5 Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

Polaroid cameras are a dime a dozen, and utterly fantastic. But some are more fantastic than others. While I love the ubiquitous 600-series machines for their ease of use and their ability to pull me right back to the ’80s, I can understand why some shooters and collectors regard them as a bit boring. These are the Polaroids for the masses that we’ve all seen a hundred times, and they’re all just about the same.

But not all Polaroid cameras are so run-of-the-mill. Under Edwin Land, Polaroid was an enterprise cut from the same high tech and innovative cloth as modern companies like Steve Jobs’ Apple. No surprise then that over the course of fifty-plus years, Polaroid would release a number of exciting and interesting machines that set the then-nascent tech world ablaze. Good news for us, many of these rarer Polaroid cameras can still be bought and used today.

For serious photo geeks and lovers of all things uncommon, here are five special Polaroid cameras and the reasons they’re worth you’re attention.


Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and CollectingPolaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

SX-70 Land Camera – 1972

I begin our list with my personal favorite. If you’re going to own only one Polaroid camera, this should be the one. The masterpiece product of famed inventor Edwin Land (second only to Thomas Edison when measured in number of registered patents), this camera changed the entire landscape of American camera culture. To think that this thing came out in 1972 – it must’ve been mind-blowing.

I love it for its remarkable design – when folded closed it’s an unbelievably compact and elegant assemblage of brushed chrome and leather, and when deployed for photo-taking it’s unlike any camera in the world. This visionary design is paired with equally impressive engineering, making the SX-70 a camera of many firsts. It was the first folding SLR. It was the first SLR instant camera. It was the first instant camera to use automatic-developing integral film (this meant no waste to clean up, as all process chemicals are permanently stored in the print). It was the first instant camera capable of shooting five photos in ten seconds.

Optical prowess follows – the SX-70 uses a 4-element 116mm F/8 glass lens that makes stunning images. A split-image rangefinder equipped viewfinder allows for manual focusing as close as 10.4 inches (26.4 cm). An advanced automatic exposure system is capable of shutter speeds ranging from 1/175 of a second to more than 10 seconds, and this exposure may be manually adjusted via an exposure compensation wheel on the front of the camera, putting quality photos in the hands of masters and beginners alike.

There are a number of models available, some in different colors, some with Sonar focusing. I hold the opinion that if you’re going to own an SX-70 you might as well own the original. Look for the brushed aluminum with tan leather and no tripod socket (accessories are available). And if you want one that’s completely refurbished with a warranty, look no further than my friends at Brooklyn Film Camera.

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Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

Minolta Instant Pro – 1990

This next Polaroid isn’t quite a Polaroid at all – or rather, it’s a Polaroid in all but name. Manufactured in 1990, the Minolta Instant Pro was a rebranded Polaroid Spectra Pro. The same camera by any name, these are worthy machines by virtue of their being the most manually adjustable Polaroid cameras ever made. They also sport a high-quality coated glass lens that produces excellent images, and they produce larger prints than any other integral film Polaroid.

On the back of the camera we find a range of controls rare in instant cameras. With electronic adjustments for self-timer, built-in user-controlled flash, auto- and manual-focus, audio status signal, exposure compensation, timed exposures, back-lighting compensation, sequential exposure, multiple exposure mode… this thing has it all.

I mentioned larger prints – that’s because the Spectra series cameras are different from most Polaroid cameras in that the Spectra machines produce images that are larger and rectangular. The larger image area makes them an excellent choice for those who find the square format of 600 and SX-70 cameras limiting. But don’t worry – these larger shots still offer the iconic white framed border on every print – just make sure you buy Spectra film packs.

Users of the Minolta Instant Pro and Polaroid Spectra Pro will also enjoy a generally higher level of build and superior image quality compared to earlier non-folding SX-70 and 600 series cameras.

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Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

600 and 600 SE – 1978

Here’s another Japanese and American blend Polaroid camera. The 600 and 600SE (lovingly called ‘the Goose’ by knowing photo geeks) are essentially Mamiya Press cameras fitted with Mamiya lenses and Polaroid pack film backs. This combination created incredibly sharp and high quality images that developed instantly with Polaroid’s peel-apart film. Unfortunately, this film went away. Fortunately, Fuji’s FP100C also works! Unfortunately, Fuji discontinued FP100C not very long ago. Fortunately (again!), Impossible Founder Florian Kaps is heading an effort to keep FP100C alive. Unfortunately- eh. Enough of that. FP100C will still be available for a few years, and the 600 and 600SE can be easily fitted with a 120 film back when the instant stuff runs out.

I could say a lot about this camera’s specs, capabilities, and various configurations – almost too much for a list of this type. Let’s just keep it simple. The 600 offers just one (outstanding) lens, while the 600SE allows the shooter to swap lenses. Both come standard with a 127mm F/4.7 lens that produces sharp, brilliant photos. They’re massive cameras, extremely well built, with manually controlled aperture and shutter speeds, and a bright, beautiful viewfinder.

If you’re looking for a serious machine to ride the last wave of FP100C instant film or to make the most of your 120 Ektar and Portra, pick the 600/600SE.

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Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

SX-70 One-Step (Rainbow Stripe) – 1977

The original non-folding SX-70 camera was created to offer a lower-cost alternative to the previously-mentioned folding SX-70 masterpiece, and became quite an icon in its own right. Utterly simple in design and functionality, the SX-70 One-Step uses the same film packs as its more capable sibling, and requires the user to, remarkably, press just a single button to create an image.

I love it today for two reasons – it’s less valuable than the folding version, which helps ease my mind in less-than-delicate shooting environments (like when I hand it off to my twenty-month-old daughter), and because it’s an eye-catching conversation-starter. It’s a camera that people immediately recognize, and what’s more, it gets people excited. Bring one of these to your next beach day, cookout, or concert, and you’re going to make a lot of people very happy indeed.

The plastic lens isn’t the best Polaroid ever produced, but it does the job and renders images with that lovely vintage aesthetic that we’re all aching for. They’re still relatively inexpensive, and film is readily available.

Instant souvenirs, a stylish tech accessory, and that famous rainbow stripe? Yes, this is one Polaroid you should have in your collection.

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Polaroid Cameras Worth Owning, Shooting, and Collecting

Integral 600 Series – 1980s, 1990s

I know in my intro I squawked about these being a bit too run-of-the-mill, but in all honesty you should own an integral 600 series camera for one very simple reason – they’re useful. While many of the other cameras on this list offer better optics, glorious design, or high functionality, the 600 series offers something the SX-70 film cameras don’t – a higher ISO film (600 versus 100 or 160).

What this means is that in certain shooting situations in which the SX-70 would shoot a prohibitively long exposure, the 600 series machines will not. The film is more sensitive, and will in certain instances produce sharper results than the higher-specced SX-70 cameras. Spectra cameras like the Minolta above have similarly sensitive film, so the 600 series can’t beat that machine in this regard, but they do trump the Pro in price. 600 series cameras can often be found at thrift shops, and even online, for under $20 (untested).

If you want something a bit more interesting, hunt out one of the innumerable 600 series special editions. Taz is ever popular, and if you’re into the Spice Girls we’ve got a Polaroid for you too.

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Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography

Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography

Today we’re keeping the budget-conscious articles coming. Here are five (or more) great accessories that will help boost your photography for very little money.

Many experienced photo geeks will already own or have experienced these add-ons. If so, let us know in the comments which is your favorite, and let us know if there’s another cheap accessory you’ve found that you can’t live without. This will help newcomers! Many thanks.


Photo Books

The only way to truly improve your photography is to improve your eye and mind. And let’s be clear, there are no shortcuts. Cultivating vision and thoughtfulness in the craft takes years of practice and experience. That said, photographers who consume and digest the works of great photographers past and present are more likely to achieve their own vision faster than those who work in a vacuum. One of the easiest ways to study the works of the greats is through photo books.

There are many photo books that aspiring photographers should absorb. And importantly, you should consider what type of photographer you want to become before you start buying photo books. Street, fashion, portraiture, documentary, whatever type of photographer you want to be, buy books shot by that type of photographer. Some of our favorite photo books that everyone should start with – Snaps by Elliot Erwitt, Where I find Myself by Joel Meyerowitz, books from the sometimes controversial Steve McCurry, and what photo book collection would be complete without The Decisive Moment by Bresson.


Close Up Filters

I’ve written about close up filters in the past, I still love them, and they’re still incredibly inexpensive (a close up filter set typically costs less than $15). Close up filters are essentially magnifying lenses that screw onto the threaded filter ring on the front of any standard camera lens, just like any other filter. They usually come in sets of three or four, in powers of +1, +2, +3, and +4. These lenses can be stacked to increase magnification as desired. Another popular close up filter is the single +10 filter, which allows stunningly close photography that comes close to a true macro photograph as would be made with a dedicated macro lens.

To ensure you buy the correct filter, make sure you know the diameter of your lens’ filter threads. This measurement is different from your lens’ focal length (an easy mistake to make for new photographers). Look for the diameter symbol on your lens (it looks like this – ø) which should be followed by a measurement in millimeters. For example, “ø55” indicates that the lens’ filter thread diameter is 55mm, so you would buy a 55mm close up filter set. If your lens lacks a clear diameter measurement, this information should be easily detectible via the manufacturer’s website or through some good old fashioned internet research.

Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your PhotographyFive Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography


Legacy Lenses

Adding a new lens to your photographic arsenal has always been the most potent way to bring new life to your photography. A lens of a focal length that we’re not used to shooting can instantly alter our perspective on the world, and change the images we make of it. Thing is, lenses are typically pretty expensive. Unless we’re talking about legacy lenses.

The term “legacy lens” is nothing more than a polite way to say “old lens.” These lenses, often from the heyday of film cameras, are gorgeously made and take excellent images (virtually every photo on this site is made with one legacy lens or another). They’re also unbelievably inexpensive.

Legacy lenses can be used on their native systems (for example, a Nikon F mount lens on an F mount camera) or adapted to today’s mirrorless digital cameras by way of inexpensive adapters. Even with the cost of these adapters added in, we can shoot some truly legendary legacy lenses for less than $100. That’s an unbelievable value compared to buying new, modern glass. We listed our favorite legacy lenses in an article last month, and you can browse every lens we’ve ever tested in our lens review index.

Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography


Teleconverters

Like the close up filters mentioned earlier, teleconverters add versatility to the lens collection we already own. Teleconverters attach between your camera body and lens and effectively act as a magnifying glass, increasing the apparent focal length of the lens. For example, a 2X teleconverter used with a 50mm lens will create images with an apparent focal length of 100mm. If you own three lenses for your camera system, adding a teleconverter is like suddenly owning three more lenses. And they’re cheap!

This versatility comes at a cost – teleconverters decrease overall image sharpness and lens speed. That said, there’s no cheaper way to instantly double the focal lengths available to you than by adding teleconverters.


