The ten Hottest 35mm Cameras You May Purchase in 1991

1991. What a good time to be alive. Seeing motion pictures like Robin Hood and Hook within the theatres, and listening to hits like “Joyride” by Roxette or “Shedding My Faith” by REM are a few of my favourite popular culture recollections of that point. To not point out watching TV exhibits like Residence Enchancment, America’s Funniest Residence Movies, and The Recent Prince of Bel-Air.

After all, being eleven years outdated, my images expertise was restricted to disposable cameras, however that may not be the case for you. For those who have been older or luckier, you might need had one in every of these traditional or progressive cameras I’ll be speaking about immediately.

Right this moment I’m going to go excessive ten hottest 35mm cameras you can purchase in 1991.

A few issues I need to point out about this checklist earlier than I get began.

I constructed the checklist with just a few parameters in thoughts. First, I used Standard Pictures’s High Cameras for 1991 as the bottom for it. Subsequent, I boiled the checklist down from twenty to 10, by deciding on those nonetheless most related immediately. The upper variety of Google outcomes, the upper it seems on the checklist.

Learn additionally: 10 of the Hottest 35mm Cameras You Could Buy in 1982

On this golden age of images, which for my part was 1975 to 1995, lots of the cameras launched had a really lengthy shelf life. Due to that, if I embody the older fashions, my prime ten checklist might have a number of of the identical entries, even when I bounce forward 9 years. So for that cause, I’ve put a cap on cameras to be no older than seven years from the 12 months featured.

That brings me to the final bit, which is that this isn’t an inventory of cameras launched in 1991, quite it’s a checklist of the most popular cameras you can purchase in 1991. As I discussed, a few of these entries had been out for just a few years by 1991.

With all that being stated, let’s get began.

#10. Yashica 230 AF

The primary digital camera on immediately’s checklist could also be a little bit of an unknown as of late: the Yashica 230 AF. An early auto-exposure digital camera, with three modes plus handbook. The 230 AF was introduced in 1986 however instantly induced some controversy, as talked about in an article by Norman Goldberg, launched by Standard Pictures in November 1986.

“Yashica created a stir when the corporate was compelled to withdraw its latest entry within the autofocusing fray. Referred to as the 230 AF, the digital camera shortly turned the topic of a patent dispute, however not earlier than a number of German-language photograph magazines got here out with the small print on the digital camera. To fulfill the affronted get together – maybe Minolta – the digital camera was displayed in a locked showcase. Phrase is that the matter shall be resolved quickly.”

Regardless of the early controversy, the 230 AF made its debut in 1987. One of many extra attention-grabbing options was the CS-110AF flash accent, which match over the new shoe and pentaprism to offer a seamless look, it virtually makes it appear to be one other digital camera.

Choosing up one in every of these in 1991 with the flash and a 50mm f/1.8 would price you $765, or $1,536 immediately. There should not many discovered on eBay however in order for you one in every of your personal you possibly can count on to get one for beneath $100

#9. Olympus IS-1

At quantity 9 is the Olympus IS-1. A really strange-looking digital camera. Even stranger on the time as a result of cameras like this marked the start of the bridge mannequin. A digital camera that included lots of the handbook and auto publicity modes of an SLR, however with a set lens like a degree and shoot.

As a result of it didn’t match into an already established class of digital camera, Olympus dared to make their very own, calling it a ZLR, or Zoom Lens Reflex. This was completely a advertising gimmick, but it surely appeared to work. The IS-1 garnered a good quantity of consideration.

In December 1990, Mike Stensvold performed an intensive overview in Petersen’s Photographic on the IS-1 and concluded that “The Olympus IS-1 comes nearer than most to really being a ‘digital camera for everyone.’ In level and shoot mode, it’s as easy to make use of as any digital camera in its class. It gives versatility to the extra artistic snap shooter and it’s acquired some superior options present in few different such cameras, making it helpful to extra severe photographers, as properly.”

Olympus’s aim was centered round the concept that this was a brand new idea digital camera and the wave of the long run. This three-page advert, printed in November 1990 encompasses that notion by posing the query: “Bear in mind the primary time you acquired a fax, talked on a mobile phone or heard a CD”?

