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What is the best classic manual slr to get?

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by kang, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. kang

    kang New Member

    Hi all, I started out digital, but now would like to properly introduce myself to photography with a manual slr.

    I'm a nikon guy so my preference would be a nikon FM2, but would be willing to get anything that is good.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on what to get and where to get it? I live in London, so fairly easy for me to travel about.

    thanks in advance.
  2. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    If you've got a collection of Nikkor lenses then certainly the FM series are well worth considering. You may like to look also at the the FE and FE2 if you want a bit of aperture priority auto (also included with the FM3 models).

    One thing to note with AF lenses on older Nikons are the compatibility issues. Obviously DX format lenses can't be used (image circle too small) and any G-type lens - ie those [without a mechanical aperture ring - can't be used because of the lack of aperture control. As long as you have 35mm format AF lenses with an aperture ring you should be OK.

    A visit to Aperture Photographic may be worthwhile.

    PS take a look at the 35mm classics website...
  3. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    You realise you'll get as many different suggestions as you get replies! I personally have Olympus OM gear so am biased that way. If you have suitable Nikon lenses available the FM series is logical. If you have to start from scratch Pentax (or other manufacturer in K mount) would make sense given the stupendous amount of secondhand gear available in the K mount from a number of manufacturers.
  4. nspur

    nspur Well-Known Member

    I would recommend a completely mechanical camera with a working coupled light meter. Of these, the Olympus OM2 and the Nikon FM2 are the ones I like to use - both in their "n" later versions. I have more nice Nikon lenses than Olympus ones so the FM2n gets more use. I also like the Ricoh KR10 Super which is Pentax K mount, not a classic camera but a good amateur's choice. Mamiya's CS and ZE systems are really worth looking out for but don't appear in the market too often.

    If you are looking for good value for money I would probably give London a miss (but ring SRS in Rayners Lane to see what they have). There's people round the British Museum that have good equipment at over-the-top prices. Aperture (the coffee is excellent) and York Cameras are two of these you can trust. Further afield, Mifsuds have never let me down and the chap who runs Sepia Memories at Morecambe usually manages to pick up the best items at camera fairs before I get to it!
  5. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    Though the om2 isn't completely mechanical-it has an electronic shutter and won't work without batteries-still, I think, one of the greats.
  6. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Agree, but the OM-3 has a better light meter & a fully mechanical shutter. Pity it doesn't have the mirror lock which is only on the OM-1 model.

    An OM-1n in good condition is a true classic; the meter is not great even if you manage to source the obsolete batteries it uses, but otherwise it's not far from perfect - compact, light, reasonably robust and with a viewfinder that puts today's "digital marvels" to shame.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    You answered your own question! There is also of course the FM3A, should your budget run to it.
  8. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    Yes, the OM-3 could well be the ultimate mechanical camera but sadly is rather rare and thus v expensive if you manage to find one-most people who wanted the sophisticated metering system got the OM4-and most people who wanted a all mechanical camera got the much cheaper OM1 which was still in production. Certainly I have no problems at all using an OM1 with a zinc/air battery to power the meter-but its almost exclusively used for B+W
  9. Photocracy

    Photocracy Well-Known Member

    I recently recommissioned an OM1n for my manual/film work. I must say it's a delight to use and the viewfinder feels like you could park a car in there! The shutter is so light and quiet in operation too compared to other SLRs. Of all the OM range, I understand the OM1 and OM1n are the easiest to repair being all mechanical bar the lightmeter. Eight years ago I had a Nikormat EL and that was a beautiful camera too, but rather heavy and a little loud on the shutter. On a trip to New York in 2001, I chose to take an OM30 in preference to the Nikormat for weight and bulk reasons. Walking around a city, the Nikormat and lenses could start to feel very heavy indeed after a while.

    Whichever brand/model you decide upon, I'm sure you will have a wonderful time with a manual camera and film. It makes you think more as you ponder over the settings and you feel much more of a decision maker about your pictures. With increased ease of control, they are so much simpler to use and you will wonder why on earth we need so many buttons and menus on a DSLR.

    As for a good dealer, I would highly recommend MXV Photographic in Uckfield, East Sussex. They sell top notch second hand equipment, all guaranteed for 12 months.
  10. nspur

    nspur Well-Known Member

    I think the OM30 is *the* most irritating of the cameras I own. All those flashing lights.
  11. Photocracy

    Photocracy Well-Known Member

    Perhaps so. I wasn't recommending the OM30 in this case, but its size is comparable to other OM bodies and it therefore served my portability observation. I don't have it now, but I remember it with affection.
  12. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    For a Nikon my choice of a classic would be either the F2 or F3. I find the FM/FE series somewhat cheap feeling, even against an old Nikkormat. Maybe I'm weird like that though. :)

    As for other makes, I'll restate my love for such as the Leicaflex SL/SL2 (and R8), or the Contax RX or RTS series. The old Canon F-1, preferably in either its 'n' or 'N' variants is also well worth a look.
  13. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    What no responses from the Pentaholics? Got to be an MX surely. Simple, reliable, huge viewfinder in small and perfectly formed body. Look no further my friend.

    Have bought from Ffordes in the past and they appear trustworthy, but for the sort of money we are talking about here a punt on Ebay, followed by a professional CLA, might be in order.
  14. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I'd just add most (digital marvels), I have a couple of OM2s and an a900 and think the Sony is right up there with the Olys.
  15. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    The classic Nikon is of course the F2, the FM's were good but did not have the 'feel' of the '2'
    The original advertising said 'An F2 is for life'. Get a decent one and that will still hold true.
  16. Staropramen

    Staropramen Well-Known Member

    Yes, the F2 is a great camera, but some early finders can be temeramental and not easily fixed if serious faults develop. The two top variants, F2SB and AS, are not cheap though, even in average condition. My F2AS was fully overhauled a while back - not cheap either - but it should last another 20 or more years.

    If I was starting afresh, however, I'd look for lenses that suited my requirements as the first priority. Super-wides, long telephotos and fast primes for some major brands can be expensive and/or difficult to find, but if lens choice isn't especially important, the options widen appreciably.

    Currently, Canon FD gear is pretty cheap and readily available; but overall Nikon is a rather more 'adaptable' system, having a good degree of backwards/forwards compatibility, etc. FM2n bodies are not expensive, though many are ex-pro (e.g. ex-police) "beaters" with high mileage. The Pentax MX gets a higher recommendation from me than the FM2n: but lens-wise, I'd plump for Nikkors.
  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I really don't like the FM2 - it just feels so agricultural and unpleasant in use. I much preferred the FE, which feels like a precision instrument in comparison. The OMs are nice, but my favourite entirely mechanical SLR is probably still the Pentax MX. If you're not afraid of electronics, both the Contax RX and Rolleiflex 3003 are fantastic.
  18. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    I love my FM2, it doesn't feel at all agricultural to me. But then my previous SLR was a Zenit B... :)

    On a more serious note, one advantage of the Pentaxes is that the lenses don't seem to have suffered as much price hike as the Nikon manual lenses, despite more compatibility with current digital bodies.
  19. Manofolympus

    Manofolympus Well-Known Member

    Probably due to the sheer number of K mount lenses about-going by e-bay prices people are starting to chase the more collectible manual stuff again.
  20. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yeah, it'snot at all in the Zenit league, that's for sure. It just suffers in comparison to the OM 1 and 2, MX and so on IMVHO, and my main issue is with the smoothness of wind-on, something that's unaccountably important to me. FWIW, the OM4 sufferes similarly.

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