Color Gels

Color gels are simply colored transparent material use for coloring or color-correcting light. The cheapest accessory on this list, color gels are great for those of us who want to shoot interesting product photography or portraiture in the studio. Often they’re used in conjunction with a flash to blast a subject with dynamically colored light, but colored gels can also be effective with a soft box, lamp, or even a cell phone flashlight. I’ve seen some truly stunning portraits made with color gels, and achieving the effect is surprisingly simple and astonishingly inexpensive.

Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography


Tools for Long Exposure

To make long exposures you’ll only need a couple of specific tools. These are tools which allow us to take a photo without moving the camera even a fraction of an inch. Happily these tools don’t have to be pricey. The first we’ll need is a decent tripod. To start, you don’t need to buy an expensive Manfrotto or Gitzo, but don’t go to cheap either. It’s possible to get a great tripod for between $45 and $100 with a little browsing. If long exposures are your thing, expect to upgrade down the road.

Next you’ll need a way to release the camera’s shutter remotely. Most film cameras and many modern cameras, like Fujifilm’s X series mirrorless cameras, use a threaded cable release. This is nothing more than a cable that allows the photographer to press the shutter button without touching the cameras. Alternatively (and this eliminates addition cost) we can actuate the shutter using the camera’s built-in self-timer.

Lastly, and this is important when shooting long exposures in the daytime, we’ll need some neutral density filters. Like sunglasses for your camera, neutral density filters simply cut down the light entering the lens by a stop or two or more. ND filters can get pricey, but again, there are some bargain brands making decent ones that will do the job for those on a budget.

Five Inexpensive Accessories to Get More Out of Your Photography

Leica M Film Cameras Too Expensive? Here are Five Alternatives

Leica M Film Cameras

After being away from the film game for a few years, a friend of mine decided to buy himself a Leica M series film camera. When he saw the high prices that these cameras now command, he passed out and hit his head on his walnut desktop. From the hospital bed where he spent his concussed convalescence, he wrote me an email which echoed a common question – “Why are Leicas so expensive now, and where can I get one cheap?”

I wasn’t surprised to read this email. People want cheap Leicas, even though Leica M film cameras cost more today than they have at any time since the “death of film.” Going back to as recently as 2014, prices for some Leica M models have tripled. Even the once-considered-lowly Leica M4-P and M4-2 each now cost over $1,000 on average . Twenty years ago, the Leica M6 was thought of as “the cheap Leica” and today it costs twice the price of an original M3 (a camera which is, according to the written gospel found in ancient Rockwellian tomes, “the world’s greatest 35mm camera”).

I don’t see the rise in price as a bad thing . If we consider the trend objectively, it’s only natural that prices of film cameras should rise. Think about it from a distance and through the prism of other “unnecessary things on which people spend money.”

Prices are rising for specific and valid reasons. Especially in the cases of mechanical cameras, which most Leica Ms are, these cameras are (still) useful tools. They’re uncommonly well-made objects which have survived their original intended lifespan. They’re a finite resource, making them inherently collectible. Particular models and variants which were made in fewer quantities are even rarer, and are now bought specifically for their rarity. A new generation of photographer (buyer) has entered the market, and noticed the unique quality of these old cameras. Add to all of this that they’re simply beautiful objects that draw the eye and the hand – equal parts science, engineering, and art – and it’s easy to see why prices are up.

But just because they’re expensive, that doesn’t mean that they’re overpriced.

I’ve said this elsewhere – some popular professional camera likers see the rise in film camera prices and say that it’s all built on undeserved hype. I couldn’t disagree more. While extrinsic prices for certain poorly-made, unreliable, or otherwise undeserved film cameras are unjustly outstripping their intrinsic value , the prices of classic, collectible, or exceptional film cameras are not inflated artificially. On the other hand, prices for well-made, reliable, and capable old cameras are now exactly where they should have been all along. Leicas aren’t over-valued today – they were under-valued for two decades, and we got used to it. (The same can be said for other film cameras – the Nikon F3, Canon’s EOS 1, Hasselblads.)

Leica M Film Cameras

Leica M Film Cameras

Leica M Film Cameras

While this meandering preamble around extrinsic versus intrinsic value and the free market as it pertains to sixty-year-old film cameras answers the first part of the two-part question first posed by my hospitalized friend’s email as it appears in the opening paragraph of this article – “Why are Leicas so expensive?” – it does little to answer the second part of that question. And this is the important one – “Where can I get one cheap?”

The answer is simple. You can’t. Leicas cost a lot and you ain’t getting one cheap. The days of finding an M6 for $300 are long gone and they’re not coming back.

Furthermore, complaining about the price of Leicas is like screaming at a rain cloud – you can do it, but buddy, you’re still gonna get wet. Here’s some good news; there are a lot of alternatives to the Leica M, and I’ve got ’em locked and loaded like glistening brass bullets in this magnum revolver hand cannon I call “my brain.”

Anyway. That’s enough of whatever that was – without any more of my nonsense, here are five (or six, or seven, I’ve not decided how many yet, and I’m not coming back to edit this sentence later) alternatives to the Leica M.

The Criteria

I’ll outline here the criteria which cameras must meet to find themselves upon this illustrious list of mine. For any camera to be included it must –

  • Be all mechanical. 
  • Offer some degree of exposure control.
  • Be capable of mounting lenses interchangeably.
  • Be a rangefinder.
  • Be a quality camera with great lenses. 
  • Be affordable in comparison to the premium-priced Leica M series (for me, that means that each camera must cost about half of what a Leica M costs).

Some of these selections were decided upon after conversation with my colleague. If comparing any one of these cameras to the hyperbolically lauded Leica M series offends you, be sure to histrionically yell/type at us in the comments.

Let the listicle begin.

Canon 7 and Canon 7s

Canon 7 and Canon 7s

Every time that a Canon rangefinder camera from the 1950s and 1960s comes through my shop, I’m stunned by the quality of the things. After seven years of this being my full time job, it shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it still does. And the last time a Canon 7 came through, I was once again deeply struck. I echoed what Timothy Lebedin said in his article on the Canon 7 – “How the hell is this thing so cheap?”

The Canon 7 is a camera that perfectly meets all of the criteria which I mentioned for inclusion in this list. It is an all-mechanical, manually controlled, 35mm film rangefinder camera with a Leica Thread Mount lens mount, and (in a one-up on the pre-M5 Leicas) a built-in light meter. It’s a smooth shooting, high-quality, reliable and effective camera, and it can make beautiful images (again, see our writeup).

What’s most arresting about the Canon 7, however, is what I alluded to earlier – it is unbelievably inexpensive. You could buy ten Canon 7s for the price of one Leica M6. Astonishing. When buying a Canon 7, make sure it’s in good shape and sold guaranteed to work. If you buy the original 7, don’t expect the light meter to work or be accurate unless it’s stated to be so – Selenium meters fail over time.

The later models, known as the Canon 7s and Canon 7s Type II, swapped the Selenium meter for a CdS battery-powered meter. These meters are more likely to work today. This of course means that prices for the 7s are notably higher than for the original Canon 7. That said, a mint Canon 7s will still cost a quarter the price of most Leica Ms.

You can buy a Canon 7 here

Nikon SP (Nikon S2 for Budget Buyers)

Nikon SP (Nikon S2 for Budget Buyers)

When I started my own business full-time and bought a house, I decided to treat myself to a “forever camera.” Wow, what self-indulgent nonsense. That self-deprecation out of the way, what camera did I choose? A Nikon SP 2005 Limited Edition. And while that specific camera is not the camera that I’m including on this list as a viable alternative to the Leica M (because the 2005 SP is too expensive to meet my criteria), I am including the original Nikon SP.

The Nikon SP of 1957 is the most advanced rangefinder camera that Nikon ever made, and in many ways it’s one of the greatest cameras of all time. It’s a relatively compact, all-mechanical, fully-manual 35mm film rangefinder camera with an incredible viewfinder, precise and luxurious build quality, and a full suite of astonishingly gorgeous Nikon lenses made to fit its S-mount lens mount.

This camera really is all about the lenses. The Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 is legendary. The 105mm F/2.5 was born on this system (and would later go on to be one of the most popular portrait lenses of the manual focus era). The classic 50mm F/1.4 renders stunning images for laughably little money.

And that last point – price – is a good one to mention. The Nikon SP can be bought with the Nikkor 50/1.4 for a few hundred dollars less than it costs to buy a body-only Leica M3. If you’re a budget buyer, get the Nikon S2. It does a lot of what the SP does, but cuts cost by having a much simpler viewfinder.

Buy a Nikon SP here

Konica Hexar RF

Konica Hexar RF

With the Konica Hexar RF, we’re sort of scratching at the ceiling of my criteria, for two reasons. First, the Hexar RF is pretty expensive, and again because it’s an electronically operated camera (rather than fully mechanical). But, it squeaks in just under the acceptable limit on price, and it finds its place here on the list because it’s a damned impressive camera in every way.

The Konica Hexar RF is a gorgeously-made 35mm film rangefinder camera that’s most directly comparable to Leica’s M7, Leica’s only M series camera with automated exposure modes (aperture priority). Konica’s camera offers the same aperture-priority mode, plus essentially everything else we get with the far pricier M7. It’s got manual exposure, manual focus, a big, bright viewfinder and excellent rangefinder, frame lines of the usual focal lengths from 28mm to 135mm, generous “outside the frame” viewfinder coverage (with .60x magnification), and a solidly built chassis with fine exterior details. It even uses the same mount (although Konica called theirs the “KM Mount” and never referred to Leica when discussing which lenses would work on the Hexar).

In typical Japanese manufacturer fashion, Konica even outdid Leica in a number of ways (sound familiar, Minolta CLE fans?). The Hexar RF is about the same size and weight as a Leica M3, and yet it manages to maintain these dimensions and heft while adding motorized film advance and rewind. And while some purists will sneer at motorized film and its reliance on batteries, I’m no such purist. I’m too old to be wasting my life rewinding film, and I just repaired a Pokémon Stadium 2 Nintendo 64 cartridge with nothing but a soldering iron and a piece of speaker wire. How hard can it be to repair a Hexar?

Buy a Konica Hexar RF here

Voigltander Bessa R and Bessa R2

Voigltander Bessa R and Bessa R2

While the build quality of the Voigtlander Bessa R comes up short of Leica standards (the Bessa R uses polycarbonate plastic top and bottom plates), its excellence in all other areas lands it on this list. Introduced in the year 2000 by Cosina in Japan as part of the relaunch of the Voigtlander name, the Bessa R is a whole lot of rangefinder camera for very little money.

It’s a simple, all-mechanical, fully manual camera with through-the-lens metering, user-selectable frame lines (35/90mm, 50mm, 75mm), and the Leica Thread Mount capable of mounting any LTM lens.