In 1991 you can count on to pay $800, or $1,600 in immediately’s cash. If you wish to purchase one used on eBay they’re low-cost as chips.

I really did a very detailed history on this camera lately on an episode of my present This Outdated Digicam, in case you need to study all the pieces there’s to know in regards to the Olympus IS-1.

#8. Nikon N8008

Coming in at quantity eight is the Nikon N8008, humorous how that labored out. A consumer-level autofocus SLR with some spectacular options for its time together with a 1/8000th shutter velocity and a flash sync velocity of 1/250.

Whereas many digital camera producers of the time have been abandoning their lens mounts from the times of handbook focus SLRs, Nikon was staying true to their consumer base by creating a brand new autofocus system that would nonetheless take older handbook focus lenses with a good quantity of compatibility.

Peter Burian performed a discipline take a look at and wrote about it within the Winter 1989 subject of Out of doors and & Journey Pictures journal.

“Although the N8008 is clearly a complicated and complex piece of high-tech engineering, it’s exceedingly user-friendly,” says Burian. “I predict that any photographer who can function a digital watch or VCR shall be accustomed to the N8008 and its use inside half-hour.”

Peter additionally says it handles like a dream however had a few hang-ups about its operation. He famous that though the N8008 is able to steady autofocus, he nailed extra sharp pictures with the usual AF.

The promoting marketing campaign for the N8008 bore the title: “The tough is does routinely. The unattainable takes just a few extra seconds.”

Listed below are a few examples from 1989.

This one with the ballerina touches on the matrix metering system, and rear curtain fill flash. “The purpose is,” says the advert, “extremely artistic photos that was tough to unattainable for anybody lower than an expert photographer at the moment are inside your grasp.”

The opposite advert sings the same tune stating “Odd publicity management techniques could possibly be fooled by the darkish black sky and overexpose the lighted skyline.”

A model new N8008 with a 50mm f/1.4 would price you $960 1991 {dollars}, or $1,928 immediately. This digital camera is an unsung hero in immediately’s movie images neighborhood and is available in at an extremely low value of $70 or much less with delivery, physique solely.

#7. Contax RTS III

At quantity seven is the Contax RTS III. In a time when autofocus was shortly turning into King, the individuals at Kyocera determined to make a extra streamlined, extra subtle handbook focus SLR. The very first thing that individuals will discover is that the RTS III makes use of Zeiss glass, identified for its construct high quality and sharpness. However the factor that reviewers and adverting talked about essentially the most was a characteristic referred to as RTV, or Actual Time Vacuum.

In a consumer report, printed by Petersen’s Photographic in 1991 and written by Invoice Hurter, it’s defined that the RTV system is engaged when the shutter fires, and type of sucks the movie again onto the stress plate, making a flatter picture, thus making a sharper picture.

“Roll movie in cassettes was a fantastic breakthrough, however one in every of its issues has at all times been that movie curls,” says Hurter. “It curls as a result of it’s rolled right into a cassette. Additionally temperature and humidity have an effect on the diploma of curl. Contax engineers have proven film-plane flatness error to exist in present state-of-the-art SLRs to a level of 20-30 microns in excessive instances. Additional, the rivalry is {that a} 10 micron error in movie airplane flatness would trigger a rear focus displacement of roughly 1 cm in a picture shot at a distance of three meters with a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4.”

Mainly, you don’t purchase a Contax RTS III for fast focus, however superior focus.

A 1992 advert titled “See by the eyes of a genius” offers the reader a visible of what the RTV does to movie flatness and showcases the Zeiss glass.

The worth on an RTS III with a 50mm f/1.4 would set you again $3,630 in 1991, or about $7,300 immediately — a steep funding for a handbook focus digital camera in a progressively autofocus world, however nonetheless not the costliest handbook focus digital camera on immediately’s checklist.

