM-2n, the Wista, and the Pany GX7. I used that Rollei for many years until the film transport gave out and couldn't be repaired; It was probably the most used of all my cameras. The Wista got a lot of use, too. It wasn't as sturdy and versatile as the Zone VI, but it was light and compact and could be stowed away with lenses and film holders in a fairly small camera bag.

I still have some of the old film cameras and lenses, but stopped using them long ago. Now I'm happy with Micro 4/3, Lightroom, and the Epson 3880 printer. I don't miss film and the darkroom at all.

Try these on for size: Nikon F (standard prism); Olympus OM-4ti; Hasselblad 500CM; Sony DSC-R1; Nikon D3; Panasonic GX7.
OK, it's six. So sue me. For me, the list would be better with favorite lens pairings.

I find GAS attacks are strongest when I'm not busy creating. It's like I'm trying to fill that creative void with gear purchases. This coming year my strategy is to create more when GAS hits hardest

I was delighted to see you list the Wista. I happen to have the Wista SP. You can still buy one through B&H (special order) at about 10x what a used one would cost. My real favorite is my Rolleiflex 3.5F. I also own a Rollie 2.8F but for some reason I prefer the 3.5.

My all time favorite is my 1964 Leica M4. Here a couple of pictures from it


Then my Olympus's OM1, OM2n and OM4T - all of them wonderful cameras. Finally my Hasselblad 503 CW.

My digital favorite is my current Olympus Pen F. A couple of pictures with it



I totally agree about the Olympus OM4t. The perfectly realized manual focus 35mm SLR. Perfect size. Great viewfinder. Ingenious metering system. Wonderful lenses.

My favorites? Does anyone else really care? Well, in case they do....

Nikon F2. My first new, not used, Nikon. Bought it in 1974. Used it professionally for 16+ years. It was dropped and totaled but I bought it back from my insurance company and eventually got it rebuilt. I still have it but I haven't used it in over 20 years. Actually, I think I've owned five of them over the years but I kept the first one.

Canon EOS 1n. Bought it used and discovered it was a plastic, electronic hockey puck. I swear it was indestructible. It also had the best handling of any camera I had used prior. It proved to me that you could build a truly reliable camera that ran on batteries and focused automatically.

Leica M6. I had two of them, one black and one silver. Carried them with the 50mm and 35mm Summicrons as the last film cameras I used. I always had trouble with the rangefinder patches but I loved looking through the viewfinders with those lovely bright lines. I learned to loosen up my framing when shooting and my pictures improved considerably.

Fuji X-Pro 1 and 2. Actually two cameras but they share so much design-wise they're essentially interchangeable. Despite the quirks, I still use the XP1 alongside the XP2. The optical viewfinder is reminiscent of the Leica but being autofocus I find it much easier to use. Having the option of an electronic viewfinder when the lighting is low is a bonus. And the fact that they use the outstanding Fuji lenses is icing on the cake.

Picking a final choice is tough. I could go with the Fuji X100S, a wonderful compact camera that handles like the X-Pros. Or the Ricoh GR/GRII, a great pocket camera with superb image quality. Or, like Mike, pick a Wista (the one I had was the 45SP, a metal version of the DX). Instead I think I'll choose the Pentax 645--the original model. I had a couple of them and, yes, they were incredibly heavy with all those batteries on board. But the image quality was excellent and they handled really well for medium format cameras.

I am glad to hear you liked your Leica M6 that well. I must admit I was surprised to see it on the list. I certainly like mine even though my M4 is so much prettier.

I suppose one or both of those would have to be on my list with my #10 Cirkut.

And if I shame Nikon into fixing the light meter on the Nikon Z6 I will add that camera to the list. How could they sell a camera that turns it's meter display off with manual lenses that they still sell?

Kodak Instamatic 104, Nikon F2, Nikon F3, Deardorff 5x7, Sigma DP3 Merrill.

A wide range, to be sure. The old Kodak saw many trips and a lot of use and always got an image no matter how crappy the conditions. The Nikons - after I grew a lot and was doing this for money and shooting for newspapers and magazines. The Deardorff/s (5x7 and 8x10 both) for commercial jobs as well as personal enjoyment. The Sigma DP Merrill cameras because they are like a View Camera in too many ways. Very good image quality if you work with them. Clunky & frustrating if you push them out of their comfort zone. Since I'm about the prints - I like them.

My favorite camera will always be my first pro-level camera, my Leica M3, Not to disdain any of the many (of many formats) that I've made my living with, or the various view cameras that I've owned and loved, but the M3 is it. Sadly I dunked it in salt water in 2010, so it's a museum piece now; otherwise I might still be shooting 35mm. (Second choice would be the Zone VI 4x5 that I've been using on-and-off since 1992; 3rd place is taken by several Nikon FMs/FEs; coming up fast is my current Nikon D600.)

