My Ultimate Camera Wishlist

September 24th, 2014 | Peter Stewart

Gear Acquisition Syndrome or GAS is a problem that affects many photographers. Cameras may simply be a mere tool that allow us to bring our creations to life, but for many of us, we just can't stop collecting them and wanting more. 

There will be no Phase One's or Leica M240's on this list. Indeed if money were no object, they would most likely be my weapons of choice for professional use. No, this is a list collected purely out of curiosity, affection and practicality.

Contax T3

Camera Type - Point & Shoot 

Format - 35mm Film

Why I love it? - Premium quality in a small package. Excellent optics

Average Price - $800-$1000

Time after time I have encountered this camera amongst those in the street photography community who still shoot on film. 

The Contax T3 is a sleek little beast. One of the smallest 35mm cameras available today, this is amongst one of the most prestigious compacts ever made, due in no part to the titanium housing complete with an amazing Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 lens. The lens alone on this camera has often been quoted to rival Leica glass in terms of optical quality.

If not for the premium price tag, it would make for an excellent choice in any street photographers arsenal. 

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Pentax Q

Camera Type - Small Format Mirrorless

Format - Digital

Why I love it? - Fun sized and extremely lightweight

Average Price - $200-$350

I first encountered this curious little camera during it's launch in Japan, where it was laid out on the showroom in a technicolor fashion to entice you with it's multitude of different color options.  It sure stands out in a camera store amongst a sea of boring black plastic DSLR's

Whilst it won't win any points for it's image quality thanks to it's extremely small image sensor (your smartphone probably takes better shots) , it can still happily boast that it's the worlds smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera. Oh boy, it really is small!

I like this camera because it's different. It feels like a digital lomo camera in a way, and thats why I think it would be so much fun to use. 

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Mamiya 7

Camera Type - Medium Format Rangefinder

Format - Medium Format Film

Why I love it? - One of the best cameras ever made.

Average Price - $1500-$2500

When it comes to Medium Format, you won't commonly hear the words 'portable', 'compact' or 'lightweight' thrown around when describing a particular camera system. The Mamiya 7 is only a partial exception to that rule. 

Commonly referred to as the best Medium Format camera ever made, the Mamiya 7 can boast exceptional image quality thanks to the huge 6x7cm negatives it produces, along with an excellent range of leaf shutter lenses available for the system.

All of this is housed in a smaller rangefinder body that makes it actually useable for handheld use. Imagine street photography with this thing!

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Pentax 6x7

Camera Type - Medium Format SLR

Format - Medium Format Film

Why I love it? - Unashamedly large, literally built like a tank

Average Price - $200-$400

The only camera on the list that also doubles as a dumbbell. The Pentax 6x7 is a traditional SLR style camera, only upscaled to accommodate the larger negative size of medium format film. 

Frankly, I just love this camera because of it's size. It's solidly built and due to the large frame size (same as the Mamiya 7), it's perfect for capturing very high resolution images.

One of the best things about this camera is it's cost. Available for only a few hundred dollars second hand, it's amongst the cheapest camera systems to get into for medium format photography. Also, being a Pentax, there are no shortage of epic Takumar lenses available for this system, all going for peanuts. 

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Leica M3

Camera Type - Rangefinder

Format - 35mm film

Why I love it? - Feels like the perfect camera. Buttery smooth controls and shutter

Average Price - $700-$1200

Ok, there was always going to be a Leica on this list. Of all the variations over the past 100 years of Ernst Leitz rangefinders, the original (for M mount) M3 from 1954 is still the very best camera of all time. 

It is an object of sheer beauty, mechanical perfection, and supreme build quality.

Whilst I opted for the M6 when going for my first Leica, it was difficult to resist the draw of the iconic M3. It has a buttery smooth film advance level, the brightest viewfinder I've ever seen, and a very quiet shutter.

The Leica M3 is a camera for life, designed to outlive us all, which is why the majority of those still sold are from those who have died and died shooting with this simple camera their entire lives. 

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Polaroid SX-70

Camera Type - Folding SLR Land Camera

Format - Instant Film

Why I love it? - Beautiful retro and collapsable design

Average Price - $200-$350

I have never in my life seen one of these in the flesh. I can recall on one hand the amount of times I've used a polaroid camera and given that the format is now all but dead, I'm guessing the time has passed to really get into it. 

Whilst the instant film market is indeed still going, it has never been a huge draw for me. That all changed however once I discovered the SX-70. 

Fuji can make as many plastic Instax cameras as it likes, but they simply won't have the same appeal that a retro machine like this brings. 

This is on my list purely out of lust, but it's a lust that makes me want to shoot Polaroid. 