#6. Minolta Maxxum 9000

Quantity six is the Minolta Maxxum 9000. In January 1985, Minolta modified images eternally with the Maxxum 7000, and ten months later we have been launched to the 9000. Whereas the 7000 was a mannequin meant for the broadest viewers attainable, the 9000 geared itself towards the extra severe beginner {and professional}.

In Could 1986, Trendy Pictures had a really intensive have a look at the Maxxum 9000. Seeing the way it in comparison with the 7000, which they famous that “Certainly its designers not solely responded to just about each criticism we made from the unique 7000, they’ve additionally created one of the vital subtle, complete, internally advanced and startlingly unique SLR techniques the world has ever seen.”

Standard Pictures did their very own discipline take a look at in September 1986, praising the digital camera. However even when extremely progressive, a digital camera isn’t perceived as good, and the Maxxum 9000 isn’t any exception. Author Bob Schwalberg had just a few complaints for certain, together with the typical/spot metering setting didn’t have a lock on it, so a sleeve, or a strap or no matter would typically change metering modes with out him realizing it. Additionally the shortage of lens choice.

“Virtually two years after the launching of the Maxxum autofocusing digital camera system, Minolta’s AF lineup is heavy on zooms, however brief on meat and potatoes workaday optics.”

On the time of overview, they don’t have anything wider than 24mm, no 35mm, and never a single zoom within the 50-135mm vary.

Promoting claimed the Minolta Maxxum 9000 to be “The World’s Most Refined Digicam” and inspired you to “Ascend to the peak of professionalism.” It appears on this advert, launched in 1989, one in every of Bob’s points was resolved, as I’m seeing a 16mm prime and a 35mm to what I presume to be 105mm lens.

With a 50mm f/1.7, a Maxxum 9000 would set you again $974 in 1991, or about $1,950 immediately.

#5. Leica R6

The Leica R6 is available in at quantity 5. Whereas many cameras take a leap ahead from one model to the following, Leica really took a step again, as quoted in a overview by Jack Neubart within the fall 1990 subject of Out of doors and Journey Pictures Journal.

“Not like the R5, the Leica R6 is principally mechanically ruled. The R5 comes full with a number of auto publicity modes, plus handbook; however the R6 has solely handbook publicity management, with shutter speeds starting from 1 second to 1/a thousandth of a second.”

One other overview, in Out of doors Photographer’s October 1989 subject by Debra Davis sums up the aim of the digital camera the most effective.

“On this day of electronic-laden auto-everything cameras, there’s a new product in the marketplace that stands aside from the remaining. Welcome to the Leica R6. Designed to attraction to the photographer who needs largely a mechanical, handbook digital camera, the R6 shuns present developments and gives a again to fundamentals method to images.”

This three-page particular promoting part titled “The Shot of a Lifetime” options three Leica cameras together with the R6. The primary photograph was taken throughout a Mount Everest climb with an R6 by photographer Warren Thompson.

“A digital camera which could possibly be disabled by a failed, cheap battery would jeopardize the photographic mission,” says the advert.

The following web page claims the R6 can face up to temperatures as little as -4F and as excessive as 140F.

One thing that made me chuckle was this quote on web page 2: “If Michelangelo have been alive immediately, he wouldn’t be portray – he’d be utilizing a Leica.”

I assume we’ll by no means know.

This Leica R6 advert titled: “Seduction” offers a very nice top-down look.

“You’re irresistibly drawn to it – seduced by the wonder, the precision, the mystique of legendary efficiency. Not like mere ‘cameras,’ you don’t simply maintain a Leica, you caress it and really feel the proper steadiness, snug match and easy, optimistic operation – an extension of your hand, your eye and your artwork. You’ll be beginning an affair with excellence that may final a lifetime whether or not you select the handbook R6, the digital R5 or quick dealing with RE.”

Quiet down there Leica.

Throughout my analysis for different movies, I’ve come throughout fairly just a few Leica advertisements, and I’ve to say, many are like this one, and there’s a cause that some Leica homeowners have, let’s consider, a superiority advanced.

