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09-12-2016, 04:12 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Do you love to hold her?

Your camera, do you love to hold her? I have over a hundred old cameras, and even a few new ones like the K1. Recently I was struck by how some of my cameras just felt right to hold, but not only to hold, but to use. Many years ago, in the seventies, a good friend spoke of his love of his Nikkormat, a camera I knew was the "cheapie" version of the F series. I wondered why he would settle for second best, and managed to convince him to buy the Pentax MX which he quickly switched his allegiance to.
The other day I picked up my Nikon F2 and admired its superb construction and no-compromise quality that I don't think has ever been bettered. Holding it up to my eye, my glasses made reading the the meter and setting in the viewfinder awkward. The viewfinder didn't have a split prism, and it was very bulky to boot. I came to the conclusion that although this was one of the finest cameras ever made, it did not please me to use it; it seemed too awkward.
I then picked up the "cheapie" Nikkormat FT2, and noticed immediately how much less bulky and clumsy it felt. The viewfinder was easier for my glasses, and there was a split screen for focus and easy to read meter. While the Nikkormat did not have all the features of the F2, it showed the same quality of build. My conclusion was that I owed my dear departed friend a belated confession; I preferred to shoot with the Nikkormat rather than the F2.

As I went through my collection, it became apparent to me that my preference of using a model, usually lay with the simpler version. The immediate connection with the camera rather than having technological intermediaries was what made me "love to hold her." The K1 has tried to get back a little of that connection by making more use of dials and buttons rather than menus, much to the delight of most.

09-12-2016, 04:49 PM   #2
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Without a doubt, beauty is in the hands of the beholder. For me thatʻs the Nikon F3HP with silky smooth advance lever and that quality shutter release like a luxury car door. For medium format, Iʻve acquired that love for my Pentax 645. So cubicle but the motor drive hand grip sets it perfectly for me.

With DSLRs I wouldnʻt say there is any one camera that I love to hold, but rather I am repulsed by Canons. Itʻs personally either too light and plastic or too big and stubby. Much of the way I embrace a camera has my left hand cradling the lens, so the location of the manual focus and the surface texture and materials on the lens has as much to how I feel about holding the camera, as my right hand on the grip.

Last edited by Alex645; 09-12-2016 at 08:44 PM.
09-12-2016, 08:03 PM   #3
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The thing I noticed a few weeks ago when I was checking my older cameras was, how awkward my A3000 felt in my hands after holding a K7 and K5-IIs. It just felt...strange.


I never noticed that feeling when I first bought the A3000. I was moving from a KM and it did not feel strange. Even after holding my K7 and then holding my K1000 or Spotmatic didn't feel as strange as holding the A3000. I liked the A3000 and still have it but I haven't run any film through it in a long time.
09-17-2016, 12:13 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Without a doubt, beauty is in the hands of the beholder. For me thatʻs the Nikon F3HP with silky smooth advance lever and that quality shutter release like a luxury car door. For medium format, Iʻve acquired that love for my Pentax 645. So cubicle but the motor drive hand grip sets it perfectly for me.

With DSLRs I wouldnʻt say there is any one camera that I love to hold, but rather I am repulsed by Canons. Itʻs personally either too light and plastic or too big and stubby. Much of the way I embrace a camera has my left hand cradling the lens, so the location of the manual focus and the surface texture and materials on the lens has as much to how I feel about holding the camera, as my right hand on the grip.
I feel exactly the same about the F3HP, and the F6, with its more contemporary sculpted form, is fantastic to hold with a quiet, precise shutter sound that its engineers took great pains to tune. On digital full frame, however, I have the opposite reaction than yours to Canon. I much prefer the 'feel' and ergonomics of the 1Ds II and the 5DMark III over the Nikon equivalents. The 5DIII, moreover, has a 'silent' shutter mode that reminds me of the F6.

09-18-2016, 10:24 AM   #5
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Sometimes I just pick up and hold my little Toy Cameras Fuji X10 & X20 and admire their solid little metal bodies and dials and the feel of high quality that just makes you want to use them. I don't get that same feeling with a big DSLR, of any brand.

If you have ever held one, you probably know what I mean.

