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Help me choose my next camera
Old 02-12-2016   #1
BlackbirdKing
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Help me choose my next camera

A little background: I am a hobby shooter, taking a mix of street, portraits, and some landscape snaps. I have a few Canon P bodies and lenses and two Olympus 35sp cameras. I was thinking about getting a new rangefinder and I have narrowed down my options to the following:

Olympus XA - pro: easy carry con: small viewfinder
Kiev 2/2A - pro and con: different system from my Canon P setup
Zorki 6 - pro: similar to my other rangefinders con: ???
Fed 2 - pro: ??? con: ???

I've also been reading about Bessa R, early Leica M models and seriously considering getting into an SLR system instead of another rangefinder. The Bessa r would use lenses I already have, but seems a little underwhelming to me. The Leica rabbit hole would be expensive and deep, and I am not sure I want to go there. SLRs seem boring to me, but I have looked at SRT, OM and Canon systems.

So I have been reading and researching with not much decisiveness. I can only own so many Canon P and Olympus 35sp bodies before I don't have room for any more. Help me branch out. Should I buy a camera listed above or something else entirely?
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Old 02-12-2016   #2
marcr1230
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It sort of depends on your goals
If you want a camera that is fun and not overpriced , yet with room to expand and experiment with
Interesting lenses etc try the Nikon S2

If you want a more modern camera with built in meter etc , maybe a bessa
If you want a nice slr - these are cheaper than the Nikon RFs , you can get a nice Olympus kit

If all depends
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Old 02-12-2016   #3
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This is like the catnip thread for us gear heads - what camera should I get :-)
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Old 02-12-2016   #4
aadi
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The Olympus XA is fun to use, really. And not expensive
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Old 02-12-2016   #5
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Of the ones you have listed the XA all the way.

The Nikon S2 one of all time favorite cameras, the easy of focusing, most excellent viewfinder, and easy to load. I had a bad experience with several FSU cameras, but lots of folks here love them.

A lot depends on what you are looking for that your lovely little P doesn't do. The OM system is as close as you can get to a rangefinder, it's often spoken of as a honorary rangefinder here. A P for wide and a OM for telephotos would be a great kit.

What are you looking for?

B2
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Old 02-12-2016   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcr1230 View Post
It sort of depends on your goals
If you want a camera that is fun and not overpriced , yet with room to expand and experiment with
Interesting lenses etc try the Nikon S2

If you want a more modern camera with built in meter etc , maybe a bessa
If you want a nice slr - these are cheaper than the Nikon RFs , you can get a nice Olympus kit

If all depends
My goals are just to have another camera. Seriously though, I just want a general use camera for everyday fun. I passed over the S2 when I got into the Canon P setup. I didn't like the Nikon when I had a chance to handle one alongside the P. It was more expensive and the viewfinder wasn't good for me.

I really don't want a modern camera. I like metering, and manual cameras with limited need for batteries. It's why I got completely out of digital to begin with.
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Old 02-12-2016   #7
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Any FSU is hard to find working and find CLA for it is even more difficult.
XA are getting old and lens is nothing special. Just small size of the camera matters.
Not so good for street and portraits.
Earlier M is pure joy. They are still CLA'd. Canon LTM will works on them. You'll pay a lot of money for some difference with P.

Take old simple Nikon from F series. It is Leica on SLR side, but not expensive. AE mode is cheap with SLRs.
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Old 02-12-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aadi View Post
The Olympus XA is fun to use, really. And not expensive
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Of the ones you have listed the XA all the way.

The Nikon S2 one of all time favorite cameras, the easy of focusing, most excellent viewfinder, and easy to load. I had a bad experience with several FSU cameras, but lots of folks here love them.

A lot depends on what you are looking for that your lovely little P doesn't do. The OM system is as close as you can get to a rangefinder, it's often spoken of as a honorary rangefinder here. A P for wide and a OM for telephotos would be a great kit.

What are you looking for?

B2
2 votes for the XA. It's definitely in my top three possibilities at the moment.

I use my Canon P group when I have time to think before I shoot, and when I want to use a portrait lens. I use the 35sp when I go to street festivals, so I can switch over to AE if there is a lot going on and I don't want to fiddle with dials. I don't really think there is a huge hole in my photography equipment. I'm not selling fine art landscape prints, so no full size camera needed. I'm not a wedding or portrait pro, so no expensive pro bodies or lenses needed. I'm not street shooting regularly, so no digital zone focusing.

