I would hope that two of my favorites would be included. They are the Exacta VX, which served me well for many years, and the Pentax LX, which also was a great camera.
I would add the Mamiya TLR, only TLR with interchangable lenses.Speed Graphic, Leica M3,Rolliflex TLR 2.8,Hasselblad 500.
I can't see the Pentax K1000 not making the list.
My first camera was the Pentax SP500 with it's screw mount lenses and an uncalibrated 1/1000 shutter speed.
I will have to add the Minolta Dynax 7 and 9 as well as the Mamiya 7 and the Mamiya RB/RZ67. I have not used Leica's or Hasselblad's so will have to leave that for someone else to include.
I would suggest the Canon AE-1, it seemed to allow amatuers to begin to have the features which we so desired at a price we could live with.
After seeing the final five additions, I think Jason's list is actually very complete and accurate. It is extremely difficult to shrink the last 120 years of cameras into a list of only 20. As a collector of vintage cameras, I at first thought models like the Nikon S and Canon rangefinders should be included, but they weren't really all that revolutionary. Then there were cameras like the Speed Graphic and Argus C3 that should be included because of sheer numbers produced more than anything else. Again probably not a good enough reason for inclusion.
But one camera that I think should have been included is the Nikon F. Practically every photo-journalist in the 60's used one version or another of the F and if not the Nikon, it was a Leica. The F was the first Japanese camera taken seriously by the professionals and was the beginning of a fabulous series of cameras and complete systems that are still clicking off frames of Plus-X and Kodachrome today.
This list definitely leaned towards the "oldies". I think 3 models definitely should be included. The Nikon F (take your pick, no explanation necessary), The Canon AE-1 (brought SLR's to the masses), the Pentax K-1000 (for longevity, and for the number of photographers who cut their teeth on it).
Fellow Forum Members...
I enjoyed reading the two-part article, finding it highly educational with respect to the particulars of early cameras and their development...However, in terms of assembling a "The Top XX Cameras Of All Time" I think its a nearly impossible task to get an all-inclusive list of worthy candidates without a long hard look at and agreement of requisite qualities stated at the outset...Perhaps it would have been better to increase the number of candidates AND/OR divide the list into categories such as film formats, (large and medium format, 35mm and 126, etc.,) or particular eras, such as, for example 1840 to 1890, 1890 to 1940, 1940 to 1990, etc.
However, having said that, I should offer my recommendation for two cameras not mentioned so far: The Minolta SR-T 101 and the Minolta X-700...Both brought significant image making technologies to the marketplace: The former with full aperture TTL and the latter with off-the-film flash exposure metering...And as testament to their significance and durability of design both cameras were in the marketplace as new for more than a decade.
Referring to the top 20 cameras selection, I was rather surprised like many others why and how the Nikon F was left out. Perhaps each of its features like instant return mirror, automatic diaphragm, interchangeable viewfinders and lenses, etc., were in existence already but it was for the first all of them were integrated well with a true 100% viewfinder. It was supported by a range of lenses that is perhaps unmatched (6mm to 2000mm) even today. It was the first camera to have a reliable mass produced electrical motor drive, a feature which we took for granted during the last years of film cameras. The lens mount has survived to date. It supported interchangeable backs which even allowed a Polaroid attachment to be fixed. All these make it the first really the true 35mm system camera. Lastly it had a finely proportioned body with the top of the prism sharply shaped to look like the Parthenon.
More importantly had a very profound impact on photography killing the rangefinder for good. Though one could argue I would even dare say that it finished Germany as a major camera making nation.
All these facts I feel make a compelling case for Nikon F to be included as one of top 20 cameras of all time.
Nikon mythology!!! If you really want to know which 35mm SLR camera had the most innovative contributions to the breed, like motor drive, take a look at the history of Topcon cameras.
I always check everyone's list for the Canon QTL. I bought one in 1968 and really liked the camera. I wish I could find one to replace the one I had stolen.
