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Thread: Anyone into vintage cameras?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Cambridge Vermont

    Anyone into vintage cameras?

    About 30 years ago my mother gave me a camera she had as a teen, a Zeiss Nettar 515. I thought it was interesting but figured it was too old to do more than just be a dust collector on a shelf. Now vintage cameras are back. I came across it in a drawer and found everything seems to work (other than the timer) and the lens looks to be in good shape. I knew my step father had a range finder and light meter so I went back to ask and found out that the camera was bought new by my grandfather before my mother was born. It was given to her so she could sign up for a class at the local college so she could attend dances. She has a picture taken with it of her as a small child, maybe 3 or 4 years old. So I'm having it professionally cleaned.

    Although she didn't find either meter she did give me a Leica IIIG in great condition. My thought was to get the Ziess working and take a family photo with it so it could be put with the other picture as well as the history and hopefully down the road someone else in the family will show an interest and want the camera. While I like photography I wasn't planning on getting into learning all over again how to use film cameras. I can see myself also getting into developing film. Woodworking is an expensive hobby and I can see vintage cameras also not being cheap. I'm kind of on the edge so I was hoping to hear from others.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Northern Florida
    Not really into them any more but I have a couple of boxes of cameras from the first half of the last century. I also recently gave my 35-year-old son a bunch of Mamiya C220 and C330 stuff. He found film in one of the bodies, got it processed and it turned out to be him at the age of about 2 months. That tells you 2 things: I once had some moderately serious gear and I dropped it for digital a long time ago.

    He paid more than he expected to get that film processed. I recently looked all over town (not really a big town but still...) for someplace to print an old color negative and the best I could do was a place that first digitized it and then printed the resulting file. The point is that if you really want to get into it, you're likely to pay a lot to get a few pictures. Alternatively you can load your own film from bulk reels and process it yourself. You'd probably be sticking to black-and-white and still pay a lot.

    You could shop around for a couple rolls of film and a place to process it, but make sure you have all those bases covered before you spend any money. IMO the best use for a camera like that if you don't already know the anwers to your questions is to put it on the shelf and admire it for the technological marvel it was. If someone with more recent experience has better advice - I'd be happy to be wrong and might open up those boxes of old cameras.

  3. #3
    I ran into a guy shooting with a Hasselblad a while back. I had used those to shoot weddings many, many years ago. I thought maybe he had a digital back, but no, he was shooting film.

    Years ago I owned and shot a Mamiya C330. Same format as the Hasselblad.

    The problem with film cameras was the limited number of shots you could take before having to reload. When doing a wedding I'd have to always know how many shots were left on the roll and change to a fresh roll if I was getting close to the end and had a bunch of pictures to take quickly - such as the bride and groom exiting the church. People just wouldn't accept "I ran out of film" as a reason why you missed certain pictures.

    Digital is soooo much better. I can put in a storage device that can hold almost an unlimited number of pictures. And I can do a lot with the pictures in post (PhotoShop). What photographers do with wedding photos today are things we only dreamed of back then.

    I also owned a Nikon 35mm range finder camera some years ago but sold it when things went digital. I wonder what it would be worth today.

    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Cambridge Vermont
    When I started using a digital camera it was kind of a game changer. For the first time I could experiment and see results almost instantly. With film you had to shoot the whole roll and take notes just in case it took longer than expected to shoot the roll. Then you had to wait until you got the film developed. I didn't see much need to ever go back. But I can see the desire, kind of like using a chisel to make a mortise vs just using a modern machine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Lebanon, TN
    When I came to the USA, from England, in 1982, I was big into photography as a hobby, but didn't have a budget.

    After a few months of lusting, I was able to afford a Pentax LX, which was Pentax's professional answer to the Nikon's at the time.

    I still have it, had it serviced about 10 years ago, but that was the last time I touched it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    San Diego, Ca
    I have a hand full of 3D cameras, and two 3D projectors. They were probably popular in the 1940s and 50's. Most people shot slide film with them. One "snap" resulted in two negatives taken from a slightly different position. The projectors use "crossed" polaroid film for each image and the viewer needs to wear the special polaroid glasses. The projected images can be quite vivid in terms of 3D viewing.

    But it seems like the interest in 3D pictures is way way down. The value of the 3D equipment is also way down. I'm contemplating getting rid of all of that stuff.

  7. #7
    My main camera collection is Nikon professional 35mm SLR cameras and mostly manual focus lenses. The Nikon F3 is my favorite among these cameras. And the 85/1.4 lens is also a favorite. Though I have some large format equipment, my 35mm rangefinder Minolta CLE (based on Leica M system) actually still gets used. I'll include a photo from that one.

    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  8. #8
    pros I saw shooting weddings had two or three cameras on their bodies. Changing film was not much of an issue just grab another camera. I have a digital hanging off my belt my first Panasonic digital bridge camera. Up to my third one now. First one is finally packing it in.

    Friend told me film is a thing and lots of people into it. Still have a Krown Graphix 4 x 5 that was a pain but damn clear. Had a polaroid back for it and for a while they did bring that film back. That was kind of cool, it never stuck around.

    I took this in 2007 when I drove to LA. My video camera a JVC tape camera had a 1.3 Meg still shot camera. Took a gazzilion photos with it, some were okay lots were very low quality. Digital is excellent.

