« Photographing Maphiyata Echiyatan Hin Win | Main | New Olympus E-M5 Mark III Will Ship in Late November »

Friday, 18 October 2019


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I guess you know Asahi means (sort of) "rising sun". Just bring back my RTS III. That's all.

I cast my vote for an up to date version of the Canon rangefinder GIII (Canonet)


I have one presently but not in working order. Its a great little 35mm camera. With my eyesight being what it is I think it would also need a diopter adjustment.

How about a new up to date TLR? No not the old Rolleiflex/cord that you need a bank loan to purchase now.


...What I want in my secret heart of hearts is a new film camera...

Why, Mike? At the moment I'm not inclined to search for previous TOP posts where you lamented how much work film required when you shot using it, or that discussed your aborted "return to film" adventures. Isn't what you really want in your secret heart of hearts a monochrome digital Leica that's affordable and includes an excellent TRI-X emulation?

There'd be some electronics in there for the metering and shutter speed setting when in Aperture priority mode - as was the case with my original camera, which was a Ricoh, and it had a Pentax K-bayonet mount.

Probably didn't have quite the viewfinder you request, and certainly lacked a quiet or well damped shutter - something I wasn't much aware of for most of its usage, as I lacked experience with anything else. Did start to consider its volume after taking a photo of three horses. They all jumped upon hearing the clang of that shutter/mirror mechanism.

Acquired a faulty second one for peanuts a few years ago. As suspected it was easily repaired, by cleaning the battery contacts and replacing the cells:

I really want a Pentax 67 with a digital sensor instead of film. Don’t care if it’s only 24mp.

Love the lenses and the bokeh. Don’t need chemicals again.

You can pick up pretty nice Pentax LX cameras still.

Re loud shutters, in the studio I worked in the pop of the strobes drowned out the shutter. Big flash too.

LX i meant. I'm talking about engine swapped MGB-GTs in another forum.

I do not need a new camera. Even more I do not need a new film camera.I have many!
But if a new film camera, small and simple, possibly not too loud should arrive on the market I would be very tempted to buy it!

Yes, I will buy it (if the price is reasonable!)

Hi Mike,
this might come close, although it has a few extra features that you don’t want. The interesting ones are the exchangeable back and exchangeable mount.
Found courtesy of the film bodies part of Thom Hogan’s site.
I’d dip my toe in, but I already have an FM2n & FM3a.

Your description of a "new film camera" seems eerily to coincide with what my "old film cameras" are like.

(As a reality check try looking through the viewfinder of a (K100, Spotmatic, OM-x etc etc) and compare it with the tunnel vision you get with even top of the range DSLRs)

Everytime I think about my father I remember him with his Spotmatic and 135mm Takumar lens with a hood. I know I got the bug from him, no doubt. The first camera I bought with my salary was a Pentax ME Super. I still have it, box, manual, sales receipt. I love that camera. Eventually I bought a used LX from KEH. Did a lot of macro work with it. Fantastic camera. Then I switched to rangefinders, but Pentax are so dear to me. I have to start thinking what I am going to do with all those beautiful toys.

"Only expose black and white film..." ja ja ja. You're funny, Mike.

Mike, what a coincidence you’re discussing the Spotmatic. Ricoh is sponsoring a #pentax100years contest on Instagram. While I have no interest in the contest, I have been posting photos of a few of my favorite early lenses and cameras just to make sure some of Pentax’s wonderful legacy products aren’t forgotten during this 100 year celebration.

Without a doubt, my most cherished early camera is the Asahi Pentax SL from 1964.

Links to see the camera:


The Spotmatic came out in 1963 and was the first camera to use through-the-lens metering. A year later they launched the SL which is the same camera as the Spotmatic but without TTL metering. It’s all mechanical (no battery), and is beautifully built. Asahi Pentax sold the SL at a lower price than the Spotmatic... marketing it as the ideal compact camera for folks who still wanted to use a hand held meter.

I love the SL precisely because it’s all manual, is very compact and has (by today’s standards) very simple ergonomics. And, it was designed for all my wonderful Super-Takumar lenses so there’s no need to use an adapter. In fact, knowing how rare SL black paint cameras are these days, I’m actually sending it to Kanto Camera Co. Ltd in Japan to give it an overhaul.

Would Ricoh build a limited edition version of this today? On an emotional level I think it would be a fantastic camera. However, there’s no way Ricoh could recoup their development costs. My guess is the market for a Spotmatic film revival body is a maximum of 5,000 units worldwide over two years...even with the renewed interest in film. If they added a faithful reproduction of the Super-Takumar f/1.4 50mm the kit might appeal to collectors...as well as folks who would actually put film through.

Of course, if TOP started a campaign to support the “Rising Sun” model only available in black paint.. maybe there’s hope.

I'm fairly certain most if not all current camera manufacturers are not equipped to produce a film camera. I say this from a manufacturing, production point of view, the assembly lines and or equipment to produce a film camera is long gone. Plus why would any company invest in a low sales producing venture at this point in the digital imaging era. I don't see it going anywhere, can you imagine a product director making this proposal at the next company meeting on what's next?