I'm going to have to go with the Mamiya C-series. I've used them for almost fifty years with never a failure , followed by the Canon EF then the Nikon F series. But this is just an old farts opinion!
The Nikon F was a landmark in photography. All Vietnam photographer displayed that camera. After Nikon F started the kingdom of the SLR. It was a very high quality camera comparable to Leica M3. It produced a real turning point from rangefinder to SLR. Before Nikon F few photographer used SLR. It was not the first in time but it was a trend setter.
You may like to think that of the Nikon F but if you began in photography when I did in 1952 you would have as I have used several other 35mm SLR cameras like Zeiss and Exakta before Nikon 35mm SLR's started to get popular. In those days Nikon and Canon were largely copying long established European designs and in some cases using identical lens mounts. If their is any secret key to Nikons early success it was negotiating marketing arrangements with US military PX stores, which was the source of a Nikon 35mm rangefinder I bought in 1953.
You are right. However, in 1952 I was a kid but I remember my father had an Exakta with several lenses. He was an excellent photographer and his photos were great. He was the only person that I remember with an Exakta. When my father gave me an used Leica M3 in 1957 it was clear that the quality was much superior to Exakta's. When I could pay for my Nikon F in 1964 and my brother compared this camera against my father's Exakta he inmediately bought a Nikon F. I do not remember any great photographer using 35mm SLR cameras before the Nikon F. The Nikon F was the turning point from rangefinder to SLR. Until Nikon almost all great war photographer (WWII,Korea) used Leica and Contax rangefinders.It is known that Leica was not the first 35mm camera. The french said that the first was the "Cen Vieu" or a similar name. Few remember that camera and few used it. Leica open the door to 35mm and Nikon F made the 35mm SLR a household name.
"I do not remember any great photographer using 35mm SLR cameras before the Nikon F. The Nikon F was the turning point from rangefinder to SLR."
I hope your personal memory is not the sole basis of history one way or another! Believe what you like, everyone just about does these days; but belief has no affect on reality - it is what it is.
I think the history of the camera business in the US and the rest of the world suggests as it was my experience of being very involved in the reporting on the camera industry at the time, from 1975 till the present, that in the US much of Nikon's success was due to the excellent marketing efforts of Ehrenreich the head of the US import and distribution of Nikon, as much or more than it was a really great camera.
The sales history both in the US (Photo Marketing Association records) and world sales figures show this, Canon diversified and grew as a company much larger in total compared to Nikon and was able to invest more in R&D and as a result took over the #1 position in 35mm camera sales many years ago, and for good reason. Nikon has continued to do well because of its brand position (reputation) and marketing more than product.
Sadly the great bulk of camera buyers would not know if they had a good product or not. All you have to do to understand that is be a judge on a few national photo contests, which sadly I have done too many times. And came to realize what the limits of photographic skill and knowledge of most camera owners is. But of course there are some very skilled, knowledgeable, and talented amateur photographers, many from what I have seen few professionals can better.
First of all I want to say this is my first post here,and I greet you all from Uruguay.I have used a camera for the last 60 years,for fun,for my work,at photomicrography,macro,underwater ,nature and vet medicine!!
If we are talking of fundamental cameras in photography history,than we get the cameras and lenses of the glass plate,dagerrotypes calotipes,etc and the lenses like the famous doublets etc.If we want the great firsts in 35 mm we undoubtedly have the Leica and the Contax from Leitz and Zeiss in Germany.The original idea of the reflex from Exakta first in 6x6,and around 1933 in 35mm.All mechanical!!Then around 1954 the pentaprism for an upright eyelevel image!!After WW2 we got the japanese (as the russians and others)trying to copy the german "monsters"started slowly improving on the pre war german unchallenged "best".Now we got fabulous improvements,electronics and so on,focusing,calculating the exposure,the white ballance etc for you!!I can tell you that my 1956 Exakta VX2A still works flawlessly,wheras some battery dependant cameras have gone foul!!I once had an Olympus OM2 get some beer split on it in Paris,and it got all stuck!!I had to buy a new body!!
