Film Compact camera from the film days.

This is not my area of expertise but was there ever a compact film camera with a lens that has an f/stop larger than f/2.8?

They mostly seem to be f/5.6 or even smaller. I know the Ricoh GR compacts were f/2.8 and they were a premium compact back then. Is that as large as it gets?

20210409_010223.jpg
 
I spent a little time researching the subject. (Probably not a good idea since now I have another little puff of GAS about the Hexar...)



Leica Minilux has a 40mm f/2.4 lens.


Konica Hexar AF is a compact camera in the sense of fixed-lens but it's not that pocketable. It has a 35 mm f/2 lens.

Thanks! I'm going to look them up. F/2 ain't bad!

I think I read JCH's post about the Ricoh GR and he said it's easily broken with no way to fix it these days.
 
Niiiice on both the Leica and Konica, I just looked them up. I've never really been heavily tempted by most full frame film cameras because I'm very happy with my 35mm digital cameras. However, a film compact with fast lens would be a different experience, I might be tempted with something like that.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Niiiice on both the Leica and Konica, I just looked them up. I've never really been heavily tempted by most full frame film cameras because I'm very happy with my 35mm digital cameras. However, a film compact with fast lens would be a different experience, I might be tempted with something like that.
Just beware that both cameras are very expensive - and especially the Leica has a mixed reputation for durability or failure, respectively; spare parts are rare, too. So, while I fully understand the fascination with these cameras (I've looked at them myself several times), I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable recommending them. Only the Contax T2 (and T3) command more money, and only the Olympus Stylus Epic (mju II) is more overpriced than either the Leica or the Konica in my book (the Nikon L35AF2 can come close, though).

There are much cheaper options with solid optics. But of course, they don't have the cult status of a Hexar ... which *is* the one to get of the ones mentioned. And they "only" have f/2.8 or f/3.5 lenses - good ones, though.

Just ask yourself what you really want - if you're okay with fully automatic cameras, you have a whole lot of decent choices that command a lot less money. If, however, you want to be able to set things up manually, your options are rather limited, especially if you want a somewhat brighter lens.

Just to mention one particular camera (I could go on for ages here - be warned ;)): The original Olympus Stylus (mju I) had a somewhat more frugal 35mm f/3.5 lens which nevertheless is a nice enough performer that also focuses pretty close (35cm) and fast; it's a camera that's quite quick to operate on the whole, at least if you don't mind the occasional "flash" surprise (I usually take the time to switch it off) and delivers pleasing results, even though the lens flares quite a bit in certain situations, but it's not as if the faster and much more expensive options won't!

Now, the original Stylus can be had for a considerably less than $100 - whereas you're looking at upwards of $500, maybe close to $1000 for fully working Minilux in good condition; the Hexar may be a bit cheaper, but not by much, and most cheaper ones are decidedly non-mint; this is a plastic camera, after all. A T2 can be well above $1000 (I've seen the Titanium versions go for over $2000), a Stylus Epic/mju II upwards of $300 (sometimes they come up for less - in somewhat "used" condition). Good as those cameras are, that's just ridiculous, especially for the Stylus Epic (the Contax T2 has fantastic build quality, at least). Models with comparable Tessar-type lenses can be found for a lot(!) less - note that the Stylus had a "lesser" three-lens construction, but as I said, it's more than adequate with its own bit of mojo ...

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Don't fall for the cult - or really embrace it; you'll not get "your money's worth" with the more sought-after models. If you're planning on dipping into film (again), a cheaper camera will serve you just as well - and whichever you choose, it'll not be quite as expensive a paperweight when (not: "if") it fails: Those cameras are over 20 years old, often with sufficiently flimsy electronics to make you flinch. The Stylus I bought new back in the day (and which my mother used for a couple of years before she gave it back to me) still works decently. And my much-maligned Leica AF-C1 (the Minolta-made plastic model) delivers pleasing enough images as well - for $30, with the "added bonus" of a tele option (it has a switchable 40mm f/2.8|80mm f/5.6 lens - the 40mm is solid enough, the 80mm is at least usable). Oh, and the flash can be suppressed with a button - nice and straightforward.

Caveat emptor, I guess - the hype's gotten pretty bizarre, that's why I felt I should add my .02c. If you're okay with overpaying just for the fun of it, forget what I said ...

M.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
There's another one I thought of, and even owned for a bit: the Canon AF35ML, which has an f1.9 lens. In other news, that lens sucks! The photos I took with it were all kind of blurry and points of light diffused in a way that really didn't look good.

