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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Pretty cameras
Old 07-26-2009   #1
Roger Hicks
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Pretty cameras

Most of us agree that function takes precedence over appearance, but isn't there also a pleasure in using cameras that look good? Black paint; Retina folders; mahogany Gandolfis...

What are your favourites among mainstream usable cameras for looks? And what about cameras of marginal utility but handsome appearance (e.g. Ilford Advocate, Olympus Ecru, Kodak Bantam Special)?

Tashi delek.

R.
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Old 07-26-2009   #2
Dave Wilkinson
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I've never afforded one, but for looks......Linhof Technicas are my favourites, I hear they perform well too!
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Old 07-26-2009   #3
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I loved the looks of my Wisner 810 Technical Field, but function took over and I traded it for a Canham. My arthritic grip couldn't deal with the round lock knobs anymore. Thanks Keith for making a field camera with paddle shaped lock knobs!!
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Old 07-26-2009   #4
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The Leica MP is the most beautiful rangefinder.

I just wish I could afford one.
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Old 07-26-2009   #5
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Carl Zeiss Jena's 'Werra' camera series.
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Old 07-26-2009   #6
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Kodak 'Bullet' camera
Kodak 'Hawkeye Brownie'
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Old 07-26-2009   #7
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The Werras are indeed beautiful. Also the Steinheil Casca, and the Kodak Ektra.

For user cameras, absolutely the Leicas! In the digital realm I think the Pany LX3 and new Pen are very nice (I have the Pany), and the R-D1 of course.

I also love the look of the very small SLR's of the seventies and eighties, like the OM and ME Super. And i think the new Pentax DSLR looks great--my favorite-looking DSLR yet (save perhaps for the Pany DMC-L1).





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Old 07-26-2009   #8
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A bunch o cameras. Does it really matter?
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Old 07-26-2009   #9
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The Retina Ia/IIa but the IIc just handles better for me and has the much better VF.
Then the Super Ikonta/Moskva 4...
Wonderful futuristic design the second Weltini RF with the retractable shutter release button!
A smart little machine: the pentax auto 110
Simple lines: The Nikon FM
The Bessa R & R2: I bought the R2 because I liked the R's design and wanted to have it made in metall.
The Zenit C: If only it's 3,5/50mm lens had clickstops. Designwise great (jus add a prism and a mirror to the Zorki 1.....were the guys in Wetzlar sleeping?) If you put a Helios 58/2 lens on it you just damage this compact design.....but you at least don't have to take the camera from your eye to change the aperture!
The Contaflexes: cute and functional little machines.
The AGFA 35mm TLR's from the 50's/60's Was there a mix up of blueprints when they started to make them?
Then cameras I find strange but appealing (not enough to buy them):
The Kodak 35 RF
The Werra
Kodak Boxes and Agfa Billys with Art Deco Frontplates.

Last edited by Spider67 : 07-26-2009 at 13:52.
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how about the SWC and Minox?
Old 07-26-2009   #10
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how about the SWC and Minox?

I don't recognize all the names and camera types mentioned so far, but would like to nominate the Hasselblad SWC and the Minox. There's also a Linhof rangefinder model I like, with built-in handgrip, but I can't find a photo.

Greetings from Hamburg

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Old 07-26-2009   #11
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I love the looks of my Agfa Super Silette even though I can't exactly pinpoint why, possibly the two symmetrical vf/rf windows and the overall proportions of its body.

The Vito B is also a beautiful camera, especially when you have one in your hands and realize how small, heavy, and perfectly machined it is.

