Compact 35mm Cameras

Hmmm, it would seem I am a regular breaker of one of the ten commandments handed down to Moses on Mt Sinai.

“Thou Shalt Not Covet”

It is tough when friends come along to a photography function with shiny new items. I find that as soon as I pick up a camera or lens that I immediately start liking things about it, and jumping on the iphone and checking the ebay values.

So, on a couple of outings lately, I noticed that compact 35mm cameras had become quite avante garde amongst the artistic salons that I frequent. In particular, two caught my eye. The Ricoh GR1v and Nikon 35Ti.

r0001785I managed to pick up one of each surprisingly cheap on ebay and gumtree. I have always been somewhat of a lazy buyer on both sites, but over a 4 week period I was checking both sites daily for these cameras (and a Contax t3 – but they do not seem to come up very often at a decent price). There is always someone who comes up wanting a quick sale and prices their item accordingly.

Both cameras came up at a great price and I committed instantly. I realised then that if you want something at a great price you have to check these websites at least daily.

The GR1v was on Gumtree for about an hour… I am starting to wonder how many good deals pass me by because I am distracted by things like work and a home life… Hmmmmm.

As I have mentioned previously, this is a short but glorious moment in time for analogue photography. Both cameras, particularly the Nikon 35ti, were “rich guy” point and shoots. Great lens quality, superior metal build, and have been used very little.

I found them absolutely perfect for street photography – nobody much cares if you point an itty bitty compact at them vs a 70-200 lens on a body the size of a brick.

Pretty much any camera can be a “street” camera. I carted around a big ass medium format camera around New York City for a week – it nearly destroyed my old man shoulders, but I got some great shots! A nice wide angle compact camera that fits in your pocket is probably more suited though. My camera selection skills are not always fantastic… Medium format is cool, but the weight really did start to get tiresome slogging around NYC with it.r0001792

Compact cameras are perfect for ambling around the streets of the world. Being light and compact makes you more likely to take the camera to more places – you can only get the shot if you have the camera, after all.

Japan Camera Hunter has a great review of compact cameras you can read here.

The image quality captured by both the Ricoh and the Nikon are excellent, particularly considering the size of the cameras.

Many of the blogs I follow from time to time recommend compact cameras for street photography, but I didn’t pay much attention. Compact cameras always seemed to suggest “toy camera” to me. Once I did a bit of internet research on them though, things started to change in my mind.

After using both cameras, along with a Ricoh GR digital, I am a convert to the convenience and covert nature of compacts!

The first few rolls came back from Bond Colour from my New York trip. As soon as I started scanning, I realised I wasn’t quite sure which shots were from which camera – the Ricoh GR1V or the Nikon 35ti… I will do my best to separate them… but only the camera gods know for sure which is which…

The Nikon 35ti shots that I could identify came up suprisingly nice and sharp – exceeding my meagre expectations of what a compact camera could deliver. I must admit that the 35mm focal length is my preferred option over the 28mm, but I am going to persist with the 28’s…

I am getting rather attached to the compacts – after years of carrying around heavy gear, it is a nice change to have a camera that fits in your pocket!

Smaller is usually better for getting out and about.

I suppose the downside is that they have a lot of motorised stuff on them. The lenses retract, the film winders are motorised, along with the focus. Those motors are not going to last forever… and are virtually impossible to replace with no spare parts available any more.

You can read more about the Nikon 35Ti here. 



5 Responses to “Compact 35mm Cameras”

  1. Yes compacts are such a breath of fresh air. Nikon d300s and the big zooms to a Sony nex 7.. So.I can relate to what you are saying. Home life and work can be real obstacle to real life can’t they? Haha



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