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Trying to find the right film camera for ME
Old 05-30-2013   #1
tempest68
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Trying to find the right film camera for ME

I currently have a Canon 5D II and a Canon EOS 3 in the SLR world and picked up a Voigtlander R3M, CV 50mm Heliar f/2, CV Nokton 40mm f/1.4, and Zeiss ZM 28mm f/2.8.

I got the EOS 3 because I could use the same lenses as on the 5D II. What I love about the 3 is fast, accurate AF. What I dislike about both SLRs is the size and weight.

As I read up on rangefinder cameras, I decided to give the R3M a try. Things I like about it are small size, lighter than the SLRs, accurate metering, and the overall feel of working the camera. But the things I find a problem with are trouble focusing correctly, needing an external finder when using the 28mm, and sometimes wishing for AF.

I've read from a few different people where they've went through trying several different style bodies until they found one that "just feels right" to them. Right now I don't feel like any of these three bodies are the right ones for me. On the digital side I'd like to try out the Olympus OM-D to see if its small enough while still having arguably the fastest AF in the MILC world. I may rent first before committing to dumping the 5D II for it.

But I'm trying to find a 35mm film body that is smaller than the EOS 3 but has fast, accurate AF like it. I prefer something with interchangable lenses with good prime lenses and maybe a zoom too. And preferably something that has a good reputation for build quality and not prone to some kind of popular flaw like the meter dying or some error code that's common.

I would appreciate any ideas on what to consider for a film body given my wish list and my annoyances with my current bodies. As further background, I've been using the R3M since Sept 2012, and the EOS 3 for over a year.
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Old 05-30-2013   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tempest68 View Post
I currently have a Canon 5D II and a Canon EOS 3 in the SLR world and picked up a Voigtlander R3M, CV 50mm Heliar f/2, CV Nokton 40mm f/1.4, and Zeiss ZM 28mm f/2.8.

I got the EOS 3 because I could use the same lenses as on the 5D II. What I love about the 3 is fast, accurate AF. What I dislike about both SLRs is the size and weight.

As I read up on rangefinder cameras, I decided to give the R3M a try. Things I like about it are small size, lighter than the SLRs, accurate metering, and the overall feel of working the camera. But the things I find a problem with are trouble focusing correctly, needing an external finder when using the 28mm, and sometimes wishing for AF.

I've read from a few different people where they've went through trying several different style bodies until they found one that "just feels right" to them. Right now I don't feel like any of these three bodies are the right ones for me. On the digital side I'd like to try out the Olympus OM-D to see if its small enough while still having arguably the fastest AF in the MILC world. I may rent first before committing to dumping the 5D II for it.

But I'm trying to find a 35mm film body that is smaller than the EOS 3 but has fast, accurate AF like it. I prefer something with interchangable lenses with good prime lenses and maybe a zoom too. And preferably something that has a good reputation for build quality and not prone to some kind of popular flaw like the meter dying or some error code that's common.

I would appreciate any ideas on what to consider for a film body given my wish list and my annoyances with my current bodies. As further background, I've been using the R3M since Sept 2012, and the EOS 3 for over a year.

Hello. I would reconsider your requirement for AF. For some kinds of spontaneous photography, a RF camera with manual focus (and time and practice in zone focusing, and focusing with the rangefinder) will be faster and better than ANY autofocus.

If you use the 28mm lens a lot, then how about considering a RF body with built-in 28mm framelines (Minolta CLE, Bessa 4A/4M, some Leica bodies)?

Otherwise, I would give your current setup some time and practice. All new gear has a learning curve.
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Old 05-30-2013   #3
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sounds like you need a Canon equivilent of the Nikon F100 or N90. Unless you want to switch camps and invest in good glass, but I don't know Canon at all. The only issue I ever had with my F100 was waiting too long to get one! Fantastic cameras.


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Old 05-30-2013   #4
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My advice would be the Canon Rebel Ti... The AF is fast, you won't have to buy new lenses, and it's the lightest full frame camera in the EOS system. Plus you can get one for under $20. So I bought three of them in case one breaks.

I often use the Rebel with either the 40mm ƒ/2.8, 50mm ƒ/1.8 or 28mm ƒ/2.8—all small and light lenses.

