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SLRs - the unRF For those of you who must talk about SLRs, if only to confirm they are not RF.

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If you are just starting out in film
Old 04-27-2018   #1
kshapero
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Thumbs up If you are just starting out in film

May I present to you newbie's (you know who you are) just starting out in film. The venerable Nikon FE aperture preferred film camera from 1978-1982. Not a great fan of Ken Rockwell (vivid, vivid, vivid) but his review of the Nikon FE is spot on. Read it closely.
https://kenrockwell.com/nikon/fe.htm
Match it with a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AiS lens and you have a hell of a sturdy a kit for under $150!! I bought one new in '80 (but lost it sometime in the late 90's). My current rig was pieced together around 2004. Photo includes the classic 105/2.5. I know folks say there are no parts for them, but I have never needed any! Still there are plenty of guys out there who will CLA them. Besides if they really break, then spend another $75 and get another one, Hello??
You will get great pleasure from shooting with this rig, as I know others will attest. And, hey, if someone pulls some Leica bigotry on you, remind them that the Nikon FE is an SLR act a like to a Leica M7, only 25 years ahead of Leica.

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Old 04-27-2018   #2
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In case you want to go full manual, the Nikon FM's are dirt cheap (same basic specs as an M6)
Here is a breakdown:
https://kenrockwell.com/nikon/fefm.htm
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Old 04-27-2018   #3
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FG-20 is a great option too.
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Old 04-27-2018   #4
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Good topic to help folks.

I own a Nikkormat I bought in 1972, I was still in the military, never have had it worked on. The only item, (I replaced it!) is the bumper the mirror hits when gettin’ out of the way of the shutter!
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Old 04-27-2018   #5
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Nikon FE/FE2, FM/FM2N was my camera for many years, and I took it with me on many a backpacking trip. It was a sturdy camera with a no-nonsense metering and some truly remarkable lenses, like 55/2.8 micro, or 180/2.8 ED. I rcommended it to both my son and
my dayughter when they startred to dabble in photoghraphy...
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Old 04-27-2018   #6
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Nice thread topic!

My first camera was a Minolta X700 only because I could not afford a Nikon at the time. A year later, the FE and FM replaced the Minolta. I was in heaven and to this day, I will not be without them.

My FE2 and Fm2n are still my favorite film cameras and I use them as much as ever. They really are not just for beginners, they work just fine, even after decades of use. I wish I knew what stories mine could tell.

They really do talk you know, they call me frequently to just be taken out and exercised.... lol... My Leicas have come and gone and yet the compact Nikons remain. Makes me wonder...
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Old 04-27-2018   #7
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I had a chrome FE2 for many years, and it was a great camera. I sold it in the early days of digital, but would like to find a good condition replacement at some point.

I don't see much in the way of comparison with an M6 or M7, I think you are likely to be draw more strongly to RFs or SLRs based on your own comfort zone. But I would say the FE/M series have a lot going for them when compared to SLR Leica bodies. For film newbies, it seems to make sense to go with the Nikon for sure.

I have a couple of Minolta X-700 kits - I really should replace them with a nice FE or FM kit.
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Old 04-27-2018   #8
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Quote:
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I had a chrome FE2 for many years, and it was a great camera. I sold it in the early days of digital, but would like to find a good condition replacement at some point.

I don't see much in the way of comparison with an M6 or M7, I think you are likely to be draw more strongly to RFs or SLRs based on your own comfort zone. But I would say the FE/M series have a lot going for them when compared to SLR Leica bodies. For film newbies, it seems to make sense to go with the Nikon for sure.

I have a couple of Minolta X-700 kits - I really should replace them with a nice FE or FM kit.
Lucky you... I would like a replacement of my first camera... the X700!
Maybe one day...
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Old 04-27-2018   #9
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I currently regularly use a Nikon FA with 50/2 or 28/2.8 and 105/2.5.
I would love to get back into a Pentax kit just because I grew up with them. My first SLR was a Pentax ME Super that I used for close to ten years. Would love to find another one but I really would go all the way and get an LX.
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Old 04-27-2018   #10
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I had an FM back in the early eighties that was such a good camera, I decided to get a used FE to go with it. Definitely a dynamic duo, as that pairing could handle just about anything I presented to them.

