It was about 18 months ago that I bought my first ‘vintage’ 35mm camera. In those first few weeks I bought a number of cameras because they were ones which inspired me when I was a teenager, but I could never have afforded to buy them. Since then however, I’ve bought more and more, some of which I hadn’t even heard of when I was younger. Obviously, over that time I’ve turned into a collector.
I don’t collect as someone who will use these cameras on a regular basis – I may occasionally put a roll of film through one because I’m interested in seeing the results, or I feel a bit of nostalgic for the feel of a film camera, but I would never take a film camera with me as my main camera when the results are really important to me. Lenses however are a different matter. Since I started collecting 35mm cameras I’ve also acquired a number of mount adapters for my Sony Nex 6 and I regularly use the Takumar series prime lens on that camera.
So with that in mind, here is my list of my favourite 35mm film cameras
No 1 – Miranda Sensomat RE.
I discovered Miranda only a few weeks ago but it has become one of the two makes I’m concentrating on as I build my collection. I think they are beautifully engineered cameras which are relatively easy to work on when things go wrong and in my experience are pretty reliable once they have a clean and a service. The feature set is quite high, having replaceable viewfinders various metering modes and lenses available and as a collector they are quite inexpensive to obtain.
No 2 – Pentax Spotmatic
This used to be my favourite 35mm camera until I discovered the Miranda Sensomat and was the camera I wanted as a teenager but couldn’t afford. It has a similar well engineered feel to the Sensomat, but generally will be more expensive than the miranda series to find a good example of. The lenses which come fitted as standard (the takumar series) are very well respected and sought after which is probably why the price is kept up.
No 3 – Topcon IC-1
Another camera make that I hadn’t heard of until a few weeks ago but again a nice camera to hold and shoot with. I have two copies of this model in silver and also in black, the black copy being a recent acquisition. These are odd cameras in that the aperture adjustment for the lens is fitted to the camera body rather than on the lens, which makes it pretty difficult to adapt them to modern digital cameras. I am actually in the process of making my own adapter using parts from a broken Topcon Uni – that may be the subject of another post later.
No 4 – Minolta X-300
The Minolta is another one of those cameras which I wanted a s teenager but couldn’t afford. I remember Minolta being one of the ‘big’ makes and I was amazed a few years ago to discover it had gone bust (I had a few years when I didn’t take photographs seriously and only had a point-n-shoot camera so didn’t take any notice of the current camera trends). I remember they were quite innovative, coming up with lots of novel features on their camreas, and this model is no exception. I think it’s probably on my list because it’s the best Minolta I have – if I got an X-700 I guess that would replace it.
No 5 – Zorki 4
This camera is here for a couple of reasons – it’s the only rangefinder on my list and although I haven’t put a film through it it has a nice, if antique, feel to it. However the biggest reason it’s here is that it was my Father’s and it’s a sentimental addition. We lost Dad to cancer earlier in the year and I always remember him telling me about this camera and how he bought it from a supplier in the UK who had them shipped from the Soviet Union in the 1970’s.