I also love my rangefinders, but based on how your question is worded, I really think you should buy a small Rebel (Ti or T2) and give it a shot. It's definitely the cheapest option.
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You seem to like the OM-D
Old 05-30-2013   #5
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You seem to like the OM-D

In the film slr world that would translate into a manual focus Olympus OM2, OM3, or OM4. The body on the OM series camera's is only 1/4 inch longer than the OM-D. In addition, if you like a bit more in the hand, the motor drive for those camera's is relatively compact, in fact also similar in size to the vertical grip on the OM-D which is a two piece affair.

The OM film camera's are noted for compact size, being only a bit larger than RF cameras of the era, plus a sleek smallish hump for the prism. At the same time the Olympus OM film camera's are lauded for their bright viewfinder and fast focus with split image focus screen (changeable)

Another plus is the OM has the shutter speed ring around the base of the lens, which makes changing shutter speed on the fly with the lens focus hand, much improved over a top mounted shutter speed dial.

If you don't include an Olympus OM in your research, you are missing a bet. I stayed with the OM2 to OM4 to avoid the battery type issues with the OM1. Actually the OM1 is a better camera than the latter 3 in some peoples opinions. Primarily because it is only battery dependent for the meter. Otherwise, it's a full manual camera, perfect for no battery and handheld metering.

The OM series Olympus were popular in their day, and they pretty much bypassed Auto Focus except the OM77 and OM88 models. but not very many AF lenses made for that system. Olympus did not become masters at AF until they offered up the digital lines.

The last good point about the Olympus OM system. Many excellent lenses rivaling most of the glass produced by other manufacturers. In fact some spectacular lens choices.

Last edited by kuzano : 05-30-2013 at 19:57. Reason: more copy
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Old 05-30-2013   #6
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If you're looking for an auto-focus similar to the EOS 3, but in a smaller package, I would rule out auto-focus altogether, unless you switched to Nikon for film needs, or just deal with the size. I would take the recommend an R4(A/M) to compliment your R3M for wide angle lenses and to serve as a second body. Otherwise, switch to an SLR system like OM that's small and enables you to see the perspective of different lenses. I also do think you need more time to get over the rangefinder (or I guess manual focus, zone focusing, whatever hurdle) learning curve.
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Old 05-30-2013   #7
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Switch to Nikon and get the F6 - hands down the best AF film SLR.
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Old 05-30-2013   #8
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All good suggestions. Keep them coming if anyone can think of something that wasn't mentioned. I've looked at the Nikon F100 and Olympus OM cameras before (online - don't know if I'll find them locally). And an R4M would solve the external finder problem, but wonder if I'd find a MF SLR easier or harder than focusing the R3M?
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Old 05-30-2013   #9
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Can you talk more about your focusing troubles with the Bessa? What problems did you have?

You might want to consider 2 cameras - a fixed lens auto focus camera and a manual interchangeable lens kit. It'll be difficult to find everything you want in a single package. That all depends on when you want manual vs autofocus though.

Personally, I feel more likely to focus on what i want when using manual focus. With auto, I spend a bunch of time getting it to focus where I want, locking it and then composing... which messes up the focus. Or the focus ends up seeking back and forth between different distances.

There are certainly times when it is useful but I've found I tend to know which situations are which before going out to shoot.
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Old 05-30-2013   #10
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If you want a film SLR to mount your EOS lenses on, consider the Canon Elan 7E or the Elan 7NE.
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Old 05-30-2013   #11
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Also, my favorite manual focus camera is the Nikon FE. It can use any lens from 1959 and up (with a few exceptions).

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Old 05-30-2013   #12
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contax g2?
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Old 05-31-2013   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tempest68 View Post
All good suggestions. Keep them coming if anyone can think of something that wasn't mentioned. I've looked at the Nikon F100 and Olympus OM cameras before (online - don't know if I'll find them locally). And an R4M would solve the external finder problem, but wonder if I'd find a MF SLR easier or harder than focusing the R3M?
Personally I find SLRs much harder to focus than range finders, in theory you should be able see when an SLR is in focus, but in reality you probably can't see well enough to ensure accurate focus. Then you have the split screens, which can be pretty good, but still I've never used an SLR half as easy to focus as my worst RF.

