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Best built mechanical SLR?
Old 04-01-2016   #1
mikyor1
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Best built mechanical SLR?

I've seen some beautiful SLR's
Nikon F, FM2
Exakta 66
Canon F1

I've been reading that Alpa SLR's from the 50's to 60's were some gems.

What do you think are the best built fully mechanical SLR's?
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Old 04-01-2016   #2
Robert Lai
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From my experience,
Nikon F, F2
Canon FTb
Probably the Canon F1 also, but I have no experience with it.
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Old 04-01-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikyor1 View Post
I've seen some beautiful SLR's
Nikon F, FM2
Exakta 66
Canon F1

I've been reading that Alpa SLR's from the 50's to 60's were some gems.

What do you think are the best built fully mechanical SLR's?
The original Leicaflex, the Leicaflex SL, followed by the Nikon F2.
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Old 04-01-2016   #4
Timmyjoe
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From cameras I've owned, I'd say the best built were:
Nikon F
Canon F-1n

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Old 04-01-2016   #5
css9450
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Nikon F2..
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Old 04-01-2016   #6
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Nikon F and F2, but also Nikkormat, the early ones are stronger.
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Old 04-01-2016   #7
mikyor1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graybeard View Post
The original Leicaflex, the Leicaflex SL, followed by the Nikon F2.
I've heard these are beasts, but a pain repair because they were over engineered. I have no experience with them though.
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Old 04-01-2016   #8
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Nikon F2 titanium
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Old 04-01-2016   #9
rbelyell
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my personal favorite was the Contax AX, a singular engineering marvel. took those awesome contax zeiss mf lenses and made them autofocus! what a brilliant tool.
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Old 04-01-2016   #10
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Early pre-spotmatic Pentax cameras have an impressive fit and finish. 1950's Exaktas before they began cutting quality and price are also pretty well built. My Contax Super B has excellent fit and finish, but I'm not so sure about its sturdiness.
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Old 04-01-2016   #11
littleearth
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The Nikon F2AS, Canon F1 and Leicaflex SL2. My favourite would be the small titanium Contax S2 !
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Old 04-01-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikyor1 View Post
I've heard these are beasts, but a pain repair because they were over engineered. I have no experience with them though.
I own a black SL2-MOT that was built from two donor cameras that were combined. The SL2-MOT was a shelf queen with a desilvering prism and a bad CdS cell, but I found a SL2 that had a perfect prism and a working meter that was well hammered but still in total working order.

I had Sherry merge the two, and Sherry told me that Leica went way overboard with over engineering everything on the SL2. She stated that they were difficult to work on almost like once built that they should never come apart.

BTW the chrome SL2 that was the donor saw very heavy severe use. The chrome was worn away, the top plate had multiple dents, and the lens mount was so worn that it was basically worn out and needed replacement.

I'm a big fan of the Nikon F2, owned many, but a F2 can't compare to a SL2.

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Old 04-01-2016   #13
bastian a.
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leicaflex, leicaflex sl, leicaflex sl2, leica r6.2
nikon f2, nikon fm/fm2
zeiss ikon contarex
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Old 04-01-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by css9450 View Post
Nikon F2..
Sover Wong agrees. Better built than the F and so modular he could almost repair one in the field.

-Read in an interview with Sover Wong.
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Old 04-01-2016   #15
mikyor1
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lets add some pictures to make it count boys
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Old 04-01-2016   #16
Benjamin Marks
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Best built? Hard question to answer . . . how would you really measure this?

However: Assume that all perils affect all cameras equally and then look at numbers still in service divided by numbers produced? Go on gut feel? Highest average exposures between failures? Chosen by most war correspondents? Able to pound nails, or muggers, and still work? Plain heaviest?

Cameras I have that are still clicking that I have never had to repair:

Leicaflex
Nikon F
Nikon F3HP
Nikon FM2
Pentax Spotmatic
Rolliflex 2.8, 3.5

Cameras that I broke and had to get fixed:

Pentax LX
Nikon F4
Leica R4s
Retina IIIC
Leica M3/M6

Is the top list "better" than the bottom list? No. The bottom list were my favorites by far. Perhaps I broke them _because_ I used them so much. . . they were out and about and subject to the world's perils.

Let me turn the question back on the OP: what do _you_ mean by "best built"? How do you propose to measure this? If I wanted to compare the Nikon F2 and the Leica R4s, how would I know one was better built than the other?

Not trying to be a jerk about this, just curious what you all mean.
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Old 04-01-2016   #17
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Pentax K1000. So cheap and plentiful that if one is broken beyond repair (highly unlikely), a new one is an easy fix.

Also, lots of great glass to choose from.
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Old 04-01-2016   #18
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Canon F1

The original one, the improve one and the last one ( F-1 N)

All built like tanks.
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Old 04-01-2016   #19
x-ray
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Nikon F2

A repair tech confirmed the F2 as the best built they'd ever worked on.

From owning a couple of Leicaflex SL's and an SL MOT I say they were way down the list. They were a source of shutter and meter problems. Imo they were never popular in the professional world for good reasons.

A good friend bought 2 SL's new and used them professionally and loved them but had many meter Problems. In the end when he retired them the meters still weren't working.
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Old 04-01-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graybeard View Post
The original Leicaflex, the Leicaflex SL, followed by the Nikon F2.
x2, I still have an SL and F2. There are quite a few but in the end it comes down to these 2 in most discussions.
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Old 04-01-2016   #21
mikyor1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Marks View Post
Best built? Hard question to answer . . . how would you really measure this?