I'm really into the idea of small film cameras, but you're right that f2.8 seems to have been the normal max. I can think of a lot of them: Minox 35, Rollei 35, Petri Color 35, Ricoh GR, older Canon AF 35M (better than the ML) Revue, Chinon, etc etc. I don't think f2.8 compacts were rare at all, though they usually commanded a bit of a premium over the smaller aperture models. If you kept the aperture small you didn't need to worry as much about the optics being high quality, if my suspicion is correct.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
There's another one I thought of, and even owned for a bit: the Canon AF35ML, which has an f1.9 lens. In other news, that lens sucks! The photos I took with it were all kind of blurry and points of light diffused in a way that really didn't look good.

I'm really into the idea of small film cameras, but you're right that f2.8 seems to have been the normal max. I can think of a lot of them: Minox 35, Rollei 35, Petri Color 35, Ricoh GR, older Canon AF 35M (better than the ML) Revue, Chinon, etc etc. I don't think f2.8 compacts were rare at all, though they usually commanded a bit of a premium over the smaller aperture models. If you kept the aperture small you didn't need to worry as much about the optics being high quality, if my suspicion is correct.
Spot on - I loved my Minoxes, but they can be a bit fickle and don't age particularily well; if you can get one cheap enough, it's absolutely worth it to try one out, though. The Rollei 35, on the other hand, is a fantastic little camera - my SE marks the pinnacle of the line. It is a fully mechanical, fully manual camera, scale focusing, 40mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens - stunning value (I got mine pretty cheap), with a good meter thrown in. It's the latest of a great line of small, sturdy cameras (just stear clear of its cheaper siblings, the B or LED) - and both the "original" Tessar variants as well as the Sonnar models are top-notch performers. The best thing about them is that they command fair prices - not cheap, but also not stupidly expensive; after all, you get a camera that can compete with a Leica as far as build quality goes - and they're optically in the same league, too.

However, I'd again caution about the Ricoh GR line, though - if you can get one in good working condition, they're great, but they're prone to failure (not as bad as the Miniluxes, but close) and quite expensive.

But there are a couple of nice performers out there if you don't mind a less prestigious build or style - Minolta Hi-Matic AF/AF2, Konica C35 AF/AF2; they have really nice f/2.8 (Tessar-style!) lenses on them and satisfy the rangefinder-style look (even though they're pretty cheaply made). The fact that they do have classic film wind levers adds to their appeal in my book - no noisy auto-winders. Neither of them will cost you a lot above $50 if you are a little patient. The only reason I don't own one yet is that I don't want to end up with a stack of them ... there's always the lure of the next one being "better", and at such low prices ...

And even a Pikaichi (Nikon L35F) can be had for $100 or so - and that f/2.8 lens really is something special; the same lens, in a little more desirable shell, can be had in the L35AF, a camera that rarely sets you back more than $150. And the list goes on ...

M.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
If you slip into the era of small fixed lens rangefinders, there are a ton of good ones not much larger than a compact. I've had a nice Konica C35, and currently have a great Ricoh 500G. The Rolleis and Minoxes are smaller, however.

I bought a pile o' non working cameras a while back and a nice Petri Color 35 has surfaced. I just sent it in to Advance Camera to see if they can fix it, I think it might be as simple as freeing up the leaf shutter.
 
Just beware that both cameras are very expensive - and especially the Leica has a mixed reputation for durability or failure, respectively; spare parts are rare, too. So, while I fully understand the fascination with these cameras (I've looked at them myself several times), I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable recommending them. Only the Contax T2 (and T3) command more money, and only the Olympus Stylus Epic (mju II) is more overpriced than either the Leica or the Konica in my book (the Nikon L35AF2 can come close, though).

There are much cheaper options with solid optics. But of course, they don't have the cult status of a Hexar ... which *is* the one to get of the ones mentioned. And they "only" have f/2.8 or f/3.5 lenses - good ones, though.

Just ask yourself what you really want - if you're okay with fully automatic cameras, you have a whole lot of decent choices that command a lot less money. If, however, you want to be able to set things up manually, your options are rather limited, especially if you want a somewhat brighter lens.

Just to mention one particular camera (I could go on for ages here - be warned ;)): The original Olympus Stylus (mju I) had a somewhat more frugal 35mm f/3.5 lens which nevertheless is a nice enough performer that also focuses pretty close (35cm) and fast; it's a camera that's quite quick to operate on the whole, at least if you don't mind the occasional "flash" surprise (I usually take the time to switch it off) and delivers pleasing results, even though the lens flares quite a bit in certain situations, but it's not as if the faster and much more expensive options won't!

