Collecting and Using Classic Cameras
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Customer Reviews:
  • THE book about collecting classic cameras
    If you are interested in collecting 120mm or 35mm classic cameras then you need this book. Mr. Matanle has owned and/or used most of the cameras in this book and the text is loaded with the kind of user information that can't be found anywhere else. I only wish this book were longer. I have read the book several times and I use it often to refresh my memory about a particular camera or manufacturer. It is well written and the black and white photographs of the cameras are excellent. Mr. Matanle even shows actual photos he took using the cameras discussed in the text. My copy is printed on heavy, high quality, clay paper that allows the high contrast, detailed photos to look their best. Highly recommended....more info
  • A useful but not authoritative text
    Ivor Matanle may be the first writer on classic cameras to write of them not merely as baubles but working photographic equipment for contemporary use, and for that alone he deserves a certain kudos.

    However, I have several problems with this book, especially in this edition. From the other works he has done it's evident he's a good black-and-white photographer, but this printing doesn't reveal this: the quality of photoreproduction is not excellent.

    Matanle is British, and the American reader will note that there are differences in nomenclature, in the cameras and lenses that are readily available (many items common in Britain would never be seen here), and in practices and attitudes regarding using cameras and lenses. While it's good to be exposed to foreign viewpoints, we are two nations separated by an almost-common language sometimes.

    As a prime example, how could one cover "classic cameras" and not discuss Graflex? Simply put, although technically "large format" (at least in the most common 4x5 size, although there are smaller Graphics),no photographer's experience is complete without having used a Speed or Crown Graphic-handheld, with sheet film or a rollfilm back.

    Although most of the cameras available today would seem like alien implements to photographers of fifty years ago, the principles of photography have not changed, and in fact many of the best cameras-M Leica, Hasselblad, Rollei TLR (yes, still in production)-are substantially similar today as when Frank, Dean and Sammy were on the charts, Marilyn was still the hottest movie star, and John Glenn getting ready to orbit the Earth. Others are very different from anything made now, yet sometimes capable of very good work with a little knowledge, and more conducive to doing so than today's popular microprocesssor-controlled polycarbonate affairs which often simply get in the way of, rather than facilitate, good photography. In addition, a camera that's still working-or easily made so-after fifty years stands a good chance of working fifty years from now, which is almost certainly not true of some modern cameras....more info

  • Matanle's camera writings encourage reading over and over
    Ivor Matanle knows cameras as well as we know our own faces in the mirror, and his love and understanding of their strengths and weaknesses makes for informative and fascinating reading.

    This is a wonderful book for browsing and/or serious study. The writing is first rate. The illustrations are fine photos and are inserted close to the accompanying text.

    If you are a collector or merely want to learn more about these mechanical and optical marvels, you owe yourself the treat of reading this book.You will be richly rewarded.

    His other book, "Classic SLR's" is equally rewarding. I refer to both books regularly. What a writer!...more info

  • catnip for the classic camera user
    if you are interested in using classic cameras (defined by the author for the purpose of this book as 20's to 60's 35mm and rollfilm cameras), this is as nice a volume as i've come across. there's some truth to the comments about the author's personal photographs being a bit unpolished, but 1) the quality is standard for most camera-oriented books and 2) they do add a personal touch to what is, after all, a personal treatise. i also appreciate the author's contention that using the classic camera is a sort of fetish (NOT his words) that's difficult to articulate or justify on purely technical grounds.

    the only other books that i've encountered that may better matanle's book are jason schneider's excellent collection of 80's Modern Photography columns "Camera Collecting" volumes I-III, which unfortunately out of print and cost hundreds of dollars....more info

  • Enthusiastic, opinionated, but lean on substance.
    Mr. Matanle makes his opinions known, and he frequently can put forth a compelling case for a favorite marque. For the novice collector or photographer interested in using classic cameras, he provides an accessible start. Beyond that introduction, less general texts will likely yeild more substantive information.

    Both of his books on classic cameras are heavily illustrated with his own photographs, which are, sadly, unrelentingly amateurish, murky, gritty and just plain lacking in any technical proficiency in black and white printmaking. Talk about making sow's ears from silk purses! The classic tools he describes deserve far better representation....more info

  • Excellent book. A pleasure to read and refer to.
    I bought this book shortly after becoming seriously interested in classic cameras, and it reinforced my interest greatly. It contains much useful information, such as how to check the condition of cameras, lenses, and shutters comprehensively before buying. It also has lots of interesting historical info about manufacturers and their products. Although some of the photos used as illustrations may not be brilliant art works, they illustrate the qualities of the equipment, and because many of them are shots of the authors family, friends, and environment over many years, they combine to give the book a very friendly touch--like looking through a friend's album, with notes on the equipment used and how the photos were taken. All in all, a very worthwhile book for anyone interested in collecting and using the classics....more info
  • A good book describing the pleasures of camera collecting
    Matanle's monograph is entertaining reading. It makes a good starting point to read about ownership and usage issues pertaining to vintage cameras. However, much of what he says should be taken with a grain of salt.

    What troubles me the most is his basic premise, that older camera's while technically inferior to modern camera's have a certain 'je ne se quoi.' The "pleasing roundness and slight softness" of image that he extols appears to be the result of using miscalibrated equipment. He makes a specific statement regarding Leitz lenses; "it remains Leitz policy not to design lenses purely to achieve high resolution ... but to deliberately leave intact a modest degree of aberration and curvature of field to improve the rendition of three dimensional objects." And, "Leitz lenses of each generation only excel by the standards of their time." Say what??????

    Despite this, he does give a reasonable, if not overly Anglocentric, overview of many common and not-some common collectible cameras. Unfortunately, the book is ignorant of American equipment as well as Edwardian-era English equipment.

    The illustrations are typical of the work of an enthusiastic amateur....more info

  • This is an excellent book for those who use old cameras.
    I have read this book several times and find myself referring to it often. The pictures may not be the most interesting in the world; but they demonstrate the abilities of the cameras being discussed. The book is not intended to describe in detail every old camera. (If that's what you're looking for, try to find a catalog). The book successfully introduces the major options available to the classic camera enthusiast who wants to take pictures, not just collect equipment to put on a shelf. I would definitely recommend this book to those wanting to acquire old cameras for use....more info
  • Excellent book for new collectors
    This book has a good mix of images and content which make it readable by both collectors and non collectors. Obviously written by an enthusiast, I would rate this as a "must read" for those interested in cameras from the 40's 50's and 60's...more info
  • Excellent book. Informative and pleasant to read.
    This book seems to cover everything I've always wanted to know, and then some. The author tells the good things about each camera, and what to watch out for if you are thinking about buying a classic camera. I recommend it to anyone interested in old cameras....more info
  • Too few models featured, illustrated with inferior photos.
    This book comes across as being written by an enthusiast, but the illustrations are of the really muddy, dull and just plain dull type. It's okay as far as it goes (if one ignores the photos) but it doesn't go far enough. It is also written from one nation's viewpoint. Collecting cameras actually changes from country to country, and what is just another Argus may be someone's rare collection centrepiece. It's an adequate starting point to get someone collecting cameras, but not of very much use to the more experienced photographic collector....more info