In a time back in 2022 on a day I can’t quite recall – it was the 23rd of November – I reached out to my long-time man-crush, Sam Warner, and proposed… that we write an article about 5 cameras we’re lusting after. He agreed to the proposal, and now I’m happily married to my keyboard writing this Dear John to my wallet. Sure, there are more than 5 cameras that I’m lusting after at any given time, but I consider these 5 cameras bookmarked in my psyche. I will, at some point in my future, own each of these. Well, unless I’m famous and can afford a Leica M-D typ 262. Then I’m pretty much done buying cameras. Just kidding.
The Epson R-D1 is the first digital rangefinder. It was made in a collab by Epson, Seiko and Cosina way back in the early 2000s. It’s a 6.1megapixel camera with a CCD sensor, a Leica M bayonet mount, a killer analog gauge that shows white balance, battery life, and image format, and the coolest feature in my opinion, the manual shutter wind lever. How cool is that ? I’m getting tingly just thinking about it while I simultaneously scroll through Cameras-r-Us and try and type this up in the text editor to rule all text editors (if it was Notepad++), Moped.
So why do I lust after this relic from the early, and I mean early days of digital photography ? It’s got a windy lever and a cool indicator window. I mean, that plus all the stuff I mentioned above, and it’s the first digital rangefinder camera. It takes Leica lenses natively, which means I can have the coolest 20 year old digital camera with the best glass in the camera business. That’s an all-around win for me. Not so much of a win for my wallet, though. Honestly, I should have jumped on this camera probably back around 2018 when they were hovering around a grand. Now it’s uncommon to find one under about $1500 bucks, and that’s in iffy condition. Well, maybe one day I’ll be able to share a review of it on the site. I’ll need to sell a kidney first.
Imagine if you will, a Hasselblad-style modular camera that natively shoots 35mm film, is compact enough to fit in a purse, and just screams “Hell Yeah!” That would be the Rollieflex SL2000. Originally released in 1981, it’s a popular niche camera today. It supports motor drive, multiple backs, and dual viewfinders (eye-level and waist-level). The first time I came across this camera in person was at the Film Photography Project’s walking workshop in Findlay, Ohio in 2018. I’ve had a secret lust for it ever since. The problem is primarily that they’re rare and expensive. Even back in 2018 they hovered at the $2000 mark, and they’ve consistently played in this ballpark. That’s a lot of “coulda had a Leica M6” dough to be throwing at unique cameras. I’m not saying I’d never get one, but I’d have to sell another kidney.
Fujifilm Klasse S
Sometime in 2001, back when Fujifilm weren’t jerks about film, they made this amazing point-and-shoot camera called the Klasse. It was a higher-end professional camera that had a 38mm Fujinon lens and plenty of manual control. I love, love, love Fujinon lenses. They’re some of the sharpest attainable lenses for us proletariats. The original Klasse, which I was a proud-but-stupid owner of, had Aperture Priority and a range-focus system, which I found extremely nice. Unfortunately, I sold mine, and at a loss. I don’t even remember why, other than I thought selling an $800 camera for $500 was a good idea. I will have one again, and it won’t cost me a kidney because I’ll have sold both of them for the Rollei and the Epson, but also because I can still pick one up, in black, for less than a grand. That’s about half what a Contax T* series camera costs and the image quality, in my opinion, is just as good. Of course, it won’t have the Kardashian appeal that made this camera uber-popular with Millennials in the last 5 years, but I’m just fine with that.
Fujifilm and Contax aren’t the only cool kids on the pro point-and-shoot block. Nikon came to the party with a case of micro-brew called the 28Ti. Actually, I think the 35Ti might have been first, I’d have to research it and yeah, it came out first. The 28ti is just a wider lens and a black body. All cameras just look better in black. That’s not an opinion, that’s fact. Also, I’m a poet and didn’t know it. The Ti cameras are rich-people vacation cameras (according to Ken Rockwell) and since I’m neither rich or able to vacation, I don’t own one. The camera has the absolutely coolest top plate. It sports a set of analog dials similar-but-awesomer to the aforementioned Epson R-D1, that displays the focal distance, aperture, exposure-compensation, and shot count. It’s the bees knees as far as analog nerdery goes. I honestly think this camera had a hand in igniting my love of analog watches. The prices are pretty fair, in my opinion, for such a cool camera. They hover in the $1000-$1500 range, but again I’m not even offended. Back when I should have bought it, I was shooting a good bit of street photography and it’s not a good street camera according to the Internet. I’ll eventually own one, just for the joy of walking around staring at the dial without taking pictures like a real hipster.
I see a pattern here, and it’s green and white. Yes, I am a Fujifilm fanboy. I make no apologies about being jilted that they screwed the film community by pawning their color film production off on Kodak. They made a business decision I don’t agree with, but I get it. In their defense, the X-series cameras have all the good Fujifilm emulations. But I digress. I’m here to talk about the last of the Fujifilm “Film” cameras: the GF670W. The F is for folding. Yes, that’s right, it’s a folding camera. It has bellows like a large-format camera, and collapses into something about the size of a Polaroid SX-70. Unlike the SX-70, however, the GF670 takes amazing photos. Also unlike the SX-70, the GF is a rangefinder. That’s just too much. Be right back, need a drink…
… OK, I’m back. It was originally released in 2008 and continued until who-the-hell knows it’s on a *pedia somewhere, but I’ve got whisky-fingers and don’t feel like looking it up. It sports an 80mm f/3.5 Fujinon lens (I think it also had a Helios variant) but I’m a Fujinon fanboy so I’d be on the prowl for that model. Of all the cameras on my list, this one is the most expensive. They hover north of $2500 right now on We-Sell-Unrealistic-Expectations.com, and since they’re newer and amazing I doubt they’ll end up on “I found this for $5 at a thrift store” vids on YouTube until maybe 2050. By then I might not even care, so I should sell .. * looks around at what organs are left * … what’s the gallbladder market like ? Anyway, I’ll get one someday. It’s too cool of a modern camera to not want to own.
Wait, that’s it ? Where are the pictures ?
That’s a great question. There are a plethora of photos of these cameras out on the Interwebs, except I don’t own the cameras and have not taken any of these photos of them. Personally If somebody wants to be a tight-fisted ass with their photos of other manufacturers out-of-production cameras, I hold those photogs with the same respect as the ones that watermark their photos. Instead, I’ve done my best to pepper this article with links to all the different cameras from an assortment of great websites. If you like this article, or my horrible lack of wittiness when I get the bourbon in me, you should go check out aragonseye.com, but first you are required by law to go read Sam’s great article on his 5 lusty cameras at theunrecoveringphotographyaddict.com.