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12-30-2013, 09:46 AM   #1
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Help me find a travel film camera

Hi All,

I'm thinking of adding a small film camera to my digital travel kit. Currently I'm using a Pentax ME Super with the FA 50mm f/1.4 since the FA is already part of my digital package. I'm looking for either a small SLR or RF with a built-in light meter, coupled rangefinder (if RF), and manual exposure. Price is under $200. So far I've looked at:
  • Pentax MX or ME Super with M 40mm f/2.8
  • Canonet QL 17 or 19
  • Olympus XA (a bit pricey on evilbay)
  • Olympus 35 SP
  • Also considering a Russian rangefinder (Fed, Zorki, etc) but the quality seems to be all over the place

Anything else I should look at?

12-30-2013, 09:55 AM   #2
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Small film camera for travel

I used an Olympus Stylus camera for just the purpose you indicate. Pricewise, they go for next to nothing nowadays, and they are completely automated. I recommend this for your consideration. Here is one example from eBay, but dozens more are listed:

Olympus Infinity Stylus 35mm F3 5 Point and Shoot Film Camera Black 050332139466 | eBay
12-30-2013, 09:58 AM   #3
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No doubt that the Pentax MX/ME Super + 40mm f2.8 is the smallest SLR combination.

12-30-2013, 10:37 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I lived with an Olympus XA as my only camera for most of the nineties, and it's a miniature masterpiece that I can recommend wholeheartedly. Looking up from my computer, I've got two 12x18" prints from the XA on the wall that are among the best photos I've ever shot.

But then I also lived with a K1000 with the M40mm/2.8 for a few years, and I loved that combination too.

It might be worth considering using your ME Super with the M24-35mm/3.5 zoom. It's a very under-rated lens that can be picked up cheaply, not much bigger than a prime, and a great solution for travel photography with film.

But my heart says to try the XA for a while, at any price. Owning it is a film photography rite of passage.

12-30-2013, 11:40 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
But my heart says to try the XA for a while, at any price. Owning it is a film photography rite of passage.
+1

in its day it was THE Busman's Holiday camera for pros.
12-30-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
It might be worth considering using your ME Super with the M24-35mm/3.5 zoom. It's a very under-rated lens that can be picked up cheaply, not much bigger than a prime, and a great solution for travel photography with film.
The 24-35 was one of my favorite "walk around" lenses on film. I'd combine it with my M85 f2 and have a pretty flexible kit in a very compact form.

QuoteQuote:
...my heart says to try the XA for a while, at any price. Owning it is a film photography rite of passage.
These days, an XA is the film camera I carry along with my digitals. Got it loaded with b&w film for shooting candids of family and friends mostly. I got lucky and dug mine out of a box for $1 at a garage sale. I don't think the people even knew what it was. However, I bought my wife an Olympus Infinity Stylus like the one alanvernon recommended. Got it from a Goodwill store for $3, I think. With both of those cameras, all we had to do was put in new batteries and they worked great. For what it's worth, before I got the XA, I used to carry a Canonet QL17. It's a great camera, too, but the XA does everything the Canon does...and in a so much smaller form...that now I rarely use the Canonet. I can close up the XA and stick it in any side pocket of my camera bag.
12-30-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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+1 For the Olympus infinity Stylus, Great camera.

For the Full manual option, look in to Folding 120's, like this guy offers: Certo6 - Vintage Folding Cameras: purchase
12-30-2013, 06:50 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by drei3 Quote
Hi All,

I'm thinking of adding a small film camera to my digital travel kit. Currently I'm using a Pentax ME Super with the FA 50mm f/1.4 since the FA is already part of my digital package. I'm looking for either a small SLR or RF with a built-in light meter, coupled rangefinder (if RF), and manual exposure. Price is under $200. So far I've looked at:
  • Pentax MX or ME Super with M 40mm f/2.8
  • Canonet QL 17 or 19
  • Olympus XA (a bit pricey on evilbay)
  • Olympus 35 SP
  • Also considering a Russian rangefinder (Fed, Zorki, etc) but the quality seems to be all over the place

Anything else I should look at?
I know that it is a completely manual camera but have you thought of a Pentax K1000?

12-30-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Back when the ME & MX first came out, I bought the ME, then the MX to try both for just that purpose. (My main cameras were Leicaflex and Leica RF.) I found the LX to be ideal, as I did better with manual exposure.
The various Russian RF clones are pretty rough compared to German & Japanese. The Canon Leica copies are much better, but hard to find anymore in your price range. You might also look at the old Minolta RF cameras.
12-30-2013, 08:22 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I'd suggest the ME super you already have.
It's among the smallest 35mm Pentax's, and also relatively light. Pair it with a short prime and it's perfect.


You mention the Russian rangefinders, they are a fun camera, but not a great travel camera.
Film loading is a bit awkward, and if you lose the pickup spool they're useless. Not to mention that they're heavy, my Zorki4 is easily 50% heavier than my ME, physical size is about on par.
The Zorki4 isn't metered either.


I really think the ME Super with a short prime is the best travel combo.

Unless you want to go really small and get an Auto-110
12-30-2013, 09:14 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by photographyguy74 Quote
I know that it is a completely manual camera but have you thought of a Pentax K1000?
I've considered it and I do have one, but it's a bit on the heavy side compared to the ME/MX.
12-30-2013, 09:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by drei3 Quote
I've considered it and I do have one, but it's a bit on the heavy side compared to the ME/MX.
Oh okay. Just a suggestion.
12-30-2013, 10:09 PM   #13
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Go with a Pentax KX, small and reliable. My XA-2 has had problems with the shutter release membrane not setting off the shutter.
12-31-2013, 11:16 AM   #14
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For compact and automation, I just picked up a Contax G1 (well two of them) with 45 and 90mm lenses. They go very cheaply and they are very portable.
But I also still have a K2 with Super-Takumar 1.4/50mm, which is very comparable and has a viewfinder to die for. (It replaced the KX I regretted having sold a few years ago). But if you consider the K1000 heavy, it may not be for you.
Otherwise, a 6x6 folder can be great fun too. Very manual and slow. Not necessarily lighter though. The Contax is.
01-01-2014, 02:25 PM   #15
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It depends to some extent on what your digital setup includes or whether you're after something specific. I'd prefer to keep lens commonality if possible with my other kit, my choices would be either an MX, ME Super or Super-A (Super Program), either with the M40/2.8 pancake or a 28mm lens (works as a very good 40mm equivalent on digital).

I have a Zorki-4K somewhere, I don't know if the film advance was broken, but it was almost impossible to wind it on without stripping skin off my fingers.

John.
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