And of course the Canon RFs, I think they're much better looking than Leicas. My IIF:

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Old 07-26-2009   #12
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Purma Special
Minox
Bell Kamra
Haneel Tri-Vision
Rectaflex
* Braun Super Paxette
* Agfa Karat IV

* Two of my favorites, and yes, I own several of each.
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Old 07-26-2009   #13
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Alpa 11 si
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Old 07-26-2009   #14
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Quote:
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Purma Special
WTF?!? That camera is insane!
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Old 07-26-2009   #15
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The ugliest 35mm camera has to be the Univex Mercury II. Leave it to the Americans!
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Old 07-26-2009   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
WTF?!? That camera is insane!
But if you doubt that you can get a real top speed of 1/500 (I don't have any pics from my Special handy, so I've used this one from my Plus, which has a faster top speed) from that shutter, look here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gray172...in/photostream

I'll second all the votes for Werra - both the flat-top and the late models are very sexy. And I adore the mad French Bakelite cameras of the 1950s like the Ultrafex Himalaya and the Photax blindee.

Adrian

PS Looks-wise, though, the Purma Plus is a bit of a beagle, and it's truly horrid to use...
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Old 07-26-2009   #17
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There are lots of pretty cameras that are fun to use, and quite a few ugly ones. The dividing line is not too wide. Compare a Nikon F3HP with a Nikon F3AF, or a Nikon F eye-level with a Nikon F Photomic.

But nothing is as ugly as my Nikon E3 digital camera. Full-frame digital usinf built in reduction optics on a 2/3" sensor. Well, maybe a Nikon F with the Speed-Magny 100 on it comes close.
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Looks: ten; dance: three.
Old 07-26-2009   #18
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Looks: ten; dance: three.

This kind of thread is great fun. It's like, "Who's your favorite movie star", regardless of acting ability and knowing that you'll probably never get close to meeting her. Here are some of my candidates, mostly old mid-20th c. chestnuts:

Leica M3 SS PV ST
Leica IIIF ST
Konica IIIa
Rolleiflex 2.8F
Voigtlander Vitessa A
Zeiss Super Ikonta A
Audrey Hepburn

All with functionally articulated, analogue design. Some dance as well as they look. Question: does the MOMA design collection include any cameras?
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Old 07-26-2009   #19
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Neat , rather than pretty - My twin Leica IIs black and nickel , a Minolta SRT in black - less agricultural than Nikon and Canon [ OOPs ! ] ... Olympus FT . [ don't have this one ]
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Old 07-26-2009   #20
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Lots of cameras look good (or, maybe just "cool") in a purposeful/functional sense, even ugly ones like my beat-up black Contax G2:



Really pretty cameras that I have include the Canon P (which I seem not to have a photo of);

the Konica Auto S3:


and the Contax T2:


And, when I'm up to it, the pretty cameras can take a decent photo (so can some of the ugly ones).

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Old 07-26-2009   #21
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I think the Rollei 35 is pretty little camera.

I love the look of the Zorki 6 too. Almost as much as my M2.
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Old 07-26-2009   #22
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No 1

No2

No3

No4

Sadly I don't own No2, I wish I did though!!!!!
I also have a new condition Purma Plus, in box with instructions which I have owned and used for over 50yrs.

I also had a beautiful Braun Super Paxette outfit with three Schneider lenses. It was stolen from my room in Hotel Barrault in Paris in
1964, I'm sure it was the owners son as he was furious when I would not sell him the camera!! I hope it brought him
terminal luck!!!
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Also other assorted junk (Digital camera )


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Last edited by John Robertson : 07-26-2009 at 14:47.
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Old 07-26-2009   #23
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mabelsound, that CASCA has some amazing technology pre-dating the M3 : I'd never heard of it before, but found an interesting introduction here http://www.cameraquest.com/casca.htm

My nominations are :

Olympus OM1-n black
Minox AX black

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Old 07-26-2009   #24
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Ilford advocate, yeah!! Forgot that one. Didn't they also make the Witness?
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Old 07-26-2009   #25
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usable:
alpa tc
arca swiss f-classic
contax ii/iia
deardorff 8x10
ebony rw810
fujifilm gf670 professional
hasselblad 500cm, late
konica hexar rf
leica mp
linhof kardan gt 8x10
linhof technika 2000/3000
linhof technikardan 45s
nikon f, plain prism
nikon sp 2005
olympus e-1
olympus om-3
olympus pen f
olympus pen s/w/etc.
pentax spotmatic
r.h. phillips compact ii 8x10
ricoh grd ii
rollei 35
rolleiflex 2.8e2
rolleiflex 3.5f type 2
rolleiflex 6008i/6001hg
toho fc-810
voigtlander r2a/r3a, early

