Decent film camera?

Started Jan 5, 2013 | Questions
skpman Regular Member • Posts: 206
Decent film camera?

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 27,114
Re: Decent film camera?
1

skpman wrote:

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

First up decide if you want to use slide film or colour negative film with prints, or B&W film and then find out where to buy it and who can process it and at what cost.

Film cameras are getting old now and repairs are usually impossible for parts. So you have to seek a seemingly well cared for camera and hope for the best.

System cameras are of course the most flexible with a wide range of lenses that can be added. Otherwise you are looking at cameras with built-in zoom lens if that's what you need. With all cameras make sure that there is some sensible return/repair policy as old cameras can develop light leaks as seals deteriorate and you never find out until the first roll is developed.

Be aware that most digital cameras of 8MP or more can deliver results that look better than 35mm film could do.

I stopped using film in 2002 and never went back despite a drawer full of cameras and lenses, the freezer still has bunches of film waiting to be never used. In the latter film years I was scanning to print or computer display, but the dust, hells bells, film is such dusty stuff no matter how careful, digital solved all that.

Saying all that, the camera that I used to use was a Nikon N8008s (F801s) and it was superb. The simpler Casio built Nikon FE-10 was pretty good for a cheapo Nikon, no auto focus with that one.The cheapest SLR I liked was my wife's Pentax MZ-50/ZX-50, some of my old notes on that here . With its standard 28-80mm lens it worked very nicely indeed.

Also check in advance what batteries the camera uses and see if they are still available and at what cost.

As a silly aside, be aware that film really is digital stuff, and digital sensors are really analog.

Regards...... Guy

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LincolnB Veteran Member • Posts: 4,302
Re: Decent film camera?

Consider getting a Twin Lens Reflex such as a Lubitel 166 or Yashica. They're fun to use and you get more resolution than just about any digital camera.

Or get a 35mm Nikon from the 1990s. Any lens you get for that can also be used with just about any modern camera, including M43 and Canon, with a cheap adapter.

http://www.keh.com/Camera/format-35mm/system-Nikon-Manual-Focus/category-Camera-Bodies?s=1&bcode=NK&ccode=2&cc=80212&r=WG&f

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Francis E Senior Member • Posts: 1,850
Re: Decent film camera?

Guy Parsons wrote:


I stopped using film in 2002 and never went back despite a drawer full of cameras and lenses, the freezer still has bunches of film waiting to be never used. In the latter film years I was scanning to print or computer display, but the dust, hells bells, film is such dusty stuff no matter how careful, digital solved all that.

I still shoot film but I think you would need a really compelling reason to start with it if you've not had a film camera before.

B&W would be my main thought.

I endorse your recommendation of a Nikon F 801-S.

I can still get all my film cameras serviced (I've just had a Leica R6 back from Solms) and have a local lab that will develop and digitise film.

What service you get depends on where you live.

The OP's proposal is not something I would really recommend. I think the OP will have more fun with the current generation of cameras. An investment in an EM-5 for example (I know, not cheap) is a better bet.

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Alumna Gorp Senior Member • Posts: 1,531
Re: Decent film camera?
2

Pick up an olympus MJU 11, superb little camera that will fit into a jeans pocket

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linux99 Senior Member • Posts: 1,112
Olympus XA1 or Olympus Trip
3

Nice little rangefinder with a super sharp f2.8 lens. Fits in a pocket and give you great pictures in a small packet. Back in the day this had the reputation of being the camera that pros took on holiday. Should be 80 - 100 for a nice one.

If you''re a bit more strapped for cash then an Olympus Trip is a blast - bit bigger than the XA otherwise really very useable film camera for around 50 in good condition.

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Martin.au
Martin.au Forum Pro • Posts: 11,852
Re: Decent film camera?

skpman wrote:

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

If you want to mess around, then perhaps building your own twin lens reflex would be a good thing to try.

This is the one I'm tempted to buy. It's cheap and I expect is never going to last long, but it looks fun.

http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/diy-tlr-camera-kit/

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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,638
Re: Decent film camera?

skpman wrote:

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

Personally I would pick an Olympus OM-2 or a Nikon FE. if you want a modern camera  with AF a Nikon F100 is a good buy.

