Dead Hands Cameras: The five cameras you’ll have to pry out of my cold, dead hands

Dead Hands Cameras: The five cameras you’ll have to pry out of my cold, dead hands

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I’m in a group chat with several other film-photo bloggers. One of them was talking about how much he enjoyed his Voigtländer Superb. When someone else jokingly said they’d be happy to take the camera off his hands, he said, “Ha ha. This is a pry from my dead hands camera…”

Thus was born an idea. We’d all share our top five cameras, the ones you’d have to pry from our dead hands. That’s one camera for each finger!

Here are the Dead Hands Cameras from other film-photo bloggers. (If one of these links is dead, the article just isn’t live yet; keep checking back.)

  • Peggy Marsh
  • Alex Luyckx
  • Theo Panagopoulos
  • Eric Jason
  • Alan Duncan
  • Mike Eckman
  • Stephen Dowling

Here now, my five cameras.

Pentax ME

The Pentax ME is just right. It’s aperture-priority only, but that’s my favorite way to shoot. It’s small and light, and it takes the entire range of K-mount manual-focus lenses. It’s got some strong mirror slap, but no matter. I shoot my Pentax ME more than any other camera.

Pentax ME
1958 Chevrolet Corvette
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax, Kodak T-Max 400, 2015

Nikon F3

If I could keep just one camera, it would be the Nikon F3. I like the Pentax ME a little more, but the F3 is better built. I use the F3 in adverse conditions like cold or drizzle, situations I worry my ME wouldn’t tolerate. I’ve shot the F3 in below-zero temperatures (Fahrenheit) and it doesn’t flinch.

Chicago as night falls
Nikon F3, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor, Kodak T-Max P3200, 2020


A Yashica-D was my first TLR, and the TLR that made me fall in love with TLRs. I also own a Yashica-12 TLR, with a better lens, an on-board meter, and crank winding. You’d think I’d like it a little bit more, but I enjoy and appreciate the simplicity of the Yashica-D.

Yashica-D, Kosmo Foto Mono, 2019

Pentax IQZoom 170SL

Shawn Granton turned me on to the Pentax IQZoom 170SL through his review. I’m so glad I bought one. It fits in my back jeans pocket, it zooms to an incredible 170mm, and it returns SLR-like images from its SMC Pentax lens. As a bonus, these still fly under the radar among the point-and-shoot cognoscenti, and can be had for relative peanuts. That came in handy when I dropped and damaged my first 170SL in Germany last year — after I came home, I bought a new one for under $50.

Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Linz am Rhein
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Kodak T-Max 100, Rodinal 1+50, 2023

Polaroid SX-70

I was five years old when the Polaroid SX-70 was introduced. I remember the commercials for it on TV. They made me want one badly. Unfortunately, they were a luxury camera, and even if my working-class family could afford one, they certainly wouldn’t give it to a youngster like me. I found mine in an antique store several years ago and talked the owner down to $40. I don’t shoot it often, because yikes the film is expensive. But I love using it every time I do.

Polaroid SX-70
Power lines
Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid B&W SX-70 Film, 2020.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.