I just need to blow some money. That's about what it comes down to. Ha ha. Don't get me wrong, I can and probably will keep buying nice P and 35sp bodies when I come across a good one. I love getting one in the mail each and every time: it's like I'm five years old at Christmas again. I just can't decide what vintage camera to add to the herd. I'm not bored with the P and 35sp, I just want to open something new, and get the excitement of shooting through a new viewfinder.
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Old 02-12-2016   #9
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Dear BlackbirdKing,

My vote is for a Nikon SLR. You have many choices depending on your requirements for portability. You can find a clean Nikon FM if the physical size of the camera is a consideration. It is close in size to a typical 35mm rangefinder. If AE is a priority a similar sized Nikon FE or even an FG would work as well. With a budget of $ 150.00 or less in many cases you can find clean serviced well functioning examples of each of those cameras. With careful shopping it's not unreasonable to think that for $ 150.00 - $200.00 you could score 2 of those three mentioned, along with some lenses?

Lenses are where Nikon has the greatest advantage. Not because they are necessarily the best available lens in a given focal length. In most cases they are, or at the very least come close enough. The real advantage is that they are far more numerous than lenses from any other maker.

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Tim Murphy
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Old 02-12-2016   #10
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Ko.Fe. and Tim,

Nikon F series, hmmm? Interesting. I was looking at the OM series 1 and 2, but passed because of finding so many that had ruined prisms due to melting foam. SRT just didn't grab me. Same with Canon SLRs.

I'm going to read up more on the Nikons. Any suggestions for lenses? I have a lot of fixed glass already in the P line (35,50,85) and the 42mm of the Olympus. Would you suggest a short to medium zoom and a medium to long zoom to start with, or should I stick with fixed? I like fast, sharp glass so usually that means fixed, but maybe I should get some zoom lenses for something different.
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Old 02-12-2016   #11
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Class SLR w/o batteries think Nikon F plain prism, but if you didn't like the way the S2 handles, you may not like the F (the feel very similar to me). You might like an F2 plain prism, don't need to use batteries and it's a bit smoother.

You might look at the original LeicaFlex SL or SL2. Old Leica SLR glass is fine and prices are pretty reasonable these days.

While I'm not a fan, the original Canon F with some good classic Canon glass.

B2 (;->
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Old 02-12-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbirdKing View Post
.... Any suggestions for lenses for the Nikon?......
If you like the class look, go 105/2.5, 300/4.5 for longer. The 180/2.8 is wonderful, fast, sharp and fun. I started with an 85/1.8 and still love it. From the 85 I went to a 24/2.8, it distorted more than like but a fine lens if you watch for football head.

I'd suggest use the P for wide and normal. Pickup Nikkor 28/2.8 AI-S, it's too new to be classic but it's sharp, focuses REALLY close and is low distortion. You might start with a 85 or the 105, and then perhaps pick up the best early zoom, the 80-200/4.5 Nikkor. Alternatively Vivitar Series-1 70-210 was almost as good at a lot lower price point. Early Series-1 glass was excellent (e.g. Solid-Cat lenses) and very unique.

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Old 02-12-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbirdKing View Post
Ko.Fe. and Tim,

Nikon F series, hmmm? Interesting. I was looking at the OM series 1 and 2, but passed because of finding so many that had ruined prisms due to melting foam. SRT just didn't grab me. Same with Canon SLRs.

I'm going to read up more on the Nikons. Any suggestions for lenses? I have a lot of fixed glass already in the P line (35,50,85) and the 42mm of the Olympus. Would you suggest a short to medium zoom and a medium to long zoom to start with, or should I stick with fixed? I like fast, sharp glass so usually that means fixed, but maybe I should get some zoom lenses for something different.
Dear BlackbirdKing,

Keep in mind that Nikon F series and the cameras that I mentioned are two different birds. The original Nikon F is pretty much just a Nikon rangefinder body with a pentaprism finder. The same goes for the Nikon F2 and F3. They are physically large cameras.

The FM, FE, and FG that I mentioned are closer in size to the Olympus OM series of cameras. The FM is a full manual camera. It has a lightmeter but all functions can be set manually if the battery is dead. The FE and FG are automatic cameras that rely on the battery to power the lightmeter. They have manual over-ride but without a battery it is limited to 1/90 shutter speed.