However: Assume that all perils affect all cameras equally and then look at numbers still in service divided by numbers produced? Go on gut feel? Highest average exposures between failures? Chosen by most war correspondents? Able to pound nails, or muggers, and still work? Plain heaviest?

Cameras I have that are still clicking that I have never had to repair:

Leicaflex
Nikon F
Nikon F3HP
Nikon FM2
Pentax Spotmatic
Rolliflex 2.8, 3.5

Cameras that I broke and had to get fixed:

Pentax LX
Nikon F4
Leica R4s
Retina IIIC
Leica M3/M6

Is the top list "better" than the bottom list? No. The bottom list were my favorites by far. Perhaps I broke them _because_ I used them so much. . . they were out and about and subject to the world's perils.

Let me turn the question back on the OP: what do _you_ mean by "best built"? How do you propose to measure this? If I wanted to compare the Nikon F2 and the Leica R4s, how would I know one was better built than the other?

Not trying to be a jerk about this, just curious what you all mean.
I suppose my initial question was broad and vague, when I say best built, i should explain why I asked.
I was looking at beautifully designed/engineered cameras, specifically the Contax iia (without meter) and damn it is a work of beauty, my friend was fixing a sticking shutter issue (hes not a technician, just messing about), and the look of the shutter, workings of the gears, just really fascinated me.

So I guess what I mean is what are some very beautifully engineered mechanical wonders? Not necessarily trying to find a all time winner, but more of a appreciation of all mechanical SLR's that have proven to be built well and work dependably in the SLR world.

Everyone knows Nikons work like an Ox, but what about the other lesser known ones? like someone mentioned the pre spotmatic pentax's , I just wanted to start a thread to pull some knowledgeable folks input on really well built SLR's.

Also I find it hard to find information about rarer nice mechanical cameras like the offerings from Alpa.
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Old 04-01-2016   #22
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Leicaflex SL, Om1, Miranda sensomat re
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Old 04-01-2016   #23
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The canon new f1, I reckon it built better than any of the nikons.
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Old 04-01-2016   #24
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Pentax mechanical SLR models are very reliable, and AFAIK no other brand
has a specialist repairer as good and cheap as Eric Hendrickson in Knoxville TN.
I have been using his services for almost twenty years.

Chris
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Old 04-01-2016   #25
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F2.....biased opinion though


Ikuro Suzuki's F2....still going strong.
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Old 04-01-2016   #26
Calzone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Nikon F2

A repair tech confirmed the F2 as the best built they'd ever worked on.

From owning a couple of Leicaflex SL's and an SL MOT I say they were way down the list. They were a source of shutter and meter problems. Imo they were never popular in the professional world for good reasons.

A good friend bought 2 SL's new and used them professionally and loved them but had many meter Problems. In the end when he retired them the meters still weren't working.
Sorry to hear about your bad luck. SL2's were not popular like you said, mostly because in 1975 you could buy two Nikon F2's for the price of a SL2. Really only made for two years, but know the production stretches over three years. It has been said that Leica lost money on every SL2 that was sold due to the cost of the shutter.

My black SL2-MOT is likely one of a thousand cameras. I believe it became a shelf queen due to the defective meter when it was new, but the Chrome SL2 is proof of a good one and durability. Desilvering prisms are not uncommon, and it seems that bad CdS cells are not rare either.

Both the SL2's I merged were dated 1975 by SN. I figure the test of time settled out any faults. I'm hoping that the drifting high speeds on the shutter don't happen to me. Anyways I love the feel of this camera.

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Old 04-01-2016   #27
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Gross, get it away from me! (poking at it with a stick)

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Old 04-01-2016   #28
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Old 04-01-2016   #29
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my personal favorite was the Contax AX, a singular engineering marvel. took those awesome contax zeiss mf lenses and made them autofocus! what a brilliant tool.
Always wanted to try them out.
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Old 04-01-2016   #30
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K1000

or if you prefer screw mount cameras

Spotmatic.
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Old 04-01-2016   #31
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Nikon F and I can prove it.

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Old 04-01-2016   #32
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Hasselblad 500 series and Nikon F.

If you would see Sherry's repair log of my dad's Leicaflex, sturdy is not the first word that comes to mind.
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Old 04-01-2016   #33
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There are many less parts in an F2 compared to a F. That alone should affect the overall build quality.
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Old 04-01-2016   #34
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Akiva--OK! Please prove it to us---thanks!
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Old 04-01-2016   #35
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The Leicaflexes are beautifully built, but I have had to repair way too many of them to consider them even average in terms of reliability.

To me the Nikon F2 is the most reliable, the Nikon F 2nd. The Canon F1's were also exceptional.
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Old 04-01-2016   #36
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I agree with Stephen about the Leicaflex - pretty camera, but not the most reliable around.

The Nikon F with an un-metered prism would be my choice - simply amazing quality and reliability.
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Old 04-01-2016   #37
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The F and F2 and also the early Nikkormats; another camera I have that's very solid and well built is the Topcon RE Super.


Topcon-RE-Super_1 by lynnb's snaps, on Flickr
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Old 04-01-2016   #38
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Leica R6.2
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Old 04-01-2016   #39
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The Leicaflexes are beautifully built, but I have had to repair way too many of them to consider them even average in terms of reliability.

To me the Nikon F2 is the most reliable, the Nikon F 2nd.
What problems do you commonly encounter?
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Old 04-01-2016   #40
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Sover Wong agrees. Better built than the F and so modular he could almost repair one in the field.

-Read in an interview with Sover Wong.
Dang. Make that Marty Forscher. No slouch himself.

mea culpa
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