Cameras from a time when photos were taken with care and craftsmanship

 

Topcon Unirex• Click the icons at the top right of the page for film cameras grouped by type.

• There's a full list of individual cameras in my collection in the right hand column.

Click to see the list if your screen size is less than 700px wide.

Each camera portrait comprises: a description and opinion of the model, technical specifications, illustrative photographs, original advertisements* and UK price details*, links to the camera's user manual*, and any other good Internet sites (* where possible).

 


 

What's the point of this website?

Beauty BeaumatMy area of interest is mainly 35mm film cameras from the mid 50s through to the early 80s (pre-auto-focus and copious plastic). Unfortunately good quality information is sometimes more scarce than surviving cameras, so the aim of this website is to preserve and share knowledge. I prefer to gather information through hands-on examination, along with study of instruction manuals and other credible material. I strive not to simply reproduce what other collectors have written, and delight in the discovery and correction of utter BS that has been written about some camera models (e.g. Graflex Graphic 35, Minolta Hi-Matic 7s, Pentax MX, Topcon Unirex, etc).

I update this site quite regularly, usually when I've obtained a new bit of equipment, or found a fresh snippet of information.

 


 

Why I collect film cameras

Leica D-luxI got interested in photography in my early teens. My equipment was basic, because my only income was a £1-a-week newspaper delivery round. I lusted after the shiny things covered in dials and buttons. Many years later, some of those cameras have become very affordable, and I have a little spare cash these days. I started collecting in May 2013. I enjoy the whole start to finish process: predating eBay, researching the details of different models, cleaning and repairing them (to the best of my ability), maintaining this website, and (albeit infrequently) shooting film.

MY CAMERA COLLECTION IS A HOBBY: I NEVER SPEND BIG MONEY ON IT. There's a full list of what I've paid for my cameras at the foot of the What's that camera worth? page.

Since 2002 I have been using a Leica Digilux 1 (supplemented by a tiny Fujifilm Finepix J40) for day-to-day photography, but I'm planning to move to a Leica D-lux typ 109 very soon.

 


 

Buying cameras

Voigtlander Vito IIaAlmost all of my cameras and lenses have been purchased via eBay. I have detailed their costs, net of postage, as the current UK cost of a small package weighing less than 2kg is £2.85. If postage costs are unreasonable, I assume the seller to be a rascal, and don't bid on their item.

Many purchases are a complete gamble due to sellers who have no idea how to use a film camera (and so cannot identify features that don't work as intended), plus the unscrupulous who are economic with the truth. Patience is the best tactic, and if in doubt (about the quality of the merchandise or the integrity of the seller), I work on the basis there will always be another one along in a few hours, days, weeks, months (sometimes years).

 


 

General repairs, and sources for parts (here in the UK where possible)

Contax 137MDAny newly acquired camera will generally require cleaning, new light seals (if it's Japanese), and possibly other minor DIY repairs or replacement of missing exterior parts.

I'm using ROR (Residual Oil Remover) Pro Lens Cleaning Fluid to clean lenses and glass; obtained from Jack the Hat Photographic.

Replacing light seals isn't difficult, but it is fiddly. Guidance can be found at Jon Goodman's Seal Replacement Instructions. Not every make and model is covered, but the procedure is pretty much the same for most cameras.
It pays to use the correct materials: open-cell (vibration deadening) for mirror dampers, closed-cell (more dense and light blocking neoprene type) for door chanels, and felt for door hinges. The pre-cut kits available from various sources generally consist of wholly open-cell sponge foam parts, and are best avoided. UK eBay seller pilgrim18 stocks good uncut materials. They are inexpensive and each sheet is sufficient for many cameras.

Aki-Asahi Custom Camera Coverings (Japan) is great for pre-cut replacement leathers, or sheet material if your model isn't listed. Customer service is very good, with fast and inexpensive delivery ($4 = £3.24 for registered priority airmail [Nov 2016]). A more limited range of materials and pre-cut covers can be obtained from UK eBay seller millyscameras.

A few OEM camera bits can be obtained from UScamera (US as in the United States). They have a tiny range of stock, but it's the only place I've found that sells new old parts. BE WARNED - shipping costs start at $14.25 (£11.53 as of Nov 2016), which is eye-wateringly expensive.

For camera batteries, the Small Battery Company is a really useful resource. They many not always be the cheapest supplier (especially if you're not fussy about using some unknown brand), but their website is excellent for identifying equivalent modern battery IDs, and alternative options.
Although banned in the EU since 1991, and the USA since 1992, it is currently possible to buy new Russian Military, factory fresh, PX625 1.35v mercury batteries from Moscow, via www.px625.ru, or through eBay seller ostashin. They are not cheap, and seller listings are subject to removal by eBay from time to time.

 

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