As far as lenses go Nikon AI and AIS series lenses will work 100% with all the cameras I mentioned. See this chart and know that the FG falls under the limitations of the Nikon EM. http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm

When you start researching potential lenses there is no shortage of information available on the internet via Google. What I can tell you is that for the most part even the absolute best Nikon manual focus lens can be had for a fraction of their initial cost. With WA's and telephotos unless you require f/2 lenses they can be had for about $ 100.00 - $ 150.00 a piece, and often for less in focal lengths from 28 to 135mm, a 200mm f/4 will be similar in price, and you can get to a 300mm f/4.5 for the same money if you shop wisely.

If you want f/2 lenses in the WA's and shorter tele's you will spend more but they will still be bargains compared to the equivalent lens today.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
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Easy task
Old 02-12-2016   #14
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Easy task

Hey this is easy...wait until the new zenit millionairebound cameras hit the market...can´t loose.

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Old 02-12-2016   #15
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Well, this is starting to get fun. I've been reading about the Nikon FM and FE. Nice vintage quality but new enough to find a lot of working examples. I think these would fit in nicely with what I already shoot with. Olympus 35sp for everyday carry, light and good AE if needed. Canon P for full manual, good wide end and portrait options. Then a combination of FE/FM bodies with the 80-200 f4 for starters would round out my collection. I'm still reading about lenses to see if there's a good short tele in between 28 and 70.
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Old 02-12-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbirdKing View Post
Ko.Fe. and Tim,

Nikon F series, hmmm? Interesting. I was looking at the OM series 1 and 2, but passed because of finding so many that had ruined prisms due to melting foam. SRT just didn't grab me. Same with Canon SLRs.

I'm going to read up more on the Nikons. Any suggestions for lenses? I have a lot of fixed glass already in the P line (35,50,85) and the 42mm of the Olympus. Would you suggest a short to medium zoom and a medium to long zoom to start with, or should I stick with fixed? I like fast, sharp glass so usually that means fixed, but maybe I should get some zoom lenses for something different.
Don't worry about the dealuminizing prism on an OM. Just clean the goo off and feather the edges. The bare glass will reflect almost as well as the mirror surface. I have one OM-1 like that and cannot see any effect in the viewfinder. If you like RF viewing a good clean Olympus RC is a nice camera with a slightly less wide angle than 35mm, it is a 42mm f2.8 and has full manual override available, something the XA cannot do.
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Old 02-12-2016   #17
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I'll jump in. Remember, this is all opinion and suggestions. You are the only person to finally judge which camera is for you.

Nothing wrong with Bessa R. Not sure why you're shying from it. The metering is sure nice when you want it. Uses the lenses you already have. Nice top shutter speed. Hot shoe.

If you like tinkering, FSU could be for you. Doing a CLA on your own Fed2 is not outside the capacity of many of us. The things are cheap, so if it doesn't work out, well, it doesn't work out. Will use lenses you already have.

XA. I have one. Unlike Ko, I think the lens is good. You can get some interesting vignetting in really, really high key situations (at least I do), but its a real nice, tiny camera. It is completely dependent on battery power though. Like I said, I have one (actually I have four), but I almost never seem to take them out. I seem to gravitate to other cameras.

Olympus OM. As said earlier, an honorary RF here, mostly because of the lenses. Oh, the OM Zuiko lenses. I have an OM (actually I have four), but I rarely use them unless I want to use my Zuiko 90/2.0

Nikon SLR. What a fantastic deal these are nowadays. Truly. I have Nikon SLRs (I have 6) and they have a reputation for a reason. You'll want to get one of the "real" Nikons, not the plastic cheapo consumer stuff of the later film days. I'd recommend the FE2 as the ultimate bargain, but old F, and F2 bodies are out there for amazing prices. Nikkor lenses are good. Some better than others, but there's the fun of it. Find them! And there's plenty of 3rd party lenses to be had too. Also, you can use more recent AF lenses (with aperture indexing ring). Hard to go wrong with Nikon SLRs for quality and reliability and fun without spending a fortune.

You're wise to avoid Leica. But let's all meet here again in a year and see how well you've done. So many of us (myself included) say we don't want/need a Leica, but the curiosity is strong, so strong.
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Old 02-12-2016   #18
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You forgot a Kiev con - crappy little viewfinder (like many cameras of its era).

