Best Camera for Analog Photography

I started writing this article after a few coincidental events that led me to something I didn’t know yet.
It made me realize that I was on the way to finding the best camera to start or use for analog photography today.

According to my search and as written almost everywhere on the web, the best analog cameras to be found are the ones made around the 70’s / 80’s to the early 90’s.
Everyone knows them as Pentax K & M’s, Olympus OM1-2 en 10 , Minolta SR’s, Canon AE & F’s, Nikon F & EM’s, and we should not forget Leica M & R’s and other famous and (mostly) expensive cameras.
All sturdy full metal body cameras with manual film transport, light meters, shutter speed dials, iso dials and manual lenses, they all just look beautiful ! but…
Many have a cloth shutters, worn out light seals, faulty light meters, hard to find batteries etc.
They are all getting old, defects are starting to surface, and they are above all rather expensive.

Then I read an article on Casual Photophile about “We Should All Be Shooting Dorky AF SLRs and Here’s Why” by James Tocchio, it contained many truths and actually it seemed logical to choose a camera from the late 90s-2000.
I myself once had a Nikon F60 and F90, well-functioning cameras and now available for a bargain price.
But for me they lack some important features : for manual photography they are not as useful as their much older brothers – they have no shutter dial, no manual transport, auto iso recoginition, in fact everything is electronic, much is auto and works with menus and buttons -> without batteries: no picture.

A few years back I had a Voigtlander Bessa L (sold it already), a Leica-like model with Leica LTM mount – from the right era (1999/2003) and it had all the essentials I was looking for except a viewfinder!
Voigtlander had also versions with viewfinder, like the T and R rangefinder version, but altough with same mechanics and electronics they were much more expensive.
Thinking about this I thought there must be other similar cameras to be found, right?

Voigtlander Bessa L with USSR turret viewfinder

Then I found the Olympus OM2000.

The Olympus OM2000 is (I think) a beautiful camera, released in the year 1997 made to 2002.
From view it resembles those old metal SLRs that everyone loves, and it has manual film transport, the dials … the ehh… but …???
This camera seems familiar to me !
It looks very similar to my Voigtlander Bessa ! but with a viewfinder prism on top.
After some digging in Google the truth came to light.
The Olympus OM2000 was build by Cosina, and had the same design as the Cosina CT1 – C1/C1s.
To my surprise Cosina didn’t only build the Olympus OM2000 and Voigtlanders Bessa L, T and R rangefinders, but they also made camera’s for Nikon, Canon, Ricoh and many more.

Ok, why is this interesting ?
Well, for example you can buy a Nikon with all the advantages and the look of a vintage Nikon’s (manual transport, shutter dial, iso dial …), but in a much younger and more modern package and also with a metal copal shutter (possibly Seiko build). It uses the vintage Nikon lenses and even works without batteries! What more do you want ?

There is a Cosina for every brand or mount type of lens. Nikon – Canon – Pentax – Olympus, no M42, but that is no problem either because Pentax has an internal adapter – completely flat with the lens mount.
So if you buy a Vivitar V2000 or a Carena SX100 or a Cosina C1,…, you can use M42 lenses direct on camera.
Imagine that, a modern analog film camera with vintage M42 lenses.

Brands and/or models for which Cosina has made cameras and/or lenses :
Zeis Ikon, Nikon FM10, Canon T60, Dakota RZ2000, Vivitar V2000, Carena SX100, Phoenix P1, Voigtländer VSL 40, Minolta 7SII, Konica TC-X, Ricoh KR-5, Porst, Revue, Chinon, Hanimex ….

You can find specifications of the Cosina CS-1 that was used for many of the above cameras here

So now you have a choice :
Either an ugly electronic plastic AF camera full of buttons, that needs a nuclear power plant to operate.
Or a full manual modern analog beauty, that even works with the “sunny 16” rule.
The choice is yours.

I don’t like to carry nuclear power plants in my pocket, so I went for the sunny 16 option, and its on his way from the UK to Belgium (camera price €47 or £42 – without transport costs and income tax)

Next article : Download Agfa B&W Film Simulation Presets/Mini Scripts, and a bit more about the channel mixer settings and development in Rawtherapee.

Published by Marc R.

Belgium Based and Retired Photographer, IT specialist, Technician and Bushcrafter - not necessarily in that order. A few years back I got a message on my PC : "The box said 'Required Windows 11 or better'. So, I installed Linux Kubuntu 20.04 LTS" :-) - My Photography software : RawTherapee, Darktable, Digikam, Luminance HDR, Hugin, Gimp and many other. My camera Gear in 2022: Fujifilm X-H1 for architecture, landscape, ..., and Olympus E-M5 Mark II for bird and wildlife photography.

3 thoughts on “Best Camera for Analog Photography

  1. I’ve owned dozens of great SLR cameras, I’m left with an Olympus OM10 (my uncles old camera) after my last Minolta died on me. Because of my work with photography, people give me old SLRs all the time, but usually they’re old Minolta’s from the 70s or more recently from the 80s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Mark, I also have an Olympus om10 with manual adapter that I still use, and now even more for the film simulations. but it is getting old and needs to be replaced. Which actually started this search.

      Liked by 1 person

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