My Exakta got service as a vet,laboratory,pathology,macro and through a microscope!!I also went underwater with a reflex capability housing I designed,made of brass,two glass ports(lens and focusing)Built like a tank!!
I now enjoy digitals,but still keep my last 35mm Olympus OM4Ti,the Exakta,and a Nikonos,I use an E330,and E3 Oly,modern and historic lenses wit adapters!!
PS:If you go back the 50s and 60s magazines and books you will find a few pros using Exaktas!!!Specially with monster teles,and nature photography!!Alpas,Edixas and Zeis reflex cameras too!!
I have been actively involved in photography since 1947, and have used and owned numerous cameras in formats from MINOX sub-miniature uo to 4X5 inch Graphic View cameras and everything in-between. I presently have models of most (14 out of the 20) cameras listed as part of my collection, but feel that one cameras that should have been included because of it's automation was the Konica model (FS1) with built-in motor-wind. I would also suggest the R. White Stereo Realist camera, which, although specialized, produced, and still can produce fantastic 3-D images.
Bill I would say for me the Rolliflex GX and the Contax Aria were two of my favorites. I also loved the Fuji 645ZI.
I cast my vote for the Nikon D40, few other cameras have made DSLR a reality for the masses quite like this little gem.
I always loved my K1000 for the simplicity and dependability. When my camera was broken in a motorcycle accident in 2006 I decided to finally go digital and invested in a Canon EOS. I missed my old K1000 so much I purchased a used one off E-Bay for $50. I ran 1 roll of film through it and tested different lenses to make sure it worked properly then I put it away. I love my new Canon, but I don't know what I would do without the old Pentax. It was the camera I used for over 30 years and even if I never use it again, I still have it. I kept my broken one as a souvenire from my accident, bike parts are too bulky.
I guess one criterion for inclusion in the top 20 would be a camera's refusal to die off. In which case, the K1000 certainly belongs there.....right along with my Olympus OM-1, which I'll hang on to regardless of how digital I get, otherwise.
You have to wonder whether, 50 years from now, any of the current DSLRs will make the grade.
minolta maxxum "all type" because no brains required
just follow the arrows"
pentax p3,"only one program mode on it"
all of the olympus cameras
" just because they read this page"
For me, the Speed Graphic came as close to the 'ultimate camera' as it gets. Compared to the Speed, the Nikon and its Oriental siblings were toys.
I'll have to throw in a plug for the Mamiya C series. I'm still using a used C-2 that I purchased used in 1960 and it's never been in the shop. That and the interchangeable lenses on A TLR we're rated as one of the seven modern wonders of the world in the day!
When my wife and I had our studio I was blessed to have owned a brand new Mamiya RZ Pro II system with all the bells and whistles. I've owned and used many cameras but it was my favorite tool. It stayed attached to a camera stand. I liked the solid feel to it, the large viewing screen, the clunk of the shutter. I was also lucky enough to have owned a Rollieflex Xenotar 2.8 and a Speedgraphic. Both were also favorites of mine. The Speedgraphic fed my inner Ansel and Weegee. The Rollie was incredibly sharp. Unfortunately now I don't possess any of those. I do still have my first SLR a Minolta Srt-101 still going strong over 36 years old! Dave
This one is a natural for inclusion. Deardorff view cameras. From the Baby Deardorff to the large models they were excellent. A special run for the US Military was made in the late 1940's. The company has gone through troubles and changed hands a few times but is currently with us again. Parts and hardware to refurbish and beautify the 1925 models to the current offerings are still available.
The cameras work, look good while doing the job and last... and last... and last.
You forgot the XD-11 Which sustained high photography standard in the 1980's.
I will add my vote for the Mamiyaflex TLR. While it was very heavy to carry, specially when mounted with the 135mm twin lens, it was still a dream to use.
I want to buy one of those camaras too. I love taking pictures, especially when I go on parks. Whenever I travel to another country I hire a guide to parks in order to show me all the best places.