Personally I'd dust off the SPs and put the money I'd saved towards a bottle of good whisky.
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Old 02-12-2016   #19
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Looks like you are committed to film: good.
These are the most logical cameras to own in your case:
RF- Leica M2 or M4 or whatever else according to budget. You can use your existing LTM lenses on adapters. In my opinion going for lesser cameras is long term more expensive and less satisfying.
SLR - Nikon F2 plain prism, full stop. This is religion, so don't contradict me please.
Snaps - Ricoh GR1 or anything similar from Nikon , Contax or Olympus: should have AE though.
I suggest going along the lines of FL:
28mm - Ricoh GR1 - the lens is as good as anything else out there
35mm - a rangefinder lens with your M2/M4
50mm - you should have two, one RF one SLR - the SLR version could be slightly longer and macro, like Nikkor 55/3.5, ideal would be Macro Elmarit R 60/2.8 on Leitax adapter.
85mm - this should be an SLR lens, Nikkor 85/2 is small, inexpensive, slightly softish wide open for portraits, and sharp as anything else from 2.8 on, better still Elmarit 90/2.8 R on Leitax adapter.
Remember to find a budget for a Seconic L398 and a good scanner or darkroom
You sound like a young guy, if you have little money think about extra work, it will be good for you and for the universe.
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Old 02-12-2016   #20
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I agree with refasten...nothing wrong with a Bessa. I have an R2M and I absolutely love it. It feels nice in the hand...and since you already have lenses for it you can't go wrong. My R2M is a camera I keep coming back to because it feels so great in the hand. Another fun camera to consider is a Rollei 35. They are super compact and fun to shoot with too.
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Old 02-12-2016   #21
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Old 02-12-2016   #22
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A nice jambalaya of advice here. I have always used OM SLRs, but in helping a friend-of-my-brother (longtime photographer become monk, goodbyephotography forever) dispose of his Nikons and glass, I saw and felt how the FE/FM(2) compared in haptics with my OMs.

I still have one FE and the 50/1.8e lens. Very compact, very reliable. If you would like to try it out, let me know--you'd just have to cover shipping.

But since no one has mentioned the Olympus Pen F, I will. Another delightful, compact, and ridiculously inexpensive system (except certain lenses). It is a better choice for the portrait-oriented composer, like certain 645 cameras, but since you like Olympus RF it deserves consideration. And if you decide to buy APS-C (Fuji X, Nex), the Pen lenses are nearly perfect matches. Have a look at Erik Von Straten's images in the Pen threads here if you want to know what it can do (compared to say, Erik's M/Barnack images in other threads).

Have fun, and follow the gleam--as Sir Alf Anyone-for-Tennyson wrote.
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Old 02-13-2016   #23
David Hughes
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Hi,

Looking at your original list I'd vote for the XA as it compliments the others, small, neat and easy to use. Plus cheap to find and still people about happy to check and repair them. But I can't call it vintage. A good lens on it too.

Kiev 2/2a again a nice camera and there's always Oleg if it turns out so-so. Ex USSR cameras once dealt with by Oleg can be, and usually are, a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't bother about one with a meter. There's squillions of hand held meters out there.

FED 2 a very pleasant camera to use. And there's Oleg etc, as above. Add the Jupiter-8 or Industar-61 (to name a couple) and they are a delight.

Zorki 6 like the others, a pleasant camera to use and lever wind and opening back using a hinge.

Olympus OM's, depends on the model. No problem about the prism as they can be replaced. People love them, there's specialist repairers and brilliant lenses.

All of them have their little quirks but it just means a bit of thought. All of them are old (not vintage though) but they can all be repaired and I wouldn't let thoughts of repair put you off because no one can predict it.Trouble is there are people who expect elderly cameras to be perfect and they seldom are because they will usually be second-hand. There might just be one out there brand new and sealed in the box but I'd be very wary of it...

You just have to remember that second-hand is a bit of a gamble; I've bought Leicas from dealers and sent them back immediately I'd put the first film through them but they were repaired for free. I've bought ex USSR bodies and lenses off market stall for a pittance and been delighted and I've bought expensive (thousands) digitals and had to send stuff back and paid hundreds for the repairs...

The answer is to go into it with your eyes open and have a bit of fun.

