Topic: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Hey there,


thought I'd start a topic about a rather unusual question that I kept asking myself for quite some time:
How much abuse can a simple (i. e. your average SLR equipped with nothing electronic except for the light meter), analog camera take?

With "abuse" I mean things that frequently mess up digital cameras, like...
- rain
- being splashed by sea water
- heat/coldness (like in the desert/arctic)
- being dropped
... or alike.

I started wondering about this because I plan to take one of my analog SLRs with me on future holidays, just as a backup for my DSLR or for those occasions where I think a DSLR could easily brake - like photographing ocean waves crashing onto a rocky beach with water splashing all over the place, looks absolutely spectacular, but is dangerous for cameras.

What do you think?


Kind regards,
Matt

Cameras: FED 2, Voigtländer VSL1, Revueflex AC I (rebranded Chinon CE-3), Zenit-E, Kodak Retina 1a, Olympus E-520 DSLR
MF Lenses: Rollei Planar HFT f1.8/50 mm, Enna München f5.6/300 mm, Revue f4/24 mm macro, Industar 50-2 f3.5/50 mm, Upsilon Y9-PE f2.8/200 mm, Auto Revuenon f1.9/50mm, Auto Revuenon MC f3.5-4.5/35-105 mm, Industar 26M f2.8/52 mm

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

It depends how much electronics are used in the cam, as you already mentioned.
And it depends in which "class" this particular cam is settled.

My Ricoh KR-10x was, despite being a non-pro cam, able to handle the odd "blow" when I was shooting for a newspaper about 20 years ago. It once fell down from a 2m bookshelf and still works fine.

My copy of the Nikon F is said to have a history in the Vietnam war. So it had to endure a lot of abuse, I guess. It looks like it, but it works like a charm.

The old mechanical cams can deal with several hard blows and even with rain well, but salt water is a real problem. It easily destroys any electronic device and causes rust on metal parts.

But today old used SLRs are not very expensive, so you can easily buy a well working one and shoot your close-to-sea shots. If something bad happens, you won't lose too much of value, will you?

BTW, I am selling a Canon FTb QL which is built like a tank and works fine, together with a complete set of lenses (28-105, 80-205, 1.8/50 and 3.5/135) for only €50,- (plus p&p). That might be the perfect cam for this occasion!
(There are just two stripes of dirt in the viewfinder.)

Allow me to add a photo:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5201/5350967773_a9f8d08797_z.jpg
BTW: Set is gone. wink

Last edited by LucisPictor (2011-04-10 08:22:02)

Mostly in my bag ATM: Fuji X-T1, X-E2, X-E1, Leica M8, Nikon1 V1 and several lenses...
Things ON SALE!

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

I think that the Fuji HD-M will withstand most of your abuses but it's not a SLR ...

I am a Pentacon and kiev( MF and35 mm) user,and also :contaxII,III,IIa  ,contaflex , contarex bullseye ,voigtlander ....

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Got agree with Carsten that cameras do not like sea water. I wrote off a Pentax ME when a wave washed over me and the aforesaid instrument. The lens continues to function - 35 years later.

I also have experience of cycling with cameras, carrying a gadget bag suspended off the handlebars and thus exposed to shock and vibration. The Pentax bodies were fine, but this time the lenses gave trouble. A Flektogon's aperture mechanism failed completely and a Pentax 50mm's focusing mechanism  became very stiff.

I have also cycled carrying a Canon DSLR and L series lenses. They survived, apparently unscathed. Older is not always better.

Look after your kit.

Currently using Canon 5DII and Sony a6500 with Olympus, Pentax, Canon and M42 converters.

Photo Blog

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

LucisPictor wrote:

BTW, I am selling a Canon FTb QL which is built like a tank and works fine, together with a complete set of lenses (28-105, 80-205, 1.8/50 and 3.5/135) for only €50,- (plus p&p). That might be the perfect cam for this occasion!
(There are just two striped of dirt in the viewfinder.)