Or if you just want something compact - an Olympus XA. Konica C35, Minolta Hi-Matic

An OM-1, looks almost exactly as an OM-2

Nikon FE

Nkon F100



Olympus XA



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String
String Senior Member • Posts: 1,848
Re: Olympus XA1 or Olympus Trip

I'll second the Olympus XA; great little rangefinder with the added bonus that you wont be tempted to buy more lenses  

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illy
illy Forum Pro • Posts: 12,160
Re: Decent film camera?

PerL wrote:



Olympus XA



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i was going to suggest an XA, small, fun but great quality, just check the viewfinder before buying, mine is virtually unusable these days

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The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 27,114
Olympus mju/Stylus
3

On that note we often used to travel with just a Olympus mju (Stylus in USA) with its 35mm focal length and easy clam-shell on/off operation. The later mju zooms had light seal problems as the back sealed with a gasket ring and not the usual overlapping slot arrangement.

But, film = pain, be warned.

Nostalgia is good where it belongs.... in the past.

Regards....... Guy

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Guy Parsons
Guy Parsons Forum Pro • Posts: 27,114
Batteries.

Some of the desirable cameras of yesteryear used mercury cell batteries, now totally banned for sale all over, substitutes may not be successful. So choose cameras based on battery types, AA is extremely good but usually are in the heavy duty SLRs, though I do have somewhere a Ricoh 35R pocket sized camera that worked well,  30mm lens, some degree of aperture priority and yield pretty good results using its two AA batteries. Hey, just dug it out and it has a film in it - I wonder what's there !

Still works, just took a shot even with the very old alkaline batteries (>10 years) in it. No instant review so no idea what really happened !

Regards....... Guy

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ryan2007 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,001
Re: Decent film camera?

skpman wrote:

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

I'll reiterate. No point to buy the film camera and film if you can not develop yourself or find a lab that can do it. Developing film usually costs double what you paid for the roll and it can take shipping time depending.

If this is solved than you need to decide if you want an autofocus capable camera or full manual everything, metering and focusing. Some manual focus cameras had the ability to add a motor drive meaning you did not have to use your thumb to advance the frame. Some manual cameras had a built in meter and some you needed to change the viewfinder to get said light meter.

On top of that now have a camera that has some more things to review. For manual cameras you need to be sure the light seal is in tack or you will expose the unexposed film and no way to tell until you develop a roll.

Then decide if the camera should have a hot shoe for flash. Manual cameras are not TTL they just fire the flash and the flash sets the output.

Of course if you go autofocus with a body like Nikon N90s, mind you the Nikon N90 was a different model where you can not change film backs or add the vertical grip. The F90s and F90 are the same as the "N" cameras but these like the many the "F" designated overseas or grey market camera and the "N" was for US distribution. The exception would be a lot more to get into and I am not going there FE, FM, FM2 etc F100, F4s, F5 are pro bodies.

Drawing some blanks on Canon, they had the AE-1 and AE-1 program and I think the program was also a manual camera but had a meter built in, but I am not 100% now. I would stay away from ANY autofocus Minolta film cameras where you start comparing Nikon and some of the Canon options.

Now for lenses. To a point Nikon is the ONLY manufacture where the F lens mount did not change and everything is backwards compatible. Nikon had the AI and Non-AI and one had a small coupler built into the lens that matched the body so you could control the mechanical aperture. The others you just set the F-stop on the lens just the AF film cameras to F22 or the smallest f-stop and lock that since its all internally done.

Minolta had a proprietary hot shoe mount shaped like a horseshoe for the AF cameras. Canon's lens mount changes from the manual to AF bodies.

Check KEH, Adorama, B&H for used. I would not buy a used manual or any film camera from Ebay or even a digital one without inspection. I can tell you 100% the $100 you spend for a film camera will be a waste since the ONLY way to test a film camera, 90% of the time is run film and process it.

Stick to the known major film shops and KEH or B&H I know you should be just fine with the same $100 or even if its $150 you know it works from them.

One more point, Batteries are usually button cell and depending you have to find a mercury cell substitute.  Their is a method to remove corrosion from the battery compartment.

Thomas Kachadurian
Thomas Kachadurian Veteran Member • Posts: 3,398
Re: Decent film camera?