Regards, David
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Old 02-13-2016   #24
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PEN F is a joy to shoot. Buy a PEN FT with broken meter (very easy to find) or a PEN FV (rare).

My only problem with it is I find it hard to finish 72 shots within one month.

If by any chance you started to dislike the system (not likely) you can always sell the lenses at good prices - they are hot stuff for digital adapting to APSC and M4/3 mirrorless cameras.
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Old 02-13-2016   #25
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Shooting a working Kiev 4 is fun. There are some nice lenses available.

If you swap to SLR a small one comes closest to the size of the range finders.
I love my Olympus OM-2n and also the Nikon FG. both are small and handy, perfect as a "have with" camera. That's also the reason why I preferred the 1:3,5 versions of the 28mm and 135mm Zuiko lens for the OM over their 1:2,8 pendants.

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Old 02-13-2016   #26
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Buy everything one by one and don't worry too much about which one. At the end of the day all the cameras you have said take pictures so go for the Nikon first, if you like it keep it until you fancy another camera, if you don't like it sell it and go for another one.

I sold my Olympus OM SLR kit and am currently trying out canon SLR's. Have a Canon AV-1 which is bottom of the range but I shoot aperture priority only when I use a film SLR so it fits my needs perfectly and saves me money for lenses.

Next on my list is a contax SLR. Or a Leica R.... maybe
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Old 02-13-2016   #27
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If you want another body for the sake of having another body, pick up an M4-2 or M4-P. they're around $700, and will use all of your Canon glass (with an LTM-M adapter ring.) They have all of the good points of the Canon with an improved viewfinder/rangefinder. There's no meter to worry about and they're for all intents and purposes, bullet-proof. M4s are also down around $800 now. While they may have some of their own issues, you don't have to worry about foam deteriorating or not having meter batteries.

Leica isn't necessarily a "rabbit hole" nor is inherently expensive. I shot Canon Serenars on my M2 and M4-2 for nearly twenty years. Most of my lenses now are modern Voigtlander and '70s Leitz Canada lenses.
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Old 02-14-2016   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hepcat View Post
...While they may have some of their own issues, you don't have to worry about foam deteriorating or not having meter batteries.

Leica isn't necessarily a "rabbit hole" nor is inherently expensive. I shot Canon Serenars on my M2 and M4-2 for nearly twenty years. Most of my lenses now are modern Voigtlander and '70s Leitz Canada lenses.
Hi,

I agree with this but bitter experience (several models) tells me that Leica issues are expensive; for the cost of a usual repair etc (involving a complete strip down) I know my Pentax ME super and the 28, 50 and 85 f/2 lens could be bought and some film. Other outfits like the Minolta SLR and Tokina AT-X 28-85 zoom cost a pittance as they are overshadowed by more famous makes and models within the range.

Also a complete strip down and so on to bring my OM-1 back to the original specification (including a new OM10 prism) cost a fraction of a Leica repair. And Leica charged me for the estimate for the R5's repairs. The OM-1 work cost about UKP 17 more than the estimate. (That's about USD 23 ish.)

If you want the RF experience buy a FED or Zorki 1 and, if necessary, send it to Oleg for some of his magic. Total cost will be very little; the first film in it cost more than my FED 2 and Industar-61LD and that was before processing etc. BTW, I don't exactly trust what people say about so-called CLA's on auction site. Best to buy on looks - which can't be improved - and get Oleg to deal with the problems. That gives the best of both worlds.

I can't tell the difference in handling between my Leica Model II and the FED/Zorki 1; their prints come out a little better but that's due to the lens coating and the RF being more contrasty due to the tinting on the USSR models.

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Old 02-14-2016   #29
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Bessa R and Nikon FM2n are very good in my view (I own and regularly use both).
Not too large, not heavy simple and reliable. The only drawback of the FM2n is the shutter sound, loud and like a sharp blow!
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Old 02-14-2016   #30
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I'm with Tim recommendation for F models. With 50mm pancake. Almost purchased by myself

OM10 would be easy to find cheaper and working one. 50 1.8 and 28 3.5 are cheap in price but good performers.
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Old 02-14-2016   #31
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There are too many good options to list. It's more important to buy a nice example of whatever you buy, as most of these are old now.

Any camera that uses foam seals will probably need new ones.

