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Thursday, 10 September 2020


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What, no Pentax models?

Congratulations on your 30 years of sobriety, Mike! Very, very well done!

This past May, my wife and I celebrated the 30th anniversary of the night we met. Long ago I came to consider that the luckiest day of my life. That summer of 1990 I met my future wife, left one profession (options trading) that didn't suit me, and began the profession I've loved ever since (higher education).

Here's to turning pages, and writing new and better chapters in our lives :-)


Following on from yesterday's post, it seems you started forgetting to take your camera with you at age 14.

Number 10 has to be your iPhone ;-)

Congrats on 30 sober years! That's an amazing accomplishment!

Oh, can I play?
1) Canon AE-1P - first camera owned bought at the px
2) Yashica-Mat 124 - non-G, flea market camera
3) Yaahica Electro 35 GSN - another flea market gem. hatteries were a pain
4) Canon IVSb - why I love Barnacks
5) Contax II/Kiev 4a - glorious underrated system
6) Leica CL - neat camera, meter never worked but the lenses!
7) Canon 7 - same glass I used on the CL but a better body.
8) Speed Graphic - hand held LF with the 127/4.7 lens. Still have it.
9) Leica IIIf - ditto, especially the Summitar :(
10) Nikon D7100 - where I am at now and loving it.

If I had to pick ten cameras I need to add some lenses as well.
Canon F1 + FD 24mm f/1.4, Mamiya RB67 + 127mm f/3.8 Sekor C, Nikon 801s + Micro Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 AI-s, Pentax 67 + 105mm f/2.4 Takumar, Contax G1 + 45mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Planar, Yashica T4 - 35mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar, Mamiya 7 + N 65mm f/4, Rolleiflex GX - 80mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Planar, Fujifilm F31fd - 36-108mm eq. Fujinon f/2.8-5.0, Olympus PEN-F + m.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4.0.

I also got that Olympus OM System Lens Handbook. Even when I did not shoot with that brand at the time it was published I read it several times. Something about it always stimulated me to go out and shoot a roll or two.
Also got annuals from Pentax and Nikon. Really miss that kind of well printed publications in this digital era.

Surprised the GX8 is not here. #10?

I'm disappointed that there are not pictures of all of them.

On my 50th birthday, Turner Classic Movies was screening my favorite movie of all time in actual theaters. Quite the gift! And when I wrote about it on Facebook, I pointed out that indeed, it included the future. Casablanca. Just about perfect.


Happy 30th Birthday!

Mike: Every writer has pet grammatical and usage peeves, and "...of all time" is one of mine.

Mine is internet (lowercase ‟i”). Even the New York Times is doing this now.

The word ‟internet” is a shortened variant of ‟internetwork.” An internetwork is a network of connected computer networks which use the same communication protocol. Most large organizations operate private internets for internal communication, and attach them through a controlled and monitored connection at one or a small number of points to the worldwide public Internet. Some organizations with unusually strict privacy requirements use a separate internet for restricted communication that does not attach to the public Internet and a less restrictive internet that connects to the public Internet for communication with the outside world.

There are many internets. There is only one Internet. It’s a proper noun. It deserves a capital initial letter.

There. I feel much better now.

Of all the cameras that you have listed, I have the M6 for film and a Fuji (not the X-T1 but the current smaller simpler X-E3).

While the 50 Summilux-M (pre-ASPH) is reputed to have excellent bokeh, Fuji's 35/1.4 (equivalent to 53mm on film) bokeh is impressive too, and at a fraction of the price of M lenses. I use the Fuji lens invariably at f1.4 for street photography.

[Open Ben] My own list ('cause, why not?):

1. Leica M6. My main film camera for about 15 years. I have probably exposed more frames of film with this than any other camera. Ergonomically the M6 was designed in a sweet spot for me. All I need for 80% of what I did.
2. Contax G2. I wanted to not like this camera, but the lenses were just so on-the-money-honey. I found the metering programs almost identical in response to the Nikon auto settings of the day.
2. Nikon FM2. Solid, solid, solid. Like the Nikon version of the Leica M6.
3. Pentax LX. My first "professional" camera. Used it working on a newspaper until the film rewind crank fell off somewhere and the country I was in had no Pentax dealership. Switched to Nikon after that. But it was sooo full featured. Mirror lockup made it almost Leica-quiet. And it fit so well in the hand.
5. Hasselblad 500C. Not my first medium format camera, but the one that made me feel like I had found "home." I still have it and the 80mm lens is magic.
6. Rolleiflex 2.8 Planar. Had to try the competition. Plus the brand name is in Joao Gilberto's song "Desafinado," which single-handedly made me reconsider Samba . . .and there is something about mid-century design and chrome which is pretty irresistible. It is like the '64 Aston Martin of cameras.
6. Pentax 67. Started my love affair with big negatives. Eyebrow hairs? Count 'em.
7. Deardorf 5x7. Since bigger is better. My first contact prints that were presentation quality.
8. Linhoff Tech IV. Just so versatile. Maybe not as much as a monorail, but I have used it for 6x12, 6x9, 6x6 exposures, ultra wides with 4x5, portraits on 4x5 film, pounding tent stakes. . . you get the idea. And it folds into a clamshell!