Really it depends why you're struggling to focus your Bessa, poor eyesight, or something else?

I used to have an R4A, great camera and ideal for a 28mm or even 21mm lens. I'd consider the longest lens you use with it to be a 35mm though, the 50mm frame lines are really very small.

As for autofocus, by the time most manufacturers moved to making autofocus cameras, they already decided that 'big plastic lump' was the design ethos they were going for. A couple did not though, and I believe Contax made some pretty lovely autofocus SLRs, as well as the G1 and G2 of course.
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Old 05-31-2013   #14
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Just an aside, I just read about the Contax RX, a manual focus SLR, but with 'focus assist', might be worth a look.
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Old 05-31-2013   #15
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You might want to consider 2 cameras - a fixed lens auto focus camera and a manual interchangeable lens kit.
That seems a good suggestion to me. If you stick with a fixed lens auto-focus camera, you could look at the Konica Hexar AF (great lens, silent) or a the Contax T2/T3 or similar. I also really like the Fuji Klasse/Rollei AFM. I could probably do 80-90% of all the 35mm photography I do just with the Hexar or AFM with no loss of function or quality.

For manual focus, either a rangefinder system like you already have, or a more compact film SLR. That could mean a Contax system, or Pentax, or Olympus, or Nikon or Canon if you choose the right body. Although with Canon, I think, the more compact bodies tend to be the more consumer orientated ones, whereas the other manufacturers made compact 'pro' or pro-like bodies.

Like some others, there are times when I find manual focusing or zone focusing to be faster than auto-focusing, or at least more predictable. But a fixed lens autofocus camera is great thing to have if it has a good lens.

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Old 05-31-2013   #16
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On the SLR front, if you already have decent EF mount lenses, it might well make sense to get a smaller 'consumer' Canon body rather than buy into a whole other lens mount. However, if you did want to do that, some of the Contax bodies have (in my experience) excellent ergonomics, good viewfinders, and small size.
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Old 05-31-2013   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanmich View Post
contax g2?
exactly!

the only real option for exchangeable lens small AF film camera

or an M6 if you can live w/o the AF .. you'd better swap the CV40 for the CV35 tho
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Old 05-31-2013   #18
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I don't know. The Contax G bodies with lenses aren't really that small or that light compared to the smaller EF-mount bodies. Great lenses, but they are fairly chunky and slow for autofocus bodies by modern standards.
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Old 05-31-2013   #19
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AF and the rangefinder experience to me are separate things. Those lenses you picked up are wonderful and will make stunning images, but you need to focus them yourself. Personally, I shoot film in rangefinders because I want full control over the entire process. If I wanted AF, I'd shoot digital. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-31-2013   #20
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Consider the Pentax MX

http://www.pentaxforums.com/camerare...pentax-mx.html
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Old 05-31-2013   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tempest68 View Post
But I'm trying to find a 35mm film body that is smaller than the EOS 3 but has fast, accurate AF like it. I prefer something with interchangable lenses with good prime lenses and maybe a zoom too. And preferably something that has a good reputation for build quality and not prone to some kind of popular flaw like the meter dying or some error code that's common.
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contax g2?
Yep. It's way smaller and lighter than an EOS 3 and comparable 28,45 (50), and 90 lenses. For AF in an RF body with interchangeable lenses, it's the only game in town. Note however that the AF is single point as opposed to the EOS, which my bother you. I really dislike multi-point AF systems, and I always switch them to single point; if that's you too, then you might be OK with the Contax.

G lenses are the best you will ever buy under $500 and you could get your feet wet with a G1 body for the price of a Leica lens hood.

Regarding the R3M, I think you definitely made the wrong choice given your assortment of lenses. Get something with built-in 28mm framelines (ZI, R4, Hexar, recent vintage Ms) and practice zone focusing and being ready for teh shot, as opposed to taking the time to focus while he moment evaporates.