My all-time favorite camera is a Leica M6 with a 0.85 magnification finder. It is the only camera, aside from a Rolleicord, and an old Agfa box camera that I used as a kid, that I felt I didn't have to "fight", to some degree.

Curiously, my Nikon FM, which I used for 15 years straight, and which has more or less the same controls in the same places as the Leica M6, never felt as fluid in use.

The camera I most dislike is my current camera, a Nikon D7100, which I'm constantly fighting.

A multiplicity of settings, controls, choices and all the rest, as well as mysterious algorithms for focusing, exposure and white balance, make it a tiring camera for extended use.

I often make basic mistakes using it. But I'm too invested in Nikon glass accumulated over 40 years, to dump it, and the Leica M digital camera is simply unaffordable.

In between?

A Nikon D100, which was easier to use than the D7100 and had more film-like color off the sensor;

a Plaubel Makina 6x7 rangefinder (nice camera, but a bit hard to hold and to fold closed);

a Rollei 6003 6x6 SLR, which felt a bit unbalanced in use (perhaps because it is really a studio camera meant to be used on a tripod);

and sundry compact cameras with teeny tiny viewfinders.

The camera I most loved to hold and look at was my parents' Contax IIa with a color dial, and their mid-1960s Canonet, with a delightfully colorful viewfinder and exquisite feeling controls on the lens barrel.

Outstanding group of choices. What surprises me most, at age 59, is that you were able to recall a model number like "139Q." Did you have to Google it? :)

[Nope, that one's burned in the brain. The Q stood for "quartz," because the camera's timing used the same principle as a quartz watch. That's what the marketing said anyway. --Mike]

Yes, the lens pairings are more interesting to me, too. For the Canon F-1, it was the 24mm FD f/2.8--which shared many photography hikes on the Colorado Plateau. For the Sinar, it's probably the same 210mm Sironar N that Mike likes--a lens that just never seems to fail. But the Schneider 121mm f/8 Super Angulon would be a close second in my partly sentimental list. For the 5D, it's the 24-105 f/4L--another lens that always seems to deliver. For the Pentax, no favorite as of yet, but the 55mm (the new one) is stunning, and the 45-85 is just vastly better than any zoom lens has any right to be. The 28-45 just came to me, so it has yet to earn a spot, but I have high hopes.

I kinda think we've been here before, but I'll play:

1. my first Nikon, the F;

2. my second Nikon, the F2 Photomic, though I seldom if ever used the metering function;

3. either of my two Hasselblads, the 500C or the 500C/M;

4. either my D200 or D700 Nikons both of which I still use, on and off.

Those film camera models were so similar within their relevant types as to be interchangeable.

In the case of the film Nikons, the F2 gave me a slightly rounded set of edges that made a day's shoot less painful to the hand, and I could change film on the tripod; with the 'blads, the main purpose was to have a backup if one body did something silly; with the digitals, the D700 was just a matter of finally getting back to focal lengths being what they always had been to me, and getting a few more pixels during a period when I still imagined I was going to continue to be printing out to paper. That consideration out of the way, the reality is that the D200 gets the lion's share of the work. I'm not really sure why - perhaps I'm just regretting buying another digital camera when I did, and intend to wear the first one out before attacking the second, though at my rate, maybe the second will turn into an heirloom instead of an old camera body. Even the difference in equivalent focal lengths no longer matters much because I now almost invariably use just the 50mm on the D200, everything else peacefully sleeping its life away in the cabinet.

You got one of the new Wistas! I purchased my Wista Field 45 back in 1978. Used it until about 2008 or so. I sold it because it was not fair to the camera to have it stuck inside, in a camera case. It was a camera made to be outdoors and helping someone make great photographs. I hope that's where it is now.

Favourite cameras...
I had a Leica M2. I could stroke that for hours.
Pentax 67.... loved that camera; I’d still be using it if digital came along.
Canon 5D. Any version, had them since the first one. Just supremely competent in a quiet, unfussy way.

One surprising favourite... Canon 100D (SL-1) with a 50/1.8 and the 24/2.8 pancake. Five years old, very cheap used, tiny, light, yet still has Canon ergonomics. I can shoot that one handed while riding a horse....

May I suggest a post on "Five most hateful/disappointing cameras?

I found the Canon EOS RT Pellicle to be THE Camera for about a ten year period towards the end of the film era.

One example: I remember trying to take photos for a model rocket club of the rockets just leaving the stand using the latest and greatest Canikons of that year and being deeply frustrated; so brought out the RT and could easily nail the rocket take-off, at different stages of launch even.

It wasn't just the x-quick shutter, although that was helpful in more situations than just rocket launches - capturing just that exact microsecond expression in a wedding shot was invaluable. But the simple balanced feel of the camera was great - nothing fancy, not eye candy, but reliable.

For a long while I kept a large box of RT bodies around just so I would have repair parts when needed.

And for solid everyday just-go-shoot-and-don't-worry about-it photography that RT with the unassuming 35 2.0 was golden.

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