For those who wished to be seduced by this all handbook beast, you higher take out a second mortgage, as a result of with a 50mm f/1.4 this Everest climber will price $5,550 in 1991, or… look forward to it… $11,147 in 2021 cash. Today although, you will get one for a decent $600 used. That Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4 will nonetheless choke your pockets although, at a value of 1,200-1,800 bucks.

#4. Nikon F4s

Sliding in at quantity 4 is the Nikon F4s. I’m at all times curious to know the variations between fashions with barely completely different names. In my top 35mm cameras of 1982 article, I used to be questioning what the large deal was between the Nikon F3 and F3HP, and the reply was, mainly, the viewfinder.

Right here I used to be once more curious what the distinction between the Nikon F4 and F4s was and the reply might amuse you: a battery pack. What makes an F4 an F4s is the MB-21 battery grip that takes six AA batteries and that’s about it. You get a beefier digital camera and a barely increased frames per second burst charge. With the MB-21, you possibly can flip any F4 into an F4s. It’s a bit of sneaky on Nikon’s half, particularly because it acquired its personal promoting marketing campaign.

Listed below are a few examples. The primary right here says “The Causes” and brackets the ‘S’ and one other instance right here it brackets the ‘es’ in Lenses. An odd selection. You’ll discover all of the advertisements for the F4s embody the battery grip as a result of it has to.

Regardless, the Nikon F4 was a revolution for Nikon. They plunged into autofocus and whereas everybody else was remounting their cameras, Nikon stayed true to their consumer base by permitting older handbook lenses on their newer autofocus cameras.

#3. Canon EOS-1

Getting the bronze medal for immediately’s prime 10 is the opposite autofocus revolution flagship, the Canon EOS-1. Introduced in 1989, the EOS-1 was not Canon’s first EF mount digital camera, however the first flagship mannequin. As you possibly can think about, many FD mount Canon customers have been very upset that their cameras have been antiquated in a single day. Historical past speaks for itself although and Canon survived the backlash.

The earliest advert I discovered was in September 1989’s subject of American Photographer, a colourful three-page advert, that will be one in every of a theme of advertisements with the suggestion, to cite “shoot it scorching”.

“Dwell for images. Eat Sleep and breathe it. Turn into {a photograph}.”

“Ship the world your message…written in silver.”

I did a full history on the EOS-1 on my section This Outdated Digicam, in case you’re curious. After I launched that video, my Patreon patrons and I have been making “Shoot it Sizzling” jokes for weeks. It’s so extremely tacky and so very 90’s.

In September 1992, Digicam & Darkroom journal printed: “A Quiet Revolution, A have a look at the Canon EOS Phenomenon,” by Mike Johnston.

Johnston took an in-depth have a look at Canon as an organization, particularly their transition from FD mount to EOS, the controversy, and ensuing improvements.

“When Canon launched the EOS line in 1987, they instantly earned for themselves, amongst different issues, a foul rap of types. The explanation was the lens mount functionality. The introduction of the brand new line was information; and the response from these closely invested in costly FD optics was swift, loud- and, to place it mildly, lower than happy.”

He would go on to say “even should you’re not a Canon photographer, it is perhaps smart to maintain your eye on them… if solely to see which manner the winds of change are blowing within the discipline of 35mm images.”

A Canon EOS-1 with a 50mm f/1.8 would knock $1,939 out of your 90s Velcro pockets. Or about $3,900 immediately.

I paid $197 for the copy I’ve with an EF 28-105mm lens. It wasn’t in the most effective form although, so count on to pay a bit of extra.

#2. Leica M6

Acquiring silver for immediately’s countdown is the Leica M6. Is it any shock {that a} Leica made it to the highest 3?

A overview by Debra Davis within the June 1991 subject of Out of doors Photographer explains the benefit of utilizing a Leica fairly properly.

“The M6 permits the photographer to know what’s coming into the body by displaying six distinct body traces within the viewfinder window. These are projected in pairs comparable to completely different focal size lenses for 28mm or 90mm, 35mm or 135mm, and 50mm or 75mm. The proper set routinely seems once you connect a lens and contains an space exterior the body line so that you’ll be alert to one thing transferring into the photograph. As well as, it’s possible you’ll manually choose a special set of body traces simply by urgent a lever subsequent to the lens. So with out really altering lenses, you possibly can see and determine shortly, which lens to make use of for greatest composition.”