Of the above, I still have all but the Deardorf and the Pentax LX. I sometimes think about selling them, but then I think about the amount of pleasure that comes from having a fine tool right there when you want it. . . and I decide not to. When I look at the list, I notice a preference for manual cameras over automatic ones, which is ironic since all digital cameras are "automatic" to some extent. And I can also write with some sorrow that I haven't developed a negative from any of the above into a traditional silver halide print in over 10 years. Maybe it is getting to be time to do something about that. I still have some 5x7 film in freezer and while the Deardorf may be gone there is a Wisner sitting on the shelf mocking me as I type.

Good for you for 30 those years!

I've only owned ten cameras when limiting the set to digital. Otherwise, just two nothing special film cameras over the previous almost 40 years. (Oh ... and a Kodak 8x10 that I still wish I hadn't sold in a fit of de-cluttering).

Mamiya RZ
Leica M3
EOS 1 or 3
Linhof Technika 5x4
Mamiya 7
Rollei 2.8F with Xenotar
Sigma DP2 Merrill

That’s enough.
Lenses, on the other hand....

My favorite cameras.

Leica M4
Canon EOS 1N
Asahi Pentax SL
Pentax LX
Ricoh GR1v

Pentax K5-IIs
Pentax K-1
Ricoh GXR
Ricoh GR

While I've owned way more than 10 different cameras, I don't think I've had 10 I would consider my favorites. There were a lot I liked, but favorites? Let's see, if I start with my film days...

Nikon F2. I thought the F was a great camera but the F2 just simply improved on greatness in every way. A hockey puck with a mirror and shutter.

Leica M6. A no brainer. Everybody who owned one loved it. Or should have.

Canon EOS1n. The first totally reliable electronic camera I owned. Plastic on the outside but it was just a skin covering a full metal body that was tough as nails. And it handled beautifully.

And now we go to digital...

Nikon D700. Overbuilt, heavy as lead. Just enough full frame megapixels to do the trick--12 total, big fat megapixels. Reliable and a joy to use.

Fuji X-Pro2. Speaking of a joy to use, this is a prize. The images might be a tad less pretty than the X-Pro1's but everything else is an improvement. And I still love the X-Pro1.

Okay, I'm pushing it now. But I guess I will include the Nikon D610. Compared to other Nikon full frame cameras, it's a small fry and a lightweight. But it performs like a heavyweight and doesn't give up much to the bigger stablemates.

There have been a lot of others I liked a lot. I've owned several Canon DSLRs but none of them stood out from the pack. Same for Olympus. I like my Ricoh GRII and my Fuji X100S a lot but they aren't favorites (of all time).

At this point, I doubt I'll buy too many more cameras in the future. I've got more than I can use as it is so I think I'll concentrate on making pictures. So that's it. Six total all time favorites. Not bad for nearly a half century of picture taking.

Wow! Great job on the 30 years of sobriety, Mike!

We have three shared points of connection (Two solid, one in the ballpark) with cameras. In order of my owning: 1) OM-1. I sold my Canon FTb to get this one with the 24mm and 35mm Zuiko lenses. Great camera, as you state. 2) Leica M6. Courtesy of a settlement from a motorcycle accident. With the 35 mm Summicron lens. The build quality was... astounding. 3) Mamiya M6. This was a camera I bought because of your review, Mike. As soon as I put my hands on it, I knew I had to have it. I only got the 50mm lens - it was perfect, as was the camera (for me). I sold the Leica to get the Mamiya because I could not justify having two extremely expensive cameras at the same time. I had the Mamiya for many years, and sold it to get my first DSLR, the Canon 5D.

Great memories with all of those cameras!

An interesting list, kinda like peek at the George Eastman House collection.

