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Nikon F3 – Camera Review

Nikon F3 Camera Review (2 of 11)There are rare objects in this world that have the power to stop people in their tracks. Works of art so beautiful that they demand a lingering gaze; music so lovely that it pulls us into a different world. And for us photo geeks, even cameras can be so captivating!

I was on vacation, strolling through New York’s Greenwich Village and snapping away when a man stopped me on the street and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Hey, is that a Nikon F3?” We talked a bit, he lamented selling his own F3 long ago, and as we parted he mentioned his happiness (but not his surprise) to see one still in use.

A month later I was back home in Los Angeles eating at a Thai restaurant when another stranger asked me to take a photo of his family. When he noticed the camera on the table his eyes took on a distant, sentimental glow as he recognized the F3. He stared at it with something that resembled reverence, even as he distractedly handed me his comparatively gargantuan D4.

And it wasn’t much later that a stranger in a coffee shop casually remarked that the F3 slung over my shoulder was “the best camera of them all. That’ll last you forever.”

These interactions happen all the time, and they always leave me with a feeling of pride as I nod, and smile, and hold the F3 just a bit tighter. But what is it about the F3 that makes people so sentimental? What makes it so special, so beautiful, that it so often causes people to stop and appreciate it?

It’s an easy question to answer. Simply put, the Nikon F3 is one of the greatest cameras ever made.

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Contax 139 Quartz – Camera Review

Contax 139 Quartz Review (8 of 11)

I recently found myself the reluctant owner of a Contax 139 Quartz 35mm SLR, a camera about which I knew little and for which I cared even less. After all, if this rebranded, electronic Yashica were anything worthwhile I’d have heard about it from my friends at the camera shop, or spied one scrolling by in my Instagram feed. Yes, surely if the 139Q mattered I’d have known about it.

Still, it was being sold with a fairly legendary Zeiss lens attached, so I bought the whole kit and awaited its arrival. Getting hands on this beautiful glass would be a big win for anyone, no matter what substandard camera so lecherously clung to it.

Luckily, this uncharacteristic bout of arrogant self-assurance was not much more than a 24-hour bug. When the camera arrived and I pulled it from its packaging my pompous windbaggery was justifiably and firmly checked.

I held the Contax, flicked its controls, squeezed off a few shutter releases, and decided my next action should be to insert into my gaping opinion hole the proverbial sock.

Just over a month later the Contax has become a constant companion. While it’s not a perfect camera, it’s surely one of the best I’ve ever shot. With objectivity (and humility) happily renewed, here’s the great, the good, and the bad about Contax’s electric wonder.

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Canon AE-1 – Video Review

After much filming, lots of trial and error, and countless hours of editing, we’ve finally finished our very first video review. We’ve started with a camera that’s among the most popular film cameras of all time, Canon’s AE-1. Take a look, and let us know what you think. And while you’re at it, why not […]

Minolta XE-5 – Camera Review

Minolta XE-5 Camera Review (5 of 16)

I began my photographic journey with a Minolta DSLR, the rather fantastic-in-its-day Maxxum 5D, so when I felt the urge to try some film shooting more than a decade later, Minolta became my launching point. After careful research, I purchased the XE-7, and it turned out to be one of my favorite buys of all time.

This camera was so special to me, in fact, that it’s entirely responsible for spawning the germ that would become CASUAL PHOTOPHILE. It was the XE-7 that showed me the incredible value of quality vintage cameras, the charm of analog photography, and the importance of experiencing the world through a lens (a truth that I’d somehow forgotten during the previous ten years).

Recently, with the site about to enter its third year, I’d been feeling the urge to get back to basics; to get out and shoot with a camera that just felt right. The XE-7 would have been a strong candidate, but with the new year and omnipresent deadlines fast approaching, it was important to shoot a camera that I’d not yet reviewed.

With this in mind, I chose to spend the holiday break shooting a Minolta XE-5, a 35mm film SLR made in 1975. Would the XE-5 be any good? Or would the ‘5, as many commentators might have us believe, be naught but a low-rent knockoff of the lauded ‘7? Let’s find out.

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Argus C3 – Camera Review

Argus C3 review

Here at CP, we love film cameras. But the idea that film will ever again be the dominant medium in photography is unthinkable. The technical mastery and convenience of today’s digital machines is just too amazing, and we love shooting RAW. But while we pragmatically bow to the power of digital shooting, we’ll never lose our affinity for analog cameras.

This passion for classic machines informs the majority of what we do here; attempt to illustrate the ways in which these sometimes archaic cameras maintain relevance in the digital age. And it was with this end in mind that on a recent trip to New Hampshire’s White Mountains I chose to bring along a truly ancient camera; the Argus C3.

Some examples of the Argus C3 can be an astounding 77 years old. That’s an old camera. To try to put that into perspective, it’s possible that some of the C3s made in the ’30s could have been owned by 70-year-old photographers who were youngsters during the American Civil War.

Tenuous historical tie-ins aside, all we really care about is whether this thing’s fun to use. So, how did the Argus C3 fare in the wilds of 2016? Can a nearly 80-year-old camera make decent photos? And can its antiquated design satisfy a shooter who’s daily camera is a Sony A7? Let’s find out.

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