Old SLR Camera- Keep it or Junk It ?

Mike Sharp

:?: Hi all, have just been turning out the loft and found an old Zenith SLR camera with several lenses, 100% manual no batteries needed. Cable shutter releases,assorted cokin filters, Tripod,monopod and two flashguns including one remote firing unit. all buried in a back corner.
Think I might go buy a film and see if it still works.
Also found my old VHS "C" video camera -batteries still hold charge.
Any opinions as to wether to try it for some weather photography or junk it and go digital.
IS it worth still keeping the old technology or better to invest in new?
Zenith Cameras

From what I can find, the "Zenith" camera was made in Russia From about 1962 to the early 90's. They were fairly reliable and from about the mid 60's used the common M42 mount lens. Later variety's had some more automatic features in metering, etc. Thye were real inexpensive cameras making them popular in Europe. I would probalby equate them to the Sears branded cameras if the same time frame here in the US.

Can't hurt to give it a try. I doubt the light meter is accurate though. They were based on a selinium photocell (no batteries) and most things of that vintage have since gone bad. If you're willing to invest a few bucks, a CLA (Clean, Lube and Adjust) would certainly be in order. That way you can be sure the shuuter works properly and any stray dust will be cleaned out.

Though the lenses aren't of Canon L quality, they will most likely do for storm photography. Higher quality lens from different companies are available for really good prices on the internet.

I started out almost 30 years ago on a Pentax K-1000 camera and it served me well for several years. I "graduated" from that to the Canon AE-1, then into the EOS series when they came out. Up until last year, I still had a Medium Format Yaschica TLR (one of the that has a look through lens and a film lens) that was several years old and had susrvived many a drop and battering. Getting 35mm film will not be an issue for several years to come. If you do't want to invest in the digital side just yet, by all means fire away with this camera!

Thanks for the comments, I used to use the camera for motor sport photography and used to get very good results. every thing apears to still work ok, Shutter works at different speeds and intenal screen is ok when checked against a halogen desk lamp.The camera case every thing was in is basically a large version of the little Peli waterproof cases so no damp or dust.
I certainly wouldn't trust the old built in light meter , might look for a modern digital one.
Lens include 135mmm telephoto,28mm wide angle, 200mm zoom telephoto, X2 convertor and sundrie addons as well.

Load some slide film in it and keep it for lightning/low light photography :) In most opinions older cameras and slide film do better with lightning than any digital model out today.
A Zenith! That's what I use! A very old model, but mine still works like a charm. I love how I don't need to use batteries for it. I got a cable release, a polarizer, wide angle and telephoto lense for it as well. If I were you, I'd give it a chance. You don't like it, give it away for free or sell it, I am sure someone will find a use for it (if it works). Also note the quality of your pics is determined also by the type of film you buy.

Whether or not to go digital, that is entirely up to you. Some prefer film, some prefer digital. Digital would probably be cheaper in the long run because you wouldn't have to spend on film and get film developed, and depending on the model you get, they can take very nice quality photos, but you may want to invest in a few memory cards. Once I save up and get some money, I might invest in a SLR digital camera. My uncle thinks digital cameras will slowly replace film cameras over time, much like cassettes and CDs, and VHS and DVD.
If the thing works and is in decent shape, KEEP IT. :thumbup:

While digital can pay for iteslf if you shoot a lot of pictures, remember that $500 (a typical digicam buy-in) will buy a hell of a lot of film and processing. Also consider that your $500 digi will likely not last more than a half dozen years. FWIW, I've had two bad encounters with consumer digicams. My first, a Sony, failed under warranty and was replaced. Not a catastrophe, but not exactly encouraging. The second, an Oly C3000 still runs, but it's mechanicals are suspect, and the CCD sensor is decaying at an accelerating rate. See my prior post.

In comparison, my two Canon SLRs, a 25 year old T90 and 30+ A-1, are both indestrucatble bricks that will probably outlive the battery bunny as well as me.

Would a KiloBuck (much more if I want to replace by old FD lens collection) DSLR bring me joy and bliss? (Rugged build and a stable sensor?) I dunnow, but as of now I'm NOT going to drop a shitload of $$ to find out. '"Investing" ia a digicam' sounds like an oxymoron to me. :p

If nothing else, what you have is absolutely ideal for lightning photography. Give it a go! If you need cheap film, get a few rolls of this. Lightning guru Susan Strom gives it an official "that stuff works great!"

I sold my film SLR when I bought a digital SLR and I am regretting it. I wouldn't mind my film SLR back for low light and star-trail type stuff. My digital SLR really fails im this area.
Went digital completely

I hate to say it, but I've gone digital and haven't looked back. I have one film slr left (an old Nikon with a meter that's shot) and it hasn't seen the light of day in a year or more.

Granted, film generally performs better on long exposures (by long, I mean minutes and hours) than do digital cameras. But I do't do a whole lot of long exposures.

I've kept the Nikon around for the odd ball stuff like meteor showers. I really haven't had any trouble in taking lightning photos with digital. Yes, I get the occasional hot pixel, but nothing that I can't clone out or fix in Photoshop. My exposures are generally less than 3 minutes, so I don't have a lot of issues with "noise" on the 10D.

I've done up to 30 minutes, but that got pretty noisy.

However, if the Zenith works and your not taking so many photos it becomes cost prohibitive in film, Keep it and use it! I did have an older 35mm that was in excellent shape, that I used as a back up for wedding and the like. Straight up amnual, never failed me. Had a host of lens available for very reasonable cost ($250 for a 300mm f2.8 lens). I finally gave it to my brother who still uses it today. The only thing that went south was the film door light seal. That was easy enough to fix.

Hi Guys,
Thanks for all the comments, I shall be going out and buying a film (probably PRINT) at the weekend to try it out. The other reason for print is I can get a CD of the images when I have it processed which means no scanning etc and then can post pics if anything good is captured.
First film will probably mainly be clouds, and possibly dogs and grandchildren just so I get used to the thing again. :roll:

I use manuel Minolta SLR's and love them...try to take a partner when I chase as well...one shoots stills...the other video. When im ready to sell , I use EBAY and suggest you try it to. One mans pile of trash is anothers long sought after treasure. Ive put out of date camera stuff (35mm) and could not believe what it sometimes brings. You can buy junker cameras too if you choose to canibalize for repairs..........
Print vs. slide

Hi Mike,

Print film will give you the best latitude for mistakes in exposure. Generally, you can mess up the exposure by 2 or 3 stops and still recover it with print film. Slide film is more demanding, generally, 1 or 2 stops of exposure.

As far as scanning the slides, With the Fuji Frontier systems everywhere (most 1 hour shops use these) if the shop has the equipment (a lot of them do) they can scan the slides for you and put them to CD in the same resolutions you get from the film. Anyplace that says they can print from a slide will be able to do this.

The Fuji Frontier printers all scan the images from the film strip or slide, then the machine operator will generally make adjustments and then it's sent off to the Print Processor. So it's really a three tiered process.

Film development (most places will NOT be able to process your slides, they will send them out), scanning the film/slides for print, then the print process.

Hope that helps a bit.