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Hi-end film SLR on high budget? Olympus vs Contax vs Nikon?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 4:53 pm    Post subject: Hi-end film SLR on high budget? Olympus vs Contax vs Nikon? Reply with quote

Hello MF forum members. I have just sold my last bit of assorted film gear I have collected over the years, and now I have enough budget to start from a clean slate.

I tried point and shoot and rangefinder cameras and decided it's not my cup of tea (T2, Espio, G1 with 45mm planar, M6 with 35 cron, Yashica electro, Olympus XA).

I've realized I'm an SLR guy. I've realized I need just one body and one lens. Owning beautiful gear makes me want to shoot it (that was the case with the contaxes especially and the leica).

So I'm ready to splurge and get the best of the best, get a lens for it and be set.

So far the SLRs I have owned are Fujica AX5, Contax 167mt, Canon 300x, Zenit E, Pentacon Six TL. I like the form factor and classic look of fujica, and usability of Contax and Canon.

My perfect lens is in 40-45mm range. Luckily lots of systems have compact lenses in this range and all of them seem to be great performers.

So far I have my eye on two cameras – Contax s2b and Olympus Om3-Ti. I love the classic look, small size, feature set, both have options for a small 40-45mm lens.

I was hung up on contaxes because of my history with the brand, but people on a different forum made me realize that I might be overlooking other great hi-end classic SLRs, like the om3-ti, or maybe something from Nikon, or Pentax?

Does anyone have any cameras in mind that they would like to point out?


PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have a look at the Pentax LX, redimp.


PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Sciolist. The Pentax LX is a great camera and often goes overlooked when pro-level cameras are discussed. It is comparable in basic features to the Nikon F3 and the Canon New F-1 (short descriptions of each are provided below). All three offer shutter speeds to 1/2000 and aperture-priority exposure in addition to metered manual. All have interchangeable finders and motor drive/winder options.

To me, one of the LX's greatest features is its ability to read exposure off the film plane, which works fantastic with low-light shots. The LX's shutter will stay open as long as is necessary to record a correct level of exposure.

Among cameras that have interchangeable finders, the LX is unique in that it uses a base finder to which other accessory pieces are attached -- high magnification, sport finder, etc. Usually you'll find the LX with the standard finder attached, however.

One drawback of the LX is its motor drive. Winders are not that difficult to find for the LX, but the motors are rather rare, and then when you do find one, it almost always has a dead NiCad pack included, so it isn't of any use until or if you get the NiCad pack rebuilt.

Another drawback to the LX is its sticky mirror syndrome, which requires a fairly extensive amount of refurbishment to correct. Almost all LXes these days will suffer from this malady, unless it has been done previously.

The Nikon F3 is housed in a subtly sleek package, quite ergonomic and compact for what it is. One of the things I really like about the F3 is its metering pattern. Most Nikons use Nikon's tried and true 60-40 weighting system, where 60% of the meter's weighting occurs within a largish circle seen in the viewfinder. Nikon tightened it up with the F3 to 80-20. I think the reason why Nikon did this was to improve exposure accuracy with slide film when shooting in its Aperture-priority mode. I found it to be highly accurate with essentially no missed exposures. The MD-4 motor drive fits seemlessly with the camera and becomes an essential accessory -- to me, at least.

Canon's New F-1 is almost unique among Canons in that it has a hybrid shutter (the only other one is the EF). Slow speeds are electronically controlled, whereas faster speeds are mechanically controlled. The advantage to this setup is that, even if the battery dies, one has a full selection of faster shutter speeds plus B available. The New F-1 is an extremely rugged camera. I have no doubt that one could pound nails with it, if needed. It came new with a choice of two basic finders -- one is just that -- basic. The other, the AE Finder FN, is the finder best used when one wants to access the New F-1's Aperture priority mode. The New F-1's meter readout is very easy to read and bright, much easier to figure out than Nikon's. The New F-1 offers three basic metering patterns, which are determined by the focusing screen being used: centerweighted, partial, and spot. (I prefer partial, for the best all-around uses.) The Motor Drive FN for the New F-1 is a large beast, very full featured. A nice companion, but if one wants something a bit smaller and lighter, there is the Winder option. In order to access the New F-1's Shutter Priority mode, either the motor or winder must be installed.


PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No clear conlusion, but among the various analog devices I have used, Zeiss and Leitz stand out, mainly because of quite good optics and very bright and accurate viewfinders.

Canons EF mount must be recommended because it will allow all manners of ancient lenses to be adapted (like. it must be admited the Minolta mount), but EOS is not designed to focus manually so even with the MF ground-glass the EOS 1 viewfinder is inferior to the Kyocera Contaxes and the Leitz R-8. The CX with manual shutter times is less likely to suffer from changing battery availability, while ancient electronics, such as in all "modern" film devices like the R-8 are unrepairable (where late production-runs free from electronic problems should be preferred), but while they work, they are relatively cheap, reliable and effective.

As to the optics,I would avoid Canons short-lived non-adaptable auto wonders and splurge on Zeiss or Leitz optics, never mind if not made in Oberkochen or Wetzlar/Solms, the Japanese avatars are excellent.

As to Olympus, I recall once a torrential rain drowned an OM plus my then M3. The olympus had its viewfinder filled with water and its meter die so it was declared unrepairable, while Leitz service confirmed that rangefinder and shutter worked perfectly.


PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which ever you prefer, I would strongly recommend a mechanical camera. Battery dependent ones will give up the ghost eventually, whereas well made bodies from the 70's are still producing great pics. If a repair is needed, parts are available. I have a 3 or 4 fully electronic cameras from the late 90's and use them while I can. But I know my Nikon F, Canon F1 and Nikkormat FTn will outlast me.