    Third bridge camera I have now maybe FZ300 is great. Not super high quality but shoots great and versitile. Long zoom on it amazing what you can get. Dont have a cell like most people. Asked one past customer to make me a shoe phone and that didnt happen so waiting for them to make a camera that has a cell phone in it.

    The flim digital thing makes me think of CD's. I had a high end CD player and in eh beginning too many CD's sounded harsh maybe sampling rates low. The first CD I put on that actually sounded great was Brothers in Arms.

    same place 1.3 Meg digital when digital was still an infant, then it was really an add on on that video camera. What a great drive up the coast.

    So are some people using film again? developing it themselves or taking it in then using a scanner with neg holders and putting it into their computers ?

    Last edited by Warren Lake; 06-29-2021 at 12:38 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Vancouver Canada
    Ah, old cameras.
    My current stable has a Contax 2A wit a 1.4 Sonar lens, and it works.
    Canon Montreal Olympic F1 and a couple of Canons in digital format.
    According to what Iíve seen and I donít check regularly, theyíre worth almost nothing. Film cameras are dead and iPhones rule the world.
    You can still get film processed here in Vancouver.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    That Leica IIIg is a rare one. That had the twist knob film advance before the M series with the lever advance. That is a great camera to use if getting into film. Leica glass is very sought after. I learned photography on my uncle’s M3’s and a IIIf.

    The Zeiss may seem to work, but the bellows is usually where they fail. One pinhole can ruin it. You can still get the film- it’s worth a try.

  11. #11
    I have a Brownie camera, in the box, we got from an elderly friend decades ago. I still have an Olympic OM1 that was a wedding present. When my parents downsized us kids had to deal with a significant collection of prints, slides and negatives they took in their travels. I decided to buy a scanner and digitize the pictures (thousands) with people in them. That way we avoided having to decide who keeps the collection. It was interesting to see the difference in quality of the old film and prints. Some did not age well, some looked perfect after 70 years.

    In the end the family all have digital copies of the family history (including the paper documents/records) and I learned a lot of details going back 100 years. The photos had names, places, and dates written on the back, not sure people typically do that with digital photos.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    For those interested in old cameras and can get to Staunton, Virginia there is an incredible camera museum worth seeing. The guy owning/running it when I visited a few years ago was a real enthusiast - we talked for a couple of hours! I think they are looking for a larger space but when I visited there were more cameras per square foot than imaginable:!1...oiowJXoECGEQAw

    That's the place I'd call if looking for info on cameras, film, and processing.

    I shot film for 40 years starting in the '60 and maintained a series of B&W darkrooms. I used a 4x5 Crown Graphic, 2-1/4 Rolleiflex, a variety of Polaroid cameras, and a number of 35mm, Nikon and Minolta. Processing B&W film yourself is easy and takes almost no equipment. Making prints is much more involved and typically needs an expensive enlarger. However, for the Zeiss you can make a simple contact printer from a piece of glass and make small B&W prints that may be sufficient. There are still people with darkrooms who might make prints for you but digitizing the film is probably a better solution. Some page scanners do a passable job with larger film but for 35mm a dedicated film scanner will do a far better job. If you decide to pursue shooting with the Leica I might be talked into sending you a high-end Nikon film scanner I'll never use again.

    Some low-res examples from various scanners I've had, shots from the '70s to '90s, 35mm and 2-1/4":

    M04_small.jpg hale_bopp02_es_small.jpg

    barn_10_74_es_small.jpg paul.jpg finger_lizard_es_small.jpg


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    Decades ago when my great aunt died, I inherited her camera. Some how I became the one my extended family decided should have any camera left in an estate. I think the mechanics of them are cool to play with, but Iíve never used them, just continue to set them in this old display case. Thought about getting film for some at one point, but never got around to it. Sorry for the glare...

    12178793-A7FB-4527-B26D-331F2A4DFD11.jpg 21B1FCDF-6D8B-4C25-80E5-4AFE61048580.jpg

  14. #14
    My dad was an avid photographer when he was young. Cool story: He had dinner with Ansel Adams in the early 1960's, without having any idea who he was. As Dad told it, he got invited to a dinner at the home of one of his Liberal Arts professors at Yuba City College in Northern California. Apparently, Ansel Adams was there to speak at the college. Dad said Mr. Adams explained his zone system of exposure to him over dinner and that they had a nice conversation, but he did not learn who he was until years later.

    Dad did a lot of work with a medium-format Rollei TLR but his favorite camera was a Leica III rangefinder. I still have it but it's not really practical these days. Like Phil's setup, I should just get a display case for it. One cool thing: I bought an adapter for Leica screw-mount lenses, so am able to use Dad's old rangefinder lenses on my current mirrorless bodies. I have this dream someday of visiting sites he photographed when he was younger and shooting my own, with his original lenses.

    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Millstone, NJ
    My father before he passed was huge into photography mostly current stuff(usually replaced all his equipment as soon as the new stuff rolled out) He worked on 3 systems canon slr, Canon mirrorless, and Leica M series. The only thing he worked with that was older than the milk in the fridge was his leica lenses. He had 3-4 that were over 50 years old

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