.... must.... resist... !!!
Argh! Pity I didn't know about your offer ca. 10 days earlier, when my girlfriend was looking for a sturdy, silver SLR in exactly that price range as a birthday present for me, and yours even includes lenses!
On the other hand, I couldn't use my M42 lenses on the Canon, and the Zenit I got instead is more exotic/interesting, being not your average japanese SLR. wink
Good offer tho, I'm sure it'll find a good new home!

Last edited by mat619 (2011-01-13 08:35:23)

Cameras: FED 2, Voigtländer VSL1, Revueflex AC I (rebranded Chinon CE-3), Zenit-E, Kodak Retina 1a, Olympus E-520 DSLR
MF Lenses: Rollei Planar HFT f1.8/50 mm, Enna München f5.6/300 mm, Revue f4/24 mm macro, Industar 50-2 f3.5/50 mm, Upsilon Y9-PE f2.8/200 mm, Auto Revuenon f1.9/50mm, Auto Revuenon MC f3.5-4.5/35-105 mm, Industar 26M f2.8/52 mm

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Well I think Lucispictor summed it up in that I use cheap cameras like Olympus OM10/20 or Canon T70 or Konica TC for photographing the kids on a sandy beach/sea water or where there is sandy dust in apartments near the beach etc .....and my Canon T90 stays at home.
Also why not pick up a P@S from 50p-£3 at boot sales or charity shops for those times when a camera can get abused.

Nikon FM, F90x, EM, F90x, Canon AV1, A1, T70 & T90, Minolta X-700, SRT101b and AFZ, Pentax S3, Fuji STX-2, Practica MTL3, TL5b, BC1, Chinon Chinon CE,  Konica Autoreflex TC, FS-1 & C35, Yashica T5D, Olympus OM2, Contax139, Ricoh KR-10,  Bronica Etrs, Mamiya RB67 pro AND drum roll:- a Sony DSC-P92
.........past gear Tele Rollieflex and Rollei SL66.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Well, I guess my Zenit would be the one which could fulfill the job of being the one to take to the rough jobs, since it's rather easily replaceable and built like a tank.


But let's come back to the original question - does anyone have experience or even an interesting story to share about adventures with a camera?

For example I once read about a Pentax (dunno which model) used on a yacht that went overboard, was brought back up by a diver from the boat and that was fully working after being cleaned, including the light meter.
I'm not sure if this story is actually true, but if so, it's quite impressive!

Cameras: FED 2, Voigtländer VSL1, Revueflex AC I (rebranded Chinon CE-3), Zenit-E, Kodak Retina 1a, Olympus E-520 DSLR
MF Lenses: Rollei Planar HFT f1.8/50 mm, Enna München f5.6/300 mm, Revue f4/24 mm macro, Industar 50-2 f3.5/50 mm, Upsilon Y9-PE f2.8/200 mm, Auto Revuenon f1.9/50mm, Auto Revuenon MC f3.5-4.5/35-105 mm, Industar 26M f2.8/52 mm

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

I would forget about a model with a meter and go for a fully manual old pro SLR.
I bought a Pentax SL way back about 1967-68 and after much abuse it is still working perfectly. It was black but all the edges and many surface parts are now bare brass which shows the camera has been very well used.
It now sits proudly on my shelf. To me all the signs of wear tell a story and bring back memories of all the times it has been used. A camera in mint condition means nothing to me the only story it tells is it isn't a very good tool or the owner isn't a photographer.
The SL was the same model as the first Spotmatic (I also have a SP) but without the meter. At the time it was prefered by the  Pro and was usually supplied with the f1.4 50m. Of course I still use that f1.4 50mm Super-Takumar on my digitals.
I have also owned from new the Fuji HD-M. If your camera is going to Sea water and sand on your camera it is the best choice but you are limited to the f2.8 38mm lens (Which is very good) I used my Fuji HD for boating, swimming, and beach pictures, but it is also a great camera to carry about on any activity holiday or day out.
I would not dismiss the idea of one of the waterproof PS on the market (Try before you buy) Even if you get an SLR that is tough as old boots like the Pentax, what about your lenses?
The bottom line is I know of no SLR that could stand a good soak in sea water and beach sand, unless you are going to get it stripped and serviced after its ordeal. The usual pro method of protecting your camera is to make yourself a slash proof bag (A carrier bag) Its almost fool proof.