The Voigtlander Bessa R2, released two years later in 2002, replaced the Bessa R’s Leica Thread Mount for the more modern Leica M mount, and swapped the plastic top and bottom plates for more robust magnesium alloy. For these reasons, the Bessa R2 is the more desirable model, however the price for the better machine will naturally be higher. Buyers can expect to pay about $499 for the Bessa R, while the R2 will cost closer to $800 (bodies only). Remember, these prices are still significantly less than a Leica.

Buy a Bessa R2 here

Minolta 35 Model IIB

Minolta 35 Model IIB

Probably the most unusual addition to this list, the Minolta 35 Model IIB is not a camera that many people know about, nor is it one that anyone would typically recommend as an alternative to the Leica M series.

The first Minolta 35 released way back in 1947. At that time it was among the best rangefinder cameras in the world, and in fact featured many advancements over contemporary Leica cameras. These include a combined rangefinder/viewfinder system, self-timer, an integrated film take-up spool and hinged film door which made loading a faster and easier process than with Leica’s machines.

The Minolta 35 Model IIB released in 1958, and is the best Minolta 35 variant ever made, with superior convenience features (such as a lever style film advance mechanism), as well as numerous technical improvements. These include a larger magnification viewfinder, full frame image area (all previous Minolta 35s shot slightly smaller than the 24×36 standard), and an improved effective rangefinder base of 32mm (admittedly sub-Leica standard).

The Minolta 35 Model IIB accepts all Leica Thread Mount lenses. But the real magic is when we use Minolta’s own “Super Rokkors,” a succinct lineup of incredible performing LTM lenses.

It’s not a common camera, so it may be a bit hard to find one. But if you can find a nice Model IIB (and there are always a few on eBay) you should buy it. There are few “sleepers” out there these days, cameras which are truly excellent but undiscovered. The Minolta 35 Model IIB may be one of those – it’s a compact, solid, and beautifully-built classic camera made of metal and glass, and today (with an amazing lens) it costs half as much as a Leica (body only).

Buy a Minolta 35 Model IIB here

 

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Are Gopros Waterproof? How Deep Can They Go?

Are Gopros Waterproof, or will you have to give up your plan of filming exciting underwater adventures? Well, the answer is more nuanced because it depends on the model.

Older GoPro models didn’t use to be waterproof. This meant that if you wanted to take your GoPro diving, you had to buy an external case to protect them. Are things different now? Let’s find out.

Are Gopros Waterproof

Are Gopros Waterproof Out the Box?

The short answer is yes! Most GoPros nowadays are waterproof for up to 10 meters (or 5 in some cases) and don’t require housing to resist underwater. However, older models, before GoPro Hero 5, require external housing for protection.

Are All GoPros Waterproof?

No, models older than the GoPro Hero 5 aren’t waterproof or water-resistant. The only way to make an older GoPro waterproof is to put it in an underwater case called a housing. However, newer models are waterproof at 10 meters, with GoPro MAX only diving as deep as 5 meters.

Is GoPro Hero11 Black Waterproof?

GoPro has made it clear that they don’t play around when it comes to capturing action. The GoPro Hero11 allows vertical videos and better color grading, making it particularly appealing for social media creators. 

Released on 25 October 2022, it also comes with waterproof and water-resistant capabilities and can be immersed up to 33 feet (10 meters) underwater.

Is GoPro Hero 10 Waterproof?

The GoPro Hero 10 supports 5.3K video recording at up to 60fps and 4K video at up to 120fps for ultra-smooth slow motion. You can also capture 2.7K video at up to 240fps for super-sharp action shots and 23-megapixel stills.

This camera is a beast when it comes to handling water – it’s waterproof up to 33ft (10m) without requiring housing for protection!

Are Gopros Waterproof

Is GoPro Hero 9 Waterproof?

GoPro HERO 9 supports 5K video recording and can capture 20-megapixel photos. Some features include HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization to ensure everything goes smoothly.

And you don’t have to postpone your underwater adventure because this camera is waterproof and water-resistant and has a durable shell that can go as deep as 33 feet (10 meters).

Is GoPro Hero 8 Waterproof?

The GoPro 8 is a great action camera that can shoot 1080p videos and has HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization. 

The outside of the camera is waterproof up to 33 feet (10 meters), but you can supplement that with an additional layer of protection by purchasing protective housing.

Is GoPro MAX Waterproof?

The GoPro max includes great features like a video resolution of up to 5.6k and HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization.

While most new GoPros are waterproof up to 33ft (or 10 meters), GoPro MAX is a notable exception, being able to reach only 16 feet (5 meters) in depth. 

Besides that, GoPro hasn’t yet created protective housing for the Max model yet.

Is GoPro Hero 7 Waterproof?

The GoPro HERO 7 is the first HERO model that allows you to live stream right from the camera. It can also shoot 4k videos and photos. Like most contenders on this list, it features a sturdy body that is waterproof up to 33 ft (10 meters).

Is GoPro Hero 6 Waterproof?

The GoPro HERO 6 is the first HERO model to shoot 4K footage at 60fps (not 30fps, like previous models). It can also shoot Full HD 240fps video in very slow-motion.

The GoPro HERO 6 can go underwater up to 33feet (10 meters) without any risks so you can take it on any adventure you can think of.

Is GoPro Hero 5 Waterproof?

The Hero 6 is the first HERO model to protect against water damage. It’s waterproof down to 33 feet (10 meters), so you won’t have to worry about getting it wet while swimming or snorkeling. Some of its features include 12mp photos and video capabilities up to 30fps in 4k. 

Is GoPro Hero 4 Waterproof?

This model can still be an excellent and cheap option for beginners, featuring 30fps in 4k, 50fps in 2.7k, and 120fps in 1080p.

Unfortunately, GoPro HERO 4 is the last model ever produced by GoPro that doesn’t protect against water damage. The following cameras were exclusively waterproof. But if you want to take it with you when diving or snorkeling, you can do it if you buy protective external housing.

Is GoPro Hero 3 Waterproof?

No, the GoPro HERO 3 is not waterproof. You can change that only by purchasing protective dive housing to ensure it’s up for anything.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some “good bones.” The HERO3 can shoot at 12fps in 4k, 30fps in 1080p, 48fps in 960p and 60fps in 720p and can capture 11MP photos.

Are Gopros Waterproof

FAQs

Can Gopros go in salt water?

Absolutely! You can immerse all the new models of GoPro in any kind of water, including salt water.  But it is advisable to put your GoPro in fresh water right after to remove salt residue.

How long can a GoPro be underwater?

You can typically expect a GoPro to survive being submerged in water, but there’s no exact number of seconds or minutes before it starts to malfunction. 

Newer models will typically last 10 meters underwater – as long as you consider their limit, you can submerge the GoPro in water. However, make sure to check for damage to the seals and doors. If water reaches the interior of the camera, it may cause permanent damage.

To be sure, you can always add extra protection by buying additional waterproof housing for your camera.

Are Gopros Waterproof

What happens if GoPro gets wet?

As long as your GoPro only gets wet on the outside, you’re in the clear; this usually happens when rain droplets reach the camera. 

But if the water ever gets inside, you may be in trouble. You can avoid this by constantly checking the rubber seals for signs of wreckage.

If the water does get inside, it’s essential to know how to act: 

  • First, you must remove any accessories attached to the camera – like the battery and SD card. 
  • Next, you’ll have to dry it off immediately with a clean cloth or towel.

Are GoPro Session Models Waterproof?

YES, they are! The GoPro HERO4 Session is the first ever model to be waterproof.

GoPro Session Models are all waterproof up to 10 meters. However, ensuring the side door is always completely closed is good practice. Another good idea is to hold the camera straight when filming underwater.

Are Gopros Waterproof? | Final Thoughts

Despite what many people think, not all GoPros are waterproof. Only certain newer models have waterproof capabilities right out of the box. Hero4 and Hero3 are some models that don’t have this feature.

The best way to make these models water-resistant is by purchasing waterproof housings, so you can easily keep your GoPro safe from splashes or moisture. And yes, you can buy external housing even if your camera is already waterproof!

Happy diving!

 

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Blog

Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review

This is a Purma Special, an all Bakelite snapshot camera produced by Purma Camera, Ltd., England starting in 1937. The Purma Special shoots sixteen 32mm x 32mm images on 127 roll film. It is a simple fixed focus camera with an extremely unique gravity controlled metal blade focal plane three speed shutter that changes speeds depending on the orientation of the camera. The Purma Special was a capable and inexpensive camera, allowing it to remain in production until around 1951, making it one of the longest produced cameras built in England.

The Purma Camera company was founded in 1935 by British painter and commercial poster artist, Tom Purvis, and inventor, Alfred Croger Mayo with funding provided by David Brock of Brock Fireworks. The company was formed in London with the intent to build a camera around a unique focal plane shutter concept designed by Mayo in 1933. The name “Purma” is an amalgam of the last names of both Purvis and Mayo.

Purma Special – Guest Review

At the time of Mayo’s first shutter patent, there were no inexpensive options for focal plane shutters. The few cameras that had them such as the Leica, Contax, or Graflex Speed Graphic used complicated cloth, or in the case of the Contax, metal drum systems in which a spring tensioned curtain would open and close a specific amount of time before a second curtain which set the shutter speed. Although these shutters worked well, they required a high level of precision and were expensive to build and sell.

Mayo came up with the idea of a focal plane shutter that used two curved metal curtains both with rectangular openings which allowed light to pass through them. The inner curtain was connected to a rotating brass weight, that depending on its orientation, would change the inner curtain’s position, creating a slit between it and the outer curtain. This allowed for three different sized openings that would allow an increasing amount of light through, depending on the orientation of the camera. At the fastest speed, the slit was about 1/16″ wide, 1/8″ at the medium speed, and 1/2″ at the slowest speed. The wider the slit, the more light came through.

Purma Special – Guest Review

The brass weight served a second purpose as its weight also affected the speed at which the curtains would move. With the camera held sideways in the slow speed position, the weight was nearest the ground. When firing the shutter, it would have to move up against the force of gravity. This motion would slow down the movement of the shutter curtains, resulting in a shutter speed of approximately 1/25. With the camera held sideways in the fast speed position, the weight was nearest the top so that firing the shutter would cause it to fall with the force of gravity, speeding up the movement of the shutter curtains, resulting in a shutter speed of approximately 1/450. Finally, an in between speed could be obtained with the camera held horizontally where the brass weight neither had to overcome gravity or being assisted by it, resulting in a shutter speed of approximately 1/150.

Purma Special – Guest Review US Patent number 2134309 shows the design of what would become the Purma Special.