Regards!
09-30-2016, 04:49 AM   #6
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I love holding my k-5II and my k-3II. I'm torn between 2 cameras and I can't divorce either one of them. Men, we guys are so in love with our gears.
09-30-2016, 05:49 AM   #7
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For me it's my K1000, the camera that has been my third eye for thirty-six years now and has captured the happiest, most memorable, and sometimes saddest moments of my life. No other camera has ever felt so right in my hands, so perfectly weighted and balanced, with such precise and tactile direct mechanical controls exactly where I need them. And nothing more. Tell me to set it to Sunny 16 with my eyes closed and it'll be done before you've finished the sentence. Ask me to load it with film in total darkness and I'll chuckle at such an easy request. Simply throwing the thumb wind to move on a frame remains a moment of pleasure after all these years. It's like a glass of pure spring water in a world of sugary unsatisfying digital concoctions, and I love it.
09-30-2016, 05:55 AM   #8
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I always loved the form factor of my K20D and had a hard time getting used to the newer bodies after that. Even with grip, my current K-5 IIs doesn't come close.

09-30-2016, 08:59 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
For me it's my K1000, the camera that has been my third eye for thirty-six years now
+1

For me it's the same sized KX and I've had mine for 40+ years. All the Pentax "K" Series film bodies are superb handling cameras!

Phil.
09-30-2016, 01:12 PM   #10
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"Lovely to Hold", Oh, yeah!

I like the general feel of most of my small collection, though a few stand out as natural for my hands and style of shooting. The cameras that just simply work are (in order, tiny to not-so-tiny):
  • Olympus XA - Once acquainted with the control placement using the camera is quite natural and oh, so quiet
  • FED-2 - Squinty viewfinder aside and despite the knob-type film advance, this Soviet rangefinder is quite fun strung from a wrist strap. The shutter sound is crude, but there is a certain satisfaction to twist the wind-on and rapidly grab a shot.
  • Canon P - With its Mr. Zhou case, the P is a joy. I just love to hold it and cycle its whisper quiet stainless steel shutter. Pity the camera is almost too nice a condition to take out for regular shooting.
  • Pentax SV - SLR photography does not get much simpler than this and the SV is a finely crafted tool in a svelt form. It is one of the few cameras that I need put no more than a little thought into using.
  • Ricoh XR-2s - Yes, truth be told, I actually like the Ricoh XR7 a little more (been shooting the XR7 since 1982), but the XR-2s has a very satisfying solidness and utility. Yes, I know, my Pentax KX has VERY similar dimensions, but it is just a little less friendly. The XR-2s is my go-to 35mm film SLR.
There is also a "dark" list of cameras that I struggle to love despite their virtues. With sadness:
  • Voigtlander Bessa R3M - well-made, petite, and attractive with a superb viewfinder, the Bessa is a sweet camera except that my hands and the controls don't really mesh very well. I have trouble finding the shutter release at times. Perhaps with time and familiarity and addition of a "soft" release, that might change.
  • Minolta SRT 101 - My copy is in exceptional condition and the precision build is also exceptional. My contemporary Spotmatic II is a nice camera, but the Minolta is a step above in all senses except for handling, size, and weight. With the hulking MC Rokkor 55/1.4 mounted, addressing the SRT 101 is a massive undertaking, perhaps second only to a Topcon Super D or Nikon FTN Photomic for intimidation factor. I will confess to liking the silky shutter note, though...much nicer than ANY of my Pentax bodies.
  • And finally, leading the court of shame is my newly acquired Exakta VX 1000. It dates from about 1967, but even with updated features and appearance the VX 1000 is still a throwback to an earlier day, though without some of the saving graces of earlier models. Yes, the VX 1000 is very pretty with its zebra Carl Zeiss Jena 35/2.8 mounted, but it has all the heft of the SRT 101 along with the handling characteristics of a fat Koi. The body is designed to slip easily FROM the hand. The control layout is left-handed and even with long fingers, I find it hard to both grip the camera and depress the shutter release (located far-forward on an extension from the lens base*) at the same time. The shutter sound is pedestrian and not what I would expect from a German camera and the film advance is, shall we say, rough and lacking in finesse. That last may improve with a good CLA and so I may change my opinion. Yes, it is much, much, much, much nicer and well-made than even the nicest contemporary Zenit, but not a camera I want to hold...not into S/M.
Somehow, I imagine this is what group therapy feels like...


