From Film to Digital: The Gear Patrol Staff’s Favorite Cameras
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Here at Gear Patrol, we specialize in all sorts of topics from tech to style to cars, and cover our beats using words, pictures, and video. But one common thread that connects every desk and department is an abiding love of all things photography. We rounded up some of the cameras that our staff — some professional photographers, some jubilant amateurs and some in-between — use to capture the world around us and make art, on the clock and off.
In an age of high megapixels, fast autofocus and faster burst rates, shooting with a Leica rangefinder is slow, deliberate and, frankly, a bit of a pain in the ass. That is to say, it’s a great vacation when your work is modern editorial photography. The M10 is reductionist photography at its finest — no autofocus, no video, just what you’d need to take a singularly great photo. — Henry Phillips, Deputy Photo Editor
Fuji X-T3, Mamiya C330, Yashica T3D
The camera I use the absolutely most is probably the Fuji X-T3. I’ve easily taken more photos with it than any other camera and it also does great video too in 4K60, 1080, or slow-mo. The lens I use most of the time is a 16-55mm F2.8 that’s great for walking around with but pretty massive and bigger than the camera, so I also have a tiny 35mm F2 that’s really tiny if I’m trying to keep it low profile.
I got the Mamiya C330 always wanted a twin reflex camera. I love the way it looks, and I love medium format. It is beefy, way bigger than a Roliflex in part thanks to its actual interchangeable lens, which probably accounts for a lot of the bulk. I got it for really cheap and it definitely likes to act up. It’s an old camera, so while it’s great, it’s just like an old car in that you have to remember there’s going to be problems.
The Yashica T3D is an amazing point and shoot that doesn’t break the bank. It comes with a Zeiss 35mm f2.8 which is surprisingly sharp and coupled with Portra 400, the resulting photos are some of my favorite I have ever taken. I did a photo shoot where I used a disposable point and shoot and missed not having any settings to look at and just work on composition, so I did some research and landed on the Yashica — chiefly as a way to avoid breaking the bank on a Contax T2 or Leica Minilux. Given the form factor and price, I think it’s a no brainer. — Andrew Siceloff, Director of Video| |
Yashica Mat 124G
I bought this camera back when I was in college as an entry into medium format film. It was affordable, and offered a really sharp 80mm lens. It isn’t without its quirks (shooting with the waist-level finder and looking through the framing lens instead of the taking lens can be cumbersome), but it produces some great results. — AJ Powell, Senior Content Manager, Gear Patrol Studios
The Canon 6D was my first DSLR, and so far I haven’t found a good enough reason to upgrade. I’m very much just a hobbyist, but I’m consistently impressed by the image quality of the photos I take with my 6D. A feature that I really love is that it can connect to your phone through Wi-Fi, so you can quickly edit photos on the fly if you’re in a pinch. — Scott Ulrich, Editorial Associate
Voigtländer Bessa R2M, Pentax 67,Ricoh GR1S
The Voigtlander Bessa R2m is essentially a Japanese Leica. It’s a rangefinder that takes Leica M mount lenses. This, however, is much more affordable than a Leica and also has a little bit of hipster appeal since not too many people use them. I’ve always wanted to try shooting a film rangefinder and this Bessa R2m just happened to pop up used for a very good price. It’s got an excellent light meter and I’ve been happy with the results.
The Pentax 67 is, to my mind, the best way to create images on large negatives, bar none. It’s easy to load, easy to shoot and produces beautiful results. The negatives measure roughly 6 cm high by 7 cm wide, and capture great amounts of detail. And you also just can’t deny the vintage appeal.
Unlike almost all point and shoot film cameras from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, the Ricoh GR1s isn’t ugly as sin. This camera has some of the best industrial design that I’ve seen, and has aged so well. The electornics inside, by contrast, have not aged well, and are notorious for failing. Folks will say that the Ricoh GR1s is one of the best lenses paired with the worst camera body, and as the pixels on its LCD screen just keep dying, I can’t help but agree. — Hunter Kelley, Associate Designer| |
Leica Minilux, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2, Sony A7R III
The Leica Minilux point and shoot is fantastic. I particularly enjoy the the 40mm 2.4 lens as it makes for some fantastic portraits. Their going price tends to be pretty steep and I’d probably say it’s not totally that typically large chunk of change, but if you score one for a little cheaper, its hard to go wrong.