I’d love to see a posting with your favorite ten or so images you made with these cameras. Wouldn’t you?

[I thought of doing that, but it would be a tremendous rathole because I'm not organized at all. I'm sure I'd find some but not others. It might take two days of work, and after that the pictures would be more disorganized than they are now.

But for each camera, I remember some pictures in my head. --Mike]

Geez, ya got me all nostalgic... took out the ol' F3- man that thing is a tank.

Anyway, I too have the X-T1, 18mm set up and I'm not a lens connoisseur such as yourself- as long as the lens does the job, I don't care. But with the 18mm, I find that I often get the shot despite it, instead of because of it. I'm really shocked that Fujifilm has such a mediocre offering for such a popular focal length. Forget that it can it be iffy around the edges as far as resolution, it's the chromatic aberration that can really go off the charts. I'm surprised they haven't come up with an update in all these years, and when they ultimately do, it'll probably be an f1.1, 3.5lb, thousand dollar monstrosity I will have no interest in...

Sorry, forgot to add that the 18mm is now my main go to lens- the one in the Ricoh GR, a true jewel of a lens!

The Gibellini 8x10 is gorgeous, as is their 4x5. Modern classics.

Interesting list! That Wista is, indeed, beautiful. I have an early-1980s Tachihara, which looks very similar to that Wista. I bought it in 1982 or 1983 after reading Fred Picker's newsletters from Zone VI. I recently revived it and have been having a lot of fun exposing Tri-X and GAF Versapan. The knobs on mine are chromium plated but look the same.

For readers who might be interested, The Zone VI Newsletters are on the Internet Archive:


Congrats on 30 years Mike. I have a family member who is approaching her 10 year anniversary, and I can appreciate the cumulative effort It has taken you to get to 30. I hope you can find a way to celebrate your accomplishment

"But for each camera, I remember some pictures in my head. --Mike"

Oh, yes. Amen. I have few photos that I know exactly where and when they were made and with which cameras and lenses.

But those ones I do? Thank you, god, for that moment of grace.

The one I'll mention? My son (aged 4) and I were walking home from the park. He was tired and told me to carry him. I told him no, he needed to walk further. He sat down and pouted.

I had my Leica CL, a collapsible Summicron and a roll of Fuji Reala along.


Thanks, Mike.

Well done on your 30 years, that is quite the accomplishment. You have my respect.

The camera you’re forgetting might be the Exakta 6.

Happy trailes
Robert Newcomb


Michael can you please write a post on anthropological similarities? My story is Sony F707, X-T1, snooker, Mazda MX5, sobriety. (Do you happen to like aeroplanes?)


Max from Down Under.

Pentax MX - though probably only as I owned it when I was young.

Came across this on the BBC website this morning. Disturbing how many of these I recognised...
The man who owned 3,000 cameras

As a commercial photographer (non-35mm), I remember the day I bought my own, personal Hasselblad stuff (as opposed to my bosses stuff). Two 500 CM bodies, 3 backs, and 50mm, 80mm, 150mm, 250mm CF lenses. 1985. Still have it all.

I've owned and used for business many cameras of all shapes and sizes, loved some, others...meh. Even today, every thing I own is "in play" at any given time, for the right amount of money; except for my Hasselblads, and my selection of Red-Dot Artar lenses in Compur shutters (8.25, 9.5, 10.75, 12).

BTW, if I had to buy the Hasselblad's today, after 40 years of photography, I could easily get by with the 60mm, 100mm, and 180mm lenses. The 180mm was not available at the time I bought, so I bought the 150 and 250. Today, the 180 could cover it all for me!

"Here's to turning pages, and writing new and better chapters in our lives." A triple YES! to this beautiful statement from Dan Gorman's comment on your 30 years. True for us all.

Interesting list... I have a couple of yours and they’re good choices. My Contaflex is an earlier Super model with the separate diaphragm wheel on the left. The Contaflex B was supposed to have an improved Tessar formula in the lens, as well as the option of taking magazine backs, unusual for cameras at the time. +1 for showing pix of each of you can find them...


Like Jim M., I'm also surprised by the lack of a Pentax on the list -- if only because it carried your favored 50 mm film lens.

The Spotmatic and related models were nearly perfect. Very solid: One newspaper photographer told me he had a Pentax like it years ago and said it was "built like a tank". Handles as well as anything without an accessory grip. The Super Takumars have the handy "Auto/Manual" switch which is ideally placed.

The SV I had wasn't quite as sturdy around the lens mount.

