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Thread: Film Cameras

  1. #1
    Member tayl0124's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

    Film Cameras

    Okay, not really a question about film but rather film camera's. What is the real difference between different models of film camera's. I understand that with digital a big portion is sensor size and light handling, but isn't that mostly up to the film (and lenses) used in a film camera?? The reason I ask is that my late grandfather has/had a canon eos 620, which I can tell is much nicer than my rebel g. But what really makes them so much better???
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Film Cameras-2009_03_27_999_5.jpg  

    Canon EOS 6d w/Battery Grip
    Canon EOS 620
    Canon EOS Rebel G
    Canon EOS Rebel XS
    Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
    Canon EF-S 18-55 f3.5-5.6 IS
    Canon EF 25-80mm f4-5.6 III
    Canon EF 70-210mm f4
    Canon 35-70 f3.5-4.5
    Canon Lens EF 50mm f1.8
    Promaster FTD 6500M
    Canon Speedlite 420ex
    Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-II

  2. #2
    drg is offline
    la recherche de trolls drg's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    Route 66

    Re: Film Cameras


    35mm SLR cameras had a wide range of features including durability/build quality, performance, and control options. Each manufacturer/brand added accessories to mix to make some lines more usable and desirable.

    As the computer controls and automation kicked in, the variations became more pronounced from model to model.

    In the durability and build range, cameras went from fairly delicate to robust enough to probably drive nails. I have used a Nikon F Body to do things that were very un-camera like including propping up 'things' temporarily and even threw one at a raccoon one night. Really I swung the camera from a strap and well, lets just say the camera traveled some distance and absorbed some G-force with no visible or usable effect. I have seen some cameras that just fell apart from poor construction, but not low cost! Materials and tolerances in construction produced a wide range of cost and quality.

    The build quality also affected how well the camera was able to consistently operate under extreme conditions for many years. The later generations of SLR's included water resistant models when coupled with similar lenses allowed photograpers to shoot in almost any weather conditions.

    The performance factor has to do with such items as frames per second they could expose film, shutter speed control max/min, the durability of transport and the repeatability of the image placement on the film, and the like. Battery life if applicable, I would include in this area along with ease of use of changing batteries, changing lenses, operating controls (ergonomics if you will) and that type of usability. More expensive cameras didn't always perform the best or had what I often call quirky features. Buttons or knobs in inconvenient or awkward places.

    Performance also began to include Auto Focus speed and accuracy and metering performance also should probably be included.

    Options and controls ranged from basics to programmable card systems to computer interfaces in late model cameras. Adjustable metering, viewfinder screen options, shooting modes from manual to fully automatic high speed evaluative systems. Canon offered an optimum DOF setting that selected the best Depth of Field based on shooting conditions. Nikon had the F5 with the scenic exposure features that had a memory of over a 1000 different exposure combinations that it could select from to provide the best option for the picture before the lens at any given instant. Those are just two options. Minolta had whole card libraries that could be used to set up the camera for optimum shooting.

    Various AF options, how the controls were laid out, detailed features such as frame counting up or down as an option, viewfinder information, and on and on.

    Metering systems that went from basic incident exposure to built in averaging multi-point spot meters or the computer driven techniques of the F5 mentioned already were other factors that made a difference as to the choice a photographer made in selecting a camera body.

    Finally the 'system' that a body was a component of added much to some cameras being desirable. Motor Drives, remote operations, timer/interferometer operation, clock drive mounts (for astrophotography), system flashes and connectios for external lighting and strobe controls all were but a few desired system components.

    The EOS 620 you have is a high end version of the first Canon EOS body, the 650. You can read more about at the Canon Camera Museum link - EOS 620.

    I hope this helps answer your question.
    CDPrice 'drg'
    Biography and Contributor's Page

    Please do not edit and repost any of my photographs.

  3. #3
    trigger happy geriatric.
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Alnwick, Northumberland UK

    Re: Film Cameras

    For me its about feel. You know, you can pick a camera up, wind it on, press the shutter, focus the lens, and you just KNOW it's better. OlympusOM1 for me, or a decent TLR, you can just feel the engineering.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Nov 2009

    Re: Film Cameras

    this an interesting question, and i understand on newer, automatic SLRs with all the bells and whistles, the body can make a great difference.

    BUT, i have a centon f-300 (its a minolta x-300 in disguise) being a very basic, MF body, surely when loaded with good film and a good lens the image quality should be the same as an x-700 or any other MF body?

