Second-hand film cameras are not only inexpensive, they're also feature-rich and surprisingly capable. John Wad guides you to the best
Second-hand film cameras continued…
- Type 35mm rangefinder camera
- Launched 1955
- Original price £49
- Guide price now £30-35
Back in the 1930s, Contax cameras were revered for their quality, and they are still expensive today. Following the Second World War, the Ukrainian Kiev Arsenal factory obtained materials and tooling owned by the German Zeiss Ikon factory and began manufacturing its own versions of Zeiss cameras. As a result, the Kiev IIa camera is a Contax II in everything but name.
The top shutter speed is 1/1,250sec and Jupiter lenses supplied with Kiev cameras turn out good quality images. Here’s the best bit, though: Kiev and Contax cameras share similar lens mounts, so you can equip a Kiev body with a vast range of top-quality Zeiss lenses, originally made for the Contax.
WE SAY The smart way to own a Contax without paying the Contax premium.
Mamiya RB67 Pro S
- Type Medium format SLR
- Launched 1974
- Original price £750
- Guide price now £250-300
The big selling point of this large camera is its big picture size: 6x7cm, ten exposures on 120 film. The standard lens is a 90mm f/3.8 with built-in Seiko shutter speeded 1-1/400sec, but a lens range from 37mm fisheye to 500mm telephoto is available.
The basic camera with waist-level viewfinder can be bought for a third of its original price, but to that you can add all those extra lenses, focusing screens and various metered or non-metered viewfinders, as well as accessories including speed grips, extension tubes, lens hoods, filters and spare film backs.
WE SAY If you are looking for a solid, well-made camera with a larger than average medium format image, you can’t do better than the RB67 Pro S.
- Type Medium format TLR
- Launched 1958
- Original price £30
- Guide price now £50-70
When TLRs were the cameras of choice for professionals, everyone aspired to own a German Rolleiflex. If you couldn’t afford one, the next best thing was a Japanese Yashica-Mat. The LM model has a built-in meter which activates a needle across a scale numbered 0 to 10. The number indicated is set on a rotating dial built into the focusing knob to give a suggested aperture from f/3.5-f/22 against a shutter speeded 1-1/500sec. The combination is then set manually using small controls. The format is 6x6cm.
WE SAY Yashica-Mats were quality cameras when new, and remain so second-hand.
Cheap but usable
- Type 35mm rangefinder camera
- Launched 1976
- Original price £45
- Guide price now £25-30
Ricoh was always good at taking a different look at cameras of its era, and the 500GX is no exception.
Unusual for a camera of the 1970s, it has a coincident image rangefinder in the viewfinder. Shutter speeds of 1/8-1/500sec and apertures of f/2.8-f/16 can be set manually. But turn the aperture ring to its ‘A’ setting and the 500GX becomes a shutter priority camera.
A battery check button, delayed action and even a multi-exposure facility complete a well specified little camera.
WE SAY A quality camera with some interesting features, at a great price.
- Type 35mm viewfinder camera
- Launched 1959
- Original price £8
- Guide price now £5-10
Second-hand Halinas are freely available and remarkably cheap. With an all-metal body styled like a miniature Leica, the 45mm f/3.5 Halina Anastigmat lens performs well. The admittedly limited range of shutter speeds (they’re 1/25- 1/200sec) can usually be relied upon to have remained accurate.
There are two foibles to watch for. First, the aperture rings are always stiff, and it’s easy to inadvertently shift the focus while adjusting the aperture. Second, before exposure, the shutter must be tensioned with a lever beside the lens. Failure to do this means the shutter won’t fire, even though the interlock with the film wind is released, and the film must now be advanced without a picture having been taken.
WE SAY The Halina 35X gives great performance for not a lot of money.