unusable:
exakta varex vx, version 5
leica ii
maison parmentier 8x10
voigtlander vitessa n
zeiss ikon baby box tengor 54/18
zeiss ikon box tengor 54/2
zeiss ikon kolibri
zeiss ikon super nettel
zeiss ikon tenax ii

i think i'm forgetting something...
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Old 07-26-2009   #26
Paul T.
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Much as I love the Om1, it's too practical to be pretty.

my vote: VOigtlander Vitessa. Beautiful, but just a bit feisty and impractical.

http://www.cameraquest.com/voitvitl.htm
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Old 07-26-2009   #27
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That Purma is wacky-gorgeous.

• Leica MP
• Contax RX
• Contax G2
• Nikon F6
• Hasselblad 203FE
• Rolleiflex 2.8F
• Contax 645AF
• Photax Blindé
• Robot Royal 36

Here's a relevant thread, with pix:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/camerap...7594140446655/

I'm surprised someone said Pentax. I've always detested Pentax design. Even at their best, it's utilitarian and never beautiful. But, i guess that's why you can walk into a room with a hundred people in it, and no two people are wearing the same shoes....
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Old 07-26-2009   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
Ilford advocate, yeah!! Forgot that one. Didn't they also make the Witness?
Oh YES another beauty, well out of my price range!!!!
I have actually used one, handles as good as it looks!!!
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Last edited by John Robertson : 07-26-2009 at 15:18.
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Old 07-26-2009   #29
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No 1
I need that one!
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Old 07-26-2009   #30
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Nobody has mentioned the white M8- I quite like that one.
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Old 07-26-2009   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Wilkinson View Post
I've never afforded one, but for looks......Linhof Technicas are my favourites, I hear they perform well too!
Dave.

Can't agree more ... the first time I saw a pic of a Linhof Technica my jaw hit the floor. There was one for sale in the classifieds a while ago and I spent a lot of time staring at it!

The trouble with 'pretty' cameras is they often become shelf queens ... I owned this IIIG for three years and put one roll of film through it before selling it.


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Old 07-26-2009   #32
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PS Looks-wise, though, the Purma Plus is a bit of a beagle, and it's truly horrid to use...[/quote]

Not when you are an impoverished kid in the 50's, with a passion for photography, I took thousands of shots with mine, even did a wedding with it!!!
It still looks and works like new !!
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Old 07-26-2009   #33
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I'm breaking the rules a bit; this is a Pentax digital that was never released.

http://kmp.bdimitrov.de/bodies/proto...K10D_AP50.html

But man, it was beautiful!
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Old 07-26-2009   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
Nobody has mentioned the white M8- I quite like that one.
that is white paint, the Advocate is Vitreous enamel, which stays white!
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Old 07-26-2009   #35
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Toshiba PDR-M4 digital camera. Sadly, only 2.4 mp, but it was nice-looking!
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Old 07-26-2009   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I'm breaking the rules a bit; this is a Pentax digital that was never released.

http://kmp.bdimitrov.de/bodies/proto...K10D_AP50.html

But man, it was beautiful!
Pentax also showed one very like the Yalluflex a few years ago, but never made it!!
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There can be only one!
Old 07-26-2009   #37
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There can be only one!

The Leica M5 in black chrome.

If the M9 would ever be looking like that, I would sell a kidney after all


Or else, as a runner up:

The Vivitar 35ES, because the front panel and the paint job make me think of my Black M3
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Old 07-26-2009   #38
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The EOS 1's are pretty nice. I had a friend that always refered to my EOS 1's as looking like "soap on a rope."
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Old 07-26-2009   #39
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Keith,

That lllG is beautiful!

-Keith
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Old 07-26-2009   #40
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How about pretty lenses:

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