My SL (with sturdier lens mount) still looks practically new and is just so nice to hold, compared to bigger, bulkier digital camera bodies. [No dent in the prism cover either. ;) ] No need for batteries either, so there!

Simple to operate and you don't need to worry about white balance unless you're shooting slide film.

With the new body and mirror foam (courtesy of Eric H.), it's good for another 60+ years.

I had a Mamiya 6 for a while. Probably took one or two of my best B&W film pictures with it.

I would have kept it if the mechanicals were more reliable, but it seemed to break once a year and was expensive to fix.

I think my favorite more recent camera was probably the D700, even though it was always too big.

My current 4/3rds stuff does almost as well and is much smaller but is not quite as ergonomic.

Of course there is also the iPhone. 🙂

Each one of us has a different list for different reasons. I suspect many have fondness for cameras "given" to them by a parent. I recall leaving my dad's Rolleiflex on a drugstore counter in Key West in the early 50's (that's 1950's) and it simply vanished, perhaps Hemingway's ghost. My own list starts and ends with my beloved Hasselblad 500CM purchased when my daughter was born. I set up a room in our basement with background paper, baby blankets, and studio strobes and made photos of her whenever she was particularly cute, which was often. Sold it last year to a youngster whom I hope will love it as I did. These days I'm more of a lens junkie since cameras have reached a certain level of perfection. My current favorites are the Voightlander 50mm f/2 APO_Lanthar and it's larger sibling the 100mm f/2.5 MACRO_APO. I have never seen such resolution; it seems as if I can see the atoms in the image. We do live in a wonderful tome for photography even if the world is in a pandemic and there are horrible fires just south off my home in beautiful Oregon.

I just ran across the article linked below. I wonder which were his top 10 cameras?

As far as my list, like you, I started with my father's Zeiss Ikon Contaflex b, traded my first motorcycle for a Canon FT with a 50mm 1.2 lens and darkroom equipment. My two favorite non digital cameras however were workhorses: a brace of Nikon fm2's and a Deardorff 11x14 studio view camera on a twin poll "tripod". With reducing backs all the way to 4x5 and a 6ft plus bellows extension all done out in wood it was a joy and I paid 175.00 for it!

Favorite digital camera? I'm not sure I have one. The Nikon D70 was a revelation but but the one I've enjoyed the most was probably a near point and shoot; the Samsung TL350 had RAW file output and was eminently pocketable. I've had many more capable cameras but it is definitely in my top 10.

Sorry to be slow about posting this. Just wanted you to know that not many people have been following you as long as I have, beginning (at least) with Darkroom Photography. I remember your piece about the Mamiya 6, and owned one myself around that time. I later subscribed to your newsletter (still have them), read everything you wrote on Luminous Landscape and photo.net, and have been reading TOP from the beginning. Much of my philosophy of photography has been shaped by your writings. (Not my political philosophy, thankfully.)

My own favorite cameras are the Olympus OM-2n (13 years), the Pentax 6x7 (highest rate of keepers), the EOS-A2 (no romance there, but great service, used for eight years), Canon 20D (underrated), Canon 5D (great files, also used for eight years), and the Fuji X-H1 (the new contender for best ever).

Is there any way to contribute to TOP by PayPal, which I much prefer?

I've owned many cameras since my first, a Baby Brownie in 1946, and I still have one of the 4X5 Wistas (not the Rosewood), an M6, and an Olympus OM-2 and OM-2n. So, I'm close to three of your cameras. Some other film cameras I've kept are the Rollei 3.5f, the Pentax 67, the basic Hasselblad, Dianas and Holgas, though I haven't used them in years. Everything else film related has been sold or given away. I'll let the kiddos figure out what do with what's left.

Between the original Diana in about 1965, through the mechanical Praktica,Pentax, Olympus, Canon, Contax, Leica cameras, and the Nikons and Fuji-X's today, I'd say that the used German Leica M4 I had in the mid-1980's was the nicest camera. Of the SLR's and electronic cams, the Nikon D3 was the only camera, in fact the only computer or computerized device of any kind that never failed, never locked up, never needed to be re-booted, never frustrated me in any way.

My usage peeve is news stories where so and so "slams" so and so. What's wrong with "criticizes" or "challenges"? It shows up in reputable news sources which baffles me.