Only problem was the FE had a shutter problem that cropped up quite quickly after I bought it, so I took it back to the shop where I bought it. They supposedly fixed it, with it failing again midway through the next roll of film. I demanded my money back, and they told me I'd had it too long to be covered. So I took it to a repair shop, and they said it needed a new shutter, but it was unavailable.

So I went back to the store where I got the FM from, hoping they had an FE in stock, but walked out instead with a low mileage N90 someone had just traded in.

I find it hard to believe those shysters I bought the FE from are still in business today. I don't like to name names, but their initials are Columbus Camera Group.

I used the FM for many years, until it was sold at auction, but a couple years ago I replaced it and the FE, plus upgraded to the FM2N, and FE2. Darn fine cameras, Akiva, and still my favorites of the newer Nikons. You are quite correct that they are great for someone just getting into film. Nice and simple, with good ergonomics.

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Old 04-27-2018   #11
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I sold my FE recently. First Nikon I ever owned. I sold it to my local camera shop for $25. Great camera that I wasnt using very much so I passed it on. Fantastic camera KR wasnt joking. The F mount is the secret!

I still believe one of the best camera deals out there is a FM2T. Last time I checked a good block was $600 I think. Lot of cold hard camera for the money.
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Old 04-27-2018   #12
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Quote:
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I sold my FE recently. First Nikon I ever owned. I sold it to my local camera shop for $25. Great camera that I wasnt using very much so I passed it on. Fantastic camera KR wasnt joking. The F mount is the secret!

I still believe one of the best camera deals out there is a FM2T. Last time I checked a good block was $600 I think. Lot of cold hard camera for the money.
Huh? Sold your FE for $25? Jeez, that's perhaps a few cappuccinos?

I have a black FE2 that I bought for stupid money in the late 1980s. I used that body more than any other of my Nikon bodies (F2, FM, FE, FM2, EM, ?). Just loved the combination of weight, size, features. With the MD-12 motor drive on that baby I was one loud, obviously PROFESSIONAL photographer, eh? Loud, but it was THE stereotypical pro photo sound and that helped with some jobs.
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Old 04-27-2018   #13
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My first Nikon was the FE...I still have it along with many other Nikon bodies now...
The meter in the FE was fantastic...I shot a lot of Velvia with it and it never failed to deliver
...
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Old 04-27-2018   #14
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I'd rather have an OM2 and a couple of Zuikos personally but each to their own Akiva!
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Old 04-28-2018   #15
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So we're bigots now, OK...
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Old 04-28-2018   #16
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Yep .. I remember when an adventure into film often involved something Russian!

Those were the days.
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Old 04-28-2018   #17
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I had an Fe2 for many years great camera,, the 105mm is a true legendary classic, my favorite bit of Nikon glass was the humble 50mm f2, still have a 50mm f2 but the NAI variety, it sits on my Nikon F ftn (and the finder still works too).
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Old 04-28-2018   #18
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There are no wrong answers here. I love my Leica's, too. hehe
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Old 04-28-2018   #19
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I'm like Keith and prefer OM's especially the 1n model. But the Nikon mount is definitely better supported with a range of heavy duty glass available used. Both Nikkors and third party lenses. Just glad I have the lenses I want already. Of all the Nikon bodies I'd look for a FM2n first if I wanted to get into the system.
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Old 04-28-2018   #20
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Lucky you... I would like a replacement of my first camera... the X700!
Maybe one day...
They are very plentiful and cheap! It should be easy to get another, when you decide the time is right.
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Old 04-28-2018   #21
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They are very plentiful and cheap! It should be easy to get another, when you decide the time is right.
Yes, they are! For me, it is just pure nostalgia reminding me of better days when our kids were very young, I was in grad school, and we took them to Disney World for the first time. Youth is fleeting... I am forever thankful for those memories captured on film. They are tangible evidence of a life filled with happiness, that I can see touch and hold in my hand just the same as when I loaded that film in the camera and made the images. The prints are fading fast. But the negs and slides look new.