Also, note that some lenses are faster to focus than others. It's a very personal choice, but I like tabbed lenses because I can anticipate the focus position more easily.
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Old 05-31-2013   #22
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Switch to Nikon and get the F6 - hands down the best AF film SLR.
The TO wanted something smaller than the EOS 3, not something bigger If you have a handful of EF-lenses than getting a Nikon is the most stupid thing you can do. Even if the F6 is 1% better than the EOS 3.
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Old 05-31-2013   #23
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Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
The TO wanted something smaller than the EOS 3, not something bigger If you have a handful of EF-lenses than getting a Nikon is the most stupid thing you can do. Even if the F6 is 1% better than the EOS 3.



Obviously they were joking, but the best EF-mount Canon lens are Nikon lenses with an adaptor.
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Hexar AF
Old 05-31-2013   #24
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Hexar AF

Hexar AF sounds like the ticket if you want an RF and a fixed lens.

But any old SLR with AF should also do the ticket. I get fantastic results with my Pentax MZ-6.
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Old 05-31-2013   #25
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Contax is the way to go if 135 film, AF and interchangeable lenses are all requirements. If you want 28mm framelines, there is the R4A but using longer lenses will be a pain.
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Old 05-31-2013   #26
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Why not go for an EOS 5? Mine is a horrible ugly hunk of plastic but it works. It would be a great way to use your current lenses, in a body that has similar ergonomics to your 3, is smaller, lighter, and cheaper. I pair it with a 7D to get B&W film and a back-up without taking a whole second kit. Cost me 50€.

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Old 05-31-2013   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
Hexar AF sounds like the ticket if you want an RF and a fixed lens.
Strong second vote for the Hexar. You loose interchangeable lenses, but get a compact body with an outstanding 35/2, fast and accurate AF, and the RF experience.

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Old 05-31-2013   #28
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Strong second vote for the Hexar. You loose interchangeable lenses, but get a compact body with an outstanding 35/2, fast and accurate AF, and the RF experience.

Roland.
The Hexar produces great results, the lens is super sharp but the viewfinder is not so good. Almost no viewfinder information and it's a bit darker than a Leica M viewfinder. Not to forget 1/250 is the fastest time. This camera is great if you can live with some shortcomings and see it as superb P/S. Had it with me in Prague, and put four films through it. Great results, but I think it's not for everyone.
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Old 05-31-2013   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanmich View Post
contax g2?
Totally agree with ya, sanmich! With one caveat, the AF system takes getting used to. It is a contrast detect AF system vs.phase detect AF system that is in SLRs. Takes some getting used to coming from the SLR world BUT the Zeiss lenses for it are exquisite!
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Old 05-31-2013   #30
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A Contax G2 with three lenses can be found in excellent condition and without a major drain to the bank account.

First, the G2 is simply a beautiful camera.

Second, it is small and has autofocus that works for more stationary, or slow moving subjects. In bright light I can shoot my kids running around, so continuous autofocus works outdoors.

Last, the Zeiss lenses are amazing.

I also have an Bessa R4a. I usually keep a Zeiss 21mm f/4.5c affixed. Great little camera for wide angle lenses.

I've a number of Contax bodies and you should know that the focus confirmation isn't really remotely related to autofocus. The Contax bodies generally have really bright viewfinders. I've not used their autofocus cameras. The Aria is very small and once again you have the ability to pair with Zeiss lenses. My favorite is the RTSIII, but now you are back to a brick. Both the Aria and RTS III are manual focus cameras.

The Contax G2 would be the camera for someone shooting film and likes the idea of a rangefinder style camera, but demands autofocus.
For me, I prefer manual focus film cameras. They are more demanding, but that is part of the fun.

The Contax T series would be a good way to go for a high end point and shoot. My T2 has been a reliable camera for many years.
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Old 05-31-2013   #31
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I would just concentrate on photography. Remember, there have been, and supposedly still are photographers that use a single camera throughout their lifetime.
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Old 05-31-2013   #32
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Try to find the smallest EOS. The 5 is a good suggestion.

Quote:
Personally I find SLRs much harder to focus than range finders, in theory you should be able see when an SLR is in focus, but in reality you probably can't see well enough to ensure accurate focus. Then you have the split screens, which can be pretty good, but still I've never used an SLR half as easy to focus as my worst RF.
I have just the opposite experience. When you have astigmatism and need glasses any slr is easier than a rangefinder. Certainly when you have a split prism.

