Favorite 35mm SLR's
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The 35mm SLR cameras that stand out for me
I have used most brands of 35mm SLR's over the years. Many fine SLR's are not represented here, but the ones that had special meaning to me over the years are featured.

The Workhorse of the 50's
For a full page on Exakta, go to favorite links to the My Pictures link. Growing up in the 50's, this was my real dream camera. The rangefinder cameras that were the main workhorse cameras of that era were okay, but there was something special about being able to compose on a ground glass. I had wanted an Exakta for my first 35mm, but at age 13 even a used Exakta II was beyond my pocketbook in 1956. I thought the selenium light meter prism, shown here on an Exakta VX, was the coolest looking prism they ever made. By today's standard, this is a slow working camera. It is left handed. It is the first 35mm SLR with a rapid wind, be it a long stroke and on the left. It had other firsts as well. Many Life Magazine photographers carried Exaktas for their long lenses and close shooting. It had special accessories for medical photography, as well as other specialized accessories. Primitive today, but it was the ultimate available in the mid 50's.
Venerable old Nikon F
For a full page on my Nikon 35mm SLR's, go to favorite links and click on My Pictures. When the Nikon F came on the scene in the late 50's, it didn't take long for it to become the dominant professional 35mm SLR. There have been challengers over the years, but somehow Nikon has managed to stay on top. While I have several other models, the Nikon F still remains my sentimental favorite. It is shown here with the original Photomic prism - reading through the external cell on the top left instead of through the lens.
Poor Man's Nikon
We had a saying in the late 60's, "the Pentax is the poor man's Nikon, and the Nikon is the rich man's Pentax." My first good 35mm SLR system was Pentax in the mid 60's. Miranda was my first 35mm SLR system, but I hesitate to call it good since all 3 bodies went in for service at least once in the less than a year I had them, and one had a misaligned mount or lens plane - focus shifted top to bottom. I loved my Spotmatic and H1a and they served as my main shooting system for over a year. The slow interchanging of screw mount lenses led me to eventually trade up to Nikon F's.
My first SLR system
Miranda has it fans, but I am not one of them. When I was on the College paper at Kansas State I choose the Miranda because it had the most features for the least cost. When they worked, they did a good job, but I ended up eventually with 3 bodies - necessary because there was always one in the shop. I had 2 model DR's - they look just like this late model D except with a different viewing screen from the factory and a red dot instead of a black dot in the center of the counter. My last model was what was then the newly introduced F. Probably the main feature that made me choose the Miranda was the interchangeable viewfinders. I still like having the option of low or over the head viewing for certain situations.
My First 35mm SLR camera
Not very impressive, but in 1960 while a Private in the US Army, a Praktiflex II (just like this one) from the local pawn shop was all I could afford. It was my first 35mm SLR, and I didn't own it very long. It would be 3 or 4 years later before I owned a 35mm SLR system when I shot for the college newspaper. I also have a Practiflex FX-3, about 5 or more years newer camera but still very similar body style.
Fine autofocus SLR that didn't make it
We were really impressed when the Yashica 230AF was introduced. At the time it was one of the fastest if not the fastest focusing autofocus SLR made. The additional slide on flash had the look of a "built-in", at a time when built-in flashes were just beginning to appear. With Yashica dropping out of the 35mm AF SLR race, prices have become very reasonable for these and and I am able to enjoy a very fine system that I was able to afford.
Early Contaflex II camera
I have always enjoyed the compact size and precision feel of the original Contaflex series cameras. This Contaflex II is still a shooter. One problem you need to watch for on all leaf shutter 35mm SLR's is the timing of the mirror coming up vs. the time for the shutter to close. As the camera get worn or dirty - a repairman would have to answer this properly - the shutter starts closing slower and you run into the problem that the shutter is still closing when the mirror starts coming up, resulting in partial exposure before the shutter opens and closes for the actual exposure. I have used several SLRs of various brands with this problem - with the resulting gross over exposure. When they work properly, many are fine cameras that make great pictures. The Tessar lens on this Contaflex is a great performer.