The Cheapest Way In : Top 5 cameras which will not burn you but are fking fantastic

Someone just messaged me on facebook asking me how much my average camera cost is. Ok, see that is a original question. Only thing is, since when did the cost of a camera start making a difference? Somehow it seems people relate the cost of the camera to the quality of results. Here is where the issue lies. Tell me, what if you needed a picture with heavy vignetting and high contrast, how would a 8,000$ Nikon or a 15,000$ Hasselblad work for you when you could have got better results off a 100$ Diana F+? Every camera has its own characteristics, its own pro’s and cons. And they don’t need to be expensive to produce great pictures.

So here I present to you a 5 part 35mm series on what camera to get below 100% which will produce fantastic results. All cameras are film of course and they are just brilliant

No.5 : Yashica Electro 35

My lovely electro which I miss so much!
My lovely electro which I miss so much!

This camera is just pure brilliance. Its steady, its quiet and its glass is to die for. The only reason why I’d not put in in the top is because it doesn’t have interchangeable lenses and no manual settings.

Yashica Electro 35 is a rangefinder like no other. Its extremely easily available and its results under any lighting circumstances are great. Its 50mm 1.7 lens is sharp and produces beautiful bokeh whenever needed. Clearly its a fantastic camera to have.

Pros :

  1. Sharp 50mm 1.7 Lens
  2. Great internal metering
  3. Quiet copal leaf shutter
  4. Lovely sturdy body, all metal
  5. Very easily available
  6. Nice big clear viewfinder with parallax type focusing

Cons :

  1. It uses a old mercury battery which is not manufactured anymore. So you’ll have to make a hack to use the camera on metering mode. Which basically means that you need to use 4 LR44 batteries or 1 CR123 with 1 LR44 in series.
  2. The camera has a fixed lens so there is no changing that
  3. Max shutter speed is only 1/500
  4. Max iso usability is only 1000

No.4 : Pentax K1000

Via Felipe Neves
Via Felipe Neves

I recently got my hands on this one. A whole camera kit including the lens cost me only 3000INR or about 60$. Now if you ask anyone about this camera, they’ll say its a students camera. Almost all photography schools will tell you to go and buy this. Why? Because its so reliable that you can’t go wrong with it. The metering is so simple, the big viewfinder is just great and also the camera is really steady. If you can get your hands on it (which you surely can cause its super easy to get) then its a great camera which will work with you in the simplest of ways.

Pros :

  1. Metering is really reliable
  2. Camera body is built like a tank, so its really steady
  3. Lenses are easy to find and again really cheap, a 50mm 1.4 costs about 30$

Cons :

  1. There is no off button for the camera. So if the lens cap is open, the crazy meter will keep metering till its battery dies. So you need to be very careful about that.

No.3 : Canon AE 1

Canon AE1 – The Girls Canon

They called it a girl’s canon. Well think again. Canon AE 1 performs when you least expect it. It was one of the first cameras by Canon to come with a Aperture Priority mode by a processor inside. And it does what others didn’t do that time, sell like crazy. Canon AE1 uses FD lenses so its not compatible with the latest EOS line but then it has its own perks

Pros :

  1. Canon FD lenses are extremely cheap! As they are 100% metal body so its easy find them in good condition and at a fraction of the cost of Canon EOS series lenses. And we’re talking not just about zoom lenses, we’re talking about primes!
  2. The camera also has a fully manual mode, just in case for those tricky lighting conditions and for those who would rather meter themselves.
  3. Because so many of them sold at the time when they were made, they are quite easy to find in great condition.

Cons :

  1. FD lenses are manual focus. So you shouldn’t expect them to beep and focus like the new EOS series.
  2. The battery door design was subject to frequent breakage, and over time owners have reported instances of shutter and mechanical gremlins, including mirror linkage wear (the “Canon squeal”)

No.2 : Nikon FM

Nikon FM – The Rugged

The worst thing which can happen to anyone in the middle of a trip with your camera is the battery running out and then no metering, or with new cams, no nothing as the motordrive dies.

So what does Nikon do? It just totally eliminates the battery system, adding “gallium-arsenide-phosphide photodiode” to the camera, making the metering 100% usable without any batteries. And what more, even though this camera was not made for pro’s so it was cheap but it never compromised on the build quality. So its a fantastic buy!

Pros :

  1. Excellent build quality
  2. No battery required for metering
  3. 1/1000 max shutter speed
  4. Extremely tough and reliable

Cons :

  1. Tough to find, its a little rare than the other cameras

No.1 : Minolta SRT101

Via Arch Adam
Via Arch Adam

And to the final one now. I guess that you would have not usually come across this one but Minolta’s were known to make some of the finest SLR’s of their time. And if Annie Lebowitz used it, then you can be sure it was amazing.

This was one of the first cameras to come out with full TTL metering and produce a mix of spot and average metering in camera.The most significant pros is perhaps the full aperture metering facility, automatically compensating for the at any time fitted lens’ maximum aperture, a feature it took twelve more years for Nikon to figure out how to accomplish. So if you find it with a 50mm, don’t leave it, pick it up!

Pros :

  1. Full aperture priority metering
  2. Mix of spot and average metering in camera
  3. Fully TTL metering
  4. Great quality Rokkor Lenses

Cons :

  1. Tougher to find
  2. Lesser availability of lenses, you’ll have to search harder.

Ok then, hope that helps so that you don’t ask your dad to pay for your first SLR. Save up, get it yourself, only 100$!


11 thoughts on “The Cheapest Way In : Top 5 cameras which will not burn you but are fking fantastic

  1. I got electro 35 but no batteries, but i tried in flash mode… i liked the shutter sound very much..

    with K 1000 the meter wasn’t working … I returned both

    now sticking with minolta x-700 and canon EOS 5 🙂 first one doesn’t have spot metering , latter one is bulky 😦

  2. Interesting man! I like the way you’ve presented this whole thing, though I’d have liked if you had swapped a couple of technical aspects with the overall feel of the machine! And are you diversifying from The Film Pharmacist to The Camera Connoisseur?? :p

    1. Ankit, actually I don’t own all the cameras. I do own two of them but the rest are built on the online reviews and reviews from my friends who have them.. hence the more technical approach

  3. Very Interesting article.. thanks a lot.. !!
    I got AE-1P ..but needs repair.. every time I pull winder, shutter opens..planning to buy one more AE-1 (not P):)

  4. I have never tried film ever, now I want to give it a try. Could you suggest a camera for me that is cheap and easy to use(although i am so used to a DSLR, that i am not sure if i’ll be able to operate without the digital screen). The Yashica Electro 35 sounds interesting but could you tell me where can i get it, especially in Mumbai? Also I love to shoot in 50mm so the Electro 35 really sound great, but then there is the battery issue, so another query of mine is, if I ever get my hands on an Analog camera, Could I ask you for a help?

    1. There are ways to make a alternative battery system for the electro. Also the camera is really not the rare kinds so I’m sure if you hunt for it you’ll find it easily.

      And if you have any analog camera queries, well you can always leave a comment here =D

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