The power to go unnoticed in a crowd can be touched on.

“The M6 is quick and silent, small and easy,” says Davis.

And right here we go once more with the melodrama, utilizing the identical advert theme because the R6, besides this time it’s not Seduction, it’s …Obsession.

“It’s an virtually unreasonable dedication to high quality – meticulous attraction to element, flawless mechanical precision, extremely fast, quiet dealing with and optics that defy comparability – an obsession with perfection. It’s what units Leica above mere “cameras” and accounts for his or her unchallenged status and unequaled worth.”

If Jesus was alive immediately, he wouldn’t be a carpenter, he can be making Leicas.

Okay, I made that final half up, but it surely’s arduous to not snicker on the hubris of all of it. I’ll give Leica this, the dedication to solely making small adjustments from mannequin to mannequin is spectacular. Whilst they transitioned to digital fashions, the design made little or no change. that once you purchase one, and ever really feel like upgrading, you are able to do so figuring out you gained’t have an enormous studying curve forward of you.

The M6 is perhaps second on the checklist, but it surely’s first in value. With a 50mm f/1.4, you possibly can count on to pay $5,685 in 1991 money, and simply to offer you a greater thought of how a lot that’s, in 1991, you can purchase a used 1987 Dodge Omni for much less, at a value of slightly below $5,300. With inflation, an M6 was $11,418 in 2021 cash. That’s, simply bonkers for my part. Particularly when you think about that as of late, you pay for the sensor in a high-end digital digital camera, however again then, everybody was utilizing the identical movie.

Getting one on eBay continues to be going to be dear. Physique solely goes to be three to 4 Ok.

#1. Olympus OM-4T

Coming in with the gold, is a digital camera you most likely didn’t count on, the Olympus OM-4T. Possibly a few of you probably did, as final time I made an inventory like this on the most popular of 1982, plenty of you requested the place the Olympus cameras have been. The OM-1N got here in at eleventh place in case you’re curious.

One of many options of the OM-4T that caught my eye whereas studying up on it was the flexibility to multi spot meter, as described on this overview by Petersen’s Photographic author Dan O’Neill in December 1986.

“Multi-spot metering is finished by deciding on completely different areas within the scene and metering each with the press of the spot button. As much as eight spots will be metered and averaged by the OM-4T’s microcomputer.”

The opposite massive take care of the OM-4T is the Full Syncro flash system. Mainly, Olympus makes use of a focal airplane shutter and that comes with its limits on how briskly you possibly can sync a flash to it. Whereas many different producers labored on a greater shutter, Olympus simply elevated the period of the flash system to correctly collect all that gentle at faster speeds. A focal-plane shutter has two curtains. A number one one and a trailing one, and at increased speeds the trailing curtain is already closing earlier than the main one has accomplished its cycle, so within the case of flash, you get an incomplete flash publicity.

Lengthy story brief, the OM-4T had a max flash sync velocity of 1/2000, as promoted in an advert titled: “The primary digital camera ever to interrupt the sunshine barrier.” In addition they referred to as the multi spot meter perform, “Probably the most exact built-in meter in digital camera historical past.”

So what does the T stand for? Based on David Brooks of Petersen’s Photographic, “the usage of titanium for the our bodies prime and backside plates. This unique metallic gives each lighter weight and better energy to guard the digital camera’s inner circuitry to dedicate the brand new F-280 flash and combine its particular new capabilities into the OTF auto flash publicity management, auto-spot steady gentle metering, and publicity automation.”

With a 50mm f/1.8 lens, the OM-4T will set you again $1,330 by 1991 requirements, or simply beneath $2,700 by immediately’s. Today you possibly can count on to pay a decent three to 4 hundred physique solely.


And that concludes immediately’s checklist. Thanks for studying and watching, and joyful capturing!

Concerning the creator: Azriel Knight is a photographer and YouTuber based mostly in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. You’ll find Knight’s pictures and movies on his website, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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