Now, the original Stylus can be had for a considerably less than $100 - whereas you're looking at upwards of $500, maybe close to $1000 for fully working Minilux in good condition; the Hexar may be a bit cheaper, but not by much, and most cheaper ones are decidedly non-mint; this is a plastic camera, after all. A T2 can be well above $1000 (I've seen the Titanium versions go for over $2000), a Stylus Epic/mju II upwards of $300 (sometimes they come up for less - in somewhat "used" condition). Good as those cameras are, that's just ridiculous, especially for the Stylus Epic (the Contax T2 has fantastic build quality, at least). Models with comparable Tessar-type lenses can be found for a lot(!) less - note that the Stylus had a "lesser" three-lens construction, but as I said, it's more than adequate with its own bit of mojo ...

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Don't fall for the cult - or really embrace it; you'll not get "your money's worth" with the more sought-after models. If you're planning on dipping into film (again), a cheaper camera will serve you just as well - and whichever you choose, it'll not be quite as expensive a paperweight when (not: "if") it fails: Those cameras are over 20 years old, often with sufficiently flimsy electronics to make you flinch. The Stylus I bought new back in the day (and which my mother used for a couple of years before she gave it back to me) still works decently. And my much-maligned Leica AF-C1 (the Minolta-made plastic model) delivers pleasing enough images as well - for $30, with the "added bonus" of a tele option (it has a switchable 40mm f/2.8|80mm f/5.6 lens - the 40mm is solid enough, the 80mm is at least usable). Oh, and the flash can be suppressed with a button - nice and straightforward.

Caveat emptor, I guess - the hype's gotten pretty bizarre, that's why I felt I should add my .02c. If you're okay with overpaying just for the fun of it, forget what I said ...

M.

Yes I looked them up and they're in the AUD$1000-$1500 range here. Which means they're not cheap enough for me to impulse-buy just to have a play.

I know the humongous hype around the Contax compacts in recent years since one of the Kardashians was seen to use one. But I think it was also JCH who said that they're delicate things and could potentially break easily (I may be confusing it with another camera he was talking about). Either way, I feel they're reaaaaaally overpriced.
 
There's another one I thought of, and even owned for a bit: the Canon AF35ML, which has an f1.9 lens. In other news, that lens sucks! The photos I took with it were all kind of blurry and points of light diffused in a way that really didn't look good.

I'm really into the idea of small film cameras, but you're right that f2.8 seems to have been the normal max. I can think of a lot of them: Minox 35, Rollei 35, Petri Color 35, Ricoh GR, older Canon AF 35M (better than the ML) Revue, Chinon, etc etc. I don't think f2.8 compacts were rare at all, though they usually commanded a bit of a premium over the smaller aperture models. If you kept the aperture small you didn't need to worry as much about the optics being high quality, if my suspicion is correct.

Y'know ... if the blurry diffused artefacts are unique/artistic, I could live with it as a lomography camera.
 
If you slip into the era of small fixed lens rangefinders, there are a ton of good ones not much larger than a compact. I've had a nice Konica C35, and currently have a great Ricoh 500G. The Rolleis and Minoxes are smaller, however.

I bought a pile o' non working cameras a while back and a nice Petri Color 35 has surfaced. I just sent it in to Advance Camera to see if they can fix it, I think it might be as simple as freeing up the leaf shutter.


I just looked up the Konica C35 and noticed that it does a decent f/2.8 but there's only three shutter speeds, the max being 1/250. This means during a sunny day I probably can't use the lens wide open unless I buy exceptionally slow film speed. The cheap Kodak film I buy from the dept store here is a standard ISO 400.

I've just realised I am not only looking for a fast lens on a film compact, I also need it to have a faster shutter speed.....
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I just looked up the Konica C35 and noticed that it does a decent f/2.8 but there's only three shutter speeds, the max being 1/250. This means during a sunny day I probably can't use the lens wide open unless I buy exceptionally slow film speed. The cheap Kodak film I buy from the dept store here is a standard ISO 400.

I've just realised I am not only looking for a fast lens on a film compact, I also need it to have a faster shutter speed.....
If you start thinking that way, I'd say two things: Get one of the older RF cameras with full manual control (Olympus, Minolta and Canon offer particularily fine models, but Ricoh, Yashica and others have done great stuff too) with a lens that sports a filter thread and get a suitable 3-stop ND filter.

I love what my Minolta Hi-Matic 7S II brings to the table (mine suffers from the "wobbly lens" phenomenon, but the impact on the images is negligible): shutter priority with metering OR fully manual with "Sunny 16" or an external meter; apart from the metering and shutter priority aspects, the camera is fully mechanical and nice enough to handle. It's no Leica - but truth be told, it's not miles behind a Leica CL in any major aspect, and the lens is a 40mm f/1.7.