And auxilary finders are a carbuncle on the posterior of humanity.
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Old 05-31-2013   #33
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sounds like you need a Canon equivilent of the Nikon F100 or N90. Unless you want to switch camps and invest in good glass, but I don't know Canon at all. The only issue I ever had with my F100 was waiting too long to get one! Fantastic cameras.
Well, that would be the Canon EOS 3.

Minolta has some smaller AF bodies that are great. The Dynax/Maxxum 7 is the Minolta equivalent of the EOS 3 but smaller and the Dynax/Maxxum 5 is amazingly small. However, since you've got Canon, a Canon camera would make sense. Ever thought about the EOS 30/33 or 30v/33v? American name is Elan 7. Not my favorite body, but small and capable.

Many other good options already mentioned.
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Old 05-31-2013   #34
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Originally Posted by tempest68 View Post
I currently have a Canon 5D II and a Canon EOS 3 in the SLR world and picked up a Voigtlander R3M, CV 50mm Heliar f/2, CV Nokton 40mm f/1.4, and Zeiss ZM 28mm f/2.8.

I got the EOS 3 because I could use the same lenses as on the 5D II. What I love about the 3 is fast, accurate AF. What I dislike about both SLRs is the size and weight.

As I read up on rangefinder cameras, I decided to give the R3M a try. Things I like about it are small size, lighter than the SLRs, accurate metering, and the overall feel of working the camera. But the things I find a problem with are trouble focusing correctly, needing an external finder when using the 28mm, and sometimes wishing for AF.

I've read from a few different people where they've went through trying several different style bodies until they found one that "just feels right" to them. Right now I don't feel like any of these three bodies are the right ones for me. On the digital side I'd like to try out the Olympus OM-D to see if its small enough while still having arguably the fastest AF in the MILC world. I may rent first before committing to dumping the 5D II for it.

But I'm trying to find a 35mm film body that is smaller than the EOS 3 but has fast, accurate AF like it. I prefer something with interchangable lenses with good prime lenses and maybe a zoom too. And preferably something that has a good reputation for build quality and not prone to some kind of popular flaw like the meter dying or some error code that's common.

I would appreciate any ideas on what to consider for a film body given my wish list and my annoyances with my current bodies. As further background, I've been using the R3M since Sept 2012, and the EOS 3 for over a year.
I've had the 5D2. Still have an EOS3. I've also tried just about everything else in 35mm (and MF...), probably looking for the same thing(s) you're looking for. My take:

You're not going to find ONE camera system that is perfect.

I, too, have Canon because i think their (prime) AF lens range is the best in 35mm. That's why i've stuck with Canon for digital, having come from the EOS1 and 3 for film. But, i also have long wanted a smaller SLR, and have never liked the consumer Canon bodies. Too much lightweight plastic. I have always liked Nikon film bodies, though, and appreciate that the old metal bodies use the same lenses as the current AF bodies.

So, i've bought a few different Nikon film cameras. F6, F100, F80, F4, and FE2. But, i never intended to duplicate my full Canon lens range. That's where it gets silly. I've never had more than one or two lenses for any of the Nikons. At present, i still have the FE2 and F100. The F6 was beautiful, but didn't do anything more than the F100, so i couldn't justify the $1000+ versus the F100's $150. I have the F100 for AF, but it's really not smaller than the EOS3. When i want small, i use the FE2. That's my suggestion: don't try to duplicate the whole lens range for those occasions when you want to go 'small.' I use the FE2 with a 'pancake' 50/1.8 Series E for those occasions. When i think i need more/varied focal lengths, i just use the Canon.

So, for a small AF camera, i'd suggest the F80/N80. Get your most used focal length prime on it, and be done. When you need all the options, just use the Canon. It's only in the last few years that everyone thinks they're entitled to make images with tiny cameras. We have to sacrifice a little, don't we? 100 years ago, people were driving wagon trains across the wilderness to shoot 8x10s.
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Old 05-31-2013   #35
one90guy
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I can 2nd the N80, had one for years till I knocked it off a shelf, it hit back first on tile. No external damage but it killed the electronics. So all my film slr's are now mechanical.