My favorite ten: Rolleiflex F3.5 Zeiss Planar Whiteface
Leica M6 TTL
Canon F1n
Canon T90
Nikon FM3a
Fuji GW690III
3D World 120 Medium Format Stereo Camera
Fuji x100f
Sony A7III
Sony A7sIII

Here’s my list of favorites:

1. Minolta Autopak 700. A little jewel of a rangefinder made in the 1960s. My grandfather has one that he essentially let me have when I was all of 11 years old. Light meter did not work, so I learned to read the light.

2. Canon AE-1. Bought with paper route money, this one got me through high school and college, until its untimely death by drowning.

3 and 4. Contax G1 and G2. Jewel-like and those Zeiss lenses...

5. Canon EOS 20D. First serious digital camera. Put a (temporary) end to film shooting for me.

6. Leica M9P. Slow, awful LCD, but the image quality was outstanding. Of course, this made me curious as to film Leicas, hence...

7. Leica M6TTL. A beautiful example of how utmost simplicity can be perfect.

8. Rolleiflex MX-EVS. Part of a short lived film revival for me, as was the...

9. Hasselblad 500 C/M. Not much to say here. And my all time favorite...

10. Nikon Z6. The EVF, the handling, and above all, the image quality are outstanding. Quite possibly, the most simpatico camera I have ever owned.

Of the list, I still own the first and the last four. The Minolta is a paperweight now, as 126 format film is not available.



I am only a few years younger than you, Mike but I have not owned 10 cameras yet. I started hobby photography in 1983 with a Ricoh XR7 SLR. It had a Pentax K lens mount. Years later I added a Ricoh XR10 SLR. They were manual everything with an aperture priority mode. I was accustomed to them so I stuck with the Ricoh SLRs for close to 20 years. When I switched to digital cameras in 2002 I started with a Minolta DiMage 7Hi which was ok. I stuck with it for 3 years but it was slow and noisy over ISO 100. Great lens, though. In 2005 DSLR prices were finally down to what I wanted to spend so I moved to Canon DSLRs with the Digital Rebel XT. I have stuck with Canon since then including a 50D, a 7D and currently a 5DMkIV. I also have the earliest Canon mirrorless the EOS M camera. In the early 2000’s my father gifted me his Zeiss Ikon Contina (either the II or IIa – I’m not completely sure which variant it is). I had the Zeiss Ikon cleaned and repaired and shot one roll of film with it. While it works fine, I guess I am just not suited to it so it sits safely stored away. So that’s 8 cameras. So by default they are all in my top 10. As a ninth camera I also have my grandmothers Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic Model B folding camera which I have never used. I no longer own the Ricoh SLRs, the Minolta nor the Rebel XT and I really don’t miss them. I guess that I got lucky in that I have not wanted or needed to try a lot of different camera brands and then needing to buy a different brand of the favorite focal length lenses with each camera switch. I believe that I can confidently say that with the newest of my cameras any issues with the photographs are not the fault of the equipment!

...funny... 2 similarities... right there at the top of the list...
My first camera was a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super BC. Boy do I wish I had that now, as I have not owned another lens that gave me what that lens did.
The camera that really got me into photography was a Contax 167MT... with a very special Zeiss 18mm lens... and Mike, I really loved that 135mm Zeiss lens that you too liked.

My father also had a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex B, purchased on a trip to Europe in the early '60s. I loved the beautiful workmanship and have it still, although I have not used it in many years.

I also had a Wista 4x5 field camera, in rosewood, the modified version sold by Fred Picker. The materials and workmanship were a joy to behold. I sold mine to KEH some years ago when moving to an apartment and losing my darkroom. Fond memories, both.

Dave Jenkins wrote “Is there any way to contribute to TOP by PayPal, which I much prefer?”. You can pay Patreon by PayPal, doesn’t that amount to the same thing? I think it’s the PayPal fees that make it uneconomic to pay TOP directly by PayPal.

"all time" includes the future, so good luck to everyone who works up an all-time list.

Seven Favorites
1 Ricoh GXR...I still have it and often use it
2 Panasonic Lumix GX8...my current system
3 Canon Pellix QL...pellicle mirror
4 Canon EOS RT...pellicle mirror
5 Canon F-1n...rugged
6 Rollei 2.8F...sweet
7 Ricoh GR
Not missed
1 Leica M3 (Rangefinders were not for me)
2 Canon EOS Rebel
3 Canon PowerShot G3 X

Couldn't agree more about the SONY F707/717. What a great design in terms of usability and handling. Lots of great features as well. Loved the night vision for framing shots when it was dark. So wish they would make a 1" sensor camera out of it - and don't go large as they did with the F828.

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