Joe’s Favorite Cameras

In 2009 I had one camera; a year later I had two cameras.  As I write this in 2016 I now have so many that I don’t think I can name them all off the top of my head, and at least half are stowed away in my mom’s garage because I just don’t use them all that often.  But as time goes on, I’m finding that all the new ones I’ve bought, all the lenses I’ve added, don’t matter as much to me these days.  I have the ones I need, and I know them well.  There are quite a few cameras that have been covered here, but most of what you’ll see on this site comes from one of those shown below.  So this page isn’t so much bragging about my massive (and still growing) collection, but a tribute to the dependable few, the ones I’m constantly in love with and come back to again and again.

Pentax Spotmatic SPII
The first camera I bought, the first SLR I ever owned, the best deal on a camera I ever acquired.  This is the camera that truly set me off on photography.  It was my main camera from 2010 through 2012, and again from 2015 to the present.  There’s a lot to be said for the 50mm focal length as far as versatility, and all those people out there taking up year-long one camera/one lens challenges.  If I only used one camera the rest of my life, it would be this one with the 1.8/55 SMC Takumar, the original combination that came into my hands for $5.00 at the best garage sale I’ve ever gone to.  The lenses Spotmatics mount are truly superb, especially from a cost vs. quality standpoint.  The camera does lack one or two pro features I wish I had now and then, but I’ve managed without them and wouldn’t trade this camera away for anything in the world.  A good beginner’s camera?  This is a camera I’ll use the rest of my life.
Why I Love the Pentax Spotmatic

Canon AE-1
Another camera I’ve found to be indispensable to me, thanks to its versatility and shutter-priority auto exposure.  For a battery-dependent camera (the only one on the list, you’ll notice), I do feel comfortable trusting it in just about any situation, and it’s my go-to camera when shooting slide film.  I was given this camera in 2013 and used it a bit during my Intro to Photography class, and off and on again since then.  I used it extensively when making Overwhelming Majority earlier in 2016.

Canon 7 (rangefinder)
My newest acquisition, which I sought out as a platform to shoot Leica screw mount lenses.  The first one I bought went bad, but the second is running well and is a great user camera.  I’ve taken it to several concerts, on hiking trips, to luncheons, and I plan on using it extensively this summer.  It has the best (most modern) features for a modest price, in a perfect niche between the ultra-cheap fixed-lens rangefinders and the top-quality (and way too expensive) Leicas.  Highly recommended.

Olympus Trip 35
I paid barely anything for this camera, and it’s more than proved its value to me.  As an AE camera that does much of the work for one, I still feel like I’m exercising my brain when I use it, probably due to its zone focusing mechanism.  It runs off a selenium cell so doesn’t need batteries, and is quite compact, enough that I regularly carry it in a jacket pocket as a backup (if not the primary).  This was my most-used camera of 2015, and most of my William Klein project in Intermediate Photo was shot with this camera.  I realized not too long ago that I’ve only shot black & white film with this one, something I need to rectify this summer.  The ASA setting only goes to 200 and there are only two shutter speeds, but that can be overridden and I was still able to go indoors or take pictures in low light with it, using high-speed film.  This is the perfect complement to my all-manual Canon 7.

Minolta SRT-MCII
Another thrift store bargain, and the camera that lured me away from Pentax back in 2012.  I used this camera extensively when taking Intro to Photo due to its highly-accurate shutter speeds, as well as already owning several different lenses by then.  I grew up with my mom’s XG-A so Minolta holds a special place in my heart, and I don’t hesitate to recommend Minolta cameras to people looking to get into film photography, as they usually present an absolute steal for great quality equipment.  If this camera has one weakness, it’s the voltage-dependent light meter originally designed for the PX625 mercury battery.  This either needs to be modified to be completely accurate, or one can buy a new Wein Cell battery every few months.

So after talking long and hard about how thankful I am for what I already have, there are still a couple cameras out there that I really want to own sooner or later.  Donations welcome!

Pentax LX
As a huge Pentax fan, I of course long for their top of the line professional body, with all the features one could possibly want in a manual focus camera.  I’ve been steadily accumulating K-mount lenses over the past few years, including some of the original SMC-Pentax line that are supposedly optically-identical to the Takumars.  If there is ever an SLR that could lure me to the K-mount, it would be the LX.

Nikon F2/F3
I’ll admit I’m curious about Nikon, their history and bullet-stopping reputation as a maker of the toughest cameras around, the ones the pros consistently chose to take with them to war zones and everywhere else around the globe for the last 50 years.  I originally had my eye set on an FM2 but it seems I could get an F2 for almost the same price.  Everyone says that it’ll last longer than I will, so could be a good investment.

Fuji GS690
35mm is all very well, and buying the Pakon F335 scanner meant I was making a long-term commitment to 35mm, but I do still find myself tempted by medium format every once in a while.  As much as I occasionally lust after the Mamiya 7 (and since I’ve started seeing them come in to my used camera dealer it’s happening more and more), this is a much more affordable alternative.

Pentax 645N
The alternative to the alternative of a 6×9 rangefinder is to get my hands on some medium format Pentax goodness.  While I’ve read enough about the Pentax 67 that it doesn’t interest me so much, a Pentax 6×4.5 SLR might do the trick for me.

Pentacon Six
And the alternative to the alternative of the alternative is the wonderful East German 6×6 SLR with a basic range of Zeiss Jena lenses.  It has a good reputation and is relatively cheap.