PerL wrote:

skpman wrote:

I'm interested in buying a cheap film camera to toy around with... but have no knowledge of film cameras.

I'm not looking to build a whole new lens set or anything.. hopefully stay under $100 max.

Can somebody recommend a few good models I can look up on ebay?

thank you!

Personally I would pick an Olympus OM-2 or a Nikon FE. if you want a modern camera with AF a Nikon F100 is a good buy.

Or if you just want something compact - an Olympus XA. Konica C35, Minolta Hi-Matic

An OM-1, looks almost exactly as an OM-2

Nikon FE

I still find both of these things of beauty. Makes me want to start collecting cameras from my past.

Tom

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gear1box Senior Member • Posts: 1,495
Re: Decent film camera?
1

To the OP, i would say -- having used film for almost four decades -- virtually all of these comments are spot on and constructive.

Let me add a modest observation:  if your objective is a final print (and film is no good for Facebook jpgs), virtually all paths to print these days involve scanning.  Indeed, for any digital manipulation that is required.  So you need to ask not just "where will it get my film processed" but also "how can i get the negs or slides scanned at sufficient resolution?"

I mention that since the "Photo CD" offered by many processors contains just the 20 year-old Kodak standard of 1.3 meg jpgs.  Frankly, that standard was designed to support 4x6 prints.  That is not remotely sufficient for serous work: 6 meg scans are a minimum.  (Note that scan resolutions are not equal to sensor pixels; each scan pixel captures all three chroma channels, so maybe 1.3 times the information.)

Anyway, you need to think of your whole workflow in film.

I still prefer the highlight handling and color gamut of film, but find it awfully hard to justify all the workflow fiddling.

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gary ray

--
Semi-professional in early 1970s; just a putzer since then. interests: historical sites, virginia, motorcycle racing. A nikon user more by habit than choice; still, nikon seems to work well for me.

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Rol Lei Nut Senior Member • Posts: 2,614
Re: Batteries.

There are several easy and reliable substitutes for mercury batteries, so in almost all cases, battery compatibility doesn't have to be an issue...

To the OP: it might help if you mentioned what you want to do with film... B&W only? Developing yourself? How manual or automatic do you want your camera to be? Do you want to change lenses? Is size/weight important?

Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 11,971
Re: Decent film camera?

Pentax K1000. Proven workhorse, bone simple, completely mechanical (only the meter is electrical), produces good images, vast lens suite to chose among.

Cheers,

Rick

Richard Biffl Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Olympus mju/Stylus

+1 for the Olympus Stylus Epic. Not the Epic Zoom, but the MJU II/Stylus Epic with the 35mm/2.8 autofocus lens, which was sharp and had great auto-exposure. That was my first Olympus camera, and I carried it everywhere in my pocket and got wonderful shots of my kids when they were little.

Back then, the Stylus Epic was considered a less expensive alternative to the Yashica T5 (alias T4 Super), which had a 35mm/3.5 lens and was highly rated.

Alexandrite Regular Member • Posts: 133
Re: Batteries.

I went through B/W film photography classes at art college with a Canon AE-1 Program. Wonderful reliable camera, easy to learn and most likely you can find one somewhere, I think they were popular in their day. I loved using it.

My first camera ever, which I still have (and use occasionally!) is a Russian Smena 8M. Very fun plastic camera, very basic. Photos always come out like a bit of a surprise though... They were made for many decades so there should be tons of them available on the internet.

I also have a Russian rangefinder, FED-1, which is awesome and copied from Leica cameras. A poor man's Leica, so to speak. A bit more to learn here, but it's gorgeous and very interesting to work with. Got mine on Ebay about 10 years ago. There should be many available from the FED series, possibly even under $100. I think the FED-1 was the most similar to Leica in style, the later FED series cameras went on their own tangent.
But if you look for one, don't get one of the silly painted ones with red stars and hammers and sickles glued on - just a plain regular one that looks like a normal camera! No one in Russia EVER walked around with a red painted camera bejewelled with red stars...

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Alexandrite Regular Member • Posts: 133
Re: Batteries.

Oops, meant to reply to the main thread, not the Batteries thread! Sorry guys.

To stay somewhat on the battery topic, in regards to batteries, only the Canon AE-1 i mentioned requires a battery, the other two are fully mechanical and require no batteries at all.

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