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2009
    Pensacola, FL USA & Jundiai, SP Brazil

    Lightbulb Re: Film Cameras

    On the surface, what you say has some merit, however I would like to point out some other factors to consider.
    1. There has to be a reason why a "camera in disguise" is cheaper, than it's name sake.
    a. Little or no original engineering, just copying.
    b. Less quality control, for example the 1978 Canon 24-35mm SSC F3.5 L lens had a lens polishing tolerance of 1 micron.
    c. Weigh less due to using lighter & cheaper materials (strong metal frames vs plastic frames)
    d. No established dealer or service networks.
    e. Reduced or no warranty.
    f. Cheap glass in prisims, and sometimes plastic lens.
    2. All the above tends to lead to substandard performance and longivity, especially with most MF 35mm cameras approaching middle age, and many having exceded their life expecantcy.
    3. There are many examples of the Legendary Nikon F and Canon F1 cameras in perfect working condition after 40 years of use by pros and amateurs, in jungles, deserts, the artics and every other place on earth, and having made more that 100,000 exposures, countless lens changes, being exposed to various forms of torture and abuse, and in instances being used as a weapon, with no loss of performance. Also there are many Nikon FA and Canon A1, MF AE cameras still seeing daily use after 30 years. Today these "Antique" camera bodies in excellent or better condition routinely sell for more than some new Auto Focus Film and Digital Bodies, these cameras are being purchased for daily use in most cases. There must be a reason for this, could it be that they will continue to deliver outstanding images for another 40 years.

    I think you would rather own a VW Rabbit as opposed to its cheaper look alike, the Yugo, The same reasoning should apply to your MF Cameras, what ever brand you use.

    Good Luck,

    Feel Free TO EDIT My Photos, But Please Tell Me Why
    I have gone over to the dark side, no more film.
    Canon T2i, 18-135 IS
    Digital Point&Shot - Canon Powershot A470

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    Feb 2010

    Re: Film Cameras

    I think you need to study the evolution of the camera. From Wood Boxes to Plastic Tanks. In between you will see some outstanding design, craftmanship and purpose. It really comes down to taste and connectivity between the engineer and the designer. I have a Kodak Motormatic 35R4. It's unique. When new it listed for $114.50. If made today it would list for approx./over $700.00. I'm on my first roll of film. I already love it. I may not like the pictures. But I don't think I could blame the engineering or craftsmanship.

  7. #7
    Member ComicDom1's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    White Heath, IL USA

    Re: Film Cameras

    I know I am late party, but if you are looking at understanding the evolution of the camera, then you have to take into consideration what is really being effected. Yes, materials, mechanics, and operation have all evolved, but at the same time many of the critical thinking skills that went into the creation of an image have been left by the wayside because of the automation. The argument can be made that with modern day camera's the photographer(or operator) can now concentrate on personal creativity, but the other side of that is that part of the creativity is the mental and mechanical process that a photographer would go through. Does the modern day photographer who does not go through this process understand how they see light or how a minor adjustment in f stops, lens, or shutter speed affect the outcome?


  8. #8
    Junior Member
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    Sep 2010

    Re: Film Cameras

    Today, cameras are so overloaded with crap that no one knows how to use them. What I feel The Canon EOS 620 share the simplicity, along with advanced Matrix TTL metering and superior viewfinders, and many other important features simply not available in today's LEICA at any price. Canon got it right the first time. Newer EOS cameras are nice, but not necessarily better while definitely more complicated.

  9. #9
    Member PWhite214's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Houston, Texas, USA

    Re: Film Cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Headshots
    Today, cameras are so overloaded with crap that no one knows how to use them. What I feel The Canon EOS 620 share the simplicity, along with advanced Matrix TTL metering and superior viewfinders, and many other important features simply not available in today's LEICA at any price. Canon got it right the first time. Newer EOS cameras are nice, but not necessarily better while definitely more complicated.
    I share some of these thoughts. My first SLR was a Pentax H1A, bought when I was a student (~40 years ago). Wonderfully simple, you set the shutter and aperture, composed and shot. With it's 50mm lens, a cheap tripod and lots of Tri-X film, I learned about taking photographs. I remember it was 3-4 years before I acquired a light meter, so guestimating exposure became second nature. I am sure I would still have and be using the camera if it were not for the extended bath in the Gila river in the 80's.

    Now my film SLR is a KM Maxxum 7, beautifully crafted, with more bells and whistles than I will ever use. The selection dial is in M(anual) or A(perture) priority 99% of the time, with the metering mode on "Spot". I do love the multi-segment exposure display for landscapes, it saves a lot of fussing around with taking individual meter readings.

    The point is, it is up to each individual to decide how to use their camera, ranging from 'Point & Shoot mode' to 'Manual control'. The results are still dependent on the photographer's composition and view.


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