Despite its unorthodox design, Mayo’s shutter worked really well and because of its simplicity, was very reliable. Barring physical damage, the shutters found on these cameras rarely failed. Another benefit to the simple design was that it could be produced cheaply. Most of the parts were made of stamped metal, not requiring any precision machining like in more complex focal plane shutters. The number of individual parts was kept to a minimum requiring less raw materials. Finally, since speeds were changed automatically based on the orientation of the camera, no additional parts like a shutter speed dial were required, further keeping costs low.

The first camera to use Mayo’s shutter was the Purma Speed, which had an all metal body with a two-element lens and a flip-up viewfinder. It used the same three speed shutter explained above, but added a knob on the top plate of the camera that altered the width of the slit at each of the three positions, adding three extra speeds, bringing the total to six speeds. The Purma Speed was inexpensively priced at 35 shilling, and used 127 “Vest Pocket” roll film which allowed for 16 square exposures at a cost of 1 shilling per roll. The decision to shoot square exposures was to prevent changing the aspect ratio of each image as you rotated the camera to select different speeds. No matter how you oriented the camera, you would always get a square exposure.

Purma Special – Guest Review The first Purma camera was the Speed, which had an all metal body and used Mayo’s unique gravity shutter. 

A year after its release, a second camera called the Purma Special made its debut. The Purma Special used the same three speed shutter as the Purma Speed, but lost the two range dial on the top, limiting it to only three speeds. The lens was now a three-element f/6.3 Beck anastigmat. The inner lens elements were said to be “bloomed” which I interpret to mean some form of early lens coating, to reduce flare. The flip-up viewfinder was replaced by a through-the-body direct vision viewfinder.

The most significant change was a new body, entirely made of Bakelite, and with a distinct shape that was wider in the center than the edges. Many sources online credit the design of the body to famous French-American industrial designer Raymond Loewy, but according to Richard Jemmett’s The Purma Camera Book, no evidence exists that Lowey ever had anything to do with the camera, at least not directly. Lowey did have a London office at the time the Purma Special was being built, so it’s plausible that credit was given to them to help make the camera more fashionable, but a better explanation was that company founder Tom Purvis had a hand in its design. Purvis was already a well respected artist, having created posters used by the London and North Eastern Railways, and competing in art competitions at both the 1928 and 1932 Summer Olympics, so it stands to reason that he had a lot to say in its art deco design.

Purma Special – Guest Review

The Purma Special was exported to the United States and sold for the modest price of $14.75.

The Purma Special proved to be very popular, both in England and in other countries. The camera was exported to the United States and sold in January 1939 for $14.75 which when adjusted for inflation, compares to about $275 today.

Today, opinions are strongly divided among collectors in regards to the Purma Special. Some fondly remember it as the first camera owned by their parents or grandparents growing up, but others chastise it for it’s strange appearance and operation. Although the Purma shutter is simple enough that it rarely fails, Bakelite is fragile and there’s more than a few Purma Specials out there with cracked bodies.

Whichever your opinion, this is a very unique camera with a fascinating design, that similarly to the rotating focal plane shutter in the Univex Mercury CC, showed that some camera designers were willing to think outside of the box to create something new that worked well, and could be made cheaply.

Purma Special – Guest Review

Shooting the Purma Special Today

I had wanted to try a Purma Special for quite some time, but it was never a priority for me until one day while talking to James, he asked if I would be interested in reviewing the camera. He sent me this camera with a couple filters and told me to keep it when I was done.

When the camera arrived, it was both bigger and lighter than I had expected. Weighing a total of 340 grams, the camera is lightweight but not small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. With the body’s angled edges and lens collapsed, it slides nicely in and out of a camera bag or small purse, but don’t drop it as the Bakelite body is fragile and will likely crack.

The Purma Special is about as simple as it gets. In fact, the top plate is where you’ll find everything you need to control the camera. The button inside of the tear drop recess is the shutter release, in the middle is the shutter cocking lever, and finally, the film advance knob. The Purma Special uses 127 roll film, so there’s no need to rewind film, it has a focus free lens, a single aperture, and shutter speeds are controlled by rotating the camera.

A word of caution about the cocking lever is that when it is time to make an exposure, pressing the shutter release causes this lever to quickly fly back to its uncocked position. It is critical that nothing obstructs the motion of this lever, as any contact with your hand will throw off the shutter’s motion which will mess up your exposure.

The bottom of the camera has absolutely nothing on it, not even a tripod socket. Without a Bulb or Time shutter mode and no real slow speeds, there really wouldn’t be a good reason to put the Purma Special on a tripod, but it’s worth noting. A tripod socket was added to the later Purma Plus, despite it offering the same three speeds as the Special.

The back of the camera has two round red windows which are both used for exposure numbers on the film’s paper backing. The Purma Special produces sixteen images that are 32mm wide which no 127 film has numbers for, so you must use the numbers one through eight twice, once in each window. Your first exposure is made with the number one in the left window. For the second, turn the advance knob until the number one is in the right window and make your second exposure. For your third, the number two is in the left window, and your fourth is when the number two is in the right window. Keep doing this until after the 16th exposure, which is made with the number eight in the right window.

The eye piece is square and has the words “Fast” and “Slow” written on the sides, which is there as a reminder of how to orient the camera for it’s different speeds. Fast is 1/450 second and slow is 1/25 second. Although it is not indicated, holding the camera normally, results in a medium 1/150 speed. Each of these three speeds are rough estimates, but are likely good enough for the latitude of most film that would have been used in the camera.

Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review

The film door is not hinged and is held on by two clips on either side. Removing it is just a matter of pulling it off. The Purma has no light seals, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem as I didn’t encounter any light leaks while shooting it. Film travels from left to right onto standard 127 spools across a curved film plane.

Inside the film door is a small pressure plate that doesn’t quite cover the entire film gate, but obviously did a good enough job that the designers of the camera didn’t need to make it any bigger. You’ll also notice the word “Top” etched into the metal indicating how the door must be put back on the camera.

An interesting feature about the Purma Special that’s not obvious is that the two red windows are removable. When this camera was sold new, it would have come with these two red windows, and a second set of green windows which were to be used with certain panchromatic films. These additional windows are rarely found with Purma Specials as they were very easily misplaced.

Another easily lost accessory for the Purma Special was its threaded lens cap. In normal use, the camera’s lens is spring loaded and sticks out of the body of the camera by about an inch, but when not in use, the cap was designed to keep the lens retracted into the body. This not only helped make the camera more compact, but with the lens cap on, the shutter release would also become locked, protecting the camera from accidental exposures.

The viewfinder is two simple pieces of plastic that provide a square image which is useful as rotating the camera between “portrait” and “landscape” orientations doesn’t actually change the aspect ratio of the square image. According to R.W. Jemmett’s book, the Purma Special was the first camera to ever use plastic optics in the viewfinder.

The Purma Special is clearly a simple camera, designed to strip photography down to it’s barest form, making it accessible to as many people as possible. Handling the camera, the camera definitely is simple, and knowing for how long these cameras were produced, they clearly found a customer base, but what are they like to use? Fans of the Argus C3 will tell you the camera produces much better images than its appearance suggests, but can the same be said about the Purma Special?

As I normally do when it comes time to test a 127 camera, I tap into my limited supply of a German film called Supre-Tone that as best as I can tell was made in the 1960s. I am convinced that this orange wrapped 127 film has traveled through time as the every roll of it I’ve shot seems to have defied aging. Although originally rated at ASA 50, I’ve shot it at box speed and at 25 and it seems to come out at both speeds.

When shooting old cameras, you can never be too sure of what kinds of results you’ll get before you actually shoot it. Sometimes highly regarded cameras can disappoint you, and other times extremely basic cameras can pleasantly surprise you. The Purma Special falls in the latter category. While I had an inkling that the results from this strange camera would be decent, I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole roll of properly exposed and reasonably sharp negatives as I pulled the roll of Supre-Tone film from my Paterson tank.

As it turned out, a film speed of 50 was a perfect match for this camera. The camera’s three shutter speeds allowed me to capture both a sunlit lake, and the inside of a covered bridge with enough latitude so as not to blow out the highlights or reduce shadow detail into a murky mess. I would be willing to bet I could have pushed it to 100, but I wouldn’t wanted to go much beyond that without having to make adjustments in developing.

 

Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review

Purma Special – Guest Review Purma Special – Guest Review

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoyed my time with the Purma and found the simplicity of its controls refreshing. It is a lot faster to rotate the body of a camera to change its shutter speed than fiddle with a small dial or ring around a lens. Its focus free operation meant that as long as I stayed at least ten feet away from my subject, I did not need to be concerned with focus.

I had only two nitpicks with the camera. The first is that the shutter is quite loud when it fires. The internal mechanism makes a loud clang at the end of each exposure. This is not a camera that you’d want to try and shoot where you need to be discreet. The second is that the cocking lever flies back to its original position upon firing the shutter, so you must take care to keep your fingers away from it as the shutter is released. If anything obstructs this lever, it will throw off your exposure.

For amateur photographers in the UK during the twenty some odd years Purma cameras were made, Alfred Croger Mayo’s design proved to be a great success. Although strange in design, Purma cameras were extremely simple to use and did an above average job of producing quality images, worthy of enlargement. For the collector today, their simplicity means most should still be in good working order, and the good sharpness with strong vignetting of the Beck Anastigmat lens produces wonderfully vintage looking prints.

I liked the Purma Special more than I thought I would. My biggest wish is that 127 film was easier to come by, as I think that if I had more film options, I would shoot this camera more. Purma Specials are not common in the United States, but they do show up on occasion. Regardless of where you live, it should not cost a lot to add one to your collection, so if you have the chance, I highly recommend it!

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Best Product

Best Lens for Bird Photography: Budget Options for Beginners and Enthusiasts

If you’re looking for the best lens for bird photography, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, you’re going to discover the best budget bird photography lenses on the market–so that you can figure out the perfect option for your needs.

So to choose the perfect bird photography lens…

…read on.

Best Lens for Bird Photography: Budget Options for Beginners and Enthusiasts

Bird Photography as a Subset of Wildlife Photography

Birds are a type of wildlife, which means that all bird photographers are wildlife photographers.

But if you’re planning to photograph birds, then it pays to start thinking of yourself as a wildlife photographer. That way, you can listen to the advice given to wildlife photographers of all stripes.

Make sense?

Bird Photography Challenges

Photographing birds comes with some unique challenges, including:

Tracking Fast-Moving Subjects

Birds are some of the fastest creatures on the planet, which means that you’ll spend a lot of time trying to track them as they move around.

This requires a fast-focusing camera and a fast-focusing lens; otherwise, you’ll always be half a second behind with your photos–and you’ll get consistently out-of-focus images.

bird photography

Handholding Giant Lenses

If you want to do bird photography, you’re going to need to get close to your subject.

To do this, you’ll need a long lens (which I discuss in-depth below).

And longer lenses are really, really heavy.