Hmm. I still have my Nikon F3. The last time I recall using it was for color film tests just before I bought my D70, which my wife still uses. The F3 was a replacement for an F2 I lost in a burglary, but it was not my main camera. That was my Nikon FM2, which I used on frequent canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness both for its lighter weight and its fully mechanical shutter, having once had a camera battery fail just as I was entering the woods on a weekend backpacking trip.

Not lost in translation:

asahi = 朝日 = morning sun

pretty close to Rising Sun, I'd say...

My wish? Bring back Kodak Panatomic-X to feed my Hassleblad. And bring back Agfa Portriga Rapid to print it on.

My Pentax 67 is an oversized Spotmatic that likes to use Ilford XP2. I'd be very happy if Ilford could make a 100 ISO variation of XP2! Something with the quality of Delta 100 and the convenience of C41 processing, I'd like that.

Like film cameras? Check-out Tokyo Camera Style https://tokyocamerastyle.com/ Lots of Rangefinders, TLRs, and SLRs—as seen on the streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Also gallery show openings. John Sypal shoots film cameras digitally, gotta love that 8-)

I've been shooting film since the 1940s—now seems like a good time for me to stop.

Why can't we have a camera with the exact specifications you suggest, but have it be a digital camera?

I am OK adding a LCD screen on the back and maybe another simple control or two, but mostly settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Leave off the video. Cut down the size and weight. Why does every digital camera need so many other bells, whistles, and menus?

My Nikon DSLR actually has a "Pet Portrait Scene Mode." I am not making this up.

I didn't cut my teeth on a Pentax -- it was a Minolta SRT -- but I would love to have a digital version of a camera like that.

The good thing is there are a number of near bullet proof film cameras that will last longer than I will. I have the Beseler 23c (a $35 Goodwill find) up and running making both 5x7 contact prints from my home built 5x7 camera and 5x7 prints from the F100. Life is good.

I'm in on one condition...There has to be a matching simple to use film scanner, maybe it could be B&W only? Developing film isn't bad but It's hard to give up the digital darkroom for printing and viewing

Spotmatic was my first SLR camera. It was stolen from my college dorm room, which sent me to a local camera store to purchase a Nikkormat and used lens. I've been shooting Nikon ever since. Mike, I suggest that most of your MMM desires would be well satisfied by a used but fine camera from the Nikon FE or FM series. They remain my favorite cameras.

As a film photographer, as in working film photographer, I gotta say I'd love to get a new film camera that would be chock full of the newest DSLR features. Spotmatic is cute in a quaint way (and I own two, just sayin') but cute and quaint ain't what I'd look for in a brand new product. Not enough of a hipster, I am.
Or at least gimme a new Minolta Dynax/Maxxum 7. Those were neat.

Mike, I would not care to buy a film camera now if it comes to the market.I am interested in getting photos and not in agonizing over the 20 minute microdol processing of the films and all night printing to get a few pictures. I have my old film camera of 1986 vintage as a memento. But I have no intention of going back to masochistic film days.

Blimey, it just shows that photographers are never happy with their gear. Almost decades on from the demise of the film camera and we are still saying we would buy that camera if only it had feature XYZ. What about the leicas that you praise as being the ultimate in photographic purity? Surely if you want a classic film camera there is every imaginable style available on the second hand market. Sounds like you're making excuses for not using the camera you have to go out and take pictures.

I like the idea. Except the film part. And the mechanical part.

How about a full electronic modern digital Spotmatic with only the original Pentax features and only the capability of taking pictures? Would it sell? Not likely.

OR.....somebody to produce a digital SLR modeled faithfully on one of the classic film SLR cameras: sort of like Leica did with the M-D. Imagine a Spotmatic, or better yet, a Pentax SV, that was no different from the original with the exception that it had a sensor, rather than film chamber. Nikon sort of pretended to do it. Somebody ought to really do it. Most importantly, and the reason I prefer the SV,is that it should have an OVF with no distractions, i.e. no LEDs or meter needles.

Imagine how intriguing it would be if the latest rendition from Olympus were nothing more than a simple, digital version of the OM1. I can just visualize the panel of Japanese executives, sitting, or standing, behind the thing, at introduction; having to convince an incredulous press:..."No. Really! this is it."

"I know what some of you are thinking. But be nice, now."

I wasn't thinking that. I was thinking that you couldn't know whether it was in fact number one.

Delighted to see that film is still alive at some level. I’m preparing to sell a gorgeous Leica MP and a nearly unused Fuji GF670 folder in November and hope there will be many interested buyers!

Returning to film photography, to me, seems utterly ridiculous assuming one’s goal is the image and not the cosplay. It would be like buying a fountain pen.

[Don't tell me you don't like fountain pens! Sacrilege. Next you'll be telling me you don't wear a watch. :-) --Mike]

Would not the inclusion of a Japanese flag introduce the risk of a suit from Leica, or necessitate a yuuge price increase?

The Pentax was ok and I gave K1000 to a good friend when she wanted to learn photography, but I was a Canon boy at heart. My first SLR was an AE-1 and my favorite SLR remains the T-90. But if the film rumour is true, it could be what pushes me to buy another Leica IIIf with a 50/2 Summitar and go seriously retro again.