The linked page contains further information; also check out CameraQuest for in-depth discussions - the site contains a wealth of information.

M.

P.S. This little conversation has finally triggered a long needed decision: I'll take a couple of items (cameras, lenses) to my favourite repair technician for everything from some CLA work to a possible rebuild (one fully working camera from two differently defective bodies) - if he's taking on work during the pandemic, that is; I'll find out next week. Or else I may try someone new - another one has popped up recently, and his work looks good as well.
 
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Richard

All-Pro
Location
Marlow, UK
I'm the accidental owner of an Olympus 35 RD, which I inherited from my father. It's not especially compact, but the 40mm f/1.7 lens certainly qualifies it for this thread.

I don't have it with me today or I would post a pic - this is an image pinched from the internet. Looks great, doesn't it?
olympus35RD.jpg

I should have a proper look at mine one of these days and decide what to do with it. I can't see me shooting with film again, and I think the type of battery it uses may be an issue, but it seems a shame to sell it.

-R
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I'm the accidental owner of an Olympus 35 RD, which I inherited from my father. It's not especially compact, but the 40mm f/1.7 lens certainly qualifies it for this thread.

I don't have it with me today or I would post a pic - this is an image pinched from the internet. Looks great, doesn't it?
View attachment 254621
I should have a proper look at mine one of these days and decide what to do with it. I can't see me shooting with film again, and I think the type of battery it uses may be an issue, but it seems a shame to sell it.

-R
Richard, two things:
  1. You can get sensible battery replacements easily enough (either through adapters or even dedicated batteries), especially for occasional use.
  2. If you ever consider selling this camera, give me a shout. ;)
M.
 
If you start thinking that way, I'd say two things: Get one of the older RF cameras with full manual control (Olympus, Minolta and Canon offer particularily fine models, but Ricoh, Yashica and others have done great stuff too) with a lens that sports a filter thread and get a suitable 3-stop ND filter.

I love what my Minolta Hi-Matic 7S II brings to the table (mine suffers from the "wobbly lens" phenomenon, but the impact on the images is negligible): shutter priority with metering OR fully manual with "Sunny 16" or an external meter; apart from the metering and shutter priority aspects, the camera is fully mechanical and nice enough to handle. It's no Leica - but truth be told, it's not miles behind a Leica CL in any major aspect, and the lens is a 40mm f/1.7.


The linked page contains further information; also check out CameraQuest for in-depth discussions - the site contains a wealth of information.

M.

P.S. This little conversation has finally triggered a long needed decision: I'll take a couple of items (cameras, lenses) to my favourite repair technician for everything from some CLA work to a possible rebuild (one fully working camera from two differently defective bodies) - if he's taking on work during the pandemic, that is; I'll find out next week. Or else I may try someone new - another one has popped up recently, and his work looks good as well.

I clicked to have a look at the Minolta and then almost immediately pulled back. It looks beautiful and absolutely harmless but this is the kind of thing that will set me down a GAS path of no return. A rangefinder with interchangeable fast lenses ...

SameSomberAlbino-size_restricted.gif
 
I'm the accidental owner of an Olympus 35 RD, which I inherited from my father. It's not especially compact, but the 40mm f/1.7 lens certainly qualifies it for this thread.

I don't have it with me today or I would post a pic - this is an image pinched from the internet. Looks great, doesn't it?
View attachment 254621
I should have a proper look at mine one of these days and decide what to do with it. I can't see me shooting with film again, and I think the type of battery it uses may be an issue, but it seems a shame to sell it.

-R

That looks beautiful too. I know I said "compact" but I don't really care about size. But is it really a fully automated fixed lens camera?
 

phigmov

Probably Not Walter Kernow
Location
Aotearoa
Oly 35 SP is a fine camera too (also an f1.7 lens) - not really pocket-able in the same way as a Mju I or II and it has a solid/weighty construction that will drag any pocket it does fit into.

Hexar AF is great but its a similar size to the SP (& the Trip 35 which is also great).

If you're wary (rightly so) of cameras with terrible 80's and 90's electronics then the original fully manual Oly Pens are compact and pretty great but not fast; as a little weighty given they were largely steel rather than plastic.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
We completely forgot to mention the Olympus XA range (or I might have overlooked that) ... As @TraamisVOS indicated, it's a real rabbit hole to go down.

Nevertheless, the original XA, a pocketable aperture priority rangefinder camera, should be mentioned here; while I always preferred the Minox lenses because they render a more contrasty image, the XA's lens works fantastically well with black and white film because of nice transitions and good micro-contrast. And of course, the rangefinder can safe the day.

Anyhow, I'll shut up now - I've basically added to the list, which is hardly conducive to helping one decide ;)

M.
 

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