Now, some bird photographers use tripods without exception. But this makes you far less flexible; after all, if you’re always carrying a camera attached to a tripod, you’ll frequently miss shots because you won’t be able to get setup in time.

That’s why you need to practice handholding large lenses–so you can figure out how to do this without getting blurry photos, and while still managing to keep the bird in the frame.

bird photography

Keeping Your Images Sharp

I recommend using a shutter speed of at least 1/1600s (and 1/2000s is safer). That way, you can get sharp images of the fastest-moving birds, no matter the situation.

What Makes a Good Lens for Bird Photography?

When you’re choosing a bird photography lens, you have to take a few characteristics into account:

Focal Length

The longer the focal length of a lens, the better it is for bird photography.

Birds are relatively small animals, which means that you won’t be able to get stunning, frame-filling shots unless you can get close–and since birds are also very skittish, you’ll need to get close by way of your lens.

That’s why I only ever recommend using a 400mm lens, at minimum, for bird photography. Anything shorter won’t get you close enough to get the images that you’re looking for.

Note that I’m referring to a 400mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera; if you’re using a crop-sensor camera, you can get away with using a shorter lens (but the lens still must reach 400mm with the crop factor applied).

Autofocus Speed

As I mentioned above, birds are fast.

Which means that you need a lens that can track them as they forage and fly and fight.

Some lenses offer slow autofocus. This makes for lots of missed shots–and you’ll find yourself getting very frustrated as you struggle, over and over again, to get sharp images of the bird in front of you.

But the best lenses for bird photography offer lightning-fast autofocus performance at every focal length.

bird photography

Zoom vs Prime

There are two broad types of bird photography lenses:

Zoom lenses, which offer a range of focal lengths (such as 100mm to 400mm).

And prime lenses, which offer a single, fixed focal length (such as 400mm).

Both these types of lenses have advantages and disadvantages for bird photography. Zooms tend to be very convenient because you can zoom out to photograph birds that are nearer to you, and then zoom in to photograph more distant birds.

But primes tend to be optically superior, plus they’re a lot cheaper.

While it’s possible to get very sharp zoom lenses, they’re going to be more expensive than similarly capable prime alternatives.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

bird photography

How Much Do You Have to Spend on a Bird Photography Lens?

The more you spend, the better the lens you’ll get (generally speaking).

That said, there are bird photography lenses at every price point:

Entry Level for Beginners ($500-$1000)

If you’re after your first bird photography lens, you may be able to get away with spending in the $500-$1000 range.

For this price, you’ll be able to get a zoom lens with decent autofocus capabilities and average sharpness. You may struggle to find a lens that reaches out past 400mm or so, but with a crop-factor camera, this should be usable.

Budget Level for Enthusiasts ($1000-$3000)

If you’re a more serious bird photographer, but you’re not planning on going pro anytime soon, you’re going to want to grab a bird photography lens in this area.

These lenses feature excellent autofocus, good optical quality, and focal lengths reaching out to 500mm and beyond. They’ll serve you well, and you’ll be able to get some truly stunning shots.

Professional Level ($3000+)

If you’re a professional, then you’ll want to invest in a bird photography lens that costs at least $3000 (and probably much more).

However, this article won’t discuss any professional bird photography lenses; we will be covering only the best entry-level and the best budget lenses for bird photography.

bird photography

Extending Focal Length With Crop Sensor Cameras

As mentioned above, you need a lens with at least 400mm of effective focal length if you want to capture images of birds.

And if you want to buy a lens in the “entry-level” category, you’re going to struggle to find lenses that offer a native focal length of 400mm or more.

That’s why I recommend beginners often start out with a crop-sensor camera; this will increase your effective focal length by a factor of 1.5, 1.6, or even 2.0 (on cameras with Four Thirds sensors).

Plus, crop-sensor cameras tend to be a lot cheaper than their full-frame counterparts, so it’s a win-win!


Best Lens for Bird Photography for Beginners

Here are the best options if you’re only just getting started in bird photography:

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM

Mount: Canon EF Mount
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32-45
Maximum Aperture: f/4-5.6
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Weather sealing: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 3.94′ / 1.2m
Field of view: 34° to 8°
Weight: 1.6lb / 710g
Size: 3.2 x 5.7″ / 80 x 146 mm

The Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is about as basic as it gets. You can shoot at 300mm on the long end, which is enough to capture photos of some birds, but only with a crop sensor camera. Autofocus speeds are decent, but will likely be a bit too slow for tracking birds in flight, while optics are decent but don’t offer the level of crispness that more serious bird photographers will prefer.

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Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 (for Canon or Nikon)

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 (for Canon or Nikon)

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Maximum Aperture: f/5-6.3
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 5.25′ / 1.6m
Field of view: 24° to 6°
Weight: 2.6lb / 1160g
Size: 3.4 x 7.2″ / 86 x 182 mm

The Sigma 100-400mm isn’t the cheapest lens in this section (it costs around $700), but it’s an impressive all-around performer. You get a nice set of focal lengths, especially on Canon or Nikon APS-C cameras, as well as fast focusing for birds on the move. And for that price, sharpness is very strong, especially at 400mm.

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Tamron 100-400 f/4.5-6.3 (for Canon or Nikon)

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Tamron 100-400 f/4.5-6.3 (for Canon or Nikon)

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Maximum Aperture: f/5-6.3
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 5.25′ / 1.6m
Field of view: 24° to 6°
Weight: 2.6lb / 1160g
Size: 3.4 x 7.2″ / 86 x 182 mm

Coming in slightly above the price of the Sigma 100-400mm (above), the Tamron 100-400mm offers similarly impressive performance for entry-level bird photographers. You get relatively fast focusing and good reach, which means that you’ll be able to nab high-quality bird photos with consistency. I slightly prefer the sharpness on the Sigma, but the Tamron 100-400mm does a satisfying job.

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Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3

Mount: Sony E-Mount
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Minimum Aperture: f/22-32
Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-6.3
Aperture Blades: 7
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 3.6′ / 1.1m
Field of view: 22° to 5°
Weight: 1.4lb / 625g
Size: 3.0 x 5.6″ / 77 x 142 mm

If you’re a Sony shooter, your bird photography lens options are pretty limited. Fortunately, Sony does offer this nifty 70-350mm lens, which features excellent sharpness and fast autofocus. Note that this is an ‘E’ lens, which only works on Sony APS-C cameras (but, with a long end at 350mm, you won’t want to use this on a full-frame camera anyway).

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Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM (for Canon or Nikon)

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM (for Canon or Nikon)

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 95mm
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Maximum Aperture: f/5-6.3
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 9.2′ / 2.8m
Field of view: 16° to 4°
Weight: 4lb / 1830g
Size: 4.1 x 10.2″ / 105 x 260 mm

In a lot of ways, the Sigma 150-600mm is the ultimate lens for entry-level bird photographers. It’s not the sharpest option out there, but it’ll get you 600mm of reach, which translates to a whopping 900mm on Nikon APS-C cameras (960mm on Canon APS-C cameras). And, thanks to the broad zoom range, you’ll also be able to photograph larger, more approachable birds with ease. At less than $1000, this lens is an absolute steal.

Buy on Amazon


Best Budget Lens for Bird Photography Enthusiasts

If you’re a more serious bird photographer, you’ll want to purchase one of these options:

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II

Mount: Canon EF
Filter Diameter: 77mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32-38
Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 3.2′ / 98cm
Field of view: 24° to 7°
Weight: 3.6lb / 1640g
Size: 3.7 x 7.6″ / 94 x 193 mm

The original Canon 100-400mm was a powerhouse of a lens–and the Canon 100-400mm II kicks it up another notch, offering excellent autofocus and incredible sharpness across the board. Unfortunately, this lens does cost over $2000, but for the performance, it’s worth it. As with the other 400mm lenses on this list, you’ll want to work with a crop-sensor camera, assuming you’re shooting smaller birds.

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Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G VR

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G VR

Mount: Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 77mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32-40
Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 5.7′ / 1.75m
Field of view: 31° to 7°
Weight: 3.6lb / 1640g
Size: 3.5 x 8″ / 96 x 203 mm

The Nikon 80-400mm is a superzoom that can capture nearly anything, including stunning bird photos. While I’d still recommend you use this with an APS-C camera, 400mm is going to get you enough reach for frame-filling bird images, and the 80-400mm focuses fast enough to ensure you’re well-equipped to handle action. On the 400mm end, this lens isn’t quite as sharp as some of its competitors, but it offers relatively crisp images, and will be enough to satisfy even more serious bird snappers.

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Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OSS

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OSS

Mount: Sony E
Filter Diameter: 77mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32-40
Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 3.2′ / 1m
Field of view: 24° to 7°
Weight: 40oz / 1395g
Size: 3.7 x 8″ / 94 x 205 mm

If you’re a Sony photographer and you can afford it, the Sony 100-400mm is a fantastic bird photography option. Sure, it’s extremely pricey, but it offers spectacularly sharp images at every focal length, not to mention fast focusing for tracking birds in flight. You also get image stabilization, which is just icing on the cake.

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Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 (for Canon or Nikon)

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 (for Canon or Nikon)

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 95mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32-40
Maximum Aperture: f/5-6.3
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 7.2′ / 2.2m
Field of view: 17° to 4°
Weight: 4.4lb / 2010g
Size: 4.3 x 10″ / 108 x 260 mm

The Tamron 150-600mm costs noticeably more than the 150-600mm Sigma, though at less than $1500, it’s still positioned on the cheaper side of the market. As you might expect, sharpness is good, even on the long end, resulting in detailed shots of birds, as well as expanded cropping options. Autofocusing is decently fast, making for a good shooting experience, though you’ll need to be prepared to deal with a relatively heavy, large lens.

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Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E VR

Best Lens for Bird Photography - Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E VR

Mount: Nikon FX
Filter Diameter: 95mm
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Maximum Aperture: f/5.6
Aperture Blades: 9
Auto Focus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Minimum Focusing Distance: 7.2′ / 2.2m
Field of view: 12° to 5°
Weight: 5.1lb / 2300g
Size: 4.3 x 10.5″ / 108 x 268 mm

The Nikon 200-500mm features a lot to be impressed by–you get 500mm of reach on the long end, which is right in the sweet spot for shooting small birds. You also get fast focusing plus sharp images stretching from 200mm all the way to 500mm, and not for an exorbitant price, either; the 200-500mm clocks in at under $1500. The biggest drawback is the lens’s size, though Nikon does add image stabilization to make handholding easier.

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Conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should know all about the best lenses for bird photography–and which lens is best for your needs.

So go ahead and grab yourself a bird photography lens.

And start taking gorgeous bird images, immediately!

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Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Monument Valley is located outside the popular tourist routes in the Utah-Arizona region, which is why it was not a popular location for a long time. Neighboring locations such as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park had greater exposure and were widely popular among visitors from around the world.