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Fuji X100T

Camera Type - Mirrorless Rangefinder style fixed lens

Format - Digital

Why I love it? - The modern day digital rangefinder. Easy and fun to use

Average Price - $1300 (estimated release cost)

I find it very difficult to get excited over digital cameras these days. Digital is my main workflow as it most likely is yours, and so cameras like the Canon 5D MKIII and Nikon D800 are the practical tools for all around use in a digital workflow.

Yet they bore me. Digital bores me.

Fuji however, has changed my mind.

I just love this little camera. Digital innards to rival DSLR image quality, with a film rangefinder style body, manual controls, and a respectable Fujinon 35mm equivalent f/2 lens. I'm still fairly stubborn and loathe EVF's, but thankfully Fuji have implemented an excellent hybrid optical/digital viewfinder. 

It's sitting firmly on my list as a potential 'all rounder' to replace the bulky DSLR system.

Fujifilm X100, Ansicht vorne

Hasselblad 500 C/M

Camera Type - Modular System

Format - Medium Format Film

Why I love it? - Fantastic build quality and the best sounding shutter ever!

Average Price - $500-$1500

What Leica is to 35mm, Hasselblad is to Medium Format. It's hard to deny the brilliant style and design of the 500 series cameras from this Swedish pioneer. 

Featuring a modular design, one of the best things about a Hasselblad system is it's customisation. Top down viewfinders can be swapped for SLR style viewfinders. 120/220 film backs are interchangeable with instant film backs. This is also the only camera that has been to the moon and back!

For me, I have nothing but affection for these cameras. I simply love the way they look, the joy that must come from using them. Oh and that shutter sound. Oh man, It has the most satisfying shutter ever made.

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Hasselblad X-Pan 

Camera Type - Panoramic Interchangeable Lens Rangefinder

Format - 35mm Film

Why I love it? - Produces huge widescreen images on regular 35mm film.

Average Price - $1800-$2400

Here we have a very unique and highly sought after camera. Co-developed with Fuji and branded as such in Japan, this steadily built rangefinder shoots wide 3:1 aspect ratio images onto a single frame of 35mm film for true panoramic images. 

Available with a range of 3 interchangeable 30, 45 & 90mm lenses, this amazing little camera provides a very unique way to take pictures for any given situation. 

Here's a link to a Flickr X-Pan users group where you can check out some of the great shots taken with this system.

Flickr X-Pan Photographs

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Olympus MJU II (aka Stylus Epic)

Camera Type - Fully Automatic Point & Shoot

Format - 35mm Film

Why I love it?- Cheap, fun and produces incredible results

Average Price - $100-$180

The cheapest camera on this list, yet by no means the worst.

This all plastic, all automatic point & shoot is a well kept little secret in the photography world. 

Going on e-bay for under $100, the MJU-II is held in high regard for just how well it's 35mm f/2.8 fixed lens performs. Also, for a cheap compact, it features a highly reliable AF and metering system. 

I love this camera for it's simplicity and how unobtrusive it is. No one is going to batter an eyelid if you take this out in public. They may think you're very poor and can't afford a proper camera, but you know better.    

*Edit - in May 2015 I bought one of these from a flea market for $30. Absolutely love it!

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Ricoh GR

Camera Type - APS-C Point & Shoot

Format - Digital

Why I love it? - Almost the most perfect walkabout camera

Average Price - $700-$800

Last but not least on my list is a phenomenal little camera, and the only camera that I have long wondered to myself about why I haven't yet purchased.

Featuring a 16mp APS-C sensor with no optical low-pass filter, this pocket friendly point & shoot rivals the image quality of most mid range DSLR's. It's has a fixed focal length 18mm f/2.8 lens (28mm equivalent in 35mm terms) which is a decent focal length for candid street and general travel shots. It even has a built in ND filter.

It has long been a firm favourite amongst street photographers, due to it's inconspicuous size and quiet shutter. What really sets this apart from other similar cameras is the excellent 'snap focus' mode that allow you to essentially zone focus like you might do on a manual film camera. You set your distance, lock it and then shoot without having to worry about waiting for AF to lock on or fumble with the focusing dial. It's perfect for getting those 'decisive moments'.

*Edit - In Jan 2015 I bought one of these to compliment my DSLR setup. Hands down the best camera I've ever owned. Perfect for street photography.

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  • Gonzalo Broto

    on October 16, 2014

    I'm all into small cameras that can be carried everywhere without taking too much space yet are powerful enough for high IQ, so I would place the Rico GR top of my list from your selection. At the moment I use the tiny Lumix GM1 with the pancake zoom 12-32 or the small PanaLeica 15mm and both combos work effortlessly and fit any small handbag. I just wrote a post about the benefits of small cameras in my blog:

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