Mike, here's a ps to my last entry, I took a quick look at Eprey and I have a sudden real jonesing for a Canon P and a nice 50/1.8. Whatever film Ilford is cooking up would suit that combo well ... ;)

PX at 64 in a Spotmatic. That was me in about 1975!

And I just found a whole brick of Plus-X on the bottom of my freezer. Bought two when Kodak discontinued the film, (my favorite) shot one, froze the other and forgot about it. I'm putting it back in the deep-freeze, since we're about to enter our 8 month winter, but I'll pull it out in the Spring.

> Would it be possible to design a camera to use only B&W film

The camera can read the film bar code and unload the film if it's colour.

"Don't tell me you don't like fountain pens!"

Well, truth be told, Mike, I've loved fountain pens for 35+ years and have three. In fact, just this summer I bought a beautiful Mont Blanc "Le Petit Prince" to join my 30 year-old Meisterstuck 149. So, yeah, I'm as prone to such fetishes as the next guy.

But no pen will enable me to be a better writer no matter how lovely it feels to use. So it's an apt analogy.

[Well okay, but at least you have restored my faith in humankind. --Mike]

Ned says the Spotmatic was the first camera to have TTL metering. Not so, the first was the Topcon.

What would be really nice would be development based on what was the pinnacle of development of the film camera, the Contax 645

If I were to voluntarily "go back" to shooting a 35mm film camera, I'd bookmark the KEH and B&H used camera links and watch for an excellent Nikon FM3a (black body, preferably) that had been surrendered by the estate of some elderly doctor, lawyer or CEO. I'd look for three fast legacy Nikon primes (with front and rear caps) and put polarizing filters on two of them. My film would be a smooth 200 ASA black and white type, and I'd order a case of 36-exp and 20-exp rolls. I can't say what my developer would be but I have two Nikkor stainless developing canisters on a shelf 35 feet away that would appreciate being used again. Last, even though I can look back at the hours spent dodging/burning, pushing, pulling and test-printing, I would forego it all and get an excellent film scanner and modern printer optimized for ravishing blacks and grays that could put out three or more matching 11x17 prints if I chose to do so. I would probably savor all that nostalgia for about six months before going back to a nifty D500 or D750. I've learned to like not having to change film rolls with cold fingers knowing the magical light before me is going to be gone in 30 seconds. I've learned to like having the option of simply changing the ISO rating for a small group of shots when I'm entering a shadowy arroyo from a brightly lit canyon rim, or a dim cathedral from a sunny city street. It's fun to discover the mundane color shots I've taken the past two days (seven shades of green) will come alive if I convert the file to monochrome and employ digital color filters to heighten the differences. Fifty years ago we got "hooked" on photography and embraced the romance or mystique of the darkroom. We knew how to make something from pitifully flat or too contrasty negatives. We developed patience as we waited days or weeks to actually see if we'd gotten anything on that "trip of a lifetime." I'm glad I had those experiences. I glad I've moved past much of it and now have more efficient and effective tools to work with, whether for pleasure or business. I'm glad there are many good options to suit everyone.


Spot metering and aperture priority aside, you've just described my old Pentax MX, superior in every way to the Spotmatic and K1000 (though perhaps a little too small for your hands). It's going strong still after 36 years and will probably only ever need mirror box foam replacement as long as I keep tripping the shutter every week to keep it limber.

Used MX bodies are plentiful still, and they're cheap as chips.

See, this is one good reason why I read The Online Photographer:

Ned B. provided information about the model SL that corrected information printed in my old (third party) Pentax instructional book.

The book indicated the SL was introduced in 1969, but according to Ned, it was 1964.

I guess my SL (silver, not black) may be older than I thought.

It's a terrific camera with the stronger lens mount than the earlier model SV I had. Controls for the shutter speed and (on the lens) the aperture. That's all you need besides the film speed. Nice pentaprism with a screen that doesn't have a split image so you don't get the "half blacked out" effect in low light that you see in most split image focusing screens.

I can't imagine how high a price a camera like the old SL would carry today. Think of all the skilled manual labor, the small precision metal parts, etc. Even producing the same SL using the old "patterns", without the need for a special spot metering button, would make a modern Leica seem quite inexpensive.

Yes, Mike, I am with you in hoping for the emergence of new, high quality film cameras. The art photography niche sees the value of film photography and struggles with forty or fifty year old cameras with beautiful designs that break down all too often. A new film era could emerge if a great manufacturer took the plunge, making use of old designs as a starting point while adding modern digital features and computerized in-camera thinking too. Why not draw on the strengths and the appeal of both worlds?

Meanwhile, as you note, the imminent arrival of a new film, Ilford HP11 Pro, as well as the successful introduction of Bergger's fascinating and recently invented dual emulsion, finegrained yet high speed film, Pancro 400, suggest that this is a new movement waiting to take off. Film has been freed from ordinary drudgery and has a different role to play in photography going forward, with especial reference to the art market.

Give'em a solid new 21st century film camera to use, along with new and more sophisticated enlargers and other gear, and every photography student in the world will buy one going forward.

Jeff Clevenger
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007