It was and still is a popular vacation itinerary for tourists to fly into Las Vegas and spend anywhere between six and eight days completing a giant loop through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah visiting the three major National Parks and the half-dozen State Parks and National Monuments.

Hollywood made Monument Valley popular. When John Ford started featuring the Valley in his blockbuster westerns, the distinctive views of Monument Valley soon became iconic symbols of the American West that were recognizable across the globe.

Monument Valley’s most recent wave of popularity came in the 1990s thanks to the Oscar Award-winning film, Forrest Gump. The obscure spot outside the park where Forrest Gump ends his running streak quickly became one of the most photographed spots in the region thanks to the film. It is unofficially named “Forest Gump Point.”

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - Forest Gump PointForest Gump Point

Monument Valley is located in the middle of nowhere, far from all the major airports. This means it is better to make the trek to the region as part of a multiday trip.

When I visited the park for the first time, I flew into Phoenix. I spent the first day in Sedona and dedicated the next two days to the Grand Canyon. From there, I took a less popular route toward eastern Arizona and Utah. Over the next three days, I visited three of the destinations that eluded me for a long time—the Canyon de Chelly, Valley of the Gods, and Gooseneck State Park. On the last day of my eastern Utah detour, I drove to Monument Valley from the east and started my exploration at Forrest Gump Point.

 

Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Monument Valley is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation and is not part of the National Park system. Because of this, it has many tribal restrictions. After enjoying the freedom you find from exploring National Parks, the tribal restrictions can be annoying but you have no choice but to play by the rules.

The main restriction is that the only place you can explore on your own is the dirt road loop known as Valley Drive. For the rest of the park, you must be part of a guided tour. The guided tours are not cheap, and they require advance scheduling and organization.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

If you are only visiting Monument Valley for a day, Valley Drive is your only choice. But you do not have to worry because the drive has plenty to offer. It is a 17-mile dirt road that passes by the most popular sites in the valley. It does not require 4×4 or high clearance cars; any rental sedan will suffice. But like most dirt roads in Utah and Arizona, when the roads are wet, they are impassable regardless of what car you drive.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

There are no special tips for driving the loop. With the speed limit set to 15m/h, you drive very slowly and, when you see something interesting, you stop, take a few pictures, and enjoy the greatness. Once again, because of the tribal restrictions, you are not allowed to hike far away from the road.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - Unmarked Rock on the Side of the RoadUnmarked Rock on the Side of the Road

Another challenge in Monument Valley is the crowds. If you visit the valley during high season, it can be annoying. The 17-mile drive covers a vast area, so the number of individual cars on the drive is not as noticeable. The tourist buses are what make the road busy since buses are not allowed to enter the drive. Instead, tourists are seated in small, open vehicles prior to entering the scenic drive. When you see five to six buses in the Visitor Center parking lot, you know Valley Drive will be packed.

On my first visit, I was lucky because the weather was awful. The cold rain and gusty winds started up at least 20 times throughout the day. Every time the rain clouds covered the sky, the temperature dropped at least 10 to 12 degrees. I loved it. The rain scared away most of the tourists, which gave me the chance to take a few dramatic photographs.

My advice is to start the drive as early as possible to beat the crowded tour buses. This will give you a couple of hours to enjoy the beauty of the valley in relative solitude.

 

Valley Drive Scenic Points

Do not forget to grab the Valley Drive map at the Information Center. This will help ensure that you do not miss any of the main attractions.

On the map, you will find 11 main scenic points over the 17-mile drive. Do not limit yourself to only the marked spots because you will have dozens of opportunities to take in the scenery between the stops.

Lookout Point

It is rare that the view from the Visitor Center is one of the most impressive and astonishing but that is the case at Monument Valley. The Visitor Center is located at the top of the hill and gives a wide, unobstructed view of the northern part of Monument Valley.

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

The Mittens and Merrick Butte

When you enter Valley Drive, you immediately start the descent into the valley. From the first observation point, you have a more intimate view of the West Mitten and East Mitten Buttes and the Merrick Butte.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Three Sisters

Three Sisters is a rock formation composed of three vertical rocks. It is prominently visible from almost every part of the drive. I think the Three Sisters look the least impressive from the dedicated observation point.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - Three Sisters in the distanceThree Sisters in the distance

John Ford’s Point

By far, this is one of the most popular and most spectacular locations in the entire park. If you are there in the middle of the day during high tourist season, expect at least 10 tourists taking selfies at the iconic natural observation platform. This makes it extremely difficult to get an interesting shot.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - John Ford’s PointJohn Ford’s Point

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - Elephant Butte – View from John Ford’s PointElephant Butte – View from John Ford’s Point

Camel Butte

The Camel Butte rock formation is not very impressive itself, but the observation point offers some amazing views in different directions.

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

The Hub

The view from The Hub toward John Ford’s Point is to die for. I prefer the perspective from the opposite direction where you can see three to four layers of points of interests spread from the foreground to the distant horizon.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive - The HubThe Hub

Totem Pole and Yeti Bi Chei

The Totem Pole is probably the most distinctive formation in the entire park because it does not look like anything else around. It is a series of giant, elegant spears erected in the valley.

 

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Artistic Point

Artistic Point offers the widest and most panoramic view on the eastern side of the park. The flat, endless plain only emphasizes the magnitude of the various buttes and mesas that are spread around in artistic randomness.

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

North Window

The North Window Point offers a view similar to the Artistic Point, but it gives you the option to observe the Spearhead Mesa where Artistic Point is located.

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

The Thumb

The Thumb rock is probably the most miniature attraction of the drive by Monument Valley standards.

Guide to Monument Valley Scenic Drive

At this point, you complete the loop and are ready to drive back toward the Visitor Center.

Stop by the gift shop to look at the interesting souvenirs. Do not forget to take a few more shots from Lookout Point before you leave the park.

 

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Five Best Digital Cameras for People Who Love Film Cameras

Best Digital Cameras

We love film cameras for many reasons; notably their historical significance, their ability to make world-class images, and their low cost compared to their digital counterparts. But I think most of the people here appreciate and maybe even prefer film cameras for one very specific reason – they feel incredible. Film cameras are creations from a time when physical mechanisms drove the world, and it’s rare to find such haptic joy in the modern era in which consumer goods are often thought of as disposable, or at least inevitably replaceable.

All of that said, there’s no denying that we also love certain digital cameras. While many digital cameras seem bland and, as stated, disposable, there does exist a handful of really phenomenal digital cameras that not only make amazing images, but also feel like the classic mechanical cameras that we love so dearly. It’s also hard to argue against the speed and efficiency of the digital workflow .

The five digital cameras featured today are best for those of us who also love film cameras. Here they come.

 


Best Digital Cameras

Fujifilm X100 Series

When the original Fujifilm X100 debuted at Photokina in late 2010, it made a massive splash. In an early 2011 writeup, DPReview described the X100 as “…a firm favorite in the dpreview offices.” Adding that “Its drop-dead gorgeous looks and excellent build make it a camera that begs you to pick it up and take it out with you,” and later describing the image quality of its 12.3 MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor as “…nothing short of superb.”

The original X100 and subsequent models in the series are such great cameras for people who love film because they’re all characterized by some very “film camera-like” features. They all look and handle like the classic compact or rangefinder cameras that film-shooting street photographers lust over (think Canon’s Canonet or even Leica’s M series). They feature a traditional optical viewfinder (with a decidedly trick hybrid electronic viewfinder system), they have classic physical controls for shutter speed, aperture, and more, just like film cameras of the past, and they all feature a number of “Film Simulation” modes which reproduce the look of classic Fujifilm emulsions.

Since the release of the original X100 (actually called the FinePix X100 – all later cameras dropped the FinePix nomenclature) Fuji has released three additional X100 models. The X100S refined the user interface and ergonomics while replacing the original X100’s excellent 12.3 MP CMOS sensor with a 16.3 MP Fuji X-Trans CMOS II. The third model, the X100T, retain the sensor, lens, and core functionality of the previous model, but improve on the X100S in incremental ways. Most interesting to film lovers might be the addition of the “Classic Chrome” film simulation.

 

Best Digital Cameras

The fourth and latest X100 is the X100F. This camera is naturally the most advanced X100 yet, packing a 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor into the traditionally compact X100 series body, as well as introducing a veritable cornucopia of new improvements. These include a new image processor, built-in ISO dial (a friendly addition for us film camera fans), a larger battery, an improved 91-point autofocus system, a 60 frames per second electronic viewfinder refresh rate, and a Fuji Acros film simulation mode. This last addition is especially interesting considering that Fujifilm discontinued production of their Acros film last year, and just recently announced plans to introduce a new Acros film after hearing the public outcry from film photographers.

The X100F has been the recipient of numerous awards in the photography press, and has successfully convinced the world that the X100 is a true professional photographer’s camera.

Which X100 camera should you buy? Well, the thing about the Fuji X100 series is that every single model in the series is fantastic. My advice is to first decide on your budget and then buy the newest X100 you can afford. Even if that ends up being the original X100 with the 12.3 MP sensor, you’ll be getting an incredible machine that will make phenomenal images. Anything more than that is just a bonus.

 


Best Digital Cameras

Ricoh GRIII

The Ricoh GRIII is an obvious choice for any film shooter whose preferred film camera is a compact point-and-shoot. It’s a strong digital stand-in for the premium point-and-shoots from Contax, or the ever-popular compact cameras from Olympus and Yashica. And of course the Ricoh GRIII is the perfect digital camera for anyone who lives and dies by the earlier Ricoh GR1 film cameras.

 

Best Digital Cameras

Best Digital Cameras

The Ricoh GRIII was released just a few months ago and it offers everything you’d expect from a brand-new, world-class digital compact while retaining the core concept that has made the GR series a camera loved by street photographers and snap-shooters for decades. It’s incredibly small and well-made, features one of the best 28mm (equivalent) lenses in the photographic world, has in-body image stabilization, excellent high-ISO capability, and an incredibly quick start-up time for capturing snapshots at a moment’s notice.

It’s an especially great camera for those of us who love compact film cameras because while it offers everything we’ve mentioned plus countless modern conveniences, it’s really a simple camera like the compact film machines we all love. It’s as “point-and-shoot” as it gets, without sacrificing anything in terms of image quality or tech. Oh, and it’s got some pretty fantastic film simulation modes too, if you’re into that (and we are).

 


Best Digital Cameras

Olympus Pen F

I’ll admit that some of the allure of classic film cameras, for me, is just how gorgeous these old machines look. There’s something about the proportions, something about the finish of satin metal contrasting against black or brown leatherette or vulcanite; film cameras are beautiful objects. It’s especially intoxicating when these gorgeous machines also happen to be extremely capable image-making devices. Which brings us to our third pick, and it comes from a legendary camera maker – Olympus.

