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Film Cameras that Should not be Forgotten

In this report we review some of the best film cameras that should be remembered and can still be found with some effort.

The first few months of the year have passed, in which film camera manufacturers release a thousand and one new products: cameras of all types, “the latest” model and accessories to the point of saturation. Even with all these innovations, in this article we take a look at the past to those cameras that have withstood the test of time. When talking about cameras, it is not all pixels, automatic features, ISOs and image processors. There are some older cameras that continue giving camera aficionados a lot to talk about; we will cover a few of these unforgettable products here.

With the increasing popularity of analog photography, several techniques, styles and materials have been recovered, which would have been lost in the digital camera era. Nowadays, there are more and more photography lovers who are in search of second-hand equipment, while others look through their old chests that contain their treasured photographs. Others simply choose to continue using their old cameras for almost all their photos. Let’s see if some of their cameras of choice are in this list.

Leica CL

Leica CL

This camera is more reasonably priced than the Leica M, although it does not have the classic mount like the M version, but was released to the market for the amateur photographer. However, it became so popular that it replaced the Leica M. This camera is compact, with interchangeable lenses, telemetry and fast photometry. In fact, it was a Minolta that was known by the name of Leica in Europe and Minolta CL in Japan. It is compact, fun and easy to use and can still be bought at a reasonable price.

Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1

With reflex for amateur photographers of 35 mm, this camera was manufactured in Japan between 1976 and 1984. It has an electronic shutter, an electronic plane focus shutter, and fitted with a synchronized electric flash. It was the first generation to incorporate microprocessors and had very successful sales for its reliability and durability. To this day it is still used due to its ease of use and its automatic measuring method. This camera was used by Harvey Keitel in “Smoke”.

Nikon FM2

Nikon FM2

When the Nikon FM2 was introduced to the market in 1982, it was considered one of the best cameras to own. It was designed to work in a very mechanical manner, with a bright visor, shutter speed of up to 1/4000, with titanium plates and a completely mechanical hexagonal structure and a flash synchronization velocity of 1/200.

Olympus OM-4

Olympus OM-4

The last one in the OM line and with a real-time measuring system that made it famous, it is equipped with a “multi-point” that allows it to store up to 8 measurements per point before making an exposure measurement. These features were highly appreciated by nature photographers. Its aluminum body includes a visor with dioptric correction and includes an LCD screen that shows the adjustment information, measurements and activated functions.

Hasselblad 503C

Hasselblad 503C

A model of great success, this was one of the most economic, and reliable format cameras, albeit very difficult to obtain. The C in its name indicated that it uses lenses with C mounting with Copal sheet blinds. The body contains a mirror, a winding mechanism and a secondary seal to prevent the light loss.

Konica Hexar AF

Konica Hexar AF

This camera was launched in 1993. It was considered for a long time to be the best camera for everyday use. It has a great quality fixed lens of 35 mm f/2, inspired by the Leica 2. The AF later inspired the creation of the Fujifilm X100. This camera has a very quiet automatic focus, and continues to be valued greatly and is sold as a luxury item.

Polaroid SX-70

Polaroid SX-70

The Polaroid SX-70 was launched in 1972. The main and most well-known feature of this automatic camera is that it is foldable. It has a system of three mirror in order to obtain a reflex visor. There are about ten different version of the SX-70 with small differences build materials to accommodate different price ranges, but all of them have the following features:

  • An optical of four elements of 116 mm equivalent to a normal focus
  • A maximum opening of f/8
  • A minimum focus distance of 30 cm
  • Automatic exposure
  • Maximum exposure speed of 1/175

Nowadays, despite having been recovered by the Impossible Project, it is difficult to find one of these cameras in good condition.

We should not forget to discuss Russian and Soviet cameras as well. Russia and the former Soviet Union nations also produced some of the highest quality cameras and, to this day, some of these are still being made. The Russian photography industry began after the Second World War, when many German companies were forced to give their patents and designs to the Soviet Union, and Russia began to produce cameras and lenses that were very similar to the most well-known German models; however, the Soviet versions tended to be more reasonably priced than the German ones and some were considered better than their German counterparts.

Zenit

Zenit

The Zenit is considered one for the best brands, even though they are heavy and of a simple design. It is said that these cameras are not very durable, but the Zenit-E is one of the most famous cameras, with over 12 million units produces.

Zorki 4K

Zorki 4K

The Zorki 4K is of simple design and very reliable, with a rubber shutter, although it is a copy of the Leica II.

FED

FED

This product also has a telemetry system, a mounting M39 (LTM), and interchangeable lenses. It originally was a copy of the Leica II.

Moskva

Moskva

The Moskva has a medium format and has a gaiter. There are varios models with telemetry. It is portable and very easy to use, although its spring wears out easily.

Kiev

Kiev

This was a Ukrainian brand, whose factory was open for 245 years, until t was shut down in 2008. Its cameras and lenses can still be bought through its previous distributor. The three most important models were the Kiev 88 (medium format, design from the Hasselblad), the Kiev 60 (medium format, but with a traditional reflex), and the Kiev 4 (with a telemetry system of 35 mm, copied from the Contax)

If you are looking to add a more modern camera to your collection, or want to try new models or to try analog photography, here is a starting point for you for some cameras to try. You can find these cameras online or in second-hand stores.

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One comment

  1. Actually, the Leica CL used Leica M-mount lenses. Any lens you could use on a M5 or later could be used on the CL. The M5 has the same photocell on a “flag” that the CL does, so some lenses come in too far when collapsed and therefore have to stay fully extended.

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