Absolutely, I do need an X700 sitting on my desk to remind me ... I must put a few dollars back to start saving for a very nice one...
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Old 04-28-2018   #22
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My problem is that I am like a child in a candy store with old film cameras. I loved my old OM2n, but I remember all the reviews in Amateur Photographer for lovely things like the Contax, Pentax, Nikon, Canon etc and want to try them all. Now of course, I've discovered the loveliness of Topcon, East German lenses, TLRs from Rollei, a Pentax 67, oh and my Leica Ms.

My kitchen table is currently piled high with newly arrived cameras and lenses. Today was the first day this week when nothing photographic turned up in the post. I wouldn't put it past a courier to arrive unannounced with something though...
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Old 04-28-2018   #23
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I used a black FE2 and a chrome FE2 with MD12 when I was a newspaper photographer in the 1980's. I did not use them in auto mode, as I just loved the display on the left hand side of the screen telling me what the camera thought was the right exposure, as well as what I had set. I could see what the brightness range of the shot was in real time and expose at my own setting, knowing where the zones would fall. It was the best viewfinder setup of any camera I have ever used. I bought my son one a few years ago so he could get acquainted with the FE2 as well.
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Old 04-28-2018   #24
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I have a FE given to me by a now departed friend.
The focus screen is trashed but the results are great.
I will purchase a donor camera.
Light, small and easy to use.
The only hassle is the latch like my "beep" F3.
I really like the meter switch.
A great intro and so many, many Nikkor lenses!
Good luck and great exposures.
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Old 04-28-2018   #25
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No argument with your assessment of the Nikon FE. I was given one not long ago and my immediate impression was that Nikon got everything right in regard to features and handling. Regarding the title of the post, however, I am much more inclined to hope that new film users will choose to start off with the simplest of box cameras, not only to learn the basics, but also to discover the extraordinary potential of such cameras.
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Old 04-28-2018   #26
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I hear you. I have an OM-4ti and a bunch of Zuikos. I just like the feel of an Olympus with a Winder 2 - perfect balance, IMO. I had a 100mm f2.8 but I sold it when I got a Tamron 90mm macro. Wish I had kept the 100, as it was one of my most-used lenses - sharp, light, small. The 24mm f2.8 is also a little jewel. =)

Nothing against Nikons, though. I recently bought a Nikon DSLR to explore the world of digital. It's a D5600 and it's pretty cool. I'm a bit late to the digital thing.

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I'd rather have an OM2 and a couple of Zuikos personally but each to their own Akiva!
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Old 04-28-2018   #27
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I my case it would be Smena-8m.
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Old 04-28-2018   #28
David Hughes
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The lenses alone are a good reason to buy a Minolta and the bodies aren't exactly dear. I paid 3 or 4 for one and 9 or 10 for another but it had the lens with it.

Primes and zooms are pretty good value, regardless of which you go for and there's the wonderful 7000i.

Regards, David

PS and so are all the other well known makes. And for dirt cheap there's that nice little LOMO triplet 40mm on the Symbol and Smena...
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Old 04-28-2018   #29
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A Pentax ME Super is a great compact lightweight inexpensive(mine was $40 with a 50mm f2.0) SLR that has auto and manual exposure. I picked up a 35mm f2.8 for $20. A huge amount of affordable Pentax K mount glass is available.

A sample picture:
Pentax ME Super II by vonfilm, on Flickr
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Old 04-28-2018   #30
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Quote:
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The lenses alone are a good reason to buy a Minolta and the bodies aren't exactly dear.
Of course you're right, David.
My favourite Minolta model ... looks and handles very very much like a Leica M ...