Olympus is celebrating their centennial this year, and like they’ve done for many of the last hundred years, it seems Olympus is content to get down to the business of quietly making exceptional cameras and lenses. Without a lot of fanfare or marketing hullaballoo, Olympus has recently released a truly impressive digital compact in the form of the Pen-F Digital.

Like its earlier film ancestor, the Pen-F digital is uncommonly small. The Maitani-designed Pen F film camera was a half-frame camera, while the newest Pen-F Digital is a micro 4/3rds machine. This makes it well-suited for travelers and lifestyle shooters, or for event photographers looking for a pocketable camera for candids.

Like earlier Olympus designs, the Pen-F digital has outsized dials and knobs and switches for all the most important controls in photography. Big, mechanical dials click into place with directed force, controlling exposure compensation, firing modes, aperture, shutter speed, and more. And it feels dense and solid while never feeling heavy or awkward. Put the Pen-F Digital into the hands of a film photographer and he or she will instantly feel at home.

 

Best Digital Cameras

Best Digital Cameras

The tiny camera is packed full of incredible features – a 20 MP sensor (with 50 MP high-res shot mode), five-axis image stabilization, 10 FPS sequential shooting mode, an exceptional OLED electronic viewfinder, 81 point autofocus, and… a tilty-flippy screen. If you can’t get the shot with the Pen-F, it’s probably not the camera’s fault.

Interchangeable lenses from Olympus’ famed Zuiko line complete an imaging ecosystem that can compete with much larger (and more expensive) cameras. When we see the images that Olympus’ micro 4/3rds cameras can make it becomes obvious that the lesser-celebrated brand is still a powerhouse in optics – they’ve been doing this for a hundred years, after all. Oh, and the Pen-F Digital is (in my opinion) just about the prettiest camera on the market today. That counts for something.

 


Best Digital CamerasBest Digital Cameras

Nikon Df

The Nikon Df was very nearly replaced on this list after the team and I discussed its history and reputation and modern relevance. We had almost decided to include it at the end as an honorable mention. Call it nostalgia or perhaps a power move by my inner Nikon fanboy, but I just had to include it on the list.

The Nikon Df was released in 2013, and marketed by Nikon as a return to the purity of their earlier F series film cameras. With a full-frame sensor, dedicated physical dials to control the most important aspects of photography, a full metal construction including top plate and metal controls, and removal of the video mode often found on DSLRs, the Df does indeed seem like a perfect film-like interpretation of the DSLR.

The top plate is packed with big metal control dials for exposure compensation, ISO, shutter speed, shooting modes, and more. And in this way it truly does look and feel like one of Nikon’s modern classic SLRS, the F4 or the F5. But the rest of the camera is decidedly a digital machine. The back has everything you’d find in one of Nikon’s contemporary to the Df DSLRs, the D610 or the D750 for example. Which is good, but also somewhat confusing.

Is shooting the Nikon Df like shooting a film camera? Not really. Sure, it’s got physical controls, but it’s really quite a massive camera with very DSLR-like ergonomics. It’s the least pleasant camera on this list to shoot for those of us who just don’t get excited by DSLRs. And on this site, that will include a lot of readers as well.

Where the Nikon Df might become the perfect digital camera for the film shooter is when we discuss Nikon specifically. If you’re already shooting a bunch of Nikon cameras, say an original F, an F4, and even a Nikon DSLR, the Nikon Df could be a great fit. That’s because it’s the only Nikon DSLR that can mount and shoot every Nikon lens that’s been made since the original F mount was introduced in 1959. That’s pretty incredible. But then again, the new Nikon mirrorless Z6 and Z7 can do that too (with adapters). Decisions.

 


Best Digital Cameras

Leica M10-D

For many film photographers, the Leica M series is the perfect combination of all the things that make film cameras special. A beautiful, timeless design encapsulating nothing but gears and levers and steel and brass, the early M cameras especially are mechanical masterpieces (see our guides to the Leica rangefinders and their SLRs). Even today, Leica still makes two mechanical film cameras, the meter-free M-A and the light meter-equipped M-P.

With this pedigree and continued ability to create what could be the best film camera in the world right now, it’s no surprise that Leica should make some truly impressive digital cameras. While the brand seemed to struggle to find its footing in the digital age, their latest releases, the Leica CL, the Leica Q and Q2, and their newest M, the M10, are all grand slams.

Each of these cameras feels like a classic film camera in the hands. The dials and controls are simple and straightforward. The mechanisms actuate with incredible precision. The ergonomics and methodology are simplified down to the basics of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. In many ways, shooting a CL or a Q2 or an M10 feels like shooting a Leica M3 from 1954 or a CL from the 1970s. And that’s a good thing.

The M10-D is a recent release, and it’s the purest expression of the film camera ethos in a digital machine. The M10-D is essentially a Leica M10 that recalls the look and feel of the original M series camera. It loses the Leica Red Dot logo and replaces it with the more film-traditional Leica Script engraving. There’s a thumb rest on the top of the machine that flips out, looking and actuating almost exactly the same way that the film advance lever of the M3 does. The on/off switch is a ring surrounding an exposure compensation wheel that’s a clear reference to the film speed reminder of the oldest M film cameras (or the ISO selector on later M film cameras). This on/off and exposure compensation dial sits on the rear of the camera, exactly where most digital cameras would show their LCD display (this space is available because the M10-D simply doesn’t have an LCD display). This is the M10-D’s boldest move.

 

Best Digital CamerasBest Digital Cameras

For a digital camera in 2019 to not have an LCD screen is weird and, some would say, silly. And it’s an easy thing to poke fun of when we’re talking about the extremely pricey products that Leica creates. In case you’re not keeping track, I’ll tell you – the M10-D costs approximately $1,500 more than the M10. Why would anybody spend more money for a digital camera with fewer features than the camera from which it’s derived? There’s something to be said for staying in the moment and eliminating distractions, sure, but is that worth $8,000?

It’s a question that I won’t answer in a definitive way. Different strokes for different folks. But if you’re looking for the closest experience to shooting an incredible film camera but want those digital files and digital workflow, the M10-D might be the pinnacle of modern machines. (Even if I’d never buy one).

Got a digital camera that just feels right? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Best retro cameras in 2022: get the classic camera vibe, but digitally!

The best retro cameras provide a shooting experience like no other. Blending the best of old and new, they take bodies with the classically cool look and feel of the film SLRs and rangefinders from years gone by, and pack them full of cutting-edge tech and many of the conveniences modern photographers have come to expect.

And this isn’t just the hobby horse of a few niche weirdos, like us. It’s big business – retro cameras are really popular. Fujifilm basically turned its fortunes around as a company in the early 2010s by introducing the retro-styles X-series of compacts and mirrorless cameras, and other companies like Olympus and Panasonic have since hopped on the bandwagon.

Then there’s also Leica, who have been producing cameras that blend digital technology and old-school handling for years. If you want to use a modern rangefinder, Leica is pretty much the only game in town.

Retro cameras can be defined in a number of ways. Our own Rod Lawton came up with a neat categorisation system for retro cameras(opens in new tab), which I’ll borrow and tweak slightly for this guide. The ten entries on this list have been split into two types:

• Cheap and simple: these are cameras that look retro, but handle more like modern digital mirrorless cameras in terms of their controls. This is the most affordable way to get the retro look, though you don’t quite get that retro feel.

• Real-deal retro: these cameras use physical dial-based controls that feel much more like a classic film camera. They’re often built to discourage excessive use of the rear screen (“chimping”), some making the screen harder to access mid-shoot and others doing away with it entirely! These cameras tend to be more expensive, as some are designed for professional photographers, but you also get a larger sensor and generally better features.

So, let’s get started with the best retro cameras you can buy.

Best retro cameras in 2022

BEST RETRO CAMERAS: CHEAP AND SIMPLE

Nikon makes up for old misfires with this new Z-mount charmer

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 20.9
Lens mount: Nikon Z (DX-format)
Screen: 3-inch, vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Viewfinder: 0.39-in. approx. 2360k-dot (XGA) OLED EVF
Max shooting speed: 11fps
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Beginner to intermediate

REASONS TO BUY

+Satisfying manual handling
+Zippy burst shooting

REASONS TO AVOID

-Z50 is same thing, cheaper
-Few native DX lenses for Z mount

Nikon had a good go at a retro digital camera in 2013 in the form of the Nikon Df – a DSLR now discontinued. While it had its fans, it strained its full retro concept by virtue of the fact that most of its lenses had no aperture rings, and it came at a chunky premium price.

Fast forward eight years and we’re trying again with the Nikon Z fc, a retro camera that sensibly targets a more entry- to mid-level market. It’s the second APS-C camera for Z mount, and comes with dial-based retro controls – though if you prefer not to use them, you can capture shots in a much more digital way by tapping the touchscreen. But we’re not sure you’d want to – in oru Nikon Z fc review, we found the dial-based controls a joy to operate, making the camera fun to use, with few compromises made for its bags of style. Images look great, and the 4K UHD video is no slouch either.

If you don’t care about its stylish retro looks, the Nikon Z50 is basically the same camera for less money – though given that you’re reading a guide to the best retro cameras, we’ll assume you do.

 

A great retro camera for Instagram – but not available in the US yet

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen (80° up, 180° down), 1,037k dots
Viewfinder: No
Max shooting speed: Mechanical shutter 8.7fps (up to card capacity), electronic shutter 15fps (42 RAW / 49 JPG)
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Beginner to intermediate

REASONS TO BUY

+Stylish auto Picture Modes
+Lightweight and well designed

REASONS TO AVOID

-No viewfinder
-Pricier than E-M10 IV

The Olympus Pen series of fashionable, retro-styled mirrorless cameras had lost its way somewhat in previous years, but came back with a bang with the Olympus Pen E-P7. Using the same Micro Four Thirds sensor as the E-M10 Mark IV, replacing the aging 16MP model on previous Pen cameras and giving you 20MP to play with.

It’s packed with filters and auto-powered Picture Modes that make it easier for new users to create images with stylish looks and effects. Classic modes like Mono 2 basically simulate the distinctive looks of popular film stocks like Kodak Tri-X, allowing you to give your images a true retro feel.

In our Olympus PEN E-P7 review we were particularly impressed by the IBIS (in-body image stabilization), which is something of an Olympus speciality, and makes the camera especially good for video. Indeed, with with 4K 30p video, this one is definitely pitched towards vloggers – pure stills shooters may bemoan the lack of a viewfinder.

 

A retro-style street photography camera, though the operation is heavily digital

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
Screen: 3-inch tilting, touchscreen LCD, 1,240k dots
Viewfinder: EVF with 2.76m dots and 90-degree tilt action
Max shooting speed: 9fps
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Intermediate

REASONS TO BUY

+Excellent electronic viewfinder
+Handy 4K Photo modes

REASONS TO AVOID

-Reliant on digital menus
-Tiny rear control dial

As you can see, the Panasonic Lumix GX9 absolutely looks the part for a retro camera, resembling an older rangefinder-style camera. In practice though, it operates much more like a digital camera, and when we reviewed the Lumix GX9, we found that operating it relies quite a lot on navigating its menus. It’s got retro looks, but not so much that retro feel – if that doesn’t appeal, best look elsewhere.