Get a good example and try it. If you don't like it, sell it and try something else.

Try them all!

As far as Leica, buy right and be patient, buy one that someone else has already spent CLA money on. They aren't expensive, you're just parking money for a while. You'll get it back later when you sell, unless you abuse it.

There are almost no wrong answers. I say 'almost' because the Russian gear is a crap shoot. It's not pricey but can be a time sink. I don't have excess time so I stay clear of that stuff.
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Old 02-14-2016   #32
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... I say 'almost' because the Russian gear is a crap shoot. It's not pricey but can be a time sink. I don't have excess time so I stay clear of that stuff.
Hi,

I own several Leicas - bodies and lenses - and have been using them for decades; I also own several USSR made cameras & lenses and have been using them for long enough to have an opinion based on reality and looking at prints from them.

And I find it hard to agree with the quote because any secondhand camera can be rubbish; it depends on the previous owner and the seller...

Regards, David

PS And I have the bills and an estimate from Solms to prove it. One of my first (almost new) Leicas has been repaired three times now over a long, long period.
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Old 02-14-2016   #33
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Try them all!
This is my philosophy! (Well, what I can afford)
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Old 02-14-2016   #34
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Hi,

I agree with this but bitter experience (several models) tells me that Leica issues are expensive; for the cost of a usual repair etc (involving a complete strip down)

If you want the RF experience buy a FED or Zorki 1 and, if necessary, send it to Oleg for some of his magic. Total cost will be very little; the first film in it cost more than my FED 2 and Industar-61LD and that was before processing etc.

I can't tell the difference in handling between my Leica Model II and the FED/Zorki 1; their prints come out a little better but that's due to the lens coating and the RF being more contrasty due to the tinting on the USSR models.

Regards, David
David, I've had a number of Zorki 4k and Fed 5c bodies over the years and there's a WORLD of difference in use between them and ANY M body. While it's true that the do contain a rangefinder mechanism, any coincidence between them and an M body (or even a Bessa R body) is solely coincidental (no pun intended.)

I have a 1983 model M4-P that I bought for essentially nothing. (It came with a power winder, Summicron, and MR-4 meter that I sold pieced off, subsequently paying for the entire kit.) I recently took it in to my local repairman thinking it might be time for an overhaul (the "L" seal is still intact) and even though there's a little dust in the viewfinder, the shutterspeeds are spot-on. It needs nothing, 33 years hence.

A complete overhaul for an M body can run to $400 if it needs parts, but there are a LOT of them out there that, like mine, don't need anything and if exercised regularly likely won't.

So, yes, sometimes its a crap shoot in buying used, but if you buy a quality camera used to begin with, it has the potential of lasting you a lifetime if you choose to keep it and use it that long.
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Old 02-14-2016   #35
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Pentax MX or K1000 with the tiny and wonderful SMC Pentax-M lenses. Maybe the pancake 2.8/40 and the 2/85. The colors will knock your hat in the creek!
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Old 02-14-2016   #36
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The FM2 or FE2 are fine cameras. Relatively lightweight, reliable, etc. I would pass on the original FM or FE, though. The finders are very dark compared to the FM2 and FE2.
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Old 02-15-2016   #37
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Thank all of you so much for the information. I didn't get a chance to respond to each of your suggestions these last two days, but I did read and take each one to heart while I made a decision.

I bought a couple of Nikon FE/FM bodies this morning from KEH.

I still have the idea of the Bessa r or M4 tucked away in the back of my mind. The Olympus OM line and Kiev model 2 almost won me over as well. But in the end, I got hooked on the style and features in the Nikon line. I chose the FE over the later models for a couple of reasons. I like the power switch for the meter better in the FE. The backward lens compatibility is a plus if I ever find some earlier glass. And the dim focusing screen is not an issue since the FM3A screens can be used in the FE with just a half stop of exposure compensation.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 02-15-2016   #38
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David, I've had a number of Zorki 4k and Fed 5c bodies over the years and there's a WORLD of difference in use between them and ANY M body. While it's true that the do contain a rangefinder mechanism, any coincidence between them and an M body (or even a Bessa R body) is solely coincidental (no pun intended.)

I have a 1983 model M4-P that I bought for essentially nothing. (It came with a power winder, Summicron, and MR-4 meter that I sold pieced off, subsequently paying for the entire kit.) I recently took it in to my local repairman thinking it might be time for an overhaul (the "L" seal is still intact) and even though there's a little dust in the viewfinder, the shutterspeeds are spot-on. It needs nothing, 33 years hence.