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Old 04-28-2018   #31
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Suffice to say if you have decided to venture into film the world is your oyster regarding choice and Nikon is obviously up there when you consider the build quality. As much as I love the OM lineage the Nikons definitely have an enviable reputation for untended reliability.

You can't dismiss the FSU choices but if you are just starting out and feeling your way it's nice to know that the mistakes you encounter are your own and not the camera's! My Fed2 has a shutter capping issue and my Kiev has a light leak ... 'nuff said!
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Old 04-28-2018   #32
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Suffice to say if you have decided to venture into film the world is your oyster regarding choice and Nikon is obviously up there when you consider the build quality. As much as I love the OM lineage the Nikons definitely have an enviable reputation for untended reliability.

You can't dismiss the FSU choices but if you are just starting out and feeling your way it's nice to know that the mistakes you encounter are your own and not the camera's! My Fed2 has a shutter capping issue and my Kiev has a light leak ... 'nuff said!
Hi,

Treat all cameras the same and you'd be surprised; that means give the Kiev 2 and the Contax II the same attention and servicing etc. This applies to Leica model II's and FEDs but people will spend a lot on keeping a Leica going and try DIY on the poor old FED. And the makers get praised and blamed...

Regards, David
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Old 04-28-2018   #33
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Hi David,

Don't get me wrong ... I love my little Russians and until the shutter started capping on the Fed2 I got from Oleg I used it a lot. It was actually my choice of camera when I ventured into film for the first time and the Fed2 in general is still my favourite FSU. I had an Iskra for a while that I really liked but made the mistake of lending to a fellow RFFer based here in Brisbane and that was the last I saw of it. Shame because it had no issues with the film advance counter as some do and the lens was absolutely superb ... a really brilliant medium format camera.
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Old 04-28-2018   #34
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Quote:
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A Pentax ME Super is a great compact lightweight inexpensive(mine was $40 with a 50mm f2.0) SLR that has auto and manual exposure. I picked up a 35mm f2.8 for $20. A huge amount of affordable Pentax K mount glass is available.
Love those Pentax's, but was too far down the Nikon Rabbit hole to switch.

In 1991 when I was a working Photo stiff, Olympus lended me their new OM4Ti and a bunch of lenses. Love, love, loved the rig. Loved it.
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Nikon and Canon for me
Old 04-28-2018   #35
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Nikon and Canon for me

Dear kshapero,

I have a Nikon FG that I didn't pay much for 18 years ago when most people were still actively shooting film. A pair of 50 cent batteries keep it working the same as new. It's small and light even with the MD14 attached. With the SB15 or 16B you can have TTL flash metering too. If you shop smartly you'd be hard pressed to spend $ 100.00 on the camera, motordrive, flash, and a 50mm f1.8 AI lens.

But I also like Canon and I have a couple of cheap beater F-1's that I use.

I have tried with all of my heart to like Pentax cameras but after buying 4 or 5 ME Supers that stopped working I sort of abandoned the brand. But then I won a $ 10.00 P30Tn on ebay and I suddenly like Pentax again.

I'll admit that I am a junk collector. I simply can't pass up a deal whether I need it or not. I do try to send a roll of film or two through every camera that I own each year and I am pretty successful with accomplishing that goal.

Now, it's on to Minolta!

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Old 04-28-2018   #36
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I guess my advice to anyone starting out in film is that you should only buy cameras with a lens, clean battery terminals, an instruction book and, most important, a lens cap. (A shoulder strap, filters and body cap would be a bonus but usually there's one odd filter and no box for it.)

Doing that will save a lot of hassle and extra expense. Then sit down and read the instruction book.

You might have to do a little research if you buy one that needs a mercury battery but there are Wein cells to replace it.

As for the make, any of the well known makers will do and the same goes for film.

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