Like a true millennial, I’ve only just started shooting on film within the past year or so. The medium format Mamiya 645 Pro was my first film camera and I truly enjoy it. The modular system is fantastic as I have a few attachments that allow me to improve my film workflow.
The Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 is too old, too big, too slow and heavy as hell but damn it, I love it so much. I saved up and finally pulled the trigger on this brick of a photo device about a month ago and cannot wait to use it for years to come. The bellows focus system, precise focus knob and half stop adjustment options are just a few of the reasons I can’t put this beast down.
Most of my photography is shot on my Sony A7R II. It’s been absolutely amazing and I really love it. I’ve put to through hell and back and I think I’ll continue to use it for years to come. The 42 megapixels have been a true game changer for me as I’m able to scale in photographs as well as make larger prints. — Brenden Clarke, Multimedia Producer| | |
Canon EOS Rebel T5i
Two things I love about this camera: it’s super easy to use and it looks just professional enough to open a few doors when needed. I’ve very much in the amateur photographer category, and like Russell Westbrook, I’m a volume shooter. So I can say with confidence that if you have this camera and you shoot enough, you’re almost certain to strike imagery gold, sooner or later. — Steve Mazzucchi, Outdoors & Fitness Editor
I could sit here all day and tell you about the weird film cameras I’ve owned, or the mountains of work I’ve shot on the 5DIV, but I would much rather talk about this little Fuji that’s actually not even mine (thanks Bex). It’s not new, it doesn’t have the biggest sensor or the craziest autofocus, and it’s definitely not weather sealed. That aside, I love it. It’s small, super portable, and it pushes out stellar RAW files with that Fuji color we all know and love. It’s my default walk-around camera, and I take it everywhere with me to use for snapshots and street shooting like I would an iPhone. The only flaw with the X100F is that I’m eventually going to lose it on a trip one day and I’ll be forced to buy another one. — Chandler Bondurant, Staff Photographer
Canon AE-1 Program
Before buying a used Canon AE-1 Program on eBay for something like $200, I learned to shoot film on a hunk of plastic that I found in a friend’s attic. It was a great camera to learn on, but came with its share of imperfections — but not the charming type that make film so fun — and was fully automatic.
The AE-1 Program, which Canon started manufacturing in 1981, does have automatic modes, but it also lets you adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO to your liking. I bought mine before a ski trip to Kamchatka, Russia, and the developed negatives leave me with nothing to regret of the impromptu purchase. Now I bring it on nearly every trip I take. — Tanner Bowden, Staff Writer
The Nikon EM was a pretty basic 35mm camera from the late 70s early 80s. That EM stands for “economy model.” It was my dad’s and he gave it to me when I took my first photography class in seventh grade. It’s been my go-to film camera ever since. Both sides of the body have these light leaks that I’ve learned to use to my advantage over the years, especially when shooting with something like Ilford HP5. When I want to trust that I’m going to get the shots I want wherever I go, this is my choice. — Ryan Brower, Commerce Editor
Three months ago, I didn’t know the first thing about film photography, but the delightful Olympus XA2 has been a terrific companion on the journey. A dead-simple point-and-shoot, the XA2’s only real setting is its zone-focusing slider, which takes a roll or two of trial and error to get used to, but makes this ridiculously compact (and affordable) camera an amazing EDC camera that is even faster to fire than your iPhone.
I’m sure you know the adage: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” And that is what I had in mind when I decided to go with the Olympus OM-D EM-10 MK2, a plucky Micro Four Thirds shooter, as my first halfway serious camera. I had reservations about the small sensor at the time, and still think about upgrading now and then, but just love the tiny size of this little guy. With a sizable suite of lenses and a truly compact footprint, the EM-10 has accompanied me on many a trip, and really let the photography bug bite by exposing me to all the variety a camera with interchangable lenses can offer. — Eric Limer, Tech Editor