A complete overhaul for an M body can run to $400 if it needs parts, but there are a LOT of them out there that, like mine, don't need anything and if exercised regularly likely won't.

So, yes, sometimes its a crap shoot in buying used, but if you buy a quality camera used to begin with, it has the potential of lasting you a lifetime if you choose to keep it and use it that long.
Hi,

Well, you'd be right to say that if, and only if, I'd said the FEDs and Zorkis were the equivalent of a Leica M but I haven't.

What I said was that you could get the RF experience without breaking the bank and I suggested ways of doing it.

Your experience of the MP-4 is not, I think, typical. Most people pay serious money for them and when repairs are needed pay serious money for the repair.

As for quality, I've FEDs that are nearly 80 years old and some younger but still venerable by any standards. And they work well. And they don't cost a fortune to repair.

As for a 33 year old M series I think yours might just be the exception to the rule. I thought mine was but one day something minor went wrong; I got it repaired by one of the best who pointed out a few other problems and when the camera was returned it was a delight to use. The point being that I thought it was OK but it had deteriorated slowly and I'd not noticed until everything was sorted out.

As I've often said it's all a matter of luck and repairing them, FEDs or Leicas, is worth while. And I'll always think that you cannot condemn a maker after experiencing an elderly second-hand camera, or two, or three.

Regards, David
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Old 02-15-2016   #39
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Lots of good advice so far I think.

If I were you, I would want to try a different shooting experience. Have you thought about a TLR or another medium format camera? Coming from the 35mm world like you, nothing made me learn more about composition than trying to compose pictures in square format (6x6). You will also get a huge boost in image quality...much more than you would get by going with any other 35mm camera. A nice and functional TLR can be bought for quite cheap.
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The OM camera's can be rebuilt very reasonably...
Old 02-15-2016   #40
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The OM camera's can be rebuilt very reasonably...

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Ko.Fe. and Tim,

Nikon F series, hmmm? Interesting. I was looking at the OM series 1 and 2, but passed because of finding so many that had ruined prisms due to melting foam. SRT just didn't grab me. Same with Canon SLRs.

I'm going to read up more on the Nikons. Any suggestions for lenses? I have a lot of fixed glass already in the P line (35,50,85) and the 42mm of the Olympus. Would you suggest a short to medium zoom and a medium to long zoom to start with, or should I stick with fixed? I like fast, sharp glass so usually that means fixed, but maybe I should get some zoom lenses for something different.
John Hermanson (zuiko.com) rebuilds OM 1 and up. He was rebuilding XA's and other Olympus camera's. I think he was an Olympus employee, but not sure. He now rebuilds only the OM series and on the OM he will convert the meter from the old "mercury" batteries. Some people use the Wein Cell batteries, but they are quite frustrating and Alkalines do not have a flat discharge curve so the metering is all over the place with time. John converts to the Silver Oxide.

His rebuild price is very reasonable and can be found on zuiko.com.

I had a lot of fun with the Kiev 2/2a that I had for a long time.

However, reliability is poor unless rebuilt by one of the three well known FSU repair people.

I was fortunate to have found an early Kiev.... The Kiev factory at the Kiev Arsenal in the Ukraine started building Kievs in about 1951. I had a 1955. The first two digits on the SN of a Kiev denotes the build year. The first few years (3-4) they were using original Contax parts and the assemblers had worked for Contax before the factory was dismantled in Germany and restored at the Kiev Arsenal. For that reason, fit and reliability was much better. There were periods when Quality Control produce CRAP Kievs. I was fortunate to have one built with original Contax parts and CLA'd just before I got it. Even then I had to babysit the shooting... but the pictures and the focus were phenomenal. I had a Jupiter 8 50mm f2 and that was the only lens I used on it.

You can buy $35 Kiev's all day long.... Don't do it... Plan to spend $100 to $150 for a refurbished Kiev. Forget the metered models. They are all pretty much shot.

I like the XA, but it's finicky on focus. I switched to the XA2 which is scale focus, has a hint of attractive vignette, and produces images equal to the XA.
Also costs a fraction of a good clean XA....$20 vs. $100.

Hope you find what you are looking for.
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