David
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133308
Old 05-31-2013   #36
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133308

The Canon 5d a magnificent machine, the EOS-3 really great.
Your RF kit very good.
You don't need another camera or system.
You need to practice with your equipment.
Understand the RF. Do a shoot using "Zone Focus".
Pick a small aperture f11/f16. Set focus on 10'/3m.
Blaze away. Adjust speed for sun or shade.
It's a shock the amount that is in focus..Use a 400ISO film.
If you are able to set the distance on your EF lenses do same.
Get cheap scans for test.Use the 28mm, no viewfinder, guess!
The 40mm will do equally well.
Size is meaningless unless it is the weight. My problem! rats!

OH! i am astigmatic. Using Leicas most my pro career it was only in my 40's doing Health Test to come to Canada,
discovered i needed glasses!
SLR or DSLR way more problematic.
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Old 05-31-2013   #37
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Thanks everyone. Lots of ideas to think about.

I do zone focus if I'm outside and using f8 - f16. My focusing problems are trying to use the focusing patch if I want or need to shoot at f1.4 - f2.8. Depending on environment/lighting I don't always see the double image to match up and focus correctly for shooting wide open.

The desire for something smaller than the EOS 3 is that most of my shooting is while out and about with the wife and kids. So something smaller/lighter means I won't leave the camera at home because I don't want to lug a big heavy camera with me.

I like the size and style of rangefinder bodies and lenses. But I think nine months into the R3M and still not getting the hang of it is why I'm questioning moving on. If I do decide to buy another small film camera, I may still keep the EOS 3 for times where I don't mind the size. I've have the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm SL II f2 in EF mount. It does make the SLRs smaller, but not always small enough.

Of all the suggestions so far, I'm going to consider the G2 some more. I had researched it in the past. But at the time I didn't have the funds to purchase.
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Old 05-31-2013   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tempest68 View Post
Thanks everyone. Lots of ideas to think about.

I do zone focus if I'm outside and using f8 - f16. My focusing problems are trying to use the focusing patch if I want or need to shoot at f1.4 - f2.8. Depending on environment/lighting I don't always see the double image to match up and focus correctly for shooting wide open.

The desire for something smaller than the EOS 3 is that most of my shooting is while out and about with the wife and kids. So something smaller/lighter means I won't leave the camera at home because I don't want to lug a big heavy camera with me.

I like the size and style of rangefinder bodies and lenses. But I think nine months into the R3M and still not getting the hang of it is why I'm questioning moving on. If I do decide to buy another small film camera, I may still keep the EOS 3 for times where I don't mind the size. I've have the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm SL II f2 in EF mount. It does make the SLRs smaller, but not always small enough.

Of all the suggestions so far, I'm going to consider the G2 some more. I had researched it in the past. But at the time I didn't have the funds to purchase.
Your R3M experience isn't unique. I had an M7, a Mamiya 6, another M7, and finally a Zeiss Ikon, and never grew to like rangefinders. Some (most) people deal with SLRs more easily. Simple as that.

I would have suggested the Contax G2, as i've also dabbled with them on 3 or 4 occasions. But, again — if RFs aren't your thing, the G2 may also disappoint you. The lenses are great. But, composing in the tiny viewfinder may leave you craving the sweet relief of the EOS3. If you want to try one, i'd suggest KEH or another vendor that has a reasonable return policy. It would be great to shoot a roll or two to see if you like it before getting 'stuck' with it. That said, even after selling G2s so many times, i'm always tempted to go back. Until i remember that viewfinder....

How about this: if your concern is having a small camera for casual shooting while out with the family, what about a Contax T3? It will be MUCH easier to carry than any SLR or modern rangefinder, and the lens quality is fantastic. It's a much better solution for a restaurant or bar cam, and it won't get in the way nearly as much if you're out doing more active things.
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Old 05-31-2013   #39
kxl
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Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
The TO wanted something smaller than the EOS 3, not something bigger If you have a handful of EF-lenses than getting a Nikon is the most stupid thing you can do. Even if the F6 is 1% better than the EOS 3.
I guess you don't get S-A-R-C-A-S-M ???
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Old 05-31-2013   #40
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You should get one of these. http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...&postcount=123
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