PS Some of the best 'At sea' shots I have seen have been taken with disposable waterproofs.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

mat619 wrote:

Well, I guess my Zenit would be the one which could fulfill the job of being the one to take to the rough jobs, since it's rather easily replaceable and built like a tank.


But let's come back to the original question - does anyone have experience or even an interesting story to share about adventures with a camera?

For example I once read about a Pentax (dunno which model) used on a yacht that went overboard, was brought back up by a diver from the boat and that was fully working after being cleaned, including the light meter.
I'm not sure if this story is actually true, but if so, it's quite impressive!

Many years ago when I was working we had a cupboard full of old Pentax SVs SIs etc. One mad Friday afternoon (After a few drinks) we went to the car park to see who could throw one the furthest. All the cameras continued to work and only a couple of them even got dented.
More than once I have used the Fuji HD-M as a weapon. A group of three tried to mug me in Alicante on night the Fuji caught one of them on the shoulder and he went down, the others ran off.
I'm almost ashamed to admit I have dropped my Pentax K10 at least three times (On the pavement) and twice a lens was damaged. Last time I wrote off a Pentax 50-200mm. But not even a scratch on the K10D. After the incident that broke the 50-200mm I had the camera checked over thinking it may have at least thrown the out focus off or worse. it came back with a perfect clean bill of health.
Almost on a weekly basis I get cameras wet (Rain drops) many of them like the Olympus E-p1, Ricoh GRD2 are not built for that, Or are they? The odd drop of rain rarely does a camera any harm.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Admittedly neither camera is an SLR but I took images at a steam show in south central Pennsylvania with a Leica M3 for two hours in the rain, camera and pictures were fine. Same thing with an Argus C3 again 20 minutes in the rain no problem.

meniscus

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

I once had a really bad argument with my other half, when I was suffering from Dysentry, and I ended up throwing my Minolta 5000 against a stone wall, just as if I was throwing a ball to a wicket keeper!
It and the lens survived, complete with white stone marks on them. I still have them, and have used the lens on my A700, the camera works OK as well.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

After buying around 50 old defective SLRs of various sorts, the most vulnerable part in my experience is the prism.  It's a heavy lump of glass and easily dislodged from its mountings if you drop or knock the camera hard.  And on some cameras it's very close to the housing, so even a small dent can chip it or damage the silvering.

I believe the story of the camera still working after being rescued by a diver.  However I bet it didn't last very long after that unless it was dismantled and dried out properly and relubed.  Many parts, especially springs, will rust and seize up if they stay wet.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Although not strictly all manual, my old F3HP Nikon took quite a beating.  I was photographing the renovations to  a 19th century mill complex in my home town over the course of three years, when, one day, I decided to shoot the river from the bottom floor of the old ice house.  As I started to climb down a ladder to get to the cellar, a rung broke, and I was thrown some twenty feet down to the cement floor. After reviving (I hit pretty hard up against a 6x6), I found my F3 about forty feet away.  I'd had it slung over my shoulder, and had flung it as I fell. The 70-210 E Series zoom had some loose elements (it rattled) and the focusing was very stiff, but the front element was intact. I figure it had dropped fifteen feet onto a cement floor after flying through the air forty feet.  That's certainly camera abuse!  Turning on the F3, I found the meter still working - no damage at all.  I got up, looked out the window of the cellar at the river, and shot a roll of Plus-X of a young spike horn moose that had wandered into the river bed the day before, and was stuck.  The lens barely worked, but it worked well enough to get this http://www.flickr.com/photos/60348442@N07/5595685743/  . Anyway, I eventually repaired the lens, went to a chiropractor for three years (herniated discs in my neck from where I'd landed up against the 6x6), and used the F3 for another ten years until the clutch gave out on me.  Hell of a tough camera...