Steve

* The strange shutter release arrangement serves to drive an automatic aperture mechanism for the lens iris. The shutter release plunger stops down the lens before engaging the "real" shutter release on the front of the body. It is easier to use than to describe. With manual and pre-set aperture lenses, the small "real" release is exposed and falls fairly naturally to the left index or middle finger.
09-30-2016, 01:40 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rupert Quote
Sometimes I just pick up and hold my little Toy Cameras Fuji X10 & X20 and admire their solid little metal bodies and dials and the feel of high quality that just makes you want to use them. I don't get that same feeling with a big DSLR, of any brand.
Yes, although it felt very "alien" at first, coming from a DSLR.
QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote
I always loved the form factor of my K20D and had a hard time getting used to the newer bodies after that. Even with grip, my current K-5 IIs doesn't come close.

The very similar K10D is my favorite handling DSLR. The size, weight and form are nearly flawless to me.
09-30-2016, 02:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
There is also a "dark" list of cameras that I struggle to love despite their virtues. With sadness:[LIST][*]Minolta SRT 101 - My copy is in exceptional condition and the precision build is also exceptional. My contemporary Spotmatic II is a nice camera, but the Minolta is a step above in all senses except for handling, size, and weight. With the hulking MC Rokkor 55/1.4 mounted, addressing the SRT 101 is a massive undertaking, perhaps second only to a Topcon Super D or Nikon FTN Photomic for intimidation factor. I will confess to liking the silky shutter note, though...much nicer than ANY of my Pentax bodies.
My second SLR was a Minolta SRT 202 (bought in Japan=102 in US). It was a big step up from my Yashica TL-Electro but I agree with you. I had the Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 which was a large heavy prime attached to a very straight camera body with no grips or curves. I appreciate that most Pentax are weighted on the body with generally lighter/smaller lenses for better balance.
09-30-2016, 02:12 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I think about this from time to time. A major element of my enjoyment of our hobby is actually using gear, especially 60's and 70's film cameras. By using I mean the actual, physical acts of holding the camera, adjusting the controls and releasing the shutter. The intellectual game of controlling the exposure with those adjustments is next most important, and the actual image is important only in the context of the two higher order enjoyments (I made this photo with that camera). So an image from a K-1 is more enjoyable than a like image from a K-3, for instance.

Some of my cameras are a joy to hold and use and some . . . I keep mostly for their reputation. I think it is interesting that Phil and Steve have already mentioned two that I like, the KX and my absolute favorite film camera, the SV. KX feels right in my hand, like any Pentax S body camera, but also has the match needle metering, aperture window, perfect control placement and symphonic mechanical release sounds. SV has its own sweet, subtle sound, smooth advance and just perfect balance with a ST55.

The K, while a nice collectible, just doesn't have the same tactile responses, but it's fun to use because it's so old.

I just have never bonded with K2's. I like the Seikosha shutter but I hate the ASA ring. I don't like the MX - too small for my hands, and a SuperProgram has nearly the equal viewfinder (and I use it when I just want to rip some shots in semi-auto modes). MZ-S is in my collection for a similar reason, but with FA lenses - and when used with the FA Limiteds it rises to active enjoyment level, but only with those specific lenses.

My XA is just a really fun camera - I smile just deciding to take it for a walk, but Q7 is just a tool. I use it, but it isn't special. My Nikons (F2a, FE2) have that distinct heavy feel of over engineering, but the viewfinders (especially the DP-1) are a chore. I keep them because I think I should have a Nikon. (I sometimes carry the FE2 in my bag just to pull out when I get razz from somebody showing off a D810).

And then there are the LX and the K-1. The LX is a joy partly because I finally have one and using it satisfies a long-held fantasy.

And somehow the K-1 is nearly perfect. I need to sit down and write out why it is so, but that camera was built for me. I am strangely content now. I can sell things without regret - K-1 fulfills my equipment needs and wants. The rest of my collection I keep for specific reasons and specific hobby uses, but most of the time now I put the other cameras back in the drawer and just take the K-1.

Last edited by monochrome; 09-30-2016 at 10:16 PM.
10-01-2016, 09:44 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
The immediate connection with the camera rather than having technological intermediaries was what made me "love to hold her."
Yes, this... And pretty much everything Dartmoor Dave said about the K1000... siggghhhh.....
Everything is so simple. I recently broke down and got a Kx because I can't get film developed and need to take a lot of hobby photos. It's like programming the VCR. A nuclear-powered VCR. Bah. I miss the organic-feeling process of creating the exposure -- not messing with menus and metering and focus options. My K1000 was like my right arm.
I miss using it soooooooo much
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