It’s a really strong street photography camera though, with snappy autofocus and decent burst modes – though if you really want to make sure you don’t miss the moment, the 4K Photo modes allow you to extract sharp, high-res stills from 4K footage. Having the MFT lens mount means there are plenty of lenses to choose from, and the electronic viewfinder is hugely impressive for a camera at this price point. The GX9 may not tick all retro boxes, but it ticks plenty of its own.

 

The beginner OM-D is affordable, highly sophisticated – and retro, of course

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3Lens mount: MFT
Screen: 3-inch 180-degree tilting touchscreen, 1,037k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots
Max shooting speed: 8.7fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Beginner to intermediate

REASONS TO BUY

+Loads of features
+Terrific for travel

REASONS TO AVOID

-No mic port
-Feels plasticky

We don’t mind admitting we’re big fans of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. It brings the superb quality of the OM-D series into a beginner-friendly – and, crucially, affordable – camera body, and does it all with retro style. What’s there not to like about that? This is the fourth entry in the E-M10 series, and while it doesn’t reinvent any wheels, it makes a number of incremental improvements that had our reviewer hugely impressed.

With highly effective continuous autofocusing, the E-M10 IV is a great little camera for capturing the action around you – one of the many reasons it’s so good for travel. The dials crowding the top plate of the camera provide that authentic manual shooting feel we love – it almost could have gone in our real-deal retro, but it’s affordable enough that most users can be tempted by it. The 20MP sensor produces images that are sharp, detailed and vivid.

 

BEST RETRO CAMERAS: REAL DEAL RETRO

It forces you to ignore the LCD – and we love it for that!

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Screen: 3-inch tilting (reversed) LCD touchscreen, 1,620k dots
Viewfinder: Hybrid OVF (95% cov, x0.52 mag) and OLED EVF (100% cov, x0.66 mag, 3.69m dots)
Max shooting speed: 11fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic (30fps with crop)
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Expert

REASONS TO BUY

+Unique hidden LCD
+Gorgeous images

REASONS TO AVOID

-Uncompromising design
-Expensive

The “hidden” LCD of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 caused quite a stir upon release – it’s essentially a tilting LCD that’s upside-down, so you can’t easily check it while you’re shooting. This is designed to stop “chimping” (excessive checking of the screen between shots) and provide a purer, retro-style shooting experience.

This, paired with Fujifilm’s sublime image quality thanks to its X-Trans sensors, makes for an immensely satisfying camera to use. If you can live with this uncompromising control system – indeed, if you suspect you might prefer it – then the X-Pro3 handles like a dream. In our review we found the X-Pro3 to be an absolute delight to use – but of course, we’re camera enthusiasts, we were always going to. You basically have to be willing to play the way the X-Pro3 wants you to.

There isn’t a lot else to criticise here. The X-Pro3 does have pretty limited 4K recording times, but if you are planning to buy a camera with a hidden LCD screen as your main video shooter, may we politely suggest not doing that. Otherwise, it’s just the fact that it’s pretty expensive.

 

A sublime retro compact camera for street and general-purpose shooting

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Compact
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Lens: 23mm equivalent f/2
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,620k dots
Viewfinder: Hybrid OVF/OLED EVF, 3,690k dots
Max shooting speed: 11fps
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Enthusiast to expert

REASONS TO BUY

+Extra-sharp lens
+Hybrid optical/elec viewfinder

REASONS TO AVOID

-Pricey
-No stabilisation

The X100 series was what started the Fujifilm X retro revolution, and these prime-lens compacts have been enduringly popular for more than a decade. The X100V is the latest evolution of the winning combination of an APS-C sensor and a sharp 35mm equivalent prime lens, which has been the foundation of the series since its beginnings.

With dial-led controls, superb images straight out of camera, and new extra features like optional converters for altering the lens’s field of view, the X100V is the best version of this camera yet. In our review we appreciated the new, sharper lens that makes images from the X100V even better, as well as the improved autofocus that makes it really feel like a modern camera, without losing that retro shooting approach.

It comes at a luxury price, but try one out and you’ll see why so many photographers have fallen for an X100’s charms.

 

If you’re up for a challenge, a rangefinder is the ultimate retro experience

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Digital rangefinder
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 40.9
Lens mount: Leica M
Screen: 3-inch fixed screen, 1,037K dots
Viewfinder: Optical direct vision with brightline frames
Max shooting speed: 4.5fps
Max video resolution: None
User level: Expert

REASONS TO BUY

+40MP to play with
+Nails the retro feel

REASONS TO AVOID

-Rangefinder focus takes practice
-Very expensive

Leica M cameras are unlike any other digital camera you’ve used(opens in new tab). They’re digital versions of rangefinder-style cameras, which were already starting to look outdated when film SLRs arrived. They’re expensive, difficult to learn and harder still to master.

So why do people use Leica M cameras? Because once you get the hang of a rangefinder, it’s a sublime experience, reliant on reflexes and feel rather than knowledge of tech specs. The 40MP Leica M-10R is capable of producing images unlike any other full-frame camera, and does so in a way that is unashamedly, unabashedly retro. As we noted in our Leica M-10R review, there’s really no word for the optical experience other than retro – it’s for those who a really committed to the shooting experience of yesteryear.

If you want to be even more of a purist, there’s also the M10-D, which does away with an LCD screen altogether! However, this camera is getting harder to find, so we’re sticking with the M10-R as our pick for this guide.

 

A carry-everywhere retro camera that rivals Fujifilm’s flagships

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Screen: 180° tilting 3.0-inch 1,620,000-dot touchscreen LCD
Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2,360k-dot OLED EVF with 100% coverage
Max shooting speed: 20fps
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Intermediate to enthusiast

REASONS TO BUY

+Small but mighty
+Fuji X lenses are great

REASONS TO AVOID

-Unbalanced with big lenses
-No weather sealing

Some thought the Fujifilm X-E series abandoned, but these rumours proved to be greatly exaggerated! With the X-E4, the firm puts the power of the X-T4(opens in new tab) into a much smaller and more pocketable camera, with a classic rangefinder-style design that should win over retro fans.

In our Fujifilm X-E4 review we appreciate the camera’s diminutive size, which is great for crafting a slimline setup with a small lens. It does get a little unbalanced if you’re using longer, telephoto lenses though, which is why for street shooting and wide-angle work, this camera is at its best. We love the old-school shutter speed dial, and the fact that so many of the excellent X-mount lenses have an aperture ring. It all adds up to a great retro experience!

 

Can you get more retro than monochrome only?

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Compact
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 47.3
Lens: Summilux 28mm f/1.7
Screen: 3-inch fixed touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,680k dots, 100% coverage
Max shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K 30p
User level: Expert

REASONS TO BUY

+Pristine B&W quality
+Incredible in low light

REASONS TO AVOID

-Expensive, obviously
-Immovable rear screen

Leica has made a few monochrome-only cameras, but this might be the best. The Leica Q2 Monochrom is a compact camera that comes equipped with an electronic viewfinder and a high-resolution full-frame sensor with no colour filter array – it’s completely incapable of capturing images in colour.

So why would you want one? Well, we’ve reviewed the Leica Q2 Monochrom, and can tell you that its monochrome images are nothing short of astonishing, full of detail and with great dynamic range – Leica claims up to 13EV. It’s also incredible in low light, with an ISO ceiling of 100,000. If you’re interested in black and white stills, and you have the money to afford its considerable price tag, there’s no reason not to get the Leica Q2 Monochrom. It is beautiful.

Leica has since come out with a new special edition in this family, the Leica Q2 Reporter, with subtle green styling. However, for purely retro purposes, we’re sticking with the monochrome version.

 

This digital medium format camera pairs the past and the future, brilliantly

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Medium format
Sensor: Medium format
Megapixels: 50MPLens mount: Hasselblad XCD
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2.36m dots
Viewfinder: None (optional extra)
Max shooting speed: not specified (probably not much)
Max video resolution: 2.7K 30p
User level: Expert

REASONS TO BUY

+Pairs with old Haselblads!
+Comparatively affordable

REASONS TO AVOID

-Somewhat clumsy design
-Slow autofocus

A new frontier in medium format photography, the Hasselblad 907X 50C is a terrific camera in its own right, but is also more than that. It can be used as a digital back for Hasselblad V-system cameras that date back to 1957, potentially breathing life into shelves of dusty, untouched cameras.

When we reviewed the Hasselblad 907X 50C, we were genuinely excited by what it represents: the first step in a hugely hugely flexible modular system. It’s a genuine bridge between old and new, in a way that a lot of other retro cameras only pretend to be. If you crave digital medium format, a Fujifilm GFX camera offers a lot more bang for your buck, but this Hasselblad creation is something completely unique.

 

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THIS is why your camera lens needs a fluorine coating!

Ever wondered what the fluorine lens coating does on your optics? Why this has typically been a premium coating reserved for professional lenses, often costing thousands of dollars?

Simply put, a fluorine coating is a water- and oil-repellant that is applied to the front element of a lens to a) make it more resistant to liquid and particulates, b) make it easier to clean, and c) protect it from damage due to moisture, dirt, dust and fingerprints. 

Not to be confused with fluoride (which protects your teeth from decay, but isn’t so useful for protecting your camera lenses!) fluorine compounds repel other atoms. As such, fluorine is one of the key components in non-stick Teflon coatings for kitchen pans – and those same non-stick properties also apply when fluorine is coated on camera lenses. 

Not only does this repel oil and moisture in the first place (so, for example, raindrops will slide off the lens element rather than forming droplets), it also makes stubborn particulates (such as fingerprints, mud or grease) much easier to wipe off.

“The coating works in two ways – firstly, it reduces static electricity so that small particles are less likely to be attracted to, and become attached to, the surface. Secondly, it is ‘hydrophobic’ so it repels moisture and makes cleaning water drops, like rain, off a lens much easier.”

That’s the explanation from Canon, which introduced fluorine coatings on the Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM after using it for years on low-pass filters for DSLR image sensors.

“Cleaning lenses that are coated with fluorine is much easier too. Often you’ll find you only need a blower bulb and a soft, dry, cloth to remove any dust that has become attached. In fact, if you use a solvent to clean the lens you may find it harder because the coating will reduce the solvent to very small beads of liquid that are harder to wipe away.

“The fluorine coating is applied over the top of other lens coatings and is added to both the front and rear lens elements as these are the ones most likely to come into contact with dirt.”

So the next time you’re wondering whether the extra cash is worth it for a fluorine lens coating, you’ll know what you’re getting!