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

I tend to baby my cameras, even those that I've bought that were in butt-ugly condition when I bought them.  But their condition was a direct reflection on the way they had been treated.  Probably the most beat up cameras I've owned were two old Canon F-1s.  They had dents and dings everywhere, especially the pentaprism housings.  But both cameras worked flawlessly from the day(s) I bought them to the day(s) I sold them years later.  I've also owned a Nikon F2 that was in almost just as bad of shape, but that camera I still own.  And it's never missed a lick also.  When I bought it, it had the standard DE-1 prism finder on it that was the worst looking part of the whole camera.  Some months later I picked up a mint copy of a DE-1 for it, and boy did that ever improve that camera's looks! 

One lesson I learned about the DE-1 finder though -- if the glass prism inside the finder begins to come loose, one should take the time to tighten up the screws that hold it in place.  I reckon that's pretty good advice for any finder.  My prism had come a bit loose, where it rattled around very slightly inside the finder housing, and one day I bumped the very top of the (formerly mint) prism.  Put a small ding in the top of the finder, but the prism fractured at that spot.  So now it has a blurry star-shaped fracture just above the center of the field of view.  Grrrr . . .  I know that if the prism would have been tightly held in the finder this wouldn't have happened.

Regarding a camera taking a salt-water bath, normally this is a terminal situation.   In many instances however, this sure death can be avoided by immediately immersing the camera in fresh water -- preferably distilled --  with batteries removed, of course, and then proceeding to change out the freshwater bath several times.  After this, the camera is put into a warm oven (say 150 F), where it is slowly but thoroughly dried.  Sometimes you'll get lucky with the electronics, sometimes you won't.  But if it ever happens to you, it's worth a try.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

From combat experience in Vietnam it's Leica M-3 hands down. I even had to knock a bad guy down by hitting him over the head
with it. It sill worked fine.

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Indeed, an M3 can take a lot. OK, the rangefinder perhaps needs re-adjustment, but otherwise...

Mostly in my bag ATM: Fuji X-T1, X-E2, X-E1, Leica M8, Nikon1 V1 and several lenses...
Things ON SALE!

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Ummm ..... film cameras use a chemical process, nothing analogue about it.

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy.

18

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

WELL, logic sometime do not really materialise as my experience tell. I've been to some very cold place for outdoor shoots and I've found that many " believed to be tough rough pro grade mechanical " camera just do not held up while some really surprise. I recall numerous occassion the Leica M usually fail fast, so do the Canon F-1 and the Nikon F. The Nikon F2 and the Pentax Spitmatic as well as my old Contax II somehow are quite resilient and would work almost all the time. The surprise come from the Yashice FX-3 which even outlast the aboves repeatingly.

I do recall on several long outdoor hike in the cold. I usually left with 2 working camera and that is the Hasselblad 500C , and believe it or not the Fujifilm one shot camera ( those that you buy and just shoot ). The Hassy also prove just as fine in heavy tropical storm and dropping off some hiking mishaps ( each and every time I have to clean it of course afterward )

As far as hot and humid goes ( and I live now somewhere so ) there's typically little problem unless you go to the very extreme

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

I agree with FTL about the old Contax III and IIa : I have been to various places from very cold to hot ; I have had no problem . I used them also in the cockpit of fighter aircraft and they still work perfectly .

I am a Pentacon and kiev( MF and35 mm) user,and also :contaxII,III,IIa  ,contaflex , contarex bullseye ,voigtlander ....

Re: How much abuse can a analog camera take - your experiences?

Depends on the camera. I fell in a steep melt-water river in the mountains some 20 years ago with my Pentax LX...and I still use the same camera. But that is a special camera.

Edit: On the other hand I've done similar things with my Pentax DSLRs (K20D, K-7, K-5) and they have survived. But they are built with the same philosophy as the LX.

Last edited by Douglas_of_Sweden (2014-06-19 20:22:52)

SLR: Konica AR system / Pentax 110, m37, m42, K, KA, F, FA, DFA, DA, 645, 67 system / Praktica BP system / Samsung NX system+adapters for the above and m39, FD, F, OM...lenses / TLR: Rolleicord 6x6 / RF: Voigtländer Bessa RF / Kiev/Contax system / Agfa Ambi Silette system / Yashica Electro 35 G / develop BW, scan 35mm, looking for a solution to scan my MF...